Words that Shrink the Storm

The waves curled and bowed in mockery around the small boat. As they rose and fell in an unpredictable and terrifying pattern, Peter couldn’t shake the idea that they were laughing at him, holding his friends in their death grip, entirely aware of how hopeless the men were. They were just playing with him, like a bear plays with his food before he ruthlessly stops its breath.

 

The men had lost their ability to remain on both feet long before. They had run out of options and most of them could now be found sitting on the deck, huddled beneath the thin shelter of the boom with their knees pulled tightly to their chests. Most of them clutched their knees as if it was their very life before them, knuckles turning white with tense desperation.

 

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Doubt. It crept in suddenly, without warning, as the man they once trusted, the one who could rescue them, slept soundly at the back of the boat, taking no notice of the destruction around him. The cushion beneath him remained tucked neatly under his head, and his eyelids did not even flutter as the boat rocked violently, mercilessly, in the middle of the sea.

 

Hours before, as the storm brewed in the distance, Peter viewed it with confidence, knowing Jesus would keep them safe. Even as things began to look more grim, Peter was able to hold tightly to reason: Jesus had a ministry to continue on the other side of the sea; they would most certainly make it. However, reason had been tossed into the sea along with the men’s belongings and hope. Perhaps, only Jesus would see the other side.

 

The noise of the storm was deafening, creating a panic inside of him that he could not shake. Each time his mind began to formulate a plan, a deluge of water crashed down upon him, leaving him with only his weak life, and nothing more. The shouts and whimpers of the men around him could only be sensed, but not properly heard.

 

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Peter was reminded of a moment in his childhood when he slipped unnoticed into a river. His head immediately disappeared beneath the water and the silence that pressed in upon him drowned his reality. It was so tranquil, so noiseless under the waves that Peter felt an overwhelming desire to hear sound again, the giggle of his baby sister, the hum of his mother as she prepared a meal. He began to fight the silence with his arms and legs, punching the water, while defeating death. With each kick, light and sound crept closer to his face. The hubbub of his village welcomed him back to reality and the panicked screams of his mother flooded his soul, reviving him, thrusting the terrible silence further from his memory.

 

Now, Peter faced an entirely different reality. His reason and his fear had abandoned him, leaving him with only the noise, pressing in around him, threatening to drown him even before the boat capsized. He knew he must fight, to kick and to punch until he rises above the tempest, above death.

 

Clarity comes in a blink and is gone; he knows what he must do. On his hands and knees, he begins to creep forward in a direction that he hopes is correct. He cannot even see his hands move below him, but he knows they are there because he continues to inch forward.  

 

When he is three more paces from Jesus the sea takes a deep breath, pausing the ruination around them for the briefest of moments. As the mist fades, Jesus seems to materialize before him, still peacefully asleep and curled up like a small babe, as if the boat has become his cradle. Just as the sea begins its fiercest exhalation in attempt to destroy the men, Peter reaches out and touches Jesus. Forcing a spew of words from his stiff, cold mouth he says, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

 

Trying to be heard above the warring waves, it comes out harsher than he had planned. Jesus rises to his feet, hunching down to feel the bottom of the boat, which is now covered in three inches of water. There is no surprise in his eyes, no fear, no frustration even at Peter’s doubt.

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The hatred of the sea contrasted with the love and peace of Jesus causes Peter to lose balance, collapsing onto his belly. Jesus takes no notice but stands with arms open wide and chastises the brutality of the waves. Then looking down into the sea with a flawless mixture of calm and fortitude he commands, “Peace, be still!”

 

The sea did not hesitate, but shrunk away from His powerful words like a scorpion scurries from an unfathomable heat wave. At the sound of Jesus, the jaws that kept opening and closing around Peter and the men close forever. Peter rises from his stomach to see that a stillness has subjugated the sea, and the sun, which he thought he’d never see again, has torn through the clouds to shed a sparkle of light on the beaten and battered boat.

 

Jesus turns to his disciples with disappointment etched on his features, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” He reaches down to assist Peter’s brother, Andrew, to his feet, then walks to what is left of the front of the boat, kneels down, and prays.

 

Andrew, skin yellow and knees still shaking, leans over to Peter and marvels, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

 

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Peter who has been welcoming a justified and great feeling of guilt for his lack of faith, feels a peace shedding down from the heavens, as he smiles and looks toward his Savior, “This is the Messiah.”

 
*My own interpretation of Mark 4:35-41*

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A No-Nap Panic

The panic that ensues when you finally allow yourself–after weeks of utter denial–to entertain the notion that perhaps, just maybe, your 16-month old is phasing out his naps is unquestionably the most extreme form of trepidation.

