[Since this is my personal blog, I am going to use it today as a sort of journaling tool to help me work through a problem.  If you want to come along with me, feel free – but know in advance it will probably be long.  And boring to anyone who is not me.  So consider yourself forwarned.]

I have a confession to make: I am feeling sorry for myself today.

To be completely honest, I have spent a great deal of my life feeling sorry for myself.  But since I started going through counseling, I have learned to take responsibility for myself.  For instance, I have learned that no one and no thing can MAKE me depressed (or angry or whatnot).  My skin is a God-given barrier between me and other people, and I get to choose how I react to what they do or say.  I am the one who makes myself depressed – and I am the one who can get out of a depression.

But I have to want to, and so far today, I have not wanted to.

Not that I like feeling this way – it’s horrible.  I described it once as being in a dark whirlpool with the current pulling me down, down, down.  It’s a very helpless feeling – but like I said, that feeling is a primary lie Satan uses to keep me down.  I am NOT helpless.  I get to choose how I will react to life’s circumstances today.  So enough theory – here’s the reality of the situation.

About four weeks ago, I was able to put Samuel in two-day-a-week Mother’s Day Out.  For the first time in a long time, I have a couple of days a week to be completely and totally alone.  Now for someone who is outgoing, that would be a nightmare, but for me, an introvert, it’s a dream come true.  I thrive on alone time.  I LIVE for alone time.  And even better, this buys me six sweet hours of alone time – at home.

If there is anything better than being alone in my own home, I am not aware of it.  I putter about.  I play on my computer.  I take long showers, then dry my hair – slowly.  I do laundry.  I sit outside on the porch swing.

(As a side note, one of the most important parts of my therapy has been learning how to nurture myself.  It’s kind of a long story but the bottom line is that I was all strung out, trying to be someone who kept everyone around me happy – and I was completely miserable.  I finally realized that as an adult, I have to become responsible for taking care of myself – no one else has been charged with that duty, not even Brad.  And that means I have to stop worrying about what other people think of me.  I had a great help with this – it’s a book entitled Approval Addict by Joyce Meyer.)

Back to my point.  We started Mother’s Day Out and it was heavenly.  Then last Thursday, Peter had a fever and Matthew had ear pain so I kept them home and took Samuel to MDO.  What a beating.  Instead of having the day to myself, I had two sick kids with me who were delighted to be out of school and could not stop talking.  All day.  Nonstop.  Until I thought I would scream.  Plus, it was like the fourth or fifth week of Brad traveling in a row.  I am not exaggerating.  He has traveled every week since school began.

That was last week.  By Monday, Peter was well enough to go to school but I was sick and so was Brad.  And then, Monday night, Samuel started complaining about his bottom and I discovered he had a rash.  This happened about a month or so ago, and it was strep.  I could not in good conscience take him to school – although I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it.

You can already see where this is going.  I kept him home Tuesday – his MDO day – but the earliest appointment I could get was at 4pm.  There went all my hopes of testing him early in the day and possibly still taking him to school.  No, I had him home with me all day Tuesday.  It actually wasn’t bad because he just had that weird rash and so we did a bunch of errands together.

The strep test was negative!  And there was much rejoicing and the angels sang and I looked forward with much anticipation to today, Thursday – the day I would finally get to send everyone to school and spend some time ALONE.

Then, it happened.  Tuesday night – actually, Wednesday morning around 1AM – we had one of the most frightening experiences parents can have.  We could hear one of the kids coming downstairs, gasping for a breath.  We raced to the stairs and it was Samuel.  He was burning up with fever and couldn’t get a breath.  Then he coughed, and he was barking like a seal.  Thankfully, this wasn’t my first experience with croup so I grabbed him up and carried him to the rocker.  We got him a drink of water and some Tylenol, but most importantly, we got him to calm down.  For whatever reason, when they have croup, their airway tightens and they wake up having trouble breathing.  This causes them to panic, which causes their airway to restrict even further and they find themselves struggling to take a breath.  Once they calm down, and once the Tylenol takes affect, they are okay.

