Good day, sweet readers! On Monday, I shared the second resolution that has shaped 2016 and changed my some of my habits: Numbering my Days. You can read that by clicking here (and also find links to the other parts of this series). Today, I want to share some journal entries that I recorded while I was away from the blog that highlight how that resolution has played itself out in real life. My prayer is that it will minister to you today and draw your heart closer to love and family and home.
January 2, 2016
Sometimes it feels like you have had the best day of your entire life.
You look back on it to see what was so wonderful, and decide it had something to do with waking up in a tiny bed in your parent’s office with your 2-year old smushed up against your cheek. He is kicking and making racket because he is cold and you pull the hefty comforter back up to his chin and he calms down and says “tant too, Mommy!” from behind his big, pink pacifier. He squeezes his eyes shut and nuzzles your face with his head and, even though you hear the rest of the family stirring, you wouldn’t get up and disturb this moment for anything.
You just squeeze your eyes shut, too, and nuzzle back.
There is a glow between mamas and babies during togetherness like this, and it feels like time stops ticking for just a tiny bit as you focus your love on each other, two beams of pure affection meeting and filling the room around you with peace and innocence.
These glowing moments can’t last forever, but that’s okay because they fill you up just enough to last until the next one.
You are finally fetched, the two of you, by your eldest daughter, and you join the rest of the family for eggs made to order, biscuits, bacon, sausage and coffee.
The kitchen is bursting with the morning energy of nine children, aged 11 and younger, breakfast drinks are being poured like it is Spring Break in Breckenridge, coffee is being heated up in the microwave, and your age-defying mama is flipping eggs on the griddle and calling for the next lucky eater.
After breakfast, you wind up playing a fun game of Skip-bo at the kitchen table with your son and niece and sister-in-law, all of you still wearing your pajamas with bed hair sticking up all over the place.
Afterward, you plop down on the bus-sized sofa in a nest of feather pillows and flip through Country Living magazine for the first time in months and dream of making good food for your family and changing up your decor.
There are more meals to fix and eat and clean up, and at the end of it all, you sit around the fire pit in the back yard with your mama and sister-in-law and make dreamy plans for the new year ahead while your happy kids run amok all over the property.
You didn’t get one present.
You didn’t win the lottery.
You didn’t find out you were the recipient of your rich aunt’s fortune.
But you still have the gut feeling that you are wealthier than you ever deserved to be.
If I’m numbering my days and I am allotted 1,000 of them, I want at least 900 of them to be like this one.
January 21st, 2016
I just went upstairs, past midnight, to check on the big kids and turn down the lights.
Sometimes my heart speaks loudly enough to remind me to stop for a minute and drink in the room where they sleep. Three iron beds lined up in a row. Three sleeping children, all in their typical positions. Gideon, on his belly and all tucked under. Rebekah, sprawled out with her feet free of the covers. Betsie, body completely relaxed and draped across her toddler bed like she’s a marionnette, after the show.
Like a magnet, I was drawn first to Gideon. I sat quietly down on his bed, the creak of the bed-springs slicing through the room’s stillness. I reached down and quietly kissed him, happy that his sleeping hands were too unconscious to wipe it away.
“God…” I breathed, cupping his cheek in my hand. “Help me to do right by him.”
With my firstborn more than any of the others, I feel like I am failure. Like I am missing out on his best years. Like I am too hard on him and not understanding enough.
“Help me,” I continued, “to SEE him, to realize how young he is, to care about the things he cares about. Help me to LISTEN to him.”
I want to hear beyond the words he says and understand his heart, and I want to give him everything he needs to be happy-at-soul.
Next I moved to Rebekah.
I smiled, taking in the golden hair that lay wild all around her face. I tucked in a few stray hairs and then I cupped her cheek in my hand. I prayed for her protection, for her to be free from sin and free from danger. I thanked God for the light she brings to our home, the same prayer I pray a hundred times a day.
And then little Betsie.
Her bed, a toddler-sized version of her siblings, is more difficult to get to, and I crouched down on the floor beside her. The kiss on her cheek was full of love, as I have been desperate lately to convey to her how cherished she really is.
The third child, and the girl following a very bright and talented sister with the longest hair in the land, I worry that Betsie doesn’t feel seen enough.
“God, help her to rest in the love that surrounds her. Keep her safe, make her wise and strong. Help me to see her and to SHOW her that I see her.”
And then I thanked God for even the kindness of allowing me to pray specific prayers for each of my children, for I felt sure, on this night, that He was there beside me, giving words to my heart and turning them into requests to the only one who can do ANYTHING for our family, anything for the children I hold so dear.
I then leaned back against the wall and surveyed the nursery of my heart, and willed myself to see not what I wanted to accomplish there…not the unfinished toy boxes and the table that I want to move across the room…not the mess that the kids had made there in the aftermath of the holidays…
but the sheer beauty of childhood.
The nursery upstairs screams of innocence and of tender years, and just being there with eyes trained on the good fills me up inside.
It is a wonderfully good practice to sit for a minute while your children sleep and pray and love and think. I do it every night, some nights more intentionally than others, and then I turn off the lamp.
