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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Purposefulness (Purpose in Life) (05/25/06)

TITLE: Of Butterflies, Bees, and Being
By Ann Grover
05/31/06


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My day started poorly.

Caleb, my preschooler, woke up at six o’clock and disturbed the baby who immediately wanted to be nursed. By then, it was breakfast time, with no hope for another little snooze. I just gave Caleb a bowl of cold cereal.

“I don’t want this,” he whined.

“Sorry, buddy, it’s corn flakes today.”

“NO!” The bowl became airborne.

I strapped the baby into the high chair and blotted up milk and sodden cereal.

I gave him another bowl, this time, the marshmallow-infested kind, but at least he was eating quietly. The same couldn’t be said of Hannah, who was regaling us with an earsplitting aria.

I nursed her again while Caleb fished for the last of his cereal.

“Done.”

I balanced Hannah, still attached, and helped Caleb crawl down.

“Go play with your trucks, sweetie,” I suggested.

“NO! Tv!” We moved to the living room, where I surfed through channels until I found a children’s program. We settled back, and I let my mind wander.

I loved my children more than life itself, but I constantly felt overwhelmed by their demands. I never seemed to accomplish anything.

Hannah gurgled contentedly, clutching at my robe, and I marvelled at her starfish hand, the tiny pearl nails. But the wonder was short-lived, as she gave an ominous rumble, and then spit up, milk running down the front of her sleeper and my pyjamas.

“Caleb, I need to change Hannah.”

When I came back to the living room, Caleb was gone. Hearing splashing water, I checked the bathroom.

“Caleb!”

A frothy waterfall was cascading onto the floor. A facecloth was crammed into the drain, and Caleb had pumped hand soap into the flood.

I threw bath towels onto the floor as I turned off the tap. Caleb grinned. He was soaked.

A dry outfit for Caleb and a begging from me that he play nicely with his blocks for a bit. I gathered up the bath towels, started laundry, and wiped down the counters while Hannah rode on my hip.

I’m a slave, I thought. A beast of burden. A dairy cow. Is this my only purpose in life?

I sighed. If it was, I was a dismal failure.

The day got worse. The washing machine didn’t spin the towels, Hannah wouldn’t nap, and I was still wearing my robe in the afternoon, by which time the spit-up milk had soured. Then, when Caleb helped me empty the dishwasher, he dropped a glass and broke it.

“Go to your room, Caleb!”

The words hurled from my mouth and landed on Caleb like a slap. His little face crumpled, and he ran.

We needed a break.

I shrugged off my soured robe, pulled on jeans, and buckled Hannah into her stroller. I knocked on Caleb’s door.

“Let’s go to the park.”

He came out reluctantly, biting on his lower lip.

We didn’t speak as we walked, and at the park, he went silently to the swings. I pushed him, feeling remorseful, but he lost interest quickly and headed to explore the trees nearby. Keeping an eye on him – Hannah was finally asleep – I listened to the birds, a droning bee, and the wind. A butterfly drifted by.

In the peace, God spoke into my heart.

What is your purpose, you ask. Look at the butterfly. Hear the bees? See the flowers? What is their purpose?

Butterflies and bees pollinate. Flowers make fruit.

Do they know what they are doing?

No, they are just looking for nectar. They have no idea they’re pollinating. They are just being butterflies. Just being bees. Flowers just... are.

Do you see? You desire a grand purpose for your life, but all I want is for you to be. Love Caleb. Love Hannah. Be you. My Whole and Holy Purpose is hidden from you, just as it is hidden from the bee.

My wretched day dawned again with a new light. Hannah’s gentle breathing and Caleb’s laughter became a symphony, and suddenly, soured milk was an elixir as sweet as honey. I would embrace being their mother, being me, and just do the things that would draw nectar from each day.

And let God take care of the Design and Purpose that I can’t see.


