Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Must Be Crazy

I'm waiting on the last load of laundry to finish washing so I can put it in the dryer and call it a looooong day in what seems to be a never-ending season of long days.

Tomorrow is the big day when Doug and I + Grandmama and Granddaddy + the 2 1/2-year old + the twins board an airplane for Buffalo to test the patience of a whole lot of people. Then, I will kiss my spouse goodbye as he goes on a glorious bachelor vacation in Toronto for four days while leaving me to drive a van full of malcontents to Michigan to visit my dad's brother, sister, and mother. (Doug is actually going to take a 8-5 class, but it sounds pretty cushy to come home to a quiet room, no chores, no diapers, no crying, so he might as well be going on a spa retreat).

As I explained in an earlier post, I'm perfectly sure that this trip was God-planned because of how it came about. I've had a feeling since a couple months after the twins were born that I need to take them to visit Grandma NOW but no real desire to listen to that still, small voice until Doug's sudden training popped into our life.

But knowing something is right and doing it are two different things.

I'm not this daring, folks. I've never been brave enough to take a 2-hour car drive with all the kids, much less a 7-hour one that involves two border crossings. For the past week, I've been packing a little each day and dreading the impending travel one horrendous crying jag at a time. I think Doug's tired of me crying at this point. And Wyatt just ignores me.

So, I'm asking you to pray.

Pray for no flight delays or cancellations.
Pray for no traffic jams or accidents.
Pray for no long lines at the border.
Pray for miraculously content children.
Pray for me to be alert and at peace.

We'll be up at 4:30 tomorrow starting the journey. I covet your bringing us before the Father's throne.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How to Disagree With Mommy

I probably broke my vow to never argue in front of my children when Wyatt was still in utero. Over the past three years, my husband and I have had our share of disagreements in their presence and will surely have more before the twins are out of diapers.

Wyatt is aware that mommy and daddy disagree and also that we kiss and make-up. While he hasn't seemed to pay much attention to a few of our more-animated-than-usual-"discussions," he's asked me several times after the fact, "You mad at daddy?"

And I've answered him honestly, trying to put it in terms he'll understand like "remember when mommy was mad at you because you....but then later, she gave you a big hug and a kiss?"

We try our best to "fight fair."And apparently, it's getting through to him that even if you disagree with someone, you can still use kind words when doing so.

For a 2-year-old who constantly disagrees with his mommy, that's a pretty nice skill to have...especially if you're trying to avoid consequences for disobedience.

Case in point: today, Wyatt was in trouble for trying to fish out the ice in his water cup (for the umpteenth time). This time, the water spilled, soaking everything in the surrounding area. So, I was fussing at him for "not listening to mommy."

He suddenly interrupted me, "But sweetheart..."

Huh? "What did you say?"

With his head bowed low, he repeated a little more quietly than before, "But sweetheart."

I couldn't laugh. But I wanted to. For the rest of the day, I've been noticing every time Doug and I use the word "sweetheart" with one another and with the kids. I didn't realize we used the word that much!

But Wyatt apparently realized the word "sweetheart" has the power to diffuse a disagreement or (hopefully) ease consequences. Smart kid. Too smart.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Defining "Gross"

Somehow, from age 2 to age 32, the definition of "gross" changes. And since we all could use a good bit of humor to help us survive another day before the weekend, I present to you Wyatt's definition of "gross" (with examples, of course):

It is not gross to eat food that's fallen to the ground...even if it's been on the ground for several hours...and is currently being eaten by ants who have had their little pinchers who knows where!

During our morning watering-of-the-plants routine, Wyatt spilled a few Cheerios on the back carport. A few hours later, the line of ants going to and from each of the Cheerios reminded me of the lines at Wal-Mart during the after Thanksgiving Day sales.

Did that deter Wyatt? No. He crouched down, BLEW what must have seemed like a hurricane-force gust of wind onto the unsuspecting ants. And surprisingly, the ants scattered long enough for Wyatt to pick up the Cheerio, inspect it to ensure there were no remaining ants to swallow, and pop it in his mouth. Not gross to a 2-year-old.

But it is gross when your baby brother has a big poop in the tub...even if you're a couple feet away from said tub. You should have heard him gagging in there, like he's been potty trained forever versus just a few months!

