Thursday, September 6, 2012


OVERWHELMED.   am i allowed to write that?  am i even allowed to admit it? because i am. that's it.  just plain, old overwhelmed.  miss silver lining here is feeling sort of dull and dingy today.  for those of you who might jump to conclusions, nothing is seriously wrong.  the sky is not, and i repeat, not falling.  with five kids though, the odds are, something is falling.  someone is falling.  with five kids, the chances are, no day is ever going to be completely problem free.  at least one child is going to have a bad day or a hard issue or a minor disappointment.  when one or two are sailing smoothly along, another walks through the door with some kind of something.  that's just how it goes. i guess it's kind of a numbers game.  but when they all come crashing down at once, well then, that is a whole other thing.  yesterday all of them had that "some kind of something bad" type of day.  i mean it, each one -- all five.  from the moment they began to climb back into my yukon after school and by one by one by one...i was  hearing all about "the stuff."   add it to a day where i was scurrying around minnesota with carpools, errands, games, practices, dinner and homework and by 7pm i wanted nothing more than to crawl under the covers.  honestly, what i really wanted was to hand it all over to someone else and say, "here you go, you're in charge. i'm off duty." it doesn't really work like that though, and so we plowed on through the afternoon and evening.  i am not sure i have ever been so glad to see bedtime arrive.

i won't go through the litany of what was wrong.  if i told you the whole story, some of you would become immediately overwhelmed for me...and others of you might feel a little underwhelmed.  "come on jody, that's not so bad...give me a break!" and you'd be right -- it's not that bad.  but, that doesn't negate the fact that i fell asleep last night feeling overwhelmed and i woke this morning still heavily burdened.  children can do that to you, can't they? is there anyone relating to this?  i am not especially prone to worry -- but i worried.  i am not always prone to exhaustion -- but i was exhausted.  i am not even all that prone to frustration -- but, let me tell you,  i was frustrated.  it all felt like too much.  all five of them with some kind of yucky something going on.  and the time just before bed wasn't much better.  like clockwork, the,  "i-forgot-to-tell-you,-but-tomorrow-i-need..." began right about then.  i was tempted to get a pad of paper and pencil and go from room to room with all the late night, last minute things they felt the need to dump on me:  order this. sign this. read this. buy this. wash this. send this. check this.  did i mention it is the first week of school?

yesterday, in one of my attempts to control the chaos and make it all better, i made a quick visit to our favorite new bakery in town and bought a tart.  female readers, you understand this, right? i told myself it was a "celebrate everyone back to school" treat.  i put it on a pedestal cake plate and gloried in its extravagant beauty.  somewhere in the back of my mind i thought this tart was the ticket to making all things better -- all things new.  it was going to fix everyone's day -- at least mine.  some of the kids began to pick at it and once they started, i figured, i might as well join in.  i needed a little help too.  bite after bite, i was sure it was helping.  bite after bite, i was certain i felt better.  bite after bite, i was calming the chaos within. but we all know, eating nearly half a tart does not make everything better.

this morning i woke heavy with burden (probably a little heavy with tart too).  i sat down to pour my heart out to someone --- i began to think about the friends or family members i might call.  i really wanted to tell someone (anyone, actually) the gory details of yesterday afternoon.  i wanted to invoke great, heaping amounts of sympathy.   i really wanted that proverbial shoulder to cry on.  but as i sat with my phone, thinking about who i should call first,  i felt God clearly nudging me.  "define overwhelmed, jody."  that's (kind of) what i heard.  define it.  don't claim it just yet,  but define it.  and so, being the ever-ready english teacher, i dutifully pulled out my webster.

o ver whelm
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf.
2. To defeat completely and decisively.
3. To affect deeply in mind or emotion.
4. To present with an excessive amount.
5. To turn over; upset.

to surge over, submerge, engulf, defeat, affect deeply, despair, turn over, upset...really?  is that really what i wanted to claim on this sunshiney september morning?  am i truly engulfed or submerged or defeated?  or are we just having some bumps in the road? we are, afterall,  still in a time of great transition.  things just aren't going to go perfectly smooth. and that lake out back, yeah, it helps, but it doesn't make everything better.  beautiful sunrises and sunsets are awesome, but they don't erase a child who isn't feeling accepted or acclimated.  how can we expect everyone to be hunky-dory when we aren't even sure how to find our locker or we forget our lunchbox?   in these past two weeks we've had to adjust to new schools, new friends, new teachers, new routines, new directions, new leadership, new rules, new dress code, pretty much new everything (and, i must add, all without the comfort of a chic-fil-a!)...and in the weeks before that we were adjusting (and still are adjusting) to a new house, new community, new state, new culture...if you asked any of us, we'd all tell you, we are a little tired of the new...tired of being new.  remember the theme song from cheers, "sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name..."  we mcnatts, well, we get that.  we just want to hold in our hands a little bit of what feels familiar.  we just want to walk into a room and recognize the bits and pieces of life.  some days the grand adventure can just wear a girl out!

