The constant presence and care needed by a baby makes me crave quiet in a way not normal to me; as an introvert, this is saying a lot. I plan my days around morning nap time, that magical hour-and-a-half, boiling water for coffee before I even take her upstairs so I can maximize the time.

I’ve pulled at least a dozen books from the shelves recently, because I had desire to read them; they are laying at random spots around the house. One by the TV, a few in the dining room, one or two more stacked next to the guitar. I pick them up and trail them to a new spot, thinking I might be able to crack them and soak up some words, but really I’m just playing a game: the one that used to be by the TV is now on my desk upstairs, and which one will be where when the urge to open it comes? I have no idea. I’m no good at creating games.

I’ve only had time for one book recently, and that is the Bible. I lay that sleeping cherub in her crib, close the door, and dash downstairs to grind beans and pour water. I’ve made the orange chair in the living room “my place,” recently. It faces the front windows, and if the lighting is right, I can see bugs dancing around our trees through the smudges made by dog noses and little hands. This is where I spend naptime, the thing I’d almost forgotten was so necessary until this latest babe came around.

When I say I only have time for the Bible, I am not being pious. I am saying, literally, the Bible and waiting on God has become essential to my daily survival. I’ve been feeling worn down, battered by the little things of life, and my go-tos were not cutting it. Even before this, I was still in the Bible, still attempting to live its words; but I’ve stumbled upon a season in which I simply cannot live my daily life without being refreshed with God’s presence, without remembering why I am here and what my task is, without being girded by truth. I think I waited til the last possible moment to give in: I wanted my problem to be diet-related, or perhaps a lack of sleep. But it was a lack of God.

Sometimes you can look and feel fine, with just enough dryness of heart to make you wonder, “Why doesn’t the beautiful sky pierce me today?” And then, after an infection or two, some small problems with kids, and a string of grumpy days, you find that you are just not. okay. And why? How did this happen? You are thirsty. Drinking from the well of life takes discipline. It’s not an easy thing to admit. It’s sometimes more fun to scroll facebook.

For me, it was the anger — the little things would really irk me, and I would wonder, “Why was there no patience for that? It was just something so small.” And then the fear — over what would happen, and when, and how would I make it? Next, an unhealthy turning inward, unable to think of the things and people that were not ME. So I looked deeper, and there I found dryness. And a host of unconfessed sins. I clutched Isaiah 30:15 as my map back to living waters: “For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In repentance and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling.” Jesus, make me willing.

So today, legos and other toys litter the floor. Dishes topple over in the sink. The vacuum cleaner is still plugged in and lying in the back hallway. Cardboard box creations and forgotten science experiments find permanent homes in the playroom. Emails go unsent, the dog is unwalked. Picture books lie everywhere — literally, one on every surface of the house, half opened, corners folded, wearing the look of story love. My house is in seeming shambles; but I’m building more important things, cleaning the places of my heart that need tending. This is hard, but necessary work.


Kitchen Sink

My kitchen sink faces the back of our lot
one neighbor’s graveled yard literally
five feet from the window. I’ve known
the comings and goings of this neighbor
from my post, heard her crunching steps
and listened to the clip-clip of laundry hanging.
I watch demurely, hoping she doesn’t catch
my eye through the sparse hedge.
In spring, pink blossoms grow on those bushes.

I could tell time by her taillights, backing into
the drive after work, or her faucet on, with bucket
filling, as she readies water for the plants. I only
see the back of her house, but it is
immaculate, a place for everything and
everything in it’s place. My eyes move to
the sink below, filled with the remains of
yesterday’s dinner and this morning’s breakfast,
carrot peelings and dried, old milk drops.
How different, our lives. How often does
she wash dishes, I wonder? Likely, more
often than me.

This summer, we had a small pool in
our parental employ, located very close
to that evenly distributed gravel, to those
sparse bushes. It promised to be a very loud
August for our neighbors, their windows open
to catch some Pacific breeze, fans whirring.
This time, I tried to catch her eye.

