Blankets strewn about from an unsettled night on couches
Morning coffee only half indulged.
Pile of dirty laundry at the top of the stairs - still waiting for someone to carry it to the washing machine.
Laundry basket full of clean clothes - none of it folded or put away.
Reagan's fall/winter clothing pulled out of boxes - waiting for hanger assignments.
Madison's fall/winter clothing pulled out of boxes - waiting for hanger assignments.
Boxes and boxes of girl clothes waiting to be put back in the closet for another time. Another season.
The evidence of a life with children in its most organic state. Chaos. Interruptions. Unfinished...everything.
I've never liked unfinished. Boxes without checkmarks bother me. I have a need to make things right - to tidy stuff up.
And I don't mean just scrubbing floors, folding laundry or organizing my recipes.
I like all of life to fit into a neat pattern. I like to solve behavior problems with new discipline techniques. I get a cheap thrill out of organizing a routine for each day that allows everyone to be well-rested and cheerful.
I even like preparing meals.
Ministering to my family has taken on a new definition lately. Meal preparation, loads of laundry, cleaning bathrooms, changing diapers - all of it has a sense of purpose.
Until the night falls. And the thing I long to be the most selfish with tempts me to lay too much of the burden on someone else.
But it was 2:30 AM and I still had not gotten to sleep because I had accidentally had a regular (fully-leaded) Pepsi at dinner. With several refills. Accidentally. Or maybe it was His way of making me less selfish for one night.
For 2 hours he had wrestled with her down in the basement. Doors closed. Lights off. Pacing. Shushing. Rocking. Singing. He had tried every trick in the book. At 2:30, my restless body gave in and I went down to start my shift.
I nursed her, congested though she was. And in minutes she was asleep. Blissfully, quietly, exhaustingly asleep on my shoulder. Every so carefully I moved in such a way I could recline on the couch. This would be my bed for the rest of the night. And hers.
Her soft barely fuzzy head tucked under my chin. Her hand gripping the collar of my shirt.
She would stir. About every 30 minutes she would cry in her sleep. Angry at the discomfort of her first cold. And every 30 minutes I would gently pat her back and whisper shhhh to her. For 4 hours I held her restless sleepy body against mine. This was the best sleep either of us were going to get.
It was enough.
And in the dark, in the quiet moments, tucked far away so my other sweeties could sleep, I talked to Him.
I talked to Him about suffering. I talked to Him about struggle. I talked to Him about perspective.
And my prayers changed from the normal canned speech about miraculously curing my daughter's cold and restoring our previously enjoyed sleeping routines.
Instead: Lord, give me peace as I wait. I will wait.
Its only a cold. Its only a simple little cold. No fever. No coughing. No discontent aside from uncomfortable sleep. Others have it so much worse. I know this. I know I should count my many blessings.
Counting blessings is very hard at 2:30 in the morning.
But He is even there.
Sitting with me in the dark basement of a nice little house in a sweet little town with 3 out of 4 people being perfectly healthy. He is there watching me care for this little one who has a runny nose and watery eyes.
He is even there.
You wanted these moments. You begged me for these moments. There was a time in your life when you cried because you did not think you would ever have these moments. These nights sitting up with a little one of your own. You asked me to work out a way for you to stay home with those 2 precious little girls. And I taught you that staying home was not so you could get the laundry done, not so you could leisurely drink a cup of cofee, not so you could keep the house picked up. It was for them. It was so you could care for them. It was so you could be there when they needed you. Remember our talks. Remember that I will carry you through.
And somehow, the next morning, as the chaos of life makes itself more and more evident, its all a little easier to take.
Because someone needed me last night.
Madison's cries in the middle of the night of discomfort and frustration. Today when Reagan ran to me and wrapped her arms around me after Little Lambs. This afternoon when Reagan had a conversation with Madison.
Yes, He is there. Not because of it. But even through it.
He is even there.