let me give you an example from last month.  it was our first day in the new house.  we had spent the afternoon and evening moving stuff and getting settled.   if you remember from previous posts, rick was in chicago that week, so it was just me and the fab five.  after getting everyone situated, i knew i HAD TO head for the grocery store. it was the last thing in the world i felt like doing, but i just had to. the refrigerator was 100% empty,  the cupboards bare, the children hungry.  i dragged my tired self into the car and drove blurry-eyed to the nearest cub foods.  but once in the store, i had renewed energy and began to toss items into my large cart.  everything under the sun went in: family size ketchup bottles, mayo, pickles, canned goods, cereal boxes,  bottles of water and what not. i just kept tossing and thinking, "might as well do it all..."  and i did.  after quite some time in the store, i headed to the checkout line pushing my cart teeming with all the essentials for setting up home for a family of seven.   the young man began to ring up my groceries sending down the conveyor belt item after item.  at the end, the pile was growing huge.  he kept smiling at me.  i kept smiling at him.  he glanced at the pile.  i glanced at the pile.  he continued to ring groceries.  i continued to stand there smiling and glancing and tapping my fingers.   and then the horrifying thought occurred to me:  THERE WAS NO ONE AROUND TO BAG UP MY GROCERIES.  no one.  not a soul.  and the pile was quickly swelling from a mole hill to a massive mountain.  did i mention we had moved into our house that day?  did i mention how tired i was?  i stood there realizing the obvious and overwhelming task at hand and began to consider just telling the young man, "forget it, just give me the milk and the bread and i'll come back tomorrow for the rest."  i mean it, i really considered taking just the bare necessities and booking out of there.   now, i have to tell you, normally, i would be just fine bagging my own groceries and carrying them out to my car.  i really would.  but for the past 14 years i have happened to shop in a store which did both for me.  i was accustomed to this level of care.  i was always willing to jump in and help out, but i had grown to expect a certain kind of service.  heck, they even gave my kids a balloon and a lollipop back in georgia.   i am not one who typically shirks a little hard work,  but the difference was, i wasn't ready for this.  i wasn't prepared.  i wasn't expecting it.  AND i was exhausted and alone and hardly 24 hours in a brand new state.  i was overwhelmed.

but here's the deal: i don't want to be overwhelmed by groceries or a gruesome afternoon.  if i let myself, i can be. easily.  it doesn't take much to crumble in the midst of such mess and madness.  and for at least a few minutes, it feels really good to collapse underneath the weight of it all -- to just let go and crash.  it feels kind of good to whine and vent and seethe.  again, anyone relating?  BUT i don't really want that.  i mean i do for a quick minute or two...but what i really want and what i really need is to be reminded in these moments of God's overwhelming love for me.  i need to keep in mind that His great love covers, completely covers, all of these lousy issues and problems and disappointments.  it can even cover and consume the despair.  it is that big.  bigger than that mountain of groceries in cub foods a few weeks ago, bigger than our current chaos level in this first week of school.   His love is an enormous love, a crazy love.  it is the kind of love which sent His only son to the cross for me and my petty issues.  it is the kind of love which is everlasting and unconditional and perfect.  yes perfect.  nothing.  no thing in this entire world is perfect...and yet, God's love is exactly that. perfect.

and here's what's more:  He loves me in even in my state of being overwhelmed.  He understands it.  He knows all about it.  all morning i have rolled around in my head that definition of overwhelmed and as i've gone about my tasks and attempted to make right some of the wrong, i can't help but think about the verse which, in my mind, aptly describes God's overwhelming love:

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love.
Death can't, and life can't.
The angels can't, and the demons can't.
Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow,
and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.
Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean,
nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us
from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38-39

aren't those amazing words?  God really does want us to be overwhelmed...He wants us to be overwhelmed by His great love.   it is His overwhelming love which makes overwhelming life better...maybe even more beautiful.   when we are feeling OVERwhelmed it might be time to go UNDER Him.  UNDER the protection of His wings.  UNDER the foot of His cross.  UNDER the vast umbrella of His love. 

...and a bite or two of tart can't hurt either!


Melanie said...

Ah yes, some days are like that. Only one thing to do and you did it, go to God. Keep up the good work. You will make it.

Monique C. said...

I can totally relate- my purchase for Happy Back to school was a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie. I have felt completely overwhelmed with sadness for my oldest boy, age 12. Kids can be so mean. Thank you for your beautiful reminder that I am completely covered by God's amazing love!

Aus said...

Morning Jody - embrace it - hug it - love it - because tomorrow it will be gone! Remember - without dark - Light has no meaning!

and in the meantime - wash down the tart with some coffee and you might have something! ;)

hugs - aus and co.

Laura Plummer said...

As a friend who, too, is going through the transition of a lifetime...I am constantly reminded of His love, and how even the most difficult of days, or weeks, or months, are but another way His blessings are made known. I've received more blessings in this difficult transition than I have in nearly half my lifetime. They are there, and He will never give you more than you can handle. I pray the kids find their stride there in MN, and I have no doubt your "Cheers" is but a blink away. Your family is too magnetic to be "new" for too long.

DiJo said...

