November 7, 2011

When living big looks small ...

I've been busy these last few days ... dealing with throw up.

And I have to laugh, after writing for thirty-one days about Spending Yourself. It is all so very fitting. Because sometimes we just want to see God in the big picture, be part of a big story, see Him doing big things.

But somewhere around Day 28, my friend and I sit and we drink coffee. I talk about Africa and books and moments of insight. I tell her how I want to GO and DO. She reminds me, in her gracious-true-friend way, of something I forget too often:

that living big really means being great at living small

I have to ask myself again, "Am I willing to do the small well?"

Around the same time, I fold laundry and talk with another dear friend. We hold phones pressed between shoulder and ear and we laugh and wonder if we could really find joy right here, in these mountains of towels and socks. "Are you there yet?" she asks. "I just don't know if I'm there yet."

In motherhood theory, perhaps ... but really? Like deep down in my soul?

The week wraps up and the series of 31 posts comes to a close. I have been humbled and people have been so kind ... but I know me. I sit in the kitchen, wonder if I am just a fraud living behind words. There is a holy rumble here.

Todd and the kids are gone and I am alone for a few hours and there is always more laundry to fold. I sit among the fabric and I know my coffee-drinking friend was right. I must offer up my very best self right here in the low places. I ask again, "Am I willing to do the small well?"

I fold. I think ... if you want to do more, become great at less, no task too lowly. Can I find joy right here? Can I have zeal for this mission, this vocation? Isn't this daily-ness, isn't this sacred space too? 

I leave the laundry and I do something new and out of character. I pray over this home. Room by room. Bed by bed and chair by chair. I ask for enough time alone before kids run through the front door. I want to finish. And please don't think too much of me. This is not a natural posture, not a normal occurrence. But suddenly I am struck and I know down in the depths that my focus must get shallow, if I really want to see.

It's right in front of me and it isn't complicated.

I know this living-and-serving life is all wrecked if I can't first live and serve within these walls ... among these towels and these socks. These poeple.

And so ... that night my oldest child races to the toilet. I hold her wispy hair and I wipe her mouth. She is an all-star and we sleep together on the bathroom floor. We lie still between rounds ... wait. I carry her to my bed and hold a plastic bowl and I wash sheets. Towels.

We trick-or-treat two days later and now it is the middle child's turn. It is two in the morning and I wake to that sound, then the cry. I rinse candy off blankets and down the drain. I do more sheets. There are little bodies in my bed again ... and that bowl.  No one has done much sleeping.

The following night, it is the youngest. He heaves in the quiet, all by himself and I am unaware. When I find him the clean-up is exponential. He is sleeping in, bathed in, sour milk. It is the middle of night again and I don't know how much more I can take. I do more sheets. Wash the lovey. Dad runs a bath and the boy settles in, settles down. He closes those blue eyes.

And then he does it all again. The sun will be up soon but I do. more. sheets. Re-wash the lovey. I am tired and we are tired ... tired of smelling like throw up. 

I look at the clock and we've lost almost a week. We have watched a lot of NetFlix. I cross my fingers and sleep light, ears tuned and eyes heavy. I think back on 31 days, on conversations with friends, on how the seemingly big has finally culminated ... with the small.

Throw up and laundry and t.v. days with Sprite and saltines. Lots of prayers but very few deep thoughts. And now just this one:

Can I serve right here in the low places?

Can I speak with a kind word, touch with a gentle hand, forfeit sleep, share space on cold tile between a toilet and a toddler. Can I play pretend even though I am designated (every.single.time) as the stepmother or the witch or the grumpy, jealous uncle? Can I fold laundry with a song, praising even the smell of clean cotton while imagining her in those purple polka dots? Maybe?

Sleep falls heavy like a brick after a month of scribbling words and a week of churning stomachs. And these real life days just keep coming and the fatigue can wear on the perspective. But I keep reminding myself to keep spending ... myself ...

Because these small todays add up. And they become one big life.  

Live small with me today, friends? Do it well, from a place down deep? For His sake. Happy Monday ... it's good to be back. 


  1. I visited a friend who was serving in Indonesia a few years ago and a missionary family came to the city who had been serving deep in the jungle and I got to talk to the mom for awhile. It occurred to me for the first time that in the midst of all the "big things" they were doing while serving there, she also had an even bigger serving of the small things - living life with no electricity and no immediate health care with babies will do that to you. So you never know what God has for you next, but also know that even if you were serving in Africa you'd be a mother first.

  2. Thank you for this. It's so exciting to get lit up for the big dreams...But isn't He so present in this small moment? Such a good reminder to spend our time...ourselves...well in this moment. Much appreciated perspective. :) Hope everyone is feeling better!! xoxo!