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There are musicians that partner with you in the different stages of life, and for me Sara Groves is one of those. My little sister gave me “Fireflies and Songs” before I left for Geneva to be with not-yet-Husband.

He and I started our three months in the same city by getting engaged and ended it with our civil wedding. It was packed three months, let’s say. The majority of our relationship was long distance, so these months were virtually the only time we had to understand the daily ins and outs of each others lives.

I used to sit in my apartment – a friend’s that she generously shared with me in her own last months in Geneva – listening to song after song from “Fireflies,” writing in my journal, staring at the Jet D’Eau and the lake, trying to come to grips with what was happening in my life. It was a happy time, yes, but it felt so deep, so serious, the process of getting ready to commit my whole life to another person, and I found comfort in the raw honesty of Sara Groves’ words about the difficulties of marriage.

A few weeks ago one Saturday morning, I got out of bed and walked down with Baby in my arms. Husband and Little Boy were in the kitchen making pancakes, and this CD was playing through our sound system. I wasn’t fully down the stairs before the wave of memories took me back to the couch from Pakistan, the fireplace, Anna’s little speakers on the floor.

We’re looking for the music in the music box, tearing it to pieces, trying to find the song… 

I had almost forgotten the order of songs on the CD because when the next song started playing, I heard season after season of the past three years of babies and bellies, marriage and changes and life. I read somewhere that Groves wrote “From This One Place” about her struggle with the onset of anxiety in her life; she didn’t have it before but one day it started when she was about to go on stage and play (I’m working off my memory for this one so it might not be correct).

Maybe one of the reasons why I struggled so much was there was never a real diagnosis, no one ever thought I was depressed or anxious. I was functioning, and in a lot of ways I was more than “just” functioning. We ate well, our apartment was in order, the boys were always taken care of. I didn’t shower often, but you know. There was never anything technically wrong, but it didn’t change the sadness of soul that was permanently there.

From this one place, I can’t see very far… I hear her singing from our white curving staircase in the yellow house in Stockholm 2013, and it’s the words I want to go back and tell my 28, 29, 30-year-old self.

All I could see was breastfeeding that would never end, never having my body to myself again.

All I could see was never having a full night of sleep again.

All I could see was the mountain of work that childcare is, the physical, emotional and spiritual work that seemed to never ever end.

All I could see was time I no longer had with the husband I loved and with myself.

All I could see was that hobbies, friends, the things I loved were changing, disappearing.

All I could see was a new version of myself, a version I could not recognize, a person I did not know.

From this one place, I can’t see very far. From this one moment, I’m square in the dark. 

My outlook was one of total lack – I did not have enough, I did not have what I needed, I did not have what I wanted.

But the truth was so much simpler.

From this one place, I could not see very far. 

Difficult times always feel desperate, and it’s these seasons when we are most tempted to make declarations about our lives. “I will never _______, it will always ________.” It wasn’t the time to judge, to have expectations, to whine, to complain, to try to change people and control. It was the time to grieve and to wait. 

I walked into the kitchen where Husband was making pancakes, and Little Boy was screaming excitedly waiting for his. We sat down as a family at our Saturday morning table, pancakes with maple syrup with two boys that we adore, Husband holds my hand, Little Boy holds the other one and we pray.

We thank God for giving us our daily bread, butter and maple syrup.

And I move on from this table with life, with confidence, with peace, with security, with joy overflowing, and truly I cannot believe it because I can remember how deep the pain ran these past three years, the bitter taste still on my tongue. But I know the battle I waged against insufficiency, I can recount every fight with the demons of insecurity and disappointment, and I know that when I look at my open hands today and see beauty and good and joy and safety and peace, I know that these are the fruits plucked only from the tree of suffering.

From this one place, I can’t see very far…. these are the things I will trust in my heart: You can see something else. 

What are you facing in your life today? What declarations are you making about this time? Is it the time to judge? Or the time to wait? 

This post is Day 15 of 31 Days of blogging in October. I am writing this month about my first season of motherhood, sharing stories and lessons that stayed with me from that time.

(New to this series? Start here and follow the links to each day’s post.) 

confessions graphic FINAL

Little Boy and I both fell down the stairs today. We were walking to the kitchen from his room; he had just woken from his afternoon nap. We were talking, the moment was light, then my socks slipped and I went down from stair to stair to stair, hot pain in my back. Little Boy was holding my hand, and I have no idea what happened to him, but I turned around only to see him face first on the bottom two stairs, sobbing his eyes out.

