This is my time, and the tired side of me actually wants to pout. A mental foot stomp and arm thrash fight to escape into the physical, but I deep breath. Survive it, I tell myself. Be their mom.
So I do.
The 5-month-old is staring at me wide, his star-lit blues have a lightness to them. An “I’m just happy to be with you, here,” to them. His lips move as if he has so much to say, but the cutest of squeals and coos is all his babyness can manage.
He plops his head sideways, crooked smile ready and set, and he gives it to the 2-year-old. This one is staring, too, but his game is pouty lips (courtesy of his daddy) and long, heavy blinks.
I’m caught up in a whirlwind of eyelashes, big smiles, and not enough tired while there’s an entire part of the country wrapped in the fear of hurricanes, surviving-struggling-rebuilding. And all I can think is “This is what I get for a late nap.”
I roll Westley over, offer him the best thing I can give, but he resists. And I wonder how is he this strong without eating every one of his awake moments away?
Jason takes my hand, holds my heart, places it gently on the golden top of his head. He pats my shoulder softly and begins to fade, grasping onto the wooden and magnet train with his other set of fingers. Tiny little things, but they carry so much.
Westley, too, eventually fades into a quiet stillness, and I get to sigh as I welcome the hush… but only 15 minutes are left until I just know I’ll melt from the tired.
I place the baby in his crib and the toddler into the bed he shares with my other heartful boy, and I shuffle tired feet back to my own bed to wait for the next round of needing me. And there’s that mental foot stop and thrashing of arms again. Where did the day go? I whine. Where were my quiet, thinking moments in that kid-engulfed day?
So this is motherhood during a deployment? I’m the only one who can provide, discipline, get up and go to, and I am exhausted from dark until dark. But why is my struggle really just a GIANT desire to escape this daily storm of sincere want for closeness from the children I love more than most anything? Maybe, just maybe, it’s the fighting that tires my soul and wears on my heart the most. Not the children. Maybe my husband’s temporary absence is just to make me more permanently present.
The question is always how? We moms- we know what we want to be, how we want to react, what we want our love to look like. We want it to be Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.
This is the reason I made one big change. This time, for this absence, I chose to turn to family. I knew I could suck it up, suffer through it, and come out in the end sweaty, dark circled, and alive. But I chose help. My parents and my hero’s parents opened their hearts to us, and we knew they were the best move.
Maybe this way I’ll be able to love without resistance, live without anxiety, and real smile. Play a little more, worry a little less, be help-ier and make kids happ-ier. And a little bit, I can. But inside all this help, wrapped up in this need to be the best for my kids, the desire lives to still steal my quiet hours away from vapors.
My wonderful friend pointed out to me that even Jesus, in all of his goodness, in all of his holiness, needed alone time.
Jesus served 24/7 while on this earth, he was always followed, always called on, and always loved perfectly, but… he took time to be alone. He had a favorite place to be alone and pray. Alone. He rested, refreshed himself.
Even Jesus. But how?
Enter David. King David, when he did it God’s way, was oh so fearless. He taught us how to battle giants, and this we cannot ignore.
Giants- those pesky, obtrusive areas of our lives that seem to grab hold of us, shake us around, make us afraid and anxious and teary-eyed and not understand why. In my life, right at this moment, the biggest giant I’m facing is this deployment.
My husband is a hero, and I love him all the more for it, but I could do without this part of the job.
Giants. And David was the expert giant killer.
David was prepared for battle.
I’m not talking about mentally- I mean he literally took steps to prepare himself for what might come. He got a babysitter, people! Before he headed out to camp to see what the soldiers were up to, before he ever knew he’d be facing a giant that day, he made sure somebody would be able to tend to his flock.
How do we prepare for our days? For our sleepless, starry-eyed filled nights?When we are faced with a giant like temporary single-parenting, like moving to a new town, like a storm heading straight for camp, what steps do we take to make sure we’re ready?
Sometimes we need babysitters so we’re not lugging 3 kids to the grocery store, post office, dentist, bank and to Aunt Dotty’s house for basket weaving lessons. Other times, we need to do church research, park mapping, and play-date planning. And sometimes, we need to buy ALL the bottled water within a 50 mile radius.
So let’s do it- because if David, who was just a boy shepherd, could figure out the right way to prepare for what MIGHT come, for a MAYBE giant, so can we mothers who know that a DEFINITE giant is lurking around the corner. Waiting in the potty training battle and the great highchair war and the eye rolls and head scrambles to not yell and prayers of please let me do better today.
David didn’t freak out.
