Hanging On By a Thread

Oh, friends...don't exactly know where to start...

Today is one of those blogs that is partly an excercise in working out my faith, and partly just a way to fill in lots of friends and family who are wondering what on earth is happening in our world. 

Because let me tell you, without saying this flippantly or casually, these last few weeks have felt like our world has been shaken upside down.  I write that and feel like I have to issue a disclaimer that acknowledges no, thankfully we aren't dealing with cancer or unemployment or death as I know there are many people who are.  I don't want to compare our situation to theirs, because it's apples to oranges, BUT I do think it's ok to just call something what it is without always apologizing because it's not as bad as it possibly could be.  Does that make sense?  We don't have to have the most extreme of circumstances to warrant it "officially hard."  Sometimes daily life and the millions of little things that stretch us or fail us, is just flat out hard. 

In a short synopsis, here are some things on my plate that are making life hard to swallow...

-I've blogged about this before and haven't mentioned it for awhile, but an on going struggle for us is finding contentment in this condo (that we own) as our family grows and our square footage shrinks.  Without delving into the depths of what that looks like, I'll save a further explantation for a future post.  However, in general I could sum it up by saying that we are outgrowing this place and have been unable to do anything about it, due to the market that everyone else is suffering from as well.  I'm sharing this, not asking for opinions or advice, believe me we've been down lots of roads and have sought lots of advice.  For now I'll just tell you in short, we need to stay put.  After recently consulting with our realtor again, it's just not a likely scenario that we can do anything about, other than lay it at the Lord's feet and trust Him to move us when it's best for us, in the way that's best for us, in the timing that He chooses.  It's not the end of the world, but believe me when I tell you that there are many days I have to FIGHT for some form of contentment and joy, when I just want to throw up my hands and cry.  It's a season that we find ourselves in and although it's not always easy or what we imagined, we are grateful for a roof over our heads and for ALL of our needs that are met here.  Because they are met in this condo.  Most of what I'm talking about has to do with preferences and dreams and probably til our dying breath, those will always be struggles to keep in perspective...But in a world of buying "bigger, better, newer, etc." it's a challenge to not let the enemy take over our thoughts and deceive us about all that we are "missing" or all that we "deserve."  Or harder still, all that our" kids deserve." 

-In the last 3 weeks, we've moved steadily from teething, to double ear infections, to staples in Carter's head, to...I can't believe I'm going to say it...lice.  Yep.  L.I.C.E.  Hence the silence from me.  Hence the "hard 3 weeks" twitter.  Hence the migraine.  Every Monday for the last 3 weeks has been a disaster of some sort.  The normal busyness, stress of everyday life with a 2 year old and 1 year old is enough.  But add ear infections, staples and now lice to the mix and I'm sure you can understand why I feel like I've been hit by a truck.  These recent weeks keep bringing wave after wave of unexpected stress and I'm having a hard time recovering from this last week.   I know you're all still hung up on the fact that I just typed the "L" word, admitted we had it and now you're all itching your heads after reading that (you're welcome)...You can probably imagine the HORROR we felt when we discovered it early Monday morning on our sweet Ava's head.  Ava who bathes everyday, who wears clean clothes, who doesn't swap hats or hang with sketchy friends :) Ava who crawled in my bed to lay down with me on Sunday afternoon and passed the lice onto ME as well.  Uh, huh.  The plot thickens.  I do plan on posting a PSA about lice soon because I have just received an incredible education about ALL THINGS LICE related.  I'll tell you the nitty (ha ha) gritty details soon, but I'm happy to say that we are SURVIVORS of this and we spent a good chunk of money and time at a lice salon, I know...who knew they existed??  We got every last nit and have seen no evidence of anything left, but unless you've gone through this, I don't know that I can accurately describe the stress and work involved in tearing apart your house (and lives) to take care of this.  It's unreal...I promise, I share the details and answer your questions about it, but don't have time in this post.  We don't know where she got it or anyone who has it, but all likely signs point to Church.  Either a child or worker in the nursery or a student who held her.  We've had to come to terms with it, like or or not, and remember that this stuff just happens and we can't control everything that comes our way.  Again, future post coming...

