Brandon and I slipped away for our anniversary weekend (May 12th) to celebrate 11 years. ¬†Friday began with his parents arriving to our home (so thankful to them for their willingness to drive to us and watch the kiddos for the weekend!) and us transferring all the needed info to them, and then we left just before noon. ¬†We decided to stop for lunch in Black Mountain on our way to our cabin in Banner Elk, NC. ¬†We shared a pizza (with gluten in it! ¬†So strange!) which immediately made Brandon’s day. ¬†I had asked if we could stop at my favorite yarn store while there because I had a gift card to spend there. ¬†We went in and Brandon surprised me: he had called ahead and had a gift waiting for me there, and also told me I could buy some yarn. ¬†A “reasonable amount” of yarn, he said. ¬†EEE! ¬†So I bought a couple skeins of¬†speckly hand-dyed yarn, which I’ve been dying to try for awhile now, and I’m planning on knitting a shawl with it. ¬†Brandon also picked out a skein of brilliant blue/purple Wollmeise yarn for a hat for himself. ¬†I am super stoked to try the yarn he picked! ¬†It feels heavenly. ¬†It’s really neat to see him take an interest in yarn with me, even though he’ll probably never knit. ¬†He appreciates¬†the artistry of it, I think, and he had fun picking out something for me to make for him.

From there we drove further up into the mountains, not wanting to arrive at our cabin too late. ¬†I had been to this cabin before on a little solo retreat last fall, but I wanted to share it with B, knowing how much he would enjoy it. ¬†We made a stop to the grocery store before heading up to the cabin. ¬†We brought most of our own food, simple meals without much fuss or prep needed. ¬†It was strange to not have to think about things being “gluten-free” or worry about cross-contamination in a different kitchen. ¬†Our lives have changed so much with Phoebe’s diagnosis almost two years ago. ¬†We have grown accustomed to it and we don’t mind the change at all, but we forget how much easier it is to shop/eat without concern about gluten. ¬†It was a nice mental break for both of us.

There are some really beautiful spots in these North Carolina mountains.  We have seen magnificent mountains when we lived in Colorado so we sometimes dismiss these quiet hills, and then the beauty surprises.  Our little cabin was nestled with a couple of other cabins at the top of a mountain, a quiet haven with the scripture from Matthew 11:28 posted:

¬†“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

The rain was beginning to fall heavily, we got into our cabin and Brandon unloaded the car. ¬†The cabin smells just like my aunt and uncle’s cottage in ¬†Muskoka, Ontario–a wooden cozy cabin smell. ¬†We lit the candles that were waiting, cracked the windows to hear the rain, turned on the little gas heater, unpacked our few things. ¬†The rain grew into a thunderstorm, and we just sat in the stillness, knitting, reading.

I’m not quite sure why we had the best time, but we did. ¬†Maybe it was just a sweet gift from the Lord, knowing we need refreshing. ¬†Maybe its because we both built some surprises for each other into our weekend. ¬†Maybe it was all the quiet. ¬†B and I both are introverts and I didn’t realize how much we both crave some uninterrupted quiet. ¬†Space to think. ¬†I used to be afraid of being an old couple with nothing more to say to each other, but this anniversary showed me there is a place of comfortable silence. ¬†A silence not because you are weary of each other, but because you rest in other’s presence without always needing to fill it with conversation. ¬†There is a security there. ¬†We know each other. ¬†We love each other. ¬†There is less striving than there used to be.

We also talked a lot about our marriage, where we are now. ¬†We tried to remember every anniversary and which ones were our favorites, which ones were disappointments. ¬†We reminisced about last year and how much we enjoyed our anniversary backpacking trip, but how exhausting¬†it was. ¬†He gave me a card with constellations on it and I laughed because I almost bought the same one for him. ¬†It was our “thing” when we fell in love while working for a backpacking organization. ¬†While we were apart often leading various trips, we would look up at the big dipper at night and know that both of us were looking up at the same cluster of stars in the same sky, and it sort of became “our” constellation.

