Sunday, April 3, 2011

Seven Days of Grace for the Weak

Our mid-March taste of spring was apparently nothing more than a tease, because we had flurries and hail the following week, and - no joke! - a few inches of snow on April 1. In addition, after a blessedly healthy winter, everyone in our family now has a cold, which has only added to the list of daily concerns. In fact, last week was full of appointments and errands, sickness and showings. There were many little challenges, and yet through it all, there were glimpses of God's grace.

It was on Sunday that Lydia woke up with her nose running like a faucet - a faucet that continued to drip for several days, and needed to be chased with a tissue in order to prevent her from leaving a trail of mucous smears through the house. We had a showing right after church, which meant that the house had to be in perfect order before we left. My dear husband obligingly helped me by vacuuming the floors, but in the process, somehow managed to stop the agitator from functioning, effectively crippling our vacuum cleaner. I guess that's what I get for asking for help!

Since we could not go home right away, we tried something that is commonplace for most Americans, but not for our family: visiting a fast food drive-through. While we will occasionally stop to get something for Don, this was the first time that the whole family was part of the operation. Picky Donny had a nutritious lunch of French fries, while the only meat that was safe for allergic Hayden turned out to be some extremely sticky boneless chicken wings drowned in a leaky container of sauce. Despite the potential for disaster (and the lack of feedback from the home buyers) it was a nice afternoon, and I don't think we even left any French fries behind to pollute our vehicle.

Monday morning I took Hayden to a three hour long appointment at the allergist for an egg challenge. The purpose was to see if despite testing positive for egg allergies, he could tolerate small amounts of egg in a baked good. Over the course of three hours, the boy who has never tasted a trace off egg ingredients ate one and a half cookies that I had baked with egg in them. He had no reaction whatsoever, which led to the joyful proclamation: he can eat foods with baked with eggs! While he still has milk and nut allergies to beware of, and omelets are off limits, this will expand his dietary choices in exciting new ways. He was thrilled to be able to eat regular cookies!

Tuesday was an OB appointment to follow up on some minor bleeding I had a few weeks ago. I was not only relieved to know that the baby is alive and well, but it was incredible to see all the tiny features via ultrasound on a 2 1/2 inch long person. I am so thankful for the technology that allows us to have that glimpse into God's amazing Creation - truly He does knit us together in the womb!

Not all of pregnancy has been smooth-sailing; there is the regular first trimester fatigue and nausea to deal with, and in addition, my varicose veins are already showing their ugly selves. Many days this week, I had minor pain in my leg that made me long to get off my feet (a difficult task for busy mothers, as I'm sure you know). Wednesday we went for our weekly chiropractic adjustments, which have been immensely helpful for Hayden's breathing, but thanks to Lydia's cold, he still started to wheeze that evening. After the boys had gone to bed and I was figuring out how to set up Hayden's new humidifer, we got a call for a showing: tomorrow at 10:30am. Any delusions I had of getting to bed early were quickly swept away as I realized that I needed to get to work tidying, baking, and doing something to exterminate the pesky ants that kept crawling though our dining room.

The next morning was our typical pre-showing routine: rushed breakfast, quick clean-ups, putting away anything remotely personal or cluttery, turning on all the lights, and the boys playing Angry Birds on Don's phone to stay out of trouble. I baked some delicious chocolate chip cookies (thanks for the recipe, Di!) and had every crumb, dish, and speck of visible lint cleaned up just in time. The children's rough-housing left Lydia screaming and bleeding just minutes before departure time, but even so, things were (relatively) under control. The boys were in their boots waiting for me by the door when the phone rang: the showing was canceled. Apparently, the Lord wanted my house clean that day! And thanks to the lack of buyers, my sweet husband and I got to enjoy the cookies ourselves. We turned off the lights, put the cookies away, and breathed a mixed sigh of frustration and relief.