My back was aching, stabbing pain just starting to throb, and I can feel my lower back heating up as all the blood rushed to the place of impact, and the truth is it was so painful I wanted to just sit there at the foot of the stairs, sit there and cry, sit there and wonder where my mother is, where Husband is, where someone is who can take care of me. But I couldn’t because just behind me is a two-year-old who is screaming in pain and shock and has no idea what just happened to him. So I will myself not to cry, reach out to him, make sure he’s not bleeding or seriously injured, pick him up and hobble to our glider, where I sat down and prayed while Little Boy cried in my arms.

These are my most difficult moments in parenting, the moments when I so desperately need care but there is no one to care for me, and on top of that, I have to find it in me to care for my vulnerable, needy child.

And these are the moments where I am drawn closer to and deeper in to the heart of God.

Because as I sit there in pain comforting my son but needing something myself, I can hear his voice, I’m here. I am carrying you. 

This has been my story day after day, moment by moment.

When Little Boy was only two or three months, I went to something that should have been a beautiful moment in my life, something special, sacred, exciting where I should have left feeling loved and affirmed, but something happened at the hands of another woman. Words were said, and I left instead with pain etched in my heart. I tried to process with Husband that night, exhausted he fell asleep in the middle of what I was saying, and I lay there and thought, I have no one. 

Little Boy woke up between 4 and 5am, and I sat on the red couch in our office, watching the shadows of a sunrise in the sky behind the Jura mountain, and I remember pouring my heart out to God, holding my tattered blue Bible in my hands, trying to hold on to something that would tell me everything would be alright.

And the morning brought me word of his unfailing love. I am with you, you are not alone. People fail you, but I have never failed you. 

There were the days of reasoning with a baby, of trying to explain to him why it wasn’t bath time yet, how I was setting the water temperature, making sure the level was right, so it would be a perfect bath for him, a concept he could not understand because he could not wait.

And sitting on the toilet next to the bathtub watching him splash and play, his little desires fulfilled, I hear His voice, Five minutes. Wait a little bit longer. I have not left you. I am with you. Wait a little bit longer. 

When I wake at 11:30pm, 1:30am, at 5:30am to feed a crying baby, when sleep is impossible to come by, when I am exhausted out of my mind, there he is. I never sleep, I am awake before you are. I wake first, Devi. I don’t need to sleep because I am strong, and I am holding you and caring for you. 

For the days when I am dry with no more love to give, no more energy to spend, and my will wants to only choose my way, I have power, and I give you power to do what you can’t do, know what you wouldn’t know and feel what you couldn’t feel without me*. 

Babies and children are the most needy creatures I’ve ever encountered. I love that my sons turn to me moment by moment to meet my needs because it tells me that there is trust in our relationship. But let’s just say that their neediness has led to a deep neediness of my own.

I have never needed more love, affirmation, respect, time, pampering, you name it, I need it, and truly there is no one in the world who is able to meet the depths of my needs, and believe me I have tried to coerce, manipulate  find a person or people who could fit this bill.

For every need and want, for every moment of can’t-do-it-anymore, for every desire and dream, I have stood at the foot of a cross where blood runs red and grace flows free, and I have found my peace, my answers, my hope and my home. 

I found it in Jesus, the one who loved me with an unfailing love, the one who created my inmost being, the one who paid it all so that I could be free, the one who parents me moment by moment, the one who gives me everything I need, the one who allows me to experience hard things so that I have no option but his strength.

I don’t know who you are, how you found this blog or what you are dealing with today, but I can promise you this – there is answer far better than you could ever imagine, there is a promise greater than anything you can dream, and there is someone who knows you more deeply than you can know yourself. There are needs in your soul that only he can fulfill.

Talk to him.

Ask.

You will receive. 

*From Beth Moore’s study, “Living Beyond Yourself.”

This post is Day 14 of 31 Days of blogging in October. I am writing this month about my first season of motherhood, sharing stories and lessons that stayed with me from that time.