Our lives have become so much about our children, as they must, but we needed to have some extended time just the two of us to remember each other. ¬†To re-member, as Ann Voskamp would say. ¬†Our remembering our love for each other, our commitment to each other before and beyond having children together–it re-members us, puts us back again, all the broken bits held together again. ¬†We needed to remember that when all else¬†fades into the background and its just the two of us, we still really like each other.

I’m not sure why, but I think we also recovered some kindness. ¬†In all the mounting stress of these little years, the sleepless nights, the endless giving and dealing with interruptions, the financial strain of living on one income, the care-taking of a child whose health goes up and down–we have grown careless with each other. ¬†We have lost some of our common courtesy, some of our simple gentle handling even in the way we talk to each other in¬†response to hurts and offenses.

Have you heard Sara Groves album¬†Fireflies and Songs? ¬†I feel like the whole thing is about marriage in one way or another. ¬†I think of her lyric “Run for your lives, all tenderness is gone in the blink of an eye.” ¬†Isn’t it shocking in marriage how this happens, how the rub of life and the comfortableness with each other can creep in and cause us to loose our tenderness toward one another, the common kindness that we extend to strangers but now can’t muster up for the one we love the most? ¬†We have grown careless with each other, and yet something¬†jarred us awake to the reality that simple kindness and gentleness with one another is worth fighting for. ¬†Better to have it than to fight to be right.

In the morning, we slept in as late as we could. ¬†We enjoyed steaming mugs in a drizzly rain. ¬†We lingered long over books and bibles. ¬†He geared up to go fly fishing–the first time for him in many months. ¬†We spent most of the day on the river nearby, eating a picnic lunch there and staying until we needed to head back to the cabin to make dinner. ¬†The next morning before we drove back home, we went to a different spot on the river and he fished again while I knitted. ¬†It was mother’s day and it felt odd not to be home with my babies, but we enjoyed every minute away together without a hint of guilt.

I remember hearing someone share that the secret to their lasting marriage was falling in love over and over again, and I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but I think I do now. ¬†I think it was the first time in our 11 years together that I felt like I was falling in love again, seeing Brandon with renewed eyes. ¬†Yet it’s not the superficial, young and untried love of a newlywed. ¬†It is love reignited, love that has withstood some hard tests and storms and still remains, steady and strong.

It wasn’t a fancy trip, we didn’t travel far. ¬†We didn’t spend much and we didn’t do much. But somehow in the mystery of the simplicity, God blessed us with renewed love for one another. ¬†With hope for a bright future. ¬†With the comfort of His presence and the comfort of each other, all we have walked together. ¬†All the intimacy between us, the secrets only we know: the darkest valleys, the sweetest victories. ¬†All these miles traveled together, whether good or bad. ¬†Hand in hand, with eyes fixed on our Prize, helping each other make it to the end, saying to one another as we go: I still see you. ¬†I still love you.

Really we don’t need much
Just strength to believe
There’s honey in the rock,
There’s more than we see
In these patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow.
Sara Groves, Enough

From Good to Grace


The kiddos and I were out this morning spreading mulch around the front flower beds, taking trips back and forth with a borrowed wheelbarrow wagon. ¬†These little ones love to work hard, especially if every trip back and forth is rewarded with a ride in the wagon! ¬†We’ve all come in now to find refuge from the crazy heat (does it feel terribly hot to anyone else for May??) so I have a minute to put up a quick little knittery post.

Over the weekend I cast on a baby gift item, so I can’t share too many details here, but it is really a fun knit so far. ¬†More about it once it has been gifted!

Also, I finished The Awakening of Miss Prim (enjoyed it!) and began reading From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel¬†by Christine Hoover. ¬†Friends, this one is meeting me in a very profound way. ¬†There are some things my husband and I are working through, praying over, laying before the Lord, and this book is speaking directly to it. ¬†I bought it back when it was a new release with some saved birthday money last year and its funny how I haven’t felt like it was the right time to read it until now. ¬†The author is addressing her own tendency and battle with legalism/moralism, what she is calling her “goodness addiction,” which is basically whenever we try to earn our way to God, whenever we think we must be “good” for Him, in order to earn His love or favor or grace or salvation. ¬†This is one of my most deeply rooted battles, something I struggle with every single day, and something the Lord must be working to free me from. ¬†Of course, He began speaking to me of this back in my early college days, and its amazing to see the progress He and I have made, and yet sometimes it startles me to see how my “goodness addiction” creeps back in. ¬†I love how the author quotes:

