This may come as a surprise, but I don’t always look like my Facebook profile picture. It’s shocking, I know. In fact, not only was I careful in choosing my profile photo, I have (on occasion) been known to untag myself from a particularly unflattering photo that makes me look like I still have 10 pounds of baby weight to lose (which I do) or a double chin (which, from a certain angle and depending on how hard I’m laughing, I do).

To me, Facebook is sort of an alternate reality. I’d like to think it’s the Glamour Shots version of real life. Yes, that’s me. And yes, those are things I’m doing, places I’m going, people I’m seeing and things I’m thinking. But in the grand scheme of life, the “me” you see on Facebook is just a small, minor part of who I am.

I sighed loudly as I stared at the calendar for November and December.  It is filled to the brim already with busy nights and busier weekends.   

I pondered the parties, outings, and activities, and my mental to-do list began churning:  card sending, cookie baking, tree hunting, present purchasing, the list goes on and on and on.  Of course, I imagine completing each of these activities with cheery Christmas music playing in the background, my two adorable children dressed in Christmas finery, my husband making a fresh batch of hot chocolate and stoking the wood fire, and then reality sinks in….  I will, more than likely, be rushing through each of these tasks, trying to get them done in time, squeezed into an already busy everyday life – possibly while slightly cranky, stressed and with a Grinch-like attitude.  

The past few years have been growing ones for Kyle and I: quitting jobs, starting businesses, fostering children, infertility, adopting children, missions trips, starting churches and ministries - all the time feeling good saying yes to God when he asked. Although at times we’ve been afraid and people have questioned our sanity, we knew that what God was calling us to was worthwhile.

But this fall, God has been stretching us even more.

I read a book called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker that gave me some fresh and much-needed insight and perspective on my life. Our family completed one 21-day fast, eating like the poor around the world. Since then, we've continued to choose three days each month where we pick a country and eat like the poor while also praying for the people there. We also have sponsored two more children through Help One Now who live in an orphanage in Haiti, making it a total of three children in all, the same number that we are raising in our home.

All are very good things. And each time I felt as though God brought the idea to us and we responded by saying, “yes, Lord.”

But in the past few weeks, I began reading a book called Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen. It’s the account of a husband and wife who were feeling a little disillusioned with life and prayed one night, “God we will do anything. Anything.” She went on to say they brought everything to God, putting all they had in his hands, willing him to do with it as he saw fit. Some things he gave back to them, other things he kept, more he said not yet to, and even more he gave them back something completely different, new dreams and passions.

And again I feel my perspective shift.

Humor me for just a few minutes. The other day I got an email from my sister Kristin and in closing she stated:

“I'm feeling rather sassy myself right now - I went to Target tonight (BY MYSELF!) and bought some totally-bad-for-you-and-yet-so-good-I-hid-them-from-my-family-behind-the-mac&cheese-boxes cookies. Yep.”

To which I responded: Good for you.

And it got me thinking today about all the little things that I love to do now that I live with little people, things that I took for granted before they came.
I’m awakened by sobs on the baby monitor, pitiful coughing cries mixed with long, wheezing breaths. 
Noelle, the source of late-night Google searches

Sighing, I glance over at the clock.

2:38 a.m.

The baby is sick, and this is the third time tonight that she’s woken up. I stumble, zombie-like, to her bedroom.

And as I sit in the chair, rocking and nursing, I pull out my phone. I have obsessive-compulsive Google tendencies: when I’m trying to prove a point to my husband (“Is honey as effective as cough syrup?”), find a recipe (“pumpkin spice latte”) or clean up the messes in my life (“child urinated in vent” – yes, that actually happened). 

Google is my constant companion, and in the dark of the night, it’s the only friend I can consult without waking anyone up.

I’ve been worried all night about the baby. She’s so small and dear, and my heart grips painfully at the thought of her being sick and in pain. I’m worried I won’t hear her crying; I’m worried she’ll need me and I won’t answer quickly enough. As a mom, it’s not long before my worries move on to all the “maybes.” Maybe it’s croup. Maybe I should sit in a steamy room with her, or bundle her up and take her outside. Maybe I should put more essential oils on her. Maybe I need to suction out her nose. Maybe it’s her teeth again. Is she warm enough? Cool enough? How many layers does she have on?

Hmm, she feels a little warm, so I start with something basic.

Google: fever with teething.

It’s inconclusive, so I persist.

Google: fever in infants

Ok, so her warmth isn’t as big of a concern, but that cough is freaking me out. Maybe it’s…

Google: Whooping cough symptoms 

Hmm, you can never be too sure, so…

Google: What does whooping cough sound like?

I’m led to a YouTube video of a little boy taking in great big whoops of air. Whew, not my child. Ok, just in case she gets worse, what are my options?

Google: Monticello walk in clinic

By now, my child has a full belly and is nodding on my shoulder. I lay her down again and head back to bed.

Worry, worry, worry. It’s endless, and it’s the reason I rely on Google.

But as I climb into bed, I wonder - what if I relied less on Google and more on God? What if I spent less time researching worst-case scenarios and spent more time praying?

I stop and take a deep breath. It’s not that I hadn’t been praying, but it can be easy to try to do things on my own. My first impulse shouldn’t be a power-fueled electronic device, it should be the power of a holy God.

Before I drift back to sleep, I pray, “Lord, if she truly needs me, please let me hear her and wake up.” In the cycle of worry, I’m back at the beginning. But at least I’m now turning to the true source of comfort.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6-7