At the beginning of the year, I sat in a cabin in the woods with Josh for a few days pondering the year ahead, planning for it, and all i could feel was fear. In August we found out we were expecting a third baby and I felt like my world was going to crumble all around me when I saw the two pink lines. I was still sleep deprived from my youngest, still nursing, still working through the memories of his traumatic birth, and didn't realize how much hope i had placed in the year ahead being one without pregnancy or a newborn to slow me down.
Most of all I was fearful about having three kids under 2 and just how weary it would be. I've had to work through what people think about me, heck- what i even think about me, asking questions like "is this where i really wanted to be in my early twenties?" and doing a lot of soul work to come to the point where I could confidently agree that this was God's plan and his plan is totally good. But more than all those things was the fear of weariness, of total overwhelm.
So there I sat, looking ahead and I just saw a lot of desert ahead of me. "What could grow from the dust i feel is here?" sort of feeling.
I woke early one morning to spend time with the Lord alone and in between the floral sheets and the warm coffee in my hands, and the brown cabin walls surrounding me, I got to the bottom of myself and asked the Lord for hope. I really wanted a word for the year or a passage or something to grab onto to keep me alive. I was ok if it didn't come, realizing the Lord can work through steady small revelations of light and not one big mountain top moment when we say THIS is it.
But he was gracious and gave me a verse so specifically that has carried my mind and heart into this year with vigor and hope and expectation.
O GOD, MY SOUL THIRSTS FOR YOU,
MY FLESH FAINTS FOR YOU,
AS IN A DRY AND WEARY LAND WHERE THERE IS NO WATER.
SO I HAVE LOOKED UPON YOU IN THE SANCTUARY,
BEHOLDING YOUR POWER AND GLORY.
BECAUSE YOUR STEADFAST LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIFE,
MY LIPS WILL PRAISE YOU.
SO I WILL BLESS YOU AS LONG AS I LIVE;
IN YOUR NAME I WILL LIFT UP MY HANDS.
MY SOUL WILL BE SATISFIED AS WITH FAT AND RICH FOOD,
AND MY MOUTH WILL PRAISE YOU WITH JOYFUL LIPS,
WHEN I REMEMBER YOU UPON MY BED,
AND MEDITATE ON YOU IN THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT.
We have all read it a hundred times. The verse can probably be found on a wooden wall hanging, a black and white coffee mug, and a pom pom throw pillow at hobby lobby. But for the first time the beauty of what Tim Keller calls "spiritual buoyancy" woke me up. It really compelled me.
Here David is, dry and weary and faint-ish and instead of staying there and moping, he goes and looks at the power and glory of the lord. He goes and gazes on who God is and comes back with this declaration of "Hey you know what? His love is better than even life itself so I'm deciding to bless him. I'm going to keep my hands raised as long as I live and it doesn't matter what's stacked against me because I know about his power and his glory and it will keep me well and alive."
And then theres this beautiful imagery of his inner soul being satisfied as with fat and rich food. I imagine him in this weary place in life and feeling really dry and empty and like me sitting in that cabin with a lot of mundane in front of me wondering "what good can grow here?" and he finds the secret to keeping his soul fat and fed NO MATTER what's going on - he decides to gaze upon the Lord and all his beauty and that's what he declares is going to keep him satisfied and alive and joyful and gritty.
I love it.
I want it.
This gives me so much hope. This says I can be in actual weary places, actual hard spots, actual sadness and my soul can stay happy and alive - the same as if it had eaten fat and rich food. Tim Keller describes this as "inner mirth". Its more than a happiness that comes from the comfort of having things you want. Its a deep down mirth that says I've got the one thing that really matters.
This year's book I'm studying in the mornings is Philippians (no special method for picking it, just simply because it came right after Ephesians and Ephesians that was the one i studied last year ha), and I've decided its a book that could be labeled "the book of grit!" or "the book anyone should read wanting to grow a backbone of real joy".
All through the book Paul says stuff like, we're down but not out! we're crushed but we're not destroyed! he calls us to a joy that doesn't mean we're impervious to suffering, it doesn't mean we're not sad, but it means that we're unsinkable. We're constantly getting wet, we're constantly being pushed down but by golly WE DON'T STAY UNDER. We don't sink.
