I got up this morning at 6:30. I know, I know...it's an hour late. But it is Saturday. I'm working on it. Anyway, I got up with something on my heart. It felt like a rock. I came downstairs and saw Jim reading in the living room. I got my coffee and sat down. I tried to keep it to myself, taking sips of coffee and picking up something to read. But then I just blurted it out. "I miss Africa. I wish we were in Africa. I wish we could just get on a plane." I was close to tears...my longing was that great.
My wonderful husband did not skip a beat. He looked at me and told me that what I'm longing for isn't Africa. It's God. It's deeper intimacy and knowledge and closeness with Him. He's right. We talked for a long time about Africa and about what God is doing in our hearts and in our family. Really, Jim feels the same way I do about Africa, and he dreams of being there too. Somehow, God had a plan to rescue Gracie and Little Man by bringing them out of Africa, but somehow He had a plan to rescue Jim and I by taking us into Africa...and beyond. We are changed. We talked about things that have changed in our family since we got home from Africa. Our appetites have changed. We don't watch TV anymore. We hadn't had cable in a long time, but we unplugged the little black box that allowed us to receive a few channels. We changed what we eat. The children all decided one day that we should eat oatmeal for breakfast every day and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every day in order to save some money to help people who truly have nothing to eat. (We've kept this up for about a month now.)
I was seeing fruit from the change in our routine. Getting up early was giving me more time with God, sweet fellowship with my husband, and allowing us to start the day together as a family and in the Word. I was excited and longing for more. Fast forward a few days. The lack of sleep is still catching up to me (thought I would've caught up to IT by now). I have struggled with insomnia for years, and often my best sleep is between 4 and 7 in the morning, so getting up at 5:30 has wreaked havoc with my normal sleep habits. I'm still trying to go to bed earlier, but it still hasn't kicked in. This week I have just felt defeated. I've been irritable with the kids, and even with Jim. I fussed at him yesterday for coming home from work and reading the newspaper when I wanted him to be helping me. And I despised myself because I wanted to be the kind of wife who had everything all under control, and who could maintain a peaceful home and a smiling countenance so that my husband could feel free to relax with the newspaper a bit when he gets home from work. So, I got up this morning (5:45; close but not quite my goal) feeling deeply discouraged. This time, I sat next to Jim and again tried to keep my feelings to myself. Again I was near tears. Sipped my coffee. Sighed rather loudly so that Jim would ask me what was wrong (which he did). So I told him. "I can't stand myself. I just can't get it right. All I am trying to do is to be pleasing to God; to be the kind of wife and mother that He wants me to be. And I can't even get up early and be a good mom." (I whined some more and cried a little, but that's the gist of it.) Again, he came back with wise words. He pointed out that I was focused on what "I" could do rather than what God could do. That there's no way "I" can do any of it right without Him. He reminded me of all that God is doing in our family, and that Satan hates it. That we should expect to be under attack, and not expect an easy road.
He's right, of course. And right after he said all of that he went upstairs (it was 7am) and played "Reveille" on Tiger's trumpet, as that's how he's been rousing the kids to get up in the morning for family worship. The kids stumbled down, we heard the Word, we sang. We actually danced around the kitchen singing with Keith Green. (Okay, we're freaks). It feels better. But I know that it's not going to feel better later in the day when the coffee wears off and the day starts to wear on me. At that point, I'll go back and read this:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I'm going to read those words, and then I'm going to substitute some of my own (thanks to Beth Moore for that idea): I am convinced that neither lack of sleep, or my own failings and weaknesses and junk, or the busyness of my day, or the messiness of my house (etc., etc., etc.) can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ. Amen.
And I'm going to keep praying for sweet sleep, and I'm going to try to keep obeying even if it doesn't feel good. But I'm going to remember that I can't do it. But He can.
Oh, and I also will add this one more detail purely for your entertainment. At the end of our conversation this morning, after exhorting me to trust God, etc., Jim also said one more thing (in answer to my feelings of discouragement and defeat): "Stop it. Stop it or I'll bury you alive in a box." And that dubious statement was a sort of inside joke in our marriage, referring to this hilarious video we saw a few years ago. Here it is:
There you go. A little up, and little down, and a little funny. That's the way my life is going. Not so bad, really. :)