Do you ever have this? A season of life as solid as a book in your hands transform before your eyes and slip through your fingers like sand?
I printed off four dozen Instagram photos early this winter and posted them at the end of our hallway so that when we came out of our bedrooms in the morning to greet a new day, we couldn’t help but see and smile at happy memories, our family life coloring four corners in little squares.
When I put up those photos, I stepped back and saw it.
Our life the last few years, while sprinkled with travel and trips away, has mostly been wound tight around the warmth of our home. Books read on couches. Soups simmering on the stove. Little boys wrestling their father on carpet. Toys tossed in bins and boxes and clothes in and out and in and out of the washer. Lines drawn in dirt a stone’s throw from the window where I wash our dishes of eggs and toast.
So many of these photos are humble. Boys who can hardly keep their clothes on. A scatter of library books for entertainment. Days dizzy with small chaos and tripping into tiny breakthroughs barely seen between diaper changes and making beds.
I stepped back from our photos and I saw and felt how true it is that building up a culture at home is beautiful. How blessed I’ve been to dig deep in these last few years where I was like the woman in the Bible asked to make bread from what? Only flour and oil? And likely starve. And yet her faith (or will) pulls her through. Oh how I’ve been scratching at these walls for making a life here that is good. And it has been. Somehow, it did materialize. I can see those details dance themselves to life.
I’ve passed through a season of solitude in some things that have been hard. I took on full care of the boys. I left a job where I had stored like sacred stones so many skills and even more pride. I pulled my body tight into a trench of being independent and being strong in ways that no one no one has seen but God.
And here I stand. No babies in my lap anymore. I sleep very well at night. I end the day and feel the progress rolling up something strong through the days and months now like a sunrise so beautiful you can’t help but stand feet fixed for love of it. My success is not skittish anymore but loyal. It seems to wake up with me now and walk by my side—sit down with me, move my hands, steer my thoughts: I can get things done. I get things done. Here we are. The boys play well. The twins are making breakthroughs in speech and we will be potty-training soon. Our routines, our habits, our toil has finally unfurled itself smooth and crisp. A white sheet rolling outside on a line of summer’s warm wind.
This is how it has felt. It felt that I left my job, got in a boat and rowed away. And in rowing away I didn’t know that my feet would come back to solid ground. And yet—solid ground. It’s a mystery really. Mothering is hard for me, but mothering is good for me—so I’m not here with these kids, I’ve never been here with these kids, because of want for easier days or less work.
I needed to learn some things and I've learned those things here. Things about who I am and how I work. How I'm motivated, what makes me come alive, and what exactly my weaknesses look like.
Yes, I’m glad I could see all the quiet good of our home in the Instagram photo gallery I taped up. I’m happy that I can see that it was really okay to have a season of humility, of getting small and intimate, so very intimate, with my vocation—of being here, mostly just here for so many hours, so many days, so many many months. There was a lot of sifting sifting sifting for gold.
But now I feel God calling my name for something new. I don’t really know what that something is. I can feel it. I can sense it. It’s burning in me. Agitating me. Waking up my soul—dark room: lightbulb swinging wide on a long rope.
I honestly can’t say anything other than that because I don't know anymore than that. I’m trying so hard to listen, to keep my heart free for more, to not write my story with a forced hand. I want to be open to new adventure, to see what other seas I can cross and stories I can hold of things I was terrible at but scratched at anyway.
I like this place. I haven’t felt this for quite some time. It’s a tugging hope, a curiosity stretching its arms. I’m gonna follow where it leads. It’s time for some more discomfort, for some more shedding of skin, for some absolute faith in things unseen.