The Referee

Why would anyone want to be a referee? The entire job consists of constantly waiting for someone to do something wrong, so you can correct them. I dunno, maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to be a horrid job, if you ask me. There’s lots of whistle-blowing, arms waving, running around, and breaking up fights. Plus, the outfit is super ugly.

Plus, the outfit is super ugly.

Well, that’s what I felt like today—a referee. Lots of correcting, running around, and breaking up fights. My outfit (which consisted of black leggings, a tank top and my “Run Detroit” sweatshirt) was, indeed, ugly. I didn’t even comb my hair. I think I brushed my teeth? Yes, question mark. The field I was in charge of today was my home. The players, my children. “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’,” kids,” I patiently reminded my little ballers. This seemed not matter. One second Michaela was screaming about an unseen owie, the next Boaz was peeing on the floor (we are potty-training). One minute we move the ball to the 50 yard line—a fun time during an art project—the next we have an interception and the ball run into the end zone of the other team when Boaz starts walloping his sister on the head. Before I could blow my whistle, allow a time out for one offense, we were off to the next. Exhausting and disappointing are the two descriptives I have for this scenario.

Days like this make me want to give up. Throw in the towel. Turn tail and run. Now that I work part-time, I really look forward to the days I have at home with my babies. Maybe the three days at work somehow magically make me forget the actual chaos that awaits me. But, whatever the case, when Thursday arrives, it brings with it excitement and hope of a blessed time with my babes. This lasts for exactly 22.3 seconds, at which time I am reminded I live with little sinners that I have the task of teaching how to live in the civilized world. Maybe those three days away I build up my expectations way too high. But is it too much to hope for a sweet time together? Is it wrong to expect to get through one meal without someone crying, throwing up or having to go poop? Shouldn’t I look forward to actually playing a whole game with the Littles and everyone enjoying it? I don’t know, I really don’t think those are high expectations. But I just don’t want to live in the realm of Exhausted and Disappointed any more.

Is it wrong to expect to get through one meal without someone crying, throwing up or having to go poop?

What kept me going today, what made me not throw in the towel (other than the fact I’m the one in charge of keeping them alive until I can tag-team Dan at 5:30) was the little itty-bitty bit of preaching I did to myself. Now, it was pretty hard to muster, cuz I was all settled in to be mopey and bad-attitudey, but I managed to pull off a few niglets of “c’mon girl, remember who you are.” Somewhere in the recesses of my mommy brain I remembered reading somewhere that God doesn’t ask us to be “successful” (whatever that means). He asks us to be faithful. Be a faithful mom, Amanda. Just keep loving these little hooligans as much as you can. Maybe what that looks like is giving MYSELF a time out so I don’t explode on the babes. Maybe that looks like me going through the motions silently, but with kisses on the tops of their heads. Maybe it means we let go of the hope of a blissful afternoon and just have an afternoon.

God doesn’t ask us to be successful, He asks us to be faithful

What faithfulness ended up looking like tonight was a really great conversation with my daughter. I had decided to throw myself into something I know I’m good at and can complete—cleaning my house. I had just finished scrubbing out the refrigerator and had started to prep the floors to be mopped when I heard the pitter patter of little feet up from nap. It was Michaela, and she asked what she could do to help. I put her on dusting duty and away she went. As I watched my little girl work by my side, I started to see that today isn’t a failure. My grandma used to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!” And how I think this correlates is to say, don’t assume the whole entire day is a wash just because there’s a few (or a million) trying moments. Keep on keeping on. So, I turned to my babe and said, “Michaela, I’m sorry for yelling earlier. I just want so much for us to be happy when we are all together. It makes mommy feel so sad when you act like you are not happy with whatever mommy has planned for us to have fun doing.” And then, my four-year-old looked at me and replied, “Mommy, I just love being with you. Just because I ask to do another special thing all together after we have just done one, doesn’t mean I didn’t love the first special thing we just did. Maybe we should pray for each other right now?”

THIS. This was said from my FOUR-YEAR-OLD. So, we prayed for each other, hugged, and went back to cleaning. I am a blessed woman. My girl is getting it. Somehow, somewhere between the battles I break up and the pee I mop up and the owies I kiss and bandage, my babies are somehow seeing Jesus. I’m pretty sure it has zero to do with my dazzling skills and all to do with His grace and glory. But they’re getting it. Praise GOD.

About an hour after this Michaela made herself throw up at the dinner table because she did not want to eat the nutritious chicken soup I had spent hours making.