“I’m afraid we’ll be rather noisy this summer,”
I said, hoping my shaky smile would alert her
to the things I couldn’t say. Things like: “I know
you run your house like clockwork, and keep
your hedges trimmed just right, but will you
let my children play crazy like summer kids
should, splashing and laughing and most certainly
fighting? Will you still like me as your neighbor?”

This woman. Somehow, she knew.
As she filled her bucket, the sound of that
faucet that I could recognize from any point,
any room in my home, readying the water for her
flowers, she said, “It’s no problem at all. I love
the sound of happy children.”

What a gift to me, this woman couldn’t know.
I can watch her pull towels from her
basket and clip them, spread them out, but she
can’t see my sink or its contents, my dining table
littered with paper scraps, Legos, crumbs, books.

Sometimes I long for that clockwork, the
security of that immaculate yard. Then I imagine
myself at 60, in a quiet home, everything in its
place. I see myself watering plants at the
same time each night, my taillights illuminating
red in some other woman’s back kitchen.
I look at my dry, old milk drops, and they
seem very different.

Blocked paths.

I know that the end of a five-day break with all six of us home is not the time for an introvert to be asking hard life questions. It is rarely the time for anything more than quiet, fresh vegetables, and sleep. And yet, here I am: wondering, asking all those questions, putting them up for justifiable (to me) answers.

It feels like there are several blocked pathways in our life right now — family life, coffee, health, househunting, personal pursuits. I feel as if I’m in a forest, knowing I need to be somewhere, unable to find the way out. I’m searching for direction, begging God, showing him my needs — Don’t you see? Surely you can see them! — and each trail my foot finds leads to an avalanche of rocks, a rushing river, a thickening brush. So I’m left waiting, wondering why God is not making a way.

But from His word, I know He has purposes I don’t understand, I can’t yet see clearly. But when, Lord? When will you tell me what you are doing? When will you open a path, clear the brush, build a bridge for us? Will there ever be times in this life overseas — in this life, in general — that are filled with things not borne from adversity? I commented to Bryan yesterday that sometimes I think a tidal wave of suffering would make more sense — something huge that carries you out to sea, plainly known that only God can save you. As it stands, I feel like we are two rocks, patiently worn down by drops of rain over so many years. Each drop is so small, we separate it and know objectively it is little, should have little effect. And yet, a thousand drops of water make a bucket heavy. So I find myself heavy, searching for the why, thinking that the knowing will lessen my load.

When I begin to feel this way, I have a mental checklist of things to try: take a bath, go to bed early, resume that daily walk, get serious about time in the Bible, tell a friend, plan something fun, write. I KNOW there are blessings in times of discouragement. I KNOW that life is not all blocked pathways. I KNOW many things. Even though these help, there is only one point of knowing that will truly transform, and that is the knowledge of God. Do I KNOW Him?

I have few answers right now. In my life, I tend to oscillate between two extremes: internal fulfillment coupled with peace for the road to which God has called us — gratitude for how the difficulties have changed me; and intense frustration over a thousand little things, making the dailies of life feel like trudging through thick mud — the sight for blessings has been lost.

Someone tell me these feelings occur everywhere; tell me its not just because I’m living here, trying to make a life in a culture not my own. I know there are unique issues I will face, but it helps to remember my struggles are not singular, that a plane ticket won’t erase them.

Many questions with few answers means loose endings, not tied up nice and pretty. And this post ends thus.

Post-script for my mama: Sometimes I’m reluctant to publish these kinds of posts, knowing you will probably read them and they might make you sad. Know that I’m okay — I’m still smiling and laughing, I’m just forthright about my struggles. And also know that I love you.

Late night chats.

Her hair, almost always unkempt, is so very HER: wild, untamed, feminine, beautiful. She asked me to snuggle with her last night, a request I’ve committed to always answer with a ‘yes,’ not wanting their smallness to pass me by because of long days and a strong desire to lay on the couch. It was a good commitment for me to make. Without it, how many heart-opening conversations would I have missed? And truly, it’s just difficult to connect with my kids during the day, there is so much activity and bustle.

