I’m sure it wasn’t the response he was expecting. Matt called to check on us during the day last Thursday, and through tears I told him I was so weary. It had been a rough couple weeks for Charlotte, and that day was the worst. Leading up to that day, we had had lots of travel because of a speaking opportunity I had and a family wedding on back to back weekends. Lots of late nights and not being in our normal rhythm. It had taken its toll on my daughter. She was expressing outwardly the weariness all five of us were feeling on the inside. Later that afternoon, I was texting with a friend asking her to pray for us. A few minutes later I was reading in my prayer journal, and I saw on my list of names of Jesus the name Gentle from Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Charlotte and I were needing rest, and I needed to be gentle–with my words, my actions, and our schedule. I’m learning that our family, especially Charlotte, needs a lot of margin. Lots of white space in our calendar and down time in our day. She will usually be the first one to sound the alarm, but it’s something all five of us feel.
We planned a low-key weekend, and Saturday we had only one goal for the whole day–to make the apple pie Lydia and I have been talking about for months now, a salted caramel apple pie from scratch. I mean homemade crust, homemade caramel, homemade everything. That pie required about a bazillion steps, and we worked on it throughout the day. Somewhere around step 57–after we had made the crust and refrigerated the crust and rolled the crust and refrigerated the crust again and cooked the caramel and cooled the caramel and cored, peeled and sliced the apples and sweated the apples and seasoned the apples and cut the lattice strips and filled the pie and crafted the lattice–when I was starting to wonder why we ever started this journey, I realized that pie and parenting and patience all go hand in hand. You break and pour day after day, and it seems that you aren’t really doing anything at all. It feels like futile failure, one step forward and eighteen back. But then God gives you a single word, a name for His Son, a red word spoken from our Savior Himself, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). And then you remember that this parenting thing is as much about God teaching you as it is about you teaching them.
It is taking this stubborn girl a long time to learn to be gentle–gentle with myself, with my husband, with my kids, with those I’m here to love. And gentle with our schedule. I’m getting to where I can admit we need more margin than the average family. Or maybe the average family needs more margin too. When we push too hard, Charlotte lets us know. By that point, I’m usually exhausted too and running short on gentleness. But that verse in Matthew keeps calling me back. He is Gentle, and in Him we find rest. God is teaching me many things through my daughter, gentle words and a schedule that values rest being two of the most important.
Oh, and that pie was worth every bit of work.