In the Middle of A Winter Season…

In the middle of winter’s bleak grayness and dark, the sun withholding, snuggling on the couch with my girls trying to stay warm, bundled up with hand-crotched quilts made with love, I day dream of escape.

As they run around and around the house screaming, me trying to keep them calm and failing, the world outside too dreary for them to enjoy and my head suffering the consequences, I look at pictures of places warm and carefree and I wish desperately.

I’m caught up in this negative frame of mind that says it will never get better, I’ll never have a moment’s peace, these children here since the day we got married–this sleepless chaos all I know.

I am in deep love with all my babies, but with each new baby, came more responsibility, more weight on our marriage, nights sitting up feeding and rocking, nights and nights of Mama not sleeping for years on end, and with noone to keep them, a small break to refresh myself rarely possible.

With each new little one came more depression and more anxiety, and though those around me said they were amazed at how I held up, I must have hid it well because what they couldn’t see was that I was breaking down inside little by little.

On the outside, I was brave and smiling, but on the inside I was a broken, hollow shell, cracked and afraid of failure.

With it all came more grating of myself and less and less chance of breaking free in flight, of pursuing the solitude that I wantingly crave, of getting normal sleep and feeling sane.

The days became like sandpaper against my selfish desires and dreams and my wishing on stars, hoping for the mountain air, reaching for beaches white and seas of sparkling jade became just candles blown out with the secret longing, only curls of smoke left in the wake of duty.

There have been times I thought that my flesh would get so torn with exhaustion and the fight to keep going that my body would go down to the deep. I have longed for Heaven and it’s wiping of tears, of sorrows and toiling no more.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this God began to whisper to my heart…”My dear child, you are not alone. I suffered too. Now you suffer with me, you drink of my cup, and this is how you know me deeply.”

                                   
                                         {old pictures of the girls playing in the snow}

And the more time that eroded self, the more their screaming demands washed down the dirt-packed high expectations of my needs, and did a cleansing of the heart and soul, running down and pooling at His feet, at the base of the cross, the louder I could hear Him uttering,

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”–Jesus, John 6:53-58

So in the middle of this unceasingly busy world of mine without rest and little comfort, if the cup and the bread are symbolic of my suffering with Christ, of my proclaiming His death, then everyday I am drinking down and I am partaking of the bread of suffering.

Every day that I stay here and I don’t escape and I bend low, this serving-place becomes hallowed, and the edges of me are scraped and sanded raw and I bleed and I gape open, arms stretched out, hands pierced just as my Christ was holed straight through, the obvious scars I can’t deny.

I am in deepest fellowship with Him, when I know Him intimately in His suffering.

And I know that I won’t do it perfect–I will forget, and my tongue will lash out at little ones when I am bone-tired and my mind can’t keep up with the whirl-wind.

But I press on, and moment by moment, I let Him teach me how to suffer with Him. I keep my heart soft and I remember to drink down fully of His cup and to ravish the bread of His body, because this is the only way to die to this flesh that I’m in. 

My little one comes up to me and I bend low and I stretch out arms and take her in, the edges of me becoming softer, my love for her bleeding out.

Some quotes to meditate on if you have time to read–they are very rich and stimulating to thought:

          “Suffering is getting what you do not want while wanting what you do not get.”–JI Packer

“There is no university for a Christian, like that of sorrow and trial”–CH Spurgeon

“All the children of God are destined to be conformed to Christ. The more we are afflicted with adversity, the surer we are made of our fellowship with Christ: Philippians 3:10 – 10 ‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 – 4Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.’ “–John Calvin

“He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore, he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly. For they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross, evil and the evil of a deed, good. God can only be found in suffering and the cross.”–Martin Luther

“If the first mark of a true and living church is love, the second is suffering. The one is naturally consequent on the other. A willingness to suffer proves the genuineness of love.” –John Stott What Christ Thinks of the Church: An Exposition of Revelation 1 – 3 (Grand Rapids, Baker: 2003) 35

“I’ve never heard anyone say the really deep lessons of life have come in times of ease and comfort. But, I have heard many saints say every significant advance I’ve ever made in grasping in the depth of God’s love and growing deep with Him, have come through suffering.” –John Piper

