Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Two things I hate (and one that's okay.)

Disclaimer: if you can't stand the very mention of spiders, then this post is not for you. Just scroll down to the bottom, snicker at the non-spidey picture, and move along, 'kay?

Soooo, today has been a long day, filled mostly with wonderful time with my family and church friends, but also with two things that I just plain can't stand.

1. Spiders

2. Thunderstorms

I'm gonna elaborate now, but that's the gist of it, in case you're pressed for time.

To begin with, I have never, never, never liked spiders. I assume that most people don't, except for the rare and special few that keep tarantulas as pets. Personally, I believe that these people should be confined to padded rooms (with or without said arachnid), but that's just my opinion. My mom will tell you that my fear of spiders is the sole fault of my grandmother. When I was a little girl, I spent lots of time at Grandma's house, due to Mom's work schedule. Grandma had one of those living rooms that wasn't for living at all - in fact, you weren't to touch anything, and the sheer amount of dust suggested that no one touched anything, ever, with the exception of the piano that she let me bang away on. There was one end table in particular that fascinated me for some had a drawer, and I just wanted to know what was in it. Grandma, however, did not want me in it, and suggested that I shouldn't stick my hand inside, since there may be spiders in there. Hmm. I suppose it was a valid concern, being that the drawer had likely not been cleaned out in decades, but to this day I can't imagine what really possessed her to tell me that. The one time that I did work up the nerve to peek inside, all I saw was a book of sheet music and a couple of birthday-card-looking envelopes.

Anyway, I don't believe that it's all Grandma's fault that I can't stand the things - I just plain don't like 'em and don't want to be anywhere near one. My typical reaction upon stumbling across one (of any size - if it's smaller than a pencil eraser, I can usually make myself stomp it) is to run from the area screaming, "GEEEEEEENE! SPIDER! KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!"

This usually works out quite well for me. He knows that not only is he to KILL IT, but he is also to remove the resulting carcass, because I don't get near dead ones either.

But sometimes Gene isn't around.

Take this afternoon, for instance. I was all comfy in my bed in the middle of the afternoon...HEY! I don't get regularly scheduled breaks, thankyouverymuch, and so I take them here and there where I can get them. Sometimes both girls will nap with me. Sometimes neither one will - which was the case today, so both girls had been in their room playing, with the baby monitor on so I would hear if anyone screamed. I don't ignore them, even in my sleep, nor do I get the chance to sneak in a siesta all that often. Not that I feel the need to defend myself. *ahem* Anyway, so I was in bed and actually half-awake when the screaming started. Rachael barreled into my room, screaming at the top of her lungs that there was a spider in her bathroom sink and it was black and HUGE, even bigger than the rubber ones in the checkout line at TARGET (where I have never, ever seen a rubber spider in the checkout line, but if she says so, then okay.) So I leaped out of the bed and flew down the hall - not thinking one bit about what waited at the end, just on a mission to avenge my baby's delicate sensibilities.

It hit me about the time I got to the bathroom door - there's a spider in there. They SAID it was in the sink, but come on, the sink isn't that could have crawled out. It could be on the floor. Or on the light switch, just waiting to leap onto my face the moment I walked through the door and bite me to death. After all, Rachael said it was HUGE! I stood there for several moments, paralyzed...until my big, brave 2-year-old marched past me, hopped up onto her little footstool, peered down into the sink and announced that it was still there.

Yep, my 2-year-old is braver than I am.

So I had Rachael fetch the flyswatter (which Gene calls a "flyswat", and that is just plain wrong) and prepared to do battle with the giant spider. I eased into the bathroom...slowly...just in case...and finally caught a glimpse of the vile intruder. It...wasn't small. I have seen bigger, but this one was no slouch. It was black, and it was about the size of a half dollar. And it was looking at me. We faced off...and I could not raise the flyswatter to whack the little beast to death.

I don't know why, and this was not the first time I had experienced this phenomenon. I'm not sure what I expected the spider to do, but I'm sure he was contemplating his next move. I'm equally sure that I didn't want to be on the receiving end of it. My girls were standing in the hallway behind me, watching. Rachael had to go, and she wasn't going in there until the spider was dead. I had to kill him. Had to.

After several false starts - raising the flyswatter, getting close, freezing, back and forth, etc. - I finally drew (once again) on the strength of my babies to get the job done. "Count with me," I told them. "On three. One...two...two... (they said it first; I was counting more slowly) ...three." WHACK. WHACK. WHACKWHACKWHACKWHACKWHACK. DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE, SPIDER!

He didn't put up much of a fight. He didn't even escape from the sink. And his little carcass laid in the drain until Gene got home to remove it.

Ewwwwww. I get the heebie-jeebies all over again just thinking about it.

My day really went quite well after that. Made dinner, fed my family, and Rachael and I headed off to church. I'm taking a great class with a roomful of similarly stressed moms, but (oddly) leave there feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a few more days of one-on-one with the rugrats. We headed to Walmart afterward to pick up a few odds and ends, and noticed quite a bit of lightning on our way there. As we were leaving, the nice male greeter at the door (wow, you don't see many of those...nice Walmart greeters, I mean) told us to "have a nice night, and be careful - that's some scary looking lightning out there."

