ago I was ready to quit being a mom.
At 34 weeks
pregnant, with a nearly four-year-old and just turned two-year-old watching
T.V. downstairs, I lay in bed right before my husband left for work, pulled up
the covers, and let it all come crashing down.
He did the right husband things, asking what he can do for me and
praying that I’d find the strength I needed to take care of the kids that
pregnant. Yes, it has been in the 90’s
nearly every day for the past month. And
yes, we are in the season of structure-less summer with two demanding children. So of course.
because you can see all the reasons why you may be feeling a certain way doesn’t
pull you up out of the hole you want to stay safely buried in. But then my husband had to leave for
work. And I fought my way to the
weekend, barely surviving.
On Sunday I
tried carpe diem. We made waffles,
blasted Josh Garrels on Pandora and danced in the flour dust on the kitchen
floor. I convinced my husband to let me
take the afternoon off and I didn’t move from my seat in a coffee shop for
nearly five hours.
Monday crept in with her black clouds, heaviness and strength-stealing
aggression. Carpe diem let me down.
So out of
desperation, I put out an S.O.S. to some friends who live in other states. The message was this: I don’t have energy or even the desire to be
with my children right now. Please pray
and please call me.
who is a counselor recommended that I find a counselor. My friend who is a teacher asked how I’m
structuring my days and suggested ways to fill our time. My Catholic friend called from her personal
retreat and we talked about the time I have been spending alone and the ways
that motherhood still undoes her on a regular basis. And my friend whose third baby was more than
a surprise suggested we get out of the house as much as possible.
we dropped the kids off with my parents and headed to the mountains for my
first adult, church-camp-style retreat.
Nature plus camping plus Jesus lovers (minus kid/home responsibilities)
sounded just about perfect.
was full of big ideas, big personalities and big dreams for God. Not just the dynamic speakers, but the 300
attendees all seemed to be engaged in fighting injustice around the globe. We sat next to those living among the
homeless, people working with those in sex trafficking, current and former
missionaries, a couple doing humanitarian work in Iraq, pastors, worship
leaders, heads of women’s ministries and counselors. The movers and shakers of kingdom work.
was full of radical Jesus lovers who believed that faith should translate into
But God can
approached one of the speakers after her powerful talk to thank her, she turned
the conversation around—“What do you do?,” she asked.
I pointed to
my bulging belly, laughed, and said, “This...and try to survive the other two.”
And then she
fixed her gaze fully on me, pointed, and said, “You are SO blessed. I didn’t marry until later in life and wasn’t
able to have children of my own, so I think what you are doing is incredible
I did what
any pregnant, overwhelmed, defeated mama would do—I cried. “Thank you,” I said, “and you’re right—it is
doesn’t diminish how hard it can be, either,” she consoled me. I nodded.
the weekend of tales of people going to jail for feeding the homeless,
recovering from abuse, deconstructing and reconstructing a polished faith and
fighting on the front lines of injustice, instead of feeling less-than or shackled
by my role as a mom, I felt something else.
I felt loved.
conference, called “Simply Jesus,” was true to its name and allowed me to feel
that because Jesus is enough, then I am enough.
Yes, He has called me to Big Things in the past and may call me to
radical steps of faith in the future, but right now, He is calling me to dig
deep into the few callings He has given me.
Shawn DeBerry Johnson, one of the speakers at the conference, challenged
us to be sure that we are living out of our callings and not just out of our
comfort—and that we are not called to ALL things.
So it made
me think about what God is calling me to right now.
I am called
to spend time with Jesus daily and to let myself be loved by Him.
I am called to
be a selfless, generous, attentive, adoring, spirit-filled and fun wife.
I am called
to the kind of downward mobility that asks me to sit down on the floor and play
with my kids, listen to their stories, gather them up into my lap (what’s left
of it), smother them with kisses, put band aids on invisible boo boos and take
them out to explore our world.
one mother encouraged me over the weekend—many with grown children who had
moved away from God and away from them. “I
wish” and “I would have” were a few sentence starters they used to encourage me
to love them hard, be intentional about teaching them and not allow these
moments to slip by. They affirmed the
hardness of the season, but highlighted its value, too.
But I am
also called to use my gifts and passions in whatever small way I can. To love my neighbor right next to me. To think of ministry on the micro level
instead of the macro level—loving the international student He brings to live
with us, making meals for new moms, investing in just one or two friends and
continuing to open my eyes to the injustice in our world as I listen to
podcasts while folding laundry, read books while my kids nap or check
news on my phone in the grocery line.
I am called
to shift the puzzle pieces of my day to make space for writing and stay engaged
in that world because it activates my soul and allows me to lean more into the
rest of my day from a place of wholeness.
I have only
been back for two days, but while I still feel tired and mostly want to just
sit on the couch and be a spectator instead of engaging with my children, I
feel more relaxed, peaceful and still than I did a week ago. I feel like I spent the weekend with Jesus
rubbing my feet and reassuring me that I’m on the right road, that I can do
this. That I can keep going.
The last day
of the conference in the chill of the morning, I wriggled my hand into my
pocket and found a tiny object there—a butterfly hair bow that belonged to my
two-year-old daughter. Pulling it out, I
held it flat on the palm of my hand and then clutched it tightly. Throughout the morning, that bow reminded me
of the treasure I had waiting back at home.
A treasure I hadn’t wanted to see.
One of my
favorite stories in the Bible is of Elijah climbing the mountain and waiting
for God to appear. He finds that God is
not in the Big Things—the great and powerful wind, the earthquake, or the fire—but
in the gentle whisper. When Elijah hears
it, he pulls his cloak over his face and goes out to meet the Lord. And God tells him, “Go back the way you came.”
the way forward is the way backward.
Sometimes it is accepting that where we are is exactly where God wants
us to be and instead of looking for ways out, we should be looking for ways in,
to dig deeper and live more fully into the simple callings that Jesus has
placed on our lives.
I sing to my children. For my daughter,
I sing “Jesus Loves Me” and usually follow it with the song that we just
happened to sing as our final song at the conference—as I sing it, it is a song
whispered not from the pulpit, stage or blasted from the speakers, but in the
quiet shadows in the nursery of our home:
“I love you
Lord and I lift my voice to worship you, oh my soul, rejoice.
Take joy, my king, in what you hear. Let it be a sweet, sweet song in your ear.”
simple as that.
Labels: motherhood, ordinary moments