Saturday, April 6, 2013

An Ordinary Day

""Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings;
that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
I Peter 4:12,13

"You never miss the water 'til the well runs dry"....
not sure who originally came up with that one,
but the full impact of its truth has never hit me
as much as it did that long, dreary night on the road.

It was late.
Little Zach was so tired.
Everything inside me wished and longed with all my heart for....home.
For rest.
For normal.
For an ordinary day.
You never miss the ordinary until it is replaced...with anything but ordinary.

Tears rose from deep inside,
found their way into the corners of my exhausted eyes,
spilled over and coursed down my cheeks,
nearly blinding me from seeing the seemingly endless road in front of me.
We were still nearly 30 miles or so from home,
and I honestly wondered where I would find the strength to hold my eyes open
to keep driving.
I looked in the rearview mirror & tried to see Zach's face,
in the back seat directly behind me.
It was too dark.
I was glad he couldn't see the tears.
I was powerless to stop their incessant flow.

My mind went to a few moments before.
I could still see Mom seated in her wheelchair...
her little hand waving good-bye...
for as long as she could see us walking away...
down the long, empty hall
outside her room in the nursing home.

Every night it was hard to leave her.
It never got any easier.
You would think we would be used to it by now.
Day after day after long, dreary day,
we packed up our stuff and went to see her.
We tried to eat at least one meal a day in her room with her....
just to break up her monotony and try to bring "ordinary" and "normal"
into her otherwise drab and anything but normal room.
She always got depressed when we had to leave.
Her future was uncertain.
No one, including the doctors, was sure how things were going to turn out.
I didn't want to have any regrets....after Mom was gone forever.
Thank the dear Lord, I don't.

The weight I carried that night....and every night.....was smothering.
I did every, possible thing I make things right....for everyone around me.
I was running myself completely ragged,
trying to homeschool on the road, in her room, or wherever else we could squeeze it in,
trying to keep our household running with at least some semblance of normalcy,
and giving my utmost to be the wife, mother, and daughter I so longed to be.
On top of regular life,
I was bearing the overwhelming responsibilities of church leadership
and dealing with all of the good, the bad, and the ugly that goes along with it.

I was spreading myself so thin, I felt completely transparent.
Dangerously laid every flaw and inner discrepancy.
There were no lovely hide my inward pain and turmoil.
I felt my nerves would completely snap at any given moment.
Talk about burning the candle at both ends.  :~)
Both ends were getting shorter and shorter,
and I knew soon, I was going to burn completely out.

This wasn't the first time we had walked this trying path.
We had just gone through all of this three and a half years before when
Mom had suffered serious, life-threatening injuries from a car accident.
After surgery, she had then ended up in a nursing home in the same city....
30 some odd miles from home.

I looked up into the now dark sky and wondered why things couldn't be different.

"If I only had a clone!", I thought.
"If there were just one more of me....
someone who could take my place every now and then,
fill my shoes,
lift the overwhelming load....
give me a break.....

Bless Kevin's kind and faithful heart, he was supportive, as always....
doing every possible thing he could do....
being there in every possible way he could be.

Ever wish for a clone....of yourself?
Because there just wasn't enough of you to go around?
Someone who would love and care and give and work every bit as hard as you do,
every, single day....
so the real you could take a vacation or at least go someplace peaceful and rest?

An ordinary day.
What I would have given for one that night!
Just a plain, normal day...
with its mundane,
its routine,
its predictability.

The gift of any ordinary day is a true miracle.
Days that are unmarked by unpleasant surprises.
Days that are within the parameters of normal.
Days with no unexpected deviations from what is...well, expected.
How could we ever complain about an ordinary day?
How could we ever not recognize and realize its value?
How could we ever grumble about picking up the same toy for the 5th time?
Or about explaining the same math lesson three times straight
and still being met with the same blank expression?
Or about the grass-stained knees of the jeans we just bought last week?
Or about the toilet seat hinges that only seem to work when we walk into the bathroom?
Or about bending over to pick up the socks that always seem to land two to three feet from the hamper?

These are all a part of the miracle of an ordinary day.
Precious beyond measure.
Valued far beyond earthly riches.

To live 24 hours without facing an extraordinary trial 
is one of God's greatest blessings.

We only realize the invaluable treasure of an ordinary day
when life takes an unexpected turn and everything turns upside down.
Then we miss it.
Then we long for it.
Then we'd give anything we have to have such small things to complain about.

