Over the past few weeks I have begun to do another round of "thinning" our belongings. It seems that no matter how much I push out the door I can always get rid of more.
This week, I encountered some of the first painful things to let go of.
I tend not to hang on to "things". I'd like to think I strike some sort of balance between function and beauty (I guess I should ask my husband what he thinks about that). There are few things I am genuinely sentimental about in this world when it comes to "stuff". I have found that the things I have the hardest time letting go of are all related to our four babies.
In the whirlwind of the plague that hit our home during the past five weeks some of our belongings took a beating. The crib skirt on Baby J's bed needed to be washed at one point and once I took it off I realized that I didn't need it any more. It was the bed skirt I picked out for before CJ, our oldest, was born. I remember waiting in line at Babies 'R' Us excited to have found another piece to put together our first nursery. It has been washed and now lays in a pile of things that we plan to donate. I feel like a little piece of my heart is going with it.
I went through our kitchen cabinets this week. I came across all the baby food items I used regularly over the past five and a half years. Just looking at the baby food mill and some of the stained bibs that have been through all four of our kids messiest of eating years... there are so many memories wrapped up in the simplest of things.
Baby J is big enough to go into a forward facing car seat. He still fits into the infant carrier but I just feel like "it's time" to move on from it. It doesn't feel like long ago that I painstakingly went through all my carseat and stroller options for CJ. I knew there was a chance that we would have our kids close and, Lord willing, would have more sons or daughters and I wanted a gender neutral set to last through them all. That carseat held my sleeping babies so many times. It helped me through naptime grocery trips and quick visits to friends' houses. It held squirmy babies still while I wrestled with the others squirmy ones. (I could be assured that at least one of my kids was exactly where I put them.)
Even the frame stroller that Hubs and I bought in Virginia, when we realized it was the smartest piece of baby equipment we could have purchased, is no longer a necessity.
It's bittersweet to see it all go.
Hubs bought me a glider for my birthday when CJ was born. I rocked each of my babies to sleep in that night after night. From late night nursings to calming down after boo-boos... there are many tender memories with my babies worn into the seat of that chair.
Don't even get me started on their clothes! Some are easy to let go and others... I struggle with the thought that someone else's child would wear it. Those special pieces are tucked away for another day when, just maybe, they won't be so sentimental.
I stopped nursing Baby J this week.
He also started walking last week.
Those certainly don't help all of this.
I guess I have yet to grab hold of the excitement of no more diapers, no more assistance getting buckled into car seats, and no more cutting up food before meals.
When Baby J was born, I knew it would, Lord willing, be the last time I stayed in that maternity ward. I adored that building. It was in those rooms that I became a mommy again and again. The night I left, I asked Hubs to take Baby J out to the car while I sat at the foot of the bed and breathed in the room. The humming heating vent, the warm wood furniture, and outdated wallpaper. I sauntered down the halls where I paced and paused and moaned saying goodbye to all the little things that I collected in my memory over the years.
I try to stop, often in the middle of the chaos that comes with four children (five and under), to breathe in my kids and these crazy things they do.
I will never forget the first time my oldest three were in the car and all crying at the very same time. I had to decide to either cry with them or just acknowledge the impossibility of the situation and laugh.
Oh, did I laugh!
As I knew nursing Baby J was winding down, I was intentional about being in the moment with him. I listened to the rhythm of his breathing, I traced his face with my finger trying to remember every inch of him at that single moment.
When Bean was sick this past month she just wanted to "nuggle wit'choo" and as I held her, she lay perfectly still, her tiny body completely at rest in my arms. At almost three years old, our little peanut still fits just right in my arms.
Our family of six took a late night walk through the greenhouse last night and Hubs and I intently watched as Miss Mak biked through the entire place giggling and singing "When I fix my eyes on all that you are every doubt I feel deep in my heart grows strangely dim..." at the top of her lungs.
...May those words seep deep into her heart.
