It is June 13th and my sons have officially been out of school now for a week.
Which means we are now only a mere SEVEN DAYS into summer break… and if you were to sum up how this is going for me it would look a little something like this…
Or at least it could be with them both being home...
Had I not got hit with a huge reality check in parenting recently.
For Mother's Day this year my husband did one of the kindest things a man can ever do for a woman - he took me shopping. And let me try on #AllTheThings while he just sat there and gave his complimentary opinion on things (when I actually decided to come out and let him view something that I had tried on). He had even saved up for me to buy not just a couple of items but a couple of outfits that I so desperately needed as my closet is now full of things I have had in there for years, many of which are riddled with rips, stains, or holes and none of which are the trendy type. It was a major dad win and I was gleaming from ear to ear as I waltzed each new thing through the door.
And, as most girls, I wore every single thing in that first week.
The weekend before Michael's last week of school I was supposed to meet Rich at a church in Bakersfield that we've been attending with some family. He had already spent most of the week there so I would be getting the boys and I ready and on the road in time to meet him for their second service. No problem. Seriously. They basically get themselves ready.
The only snag was that they had no clean clothes and I had worn all of my new clothes but was tired of wearing the same clothes, so I did a quick load of laundry. I threw in their outfits, my brand new outfits, and a few miscellaneous things and continued getting ready. It would be cutting it close but if everything else was done we would be able to put on our clothes and head out the door with like five minutes to spare. Like I said, no problem.
The washer beeped, I rushed in to throw everything into the dryer, and then continued to finish my hair and makeup. Then we all sat - basically in our underwear - on the couch for the final "ding" of the dryer.
I watched a show while drinking basically an entire pot of coffee, the boys then destroyed their room that we had just cleaned, and then I heard the noise that signaled our final departure.
I turned everything off, flung open the dryer door… and sat there in the middle of the laundry room with the biggest lump in my throat as I pulled item after item out - each with the biggest blue marks all over them. It looked like I had killed a smurf and then threw him into our dryer with all of our clothes right after telling him to make sure it was only my brand new ones that he ruined.
And, because I am mom of the year, I preceded to scream at the boys for leaving a blue marker in their pants pocket "ruining everything!!!" Because "we don't have an income right now and it's not like we can just go out and buy new ones to replace the only nice things I have had (or will have) in a long time!!!!" In that moment, I forgot a few things. Things I will probably forget again from time to time, but it is my prayer that the looks on their faces will remind me.
"I'm sorry mom."
"It doesn't look bad."
"I still think it's pretty."
These words from my oldest son jolted me from my rampage and back into reality.
Because the truth is that clothes will come and go, and in the grande scheme of things, if I had to wear the same thing for two years it would not be the worst thing that could happen. The worst thing that could happen is me taking out my frustrations on my children who had not intended to do anything, instead of taking the responsibility for not checking their pockets before doing laundry because I had placed myself in a hurried situation, and thereby speaking incredibly harsh words causing a horrible memory to be made. Whether I like it or not those clothes would eventually be thrown or given away, but their memories would not.
Each word spoken out of anger would be etched into their memories, forever.
I lost sight of the eternal ramification for a temporary frustration.
But before more damage could be done, my once furrowed brow relaxed and my sharp voice became gentle again as I looked into the eyes of my most prized possession and I said… "They're just clothes". Truthfully I was trying to convince myself more than anything, but after those three words were forced out I realized how true they were.
They were just clothes.
I sat the boys down and apologized over and over again. Then we put on our non-ruined church outfits and headed out the door. A few minutes late of course, but all smiles.
In thinking back on this moment I am saddened about all of the times that I have let temporary things shape me. Broken lamps, or stained carpet. Peed on beds, or bickering brothers. I have chosen so many times to get overwhelmed in a moment, and cause my reactions to shape my boy's memory of me. I need to be better at this. For their sake.
I am not saying that I am the perfect example of staying calm and handling each hectic situation with ease, but what I am saying is that if we are not careful we will miss what is really happening altogether.
When Jesus was speaking to his disciples one day, He instructed them on something very similar. He, of course, was speaking of the end of times - when the world would become quite the dreadful place - but His words ring true for each frustrating situation we face today.
He told them two things…
Count on Crazy
(Luke 21:14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand… In essence, prepare yourself so that you are not thrown off guard when it happens, because it is gonna happen.)
Don't be Distracted
(Luke 21:31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near… While we can allow ourselves to get washed up in the cares of life, the disciples were being warned to not let their hearts get overwhelmed because everything that was happening would just be signs for the big thing that was about to happen- the Second Coming.)
For us today as mothers and leaders and friends, we need to realize that there is always a big thing happening.
While our world is getting crazier and we can so easily get overwhelmed, we must prepare ourselves ahead of time that God is indeed coming. Destructions of all kinds will happen, there is no stopping them. And while we can't prevent them, we can keep ourselves focused on what is really happening. People are turning from God by the droves and He cannot protect a nation that forces Him out. So we must be committed to watching and praying.
And in our small corners of the world where we all reside we must remind ourselves of the same things. Every opportunity for getting overwhelmed and responding in extremes is just a disguised opportunity for division or destruction. We must be always on watch and in prayer. We are building much greater things in the hearts and minds of our coworkers, friends, leaders, employees, and children than what we face in the temporary.
So take a big breath. In the grande scheme, it's all just stained clothes.
Luke 21:5-36 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”