Sunday was a doozy. After waking up at 1:50am with a cranky baby, I went on to soothe children, help pack up the car and then ride in the backseat with Elijah for 15 hours.

Fifteen. Hours.

And he napped about 45 minutes total. And cried for about 2 hours.

In the scheme of road trip parenting it wasn’t bad, but by the end of that trip, I was done. Elijah was done. Jason was done. And Nathan, who rode with my parents, was done. Fully cooked, well done, verging on burned.

It was after dark, way past bedtime, by the time we rolled into Dallas ahead of major thunderstorms and we needed to get everyone settled and in bed for a few hours sleep before regular life started up full speed Monday morning.

To say I was stressed would be, well, an understatement.

As I got the crying Elijah out and carried him in to our home, he calmed down, looking around with his red-rimmed, wet eyes. He has an uncanny ability to let a single tear sit picturesquely on his cheek as if reminding all who see him that he was recently very unhappy, and reserves the right to be so again with no notice.

We entered through the door and I set my bags down. His eyes darted around with interest and he started to smile his little half-smile. Then, I’ll never forget, he took a deep breath, and let out a deep sigh of contentedness. Everything about his body relaxed. He was home.

A few minutes later, my parents dropped Nathan off. We’d been about 30 minutes apart on the road all day and we hadn’t seen him since we’d said good night in the starry pre-dawn on the mountain. The first thing he did was run over to where Elijah and I were sitting, grab Elijah’s head in both his hands and give him a huge smooch on the cheek. He was home.

Those two moments combined to fill up my Mama heart and bless me more than anyone can understand, but I’ll try to explain.

We live in a small space. 1000 square feet including the patio we don’t use. While many living near us have much less, there are also a lot of people that live around us with much more. A whole lot more. Our neighborhood is strangely situated on the border of a large subsidized housing area and literal mansions. There is a Maserati dealership around one corner, a Porsche dealership around another and can’t-afford-a-car poverty around yet another.

We’ve made intentional choices to live small, and even when we are able to buy a home we plan to live small. It suits us and our values. But it is still hard sometimes to live the way we do while mixing with people who have so much more. And so much less. I can’t not notice, but I don’t want to be so self-conscious.

I worry about not providing my boys with the everything and beyond of the many kids they will play with, but I worry about providing so much they cannot relate to the majority of the people in the world.

I work hard to make our home a life-giving space filled with books, art, music, creativity, yummy smells, soft beds, and nutritious yet delicious food. But, in 1000 square feet and on a limited budget I cannot hide all the nuts and bolts of life that end up on display, like dirty laundry, receipts, and toys.

I worry about not providing them with all the comforts of the many kids they will play with, but I worry about providing so much they do not understand how the majority of the world lives.

To combat this, I spend a lot of time in the spiritual practice of actively focusing on what my priorities are. It boils down to two things. I want my boys to grow up feeling safe so they feel free to dare everything for God’s call on their life. And I want my boys to grow up knowing intimate authentic love so they can lavishly love their God and the people in their life.

The rest truly is extra. Even the really really good stuff – the stuff I value and believe in and want for them – it’s gravy.

So that’s why, at the end of a tender exhausted day, when we’re all just showing our truest heart of hearts, to see evidence of my boys felt safety in their home and love for one another? That was a gift without price.

And I will ponder these things in my heart for a long time.

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