Monday, May 23, 2016

Simple. Sane

I've been exhausted lately and I'm not sure what to do about it.

I don't get up early by the standards of most - between 7 and 8, usually. I try to stay up late-ish to get some alone time but mostly fall asleep on the couch around 10, knitting in hand. I work out most days, and while that gives me a little burst of energy to get through my day, I mostly feel so tired. I've been brushing it off and trying to ignore it, but last night I lay in bed and thought - I'm so tired of this. So tired of being tired. I'm not even pregnant for goodness sakes! Something needs to change.

The thing of it is, I'm not sure what. I don't feel like I am really overextending myself. We are not a mad-dash family. Most days we are home all day. I'm not driving here and there, over-scheduled and stressed. I know I should be drinking more water, but beyond that I'm a bit nonplussed. Maybe this is just what life is like in your 30s? Exhausted.

Last week we took off school completely unintentionally. I just couldn't rev up to get it done. This week we are moving into what I hope to be an all-summer school schedule. I'm printing off math drill sheets and calling it good to keep skills up and assigning summer reading. That.Is.It. I'm making up a chart for the kids to check off and bribing them with the promise of ice cream outings if they get the work done. Mainly, I'm taking a break from instructing and just having them maintain, hopefully on their own. Simple. Sane. I'm hoping it is just enough for us, with ample breathing room for playing outside and working in the garden, knitting and reading, writing and, hopefully, resting.

The last few years have been an emotional and mental rollercoaster and I'm finally facing down the possibility that I might just not be as strong and impervious as I think I am. It is almost a comforting truth, one that I'm relieved to acknowledge. It's ok to need rest. To step back. To be gentle with myself and to work to find a way through today where I'm not giving until I give out.

Simple. Sane. Space to breathe and be still and respect my human frailty as part of life.

Today, knitting on my Eyeblink out on the deck, watching my kids play. Reading a little bit from Missional Motherhood.  And calling it good.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Daily Life Practice

The Spring my brother left to hike the Appalachian Trail, I gave birth to a baby. While he pushed through exhaustion and walked 20 miles in a day, I rode the cresting waves of labor. Each an exercise in survival.

At the peak, he'd rest and survey breathtaking views afforded only to those who do the hard work of getting there. At the peak, I lifted a fresh scrunched up soul to my chest, a miracle infused moment of triumph, pain and searing joy.

It's been a year. In some ways it feels as thought the adventure is over. What is life like after the vista? After the apex of upward toil, sacrifice, strength?

She's one year old.

I knit her a birthday dress made up of hundreds of rows, spiraling around and around, each one seamlessly starting the next, like the 365 days that made up her life. It's imperceptible, how a baby changes, until you look back. When did she get so chubby? Where did those teeth come from? Her first words, her first steps - they just came along and were swept up in daily life, one day bleeding into the next until, suddenly, she's one. Those first few days we marked by hours. 24 hours old. 36. 48. Then in weeks. 2 weeks. 6 weeks. Months and now, like the rest of us - years.

Each day feels so much the same as the last, and yet - we're all growing. It's what happens in the moments that don't feel or look like the big exciting ones. You grow.

It's another normal day that I wake up and remember. Daily life is spiritual practice. It is within the spiraling sameness of daily living that our faith is tested, refined, practiced and played out. This isn't the wait before the ride. It is the ride. In the constant, consistency of one day after another, one foot in front of the other, through the mundane - we practice. We struggle and, over time, we strengthen.

We make spirituality small when we believe it only fits in one Thomas-Kincaid painted box. We miss out on a bigger, all-of-life encompassing intimacy which is what Jesus has for everyone.

It is tempting to believe that we need to change ourselves to become holier, more devout. That we can chameleon our way into the Christian life. But that isn't how God works. God wants you. Just as you are. With your sense of humor, your unique giftedness, your passions and your temperament. People are all different. Christians are all different. This is by His perfect design. Spiritual life practice is less of Extreme Makeover and more of a gentle reshaping that preserves and enhances what was there all along. He takes you, and all that you are, and grows you as you go along. One day at a time.

Sweaters are made up of hundreds of them. Row after row. Lives too. It's not til you get to the end and hold it up that you can fully see how far you've come. How a life can knit a garment of love.

I flip back the covers and my feet find the cold wood of the floor. It's morning and it's time to get started on the next row. Around and around we go.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Desires of My Heart

“Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” 
(Augustine, Confessions (Book 1)

"Mom, we need to move to a bigger house. Look how tiny this living room is!"

Fiona gestures our one, catch all family room/living room/library. Dinah glances over, her focus momentarily distracted from the tv where they are watching House Hunters.

"Maybe not big," she adds, and I think for a moment I'll have an ally. But then - "...but at least 4 bedrooms. At least, Mom."

It doesn't happen often. For the most part, we are a pretty content bunch. But every once in a while, it comes up. And these little kids of mine, they dream and they yearn. My answer is always the same.

"You can go ahead and ask God for a new house. It's up to Him."

Today Fiona fires back - "Yeah, but he won't answer."

I know a little bit about desire. I know a little bit about envy and looking around wondering - well, God? Why not me? What not that? Why not?

I know a little bit of wanting a concrete answer, spelled out in language that I can understand. God doesn't work that way. Although it is hard to explain to a 9 year old who just wants her Mama to have a big kitchen with a walk in pantry and shiny new appliances, it's better.

I know she won't get it if I explain to her - God has given us some crazy good gifts. Indeed, I can see how the desires of my heart have been granted. How he works to gently align my desires with His will in the way a good parent does. How He grows me in contentment and peace a little more each day, each year. How He holds my disappointments, no matter how shallow, in understanding.

At night, I climb the stairs. To my right, three boys asleep in their shared bedroom. To my left, three girls in theirs. Safe, warm, healthy, happy. Together. What could be better than that?

It has taken a long time to get to this place, but it is a good and peaceful place to be. Not settling, or mere acceptance, but a place of gratitude. We are where we are meant to be.

My days are filled with the people and things I love the most, with a fair bit of freedom to be myself within it. I read to my babies. I knit. I bake. I play outside. I work out. I talk on the phone to my best friends. I watch my kids becoming the best of friends with one another. My husband comes home and these days our relationship is the best it has ever been. Grown strong and growing stronger - not from ease, but from the bedrock of trial and mutual commitment. It's better than just good. It's incredible.

But at the very top, even if all the rest of this falls away, I have Him. And that, that is where the truest and deepest desire of my heart is fulfilled: to be fully known and wholly loved.

In this year of Abide, I'm entering a place of calm and peace and it is so, so sweet.

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