So we put Samuel in bed with us where he stayed for 30 minutes, until I couldn’t take him toenails digging into my legs.  I took him back to bed then tried to fall back asleep but ended up going to read about croup for a while in case it got worse during the night.  I guess there’s was quite an adrenaline rush in my system.

So here it is, Thursday.  After last week, I really needed my two days of MDO to recover.  Instead, I have had none.  For the first time since school started, Brad’s not traveling – but instead he’s worked late every night.  I am exhausted.  And sick.  Did I mention that Brad and I both caught the virus Peter had last week and it has now turned into a sinus infection?  My theory is that it’s the same virus that manifested itself as croup in Samuel.  Meanwhile, Samuel is better but still not feeling great which means he is fussy and demanding.  And thus, the pity party.

But now that I have written all of that, I want to stop and tell you why my pity party is about to come to an abrupt halt.  I read my sister’s personal blog this morning and there was an entry from last week that took my breath away.  Since this is already a long post, I won’t go into all the details but the bottom line is that last week, they closed on the parade house they have been carrying for two years.  It’s been an amazing thing to watch them – especially her – walk through this trying time.  But even more amazing has been the front row seat from which I have been privileged to watch God at work in their lives.  It’s been – well, indescribable really.  God has stood back at times and left them wondering if they were going to lose everything.  He has left them to wonder if they made a huge mistake.  Then – when all seemed lost – He stepped in and moved in such a way that no one could ever doubt that it was a God-sized miracle.  He attended to every detail, and His timing was so sweet, it was as if He was speaking words of love through His every move.  He has been so tender with them, and it is incredible to see that.

And it made me think about how God moves in each of our lives in such a unique way.  If I were to try to explain how this thing or that thing was clearly God, you might not get it.  It’s the same way in my life.  I have been reticent to tell many people about going to counseling because I was afraid they would judge me, but I only have One who is qualified to be my Judge.  I guess that’s my point: a lot of people – including my sister – made judgments about their decision to build that home.  But there was only One who was qualified to judge their decision, and in the end, He so clearly placed His stamp of approval on it.

Back to my pity party.  When I read that blog entry this morning, it was as if a rope was thrown down into my dark pit.  I could see my way out for the first time.  All I have to do to get out of this cycle of self pity is choose to accept that today – all of the good and all of the bad – was designed by God and meant for good.  Today, Samuel is the tool God is using to shape me.  Croup is the edge of the knife with which God is going to scrape off something on my heart I don’t even know is there.  For my sister, it was the house that sat on the ground for two years.  And just like her, I have a choice to make.  I can react the way I have been thus far today – or I can choose to look for God in everything that happens.

I won’t lie – I’m not really happy about it.  I’m sitting here with my head throbbing, dressed in the same clothes I have been wearing for a couple of days now, wishing I could take a shower.   I haven’t combed my hair, washed my face or brushed my teeth – and it’s 10:30AM.  I want another cup of coffee.  And the piles of laundry are calling my name.

Also, as I sit here trying to finish this post in some coherent way, I am listening to “Here is your house, Mommy Look at it These are walls Do you see it, Mommy [coughing fit] This is the door wall When you gonna be done Know what it does  Ta da Look Mommy Are you never gonna be done?” etc. etc. ect.

Croupy Samuel

Croupy Samuel

It’s not going to be an easy day.  I may not get a shower or have time to brush my teeth.  But what matters today is the thing God has deemed important – Samuel.  Not my day off.  Not my own needs.  Not even those piles of laundry.  Those will all have to wait.  Because that little boy IS my ministry, and God will judge how well I minister today.  I can’t do it with my eyes fixed on myself.  That little voice calling my name is God’s way of taking my eyes off my problems and looking for the blessings in today.

Now, if you will excuse me, my son needs my help building a house with his Pop Ons.