Empty Cup

This week has been an interesting one. I feel like I say that every week, so maybe interesting is our normal?

Malachi’s appointment with the epileptologist went well and we are going to try to increase his CBD oil a bit more to see if we can decrease some of his seizure activity. We needed to do a blood draw to check his seizure med levels, and I was mortified to find 14 people crammed in a small 15x10ft waiting room. I signed us in and stayed in the hallway as far away from the crowd as possible.

But the longer I sat in the hallway the more I epiphanies I had.

Epiphany #1 was a humbling one: I have no control over my toddler. At home in our bubble he knows the parameters, but in the hospital hallway with an audience in the glass walled waiting room watching him he was a maniac. I teetered between sheer embarrassment and sheer horror as I watched him touch every surface in sight and lay on the what I can only assume to be corona infested floor. This epiphany likely naturally led to the next one…

Epiphany #2 what in the world was I doing?!? Here I was, locked down at the house daily with my boys to protect them, and now waiting in a line in a hospital center that has a general pediatrics walk in clinic inside of it…and only one blood lab. I started looking at the kids inside the glass walled room and saw a variety of sickly looking eyes staring back at me. One of the poor children had sweated through her pajamas, and her hair was drenched with sweat. Another baby was stripped down to a diaper, eyes red and sickly.

I started to ponder what the best parenting move was in this situation: check seizure med levels or leave and protect them from potential sickness.

When Malachi heard about the blood draw

Epiphany #3 was realizing that I am not confident in the children’s hospital to do what is truly in the best interest of my family. This is a thought I have entertained many times before, but it is in moments like these that I have to remember that even in the medical settings with professionals I must advocate for my children.

In the end we made the decision to wait in the hallway for nearly an hour, and I resorted to empty time out threats with my tyrant, corona hungry toddler touching every surface he could.

Malachi handled the blood draw like a professional, which he actually is with the hundreds he has had to have in his lifetime. When the blood drive lady remembers his name and his “24 weeker veins” you know you are a regular.

By the time we left the building my blood pressure was soaring and I was in a pretty angry mood. I also realized that my emotions had overtaken my parenting and I hadn’t been the nicest mom for the previous 3 hours so I decided to stop by the zoo on the way home so Malachi could see his jaguar friend.

The adventures continued this week thanks to sweet little Levi. On Wednesday we were racing around to get out the door and I ran into the bedroom to grab my shoes from the closet. I heard the bedroom door shut and a sinister laugh came from Levi as he ran in saying “door door door”.

Earlier this week around midnight he locked me in the bathroom by implementing the child proof door lock. Jake was already asleep and I didn’t have my phone so I started banging on the door as loudly as possible and screamed. After about 5 minutes of this Levi was crying so hard in the living room (where he and Malachi were hanging out solo) that it woke Jake up. We gave him a long lecture with my hoarse voice on not doing that to the doors and assumed that he would be too traumatized to do it again.

But we assumed wrong. When I saw Levi’s sneaky smile I knew he had done it again and this time he locked himself in with me, leaving Malachi alone in the living room. Jake was at work, but thankfully this time I had my cell phone with me. I called the neighbors but no one was home, so after weighing the options I decided the only viable one was jumping out of the window.

Jake has had to jump out this window before, and it ended up with him rolling down the hill and getting covered in mud. I knew that I didn’t want to do that method, so I surveyed the drop and decided to try a cliff hanger mode.

I locked Levi in the bathroom so he wouldn’t attempt to follow me. Then out the window I went, trying to hang gracefully then drop to the ground. It was anything BUT graceful as I realized I am much heavier and much weaker than I used to be. My muscles were angry with me for asking so much of them (and still are), but I landed on my feet. I went in through the front door and yanked those darn baby locks off the doors on the way to rescue Levi from the bathroom.

The weather was pleasant enough for us to enjoy the pool a few more times!

I have bounced around three thoughts for tonight’s devotional thought, but I keep settling on 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

I have many well meaning friends in my life that often remind me about the importance of self-care. They will commonly say things like, “You can’t pour into others from an empty cup” as they encourage me to take time to go do things I enjoy, or pamper myself. Admittedly I have a difficult time putting my wants above my boys and I am grateful I have great friends that desire to see me happy.

The mental picture this phrase provides is a logical one, and one that in theory makes a lot of sense.

I do believe that it is biblical to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. No arguments here with that. But I will argue with you on whose job it is to fill the cup.

Here is the truth: it is not our job to fill the cup. I believe with all of my heart that God will fill my cup with the exact amount that is needed to fulfill the tasks He has given me to do. When we start to think that we control the amount in that cup with pedicures or girls nights out, we start to take away the dependence God wants us to have on Him.

That mindset can actually do more damage than good, as we start to mentally ration what things or people we could be wasting our cup on, as we believe we will be the ones that have to do the refilling.

In Philippians 2 we read

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

Did you catch those words?

Christ emptied Himself.

Christ humbled Himself.

Christ became obedient to the point of death.

God will call each of us to do things that will require every last drop of our cup. He will ask us to do things that we have to use our “reserve” on…that bottom layer of the cup we have been saving and pretending is linked to our sanity.

When we walk in obedience and we empty ourselves in humility for others that God directs us to, God will see and honor our sacrifice and gladly refill us for the next task He has for us. I have seen this in our lives time and time again, as raising medically complex kids is a quick cup drainer. But I am so confident that this path God has me on has been hand picked by God…including all the bumps in the road that splash that water right over the edge of my cup.

God will refill our cup so much more full than any measure of “me time”. Part of being a child of God is fully believing that will do just that.

But I also want to make sure that I am being transparent here and share with you that the seasons of the empty cup can be so very difficult. Those times that you have emptied yourself and have nothing left to give can be lonely times- but those are the times that we are reminded to look heavenward, not inward. Dry cup seasons are sometimes there for a purpose, as God is simply telling you to stay still and rest.

Don’t let the fear and discomfort of dry seasons keep you from pouring yourself out for others when God clearly calls you to do so. Like the widow’s oil jar, He will never allow us to deplete without fully intending to replenish.

God bless,

Leah

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