Ezra told me today, while we were wandering slow-like through the air conditioned mall, that it would take, like, at least one million words to thank God for my love.
The tears sprung to my eyes and I dropped weak to his eye level and asked him to say it again. My heart was hungry for this moment, and I immediately recognized that this hunt for gratitude that I have been on lately has not gone unnoticed by watchful eyes. He has been watching me watch for thankfulness.
The very night before, I had stayed up too late crying out to my husband that I felt like I had "missed the mark" with Ezra somehow. Me and him, we just rub wrong most days. And it feels as if it has always been this way, this feeling of different frequencies. And last night, it all came rushing out- forced upwards by the hard lump in my throat. All my despair over how to parent this child rushed out and pooled onto my pillow. Why do we have such a hard time getting along? Coexisting? Why do we rub so wrong until anger is quick and hearts feel hardened? Why do I feel so suffocated and he so suffocated and where did all the air in this house go to?
I spilled it out. He's a good boy. A GREAT boy. He needs soooo much of my attention, which is a little busy being scattered around the house like stray legos most days. When I try to give that attention, we rub. We fight. We retreat. When I don't make time for the attention, he pesters. We rub. We fight. We retreat.
I had gotten to a place where I was retreating from my own son, just so we could survive, and suddenly, last night, I recognized this truth and it hit me like a freight train.
Does he know that I love him? That I like him?
And what kind of a mother sits up in bed late at night and has to ask herself these things?
My husband soothed. ALL mothers had felt such things, he was certain. In the darkest places where we feel alone- all hunched and monsterly- even there, we are never alone. All it takes is shedding a little light in those caverns to see that there is actually a general assembly of us down there, all under the false assumption that we are isolated cast-aways. The darkness makes us blind.
After the wave of hopelessness gushed out of me, we started to fill it back up with truth. Chris prayed. I prayed. We prayed. Give us a breakthrough with Ezra, Lord! Use this to sharpen my character! Use me to drench him in unwavering love, safe! Help us love well!
Not even 12 hours later, in the middle of a bustling mall, these words fall soft from Ezra's lips. They were handcrafted answers to my prayers. Balm for a frazzled, frustrated heart that wants nothing more than for her child to know he is loved... more than one million words could ever even begin to express.
Today, I am thankful that God is real. And that He hears the deepest cries of my heart.
I've been working on a little project that has the potential to change my achy and weary existence into a straight-up disco ball of multi-faceted joy.
03. tools of the trade
It is nothing fancy, by any means. Quite the opposite, actually! It is a daily photo diary of clumsy gratitude. Gratitude that I hunt for in the wild, unexplored jungles of the mundane.
04. pockets of quiet
I'm learning to slow the shutter speed of my life. To hold still and capture more light. To gather up the things for which I am thankful.
07. candy in the morning
I am DONE with discontentment and grumbling. I am DONE with believing that this life I have, this God I serve, are not good enough.
09. library loot
I have been rescued!! What kind of a story would it be if the damsel in distress turned to the prince and said, "Thanks for saving me and all, but where are you taking me and when will we get there and my feet hurt and I need some alone time and where is my castle and it is TOO HOT here and I didn't ask for this and I'm tired of picking up after you all the time!" The End.
11. truman, the champion sleeper
A story like that would need another chapter. One in which the damsel in distress becomes a delectable dragon treat. Nom nom.
13. clouds that make you crave marshmallows
I am already finding that behind this slowed, deliberate thankfulness, there are deep oceans of joy. Joy that has been whizzing by unnoticed! Oh, I mourn those lost moments... the ingratitude... the feeling like the world owed me something. If it owed anyone anything, it was Jesus, the God-Man, who hung and poured Himself out to make a way. The rescuer who deserves all thanks in ALL moments, against whom alone I have grumbled and followed with shuffling feet.
14. the joy of reading
I am proud of these images that I am gathering. Not because of any composition or "wow factor", but because they are clumsily captured fragments that make up the whole of this life that I've been given. They are an offering. They are an ebenezer. They are a grateful remembrance.
May I never forget again.
Feel free to follow along and join in using whatever platform you prefer. Let me know here if you do! I am using Instagram (and Flickr), user name emeryjo and hashtag #1000thanks.
He is FOUR months old now, and the absolute sweetest and easiest baby to ever flop around on the face of this earth. He already has two (almost three/four?) teeth. He sleeps 10+ hours a night. (I poop you not.) He smiles and laughs and nurses like a champ.