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This article has been read 1259 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Folakemi Emem-Akpan06/01/06
I am a new mother to a four month old daughter, and often wake up in the mornings with headaches as Jedidiah keeps me awake most of the night. I love my daughter but sometimes feel more like a milk factory and a workhorse. Thanks for sharing. I am convinced that God takes pleasure in my being a mother.
Anna Gane06/01/06
That's was beautiful. I really enjoyed reading it. Too many moms feel as if they don't have a purpose in their life -- this article should dispel any such doubts.
Jen Davis06/02/06
Yeah, I had a few (ok more than a few) days like you did. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs we will ever love. Savor those precious moments with your little ones. Always take time to enjoy the "symphony." Well done. Thanks for sharing.
Jessica Schmit06/03/06
wow. This is it. this is so 'right' I can't even put it into words. no sugar coating, straight substance. i really loved this one for the honest, all guts pure beauty of this piece. i'm not a parent yet, but have had the same conversation with God numerous times concerning His plans for little 'ol me. Beautiful job. I really hope this places in the top 3. everyone should read it.
Brenda Craig06/04/06
Wow! I loved this. My children are grown and we have adopted our grandson. My whole life changed along with any previously well thought out plans. God has spoken to many times in this area. Thanks for reminding me.
Jan Ackerson 06/04/06
Wow, Ann! This is wonderful! The ending is sheer poetry. I've gotta tell you, the phrase that resonated most with me is "...still attached..." How well I remember that! I opened the door on some visiting evangelists once with a baby still attached!

Anyway, this story is a great example of why you're one of my favorite writers.
Maxx .06/04/06
I liked everything ... after the first line. But the rest was a jump in - full throttle grind (just as it was supposed to be) and I got tired just reading it. Excellent skills. Then the calm relaxation of the ending. Very very good.
T. F. Chezum06/04/06
Wow! I like this a lot, especially the ending. Very well done.
Jessica Schmit06/05/06
Just found out this was yours Ann! Incredible. Does your town know of your gift? You should really expand this ministry.
Joanne Malley06/05/06
From one stay-at-home mom to another - thanks for the valuable insight. I shall try to look no further for my "supposed" grand purpose other than inside the walls of my home and family. Wonderful storytelling with a valuable lesson attached. :) Jo
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/06/06
Oh, how you hit the nail on the head for many of us. For me it was memories. All mothers need this message. Good job.
Lynda Lee Schab 06/07/06
Wonderful insight, excellent writing. Who could ask for more? And what mom can't totally relate? Even those who do work will be touched by this piece. Well done! Great entry on topic.
Suzanne R06/07/06
I love your main message - that we're not called to find our 'grand purpose', but rather to just be. Beautiful!
Jessica Schmit06/08/06
Congrats Ann. I really loved this piece. Proud of you!! (BTW, has there been an EC that you haven't been in? Just wondering...(wink) LOL
Sherry Wendling06/08/06
Ann, congratulations! I've never had the joy of children of my own, but you sure gave me a heartfelt taste! A message of rest that I needed to hear, by one of my most admired FW's! Thanks for this gift!
Trina Courtenay06/08/06
Thank-you Ann for writing this. What truth! I'll never get tired of reading your challenges.

Congrats!
Trina

Rita Garcia06/08/06
Congratulations, Ann. The message of this true-to-life story showed fibers of love woven throughout His purpose. Brilliant!!
James Clem 06/08/06
YES!
"Do you see? You desire a grand purpose for your life, but all I want is for you to be. Love Caleb. Love Hannah. Be you."

That is my theology - even if it isn't quite aligned with current popular thinking. God does indeed create opportunities for us to do good works, but He also says "Be still and know that I am God."

Nicely done! Congrats!
Sally Hanan06/08/06
You wrote this so well. I hope you have begun to send out queries and devotionals to magazines, as you certainly have a ministry in encouraging others with their day to day struggles. I get the sense that perhaps this was God reminding you of a truth you had put away for a while. Even as writers, we need to just BE.
Rachel Rudd06/08/06
Thank you for showing how God's purpose in motherhood. Congratulations on your win...it is so well-deserved!