Caring Unapologetically

As I sit in my recliner writing this, my son sleeps restlessly on the couch less than four feet away. For the past four days he has been battling a flu-like virus, and for the last 30 hours or so, it has manifested in severe congestion in his sinuses. We know this is the last stage since our daughter endured the same nasty bug last week. We also know in some ways, this is the hardest stage.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen give a good defense against the fever and headache. Lying still helps with the tummy ache, but the congestion is just a beast. Vaporizers, decongestants, and loads of waters don’t make much difference at all. If he lies down, he coughs and gags because the junk settles in his throat, so we keep him propped up, and it is easier to do that on the couch than in his bed. Plus, it is easier for one of us to be close to him this way as well.

During the two week stint of this virus’ rampage in our home, Rob and I have taken turns staying up with the children. Because their temperatures shot up to 103-104 without medicine, one of us would set an alarm and get up to give them medicine when it was needed. When little muscles and joints ached because of the high fever, we’d rub them. We placed cool washcloths on foreheads, and we kept water bottles readily available.

We have become aware of breathing changes, even quiet moans, and body movement. We have figured out which moans meant muscles ached and which moans meant we better have a trashcan ready. Even in our sleep, we are aware of these things and quickly respond to the need of the moment.

Thankfully, we have the ability to tag-team. After supper, I lay down and napped while Rob cared for the children. Now, I am taking the first shift of the night while he sleeps. If need be, I’ll wake him up later, and he’ll take over.

Granted, some of you might be wondering why we are “hovering”, and some of you may think our attention is excessive. You are certainly entitled to think that way, and I won’t tell you that you are wrong. However, one thing I have learned in my journey as a person and as a parent is that people usually have reasons for what they do, whether you agree or not. In my case, yes, I do fuss over my children when they are sick. Yes, I most likely am too protective. However, I know what we have gone through as we have dealt with a child who had a habit of going into respiratory distress without warning. For example, one very scary night I woke up and felt prompted to check on Robert. After the fact, it was obvious that it was the Holy Spirit who woke me up, but at the time I almost didn’t get up because a few ladies had taken it upon themselves to tell me I was overprotective and needed to quit fussing over my children so much. Instead of lying back down, I figured those women weren’t there to know, so I went into Robert’s room to find his lips and mouth blue and in distress to the point he could not make sound.

Maybe I am more fussy than most mothers. I don't know. What I know is my children. I know where we've been, and I know what we've endured. I am extremely protective, and I won't apologize for it.

And besides, I think we are teaching our children something important. Our actions tell our children, “You can depend on us. We are watching out for you.” More than that, I think we are saying, “Because we represent God to you, we want our actions to clearly say you can depend on Him. He is watching out for you.”

The Bible says we can cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. If our sitting in this recliner or dosing on the floor teaches our children that they can sleep when they are sick because they know we’ll be there if they need us, then it’s worth it because some day they will have to do something that tests their trust in God whether it be a move for business, a broken relationship, sickness, whatever. Something will come when they need to know they can trust God to care for them, and Rob and I will be able to say, “Do you remember when you were little and you would get sick? We would lie with you or put you on the couch and we’d sleep in the recliner or on the floor?” They’ll nod, and we’ll say, “We were so aware of your needs. Remember how we had water for you, gave you medicine, made sure there were crackers where you could reach them? Remember how we uncovered you when you were hot and wrapped you up when you were cold?” They’ll nod again, and we’ll say, “We did all that because we love you. We cared about you and cared about your comfort and health. We cared that you could rest. We cared about how you felt. We did those things because we love you, and you know what? God loves you even more.

“He is even more aware of your needs. He is everything you need, and where we could only wish to help, He can completely help. When we had to sleep or leave your side for a moment, He never leaves you. When we would get fatigued and frustrated, He is always patient and kind. He says you can cast every care and concern on Him because He cares for you. Whatever is bothering you, He will give you the attention we gave you and more. The comfort you found in knowing we were there, you can find in knowing He is there.”

Yeah, we might be a bit obsessive, but we’ve had a good example. I pray we reflect Him well enough for our children to see that.

May you be aware of the caring presence of the Lord in whatever is making you ache as well.

Copyright Jerri Phillips @ 2007


Real Life

It has been nearly two weeks since I posted last, and that bothers me. I try to post weekly. I would like to post 2 or 3 times a week, but that is unrealistic considering my life right now, and that is okay. Right now, my life centers around my home and children, and I like that. At one time I didn’t think I would, but I do.

