So, I was hoping for an early up and attem for me for Friday to finish the week. It was not to be.
So, I tend to get up in the night. They say it’s age. So, after I get up, I seek to avoid disturbing Jessie, so I go downstairs to finish sleeping on the couch. Well, at 3:15am, I hear Jessie’s feet on the stairs. She hits the first floor, runs, and jumps under the comforter with me. She’s terrified. She’s had a nightmare.
I pick her up and take her upstairs. She jumps in my bed. A simple word or two of reassurance isn’t going to fix this one. So, I tear her clutching fingers from my arm, and put her back in her bed. I slide my bed across the room and next to her. Finally, I hear her even breathing, and she falls back asleep.
I get up at 5:30am, and sneak downstairs. Five minutes later I hear her behind me. She’s having none of this Daddy out of the room stuff. So, I put her under the covers on the couch. While I do my morning work, two brown eyes are following me wherever I go and whatever I do. Jessie’s done sleeping for the morning, and so am I.
So much for a great night’s rest and an early start of it. But, in spite of the loss of sleep, one of us is wide awake and ready to go. Unfortunately, it ain’t me. They say it’s age.
I made brownies for the day and for the week-end.
We did a day of two-thirds of school. When you’re good friends with the teacher, the principal, and the school board, you can do those things.
At 8:00am, a church elder and old friend came to help paint. We’ve known each other for thirty years and I preached his wife’s funeral. She died of cancer. Talk about amazing. That woman was superwoman.
We taped the two first floor rooms and launched into painting. I painted the oak chair rail. The paint went on in a blotchy way, but the wood was so dry it soaked it in. I sanded the four pieces and put on a second coat. The results were mediocre.
We had soup and brownies for lunch.
The two of us worked until 2:00pm and got one room finished. I thanked my friend and he headed West.
Jessie and I took a break and went to the library, Staples, and a relative’s house. Jessie and I were lazy and wore our painting clothes.
After returning, I took a nap.
I started in painting again about 6:00pm. I called old friends on the phone and put them on speaker phone while I painted the mantle.
I decided to call it quits about 9:00pm.
Jessie made it clear that post nightmare she was not going to be sleeping alone. So, we read Bible. We prayed. I assured her that God promised that He would never leave nor forsake her. She assured me that she wasn’t going to bed without me. So, I put a pillow at the other end of the couch for her, and put my knees up and gave her half the couch. We read Bible. We prayed. Jessie promptly fell asleep, not far from Daddy. Sister came in about 9:30pm, and carried her up to her bed. Jessie said she would later awake in the night, look to see if sister’s Vera Bradley bag were next to her on the radiator cover, and having been reassured, she’d snuggle down under the down comforter and go back to sleep.
Day 248 was over.
Blessings: Being there for Jessie when she’s scared. God being there for me when I’m scared.
Being a parent is better than a theology course.
Two ten-year-old boys walked up to my five-year-old daughter on the bus yesterday, scowled at her, and demanded that she scoot over.
When I came home from work, she told me about it. “I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. I just sat there – afraid.”
My immediate impulse was to find out the names of the boys and punch their dads in the nose. But I didn’t. I did what was more important. I pulled my little girl up into my lap and let her get lost inside my arms and told her not to worry about those old bullies because her daddy was here, and I’d make sure if any thugs ever got close to my princess they’d be taking their lives in their own hands, yessir.
And that was enough for Jenna. She bounded down and ran outside.
She came back a few minutes later, crying. Her elbow was scraped.
I picked her up and carried her into the bathroom, for first aid. She tried to tell me what happened.
“I” – sniff, sniff – “was turning in circles” – sniff, sniff – “like a helicopter” – sniff, sniff – “and then I fell doaaaaawwwn,” she wailed.
“It’s gonna be OK,” is aid as I set her on the bathroom counter.
“Can I have a Band-Aid®?”
“A big one?”
I stretched the adhesive bandage over the scrape and held her arm up in the mirror so she could see her badge of courage.
“Wow. Can I go show Mommy?”
Sure.” I smiled.
