I hold her hair back and steady the bowl as she cries and heaves. The coffee maker kicks on, grinding beans, dribbling coffee, and signaling the very-near end of a very-short night. Round Two this week with a stomach virus that is hateful in its intensity and utterly discourteous in its hour of arrival, showing up both times in the dark and heavy middle of the night.
When the requisite cleaning up and comforting are done, my head sinks back into the pillow and I doze and dream of things that only dreams can connect (like Amy Karol and subways in New York City and bouncing along a dirt road in the bed of a pick-up truck). Eventually, another cycle of sick and crying and cleaning and comfort begins, and I resign to getting up for the day.
I resign. And even though the temptation towards Woeful and False Martyrdom invites me to clothe myself in misery, I put one foot in front of the other and choose to rejoice.
Last January, I began the year by sharing my thoughts on surrender, how it was the word I kept coming back to, the concept that would arch over me throughout the year. Indeed, the Lord called me to surrender mightily in 2009. At times I resisted, grasping at habits unhealthy and resenting another trip to the alter, matches in hand.
Yet many times I smiled as I opened my once-tightened palm. He knows so much. He is so good. His sovereignty reins.
* * * * *
A couple of months ago, I was reading a discussion on a parenting forum, and someone shared an insight which caused my whole self to nod with enthusiastic understanding:
One thing that is important to know about the ancient world is that EVERYTHING was credited to God. So if something good happened you praised God; if something bad happened you trusted God. It's interesting to watch Ushpizin (a phenomenal Jewish movie about Sukkot made in Israel ). At one point the Rabbi is asked how he's been and he says, "Terrible, Blessed be He." I do think there is peace to be found in trusting that no matter what happens to us, God is in control. That doesn't have to mean that He does things to us; rather, I believe it means He allows things when He knows we're ready to learn from it.
Terrible, Blessed be He.
* * * * *
When I read those words, I knew that God had given me a new word for 2010: rejoice.
There have been plenty of times in my life when I have focused on gratitude. Rejoice is slightly different though, isn't it? All too often for me, gratitude acknowledges what He has done. Rejoice dares me to thrill in who He is - no matter what.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13:15, ESV)
When my circumstances are quilted with comfort, my eyes crinkle while smiling lips offer praise. But there are times, times when I'm holding a mixing bowl and catching the contents of my child's stomach in the night,
when praise is sacrifice,
when I must surrender to the practice of blessing His Name,
when I remind myself that He is ever worthy of praise, completely and utterly independent of my circumstances.
Blessed be He.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice. (Philippians 4:4, ESV) May it be so with me in the coming year.
* photo above sweet D piggies resting on the couch after a long night of sick