“None of us can come to the highest maturity witout enduring the summer heat of trials:
As the sycamore fig does not ripen unless it is bruised
As the corn does not leave the husk without threshing
As the wheat makes no fine flour unless it is ground
so we are of little use until we are afflicted!” –Kimber Kauffman, pastor College Park Baptist Church, Indpls IN

“Programs, systems and methods sit well in the ivory towers of monasteries or in the wooden arms of icons. Head knowledge comes from the pages of a theology text. But the invitation to know God – truly know Him – is always an invitation to suffer. Not to suffer alone, but to suffer with Him.” –Joni Eareckson Tada

Gratitude: {since I’ve been out of the blogging community, a culmination of the past few weeks}….

a gift found at 11:30, 2:30 p, at 6:30 p…

#535 hearing my father preaching for the first time in many years
#536 all of us eating chips and dip, cookies for Sunday lunch and curling up on the couch
#537 Husband putting the children in bed while I’m lying on the couch with a migraine, him quietly telling them to leave Mama alone

#538 Lorna blending berries for my juice fast

#539 girls running around the house, squealing with delight and the thrill of their Daddy hiding and jumping out to catch them

3 gifts overheard today, all gifts…

#540 Lorna talking to her horse as she leads her to the pasture, “You should be ashamed of yourself that you step in your own poop.”
#541 Ivy’s synopsis: “Mama, don’t think of it as a green swamp; just think of it as a candyland!” –on my green juice
#542 Lorna’s “I can’t tell you, Mama, because it’s a surprise.” and her running off excited in her planning.

3 gifts found in writing…

#543 this scripture: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law, but to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” Rom. 4:16
#544 this gift listed a while back: “husband’s forgiveness in my failings reflecting God’s goodness”…yes
#545 just this post–oh the beautiful and poignant poetry Ann pulls out of her heart here!

#546 Bella’s excited announcement: “Mama, when I told Lilly ‘That’s a rag,’ she said, ‘Oh’!”

#547 When I go to pick up Lilly to change her, Bella’s four-year-old observation, “I think she smells like poopy!”

#548 When I start changing Lilly, how Bella tells me confidently, “I can do the buttons.” then “See? I can do it.” Her need to be seen as a respected individual.

#549 light from lampost rippling across the lake at night

#550 running in silence, the stillness all around me, the dark falling down, taking in deep breaths that I didn’t even realize I needed

3 gifts found when bent down…

#551 my baby’s sugary-soft cheeks
#552 beautiful white and yellow daffodils peeking out at me from deadend grass, radiant in winter

#553 heavenly laughter that makes me soar as i am bent over my baby, bodies close in taking care of her,  tickles and kisses

one gift stitched, one hammered, one woven…

#554 beautiful hand-stitched quilt of Sunbonnet Sue handed down
#555 Husband’s canvases nailed up high on wood, him painting away, happy
#556 the way our family days all weave together, tightly, God holding us together, all the messy and all the beautiful, securely held in grace

3 gifts found outside…

#557 me taking pictures of daffodils on a warm day…signs of spring coming…while Lilly runs atop stones and Husband and I laugh at her determination and tiny cuteness

#558 girls bringing me vase of miniature daffodils they picked in woods for Valentine’s Day
#559 proud blue jay flitting across the yard in his splendor

a gift broken, a gift fixed, a gift thrifted…

#560 my heart, broken and contrite before God, going on faith and out on a limb, and loving with wild abandon
#561 putting fears aside and loving, in spite of possible rejection, and a woman teary-eyed telling me she loves me–this repaired relationship and how this brought long-awaited healing for me in the body of Christ–extravagant grace!
#562 running shoes loaned to me by a friend

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Join me at Ann’s for a beautiful story on stress and more thank-you’s to God?…..

Also sharing with L.L….

On In Around button

Laura @ Playdates With God…

and Jenn….

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23 thoughts on “In the Middle of A Winter Season…”

  1. Nacole…was going to drop you a line today…still might…again…always love hearing your heart…the stuggles…but always turning your face toward Jesus… letting Him in…bringing more healing to you…love…love the pictures of your sweet girls…
    xoxoxo sweet nacole…

  2. you have taught me a very real lesson here today. the bending low — how easily I can do it for women whom God has taught me to serve — almost tirelessly, I can do this. And yet with my own children, I start to grumble and complain. I hear God speaking to me through your words today, friend. Thank you for being so honest and real.

