recovering my life

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I have so many words that have been burning up my soul this week, but a IMG_2588sick and clingy baby has made it virtually impossible to do anything. Any time I’ve had to write has had to be spent writing for other things. A schedule mix-up today has left me with a brief amount of time this morning while most of the children are still sleeping, thanks be to Jesus. I’ve been longing to write down some of the stuff from last weekend (as well as share the morning sunrise view from our hotel room – look how pretty!), and I’ve been so fearful that I will lose it if I don’t get it written soon. Thus, this post will not begin with any poetic transition of any kind. I hear the baby stirring, even as I do some last edits, so you’re just left with what it is….

Last weekend, I opened my conference weekend with what amounts to an hour of quiet. Other women were in the room, but it’s basically a room full of different stations for prayer, art, reading, and reflection. I don’t think it was an accident that when I sat down and looked out on the beautiful lake, the first verse that I read was this:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Every fear I had that my expectations for the weekend would not meet up with reality faded at that moment. It was like my whole being breathed a sigh and just let go. The weekend felt way more relaxed than last year. I’m sure partly because I was more comfortable with everything, but mostly because I knew what I needed and God was faithful to deliver.

The very first person who prayed with me asked me what I needed. I simply told her I had thyroid disease, and it had been a struggle lately. She immediately smiled, said her mother-in-law also had thyroid disease, and her name is Suzanne. A lot of people misunderstand thyroid disease as something that basically amounts to the fact that you have trouble losing weight, but her specificity in praying against thyroid disease and for my clarity in pursuing treatment came from someone who was familiar with everything that it means. Just a small confirmation that I was exactly where I needed to be at that moment, and the same was true for her.

I ended up crying a lot more than I expected through the weekend. (I’m sure some of it was because I just needed to, but let’s be real: PMS is no joke.) There were so many small moments that just built rest into my soul, and a couple of big ones that just brought me to my knees. To be honest, I was a little nervous about some of the weekend schedule, including the main speaker. I’m not quite sure why, but I tend to be cautious towards most things ‘evangelical orphan care’. I think we too quickly become rescuers/saviors and dismiss not just the children’s pain and loss but the dignity of the birth families as well. This speaker however: not like at all. She was exactly what I needed, and I knew it from the moment she stepped on the stage later that first evening because she opened with this:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Even when I came home, back into the chaos of a large family in a small space, back into the everyday with children who tend punish me a little for leaving, I can breathe deep with those words. There’s nothing heavy or ill-fitting about this if I keep my eyes on Jesus. He’s teaching me daily those unforced rhythms of grace. If I’m keeping company with Him, then I’m living freely and lightly. Rest.

working for the weekend

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I’m getting ready to head away for a conference for the weekend. If there were ever a year where I needed this more, I’m not sure what it is. Thankfully, I don’t have the anxiety over going alone like I did last year (mostly because I’m not going alone this year); I am really just filled with excited anticipation. Well, and a just a little bit of anxiety over leaving my sweet M overnight for the first time in the eight months she’s been home. Ok. yeah. There’s some anxiety still.

Last year, we had just said goodbye to Baby D less than a month prior. I was wrung out emotionally. The grief was still fairly intense, even through that whole weekend. I remember what it was like to sit in my grief. Feeling alone. Wondering if I’ll ever feel quite normal again. I wept during sessions, during singing, just when talking to a lady I met in the hallway. Perhaps the intensity of the rest and peace I gained during that weekend last year was in direct correlation to the intensity of the emotions I felt in the weeks and months before.

This year, I’m not coming off of that kind of heavy emotionality. In spite of those terrible two weeks or so when I was fighting the health-related anxiety, in spite of the stress of two funerals this past week and another likely to come soon, I still feel fairly stable and sound. But I need rest. I feel it with every fiber of my being. I need alone time. I need a long walk looking over that beautiful lake, just me and Jesus. I need my shared room with an old friend, my dinner table with newer friends, and prayers with friends that I haven’t yet met in person. I need to sit in a roomful of mamas, remembering that I am not forgotten. I need to be reminded that I am called, changed, and connected to the One who knew every bit about me, even the ugly stuff, even the health-issue stuff, yet still knit my very being together.

Life is hard sometimes. Whether or not you do foster care, have adopted, have children at all, struggle with health problems or habits or anything else: life is pretty hard. We have to seize joy and rest and peace where we find it, and sometimes, when we can’t find it, we have to intentionally make space for it. Even if you don’t happen to be headed to Lake Lanier with me this weekend, find some joy. Get some rest. Fill yourself with peace. You need it too.

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