Well, crap. That's all it took to set us off - me and Rachael both, only mine was internal. As I mentioned before - I hate storms too. I'm downright paranoid about them, actually, since we have frequent tornado watches and warnings in the summer and fall around here. Every time there's thunder and lightning, you can bet I'm in front of the computer and heading for to see just what's going on out there, and what might be headed this way. I don't have such a problem with thunder - sure, it's unnerving, but Grandma always told me that thunder was just the angels bowling, and I choose to believe her to this day. (Even though I never knew her to set foot in a bowling alley, I sure hope she's bowling with them these days. Feisty as she was, I can for sure see her on a league.) But lightning scares the snot out of me, especially if you pair it with rain and wind and dark, because if it's dark, you can't see what's coming to get you. Not that I'd necessarily see a tornado approaching in the daytime or anything - there's no flat land within miles of here, that I'm aware of - but still. It's just human nature to feel more vulnerable in the dark.

We both ran for the van, and by the time we both jumped in and buckled up, it had started to rain. Just a few drops at first, then harder and harder and harder, till it was a veritable downpour. We were on the road by then, heading for home, with windshield wipers going full blast, the van skidding a bit here and there (it was coming down so fast) and Rachael fretting in the back seat. Yes, she knew that the vehicle was one of the safest places to be during a lightning storm. But it was scary. I was a little scared. Visibility was okay, except for when I was hit by oncoming headlights - which was rather often in that particular area - but her chattering was making it harder to concentrate. So I told her to do what I was busy doing - say a little prayer, ask God to help us get home safely. She did...but she was still scared. And she wanted to know why He hadn't made the storm stop already, because she was not going to be okay until it stopped.

Now...every Christian mom, I am certain, recognizes "God moments" once in a while with her children. They're precious, teachable moments that just fill your soul to bubbling over...and I was given one.

Stop the storm, you say? Oh, honey...but He can, if He chooses to. He must have a purpose for this one. Don't you remember the time that Jesus was out fishing with his friends? A huge storm came up...and they were probably on a very small boat when it did. His friends were so scared - the wind, the waves, the rain. I would be terrified! But do you remember where Jesus was? She didn't remember...He had fallen asleep. And when they woke Him, He said but three little words..."peace, be still." And there was calm. "Why are you so afraid?", Jesus asked them. "Don't you have any faith?" (I'm paraphrasing, of course, as I usually do for the little ones.) Rachael was amazed. He might not stop this storm, I told her...oh, but He can. We serve a God that can speak and stop storms far scarier than this one, and He wants us to have faith that He'll see us through it. So we did - and He saw us safely home.

There was silence from the back seat as (I assume) she thought about our conversation, and something else popped into my mind...the lyrics to one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs, "Praise You In This Storm". In case you're not familiar with it, here are the lyrics:

"I was sure by now, God
that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining.
As the thunder rolls,
I barely hear you whisper through the rain
'I'm with you'
and as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
and takes away.

And I'll praise You in this storm
and I will lift my hands,
for You are who You are
no matter where I am,
and every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand.
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm.

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again.
My strength is almost gone,
how can I carry on if I can't find You?
And as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
'I'm with you.'
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
and takes away.

I lift my eyes unto the hills -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of Heaven and earth..."

It's a beautiful song, one that makes me cry on a bad day but always reminds me to have an attitude of gratitude, even when things aren't going my way. I often catch myself humming it, but gained a new perspective as I drove home tonight. I will praise Him in this storm indeed...most of my "storms" involve little everyday crises. Frayed nerves resulting from little girl drama. Money worries. Too little help from Gene, who has his plate full just working to support our little family. Nitpicky little "storms" - and easy enough to praise Him in the midst of. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to stay at home with my children, to teach them and guide them and not miss these precious early years. Thank you, Lord, for always meeting our needs. Thank you for a husband that's a good provider for his family. Yes, it's easy enough to praise Him then.

But to actually be in the middle of a storm and have those lyrics running through your mind... It was dark, raining, lightning. This one was no more than a thunderstorm, but storms certainly can be dangerous. Frightening. Overwhelming. And to still be able to sing praises in the middle of a physical (rather than mental or emotional) storm...? Wow. It wouldn't be my natural reaction. But I was grateful for the little nudge to go ahead and praise Him during this one.

Whew! I might not update often, but I sure do write a novel when I get around to it. ;)

Now...who wants to see which shirt Gene just had to have before my last giveaway? It's inspired by a movie that he thinks is absolutely hilarious:

If you've never seen "The Hangover", just do a quick Google Images search for hangover + "baby carlos" and you'll see why he needed this shirt. Very brief explanation: weird guy finds a baby in his hotel room the morning after a (very drunken) bachelor party in Vegas. So...he puts him in a Baby Bjorn, christens him Carlos, and hilarity ensues. Gene would have to abstain from haircuts until Halloween (which probably won't happen) and grow out a bushy beard (which he is fully capable of doing in approximately 36 hours), but it's very possible that he can do a pretty good imitation of that guy (whose name escapes me) for Halloween. Now you know. :)

New giveaway coming soon...once I find enough consecutive daylight minutes to post it. Two words: Soap Nuts. You've been warned.

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