Friday, July 20, 2012


It was sometime after the boys were born that we started using the phrase “sleepy sickness”. This is when little ones hit the point of exhaustion and the only thing that could make them act human and reasonable again is sleep.

Yesterday, Gavin had the sleep sickness.

And so did Mama.

It was my fault. After a long, action packed week I decided that even though it was our last night of VBS I could “squeeze in” a movie and lunch with friends that day and still have time to give the boys a nap. But these things never go as planned. By nap time my patience was wearing thin so I gave Vika clear instructions that it was quiet time and she had to find something quiet to do so she did not disturb the boys. She said “ok” and promptly went off to do as I asked. But not much later when the house was silent and Gavin was finally asleep, she flies out of her room yelling for me. This isn’t the first time it has happened and I find myself annoyed. I type into my phone and translate “it is quiet time right now. Is this urgent?” She shakes her head “yes”.  I find the laptop and I sit as she types out a request. When I read it, my frustration bubbles up and it’s a struggle to keep it hidden. She is asking a question about later. It is nothing that needs to be answered now. I take a deep breath and type into the translator. "Vika, this isn’t urgent. Please do not disturb quiet time. I need to finish ironing these clothes so Papa can wear them to work tomorrow. I haven’t had time and I won’t have time tonight." She quickly says “oh ok” and heads back to her room. But I hear the bathroom door close behind us. Gavin is awake 30 minutes into his nap. And folks, we all know 30 minutes isn’t long enough to cure the sleepy sickness.

Vika has never been mothered and it shows. Even though I feel like she should be able to wait an hour to ask for something simple, she has experienced years of uncertainty whether an adult would hear her request or attend to it. And to expect her to feel that security now, after only 3 weeks, is unfair. Sure, there is a balance somewhere and I pray we will find it. Soon. Every 5 seconds I am interrupted for a new request and it wears a Mama down. But what feels like constant demands to me is really a little girl who has someone to mother her for the first time. And more than she wants another sheet of paper, or a question answered, or another activity, I think she wants to be mothered. And 3 weeks of constant attention doesn’t fill a 13 year void.

Vika loved VBS. Especially music and crafts.

And its hard. Its hard for all of us. I drove to VBS last night and I was exhausted and empty. I prayed silently that God would change my heart and my attitude. I knew the Truth, I just didn’t feel it. 

And that is the hardest truth about loving someone. Even the people we love the most- our children, our spouses, anyone. Some days we aren’t going to feel it. But what defines us is not how we feel moment to moment. Not unless we let emotions rule our lives. My best friend is my husband and today I look at him with butterflies and adoration. But can I just tell you - there were days during the last 12 years when I didn't. And what if I had quit when I didn't feel it? I would have missed these days.

The very best days.  

Yes, real love is steady when the feelings wash back and forth like the waves. Yes, real love is much harder than that temporary feeling the world calls "love". So in those moments when we are tired or things are hard, what do we cling to? Where do we find the strength to press on?

Joshua 1:9  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Last night God answered my desperate requests while I watched the kids perform their VBS songs. I had given Vika the option to sit out if she didn’t want to get on stage but she really wanted to get up there. I had to wonder if it was because she is outgoing or because, for the first time, she had someone sitting in the audience watching her. This night, there was someone there watching her and taking pictures of her. For this one night, she had a Mama and a Papa in the audience.

And she was glowing. 

And I watched her pour her heart into those moves to songs though she probably didn’t understand 90% of them. And I longed for her to know. And on one particular song the words shot straight to the core of me, penetrating my heart and my soul. I was grateful to be in the front row because my tears threatened to break free and I knew that this night that would mean a flood. A flood of emotion, of weariness, and of gratitude.  

They sang:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Who died and rose again
Worthy to receive all power
Worthy to receive all praise
Jesus is worthy.”

And in that moment I remembered. This is why we press on and press in. When marriage is hard, or your children are requiring everything you have, if a circumstance or even a person demands too much- or maybe you are like us, and you have wounded children in your house and you feel like you will never make a difference in the face of overwhelming needs. We must keep pressing in, we must keep asking God to do what we can’t, and by all means we must love no matter the cost. Because that is how He loves us. We love even when we are tired. We love because love is a verb; not a noun. It is an action and not a feeling. And most importantly, Love is a Person.

And may He be what defines us. 

Because He is worthy.  The music and the Truth echoes in my ears and in my heart today. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.”

Folks, Jesus is worthy. 

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