“The Gospel was not my working theology: Mine was moralism and legalism–a religion of duty and self control through human willpower. ¬†The goal was self-justification, not the justification by faith in Christ that the gospel offers. ¬†But, as many people can tell you, moralism and legalism can “pass” for Christianity, at least outwardly, in the good times. ¬†It is only when crises come that you find there is no foundation on which to stand. ¬†And crises are what God used to reveal my heart’s true need for him.” ¬†(Hoover, quoting Rose Marie Miller)

Yes, when life is working for us, working hard to earn God’s favor or to stay in His good graces flies under the radar, and looks an awful lot like Christianity. ¬†We’re productive! ¬†We’re doing good things! ¬†We’re happy-clappy and strong! ¬†We can feel pretty good about ourselves, even a big smug about our work for God. ¬†Maybe a tad reproving¬†of other believers who aren’t as productive as we. ¬†In fact, I believe this heresy is still terribly prevalent in our current church culture, at least here in America. ¬†I feel like since¬†I battle this so deeply, I see it easily in others. ¬†But our crises sift us. ¬†It’s one of the few beautiful gifts that come from a painful trial.

One of the hardest things about this whole past two-year journey dealing with all the ups and downs and life changes that have come with Phoebe’s diagnosis has been the way it has wiped me out. ¬†It has made me feel emotionally and mentally weak. ¬†I don’t know much else how to describe it beyond a feeling like I can’t breathe. ¬†On the hardest days, I’ve literally felt physically short of breath. ¬†An old heart condition of mine began to flare up, and I was back on a heart monitor for a month and seeing a cardiologist. ¬†As far as we could find, there was no physical problem, so the cardiologist told me it must be stress.

I’ve had to pare down a lot of my commitments and focus most of my energy on caring for Phoebe’s particular needs. ¬†I have felt pretty lame as a Christian in the sense of how “small” my circle has been drawn, how very small my efforts seem, how very unable I am to serve in some of the ways I used to and desire to. ¬†Guilt comes easily. ¬†I’ve learned a lot. ¬†I’ve learned that the Christian community isn’t terribly great at letting each other go through seasons of weakness and unproductivity. ¬†The great injustice of suffering something is that not only are you bearing the burden of your ordeal, but then you feel terribly guilty for your weakness in it. ¬†You feel guilty that you aren’t being “a better Christian” in the midst of it. ¬†You feel like you must hide your suffering and struggle and questions. ¬†As Ann Voskamp said in her book The Broken Way, “When the church¬†isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ.” ¬†We can say until we’re blue in the face that we are a place for the broken, but if the broken don’t really feel welcome? ¬†If the broken don’t really feel safe to just BE WEAK and be seemingly useless for a season?

I am just now, just now after almost two¬†years on this journey, just now beginning to surrender to my uselessness before the Lord. ¬†I can’t even describe in words how He has been ministering to me and speaking and carrying and meeting me in ways I do not deserve and can hardly receive. ¬†I have learned that I must ask Him and HIM ALONE what He wants from me. ¬†What does faithfulness look like, Lord, in this season? ¬†What do you want from me? ¬†Not: what does the church want from me? ¬†Not: what does my family want from me? ¬†Not: what do my friends expect of me? ¬†But what do YOU want, Lord? ¬†And His answer:

“Worship. ¬†I desire your worship. ¬†That is all. ¬†In everything you do, in whatever you put your hand to–do it as unto me. ¬†Do it for me. ¬†Find me in it. ¬†Enjoy me. ¬†Receive from me. ¬†Do the hard work of receiving all of me. ¬†I gave myself for you, to you. ¬†I am split open, broken, blood-spilt for you. ¬†Take and drink. ¬†Take and eat. ¬†This is your holy hard work. ¬†This must come before you do any endeavor in my name, and this must be the place from which you continually abide.”