(New to this series? Start here and follow the links to each day’s post.)

confessions graphic FINALsimplicity

There are three books that currently shape the way we parent. Last week I reviewed the first, Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel, and this week I want to share a bit about Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, whose name always reminds me of the North Korean dictator.

A friend recommended this book to me, and it has significantly impacted some of our big picture decisions about the kind of life we live, how we integrate our children into our lives and our choices about things, toys and time. I loved this book, and I love the vision it lays out for what a childhood can be.

A protected childhood allows for the slow development of identity, well-being and resiliency.

– Kim John Payne, “Simplicity Parenting,” p12

This is not a book about discipline or communication, per se, but it is really about looking at what kind of a life we want our children to have and going about creating it.

His main point, I think, is stated on page 6:

The pace of our lives is increasingly misaligned by the pace of childhood…By simplifying, we protect the environment for childhood’s slow unfolding of self.

– Kim John Payne, “Simplicity Parenting,” p6, 10

The book tackles several topics that are important for parents – simple routines and how they create stability and safety for kids, a simple environment with less toys and less clutter, and creating pressure valve points in the day that allow for kids to let off some steam.

After reading the book, I looked at our toys – did Little Boy play with them for long periods of time or just flit from one toy to another? If it was the latter, he probably had too many out. I put most of his toys in box in the basement, and now there cars, legos, blocks, musical instruments and books. He still does not play with everything “deeply,” but there is a significant improvement in how he plays, and I much prefer having less clutter around.

One of the best points in the book is about boredom:

Boredom is often the precursor to creativity. Thing of it as the bridge between “nothing” and the sort of deep creative play we talked about. The bridge is almost always paved (with the frustration of) boredom….The messiness of free play, with its many changes and possibilities builds an inner flexibility.

A child’s love of an activity is not enough to protect him or her from the effects of pursuing it too much, or too soon.

– Kim John Payne, “Simplicity Parenting,” p142, 157

Payne says that boredom is a gift to children, and it helped me see that over-scheduling my child or planning too many activities and shuttling him around from one thing to another only serves to shut down his own ability to create, play and invent. It helps me now to remember that it’s not my job to entertain him or keep him occupied. If something is genuinely worth doing, we do it, but most of the time I try to keep it open to see what he will come up with on his own.

This book has a huge impact in how I think about the life I create for my child – is it one that fosters the slow unfolding of his childhood? Or am I making his life fit into my adult word? Am I trying to make him life at my pace? How can we spend our time, structure our home and fill our spaces in a way that fosters peace for all of us and also a pace that favours childhood? These are the questions I found myself asking and still find myself asking because of this book. It’s an excellent, easy read with many practical applications.

*I know there are a variety of people who read this blog who come from a diverse set of cultures and beliefs, and it’s my hope that you all feel welcome here. But I am still who I am, and my beliefs and faith are important to me, so I want to say this as a caveat – this book is not a faith-based book, and there are a few big-picture conclusions that Payne makes that I don’t agree with, nor do I think he addresses some of a child’s core issues or core needs. 

This post is Day 12 of 31 Days of blogging in October. I am writing this month about my first season of motherhood, sharing stories and lessons that stayed with me from that time.

(New to this series? Start here and follow the links to each day’s post.) 

confessions graphic FINALboots

Only one small little thought for all of us today.

I don’t think I’ve spent as much time outdoors in my life as I have since moving to Stockholm. Swedes are out all the time in any kind of weather, sporting the best outdoor wear you can imagine. We’ve begun the process of outfitting ourselves for the fall and winter or “finter” as I like to call it because fall here feels like winter to me.  We all have our waterproof and windproof jackets and shoes, and oh it really does make a difference. For the first time in my life, I feel like going outside in the cold. It’s 11C/32 F for us today, and I was out in a t-shirt, jeans and these rain boots of mine. I love wearing them and running around with Little Boy in the yard. Nothing gets wet except for the boots – amazing.

Getting outside has been a sanity-saving, health-improving, mood-boosting part of the last few months. When I think of the months and months I spent cooped up in our apartment in Geneva with my newborn and toddler, I now wonder, why?

Go outside today, friends. It’s a beautiful world.

 

This post is Day 11 of 31 Days of blogging in October. I am writing this month about my first season of motherhood, sharing stories and lessons that stayed with me from that time.

(New to this series? Start here and follow the links to each day’s post.)