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My brain didn’t quite emerge from its fog, as Abby appeared in our upstairs bedroom for the umpteenth time last night. My voice had lost its gracious “I’m-the-model-Mama” tone and taken on the “next-person-who-wakes-me-is-going-to-suffer-my-wrath” edge. Micah had already been awake to nurse twice, and my body groaned with the sheer effort of focusing on Abby’s small face, cloaked in the shadows, her lips moving in their next request.

“I need to go potty.”

“My room smells funny.”

“I need my ‘confuser’ {essential oil diffuser} turned back on.”

“Daddy didn’t put the right pajamas on me.”

“My tummy hurts.”

“My toe hurts.” 

“My Teddy Bear won’t let me sleep.”

“I need more warm milk.” 

The list goes on for why Abby doesn’t nap or sleep through the night. And these are just the excuses I’ve heard in the last 24 hours. I could have you rolling on the floor with some of the stories she crafts to explain her midnight wanderings. One of my favorites included the outlandish claim that her “bears were singing too loud to let her sleep.” Oh, for Pete’s sake. Those bears are about to earn spankings.

Some days the juxtaposition of simply surviving motherhood and the soul-searching process of repentance, prayer, receiving of grace, and transformation seems wildly opposed. This morning, I really just wanted a latte. And not the unsweetened, coconut milk variety that has been coming out of my Whole 30 kitchen this week. No, the real deal. The “I-know-your-children-don’t-sleep,-but-there-is-rest-for-the-weary” kind of extra-large, extra-hot creation that warms your hands and thaws your heart. But, not today. Today, I was left to muddle through without my preferred brew.

(And, I’ll have you know that I’m currently snacking on celery and almond butter while writing, so not exactly splurging in the comfort food department yet. I’m led to believe that I’m building character.)

But back to my thoughts (if they can even be lassoed and committed to the published page at this point), when I began blogging earlier this week, I had no idea the responses that would greet my confessions in Not in Our Early 20s Anymore. My heartfelt brokenness and questioning drove my words, and they tumbled out in haphazard abandon to be read by – apparently – many other very, very tired individuals. Friends who empathize. Women who have already reached this breaking point, said “ENOUGH,” and chosen something better. People who are praying for me. People who need prayer. Mamas who are at the ends of their ropes and want to run away. Women in ministry who don’t know where their responsibilities end and boundaries begin. Brave individuals who are committing to stop the frenzied drive to “taste and experience absolutely everything”  and to “be perceived as wildly competent” all in the very same moment (Niequest, p. 19).

It’s a courageous challenge. To stop. Frankly, Scarlett, our society doesn’t stop, doesn’t pause, and doesn’t give a d***. Neither does the Church as a whole. We build more buildings, add more groups, require more service. And for some, they are in perfect seasons of their lives to build, lead, and serve in those ways. It is a gift for them and they are filled with joy to give in those ways. For others, it becomes a burden too heavy. I have no idea where I fall on that spectrum right now, but I’m open to finding out.

But here is the question that has me catching my breath and hanging on for dear life as the force of it rocks my world: “If Christ came with the promise to make His children’s burdens light, carrying the weight of those burdens for them, then what worth does the power of the Gospel have in me in my current, exhausted state?”

“What makes me any different from anyone who holds to any other theology?

And, let me pause here and say that if you do not espouse Christianity, then I would invite you to read here the processing of a woman who is determined to understand truth, live in truth, shape her decisions around the impact of that truth come what may. I believe in the power of Christ’s life and death to provide forgiveness and comfort to all who come to Him. I’ve staked my claim there. I’m just not sure that my foundation has truly been built on that power lately, but rather on my own self-competency. I was taken aback when David recently commented, “If they were to see our family’s life, then they wouldn’t want it.”

And, here I had always prided myself upon our family’s drive to accomplish goals, and, sure, there was room for joy on the outskirts. But, who really has time to stop and smell the roses? I mean, Abby does, and it can be incredibly frustrating to go on a family walk around the neighborhood. We. Move. So. SLOWLY.

At the end of the day, I don’t rest. I’m not sure I quite know how, but I AM SURE that I don’t prioritize it. Even late at night while watching TV, I’m also meal planning, answering emails, and pondering all of the laundry I didn’t fold – or even wash. And, I’m not saying – at least not yet – that those things shouldn’t be somewhere on our lists of mental priorities.

But, not ahead of the sleep that our bodies need to heal. 

Not ahead of the sex and emotional intimacy that our relationships need to thrive (and simply for the sheer pleasure of it too, I might add. “Become one” was one of the greatest gifts of Creation.). 

Not ahead of the satisfaction of eating sustaining, wholesome meals that our systems need to flourish. 

Not ahead of times of quiet and meditation for our spirits to be restored and re-focused. 

I think many of us have our hierarchy of needs tipped on its head, as we strive to excel at the “to-dos” versus the “to-bes.”

To be loved.

To be known. 

To be a giver.

To be a vibrant human being who loves his or her life. 

That would be something worth marveling over. That would be something worth spending a lifetime in that pursuit. And, I promise it will look different for each one of us. My “rest” won’t resemble your “rest.” My limit between healthy community involvement and over-commitment won’t look like yours. My relationship with my Savior will probably always be more turbulent than many, as I tend to take the hard road and fight my way to stand in truth.

But, gosh, let’s stand in that truth. Let’s muddle our way through sleepless nights, latte-less days, endless work weeks, and daily commitments to actually enjoy what is beautiful and lasting. IMG_4824.JPG

In 26 days, that will include dark chocolate and a Honey Lavender Almond Milk Latte from Two Rivers, the BEST coffee shop in Denver. (That specific drink isn’t on their chalkboard menu, but they will gladly froth your milk and add their homemade syrups to that specification. Amazing.)

But for the next 30 years or more, I want it to involve a lot more of this. This Community. This Questioning. This Relating. This Living. This Building. This Giving. This Loving. This Forgiving.

Gentle intake. Softly out. Resting.

Eyelashes drenched with purifying rain.

I’ve fought with hell.

I’ve lain prostrate, broken on the shore.

Wind-whipped hair. Chapped hands –

I’ve been through a hurricane.

 

Slowly, circling, a seagull swoops down.

I notice him.

A crab struggles across my toes.

I feel him.

Grit in my mouth. Scars on my body –

Salvation soaking this day’s brim.

~Excerpt from my poem Hurricane, written in 2010

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