There is no doubt, church has been a very good addition to our lives.
Because we've been going with regular frequency to the Saturday service, we recently became aware of a 6-week small groups program that was starting the third week of October. The focus of this "small group" would be to study the Book of James ... in a small group. We heard that there were over 300 separate small groups being established at various people's homes and were encouraged to join one of the groups that best fit our schedule.
In case I haven't mentioned it before ... Charlie and I truly know little to nothing about the Bible. I do know that there is the "Old Testament" and the "New Testament" but beyond that - I'm at a loss. We decided that maybe, just perhaps, if we had the time and nothing else going on, we would participate in one of the small groups. What we quickly realized is that all of the small groups were meeting in the evening. The fact that we have three small children that sleep in their cribs in the evening, posed a problem.
(I'll interject here to add that we've never left our children ~ outside of the church nursery or gym nursery ~ with someone other than our immediate family. We do not have a babysitter to call and have no idea where to even look if we wanted to get one. I'm still not entirely comfortable leaving our children with someone other than my mother - but
When my mother was in town two weeks ago, she attended church with us. Following the service, we wandered over to the small group table and mom picked up a small group host bag. Mom says that Charlie picked up a host bag, too - but I don't remember that happening. (Not to say it didn't happen - I just didn't see it.) On the drive home, mom is reviewing the contents of the host bag and off-handedly suggests that just perhaps we should start our own small group.
We = Charlie + Jen.
I wasn't even sure if the Book of James was from the New Testament or the Old Testament. Aside from that critical point - who in the world would we invite?? Wouldn't it be important that the host and hostess of this small group on the Book of James know who James is, and where you could find his "works"?!
These are just some of the important details I mentioned to my mother, but she thought they were minor and saw no problem with how we would host a small group - or where our participants would come from.
While this dilemma was brewing, I hosted a triplet playdate early last week. (I intend to post pictures soon of this playdate because my girlfriends that came over with their triplets gave us the most wonderful surprise party with balloons, party favors, hats and presents. They gave us this awesome party because I had totally flaked about planning anything for our children's second birthday.) It was at this playdate, that my mom started to solicit our friends to come and join the small group *we* were pulling together.
Within 2-hours, we had ourselves a small group.
In attendance at our first Bible Study last Wednesday, were three of our neighbors, my mom, Charlie and
Low and behold ... Charlie and I are bona fide small group hosters. And in case you didn't know... the Book of James is in the New Testament. James is Jesus's brother. I never knew that there was a Book of James, but then again ... I never knew that Jesus had a brother. That's apparently a nugget of information they don't teach in Catholic school.
Yesterday, we truly thought was going to be a day of improving health for our children. For the fourth day in a row, they layed around on furniture draped with sheets and towels, and watched television while nibbling on Cheerios. William was sick to his stomach following his nap, but the girls seemed to be holding steady.
We had contemplated canceling our Wednesday evening small group - or - lining up an alternative venue. However, as the day progressed, we thought the kids were doing better and we should stay the course.
Charlie and I gave the children a warm bath and tucked them in to bed at 7 PM. Our small group attendees began to arrive at 7:30. We were having a divine time ... eating pineapple, sipping tea, snacking on pumpkin mini muffins and discussing the Book of James. At around 9:15 PM, I heard Elizabeth cough. Normally - this wouldn't be cause for investigation ... but with everything that has been going on around here, I popped my head in to the nursery to check on her.
As soon as Elizabeth saw me, she stood up and held her arms out. I scooped her up and just as I did, she vomited. Under normal circumstances, I would have freaked ... but this exact situation has been our life for the past week. The children go to sleep and without fail, they are awake within 2 hours vomiting.
I wash Elizabeth's face, change her pajamas and am about to pull off my soaked shirt, when she gets sick again. While I'm holding Elizabeth, William stands up in his crib crying. I dread what's coming next.
I put Elizabeth in her crib, and scoop up William just as he begins vomiting. And then ... Carolyn stands up in her crib, crying. By this point - Charlie had come in to the nursery to check on us ... leaving our small group attendees unattended in the dining room. He sees that I'm covered, but before he could run through the house and get me a new shirt - he picks up Carolyn, who vomits all over him.
We change our shirts, put the children in their cribs and together, we walk out to the dining room. All of our guests know what has happened. Thankfully, our house isn't very large and you can hear everything - or they might be wondering why their Bible Study host and hostess vanished for a few minutes and came back wearing all new clothes. Giving us their best wishes for a speedy recovery and letting us know that they'll be praying for our babies, our small group participants leave.
Charlie and I return to the nursery where the vomiting continues.
We change sheets, we change pajamas and the vomiting still continues. And continues. AND CONTINUES. We finally get to bed. We are awakened in the middle of the night by three children who are parched and famished. Sitting on the couch in a pitch black room, Charlie and I feed the kids Cheerios and give them small sips of water and pray with all of our might that they don't start throwing up again.
The sun rises.
We are still on the couch.
Today is another day neither of us could go to work. We stayed home with three children that are still sick.
I'm optimistic William might finally be on the mend because today, he had an insatiable craving for grape jelly. It could be because he has eaten nothing more than Goldfish, Cheerios, Jell-O and applesauce for the past week and wanted to shake things up a bit ... but I prefer to believe his desire to polish off 1/2 the squeeze tube of Welch's Concord Grape, by licking his toast and screaming for more, is because his stomach can tolerate it.
It's been five days since we've left the house. This afternoon, we thought maybe it would be a good idea to get out and get some fresh air. The plan was that we would drive to the grocery store. Charlie would run in and I would stay in the car with the children. Just as we are loading them up and preparing to walk out the door, Carolyn vomited for the umpteenth time this week. Seconds later, Elizabeth vomited for the umpteenth time this week. William held on to his breakfast of grape jelly, so that was a good sign.
If we can stay in the house for five straight days ... what's one more?
*** I interrupt this very posting to add that Carolyn was just sick AGAIN, two hours after she was put in bed. ***
If you can answer that question above ... please answer this one, too: After 6 days, when will this hell storm be over?!