Friday is usually my grocery shopping day, but because we were already dressed to go out and snow was in this Friday's forecast, we made our weekly excursion a day early. Grocery shopping with three little ones has become a rather exhausting task which seems to suck up most of the day. That left Friday for homeschool. Did I mention that we are now doing five days of school a week? Since we took a year and a half to do kindergarten, I had planned to use a similar schedule for first grade, so that Donny would complete first grade at the same time his public school counterparts do, and we could have plenty of time for errands and outings with a 2 to 3 day per week school schedule. However, Don recently expressed his desire for the boys to learn as much as possible, and accordingly, we are now doing five days of school in one week instead of two. So far, the boys have not even seemed to notice the adjustment. I am so thankful that they are both eager learners who can master new material quickly!

By Friday, Don and Donny had the cold too, and I had a headache, so we missed our small group meeting of church friends. I ran to the pharmacy to pick up Hayden's nebulizer medication: has hasn't needed it for months, praise God, but this cold triggered his reactive airway disease. I had forgotten that our insurance does not cover the medicine up-front (they reimburse us for a portion of it instead), so the initial bill was for $300! I asked to only get one box instead, cutting the cost down to $154, and meanwhile Don came home from a dentist appointment with a similar bill. Good thing we have insurance!

Lydia apparently napped for far too long while I was running errands, because she was wide awake even past 10pm that night. Don and I finally had to turn out all the lights and lie down with her in bed to convince her that it was bedtime, and even then, she continued to crawl on our heads, ask for her Cheerios and water, and hog my pillow for far longer than I wanted to be awake. Then late in the light, my head still throbbing with a migraine and my legs in a more minor discomfort, Hayden woke up coughing. As I gave him his inhaler and his water and rubbed his back, running through my mind were the words "God's grace." How can I get through this difficult night, with my own tired body in pain and my son struggling for breath? Only by His grace. By His grace Hayden fell to a peaceful sleep, I got back to my own bed, and morning came with the headache pain gone.

Saturday was a day of waiting for Don to finish a work project so that we could enjoy an outing to a maple sugar house. He finally finished in the afternoon, and we were able to complete our field trip in time for a family birthday party in the evening. We enjoyed our time with family despite a few sniffles and sneezes.

When Sunday came again, we were all sick (with the possible exception of Lydia, whose nose has finally dried up), so we stayed home from church. I waited for many minutes to drop off our vacuum cleaner at the repair shop, and thanks to a faded receipt, they almost couldn't find our information in the system. I thank God that we bought the five year warranty (not the three year, as I had thought) and that at the last minute, He allowed me to remember our old phone number, which retrieved our information and assured that the repair would be covered. Thank you, Lord!

And now it is Sunday again. Our house is for sale, everyone is sick, I have no vacuum cleaner for ten days, and a new crop of ants are marching one by one into our home. And yet, there is grace. I sent the coughing, sniffling boys outside to play for a few minutes before dinner, but soon Hayden reappeared at the door.

"A sign of spring!" he exclaimed, holding out to me a small, tired-looking dandelion. Even as bits of Friday's snow clung to the neighbor's lawn and we shivered in the chilly wind, Hayden was right: it was first flower of spring. A sign of hope. A tiny yellow reminder that in spite of each day's trials and challenges, there is grace. There is a God who takes weak and broken people like you and me and lifts us up out of the muck and mire. I do not need to wallow in today's pain or fear what tomorrow may bring. He will hold my hand, and each new day, if I have eyes to see it, there is evidence of His overwhelming grace.

For I am the LORD your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10


  1. Hey Manda,
    I love reading your updates and hearing how life is going for your family. I hear your pain on the house selling - it is CRAZY-MAKING! I had to giggle about the Angry Birds - when Jackson needs to sit still and wait somewhere, his favorite thing is Angry Birds!
    :) Erin

  2. Nice to hear from you, Erin! :) Funny about Angry Birds - apparently it's the in thing! When we were waiting at the chiropractor last time we actually saw another little boy playing Angry Birds on his mom's phone. My boys immediately started looking over his shoulder and talking about egg levels. While I'm not crazy about how hooked they are on a video game, it has certainly been helpful for keeping them occupied when I need to tidy the house and can't let them make any mess!