Yesterday I found myself in a bit of an odd situation. It was mid-afternoon when I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor, surrounded by scattered condiments and salad dressing and a random jar of maraschino cherries. Looking back, I’m thinking I should’ve just tossed them out then and there. After all, I couldn’t recall the last time we had ice cream sundaes, so they were probably expired… if items like that even do expire. But there I sat, a broken open container of almond milk pooling towards me lazily as I glared at it through bitter tears. In the background, my children frantically knocked on the door – the very door that I had locked moments before after banishing them into nature. It was a mere 30 seconds before they both realized they needed to pee.
I feel the need to explain my emotional state to you all.
This week was Day Camp Week for my oldest (my oldest who is on a new medication that has made him speak every thought that pops into his head… I had no idea that he was capable of thinking so frequently). This week was also Vacation Bible School Week for our church, which I help lead.
When I first realized that both events landed on the same week, I immediately went into a state of hypervigilience. Frantic, I planned out each hour of each day for the duration of the craziness. Throwing in three doctor appointments, setting up for VBS, and the half-hour commute to and from day camp, all the while accounting for the toddler’s nap schedule, I estimated that I had roughly -8.65 hours to accomplish all that needed to be done for the week.
I hadn’t even started yet and I was already behind!!
Obviously this was also the week my trusty babysitter had to travel out of state for work, so I did what I had to do – I panicked and then reminded myself that it’s only a week. And we can accomplish anything as long as we know there’s a time limit, right?
Well, that’s what I used to tell myself anyways, before this week happened, that is.
To sum it all up, here are some of the daily events that got jammed into my already crazy schedule:
1) To start the week off, I stabbed myself through the middle finger of my dominant hand. Yes, there was blood. Yes, there was nausea and dizziness. No, this is not what caused the refrigerator to explode its condiments all over the kitchen… that happened at the end of the week! Using a fondue prong to poke a hole in dried up nail glue for my daughter, I accidently pierced through the top of my finger and straight out the side. After bandaging it thoroughly, I realized that I was going to be attending VBS with the inability to bend my finger down all the way – causing me to flip off each and every parent, child, and volunteer I met. Nothing says “Welcome To Our Church” like the worship leader giving everyone the finger.
2) This week, my toddler threw a royal fit in the mall parking lot, a place where we were killing time before having to pick Cameron up from camp. This occurred during the middle of a thunder storm, and I dropped my purse, spilling all the contents under our van. I climbed under the vehicle to retrieve my things, coming up soaking wet and filthy... and then my shoe broke. My new shoe. It broke beyond repair, leaving me to go collect my son from camp a wet, muddy, shoe-less mess... and all the other parents looked at me with pity.
3) Wyatt also decided to pack his cuppy into my purse before we left the house for the day. Only the lid wasn’t shut. Only after setting my purse on my lap later that day did I realize that my legs were getting wet. When I lifted the purse, RED juice dripped from the lining of my brand new bag, staining my pants AND all that was inside. My umbrella is now pink, you guys.
4) While at the store, Wyatt basically exploded in his diaper. This occurred shortly after we realized that we’d left the diaper bag at VBS the prior night (because having no sitter, he was forced to come to VBS and eat his weight in cheese balls with the very generous ladies working the snack station!) Seeing that the only thing we had left was a swim diaper in the van, I tried to make due. Except a half hour later, we stood in the middle of Walmart as peed dripped down Wyatt’s legs and shoes. And since he fell asleep on the way home, the fact that I had to change his drenched clothes completely woke him up, rendering him napless for the rest of the day.
5) Taylor tried to tell me that she broke our ceramic garbage can by “looking at it”. When I looked at her like she had 3 heads, she burst into tears, saying, “You never believe me!” Of COURSE I don’t believe you, honey! Because you’re 8 years old and you don’t have dark magic!! You obviously didn’t cause the garbage can to explode with your laser-focus! But what do I know? I only have 2 degrees… and she can’t even spell “garbage can”.
6) This week, our audio-visual system at the church decided to malfunction. Why? Who knows, because I have about as much technical experience as a giraffe. I spent over an hour unplugging and re-plugging cords in, turning machines off and restarting them, calling and recalling friends that could tell me what the “little red button” does and if the “blue knobby thingys” are important or not.
