"Mommy, why you singin'?"
"Because singing makes me happier, and I've had a bad day."
A few minutes later...
"Bwess da Woord, ah my tole... I had a bad day, but singin' make me happy."
Well, if nothing else, my children will learn some good songs and that singing can make a bad day better.
As I was listening to my "strength" playlist while fixing dinner towards the end of a very trying day, I was brought back in my memory to the last time I listened to that playlist over, and over, and over again.
My daughter had just been diagnosed with autism and was facing an MRI that I feared would reveal more problems and need for more surgeries.
I felt helpless. I was so discouraged, and wanted so badly to fix everything, but there was nothing I could do. I'd been doing everything that was suggested, and trying to find more to do was just overwhelming. All the programs cost money we didn't have, there was no intensive therapy available within 5 hours. And I'd worked so hard, so long, to try to avoid the very diagnosis she'd been given.
My husband sent me out to a field, to look at the open sky and rest in the God that made it. And while there, I was able to say, "thank You, God, for the autism." And over the next few weeks as we waited on the MRI, I sang over and over, "Though You slay me, yet I will praise you. Though you take from me, I will bless Your name. Though You ruin me, still I will worship, sing a song to the One Who's all I need" by Shane & Shane.
And while I sat in that hospital, I played those words over and over in my head: "I come, God, I come, returning to the One Who's broken, Who's torn me apart. You strike down to bind me up, You say You do it all in love."
And we came through it. Six months later, there have been no more brain surgeries. Many problems that seemed like a brain problem were caused by something controllable with a strict regimen of Miralax and fiber gummies. She has made great progress, not only tolerating but enjoying social activities such as Awana and preschool. Just a few weeks ago, she walked to children's church with her sister without me. That was huge! The autism isn't gone, but we're not regressing, and we have great hope that she'll be just fine.
Life was pretty good. Busy. Chaotic, which is normal for us. But good.
Then, some things I had let get lost in the shuffle of life with 3 young children suddenly became urgent problems. Then water started bubbling out of a hole in the basement floor. Then I did a load of laundry and we had small fountain and a growing stream in our basement.
Suddenly, life wasn't good anymore.
Suddenly, "I'm thankful for indoor plumbing" wasn't just something to get a laugh at the Thanksgiving table, but it was a serious "I'll be thankful when we can actually use ours again." At first, my panic was simply, how are we going to pay for this? Then it became, can we get this fixed before the ground freezes? Then it became, can we even find a plumber able to do anything?
And I was panicking. I was ready to get out in the yard with a shovel myself.
But the kids threw shredded paper all over my freshly cleaned living room, and so I put on those songs.
And I was reminded... over the bowl of rinse water to be discarded outside... God is as much in charge of my pipes as He is my daughter's brain.
So what if this is happening because I haven't been faithful in tithing?
Do I discipline my kids just because I'm mad at them and want them to suffer?
Or do I discipline them in order to get them to a better place, a place where we can enjoy a relationship, where they can be functional and able to grow into what they are capable of doing?
Even in the discipline... the point isn't what they did wrong. Not really. It's part of it, and it's important for them to realize their mistakes. BUT... in most if not all cases, a focus on the positive will do just as good a job helping them to make better choices. Tonight, they spread shredded paper all over my clean living room. Had I told them not to do that? Not really. But what they need to learn is not "don't spread shredded paper," but "be kind and considerate." Which is more relational and less a rule.
I may feel like I can do more in this situation than with Ladybug's brain. I can tithe. I can help haul concrete, or hand pipes, or make coffee in disposable cups for anyone helping us. But if that's all I do... I'm missing the point. At least I think I am. Because the point may be less about do x, y, and z, and more about, trust Me. Let Me handle it. Take that tithe money out, even though that means there's more month than there is money. Bring Me the plumbing problems, because I've already got a plan for how you're going to get through the winter. I knew about that crumbling pipe, and the in-the-way gas line, and the half-dead trees, and the friends with skills, and the lack of plumbers. And even though it was your mistake, I knew about that misunderstood and misplaced bill too.
And I don't want anyone to think I'm putting words in God's mouth. I sure haven't heard Him audibly speak any of that. But I do know for a fact that nothing surprises God. That He's in control of everything. So... maybe that's what He's teaching me?
Or maybe he just wanted my kids to hear me singing on a bad day, so they'd learn that it helps.