Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unexpected love

Our little family has been hobbling through the last 6 days fighting off chest colds and sore throats and boogie noses. Valentine's Day loomed on the horizon and to be honest I couldn't have cared less. I love my family, and I love to celebrate, so you know it's bad when I pass up an excuse to bust out sprinkles, gift wrap, balloons and/or themed greeting cards.

It got so bad that I actually drove myself to the doctor on Monday, praying for a strep diagnosis so that I would be sent home with medication. No such luck! I was feeling desperate (creative?) at one point and threw the kids in the bath tub with me just so I could soak and be warm. I poured in extra bubble bath, and the only rules were 1) stay in the tub until I say it's time to get out, and 2) don't touch mommy because she hurts. everywhere. (also known as 'stay on your side of the tub')

It was fairly successful.

Haha - oh yeah, and then they got a little wild, so I told them we were going to play a game: Who can count to 10 with their eyes closed?! I was so desperate for a few minutes of peace, this is what I actually coerced my children to do. A couple of times in a row. Which means I bought myself another minute or two of soaking. I am embarrassed to have done this, looking back.

This was all while Maddie took her late afternoon nap. Rob came home to find the 4 of us in our pajamas at 5:30pm in our walk-in closet, kids hiding in the clothes, me in the middle of the floor sipping hot tea and trying hard not to talk (the agony!). What a mess motherhood can become when you are ill. I'm glad these are memories now. Kinda funny.

So we woke up on Valentine's Day still sick, Maddie had developed a fresh chest cough to round out her clogged green nose (lovely) and I was convinced I was dying, or at least had developed mono. My mom came to our rescue and spent the morning with us, bringing the kids V-day gifts and generally saving the day. I was feeling so down all morning, discouraged from how long I had been sick, how cabin feverish we were getting, and bummed to be missing out on a fun little chance to celebrate love with my kiddos.

And then sweet things started to fall into place.

My mom left just as I got all of the kids down for a nap at the same time. I spent a few minutes in the kitchen by myself picking up and wiping the counters down, and the thought occurred to me: I had yet to ask the Lord to heal my sickness. I had waited it out, gone to the doctor, and brought home a few over the counter natural aids and teas to ease my pain. But I had not first taken my burden to God. So I stopped cleaning and just prayed a simple, desperate prayer in my kitchen that the Lord would take away my illness and bless me with health again. Very embarrassed that it was my last resort as opposed to my first inclination.

Then I went upstairs and laid down and slept for an hour and a half, and as we all woke up from our naps at the same time, I actually felt a little less sick.

The kids and I headed downstairs for an afternoon snack, and I picked up a box on the counter that we had received from a dear friend last week but hadn't opened yet. I was holding out until we could really enjoy it together, and it seemed like a sure way to boost our spirits.

Precious words and gifts from loved ones who know and love us so well. What a blessing!

I switched the girls' shirts out for the ones I had found a while back and saved for this day.

A knock on the door then, and yet another dear friend showing up to love on us. Warming our home with her daughters' sweetly decorated cookies and this little jewel that will remind me of how lucky I am that we have found close, sweet friendship in one another.

I felt a little more energized and festive, and so I popped Maddie in the baby bjorn and set about making dinner for the kids and putting Rob's and my dinner in the oven for later. The day wasn't over yet - I was bound to salvage what was left and make the most of what we had left of Valentine's Day!

One fast batch of pink frosted cupcakes - check.

Then Rob walked in the door with beautiful bouquets of flowers - for me AND Ellie! Oh be still my heart. It was the highlight of my day, watching him give those to her... the look on her face... receiving her first flowers, and from daddy. Perfection. They were as big as her.

Rob asked Robbie to help him carry them inside at first, explaining to Robbie that the flowers were from him AND Robbie, for the girls. Teaching Robbie how to love. How to grow up and not always receive, but how to give. To his mother. To his sister. More heart-melting as I watched it all unfold. Thinking, this is my family. The husband I get to spend my life with. The children we are raising and loving. The man who will teach our boy how to become a man himself. I don't deserve any of this. Any of them.

I learned a few important things this Valentine's Day.

I usually try to pull things off on my own. But celebrating love is not a one-man show or a one-day affair. I couldn't make the holiday what I wanted to for the kids - full of themed playdates and homemade cookies and handmade cards and calls across the country to express the love in our hearts for those who are dearest to us.

What I found, instead, was a richness that came from allowing others into the space that sat empty of plans and activities and expectations. By becoming an observer instead of the orchestrator, I was able to realize how loved we are as family and friends took turns expressing themselves.

This may not make sense to anyone. Maybe it makes sense to you reading this, if you have a personality that is similar to mine. I hope it resonates in some way though, and encourages you to open up and receive things differently than you might be used to doing. I know I am learning to force things less (health... fun... agenda... routine!) and roll with things more. Release. Appreciate. Observe. Ask Him first. Wait. Submit. Accept.

And then bask in His glory. Because He always shows Himself to be faithful and true and loving when we seek Him first.

My heart is so full this Valentine's Day.

And also? This set of sweet cheeks is starting to spread her wings. Pulling herself up on everything all of the sudden. You have never seen such a narrow little babe from the back, especially when she is naked!

She can't stop pulling up to standing in her crib, but has yet to master the dismount and therefore cries and cries until she is rescued and laid back down. These little ones. So funny as they figure things out.

Hope your Valentine's Day was lovely and full of love in unexpected places!

{*I celebrated the end of my awful cold by getting a haircut today. Can we shallowly discuss for a moment how wonderful it is when someone else shampoos your hair? Heaven. And then my stylist showed me how to curl my hair with a straight-iron. A straight-iron, people. My mind was blown. I think it makes me a little nerdy or something that this entertains me but there you have it.}

1 comment:

The Larsons said...

You look so lovely even when you're sick. xo
There are so many wonderful things about this post. I'm thankful for the ways the Lord supplied for your needs on this special day of Love. Your family is such a treasure. I praise God for the wonderful husband he has blessed you with. (I can't help but well up with tears sometimes reading your posts, as they mirror so many of my thoughts, family situations, and the similarities in the men we were privileged to marry.)
And, that your day ended with a trip to the salon...perfection! (I ADORE getting my hair washed by another.) xo

P.S. Sorry this is so long.