Bright Things + Dark Times + Eternal Hopes

I woke up this morning around 2:30 am. Well, to be fair, Bennett woke up first. Greg brought her to me, I nursed her and took her back to her crib. In a rather unusual move, she didn’t go back to sleep immediately and I didn’t either. By 4:00, with my mind spinning, I decided to get up, get dressed, make coffee, and deal with my overwhelmed mind. But first I folded a load of laundry, put more in the dryer, and then started another one. And started the dishwasher. And started to pick up the basement, but then…I realized I was getting distracted.

I’m convicted. I have felt increasingly overwhelmed this week. A cold going through the family, Libby’s birthday, Christmas, Jude’s impending surgery, school and how we’ve accomplished nearly NOTHING lately…I just have felt like I’m being pulled in a million directions. Yesterday I realized I was withdrawing, crumbling really, out of self-preservation, and I think the kids have felt the tension. I know they have. I’ve done a great deal of apologizing these last several weeks. I wish it wasn’t the case.

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Greg has been working an extra job helping a neighbor that has invested in a house that he’s going to flip. This has been a blessing for us during a time of the year when things always seem even more impossible than usual!  I am so thankful for how hard he’s working, and I know the feeling is mutual. It’s just long days for everyone. I think I may have begun to unravel a bit this week.

I was receiving emails last week (last week!) with taglines like, “Get your last minute Christmas shopping done!” I wanted to throw a fit about that, but then I realized that by the time we make it through the surgery and initial recovery, Christmas is here. Somehow I’ve got to be ready.

In the quiet house these last few hours I’ve had to confess pride and self-reliance. “There I go again!” I need to remember that the Lord will sustain me in less than ideal circumstances. I easily start to despair when I sense any chaos or disorder. Sometimes I like to imagine that chaos and disorder have been the rule of life for me. Perhaps, there’s some truth to that. Maybe the context, though, is less significant. Maybe it’s my heart that needs the mending. Maybe I just needed to get up and remember that the Lord calms the storm that rages inside me. I do not need to be the doubting man in James, tossed by the waves. I have a firm foundation. I can weather the storms all around me because Jesus is steadfast.

So I am up. Asking for wisdom. Confessing. Praying. Rejoicing. I can approach the throne of grace.

I am much more comfortable getting all the things done than I am slowing down and being relational. It’s a war that I fight; that I hate! I do what I don’t want to do!

I read from Every Moment Holy this morning. I teared up at this reminder:

That by such stewardship I might bring
a greater order to my own life,
and to the lives of any I am given to serve,
so that in those ordered spaces
bright things might flourish:
fellowship and companionship,
creativity and conversation,
learning and laughter
and enjoyment and health.

As I steward the small, daily tasks,
may I remember these good ends,
and so discover in my labors
the promise of the eternal hopes
that underlie them.

A Liturgy for Domestic Days from Every Moment Holy by Douglas McKelvey

 

I often act as if the ordering is the point. But the “good ends” are bright things flourishing. I order so that I might serve best those around me. I desire the order and that isn’t bad; it just isn’t the point. I needed that reminder. Maybe you do too.

The youcaring fundraiser has raised over $5000 for us in our need to replace our family vehicle. I am always so genuinely overwhelmed when I see how people give. There are so many ways to spend money and it’s absolutely mindblowing to me that anyone would see fit to give towards our need.

We are praying about what is next. We have been approved for financing, but need to have a concrete plan for how we can account for a monthly payment in our budget. We also need to find a vehicle! The one we were closely considering sold already, and it’s surprisingly hard to track down the sort of vehicle we need. Obviously, with a family our size, we’re needing a bigger than normal van. I’m nervous about driving around what is really akin to a small bus! There’s hope that we might find something with a back up camera because I readily admit I’m not the best driver. Ha! I’m most eager to get us into something reliable and safe. Our current van, with all it’s weird electrical issues, failing transmission, and lack of space may very well end up giving me ulcers.

Perhaps we don’t deserve a vehicle. Maybe we’ve outworn our allowable quota of need. We have, after all, always been living on the edge. I’m honest when I tell you that I have wrestled more these last few months about weakness and need than anything else. My mind and heart have been stretched in ways that I would never have wanted, but are probably necessary.IMG_0002

I watched all the perennials around our house die this fall. The hostas slowly began to shrivel up until I cut it all back and now it almost appears as if nothing is there at all but just death. It is not a secret that I am no fan of the Illinois winter. I was born and raised here but the winter makes me want to move far (far) away every year. Observation and past experience assist my weary heart in holding onto the fact that all the death I see will magically come back to life in a few short months. I don’t know that I will ever get over the wonder of how God does that. It all looks so bleak out there in our yard right now. Yet, under the ground, there’s something happening and it will spring forth with life and green and beauty again. I am holding onto that with all I’ve got!

This long extended season and even the majority of my adulthood (oh, and my childhood!) has just seemed like a struggle. Unpredictable. A bit chaotic! Yet something tells me that somewhere down the line, and in time, God will bring life to things that seem impossibly hard right now. Perhaps I have needed the Lord to shake me, so I can truly behold how unshakable He is. I may be a mess, but I am His. I wonder if the Lord is clearing away all the debris and dead leaves to make way for new growth and life.

Greg reminded me last night that I don’t need a van or curriculum or a haircut or a Dyson vacuum or a clean house or presents wrapped or even an orderly home to begin anew and love him and the kids well. I don’t need all my proverbial ducks in a row to love God and my neighbors. Huh.

He’s right.

Jude is having surgery this week to correct some significant bone issues on his left leg. My mom and stepdad will manage the care of the four other kids, while we juggle Jude and happy, but busy, Bennett. I’m bracing myself for what will be an exhausting week, but also relieved it’s finally here. We are eager to get on the other side of this! Jude is brave and even excited to go back to “his hospital” which has to say something. You would think he would never want to go back there, considering all his little body endured there! Our healthcare system is broken in so many ways, but in so many ways it isn’t. I praise God for the pain medication and the caring staff that gave Jude good memories of a horrific trial. I am calling that a win.IMG_9945

I’m firmly planted in the tension that this life brings…in the tension of need and providence, in brokenness and day by day sanctification, in the already not yet. I long for the day when winter melts away and we have no need for the sun because the Son lights our world. Advent makes more sense and seems more applicable every year. Waiting, waiting, waiting…hopeful waiting.

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