The days are flying by like the leaves that fall continually now. We can never keep the porches swept clean. That last warm, tropical morning feels like a dream now that it has grown so cold, and we all have stiff fingers and cold noses. It's kind of nice, though, once you can fully let go of summer and realize that winter really is coming. Woodsmoke and rain and early nights. I have to try hard to think of it as cozy, rather than gloomy.

What a week! Our non-profit just mailed out a newsletter, and I stuck the last left-behind letters in the mailbox today. Yesterday I organized the stuffing of almost 1000 envelopes, which involves about nine of us sitting hunched around a table for hours, putting together letters assembly-line style. We have good music, we talk a lot, we have fun, I get really irritated and stressed out, and somebody inevitably ends up with hurt feelings because of someone else telling them that they are going too slowly. Sometimes we get a little too sarcastic. I'm always so grateful when we are done. It was a marathon day, since after the letter party we had a staff meeting, and afterward I begged Chinua to let me go into town by myself to run errands. (Read: without the kids) My angelic husband is always incredibly willing to give me time by myself, so I actually didn't have to beg, I just did because that's the way I am.

I felt like I needed some encouragement, so I started listening to a sermon by Timothy Keller. His teachings are incredible. I feel like I've found what I'm always looking for in a teacher of God's Word. He's clear, and passionate, and incredibly intelligent and wise. Chinua and I have slowly been listening through a series that he did on the Wisdom of Proverbs, but yesterday I cheated and started listening to another series: Living in Hope.

I was blown away. I've talked before about how I've spent large parts of the last four years really fighting depression. It's affected me in so many ways, and maybe spiritually the most. Hearing the description of living in hope that Dr. Keller gave made me weep. He talked about how a life lived in hope, in the certainty of things to come, is completely different from a life lived without hope. Certainty of a good future causes your whole life to be different. Life from an Eternal Perspective. He talked about a lady he knew who lived in poverty, even though she had quite a nest egg in the bank, because she was paralyzed with fear about touching her money. She was sick and dying because of the fact that she didn't draw from what she had in her bank account.

Listening to it, I sat there thinking: that's me. For some reason I don't access the love that I know God has for me, and I don't live in hope. It's almost as if I'm afraid that I can't spend it. But I feel like I'm waking up. Why let everything that God has given to me freely sit there molding? Why do I live unaware of the goodness He has for me, so often? I live like a worker bee, conscientiously doing all the tasks that are in front of me, without drawing from the love that will sustain me. As though life is about work. As though Christianity is about work. And I burn out. I lash out. I die slowly.

Dr. Keller described this as a widespread condition of the church. Have we let ourselves forget what we have? What we are headed towards? It's amazing, really, that we can be so dull, while we are being given so much.

So, I tried hard to remember this today. To remember the incredible love that is there for me to absorb, to be sustained by it even in stressful times. It doesn't seem to be an easy thing, mainly because my life is so practical. To give an example, I'll just tell you that today I was bathing the kids (first thing in the morning) when catastrophe hit. It has become too crazy to bathe them together in the little tote that I use for a tub, so I usually do YaYa (who's 18 months) first, and then Kid A (who's three). I finished with YaYa, got her dressed and ready and went back into the bathroom to wash Kid A's hair. There were still lots of bubbles in the tote, and the water was nice and warm. I was totally through with washing and combing his hair when I started to wonder why the air kinda smelled, well, poopy. I thought maybe it was because the YaYa Sister was standing right behind me and maybe she had a dirty diaper. But then I saw it. The poop floating in the tub. And I realized that YaYa had pooped when she was in there, but I hadn't seen it in all the bubbles. I had just bathed Kid A in poop water. And there was a lot. I mean, we've dealt with poop in the tub before. But it's always been something that we caught right away, you know, like, the instant it came out. But in the dark green tote in the dark dingy bathroom I hadn't seen it. And I had bathed my son in it, washed and combed his hair in it.

I don't think that it takes being pregnant to find cleaning up a mess like that absolutely disgusting. But, as you may remember, I am pregnant. So let's assume it's a little worse for me right now. Now, I'd like to say that I didn't lose my grip on eternity at all. That I merely smiled and thought about my seat in heavenly places, about what will be the real beginning of my life. About everything I've ever needed being held in God, and His love for me, and the fact that one day it will be as close as every breath.

I'd like to say I focused on that. That I didn't think, "So this is what I've come to. I clean poop out of other people's bath water? I was so promising in high school. So talented. And now, my life revolves around little people's pooping schedules. I'm cleaning poop off the shower floor." No, I wouldn't want to say that I thought like that at all.

But I guess I'd have to say: for me, it's going to take a lot of prayer.

(In case anyone is wondering, you can access Timothy Keller's sermons at redeemer.com, and download them for a minimal fee. Look for the series: Living in Hope.)