It is raining outside, something the Northwest desperately needs right now. These are my favorite kind of days. The rain patters on the skylight above my kitchen. My girls are spending the weekend with Mimi and Poppi (Ben’s parents), so it is just me and the guys. Ben spent the afternoon sleeping after working a twelve hour night shift on the ambulance. His heroism is just another day at the office. I’ve been enjoying domesticity again after several weeks, a month (?) of feeling oppressively depressed. Last night, late into the evening, I clarified stock while making bread and deep frying zucchini with a new splatter screen my friend designed (it was fantastic! You should get one!). While the bread failed miserably, today, I transformed the stock into a delicious chicken noodle soup to share with others in need. I’m good at soups. You don’t have to measure anything. I made a second attempt at bread today, except instead of a loaf, I did rolls because that always works out better. I listened to my boys play in the living room with Lou Rhoads in the background (you can blame it on the Cherokee in me, if that helps, but that whole album slays me. It is beautiful.) I probably should be working on next week’s lesson plan for my girls, but I like doing what I am doing now. The kitchen smells comforting and warm. I’m not overwhelmed. I’m peaceful and confident of who I am in Christ. It is a good place to be. Instead of allowing my boys to watch TV today, I worked on their behavior. They’ve backslidden in the last month while I was merely surviving. But it is ok, children are remarkably resilient. They are quick to understand, even if their stubbornness often rivals mine. This is something I learned during my years of Hyperemesis. While I was lying day after day in my bed, unable to do much more than say hi to my kids as they headed out the door to be taken care of by friends or family — my children missed me, our relationship suffered, their “Mommy Love Tank” survived on fumes and their behavioral progress came to a standstill and even regressed in a couple of areas. Some women talk about their ideal pregnancies and birth plans, full of nutrition and exercise and natural everything. Hyperemesis stole all that away from me. I was too busy trying to survive to worry about normal things like prenatal vitamins, water births or epidurals. But then my babies were born and they are all perfectly normal, healthy and beautiful and then I got better. I can hug and kiss and rock my children in my arms again without throwing up. I can read them books and go on walks and take them to the pool. We have fun. Now, in the last three years, we have been making progress again emotionally and mentally. I had a lot of incredible help with childcare during my pregnancies, but you can’t really replace mommy (or daddy, for that matter). But this isn’t something worth stressing over. Matt Chandler says, “Where the ideal lacks, grace abounds.” I am mentally and sometimes physically unwell, but by God’s grace, I am not spiritually unhealthy. Every now and then I still have days where I cannot be 100% there for my family, but I can rest knowing that God is bigger than these setbacks.
I know He is behind each challenge and that He allows them for a really, really good reason. When I relapse, when I can’t see through the fog, when I don’t know which way to turn or what to say, when I can barely keep myself afloat (let alone my loved ones), I now know I only have to surrender to Christ to find life again. It is in those moments when I simply can’t afford to be prideful, that He turns something horribly messy into something terribly wonderful. My children are a case in point: Instead of them being insecure and unruly as I suspected they would turn out given our circumstances, my children are a blessing. Ophelia has a servant’s heart that continues to surprise me and Mira has the emotional and physical energy required of a valiant warrior. More often than not, they are tender-hearted and affectionate young ladies. They are not stingy with their compliments or laughter. They are good girls — something I know for a fact had nothing to do with me because I wasn’t there during their early years. I was in bed, a skeleton of pregnant woman, focused on keeping their brothers alive and out of the emergency room. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it is just what God had ordained for my family and it has proven to be, like everything God does, very good. My little men are getting there. They are works in progress at ages 3 and 4, learning restraint, consideration, and communication. They are affectionate in their own way, and we are working at teaching them wrestling-free ways of expressing it. Where the ideal lacks, grace abounds. That is what today was. I am weak but God is strong. I cannot see what the days to come hold, but I can laugh knowing that God has good in store for me, just as He always has. Today, it was just another Saturday in my life, but it is filled to the brim with grace and the blessings are stacked up like cord wood.