Thursday, January 22, 2015

Poop in the Bathtub.

I know every mom has this struggle. It's like Russian roulette except not potentially deadly, just potentially really inconvenient. You put your baby in the bathtub to clean up for bedtime, and you see it--the huge belly full of woe.

"Adeline," I say, "Please. If you feel like you need to poopoo, please tell Mommy, okay?"
"No, Adeline, I need you to actually know what you're saying. What are you going to say if you need to poopoo?"
"No, I need you to say 'MAMA! POOPOO!' as loud as you can so I can hear you while I'm cleaning your room, okay?"
"What are you going to say if you have to poopoo when you're in the bathtub?"
"Yes, that's exactly what you say."

I go to clean her room really quickly, and hear her playing in the bathtub, undoubtedly splashing water all over the place. Water is easy to clean up, though, so who cares? As I'm putting away the last few of her toys I hear her say "Mama, Addie, Mama, Addie...(this is an echoing game she likes to play with me, except she plays it by herself a lot, too)."

Then silence for a second, then the most pitiful little "...Mama?"
I walk into the bathroom and her little significant accident is floating all around her.
"...Mama? Poopoo."
I heave a big sigh. I lay a towel on the floor to soak up the water she splashed everywhere, rinse her quickly, then sit her on it and wrap a big towel around her and ask her to wait there while I begin to clean up the mess. As I'm cleaning she reaches for me and again, in a tiny voice, "...Mama?"
"Just a minute, sweetie, Mommy has to clean the mess."
I can hear tears in it this time. "Mama?"

I turn, and--arms still open, misty eyed--she says, "Sowwy."

What kind of one and a half year old offers a sincere apology like that?! Without missing a beat I scoop up the toddler in a big, clumsy hug.

Now, I have found a parallel in this whole situation that easily lines up with a person's relationship with God, and I realize for some it may be obvious, but I still felt like it was a lesson I needed to sit, think about, write out, and share.

After the drama of the moment had passed and I sat rocking her and going through our usual bedtime routine of pointing out every animal toy or picture she can see in the room and making its sound (the monkey's sound is usually repeated at least eight times), lots of hugs complete with "AWHHH"s and nose kisses, I rocked Addie for a minute and said, "You know what, Addie? Some day when you understand that Mommy and Daddy can't clean up all of your messes, you'll learn that Jesus cleans them up for you. He cleans up Mommy's messes all the time. Let's say our goodnight prayer and thank Jesus for cleaning up our messes." Now, as crazily self-aware as her apology was for her age, at this point she can only say "Dear Dog" and "Amen" (she is going to be really confused when she finally says "God" instead of "Dog" and realizes there isn't a heavenly labradoodle watching over us), so I realize this thought went right over her head; however, I needed to say it out loud for my own sake.

How many times does the Holy Spirit move us and convict us when we are abiding by our own strength instead of His, and yet we move right along and don't ask for His guidance until we have already made a mess of things? And, when we finally look around and realize we can't clean it up, we're like, "...God?"

Although, I don't think He heaves a big, victimized sigh like I did. I think when we come to him full of sincere repentance, He does scoop us up like that. He cleans the mess we've made in our hearts, and teaches us to do the right thing, and how to wisely handle whatever consequences come our way.

If you need God's help and forgiveness, ask Him, and he will gladly give it. And don't worry, everyone poops in the bathtub at least once.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: In Like a Plague of Locusts, Out Like a Tornado

A year ago today, Blake and I were stuffing everything we owned into boxes and driving to Willow Springs as fast as we could legally go (or, even a tiny bit illegally). In less than 24 hours, almost all of our belongings were carried into our house here at the ranch, and we could finally breathe easy. Six months of waiting, so perfectly ended on the first day of 2014. Adeline was seven months old.

Our first two boys moved in that week, and thus began the whirlwind that was 2014 for us. Even though houseparenting is a difficult job, and there were definitely days and weeks that left us totally worn out, we were (and are) just happy to be here. Our house has been home to six boys, some for a brief time, and some still now (I wanted to say seven, but since he isn't getting here until Saturday he doesn't actually count as a 2014 resident).

I am eagerly awaiting what 2015 has in store for us. You see, 2013 was a year that started well (graduating college, Adeline being born), then became extremely difficult until the very last week, where our lives took a turn for the better. On the other hand, 2014 was a year full of hope and victory, until the very last week.

Last week our family lost our patriarch, Paul Paschall. Christmas was filled with tears for our family, as we became aware that it would be the last time Papa would be sitting with us as we opened all of our presents together. He passed away the day after Christmas, and we buried him yesterday, the last day of 2014. We grieve, but we also hope for the day we see him again. When Blake, Adeline and I got home last night, with less than an hour left of 2014, we came home to a fridge full of groceries, a clean house, and a note from our relief parents letting us know they were thinking of and praying for us. With hope and sadness Blake and I kissed 2014 goodbye.

The past year is one I will remember almost completely fondly, and that is because of Willow Springs, our Promised Land; not perfect, but promised, through which God has blessed us abundantly. It is baffling how quickly 2014 passed, and our first year as houseparents here. If I know anything of God's faithfulness, then I know 2015 will be another year full of life, however easy or difficult, and that we can trust Him either way.

" we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV)

I think this verse is becoming our family's life verse. We came to WSBR to share life with boys in need, and we have had life shared with us. This verse is the legacy that Papa left with us, as his life was full of sharing and giving of himself. Though where our giving takes place may change, we know that God has called us to give our lives to those who need the gospel. Not just our tracks or our trite church sayings, but our investment, our time, our tears.

So, on this first day of 2015, I ask you to share life with me, and with Willow Springs. Pray for this ministry. Give to this ministry. I can't promise that sharing life will be easy, but it will be full.

Here are some things you can be praying for this week:

  • We have a new boy moving in this Saturday. He is in seventh grade, which brings our seventh grader total to three. Pray for him and our other three boys as they readjust to life at home and school here after being home for two weeks, after their families graciously worked with us as we spent time with our family in Texas this last week after Papa passed away. 
  • Blake and I will be going on a cruise for a week, and we leave a week from this Sunday. Pray especially for Blake that he will have some well-earned relaxation after a very difficult month, and for our relief parents as they do what they do best: bless us and make our lives easier! 
  • Please continue to pray for needs to be met. As of Saturday, both houses will have four boys each! Filling houses is great, but providing for the growth can be challenging. We trust that God will meet these needs; please join us in praying for this with full confidence. 
Please continue to pray for our family as we grieve and hope. Thank you, friends of Willow Springs, for sharing life with us.