A Holy Encounter in the Middle of the Night

a holy encounter in the middle of the night

 

Motherhood is something I have longed for my entire life.

Motherhood is also proving to be far more challenging than I could have ever imagined…and far more rewarding, of course. Yet the most surprising thing is the way in which it is difficult.

Yes, you’re sleep deprived. Yes, you’re covered in bodily fluids and more. Yes, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting.

But the most paramount of surprises in regards to motherhood is this:

Motherhood sheds such stark light upon my own faults. Shortcomings. Selfishness.

History has proven that on many a night spent rocking a sick baby, as a battle has raged deep within me.

I’m tired. I just wish she would sleep so I could sleep. I’m so sick of puke and poo and laundry.

But not this night.

This night, I hold his fevered body against mine and listen to the ragged breathing.

I stroke his soft hair, noting how the silkiness of a babe is gone and the thickness of a wee boy has come.

His head nestles under my chin and my breathing falls in time with his. His breathing, so shallow and strained.

Heat radiates as I rub his small back up and down, up and down, up and down.

No, this night there is no pleading with the Almighty for the sweet release of sleep. No counting the minutes until my head finds the pillow.

This night, I cherish. My heart full nigh to bursting with the gratitude of being in this place; being his mother. Full of awe and wonder that so precious a thing could be entrusted to me. Overflowing with love and compassion for the little man splayed across my chest; and for his precious sisters sprawled, limbs akimbo in their beds.

This night it is not hard. This night the veil of self that so often blinds and distorts Truth is pulled aside and the glory and wonder that is this calling of Motherhood stands bright and stark and clear.

And this night, I embrace it with thanks to God for His good and gracious gift.

Have you ever had a moment like this, when the hard suddenly doesn’t seem so hard, rather a blessing miracle? Or are you in the middle of a night in your mothering right now? How can we pray for you?

Praying for you today,

Jen Deibel

The Stories I Never Thought I Would Write

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There are moments in life that shape us and change who we are. But what happens when you take those moments and transform them into words? They are words that tell a story, but it is not just my story. My story represents many stories. It is a voice for the woman who sits in her hospital bed, confused by the baby looking up at her. The little life she holds is not what she expected.

Words have turned into pages, and pages into a book. It is a reminder to the mother who buries her thoughts in guilt. She longs to find joy in the days that feel like a mess.

The day I wept for my lost plans was the day my life became more complete. The loss I felt in the pit of my stomach was actually breathtaking beauty in disguise. I am grateful for the heartache I went through because it has changed my perspective on life. I want to love the unloved. I want to find joy when it seems so difficult to find. I want to speak of hope when everything feels hopeless. 

For three years I have been writing bittersweet vignettes of motherhood. Times of devastation, like when I found out my son had Down syndrome. Or that time I knelt on the bathroom floor and cried in agony as I said goodbye to another unborn baby. The days of joy as I found humor from my children. The unexplainable moment when I delivered my daughter in the shower. It’s all here. I am learning to trust in the brush strokes of the Maker. When parts of the painting look awkward, I have to remember that there is a bigger picture. I ask him to help me find beauty in what I don’t understand.

You can read The Mural & The Maker as an ebook or PDF, which are free! Or you can purchase the print version. I hope you find encouragement and joy as you read moments covered in grace.

With Love, Natalie Falls at nataliefalls.com

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The Ticket Out of a Grumpy Life {and a little giveaway}

We were already twenty minutes behind schedule when the third issue surfaced in the third child. Each time I walked out of my bedroom, I found another heart gone awry. Big tears on little faces, each child acting unraveled as if it would be for forever.

I was still unshowered, of course.

I didn’t have long enough to feel exasperated before I heard, “Mommy?!”

A confused call from downstairs that got progressively louder as Lily reached the spot where I held her sister’s newly-confessed angst.

“The water isn’t coming out of the faucet. Again.”

I knew what had happened. Now being twenty minutes late and unshowered felt small. I let go of the latest hand I’d been holding and hurtled down two flights of stairs to discover what I’d suspected, only worse. The water filter tank, suspended below the sink and over our keepsakes in the basement storage room, had fallen from its holding place in the rafters.

I’d thought we’d secured it.

Water dripped onto a collection of precious items, all organized on a table and ready to be inserted into what passed for the “baby books” of these ones we never saw as babies. The unkempt table had already been a reminder that I was behind my schedule for getting organized, even before the water filter fell on it.

The hearts that had lined up for mending an hour previously were now no longer urgent—to me—as I gathered towels to clean this spill that was seeping into some of the only pieces of their history we had.

