A Small Gift in the Near-Dark

The dishwasher sits open, one lonely row of cups on top. The clean clothes are piled on the couch. The dirty clothes are a waterfall out of the hamper. I had to say, "Put on your pajamas" 847 times tonight. (I do have 5 kids, but it was way more than 5 times.) A handful of candy corn landed in my mouth, despite my attempt to detox from sugar this weekend (ok, several handfuls!). My new running shoes lay under other shoes, rejected.

This is my actual laundry. Not all of it, of course! 
"Why do I even try?" was the soundtrack of my mind. To keep the house clean. To ask them to do something. To be healthy. To fold clothes that will likely end up in the hamper while still clean. After I ran through all the reasons not to try at home, my mind drifted to work. Middle schoolers who have no interest in speaking English correctly, much less writing it well. Administrators who ask so many things of me that I can't keep track of them all. And then, society and politicians, who all want higher test scores with less money and no creativity. "Why do I even try?"

I was nursing the baby. She spit up on me. I added "to put on clean clothes" to my mental list of defeat. That was the metaphorical straw. Never mind that it was only a bit. Never mind that I hadn't even showered today, so to shower at night is no big deal. Never mind that I wasn't going anywhere. Never mind that I actually had another clean nursing tank (not in my drawer, but the pile on the couch). The tears fell out, unable to be held back.

Then, she looked right at me in the near-dark.

She smiled. She cooed.

All was not right with the world. But it was bearable. I thanked God for that small (and, at the same time, huge) gift.

I will not be able to keep the house clean any time soon. There will be overflowing hampers for years to come. (I can hear my mother's voice telling me that doesn't have to be true. She's so optimistic. It does for me - my emotions, my kids, my job, it will be true for some time, I'm sure.) But, there will also be smiles and giggles in this house. There will be cuddles and stories read and told. There will be PB&J dinners at the table and tents in the living room. There will not always be baby smiles and coos. I will miss this someday, they tell me. Someday, I will gladly trade the empty hampers and couches, the clean kitchen counters and even uninterrupted writing time to get back a big baby smile and sweet coo in the near-dark.

I try to do all that other stuff because it's necessary. I try and fail and fail in so many categories. But my babies are loved. More importantly, they know they are loved. I'd rather fail at everything else than at that.


God spoke to me today. Little old me. How much he must love me to speak to me personally.

It was chilly, so I ran in pants instead of my shorts with pockets. So, I had to stuff my iPod in my bra, on shuffle, and hope for the best. After I got started, I realized I hadn't read the devotional blog that I normally do (although, thinking now, I did, and I forgot!). I prayed, "God, sorry I didn't make time for that this morning, but please help me to focus now and see what You have for me today." I began running, first song was a great song from Glee. I often feel like God speaks to me through music so I was expecting some great Chris Tomlin or something. Next was something classical. Ok, I'll just wait for the next song. I focused on my run. My knees hurt. I really should try to buy new shoes. Horse crap on the ground and exhaust in my lungs. I hate East Las Vegas. Yadda yadda.

Before I knew it, I was almost home, classical music still playing, no revelations, no comforting words. I prayed again, "God, I don't need blogs or music to hear from You. Please, speak to my heart." I looked up to see bright green leaves against clear blue sky. I began to thank Him for sight, and He reminded me of my spiritual and mental sight. I looked out at the purple lines in the rock mountains that make me think of home. God whispered, "You love those mountains." I mentally nodded. I do. I love those mountains more than one should love a big chunk of rock. They're just so beautiful, the way you can see all the different types of rock.

I realized I had been focusing on how much I hated Las Vegas.

Above all the noise in my head, one sentence stood out. God said clearly, "What you dwell on will become your reality." 

I don't know if I've heard that before or not. It may not be original. I do know God said it to me this morning. I hope that, perhaps, He's saying it to you right now. 

You don't need blogs or music for God to speak to you, but I pray that He may occasionally use me and this blog to speak to someone, some time.