Wading in Puke

The weekend before this one just past my husband and I took turns with the flu. Kindly, he went first. Not so kindly, he made a couple unsuccessful trips to the bathroom, leaving behind a very unpleast mess to clean up. He managed to spew on every wall and fixture.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Saturday night our thirteen year old grandson went to bed early, complaining of a queasy stomach. He made one trip to the bathroom, seemingly emptying his belly completely, he flushed away, and put the lid on the toilet down (as is the rule at his house). The problem came when on his second trip he could not get the lid up quickly enough or even have time to turn and aim for the sink or tub.

May I just say, I have never seen such a mess, in either quantity or dispersement. And I have no words for the smell.

Then, I was awakened Sunday morning by one of dogs wretching off the foot of our bed. He made a rather thorough mess of things, too.

All I could think was, “Really, God. I need this, why?”

This morning, after dropping my grandson off at school, I headed to my favorite coffee spot and writing place. I no sooner had my coat off when my phone rang. Sigh. The grandson. What did he forget this time?

When I answered the phone, I knew I was on speaker—I could hear the laughter and noise in the background. Through laughter my grandson finally asked “Mema, legit, did I puke all over the bathroom this weekend?”

“Yeah, buddy, it was the worst puke I’ve ever cleaned up.”

“Thanks. See…” And the line went dead as hysterical laughter broke out.

Only a group of 13 yr old boys could enjoy a story like that and be congratulatory. He was so proud of himself. And for one moment I forgot how awful a mess it had been to clean up.

I will confess, I was laughing, too. I quickly texted his mother and let her know what a hoot her son was. She responded right back a message filled with laughing emojis. He had been bragging to his gamer friends about the event as well.

The whole thing reminded me of a conversation I had with Eddie Jones (writer and CEO of Lighthouse of the Carolinas at a writers conference. I was telling him how much I appreciated his books for middle grade boys. He waxed a bit philosophical, and then said making sure each story included farts, puke, and practical jokes was his ticket to success. “You have to know your audience.”

So, dear audience, what can we take from this gross, yet for some hysterical set of circumstances. I can think of three things.

First, puke happens. It’s not pleasant in the moment, but we always tend to feel better when it’s over. Sometimes we need to let the roiling fear, anger, or grief out to feel better and be able to move on.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. The laughing group of thirteen year old boys reminded: you can even laugh about the grossest stuff of life. There will always be enough sadness to go around, but learning to find the humor is a solid way to pull yourself out of the downward spiral sadness tries to suck us into.

And remember to thank (profusely) the person who has to clean up your mess. Over and over my grandson apologized to me. And over and over I tried to assure him that I knew he didn’t plan on the mess. I believe his contrite and sincere apology was what enabled me to laugh after his verification phone call. His previous appreciation for what I endured in the extensive clean project enabled me laugh along with him and his buddies instead of thinking that he was making fun or laughing at me.

Who knew you could learn so much the negative consequences of the stomach flu?

But really, I think I learned enough to satisfy me for a very…very long time.

Wednesday’s Word: Awe


So the plan for this weekly post is to have an encouraging word for those extra long days and weeks that weigh heavy and are discouraging.

Today’s word is a great word for that purpose. So many days we get tripped up by the mundane, sabotaged by the pain, or overwhelmed by the struggle. We’re taken down by those things because we lose perspective: the ability to see above and beyond.

A scripture that lifts me to a place of awe is found in Isaiah 40:

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

God can give us the ability to soar above…and that’s pretty awesome. He keeps his promise, gives us everything we need—including the ability run, or  the strength to just keep walking.

That’s awesome and amazing.


20/20 Vision

In the first four chapters of Deuteronomy we find the account of the people of Israel poised at the edge of the Promised Land and their resulting fear. Several times Moses reminds them that God had promised them the land so they should act on the promise. The people lacked the faith to do so. Instead they asked Moses to send some scouts in to the land and come back to report what they saw. The plan seemed to make sense to Moses because he figured that the report would remind them of what they stood to gain and reinforce the need to act on the promise and take the land.

Reading about the tension that was rising between Moses and the people reminded what a difference perspective can make. Moses seemed incredulous that the people were so reluctant to move forward when God, the God of the universe, the God who had parted the Red Sea and cared for their every need in the wilderness, would fail to come through for them now. The people were equally mystified in Moses’ obvious lack of understanding regarding the impossibility of the situation. Sure, the land looked good, but the giants loomed that much larger. The two perspectives couldn’t be more diametrically opposed.

