Tucked away in the east is a beautiful southern state that has been caught in the grips of an arctic blast. Everything has been frozen, from our breath in the air, to pipes, roads and well-clad toes. Even our enthusiasm for the outdoors seems frozen in time. The process is wearing.
Strangely, I haven’t hated it as much as I would have expected.
The early evenings and cold temps have presented opportunity to cozy up the house, slow our pace, and find our new year groove. For the kids, that’s been repainting bedrooms, moving furniture and getting back into the swing of school work. For me, it’s been getting the house in order, lots and lots of handwork with my baskets of yarn, and early mornings with our warm wood stove, softly glowing lantern, my Bible, prayer journal and my God.
The last year or two has brought with it so much change my head often feels like it’s swimming. My oldest child is now 20 while the next two in line are a breath away from 19 and 17. Transitioning into “parenting” adults is painful. I second-guess myself even more now than when I was trying to figure out how often to feed my babies or whether to train them to to fall asleep on their own or rock them instead.
And I’ve realized one of the challenges of having children spread over a span of 17 years is that I’m so caught up in helping my older ones get launched that I’m not fully present in the little moments of my younger ones. They’re being robbed.
And so I beat myself up. I’m not doing enough, providing enough, playing enough, listening enough or loving enough. Because there simply isn’t enough of me.
My heart breaks to see my failures. It hurts to know any one of them is being cheated. It longs to be more. To be enough.
But God graciously supplied me a husband who is gentle with me. A man who sees my exhaustion and rubs the tension from my neck. Who puts me to sleep lightly rubbing my back and never asks the favor to be returned. Who does dishes, folds laundry, runs errands, grabs groceries, talks me down from the edge and prays for me.
And as if that weren’t enough, He’s given me incredible family and friends. Friends who remind me to focus on Christ and not my problems. Friends who text me their spontaneous prayers on my behalf, encouragement when they know I’m struggling, hope when things seem bleak. Friends who invite me for a spa nights, make me laugh, share their wisdom, recipes and trade secrets. Friends who will let me borrow a cup of rice if I run out or have my large brood over to supper just because we’ve been friends so long it feels like family. Friends who will drive 30+ minutes up a cold and dark mountain, even in the dead of winter, to lead a Bible Study because they care about my family. Friends who help us get the horses we’re looking after fed and cared for when life is just overwhelmingly busy.
Our bank accounts are generally pretty empty but can I just tell you, I’m not even sure I care. Because I used to dream of wealth and ease. I wanted success as the world defines it. The nice house and the new cars. But now?
Now I see success as being able to raise 8 children on a single income. As the process of learning to make less stretch so that chasing after more isn’t necessary. As having learned to lean into each other to keep our home and family running. As kids who are finding not only their spiritual feet, but their wings, so God can use them in bigger ways than I can imagine at this moment.
Growing ain’t easy. Change sometimes hurts. But always it’s worth it if His will is accomplished.
My hope for myself is that I’ll have the courage to allow the changes to happen. That I’ll have the grace to smile and embrace the little moments when the tough ones are threatening to steal my joy. That I’ll have the boldness to follow Christ anywhere…even if that’s just into the kitchen or the hard moments of discipline. Because, ultimately, my hope is that I’ll be so entirely confident in the plan He has for me, that I won’t wriggle uncomfortably as He works it into reality.
Every year my oldest son chooses a tag line for the coming 12 months. Last year it was Positivity 2017. And though the year was hard for him in many ways, he lived it. This year he chose Trust the Process 2018. And while I know that phrased was likely coined in a more secular manner by the world at large, we see serious spiritual implications in it.
Because life is a process. It’s a process of growth and refinement. It’s a process of living and learning. It’s a process of fumbles and recoveries. It’s a process of learning to fly when gravity keeps pulling you down. But God is bigger than any obstacle. And He’s stronger than the enemy who seeks to hold us bound to our pasts.
So I invite you to join us in trusting the process. And I dare you to even embrace it.
Maranatha & Selah.
Our Lord cometh so Pause for peace.