-Perhaps the straw that broke the camels back has to do with the fact that through all of this, I've had no washer or dryer for a solid two weeks now.  It started smoking while it was running one morning, which led to a service call and then the diagnosis that it was not worth repairing.  Unfortunately for us, we had a one piece laundry center (stackable washer/dryer) that we inherited when we bought this condo, and so when one part goes the whole thing has to go.  So, we went shopping last week and bought a brand new set of front-loaders that we could stack.  We were excited to upgrade and have been anxiously awaiting their delivery, which happened yesterday.  The day after the lice discovery, when suddenly my 4 or 5 loads became about 10.  So when the truck pulled up in the morning, I was thrilled!  Until...Two problems arose.  The first is that they FORGOT the stacking kit (it was an excercise in keeping my testimony upon hearing that news) and therefore couldn't stack them or hook them up for another day, today.  Secondly, and more importantly, after pulling the old center out they realized we were missing an outlet.  Not a fancy, dryer specific outlet, we have that one.  Just a normal, regular outlet that we would now need for our new washer.  Seriously, I thought I was going to burst into tears.  Not what you want to hear when you are already weeks behind in laundry AND you have a lice issue hanging over your head.  Literally.  So anyway, we called an electrician yesterday (our neighbor) who wired the building when it was built.  He's done work for us before and we assumed it would be no big deal.  Bad assumption.  He's coming tonight to check it out, but essentially he warned us that it could actually be a pretty big deal and he's not even sure it's possible.  Let me sum this up for you.  We have a brand new washer and dryer sitting here, that we can't hook up, isn't stacked, and we may not be able to use.  I have to make a million phone calls today about what to do if we have to return them, which makes me cry at the mere thought.  We have no idea what we'll find out from our electrician friend or more urgently, what it will cost.  I have never in my life wanted to do a load of laundry, in my own home, more.  It's unbelievable how frustrating this has become and how disappointed we are at every turn. 
And the timing is oh so...rotten. 

In our minds. 

And that's key. In. OUR. Minds

These last few weeks and last few days are stretching me in ways I didn't know were possible and I am so weary of it all.  So exhausted.  All day yesterday I felt like I needed to cry or throw up, but couldn't do either.  I went to bed and tossed and turned all night, waking up with a monster headache and an incredible weight on my shoulders, a heaviness that was killing me.  I got up in the darkness, in the quiet of the early morning and finally had a good cry.  The kind of cry that releases stress with every tear and that lets go of all that anxiety built up inside.  But better than crying, I leaned over James chapter 1 and through tears soaked up every word on that page, giving this entire thing to the Lord.  I reached my breaking point and finally realized that I was never meant to carry all this on my own back anyway.  He's been waiting for me to lay it down and now, at the end of my rope with the control completely out of my hands, I did.  Why does it take me so long to remember that??  

A year or so ago (maybe two), we went through the book of James, verse by verse in Church and I memorized most of chapter one.  I knew that was where I needed to be yesterday when this was unfolding with the washer and dryer and as I poured over it, the notes I took, the perspective I gained from that study and from memorizing a couple of years ago, spoke straight to the heart of where I'm at. 

Our Pastor called James, "A book about our walk, not just our talk.  What to do with what you know-obedience."  Hmm, if this faith of mine can't speak to the struggles I'm facing right now, and if I only have head knowledge but don't ever act on what I believe, what good is it?  It was written to the twelwe tribes scattered among the nations, which is an important detail.  They were believers, who after the resurrection of Christ faced persecution and trouble from the government.  In fear for their lives, they found themselves scattered all over the nations, with no real home to call their own.  They were a group of people barely hanging on by a thread.  Sounds familiar.  James writes this book to encourage them, to bolster their faith, to remind them of what their faith was all about and who it was based on.  He was cheering them on because they were out of steam and full of doubt.  Exactly where I found myself this morning.  Here's what he says...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence.  Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all he does."  James 1:2-8

So, trials of many kinds?  Yep, I think that's a good description of where we're at.  Consider it pure joy???  That seems so stupid and yet, so far I've considered these trials pure inconvenience, pure hassle, pure headache, pure hatred even...and it's gotten me no where.  It's just made me more upset, caused more resentment, cost me sleep and robbed me of joy.  So, it's safe to assume that my way isn't working.  We consider it pure joy, not because it just sounds nice, but because there is a reason for it!  There is a "because" in that sentence that tells us, the testing of our faith develops perseverence.  I don't know about you, but going through something hard is a lot easier to swallow when you KNOW there is a PURPOSE for it.   I told the Lord this morning, if I'm not too late, please use this season FOR something.  I'd rather go through it and know it wasn't wasted, then to limp through it only to feel empty and disgruntled at the end of it.  Perseverence wouldn't be perseverence if it came easy and it came quickly.  According to this, it has to finish its' other words, be patient and see it through.  The end will come, this season will pass but until then, stay faithful and work it out, SO THAT in your faith you will be mature and complete.  That hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  If one thing has been clear through this, it's that I am lacking in my maturity.  After the phone call from our electrician friend late last night, I basically threw a fit.  When I saw the lice in Ava's hair, I had a meltdown.  When Carter was bleeding profusely from the head, I realized I am not complete in my ability to handle blood.  Let's just say these three weeks have revealed that I have PLENTY of room to grow in my faith.  James also tells us that if we lack wisdom (hello) we should ask God.  What a novel thought.  I'm notorious for asking for wisdom from lots of sources before it dawns on me to actually just ask the One who gave us our minds in the first place.  Not only does He hear us but this tells us that He gives generously, without finding fault in us or in the mess we've made.  We have plently of decisions to make about this laundry saga and believe me, I finally asked God for some wisdom about it and He's already flooded my heart with more peace than I've had in weeks. The final key to this passage that went straight to my heart was to not only ask God, but to believe Him.  I ultimately have 3 choices when I ask for wisdom in something.  I can believe that He is the source of wisdom.  I can doubt that He has any wisdom.  Or I can try to do both, which negates both.  I can believe that He knows all things but so do lots of other people too.  I can waver in my trust and just sort of go through the motions of asking, then figure it out on my own.  Which never really works out for us, does it? 

