• Dana L. Butler

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My alarm goes off at 5:45 AM, jerks me out of a deep sleep — the sleep of an exhausted mama after an ultra-full week, and weekend, too. I wake up miraculously easily though, spend a minute marveling at how light it is outside before 6 AM and wondering if my phone’s clock is accurate. Can it really only be 5:45?

Then it dawns on me: I don’t have a headache. This is a miracle in and of itself, one for which I’m thankful, but I also struggle with the thought of, “well, it’s only a matter of minutes before it kicks in.”

I’m a little saddened by my lack of faith-filled, excited receiving of the gift of a headache-free morning, but life experience holds strong sway over my faith for supernatural healing these days.

Sigh. I’m so aware in this season of all the places I fall short. Not in a beating myself up way (mostly), but in an honest with myself before God way.

Last week, we had a large portion of our house’s interior painted. I spent the week carting kids here, there, and everywhere, trying to keep little hands out of wet paint, little noses away from paint fumes, and little bodies away from ladders. Hello, hazardous environment.

It was one of those weeks where busyness made me feel a little like life was closing in on my little introverted/introspective heart.

All this while preparing to throw our sweet girl’s first birthday party this past Saturday, complete with the presence of one sweet long-time friend, along with Maia’s birth family, who are more like “real” family to us every time we get together.

The party was a blast. I’m pretty sure Maia is the most loved and celebrated little girl on the planet, and everything about the openness of our relationship with her birth family just gives me chills. I am so thankful for her, for them, for all of us together.

Leading up to Saturday though, my party preparations had me hiking through neighborhood grocery stores and parking lots. I’d parked toward the back of the Price Chopper lot on Thursday evening, and as I made my way toward my car with muffin baking cups in hand and watched graffiti-covered freight cars rumbling slowly over the ancient bridge across the street, I caught myself whispering prayers of Lord, please, please sell our home. 

A daily prayer, it rolls around at varying levels of consciousness in my heart.

But in that grocery story parking lot in the ‘hood, I found it accompanied by this heart cry: Just let me love you well in the meantime. Let me live this season like worship before you. Again, a prayer I’ve prayed before, but the ache to live that prayer is so acute now.

The cry just pulses inside me. Throbs in my heart.

Sell our house. Let me love well in the interim.  My keen awareness of my weakness, hand-in-hand with this desperation that my love for Him would be unbridled, unrestrained, holding nothing back. That in all my fumbling, broken living of this present life, worship would ooze from my pores and everything I do would be a pleasing fragrance to His heart.

In the waiting. In the desires not yet fulfilled. In the pain. In my weak, far-from-perfect limping through living and loving those you’ve put before me. Jesus, let me just adore you — let me beat breathe and bleed love for you.

And the sweetness of His tender hand moving my heart in the midst of weakness intersects with the bitterness of unmet desires — and the graffiti and crime and deafening subwoofers and offensiveness of this neighborhood — and there is no sweeter tension or pain than loving Him and longing to live wide open before Him in seasons like these.

And I’m almost afraid to say this because y’all might think I’m nuts, but here I go, saying it anyway. It was Saturday early afternoon and Maia’s party was beginning to wind down. We were all stuffed with brunch and cupcakes and one happy, tired little girl was getting ready to go down for her nap… when Stan’s and my text message alerts went off simultaneously. A SHOWING. In less than 2 hours.

And piled high all around me were wrapping paper and new toys and leftover fruit salad and decorations and dishes galore.

Maia’s birth fam graciously stepped in and worked lightening-fast to help us get the first floor cleaned up. Then they left, Isaac lay down for some rest time, and Stan mowed the yard, and I busted it from room to room to room of our big ol’ house, making beds and hiding whatever clutter had accumulated since our last showing.

In the final minutes before we have to be out of the house, the adrenaline’s running a little extra high and suddenly I notice: the undercurrent of my stream of consciousness thoughts — it’s gentle.

One thing at a time, love. Just breathe.

I say this to myself, not aloud but in my heart, without even thinking about it.

And I realize — in this moment of great potential stress, my subconscious self talk is lining up with the heart of God toward me. Without my even trying. Whaaaat?!

And I’m awestruck and filled with gratitude, because somewhere in all the simultaneous tension and weakness and sweetness of this season, God must be capturing my heart with a new revelation of His heart toward me. Of His gentleness, His tenderness, the kindness of His leadership. Because internally, I am mediating His heart to myself without. even. trying.

And that, is no small thing. Gentle self talk without trying. In a moment where I normally would maybe not have been completely beating myself up inside, but definitely wouldn’t naturally have been gentle with myself.

Not sure where that came from, but I’ll so take it. Because I know it’s a gift that’s not just for me, but for

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