When I was young I loved to climb trees. Autumn was my favorite season for a climbing adventure. I remember clearly the smell of the air from my perch - a bit dusty and a lot smoky and filled with memories of autumns before. I most often found myself in old walnut trees surrounded by yellow and brown leaves, just being held in perfect peace in those husky, worn branches.
Step into present day and I am now watching my kids explore the wooded wonder around them. The twigs they find lying beneath a majestic timber are magically transformed into swords and wands and arrows with just a touch of their eager hands. Given the chance, they rake fallen leaves into strategic plump piles only to disrupt the order by jumping and jumping and jumping again. They climb any bough they can find that is low enough to accept them into its arms. And then they rest. Just being held. As I watch my kids I often wish I could escape and be lost in care free play with them. Instead I am wandering through the rewarding and challenging task of mothering, teaching and nurturing my small adventures.
When our school year started this fall I was incredibly excited and full of idealistic goals. And then life happened. The workload of five kids age 9 and under was realized. Our dream of a house on acreage became a reality - but it came packaged as an energy consuming fixer upper. Matt's typically family friendly work schedule began to look like the 80 hours a week he labored in residency. Claire spent time in the emergency room with a still mysterious allergy. Matt faced a health scare that shocked us. And then one little thing after another stopped working. The car. The oven. The washing machine. Trivial under normal circumstances, these mishaps carried the weight of the straw that broke the camels back and overwhelmed me. Through it all, when I would sit and lean into God I heard one word. Surrender. Over and over and over again. Surrender, surrender, surrender. And so now I find myself in the midst of learning what surrender looks like.
I'm learning that surrender is not holding on to how I think something should look.
But instead being held by the One who knows all.
It is letting go of any illusion I have of control.
And instead trusting that God is the perfect author of my story.
This path of surrender starts when I choose to give him my day - from sunup to sundown. I sit in the morning and make a list of "my" plans for the day. And then I pray over the list. I pray for the incredible patience and peace it takes to let go of my plan if I must in order to welcome His plan.
Daily - often times hourly - I have to give Him the fears that exist as I navigate parenthood and this home educating journey. I must choose to trust that the unexpected tugging I felt to homeschool when Henry was just a baby was placed in my heart by God.
Surrender and humility complement each other perfectly. In this season I am learning to accept help. Meals come and I receive them with a thankful heart. I meet the generous offer to wash, dry and fold my laundry with gratitude. A team of servants descend upon our new land and spend three days clearing rotting fences and pruning trees and removing debris. And Matt and I accept with all we have to give - gratitude and humility.
I'm discovering that deep trenches of a life of striving don't partner well with sweet surrender. So I sit. Even when life spins. I sit. I open my bible. I close my eyes. I write. I pour out my heart. Here and in a journal and in my prayers. I let the kids watch TV nightly so I can rest. And often just watch them. The clutter piles high on the counters. The car is full of crumbs and coats. Shoes pour out of closets. Paper and schoolwork and bills abound. And yet, in the midst of it all, peace reigns.
The other day I was basking in this peace and I physically felt as if I was perched in an old, worn tree. And I was overcome. Because in that moment the feeling of peace I was experiencing felt exactly like those tree top moments of my childhood. And I knew the One who sees all, the One who is writing my story, the one carrying me along this path of surrender is the One who has been carrying me all along. In his strong, loving, everlasting arms.