Monday, September 17, 2012

Stinky Trash and Stray Flowers

Sometimes mamas get tired. I don’t mean the sleep-deprived kind of tired. I mean the I-feel-like-giving-up kind of tired.

My oldest kiddo is only twelve, but so far, my greatest challenge as a mom has been consistency and perseverance. I think that goes for mamas of babies all the way up to mamas of tweens, and I’ll hazard a guess that it doesn’t stop there.

I’ve been learning a lot about perseverance this year – learning what to do when I get tired.

Because God has a sense of humor, my fortieth birthday brought on my first gray hairs, sudden unwanted pounds and hormonal craziness – all within a couple of months. Just about the time my hubby gets frugal with the air conditioning (it’s taken 15 years), I’m dying in the middle of the night and hollering at him to turn it down to 62 for crying out loud. 

So desperation (hot flashes) pushed me off my tail and out the front door to start running. I’ve run off and on (emphasis on the OFF) for the last few years, but all these unwanted changes combined to create the perfect storm, motivationally speaking, and my consistency is improving.

Actually, I’ve come to love it. Who could ask for a more beautiful place to run than Corpus Christi? Stunning sunrises in the morning, breathtaking sunsets in the evening, ocean breezes to cool you down - I never get over the blessing of living on the coast.

One morning, I made the rookie mistake of running early on trash day – whoa. As I rounded the corner of my street (downwind), driveway after driveway, trash can after trash can, the ocean breeze was working against me. Step by step, I was greeted with the aroma of dirty diapers, rotting produce and chicken carcasses. Lovely.

Undeterred, I ran on. And as often happens when I’m running, the Lord began to focus my thoughts and answer the questions in my heart.

As a mama, I’m gonna run through some pretty stinky seasons. Like when my kids act like I never taught them anything. Or when they’re struggling and I don’t know how to help them. Nothing wears me out more than the stench of discouragement.

But I’ve got to keep on running. Rather than avoiding the trash, looking for a detour, taking a shortcut, I’ve got to keep on going until I reach the end of my run. Because the truth is, every day isn’t trash day.

Two days later, I was out running again, and I caught the faintest scent of one of my favorite flowers – Plumeria. Yum.

I looked around to see where the fragrance was coming from, and there between the sidewalk and some tall grasses, in the middle of scrubby grass and litter, were dozens of single Plumeria blooms. (I know Plumeria flowers grow on bushes, but if I’m wrong I don’t want to know, so don’t tell me.) The closer I got, the stronger the smell – almost overwhelming.

And the truth settled into my heart along with the scent. A mama’s life is all mixed up. Trash here, treasure there. If I can’t stick with it on the stinky days, I may never discover the unexpected loveliness hiding there, like a childhood masterpiece hanging on the wall of a messy room.

My job, I think, is to persevere with hope; nourishing the treasure and working through the trash.

"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith..." Hebrews 12.1b-2a

Run on, mama.

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