Friday, February 24, 2012


The thing I heard most when I told people about Drue's ordeal at the park last weekend (for those who don't know, she was hit in the mouth with a thick plastic an 8-year-old who was throwing that swing...and lost, starting with the top right incisor and moving left, 5 teeth) is this:

Thank God it wasn't worse.

Or this:

Thank God it wasn't worse.

The thing is, of course thank God it wasn't worse, but what about what did happen? What about the fact that I stared into the face of my 2-year-old for 6 hours, and it was pouring blood? What about the fact that at night, after I put her to bed, for three nights straight I cried myself to fitful sleep because in the quiet, all I could think about was the moment the swing hit my sweet daughter's confused and terrified face, the things she screamed as I ran her up the hill a quarter mile to the hospital, the medics strapping her into the ambulance while she cried, the gauze that she held up to her mouth all by herself to catch the blood that was pouring out. I could obviously go on.

What happened was traumatic, and no, I didn't spend my nights thinking about what could have happened. Now, days later, almost a week later, I have thought: Wow. If I hadn't shouted at her to get out of the way, she might not have turned, and the swing might have sliced her head open. Thank God it wasn't worse, yes. Indeed. Of course.

But those first few days...

You know, people say that suffering will make you stronger or that there is a greater purpose for suffering (why do people say these things?), and though I do have faith that there is a greater purpose and that I have a less than eternal perspective on things most if not all of the time, I think...well, what am I trying to say? I'm thinking, first: of things people shouldn't say to immediately suffering people. And I'm also thinking about when people say, "Suffering drives you to the cross of Christ." OK, but what does that really look like?

Because this past week, I have NOT been fleeing to Jesus. I have not prayed more. I have been angry more. I have been sad more. I have tried my hardest to be more self-reliant. And this is what I've come to: Maybe what people mean when they say that suffering drives you to Jesus is that, in fact, it's Jesus who comes to YOU in your suffering. Because that is what I've experienced, and it is crazy.

I have fled Jesus these last days, and yet he has come, through messages from friends near and far, through offered meals (we took one family up on a meal Sunday night and didn't realize just how much we needed it; we tore through those cheeseburgers like we were starving, because we were, because we'd forgotten to eat), through SO many friends offering to help in any way they could, through one friend's getting out of bed and throwing on clothes to go with me to the grocery store because I didn't want to be alone, through a Bible study that I dragged myself to but hadn't done this week, and lunch offered to us after, and through wisdom from another friend that really had an impact and has stuck with me like glue...(side note alert)...

I called her on a bad day (a bad day for her, so really, we were both having a bad day). But two days had passed since the accident, and she said lovingly, "Meghan, hindsight is 20-20. I know that. But these things, they're a way that God allows us to see our children differently. To love them differently. To parent them differently."

How right she was. You might think I'm hokey, but I could feel in my gut that her wisdom was straight from God. It's rare that I FEEL God working - that I KNOW he is there and that he just DID something. Are the caps helping make my point? And that was one of those moments. We were seeing Drue differently (we'd seen her bleed like a murder victim; we'd seen her bravery, her amazing resilience, among other things). We were coming around her and loving her differently. This is hard to explain, but we were - and are. We obviously were parenting her differently, at least for a few days, because all we did was love on her and let her have and do anything she wanted, while poor Paigey waited in the wings. These things my friend said were true. It was what I needed to hear. It was a turning point. I think I slept better that night, though I definitely still cried my eyes out and probably called my mom, who probably said, and I love her so, "We just thank God it wasn't worse."

Oddly too, this week I've seen my husband step out of a really dark place. I've, well, I don't have time to sit and analyze all that's been going on in my heart, nor do I necessarily want to put it out here for anyone to see, but the point is: once again, it wasn't I who did; it was He.

Some thoughts that I've been having the last 24 hours: Thank God it wasn't worse. Haha. But also, what if her short amount of suffering, and ours, has allowed us to grow closer as a family and to love and disciple one another better? What if Drue's losing her 5 front teeth is an act of mercy that is teaching her - and me - that beauty is not what the world says it is?

Drue has learned the Westminster kids' catechism question: Why should you glorify God? And answer: Because he made me and takes care of me.

I know that I've been wrestling with this question and answer, and I have to think that on some 2-year-old level she is too. She has had to wrestle with feelings that she's not had to previously. She is learning to eat and talk differently. But she is smiling, and it is an even sweeter smile.

I don't know how parents who are dealing with their kids having cancer do it. How parents who have lost children do it. I don't know. I know that our suffering has been MINIMAL. But that doesn't mean it isn't suffering, or hard. And yet, even when we try to be alone, we're not. We can't be. We are rooted in something eternal, who cares for us more deeply than we know and who doesn't let us go. I think of Psalm 1:3, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water..."

So maybe if I have a friend who is suffering sometime in the future, I have learned this: I will let God do the work he is surely doing, and I will do my best just to listen.

