surrendering my hill

My son took this photo at the Cincinnati Zoo a few weeks ago. 
God must have known I'd want this picture. 

What is life like now that your kids are in school full time? I get asked this question almost weekly. It seems I'm the first of many of my friends to be a stay-at-home mom whose kids are now in school 7 hours a day.  I had plans for this time of my life. I've looked forward to it since my oldest was a baby and I realized what life was really like with a child. I never had a minute to myself. Ever. I'm looking at you, cute little chubby fingers, under the door when I would try to escape for a minute in the bathroom. I've looked forward to it since my photography business took off and I couldn't wait to have more time to dedicate to my clients. I've looked forward to it since my love for art and creativity was reawakened and I started an Etsy store.  I set my goals high. My ambitions were great. My motives were pure. But they were mine. They were my priorities.  Underneath the surface of the life I was living out, or trying to live out, God was at work in different way. An image that comes to mind is that of an ant colony: a hill on the surface and a city underneath. Here I've been creating this life that looks great to me, but to God it only looks like a mound of dirt, a tower of Babel, if you will. God had to confuse my language. I had to see things differently. He has been revealing to me the under workings of the ant colony that he has been building. I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland who has just fallen down the rabbit hole, or in this case, the ant hole.

I've been praying a prayer for years that I am now seeing God has been answering all along. A prayer for health. For me. For my family. Not just physical health, but spiritual, social and emotional health. While I feel like I’ve just fallen down an unforeseen hole, looking back I see how this city has been revealed to me over time. Red flag after red flag. Conversations after conversation.  I was just too stubborn to do an about face and put my wants aside.  Without going into detail for the protection of my boy, we've become aware that school may not be as easy for him as we once thought. He might always struggle in certain areas. We sensed this last year and switched schools so he could get more focused attention and have the up holdings of Christ as well. It is his “health” that needs attention at this point.  I must surrender. I must see the red flags and raise my white one.

In surrendering the hill I've built for the city underneath I can fall and can fall into grace. I can trust that the Lord knows what he is doing. I have to. When I'm too busy building my hill, I'm not readily available to give my boy the support he needs. When I pick him up from school today I need to be focused on him, not on my hill. I am learning how to navigate this new "city" I am discovering.

So, what is life like now that my kids are in school full time? Life is quieter from 8am-3pm. But that quiet has allowed me to hear God more clearly. It's allowed me to prepare for life from 3pm-8am. It's allowed me to reflect on the last seven years and wish I had spent more time pursuing and understanding the importance of being a mom. I never saw or felt the importance of changing diapers, the sleepless nights, the laundry or wiping runny noses. I was too busy wishing away the long and mundane days so I could begin building my hill. Life is still messy (literally and figuratively). The quiet is amazing. But a new responsibility has been placed on my shoulders. I must manage my time well. It's easy to say yes to everything because a) I have the time and b) I feel guilty for saying no and choosing to stay home. I must be responsible to seek after what God has for me in this stage of life and pursue that and nothing else. I have a responsibility to surrender myself to Him, day in and day out.

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