The glory of motherhood comes camouflaged in so much chaos.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Surprised By Motherhood, p198~
This morning, after waking my soul by praying in the dark under the warmth of a duvet, I managed to pull myself out of bed before the kids were even stirring. Kissing my husband goodbye is always bittersweet—sending him off to tame his portion of the wild, to tend the domain put into his hands—getting kisses for the kids, and extra for myself to carry me through until our lips meet again. A new day, new mercies. Even old things feel new sometimes, like these soft morning kisses that spark my soul.
I shuffle out of the bedroom, turn on music and set lavender candles ablaze in the hushed morning. Sunshine not yet streaming over the foggy hills in the east, I start the fire, put away dishes, put in a load of laundry, proof yeast & set the mixer kneading, make a dark cup of coffee. I set out little bowls of raisins & Cheerios, with cups of milk alongside, and vitamins resting in the spoons. Chairs lined up on one side of our table—one, two, three. I pause for a moment over the mercy that that number is. Three.
I dress in my workout clothes and put a heating pad on my back, then sit at my desk with coffee and books and blogs and Scriptures. I empty myself in spirit and ask the Lord to fill me up with Himself. I find Him in friends and pastors and authors. I find Him in a couple short email conversations.
Then I find Him in one of my favorite places, wrapped in the softest skin, whispers and muted footsteps coming down the stairs. The gate at the bottom of the steps creaks. I see two little red heads and four bright blue eyes peering secretly around the corner at me. They begin to sneak on tiptoes around the kitchen island, coming up behind me to surprise their mommy. I pretend not to know, to play their game, to give them joy—which then gives me joy right back. Boo!
Giggles ensue. With many kisses, a dozen tight hugs.
They run to their little sister’s room, eager to have her join their antics. They know we are incomplete without her. Soon a little caramel topped girl, dolls tucked under each arm, joins the tiptoeing, the giggling. I can no longer hear my own thoughts, the psalms that are playing on the stereo are drowned out, the beeping washing machine and oven timer might be going off but I wouldn’t know it.
Eventually, three sets of tummies begin to growl, I put my books back in a stack in the far corner of my desk, then help three little bums to their chairs. Three sets of hands fold, three copper topped heads bow.
It’s quiet, I hear lungs breathing and noses sniffling. I hear the fire crackle, outside raindrops, the spin cycle on the washing machine. Three little miracles, quiet here knowing they are about to give thanks to their Creator, preaching to one another their faith even as it comes out their folded fingertips in routines. This is a holy moment, holy ground, even with mundane Cheerios before us and an empty coffee cup in my hand—because we are quiet in the presence of God, Who is always with us, and this is one of those moments where my children talk with Him together, and where we praise Him for His provision of both big & little things. In one breath, with the pandemonium suddenly subdued, this moment and this place feel purely consecrated.
Who wants to pray? I whisper, almost afraid to ruin the sacred moment.
I do it, the littlest one whispers right back. And she does—in a hushed tone, with entwined fingers and bowed head, and eyes rapidly blinking because she doesn’t yet know how to keep them closed tight. Unprompted, she prays: God. Thank You. Food. Milk. Vitamins. Daddy. Mommy. Gabriel. Asher. God. Thank You. Food. Bless us. God. Thank You. JesusnameAMEN.
Hands unfold to grab for spoons, heads start to bob with chatter and laughter. Chaos returns with giggles and spilled milk and Cheerios on the floor and asking for orange juice and shouting when someone notices it’s raining or there is a robin on the fence or half a dozen deer right outside the window.
I stand back and revel in the noise, trying to hear my own thoughts. The way these things are so simple and so profound at the same moment. I lay out schoolbooks and coloring books, wonder if I will find time to exercise, put the cereal bowls in the dishwasher, stop a squabble, add another log to the fire, let the dog out, help the children exchange cozy jammies for clean clothes. Coffee is gone and breakfast eaten, the music plays on, the fire roars, the candles flicker. Deep breaths: the day has begun.
This is a good life. The repetition, the routine, the mundane, the small, the quiet, the noise. They are big to me—huge, in fact. And they are beautiful—glorious.
The Lord is here, present, with us—Immanuel. In the quiet moments and in the loud chaotic ones. I expect today, like every day, will hold many of both.
Only miracle is plain; it is the ordinary that groans with the unutterable weight of glory.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p99~