My first thought was, "Oh great. Now I have to disinfect the tub before my bath tonight." Not Wyatt. Between gags, he's shouting, "Save the penguins!" And so we did.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to School

Today was "back to school" for me in a sense. Early this morning, eight women in the Ladies' Bible Study class sharpened their pencils, stretched their mental muscles, and got serious about learning about Jesus.

There's just nothing like cracking open the tight spine of a new Bible study. Diving back in the Word with other women who have a burning heart like mine to learn the heights and depths of The Bible! What messages does it hold for me? What truths have I read a thousand times yet haven't really discovered them yet?

If you have never ventured into the realm of in-depth Bible study, then I can't totally explain the wonder of it to you. It's something you have to experience to truly understand--like a hot out of the oven chocolate chip cookie. I can describe it to you. I can show you pictures. But there's nothing like the taste of one in your mouth.

Anointed. Transformed. Redeemed.

What a title.

And the authors? It's like the top of the order in a baseball lineup.

Priscilla Shirer. Beth Moore. Kay Arthur.

Heavy hitters. They're part of my "Dream Team." You know, those people you'd love to meet but if you did, you would definitely embarrass yourself because you couldn't stop talking about how you feel like you know them because they've been such an integral part of your life?

I just want to give you a taste of that chocolate-chip cookie. Because of copyright law, I only have the words from Priscilla Shirer's website. No, it's not the same as listening to a Godly, Spirit-filled black woman getting down with some preaching. But it's still powerful stuff. And if you want your cookies steaming hot, sells the book and the videos:

He is the First and Last,
The Beginning and the End!
He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be...
unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone!

He was bruised and brought healing!
He was pierced and eased pain!
He was persecuted and brought freedom!
He was dead and brought life!
He is risen and brings power! He reigns and brings Peace!

The world can't understand him,
The armies can't defeat Him,
The schools can't explain Him,
and The leaders can't ignore Him.

Herod couldn't kill Him,
The Pharisees couldn't confuse Him,
and The people couldn't hold Him!

Nero couldn't crush Him,
Hitler couldn't silence Him,
The New Age can't replace Him,
and "Oprah" can't explain Him away!
He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure.

His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging,
and His mind is on me.

He is my Savior,
He is my guide,
and He is my peace!
He is my Joy,
He is my comfort,
He is my Lord,
and He rules my life!

I serve Him because
His bond is love,
His burden is light,
and His goal for me is abundant life.

I follow Him because
He is the wisdom of the wise,
the power of the powerful,
the ancient of days,
the ruler of rulers,
the leader of leaders,
the overseer of the overcomers,
and is to come.
And if that seems impressive to you,
try this for size.

His goal is a relationship with ME!
He will never leave me,
never forsake me,
never mislead me,
never forget me,
never overlook me,
and never cancel my appointment in His
appointment book!

When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!

When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I am broken, He mends me!
When I am blind, He leads me!
When I am hungry, He feeds me!

When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face persecution, He shields me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home!
He is everything for everybody everywhere, every time, and every way.
He is God, He is faithful.
I am His, and He is mine!
My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world.
So, if you're wondering why I feel so secure, understand this...

He said it and that settles it.
God is in control,
I am on His side,
and that means all is well with my soul.
Everyday is a blessing for GOD Is!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

March of the Penguins

The word of the day is "solitude." Let me use it in a sentence for you: "This mommy had a very long day, so she locked herself in the bathroom for some solitude and a hot bath."

The only problem is the lock on that particular door doesn't work well. I'm dreaming of the day my hubby will have our house finished...complete with perfectly functioning bathroom door locks.

Doug was supposed to be watching the kids. He thought they were quietly entertaining themselves--you moms out there would know silence is the first clue that something is up. But to dads, silence = don't ask / don't tell.

My two year old was the first to break into my escape: "Mommy? What doin? Mommy?"

I tried silence--maybe he'd think if I didn't answer then I wasn't really in there. But no. When mommy doesn't respond beyond a locked door, that must mean she's drowning or otherwise needs help. So, he started furiously twisting at the knob until the door popped opened.

"Hi mommy. What doin?"

"What does it look like I'm doing?"

"You takin' a bath? You dirty, mommy?"

And so it went, one rapid fire question after another. I could have been wearing a ballgown or a tutu--he was totally oblivious to the naked factor. It hasn't sunk in to his two-year-old brain yet that nakedness is not something to be he strips down, ready to join in the tub filled with lots of splashing water!

