Tuesday morning began as usual, except that I had anticipation and excitement for the day. My sweet Bible study of women (61 on the email roster--but usually just around 40 come at a time, due to the unpredictabilities of life.) I had planned to have all the candles lit throughout the house, my favorite Christmas album piping throughout the rooms, a buffet of goodies--appetizers, salads, delectable deserts--fun fellowship around couches and tables for a couple of hours, followed by Sarah playing Christmas music for us to sing to and a grand finale of sweet verses about Mary that God had put on my heart to share. I love these women because they represent to me all the sweet moms I know who daily sacrifice their lives to the Lord by serving their precious children. It was to be a good evening.
However, when I awakened, I noticed that I wasn't feeling just right. To make a long story short, I kept ignoring how I was feeling because of the adrenalin that was flowing in having all of us straighten the house to get ready for the event. I was feeling a strange ache in my lower regions, but thought I could run a couple of errands with my older kids, since Nathan had taken Joy to a lesson and out to lunch for treat. As we stopped for lunch, I was already feeling feverish and shakey--went to the bathroom and passed some blood and clots. I came back to Sarah and Joel and said, "I think I need to go to the doctor--now!" After some calls were made, I was told to go the emergency room and 3 hours later, emerged with some medicine and a pronouncement of a severe urinary tract infection. Whoa---where did that come from? Not now, not today!
Party cancelled, I went to bed. The moms stayed home. The next day, we were scheduled to have our mother-daughter Christmas tea. We have had it for at least 14 years in a row that we can remember. Sarah, undaunted, said, "Mom, I think we still need to have it. But you stay in bed and I will take care of everything!" I knew she was already tired from previous days. But when I awakened the next morning, I found a dazzling table, shining gold and red and china and silverware and candles all sparkling. I walked into the kitchen and was astounded. Seems she had stayed up cooking the night before until midnight and Clay had washed the dishes as she cooked. Always the same menu--chilled raspberry soup to start out with, curried chicken salad with pecans, onions, grapes and vanilla yoghurt dressing as special additions; mixed greens with feta cheese, craisins, onions, and toasted nuts; fresh scones with mock clotted cream and blackberry or raspberry jam and the grand finale, chocolate mousse cake. (Yorkshire Gold tea in one pot and vanilla tea in the other.) Of course she had remembered the angel ornaments as favors for each person at their place! She had done it all, decorated it all, organized it all! I just rested on the couch the rest of the morning until friends came.
In the midst of not feeling well, though, I was blessed deeply in my soul to see my older children rise to the occasion--Joel did the grocery shopping for Sarah, Nathan took Joy to do some shopping for favors for a Christmas party she was having on Friday; Joel made pizza for Joy's friends, Nathan laid out the chips and dip---a Christmas party for a few girls from Youth Performing arts choir and then the results of above tea. I told Sarah, that now that she could make great potato soup (our comfort food when we are sick--she had made me some the night before) and organize and run our formal Christmas luncheon for 11, while taking care of the needs of everyone at the end of having worked tirelessly on editing a book, then she was indeed ready to get married. (Problem is, no godly men in sight at this moment. Oh, well, any prayers toward this end would be appreciated, though I am benefiting a lot from having a best friend still at home!)
We have never had good support systems--not much family to nurture my children. Perhaps because I am in and out of town and have groups in my home, people perceive me as having support systems and friends. But we have not had that broad community of people who bring meals and help clean the house or do favors during illness. I have so appreciated the wonderful friends who have so generously blessed us over the years. (A couple of friends blessed us with 2 meals this week that were indeed yummy! And we are indeed blessed with all the wonderful people we know!) Yet, moving so much and the nature of our traveling ministry, has limited these kinds of support systems for us. But I do have this great community, though, that I think will always be loyal no matter what--it is my immediate family. We grew with our children and became each other's best friends over the years. We have had to meet each other's needs. We have had to appreciate each other's art or skills and comfort each other in the midst of life. But it is the picture of what God created the family to be--before the fall--before sin entered the world--He created the family to be the place of stability, security, blessing and comfort. So, now, as I am surrounded my own little community of Clay, Sarah, Joel, Nathan and Joy, I am thankful that through the years of forging our own stability, the kids were learning and growing in independence. Our deep desire for friendship is still there. We have gone through so many times of wishing for kindred spiritual friends. I did think, at times, that I would probably die early of exhaustion, and had to deal with all sorts of emotions over the years as Clay and I primarily raised our children without much help or support. And we dearly love our friends--we love the families we know best. But, now, with years of faith-filled enduring the seasons of life, we also are thankful for the little team that God has forged here in our home--a precious legacy that is still intact and blesses us more each year.
On another note, it is easy to read about someone else's traditions and think them perfect. But, not true at our home. Lest you think our days run perfectly and things happen easily--the shower also broke in the midst of in the tea party day and started leaking, and Joy eventually came down with a little stomach bug. There were still dirty dishes after the tea, but even washing all the dishes from the party was a memory as all the moms, my 33 year old niece and Sarah made easy work of the kitchen together amongst the giggling and antics--even the work was a time for great fellowship. All while I sat and enjoyed the scene.
I see that it is good for me to be reminded that my children are pretty self-sufficient without me. They have listened and lived and learned well. It is what we all wait for. But sometimes, with everyone at home, and me still in charge, I can forget how capable they are--ready for life, skillful for the challenges ahead. Even more, this week did not meet my plan--it is not how I wanted to spend the Christmas season. (Seems my bladder infection has now moved to possible kidney infection or kidney stone--the adventure is not over yet! )But, this season will be special--different from all the rest--because I was ministered to personally, deeply, by the love and care of my children--a hand massage from my two girls, flowers from a thoughtful child, Clay manning the kitchen dishes with the help of the boys. Maybe if I had been well, I would have made it through the whole holiday season without any personal needs met. Resting and resisting being a Martha is against my nature. But, submitting to the moment, gave me a peace that all will be well, as life went on well without me being in charge. It was a reminder to me that, "All flesh is like the grass. The grass withers and fades away, but the word of the Lord endures forever." This mortal life passes and is no more. Someday, the distractions will all be over for us! My focussed season of motherhood will be over soon, and I will hopefully be able some day, to be the support system to my own children with their children. But learning to rest in this day and learning to see with the eyes of my heart all that I have to be thankful for, is what keeps my soul alive and filled with light. I am indeed blessed! May I ever, each day, keep coming back to investing in that which will last, love for each other, love for God, living in His truth and provision. Hope you have a merry week!