Guest Post: The Creaking, Squeaking Altar that Moves

I’m thrilled to interrupt our regularly scheduled Thankful Tuesday to bring you some words from one of my favorite bloggers, Megan Tietz at SortaCrunchy. I consider Megan a kindred spirit and I have been so moved by her story of those early months of motherhood, which she is sharing (along with her co-writer, Laura Oyer) in their new book Spirit-Led Parenting. We are honored to be a sweet little stop in their Spirit-Led Parenting blog tour.

It’s battered and squeaky and hopelessly un-chic, but still I can’t bear to part with it.

It sits by itself all day, hardly touched and rarely sat upon, keeping a watchful eye over the playroom. That old gliding rocker and I go way, way back, and to most everyone else, it’s just a piece of furniture past its prime, but to me, it is a holy place.

My altar from long ago.

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, Dacey, I would sit in that rocker in her room, reading my Bible and praying out loud and covering my ever-growing expanse with words of prayer and hope. It was during her pregnancy that something nearly unbearable happened in my family of origin, and that was the first time I knelt in front of that chair (knees and ankles creaking more loudly than the joints of the glider) and poured my heart out to God.

That was the first of many times that plain old rocking chair with the country blue upholstered fabric transformed into a holy place, a quiet sanctuary where I met with God.

Time passed and she was born and then I began to view that chair with a growing sense of distrust. Less and less often was I pouring over pages of Scripture and more and more often I was studying the pages of parenting books, and consistently they were warning me to stay away from the rocking chair if I ever hoped to have a baby who displayed perfectly independent sleep habits.

No matter how much I studied, I just couldn’t get my baby on the program. I couldn’t get myself on the program because the program required me to leave her alone in her crib, even if she cried. And I just couldn’t. I would gather her up in my arms, collapse down into the waiting arms of the rocking chair, and apologize to God for failing Him and her once again.

And so continued my long sleep walk shuffle through the earliest weeks and months of motherhood. I could keep it together during the day – most days – but at night, I was awful. She would awaken to nurse and I would slam down the crib rail before I lifted her out. I was so furious that she wasn’t sleeping through the night and I was furious at myself for not being strong enough to get her sleep trained.

But one night, He rescued me. He rescued both of us, really. God stepped into my pain and hopelessness and despair and lifted my chin.

If you are up anyway, why not pray?

Isn’t it amazing how we try to make things so complicated? Isn’t it incredible how His Voice is always so clear?

And so that rocking chair became a long-term altar, a standing appointment set by my infant daughter that allowed me to know God in the deepest, darkest hours of the night. I would hold her, nurse her, rock her, and pray. Miles and miles we rocked and words tumbled out and in the still, still quiet, I would listen.

I am Southern Baptist from conception until now, so it never occurred to me that I was dipping my toes into the pool of monasticism. I didn’t consider it a ritual at the time – hardly! It was more of a lifeline, a sliver of redemption for my perceived failures. And it was the time I spent with God in that rocking altar that prepared my heart for the message of Spirit-Led Parenting.

It took me nearly a month to write the chapter on infant sleep, so close to my heart and so scarred in my mind are my thoughts on the matter. The passage of time allows me the clarity to know that if it weren’t for those sacred meetings with God in the night, this book would never have been written. And so I want to share with you a short passage from the book that captures, in some small way, what I learned in that season of life:

For in the practice of nighttime parenting, we allowed ourselves to be molded by God’s ever-present hand. We believe the specific reason God led us to view nighttime with our babies differently is because as our Father, He wanted to attend to our specific needs in that moment in life. In the stillness of the night, as we fed our babies, He nourished us with His presence and His word. By the subtle glow of the night light as we changed diapers, He changed us, allowing us to see that through Him, we could be more than we ever thought we could be. As our feet tread miles of footfalls, muffled by carpet and shhhhhhhh, He sang over us words of comfort, hope and surrender.

Thank you so much for allowing us to share our hearts and message with you today. Please join us as we continue our blog tour in the upcoming weeks:

Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in western Oklahoma with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.

rocking chair image via TranceMist

Jesus Came to Save Us from the Bible (A guest post from Ed Cyzewski)
On Writing: Ego, Insecurity, and the Life of the Beloved
An invitation to be ready (to be needy)
An Invitation to Serve Anyway