Twenty-two months ago, I was mourning what I then believed to be a reality: I was convinced I would never have children. And oh, how I longed for children. I woke one morning in the hotel room where I stayed nearly every week and my heart was buried deep in the ache. I had a full work day ahead of me, but I sat for a long time at the little desk I’d never found a use for before and I emptied out my longing on the page.

I could not know then, of course, how soon my Jesse would make himself known as a life the size of a coffee bean in my belly. I should have known how often, how readily, how abundantly God answers prayer.

Tonight, my heart is once again staggering beneath the weight of something too big for me to fix, too heartbreaking for me to shake. So, I return to a lonely morning nearly two years ago and I remind myself that there is a God who answers prayers. He is able. He is good. He is.

June 2012

This morning, one thought breaks like a cool, heavily slanted ray of sunlight on my heart:

I will wait on the LORD.

The cadence of the words, the spirit of their meaning, is a refraction of the dancing Magnificat of Mary. “I will wait on the Lord” and “My soul magnifies the Lord” both look to the same creative, restorative Power, only one looks forward and the other back. Both trust, both rest, both depend utterly on the God Who Saves.

I will wait on the Lord in His silence and my doubt. My soul magnifies the Lord in His silence and my doubt. So thrives my soul.

And We’re Back

You gotta love how a head cold can undo every single carefully nurtured habit in a few short days. It’s like watching your 70 stitches run pellmell off the crochet needle as your ten month old yoinks at the yarn with a maniacal giggle. I speak from experience.

Well, we’re easing back in the saddle as my boy’s voice returns (baby laryngitis is the cutest sad thing EVER) and my ears stop ringing with uncomfortable pressure. And since we’re running a marathon, not a sprint:

That’s all for now, folks.

Listen In. Speak Out.

– Amy D. Robinson –

These are the words that are on my mind this week and the habit I long to see as part of my everyday interactions. I stole the idea from an article seen on Facebook, but broadened the concept far out from the original (found here). Silk and Goldman were addressing the approach one should take when speaking to a person in crisis: Comfort In, Dump Out. Think of your suffering friend as being at the center of a series of circles. Place yourself in your appropriate spot in that set of circles (you’d be OUTSIDE your friend’s spouse and immediate family, but closer in than your friend’s acquaintances). Then remind yourself to ONLY COMFORT those closer to the inner circle than yourself. Feel free to dump your own experiences and emotions to those further out, but never, ever dump IN. Brilliant stuff. Also better explained in that original article, if you’re confused.

I have found, as those words have followed and poked at me in subsequent days, that the idea has even bigger implications in my relationships than the limited context of comforting those in grief or trial. Truth is, I hardly ever listen to another human being without answering in terms of how what they are saying relates to ME. For example, when someone talks to me about her experiences adopting two boys, I nod and reply with, “Yeah, I have a friend who adopted children…” and thus I consider myself a part of the conversation.

Truth is, I have no idea what it’s like to adopt or be adopted and really have very little to offer in that conversation. That should not be a put down or a discouragement for me, just an opportunity to listen. To ask questions. To create opportunities for someone else’s experiences and expertise to shine.

There is a flip-side, of course. There are occasions, although they are admittedly far less common, when I am being asked to share an experience or counsel on something I know a lot about. Again, this isn’t common, but it has been known to happen. And on these occasions, I need to speak out. I need to honor the one who’s asking the questions by giving honest and transparent answers. I need to be free with my own foibles and failures and limited successes. When someone is asking, that is an open door to relationship.

So. What I hope to learn and do and be: Be still or ask more questions in my conversations rather than reaching for a story to come back with or a piece of sage advice to offer. And when someone is reaching out to me: reach back.

Let Us Seek the Abiding City

I went looking for guides on scheduling out my homemaking days, and that was a really big mistake. It took just a few Pinterest links to hyper-conservative blogs before I was giving up on the search in a huff and facing the reality of what I’d really been looking for in the first place. I wasn’t looking for Bible verses that explain how all women belong at home. I wasn’t looking for a list of ways to “Make Yourself an Easy Wife to Love” or a series of blogs dedicated to “Training Our Daughters to Cook and Clean Because That’s What God Intended”.

Truthfully, though, I wasn’t looking for scheduling suggestions, either. Not really.

What I was really looking for was a guilt-free way to rest. It is a common saying these days: Don’t worship busyness! Take time for YOU! In my short experience as a homemaker thus far, I have actually found these words to be chains. Working “white space” or “mommy time” into my week has actually grown to be its own monstrous obligation and burden (not only for me, but for my short list of babysitters!). “Me Time” is just another event to clutter up mine and Jesse’s schedules.

I gave up my search and started writing my own schedules, establishing rigorous routines, blocking out afternoons and weekends for “resting” and guarding those blocks of time voraciously. And I felt more exhausted than before.

Then I read in a book of Puritan prayers: “While living in a world of change, let us seek the abiding city.”

Some muscle in my forehead that had been tensed for weeks suddenly relaxed when I read those words. A voice in my head rung out, “True.”