I closed my eyes, longing for my own bed and for sleep that wouldn’t come for another two hours. “Open your eyes, mama,” she said. “I have an important question.”

Her older brothers, now eight and almost six, are beginning to ask hard questions of life: What do I do when my friends hurt my feelings? How do I respond when Jesus doesn’t take away my fears? How do I choose the right thing, when the wrong thing is staring me down and looks so easy? I’ve been walking these roads with my boys, astonished with how little I’ve prayed over them — how could I forget the battle for their hearts? How could I think they would somehow be safe from attack, from hard questions or tough circumstances, because of their size? I prayed then that Jesus help me fight well for them, know where to direct them when difficulty strikes.

These things have primed me for something deep, a little piece of her heart, opened wide and waiting for truth-salve from her mama. She put her hand on my cheek, eyes serious with whatever wonder is about to come forth.

“Mama, do you pick your boogers and eat them?”

I laughed. So loud. Her sleeping brother in the top bunk groans and rolled over. She smiled her dimpled smile, and tears stung even as I smiled: she is still so small, and someday she won’t be. Someday, she won’t ask me about boogers, won’t wear four gaudy plastic rings and three purses on our walk down the street, won’t run to me and jump in my arms after a long day at school. I grew up. We all do. And someday, she will too. How will my heart take it, the holding of all these things? The blessings of holding her newborn head, of watching her grow, listening to her chats and seeing her personality emerge, watching her first encounters with truth unfold? How will I not burst as I watch her move from seedling to something stronger, firmer, steadier? What a gift. What a completely undeserved and gracious gift.

“Well, I pick my nose, but I don’t eat my boogers,” I replied.

“Yeah, they taste really gross,” she said.

“Why don’t you put them in a tissue instead, then throw them in a trashcan?” I’m still recovering from the serious tone of her not-so-serious question.

She thinks. Then, she knows exactly what to do with them, and her face lights up with the knowledge.

“I know! Let’s plant the boogers. Then maybe they will grow into a booger tree!”

We giggled with delight at the funny image this created. Then we snuggled and I prayed for her rest, her growth, her still-smallness.

Her breathing slows and her arms fall loosely on my shoulder, jerking slightly as she sinks into sleep. I crawled from her bunk and just looked at her, thanking Jesus for letting me see these things. It is a grace I take for granted, but when I see it, I don’t understand it: why me? Why have you given it to me? Today, I simply give thanks, for this sweet conversation with that wild little girl.

Reflections on daily life.

My boys took off on bikes the other day, just to ride a bit around the neighborhood. I stood in the parking space in front of our home and surveyed the outdoor toy box, amazed at how many of faithfully-played-with contents have gone unused in the last year or so. It hit me like a ton of bricks: they are growing up. I have known this, of course. But it seems that all of a sudden, the two of them, Jones and Ezra, have left one magical stage for another, and I will never again have only little children in my home. I wanted to cry, but there was no time — Harper needed help with something.

And so it was, as Bryan was taking the middle two up to bed the following night, that he found me in a heap of sudden tears. I think he thought I was in physical pain and was relieved to hear me say, “They are just all. so. big!” He smiled, and I cried a bit more for their hugeness and the strange nature of wanting time to both speed up and slow down. I would die of exhaustion if they stayed little forever, or my psyche would snap in the midst of it: it would be hell. And yet, I am grieved to see the gangly arms and legs in comparison to the chubby baby nestled on my hip — only one more summer with a baby in my life. Only one more ‘first year.’ It’s all a little too much for my sentimental side. I think I need a good, long sleep.

Speaking of the first year, Ivy is learning to wave and to clap. She smiles at the familiar people in her life and seems to deeply process all the stories we tell her. At this current moment, she is propped in her bumbo, looking between the tapping computer keys and my face, in total awe of the sound coming from my fingers. Her smile betrays her thoughts: It makes noise! Did you know this? How delightful! These parts of loving a baby never get old, the continuous amazement at everyday things. The sleep and spoon-feeding, however, I could do away with. Nevertheless, she is a complete and utter delight, spoiled rotten by all five of us. The poor thing never has a moment to herself.

