Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hands and Feet of Jesus

Over the past 8+ years as a mother I have learned many things. 

Advice is given freely by everyone to mothers, whether you desire it or not, from strangers and friends. 

I remember receiving a plethora of advice and information while pregnant with Jonah and honestly didn't let much of it sink in until I was drowning in my life with a newborn who was far from easy. 

He was colicky (which apparently doesn't exist anymore, but tell any mother who has had a child that fits this description and she might punch you in the face), never slept, and refused a bottle. 

My husband thinks I exaggerate on occasions and when I say the child cried ALL the time and NEVER slept...this is NOT an exaggeration!

The good news is we didn't know any different! 

And that he was adorable so we couldn't help but find him sweet despite his ahem demeanor ;0)

During the weeks of solitude that followed Jonah's birth, running on negative sleep with a crying baby who only wanted to nurse every minute of the day I could hear the advice of every person running through my sleep deprived foggy brain:

Sleep when the baby sleeps (great advice if your BABY actually SLEEPS!)

Have your family watch him/her while you rest (I would if they were closer)

You will be lucky if you get to shower every day (WHAT???? I had BIG plans to get tons done on maternity leave and every time it flew by before I could even crack open a baby book)

Let people help you (I have never been very good at this...control issues prevent me from doing this very well)

We were living in Iowa, far from family, and our small group of friends at the time were still in school and weren't having babies. 

Shortly before Jonah was born, we had been introduced to a local church by someone who became a great friend (thanks Natalie) and eventually became plugged into a small community of other wonderful friends who became our family while we were there. 

One of the ministries of the church was to bring meals to new moms (which is quite common but a new phenomena to us since we were new to the baby thing). 

After Jonah was born and a sweet lady from the church called to tell me that we would be getting a few meals over the next few weeks.

It was like a movie with time slowing down and I think I could hear angels singing over Jonah's cries.

I know I have shared this before, but I will once again confess that I am NOT a good cook, never have claimed to be and probably never will be. This has caused LOTS of anxiety in my life over the years and a few quality fights between my hubby and myself that we have filled away in the "did that really happen to us memory file" and laugh about on special occasions.

The thought of having to cook dinner makes me a bit sweaty and nauseous.


So, to have someone offer to bring us a meal when I could barely find time to pee during the day was the best news I had ever heard!

I remember feeling so extremely grateful and undeserving as these experienced mommas juggled multiple children like a pro and delivered home baked deliciousness to our little 400 sq foot apartment we called home.

The chuckled and smiled at me as I answered the door with my sweats on, unshowered for days with dark circles under my eyes that weren't from makeup that had been left on too long!

With my ONE child.

I remember wondering how anyone has time to do anything else with one child let alone more than one!

These ladies all looked amazing, showered, clean, smelled good and were bringing us supper!

We were very thankful for their servant hearts and selfless attitudes.

Fast forward 20 months later and we were blessed again with meals from our church body and sweet friends (who were just like family) when Elijah came screaming into the world.

Now, I will confess that I had never enjoyed making a meal for someone else at this point in my life.

One because I had zero confidence in my cooking skills, and two because I would rather do 20 loads of laundry than cook supper every night!

Fast forward a few more years when we were pregnant with Mr Isaac who rocked our world starting at 20 weeks with contractions that caused a bit of a scare and then labor starting at 29 weeks that was thankfully stopped, followed by 6 weeks of bed rest with two toddlers at home.

I know I have shared this before, but we were SO BLESSED by so many wonderful people during those weeks and then again when he was born.

The boys prayed every day for Isaac to stay in my tummy and thanked Jesus for mommy's friends who brought them yummy supper , movies to watch and McDonald's for lunch!

They know I am not a great cook and were excited to taste some good home cooked meals and what kid doesn't like McDonalds every day for lunch for a few weeks!

This was probably the first time our older two were able to recognize others loving us and making sacrifices for our family and loving us like Jesus.

