I am thankful:
~ For class zoom meetings. The kids love getting to see their teachers and their classmates. This week Kora enjoyed dressing up for an early celebration of Cinco de Mayo with her Spanish teacher (and feast on delicious leftover tacos from Colton), and Sawyer got to share his pets with his friends. Zoe proudly demonstrated her science experiment about surface tension.
~ for peace that passes understanding, especially when delivered as a profound lesson taught by my child. This week one of the school chapel songs was a favorite of the kids. As it began to play, Sawyer said excitedly, “I love this song! We’re gonna sing it at my graduation!” Then the realization hit (which I wasn’t sure if he actually knew or not) and he said quietly, “Oh…but I’m not even gonna have my graduation.” I instantly felt hot tears welling in my eyes. Oh, how it hurts this Mama’s heart that he should miss out on this milestone that we never dared to dream he should reach. But almost in the same breath, I heard Sawyer (and all his brothers and sisters) boldly belting out the opening lyrics of the song, “This is the day, that You have made. Whatever comes, I won’t complain. For all my hope is in Your Name, and now Your joy awaits my praise. I give thanks for all You have done. And I will sing of Your mercy and Your love. Your love is unfailing, Lord I am grateful!” His attitude is so much better than mine! He too, is experiencing disappointment, but it is not crippling his JOY! He has proudly memorized Psalm 23 and his little speaking part for a video the school is putting together. When he got all doodled up for the video for his teacher, he was so excited, he never wanted to change out of his “fancy” clothes. How cute was my little pupil working in his bow tie!? He also had the MOST THRILLING visit this week, from his BELOVED teacher, Mrs. Key! She brought him Starbust for being a “STAR” student, and a yard sign that we have proudly displayed in our front yard. Thank You Father for your unspeakable grace.
~ for the gift of music. Kora has been memorizing a passage from 1 Thessalonians, and the words brought to mind a song written by a dear friend. I was able to play it for her, and her eyes just sparkled when she heard God’s Word brought to life in such a fresh new way that she understood so much better. The song is a jubilant anthem looking toward the day when we Believers will all join together with Jesus in the sky. It has been playing in my heart all week.
~ for the sweetest and most thoughtful “teacher appreciation” care package I received in the mail. Thank you to all who have prayed over our story problems. They are still a problem, but I think we will all live to tell the story.
~ for the most unique spring concert experience for Samantha and Kora. Obviously, quarantine and social distancing has made many spring traditions difficult or impossible. But our school creatively found a way for fourth and fifth graders to gather in the parking lot at a safe distance and lift their voices and recorders to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Memorable to be sure. ~ for gorgeous weather. Friday we worked hard to get all schoolwork done before lunch, and we headed to the park around the corner from our house. It is a tucked away spot, and rarely have we run into anyone else there. We spread out our blanket in the shade, and I read to the kids while they ate their picnic. Then it was playground time, and picking wildflowers, and climbing trees. It was a lovely afternoon.
~ for a very special birthday. Colton, our firstborn, the one who made me a Mama, turned 21. When I had Colton, I was so young and naive. He was literally the first baby I ever held, and I was absolutely terrified. I never thought I’d be a mom, but now that I was, I wanted so badly to do it well. I loved him fiercely. Being a mom was the first thing I absolutely knew I could not do on my own, and that brokenness and desperation was what ultimately led me to recognize my need for a Savior. Josh and I have always said that Colton led 2 people to the Lord as a baby, so we have always known God had a special plan for this beautiful boy. He was always a challenging child: strong-willed, always with 2 toes over the boundary lines. We weren’t sure if we (or he) would survive his teen years. We went through some pretty ugly seasons, and more sleepless nights than I can even count. BUT GOD. My boy is growing into a man, and he is finding his way as a respectful, compassionate individual who actually CHOOSES to spend time with him mom and dad. I honestly wasn’t sure we’d ever get there. Now I am freshly convinced that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” God is always wooing and drawing and working through and behind what we see in front of our eyes. I am so grateful. He came over to hang out and have dinner 4 nights this week, played wiffleball and swam, and watch a movie. We celebrated on his birthday with crescent chicken, sweet potato fries with homemade ranch, and his oh-so-sophisticated dessert choice: confetti cake. Loved celebrating him, celebrating all that God has done, and all that God has in store.
