I am a person of prayer. And by that, I don’t mean I’m the most faithful woman and commit all things to God in prayer. Not even close. I’m a person (read: sinner) of prayer in that I believe prayer is one of the biggest privileges we have as children of God, a source of amazing power, and something I still can’t get myself to do sometimes until I’ve exhausted all other options. My prayer life goes in seasons. Some seasons, I find myself perpetually in prayer…in the car, cooking dinner, singing my kid to sleep, while I’m out for a run, etc. Not because it’s a duty but because I want to. In other seasons, I find myself wondering, “When was the last time I really prayed about this? And that?” In the good seasons, I see so much fruit come from prayer. I feel more open to things God might be trying to teach me about being patient, loving others, appreciating the little things, and the value of not killing my child even when she throws the worst tantrum I am pretty sure has ever been contrived in the history of man. Yes, God speaks even in these times.
Lately, the reason I feel compelled by God to share some of my faith thoughts on my blog is because I have actually cleared space in my head. I’ve tried to clear away the doubt, the worry, the jealousy, the disappointments, the unmet expectations, the burdens I place on myself, and I’ve given up. I’ve given up trying to figure out what God is trying to do with me and am trying to just let him DO what He will. And I have prayed. I have prayed that God would just use me where I’m at, and I have prayed that I would just trust I’m in His will as I trudge through the days of simple joys and sometimes monotony.
I have tried really hard to trust that He hears my prayers, not that I am just tossing them into the wind, hoping upon hope He would answer me. I have waited expectantly for an answer. Lo and behold, amidst making pancakes for my daughter and dealing with a traveling/working husband and juggling play dates and squeezing in a part-time job at home and doing the dishes and making trips to the grocery store and keeping the house semi-clean and setting fresh-cut flowers on the table from the garden, just for kicks, I felt the tiniest twinges of a response.
One of those answers I have received back…the one I simply feel in my heart…is to keep writing and to be real in my writing. (And I usually am pretty real, especially about parenting, but to be real about God sometimes takes a bit more courage).
It has taken a long time, but I’m starting to let go of that imagery that traveling to Africa or holding sick babies the only way to do something big for God. Many of you have already figured this out, so pardon me if I’m slow on the uptake. But if being Heidi’s mommy full-time has taught me anything, it’s that God is in everything. He is in a life of significance and service, a life of poverty and shame, and even the downright average life that sometimes gets plain tedious. Those first months of bringing Heidi home were a shock to the system, a trial by fire lesson in putting someone else ahead of myself….ALWAYS. I really struggled at first with feeling significant, appreciated, or even important. It was a vicious cycle of nursing, diaper changing, cuddling, wiggling in the bouncy seat, napping, repeat….all in two hour cycles, 24/7, interrupted by the occasional two or three hour long crying session for apparently no reason at all. Granted, now it’s better that Heidi is older, but she still calls the shots. We work our schedule around her nap times and bedtimes, and if she’s cranky? We cancel everything, haha. (I’m laughing, but that’s not a joke).
Over time, through the practice of daily gratitude and just plain getting through the days, I have realized that God does huge things in our small acts of service and in our commitment to our circumstances. I have learned that we do HIM a disservice when we don’t trust He has placed us in certain circumstances for a reason. I may not feel significant some days, but serving Heidi as my child has truly opened up my days to so much beauty. And as someone who loves to write, it’s a gift to be able to share those things.
I have grown to appreciate being home more and truly making it a place of peace. I have grown to appreciate routine and early bedtimes and simple activities. I am quick now to point out the moon and stars to my daughter, to sit on the floor at the window to watch a midnight
thunderstorm, to go for a long lazy walk, to stop and sit on the sidewalk to watch the ants, and to build stuff with legos first thing in the morning. I am trying to stop getting places so fast and just enjoy where I am. I am more in awe of God than I ever was.
I am getting better (in itty bitty baby steps…two steps forward and one step back kind of baby steps) at patience….calmly trying to figure out Heidi’s needs first instead of raging and wanting to punish her for not doing what I want her to do. As Cody and I learned, she is not a robot. She will not sleep 12 hours a night every night, nor will she always eat well or sleep well or play well or be happy. More often than not, if I give it just a little more time, I finally figure out why she’s unhappy. And when I do, the smile she gives me is full of relief and gratitude. She’s not yet two, but I truly feel she has taught me to always extend mercy first. For that is what Christ has done for me.
Wherever you are…if you’re a single parent, a working parent, longing to BE a parent…if you are a teacher, a doctor, a cashier at Starbucks, working too much, or unemployed…if you’re struggling with a heartbreaking loss, rejoicing in an amazing gift, or just plain wandering and wondering and waiting…take heart that God sees where you are and is using it to shape you. We just have to take the time to open our eyes and see it.
I may not be in Africa. I may not head up my own non-profit or charity, and I may not even make it to church every single week. But in the quiet of my days with Heidi, the more I strive to live a life of love, the more she sees what it means to do so. I want her to see me apologize. I want her to see me set good boundaries. I want her to see me serve others. I want her to see that life is not about her and the grandiose things she can accomplish for mankind, though I don’t doubt she will be highly capable. I want to give Heidi a foundation of peace. And that starts in the simple. From simplicity and peace comes the capacity to love. It has taken me nearly thirty years to really gasp that. Hopefully she’ll catch on faster than me.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. ~James 1
“We say we do not expect God to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, and yet we act as if we do! I must realize that my obedience even in the smallest detail of life has all of the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I will do my duty, not for duty’s sake but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience all of the magnificent grace of God is mine through the glorious atonement by the Cross of Christ.” ~Oswald Chambers