It was a HUGE testimony to them, to myself and Richard.

Every time someone brought us a meal we all thanked Jesus for providing for us and I vowed I would change my heart and make meals for others joyfully.

Since then we have brought meals to many in need and it was been fun to see our boys recognizing this.  It has also been fun to love others as we have been loved so many times!

Fast forward 20 more months and Miss Olivia took her sweet time and came screaming into the world as well! Once again we were blessed by so many with meals, help, and coffee for the momma!

Fast forward only 1 month and once again we found ourselves SO BLESSED by so many when we had one kid with 2 broken feet, one with pneumonia, one with RSV, and a momma who was just about ready to loose her mind!

Since then we have been able to bless many families as we were blessed and it has been wonderful.

I still don't claim to be a good cook, but do stick to the same few recipes that my family has deemed "edible" so I know that at least it will be one less meal for another momma to cook!

Over the past few months we have been bringing meals to one family or another at least weekly and I have been delivering them after school with everyone (including my sweet niece Ingrid who is now 4 months old that I am blessed to watch each day I am not working).

A couple of times we have delivered multiple meals in one day and spent a bit of time driving from one end of town to the other.  During one of these occasions the older boys were complaining a bit because they were anxious to get home and play legos and were sick of being in the car.

I asked if they remembered all the times other people brought us meals.

They said yes.

I asked them if they remembered how helpful that was and how hard it was for me to cook supper with a new baby, or someone who was sick and needed help.

They said yes.

We talked about how living as Christians means to be the hands and feet of Jesus on Earth.

We talked about how hard it is to do that sometimes, but that even though they didn't cook the supper with me they were being the hands and feet of Jesus by helping entertain the little three while I ran the supper into the homes of people who have just had a new baby, lost a baby, or who had sickness overwhelming their house.

They quickly became excited seeing it from this perspective and were all the sudden grateful for this opportunity to serve someone in need.  They talked about a few other ways they could be the hands and feet of Jesus.

During this conversation Isaac was pretty quiet but copied a few things the big boys said so I knew he was at least listening. 

Fast forward a week later when we had to make a quick stop at the grocery store after school with all 5 kiddos to pick up a few things I needed to add to a few meals we were going to be delivering shortly after. I had explained this to everyone in the car before we exited and began our adventure in the grocery store and also bribed them with a cookie if they behaved, that they could eat while we were delivering the meals.

To understand the story completely I will paint a picture for you.

When I take EVERYONE to the grocery store we select the cart with the car attached to the front and I strap Isaac and Olivia into it, Ingrid (in her carseat) takes up the cart itself and the big boys are bouncing around behind, beside or in front of me. 

To say that we attract a bit of attention is probably an understatement. 

So we made it through the store in one piece and were checking out.

Ingrid was crying, Olivia was leaning out of the car portion of the cart, upside down and making darth vader noises, while Jonah and Elijah are doing ninja moves in front of the cart. 

Isaac was "helping" me put the items on the conveyor belt at the grocery store and was telling the sweet gal checking us out about each item.

"This my yogurt I like. This carrots I don't like. This for my sister"

He placed a bag of grapes up on the belt.

The checkout gal asked if these were for him.

He leaned forward and told her, "This for someone who need help with their supper."

She gave me a quizzical look.

Before I could say anything Isaac continues with, "If you cut your hands and feet off my mom can bring you supper."

Not sure how to describe the look I got at this point, but her mouth was also open if that helps. 

He then continued all matter-of-factly with, "Or you just have to have a baby, or have your baby die, or get REALLY sick. Then she will make you supper and you will see Jesus loves you"

At this point she thankfully smiled and told him that was very nice. 

He agreed and told her, "Plus usually she forgets something for the supper and we have to go to the store and get a cookie if we listen!"

She smiled and so did I. 

I guess that turkey does listen more than I thought!

So we continue to bring meals to those who need them and I pray my boys (and Olivia) will continue to find joy in being the hands and feet of Jesus.

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