We so focus on the unchanging privileges we have in God, the rich promise that He's gonna supply every bit of every thing we need to be happy in God and we grab our soul by the face and rejoice. We wake up in the morning and declare war over anything besides abundance. Because he's promise His word will make us like trees that don't wither (Psalm 1) and that he will feed us with the finest of wheat and satisfy us with good as with honey (Psalm 81:16).
I'm in. I'm all in.
I'm showing up for this resilience and fearlessness in 2018. I don't have to walk into new seasons of life afraid of what might be hard. I don't have to walk up to new experiences and wonder if i will make it. I can show up and let the Lord make me strong. I can show up with a wide eyed grin at whats to come because i have the secret to stay fed and fat and sustained and deeply happy in my soul.
I've been thinking a lot recently about how much life happens and how little I capture on my phone. I find both of my hands completely taken with the business of the kids and there is no third hand for taking a picture. Josh can do some, but alas, sometimes his hands are tied up too. I hear lots of people say "take lots of photos as a momma, be in the the photos or else you will regret it!" so I pull out my phone to capture more and Luke ends up struggling to chew on it and Elizabeth gets frustrated im no longer playing with her and I think "I guess I won't remember a lot of things because there's no way I can capture most of it."
And then it leads me to face the reality that I'm NOT going to remember most of it. I would love to record things like Elizabeth calling elevators "alligators", in all sincerity asking for actual flight goggles when we boarded a plane on vacation because skye wears them on paw patrol. The way she says "can i do a tinkle?" when she needs to go potty, and how she asks me to rub her back "with you hand open, mama" at night because she wants it to feel a certain way with my actual whole hand on her. How she dances to a drew holcomb song and calls things "daddy songs" or "momma songs" depending on if its a male or female voice singing them. I love her.
I also love how luke waves at everyone lately with his hand backwards, and points and makes the biggest fuss when he sees something he likes - even though he can't yet talk. I love how he squalks to no end when he sees any sort of white container because he thinks its yogurt, and how he likes to snuggle right under my chin when he's sleepy. I love him.
I know even if I did write it all down and take all the pictures to capture it, my time is so limitted I wouldn't be able to flip through all the memories and remember. So I will forget a lot of it.
But there's one thing I won't forget. I won't forget the grace that comes after me day after day. I won't forget the grace that is leaving a mark of which I can nearly remember all the details. I can remember all the mornings my feet didn't want to leave the bed because there were messes and stresses too big for me, and His grace propelled me out of there because i knew there was a fountain of help coming. I can remember the moments when getting ready to go somewhere meant a baby biting and tugging on my leg and me messing up eye liner because of it and asking the Lord for a patient response and him doing it in and through me - him helping me respond gently when I didn't feel gentle at all. I can recall all of the sweet promises singing hope and joy to me in the mundane of peanut butter stirring and clothes folding and poo wiping.
As I sit next to the potty reading books to Elizabeth as she learns to not use diapers, and as pass snacks back in the car for the thousandth time, and as I sing the same songs and sweep the varnish right off of the floor because of cheerios being more fun to throw than eat for a certain little one, the grace keeps me alive and well and happy. As I fight for the time to have dates with josh on Friday nights and plead for energy from the Lord to stay alert and interactive with him in the evenings, as I ask the Lord to bless the efforts of people ministering even though my house is more chaotic than a haven of rest for them, as I set my alarm clock earlier just to squeeze out space for my soul each day and strategically plan child care so I can steal away to get groceries or do life by myself - the grace shows up. And it keeps showing up. It shows up in sunshine each morning and in my babies giggling with each other, and in Josh's help, and in the refreshment of running, and in my earbuds playing uplifting tunes, and in the deliciousness of chobani yogurt, and in the sisterhood of my best girlfriends.
It doesn't stop coming for me and that's the theme I won't forget. I will forget all the individual sweet things my kids do but I won't forget the God who sent all the sweetness and sustained me enough to savor them. And I'm ok with this. There is a sweet relief that floods over me when I know that even though I'm not taking lots of pictures and writing down all the details and memories- I'm having etched into my mind the most important theme of it all: the realness and goodness of the giver.