Through batting eyelashes, my two year old daughter looked up at me. Struggling to get the final things together to leave for the weekend, her words seemed a distraction. “Mommy, tell me a story about when you were little.” What mother’s heart wouldn’t melt at the sound of these delightful words? But in the moment, I was distracted with tasks that seemed non-negotiable. I settled down for a minute and looked into her deep, blue eyes. It did not last much longer than a second as I quickly shifted to the next task. I was off to gather my notes, my luggage, my coat. I wish I could say I responded in the moment and took the time to tell her a story from my childhood, about some magical day lived on my family’s Iowa farm. But I didn’t. I was overwhelmed, frazzled, just trying to get out of the house in one piece, semi-put together.
I needed some space, to step away, to be surrounded by other women who are walking along a parallel path. I was looking forward to thoughtful conversation and a night’s sleep with no children in my bed. Yes, this would nourish my soul.
My mentor and friend, Sally Clarkson was leading a conference, ‘Own Your Own Life’. I was grateful to participate as a speaker on a panel, and to attend with friends and fellow moms from our church. Sally truly lives what she teaches. I know this because she has invited me into her home, her groups and her family for almost the past decade. Gently encouraging me to seek a vision for my family, for motherhood, for my life since the day we first met, Sally is a gift and her message is a rarity.
Here are a few themes that resonated with me at her conference:
Your home is a place to live, but is it a place of life? Life looks like taking the time to cuddle, pray and read with our kids each night. Life looks like taking a fifteen minute nap with my two year old at 8:30PM. After all, in this stage, a late-night cat nap with my sweet daughter will only last for a short season, and these precious moments of lying down with her will be gone before I know. Plus, this little nap gives me just the amount of energy I need to stay up a few more hours!
If you are faithful in the hidden places, these places will become the foundation of your story The very place you are is where God is building character. I hope and pray my character has been and is continuing to be shaped as I have been quietly and freely giving my life to my children. I pray that my persistence, my patience, my diligence in motherhood for years is part of the foundation from which I can now give from and lead from.
We can all lead someone. We’re always ahead of someone and have our life to share, despite that we don’t do do it all perfectly. We can choose to see our story as a a God-given gift spent for the life of others.
Your baby who was created to be dependent on you will not always need you like she does now or your toddler who gets our of bed 15 times in a evening will eventually stay in his bed. Or the utter exhaustion you feel from not sleeping will not always be. The postpartum hormonal imbalance will get better. You will make it. You will get through. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
I wonder if it’s not so much that ‘God doesn’t give us more than we can handle’, as much as it is that he enlarges our capacity as we step out in faith to do the hard thing.
What are you not doing because you’re afraid? What are you not saying no to because you’re afraid? I’m currently at a worship symposium at Calvin College listening to my brilliant theologian husband teach a few seminars, while entrusting my precious children with my incredible in-laws. Being away from my children hasn’t always been an easy for me; in fact, it has been a source of great anxiety. And yet I know I have a God whom I can trust. So I’m choosing to step out and trust Him today and believe that He has my family and me in His hands.
Is there something that is keeping you from stepping out into what God has called you to for this season? Maybe it’s a call to shape your home with truth and beauty. Maybe it’s a call to truly see the Maker of the stars as you lay aside the daily and take a walk in His creation. Maybe it’s a call to gather a group around your table for a meal. Maybe it’s a call to be present to the husband and children your Father has given you.
When I returned from my weekend away, I swept my two year old Jane into my arms and whispered, “Let mommy tell you a story about when I was little.” Of course she said, “Yes!”