Thursday, October 20, 2011

Butter Bowl

The week had been full. Six-soccer-game full. Five-seven-hour-days-of-books-and-flashcards full.

And the cupboards were bare.

When a friend offered to take my boys so I could make a grocery haul, my heart filled with praise. Thank you, God, for this friend. Thank you for her sensitivity.

The more I gave thanks, the faster the thanksgiving came. Thank you that I can buy what we need. Thank you that I don’t have to shimmy the store between school and soccer tomorrow.

For a mama who usually shops with a multitude of helpers, bolting out alone was good. Shiny- gold- good.

Until I began to herd the crew.

“We need to get into the van. Mrs. Altensey is waiting,” I said.

But Zay had lost a shoe. And Samuel’s sweatshirt wasn’t on the hook by the door. No one had socks.

Agitation scaled my backbone. My friend had been kind. I didn’t want her waiting for a hundred years. I breathed deep and went to hunt for footwear.

But then there was a potty need.

And Samuel wanted to wear shorts.

And frustration formed a wall inside me. It grew taller and thicker and darker until Gabe did the unthinkable and sent that anger- wall crashing.

He asked for a butter bowl.

“A butter bowl? Why do you need a butter bowl?” I asked, my voice a near-howl.

“For a habitat,” he said. “For caterpillars. There are caterpillars in the woods by Mrs. Altensey’s.” His eyes were wide. Wanting.

And I went off the edge.

“We don’t have time for butter bowls. Or caterpillars. Or habitats. I don’t have time for any of this crazy bunisess. Now. Get. Your. Biscuits. In. The. Van,” I lashed.

Gabe’s eyes went wet. His cheeks burned. He turned and ran out the door.

I’d scraped his heart with the sharp edge of anger.

Over a throw-away butter bowl?

How could I, one minute, offer a stream of joyful praise, and the next, succumb to a full-fledge rant over a margarine tub? How could my heart spin a song of thanksgiving then shift, in a heartbeat, to a scream and scorn?

How I need His grace.

But how could He? How could Jesus bleed and die for that? The craziness and helplessness and can’t-hold-it-togetherness of my life. The shift-on-a-dime to ugly? It’s so much easier to ask His grace, His goodness, His sacrifice to cover the big stuff.

I was ashamed to ask Him to pour his mercy gift into that bowl.
My grace is sufficient.

There it was. His Word in my heart. A promise. Assurance. Big sin or moment-to-moment sin. Any of it, one little breath, is enough to keep us from holy God.

But Jesus covered it all.

Even the small stuff that snags me every day.


I pulled the back door open and let the autumn sun fall fresh on my face. Then I went, apology on lips, to find my boy.

I’ll accept the gift I cannot understand.

Because it’s sufficient.

It’s for me.

And He’s already filled my bowl.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I may boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9


  1. You know, we all have those moments. But your boys know that you love them anyway!
    p.s. I remember those days of catching bugs and caterpillars, I just loved it!

  2. I love this! Didn't know you blogged about me, this made me laugh & cry but also made me happy to hear another mamma's moments! My boys are still finding caterpillars around here :-)

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, Peggy. Caterpillar days are precious...I do love them. (And I love you, too...)

  4. Hi Dawn, of course you'd surface in the blog sooner or dear friend. Thanks for the kindness, and the blessing...oh, I may have to send the boys over.:)