Vomit at 1AM

I still remember the most heartbreaking thing that I have ever experienced as a parent, and yes, it involves vomit (a lot of parenting stories do. We’re kind of like a frat in that way.)

It was roughly 1AM (because kids never do anything during the day. They wait until you’re asleep.) I was sound asleep. Like so asleep I probably had the pillow lines on my face. Sleeping hard.

We had just been in Avery’s room to put her back to sleep, so needless to say, I wasn’t in the best mood. She starting stirring again, making little noises in the monitor. Not enough to wake me up, but just enough to prevent me from falling back asleep (kind of her, huh?)

Finally, I couldn’t handle it. I walked into her room, and rather harshly said, “Avery, you need to go to s….” Before I could finish my word, I smelled that overwhelming odor that I knew all too well. 

I turned on the light and there was throw up everywhere. Walls, floors, crib, stuffed animals, hair, everywhere. And she was eating solid food now, so it wasn’t milk throw up, it was food throw up (again, very much like a frat in that way.)

She had it caked in her hair, and as I bent over her crib to get her up to change her, she looked at me, and with a single tear rolling down her cheek (of course) she said, in her high-pitched little voice:

“Daddy, I need help.”

Yup. My heart fell through the bottom of my feet. It was the most frustrating moment, (hello, i’m cleaning up vomit at 1AM) and yet one of the most tender moments I’ve ever experienced as a parent. She was relying completely on me. She was completely helpless. If I didn’t clean her up, she would wallow in that stink for God knows how long.

I try not to over-spiritualize too much, but it taught me a lot about Jesus, the vomit night did. It taught me that I am helpless. That Jesus looks on me with the same kind of compassionate love that I had for my daughter that night. I wasn’t mad at her for puking again. I wasn’t mad at her for making a mess. Whatever frustration or tension I had melted when she looked at me and said, “Daddy, I need help.”

I feel like maybe I should say that to God more. Daddy, I need help. I feel like maybe far too often, I think I have it together and figured out, when in reality, I’m just a sweaty mess, covered in my own vomit. And the only thing capable of cleaning me up is Dad. I could try myself, but I’d just make it worse. His hands are the the only ones that can get me truly clean. His hands are the only ones that can truly restore me. His hands are the only ones that can pick me up, clean me off, look me in the eyes, and say, “I got you. Let’s clean you up.”

Am I Good Enough?

There is snow on the ground outside. Schools are closed, and in a “when pigs fly” moment of amazing fortune, the Nike WHQ is closed. So I’m home.

Both girls are snuggled up next to me watching Sesame Street. I have a hot cup of coffee on the table in front of me. Life is perfect at this moment.

Thirty minutes ago, however, was a different story.

Avery, our oldest, wakes up like her dad. She pops out of bed. Wide awake. Ready to go. So when she woke up this morning, the first thing she wanted to do was to make a card for her mom. So precious. She thought it was her birthday, and was so confused as to why we didn’t’ have cake in the house for mom’s birthday.

I was sitting on the couch, reading my bible when I heard her call for help. I walked in, asking her what was wrong.

“I want to draw a heart on my card for mommy, but I don’t know how. Will you show me?”

Of course I will Avery. I’d love to. I drew a heart on a piece of paper, and told her, “this is how it looks, just copy this shape.”

I went back to my bible reading, and a couple of minutes later, heard intense crying coming from her room.

I walked in to see a half dozen sheets of paper, red shapes all over them, littering the floor around her art table. She was sitting at the table with a marker in one hadn, her head in her other hand, weeping.

“Avery, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

“I tried to make a heart for mommy, but I want it to be perfect, and I just can’t do it. I want it to be a perfect shape for her and I want her to like my card.”

So much to learn about Jesus in those tears.

How often am I like that? How often do I stress about getting everything for Jesus just right, not even realizing that at the end of the day, I think what Jesus wants is our attention and effort, not our perfection. The fact that we care enough to want to give Jesus our best is indication that we’re on to something.

I explained to Avery that her mom would absolutely love the fact that she was trying so hard, and that no matter what shape made its way onto the paper, her mom would think it was beautiful. She asked me to help her draw a heart, so I put my hand around her little one, helped her draw a card, and here we are now, card finished, on the couch watching Sesame Street.

Remember, Jesus doesn’t demand your perfection. Jesus doesn’t say to you, “if it’s perfect, I’ll take it.” Jesus looks at us like a mother looks at a card drawn by her daughter, scribbles and all, and sees it as beautiful. The beauty is in the effort, not the outcome.

Introducting NoiseTrade Books

If you haven’t checked out Noisetrade (www.noisetrade.com) then you really should. So many amazingly gifted musicians are putting out some incredible music there. It’s a “Pay-what-you-want” system. You can tip with a tweet, or actual money. Pretty fantastic.

Well, they’ve just launched a book section. A place for authors to give their work away, in hopes for exposure. See, I’m not a big time author. At least not yet. So I thought, “cool, I’ll give some writing away.”

So right now, you can go download a short story that I’m particularly proud of, entitled “Ten Hamburgers.” All I ask is that you’d tweet about it, and tip if you feel so inclined.

http://tinyurl.com/n4zjll2

Grace,

Stephen