P.S. If you told me, "Thank God it wasn't worse," I still love you very much. It seems like an obvious thing to say. I get it. This is not a rant about how much I can't believe you said that. At least it isn't supposed to be. And after all, I've been thinking that very thought now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our space

Last week I had two sick babies, and so I did a LOT of work on our house, thanks mostly to Keely and her new favorite book by Simple Mom. I raced through the book on my new Kindle (LOVE!) and was inspired. I'm still inspired and have plenty of work left to do, but it doesn't all have to be done now, does it? Here's what I have done:

1. Collin and I brainstormed a purpose statement for our family. I was certain he would make fun of me when I approached him with the idea, but he didn't. He responded quite well, and two days later, we had a purpose statement. Our conversation started something like, "Well, duh. Our purpose is to 'glorify God and enjoy him forever.'" But what does that look like for us, Team Barnes? We basically broke it down into four bullets, the first of which we figured out, though we kind of already knew, was that we want our home to be a place where others feel welcome (pretty much any time) and can rest. We have people in our home constantly, and so I started to thinking about how our living space can best provide a place of rest and welcome.

The first task was to open up the seating space - and add more seating. Before, we had a couch and two chairs; our TV sat on what could be considered an end table, and there were two TV wobbly trays between the two chairs. The chairs faced the couch, not the TV (likewise the couch faced the chairs, not the TV), so that is conducive to a place of conversation. We debated removing the TV entirely and decided it needed to stay (one reason is that our community group meets in our house every Tuesday and is currently watching a video series on The Reason for God). Anyway, I moved the coffee table that was sitting against a wall and put the TV on it (and was consequently able to hide all the wirey, technology-y stuff in it because it has two shelves). I put the "end table" between the two chairs. I opened up the space between the chairs and the couch in general so that it's much more open (probably half of our downstairs space). I added two dining room chairs against the wall that was previously home to a coffee table and put one TV tray between them. Oh, and I put a lovely lamp on the end table.

We keep one basket in the living room that any toys that make it downstairs (which is always a lot) can be thrown into at a moment's notice, and any of the girls' books can be stacked in the bottom shelf of the coffee table. Perfect. Room complete, open, warm...I love it. Now all I need to do is find the perfect piece of art, but that can wait. We currently have a few pictures hung on one wall, a quirky guitar-guy poster framed on another, and all of our CD covers in a collage on the wall behind the TV. These things help express our love our music, so they work for us, even though some people probably think, "I would NEVER do that." But isn't someone always going to think that anyway?

The room is basically blue and red and brown and gold, and I love it.

2. The next thing I did was tidy up our "dining space," which is the same room, other half. I centered the table and cleaned it off and found a bowl that I find beautiful to work as its centerpiece. I tidied the books that we keep stacked on our exposed-brick wall (next to the table). And I hung the mirror that had been sitting on the floor in our kitchen since we moved here in July.

There is also a ledge in this space that kind of works as my office. I couldn't find another place for it, so there goes our mail, though I try to keep it in control and it sits in a beautiful little mail holder thing that I acquired years ago. Next to that is a beautiful box that my friend Kirsten gave me on my 30th birthday (full of children's art supplies), and an aloe plant that likes the sun that streams through that window most of the day. It probably doesn't fit the "simple living" book ideal, but it works for us for now. Ultimately, I cleared a LOT of junk out of this space. The table never used to be empty of papers; the ledge was packed with all sorts of junk. You get the picture.

3. Next was the kitchen, and boy, did I go crazy. I got rid of so much stuff that I never thought I'd get rid of. A whole set of dishes. A number of pots and pans. I don't even know. The following Saturday morning I had a bunch of girls over to rummage through the stuff and take whatever they wanted. The next day I took the rest to church. Thankfully, our church is hosting a free "garage sale" in the spring, so I've been able to take boxes and bags and boxes and bags to church every week for a few weeks now. I think we're up to 10. It's so nice not to have to worry about trying to sell every little thing. I suppose it would be nice to make a little bit of money here and there, but it is also very freeing to just give things away, knowing that others might actually use them. At least I hope they will.

It's a good thing I made space, because we decided to put our NEW ELLIPTICAL(!) in the kitchen. So, this really may sound like it goes against the simple living bit, but fitness is one of our priorities, and we couldn't think of a better space. We had actually a perfect space for it in the kitchen that was being used by nothing (well, a random chair that we threw things on and a mirror that I hadn't hung). I still absolutely love my kitchen; I even love having the Elliptical in it. I only needed to move the hanging pots and pans into the cabinets so that we could fit the Elliptical there. And it fits, and I love, love, love it. I have gotten a workout in every day since we got it. I finally feel HUMAN again. Okay, enough about the Elliptical.

So the kitchen is functioning well; it is full of things I use; I cleaned out the catch-all drawer and the tray that sits atop our toaster oven. I cleaned off the top of the fridge, which was a junk bin. One thing I did not do was take any pictures off our fridge. I love those pictures; I love those people; and my fridge will forever house as many pictures and cards as I can magnet onto it.

That's all for now. Getting a little long winded. Suffice it to say, I cleaned out every room in the house. There's work to be done, but I am thankful for our space.