Now that she’s 6 months, going on 7, I have a bit more time and a bit more brain at my disposal, and so I’ve been making a summer reading list and diving back into books. I’m currently reading A Severe Mercy, just in the first chapter — its causing me to dwell on my own love story with that man in the back room bagging coffee beans and watching Jimmy Fallon, and how I fell inexplicably in love with him from the very beginning. The falling-in-love of it was all I imagined, from my end, at least. It was a shock, however, to be married and have total access to each other’s personalities, to see that his falling-in-love and mine were so very different. There was less romantic notion playing across the screen of his mind, and more logic. It makes me laugh now, how very good God is to help us think we know what we’re getting, so we dive on in, and then we see what we are actually getting, and it was exactly what He wanted for us. Someday, I will write on that.

For now, it’s cloudy (July in Japan!), dripping rain, and time for me to go.

Rain, locusts, and seasons in Japan.

Rainy season came a few weeks late this year, so it’s July 1st with a forecast of clouds and wet for the foreseeable future. All the fabric in the house has begun to feel a little bit damp to the touch, and our rock-garden yard is exploding with all manner of green. The kids were weeding with dad the other day and pulled out several plants taller than themselves. I also found three bamboo shoots, as tall as my chest, in the back of our house — I’d like to research how that could be. Bamboo seeds flying in the wind? Who knows.

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Rice planting season ended a month ago, so now the flooded fields are filled with green, and soon the tadpoles swimming around the rice will sprout legs. In another month, we will hear them croaking at dusk, matching their rhythm with the locusts, who know neither appropriate timing nor volume levels in their singing. I distinctly remember sitting on tatami during on of my language lessons our first summer here, my sensei talking about the semi (locusts) and how when she hears their song, she immediately starts sweating, just thinking of the heat that accompanies them. I thought it was strange. But just yesterday, I was putting fresh cucumber slices in our own little tadpole pool (Ezra is obsessed with catching things right now) and heard the first semi of the season, chirping from a tree in our neighbor’s yard. I shuddered, thinking of the humidity and sweat coming my way, immediately picturing the misty sky, myself lying on the couch in our only air-conditioned room, fan whirring and a suica (watermelon) popsicle in my hand. I’ve arrived, I thought. The sound of semi makes me sweat.

Now into our eighth year here, I’ve feel that I’ve reached a turnaround point in my cultural adjustment, able to anticipate and enjoy the changing seasons of Shizuoka: when they come and what they mean, how they change the feel of my house and the offerings at the grocery store and the activities we pursue. It used to mean such sadness for me, that the images of seasons I grew up with didn’t match my physical surroundings. “Summer barbeque” was not burgers and fireworks on the fourth of July — it was yakisoba on the rocky shore of the river. My first years here, I used to scroll facebook feeds and long for what I knew. July meant daily pool visits and cookouts and boating at the lake and library trips and hot afternoons giving way to cool, breezy evenings. Now, July means sometimes rain, taking temperatures and signing pool permission cards for school, watching our ume (plum) jar as the fruit and rock sugar slowly meld together into the most natural, kool-aid-tasting beverage I’ve ever had. It means drying out and storing futon in plastic bags for the coming humidity, and coming home every. trip. from the grocery store with a box of produce I didn’t intend to purchase, it just looked too good.

2015-06-01 16.45.07I remember sitting in an interview, 22 and pregnant and 6-months-married, feeling very intimidated by the 10-year term for which we were applying. It seemed so long — too long. Wouldn’t five years be better? Couldn’t you adjust enough, get a close enough picture of life in Japan, without such a BIG number looming in the distance? But from this end, this point of view, I see so clearly why God (and the wise leaders of our organization) gave us that timeline. I don’t know about the rest of Asia, or even the rest of the world, but Japan is such a stark contrast to my previous life — it is known for it’s uniqueness, which presents interesting challenges to those seeking to build a new life here. I would’ve probably quit after five years — God knows I wanted to! My dear husband heard it all. But now? Now there is such beauty available here, a whole way of life, whole seasons with separate nostalgia for me. I sometimes miss “the American summer,” but I don’t long for it, ache for it, cry-in-the-bathroom-over-real-simple-magazine-pictures-of-it like I used to.

