My littlest one lunges for the bucket.
Her body doubles over, racks with sickness. I hold Anna’s hair, soothing with words and a cool hand on her back. Nine hours now, we’ve done this. And nothing will stay down. Nothing.
Fretful, I look for the telltale signs: dry mouth, blanched nail beds. We know about dehydration. Far too often, these bucket-days have ended with one of our girls hooked to IVs.
Anna cries. A tear falls. I thank God.
Because the doctor says presence of tears = hydration in the body.
The wave ends, so I lift Anna to her couch-cocoon of Tinkerbell fleece and a plush Pillow Pet. I sit at the end of the couch, at the feet of Anna. At the feet of Jesus. Until the wave rises again, she will slumber.
So I read. And read. For hours, I read. Mostly, it’s the the counting-joy book pressed open on my lap. I’ve checked for the signs and asked the questions. Am I suffering dehydration, too? I read Ann’s words while the child sleeps, quenching a soul that is too-often parched because of a lack of gratitude.
My Anna and I, we’re both taking medicine.
“God holds us in the untamed moments too,” Ann Voskamp writes. A tear falls from this mama’s eyes. Tears = hydration. Hope even for me, the ungrateful?
I know about the unscripted moments that interrupt the course of my plans. (Note the emphasis on my.) I had 103 things to do today, but I’m slowed and stilled and sitting here at the feet.
At the feet.
Anna rouses from flushed sleep. I put the book down for another untamed moment.
“It wants to happen again,” her voice quavers. I lift her body — limp and damp — from the couch to the floor. We are both on our knees over a bucket.
Finally, the undulating wave subsides, and I lift her again to the couch. Her body gives way to slumber. Eyes flutter.
And again, I press the book into my lap. Ann writes of a “God who transfigures the ugly into the beautiful.”
With this One Thousand Gifts book open on my lap, I look at the flushed child, with eyelashes resting on too-pink cheeks. Even this moment is transfigured beauty — embodied in my own “full of grace” child.
Maybe this will sound twisted, but some of my favorite moments with my children have happened over plastic buckets and porcelain toilets. Crazy, huh? But this is where I sometimes feel I mother best. I slow, and I still, and I sit at the feet. I wait and I whisper and I hold the hand and hold back the hair and I make them first. Always first.
None of this: “Not right now.”
Or this: “In a minute, sweetie.”
Here, on this Lee farm — hundreds of miles from that Voskamp farm — this is our eucharisteo. (That’s what Ann calls this kind of thanks.) And we are in it now, in the midst of a wee span of ugly, unearthing a trove of beauty and eucharisteo.
This too shall pass, the ugly. But not the eucharisteo, I pray?
For the Joy-God is right here daily transfiguring ugly into beautiful. And I find myself at the feet of the Giver.
Most Wednesdays, I join Ann for her Walk with Him Wednesday series. Today, we consider The Practice of Easter. This Lenten season, we ponder the God who transfigures the ugly into the beautiful — even a scandalous, marvelous cross. I add my recommendation to the chorus of Ann’s transforming book of radical gratitude: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.
Ms. Ann, I count you among the gifts, you with unveiled face being made daily more and more like Him, glory to glory. Your Spirit-inspired words have changed me.