Friday, June 7, 2013

25 Rings of the Bell and 4 Salad Sandwiches

Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men. Remember that you will get your reward from the Lord. He will give you what you should receive. You are working for the Lord Christ.~ Colossians 3:23-24, NLV ~

I am exhausted.  Sleep deprived.  Run down.  Caring for a family that is in survival mode resulting from the recent hospitalization of one of its members.  I am lucky if my hair is washed.  Make-up seems like a distant, luxurious memory.  My clothing these days is intended for comfort, certainly not fashion.  And I am often teetering on the tightrope of emotional fragility.

Yet, as my precious charge rings the bell that I have left at her bedside for the 25th time today, I once again lovingly chime back, "I'll be right there, honey!".  I assess her well-being with every concerned glance at her face.  Whatever it takes to keep fluids in her and her medications on schedule, I will do.  She may be asking for her 4th salad sandwich (that's bread with lettuce and mayonnaise for you who don't know any better), but if it tastes good to her, I'll gladly do it.  Tomorrow, she may not find it's something she can tolerate, just like her passion for mashed potatoes with butter and salt has quickly vanished.  When I am not checking on her dietary requests, medical needs, requests for snuggling or just answering another beckoning of the bell, I am tenderly treating the stains on the increased amount of soiled laundry that comes with having a recovering patient in the house.

It is thankless work, but when our children with special needs are in the deepest darkness of their struggles, it almost comes naturally to serve as if doing it for the Lord and not for men.  We love with a fierce, unmatchable compassion.  We parents may not feel like we are accomplishing much, but that doesn't matter.  In fact, we are doing mighty kingdom work.  We are serving Jesus by tending to our vulnerable children.

This takes me back to a passage from GOD'S WHISPER IN A MOTHER'S CHAOS: Bringing Peace Home by Keri Wyatt Kent. She writes of the types of service I describe with my child, "We tend to think that only deep quiet contemplation or perhaps serving on a mission trip or volunteering in the church office 'counts' in God's eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more defeating to a mother who finds that taking care of her children feels like almost all she can do... And God is not deducting points on some giant tally sheet in heaven because you missed your 'quiet time'. He's watching the way you trim the crust off the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and cut it in triangles because that's how your toddler likes it, and he's saying 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"  Indeed!

How comforting to know that while I may feel like I am completely uninspiring, ragged and run down, I am bringing incredible glory to God right in our little corner of life.  As my child grows, she will not remember how many meetings I attend, how perfectly I do my hair and make-up every day, how productive I think I have been.  She will treasure how much love I poured into her by doing the little, thankless things that mean a great deal to her.  And hopefully, it will inspire in her carrying on the legacy of selflessness, doing for others as it was done for her.

PRAY:  Jesus, by the power of your Holy Spirit, help me to do everything I do as the parent of a special needs child just as if I were doing it for you.

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