7) Over half of our VBS volunteers also had crazy weeks, causing most of them to cancel some, if not all, of the days they were scheduled to help out. Luckily, we had other random people stop by the church and we sucked them into our madness (after having them fill out the necessary paperwork, of course)… not that it helped me remember several of their names. Sadly, I ended up calling everyone Sweetie or Buddy in order to save face. (Bur rest assured, they were needed and they stepped up, so I love them. Whoever they are.)
8) Because our church welcomes those that sometimes don’t fit in at other churches, we found ourselves on the receiving end of a group of kiddos that were “energetic”, many of whom have special needs. Now, for the record, I LOVE that our church is this place. I love that we open our arms to everyone and are willing to make them our family within seconds of shaking their hands. This, quite honestly, is my favorite thing about where we worship. But as the needs of the many flew around me like confetti in a tornado, I found myself running after AWOLing children, pulling a googly eye out of a little girl’s nose, keeping a child from pulling up little girls’ shirts, and uttering the phrase “For the last time, please stop licking your neighbors’ ears!” And to top it off, I found a half-eaten lollipop in my purse, securely stuck to the inside lining… and we didn’t even have suckers at VBS this year.
And then, finally, as the week was drawing to a close and my sanity was waning (OK, let’s be honest, I lost it somewhere on Tuesday after my shoe broke), someone ate all the pepperoni out of our fridge. My pepperoni. And the VBS power point I was working on took 6 hours to do something that should've taken 20 minutes. And did I mention Cameron’s new medication and the incessant talking?
Friends, this is when I broke our refrigerator door.
I'm not exactly proud of breaking the fridge. They say that it is in our moments of weakness that we find our strength. And I did. But there was no pepperoni and I hadn't eaten, and therefore, the fridge needed to die.
My husband returned home that afternoon and quickly surveyed the children locked outside, fear etched onto their little faces. He cautiously unlocked the door with the key and worked his way to the kitchen. Shattered pieces of broken plastic and food residue littered the floor. Silently, he walked towards me as I hyperventilated at my computer, willing it to work. Kneeling down beside me, he gently offered me a hug.
“So… are we having a rough day?” he tried.
My face still puffy from crying, my hands still shaking from anxiety, I received his hug and just let myself relax into his big arms. When he pulled back, there was a trace of a smirk on his face. He lovingly nicknamed me “The Hulk” before allowing the children to come back into the house and finally pee. And I was given strict instructions to go out to eat and have some alone time.
I didn’t argue. After all, he was right. I needed some alone time. I needed to regroup after all the craziness and constant running from place to place this week.
That night, four children came to know Christ at VBS. Four small souls that didn’t know who God was now will spend their eternity with Him.
I tell you all this because of one important thing:
In the midst of it all, It Is Well.
When VBS seems like it’s a disaster, then It Is Well. When my purse and all its contents are ruined and I’m left shoeless and muddy, It Is Well. When my pepperoni runs out in the middle of a low-sugar moment, then It Is STILL Well! (And when my husband saved me from breaking the rest of the appliances with my super-human strength, It Was most definitely Well.)
I got thinking, maybe your week has been somewhat like mine. Maybe you've felt the stress and maybe you've lost your cool. Maybe you've felt the pressures of having to be everywhere for everyone, doing everything and not feeling like you've got any help or like everything you touch breaks or falls apart or you have a toddler (enough said) or a child (or two) with mental health issues or behavioral needs or emotional trauma....
Maybe you've reached your limit this week and you think you can't possibly go on... that a day of rest cannot get here soon enough!
Even so, It IS Well. It is so well that God gives us the right to cry and be frustrated and angry and sad without Him losing control of our situations. He allows us to be human and emotional - and then to rest, knowing that He's got it. He's got your kid. He's got your job. He's got your health. And he's even got that relationship that's on shaky ground. He's got YOU, Friend. All of you, every single part.
And even if you don’t have big arms to physically rest upon, know that God’s arms are always there. He’s holding them out to you, just like He held them out to four beautiful children this week. Just reach out and remember that He won’t let you go… no matter how many fridges you destroy.