Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Consider yourselves warned: The following is a major vent session. However, I believe you will be encouraged if you make it to the end and hopefully entertained up until that point!

Have you ever had one of those days?  You know, the kind of day in which you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and the rest of the day seems to follow suit?  What may initially feel like a heavy dose of inconvenience soon unravels into full-on meltdown mode.  With this series of several unfortunate events, you realize that the Enemy of your heart either does NOT want you to do something God is calling you to do or does NOT want you to gain encouragement from it.  You set out to follow God’s will, likely even with joy, and the world just beats you down.

For those of you in my generation or for the parents of people in my generation, you probably remember the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Yep, that’s what these days are like. One thing after another.  Piling on.  This was my day a couple Wednesdays ago.   

After years of not being in a consistent Bible study other than a mom’s group here and there due to having children and more children with more than one child with unique needs, I had decided along with some friends that this fall was the time.  Topical books, groups, and discussion can be great, but I missed simply reading and studying the Bible.  And I knew this is what I needed. God’s Word direct.  Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) seemed like a good choice and wasn’t too far away.  Despite its somewhat daunting expectations, I recalled the numerous times over the years my mom raved about her own participation in BSF.  She loved it, truly loved it.  And apparently I loved it as a young child, too.  My mom credits the children’s program with many of the first Scripture verses I ever memorized. 

I was all set for my inaugural BSF session.  Like a good (well, in my former life) Baptist, I had my Bible in my mom bag— the real thing, not the one on your phone.  With my two youngest in tow, we arrived early as we were instructed to do.  And yet, the parking!  What a disaster!  There was absolutely no parking to be found!  Was all of Atlanta coming to study the Gospel of John?  After circling the various lots and streets for at least ten minutes (now I was late), I passed a friend and we called each other to figure out our plan.  She ended up finding an obscure side lot (not affiliated with the church), and I whipped in behind her. As the quintessential firstborn, Type A who hates being late, I was completely frazzled as my friend held Andrew and her daughter’s hands as I scooped up Michael and we set off for the church. 

Okay, we made it.  No big deal.  Now to find the kids’ rooms.  Another ordeal that took way too long, but once more we made it.  We stashed them with the kind strangers and went on to find our discussion groups, having already missed the large group intro in the sanctuary.  It was hard to focus as I was still recovering from the morning and, mostly, if I’m honest, am NOT used to sitting still or focusing on any one thing for this long!  Can any of you mamas relate? 

But I was glad I went.  Grateful to be on this path.  Trusting God had treasures in store for me.  My desire was to get back in touch with Jesus, in that real, intimate way.  In my heart, not just in my mind or speech.  To know Him more, and to hopefully have that lead to more authentic love for Him and trust in Him.  These relational aspects can be a little (or a lot) shaken when life has taken some unexpected turns.

Well, then came the next bomb.  And this one was the turning point in my day from inconvenience to starting down the “no good, very bad” path.  My friend had to slip out a little early.  I collected my boys and then set out by myself to find my car.  We all have our strong suits, but a sense of direction is NOT one of mine. My family is laughing as they read this—just ask them.  I took a diagonal away from the church in the direction I assumed my car was parked. No such luck.  Then we hiked in the other direction.  Still no car in sight.  I even tried pressing the panic button at various points, hoping my car would appear from behind a bush or pole.  Let me also mention that it was 97 degrees, and I was carrying a one year old on my hip and clutching the hand of my two year old while lugging around that bag containing that real Bible and two diaper bags (at least they looked cute, each one being personalized thanks to another friend and her great taste in baby gifts).  

We walk in literally every possible direction before heading in the right one, not that I had any confidence this last attempt would take us to our car.  I finally saw a small cemetery and remembered the small lot had been near one!  Hope welled up!  After 45 minutes of walking around in the heat and taking many breaks to sit in the shade on the side of these random roads, we found our vehicle.  Praise Jesus!  However, I was not really in a praising Jesus mood by that point.  My whole day was thrown off.  I was supposed to have already dropped the kids at home with a babysitter so I could accompany a friend to her doctor’s appointment.  Not meant to be. 

Then, the minute I get home, a call comes in from John’s school.  They confirmed what I knew they would say on a day like today. John had had a seizure at school— the first observable one since that horrible episode in January that landed him in the hospital for a week. Thankfully, it was not bad, lasted around a minute, and had not required intervention.  I drove straight there and was relived to find he was already back to his happy self.  Phew!  I had an hour before I needed to be back to get him for his ophthalmology appointment, so I took myself out to lunch while waiting. It was definitely the high point of the day. 