In fact, as I type this, my beloved children are cutting fabric scraps of all sizes and sewing things in order to make clothes for their stuffed animals. After 2 hours in uncomfortable dining room chairs, I had to take a break, but they are out there plugging away.

Today was supposed to be cleaning day, but I have nothing to convince me that a clean bedroom floor is more important than the creative actions going on in my sunroom right now. Besides, Anna is teaching Robert what she knows, and he is listening, and they are talking-bonding. They are being best friends, and that is a relationship I want to encourage.

So my day is blessed with the joy of sewing, laughing, and learning with the two coolest little folks I know. As a mom, it doesn’t get any better than this.

I sometimes forget how good days like this can be. I’m not one who tends to enjoy sitting. In fact, sitting often induces stress for me, but for two weeks now, the Lord has been reinforcing the joy of still. Well, “still” takes on different meanings, I guess.

Last week Anna came down with a flu-like virus that kept us homebound for the week. This week, Robert has it. We have all battled cabin fever at different times. I probably battled most of all. I have grown a bit tired of Uno, and if I have to watch a particular movie about a mouse being shoved down a toilet again, I may develop a tic.

However, I just fixed a hat for a Chihuahua, thus, allowing my son to know he is not a failure as a designer. He just has to learn how to improvise a bit. I’ve also kept my daughter from tears by being the one to put that giant string of thread through the tiny hole in the needle. Those holes were much bigger when I was younger. And from the reaction of both, you would think I had just saved mankind from some torturous extinction via sewing pins and scissors. I am quite sure I get the “Mommy of the Day Award”, and for such simple things.

The big thing, though, is that I did them. More than that, I made time to do them. Case in point, this paragraph, as it stands right now, has been a 10-minute effort, but during those 10 minutes, my son showed me his fun clothes dance, and I got to see a stuffed dog do some rather funny tricks. He’s really good at playing dead.

Once a lovely lady told me days when the children are ill are great days to do a deep cleaning on the house. It wasn’t until I quit laughing that I realized she was serious.

Deep cleaning on sick days is not my M.O. I have done some cleaning such as laundry and dishes, but beyond that, why bother? There are blankets on every surface where a small child with a 103 fever might want to lie down and curl up in order to feel warmer due to chills. Toys that were highly entertaining until the queasy wave hit are scattered here and there, but because they are often revisited once the wave has passed, I see no point in picking them up. No, I figure when the temperatures are normal and the tummies are settled, the clutter can be picked up and properly placed. For now, it is kind of nice to enjoy low-key children who want to sit, color, paint, sew, or watch TV…or even just snuggle and talk.

I have to say, this isn’t the life I dreamed of. It’s a lot better than any dream I ever had. Really.

Copyright Jerri Phillips @ 2007


Missing Pictures

June 16, 2007

Today was our family reunion. Every other year my dad’s family gathers the day before Father’s Day to reconnect and meet new members of the clan. In the past we have done family group pictures. I like looking back at those pictures and remembering precious folks that have been important in my life.

Today we did family pictures. Two years ago when we took those pictures, I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. In fact, my knees buckled, and I had to lean against a table. Today, it was easier, but tears still came. The pictures affect me because of those who are no longer in them. When it was my family’s turn, I suddenly had an incredible sense of being alone.

Today my brother had to work. My mom has remarried, and she and my step-dad felt odd about attending, and my dad is no longer here to attend.

I miss my dad.

I hate that we have these reunions the day before Father’s Day. While I really enjoy my family, there is always an underlying sadness. Father’s Day is tough in and of itself, and the reunion only reminds me of how much is missing.

I know we have hope because of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I know the Father God is our true Father. He is a Father to the fatherless, and I am blessed in that the Lord has given me a wonderful step-dad. I know I am not without or lacking.

I also know I would love to hear my dad laugh again. I would love one more cup of his coffee. I would love to sit with him on the porch and look across the creek bottom and watch the sun come up one more time.
Tonight we took my step-dad out for dinner, and we had a lovely time with him. We always do. Tomorrow we’ll celebrate my husband because he is a great dad.

And the sadness in my heart and feeling of loss will hopefully cause me to take a closer look at what is IN the picture.

I pray your pictures are full of people who bring you joy…even those precious people who are missing.