Our friends waited downstairs in the kitchen, picking at brie and crackers and entertaining the other three of my children who weren’t unfamiliar with delays like this. The pizza got cold while Nate wrapped her resistant-self in his arms like she was a rag doll, easily folded yet lifeless at the moment. I heard bits and pieces of their conversation as I periodically tip-toed to the top of the stairs to decide if we should just eat without them. He was reaching, in — and she had shut down.
Finally, after the brie was gone and the appropriate hour for dinner was long past, I heard heavy steps on the stairs as he carried her down. One look and I saw that spark again. She’d been revived.
“What’d you say to her?” I whispered to him in the hallway.
He’d apologized. “For what?” I asked. Having seen her devolve beforehand, it was clear to me who had been in the wrong.
She’d scanned over days of his tenderness and care to find one of his errors amid dozens of his attempts to reach her and somewhere in the course of two hours with her he’d figured out that error that made her clamp shut.
And she opened.
That Friday night, the tool to reach her heart was cold pizza and guests left waiting, and a Daddy’s apology.
Four days later the recovery recipe was a stint with the bedroom door closed, worship music playing and her own moleskine journal on which to put the mess she felt inside of her.
A week after that it was a spontaneous trip for ice cream when she’d fallen off her bike and agreed with the lies spoken over her (for much of her life) that any new thing she’d try would result in one big collision of hope, expectation — and pavement.
We’re not slick and studied with our children whose worlds need mending. Their hearts are layered and we diversify our efforts. The handbook on parenting children who were adopted is forever being re-written in this house as we all grow up.
Though perhaps just the result of my fickleness, it’s the same kind of approach I take towards my heart in God.
Some days I need long hours to unpack all that’s bubbling up from inside of me, before Him. Others, I need one minute prayers across the threshold of my bedroom and to and from the laundry machine and out to the mailbox. Still others, I need one phrase of adoration, from His Word, repeated a dozen different ways in my own language, all across my day.
The days when thirty minute “quiet times” before the day starts were my sole fuel are long gone. My heart moves and shifts with age and experience and I need fresh-to-me approaches to the unchanging God to keep my heart alive. I need to remind myself of the old ways and introduce new ways to approach Him, often.
Here are just a few of my discovered favorites:
Tiny Prayers – Our day is full of minutes that are just waiting to be written on by God. If I wait for the long morning stretch or the afternoon away to fill my thoughts and my mouth with His Word, I miss hundreds of minutes between now and then. So I pray “tiny prayers.” Up the stairs and down. On my five minute cool-down from a run or while folding laundry, I move slowly through this list and others — praying phrases, not paragraphs, from His Word over my day. One more minute won, per day, back to His Word and His Way and I’m on my way to hours, if not days, of having prayer fill my mind.
I often use this one as a guide:
Tiny Phrases, Sung – They sing the Word while folding napkins and spinning bike wheels and throwing pikes on the trampoline. It’s working its way from their vocabulary into their hearts. So I feebly write my own songs, too. I sing phrases, out of key, but they’re my own and then His Word becomes more mine. I can barely carry a tune but His Word gains volume in my heart when I sing it. One passage from my morning stint, sung over minutes of my day, and by the time my head hits the pillow it’s become that much more mine.
Adoration – Years of expecting the worst from anything, as small as the afternoon in front of me to the adoption to which we’d said “yes”, had formed a deep groove in the road of my mental life. My mind just went there, easily. Hundreds of thoughts across any given day were submitted, first, to worst-case-scenario thinking before they were filtered through His lens. Enter this life-changing habit of Adoration. It is taking His Word and filling my mouth with that truth of who He really is, all throughout my day. Minutes given over to adoring Him, with His Word as the starting point, turn in to hours over the span of months and my heart follows my speech, this time around.
There is a growing group of us over here choosing to pepper our days with adoration.
Follow-along for the month with this printable:
With Holy Week in front of us, you can follow my own personal adoration meditations, in order, below:
In Preparation for the week ahead: God, Translated
Maundy Thursday: A Death-Life Exchange, Even Before Your Death
Good Friday: Your Marvelous Silence
Resurrection Sunday: You Said Her Name In That Way
Requests for Them – Sometimes it seems like the fight for my littles’ hearts is endless (maybe because the fight for my heart, too, is endless). So I pray prayers like drips of water on their desert and trust that He catches them all, every single one. I exchange a critical eye on their faults for tiny prayers lifted up and this woman who could hardly before be considered a woman of prayer — with all the crazy internal noise on my insides — becomes a praying woman. One phrase at a time.
Here is one of my favorites:
When I get stuck in a rut, I tell myself the same thing I tell the girl who comes down the stairs with the blue cable knit sweater she’s already worn 5 out of the last 7 days and the jeans she’d wear to bed if I let her and her purple headband that’s left a permanent crease on her hair — wearing it all like it’s a uniform: diversify your wardrobe. I need lots of diverse attempts to expose myself to Him, the One who has a multitude of angles to be explored.
What better time than Holy Week to introduce a new habit and expect to see a new side of Him as a result?
Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.