I call her Paisley – The ever-growing yellow water stain on the ceiling.  Flakes of her dust scatter along the keys of my desktop. I wonder if we will ever call a roofer.   I think about Paisley.  I think that there must be someone out there who:

  • is tormented by a fleck of ketchup on their ceiling
  • while another deals with a minor leak
  • another with a leak in their ceiling that threatens to cave in entirely
  • another has no roof over their head, but a corner to call their own, somewhere, somehow
  • another with no home
  • someone else out there has no family to go home to

Someone always has it worse. Someone always has it better. Am I the only one flirting with the temptation to play “March Sadness” – charting out who has it worse on my mental dry-erase board?

I confess, I play this scenario everywhere. Not to say that I have it worse, but to remind myself that we ALL have our different trials and struggle for contentment right where we are. I watch a mom click her infant in their car-seat and wonder, was she inwardly moaning at the hardship of it all? Could she imagine the mom across the parking lot, another mom straps and buckles a handicapped child in more places than you can count? What about the woman in her 30’s that sits alone, unable to set foot out of their own door or smell fresh-cut grass, an auto-immune disease holding her captive. My elderly neighbors? They drove their car the 200 feet to bring us food after my son was in the hospital, as they also have had to call 911 on a regular basis when the fall. Do I even know their birthdays? Did I even give them cookies at Christmas?

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately taking a tally – building lists in my head.

  • costly refrigerator repairs
  • the refrigerator that died 2 days before vacation
  • the mad scramble to buy one
  • the stomach sinking feeling at the checkout
  • some sort of air leak in our pool pump – hopefully repaired with the latest fix
  • the hours of wrestling with the computer that wasn’t working
  • the wild goose chase it’s taken to fix the thing that isn’t yet fixed
  • daily hours that turn into weeks, buying one thing to fix the thing, finding that there is yet another problem, arguing with customer support about our warranty-dropping the backup hard drive (thankfully the data is spread across 5 other devices – this was just time and money, not data lost…but one. more. thing.
  • a tub that won’t drain for days
  • as always, the swirls of yellow water damage on our ceiling (AKA Paisley)
  • What next? The computer won’t start.
  • the camera that I love so much – some serious hard or software issue – won’t start in a functional way – or shut off

So, I’ve been back to my default posture. Instead of making lists of things I’ve been grateful for, I’ve kept running lists in my head of how many things have gone wrong, all while taking time to be bothered by them. Perhaps the logical choice, but not good for the heart – not good for my heart. Yes, these things are broken. Yes it’s exasperating – but the people I love are all in fair health and there still is much to be thankful for! Trying to get back on track….especially with upcoming uncertainties galore with school situations.


  • My husband didn’t burn his face off with his grill accident – just made me laugh with his singed eyebrows and lashes
  • The kids and I had some fun in-the-moment times – bean bag wars
  • ….


Abiding by the law of nature that medical emergencies must develop on a weekend night, at this is the point in my writing I was interrupted. We had to call 911 because of unexplained bleeding out of my son’s mouth – (and while the broken appliances led me to laugh at different points – this didn’t.) The argument, facilitated by the stress of an onslaught of decisions and stress, and of course my own poor attitude, melted away. I shook as my husband and I hurried to dig out the old suction machine and try to get several large blood clots out of my little boy’s mouth.

B slept through our mad scurry to get the clots out of his airway. He woke as he was being carried out our from door. It was a funny picture. Surrounded by EMT’s and Firefighters, and with a blood-smeared face, he glowed! His eyes were filled with delight at the site of that fire truck, lights aglow in the darkness!