Now I watch the rain forecast, feed tadpoles and think of wishes and prayers to hang up for hanabata, dream of kakigori (shaved ice) and hanabi (fireworks) and river trips. In short, I live. And I do my living here, where I am, in Japan.


No daily rhythm, no problem.

I remember the moment I knew this would be different: sitting on the floor in my room at the midwife clinic, nursing my two-day-old while explaining multiplication tables to my oldest. How far apart these worlds are, I thought. The world of school and homework and navigating friendships, and the world of nursing and night-waking and diapers. How will I bridge the gap?

That question remains, almost six months later. Just today, at a lunch for moms in Ezra’s class, another mother of four said finding a daily rhythm was the hardest part of bringing her last baby home. I felt a camaraderie with her, though we speak separate languages and grew up in different cultures, we understood the mama in each other. This has been hard, this meshing of worlds. I have gone over it a thousand times in my mind, the many ways I could alter life, however slight, to be able to manage this better. If I could just find a time for Ivy to nap before school pick up. If Ezra and Harper would just fall asleep a little earlier. If Jones wouldn’t take so long to finish his homework.

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But somewhere along the line, I lost the joy of bringing up babies. It slipped behind the washer with the dirty socks and was littered among the never-picked-up blocks in the toy room. I thought new routines, more expectations, and better menu planning would bring it back. I thought if mom knew what everyone should be doing, and when, we might be able find a small semblance of collective sanity. It’s been quite the opposite, in fact. I feel like I’ve squashed more smiles than I’ve created. Pushing an agenda just never works well for me and my little people — they have their own desires, however small, which deserve respect from the big people in their lives. When our agendas collide, which they inevitably do, the bigger person ends up feeling rather small on the inside, as ideas and creativity and childish exuberance get crushed by the not-yets and the hurry-ups and the time mongering of the adult world. I wonder how many times I must go around this block?

2015-05-30 10.15.39Last night, I sifted through pictures from our days without school schedules and longed for those times, the seemingly carefree adventures of yesterday. Look at those happy faces! When was the last time I greeted my children with tenderness in the morning? Was it school timetables that brought me here? Or life with a baby? But I know just one thing can’t explain where I am. Life is stressful, and sometimes we find ourselves in place we never intended to be. I respond to stress with simultaneous desires to control and to retreat, both of which wound my little people in a variety of ways. But I’m awake, and I’ve repented, and I’m ready to move on.

2015-05-30 12.59.50I’ve been thinking that what I needed was to slow down, which seems to be the Almighty Prescription for Everything these days. But you know what? I can’t slow down. My life circumstances won’t let me. My quickly-growing baby girl needs fed, my middle two need to go to the park, my oldest needs help with his math, and the chores around me never end. I need a solution that meets me where I am, that doesn’t cause me to wish away my circumstances because THEN I would be a happy person. If only there wasn’t so much noise. If only I had more alone time. If only I had fewer people’s lives to organize. Not true. I don’t need another internet meme telling me to take pause and find quiet, because those are hard to come by.

No. What I need is to see the river of my days, raging white rapids that they are, and dive in without fear. Because Jesus is not standing on the bank with me — he is in the water, waiting. I need to forget my alone time. (Christ will sustain me.) I need to close my eyes in the midst of noise. (Christ will sustain me.) I need to thank God for each and every opportunity to serve the little people in my home. (Christ will sustain me.)

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Photo cred: Jones.

I don’t know how many times I have circled this issue. Eventually, it will stick, won’t it? Christ will sustain me. Even in the midst of a messy, rhythm-less life, Christ will sustain me. Christ will sustain me.

Just the beginning.

Life is busy. It makes it hard to know what to write.

