Friday, December 2, 2016

Frailty




She finally slipped off to sleep at 5:45, that feverish little one who would be comforted with nothing but me. I lie awake, listening to her labored breathing and feeling every moment of that sleepless night with every fiber of my being.

There comes a time in everyone's life when they experience frailty. Perhaps due to pregnancy and birth I've glimpsed it more than someone my age might, but I'm thinking on it more and more as the days go by. As I sit in a doctor's office and ask could there be a reason for this exhaustion? As I read the results of the blood tests and swallow hard with the realization that this might just be my new normal. There's nothing "wrong" with me, my doctor explains. I'm just a tired, overworked Mama, burning the candle at both ends. It turns out, there's nothing he can do for me. Frailty. A part of life.

I'm sipping morning coffee on the couch, feet tucked up under me, hands snaking around the radiant warmth of the biggest mug I own. A morning ritual of grasping for straws. Maybe if I wake a bit earlier, caffeinate a bit more...maybe then? Get a nap, do some yoga, something? I find rest where I can, although it never seems to be enough, just a drop in the bucket of my greedy human need.

December comes around this year and for the first time I can remember, I regard it indifferently. Without stress, yes, but without anticipation, too. I order Advent candles on amazon, pick up gold coins at the grocery store and scan the Christmas wish lists the kids stick to the fridge. I am out of energy. If Christmas is going to require anything more of me, well, it will be sorely disappointed. I'm just one a person. A little, tired person. A plaintive prayer. I'm doing all I can do. One little human life. The anti-superwoman.

God knows a little something about frailty. When I remember, I can feel the tension I am carrying around release a little bit. Frailty is a part of life and He put it on when He came for us. To enter fully into humanity is to enter fully into helplessness, poverty of body and soul. God did that to give us something better. Redemption for the least of these by becoming one first, and pouring the richness of who He is into every one of us.

The kids start to wake up and I know today will be intense and long, loud and difficult, that I will not, never, be able to do it all, be everything I want to be. But every act of service is a prayer and every sacrifice counted. God knows frailty. He understands and extends bountiful grace to cover every part of me. The weak and the strong, the stubborn, the brave, the fearful, the exhausted. He knows, feels and holds all of my frailty. And it is enough.

Littles are shouting breakfast orders and I'm so, so tired. But so full, happy and blessed with this common, simple, fragile, rich life.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9



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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Give Us This Day

                                

We're out of eggs. My grocery planning didn't account for having to make a second cake this weekend due to a kitchen mishap (read: toddler "helper" accidentally dumping batter all over the floor). As a result, no eggs. It's Wednesday and my little three are a tangle around my legs while I pour three bowls of cheerios and still my heart for a moment of gratitude. Food for my babies and babies to feed. Blessings.

Our day is going to ramp up soon, but while they eat I scroll facebook, pick out a few articles to read. It's a tough time to be on social media and I need to tread carefully here, knowing how the news can affect my heart/day/family. A friend keeps telling me to focus on the light and, for me, that might just mean keeping the outside world at an arms length today. Striking balance between informed concern and self preservation is a tricky balance I'm still building. Focus on the light. Turn toward the light.

Today, the light is three bowls of cheerios, the children they are for and the milky way she grins at me from her high chair, calling to me to come get her. I'm thinking about the daily bread of God and how it comes to us in many forms. In the meeting of basic needs, sure - but also in the tender holding of hearts. The people He places in our lives to speak truth, be love, stand sentry. The gift of children. Hope.

The daily bread of God is the promise of God with us. God in this, with us. Even here. This day, these kids, my weary and splintered heart. Held and counted, redeemed and comforted.

Don't forget, not for one day, one moment, one second - that there is something more. Something bigger than this election, news cycle. Something more abounding in good than this world is steeped in evil. Something that promises to redeem the howling ache of every human soul. 

After breakfast, we'll start school. Beginning it as always with His words, His heart for us. Abiding just there. Asking, knowing the answer. 

Give us this day your daily bread.

Give us You. 

Your words, your hope, your presence, your comfort.

And He does.




Monday, October 10, 2016

Never Easier, Every Day Better




Monday morning and I'm knee deep. Every day just flows right on into the next. If at one time I felt like I had a bit of time to take a breath each evening, a stop gap between one full day and the next - yeah, those days are behind me.

That's the thing no one tells you about the kids growing older. In a great many ways, the benefits are huge. Yes, I have a child old enough to babysit - something my friends with only littles look to enviously. I know, because I've been there. I know because I remember being awestruck at a friends home when her teen made our kids pb&j with a baby on her hip while we visited and sipped lattes. I thought wow - you've arrived. She assured me, though I doubt I believed her - Ha! No. I haven't. It's still difficult - just a different sort of difficult.

I feel that these days where my kids aren't all tucked in and fast asleep at 8 pm, and I'm not getting that "break" I spent years getting used to. Where the school days are longer and much more intense, where we roll into 5 pm barely done with schoolwork and I still have a 9 person family worth of housework ahead. Where the concerns aren't so much a toddler losing their mind in the middle of the grocery store half as much as how this culture is affecting my kids and what on earth I can do about it. There's a lot less knitting, sewing, baking and writing for me these days. I haven't arrived. Not by a long shot. But I'm beginning to embrace that maybe that was never really the point.

This life, it's never been about "set it and forget it." I can know this intellectually, but in practice it still smarts a bit. It starts in the beginning, where we want a baby to sleep through the night - and maybe they do. For a while. Until they don't. On and on with parenting we go, ironing out this or that issue, thinking - yes! There! Done! Until it's undone. Or something else crops up. On and on and on. Add more kids, and it's that doubly, or triply, or x7 more. We want that because it seems easier. Less work. We want to be done with difficulty so we can just sit back and relax.

But, as He always does, God gives us all these maddening opportunities along with a gift. The gift of growth, of sanctification. Instead of allowing us to stagnate, to atrophy in our lives - He uses life to invite us further. Deeper. Beyond what we could have ever fathomed possible.

It's that hook that I can hang my hat on. How I can look out on a Monday morning, with yesterday's laundry in a pile at the foot of my bed, with last weeks bills on my desk, with tomorrow's unfinished homework looming, next week's lesson planning untouched, today's toddler tantrums ramping up and 7 kids worth of Halloween costumes in the back of my mind - and believe that He is present in this chaos.

It's never going to get easier. But every day is better.

He has a plan here.

Every day. For His glory and our good.

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