making myself low

I opened the door to the garage to bring the trash out and nearly stepped on this heap of nursing kittens! Look at that Mama. She looks so over it! I love this picture so much because the past few days I have felt like Bowa, our mama cat. Pouring it all out, giving it all away, being sucked dry. (I wrote this post last weekend...but I still want to post it.)

If you have kids I know you know this feeling. And I think it's especially intense right this moment before the start of a school year. There is a panic that creeps into me every end-of-August, "am I restored? did I get the rest I needed this summer? am I ready for the demands that are ahead?" And the answer is a sinking and definite, "no."

My kids are in full gear these days. Alden is monkey-ing around, pulling down table cloths, sticking everything in his mouth for quality control, pulling cords, screaming with excitement and demands to go outside. Hattie is into it all as well. Her greatest life struggle is trying to find two shoes so she can go outside. Much of my life is spent looking for any pair of Hattie's shoes. Elsie is my clingy companion and at the moment the most demanding. She needs me non-stop. She wakes up with a plan for us, and if I fall short in any way she falls into a heap on the floor, disappointment made visible, mom-guilt flooding the room. And I am trying to stay strong and set boundaries and expectations, but she must just be going through a stage or something. She wants to be right by me all the time, in my lap, all limbs wrapped in some way around my body like a grape vine. It's really something. Well, it's really exhausting is what it is. And Ivar has his own needs, though they are less obvious because he is growing into something so independent of me. Mostly he tells me jokes non-stop, or lego plot-lines or reasons why he has too many chores.

Anyway, this weekend my personal space began crying out. It's also the weekend I have completely weened Alden so hormones are also a huge factor. Add in the beginning of the school year, farm chores, preserving the garden and running the home and I was ready to run for the hills.

And the world would say, "absolutely! You deserve a break! Get out of that house for an overnight and recharge!" And given the right heart, I think a break would be wise too.

But have you ever had a morning off or the house to yourself and not known what to do with yourself? I hear this from friends all the time. What we think we want finally comes, and we are lost. And then that time away is over and nothing has changed. It's after enough of these experiences without a change of heart that I have learned better. Because it is really a heart problem. It's my heart and it is my own selfishness that is trying to overtake my selflessness.

God showed me this with crystal clear clarity this morning at church. Our pastor, Danny, stood up after a few songs and talked about humility and how pride is the very first thing to creep into any cracks in our foundation. But we serve a righteous and holy God who calls for humble vessels, willing to be filled by him alone. Danny said that kneeling is simply a way to remind our bodies who it was who created our souls.  He suggested that if anyone felt the nudge, they should get to their knees in a posture of humility and submission.

I didn't get on my knees.

Because at that moment Elsie was spread across my lap like a wet noodle, whisper-yelling at me to "scratch my back. harder. lighter. give me a head massage..." She sat on me looking forward, then turned around to face me, all the while twisting up my dress. My thought was that with Hattie and Alden in the nursery, I could use the hour to fill this girl up, give her all the love and touch that she needs and enjoy just her. Instead I just felt smothered.

Like a farm cat nursing six kittens.

But I laughed as Danny suggested we get in a humbled posture. And I realized that Danny's words were for me. I wasn't on my knees, but my posture was the same. My daily-non-stop-every-moment life of service for my family is utterly stripping me of my own desires. And this daily pouring myself out can only be maintained if I turn to the one who pours himself out for me.

So this is where I am left this afternoon. As I typed this, Elsie came and asked for cheese four times, hoping for a different answer from me. We have a season of growth ahead of us. Boundaries will be set and kept and there are some demanding weeds I am ready to pull while they are still little and she can understand why they must go.

And I have weeds of my own that need to be pulled too. I have been working myself into a self-righteous tizzy and it's going to lead to nothing good. I have heart work to be done, a few conversations that need to happen with God as we make a plan ahead, Him teaching me how to lay down my life for my friends, Him showing me that the only real happiness to be found is in fellowship with Him daily. There is a lot of room for new growth and I have a lot to learn. Good thing it's the start of a new school year!

And I just had this realization. Elsie is glomming onto me and needing every bit of me. I am weary. So I need to glom onto Jesus because I need every bit of him. And I need to teach Elsie to do the same. That well never runs dry. I think Elsie and I have some sweet moments ahead, reading our Bible's and talking about what it means to be God's girls. Doesn't that feel like a great next step?

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