ON EXHAUSTION

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I let my kids watch an extra hour of television yesterday. Hate that. I’m just so tired.

It’s the end of the semester, and it’s been another busy one. Weddings, special events, and my daughter graduating from college. I knew I was burning the candle at both ends…and here I am again with a terrible head cold and I’ve lost my voice.

My husband came into the kitchen last night, just as I was wiping the counter clean with my last bit of energy. The dishwasher was started and the coffeemaker ready to go for the morning. He was all cheerful after a successful business call and was opening the freezer to reach for the ice cream.

“Oh no you don’t. The kitchen is closed for the night,” I whisper hoarsely. (I’m so grumpy when I’m sick and tired.)

My husband looks shocked. “Come on, Priscilla. I was looking forward to it.”

“Nope. Look at the time. I just finished cleaning.” I actually don’t think I can face one more, dirty spoon.

“Oh, please!” he pleads in disbelief, with one hand on the freezer handle hoping for a change of heart to cross my countenance.

“Nope,” I stand fast.

Big sigh.

My youngest daughter who is drawing at the island looks up at her dad and advises quietly, “You have to just keep begging and begging and begging, and eventually she’ll give in,” she smiles.

Hence the extra television that day.

Things you learn when your mom is worn out.

There are just so many things I don’t do well when I’m really tired. Like parenting. Or friending. Or basic housework. Or prayer.

That last one got me thinking. Why is it that I feel so little spiritually when I am like this? I don’t feel drawn to God’s Word. I don’t send any faith with my prayers. I don’t sense God’s presence with me. I don’t even feel upset about world poverty. Just nothing.

Then of course I feel guilty. Just a little. I mean, maybe I’m just a fair weather friend to God. And then I start wondering (oh, no!) maybe He is just a fair weather friend to me. When I’m in my spiritual “A” game, he’s my champion. But when the worst of me comes out, what then?

I guess it’s an age-old question. Is God only for us when we are really for Him?

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A THEOLOGY OF RAIN

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I went to two weddings in the last few weeks. Both were family weddings. Both were Christian weddings. Both were outdoor weddings.

The second wedding was all sunshine. But the first wedding rained.

A couple weeks before each wedding, I started to pray for good weather. I watched the weather app on my smartphone. The locations were saved so I could access them easily.

When we arrived at the first wedding, the clouds looked a little ominous. I opened my app to consult the radar. Then there was a sort of misty wetness. Good thing I brought my coat. Then a light rain. And my umbrella. By the time the wedding was over, it was a steady rain.

Believe it or not, it was a barefoot wedding. I kept my shoes on.

As we sat there waiting for the wedding to start, I wondered, how’s the pastor going to handle this one? He was a youngish, optimistic looking guy. But he was a piece of work, in the best sort of way.

He began by welcoming us all with only a passing mention of the weather. Later, he was forced to acknowledge the situation, but he was undaunted. I don’t know if he googled them, but he had a lot of ready Bible verses about the blessing of rain.

At one point, my husband whispered there might be lightning, but it turned out to be only the flash photography.

And I wondered, why. Everyone was praying for a sunny day. At least a dry day. This sweet, Christian couple with all their hopes and plans…. Why rain, Lord?

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THE PRIESTHOOD OF MOTHERING

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“Now I know you are a mother,” my father says quietly as he watches me lean over my firstborn baby’s incubator the night before her heart surgery, whispering prayers and singing “Jesus Loves Me” in broken verse.

It wasn’t the decorated nursery or the nine months of anticipation or the little pink clothes folded neatly back home that had convinced him. It was the desperate petitions of a bewildered woman who had entered almost unknowingly into that Priestly Vocation of Motherhood.

Alan Cole, in his commentary on the book of Exodus, explains that a priest is someone set apart for a special relationship with God and for the service of God. A priest is to be both God’s representative for another person or people, and God’s representative to another person or people. He stands between heaven and earth, in a sense.

I think that being a Christian mother is an invitation to the Priesthood.

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RAISING A DAUGHTER WITH AUTISM: GRACE MIXED WITH GRIEF

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I see a blue and white comforter spread across my lap when I remember the beginning of this journey. How appropriate. Who knew that Blue would be the color of Autism Awareness Month so many years later….

I was waiting for the phone call. My husband had met with the surgeon the day before, and now he paced the sterile halls of Johns Hopkins Hospital waiting for word of how it had gone.

“We need to finish the heart surgery in 20 minutes. At 25 minutes, she will lose the function of her legs. At 30 minutes ….” He had informed us.

How we prayed! How we watched the clock tick by!

My sweet baby was only four days old. Five pounds was all she was, but every ounce was precious to us. We called her Grace.

We knew while I was pregnant that something wasn’t right. The day after she was born we met with a specialist who laid it out for us. Correctable heart defects now, possible kidney issues, hearing would probably be a concern. Oh, and growth and thyroid to watch for.

No one knew that autism would be added to the list, or that autism would end up being the biggest concern of all.

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THE ART OF LOSING

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A few years back, I read the classic epic poem the Iliad with my daughter, and I’m not gonna lie. I cried like a baby when Hector died.

I had always thought of Achilles as the Great Greek Hero of the famous Trojan War, but reading it this time, I didn’t like him. I just couldn’t see past his petty jealousy, self-pity, and childish revenge.

But here’s the thing: he won. And history is written by the victors, they say.

And then there’s Hector. He’s the brother of Paris who got drafted into a war he never wanted. He’s the patriot. The loyal son. The devoted husband. The loving father. He’s the Ideal Man.

But he lost!

And for me, it wasn’t just Hector who died. It was the death of the Ideal.

One of the most poignant moments in the story is when Hector crosses over the Greek fortifications with his warriors in what seems to him to be a step closer to victory…. But the reader knows better. We know that Mount Olympus has already ruled that when Hector passes over the barricades, he will be setting in motion a train of events that will lead to his own death and the downfall of Troy.

“Don’t do it!” we plead with Hector in the pages. “Don’t lose!”

Oh! And how life feels like a losing battle sometimes….

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STONES & SCORPIONS

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My daughter received some discouraging news yesterday. The friend she was hoping to room with is having second thoughts about where she wants to live for the next year. Which is fine, except Katherine was making her plans around community and friendship, and, well, it’s just another setback…disappointment.

Seems like there are just so many of those. Disappointments.

Don’t I know it. I remember throwing away about ten to fifteen prayer journals that went back YEARS because they were horrifyingly filled with the exact same prayer requests over and over again that were not answered. It was embarrassing! It was frightening.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I tried to lead my daughter in another brainstorming exercise of other possible job opportunities she could seek. Other locations. Other communities. But it came down to this: she was afraid. Afraid that once again it wasn’t going to work out. Afraid to be alone.

And I’m afraid for her and with her. Just so many prayer journals….

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