The eye doctor… where to begin?  Does everyone else’s ophthalmology appointments take three hours?!  As you know, we are no strangers to a doctor’s office, but the eye doctor tends to be the longest and therefore the most dreaded.  Additionally, I was given conflicting information from the first technician we saw and later from the doctor himself.  “Kids cannot see double; their brains override it.”  Then from the doctor: “The eye gaze module on John’s communication device may be of no help to him since his eyes are misaligned which would cause him to see double."  This was quite discouraging because John is nonverbal.  We are relying on his ability to be proficient and accurate with his communication device in order to express himself.  His fine motor skills are also very limited, so his hands are not an accurate way to select choices either.  This leaves his pupils.  The eye gaze module reads his pupils as he scans the computer to then pause on a choice to select it.  The icing on the cake was when the doctor asked me a question toward the end of the appointment, and then I uttered no more than two words to respond before he put his hand up and told me, “Just focus for a minute.”   Oh my.  I was furious.  And I know this doctor thinks quite highly of himself and does not like to be interrupted.  So I had waited and hadn’t said much of anything throughout the visit until he directly asked ME a question.  Sadly, this is what we go through a lot.  I’m sure each one of you faces your own “eye doctor” type situations.

Needless to say, I was exhausted when we finally got home at 6 after fighting traffic. I told Meade I was heading straight to bed.  I simply could not stay awake any longer.  I canceled my plans for the night, the one thing I had really been looking forward to, and crawled into bed.  Around 7:40, I woke up and actually felt pretty refreshed.  I decided I would just head to my event late.  I emerge from the bedroom to find Meade already heading my way who merely said, “Good timing. I think Andrew may need stitches.” 

I took one look at his big toe, and yes, he most certainly needed stiches.  In fact, I wasn’t sure if the toe would make it. He had fallen out of a bar stool which proceeded to land on his toe.  Meade had been in the room, but there was no way to prevent it (however, we have since stored the bar stools in the attic). We called our babysitter to come back, wrapped Andrew’s foot as tightly as we could, and headed to the E.R. 

The triage nurse told us Andrew’s toe was indeed badly injured but that he wouldn’t lose it.  At this point and with that good news, we were able to succumb to laughter (almost).  This day had been such a disaster, we now kicked back in the waiting room, watched "Cars 2" with a now medicated and much happier Andrew, and happily scarfed down the Chick-fil-a my mom brought.  Quality family time had commenced.  Andrew ended up having an MRI and, much later, anesthesia before getting ten stitches… that’s a lot of stitches in a two year old’s big toe!  We got home around 3:45 am, and I crawled into bed once more, this time with Andrew nestled between Meade and me.  What a day!

Okay so now onto the encouraging part.  I know you can all resonate with this post and have experienced your own share of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days (whether in a “first world” sort of way or outright objectively traumatic).  But here is the interesting thing about most of these days.  The first one, two, or maybe three things are inconvenient, frustrating and possibly even depressing.  But by the fourth or fifth thing, we can start to put two and two together.  Yes, we live in a broken world where bad things just happen.  But we also live in a world inhabited by Satan, and his battle against us is real. 

On that particular Wednesday, I realized that I was up against some spiritual warfare.  The evil one was (and is) set against me because I am aiming, even if in a very imperfect way, to follow Jesus.  Satan did NOT want me to persevere and start Bible study that day. Moreover, he wanted to get me so down and strung out the rest of the day that I would decide I had no place participating in Bible study.  As a caveat, I do think there are seasons to withdraw a bit and not be involved in a formal Bible study.  However, this was my season for jumping back in.  And it is no coincidence that BSF happens to be studying a gospel this year.  I know I needed Jesus.  Just more of Him and more of His words. 

So what do we do when this light bulb goes off?  Well, this is where some holy anger comes into play!  Polite as we may try to be in the rest of our lives, we can and should get mad at Satan!  In fact, you can tell him to go back to Hell where he belongs!  You can tell him that he is NOT going to stop you from pursuing God’s will in your life.  He is NOT going to defeat you, even if he may have tripped you up or lured you into a pity party.  And why can we be so bold?  Certainly not in our own strength.  We are no match for Satan.  BUT, with JESUS, the Name above all Names, Satan doesn’t stand a chance.  We tell him that, since God is for us, nothing can stand against us.  Bad days will come, and we may get down and doubt.  Regularly.  BUT, those things and Satan do not have the final say.  Jesus has defeated sin and death.

Therefore, when these days come and it all lines up, we can even begin to smile, knowing deep down that we must be doing something right if Satan is so eager to tear us down!   He will not win.  We may be battered, bruised, and discouraged, but we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, our Lord!

"The ONE who is in you is GREATER 
than the one (Satan) who is in the world."
-1 John 4:4

Fun visit from Maddie and Poppy this past weekend!

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