The whole thing sounded like the old proverb that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. God can lead you to his promise, but he can’t make you believe it. The people were looking at the situation through the lenses of “what is” and it resulted in great fear. Moses was looking at the situation and seeing the great potential that awaited them.

What happens when you look at what is going on around you? When you consider the circumstances where you find yourself are you overwhelmed by what you see, or hope for what can be? In terms of MBTI, are you more of an intuitive or sensate? Are fixated on what you can draw from you situation with your senses, or do you find yourself stuck on the potentialities? Certainly we need balance in the two dimensions, but we will always more naturally lean to one response or the other.

So what about God? My first thought was that He must be a strong iNtuitive. After all, the grand quote about God is that with Him “all things are possible.” That, in fact, we can do all things through Christ (God incarnate) who strengthens us. Talk about potential!
But what about those of us who were born in Missouri? You know us, we are the descendants of Thomas: we need to see it to believe it. God created us with our wiring as it is, so there must value to be a sensory oriented person, one who makes decisions based on what ‘is’ not the illusive “what might be.” Here’s what I think. I believe that God created both ends of the spectrum not only so that we would balance each other, but so that we could be more balanced individually. One is no more valuable or “right” than the other. While understanding our personality is helpful to getting a handle on our behavior, it seems to me it would best to understand God better. We need to learn to take Him at His word, that we can trust Him to come through on His promises.

Here’s what I suggest you do if you find you’re coming up a little short in the trust department, if the task God is asking you to face seems full of giants. Flip to the end of the book. It’s okay. God won’t mind. When you read the end you find that we win. Now turn back to Romans, and catch how Paul describes your position: In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37, NRSV) Oh, and here’s the one I really love. Find 2 Chronicles 20:20. Ezra leads up to this great verse by telling the people in verse 15: Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. Then he reinforces this with verse 17: The battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf. Then the 20;20 moment comes the next day when they get up and go out to battle, he tells them: Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.

Our dependence on God results in 20:20 vision. So whether you more naturally get focused on what is right in front of you or you jump into all the potentiality of the moment, your vision will be perfect when you trust God and take him at His word. That’s the response that makes the most sense, because if you read on in Deuteronomy you’ll find that it really didn’t go very well for those who gave into their fears. For them it was back out into the wilderness and they never were able to experience the blessings of the Promised Land. And all the possibilities of that kind of experience make me want to be sure I’m holding onto God’s perspective. How about you?

-Are you struggling with a difficult situation? Are the Giants closing in?
-What promises are you clinging to? What promises do you need to find to hold on?
-You may not feel like a winner right now, but keep reminding yourself that the battle is God’s and he sees you as more than a conqueror!

My Poopy Life

The sweet little lady I care for sometimes has poopy accidents, on the way to the bathroom and in the bathroom. Today was on the way. As I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor, I started thinking about Brother Lawrence and his little book, “Practicing the Presence of God”. He came to understand his relationship with God in a whole new way as he scrubbed the floors in the monastery. I bet the other brothers weren’t leaving poopy piles on their way to chapel. Even still, I figured I needed to work on a more gracious attitude.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized, I have a really poopy life. When I get done cleaning up poopy messes at work, I go home and clean up the poop piles the pups have left around the yard. Then recently the grandson has had some issues with poop that have required my cleaning up the toilet and him. My gracious resolve was fading fast.

How was I going to deal with these crappy feelings about crap? Can a person actually be happy for poop? In a weird sort of way, I guess I am. I can be thankful that I’m cleaning up poop at work because It means I have a job. Not every day is poopy. Cleaning up after my sweet lady is okay, because I care about her and by minimizing the problem I help her hold on to the remainder of her dignity. Cleaning up after my dogs means I still have these furry companions. I love them, too. I love their eager welcome when I come home and how they clean up the messes I make on the kitchen floor. And I treasure that poopy little boy more than words can describe. Someday, a day coming way too soon, he won’t need his Mema to clean him up. I will treasure even the stinky moments I have now because it means he’s close enough to love on and spoil.

Poop happens. Some days more than others. One of my favorite stories is of two little boys put in two separate rooms where they found themselves knee deep in poop. The first boy stood in the middle of the room and cried while the second little boy started digging all around in the poop. When asked what he was doing he replied, “I’m looking for the pony. With all this poop, there has to be a pony in here somewhere.”

I am not a fan of poop. But I will keep looking for the pony.

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