I wish I had read this before I saw you today... I definitely would have brought dessert! :) Thank you for the rawness of this post.. You have written in such a beautiful way how so many of us feel.. Doing it all, and doing it all well is HARD. God has given you many gifts Jody!. He is using you from the inside out, with your keyboard as a tool, to leave a lasting impression on many! What a blessing it is for me to read what's on your heart.. There is no doubt in my mind that God has brought you to the soon-to-be frozen tundra for a very good reason... I think you are doing an amazing job of keeping it all together!! I look forward to seeing how God uses all of this for His glory! In the meantime, I am thankful for the teacher in you, that is teaching me!
Hugs from down the road!

Rebekah said...

When I was in my deepest overwhelming despair I called out to God weeping uncontrollably. He reached down and scooped me in His arms. How comforting to be in that safest of places! I know He has done the same for you many times! Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is an awesome book to read daily!
God bless you and your precious ones in adjusting to the next chapter of many in your young lives!!

Susan said...

What a beautiful family you have! I'm new to your blog. Praying you felt the love of God and the comfort of his word.

We've all had these days...weeks and sometimes months. But He is faithful, He cares and He is there for us.

So nice to meet you. And yes...that tart would of brought me comfort too.


Sammy said...

Love your blog and reading about your family's big move!

elisa said...

We too recently moved our family of 6 (from Ohio to Chapel Hill, North Carolina). I have had a lot of days like you describe, especially from my oldest two (15 and 13) but even my three year old who has said, "I want to go back to our old house. I miss Ohio." I take it one day at a time, most day are good- but every now and then a bad one sneaks in. Hang in there, starting over stinks- it really does. Even if it's good, it's never easy.

Holly said...

Dear Jody,
I am new to your blog but I love your rawness. I am praying for your family,your strength, and praying for a better day tomorrow. I do understand how you feel as twenty years ago my family and I left everything that we ever owned and moved to America. We did not know any English. We all were very cold when we landed in New York. We did not have coats. We did not have money to buy food.
Now twenty years later we lost everything that we have owned since 1992 due to water damage and mold contamination in our house. We are living in the hotel now. My twin daughter had an emotional broke down last night. It is breaking my heart to hear that she does not want to be a homeless any more!
Please hang in there! I am reading your beautiful story to my daughter so she feels much better tonight. Please if you need to talk or need anything, please email me so we can chat.
Thank you very much Jody for your beautiful story, for open your big heart to adopt beautiful, little Bella and most of all for being you!
Love from Virginia,
H Nguyen

jodymcnatt said...

thanks for your constant encouragement melanie! we need to have coffee again soon...

jodymcnatt said...

okay monique...i'm kind jealous of that giant chocolate chip cookie -- that truly rivals the tart! praying for your 12 year old...i have one of those too. a girl. 12 is hard, no doubt. so thankful God has it all in his overwhelming embrace. even 12 year olds. love, jody

jodymcnatt said...

all about the tart and coffee aus. yes! good words...and i know...gone in the blink of an eye. (the children and the tart!). hope you are all well. ~ jody

jodymcnatt said...

thank you laura for those sweet words. very encouraging. i know you have so much on your plate right now too...thinking of you and your sweet little is about baby steps. arms outstretched. falling into the knowledge that He holds. we'll do this girlfriend. yes we will.

jodymcnatt said...

what is this "soon-to-be-frozen-tundra you speak of diana??? are you telling me it is not always 75 and sunny? oh my! you'll have to teach me how to photograph all things frozen. i am sure you do it. so thankful for you, tundra or not. love, j

jodymcnatt said...

thank you for that encouragement rebekah. i read Jesus Calling each fact, so does my 16 year old daughter. we love the simplistic, raw truth of her seems every time i pick it up, it speaks to something very specific in me. i love that!

jodymcnatt said...

hi there susan -- welcome to my blog. so glad you stopped by...and thank you for your encouragement. normally my posts aren't quite so...well, um..overwhelming. but this one sure was! glad we both know how deep the Father's love for vast beyond all measure...
it is why i wrestle. it is why i write...

jodymcnatt said...

thanks sammy! glad you stopped by!

jodymcnatt said...

thanks elisa. so you is hard. there are just so many different facets to this...hard to explain unless you've been through it. but we focus on the good...focus on the blessing...there is plenty of both. and then some days we do just what you said, "hang in there." i keep coming back to the verse in 1 corinthians 13: "for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. now i know in part; then i shall know fully, even as i have been fully known." love that promise.

jodymcnatt said...

oh holly, your words just humble me completely. how can i speak of overwhelming when i read a story such as yours. i will be praying for you -- it is my privilege. please tell me the name of your daughter...i would love to pray for her as well. you have twin girls? how old? i am honored that you have been reading my blog to your girl...i do hope there is some little piece of encouragement. i think that is why God wants us to share our stories. i am more convinced of that than ever. thank you for stopping by! much love, jody

Holly said...

Thanks for such a beautiful message. My daughter's name is Emily. The twins are 9 years old now. I am inspired by your strength, courage and perserverance in the midst of going through cancer. I am honored to know you and your beautiful story! Yes, I agree with you that why God allowed us to know and share our stories so that we can learn and lean from each other to get thru tough days. I will send you an email soon. You and your family are on my prayers! Love, Holly