When You Need to Catch Your Breath. A Summer Recap.
Kimberly’s summer recap with some awesome pictures…
Sleeping bags. Sleeping bags. And more sleeping bags….
Socks scattered. socks in the family room. socks on the front porch. socks by the trampoline. mismatched socks in the laundry.
Doors opening…and rarely shutting. letting in thick humidity and letting out paid-for electricity in the form of cool air.
And the candy wrappers….. candy wrappers in the car. on the porch. in the yard. and every crevice of our car-turned-Warrior-wagon.
Water cups left out. washed. and left out again as fast as I could wash them.
As if the sock challenge wasn’t enough for the 18 feet in our home. As if my own bustling crew wasn’t hard enough to keep up with or train to actually shut the front door. As if there weren’t already enough mouths to feed around here. As if the the laundry load wasn’t already an almost insurmountable job, throw in the sleeping bags and the stinky clothes and jui jitsu gi’s shed by sweaty boy warriors-the cluster of boys who would be at our house all day, every day if I let them.
The first week of summer was like trying to stand my ground in the face of a crashing tidal wave…of my own seven children who were now home from school all day every day, plus all the kids that showed up at our house, plus all the meals and meal messes that needed to be cleaned up plus everyone getting things out and leaving them out and plus all the the
many endless squabbles and arguments I had to intervene in and navigate.
Day 5 of summer break, at 8:00 am when there were already 5 extra kids in my house, I did what anyone would do in the face of a tidal wave…
Wave crashed. I reeled, kicking and screaming as I tumbled into the current and chaos, gasped for breath in the form of yelling and screaming in my bedroom while slamming my purse against the bed over and over again. I then proceeded to drown in a puddle of tears and self pity (with the herd of kids on the other side of the door).
Psalm 113:9 promises that “He (God) gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”
there was no joy.
no sense of “home” (just endless work)
there was no praise.
That night during our Celebrate Grove Park worship service there was a call for prayer. Pastor’s wife boldly went up, with baby on hip, and toddler at heels and asked Pastor Larry and Danny to pray…to pray the promise.
“I just want to be that joyous mother of children settled in her home, rather than the anxious, stressed-out, angry mother of children that I have become.”
And they prayed. Laid hands on me and prayed the promise. It was the first breath of CPR resuscitation that this dead, drowned woman needed. A little bit of Holy Spirit oxygen, to get a glimmer of life back into a bitter waterlogged mom.
The next breath came in the form of tramping 7 children to the library in order to get summer reading books, and finding out that I could borrow audiobooks off of Hoopla for free through the Atlanta Public Library.
I knew immediately what I needed to listen to….a prompting from God from two years ago when I specifically heard the still, small voice say “Let Ann Voskamp disciple you.”
One Thousand Gifts was checked out and she (and the Spirit of God who directed her words) became my mentor, while I wash dishes late at night, while I folded laundry in the wee morning hours, while I went running back and forth on the same little strip of road so I could watch my kids playing on the neighborhood playground and get exercise at the same time.
She told me to speak aloud words of thanksgiving into stressful situations.
She told me a habit is replaced by another habit, one nail is driven out by another replacing it.
She told me that thanksgiving precedes the miracle.
And so I started practicing….practicing a habit that you never can “graduate” out of, just as a living person never gets “past” the need to continually suck oxygen in and expel carbon dioxide. A habit that keeps the Holy Spirit breath continually filling the lungs, the life, of a drowned woman who was resuscitated by the promises and provision of James 5:14-16
Is any among you sick (or drowned dead in the overwhelming needs of children and ministry and hospitality)? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up (and resurrect the drowned mother). If they have sinned (and tried to do it all in their own strength), they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins (or tell the pastors you’re bitter, overwhelmed and anxious) and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
So, as a newly raise up person, I offer up the “sacrifice of praise” (thus allowing my will, my control, my agenda to be slaughtered on the altar (Hebrews 13:15), I expel the carbon dioxide, and make room for Holy Spirit oxygen to inflate lungs and deliver life and power and energy to move this mother into hidden obedience in the confines of her own home, of her own bustling family and ministry.
If I don’t expel the praises, I leave no room for the Holy Spirit to fill the lungs, the life, and to deliver the promises that are held in the Word that I head-know, but often fail to heart-know…
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
..the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2
“Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit”, says the Lord…”have laid the foundation of this temple.” Zechariah 4:6, 9
I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly. John 10:10
So, when the neighborhood boys show up at the door, I thank God for big brown eyes I can look into, brilliant white smiles against dark skin, the opportunity to be present in boys lives, the opportunity to offer a cup of cold water to Jesus, as I hydrate young warrior bodies. When kids squabble, I give thanks for yet another opportunity to sow seeds of peace and practice peacemaking technics with them, for blessed is the peacemaker (Matt 5:9). I speak thanksgiving for the food that was on all those dirty dishes and for running water and for a stove that was given to us two years ago so I could cook food for my family and my community. As I fold Jui Jitsu gi’s, I thank God for the boys that wore them and for the opportunity for them to train and grow in discipline and sportsmanship. As I gather socks from all the corners of the earth (or our property) I give thanks for feet that will one day be “beautiful on the mountains” for bringing the good news of God-with-us. (Isaiah 52:7)
And as I thank, and praise, I feel the Holy Spirit’s power and presence, and joy start to fill the body. Like those first gulps of oxygen after being resuscitated, they are vitality to the lungs, sometimes violently sucked in because you know your very life depends on it. And oh, how violently those words of thanksgiving sometimes must be exclaimed, for the very life (and sanity) of this busy mother depends on this “entering into His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4) for there is no life without His life.
Below is a photo documentary of summer….a summer of learning to breath- learning to exhale the praise, so that the Spirit could be inhaled. It was a summer of learning the rhythms of praise and thanksgiving and subsequent infilling- the Spirit entering into the depths of my being in order to provide the life, vigor and power to truly engage in it all.
The advantage of having a herd of kids on your porch, always awaiting your return, is you can recruit them to help unload groceries after an exhausting trip to Costco with seven children