It's so true what they say about the third, though... they just kind of have to learn to go with the flow. I feel like every single time this poor babe falls asleep, I have to wake him up and plop him in his car seat so I can go get or drop off one of his brothers somewhere! Although, maybe this is why he is sleeping so much at night? If so, I'll take it!! :)
He hardly EVER poops, just like Ezra when he was a baby. He'll go daaaaaays without any action. The doctors just say he is very "efficient". He's using everything that he is getting. He's Truman, the amazing poopless baby!
He only gets bathed once every coupla weeks. hahahaha. Mama has her hands full right now. Baby wipes sponge baths will just have to do! Yet he still somehow manages to smell like heaven...
His brothers adore him. And why shouldn't they? They are the only ones who can get little Tru to laugh. This has endeared him to his brothers like nothing else. Ezra and Myer are proud to be the sole giggle-getters in the household. They wear his laughter like a shiny badge.
I am becoming more comfortable in my role as a mother of three boys. Most days by 7:00pm I am way past "done" and working on "burnt" or maybe "charred", but I feel like we have mostly hit the ground running without any tragic hiccups to speak of. We even GO places and survive! VICTORY! What it practically looks like is this: Truman in the sling, Myer walking or in the umbrella stroller, and Ezra opening all the doors for me like a little gentleman. My boys are usually very well behaved, and so things usually go pretty smoothly when we're out & about. :)
(I stole this pic from my friend Harmony who we got to go see in Kansas City last week for my birthday! squeeee!)
I am loving the "all boys" dynamic we have going on right now, and I am feeling more and more sure that the hard work I am doing here day in and day out, though it feels mind-numbing and soul-draining at times, has more eternal value and worth than I may EVER be able to grasp or understand. And yet... I don't believe that means I shouldn't try to grasp it, that I shouldn't try to understand it.
I have been working on being thankful for what I have, for finding the eternal in the seemingly mundane. I mean, surely God is as much in the Grand Canyon as He is in the view from my kitchen sink, right? This practicing gratitude is bringing me surprising amounts of joy. I started reading the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, and recommend it highly. It's been like a breath of fresh air to this parched heart of mine. Go get your hands on it, I know you will love it too.
Oh, the stretching against the confines of life, like a full term baby in the womb!
These days have been heavy with blistering heat and wretched restlessness. I know deep in my spirit that this feeling is coming from a place of ungratefulness and discontentment... that this is just a symptom of a far more devastating disease- the disease of not satisfying myself in God alone. I look for satisfaction in seemingly EVERY other place, sort of like how my six year old child will look everywhere but my eyes when I am trying to correct him.
Yes, it started in the Garden of Eden... Adam and Eve discontentedly wanting the ONE thing God said they couldn't have... and now here we are, all these many generations later, grumbling and disbelieving His goodness. His sufficiency.
I scour the real estate websites. Denver. Portland. Reno. Seattle. San Luis Obispo. Kansas City... I mean, surely I would find my satisfaction waiting for me in one of these places, right? It's a GEOGRAPHY issue, I tell myself. And just look at all that square footage and those beautiful mature trees! Ooooh, a cul-de-sac! That's what I need! It's just far too hot to find joy here. If I could just live somewhere more beautiful, more temperate, I could feel fulfilled.
It all sounds so riDONKulous when I type it out here. But I have REALLY been thinking and believing these things, as if they were actual answers to the cavernous, carnivorous longing in my heart!
Perhaps a new house here in town would do it. Or maybe one out in the country where my boys could roam for hours, you know... when it wasn't too hot or too cold. Yeah! That's the ticket!
Meanwhile, the Bible that I moved out to my coffee table so it would be physically in my line of sight everyday collects more layers of dust to match my arid spirit. I pace and clean and rearrange and try not to berate my children too often.
I know what the answer is. I just need to lift my chin and make eye contact with Him. Yet I continue to look at my feet and my house and my children and my husband and my book and my TV show and the Internet until I go completely NUMB. I know His eyes would be full of love and compassion and empathy if I could just make myself look there, but I can't seem to make myself DO IT. I choose instead to go to bed numb and wake up numb and dream of far away places.
So... I settle for rearranging my furniture again. I do it every single time I start to feel this way... like life is so monotonous and laborious that, as my friend Bethany so aptly put it the other day, you start to wonder if you've woken up in the movie 'Groundhog Day'.
Lord, save me. Quickly! I repent of believing that you are not good enough. I repent of trying to satisfy myself with the things of this world. I repent of being ungrateful towards you... of basically telling you that what your Son did on the cross wasn't quite enough for me.
It was enough. It IS enough. And it will be enough until the day You take me home.