This morning when scraping ice off our “doesn’t fit in a European garage” car, I slipped and disappeared under the car. After Hannah’s “where did mommy go?” I reappeared, full of dirt, ice, and piney-looking branches. It could have been funny, but I wasn’t in the mood. I got mad at Dave for lining the narrow driveway with bags of dirt when winter came before the completion of a yard project. Luckily he wasn’t around to receive my wrath, because lately I’ve been flunking my bad mood mantra, “I have nothing good to say, so I’m not going to say it…don’t say it…DON’T say it….”

On Saturday I big time blew it and had a twice a year kind of freak out after Dave announced he was going to try to “put together” a little ethnic recording before furlough in a few months. Since Dave never “throws” anything together, and doesn’t have the word “little” in his personal dictionary, I knew it was my wifely duty to ax the project, for his own good, of course. So I let him have it. Now he’s kind of afraid of me, and I don’t particularly like myself. When I’m being “The Great Accuser,” it’s so easy to find many and varied offenses to add to the growing pile. Even things that didn’t really bother me in better days seem to grate on me like the nails and chalkboard thing. Suddenly my earplugs can’t snuff out his snores anymore. I get hypercritical, ready to pounce on his “growth areas” with that all-accusing waggling finger. I used to think the jammy bottoms with shot elastic, and Ben’s teenybopper, cast-off hand-me-downs on a 47-year-old were kind of cute. But right now all I can see is negatives, nose hair, and that stupid Viagra pen he uses that his boss gave him because he wouldn’t be caught dead with it.

But the problem is really with me. When I get my eyes off Jesus, I’m panicked because I gained back some of the weight I had lost, and I really wanted to hit the states sleek and svelt, maybe even cover up my “badge of stressful honor” gray hairs. I asked my hairdresser about highlighting the gray away, and he said, “Oh honey, you have way too many for that.” I panic about Ben’s college decisions, Hannah’s acting out, Micah’s attitudes, Caleb’s procrastination, Elisabeth wanting to be a boy. I add to the pile my panic over finding a place to live for furlough, and a car to drive, and money to pay for it, and war and economy, and feeling selfish that I think of it in terms of less global work giving. I look at the next few months of my calendar, and think there’s no way all this can get done before we go; it feels like absolute drudgery. I’m tired and I want to go home. But we are home. Where is “home”? And then I panic some more about the transitions to come, for the kids especially, new schools, new friends, being on the road, on display. How can we require yet another huge change from them?

Good thing we are certain that God has called us here, to Hungary, and we know without a shadow of doubt that He is sufficient. For all of us, God wouldn’t call us, and leave our kids in an emotional ditch somewhere behind us. I imagine that none of us will come through this next year unscathed in one way or another, but that’s OK. He is enough. We get scathed here, too, all of us.

As for my stinking attitudes, I’ve been literally running upstairs to my desk when the kids leave in the morning, and clinging to God and His promise in Deut. 4:29, “If you seek me, you WILL find me,” because I know that’s the only way I will survive, and not alienate my husband and children in my crabbiness.

I can hardly believe it’s true. I have to read these promises from God, just to me, over and over again. Because I have a lot of trouble hearing them. And believing them:

  • It is my desire to lavish love on you. (1 Jn. 3:1)
  • Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. (James 1:17)
  • I am your provider and I meet all your needs. (Matt. 6:31-33)
  • My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. (Jer. 29:11)
  • I rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph. 3:17)
  • I will never stop doing good to you. (Jer. 32:40)
  • I am able to do more for you than you could ever imagine. (Eph. 3:20)
  • For I am your greatest encourager. (II Thess. 2:16-17)
  • I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. (II Cor:1:3-4)
  • When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. (Ps. 34: 18)
  • As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. (Is. 40: 11)
  • One day I will wipe every tear from your eyes. (Rev. 21:3-4)
  • In Jesus, my love for you is revealed. (Jn. 17:23)
  • I am not counting your sins. (II Cor. 5:18-19)
  • Jesus’ death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. (I Jn. 4:10)
  • I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. (Rom. 8:31-32)
  • My question is-will you be my child? (John 1:12-13)
  • I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32)


So I guess it all boils down to-it’s not all about ME. I need to go back under the car, and yell, “Help!” He’s waiting for me.


©2003 Thrive

View the original print magazine where this article was first published.