Dry skin. Quite the hot topic for me the past couple days. Yes, I know, my life is overwhelmingly exciting. Living on the edge these days is leaving Baker “exposed” while I fetch a clean diaper or discovering the joys of DVR (yes I know, we’re a little late on that one, as we are on all things technological…I was showing my doctor a pic of Baker on my phone yesterday and he touched the screen to get a better to look, which is only funny b/c we don’t have touch-screens here at the Leathers house). Back to dry skin. It’s funny when you have a newborn, and particularly when you are nursing, that you sort of become in sync with your baby. When he’s hungry, I’m hungry. When he’s sleepy, I’m sleepy (aka, all the time), when he has to go, I, well…you catch my drift. It’s this sort of symbiotic relationship that is beautiful and tough for me, someone who really likes my space. I had a client very eloquently say to me one time, in reference to her clingy daughter, that she doesn’t like to be tethered to anything. I totally get that. I relish the cuddles and hugs of my children but crave my personal space. So Baker and I have been in the business of dry skin as of late. I love to watch babies sort of “come out” of their newborn-ness. Literally from the moment they emerge they are sloughing off something - from amniotic fluid, to umbilical cords, to cradle cap, baby acne, in Baker’s case working out a clogged tear duct, and in the past couple days, a layer of dry skin that just flakes right off to reveal his sweet, smooth, acne-free baby skin underneath. It signals to me that he is making it and I am doing right by him and that’s a good feeling.
These last 6 weeks have been, well, pretty pleasant. We have a very easy time getting pregnant (and are really thankfulf for that) and were able to plan the birth of both of our children around the holidays, knowing that this is a good time for Eric to be more available to us as Young Life slows down at that time of year. It has really worked and has kept me just above the “I’m going crazy” threshhold. Even still, I feel each day, urges to sort of get in my car and drive - not to go anywhere in particular, but simply to be alone and un-needed. Some friends (who are newly married, no kids) came over around Christmas and were lamenting about how long the drive into town was, taking over 5 hours due to traffic. This is a normal thought, because who likes sitting in a car alone for 5 hours? Moms with small children. That’s who. It’s funny what you covet when you are in an extreme season of life.
What helps me on those days, more than anything, is 1) to realize that I’m normal 2) to call it what it is. And what it is is dying to self. It’s a shedding of old skin - of empty dreams and futile desires, in favor of what is good and what is good is Jesus. More of Him and less of me. The sloughing off of self. I am certain that there are places where God would have me die to self that I would not go willingly, only by force. Hills with crosses meant for me that I would not dare approach because my finite eyes could not see the resurrection that is promised. And so He brings to these places despite myself.
Anyone remember those weird “image within an image” things that used to be for sale at mall kiosks? You know, those things that looked like a bunch of colorful, small, thumbnail-size images repeated all over a canvas but if you squinted or did some magic trick with your eyes you could make out a picture of a unicorn or the word “believe” or something? If you don’t know what I’m talking about this analogy is about to fall apart for you. Sorry. My sister was really good at those things. We’d stand there at Cary Towne Center mall and she’d say “Oh yeah, I totally see it! It says “dreams”! Or look, I see it…a mama horse and her foal.” And I’d just be standing there with a headache as I tried to contort my eyes just right. I could only hold my eyes long enough to catch a hint at the image or word and then it would disappear.
Following Jesus is a little like that for me. Eric always says you have to “fight to believe.” And I think that’s what he means. You have to literally push aside evidence to the contrary and clench your fists in favor of the TRUTH and walk on. A long obedience in the same direction, right? I have to hold my eyes just right long enough to see Jesus is with me. To believe that He is at work. To believe that redemption and restoration are real. To believe that the subtle pains of shedding skin are not in vain. That they are the gateways to new life. Fighting (or should I say, squinting) hard to believe that today.
Okay, for real, I need to post a pic of Baker ASAP before you start to think I may be hiding a not so cute child. Because he is, in all seriousness, so beautiful and round and great, and today, a little more flake-free.