It helps me to count the day and to not forget that it happened.
January 25th, 2016
Gideon and I just meandered outside at my parent’s house to watch my dad and brother working with the sawmill.
There just comes a point in every day when it becomes obvious that your little boy needs to get outside and inhale a healthy portion of fresh air and get a day’s worth of wiggles out.
And, once the crisp air hit my lungs, I realized that it is probably good for a mama, too.
“Do you like to drink air?” Gideon asked, grinning up at me. I must have really been needing to get outside, for I was gulping in the change of atmosphere like I was on the brink of death.
“I do,” I laughed, taking in a big, exaggerated slurp. “I just wish I had a straw.”
He spent the rest of the short walk to the sawmill pretending to drink air through a straw.
Lucky for us, my brother, Jerry, was starting up the machine to cut the wood.
“Have you ever seen this work?” I asked Gid.
“Nah, I’ve only seen it break!” he replied. I’ve lost count of the number of times that boy has reminded me of Opie. And I had to laugh because that sawmill has, indeed, given my daddy a lot of heartache. But then, all machinery does. It’s just part of running a farm and business. Lots of stuff breaking all the time. I only have to deal with percolators and microwaves. His repairs and replacements are a little pricier.
I pulled the collar of my new grey sweater coat up around my neck, feeling so glad that I had, one, waited for it to go on sale and, two, purchased it with some of my leftover Christmas money. It is always difficult to let go of Christmas money, and I wasn’t sure when the coat arrived if I had made a wise choice.
But today, with that thick, soft warmth shrouding my entire body, I was finally able to let go of those last doubts.
Especially when Gideon decided to join me in it.
Trying to dissuade him from going back into the house where it was warm, I opened the coat and he leaned up against my body where I wrapped him up. He pulled the lapels up over his face, and the two of us rocked back and forth while my dad and brother slowly turned a huge log into planks of wood.
Before too long, Daddy came over to join us.
“Who wants to go feed the fish?” my dad asked in his boisterous and energetic way.
“Me!!” Gid yelled.
“Not me…” I thought.
“Run over to the garage,” he said, “and grab that bucket. Fill it up…”
“Wait,” I said, confused, “aren’t you going?”
“Nah!” he said. “You can go do it. Take the girls with you,” he said, gesturing to my daughters and niece in the yard nearby.
“But it will be so cold,” I protested.
“That’s why you need to go,” my dad said. “Movin’ around’ll git you warmed up.”
“It’ll be fun! Holler at the girls…”
“But I don’t want them to go,” I insisted, inwardly sighing. “Me and Gid’ll go.” They would have loved it, for sure, but all I could picture was me, freezing to death, and trying to keep up with four kids who would also be freezing to death, and Betsie asking me to carry her for a quarter of a mile. While I was still freezing. To death.
An instant later, Gid and I were tearing secretly across the pasture, he with a red coffee bucket full of fish food held firmly in his hand, me holding onto my coat.
Heat tore into my shins and I realized that I had no recollection of the last time I had really RUN. It hurt. But it also felt good.
It surprised me how fast Gideon was. If I didn’t want to get left in his dust and miss out on feeding the fish, I had to actually put forth an effort.
“What if I had a heart attack right here on the spot?” I thought to myself as the cold air hit my lungs. I’d read too many stories this winter of people who had died shoveling snow. One minute you’re doing a normal outdoor activity, the next…
But we made it to the creek where a hidden amount of new trout, purchased by my daddy the previous winter, were hanging out, completely unaware that they were about to get a treat.
Do you ever have a flash of memory AS you’re doing something that you used to do, something that you completely forgot about? As I grabbed handfuls of the little brown pellets and cast them into the water where they fell like raindrops, I was instantly taken back to days I had long forgotten, accompanying my daddy to the smaller pond next to our old barn on a sweet little corner of our property. I would throw the food into the water, and here and there the sight of a fish would prick the surface, followed directly by a wide circle in the water that proved my eyes hadn’t been deceiving me.
It was exciting and soothing at the same time, and it made me feel important. Like I was helping out on the farm, and making the fish grow, and being a real country girl.
And now, here I was at the age of 34, with my son, experiencing all those feelings over again.
Gideon had obviously done this a few times with his granddaddy, and we soon turned the feeding into a competition to see who could throw their handful of food the farthest.
My heart hitched up within me to see how happy he was. Sometimes we make things so awkward for our kids, breathing down their necks and trying to get them to open up to us and reveal their hearts to us when, really, we maybe just need to take them outside and fill up their mind with something other than the parent who is staring at them and asking to them to share their feelings.
The words begin to flow, easily, and it warms me up all over to have shared a sacred moment with my boy today, discussing his upcoming birthday and talking about hard work and godliness and just carving out a memory together when we didn’t even have it on the calendar.
I have my daddy to thank, and his hungry fish.
Some days you “number” in advance – you know they’re going to special and you go into them with intentionality and care – but other days you number once they’re over because you never, EVER want to forget them.
Stay tuned for more! Next I’ll be talkin’ about husbands and marriage. Hubba hubba.