Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Do The Next Thing"

My parents lived with us for two and a half months after the twins were born. I was spoiled! They did 99% of the laundry, grocery shopping, and cooked a lot of dinners for us. They sometimes fixed me lunch, and generally helped keep our apartment clean. All that, in ADDITION to helping with the boys: giving bottles or helping to bring them in to be nursed in my room, burping, changing, dressing, holding and taking lots of pictures!

Considering my husband and I were still exhausted, I have no clue how people cope with infant twins (or more!) with no outside help.

The day my parents left, my husband drove them to the airport and I was left alone with my children for real, for the first time. I cried. I didn't know how I would do it.

Especially in moments like this, I didn't know how I would do it...

Then I remembered a favorite saying of author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot "Do the next thing."  Elisabeth Elliot had one husband killed during their work as missionaries, she was then widowed and supporting herself and a small daughter, and her second husband died of cancer.  So she knew something about hardship.

Now my life was by no means as hard as hers, but raising more than one baby at a time can be challenging.  For me, in the moment of fear when my parents left, the "next thing" meant rinsing out some bottles, and playing with my babies on a blanket on the floor. Afterwards the "next thing" was nap time and I swaddled them, laid them in their cribs, and went back to the kitchen to continue catching up on dishes.  Eventually I may have caught a few minutes of sleep myself before they woke up for the next feeding and we started the whole cycle over again.  For you the "next thing" might be helping your triplets to clean up their play dough.  Or the next thing might be giving your twins a bath.  Don't worry about the 87 next things after that, just focus on one productive task at a time.  

"Do the next thing" became my own mantra for awhile, and I revisit it in moments when I'm stressed out or overwhelmed.  Here is the poem, author unknown, that inspired Elisabeth to often speak about that particular quote.  

From an old English parsonage, down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration–”DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a question, many of fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering) be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

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