Tonight, over a thrown together meal of frozen pizza and Ramen noodles, the Man and I had a couple of hard conversations with our two oldest girls. We forget that these girls are no longer our little girls, but girls on the brink of becoming women and women, by God’s design, are intuitive creatures. We pick up things and develop thoughts about the things we pick up.
And sometimes,when the DNA of two parents collide just right, the girls who pick up things and develop thoughts about things, wind up being people who don’t talk about the things they pick up.
We have two girls that don’t talk. They simply observe and stuff and then observe some more. And when their growing hearts cannot hold one more thing, the things they’ve stuffed deep down inside spill out in rivers of tears.
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a steady stream of tears in our home. We’ve assigned the tears to a new school and hours of homework. We’ve tried to pin the tears on lack of sleep and weird classroom dynamics and fears of failure. We’ve even tried to blame budding hormonal changes for the weepy sadness in our home.
But tonight, after the youngest four kids lost themselves in front of the television, I asked Elli a series of hard questions, each one building on the one before it. She answered each question with a smidgen of bravery and after a few minutes, we were able to find the source of all the tears.
And the source was not what the Man and I were expecting.
As I write through the hardest parts of our church plant, the Man and I find ourselves immersed in church talk. We’re consumed with figuring out how God is working His plan and how we fit into it. We wring our hands and run our fingers through our hair and I cry over the kitchen sink. The Man spends entire evenings in prayer and complete weekends on the porch swing lost in thought and after the kids have been sent to bed, we delve into the murkier waters of heart things.
We hold mirrors up to one another and call out the things we believe breaks the heart of Jesus. We spend time on the phone with mentors who shed light into our dark parts and we listen to godly counsel. We devour truth and books about truth and when we’re alone, we pray with no words.
There are no words for this time spent walking through the dark.
And all the while, even when we thought we were alone, our girls have been picking up all the things we’ve been saying and all the things we’ve not been saying and stuffing every bit of it down into their small, soft hearts.
If you spend any time here, you know that I don’t write much about mothering. It’s not that I have nothing to say, but the context within which I mother is messy. We’re a ministry family, rearing our children in the hood, and our children have a mother called to write the grittiest parts of our life.
Because we’ve parachute planted a church, meaning we strategically moved into an area with no appointed team and planted, we currently have no elder board, no on the ground strategic planning team, no staff to help set direction, and no monthly stream of outside resources being poured into this work.
This also means that from day one until today, nearly all the behind the scenes ministry, as well as most upfront ministry, has happened in our home.
The Man and I host meetings, counsel couples, and invite people who need to have hard conversations with us into our home. We plan and dream and hope for big things for our little church around our farm table. We porch swing and drink coffee and talk the hard things out while the kids play volleyball in the side yard. We have messy conversations with our neighbors and heated conversations with our church and brokenhearted conversations with ones leaving our church in the heart of our home.
Our home is the hub of our church and the hot spot for our neighborhood and the safe haven for our family.
But sometimes, in the midst of good things, our children get lost in the crossfire of all that’s happening and their little hearts and minds have a hard time knowing what to do with what they have heard and seen.
And to be honest with you, the Man and I have not yet learned how to parent in this season. At best, we’re muddling through it begging Jesus to fill our gaps. And at worst, we’re slapping band-aids on gaping wounds while crying alongside them, telling them this won’t last forever.
I have no answers for you as they pertain to church planting and marriage and family. Actually, right this minute, all I know is that Jesus is good and trustworthy and mighty enough to shoulder all the things I don’t know.
And I know that whatever He has called us to, I can trust that He was called our kids to it as well.
No matter the cost to us.