And of course, CJ, the boy who made me a mommy for the first time... as tall as he is getting, he still gives a full-body-monkey-hug to me and Hubs at night before bed. No matter how big our skinny boy grows he still runs to the window to wave to Hubs when he leaves for work. He still asks that we pray for him because he's not sure he'll get the words right. He still looks like the fragile baby boy I held for the first time over five-and-a-half years ago when he's sleeping.
Please, babies, slow down.
Don't be so quick to grow up.
... and if time won't slow down for me...
Please, God let me drink them in like this just a little longer.
Let me remember these moments exactly as they are. Chaos and all.
About six years ago I felt a unsettling in my heart. Some call it a "stirring".
Hubs and I, once again, pulled out of our basically rural neighborhood heading into the city for Sunday morning worship.
Hubs noted that we drove past church after church to get to the one we were currently attending and I had to admit to myself that I never cared to seek out the individuals in those buildings because their large signs told me things about that collective body that probably wasn't "my thing".
Then it hit me.
Isn't this the way the enemy works?
Isn't this how he keeps us from fully experiencing community with others?
And the one word I heard over and over in my head was "division".
What if we accepted that one of, if not THE, best tactic Satan has in our lives is to "divide and conquer?".
He preys on our fears.
He preys on our desire to be liked.
He preys on our self importance when we see the numbers in the church grow.
He preys on our self defeat when we see them go down.
He preys on our judgmental hearts when hear music that is too loud or too boring coming out our open church windows.
He preys on our judgement of those who love too many and look past too much.
He preys on the well funded as well as the impoverished.
There is nothing in our lives, but the love of God, that the enemy cannot create division in the midst of.
And those on the outside see it. Yes, our division goes beyond just hurting us but it sucker punches the reputation of the One in charge. It makes Him seen in-credible. It makes Him seem silly and weak.
It makes Him a joke to outsiders.
There is an illustration I've heard here and there that speaks directly to my point.
In short, the story tells of an ember that is pulled out of a fire and how, after a time, it fades away and eventually dies out leaving only a whisp of smoke to snake away into thin air.
I can't help but see the local church like embers scattered all over the hearth.
Sure, some are still smoldering and untouchable but others are fading out and still others have lost all glow. But, just as in the illustration the ember is returned to the fire and life is renewed to the ember to burn hotly again, the local church cannot only be rekindled but the more embers you draw together, the hotter the smoldering and a chance for re-ignition.
I grew up here, in New England, and am well versed in the slowness to connect with others. We're cautious by nature. I often think that in the midst of that, New England followers of Christ tend to focus on what makes us different and forget the one thing that unifies us for the rest of eternity. I think that's part of why I get so excited when I pass a person with a "Jesus fish" on the back of their vehicle. I think to myself, "there goes a brother or sister! It's not just me out here! I'm not alone!"
I often wonder if the Holy Spirit stirs in each of us when He connects with Himself as believers gather in the way John did when Mary went to visit Elizabeth. There's an almost tangible excitement when different parts of the Body of Christ come together. The Bride begins to take form before our very eyes.
How often do we steal this excitement from ourselves when we refuse to join together?
How often do we let the enemy win battle after battle because we're afraid of being uncomfortable?
What if we, collectively, get over ourselves... stopped taking our man made "-isms" so seriously?
What if we put our denominational and stylistic pride aside?
What if we were all will to be uncomfortable because we understand the great likelihood that we are all actually uncomfortable, in this moment, together?
What if we, despite our apprehension, got together on neutral ground and made it all about our single, most important commonality?
And all the work has been done for you!
I talked before about how and why we started living a "Paleo lifestyle" not long ago and thought I'd pass on this little tidbit.
Paleocon is a huge series of interviews with individuals at the top of their fields (nutrition, holistic healing, whole foods, raw diet, cooking, athletic training, clean eating with kids, women's health, general health, natural beauty, and more!) that you can play on your computer. Oh, did I mentioned they're all FREE?!
I have listened to several of these type summits over the past year or two and find the information so beneficial. Not only do these types of series offer you loads of great research but they also point you in the direction of where to learn more and make your own decisions on what's best for your family.
I just figured I'd pass it on.
Since it's free, what is there to lose?