Zee still refuses to put on her shoes.
And that's okay.
Tony received an email this past week while the air was heavy and thick. While my eyes were burning, he sat down near me and read the words that marked and recognized his time at Madison House. August 27th marked 3 years since he stepped into his role, 3 years since he brought me with Zee all curled up in my belly and the older ones pressed close as we walked up the front steps, unsure of what to expect, but wanting to receive all that God would give.
School started this week. We pulled down our books and brought out our pencils and while the school buses drove the ones living just down the street to their classrooms, we gathered in our own small school room and we entered into this new year with new hope.
September is it's own version of New Year's I think. There isn't a counting down at midnight, or fireworks exploding over our home, but it's a new leaf full of new possibilities and for everything that we've removed from our schedules and our purposefulness in going smaller, these days ahead feel ripe with expectancy.
I sat on the front steps of Madison House at the beginning of the week, I watched as the kids started returning with backpacks slung over shoulders and fresh new haircuts and shy smiles as they walked by me into the front doors.
As faces that I've loved for three years now come into view, I feel that familiar ache press close into my chest. It's one I've been feeling all summer, I think, but as Fall quickly approaches, the ache is getting deeper and it's time to acknowledge what it all means.
From the time I was small, I wanted to be a wife and a mama. That's all. Some may think that it's a small thing to aspire to, and that's okay. I never had grand dreams of grand jobs, I just wanted to make a home cozy and warm for the hearts I would love. And when one is 10 years old, this dream and this wish seems like a lifetime away.
Now, I stand on the other side of the dreaming. It's no longer a hoping, but a fulfilling. My home is full of a good man and crazy kids, but this body that has cocooned my five babies holds no more and my breath catches at the suddenness of it all. Warm newborn skin no longer folds up into my neck as a new one breathes deeply in sleep...instead, arms and legs sprawl and clamor for space, as though my once-little-ones haven't caught up to the reality yet that our space is transitioning.
My heart is aching.
It's that deep ache that settles in as I watch these kids who have found such deep places in our hearts walk up the front steps I'm sitting on. 3 years ago, they seemed so small, so young and now I look into the faces that are changing into young men and women in front of me. There's one young man whose hair was all shaggy just a year ago, he was the first one of the MH kids to hold Zeruiah just a year and a half before that, he sits across from me all quiet as he tells me about his first day of school. This kid, who just yesterday wasn't it when he was mouthy and hurting? He looks me in the eye and says, "It was a good day. And yeah, I'm in the top grade, but that means I'm a leader this year. I'm going to be a good leader."
The moving of time is a good thing, I see and know this...I do. I just haven't been prepared for how quickly the transitioning would happen. As though the letting go of one stage and moving into the other should be more gentle, more slow.
Back during the blur of Liv's first year of life, when she was awake more than she slept, when she screamed more than she was quiet, when all I saw was the neverendingness of where I was at, Jesus gave me a verse in the dark one evening, in the dark of my emotions, and it was this:
He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
I'm not sure why it pulled at me the way that it did, but for just a few moments, it reflected the glory of the sun off of it's surface...the deep green no longer seen, but instead transformed into a bright dazzling gold in a sea of shadow.
I don't know how long on this earth I have...the weight of this thought has been pressing in on me harder this year, but the One Who formed the dust I am made of, He has set me here, has given me all that I have here. And for a brief span of time in light of eternity's length, He has set His gaze on me here...and I can turn my life to reflect Him here, so that it's not me that is seen, but Him.
I think of that green all transformed into gold before winter's wind comes barreling in and it is no longer...and the words of Isaiah, they burn in my heart and as September comes nearer, it's a call I want to answer for me and for our children who have grown under my heart and for those who have become a part of my heart,
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk,
in the light of the Lord.
We have a Savior Who promises to lead the way...