We are coming to a point of closure on our time in Peoria. While there is much to look forward to and be excited about I find my heart lingering here, this place where we grew our family, this place where God laid out so much of his will for me, my children, my marriage and my purpose. I am and have always been a very natural extrovert, I'm energized by people and groups and activity and find that my very soul thrives when I have plenty of this in my calendar. Yet lately, there has been a shift, something I've felt deep within that has been a slow and sure progression, a whisper of a plan for who my family needs me to be as these school age years approach us. I have come to consider it a holy calling.
I read recently about this idea of the "hidden years," a time in which we, as mothers, must sacrifice our play dates, our busyness about town, our frequency of activities for the purpose of investing in the future of our children. A time when our work is most valuable, but most unseen. This is not a martyrdom, is not a dying of self, but it is a true change of perspective where my heart and mind align to a hard truth that I am the most tangibly valuable person my children will encounter in their present stage of life. I have battled God on this, fought the required self sacrifice only to see that even the tiniest efforts on my part to pursue this path of devotion to little lives, produces so much good fruit.
When I slow down, plan less, have a more open calendar, my tendency to yell and rush and fuss slows. My children and my husband see on me a face of joy in being together more so than a face of frustration and exhaustion. Every effort I make to invest in and disciple the lives of my family, turns outward to produce people who in turn want to connect and relate to people in the world around them. I will be the one to teach them compassion, to care for the widow and orphan, to serve as we see need BY MY EXAMPLE. If I am so busy with book clubs and Bible studies and play dates I will miss out on the opportunities to bend low, listen attentively to the world questions my children ask of me, and answer slowly, and make the world right for them. This is my great privilege, to grow in my own wisdom and depth of self as I engage them and allow them the freedom to do the same in the safety of my attention.
To bring this back around, in June we will journey to Houston, where we will live for a year and then, hopefully, transition to our settle down home. But God has spoken to me about this year, this one, single year in Houston, that in it my family is meant to be the focus. That I do not need to panic about "plugging in" or extending outward at all hours of the day (as my extrovert heart feels compelled to do), but that instead it is a time to teach my children that they truly are the best friends they will ever have. Siblings have a special connection and gift that can be lost when too many other relationships are allowed to crowd in. Houston will be our time of connection, of discovering the world together, of reading so many great books and standing in awe of God's creation. We will still practice hospitality, we will absolutely serve the poor, the marginalized together, we will make friends, but the greatest purpose will be to create a special unity among the members of our family that brews a fierce devotion, a love of each other and a willingness to sacrifice self to make a whole.
I have needs that will still need to be met. The very fact that I write this now, at Panera, without the clamoring for my attention that home life demands, is proof that my husband understands this in me, this need to be "me" separate from "mom" at times. I thrive and feel alive when I am able to exercise, be fit, run the trails and push the limits of my abilities. I will figure out how to weave that into our days, because my health is vital to theirs. Oddly, I feel confident in this (confidence is not my strong suit in decision making). I am free from fear of judgment, as I know not everyone will agree with this choice, but I am glad for it. Glad for the chance to stand strong in the conviction laid privately upon my heart, and I look forward with gladness to the fruit of these hidden years.