My mom and I broke up a dog fight today. There were 4 dogs eating each others’ faces, going to town on ears and noses, and we completely lost our heads. Listen people- I threw a pillow at them. Actually, I tossed a pillow. I soaked them with a steady stream of refreshing water, and I’m pretty sure it only energized them for the hours of fighting they had planned ahead. We lost our voices from screaming, we kicked and hit the brutes with broomsticks, and it finally ended despite our lack of stress-dealing techniques. Maybe the worst part was that we had JUST read an article on how to break up a dog fight. JUST.
But let’s talk about David. David literally saw the fight about to happen, set down the food that he was bringing the soldiers, and walked right into the thick of things.
Are we afraid of giants? The Israelites, to a man, fell back when they saw the giant.” (1 Sam. 14:24-25, MSG) Are we them? The Israelites, still not trusting God, not remembering all God had already done for them, were intimidated and afraid of the giant. Are. We. Them?
Let’s not be. Let’s be Davids and face our giants with power. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement. (2 Timothy 1:7, HCSB) Let’s walk right into our giant circumstances in life and be brave. Because God.
Can I keep writing for one million days? Will you still be reading when you’ve aged past normal existence standards, enthralled and mesmerized by the trillions of big and little ways that God has saved me, loved me, forgiven me, and held me?
The one who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 7:48, HCSB)
I should be loving in bucket loads. And David remembered when all of the Israelites, all of the us-es, cowered in fear and forgot.
David, with his “I’ll do it!” attitude, couldn’t understand being afraid when the God who had given him the power to overcome enormous beasts was on his side. Was on their side.
If we are his children, God is in us. If God is in us, our failures are his failures- he wants us to beat our giants. No, he wants himself to beat our giants, to be bigger than our giants.
What has he already done for you? David listed his credentials, his God credits, reminding the entire army what he had already accomplished. Perhaps reminding himself what he was capable of with God’s help. List yours, remind yourself, and get to it.
David stayed comfortable.
Whether we want it or not, we’re going to get it. Advice. It comes from people in line at the grocery store that we have never met. It comes from smiles and nods at church and from swing pushers at the park. From family and friends alike, all eager to impart some life-changing wisdom that will make your parenting better, your kids healthier, your life more meaningful in an instant of words.
When King Saul agreed to let David fight Goliath, he empowered him with armor. With pounds and pounds of it. The best stuff. The king’s own stuff. But David knew it wouldn’t work. He had to do things his way, the way that God had already deemed acceptable. The God way.
David shrugged off the extra weight, the advice, the nay-sayers and the doubters. He took his staff, 5 smooth stones, his shepherd’s pack, and his sling.
And he killed the giant with a stone.
What are you bringing into battle to slay your giant? Let’s figure it out together.
Five smooth stones… and it will only take one of them to do damage. Life-ending damage.
- The Bible. Read it, heed it, live it, love it. God’s word is life, it is life giving. Every morning, find a place to read. Sip your coffee, tend to your kids, and read. This is one tool that our giants will fall to every single time. Encouragement and empowerment await.
- Your spouse. My husband hears me. He is there to listen, to hug when he can, to support and to inspire. We talk through life together, and we are best friends. The value of a spouse when it comes to battling giants is immeasurable. Make sure they know that, that you need each other for times such as these. And know that your spouse is a resource who can help you conquer in the hard times.
- Mom friends. Because ladies, who else knows the struggle like the struggler. They can relate and give asked for advice, they can listen and cry with, they can laugh and bite nails with. Mom friends are the apple pie at Christmas time- we just can’t be without lots of us.
- Get plugged in. Find a church. Find a group. Find a MOPS. Play dates, Bible studies, Learning co-ops, story-time at the library, home school P.E. at the Y, Taekwondo class twice a week… these are the outs. The being productive and getting a break at the same time kinds of things that will add happiness to your life. Giants are easier to face when you’ve had community and when you have a community to call on. So find yours.
- Alone time. It’s out there, maybe just once a month, maybe every day for those of you who have figured it out. I’ve said it already- Jesus needed it, too. In finding alone time, we’re being more like Jesus, drawing closer to Jesus. Focusing on peace, and the true source of peace is Jesus. Get a bit of it every day, and giants will start to fall.
There are my stones. My 5, giant killing stones. The Bible, My husband, mom friends, plugging in, and alone time.
All I have to do is reach into my heart, into my tired soul, into my exhausted brain, and pick one. Giants will fall.
David did it as a shepherd boy, we can do it as mom women and wife women. We can make it through this season and the next. Pick a stone, feel it smooth in your hand. Face the giant, and launch.
What giants are you facing in life right now? What kind of stones are you bringing to the battle to knock them down? Comment and let me know how real the struggle is and how you can overcome!