Do I talk about the memoir I just finished reading? The books on my nightstand waiting to be opened? (My metaphorical nightstand, anyway. I actually haven’t had one in years.) How about my experiences with language, and my renewed desire to study kanji? Or schooling children overseas? The culture of Japan? The reasons I’m both sad and happy to live as an expatriate? What about coffee and our inch-by-inch movement toward opening a roaster? All the things I’m learning about graphic design on the fly? Or direct trade and relationship coffee? What about how we’ve managed to cultivate a thriving, appreciative marriage in the midst of craziness and stress? How my creative husband continues to surprise me? What about depression and hope? How about raising empathatic kids through empathetic parenting, along with all the ways I’ve failed in empathy? Or Jesus healing and actually changing my inner life, in ways I never thought possible? How He abolished the guilt I used to live with daily and thought I’d carry to my grave? Or what about the struggle of disliking the home God has provided, and the contant tug between true gratitude and desire to move, immediately? What about the dailies with an 8-year-old and a baby, with two more kids in between? (That’s a book in and of itself. These monkeys.)

OR: I arrange my cappuccino in the sunlight of this cafe table, snap a photo, and post it to facebook with a two sentence caption. Much easier.

So, things are quiet here at High Countries. I often show up, maybe once a week. I open my computer and end up staring into the spaces between moments, hoping for focus and will. I usually find that I’m lacking in direction (What to write about again? Oh dear.), so I sigh and close the computer. Somewhere, in some room, a kid is crying anyway. I’m needed, and it’s so normal to not have much thought time that I’ve started to not even miss it — I can’t even remember what it was like to sit at The Mill, refill my coffee mug a zillion times and just dive dive dive into words and ideas and pictures from my mind. After I became unexpectedly pregnant at 22, I angered for those moments. It’s sad and hard to admit, but I was pissed at the little baby that took that away from me, while aching for him with strength I couldn’t understand. It made things hard between us for quite some time. And then, after mining those depths with God and learning the beauty of self-sacrifice, I was pissed about the things my precious firstborn had missed because of my immaturity. (Sigh.) God has redeemed so much, and brought understanding that each child of mine, first to last, was given in that order for a purpose — theirs and mine.

He has also brought understanding, however slight, of the seasons of my life — how there is a time for learning language and a time for tireless work. There is a time for an unused intellect and a time for rest. There will be a time when these babes grow older that my focus will return, and I’ll still have more than half my life left to dig and discover, to think and write. I suppose that’s why I can sigh and close the computer now, because I’ve released my iron grip on the idea that youth is the only time you can do new things, set out on new adventures. I reject that, wholeheartedly. I will be pushing my way into new scenarios as I age, bringing wisdom and gray hairs along with me.

Sometimes, I feel as if I’m missing something at 31, no career or specific work to put my name under. There is a nagging undertow in my thinking, that if I don’t do it, learn it, write it NOW, it will never happen. It’s as if the world wants me to think the best parts are behind me, that I’ve given them away to my little people and there will be nothing left once they’ve grown. But really, I’m just beginning.


Photo cred: Unsplash / By Milada Vigerova

We are in the midst of a string of rainy days. It’s been this way for weeks: three days rain, one day of clouds, two days rain, one day of clouds. Welcome, Spring. (I’m over you, by the way.)

Along with incessant rain comes the beginning of the school year. As buckets in the sandbox fill with water, the family schedule fills and drips over with bentos, three different school dismissal times, PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and all manner of official and important-looking papers — which, by the way, I’m unable to read completely. A baby and little sleep have simply sealed the deal: I have no margin. I’ve spent my last penny. Suddenly, I’m just done.

When Bryan came home today, I sort of lost it. I hate losing it. I’d rather keep everything together: neat and tidy. I’d rather be limitless, have no need of boundaries or rest or margin. I’d rather be self-sufficient and not meet my husband at the door with tears in my eyes and a desperate plea to lock myself in the bedroom for an hour. But almost as soon as I sat on the bed, I knew those were ridiculous desires. I don’t have limits and needs because I’ve done something wrong, I was made with them. I’ve been designed this way. My needs have purpose that go beyond my own heart and into the realms of my spouse, family, and community. Perhaps the lack of margin I’m facing this April is the opportunity for a child to have an important conversation with dad. Or the time for dad to really study the baby’s face before she grows. Perhaps my limits will be the place Bryan and I meet each other to discuss, relate, and serve one another.

