Flu perspective

I know several moms who LOVE the holidays, with their children all home from school. I tend to be more like the parents in “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” who “can hardly wait for school to start again.”

There are WONDERFUL moments—like staying up late with Em last night and this morning when all three younger kids crawled in bed with us (Then the dog joined in, too, prompting Dave to say, “Well, would someone go wake up the older three and tell them to join us, too.” PJ took this for a literal question and was halfway off the bed before Dave stopped him.)

But there is also no quiet—which my introvert self craves. So I was already praying about this before Christmas break began, and Dave was already telling me to get away some each day, alone, without any children. And he was already bemoaning the fact that, although he tells me to do this all the time, I DON’T— because I believe the lie that “good moms don’t need time away from their children” (along with a host of other lies that perfectionistic people believe to make them feel better about themselves).

Anyway, we were a good eight days into it and I hadn’t gone away—as I’d promised I would.

So God allowed me to get sick.

Fever, chills, flat-on-the-back sick.

For two days.

I’ve decided it was a really good thing.

I got peace and quiet. I got lots of sweet affection—hands patting my back, hot tea from Em, backrubs from Dave… On the second day, when my brain was a little less foggy, I even got a rough draft of an article written (which was what I was supposed to be doing on my “times away.”)

And then, in the couple days following my time in the bed, when I was up and about but still woozy, I had a different perspective. I cared a lot less than I usually do about keeping the house tidy and accomplishing everything on my to-do list. I was too foggy to have a to-do list.

On Friday I went to the grocery store in this fuzzy state. I used the self-checkout line and made a mistake as I was processing my order. The clerk said something pretty snotty to me, but I didn’t even notice it, just nodded at her, thanked her, and walked away. It wasn’t until I was in the car that I realized that I SHOULD have felt snubbed, should have been offended.

A time of rest, a softer, gentler outlook, a break from my driven personality—and then, bonus, a chance to see how this lack of self-focus can positively impact my interactions with others: I’m actually–post chills and fever–grateful for the flu!

damage to the temporal

I took this picture standing in the neighbor’s yard, facing the west side of our house. The tree was pulled up by its roots (leaving a 6-foot crater underneath them–you can see just the edge of the roots in the bottom left of the photo). All three windows in this picture are fine. It’s the one on the back of the house that was smashed. And our back porch is under the tree. Kudos to the former owner who built the back porch. It would have been completely obliterated if he hadn’t done such a good job.

When we left for vacation in Montana a week and a half ago (the reason I haven’t posted in awhile), I was just at the point of feeling somewhat organized in our new home. “We’ll even come back to a clean kitchen,” I told Dave as we drove away from West Chicago. “But I didn’t get to the dining room. I really wanted to sweep under the table.”

This morning, as I swept the dining room, putting window glass broken by Sunday’s storm into a plastic bucket, I remembered saying that–and I laughed.

When I told Dave, he laughed, too. “And to think that I thought I HAD to mow the back lawn so the neighbors wouldn’t be appalled by the height of the grass.”

We were driving back home, still in the middle of Minnesota, when my friend Kristine called. “Jen, there’s been a bad storm. I’m going to check out your house in a few minutes. Mine’s fine, just no power.”

A few minutes later a neighbor called Dave and shared the news: several trees down in our yard; one window completely broken by a limb; the back porch roof smushed; maybe some roof damage; no power–and that was probably out for several days.

The good news: our kind neighbors had already pulled the tree limb from the window and tarped it in case more storms were coming.

We drove into West Chicago about eight that night. The park down the street from our house looked like someone had bombed the trees. Later we learned that about 80 trees were split or downed.

Our front yard didn’t look a whole lot different. “I was trying to imagine the worst,” said Dave, “but this is crazy!”

When we walked around the corner of the house, we saw the huge tree from our neighbor’s yard lying on our back porch roof–just a few feet from the corner of the house. If the wind had been from a slightly different direction or twisted the tree just a little differently… “This could have been so much worse,” we told each other.

We’ve had so many things to be thankful for during the past couple of days, and it’s a joy to share them:

-within two hours of being back in West Chicago, we were comfortably settled in our friends’ air-conditioned, lighted home. Thank you, Vishanoffs.

-we’ve met and talked with one neighbor after another in the past couple of days. We’re praying for genuine conversations, open doors, and deepening friendships.

-this morning 39 Wheaton Academy football players showed up and cleared amazing amounts of debris. I was inside sweeping glass from the dining room when Dave came in, choked up with tears. “Have you SEEN how much they’ve done, Jen? It’s amazing!” Not only were we blessed and encouraged, our neighbors noticed.

-and God has continued to provide joy and perspective: we have several people in our neighborhood who have tarps fastened over large holes in their roofs–and yesterday morning I happened to look at a National Geographic article about the perennially flooded people of Bangladesh, who accept what we consider tragedy as normal life. That puts our temporary inconvenience–to what is only temporal

Is there a truck under there? Yes! Dave’s 1994 Chevy (which we called “Big Whitey”) got smashed. Since he’s been hoping to get a newer truck anyway (one that gets more than 10 miles to the gallon), he wasn’t exactly upset.

anyway–in great perspective.

I’ll write more about the trip to Montana later this week.

Thanks for reading.