out of the blue

out of the blue: finding joy when the season is a struggle

In case you missed the news in the video on Facebook or in the newsletter, we have an announcement. Coming soon, summer of 2015, a new baby at Copperlight Wood. And if you ask us, “Hey, haven’t you guys figured out what causes that yet?” we will probably give you any one of the following answers:

1. Yes…haven’t you?

2. Yes, and we like it.

3. Yes — lots of…well, paperwork (high five to fellow adoptive families!).

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We’re excited, but the days so far have been a lot like this one:

Fold the next shirt, try not to throw up. Match a pair of socks, try not to throw up. Stay away from the kitchen (or the catbox, or the boys’ bedroom) and try not to throw up.

These days, I subsist mostly on crackers and peanut butter and ask the big kids to make lunch for everyone else while I fight queasiness on the other side of the house. They do a pretty good job. Only two food groups? Close enough.

And yes, we’re thrilled about this new life, and yes, these days will pass and joy will come, but to be honest…everything turns dull shades of grey and blue while morning sickness tries to drain the color out of life for the weeks that it lasts. I walk around in a haze of nausea, not enthusiastic about Thanksgiving, not helpful with cooking, not inspired about Christmas decorating, and not even excited about our first scheduled date out of the house in two and a half years.

It’s just, bleh. Blue. And it’s not me, it’s the morning sickness talking.

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And maybe it’s not morning sickness for you, but the bleh happens to many of us out of the blue – or at a certain time of the month – and we are just not who we normally are. The color is gone, our caffeinated superpowers have abandoned us, and we could not summon appropriate enthusiasm if someone were to lay a platter of chocolate and roses in front of us and declare that we’ll never pay a mortgage again. Life for a little while has lost it’s zing. And I know I’m not alone in this…I suspect it also happens to thousands of devoted Downton Abbey fans at the end of every season. Mm-hmm. You know who you are.

It’s easy to turn the funk into an excuse to pull back, isolate, and recoil. And there is room for that, sure — no one wants an audience hovering around when we’re absolutely miserable — but He gives room for growth and productivity within the struggle. It’s a grace-saturated opportunity: no added pressure, no increased burden, just the light yoke of learning boldness in affliction.

We can pursue the Kingdom quietly in spite of pain. The struggle is a season, not our identity.

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

– Colossians 4:12

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you.

– Philemon 1:23

I’ve never paid much attention to this name before, but in the last several weeks of reading the New Testament the name Epaphras kept showing up, and I finally noticed. His name means “lovely.” The few scriptures we have that mention him revolve around this theme of both faithfulness and struggle.

The two go together. Anyone can be faithful when things are easy. But being steadfast in the struggle is what reveals faithfulness. And that is lovely.

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We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

– Colossians 1:3-8

Through lunch, I’m sitting on the couch, sorting the kids laundry for them to put away later. The girls’ clothes go in a pile to my right, the boys’ clothes go on the other couch. I toss some over in a half-hearted fling – a shirt makes it, but the sock hits the floor. Close enough.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

– Colossians 1:9-10

Reagan has been coming up to me lately for lots of hugs – no real reason, just out of the blue, she’ll reach out and ask, “Hug, Mama?” like a wee toddler would. And one afternoon last week when I was nauseous and not wanting anyone near me, I hugged her anyway — which may make me sound like a terrible parent, but if you’ve ever been this close to throwing up at the same moment that a child with a history of aromatic breath wants to come near and squeeze your body, you’ll understand. But I let her, and she hugged me long, and for the first time ever, after being home with us for two and a half years, she said something else — all on her own, no prompting, out of the blue.

It was, “Ah yah you.” I love you, in Reagan’s toddler speak. I melted, but it put me on guard a little – there’s still this inner struggle of wanting to trust and enjoy it, but knowing from experience that often there’s a backlash coming after sweet behavior, the swing from hot back to cold, from clingy to repellent.

But there was no backlash, and she did it again today. And there was joy. Her struggle is not her identity, either.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

– Colossians 1:11-14

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We ran errands, and bought maternity clothes, club soda, and a Christmas tree. We listened to Louis Armstrong sing about a Dixieland Santa Claus while driving home in the snow with the tree strapped to the top of the Stagecoach, and the haze was there, but color and loveliness were, too. And it wasn’t quite enthusiasm, but it was close enough.

Comments

out of the blue — 8 Comments

  1. Aw: so sweet and powerful, all at the same time. Congratulations on your newest little: may God continue to give you strengthening moments of sweetness throughout the season.

  2. How beautiful to see someone cling to the Lord when everything seems nauseating. I’m going through a difficult time right now, too, and the verses you mentioned bring great comfort to me.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Shannon. Your newsletter and this post resonate with me. Just because God has called us to a thing does not mean we will live “happily ever after” on our path of obedience. Hard times and not feeling so hot do not automatically mean we’re off the path either. I’m so thankful He sees the bigger picture and is big enough for all my weakness.

  4. What a gift, Shan!! Many hugs and prayers that morning sickness takes a hike real soon. (And yesss, there is a blue-ish shade that overtakes me when Downton is done for the year.) :) :)

  5. You have brought a wonderful memory to mind and moved me to tears at the same time. What a sweet thing to hear that “I love you” when it has been so long in coming. May God bless your family this Christmas season!