With a major winter weather advisory coming our way, the plans were to snuggle down and enjoy every second. With Aaron gone on a hunting trip, the boys and I were ready to have a string of home days. My Kindle is loaded with books to read and my coffee and hot chocolate supplies were good to go. We had milk and bread. Bring on the snow!
Our church cancelled services, which was to be expected, and so I resolved to make our Sunday at home a day of rest. A true one. Not just a lazy day, but a valuable day. I took the time to make myself some fancy scrambled eggs. I put paint in Ziploc bags and taped them to the patio doors so the boys could have a mess-free activity. They colored, they played, they had snacks. I made cinnamon rolls in a pretty pie plate and drank coffee from a too-pretty tea cup (with saucer!) I turned on hymn music and away we went into our restful, peaceful, heart-worshipful Sunday.
And why then, after all the effort and the good intentions was I lying on my bed at 11 a.m. while the boys had lunch, venting to a best friend? Why did I tell her I was ready to give up and that my sweet little angel babies had been “butt heads” all morning? (Yes, I said “butt heads”.) What happened to, well, everything? The gratitude journal was open, I was making the effort, I had savored coffee and sweet, gooey cinnamon and I dressed the boys in clean, comfy clothes for the day. I wasn’t striving to be a “good Mom” or anything like that. I just wanted to add value to our snowed-in-home-day.
To slow down our Sunday at home.
After my little time-out, I spent an extra couple seconds just breathing when I heard Joel calling for me. I answered him softly and calmly, putting aside the chaos and spanking of earlier and said, “What is it, baby?” He said, worriedly, “Look! Look, someone’s truck tipped over!” I looked at the floor, trying to see what toy he was concerned about. “No!”, he insisted, “There!” I looked out the window and sure enough, someone’s car had slid off the road. They were already being assisted and I watched as they all got coated in fresh snow.
“That’s sad!” he exclaimed.
I just watched. I thought about how that feels when your day doesn’t go as planned. When it all gets derailed. When you don’t get to your destination on time. When your shoes and socks get soaked with soft snow and your nose drips and your cheeks burn. You’re just driving along with all your goals and all your thoughts and all your good intentions and bam! Just like that you’re in a ditch and at the mercy of the elements.
And at the grace of a friendly face.
Sometimes that’s what happens on a Sunday morning. Sometimes it’s not beautiful and restful, even though it is intended to be. Sometimes it doesn’t feel at all worshipful and you couldn’t sing one more Chris Tomlin song if your life depended on it. Sometimes you’re just there, in your house, in a pew, in what is a sacred space but it feels tired and not at all the kind of special you were hoping for. You might as well be sitting in a snow drift along the side of County Road 68 for all the significant it feels.
Then, I watch from my window, next to my Christmas tree that still has lights burning bright, I watch a second mercy-giver pull up behind the little car that thought it could. Why were tears suddenly burning holes in my eyes? Why was I taking a picture with my phone and suddenly feeling the headache ease, the shoulders relax and nap time not feel quite so elusive anymore?
Why did I feel that rest was coming? That it was here?
It’s what I was doing when I was messaging my friend. Help, please. I’ve gone off the side of the road, I’m tipped in a ditch and I’m drowning in cold and winter, dishes and whining, diapers and tantrums and I’m the only grown-up in this whole of a house. And you just want to give up. Sitting there in your little shell of a vehicle, your earth tilted as you sit and wonder how you’re going to get out of this hole you’ve driven yourself into.
It may be a bad moment in your day. But it is not a bad life.
Wipe your eyes. Adjust the lens. Look up and notice the concerned face on the other side of the glass, open your door and accept the help. Admit the need.
I watched in tearful awe as two helpers lined up behind to give. Because that’s what you do. When it doesn’t go as planned for you, or for someone else, you pull up next to them and ask how you can give. How you can change the course of their day. It’s reaching out and accepting, giving and blessing.
I tried to do all the right things. I ate a balanced breakfast. I drank coffee from something pretty and not ordinary. I put together a fun, little project for my boys. And it all backfired. Blew up right in my tired face. And I got angry.
Because this is not how today was supposed to go.
Today was supposed to be quiet and blessed. Holy. I wanted to create a sanctuary and all we were doing was trying to survive until nap time. That’s all. Just fold them into bed and collapse in a heap and pray that today was one of those miraculously long nap days.
So what. It happened. Hard days are still blessed days. Headaches on a Sunday morning don’t take away the fact that it’s still the sabbath. Breaking up brotherly fights and trying to keep stir crazy children entertained doesn’t negate the fact that they are beautiful, bright, healthy little lives. Little gifts.
Dirty dishes piled high because we have been blessed with plate after plate.
The words to the doxology are large and in charge over my piano in a main area of our home. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow...” Not do this and get a happy day. Not do that and never need to take two Excedrin again. Not follow this ten step program and never feel anxiety or depressed feelings again. No “how to drive in the snow for dummies” volume to keep you out of the ditch.
Just praise Him. Period. Praise Him above, praise Him here below.
Numbering praises, giving thanks... and just like that, Someone has pulled up beside you and pulled you out of that snowy locked tilt. And it’s all mercy and grace, forgiveness, and before you know it, you’re on your way again. The day is saved. Redeemed.
And your heart finds it there, to sing a little, even just a little, song of praise...
"Teach us to number our days,
so that we may get a heart
full of wisdom..."
~ P s a l m 9 0 : 1 2