"No! You are not coming in here! The water is too hot!"

By this time, both twins crawl single file through the revolving door that is my bathroom and pull up on the side of the tub. Both look at me, grin, and giggle. This is funny--mommy IN the tub and us OUT of the tub.

And then all three children decided I wasn't having enough fun. One by one, a chorus line of six tuxedo penguins in snazzy bow ties, top hats, and inner tubes jumped into my pond. But since the tub is pretty small, they looked more like dancing bumper cars than a bunch of Fred Astaire penguins dancing with their Ginger Rogers. All that was missing was a Frank Sinatra song playing "Fly Me to the Moon."

But the fun ended when Amelia turned over my cup, spilling ice on her and frigid water all over the floor. Naked me leaps into action, scooping up ice and comforting a screaming Amelia who has never encountered cold water before. In that instant, Wyatt used the distraction to jump in the tub.

My moment had passed.

I love my children. I wouldn't give them away even on their worst days. But they do make me understand Paul's admonition that it's better to stay single and not marry so you can be wholly devoted to Christ. I need solitude to meet with God...and solitude is something my crew just doesn't want to give me except for in the wee hours of the morning and evening when I'm too exhausted to think straight.

Monday, August 17, 2009

An Unusual Adoption

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a much-loved book that never makes it back on our bookshelves for long. Wyatt loves the page where the caterpillar eats so much he gets a stomach ache. The twins even crawl on me so they can stick their pudgy fingers in the holes where the caterpillar has eaten through the cardboard pages.

So, a month ago when I noticed a Gulf Fritillary butterfly laying tiny yellow striped eggs on my passion fruit vine, I decided to adopt a few caterpillars. I've grown quite attached to the orange-colored critters. Supposedly the spines are soft to touch. But in all honesty: I've been too chicken to test Wikipedia on that fact.
As you can imagine, Wyatt has been nothing but thrilled! He has had "real" bugs! And I let him keep them indoors on the kitchen cabinet!

But after the first few days in a peanut butter jar with an aerated tin foil cap, I realized their home wasn't big enough. Plus, Wyatt was constantly turning the jar at all angles, trying (and most of the time failing) to see the scrawny little caterpillars hiding between and beneath the leaves. I didn't think the constant jostling was too caterpillar-friendly.
Everyone was happy with the new upgraded habitat (my seed-sprouting dome)--the caterpillars had room to roam, Wyatt could easily see them, and there was room for the butterflies to hatch out of each chrysalis and flutter around to say, "Let Me Out of Here!!"

The problem was that the original butterfly kept laying eggs on the vine...and to Wyatt's delight, I kept adopting more caterpillars. So on top of feeding my three human children and 4 cats, I've also spent the last month feeding a hoard of voracious caterpillars! Their appetite would definitely get them booted out of an all-you-can-eat restaurant.

To date, Wyatt has reluctantly released 26 butterflies. I loved watching each lift its wings to the sky in joyous flight. Wyatt, however, wanted to let each one crawl on his finger and cried when a few flew away almost instantly. A couple thankfully climbed up his shirt, and one even elicited a few giggles when it climbed up his face. This time, I chose to leave Wyatt with perfect memories of caterpillars going "pop" and "out popped a beautiful butterfly." But this project, much like life, wasn't that perfect.

Over the past week, a fruit fly invaded the habitat, causing several to die within their chrysalises. And then there were the two who successfully hatched but then fell to the bottom of the cage before they could pump their wings full. I carefully placed those two on flowers and watched as they tried to flap crumpled tissue paper wings. The desire to fly was there. But they never would reach the freedom of the open sky.

We all have the desire to metaphorically fly, to break the chains that bind us in search of something "more". But all around me, I see so many people trying everything in their own power to pump their wings full for that inagural flight. And it doesn't work. So many live a crippled life, crawling rather than flying, all because they can't fathom how a man who died 2000 years ago could transform them in an instant. "Sad" doesn't begin to explain it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brave New World

Were I a brave woman, I would have long ago taken Wyatt and twins to the library. But I am not that woman. Instead, I shy away from quiet public places. I'm hyper-conscious of other people's negative reactions to crying or squealing babies.

