Deep Water

Lately I've been tired. Not just sleep deprived, but a burned-out kind of tired. I feel like I'm doing the same things day after day. Cleaning up the same messes, cooking the same meals, getting up with the baby at the same times during the night, giving the toddler the same instructions over and over again. Sometimes it feels like a thankless job with no visible results. Sometimes I get discouraged, and I get tired, and I get worn out. When I stop and think about it, I know that what I'm doing is important, I really do. But sometimes I just with I could see some fruit for all of my labor.

 Then I read a gospel passage like this:
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Luke 5:1-5)
I know I've read these verses before, but this time the words are jumping off the page at me. I understand exactly how Simon Peter felt. He was tired and discouraged, he'd been up all night long, he'd just finishing cleaning those nets for crying out loud! And Jesus wants him to go out there again?

Clearly Peter's obedience was rewarded, and Christ revealed His divinity through it. But there's another reason this story stands out to me as so amazing; it's because I know how it ends. I know what Simon Peter goes on to do- cast out demons, heal the lame, stand in the empty tomb, hear the rushing wind of the Spirit and speak in tongues at Pentecost. And it blows my mind to think that when Jesus found him he was tired and discouraged from being up all night- just like me.

Just when I think I've finished my work, when I've gotten both kids down, and the kitchen is cleaned up, and the laundry pile is taken care of, when I've made my cup of tea and am about to settle into a comfy spot on the couch with my book, (who am I kidding? with my Netflix) invariably someone wakes up to be fed, or to be tucked in again. I exhale with a sigh of exasperation, can't I just catch a break? But I should pay attention, because Jesus is passing by, and He is calling me into the deep water of my vocation.

"Lord, I've been up all night, and I haven't caught anything!"  "I know," he says, "but do it again, so I can show you my abundance." 

There's an abundance in my life whether I like it or not.  Every day an abundance of opportunities to show love to my family.  And not just the kind of love that looks good on Instagram. Service, love in action. The kind of love that gives of itself and lays down its life. It's hard to love like that. But there's also an abundance of grace that helps me to love, imperfect and selfish though I be. Maybe right now I can't see the fruit of my love in action, the catch that is sinking my boat, but I have to believe it's being made, and stored up in eternity.

For the time being I am in deep water, and it's right where Jesus has called me to be. It's not easy, but there is so much more here than if I had just stayed on the shore.

Dream Come True?

We are having my cousin, his wife, and their kids stay with us this weekend. My cousin-in-law, Bethany, writes so many beautiful and reflective words over at Child of the Church. I was getting all caught up on her blog before they arrive (because I am a terrible blog reader), and I came across this post. And I said, yes, yes, yes. This is what I have been feeling.

When I think back to my college-aged self I can chuckle a little at some of my dreams, to be a performer, classical, or play in a rock band. If that didn't pan out maybe be married to a rock star and be the woman behind the man. Or maybe move to India and be a missionary.

But honestly, I never put much stock in those dreams.  I never even really put much stock in a career. (Can you say, piano performance major?) Because I think I've always known that my dream was to marry a great guy (check), have kids (check), and raise my own little family on my own little piece of land. (check, check).

I'm one of those really lucky people who get live their dream!

But if this is my dream come true, why does it feel so hard? And why am I crabby most days?

I love my husband. I love my baby. I love where we live and the house we live in. I love that we have another baby on the way. My husband did start grad school, and that's been kind of hard. But I love that he's doing something he's excited about and that has great job prospects! We're enjoying good health. It's summer time! Things are good!

But things are still hard. Johnny is still a toddler who sticks his hands in the toilet when I'm trying to put my make-up on. I still don't get to see my husband that much because he has to study all the time. I'm still only one (pregnant) person who can't get done all the knitting projects, house work, yard work, and other things that I would like to get done each day.

Sometimes I feel like my life is stuck on a repeat of meals, diaper changes, bath times and bedtimes. Sometimes I feel like I'd rather be doing something else. That's how I feel. But in my heart of hearts I know that I am living my dream.

It's just kind of a hard dream.

On Choosing Joy

We have to choose joy, 
and keep choosing it every day.

Henri J.M. Nouwen

We are two weeks into my husbands grad school program. And we're still adjusting.

He's adjusting to being disciplined, spending every spare minute studying, having less time with our son, and going to bed 2-3 hours after I've turned out the lights.  

I'm adjusting to a lot of solo parenting. I had long days alone when my husband worked a 40-50 hour work week. But I was used to talking to him a lot during the day. And I could look forward to the evenings spent together, enjoying a leisurely dinner, putting our son to bed, and then hanging out after he was asleep.

We've converted part of our walk-in closet into a study space for Alex and when he's home he's mostly up there memorizing every bone, muscle, nerve and artery in the human body.  And I try to keep Johnny out of the way, and resist the temptation to call on him for diaper changes. I try to stave off monotony with play dates, errands, and chores around the house. Johnny loves doing chores. We all have dinner together where we talk about what we've been up to that day. Then Alex hits the books again and I do bath time and bedtime alone. And when Johnny's asleep I hang out by myself.

I will be perfectly honest and say that it's been hard and lonely. And I get a little worried about two and a half years of this. But I have no doubt that this is what Alex is supposed to be doing, and that supporting him is what I'm supposed to be doing.

I never thought for a moment when I said yes to marriage and yes to life that it would be easy. And today is not easy. But we are choosing joy. We have to. 

There is joy in going to bed with tired, aching feet, because it means I've had a day full of activity. 

There is joy in playing with the same toys over and over and over again, and watching my child laugh and develop through it. 

There is joy in the time spent in the kitchen over the stove, because it means I am meeting the physical needs of my family. 

There is joy in letting the to-do lists fall by the wayside, because nothing could be more important than spending my husband's study break watching him sprawled out on the floor with my son in a family wrestling match.

And there is joy in knowing we are where God has placed us, and we are seeking His will.

Everyday is hard. Every day is full. I will make sure that every day is full of joy.


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