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Opposition

"I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Acts 9:16
 
Okay, maybe a bit dramatic. But we have had a heck of a week. It's just been one thing after another. We've had our cat for two years and he has always been mean, attacking mainly me. He did attack our oldest a few times. But then his aggression escalated (even attacking the toddlers!). Combined with his other behavior issues, we worked with the vet for over the last month trying to get him under control. Over Labor Day weekend, we had our final straw. He viciously attacked me and we had to put him in the bathroom. Monday night at dinner, dishwasher humming away, our preschooler pointed out the "lake" in our kitchen. Lake? What lake? The dishwasher leaked out into our kitchen! The sinks were both filled up with water. Of course this was the night that I did not wash dishes before sitting down to eat. Ugh. My husband did everything he could, but he didn't have all the tools for the job. He worked out a bucket system under the sink so I could clean the dishes before the housecleaner came the following day.
 
On Tuesday, the housecleaner came in the morning. I attempted to run a few errands. The babies freaked out in the bookstore. One of them wiggled his way free to grab an expensive book series and ran full speed across the store, books over his head. The store owner was horrified that a toddler was even touching the series; I was just mortified all around. I pick up D from preschool to come home and schedule a plumber, only to discover that my dinosaur of a laptop is totally dead. Ugh. I wondered if it was all the way dead (ooooh, do I get a new laptop?... ugh, do we have money for a new laptop?) or if there was just something wrong with it (we wouldn't need to buy a new laptop... how much will it cost to get repaired?). I call my husband who helps give me the numbers I need to book a plumber. I'm doing all of this as the toddlers eat lunch. I put them down for nap and call the vet-- again. No response all day. Meanwhile, our evil cat is living in the master bathroom. My heart just broke for him. Our two vets both said they couldn't place him because of his aggression. Our first vet, who we had before the most vicious of attacks, told us they couldn't place him in a different home from the beginning (yes, I asked a year and a half ago. The cat had it coming, apparently). Our new vet, a very small practice, just wasn't getting back to me about putting him down. Not knowing just kills my patience. Plus I really felt there was an urgency to this. There is no way in hades we were just going to let the cat live on "death row." So I spent the afternoon calling plumbers and the vet. I got in touch with a plumber finally. He came about forty minutes before the babies woke up from nap. There he was, snaking our pipes, and I was struggling to control two hungry toddlers and a hungry preschooler who wanted to touch the equipment. My husband called and offered to drive through Chick-Fil-A on his way home-- score! I tell the kids, who are too young to understand, "Daddy is bringing food home!" The plumber finished and left just as my husband got home. I opened up the Chick-Fil-A bags... no chicken nuggets for the kids. Knowing he hadn't, I ask, "Didn't you check the order before you left the drive through?" Nope. I will admit, this was the only high point of the week. It was like a mini victory for all the times we have argued over checking our order before we leave the drive through. Victory is victory. Anyways, that evening the vet finally emailed me back (apparently they had a lot of urgent appointments after the long weekend) and said she could come the next day. Dun, dun, dun.
 
Wednesday I just didn't know what to say. Should we tell our sensitive four-year old why we are putting the cat down? Do we smuggle the cat out of the house and eventually let our four-year old "discover" the cat is gone? We decided on explaining that animals are different than people and that Soske had something wrong with him that we couldn't fix and that in cat heaven he will be happy and can do whatever he likes. I don't know what the right thing to say was. Telling a four-year old who doesn't always have his "listening ears on" that our bad cat was being put down for behavioral issues just did not seem like the best plan. We could imagine the dots connecting, "Soske didn't listen to Mom and Dad... what happens if I don't listen to Mom and Dad?" Yikes. Well, he took it hard. That evening was a sad night for our little man. Then one of our toddlers played a little rough while we were getting ready for bed and we thought he might have a leg injury... I ended the day at the ER until almost 1 o'clock in the morning while my husband buried the cat. When I left the ER, the power sliding doors of my van stopped working. Really? My van doors needed to break?
 
Thursday. My phone died. It won't charge and it won't hold a charge. It freaks out when I turn it on. The preschool teacher told us that D made a few morbid comments about our cat. Poor kid took the whole thing rather hard. We feel that this may his first traumatizing childhood incident. My parents used to joke that they were just giving us things to talk about with our therapists when we get older. Well, D will be talking about the Soske incident with his therapist. I sat at a traffic light and prayed, "God, what's going on? This week has just been one thing after another!" I got this feeling of peace, to keep on. To hold fast. That we are on the right path. When I picked D up from preschool, I got him pumped up about going to the library after his brothers wake up from nap. Know what happened thirty minutes before his brothers woke up? Downpour. Stuck in the house, D told me about show and tell, how he brought in his big monster truck, but everyone liked the other kid's live bunny better. He asks if we could get a bunny. Yikes.
 