All this before 9:00 a.m.

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Just after we went from two to four children, I found myself rushing through each day to get to my pockets of time away.

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I counted down, waiting desperately for the four afternoon hours to myself I got each week, while Nate manned the fort.

I put the children to bed early in the hope of getting more hours of “me time” back. I daydreamed about the magical “six months from now” when we would (I was sure) achieve a new normal as a family.

I’d grown to believe the great, but subtle, lie of motherhood:

I’ll find Him when life slows down or this burden lifts or I have more time.

But this seeming chaos was aligned for a purpose. To wait to seek Him when my load lifted—when these children weren’t so needy, when I finally got on top of the laundry or was able to get a meal out on time—meant that I would miss the precise moment He’d ordained for me to find Him. Now.

The psalmist says, “And I will look up,” and invites me to do the same … with my minutes.

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This is adoration.

I take a passage of Scripture that speaks a truth about God and I repeat those words back to Him, no matter how disgruntled I might feel on the inside when I start. I let my mind clear a space in my heart to receive. He then reminds me of the times when I’ve seen this very truth activated in my life. I praise Him more for that reminder.

I wait; I listen. Pray back. Speak back. Sing back. Write back.

I fix my eyes on who He is instead of what I’m not.

I can approach a plate of spilled spaghetti, a child with a fever, and a rift with a friend with new perspective when I tell Him who He is — when I tell my heart who He is.

He is waiting to intersect our minutes, mamas. He has sweet Words for us in this season we’re watching like an hourglass.

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He sees us, here, and is waiting for this one mess of a moment to be the one in which we see Him.

Adoration is this mama’s ticket out of a grumpy life.

Want a jumpstart, mama? This — above — is  an excerpt from Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, released via Zondervan this week. I’d love to share with you the pages of this book that have brought new life to my grumpy-leaning heart.

How do you participate?

Leave a little note here, below — wave your hand and say “I’d love a copy!”

Want a few more chances to win? Share about this book (or share this post directly) on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest and for each share, add another comment.

And for the ones, like me, who — ahem — celebrate that they can turn their computer on and off and might need a little help — here’s something you can run with ….

Click to tweet: That mess of a mommy moment? Maybe this is a deep breath, and your ticket out: http://bit.ly/bookebtis (via @SaraHagerty)

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Entries for this giveaway will remain open until Sunday, October 12th at 8pm EST. We’ll let our three winners know early next week and you’ll have those crisp new books in hand before you know it!

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A Permission Slip For The Mom Who Has Suffered Loss

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Recently I have had several friends suffer loss in their families. Because I have grieved as a mother, I understand a little of their feelings. I say, “a little,” because I would never claim to say, “I know how you feel.” Every loss suffered by every mother is different.

But still, I get it – a little.

One thing I understand – that I was surprised to learn about my own loss – is how many “should’s” there are.

After the dust settles, after the bleeding stops or the meals stop or the memories become more distant, you often “feel” like you should be feeling/doing/thinking something different. Maybe something more, maybe something less, just something different.

It is a huge burden to carry, these “should’s”, especially with the ones you’re already carrying.

So this, dear mom who is grieving, is your permission slip. Before you read it, take a long, deep breath.

Really. Do it.

This is your permission slip to still be dealing with it. Even after it’s been however long. Even after you’ve had another child, or married again, or been to counseling, or put “enough” time (whatever that is) between you and the loss. You can still be grieving.

This is your permission slip to be tired. So tired. Tired for “no” reason, after long night’s sleep. Grief is exhausting.

This is your permission slip to struggle in your marriage. Grief is messy. It brings out the worst (though also at times the best) in relationships.

This is your permission slip to feel worried about lots of things. I’ve often talked about how anxiety and depression are so closely linked.

This is your permission slip to doubt – doubt yourself, your spouse, your abilities, your purpose. Grief can shake you at the core.

This is your permission slip to spend money healing. To see a counselor, to go on dates with your husband, to order take-out, to hire a house cleaner. I’m not advocating ridiculous, unwise spending, but what I am saying is: healing and self-care are a valid use of our money, and it should be okay to make them a priority when needed.

This is your permission slip to suffer in whatever way your body is suffering. There is no rush. God works in the clouds and the darkness of our hearts, and He is not impatient with you. Draw near to Him. Rest in Him. Ask Him what He would have you do in this time. Trust him with the hearts of your children and your husband. Hold his hand in the darkness – He is there; He has promised He would be.

Dear mom who is grieving, my prayer for you is this today:

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Blessings to you today,

Jessica 

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