Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Counting Mercies: #59 - Sleepless Nights

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves...That's why we can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Romans 8:26-28

I'm beginning to think that I will never have another night of uninterrupted sleep again! It seems like every single night the past few weeks a different child has woken up. Some nights more than one wake up. So far, four is the most in a single night! The bigger boys have had bad dreams or not felt good or needed a drink of water. The littlest boy just wakes up extremely early and thinks the day should start even though the clock says 4 a.m. and the sky is still dark. Baby girl just can't seem to drop that middle of the night feeding, and who can blame her! That's the only time when she can drink her bottle in absolute peace and quiet and have my undivided attention.

From the very beginning, S has been a really good sleeper. Although it takes her a very long time to settle down and actually fall asleep, she usually sleeps all night. Lately, we've been given her some Melatonin to help her fall asleep and it has worked wonders! What used to take several hours for her to settle down, now is more like 20 to 30 minutes! But we've also had our fair share of crazy nights with her the past few weeks. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the medicine or maybe just something going on in that little head of hers, but we have had multiple nights that she has not fallen asleep until the wee hours of the morning.

It has been so hard not knowing what she needs or wants. It's hard not knowing why she can't settle down. Is she upset or scared? Perhaps uncomfortable or just doesn't feel good? Did she have a bad dream? Is she thirsty? Does her tummy hurt? Is she remembering something from the past? I find myself at a loss to know how to comfort her. She lets me hold her, rock her, and sing to her. In fact, she loves those things, but I always feel like it has the opposite effect. Instead of helping her fall back asleep, I feel like it makes her more wired. How do I help this precious, wounded little girl? How can I know what to do when she is unable to communicate what she wants?

During these sleepless nights, I feel so inadequate. I know she has so many, many broken places in her little heart, and I know that there must be SO MUCH that she is trying to process and work through in her mind. And, so, I do the ONLY THING I know to do. I speak the name of Jesus over her - over every part of her body and over every day she's been alive. From the moment she was conceived up until this very moment. I whisper words of comfort and blessing and hope. I tell her she's safe, she's loved, she's special, she's a treasure. I tell her MaMa loves her. I tell her that she is no longer alone. Over and over and over again. Sometimes for hours at a time.

And when I am so weary, too tired to even know what to pray, I am reminded that there is One who is interceding for me, for us...I'm reminded that He is here in the darkness, in the confusion. In the not knowing what to do or say, He knows perfectly. He knows, and I am learning to rest in that!

We realize that we are energized by the Holy Spirit for prayer; we know what it is to pray in the Spirit; but we do not so often realize that the Holy Spirit Himself prays in us prayers which we cannot utter. When we are born again of God and are indwelt by the Spirit of God, He expresses for us the unutterable.
Oswald Chambers

Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.
Lamentations 2:19

I am also ever so slowly learning to use these sleepless nights as an opportunity to pray over these precious little ones and to reflect with quiet gratitude on God's perfect goodness and sovereignty, His unfailing love and His Father's heart. My reaction to a crying baby or the pitter-patter of little feet down the hallway or the thumping on the wall or S's soft humming normally produces in me irritation and frustration. But the Lord is teaching me that ALL things are His servants, even sleepless nights. He's reminding me that even in my tiredness, He can give rest! He meets me where I am, He gives me what I need. As I am feeding a little one a bottle or re-filling that cup of water for the third time or singing "Jesus Loves Me" for the 100th time, He's here, strengthening me and encouraging me, filling my heart with gratitude...

I have a house. A warm bed to sleep in. A heater to keep us warm. Clean water to drink. Babies to rock. Boys to tuck in. A husband to help. Full tummies. Medicine to make us feel better. A Bible to read. And on and on and on! So very much to be grateful for! My "counting mercies" list is getting longer by the day!

One night a few weeks ago, when Web couldn't sleep, he asked me to come sit with him on his bed and pray for him. That, in and of itself, is such a sweet mercy - for him to know that when He is afraid, he can always go to God! When he wrestles with a fearful spirit (which has been quite a lot lately), he lays in his bed with his lantern turned on, reading through the Psalms in his Daddy's Bible! That particular night, he was showing me what he was reading, and we got into a conversation about "counting sheep." He wanted to know how it helped people fall asleep! :) I tried to explain it to him and told him that I've had LOTS OF SLEEPLESS NIGHTS (I'm remembering now the 5 pregnancies worth of insomnia), but that counting sheep has never helped me fall asleep. As we were talking, I thought of this verse that I had read a few mornings before...

If I'm sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection...I hold on to You for dear life, and You hold me steady as a post.
Psalm 63:5

It seems that counting mercies is a much better alternative to counting sheep! :) Web and I have both been giving it a try lately, and it's helping! Not so much the sleepless nights, but it's changing our attitudes and our perspective. Through it all, HE is changing our hearts, and this is good! HE IS GOOD, and we are thankful. A little sleepy, but very, very thankful! 


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