Friday I take D to the dentist in the morning. He was so excited to go to the dentist, which is fabulous because he is terrified of the doctor. I promised him a hot dog from Five Guys to bring for his lunch. We left the dentist, head to Five Guys and its closed. I brought him to the bakery instead and he ordered a ginormous chocolate eclair. I tried to redirect him to something with more substance (a quiche maybe?), but his little heart was set. Fine. Off he went to preschool with his chocolate eclair. I sat in the parking lot and prayed for him. I prayed that we can parent him on the level he needs. I prayed for his character. I prayed for my husband and I, that we can be the parents to him that God wants us to be. I prayed for him and the school... I poured my heart out to God. I then headed over to AT&T and they gave me vague answers about my phone, "Er, we don't have that charger anymore. Shouldn't you upgrade that? We don't even carry that phone anymore." Yes, I have an old phone. I was given instructions to go to Radio Shack if I really wanted to replace the charger. I don't know what I want to do with it; I didn't want it to break, actually. When I picked D up from preschool, he was all smiles. The teacher couldn't help but laugh as she described him eating this eclair at lunch. My "bad mom" feelings dissipated some as she told me about how much he enjoyed the eclair. At home, I remembered while cooking dinner a women's mini-retreat I wanted to go to that evening; as the time approached, my head started pounding and closing in on itself. I took Ibuprofen and a glass of water, but decided socializing might not be the best choice. Instead I took D to Lifeway and Target.
 
Saturday morning my head hurt worse than the night before. I could hardly open my eyes because of the pounding headache. Turning my head at all started a fresh wave of pounding. I squint my eyes at my calendar and sighed, "I suppose the retreat is off for today as well." This is when I opened my Bible and asked God for some energy. This whole week my husband and I had nightly discussions about raising emotionally healthy children who have the confidence to pursue their dreams and ability to articulate their needs. We have been spending serious time in prayer over family decisions over the next year. I have been spending serious time in prayer over a loved one. All of this has brought my husband and I closer together and drawn us closer to God. When I feel God guiding me in a direction, I've been following whole-heartedly. And here we are after a long, exhausting week. It was exhausting to re-figure my whole day with three kids. It was exhausting thinking and praying about the best way to talk about death with a naive and sensitive four-year old. And all the praying has brought to light several things about myself that I need to work on (watching my words, dealing with stress, managing money). Even more so than actually dealing with the week, reflecting on this week with all our different challenges and unexpected expenses was exhausting; I haven't even mentioned that during all of this the toddlers were teething. I wanted some face time with my mom. I wanted some peace and quiet with a book, away from daily responsibilities. I wanted uninterrupted prayer time. I wanted to draw into myself. Instead, I was sitting at the kitchen table feeding two toddlers while my four-year old showed me (loudly) how his new CD player works. I spent the morning of Saturday cleaning the master bathroom and doing laundry. Thankfully, my wonderful husband was able to fix the power sliding doors and my computer.
 
What did the pastor talk about today at church? He started off with that fact that worry and fear are two things the devil uses to keep us from being obedient to God. I thought about the parenting decisions my husband and I are praying about and fully agree. We have worries and fears and have let those fears cause us to ask, "Is this really what God wants us to do?" At church, we are in Nehemiah 2. The pastor pointed out that when the king asked Nehemiah, "What do you want?" in Nehemiah 2:4, Nehemiah immediately prays (one of those "dart prayers" Cheri Fuller talks about in her book When Mothers Pray). We need to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The pastor talked about how Nehemiah was already in touch with God's plans because he had spent the last couple months praying in-depth about the situation with God (Nehemiah 1). Our pastor continued, saying how God blesses our planning and organizing. That way when he does answer our prayers--however he answers our prayers--we are able to make the most of those answered prayers. When the king asked Nehemiah what he wanted, Nehemiah had an answer! (Nehemiah 2:5-8) Even more importantly, Nehemiah credited this answered prayer back to God; he knew that God was in control of the situation (Nehemiah 2:8). Nehemiah had spent all this time in prayer over something that broke his heart. What did he feel like during those long months? That God wasn't listening? That he needed to be patient and wait for the Lord? I wonder because I have been spending serious time in prayer. Our pastor brought up Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Let us not become weary! For all you Bible readers, I think you can attest to how many times the Bible tells us to wait for the Lord! So there Nehemiah is, the king granting him permission to go to Jerusalem with supplies, a huge obstacle overcome. What happens when he arrives in Jerusalem to rebuild the wall? Opposition! When we have God's blessing to do God's work, our pastor reminds us that every force that opposes God will oppose you. Our pastor specifically mentioned when we try to bring about a faithful home life (our very prayer) or when you are burdened with God's work (what is on my heart at this moment). The pastor said that we can know we are following God's plans when we are met with opposition. I told my husband when we left church, "Earlier this week I was talking to God about this very thing! It has just been one thing after another!" Our pastor delivered a wonderful sermon with many great points. To quote him on one of my favorite points he made, "We have to get up in confidence and go out into the world as we are called to do and share the gospel." When the officials heard of Nehemiah's plans and started mocking him, how does Nehemiah answer them? "The God of heaven will give us success" (Nehemiah 2:20a). Ooh, I love that. I love that confidence in the Lord!
 
So I left church encouraged. After such a week to hear a sermon that hit so close to home-- wonderful. Encouraging. I've been praying Psalm 26:2, "Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind," a verse mentioned during the sermon. I know to expect opposition to my walk with God. As I told my husband, normally my opposition doesn't come all in one week.
 
But I still don't know what to do about my phone.
 
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

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