2008. Twenty oh eight. The year of our Lord, two thousand and eight. That was the last year I worked outside of the home without my children. I have had jobs since that time, but one was so flexible it was very much like staying home, and the other hired a nanny to watch my girls in a playroom down the hall from my office.
But today, well, today marked a day of firsts. First day of work without my children. First day of preschool for Maple Anne. First day daddy was home, and not mommy, when Chloe got off the bus.
And while those firsts alone made today a challenging sort of day, that is only the beginning of today's story.
Today's story also includes a sick little girl who had to be picked up from school at 8:15am. It includes a court hearing in which Brandon was legally required to testify and legally required to NOT pick up Chloe until the hearing was finished. It also includes a trip-and-fall on the playground, and a two-year-old's swollen, bloody nose and two black eyes. It includes grocery shopping and forgotten coupons, a VERY messy house, and more traffic than this mom has seen in a looooong time.
Today's story looked a lot less like hope and peace, and a lot more like stress and scheduling conflicts.
Today ends with me sitting on my couch, exhausted, debating whether I should do dishes tonight or at 5 o'clock in the morning. Today ends with a few tears and a lot of second guessing.
But today's story ends with something else - something unexpected. Today's story ends with familiarity, and hope.
Because if I have learned one thing from our past few months in Damascus Road, it has been this:
Sometimes hope for our future doesn't feel like hope. Sometimes it feels like being stretched in all directions, like being spread too thin, like adding yet another yolk to our aching shoulders.
But then the Lord begins to do something wonderful.
Slowly, and almost undetectably, the stretch starts to feel normal as it makes room for more blessings. The thin places become filled with fruit, like patience, joy, and faithfulness. Our shoulders are strengthened so the burden feels normal, and even light.
That's when it feels like hope.
And when it happens enough times - even the stretch, the thinness, the weight - those start to feel like hope in and of themselves.
So today's story is one of tears and traffic. Of illness and conflict. Of exhaustion and frustration.
But today's story is also one of hope. A hope for our family. A hope for our future.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured
out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.