Choosing the hard path

Today was a day not unlike many other days, and it was hard. There are a lot of things about living in a two bedroom apartment with two small children and husband working from home that are hard. For instance, today, I took the boys to our favorite library. But to do that, I had to hold Ollie and lug our big bag of books back to return, go down the elevator to the car and buckle both boys into their car seats. Once we got to the library, I got them both out of their car seats and brought them in. I placed Ollie on the carpet in the kids area while I picked out a bunch of books for Archie. After a while, we went upstairs to check out some books I was interested in. Of course, I realized Archie had left a toy up there once we were about to leave the library. So, we went up again and then back down again. When I went to check out books, I saw their was a fine on my account, but I didn’t have my credit card with me. So, I quickly go out to our van (right outside the building) with Ollie who is not bundled up to get my card. Once back inside, I go to a computer and type in all my info to pay my fine with one hand while Ollie is on my lap. Meanwhile, Archie is coloring on all of these little sheets of paper that need to be cleaned up. Once all that is done, I can check out my big o’ pile of books, while Ollie plays on the somewhat dirty floor to the entry way of the library. Then we head out, back into the cold and get buckled back in.

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These are daily things that happen that stretch me. And I waffle a lot between “this is soooo hard” and “why am I complaining? look at what I have!” And today I was ultimately thinking, I really don’t want anything else, I am fully engaged and choosing this. Life can be a struggle right now because of the amount of sacrifice that it requires, but the amount of life-giving, joyful, real and alive moments it provides satisfies me to my core. It’s always the good stuff that comes from the hard stuff– and it’s choosing to embrace that constant process. I know all these little interactions with my kids, are developing a lot within them– how they see things, how they react to things, how they treat people, etc.

My boys won’t be this small, naive, curious, and innocent forever. Even though this season seems really hard and at times long, I know it will pass. Oliver will sleep through the night some day and Archie won’t ask me things like “So, where is Jesus?” and “What is war?”…and I will long for these days filled with a lot sacrifice and a lot of life. And I know that this work will pay off. These are the formative years and they are little sponges picking up on everything– acquiring a worldview, learning about character, becoming relational and so much more. Some days, I get little glimpses in the midst of the craziness– of what a mind-blowing thing I have the privilege of witnessing and having a big part of. The creation alone of these little humans stops me in my tracks sometimes and takes my breath away.

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I am driven by my convictions. What I am doing, namely staying at home with my children is something I can’t not do. Every mother has to make sacrifices and every mother has her own set of convictions about her role, her identity, where her value is derived, etc. Personally, I feel a heavy, deeply rooted purpose in these hard-fought days. Walking through frustrating moments on a daily basis reveals my own sin, and I know I am slowly- through the fire being chiseled into a more patient, grace-filled person. My children need me, and because God graciously created them through Darren and I, I can care for them in an intimate way that no childcare worker can. And that alone is really beautiful to me- to be needed in that way and to be able to provide care in such a close-knit way.  They are of my flesh and I know them. And each day their uniqueness is being revealed to me more and more– what things make them tick, what things trouble them, etc.

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So this is a picture of where I am at. I find worth in what I am doing, and find a lot of value in it even with so many other opportunities and options out there for women. Most days are hard, but I am invested and want to continue to work for fuller investment in what I am doing. I think about elderly people living alone, who look back on these years as the greatest years. I know I will do the same, because this season provides a lot of the meat of life. I don’t want to skip out on this season because of the hardness of it all. This is the time when we are really alive, when we go to sleep and are dog TIRED. When we watch connections happen, true joy flourish and family relationships root. It’s this constant ebb and flow of really hard moments with little peeks of heart-wrenching joy. And I am in it.

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