And I believe I am finally learning to rest in Him.  To receive Him.  To be weak before Him, as much as I despise that weakness in myself and wish I could be a star pupil.  I am learning to stop earning what has already been DONE for me.  I am learning to stop trampling His precious blood underfoot as I run about in all my human efforts (Heb. 10:28).  I have tried to do great things for God, when all along He has wanted me to see what great things He has done for me.  I have had my eyes turned inward, when He has wanted them turned upward.

Laying down all this striving? ¬†It feels a lot like a death of sorts. ¬†Death to a way of thinking, a way of living, a former identity. ¬†That old flesh of mine keeps resurrecting, it would seem. ¬†And death feels terribly counter-intuitive and painful to the flesh. ¬†It is plain unnatural. ¬†But it is the upside-down way of the Kingdom of God: whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 16:25). ¬†Sometimes we have to lose everything we’re clinging to in order to see and know and experience how held we are.

We get to be weak, friends. ¬†We get to be the weak that we are. ¬†He receives us just like this. ¬†He wants us to drink our fill of Him again and again and again. ¬†Maybe His goal isn’t for us to eventually move from our place of weakness to being strong again. ¬†Maybe His goal for us is to remain here. ¬†To remain terribly, painfully aware of our inability and weakness so that we are dependent on Him for every thing. ¬†Maybe thats what He means when He says He uses the weak things of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27) rather than saying He transforms the weak into bastions of strength. ¬†If that feels a bit scandalous for you to say (as it does for me) than maybe we’re really not walking in grace like we think we are. ¬†Maybe we really need to revisit the scripture and take a good hard look at what the Gospel is.

Anyway.. My little yarn along post turned into¬†pouring out my heart. ¬†I hope it resonates with someone out there just a little bit. ¬†I hope if it does you’ll consider¬†reading Christine Hoover’s fantastic book, From Good to Grace.

(And just so you know, I don’t get any kickback for promoting her book. ¬†I just share good books because I believe in the power of the written word as a tool for change. ¬†I do always link to amazon and technically am an affiliate with them, but I have never made a single dime off of that affiliation. ¬†Just so you know. ūüôā ¬†Because I know I’m skeptical of people like that. ¬†#skepticforlife)


I’ve written about this theme many times. ¬†If you’re interested, here are a few of those posts:

You Get to Be Weak
Savoring the Gospel When You Fail
From Legalism to a Feast of Grace


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A couple of weekends ago, Brandon and I took the kids to a local historic home, the Carl Sandburg House. ¬†It is peaceful and quiet there, with easy trails to walk. ¬†We went on a Sunday afternoon, packed a picnic lunch and spread a blanket under the shade of some great trees in the gardens. ¬†Afterwards we went to visit the baby goats. ¬†I had already taken the kids on a previous weekend when Brandon had been working on the flooring in our laundry room + kitchen. ¬†(More on that in a minute.) ¬†Brandon has talked about wanting goats for years now, so I knew he’d enjoy visiting with them. ¬†I’m not ready to own goats right now, but maybe down the road? ¬†I love the Nubian goats with the long ears the best, I think. ¬†The nubian kids were the cutest running around, just like puppies. We got to see Nellie, the grandma goat of the crew, who was laying in the grass one day past her due date with multiples. ¬†I felt sorry for her! ¬†She looked weary. ¬†Philippa dutifully checked all of the goats ears, noses and mouths for them. ūüôā ¬†By now, I’m sure Nellie has brought a new litter of kids into the world. ¬†Savannah, the goat with the little hand-knitted sweater on, was just a few days old, and we all loved meeting + petting her.