  3. Ro!

    oh! so good to see you here–missed you! thank you for your words–oh i can't explain what they mean to me–that you see me turning my face toward Jesus in the struggles–I try and fail and His grace is there to save me.

    blessings and love
    xo

  4. hi Alene,

    im so grateful you stopped by! and thank you–the pics are old, but i thought they were amazing also–it rarely snows in Mississippi–so I indulged myself in remembering. blessings to you.

  5. Yes. This. THis is the struggle I wrote about. I get it – and if I didn't you explained it so well – and the leaning on HIM – and I noticed the bottom linkage stuff – that made me smile – aside from the – well YOU KNOW stuff I do know some about blogging now – not making money 🙂 – but blogging. Oh, and my favorite…#552 beautiful white and yellow daffodils peeking out at me from deadend grass, radiant in winter

    winter never holds back spring. 🙂 God bless!

  6. yes, i see how this correlates with what you wrote about–our struggles different and yet, much the same, friend. about the YOU KNOW stuff–you ARE a smart blogger–we've both had our lessons to learn–and i know you will eventually have a book. i will buy it!

    waiting for spring, too, in so many ways. blessings!

  7. Well look at us both posting pictures of snowy trees 🙂 This is such a lovely post…and I appreciate you sharing your heart with us. I love the line about how our circumstances work as sandpaper against our rough edges. Beautiful! I'm praying for you and your sweet family today 🙂

  8. hi Renee,

    (my middle name is Renae') so *wonderful* to meet you and have you here! yes, our pictures much alike today. and i am teary-eyed, that you would pray for me, not even knowing me–thank you. this is why i LOVE this community! blessings!

  9. Bless your sweet heart. Mothering is the hardest of all work and we bend low and we know that the day will come when these moments we spend on our knees will fly. But it doesn't make the now any easier, but His love and communion hollows out such a sweet place and we grow into it. Love to you, sweet giver of love.

  10. Laura!

    so happy to see you here! it means *so much* to me that you take the time to come by and speak such encouraging words! wow. i think i'm growing wings now…wings to fly. i needed these words tonight. i do try and fail and try and fail and His grace is the only thing that saves. that sweet place hollowed out by communion–this is the place i want to get to.

    blessings to you, sweet lady!

  11. Dear Nacole,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. And I'm thankful to the Lord that I decided to visit your blog back, for this is a great opportunity to share with you my life.

    Like you, I hunger to hike on a hill or mountain, walk on the beach and feel the sand under my feet, and many more things that I dream of doing. But, more than these, I desire to tend to my family – cook for them everyday, bring and pick my kids from school, play and do crafts with them, clean the house, tend to the garden… But the sad thing is, I can't do them (I'm hoping and praying this won't be permanent) for I can't walk and do rigorous chores because of an illness that affects my autonomic nervous system.

    I suffer everyday, but I rather take that than being taken away now that my two kids are still young. I thank the Lord Jesus for everyday that I'm here, loving my family, writing to encourage.

    I hope I have done that to you today.

    Rina

  12. Rina,

    don't all us moms who have been called to our families long for a retreat from time to time? maybe this is part of not belonging to this world…our spirits desire to serve and yet our flesh roars and aches for satisfaction.

    your encouraging words *strengthen*, your story *inspires*–truly. thank you for sharing, Rina and being used by Him!

  13. I am not sure my comment made it to you… I waited a few days to see… so I am going to send it again… forgive me if it ends up a duplicate 🙂

    Ah… I am so glad that I found this… I am not sure why I struggle so… and why motherhood has been so exhausting… Certainly, counting gifts has been a life-change in helping me draw all the beautiful when I only see ugly… thanking God for Ann…

    But when I read a post like this from you … it just reminds me I am not alone and God will provide… and does… through precious lives like yours… your transparency is a gift… to us who deal with the same… and the pouring out… like a fast that God desires… Isaiah 58…

    I understand the chipping away… bit by bit.. sapping of strength… and the soul “hollow shell, cracked and afraid of failure.” but in that place is where the work of God is done… in the broken… and He uses the pain to draw us to Himself and then heals… and we look more like Him…

    Thank you for this… and blessings to you, my friend… I will be coming around more.

    Only by His grace.

  14. Michele,

    i just remembered when i saw this, that i never responded. i am sorry about that! thank you for this comment–this is so sweet of you to open your heart like this. i don't know why i struggle so either. i appreciate all your words. i so relate to you. blessings, dear sister!

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