Seek the abiding city.

What these words imply – if we set out in search of a city which is eternal, if we keep our eyes on the horizon and not on the mire at hand – is that this is not our home. My weariness does not come from the number of things on my schedule, though it is good and reasonable to avoid letting your calendar get out of control. My weariness does not come from the repetition of dishes and laundry and sweeping and diapers and feeding and cooking and dishes… Though a break in that routine can be a breath of fresh air. My weariness does not even come from my hard-wired tendency toward introversion, though it’s certainly healthy for me to be alone from time to time. No, my weariness goes deeper than calendars and quotidian labor and personality traits. My weariness comes from living in the belief that where I am now is where I will always be, that this world is, in fact, my forever home.

This is not the abiding city, oh my soul. That place of peace lies over yonder. So keep walking. Keep working. Keep resting in the hope of heaven. This world will forever be a place where plans can’t keep up with changes, so take the down time freely when it comes and go about your work with hope when rest is elusive. Seek the abiding city.

10 Weeks Later…

10 weeks later… I can surface for air again. 10 weeks later, my sweet boy goes to bed without wild complaint for the very. first. time. And I just want to get him up again so I can cuddle and coo and sing with him a very little bit longer.

Little Man’s little brain is going through a season of extraordinary growth and you can see it in his face. It’s in the extra pound, inch, and centimeter of head size he’s packed on in the last two weeks. It’s in the way he is starting to kick at the water of his bath because he likes the splash, the way he grabs a fistful of my hair whenever I bend to set him down, the way he catches sight of me in the mirror from his rear-facing carseat and bursts into a grin like he hasn’t seen me in days. I was watching him kick and squirm and smile and coo yesterday and my heart swelled with such an ache of consuming affection that I wanted to sing aloud. I really did want to dance around the living room, step on and off the sofa with great swinging ronds de jambe and burst into song over my boy. But I could not think of a song that would say what I felt just looking at my son. And of course, I was reminded immediately that this is the way my Abba Father Daddy God feels about me all the time, even when I’m my fussiest, whiniest, poopiest self (Zephaniah 3:17).

Yes, there are some extraordinary peaks in this new life/death of mine and yes, I’m still just barely treading water and learning how to cope. Hero Husband had to take my Little Man away for the whole afternoon a couple weekends ago because my sleep deprivation had reached such a pitch that I didn’t trust myself to drive home from my parent’s house (and neither did anyone else). So I shut the blinds of their guest bedroom and pulled the comforter over my head and slept until I couldn’t sleep any longer.

I’m also still learning how to love a life of laundry and cooking and cleaning and quiet, quotidian caritas in our Little Ranch on a one-way street. I’ve taken up sewing and crafting and big batches of family freezer-meal cooking and I’ve set goals (both longterm and short term) for myself in homemaking, exercise, reading, writing, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah… and every day I’ve caught myself believing that I have to earn this new life I’ve been gifted and wondering whether rest is really permitted when I haven’t yet accomplished all that I set out to do.

Well, for tonight, I’m going to sip my mint tea, go stare at my sleeping Little Man one more time, and then… well then I’ll do whatever feels like “striving to enter that rest” which we children of the covenant have been trying to figure out how to enter since our Abba Father first called us to it all those many, many lifetimes ago (Hebrews 4).

Quotidian Caritas

April 25, 2013

April 25, 2013

It’s been 8 weeks since he arrived. 8 weeks and I’m just now coming up for air, though this epoch of anxiety and humiliation and absolutely mind-boggling joy has certainly not come to an end. I still lay awake at night and listen for his breath. I still spend more days than not wondering how in the world I wound up cooking and cleaning and covered in various stinky, sticky bodily fluids that are not my own. I still find myself watching his eyelids and his fingernails and his odd tufts of fine, blond hair as though I could see the change that is metamorphosing him from one state to another to another, day by day.

The birth and life of my first son has brought a thousand tiny deaths and a thousand tiny supernovas of new life in its wake. I am a woman well acquainted with the depths and heights of emotion, but something entirely new emerged the moment I first laid eyes on my son. I felt a dam burst in my head when I first saw him. There are just no other words for it.

So now for something new. Now for the land which lay all along just around a corner and which caught me utterly off my guard. Now for the raucous glory of the quotidian and the quiet caritas of the homemaking life I didn’t know to ask for.

Caritas is the old latin term for charity. Charity is the old Catholic term for a peculiar sort of love. Love given without expectation of reciprocation or recognition. Love expressed through acts of mercy and assertions of Grace. Please don’t imagine I presume to be living out Caritas in my odd new death/life as a homemaker. I am, as ever, the recipient. After 8 weeks, I’ve got only one more load of laundry, one more set of dishes, one more dirty diaper left to give. And I wouldn’t have even that if it hadn’t been given to me in that bundle of mercies that’s new every morning. Deus est Caritas. God is Love. So thrives my soul. And so onward in this new series of valleys and mountaintops, parenthood and homemaking and quotidian progress toward… well toward knowing God.

8 weeks and counting. The work and the blessing have just begun!