Thursday, March 26, 2009

Three Consecutive Days

This is a blog post about an answered prayer.

Tuesday was a miserable day, until 9pm. On Tuesday I often prayed, asking Yeshua to help me sense his nearness despite my own exhaustion and grumpiness. That prayer was not answered. But at 9pm both Smiley and I were inexplicably put into much better moods. Tuesday ended well, with joy and a prayer time in which God taught me more about gratitude.

Wednesday was a good day. Circumstances made it easy for Wednesday to be nicer, and for me to continue being grateful.

Thursday could have been as miserable as Tuesday; its early circumstances resembled Tuesday's. But I had learned from God and so Thursday was a great day.

So when I prayed on Tuesday I wanted God to remove the day's unpleasantness. Instead he left me in that day's "wilderness experience" until late at night, so I could clearly see how my "old self" was causing me needless suffering. God did not remove the unpleasantness but used it to teach me, and then two days later gave me a test to make sure I had learned.

That's the important story. The rest of this blog post provides the details. If I did not write them I would be very curious years from now what happened. I expect they will bore anyone else, so proceed at your own risk.


All this week Smiley still has a cold. On Tuesday he was not handling it well.

He awoke an hour early. He acted fussy and clingy. His mood was so fragile and worn thin that he was almost unable to enjoy playing. His appetite was minimal, and surely eating and drinking so little made his mood even worse.

I was very tired, having not slept well the night before. I also had things to do, which is a risky combination.

Moreover, my to-do list items were not exactly uplifting. They would have worn me down a bit even if I was not also dealing with an often-whining baby.
  • My wife's laptop screen went on the fritz. It would go black after a few seconds and would not work again until the lid was closed and re-opened. I managed to back up all of her important folders onto the portable hard drive before it died completely, even dealing with that old bug about copying user "Application Data" folders.
  • Winter term grades were due. One student owed me a belated portfolio, an excused postponement because his daughter had been arrested, so he and his wife were taking care of the ten-month-old grandbaby. He valiantly kept up with the normal homework and scored a 90% on the final exam. Since the final, neither phone nor e-mail worked to reach him. But his portfolio never came (by e-mail) and the syllabus is a contract, so he earned a C+ instead of a B+. He tried so hard and had his priorities right. Entering the lower grade didn't boost my mood.
  • I could not nap when Smiley did because our contractor friend and his partner started the work of building my wife's new garden beds. While Smiley slept two-and-a-half hours I moved dirt, with only a short break for lunch.
After his nap I was even more tired, and no longer with friends. Smiley was still of ill temper. I found myself getting grumpier as the afternoon progressed, and I could not shake off this worsening even though I could see how absurd was its cause: I found myself internally complaining while thinking of all the ways my life was not what I once planned.

I know I have a great life. My work is nicer than the career I once wanted. Where I live is nicer than any place I imagined I would live. The house is comfortable, even if very different from what I imagined it would be like. What I eat is healthier and tastier than the food I grew up with.

Thus looking at my life is a clear example of how God's plans for us are better than our own plans. But still I was wallowing in negativity because the result was not what I had planned!

The end of the day was even harder. I had eagerly awaited my wife getting home from work, so I could take a break from parenting. But when she finally did get home her cold had become much worse: she was only up for dinner and bed.

So I kept going. Smiley took an hour nap at 6pm. Then he played in the bathtub for a while. Then we read board books in the nursery, and he climbed on me as I lie on the floor.

Finally, during the 8pm hour, he was thirsty and drank eight ounces. Then, right at 9pm, he threw up. With this cold that has been at least a daily occurrence, but this time there was no warning. I managed to grab and position the plastic bowl (kept within reach in the nursery) in time to protect the furniture, but he and I both needed a change of clothes.

I expected the worst. Previously, throwing up always put him into a screaming fit of frustrated discomfort, and then have relapses of being inconsolable. He would avoid food or drink for more than an hour.

But this time he did not cry at all. After a few minutes he enjoyed some juice and cheese. His mood was suddenly cheerful and easy to please. Within an hour was happily asleep.

The day ended with inexplicable joy and contentment. I had a nice prayer time and fell asleep full of gratitude for all the good things God has given my family and myself. The troubles of the day had completely fallen away.


On Wednesday Smiley's mood was back to fussy, clingly, and fragile. But my own mood was much better. I was also better rested. It had been my wife's turn to care for Smiley during the night. Also, I had a very small to-do list Wednesday and could focus on enjoying parenting.

We drove my wife to work and on the way home stopped at the grocery store for ice cream and yogurt: I was in the mood for a frozen raspberry smoothie even though it was raining and 45 degrees. (The day before I had been too tired to care for myself well, let alone spoil myself.)

I recorded some videos of Smiley using his bead maze and a good small-motor challenge. I had the energy to hold his hands whenever he wanted to practice walking. We did all kinds of things inside the house (it was a rainy day) and managed to be creative and not bored.

On Wednesday, as I prayed throughout the day, I prayed about the things I was grateful for and then interceded for other people.


Thursday I again woke very tired, having slept terribly. It had been my turn to care for Smiley during the night. Also, my wife's cold had moved from her throat to her sinuses, causing snoring; I could not wear earplugs since I needed to be able to hear when Smiley woke.

Smiley woke still a bit snarfly from the cold and clingy but in a slightly better mood. I started the day with spoiling myself (and him). First I let my wife be free to make scones for a breakfast treat, modifying the recipe to replace the egg so Smiley could have some. Then I took a shower while holding Smiley. Despite the lack of sleep, I felt ready for the day after three scones and a shower.

The weather had improved as much as my mood: warmer and sunny. I called another family, who came to visit. We went to the Parker Playground. The three kids and two adults had a delightful time. (Smiley climbed the entire height of the play structure several times, again really enjoying the yellow slide.) Smiley's appetite returned with the physical activity, which helped his mood immensely. He snacked on crackers, cheese, and casserole. When the other family departed he was so tired that he fell asleep in between my changing his diaper and returning to the nursery with a bottle.

His nap was short, but I did not mind. After it he had more lunch. Then we went outside and did gardening: at first with him riding behind me in the Ergo, then with him playing on the front lawn. I remained prayerful and grateful. Three hours passed very quickly--the first occasion this week when time flew!

My wife again came home exhausted, ready for dinner and bed. Despite being low on sleep I had plenty of energy to spoil her and finish the day.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Shamus and I were just talking about our own early experiences like this. It is amazing how having a sick kid can REALLY mess up ones attitude and how God uses those experiences to grow us and teach us (it was one such experience that God used to show both of us that I was NOT to go back to teaching). it is SO uncomfortable but the outcome is so worth it.