Monday, May 6, 2013

It's All Worth It!!!

Yesterday was a day FULL of enlightenment.

Saturday night I had stayed up most of the night finishing projects.  As I prepared for bed, I heard the birds chirping, and I got a pit in my stomach.  Was it really that late/early?  I get kind of obsessed about finishing projects.  It was 6 am, and I would be waking up again in 2 hours for church.  I always go to church- even when I'm tired; but since Abe was out of town, I knew I would struggle a bit with my desire.  I said a prayer asking God for help with my desire and attitude and to be able to have a wonderful experience of learning even though I was so tired.

This Sunday was Stake Conference-which is a special meeting that only takes place twice a year; all the members in surrounding cities gather to hear the same message.  We pick up two little boys every week to go to church with us, and they live right in the pathway of the big annual Kalamazoo Marathon.  All the roads were blocked, so we actually had to drive in the opposite direction away from the church which made us lose about 30 minutes!  The detour, however, led us close to the finish line, and there were runners already finishing last stretch of their race!

I know well the emotions involved at the end of a long race-especially a marathon!  We slowly rolled along side of the runners when my whole van of 8 children began cheering at the top of their lungs for the runners.  I cried with excitement watching these runners put their all into their finishes... all of a sudden I didn't feel so tired.  I had been irritated at the detour that was making us half an hour late for church, but then I realized that God was giving us a beautiful, energizing experience.  That image of my children hanging their heads out the windows and yelling through the cracks of windows to encourage runners finishing the climactic moments of their race was definitely worth my trip to church and worth my lack of sleep...

We continued to drive on our detoured route when Jayden began to throw up.  I quickly held the plastic bag behind me, but there was only so much aim I could give while driving 45 miles an hour... his cute little church outfit and car seat were soiled.  Jayden's not sick- we're still trying to figure out what is going on.  He never does it more than once a day, so I assumed we were safe for the rest of the day.

Because of the throw-up mess, I walked into the back of the church 45 minutes late.  As I walked in, I prayed again that I would be able to learn something from this meeting even though we were arriving so late.  All 9 of us settled into our seats.  I heard one important sentence from one of the speakers.  I made a mental note to work harder to implement that message into my life, and then I had to go out because my cute, little, talkative, baby Jayden was being too loud.  He quieted down, and Jayden and I returned to our seats.  Moments later, Jayden threw up AGAIN; and all I had time to offer him was my diaper bag... and my skirt.

A couple of days ago I wrote about a stranger who gave me her bag after Jayden threw up in my bag. Today, within seconds, a woman 5 rows up rushed to my side with her teenage daughter to help me clean up.  I'm not even sure how she was there so fast- she was by my side before he was even done throwing up!  She didn't ask me anything... she just got to work.

The teenage daughter grabbed wet paper towels while the mother knelt down at my feet and quietly wiped off every single item in my bag.  She proceeded to wipe off my skirt as I wiped down Jayden.  As I watched her quietly kneel at my side, I couldn't help but think of the Savior kneeling down and washing the disciples' feet as the greatest act of service and love.  She wasn't searching for attention from anyone.  She didn't fear the messiness of the service.  She didn't even look disgusted at the task at hand.  She just quietly served and then just as inconspicuously returned to her seat.  I don't think she could have known the love that overwhelmed me as I watched this woman kneel at my side performing the dirtiest work of all.. just as Jesus knelt by his disciples' side washing the dirtiest part of their bodies- their feet.  Even though I could not hear most of the messages taught by the speakers, this image of a loving sister kneeling by my side was worth my trip to church and worth my lack of sleep.  What a beautiful life this woman and her children lead....

The beautiful day continued...   As I attempted to gather all 8 children to the van, a sweet family stopped us and invited all of us over for dinner- on the spur of the moment.  It's a very rare day when somebody can feed a family as big as ours without prior notice.  I took the other children to their house and arrived to this sweet family's home shortly after.

I loved spending time with them!  As I listened to their perspective on life, I realized once again how many stories there are of God's almighty hand working in all of our lives.  This family was making big decisions about their future and including God every step of the way.

After dinner and dessert, the father ran wild chasing all the children in the backyard.  When I said it was time to go, it was the father who stood by the children begging for a chance to finish their game.  If I hadn't gone to church, I would have missed this opportunity to see this beautiful family in joyful, Christlike action.  This image of a loving father playing and loving freely while the mother gently coddled her 7 month old baby was definitely worth my trip to church... and worth my lack of sleep.  What a beautiful life this family leads...

God is guiding, directing, and offering beautiful life experiences in all of our lives.  I wouldn't have seen these beautiful lives in the light that I had if I had decided that I was just too tired or too worn out with throw-up and lack of sleep to go to church.  I had asked God to help me with my desire, and HE offered beautiful images that taught, uplifted, and reminded me of God's omnipresent influence... but I had to be willing to be where HE wanted me to be in order to see what HE wanted me to see.