According to Merriam Webster online, transition can be defined as “a change from one state or condition to another”. In labor, transition occurs when the cervix finishes dilation from 8 to 10 cm. It generally is a very intense time of labor for the woman, and many women leave transition with relief.
In our home, we have been through many transitions…from one livelihood, through unemployment and retraining, to another. We have transitioned from two children to three, then three to four…then six to seven, seven to eight, and eight back down to five as the older ones have begun to leave. We have transitioned through body changes and health issues. Each transition has had its own pains involved. I have come to believe that it is a rare transition that is painless, but usually, while the transitions themselves are painful, we are usually happy to be on the other side.
The Handy Man has been working at his new job for three months now. He is settled in on his new shift, the 11 am – 7 pm shift. It is not our favorite shift as it means that all the evening activities are up to me, not to mention that he can no longer coach archery. In order to keep our family dinner tradition intact, we are eating dinner around 8 every night. (And in case you think we were some kind of super family, we did often eat that late due to
my lack of domestic organization our extracurricular activities, but now it is a nightly occurrence.) We are grateful for the employment, but the weird hours and low pay will not keep the Handy Man there for long; we are praying about finding something a little more suitable to our financial and family needs. It is still a rather strange transition…one that is not yet complete.
Meanwhile, Dee has been transitioning to motherhood. Sweetpea is a lovely baby…she generally sleeps very well at night. (She woke only twice in the 10 Pm-10 Am time frame a few nights ago, although she did party all night Saturday. ) She eats all day long, though, to make up for her nightly sleep pattern. It has been a transition for me. I am used to being the one to comfort and feed the babies. There are times when I hear her crying that I almost feel the milk running into my breasts…phantom imaginings, of course, but strange all the same. Dee went to pick Gladys Mae up from her babysitting job the other evening because her client had some clothing she wanted to let Dee go through for Sweetpea. Dee was gone a little over an hour. Sweetpea was not a happy baby! She wanted her mother…her milk source, her comforter. I held her and comforted her the best I could with a pacifier, but she was having none of it. When Dee got home, Sweetpea nursed for just a few minutes before dropping off to sleep, completely satisfied and at peace.
It got me thinking. How often do I sit and throw a tantrum when my Comforter is very near? How often do I ignore the very real comfort He wants to provide while I search vainly for something that will not last? In Genesis 17:1 and several other places in Genesis, God refers to Himself as El Shaddai, the full or double-breasted one. It isn’t until you have a newborn that you can really appreciate all that this reference entails. It means He wants to FULLY satisfy us, to comfort us, to nourish us, to give us rest and peace. Watching my own newborns, and now watching my granddaughter, I have seen first-hand how a newborn is comforted, fed, filled, and left at complete peace while at her mother’s breast. It is amazing to me that God wants us to feel that kind of contentment and fullness in Him.
I have transitioned in my own spiritual journey from legalistic religious Christianity (which is not Christianity at all!) to a grace-based relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. My life is no longer about doing enough, earning enough, being enough to warrant God’s favor….no….I am now so very content to throw myself at the feet of Jesus and fall on God’s mercy because God has declared that Jesus is ENOUGH. This is a transition that is incomplete, and I know that it will not be complete until I reach Heaven’s shore. This is not because I do not know the truth; it is because my heart continues to try to walk forward on its own merit. (It continually astounds me to discover this in myself.) I so often find myself battling the old habits of self-righteousness. It is a constant transition from self to Jesus. As the old Isaac Watts hymn proclaims:
No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Thy Son
Chorus: No more my God,
No more my God,
No more my God,
I boast no more.
Now, for the loss I bear His name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His cross.
Bridge: Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus sake;
O may my soul be found in Him,
And of His righteousness partake!
The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne;
But faith can answer Thy demands,
By pleading what my Lord has done.
The transitions of our lives are often painful. They bring change, some welcome, and some not. To whom do we turn for counsel, comfort, nourishment and rest in the midst of change? Am I turning to El Shaddai, or am I leaning on my own strength and understanding? All too often, I miss the mark. It makes me so incredibly grateful for grace…grace that is greater than all my sin, all my self-reliance, all my idolatry. So, as we walk through this transition in our lives, I am clinging to El Shaddai, and I am learning afresh as I watch my granddaughter what it means to be completely dependent on someone else for all I need. It is a good lesson to revisit.
And now some pictures from the last week of our transition:
Star Child and Boy 4 came home for a night to visit Sweetpea. Star Child declared her intention to hold the baby the entire time she was home. She almost made it.:
Boy 4 and Little Princess loving on Sweetpea (He didn’t think he had ever held a baby that little before–we tried to get him to move her around in his arms, but he was sticking with the way his mother taught him to hold a baby when he was young. Good young man, to still heed what his mother taught him.)
Lindy and her fella came over that night for supper and so she could “do homework”…lots of cuddle time happened (and we are going to ignore the sorry condition of my bookshelf) :
The Fella got some baby time, too :
Number Seven came over later in the week. The boys talked her into reading them a book while she cuddled Sweetpea (And yes, those are Little Princess’ legs above her head.):
And Nana got cuddle time, too:
The Handy Man graduated from his program of study at the technical college. The older girls organized a mass family support of ORANGE since he wore an orange shirt every day during the 18 months of classes. (He has over a dozen orange shirts. I hate them, but I wore orange for the occasion, too. Dee was nursing the baby way down there at the end, but she also had on orange under the black nursing cardigan.)
The Handy Man got a white tassel to indicate that he was an honor graduate. Yes, we are proud of him: proof that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!