 

Now, panic is a funny thing.

 

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I have experienced it in many forms.

 

However, the no-nap panic is in a category all its own.

 

It is not even remotely similar to the instant panic that rebirths your sailor mouth when you rub your husband’s prized pick-up against a bright, red shopping corral. I am all too familiar with this form of panic.

 

A no-nap panic also has no relation to the panic that eats at my brain, as well as my heart, when I turn on any form of media. The Trump-or-Clinton-Oh-My-Goodness-We-Are-Screwed panic is bad, but it is not nearly as bad as a no-nap panic.

 

It may be somewhat comparable to the panic that stares a pregnant woman in the face when she realizes she is not even close to a bathroom, causing her desperation for even a small tree on the side of the road to multiply ten-fold while she prays for a rest area, desperately convincing herself she is strong enough to hold it.

 

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While in the denial stage, each day you approach nap time with optimism and grace, fully believing that God’s love for you and your family must cause Him to grant enough mercy to you and your little one to keep him asleep for at least two hours.

 

With each passing minute that your renegade stays asleep, your optimism grows. A positive attitude in life is important, of course; however, it simply causes the dread to crash into you harder and faster when you hear grumbling from the nursery 20 minutes after the commencement of naptime.

 

20 minutes.

 

In that 20 minutes you have barely consumed your lunch, let alone done laundry, washed the floors, done your devotions, and baked banana bread, which is just to name a few of the items on your Nap Time To-Do List, which has grown to epic proportions since your sweet, innocent, adorable psychopath has chosen to look at nap time as more of a suggestion than a priority.

 

Now, I’m only going to say this once: NAP TIME IS NOT A SUGGESTION.

 

Now, I am fully and painfully aware that my young boy is not nearly old enough to understand the concept of a Quiet Time. I can’t lock him in his room and say to him, “Okay, honey, for the next 20 minutes, you are going to read quietly while Mommy takes a break.” I can’t whip out a coloring book, place him at the kitchen table, hand him a crayon, and expect silence. Nope. I’m not sure this will even happen when he is three, let alone 16-months.

 

So, once the realization of my reality has fully set in, my first action should be to open my Bible, looking for peace, advice, and clarity for how to deal with this mind-blowingly horrendous situation. However, instead, my first action is to log onto Pinterest. The Bible is helpful, of course, but it does not provide me with endless ideas for inexpensive sensory activities, quiet boxes, and concrete and strategic parenting strategies to escape the terror of my sleepless little one for a few sweet moments a day.

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Ah…. sensory activities. What a wonderful thought!

 

Yes, I’m sure my son would thoroughly enjoy digging through a collection of dry pasta that I have placed in a cake pan on the floor. It would most likely take no more than 3 minutes before he lifted the cake pan, dumped out the pasta, and threw every item in his grasp as far as he could; lucky for me, he is not throwing at a real great distance right now.

 

Yes, I’m sure my son would thoroughly enjoy a makeshift bear cave made out of construction paper and a large cardboard box. My perfectionist self would work tirelessly to create an authentic and spacious cave. I would strategically place his stuffed bears inside the cave, thrilled to watch him play in it for the first time. I would leave him in the basement for five minutes, expecting his attention to remain on the box for at least 10 minutes, only to find that he has removed all the paper from the sides, torn it up, and tossed it willy-nilly about my, once clean, basement floor.

 

Yes, I’m sure my son would thoroughly enjoy a large, endless track of paper towel rolls, taped throughout my house for his Hotwheels cars. After an hour of assembling, I would stand next to a tube and show him how to put his car inside and retrieve it at the other end. Then, I would head into the kitchen to wash dishes while he begins to tear every tube off my wall, mistaking them for a weapon against the dog, instead of car tunnels. The dog will definitely thank me for my efforts…

 

You see, there are a few key facts that Pinterest is utterly unaware of as it displays countless, bewitching proposals to make my life easier. These facts are as follows: 1. My son is a dangerously curious boy; 2. My son is only 16-months old; 3. My son needs constant attention; 4. My son destroys literally everything.

 

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I guess I failed to take into account that Pinterest does not know my son, and parenting is not perfect. No matter how many strategies I employ to entertain my busy toddler, parenting is never going to look like a magazine ad.

 

So, what is my solution to this no-nap panic? First, open your Bible: God will help you through every step of parenting. Second, keep trying. Third, against all odds, stay sane.

 
Most of all, soak up every moment you can with your little attention hog because even though you would give anything for a break, someday you are going to be willing to give anything for just one more day with your no-nap-taking-monster.