These have been hard days for this mama. The holidays passed and suddenly it was time for school again, long before I was ready. Not that ready was going to happen–my idea of ‘ready’ right about now entails a two week vacation to Italy (alone), and, well, that kind of ready will have to wait.
We were asked to give a talk in Sunday School last week about what it’s like to raise six kids, the joys and the challenges therein, and I’m afraid my words fell more into the challenge category than the joy. “Yes,” the pastor mused, “you are in the thick of it right now.”
It’s not that the joy isn’t abundant. I wouldn’t change my lot for the world. I’m wild crazy about my tribe and love the thrill of living life alongside their unique little persons; I enjoy–really enjoy–homeschooling. But oh my lands. If I don’t find–no, if I don’t make–some better balance to my days (and factor in some solid time alone) I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose my mind.
So we’re working on that. I can spiral down a depressed slope pretty quickly when the thoughts become muck and the labor becomes mire–and when the baby doesn’t sleep. It’s the little changes that make the most difference for me and so I’m sucking it up and remembering: I can go to bed earlier. I can make an effort to rise before the early bird kid. I can drink more water. I can exercise every day, even if it is only a teensy-tiny bit. I can do these things. I can.
Yesterday my husband worked two hours later than expected, and I felt my sanity slipping at the same speed as my patience just as the dinner hour rolled around. I shot out a text to a friend who shot back: “I’m saying an emergency prayer!” Then I set about the momentous task of preparing food for the restless natives. And it happened, just as it has happened a thousand times before, and as it will happen a thousand times hence (my poor memory notwithstanding): my head cleared and I left the mire of my brain. The enemies in my mind scattered, truly scattered, and I was present and cheerful–and fine. There was a bit of faith and an intentional hand to the plow, and grace. Oh, the grace.
I didn’t realize the transition had taken place until the kids and I were dancing in the living room to–I’m totally serious–some 1990’s Carmen. (Addicted to Jesus, anyone? Somebody tell me you know what I’m talking about.) So yes, it’s totally not in the cool department anymore but as we were shaking and spinning to Satan, Bite the Dust I caught the irony and sent up a silent cry of thanks. Sometimes you just need to get a little authoritative in the house, yo. Sometimes you just have to reach back to your roots and get your Pentecostal goin’ on. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I forget I can cry out, that Help is present, that my Deliverer is near, that he is real, that he does not turn a deaf ear. The darkness scatters at the light and it’s not effort on our part that makes it happen so much as it is the invitation from our hearts that clears room to receive. I don’t know how the magic transpires–it happens quickly sometimes and other times not so fast–but at an acceptable time, in the abundance of his steadfast love, he answers us in his saving faithfulness. Every time.
Today, in those tight moments, I’m going to hold to this Psalm:
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck! Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. Draw near to my soul and redeem me. I will praise the name of God with a song; Yes, I will magnify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69: 1, 14-18 and 30