Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Today, my cup runneth over, and so did our toilet.

(A golden oldie from 5 years ago.)

My life is neither remarkable nor dull. It’s just interesting, bordering on bizarre. Today, my daughter’s 5th birthday, started with an 8:45 doctor’s appointment. (The appointment was at 8:45 on the doctor’s book, but turned out to be 9:25 on my book.) I thought I had a babysitter, so I let the two boys sleep. A phone call paging my husband to come to work changed all that. So my mother came, but my youngest, Ben wouldn’t stay with her. So the three of us headed to the dentist. My daughter had hit her mouth, loosened her two bottom front teeth, and one came out. Since those teeth are not supposed to come out until ages 6-7, I was a little concerned. The receptionist said if she were 4, she’d be more concerned. “Excuse me, she was four years old yesterday! Are you telling me yesterday you would be concerned, but today, you’re not?” I could see something white under her gum, but I couldn’t tell if it was the root of her tooth, or another tooth coming in. I checked for a dental x-ray machine on e-bay, (I figured even with shipping it would be cheaper than a dental visit since we had to pay our deductible first.). Turns out Dentists do not sell many pieces of office equipment on e-bay, and e-bay does not accept Blue Cross Blue Shield. My thoughts were consumed with concern that Rachael might have to spend her birthday with her mouth sore from having the root of that tooth removed, and maybe miss out on her birthday at church. My racing thoughts came to a screeching halt as I realized I had left Rachael’s tooth at home, and the Dentist wanted to see it. Back in the house, where did I put that tooth? Rachael’s tooth was lost again. After finding it, and unintentionally leaving a dollar in its place, I raced back to the car. My thoughts were once again racing, wondering if being 45 minutes late would keep Rachael from seeing the Dentist. How great the sum of our fears, when faced with the reality of God’s Grace, and finding how few of our fears He will actually allow to become a reality. The appointment after us never showed, and we got their appointment. The dentist came in and took x-rays. Rachael was indeed getting her permanent teeth early. I wondered if God was wishing I’d get rid of some baby teeth, and be able to sink my permanent spiritual teeth into His Word and not let go.
Being the inquisitive person I am, I asked if eating habits could affect her teeth coming in early, or was it perfectly natural. As I was asking this question, I was digging through my purse trying to find a toy to keep Ben occupied. As I was digging, I was pulling out gummy worms, suckers, gum wrappers, and hard candy. The possibility of Rachael maybe getting her tooth stuck in a gummy worm and unintentionally pulling out the baby tooth, allowing the bubble gum to then take hold prematurely pulling the permanent tooth to the surface began to look quite feasible. The dentist replied no, but I distinctly saw her hand tighten on the drill, as she contemplated drilling a hole through my skull, hoping to find some way to get through to me, that candy is not good for teeth. So I told Ben he could have the gummy worms in the car. The kids were then allowed to pick prize, where my son inquired, “Could I have a sucker?” I heard a drill in the background turn on; I grabbed the kids, and fled from the office.
That was all the stress I needed that day, but that was not all I was going to get. We now had to make 75 cupcakes for church. The kids insisted on helping. One third of all the sprinkles we had, were dumped on the first cupcake. One third of my energy allowed for the day, was used up lecturing the kids about that one cupcake. I thought I heard the sound of a dentist’s drill, as I looked at that sugar volcano ready to explode in some child’s mouth. The massive bowl of cake batter proved to be a thorn in my children’s flesh. They were agonizing over not being allowed to take “just one taste.” I finally gave in, giving each child a clean spoon for one taste. I told them they could not return the used spoons to the bowl because of germs. As I returned to the kitchen from throwing in a load of laundry, I discovered my kids are creative and obedient. 18 used spoons were lying next to the batter bowl. Technically, they had not disobeyed, so I added my own spoon to the pile, as I felt three pairs of eyes peering at me from behind furniture, waiting to see what punishment surely lie ahead. I enjoy shocking my children every now and then, for I too have left way too many spoons next the big bowl of God’s grace. (Of course, I didn’t tell them right away that they weren’t in trouble. Guilt can produce massive amounts of obedience.)
