Monday, April 4, 2011

My Children, Two Phone Calls, And An Exhortation

I had originally written this post in April of 2007, and it is about what happened on my husband's birthday that year. I (hopefully) learned a good lesson that day, and I thought it was worth revisiting! Just keepin' it real!

The Lord has His ways of getting our attention and reminding us of basic spiritual and biblical principals. Sometimes He uses people to convey His message, and sometimes He uses other forms of communication. But in any case, He WILL succeed!

The other day, I had not one, but two, of His ‘reminders’…and all in one afternoon. But in my case, He used my children and two accidental phone calls as His instruments. The result: A good old helping of humble pie and an exhortation to remember the importance of a meek and quiet spirit…even during the hectic and busy times…and even when our children are trying our patience!

It was my husband’s birthday, and I wanted his birthday supper celebration to be special. But I didn’t plan very well. That afternoon, instead of readying the house for his arrival home from work and getting a head start on cooking, I was scurrying to one town to get our car tags before we had to pay a penalty. I also needed to pick up a few items in another town that I’d ‘forgotten’ the night before when I went grocery shopping. Plus, a couple of the children wanted balloons and streamers. I also needed to stop by the bank before it closed. And to top it off, I didn’t know if I’d even be home before my husband…and remember, supper wasn’t even started yet. The two youngest children were also extremely whiny and fretful from no nap (once again, my poor planning). All of this hurrying to and fro was not making for a very peaceful Mama! I admit my nerves were a bit (!) stretched and I wasn’t long on patience. No excuses here…just the plain unvarnished truth.

In a futile attempt to get the baby to hush, we handed him the cell phone to play with. Um…not a good idea unless you turn it off first. Without us knowing it, he hit the speed dial button to one of my friends. Here was the conversation that was taking place in our van at that time:
Me: "John, hush."
John: (For the gazillionth time) "Waahhhh! I want my sucker!"
Me: "John, hush!"
Erin: "John, we’re heading to the bank. We’ll get a sucker."
John: "Waahhhh! I want my sucker!"
Me: "John, I will specifically ask for a sucker."
John: "Peas, Mama."
Me: (MANY decibels louder and with much irritation)…"JOHN. IF. YOU. DO. NOT. HUSH. YOU. WILL. NOT. GET. A. SUCKER!"
John: "Es, Ma’am. Es, Ma’am. Sniffle Sniffle."

Now, instead of all of this escalating yah-yah, I could’ve calmly and rationally handled the whole situation and administered appropriate discipline as needed…all while possessing a meek and quiet spirit. But no, I was the frazzled mom tearing madly down highway trying to get to the bank before it closed.

Then all of a sudden…R-i-n-g!
Me: "Hello!"
Friend: (Laughing) "That was quite an interesting conversation I just heard."
Me: (Cringing and face beet red) "Um, really?"
Friend: (Still giggling) "Uh-huh. I just got a glimpse into the window of the (our last name) world."
Me: "Um….I hope I didn’t say anything too bad."
Friend: "Well, let’s just say that when I heard the raised voice saying, ‘If you don’t hush, you WILL NOT get a sucker’…I figured I better hang up!" (Still laughing)

You would think after that little embarrassing episode, I would’ve learned my lesson. But nooooooo…. Fast forward to finally getting home…right before my husband pulled in. And let me set the stage here. One of the twins was staying home doing more spring cleaning. Almost our whole living room was out on the front porch, because she wanted to really deep clean, dust, and vaccuum without anything in the way. And because we were focusing on other areas of the house, the kitchen was a TOTAL wreck…as in, there was not ONE surface that was cleaned off in there. The sink was full of dishes, and I was frantically trying to get the lasagna concocted and in the oven. And two of the children are wildly trying to blow up balloons and hang streamers in the living room before Daddy drives up. You know, in the room where much of the furniture and knick-knacks are still out on the front porch!

Husband drives up. He has to navigate around the coffee table at the top of the porch steps, nudge beside an end table, and step over the magazine rack to successfully make it to the entrance. Door slams in his face. "No, Daddy! Don’t come in yet! We’re not ready!" LOL Can you imagine? His children won’t let him in the house because they are ‘surprising’ him, and his wife is running around the kitchen like a maniac, hair flying in all directions, ugly look on her face as she is trying to get his favorite meal in the oven…fussing at anyone who cares to listen!!! Happy Birthday, Honey! LOL

So the soupy lasagna is finally in the oven nowhere near to being ready. I think..okay, we’ll change the order of things and give him his new coffee maker…so he can use it after supper to make coffee to go with his chocolate birthday cake (that still isn’t finished)! "Have a seat, Honey, and I’ll get your present!" (Happy smiles through bared teeth)

Phone rings.
Friend: "May I speak to Wesley?"
Elisabeth: "Wesley, telephone."
(I tear out the room in my haste to get the gift. Wesley leaves the kitchen and disappears into his room, so I assume he’s off the phone. Um…don’t make assumptions.)
Me: Wesley, come on. We’re giving Daddy his gift. Wesley, where are you?"
Wesley: I’ll be there in just a minute, Mama. I’m looking for something."
(Finally, the stress of the day catches up with me big time, and I HAVE HAD ENOUGH of children who apparently aren’t minding their mama. By the way, is that burning garlic bread I smell??!)
Me: (Gritting teeth) "I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU ARE DOING! GET IN HERE RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE! WE. ARE. GIVING. YOUR. DADDY. HIS. GIFT! NOWWWWWWW! (I think there was a growl in that last word)!
Wesley: (Enters room with pale face and points to the waiting phone receiver…that IS STILL OFF THE HOOK …and connected to friend!) When he picks up the receiver, silence…obviously hung up on the other end. I probably scared our friend half to death…especially since my yell-fest was right beside the telephone! What kind of mother am I??!!! I’m sure our friend was thinking…I’m glad that’s not MY mama! Poor Wesley! LOL

I sort of threw the coffee pot box into my husband’s lap with a quick "Happy Birthday" and hurried to call our friend back to apologize! Yes, it was definitely one of ‘those’ kind of days and after some contemplation, I learned a few things!

I would never ever talk to my friends or acquaintances in a hateful or impatient tone of voice…and how much more important is my family??!! I’ve often heard that ‘character is who you are when you think no one is looking.’ Yes, that’s correct. But true character is also who you are in front of your children! Sometimes, I need to carefully examine my character! I do realize that there is a time to deal with disobedient or fussy children, but there are proper avenues for that. Losing my temper shouldn’t be an option. In all things, self-control.

Also, no matter what level of stress or irritation I may be experiencing, the Lord still commands and exhorts me to have a meek and quiet spirit…no excuses! It is of great price in the sight of God! (1 Peter 3:4) My children are my treasures. I need to treat them as such! And I want them to remember a mama who was patient, loving, and kind. That’s the legacy I want for them. I want them to remember me as one who drew strength from the Lord during the trying times and valiantly tried to crucify the flesh. Oh, how I fail in this area so many, many times!

Even though it was an extremely embarrassing and humbling experience for my friends to inadvertently hear me lose my temper at my children’s expense via telephone, there is Another who hears me all the time…24/7. And He’s much more important than any other. I need to remember His presence, His teachings, and His exhortation for me to strive to lead a godly life. I need to pray for His guidance and mercy, every day, every hour. Without Him I am nothing!

That’s the lesson I learned, and I thank the Lord for loving me enough to get my attention…even though He had to recruit my children, some unsuspecting friends, and a telephone to do it! He is faithful…may I be as well!