It was good for us to take a day and set aside projects, enjoy a little bit of the quiet of the outdoors, and just be together. ¬†The last few months have felt chaotic and we’re just starting to feel like we can find ¬†a new normal again. ¬†Phoebe’s good test results have made us feel like we can breathe a bit in terms of worrying over her. ¬†She goes for another general check-up in six months, unless we see something that concerns us. ¬†So for now, I’m trying to allow myself to rest in those good test results (versus worry and be fearful which is my MO) and allow myself to believe/hope that the worst is behind us. ¬†I was talking with a friend recently whose daughter has just come out of having brain cancer–obviously a far scarier ordeal than Phoebe’s in a lot of respects. ¬†But we both agreed and understood one another in how hard it is to hear GOOD news after hearing a lot of bad. ¬†In order to survive you begin to stay in a continual place of bracing for the next disappointment/bad result, and it’s very hard to shut that off. ¬†I don’t know how people walk through things like this without knowing the Lord. ¬†I don’t know that I would have made it through without Him! ¬†Even still, I look to Him for rest and healing and hope. ¬†I lean on Him to carry me now into this new season with its own set of joys and challenges.

Much of our “free” time in the evenings or weekends has been taken up with little projects here and there, fixing leaky faucets, replacing broken things, finishing the flooring job, etc. ¬†I am thankful Brandon is so good at all of these things! ¬†The flooring we put down was to cover a section of the home that had asbestos tile in it (the laundry room was the worst, as you can see that part of it had been disturbed). ¬†It brings me a lot more peace of mind knowing we have covered that area and I’m really happy with our flooring choice!

We borrowed a neighbor’s tiller (after I attempted to till by hand) and are preparing a small little portion of the yard for a garden. ¬†I know, we are late!! ¬†I was debating putting off a garden until next year, since we still aren’t even fully settled or unpacked! ¬†It seems silly to start another time-consuming outside project when we have so much work to do inside. ¬†However, we have so missed growing a portion of our own food the last couple of years when we were renting (and had ZERO sun in our yard). ¬†We just couldn’t resist, and I’m glad we are going for it! ¬†I picked up a few things from the garden center today and hopefully things will grow well, despite our late start.


yarn along


I’m late getting this post up! ¬†Summer time is nearly upon us folks, evidenced by the fact that my children are playing outside longer in the evenings and running back out after dinner to make the most of these long sunny days. ¬†Right now they are busy helping daddy dump mulch from the trailer, while I wait for them to come in for dinner. ¬†So I have a minute to get this post up!

I finished the Water rock vest and am just waiting to block it (I think I will need to, to try and add some length) and also finished Phoebe’s socks over the weekend. ¬†I cast on a pair for Philippa immediately, improvising the pattern (using 44 stitches instead of 48) to make the cuff a bit smaller, but now I have to think about the math. ¬†So far its working out! ¬†Here’s to hoping my math works and it fits her.

I picked up this book, Design Mom: How to Live with Kids, from the library on a whim today. ¬†I love flipping through books like this for ideas and inspiration for decorating. ¬†I should clarify that when I talk about “decorating” our home, I mean using what we already have and rearranging it. ¬†Haha. ūüėČ Such is life when you have little ones and live on one income. ¬†I’m almost done with The Awakening of Miss Prim and have really enjoyed it¬†so far. ¬†It’s been fun to have a totally pleasurable read for the evenings versus something that requires my mind to be awake. ¬†Although I’m craving theology. ¬†Deep, rich theology.

What are you knitting, reading or working on this week? ¬†Here’s to hoping you find some time to make beautiful things¬†and read good books.

Linking up with Crafting On + my knitting friend Being Bodeker.


yarn along


I finished Phoebe’s first sock and just turned the heel on the second one this morning. ¬†She is begging me to finish these asap. ¬†Even though NC summer heat is threatening to bear down on us, she wants socks. ūüôā ¬†I’m knitting Susan B Anderson’s ribbed socks for kids pattern in Knit Picks stroll gradient yarn (color way unicorn) and I used some leftovers from my “favourite socks” for heels + toes. ¬†So fun and so fast to knit little kid socks. ¬†A very satisfying knit! ¬†But then, I feel like I say that about everything I knit. ¬†Knitting is just satisfying. ūüôā

I picked up The Awakening of Miss Prim after Ginny (the originator of the yarn along) mentioned she was going to read it, as she is also looking for some lighthearted fiction. ¬†It captured me immediately and I can’t wait to get in bed at night and dive back into it. ¬†I already don’t want it to end!

