A Haines Home Companion: Alter
My truly spectacular doctor girlfriend came over last night to talk about Titus’s health. He had weighed in the other day, only gaining about an ounce a week, and I was emotional at that visit. She tried to console me. That night she stayed awake, prayed, and read his chart a few times, and by 6:30 the next morning, she had texted letting me know she wanted to come over and share her feelings about Titus with me.
Last night she just made us feel so much better. The pediatric clinic here is such a team, and they’ve decided that he truly is doing well. We have to get food sensitivities figured out and try to catch him up so that he’s gaining 3 ounces a week instead of 1.
I am so encouraged and maybe, too, a little overwhelmed. He already eats so much.
Sometimes I still find myself looking around my house saying, “HOW IN THE WORLD DID I GET FOUR BOYS?!” I keep having these little alter moments. It’s all praise and then it’s: Lord help me!
Yesterday, one of them had such a terrible, hour-long meltdown that I turned into a holy roller. I literally landed on my knees in the kitchen mumbling desperate pleas for help. So often I pray for my children and know they are the same things I need to be praying for myself: for brokenness, humility, and self-control. Consider failure to thrive!
I forgot what a droned life it can be when you have a small child and when winter holds you hostage with potential characters from Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Flies. I have moments that I nearly cry and think I’ve entered the Twilight Zone and time is moving five times slower. Sometimes three hours till Daddy gets home feels like when you tell a woman starting her third trimester that the baby will be here soon. It’s not soon. It’s forever.
Then other days, of course, I look at them and think no no no no. I look in their eyes and see men. They are wonders.
Before our trip to Alabama for my cousin’s funeral, we had all planned a family weekend away at a cabin for my mother-in-law’s birthday. Right as we were leaving, Jude hurled everywhere and immediately started crying. He knew he couldn’t go. I stayed behind with him, offering alone time with legos. I decided then to start writing my book, though I had begun my proposal earlier in the week.
My outline became clearer. I set up my desk. I prayed and offered the blank slate, and then I sat there and stared at a blank document.
And that blank document stayed good and white just about the entire weekend, but it was an amazing feeling to hear ideas gather up like clouds. I sorted notecards and did work in long-hand. I’ve never written a book before. I didn’t realize how sensory it would need to be for me, how it would be going back to the pen and lined spiral notebooks.
I was brainstorming memories of old friends at the exact moment one messaged me to tell me Jeremiah was gone. After that I couldn’t write. I remembered the All Sons and Daughters concert and took Jude to that. He pretended to text someone the entire way there. I was deflated. He slept in my lap, and as they led worship, I soaked his button-up shirt in mascara. It’s one thing to sing praise in light of good, and it is entirely another thing to sing praise in the deep recognition of sin and death and pain, to say even still, He is good. It may have been one of the sweetest, most desperate worship times I’ve ever had.
Once in Alabama, my Mama, Daddy, and sis watched my boys every spare second they could, and I would slip into the bedroom. It couldn’t have happened any other way – not in any other place or time. My first chapter poured out, and I couldn’t move my fingers fast enough.
For such a time as this, I keep finding the alter. I keep saying to God over and over, “I’ve got nothing. I’ve got nothing. Only Jesus.” Maybe that’s a prayer I’ve prayed before, but right now I really feel like I mean it. I have nothing to offer. Only Jesus.
When I remember this, what I really have to offer, it takes the pressure off all the striving. Kingdom Come.
*UPDATE* Now listen. If I spell something wrong, you guys can tell me. I promise you that I looked up the word Alter. It looked wrong to me. And when I breezed through the definition, I thought I read “to lay prostrate,” so I was like, well okay, Webster. But now that my loving husband has pointed out this late in the day, I went back and read “to castrate or spay.” Go ahead. Y’all can laugh at me now. Like I said, I have nothing to offer. 🙂