[photo gallery: Bennett family in 2011, one year before we knew Elle Grace would be added to our family]
My husband and I just finished writing our final church newsletter. It’s not that we’re going anywhere, it’s simply because we just celebrated year 6 as a church and the life of the newsletter as we have known it, had truly served its purpose – updating those journeying with us from near and far about the happenings of Overflow.
The majority of the recipients were individuals (a handful of pastors) who signed up from day one upon hearing the vision that God had called us to in 2007 in Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, MI: to plant Overflow Church, a Christ-centered community centered on the life, message, and mission of Jesus Christ.
Many connections came from the 30+ churches we spoke at. I say “we” but really Brian was the one who perfectly and clearly shared the vision of Overflow. I had the tough job of standing next to him as baby Dawson hung off my hip while Hannah (3 at the time) semi-twirled on stage, pressed her cute little face into the side of my leg, and/or turned her back on the congregation because she was fascinated with seeing herself on the big screen! Brian and I still crack up over this.
Sharing from church to church was such a huge source of encouragement for us, for this little family from Battle Creek, MI who sought out to do the will of their Heavenly Father. A family without a clue but surrendered to the cause of Christ. And we later would learn that that was enough.
So I share all of this to say that I’ve been on a mountaintop-high experience with the Lord all week, looking back to remember the Lord’s goodness through our 7 years here… SO THANK-FILLED, HEART OVERFLOWING WITH PRAISE, having a GREAT “MOM” WEEK (bonus!) and THEN it happened. I got sick. Really sick, and so did baby Elle, our 18-month old.
I fell from my mountaintop moment down into a valley pretty quickly. I went from skipping through my home (not really but picture it in the spiritual sense) to bedridden for 60 hours. All I could do was sleep. I could not even take care of the kids. Thankfully, my sickness was planned at the start of spring break, so our family schedule was light. [Sorry, husband, for an incredible start to our family vacation!] Brian did not complain once. He put on his cape and went into Superman mode. The one time he and Dawson had to run out to do errands, Brian called a friend to come over to check on me.
I was humbled and blessed by this as my home was completely trashed (and so was I). My friend didn’t care. She was on mission to love and care for me. I later discovered that she not only picked up our home with the help of Hannah girl, but finished up the laundry left undone in my dining room.
Brian and Dawson returned and all was quiet on the Bennett home front. I was still upstairs in bed. After sometime, I heard Hannah and Dawson up to something in the kitchen. I have no idea why I had to check it out [maybe out of boredom] but I pulled myself together to head downstairs and into the kitchen. There I stood noticing an almost-empty bottle of almond oil, among some other jars, sitting on the kitchen counter.
Internally, I was struggling. I wanted to vent. But why, I mean it’s just [expensive] almond oil. Ah, that’s why. This was a rare and costly purchase from a health food store. If it’s really that important, can’t I just go buy another bottle? But my flesh fights… I was saving THIS bottle for something other than fun kitchen creations. Really? Arrgh. But oh wait, we used this same oil for Hannah’s birthday craft just a couple of weeks ago. That’s what Hannah & Dawson were up to… imitation. They had no idea I wanted to save this for something else. As I’m pondering all of this within, I felt the Lord softening my heart, disarming my tone with my kids, SO THAT this moment would not be ruined, SO THAT in God’s grace and intervention I could pass the test this time. Why am I so attentive to His voice this day? Was it because I’ve had no other choice than to lie down and be still for the last 2 days? I heard Him reminding me of being thankful in all things and that it’s JUST almond oil, something that can be replaced — but that this moment before me now, is irreplaceable. It is a moment for here and now. So with a changed heart, still standing, I asked my kids:
“Hey guys, what’s up?”
“Oh, nothing. Just making some homemade scrub.”
“Awesome. Looks great!”
I walked back upstairs so thankful for the Lord’s intervention.
Fast forward to the evening, I was feeling a little better and could sit up now. I slowly walked down the stairs to join my family in the living room. I sat among them in quietness when Hannah and Dawson exclaimed, “Mom… Dad, stay right here. We’ll be right back.”
Within minutes they returned with a JAR OF HANDMADE SCRUB in hand.
And there it was again…. thankfulness filled my soul. I silently thanked God for allowing me to pass the test in the kitchen just hours earlier [because believe me, there have been many tests I have failed. And I hear Him reminding me that even in those moments, the moments I HAVE failed, that He was there, extending grace and forgiveness… asking me NOT to stay there and sulk but to walk into His redemptive grace].
Our two oldest kids walked in and sat on the hardwood floor. Hannah pulled out her caddy of nail polishes & more and surprised me that evening with a pedicure.
“What color and style, Mom?”
“Whatever you want, honey.”
Dawson blessed his dad with a massage using something he had worked so very carefully on earlier in the day, something of high value and very special: homemade almond oil scrub, created specially for his daddy’s feet.
Thank you [Lord] for reminding me earlier in the day that it’s JUST almond oil. And that you are always there… whether we are experiencing a mountaintop-high moment with you or struggling through a valley of ailment.