And that was enough for Jenna.
The voice was coming from another world – the world of the awake. I ignored it and stayed in the world of slumber.
“Daddy.” The voice was insistent.
I opened one eye. Andrea, our three-year-old, was at the edge of my bed only a few inches from my face.
“Daddy, I’m scared.”
I opened the other eye. It was three in the morning.
“I need a fwashwight in my woom.”
“I need a fwashwight in my woom.”
“Cause it’s dark.”
I told her the lights were on. I told her the night light was on and the hall light was on.
“But Daddy,” she objected, “what if I open my eyes and can’t see anything?”
“Say that again.”
“What if I open my eyes and can’t see anything?”
Just as I was about to tell her that this was not the best time for questions on affliction, my wife interrupted. She explained to me that there was a power failure around midnight and Andrea must have awakened in the dark. No night light. No hall light. She had opened her eyes and had been unable to see anything. Just darkness.
Even the hardest of hearts would be touched by the thought of a child waking up in a darkness so black she couldn’t find her way out of her room.
I climbed out of bed, picked Andrea up, got a flashlight out of the utility room, and carried her to her bed. All the while, I told her that Mom and Dad were here and that she didn’t need to be afraid. I tucked her in and gave her a kiss.
And that was enough for Andrea.
My child’s feelings are hurt. I tell her she’s special.
My child is injured. I do whatever it takes to make her feel better.
My child is afraid. I won’t go to sleep until she is secure.
I’m not a hero. I’m not a superstar. I’m not unusual. I’m a parent. When a child hurts, a parent does what comes naturally. He helps.
And after I help, I don’t charge a fee. I don’t ask for a favor in return. When my child cries, I don’t tell her to buck up, act tough, and keep a stiff upper lip. Nor do I consult a list and ask her why she is still scraping the same elbow or waking me up again.
I’m not brilliant, but you don’t have to be to remember that a child is not an adult. You don’t have to be a child psychologist to know that kids are “under construction.” You don’t have to have the wisdom of Solomon to realize that they didn’t ask to be here in the first place and that spilled milk can be wiped up and broken plates can be replaced.
I’m not a prophet, nor the son of one, but something tells me that in the whole scheme of things the tender moments described above are infinitely more valuable than anything I do in front of a computer screen or congregation. Something tells me that the moments of comfort I give my child are a small price to pay for the joy of someday seeing my daughter do for her daughter what her dad did for her.
Moments of comfort from a parent. As a father, I can tell you they are the sweetest moments in my day. They come naturally. They come willingly. They come joyfully.
If all of that is true, if I know that one of the privileges of fatherhood is to comfort a child, then why am I so reluctant to let my heavenly Father comfort me?
Why do I think He wouldn’t want to hear about my problems? (“They are puny compared to people starving in India.”)
Why do I think He is too busy for me? (“He’s got a whole universe to worry about.”)
Why do I think He’s tired of hearing the same old stuff?
Why do I think He groans when He sees me coming?
Why do I think He consults His list when I ask for forgiveness and asks, “Don’t you think you’re going to the well a few too many times on this one?”
Why do I think I have to speak a holy language around Him that I don’t speak with anyone else?
Why do I think He won’t do in a heartbeat to the Father of Lies what I thought about doing to the fathers of those bullies on the bus?
Do I think He was just being poetic when He asked me if the birds of the air and the grass of the field have a worry? (No sir.) And if they don’t, why do I think I will? (Duh. …)-1-
[Matthew 6:28-33.] Why do I not take Him seriously when He questions, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”-2-[Matthew 7:11]
Why don’t I let my Father do for me what I am more than willing to do for my own children?
I’m learning, though. Being a parent is better than a course on theology. Being a father is teaching me that when I am criticized, injured, or afraid, there is a Father who is ready to comfort me. There is a Father who will
hold me until I’m better,
help me until I can live with the hurt,
and who won’t go to sleep when I’m afraid of waking up and seeing the dark.
And that’s enough.
-The Applause of Heaven, Max Lucado, 1990, pp.59-64.