Praise the LORD from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths,
fire and hail,
snow and storm,
wind and weather that obey him,
mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all livestock,
reptiles and birds,
kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
young men and maidens,
old men and children.
Let them all praise the name of the LORD.
Oh, how he loves.
Last night at 11:30, Liam coughed and woke himself up. We both snuck in there to check on him, and Billy hauled him like deadweight out of the crib to console him. He passed Liam over to me. Maneuvering around my growing abdomen, I pulled that toddler into an infant-hold, and his legs dangled limply beyond me. The space between my collarbone and jaw cradled his sticky, heavy head, and a puddle of moist breath and lethargic drool took up residence on my t-shirt. We swayed side to side, reveling in the dark calm that looks so different from our daytimes.
If I’m completely honest, this last week has been a crazy kind of busy, and I was sitting on the couch not 15 minutes before this wondering what in the world I do. Besides clutter that found it’s way under the couch, where I can no longer reach due to this growing shape in my middle, what else do I have to show for the way the skin under my eyes is purple-tinged and puffy? My days feel like they’re full, overflowing, and sometimes I wonder, with what?
But there I swayed, humming the tune that I know calms him, and I know it because he is part of me, and I know his comings and his goings and what he loves and what he needs.
And I feel it more than hear it, but the whisper reverberates in me and around us:
This is what you do, and it is a worthy calling.
I laid Liam down and walked out of the room, hand in hand with the man I love. Not two seconds after the door closes, he pulls me close to his heart, and he gathers my exhaustion in his strong arms, and again, I feel it, all the way into my bones:
This is what you do, and it is your ministry.
This man, this toddler, and this baby growing right underneath my heart – some days, they get all that is in me. Some days, there is more of me to extend beyond into writing and other women and ministries, but if at the end of the day, all I’ve poured into is this, these precious lives that share my home, that is enough. More than enough, worthy of my time and my energy and my exhaustion. They’re enough.
I was stuck in the middle of traffic, in the middle of a busy day, in the middle of an over-booked week.
With no room to go and no choice in the matter, a rare moment of stillness was available, and I wasn’t about to pass it up. Slowly but surely, quietness waved in and left foamy, gentle, cleansing peace on my soul, and I surrendered control, letting the stress wash away as reminders of grace and goodness replaced weary thoughts.
But it was only a moment. The light turned green and we got home and my child needed feeding and bathing and rocking and singing before he went down. Weary again, I fell into my chair at my desk, and I started to make a list for God with tense eyebrows and humped shoulders. I showed Him all I had coming up this week, the way my pregnant brain and body were not keeping up with the demands of our life.
Worry for “tomorrow” can stir up the so-recently calmed sand and create clouds in front of my eyes. The weight of questions pull me down: “How will I get through to the other side?” and “Where am I going to find enough energy?”
And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.” So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. Then Moses told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.” But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them. After this the people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need. -Exodus 16:15-21
Heaps of grace or sprinklings of peace – He offers just what I need for just the moment I need it.
I can’t hoard up the goodness; I’m unable. But He is willing, and He is good, and He provides. Time I spend worrying about tomorrow’s measure of grace and peace is wasteful. It’s not well spent. It’s frustrating.
Moments at a stop light, a hug from a friend, a direct whisper straight from Scripture to my heart – grace for the moment. Tomorrow is not in my hands, and it’s not mine to worry about.
Billy is reading a book about finding rhythm in life and ministry, and I must say, it has been incredibly comforting to me.
As a person who is often a bit extreme, and as a family who lives a different, non-9-to-5 lifestyle, it is incredibly frustrating to always seek balance in our every day. Don’t get me wrong, but hear me out.
When we have 5 days in a row of events and I’m single-parenting and Billy is poured out on top of himself, sometimes we need a drastic shift in the other direction. So we hole up, just the three and a half of us, and we cuddle, and we ignore the rest of the world. We withdraw, and we recharge.
It’s not the first time I’ve said this, but I’m terrible at giving myself grace. I tend to have abundantly high expectations for myself, and when I’m not ready and raring to go 150% of the time, I just know I’ve failed. However, the truth is, there are days at a time when I have to be ready and raring to go all. day. long. The other day, Billy asked me on the phone how I was feeling, and because neither of us had the time to stop what we were doing – him working or me parenting – I told him that I wasn’t going to answer the question because at that moment, it wasn’t pertinent. We had to keep on keeping on, and I preferred to do it without focusing on any negatives.
So I guess what I’m trying to learn is that sometimes, balance comes on a way larger scale than I’m trying to fit it into. Sometimes, balance comes when we live within our schedules and realize our need for rest. It comes when we under-extend ourselves after we’ve been over-extended. It comes when I realize that there’s a bit of oversensitivity in my heart because of tiredness or hormones or recent busyness, and I allow myself to shrink my world a bit without feeling guilty.
So here’s to backing off and covering up and spending some time with family and with Jesus and possibly with Jane Austen. And definitely with Starbucks. Because sometimes, life is not the same every day, and big pauses are good, and resting doesn’t mean failing. It means taking extra time to fill up where we’ve been emptied and actually taking time to feel baby #2 move and noticing adorable stuff like new ways we smile and other little things that aren’t so little after all.
I have to admit, if I look back at all of the things I recorded and took note of during my pregnancy with Liam, I feel a little badly that I am letting this one whoosh by. When people ask me how far along I am, I have to stop and think, and I feel like I’ve always got a surprised look on my face when I realize just how many weeks have passed.
Like right now – I’m over halfway finished with this pregnancy. I’m 25 weeks pregnant. I don’t know how many months that constitutes. I did get asked last Sunday if I knew how much longer I had, which made me feel a little whale-ish, and took away all the joy I’ve had in gaining less weight this pregnancy.
Because everything is just flying by, I am often shocked when some pregnancy symptom pops up, and I have to remind myself that I’m not going crazy and that my body is, in fact, feeding a human from the inside, which is bound to make all sorts of things happen.
For example, I have recently been losing and/or finding things in my hair. What? you say! She’s a crazy maniac, you think. You are right, but seriously, you know how the pregnancy books and websites tout fuller hair? I say, what if my hair is already full enough for three people? Too bad, pregnancy says. So, with very little control, I go to shower and will find bobby pins, an earring, and even that contact that I lost yesterday morning all in my hair. So yes, even my hair gets pregnant. Untamed, it looks a bit like Medusa’s mane, so I often throw it in a messy bun.
Really, though, I love being pregnant. I’m much more tired this time, and a little more sore than I was with Liam, but I’m also way more in love with my belly. I know how wonderful it is to be full of life. Like Blair said (if you don’t read her blog, you should – she’s super real and way more stylish than I could hope to be) about her second pregnancy:
This time? No, I’m sure I don’t have it all right, but I do have a peace…. Because this is the truth: I am pregnant by blessing of a loving Savior. My body was created not just to be able to bear a child, but to bear this child. My body is beautiful — made without mistake.
I am more comfortable (and I don’t mean physically, because I’m not so sure that’s true) this time. I am definitely more thankful. Billy says that I seem to be more in awe of my growing stomach this time, so I must be talking about it more than I did with Liam. It’s really truly amazing, and I’m more aware of that than ever. (Updated bump pictures are coming soon, I promise.)
However, if you think about it, I could use a quick prayer. The last week has been extra exhausting, and my body is sending me some warning signs to slow down, which is terribly difficult to do with a busy husband and a fast toddler. But I believe God has equipped me for all of this. Some extra energy would be lovely, though.