As I raced against the clock, trying to finish cupcakes, get everybody dressed, look over my lesson for my class that night, and get the kids stuff together, the incomprehensible happened. The toilet got stopped up and overflowed. I wasn’t thrilled but I could grab the plunger and take care of it. I had not anticipated the actions of my three year old, who has inherited my love of running water. I returned to the bathroom to find him REPEATEDLY flushing the toilet, as cascades of waterfalls flooded my bathroom. I grabbed blankets, (towels are no match for Niagara Falls), hoping to stop the flow of water to the rest of the house, where it might carry off my children, or worse, my 75 cupcakes. After using all the blankets, I had built a wall consisting of Scooby Doo, Elmo, Barbie, and plaid flannel comforters. Much to my relief, the damage was restricted to the bathroom.
The bathroom disaster did little to help my rising stress level, nor did the decreasing amount of time available to deal with my stress before church help the situation. So the countdown continues, grab child throw in tub, wet, scrub, rinse. Grab another child, repeat. No time to dry Rachael’s hair, so we will turn on heat in the car, and she will ride backwards in the seat to get optimum exposure to vents. Grab the cupcakes, book bag, kids, and purse; lock the door we are on our way. I feel like I am forgetting something……. The keys. The keys are locked securely in the house. Thank God for cells phone, and enough presence of mind to grab it before I left the house. I call my husband to come home and unlock the door, while Rachael worries about missing her party. I too, worry that 75 cupcakes will remain in our home overnight. Let’s see 75, divided by 5 is… oh forget it. It’s still way too many cupcakes per person, especially with an indoor pool in the bathroom, and no lifeguard. I call the church to tell them I will be late, the voice on the line does not seem to be surprised. Finally, my husband returns, we speed out the drive way while the kids are flung from one seat to another trying to grab seat belts in mid air.
We survived the evening at church, and after we were back home, and the kids were curled up in bed, snuggling in beach towels (waiting for dry blankets), I reflected on the day. While standing in the bathroom, with my pant legs rolled up, surveying the damage, I was struck with the thought. In Psalms, David speaks of his cup running over. I think of my life, and how crowded some days seem to be, and when it all becomes too much, what do I spill over with? Usually, I overflow with anger, cutting remarks to my kids, and facial expressions that clearly reveal who has control of the situation, the enemy. When the toilet overflowed, amazingly, the water was a clear as spring water, because the undesirable things had been flushed out, and the water was coming from a deeper source, a well of pure, and clean and uncontaminated water. When I overflow, the things I leave unresolved, the sins I leave unconfessed, the situations still needing to be confronted, all come out in a mighty tidal wave on all the unsuspecting children, friends and family around me. Stress causes the dam of our emotions to open, and we are powerless to stop all that lie behind it. Christian and non-Christian lives all overflow from time to time, but the difference should be, in what comes out. There should also be a difference in what remains. Do we leave behind hurt feelings, and more things to be forgiven for after the devastation of the flood has passed? Or do we leave those around us asking “What was that?” as they witness a complete and utter act of God, that when disaster struck, it was God and His Spirit that swept through, leaving things remarkably cleaner and calmer, like the air after a much needed storm. I cannot allow garbage in my life to sit and rot until I can’t take anymore. I must daily flush my spirit man out, so that when I can take no more, that deeper well of the Holy Spirit can flow out of me instead, washing over me and others, bringing much needed patience, compassion, and peace to the surface. And I cannot forget that the only way to rid myself of the garbage is to daily draw from that deep well within me, the Living Water. Imagine for a moment, what the condition of your bathroom would be if no one flushed. (I know that’s disgusting, but so is unconfessed sin in the eyes of God.) It does not matter how clean the rest of your house is, that bathroom will stink up every room. (Please don’t ask me why I know this to be true.) Likewise, our spirit man who is not maintained will eventually affect every other area of our life. There’s no reason for there to be such a mess to clean up when we overflow, when maintenance takes so little time, and Christ paid such a high price to plumb us to the right well. I can’t help but wonder, if the enemy got caught up in and swept down a river of Grace and Mercy every time he creates situations to cause my dam to burst, he might find another place to fish, and leave my shores alone!
So, yes, today my cup overfloweth, and so did our toilet. But tomorrow, while I may again overflow, may I overflow into my children’s’ cups so that one day they too, will long to be connected to this same well of Living Water.

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