To Cherish: Lessons from a (Puked on) Linen Sofa

To Cherish: Lessons from a (Puked on) Linen Sofa

First off, I don’t live in a linen couch kind of life. I have four kids under 10, the two youngest being boys, and a hunting dog that refuses hunt. Dirt doesn’t stay outside. Sticky fingers aren’t detained at the table until wiped clean. Puke doesn’t hit the toilet. I don’t know why I insist that we dwell in a Pottery Barn picture.

That’s a lie. I know why I insist on it.

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Pottery Barn Picture

To set the scene, at least one of my children has been sick since Sunday past. A week of croup, phlegm, puking up phlegm, longer naps, less eating, more crying, less activity, more movies. As much as I loathe altering or (gasp!) canceling any scheduled appointments, this week was divinely timed.

The first child awoke just as I entered REM sleep with the dreaded croupy cough planting him on my lap in our bathroom inhaling the first of many steam baths. While we cuddled my heart began softening for an unexpected journey with the Lord.

This week I began asking a few new questions in my quiet time,

“How does God see me when He looks at me as a little girl?”

“What were my needs at that tender time in life?”

One by one the children have entered the infirmary that is my bedroom.

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During their convalescence, picture germs and memories spewing into the atmosphere, swirling around in the air of our home and the muck of my mind. Suffocating at times. One moment a feeling of drowning in a myriad of memories-what do I do with these? God, bring relief!

Seven days later, I am awake at 3:30am with a child who is ready for the day because he chose to fall asleep at 3:30pm yesterday. So, here I sit with my Bible and journal asking the same questions to my Father God again. Asking Him to reveal more of me to me.

This moonlit morning He breathed this phrase into my being:

THE NEED TO BE CHERISHED

If you would, digest the complete meaning with me as stated in the old Webster’s dictionary (a fav of mine).

  • to treat with tenderness & affection, give warmth, ease or comfort
  • to hold dear, to embrace with affection, to foster, encourage
  • to treat in a manner to encourage growth, by protection, aid, attendance, supplying nourishment
  • to harbor, to indulge & encourage in the mind

Guess what this old school dictionary gives as an example sentence-

1 Thessalonians 2:7 (KJV) (gotta love old school)

But we were gentle among you, even as a NURSE (mother) CHERISHETH HER CHILDREN.

AHA MOMENT: Combing repeatedly through these words the light bulbed switched on to reveal the truth: I can cherish people for who they are not what they do.

I find no REASON for the cherishing in these four explanations.

No-because you did this, I will treat you in this way-train of thought.

Just cherishing.

Just because the person is alive and can be treated thus.

JUST BECAUSE I AM CHERISHED BY A FATHER JUST BECAUSE I AM HIS DAUGHTER.

As a child, was I cherished simply because I was a daughter, a gift given by God to my parents? Was I treated with tenderness, affection, held dear, encouraged and allowed a safe harbor just because I WAS, not because I DID (or DID NOT) do something? The answer, which I assume is true for most, is sometimes yes and sometimes no.

As far back as my memory goes, I have been striving and yearning, craving and clawing for acceptance. Maybe that’s why I’m a doer. Maybe it’s not a spiritual gift, maybe being a doer first is a spiritual flaw. Because DOING without understanding just BEING seems to set all of my actions on a flimsy foundation, doesn’t it?

I asked God to meet this need in me. I asked Him to fill me with His cherishing just because I’m His daughter.

Then I thought of my own daughter, then my other daughter, then my sons. My face cringes at the countless times, I have visibly shown my un-acceptance of them to them because of a behavior of theirs. A BEHAVIOR. My gut churns at countless examples of how I cherish my children (and my husband for that matter) well….when they act in a way I deem deserving of cherishing.

God’s revealing, my admitting, my asking, His filling of something warm in my belly.

Suddenly, the opportunity to live out my newly learned lesson.

No sooner had I finished my time of cleansing and refreshing, I hadn’t even shifted in my chair, than my son, who’s been content to rest on the couch entertaining himself by drawing his letters in the air, THROWS UP ON OUR NEW LINEN COUCH.

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It isn’t just bronchial mucus. Why? Because the poor boy hasn’t eaten in 12 hours and I’m out of honey toast, so I give him what he wants-mango juice and chocolate chips, the breakfast of champions for weakened immune systems.

