Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

When You Need to Hear a Story

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I am Middle Places today on bedtime routines, a tired that won't quit, and an old, old story...

There were so many things I looked forward to before having children, but one that couldn't come fast enough was getting to enact the nightly ritual of story time again.

(Seriously, not fast enough. I think we started reading books to our first born when he was like 5 weeks old and his eyes didn't even open all the way...)

I love reading and being read to. So many of my favorite childhood memories involve cuddling up with my mom or dad, listening with anticipation as we read and re-read favorites like The Busy World of Richard Scarry and Quick as a Cricket in the waning minutes before bedtime. The ritual of time together discovering new worlds in words and pictures is one that shaped my life-long love of reading and nurtured my relationships with my parents.

It's proven still delightful, even as I now find myself on the other end of it, parenting little people who like to be read to.

We may not be great at sticking to a particular bedtime around here, but we have our pre-bedtime rituals down pat. Dinner, followed by (a very splashy) bathtime, pajamas with a little wrestling and stories together before the lights go out.

We’ve laughed at King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub.

We’ve been surprised by The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

We’ve indulged in some off-key renditions of Down by the Station.

We’ve searched (and searched and searched) for Waldo. (Come on already, Waldo, stop hanging out at medieval festivals with other guys in stripes…)

I love that my one-year-old knows when to turn the pages, pointing with delight at animals he recognizes. It delights me that my toddler has favorites, that the rhythm and cadence of Marvin K. Mooney make him smile and nod along. Whether the two of them are sitting on with my husband in the rocking chair as I watch from my perma-post at the laundry pile or on those truly wonderful nights when we’re all nestled all together on our bed, these moments of telling stories to each other are sacred. As we hold together, the day coming to a close, I wish I could freeze time, that there would always be wide eyed wonder and the smell of baby shampoo in my lap.

My boys are loving the story and I am loving my boys.

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If I’m honest, I’m a little worn out lately.

We’re one month into fall activities and routines and I’m already dreaming of spring break. The long days of summer have been replaced with weeks that fly by fast and furiously. I love to be busy, crave action and routines and social engagement, but my messy floor and missed blog deadlines and neglected correspondence have me wondering if I have bitten off more than I can chew.

I’m tired.

And here, on my couch, in the midst of my mess on a day less than half done, I hear Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28 anew.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

And for the first time, I imagine my favorite little pocket of time, the precious moments of stories before bed with my babies, but instead of a rocking chair in that tiny bedroom, it’s a grassy green hillside, just me with the best Story-Teller of all.

Come to me, Lindsey, and I will give you rest.

And I lean in and listen as He tells of a King and a kingdom that’s everything I’ve ever wanted and nothing like I expect. Here, in my bleary eyed tiredness, my feelings of inadequacy, the exhaustion that seems sustained, I find my heart softening at the necessary reminders that I am not made for this world, but a new one.

Come to me, Lindsey, and I will give you rest.

This story time is just for me and I revel in it, remembering that I am the lost coin that was searched for, the lost sheep that was found with delight, the lost son who was welcomed home.I hear again the fearful words of grace that a new life is awaits me, if only I’ll die to this one.

Come to me, Lindsey, and I will give you rest.

Hope fills my chest, making me lighter, unclouding the fatigue. I hold this good news in my heart, grateful to find myself again in an old story that always bears repeating. I am not a cog in the machine or the sum of my accomplishments. I am beloved daughter and kingdom bringer. And as I am held in this moment, hearing these truths again in Scripture and through the sweet voice of the Spirit, I know this to be true.

I am loving the story and my Jesus is loving me.

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places.