Presence

When my babies are still tiny, fresh with the newness of life, still sweet with tenderness, they spend the nighttime hours in a small bassinet beside my bed. It’s easier that way, having them close. Easier for feedings, and easier for my hand to rest on their chests, feeling the reassuring swell, up and down, as they breathe.

In those late, but actually early hours, dark with night, but still bright with love, I sit and nurse my baby. Sometimes, I marvel. I curl tiny fingers around my own. I trace tiny eyebrows. I smile at tiny baby noises that melt my heart. Other times, I doze uncomfortably, willing the little bundle of difficult to finish feeding so I can just get some sleep already, and mutter about the ridiculousness of needing to eat every two and a half hours in the first place…

My mood? Not very consistent at 2 AM. But there is one constant, a presence I know I can always rely on. Whenever I nurse, sitting cross legged on the bed, my husband reaches over and puts his hand on the small of my back. I am ill equipped to feed the baby, his hand says, but I’m here. I’m with you. I know that you’re up, that it isn’t always easy.

Many nights, that simple gesture of kindness tethers me to reality. Sometimes, it just helps to know there is someone there. I’m grateful that I know my husband well enough to recognize that gesture for what it is. It’s the little things, I think, that often make the biggest difference. But do we always recognize them? How often do we fail to see?

It’s been on my mind a lot lately – the need to see the little things. Not just in my relationship with  my husband, but in my relationship with God.

Do I recognize His presence?

Am I failing to see?

I have found that if I really look for it, I can see His presence in every single aspect of my life. His hand is there, on my back, all the time – leading, guiding, encouraging. But, oh! It’s so easy to grumble, to see the flaws, the difficulties, the misery of our own plight. We are alone, after all. These things that we are doing have to be done by someone, and it us that must do the job, and it is only us, and no one really understands, or will ever understand…

Except, wait. There it is. If I close my eyes, I can feel it. A light touch, a kind word, a supportive hand. He is there. He is everywhere. Always has been, and always will be. His presence is constant.

It is up to me to simply see.

Love Loans

I sat beside the tub and poured water over Ivy’s belly, wishing I could make the noise and chaos behind me disappear.

It was me they needed. More of my time, more of my energy, more of me.

“Can you come?” Josh asked. “They’re all asking for you. Let me do this.”

He took the cup from my hand and took my place beside the tub. I sighed heavily and walked out of the bathroom. What I wanted to do was head right down the stairs, out the front door and into my car. I had nowhere to go, but that hardly mattered. Just going would be enough for a while. A while long enough for my frazzled nerves to relax again, my skin to stop crawling with the constancy of sticky hands pulling, tugging, needing. Instead, I took a deep breath and went into Henry’s room, where he lay on his bed in tears.

“What’s the matter, Henry?” I asked, my words hollow, my stony heart crusted with weariness. Mechanically, I climbed onto his bed beside him, and lay my head just inches from his.

“I’m sad,” he hiccuped. “I don’t want to go to bed.”

There wasn’t an ounce, sliver, tiny shred of patience left in me. But sometimes being a Mommy means Mommy-ing even when you don’t want to, when you feel like you have nothing left. So I wiped the tears from Henry’s cheeks and said, “We have to sleep so our bodies feel good and our minds can be happy.”

Sweet mercy of miracles, Henry looked at me with tired eyes, and softly whispered, “Okay.” He pulled my arm around him like a blanket and quickly fell asleep. I lay there a few more minutes, feeling the soft warmth of his breath, inhale, exhale, across the top of my arm.

And there it was.

The love came unbidden, bubbling up and over, into the cracks of my consciousness. It isn’t about you, the love said. It’s about them. There is a time for quiet, but now, they need you. I kissed Henry’s forehead and moved from his bed, going to spend a few minutes with each of the other children.

It was God-given, that extra love; a reserve bursting forth when my own well turned up dry.

An hour later, when big kids and baby were all asleep, I sat. The quiet pooled around me, soothing my skin, calming my nerves. And I prayed a prayer of gratitude that I have a partner in this mothering that I do, that God is with me, helping, lifting, loaning love.


I wrote this post on Monday, but in retrospect, I think it’s a good fit for Tuesdays Unwrapped, hosted by Chatting at the Sky. Click the button to read posts about finding joy in the everyday.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

 

The Garden of my Soul

fieldburning

Yesterday, on our drive home from school, the kids and I noticed a farmer burning one of his fields. The flames licked their way across, then climbed steadily up the hill to the road, where we sat in the car, and watched.

“Why do they do that, Mommy?” one of the children asked.

“It helps clear away all the dead,” I explained, “to make way for new growth.”

The field was undergoing a literal baptism by fire – a cleansing, a renewal.

Sometimes, I wish I could do that… expose my soul to an intense, scorching heat that would, in one swift breeze of a moment, melt away all my rough edges, my imperfections, my faults, fears, inconsistencies, once and for all.

Oh, to stand spotless, unhindered by the the moments when I shouldn’t have yelled, but did, shouldn’t have judged, shouldn’t have criticized, assumed, blamed, and did. Would that I could stand, right now, in a lush field of green, a promise written in the sky overhead that I will always be a perfect mother, a perfect wife, a perfect friend.

But.

I am human. I am flawed. A garden thick with weeds and dead growth too strong for a single flame, too complex for one sweeping moment of perfecting renewal. No, I require more precise work. So I do work, daily, consistently. I attack one thorny patch of imperfection at a time, working until my hands and heart are raw. And then, asking the Lord, the Master Gardener, to come and consecrate my efforts, I watch as He fills the spot with goodness, grace, and beauty, making me much more than I could ever be on my own.

Renewed, and uplifted, I turn to the next corner of my garden heart that needs attention, and rolling up my sleeves, I dig in. Sometimes, it’s very overwhelming work. Sometimes, I don’t know where to start. Sometimes, I finish pulling weeds in one corner, just to turn around and realize they’ve grown rampant everywhere else. Sometimes, I work to nurture one particular spot over and over again and yet still fail to get anything lovely to bloom.

But I always see Him, the Master Gardener, ready and waiting to take the shovel from my hands, clean the dirt from my fingernails, and finish what I can’t do on my own. It is in these moments that He reminds me that He never said I had to be perfect. He died because He knew I couldn’t be. “You’re enough,” He says gently. “Just the way you are, you’re enough.”

And I am enough – a complex tangle of weeds and blooms, beautiful stretches of lush green, and darkened patches of dead growth all wrapped into one imperfect person.

Because of Him, I am enough. And so are you.

PreciousInHisSightbyOlsen