But, even this darker parenting moment was easier for me to glide through because I’d had a little fresh wind the hour before. I had seen God working, He had reminded me faithfulness is the goal, and so onward we went.

Then I fell asleep at 7:30pm. This refereeing stuff is hard.

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The Good News is…I Just Got Fired!

Technically, I got laid off yesterday. You know the drill. Enrollment is down, budget cuts happen. “She gone,” in the words of Pappy Robertson.

I’m feeling pretty raw and emotional about this. I loved this job more than I ever expected to. In fact, everything about the job was unexpected. One day, a year ago, I unexpectedly got a call out of the blue from the school offering me a full time job, in which I could design my own hours and come into the office on days I could swing it. Six months later, due to restructuring, I was moved out of that role and into a different one—unexpectedly. Now, six months after that, another surprise. No job.

I didn’t expect to learn new things about myself. I learned how to see deep into the heart of extremely hurting people. Very wealthy people send their kids to the school I worked at, and most of them tended to be pretty miserable. But, God gave me His power to somehow, miraculously, bring a smile to these people’s faces. Some of them I even became friends with, and over the front desk I got to share Jesus Christ with them. Just two days ago, I had a parent (who is notorious for being very difficult to work with) ask me why I was always so happy. I told her it was because of God. She replied,

“I know a lot of people who believe in God, and they’re all miserable.”

To which I replied, “My power is from Jesus Christ. He is who makes me want to smile.”

She nodded, and then told me she preferred to believe I had magical powers since she’s Jewish and Jesus doesn’t jive with her beliefs. But hey, I told her Truth.

I didn’t expect to have women share with me their devastation over being cheated on by their husbands or hurt by gossip or the vast amounts of loneliness they deal with. I didn’t expect that at all.

What is expected, though, is the heartache I feel right now. And honestly, I’ve never been one to look on the bright side. I think rose-colored glasses are dumb. It’s obvious to me that the stupid glass is definitely half empty…um, hello, you just DRANK half of it! Therefore you are now half way to being empty. It’s just the way my brain is wired. Some people call this pessimism, I call it realism. That being clearly stated, I am learning as I grow older and wiser, to teach myself how to add a very important aspect to my realism. It’s called being thankful. (Fitting for this time of year, don’t you think?) I think it’s totally okay to be a realist, as long as you are also a thankful-ist.

Psalm 50:14-15 says, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

The most interesting part of this verse is that God asks for something unique—a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Those two words don’t seem to go together. For me, the word sacrifice implies something of great hardship. To lose something or give something of great importance. There’s definitely an element of difficulty involved in sacrifice. But then when I think of the word thanksgiving, I see pilgrims and Native Americans, pumpkins and gourds, songs and cheery faces, neighbors being neighborly, love and joy. But that’s not what’s going on in these verses.

Giving thanks is SO EASY to do when times are great. When you’ve got groceries in the cupboards and gas in your tank and new clothes in the closet, it’s easy-peasy-slice-of-cheesy to say, “Thanks, God!” But it is desperately hard to do when you’ve just lost your job, or your health is failing, or a loved one has passed away, or the church has let you down, or a friend has hurt you, or your spouse has cheated, or your child won’t go to sleep…these aspects of life make it feel like giving thanks is an impossibility. Yet, that’s just what God asks for. THAT’S why it’s a sacrifice. It’s really hard. But, oh, does it smell so sweet to the Most High when the aroma of this sacrifice reaches the nostrils of our God. He then reaches down, and promises us right here and now that He will rescue us. Then we will turn right around and honor Him for being a-freaking-mazing!!!

So, yes, the good news is, I lost my job. There’s a million reasons to be thankful right now. So here are just a few of those million. Here is my sacrifice of thanksgiving:

Father,
Thank You for using me as a witness to lost and hurting people. Thank you that I now get to stay home again with my two beautiful babes. Thank you for a husband who has sat with me while I cried, hugged me while I left snot marks on his shirt and dabbed away tears after leaving mascara blobs on his collar. Thank you for friends who have called, texted, emailed and driven by to say they love me. Thank you for giving me another opportunity to trust You. I do not know how bills will be paid or how we will pay for any fun “extras”, but I am thankful I have You to guide me. Without You, I’d feel this mountain insurmountable. With You, I am able to look at this as the beginning of another exciting adventure. Thank you for Your great love for me, and thank You for my daughter who reminded me last night while I cried that “Jesus will wipe away all my tears. Don‘t be sad mommy.” Thank you for sweet words out of the mouths of babes. Thank you for Jesus, Your Son, who saves.

Amen