Even in a noisy Wal-mart, some people blatantly turn their heads, furrow their brows in irritation, and shoot flaming arrows my way when two loud chatterbox 9 1/2 month olds turn down their aisle. I could explain the babies are trying out their new vocal range, but I don't think that would help much, so I duck my head and throw another box of Cheerios into the buggy. Others are more discrete, giving a sideways glare as they purse their lips tightly and clench their teeth.

I try to brush off those negative reactions and focus on the kindly grandmas who ooh and ahh over each dimple on my chubby-faced brood. But as a people watcher by nature, I still notice each face, each reaction. And on bad days, the reactions I know I'll get make me want to just stay home and order everything from the Internet.

So, needless to say, I've intentionally avoided the library. If my children can so obviously interrupt someone's therapeutic, zen-like Wal-mart run, imagine what they could do in a library, a place I equate with a big sign saying, "SHHHHHH!!!"

But they had a book I wanted to read.

From a front desk perched prominently behind the automatic doors, the trio of librarians had to see us coming: Emerson in the umbrella stroller swerving in a less-than-straight path across the parking lot, Amelia trying to squirm out of my arms, and Wyatt bouncing happily as he tried to help steer said stroller.

As I explained that I was the lady they were holding the book for, one of the librarians said, "Do you want to get library cards for the children, too?" Uh....not really something I had thought about. But, sure.

She then led us to the board book section because, as she said, "they can't hurt these books." My mommy self was thinking, "Yeah? You haven't seen my kids; they don't read books--they ingest them." But I held my tongue because on the "short table" where I sat to fill out the forms, she also placed a packet of coloring pages and a huge bucket of crayons for Wyatt.

You can imagine Wyatt's eyes at this point--and eyes not at all interested in crayons. All around him were miles of books! And so many of them placed with their covers facing his eyes, just beckoning him to pull them down and look between their colored pages.

I now have four little library cards in my wallet...and two new Curious George books on my dining room table.

But more than that, I have a sense of relief. This is one of the first places I have felt it was really ok to bring my children. Yes, except for the song of Wyatt's incessant questions and audible excitement over each book he saw, it was as quiet as a tomb in there. But not one librarian batted an eye. It was as if they were all as used to children's noises as I was.

It's a good feeling to know that someone (besides me, God, and family) is ok with my children just being children.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brotherly Bonding

When I found out I was having twins, one of my concerns was Wyatt accepting them. 22 months as an only child and suddenly not one but two babies were going to hijack HIS mommy?

So, we all prayed about it, gave him twin dolls to care for, and did everything else I read or thought about to help with the transition. Amazingly, from their birth, he's done quite well with them, even calling them "my babies." (I's a "God thing.")

Lately, though, I've been seeing more conflict among the three of them rather than acceptance. All I seem to hear is "Noooo 'Melia!! That MY toy!!" or "Ahhhh!!!!! Emerson took my milk!!" Lots of screaming, fussing, and crying from both the gimme-grabbit babies and the I-not-want-to-share 2 year old.

But breaking news: my concern is not needed. Even amidst the fussing, they've already started creating alliances behind closed doors that oppose mommy's directives:

After a rigorous morning shopping the clearance racks, I put everyone down for the normal 2-hour afternoon nap. And then I, too, crashed. When I woke up an hour later, I knew instantly that something was wrong--that mommy radar again. As I lay there trying to figure out which child was awake, a few abnormal quiet noises emanated from Wyatt and Emerson's room.

When I opened the door, the light was on, and Wyatt was squatting in the crib playing with Emerson. And he'd brought toys! The turtle drum, several stuffed animals, and a Strawberry Shortcake plastic doll were crowded together behind bars with my two boys.

Emerson was so tired he was rubbing his eyes. When I asked Wyatt if he had napped, he said "No." And from the looks of the toys strewn across the floor, I believed him: obviously, the two of them had been quietly playing for the duration of my nap.

I fussed at Wyatt pretty good, and asked him why he was up? His reply was simple: "I was playing with Emerson."

I could have caved right then, but I'm not about to give up nap time this easily, so I told him he couldn't go to Opa's since he disobeyed and didn't take his nap. His reply? "I want to go nap." And so he and Emerson did--for the remaining hour. They were tired after all.

I'm sure I'll continue to wonder several times a week if they will ever grow up enough to desire a lifelong, loving relationship with each other. But for now, I know that despite the fussing, God has put a spark of love in their hearts for each other. Hopefully, I can provide a balanced enough home environment that will make that spark catch fire and burn.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not So Buried Treasure

Wyatt held the map gingerly, silently studying it as he tried to decipher mommy's drawing of a house and a dotted line that led to some scribble that was intended to be a burning campfire. I tried to give hints, but either the picture was that bad or his ability to connect real objects to symbols on a page isn't great yet. Probably my drawing.