I suppose, by the modern-world's standards,
my ordinary days would be considered dull.
But to me, ordinary is precious...
it means everything.
To me, ordinary is wonderfully extraordinary.
Being a full-time wife, mother, homeschool teacher, and household guide
are some of the most precious, extra-ordinary gifts I have ever been given.
I don't take one second of any of it for granted....ever.
Every ordinary day I am permitted to live and fulfill my God-given,
God-designed roles, fulfills me to overflowing
and draws depths of thanksgiving from my inmost soul.
I give praise often for this priceless thing called life.
It can all be snuffed out in one heartbeat.
In one second, everything can change.
Then ordinary would be the most coveted thing in the world.

I don't understand why trials come.
Why circumstances are what they are sometimes.
I have often wondered why God allowed Mom to go through an
extended stay in a nursing home not only once, but twice.
The strain it put on our lives was near-unbearable.
Both times, it was the same.
Maybe I didn't learn all of the lessons God wanted me to learn
the first time around?
Maybe that is why three and a half years later, we went through it.....
all over again?
It felt like an utter nightmare.
Honestly, there were days I didn't think I could get through it.
I longed for ordinary...over and over and over.
It seemed ordinary would never return.

God, in His infinite wisdom, has His reasons....
for the ordinary and the not-so-ordinary.
For taking us through repeat trials.
For allowing life to be comprised of peaks and valleys.
For taking us through the same fiery furnace.....more than once sometimes.

In school, Zachary has been doing an in-depth study on the life of the Apostle Paul.
He has found it so intriguing.
It has stoked an already-burning zealous fire for the Gospel
within his 12 year-old, in-love-with-Jesus heart.
Last night, we finished watching the rest of the film, "Peter and Paul",
as an accompaniment to Zachary's studies.
At the end, I watched flowing tears stream down Zachary's face as it showed
the actor who played the part of Peter standing on a hillside,
preaching his heart out to a crowd,
as Roman soldiers approached him from a distance.
He kept preaching as long as he could,
as the soldiers pressed through the crowd and grabbed him by the arms to drag him away.
I found it hard to keep my eyes on the screen,
because my eyes were drawn like a magnet to watching Zachary's expression
and how deeply what was happening to Peter was affecting him.
The thing that struck both of us most was what Peter was saying.
It was right before the soldiers got to him...
right before they took him away to be crucified....upside-down.
He was quoting words from his own epistle found in I Peter 4:12,13,
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings;
that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

I don't know if it happened exactly as it was portrayed in the movie.
But, I can just imagine Peter crying out those words to the faithful believers
who risked their lives to come to hear him preach that day.

I look at the trials that seem so fiery to me,
and I compare them with what Peter and Paul and Stephen
and all of the others in the early morning church endured.
Somehow, mine don't seem so fiery after all.
I praise God for moments of reprieve.
I thank Him from the bottom of my heart that we live in a country
where we still have the liberty to worship God as we want to,
without fear of being persecuted as those
dear, precious brothers and sisters in Christ were all those years ago.
How I praise Him for ordinary, peace-filled days.

How goes it with you today?
Are you in a season of ordinary days?
Do you feel frozen in an unending cycle of "the same old thing"?
I hope you will begin to view ordinary as a priceless, invaluable gift...
handed to you from a Heavenly Father Who understands your need for normal.
I hope you will see how truly precious it is....
to be handed one ordinary day.
If you are given more than one,
I hope you realize that you are abundantly blessed.

Or is life turned upside down for you?
Are the days bringing to you "far from ordinary" as trial after trial comes thick and fast?
I hope you will see that the seasons of pain, heartache, upheaval, and chaos
do not come to stay, they come to pass.
There is an end.
I cannot tell you when.
I understand your need for ordinary.
God does, too.
He will send reprieve.
The storm will pass, and you will find normal.
It may be a new kind of normal, but ordinary will come.

It came for me.
I don't begrudge one of those long-stretch-of-road,
tear-filled-eye drives we took to see Mom every day.

It helped her get through some of the most unordinary, unbearable days of her life.
How many of those has she helped me through over the years?
How many sacrifices did she make to keep life "ordinary"?
Too many to count, for sure.

It was a hard season to live, I won't say it wasn't.
Not only for me, but those days were beyond difficult for Zachary.
Poor, little fellow, he wished for an ordinary day.....many times.

I tear up every time I think of some of the things he went through.
I didn't see it then, but God was molding character...
in both of us.
During those times, we both grew in ways neither of us would have grown otherwise.

Yes, my friend, I have learned a great appreciation for ordinary days.
I hope you have, too.
Because, truly ordinary days are the very best days of all.

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