So this morning as I laid this mess at his feet, the stress of all that's happened and my extreme weariness, I begged Him to help me believe HIM!!  That familiar refrain from Mark 9:24 rings true today, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!"  I think the Lord loved the honesty of that father who uttered those words.  He knows it's hard for us to trust sometimes and that we aren't perfect.  He doesn't ask us to be.  So even when we know the right thing to do and we admit that it's hard to do, I think He's pleased with that.  The condition of our heart always matters more than the action of our lives.  When we're desperate for Him and we ask Him to help, He does. 

So if I haven't returned your call or email or facebook message yet, that is why and this is where I'm at.  I'm treading water over here with lots on my plate, but I'm also trusting my Savior to see me through this season He's allowing us to walk, or limp through.  I'm hoping that the testing of my faith will develop perseverence as a result of this and that one day, I'll have a washer and dryer to use and no memory of the day lice visited our family :)

And P.S., Carter got his staples out and his head looks great!

I may be hanging by a thread, but I'm learning to let go of the thread and hang on tightly to that hand of my Savior instead...The odds of not falling are much, much greater.  Even guaranteed.


Darla said...

Stephanie, I am left nearly speechless (which coming from me is a big deal). I feel overwhelmed just reading all that you've gone through...and in October (the best fall month ever!) to boot. I was amazed that even writing about your hardships, though, you were careful to still relay your trust in the Lord...that's not easy to do in the midst of trials. Also, the post was hilarious in some spots, which also is amazingly tough to accomplish when all you want to do is run far away from the problems that are nearly consuming you. Oh, man. Do they give Purple Hearts out for these sorts of things? (And is it ironic that the word verification they are asking me to retype is "weepin"?! Ha. So fitting, don't you think?)

Toni :O) said...

Oh good golly girl...what a season you've been in! We received word via FB that lice was going around our public elementary school. It's not in my kid's private school but I'm telling you from what I've read and heard what others have gone through...what an awful, awful thing to go through with no laundry machines. I am in awe of your faith during this amazingly difficult time and I can only imagine how your walls must seem like they are closing in around here. Keep that faith going...I always liked the saying on a church near our house...."God Provides Where He Guides" praying that will come true for you too! Hang in there Super Mom!

amy said...

i feel your pain on the washer dryer issue... we had the EXACT same problem in our old house. it was in a CLOSET when we bought it, old one died, bought new front loading stackables unit and when the came to install it, we needed the new plug. it cost us quite a bit extra (and the front loaders were already such a splurge on our pastor's salary!!!) but, it got done and praise the Lord, we now laugh about it! on a side note, if you do have to return them, go for a regular stackable... our frontloaders (whirlpool duet elite) don't get the kids clothes (with food stains, potty accidents, etc) NEARLY as clean as our old ones did... the "water saver" feature is NOT a plus with small children!!! when ours die, i will be going back to the old ones! ha! praying that your week gets better... this too shall pass! we're in much the same boat (though with a stomach bug that just won't stop and strep instead of lice and staples!) praying for you, my friend! His grace is sufficient! :)

Anonymous said...

we had lice in June...discovered at the fathers day bbq...oh man...the tears,the somone elses home no less...shampooing factory...hoursssssss of comb throughs...then to come home...spray everything down...bag up all pillows and stuffed animals for three weeks(horrible with kids who love stuffys) and im pretty sure i did about 30 loads of laundry! praying for you girl! Its so hard to pinpoint where u got it...gestation can be two weeks...huge misconcenption...lice does not happen cuz somone is dirty!!! hang in there! Its been months and i still make nick check my hair every once in awhile..shudder!!

Sonya said...

Praying for you! It's hard when it seems like these are small things to other people but they are a big deal to you. We ALL have that! I know there are some things that I get upset over that are just not important in the big scheme of things, but it still stops me in my tracks. Lice season has started at our school and I've always been proactive about never wearing anything that I wear to school again before washing it. Then I always fear going to the hairdresser and she tells me I have lice! Both of my brothers got it when we were younger and I remember what a mess it was! We all had to do the shampoo and I remember my mother furiously washing and vacuuming everything that she could. In my experience the kids that have lice over and over never get rid of it in the first place because they don't clean everything that needs to be cleaned. I hope your week gets better!

Ron and Peggy said...

My heart goes out to you. It must seem like just as you are almost able to stand up that pile driver comes in and knocks you right back down to your knees. But you already know what to do when you're on your knees. We are praying for you. XXXXOOOO