Instantly, I morph from holy daughter basking in the presence of my Father into Monster Mom who crushes the spirits of little kids with her disapproving eyes.

While googling how to clean such a pukey puddle off light linen, I’m fuming! How could he do this! Why didn’t he have the sense to puke over the side, or get up and go to the bathroom? He’s five years old, isn’t he?

Oh yeah, He’s five years old.

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He stands, with his head down, fingers in his mouth while I scrub, blot, mentally blame.

“I feel like you’re mad at me,” his sweet voice mumbles.

I stop scrubbing, my thoughts crumble. Is this not the perfect opportunity to cherish just because of who he is, not what he has done?! My flesh fights-fights against what the Spirit wants to restore, to redeem.

I take his innocent face in my hands and tell him I love him. I confess I am mad at him and I wish he didn’t puke on the couch. But we all make mistakes, and please forgive me and sometimes it’s hard to hold in the puke until you get to the proper place.

Isn’t it hard to puke in the proper place even as an adult? Catch my drift?

May it be that writing out the lesson will impress it upon my core more so than just leaving it on the chair in my journal.

And may it be that today, I’ll hold in my innermost parts for the first time what it truly means to be cherished by my Father in Heaven just because I’m His daughter on earth. And maybe, just maybe, that truth will fill me up to overflowing so much so that it spills over into relationship with my husband and kids.

If you are looking for a place to turn after skimming this while driving might I suggest reading through 1 Thessalonians? Five chapters of pure goodness that seeps into the cracks of broken hearts and heals.

Lastly, I don’t think life is supposed to resemble a beautiful linen sofa. I think it more resembles an ancient leather sofa filled with character cracks and wrinkles. Wrinkles made by years of people sitting, lying, jumping while talking, laughing, and crying with one another.

Let’s shoot for the leather sofa together, shall we?

And, Mom, remember when I was a teenager confidently plowing through a life filled will self inflicted activity? Do you remember standing across the table from me, looking me in the eye and telling me, “Johanna, I love you no matter what you do.”? I do. Thanks for that. I Love you too.

7 thoughts on “To Cherish: Lessons from a (Puked on) Linen Sofa

  1. Wow, I was beginning to feel like I might have been YOUR Monster Mommy. ( I know life was not perfect) But, thanks Johanna for the wonderful words at the end, I am blessed to have you. I would say that
    your upcoming trip to Southeast Asia would qualify as “plowing through life?” But, this time it is plowing for the LORD and I AM proud of you. MOM

  2. Sweet friend!! Thank you so much for sharing your heart, soul, and mind!! You are such an encouragement to me! I too have become “monster mom” more times then I like to even think about or admit, and it’s painful! But thank goodness for the Father’s love and forgiveness through His Son! Because….the puke will happen again, and we have a new chance to close the door on “monster mom” and try to do it Christ – like instead!

    Love your words! God is using you and you have such an amazing calling to share Jesus with others!
    Hugs!!

  3. Wow, lady. I never knew you were a writer. This is the first I’ve stumbled upon your wisdom. And I know unfortunately, it will not stick long enough for me to live it out. But I appreciate the intentionality of cherishing for THEM and not BEHAVIOR. I fear for my first-born son, knowing they are performance driven anyway….pray for me 😉
    Thank you so much

    1. Bonnie, you will do well. Very well. You are filled with the Spirit! The only bit of wisdom I can share with you came from a dear friend of mine the other day. She told me to, “opt out of the competition.” That takes a weight off our shoulders in terms of parenting and rearing these kiddos of ours doesn’t it?! Hopefully, we’ll run into each other soon!

  4. Thanks, for the heart cry of most moms. Each and every day I need to remind myself of God’s unconditional love for me. Being a grandma now, I think I have moved closer to understanding unconditional love. Thanks for sharing your heart, Christy

  5. Love this! When I was at your house on Thursday I saw those light colored linen couches and being a mom of so many, my first thought was, “I wonder how those will handle puke?” So you’ll have to let me know how it pans out! I love how gently God speaks to us and how He is always faithful at following spiritual light bulb moments with real life to test it! Let’s pray that puke isn’t always involved! Love you dearly!

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