Certainly, when I reach the end of myself, I can see clearly how I’ve been working out of my own effort. And enjoying it! See how capable I am! Who needs naps, quiet, rest, or the Word of God? Who needs prayer and margin when you have coffee? Until, all of a sudden, it’s spent. Until, all of a sudden, the third rainy day in a month of chaos just snaps me and I meet my husband at the door crying. Even in the confusing haze of exhaustion, I can look past the sadness and see the truth: I needed reminding. I am not all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present. I have limits. I have a cup that needs refilling. I have a heart that longs for refreshment from my God, and even my body knows the truth.

Slowing down is hard, And slowing down correctly is even harder. I can rest up these legs with couch-surfing and binge-watching, but only part of me will end refreshed. It’s harder to walk the steps toward a quiet heart and really listen deeply to the words of life.

He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. My cup overflows. I’ll be seeking these things.

a real life look at my real life: our bedroom.

I’m sitting in the creaky glide-rocker we bought on sale at Nebraska Furniture Mart when we were newlyweds and found out we were pregnant with Jones. Our duplex was still in boxes, and our first purchases for it were this rocker and a micro-suede loveseat that my kiddos jump on in the playroom next door. The space heater is pointed at my feet, my white robe is draped over my desk chair (lovingly named “the passion killer” by my husband), and another blanket sits rumpled under my heels. There is a basket of belongs-not-in-this-room-but-I-don’t-know-where-else-yet items by the bookshelf, and I’m pretty sure they won’t be finding their home for the next six months. My dust-covered desk houses infant gas drops, a lotion bottle, an empty tissue box, a Bible, one baby bootie, and pictures of my loves. A lonely pen lays on the ground, waiting either for my foot or my daughter’s fingers. Most likely, she will pick it up and use it to defame some of the pretty notecards I keep tucked away in my desk. Next to the pen is the crib — borrowed from friends, with bumpers that don’t match the pink sheets, neither of which match anything else in this room. It is full of blankets — clean blankets, used blankets, blankets that have been spit-up on. A noise machine and a basket of diapers and breast pads sit in the corner. I just noticed a deflated pink balloon on the floor (from where?!), next to a basket of (clean! folded!) laundry. That basket has been well-loved and well-used in this house, evident from the duct tape holding both handles together. Bryan’s suit jacket hangs on the door (when was that last used?), along with some of my pajamas. My Christmas present sits in a box on top of the armoir, untouched except for the five minutes I took it out last week. Is this a sufficient picture of my real life? My real bedroom?

I’m sitting in this corner, tapping away, while I wait for Ivy to settle into sleep on our bed. That bed that smells like me and my milk, with sheets that need a desperate wash but will remove all scent of comfort for that little thing trying to grunt her way into dreamland while I wait in the corner. I know — KNOW — that if I leave the room before she’s deep and peaceful, I will close the door ever-so-quietly, tiptoe down the hall and the stairs, and breathe a sigh of relief in the living room, it will all be quickly succeeded by a sharp cry from the monitor. BUT, if I sit here and listen to her grunts, she may sleep somewhere other than my arms, and I’m willing to wait for that. (So far, me sitting in the corner has also worked for that crazy 45-minute mark of naps that mothers know all-too-well.)

Right now, I feel like a success. I folded that laundry basket that stared judgingly at me from the corner, though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I listened to my little lady talk about the names of the ponies on “My Little Pony.” And I sat in this corner waiting for Ivy to sleep, an act of love to this dear little one. It’s good for me to remember that loving Ivy right now looks like feeding her, holding her, responding to her cries. Someday, she will require a listening ear and a hand to brush sand from her knees, but in this season, she needs these little things.

Like right now, as she’s crying and not grunting anymore, so I must go.

(I said it would be a real look at real life, didn’t I? Abrupt endings and such.)