~ for Facebook live concert from Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood. And for dancing to “To Make You Feel My Love” with my husband in the kitchen. We never do that. But in that moment, it was perfect.
~ for gorgeous weather for wiffleball, snake-free walks, and swimming.
~ for a refreshing change of pace. Josh brought home a new puzzle, just 199 pieces. At first I was disappointed, knowing it was way too easy. But the fact that it was a Frozen 2 puzzle meant it would be an instant hit with the Little People, and it was probably time for some quick satisfaction. During nap time I decided to challenge myself, and set a timer. 50 minutes and 38 seconds. Not bad. I think I find puzzles so satisfying in this season because they are a manageable challenge with a clear beginning and end. It is a task that can be concretely completed. The feeling of success. The kids were as thrilled as expected, and finished it almost as quickly as I did. They were sweet and took out the last 3 pieces after they were done, and left them for baby sister. She was so tickled.
Mental health is not a joke. I’ve never hopped on the “self-care“ bandwagon… It usually seems like a license to grossly self indulge, overspend, and let “me time” push to top priority at the expense of others. This is not Jesus’ way, and it shouldn’t be ours. I don’t “need” time with my girlfriends, or to shop, or pamper myself. Any of those things are enjoyable, a great treat, and something to look forward to. But I’ve never seen them as a “need.”
But I got to a tipping point this week. It might sound funny, likely sounds relatable, but it’s just unfiltered truth. I couldn’t remember when I had last showered. I was wearing the same clothes for daytime, to bed, and again the next day, (because WHY NOT?) I glimpsed myself in the mirror (quite by accident, because WHY?) and I hardly recognized myself. I hadn’t bothered to style my hair in days (because WHY?) so my natural not-exactly-straight-not-exactly-wavy-frizzy-and-stylistically-confused hair with it’s unintentional hombre of blonde/brown/silver was taking on a somewhat Einstein-esque quality. I didn’t look like someone who should be caring for children. Let alone someone who should be responsible for anyone’s education.
I am not and was not depressed. But I also realized: I was not ok. I was sleepwalking through my unrecognizable life, even though I was still (mostly) successfully checking all the boxes: morning Bible study✔️ frequent private and shared prayer throughout the day✔️reading aloud to the kids every morning✔️ faithfully keeping kids on the task of completing their daily schoolwork ✔️keeping my house reasonably clean✔️maintaining the illusion to the “outside” that I “had it all together” and that the Ruckers were “ROCKING THE QUARANTINE.”✔️ Another parent said something similar, “We’ve been doing pretty well. But this week, WE HIT A WALL.”
That night after the kids were in bed, I took a bath. I turned on my favorite soft worship playlist and soaked the day off in the hot water and the music. The next day I did my hair and put on a little makeup and changed out of pajamas and put on clothes. (OK so it was actually just changing from one set of loungewear to a nearly identical set of loungewear. A purely lateral move, but at least it was the physical act of changing clothes.) Just putting in the minimal effort to feel like a human. Even something so small and seemingly trivial, I realized how much I had missed the daily reminder of putting on my beautiful handmade gold bracelet inscribed with “it is well.” That afternoon, I took my paints out to a semi-shaded spot in the driveway and worked on a sign while listening to the birds with a gentle breeze on my face.
It wasn’t magic. I still stink at math. In fact, one of my ANONYMOUS “students” shouted disdainfully at me this week after checking a problem, “HA! You were WRONG!” And other told me, “You’re not THAT bad, you just need a little help from a REAL teacher.” BUT…the slight shift of my focus to putting a little effort into myself was a mood lifter. It also made my husband smile. And maybe if I wasn’t a BETTER teacher, at least I didn’t look like such a scary one.
Wherever you are, however you are handling your situation and your trials, God sees you. He has promised not to leave you or forsake you. You are not alone. He may not take the fire away, but He will stand in it with you. It’s ok to take care of yourself, and give yourself grace. If you are slipping, call out to Jesus. Call out to a friend. And it’s ok to admit that you’re not ok. If your faith is in yourself, it was in the wrong place anyway. Remember who you are and more importantly, WHOSE you are. We are all in this together. And then look for the blessings around you. They are there.
Thanks for giving thanks with me.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6)
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalms 42:1-5)
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a shout, and the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first ones to rise to meet the Lord. Then we who are alive will be looking to the skies. And we’ll be caught up there with our brothers in the clouds. I just wish it were now.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, paraphrased by Randy Skiles)