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I reach into the clean clothes, pulling out each damp piece one by one and draping them over my folded arm. I walk back and forth, back and forth, from machine to clothesline, oftentimes with four little feet pitter-pattering around me. Each of us place dimpled shirts, countless PJs, and socks on the line. Their wrinkles flutter in the dusty wind, the heat beating against our necks as the sun nears midday.

I hear the whistling of bird songs and the scratches of pups’ nails against the ground as they all seem to peek in at our little menial task. I pause and look over at my children struggling to place their own items on the shorter drying rack next to my higher clotheslines, conceding to their frustrations when those same items fall to the dirt-encrusted earth below. Yet they’re still trying. Wanting to be like mom. I smile, slowing down just a bit as I help them shake off the dirt and hang the rest of the load.

I soak the sponge in the dishwashing paste and grudgingly go to town on the ever-growing mound of grimy pots and pans and plates and every single piece of silverware we own—I’m tired of not having clean forks, but for some reason, those are the ones that annoy me the most to wash.

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I have 45 minutes of free time between #2’s nap and #1’s finishing of her very short preschool day, and I can no longer ignore the fact that we have no clean dishes for dinner tonight. As I wash, I’m forced to just be . . . this monotonous labor keeping me here long enough to walk me through my impatience and longings for a faster way (aka a dishwasher) to more of a settling in. To seeing this time as grace. A moment to reframe my heart toward some simple truths.

I stand there with a half-soaked shirt—shoot, forgot the apron again—and take a deep breath and remember what it’s all about. All of it. Even this. I can pray here. Be with Him here. Yes, even here. Especially here. So I do.

#2 wakes up. I still have a few forks left. But I leave them be, and we pile into the car yet again to go get our girl. Now, however, I don’t feel as irritated at the interruptions. “Thank you, Lord,” I whisper in an exhale of release as I put the car in reverse out of the driveway.

The kids are in bed, though not quite asleep. I give myself 30 minutes to get our craziness together from the activities of the day. Leftover dinner put in containers. Toys placed in baskets. Dried-up crumbs beneath the table quickly swept. I’m a tornado, hurrying myself along so I can get to what I feel I deserve at the end of a long day of giving myself away.

I glance at my wrist, wondering, “How is it already 8:30?” as I stumble toward the couch and fall into its well-known divots. Years nestled in from these same cycles. I find my phone, even though I told myself I wouldn’t start there, and of course, the scrolling begins. But, it is nice to just sit and not be needed for something.

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The tasks have not finished, though, and my thoughts jump to the clothes on the line. Dang, right as I was getting comfortable. I lumber from my temporary haven to the dry clothes outside, wanting to hurry once more back to my time.

The crisp air hits me as I open the door, cooling my body from the unrelenting hot season that has concealed itself in my non-air conditioned house. The leaves rustle and a night bird quietly screeches its own tune. The lines run in parallel with my kids’ rooms, and as I begin to remove each shirt and tiny sock, I glance over at their windows. Though their curtains hide the little ones inside, I think of their sweet, soft faces tucked away. The breeze ripples through my hair, and I linger there a little longer, gazing upward at the glistening dots in the sky.

This is a gift. All of this. How quickly do I forget? Too busy hurdling from one task to another. Creating this fabricated hierarchy of important vs unimportant, sacred vs secular, without even realizing it until I’m stopped in my tracks by the very tasks I deemed unworthy.

I drink in both the night and my Savior—the One who hung the stars and allowed me the privilege of hanging my family’s clean clothes. Thanking Him for such a life and the tasks that help me slow down enough to see it all as He does.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jessica Jolley

I am a wife, a momma to two littles and soon-to-be number three through adoption, but most importantly, I am a follower of Christ who wants others to also taste and see just how good He is. My family and I have been living in Nairobi, Kenya for six years and are continuously learning to stay on our toes in the beautiful chaos that is East Africa. You can find more of my musings on faith, cross-cultural living, adoption, missions, and motherhood on my Substack, jessicajolley.substack.com, or on my personal blog, entrustedwithgrace.com.

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