No real link up this week, except linking arms with my knitting friend over at the Being Bodeker blog. ūüôā ¬†
Affiliate links included in this post.

my campside

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The work of creating is important work for me. ¬†I’m learning that I’m a maker, and I love making things–bringing beauty, even simple and small, into our ordinary days. ¬†Bringing order from chaos. ¬†It’s a good work.

Knitting small stitches from soft fiber–one small stitch after another, little ordered steps in a long arduous journey following a path laid out for me–ending in a beautiful finish. ¬†Ending with something functional, satisfying, luxurious, beautiful. ¬†It is a good reminder to me of the work I am doing as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend, as a child of God–small seemingly inconsequential steps on a long and arduous journey. ¬†It will result in something beautiful. ¬†Our work¬†is, as the scriptures say,¬†producing something, working for us an eternal glory that far outweighs the trouble we’ve gone through (2 Cor. 4:17). ¬†Maybe it seems silly, but finishing a creative project is satisfying to me in that way–our small steps and small obediences are producing something beautiful, friends. ¬†Let’s keep on until the finish.

I finished my Campside Shawl weeks ago and have worn it almost every day since then. ¬†(Which is why it took me so long to block it–so glad that I did though! ¬†It opened up the eyelet sections and made it even larger/cozier.) ¬†It is crazy warm, squishy and cozy. ¬†I didn’t know if I would wear a shawl, feels sort of old-lady-ish, but I am! ¬†I’ve loved just throwing it over my shoulders for a quick warm layer during this spring season. ¬†It is such a cheery yellow and it makes me think of camping in the woods, which I can’t wait to do soon¬†(will¬†take my campside with me!) ¬†Knit it Madelinetosh, color way Harvest.

long days of small things

In order to find God it is perhaps not always necessary to leave the creatures behind…The world is crowded with Him…
The real labor is to remember, to attend.
In fact, to come awake.  Still more, to remain awake.
C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm

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Yesterday I woke up to the laughter and squall of children in the room next to mine. ¬†The day began in the rush and hurry of need and hungry tummies. ¬†I normally try to get up before the children, but I had been struggling with sleeplessness and a bout of anxiety in the middle of the night and slept fitfully. ¬†My plans for the morning were interrupted by an unexpected trip to the doctors office to check on one child who woke up with pink eye in both eyes, then running to pick up a prescription and grab a few groceries before heading home. ¬†It was afternoon before I breathed a breath of prayer to God and realized I had completely missed my time with Him in the morning. ¬†My soul instantly cringed–how could it have been nearly all day before I even remembered God? ¬†Then came the familiar rush of guilt with a dose of self-hatred to boot. ¬†All this soul amnesia. ¬†I shake my head as I wash the dishes.

Last November I retreated away to a hermitage a few hours from here. ¬†I went alone for the weekend, Brandon had offered to keep the kiddos. ¬†Motherhood and the constant presence of people all looking to me with their pressing needs–it can wear an introvert out. ¬†It can wear any person out, I’m sure! ¬†We need to pay attention to our souls, we must take small¬†breaks, place spaces in our calendars, slip away when we can to refuel. ¬†We need silence, we need reflection, we need sleep and solitude. ¬†That weekend was glorious. ¬†The cabin was perfectly cozy at the very tip top of a mountain. ¬†I kept my journal open and wrote endlessly, read the scriptures and studied, read other books, knitted without interruption, went for walks in the woods, cooked simple meals, rested, worshipped, prayed. ¬†It took me almost the whole weekend to really relax and unwind, and I realized how tightly wound motherhood had made me, along with the added role of care taking for phoebe. ¬†All of the worry and strain, the financial burden, the roller coaster of her improvement and decline. ¬†I needed that time away, so I could reenter the fray with renewed energy and focus and love. ¬†I needed time to seek God in the quiet, as I used to in my days before children. ¬†I needed uninterrupted time alone with Him to hear from Him.

If only we could have these times whenever we need them.  If only we could guarantee some respite, rest, and silence throughout the year, then we could seek God as we desire to, as we think we should.  And I do believe times of refreshing will come, pockets of rest.

