And I'm right smack in the middle with two older sisters and two younger brothers.
It's true. The middle child is the craziest one. ;)
And the five of us just keep having babies. So there are like a million of us now.
From the outside looking in, if you had to describe our family in one word, you might say nice things like...
Happy - We laugh a lot when we're together.
Close - We actually like each other.
Loving - Some of us our huggers.
Or you might point out the obvious with words like...
Hungry - There's always tons of food at our family gatherings. We know how to eat!
Late - We never start eating when we say we will.
Fertile - Did I mention there's like a million of us?
Perhaps the word that comes to my mind most often when we're all gathered at my parents house is...
LOUD - Boyds are loud.
Boyds are loud. It's always been that way.
My guess is it's because there's always been so many of us.
We've always had to suffer the consequences of raising the noise level wherever we go. Most of the time, when we were kids, that meant we were shuffled outside.
- when we got home from school - Go outside.
- when we were at home during the summer - Go outside.
- when we visited pretty much anyone else's house as a family - Go outside.
When we'd drive to New York every summer to visit my grandparents, my dad would drive through the night just so the five of us would sleep most of the way. Because apparently, the only quiet Boyd is a sleeping Boyd.
Of course, there were those rainy days, when the five of us would be stuck inside our small three-bedroom house. Those were the days we would drive my mom crazy. We'd always start out playing nice, but it never took long for one of us to get angry (my sisters), or whiny (me), or just plain loud (my brothers).
Looking back on those moments, I can remember my mom's "I'm getting angry" routine.
- First, she would attempt to ignore us and all our loudness. If I ignore them, they'll shut up.
- Then, she would start taking deep breaths. Relax, relate, release.
- Next, she would start counting. One. Two. Three...
- Finally, she would pray. God, give me strength.
It was always the same prayer. Always those four simple words.
Apparently God's strength came to Mama in the form of punishment ideas because once the prayer was said, then came the punishments. Most of the time, we had to go clean our rooms. That was our favorite. Sometimes we were given special chores. This is how I discovered I hate ironing. Occasionally, she would get creative and make us face each other and hold hands. My sister hated that one.
Now that I am an adult, and a mother, I find myself going through that exact same four-step "I'm getting angry" routine with my own children. Just when I'm ready to reach my breaking point, those same four words come to mind - God, give me strength.
I realize now that the "strength" provided as a result of this prayer is the strength not to scream, the strength not to cry, or the strength not to punch a hole in the wall.
I'm thankful that God provided that strength to Mama. And I'm thankful she passed that prayer onto me.
I reminded Mama about that prayer, about those four simple words that I inherited from her. She says she doesn't recall saying them. She also says she doesn't remember feeling overwhelmed with five children. When she says things like that, I realize we really did drive her crazy. No sane person could forget that.
Not long ago, she gave me this little monkey.
She said it made her think of me.
I keep it on my desk in our classroom. When my boys get loud (Brays are loud too), I look at this monkey and remember to pray.
God, give me strength.
Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen
My mother was recently diagnosed with inoperable limited-stage, small-cell lung cancer.
I've never been more afraid of anything in my life.
The Bible says in Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
In the midst of her second battle against cancer, never has that simple four-word prayer been more necessary. For my mother and for all of us who love her.
God, give me strength.
Please pray with us and for us.