If I could, I'd steal you away and make you come sit on my porch for an entire day of rest. It's getting a little chilly here in Mississippi, so I'd wrap you in fuzzy blankets and serve you something steamy and warm.
First, let me get all my *not so little* children out the door for school. Wait! Julia forgot her glasses, I'll be right back. Just sit here in the silence and listen to the leaves rush to their winter homes below. Those bells chiming in the background? That's French Camp Baptist saying hello through the brisk, morning air. It's delightful, isn't it? Hum that familiar tune while you wait for me to return, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"
I'm back. Glasses delivered. Let me grab my French pressed coffee and we will sit.
I have something urgent to tell you.
Something that could possibly change the course of your day, your month, even your life.
I inch my front porch seat closer and closer to yours. Now our knees are touching through our fuzzy blankets. I take my little Val Hall-hands and encapsulate them around yours. I squeeze a comforting squeeze and begin to speak over you:
I see you struggling. Carrying an insane amount of pressure, expectation and weariness on your shoulders. Your eyes are void of life and energy. You haven't slept well in weeks, months, possibly years. Your soul is aching, so unbelievably dry and cracked like a scorched desert. You can only dream that you'll feel alive again some day. Your heart lays in bondage to the sewage of comparison and mom-guilt. You've convinced yourself you're getting it all wrong, and have completely screwed up this mystery called motherhood. You've let lies etch "FAILURE" all over this season.
I've been there. Oh, I have been there.
With a 5 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old and a new born. We moved away from everything we knew, everyone we knew. We were 1,000 miles away from Mark's parents, and 1200 miles away from my parents. A new job, a new town, a new state, a new home, a new community, a new baby, a new church, and an entirely new season of motherhood; mother of 4, 5 and under.
So many days, I was just surviving the ebb and flow of, "Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mom. Mama. Mommy!"
I knew at the conclusion of everyday I needed more of Jesus. Kids have this way of wicking out every good and patient feeling in you, and leaving you raw with wickedness.
My behavior-modification guilt stirred; "You should be getting up before the children to have a quiet time with God." "You should be staying up late after they go to bed to have a quiet time with God." "You aren't praying enough." "You aren't making the kids memorize enough scripture." "Do they even know what justification is?!" "Go Sunday School more!" "Work with them Mon-Sat on sitting still in the sanctuary!-- They're so disruptive during the service!" "You are failing them spiritually, Sara!"
Oh the sticky web of guilt I wove. But can I tell you something?
Jesus set me free from that putrid line of thinking!
I tried to set my alarm to get up early. I failed.
I tried to stay up past 8:15pm. I failed.
I played more bible verse cds in the car. Until I lost my sanity, and turned Justin Bieber back on.
We worked on sitting still in church, until we joined the Oasis and the very base line of Sunday mornings was the low hum of small voices chatting and moving about. FREEDOM!
OHMYSTARS raising small babies is EXHAUSTING! I just wanted to sleep. And you know what?! Jesus was ok with that. For years, I would place everyone in their rooms for nap time and I would feel the Holy Spirit invite me to my own spiritual nap time. I'd crawl up into my bed and visualize that I was crawling into the lap of my God. I would cry, "HELP ME! Know my heart!" and He would whisper, "Rest! I'll fill you up, I will help you and I know your heart, sweet daughter!"
Please don't convolute what I'm saying. I'm all about some alone time with Jesus! In His word, quietly in prayer and worship. But there is SO.MUCH.FREEDOM within those walls. Freedom we rarely extend to mamas with small children. I remember MANY Beth Moore studies in my kitchen, answering questions with a baby on my hip and one hanging on my ankle. I remember saying many prayers in motion. Many pleas for assistance not scheduled into "quiet times."
Seriously, who has a "sweet hour of prayer" with 4 kids under 5?!
Ok, so maybe you do. But I didn't.
And God was NOT disappointed in me. He wasn't freaked out because I didn't wake up with the sun like the Psalmists. I drooled on my pillow until a little person insisted I get up. I'd pray to Him in the dead of night, while the house was utterly still and I nursed a new born baby. I knew of His kindness to me all throughout the trenches. He routinely revealed Himself to me as the God who meets us where we are. And where I was, was in the muck of raising tiny human beings to be somewhat functional. And there is NO muck like child rearing muck.
I knew this from my head down deep into my toes. It sustained me during really dark seasons.
This last year, a friend of mine showed me a verse that actually, totally and completely supports what I knew ALL ALONG!
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs into his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
HE GENTLY LEADS THOSE THAT HAVE YOUNG!
He gently leads the nursing ewes.
Are you catching this?
Do you see how the Lord deals with the mamas of the young?
Do you see it?
Can you receive it?
Can you believe it?
Mamas of Small Children,
He deals with you GENTLY! He knows your portion. He acknowledges the weight you're carrying. He sees with tender eyes your exhaustion. He knows you're depleted and worn. And you know what? He deals with you GENTLY! Maybe that's how you should begin to deal with yourself also; GENTLY!
Maybe that gentleness will give way to rest. And that rest will bring you a flash of hope, and that flash of hope will rain an ounce of life onto your desert heart. Because we all need some rain, don't we?"
I can see you need a refill.
Those tears streaming down your face? Let them roll.
You're safe here on my front porch.
I'll go grab us some Kleenex and a refill.
I'll be right back....