Once it finally clicked that we were reenacting a book he loves to read about a tropical treasure hunt, we raced outside to the unburned pile of limbs. Nestled between the branches was the first clue hidden in an empty icing container--a picture of the tire swing.

He figured out this one easily as well as the picture of the gnome and the potty...only what kind of treasure could possibly include a potty? And that's when the fun stopped--it didn't matter what treasure was at the other end of the clues, he wasn't going back inside, and he didn't need to pee pee.

Lots of cajoling and a few stomps later, we returned indoors and finally found our prize...not in the potty but on the high chair.

A 64 count box of Crayons.

For a moment he stared at the sheer number of tiny crayons nestled inside, each perfectly sharpened. There were no words to accompany his thoughts, but I knew what he felt.

I, too, had once longed to receive my own 64 count box with the sharpener on the back. And when I finally became a proud owner of such a box, my world of color exploded. There was no longer just brown. There was raw sienna, mahogany, and sepia. Blue suddenly had ten shades like cornflower, cerulean and indigo. To this day, I describe shades by their Crayola equivalent.

Until college, I treasured that one box of crayons, keeping it tucked away in the back of my closet under clothes so my brother wouldn't dull the points or use up the precious sparkly silver and gold.

Although today a box costs less than $2, it's still treasure to me. And I could tell Wyatt felt the same. We spent the remainder of the afternoon arguing about color names ("That not mauvelous! That pink!), but I could see his little world starting to expand.

Perhaps one day, inhaling Crayola's colored-plastic smell will bring back memories for him, too. But for now, I sit and think of yesterday's little girl spending afternoons in her room, sitting on plum-colored carpet as she carefully removed one crayon at a time to color a masterpiece.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Balloon Glow

Saturday evening, my family and I joined hundreds of others in an open field. Wet-headed kids with light-sabers, glow-necklaces, and plastic hot air balloons raced around their parents who rested, waiting in portable chairs.

Hot air balloons only dot the Baton Rouge sky once a year, so although attending the Balloon Glow meant braving the muggy heat and a day-long threat of rain, the sea was thick with short stubby legs, tiger-painted faces, and strollers.

As usual, my husband and father made a beeline to the carnival food booths. Wyatt was more interested in looking at than in eating a ginormous corn dog, while we adults eagerly consumed a unique Southern treat of alligator and shrimp on a stick. To top off this fantastically healthy meal, we settled for the traditional funnel cake instead of the fried Oreos. After sharing this powdered sugar concoction with all three children, I looked like I had developed a sudden case of leprosy.

As we ate and waited, the balloons slowly unfurled from the back of trailers. Short bursts of fire caused yards of billowing fabric to rapidly fill with air until each multi-colored balloon towered perpendicular to the ground.

Then, it was time.

The man on the stage counted down from ten, and at once, the darkened field filled with dozens of flames. The crowd cheered and clapped as each flame made the fabric globe above flash on and off like a monster-sized lightening bug or a flashlight speaking Morse code. Then the noise quieted as the flames ceased and we, once again, descended into darkness--you know, the kind of darkness where the entire neighborhood's power goes out and your eyes haven't adjusted yet, showing you just what true darkness is.

In the end, although the evening promised a "balloon glow," it was more of a "balloon flicker."

And it reminded of an old hymn, part of which says, "Set my soul afire, Lord, for the lost in sin, Give to me a passion as I seek to win; Help me not to falter never let me fail, Fill me with Thy Spirit, let Thy will prevail. Set my soul afire Lord, set my soul afire. Make my life a witness of Thy saving pow'r. Millions grope in darkness, waiting for Thy Word. Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire!

This is my prayer. I don't want to flicker. I really want to glow for Jesus.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Sacrificial Love

My pastor has often said reading Scripture is like standing beneath a waterfall with a small cup. That's a good analogy...if that waterfall is Niagara Falls. But my experience with Scripture is more like standing at the bottom of a mountain while a rock slide rains down boulders on me. They sting. They bruise. They cut. But they get my attention.