It made for a long night, but thankfully, in the end, all was well. The doc suspects it was a posterior nose bleed (these can often cause blood to be in the mouth, rather than the nose). The bleed went on for something like 36 hours and it was certainly a scare. As with all of our adventures, it causes me to think:

  • of the families that visit the ER far more, with far more serious concerns
  • of the families that had their last trip to the ER – the trip that their child never came home from. Oh my heart goes out to you!
  • of the families that really don’t go to the ER for much more than the type of things I did as a child – stitches or maybe broken bones.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phillipians 4:12-13
But it’s not easy gain, is it? It’s pretty stinkin hard no matter whether we stand in a clean house full of luxury in the US or a hut with a dirt floor in Africa. But that contentment, I think that a life spent seeking it, and it’s accompanying Godliness is a life well spent!
I keep finding that I feel closest to contentment when I am giving thanks. Like a student trying to remember a lecture, I find that I have to put pen to paper to actually hear the words, feel the thanks.
Recording gifts is studying God’s goodness. I want to study God’s goodness in the chaos as much as, or maybe even more than in the times that are more apparently good. I don’t want to give up on this endeavor because I have a touch of chaos in my life, because of Paisley.
In the end, I think I may see that there was more eternal goodness in our trials than in our easy times.

In George MacDonald’s book, The Princess and Curdie, a young miner is sent on a journey that he knows will be treacherous – one he may not return from. He’s told that his path will lead him where he needs to be. He is given very little direction. This at first frustrates him, but he is told that he knows which way to begin his journey. Curdie will be able to figure out the rest as he goes. (NOT my favorite way of setting out to do anything.) He is also warned that

“perhaps it will not look the least like what you may have been fancying I should require of you. I have one idea of your work and you have another. I do not blame you for that – you cannot help it yet; but you must be ready to let my idea, which sets you working, set your idea right.”
The effect of this little speech is that later, even as he encounters peril and tragedy, he knows that it’s all a part of the plan leading him to where the old queen/grandmother has purposed him to be.
“He felt sure this must be the King’s chamber and it was here he was wanted; or if was not the place he was bound for, something would meet him and turn him aside; for he had come to think that so long as a man wants to do right he may go where he can: when he can go no farther, then it is not the way. ‘Only,’ said his father, in assenting to the theory, ‘he must really want to do right, and not merely fancy he does. He must want it with his heart and will, not with the rag of his tongue.'”
So, yes, we went to the ER and yes, the house has been falling apart/draining our wallet a bit – but I do really believe that in hardship there is purpose.
Athletic training is pain and hardship – but there is purpose in the fit-ness that it provides. I want to have a fit heart – I want to not just moan (as I mostly do) – in the flat tires of life.
I want to train my heart to not stand outside and cry about the 10 things wrong. I’d rather learn to sing. I desire to have my eyes wide open to the thousands, millions, infinite gifts in front of me – entering “his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise!”
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. –Psalm 100:4
Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. –Isaiah 42:10
So back to that list that I started: I’m grateful for –
  • the morning that brought clean white sheets, my sweet B sleeping contentedly in them
  • beautiful little boy hand – no longer in need of that hospital bracelet
  • having our family all together, tired as we may be
  • a nurse/friend who, despite her FULL plate came over and watched my kids (B too) when the emergency was still fresh
  • conversation with my husband – real conversation – not about major decisions or career change, but books we are reading – thoughts about life
  • dinner just the 2 of us
  • that big blood-smeared smile at the firemen
  • my husband sitting on the gurney, holding B – them both looking so beautiful in the swirl of fire truck lights
  • M pretending to be “mom” tucking in B and Kate – tucking them in “Good night, Sweetie Heart!”
  • the original ballad she then proceeded to sing them
  • our elderly neighbors going to such lengths to check on B and bringing us food
  • helping hands of a teen girl, wise beyond her years – intuitive about my needs
  • that something prompted me to check on B Friday night
  • little problems that can be resolved with an ER visit
  • the Psalms that echo a journey – a struggle to sing to Him in the highs and lows of life
  • Paisley and the lessons she points out

*as an update, after hours upon hours dealing with customer support and all of the accompanying nerve-racking frustration, they manufacturer is going to send us a NEW computer!!!  -Praise God!


2 thoughts on “Paisley

  1. Great insight. We often forget the joyful blessings when being blessed with challenges and remember only what we want when our needs are met.

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