How things are

A lot of people have been great about checking in with me and asking me: “How are things going?” My answer has often been: “It is what it is.”

I won’t glamorize the realities of these past few weeks. Between my recovery and being house-bound for yet another six-week period with two very active toddlers and a newborn, there have definitely been moments and even entire days when it has felt overwhelming at best. Like yesterday when I was breading chicken, feeding Elijah and figuring out how to turn the smoke alarm off with a broom handle all at the same time.

It is what it is.

That said, I have also been on the receiving end of great care and companionship from friends who continue to give their time and help to our family and there have been a good number of days that have been quite fun. Mercy and Aaron have banded together in a new way in their little friendship, and they both completely adore Elijah. Overall, I will be quick to say that life is very good.

The impact of these early years of motherhood on the practice of one’s spirituality cannot be overestimated. I was just telling a good friend on Monday night that basically everything I have always relied upon for my spiritual growth and well-being has been, in some way or for some amount of time, taken away from me these last few years. Spiritual retreats, silence and meditation, scripture reading and study, contemplative prayer: these are not the markers of my every day. I have learned instead that my portion is now a rugged, earthy spirituality that is situated amidst dirty diapers, dishes, Cinderella dolls and sippy cups; it is the Brother Lawrence life (minus the monastery and set in South Central) and I have not always known how to embrace it.

Last night I received a distressing phone call from my parents alerting me to an urgent need for prayer for healing for a little one who is precious to us. It was the kind of phone call that should be responded to by dropping to one’s knees and crying out to God. But I had a tired infant who needed to be held and walked and soothed to sleep. Elijah loves it when whoever holds him sings. And so in place of prayers I could not speak, I sang the words to a worship song that the sick baby’s grandparents taught me when I was a young child. In the moment, that was the best I could do to connect my spirit with theirs and with God while doing what I needed to do to soothe my own baby in my arms.

“Make me a servant,
humble and meek,
Lord let me lift up those who are weak,
and may the prayer of my heart always be,
make me a servant,
make me a servant,
make me a servant, today.”

As I sang this simple song over and over, my spirit somehow interceded, wordlessly, on behalf of little Matthew. It is not how I would have chosen to pray for him, and yet as I paced the living room singing, I felt a deep and beautiful sense of prayerful communion between me, my dear friends, a very sick baby, and my own little one and the God who is near to us all.

My spirituality is not what it used to be. But it is what it is. And I am learning that that is okay.


  1. that’s beautiful, erika. you’re inspiring 🙂
    on a total side note: i got shots yesterday and the doctor did NOT give me a cool sticker like mercy and aaron – i felt a little cheated. but karla made me a certificate 🙂

  2. Julia,

    Thanks. And you are hilarious! I am sure Aaron would have shared his (maybe that’s why he tried to leave his behind–he knew you would be needing it)!

  3. Another wonderful post, sister.
    Thank you for opening your heart to us.
    It is so edifying and encouraging.

    The wonderful thing about intercession is that the Spirit within us is praying for others with a perception and understanding that we could never reach, much less articulate. Sometimes my intercession for others actually turns into silence on my end. Singing while holding a baby is a delightful posture for connecting with those for whom you are praying.

    I can just see our Abba smiling down on you and your son as you paced and swayed and sang and prayed…yep, He was definitely smiling.

  4. This is a lovely post. It is comforting to find others who are in the midst of the sanctification that comes with raising small children, and still striving to understand their spirituality.
    Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your home.

  5. Amen! I can totally relate to what you say. My wife is the worship leader in our church.

    I used to think that it was terrible that i wasn’t able to be ‘lost in worship’ like everybody else because i was looking after our toddler but more lately i am seeing that caring for and being a good dad to our boy is an act of worship in itself.

    Nice to see some real, rather than aspirational, comments in emerging blogland.

  6. Thanks, Carlo!

    My husband is the worship leader at our church so I totally know what you are describing. I actually got to a point where I hated going to Sunday worship because it was just so stressful and hard to manage on my own (two little ones while pregnant–yikes!) And so much of that had to do with what you are talking about concerning expectations about how the time should look or how my engagement with it should be. Sounds like you are on a similar journey–God bless!

  7. “The impact of these early years of motherhood on the practice of one’s spirituality cannot be overestimated.”

    Absolutely. I like to say, “parenthood IS sanctification.” I know that this is a season (I have five, ages 8 to 3), and maybe in another time less, umm, unique ways of connecting with God will evolve again. But it makes me often wonder, what else was I doing before, just because I thought I should, that was not really time well spent? Being a mother has taught me that so much of this life is how we choose to spend our time.

    This is an A+ post, Erika. Thank you.

  8. Thanks everyone for the many kind words. It is helpful to receive the encouragement and to hear from others in similar places in their lives. Today was a whopper, and coming to these comments tonight is a gift.

  9. Well i have just one crazy three year old, and you have three of the little nippers, so BIG respect to you!

    Parenting i find is often 90% perspiration and only 10% inspiration but if we can somehow catch hold of God in the midst of all the crying, sleeplessness, nappies (diapers) and incessant questions then we are definitely onto something.

    Keep up the good work…

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