“Good men distinguished by zeal and a conspicuous absence of brains”

So Cleveland took a hit this summer. We no longer have LeBron.

But Cleveland’s still got it. The Browns won a game.

And Springfield, Ohio can claim John Legend, of EGOT fame (Emmy!, Grammy!, Oscar!, Tony!) and the world’s most famous phone charger klepto.

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Funny thing happened on the way to Vineyard Vines the other day. Seb desperately needed another pair of pants with whales on them (and I do mean desperately, we live in Chagrin Falls) and the consignment shop is out.  

Whoever else is shopping at the consignment shop and likes whale pants for their child must cease and desist. You are robbing my stash and I’m starting to take it personally.

I digress. The lady at checkout was being friendly, asked me how many kids I have and then asked if I was Mormon or Catholic. I mean, who else would have 5 children?

My mom, mother to 6, got this question a lot too. Her answer? “Passionate Protestants.”

Being a mom is just fascinating. Being a mom is just challenging. Lauren Daigle (aka Gospel’s version of Adele)’s song “You Say” ran a couple dozen times in my head before E.B. was born.

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I meditated on Daigle’s song a lot because last May and June are what I’d call one of my “low output” seasons.

A season where my to do list wasn’t getting done. Eric’s cold brews weren’t stocked for the Apocalypse in the fridge. We were out of Sprite Zero for Seb’s Peiffer Punch (don’t burst Seb’s bubble but his punch is actually a Shirley Temple), I hadn’t made it to Costco to grab the salmon, grapes, Goldfish, quinoa packets, and paper towels my family relies on. My math tutoring of Seb came to a grinding halt. MJ’s diaper pail was emptied less frequently and her Dick and Jane books sat on our bookshelf for longer than I care to admit. I even waited a whole ten minutes to respond to my emails.

This is what I call failure.

It’s called failure because I pride myself on always having inventory. On getting stuff done. On being on top of my Gmail Inbox.

Note the word “pride” in there.

Pregnancy, like so many other things I’ve experienced since having children, is one of the many moments in a woman’s life when you find yourself unable to contribute like you did before.

You are big. You are tired. You are growing an organ (a placenta).

Before being a parent, I didn’t know that people have to write “MOM” in felt pen on their half and half so that it’s there for them in the morning. Or that no one really cares to connect with you on LinkedIn anymore because, well, you’re simply out of the game. Because Eric Peiffer Industries isn’t hiring anytime soon.  So, well, you just don’t matter anymore.

Worse, as a woman in Australia just experienced, you can’t breastfeed your child in public (even with a covering!) in the off chance that your cover-up shawl could possibly fall down by accident and offend a peering man (anyone else find this ironic in a world where two thirds of men admit to watching porn?)

To women everywhere – I salute you. Mom – you truly are my hero.

I humbly acknowledge I didn’t really “get it” until I walked through it.

But sometimes, we feel bad about our low output seasons because we know how much our work actually does matter.

In our low output season parenting conversations decrease, Amazon boxes don’t get dissected and put away, and Haagen Dazs peanut butter ice cream falls to dangerously low levels in the freezer.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be competent in our role as homemaker. Cue C.S. Lewis:

“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely, in reality, the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist.

But it’s our idolatry of our role in the home that needs deconstructing.

Wanting to have an orderly home isn’t the problem. It’s wanting to have an orderly home above all else and feeling like failures when we can’t do it that’s the problem.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Marcia, just don’t worry about it… God doesn’t require us to be successful, just faithful.”

But let’s be honest – many people are faithfully executing towards failure. Spurgeon calls these people “good men (women) who are distinguished by enormous zeal and a conspicuous absence of brains.”

We don’t have to be successful in our work, but we are called to be what Tim Keller calls “fruitful”. In our “low output” seasons that fruitfulness might look different. It might mean not getting all the errands done but instead, spending those mornings in nausea in prayer for a friend who’s struggling with depression or divorce. It might mean listening to worship music when we’re tempted to binge watch another Netflix series in a moment of extreme fatigue.

Whatever “fruitfulness” means in our own lives, we can receive what Hebrews 4:16 calls “grace for our time of need.”

Receive that grace today.

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