However, when we would flee difficulties in motherhood, most of the time God would have us press in. ¬†Where we would avoid and escape, He has us pick back up, day and night. ¬†Motherhood is so constant, endless, around the clock, with needs that can simply swallow us whole. ¬†Our souls can cry out–

“Oh, that I had wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee away and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
(Psalm 55:6-8)

We think we will find relief in escape, in a break–a sometimes we do. ¬†But is it good for us to set our eyes on the next break on the horizon and survive until then hanging on by our toenails? ¬†Beyond that–can we only find God in our escapes, our breaks, in the quiet place of refuge?

Or could He possibly have treasures for us right in the maelstrom of motherhood, right in the trenches of it? ¬†Must we wait for Him on the sidelines of life–sidelined by little people and their needs–or can we have Him right here to the full in a way we never expected or anticipated before?

Could pressing in and finding Him in the weary work–could this possibly be the point? ¬†The thing He wants us to learn, the muscle He wants to strengthen? ¬†Of course its far easier to find Him in the quiet place of refuge. ¬†But if we can’t find that quiet place of refuge, do we wave the white flag of defeat and turn our hearts off to God until we can have a moment alone? ¬†Or can we find a way to God in the very mundane, simple, undervalued work/tasks of motherhood?

Could the tasks turn out to be a path to God?

What if the very practice of mothering and doing the work of motherhood–washing the dishes, feeding the hungry mouths, wiping the bottoms, folding the laundry, teaching, admonishing, disciplining, training, guiding–could these things possibly be a spiritual discipline of sorts, leading us to know God, experience Him, enjoy Him in a way we never could or would choose otherwise? ¬†Could there be treasures here for us–right here in this season–that we’ll miss if we shut down and vow to hold on until the crazy ride is over?

What if God is not only found in the lofty theological ivory towers, the seminary classroom, the pew, the sanctuary, the prayer closet, the monastery–but here, scrubbing the floor around a toilet.
Here, chopping onions and carrots.
Here, holding a feverish child.
Here, in the pickup lane at school.
Here, singing a hymn over a sleepless child.
Here, organizing shelves, stacking piles.
Here, in the rush-hour traffic home from work.
Here, in the weary waking hours.

What if we could find God in the ordinary work of motherhood rather than trying to fit our old habits and disciplines into this new rhythm–which for most of us feels cramped, incompatible, impossible.

Is it possible in this season of little ones to be both a good mother and to keep close company with God?

This is what is addressed in Catherine McNiel’s book Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline. ¬†This book exceeded my expectations. ¬†I was a bit afraid it would be another moany-groany book about motherhood without being terribly¬†helpful. ¬†Instead, it was honest. ¬†Real. ¬†Insightful. ¬†Provocative. ¬†Thoughtful. ¬†Helpful. ¬†It addressed our great hunger for God, our desire to know Him, our frustration with all the things that seem to work against us and keep us from Him. ¬†She ends each chapter with a practice, tangible things to anchor us to God throughout the day. ¬†Things like our breath:

“Inhale deeply and realize you are breathing in God’s unfailing love. ¬†Exhale and release into his unceasing presence. ¬†Suddenly, breathing–your easiest daily accomplishment–is an act of worship, meditation, and prayer.” (McNiel, p. 12)

Without adding a burden of more tasks to our schedule, McNiel helps us to find God in each of the tasks we already perform daily, and do them as unto the Lord.  Like walking, eating and drinking, cooking, household tasks, sleepless nights, pregnancy, diapers, breastfeeding, to name a few.

McNiel commiserates without sounding whiney, encourages and exhorts without loading on a heavy burden of guilt.  She feels like a true companion in this journey of motherhood, someone who understands its complexities and enjoys them, glory, grit and all, because of the way they point us to God.

I devoured this book, crying over sections of it, marking up nearly every page, returning to it over and over, savoring it.  It is one I will need to reread more than a few times, I believe.

If you are a mother afraid you might be missing out on some great spiritual life because of your busy role as mother–maybe this book is for you. ¬†If you ever feel a bit like you can’t breathe under the pressing weight of this season, a bit like you can’t breathe–Maybe this is one to ask for for Mother’s Day?


Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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