Friday, May 23, 2008

I Love When God Speaks To Me

I'm not feeling well today, so I'm posting something I sent to some friends not too long ago that I feel bears repeating.

I love when God speaks to me. But must He speak in messes?

And boy do we ever have some epic messes in our house. Just this past weekend alone we dealt with the boys' bathroom toilet overflowing, filling the bathroom, flooding through the floor and spilling into the kitchen below (the 3rd time this has happened in two years); blood on the floor and wall of the same bathroom (which, incidentally, happened just minutes after the toilet overflowing and resulted in stitches in my 10-year-old's hand); a fabric softener-soaked laundry room rug courtesy of the 5-year-old's climbing quest for a box of macaroni & cheese; and the dog tracking his own - ahem - mess throughout the hallway, the boys' rooms, and then jumping on our bed. On. Our. Bed.

It sounds like I'm making this up. Unfortunately, as some of you are painfully aware, this is all quite typical for our household. I either spend an inordinate amount of time and energy cleaning up after my people or giving up and living in frustration. That has been the cycle for a long time now, and right now I'm in the living-in-frustration part of the cycle (translation: My house is a mess, and I'm grumpy about it). When people walk into our house, my standard greeting is, "Please excuse our house, but we live here."

I don't know for sure if God actually gets frustrated with us; but in hindsight, I'd be willing to bet He's had a few clenched fists over me and this battle I've had going regarding the tidiness (or lack thereof) of my house and the standard to which I've been trying (emphasize trying) to hold my sons to for awhile now. By the way, I'm not only losing this battle, but the war is costing more than what I was trying to accomplish in the first place. Hmmm, sound familiar?

It's funny how, as a parent, I try to rationalize with, beg, plead, use all kinds of in-depth tactics to get through to my boys when they just aren't getting something that I've told them over and over -- and then it's the simplist of things that finally makes a connection.

I believe I have finally realized that all these messes must be how God has been trying to get through to me all these years that I've been the mother of three boys. I just wasn't listening. Probably because it's difficult to hear anyone trying to communicate with me -- what with all the yelling about all the messes.

So this morning He had to dumb it down for me. You know - use the simplist of things to make a connection. In an interesting yet remarkably simple twist of fate, He knocked me over the head.

As Joel (my 10-year-old) was supposed to be eating breakfast to be able to get on the bus in 10 minutes, he was instead sharpening all of his new pencils at once in the new battery-operated pencil sharpener (only the best for us lazy people); because we all know that 4th graders need at least 15 pencils to get through each day, and school classrooms don't have their own pencil sharpeners. So frustration was already thick in the air when he knocked the sharpener off of the kitchen island onto the floor busting it open and spilling its contents all over the floor.

I reacted with the impatience that had been building since I woke up, of course, because those who know me well know that me and mornings go together like Tom & Jerry (remember - the cat and mouse cartoon?). Mornings taunt me and tease me and laugh at me and make me want to chew them up, spit them out and crawl back into my nice, warm bed until a more civilized hour. Like noon. So I stomped off to get the Dustbuster and cleaned up all the shavings and lead from those 900 pencils that were making him late for the bus.

Next I went to make coffee (yes, this before coffee!), taking the old filter filled with yesterday's coffee grounds to throw away and promptly bumped the side of the trash can spilling them all over the floor where I had just swept up the pencil shavings. We all know how hard it is to clean up wet coffee grounds. Joel, being highly intelligent, said nothing. The look in my eyes - he has seen that before. He watches the Discovery Channel. He knows that look comes just before the lion pounces on the baby elephant innocently approaching the water hole. He just ate his breakfast. Quickly.

Then the revelation hit me, and I turned around to Joel and said, "Look at how God just whacked me across the head. I'm sorry that I reacted that way when you accidentally spilled the pencil shavings; will you forgive me?" He could have really rubbed it in good (not uncommon for his personality). He could have taken many typically-smug 10-year-old routes to answer me at that moment. Instead, he just looked up, smiled and said, "I love it when God speaks to us."

I have lost so much time being resentful over the perpetual mess that my three sons keep this house in and the constant energy and time it takes to fix it -- when I should be infinitely grateful for these precious beings God entrusted Sean and me with.

1 Peter 5:2-3 says, "Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly -- not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example."

I've had that highlighted in all of my Bibles for awhile now, but I think it may be time to have it tatooed to my forearm where I can see it every day. Right next to the one that says, "mornings stink."

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