Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Abundant Grace

Our daughter, S, is 17 today.

I have to let that stand alone because I seriously am in denial about having a 17-year-old daughter!  I mean, we didn't meet her till she was eight, so 17 kind of snuck up on us pretty quickly.

Anyway, we did celebrate her birthday along with L's on June 3 with a big pool party, so it's not like her birthday wasn't recognized.  However, we always like to help each child feel special on his or her day -- even if there are other celebrations surrounding the day.  And we fully intended to do that today!  But it's like everything was working against our plan.

First of all, we got a call in the morning from my sister that her water main was leaking.  The yard was flooded.  We own the house where she and my nieces live, so big problems like this are our problem.  We'd experienced this last summer, but got it fixed up by a neighbor and knew it probably wasn't a permanent fix, but it held for a year, so not bad.  We just weren't really ready to take care of the problem in a more permanent way today.  God had other things in mind.

C had taken the morning off to take S for their traditional father-daughter birthday breakfast.  So in the meantime, he went over and shut off the water to the house and called a plumber from our church we were told about.  He couldn't come over till after work, so the girls would be without water all day -- which meant, I was keeping them all over here all day or they wouldn't have a toilet or sink or whatever.  Fine.

C and S did get their breakfast and I used the morning time to finish up wrapping up our girl's gifts that she was going to open in the afternoon when C came home from work.

Meanwhile, J and O went to VBS (they are attending a morning time VBS at another church nearby this week -- and our church's VBS is also this week for two evenings, which we're all taking part in).  H and Z stayed home (of their own accord) while the four nieces and I ran some errands.

After breakfast, C took S over to the MVD (or DMV for our California relatives -- New Mexico says it differently) to take her written driving test.  She's been practicing for this test for over a year (and passing all the online practice tests with flying colors) and finally had earned the trust to take the test and move into the behind the wheel training.  Unfortunately, our plan for this kind of backfired when she took the test and did not pass.  So, bummer on her birthday first thing.

She was okay about it though.  I think she was disappointed, but she kept smiling and just said, "I'll keep studying and try again soon."

While we were all at the house, I opened the fridge door to put something away and the butter compartment had been left open.  Well, my glass jar of capers (don't ask me why the butter compartment is the best place for them) flew out and crashed on the floor.  Meanwhile, J's leftover soda bottle from yesterday -- which she'd frozen for some reason and then returned to the fridge -- was overflowing all over the top shelf and running down to other shelves.  So I was trying to wipe that up, while Z helped me clean up the capers and glass on the floor and when I went to wring out the sponge, S was nearby and it squirted Dr. Pepper-y water right onto the shirt she'd picked out to wear especially today.

She took it in stride and after attempting to dry up her shirt with a paper towel, she decided to change her shirt. 

We left to pick up J and O from VBS and the plan was to go out to lunch (just nine kids and me) at Chick-fil-A to celebrate some more.  But H and Z got into a big argument, making everyone uneasy.  So I brought them back home and took seven kids to lunch.  Z called shortly after and sweetly apologized to S for acting up on her birthday and promised not to fight with H any more today.

My mom called and sang to S, which is always a treat -- Mom and Dad are camping this week in a place where they have no cell coverage, so they specifically drove to a place where they could make the call.  This was a highlight of the day for S.

We had lunch.  It was good as Chick-fil-A always is.  Crowded and noisy, but tasty.

Z and K had a class at the library, so I dropped them off with S and L, who spent time looking at books for the hour.  E was really cranky today overall, because her teeth are trying to come in.  I don't hold it against her -- not her fault -- but it just sort of complicated a lot of things having a clingy, crying baby who wasn't easily satisfied.  She's normally so happy, too, so I sort of get used to that and take it for granted.

C has had some complications going on at work recently and I talked to him in the afternoon and he wasn't going to make it home when he planned.  This meant we'd save S's gift-opening till dinner after evening VBS.  She was definitely disappointed about her dad having to work late, but she was very understanding.

My sister picked up the girls about 4-something and took them home to have dinner before VBS.  The kids and I went to the church, where C was going to meet us.

In the meantime, the plumber met him at my sister's house and they discovered a world of problems under the house that I don't fully know about yet (and probably will never understand).  C was now sick with something and guess what: vomiting.  But he was out there digging up the main line with the plumber -- in the heat and as the daylight started to wane.

Off to VBS at our church where the younger kids attended, while older kids volunteered.  S worked as hard as any of the adult volunteers helping out in the craft room for the most part, but a little bit everywhere.  At the end, the leaders all got together and sang, "Happy Birthday," to her. She was surprised, a little embarrassed, but overall, I think she liked it.

C was still at my sister's house and called me to find another guy to come lend a hand.  I gathered up two more men from church who willingly went to help out.  I am so thankful to have such a wonderful church family who supports us without complaint.

I just now got word that the guys are calling it quits tonight.  It's after 11:00pm and the water is still shut off over there.  They'll go back tomorrow to work some more.

Anyway, I brought the kids home after VBS and S got to open some of her gifts that I didn't think C would mind missing out on.  They had a junky McDonald's dinner because it was 9:30 and it was too late to care.  The gifts were great -- many of them monetary (which teens like) -- but all of them thoughtful.

The thing is, if this had been MY special day, I would have whined my way through it.  But this girl -- this teenager -- she smiled all day.  She shared with me some frustration she was feeling about her birth family and their lack of regular or substantial contact over the years and other than that, she showed so much grace for the challenges of today.  She was patient about her gifts and about her dad not being around for most of the afternoon.  She rolled with the punches of a failed driving test and working with a bunch of crazy little kids at VBS on her birthday.

She was amazing to me.  I'm so proud of her.  And it makes me want to spoil her even more on other days.

Happy Birthday, S.  We love you.


  1. I'm glad you managed to find some good in a day of disaster! Yikes. If it helps S, my 17th birthday wasn't great either. I got food poisoning!

  2. I can't remember my 17th birthday!

    I'm very proud of you, too, S! I saw the photos of you helping at VBS. I'm certain you are appreciated.

    Love, Mom/Namma