When God has a message I need to hear through His Word, He usually does not whisper it to me. Over a deafening week of comforting a feverish baby, reworking my online courses for the fall, and changing an insane number of unhappy diapers, God got my attention. Both the revival services this week and my own Bible study have both rung out clearly the same melody.

Love. Sacrificial love.

Loving like Jesus loves: loving others as myself. Loving those who persecute my family. And showing Christ's love to my husband and children.

The third boulder left the biggest knot on my head. God has shown me that I have the tendency to forgive my persecutors and enemies faster than I forgive my own family. So, this past week, my imperfect self has tried to live out God's perfect love toward my own family:

I started the week by filling 4 gallon-sized bags, 79 baby food jars, and 3 ice trays full of made two apple crisps...lovingly-made food for everyone. (My husband would say this is a true sign of love because when he opens a cabinet, 79 small plastic cups will no longer fall out onto his feet.)

I have also made a conscious effort to wait until after the children have gone to bed to do my schoolwork just so I could spend the daylight hours rocking a fevered Amelia, playing blocks, reading books, feeding 25+ voracious caterpillars (that's another post), and teaching Wyatt to cut with scissors.

Tonight, my husband and I had dinner together, and he offered me the last bite of cheese. I jokingly said, "No. It's a sacrifice of love. Now eat it!" And we both enjoyed a good laugh.

Why bother? Why put myself out, deny myself much-needed sleep? Because what I've been learning the hard way is that sacrificial love always results in the giver getting more than she gave.

For every sacrifice, I've received something much greater back in return: rare snuggles from my independent daughter, hearing Emerson say "da da" for the first time, and once in a lifetime conversations with my 2-year-old.

A sacrificial love is always forgiving, kind, compassionate, and giving. I'm not there yet, but I'm willing to work on my heart.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lost: One Mommy

As soon as Doug walks through the door and I can get myself together enough to not look like I've been a chew toy or burp cloth, I rush out the door to revival meetings at church. This has been the routine the past four nights.

But last night, Wyatt somehow missed my exit. No hug. No kiss. No "be good for daddy." To his little mind, without those routines happening, I didn't leave. I must be somewhere outside.

Later, as Doug was bathing the twins, he heard some noise at the back door and called for Wyatt. He diligently came to his daddy, but was armed with the big flashlight.

"I lost mommy."

Doug tried to explain that I was at church, but Wyatt was having none of it.

"I go find her."

Cute. But I lost mommy, too.

And it was nice. Just for two hours, to sit and listen to the Word of God preached. To not be a mommy. To not be a wife. To just be the daughter of my Father and sit at His feet while He challenged and encouraged my heart.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Mountains Beyond

A dense fog settled over our house this past Saturday afternoon, blocking out any thoughts of a world beyond these four walls. It didn't matter whose political agenda was being pushed through the Senate. It didn't matter what was happening in the world economy. All I cared about was the thermometer in front of me that read 104.5.

My little girl was sick.

Always cooing, smiling, and dancing to music, she lay quietly on my chest, kicking her leg now and then to let me know she was still awake.

This was the valley of motherhood, the waiting, the praying that she would recover from whatever illness had invaded her small body.

After an "I think it's a virus; wait 48 hours" visit to the doctor, she slept almost 19 uninterrupted hours. Today, her fever subsided, and she has started to return to the active, smiling girl I know. But her continuing tummy troubles and signs of possible dehydration mean another doctor visit tomorrow...and a third night of me "sleeping" with one ear awake.

Contrast this scenario with the mountaintop experiences I've found at my church both Sunday night and tonight--we're having revival services. My blessed husband has kept the twins so I could soak in a spirit-filled service and listen, enraptured, to deep, hard-hitting sermons on Matthew 5. I have felt the presence of God.

Living in a house with a sick child is a lot like living in a valley covered by fog. I can't see anything beyond the next time I take a temperature or change an unhappy diaper. I can't see how I could possibly meet with God when my mind is focused on Amelia's health. I can't see the blessings from God waiting for me if only I'll look beyond my circumstances and climb the mountains beyond.

But my husband knows what's beyond the fog. And each night, he has encouraged a reluctant me to go.

Although I leave and return to the chaos that is my home--babies crying, chores left to be done, and an illness that still demands my attention--each night, my heart is being filled.

Moving from the valley to the mountain to the valley again. That's a lot of emotional traveling in 24 hours. But it's worth the trip to meet with God.