“Is this an emergency?” the receptionist asked as I paced the floor of my bedroom, nursing my baby. “It will be if I don’t talk to the doctor or her nurse very soon.” “Oh,” she said, “one moment please.” Believe it or not, she put me on hold. I glanced down at little Connor John in my arms, and I couldn’t help but smile.
It had been a rather ordinary day in my rather ordinary life. As a home schooling mother of ten, I would have to say that a day that goes as planned is quite out of the ordinary. Earlier in the day, a good friend from out of town, Jane, called. “How are you?” she asked.
” I’m doing great,” I replied. I had just finished morning prayer with my children and had a great discussion with them about giving everything they do all day to the Lord as a gift. We had a long talk about smiling when things don’t go our way because, when we give it all to God, He will use these things to build His Kingdom and help us become more beautiful for heaven.
Then Jane had to ask, “So how is everything else around there?” She knows me too well. By the time I was done with my litany she knew that our fourteen year old van was in the shop for the fifth time in a month, and it looked like it was the transmission this time; the dryer is broken, and there is no money for a repair man right now; Patrick’s seizure’s are out of control. He needs an MRI under general anesthesia, an EEG, and he has a very resistant staph ear infection that may require five to ten days in the hospital; (Patrick is severely autistic, and at 14, a hospital stay would not go over very well.) And last, but not least, I informed her that my husband Mark’s back is out again. “Really, we’re doing fine. God has a plan,” I said. “Well, is that all?” she said. We both laughed.
After hanging up the phone with my friend I asked the Lord to help me truly see with eyes of faith that He is in charge and that He will use these trials to build his kingdom. In my heart I knew that Christ would show me how to handle all this, and at the same time He would strengthen my faith. Then I asked Him for one more thing. I asked Him to show me how to teach this to my children. In my heart I heard the same words I had spoken to my children earlier in the day. “Smile when things don’t go your way because the trials of today will be the treasures of tomorrow.” It sounded so simple, and yet it made so much sense. If my children see me happy when faced with a difficult situation, they will learn to do the same.
Now I was on hold with the neurologist’s office waiting to talk with the nurse about Patrick’s seizure medication and his upcoming tests. He had recently suffered two grand mal seizures, and there was a problem with the dosage of his seizure medication. While I waited on hold I decided to peak out into the dining room to see how the kids were getting along with lunch. As usual, things were not quite the way I had left them. “Kate, why are you and Bridget chasing Emily around the dining room?” I asked. Just as Emily, my three year old, ran to me Kate said, “Because she was standing in the peanut butter.” Sure enough, Emily had gotten into the peanut butter. And I mean literally: both feet into the jar of peanut butter. She had peanut butter up to her knees. I had to ask myself why in the world I had thought I would actually save money by buying the huge mega tub of peanut butter. Thinking of my broken dryer, I said, “O.K., everyone grab something that is not made of cloth and start cleaning the peanut butter out of the carpet.” God had blessed us with several days of rain, so I could not hang laundry out to dry. Fortunately, my kids, as great as they are at creating laundry, could not go outside and get dirty either.
While I was still nursing the baby and holding the phone I was able to maneuver Emily into a chair. I was instructing her not to move from the chair when finally the nurse on the phone said, “May I help you?” Emily began to cry, “I’m sorry, Mommy.” I knew she would not stop until I accepted her apology. I whispered in her ear, “I forgive you.” Then I rushed into the bedroom and closed the door so I could hear the nurse.
A few moments later I emerged from my room, assured that the medication problem would be taken care of. There before me was my resourceful crew, kneeling on the floor using my emergency supply of baby wipes to clean the carpet. They were discussing the fate of Romulus and Remus from the Roman history we had studied earlier in the day. Michael was having a hard time understanding how one brother could kill the other. Kate was at Emily’s feet wiping the last traces of peanut butter from between her toes.
“You’re doing a great job, guys,” I said as I knelt down to help. Connor John toddled off with a baby wipe in his hand and then bent down to imitate his siblings. As we all knelt on the carpet Megan glanced at the clock and said, “Mom, it’s noon.” Everyone folded his or her hands and Brendan started with “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” We responded, “and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.” God is so good. He got us all on our knees just in time for the Angelus. How could I not be smiling?
Elizabeth M. Matthews
Beth Matthews, mother of twelve, is the author of Precious Treasure, the Story of Patrick and co-author with her husband, Mark, of A Place for Me. Beth is a frequent speaker on a variety of family topics. The Matthews live in Westfield, Indiana. You may find out more or contact Beth a www.chelseashire.com