I asked for a small thing.
It wasn’t much, and I didn’t deserve it. But I asked all the same.
It was a short list, a prayer I prayed before Pilates each morning or while making toast in the afternoon. A breath prayer, you could call it: Please Lord, let it be cool weather after the baby is born.
It was a raging hot summer for northern Michigan. We spent two or more days a week at our local beach, watered the garden religiously before 9 AM, and refilled the farm animals’ water at an alarming rate. I didn’t mind being pregnant in the heat; all my babies have been born in the fall. But as I looked forward to the birth of our third, I remembered the sweltering heat of postpartum with Adeline, a newborn strapped to my chest, and trying to sleep in a room with no air conditioning. So I asked for a small thing: Cool weather.
I asked for some bigger things, too: A safe (third) home birth, for labor to progress well, for a restful postpartum season. And in the weeks leading up to the final stretch, I asked to finish scheduling my maternity leave. Small, insignificant things in 2020 – the year the world fell apart. It almost seemed unfair to ask them.
Perhaps you have felt the “unfairness” of asking small when the world is dying. I’ve felt the sting. My soul cringed to ask such things alongside prayers for the nation or the church. How can I pray for cool weather when Iranian Christians are persecuted?
Time with Christ has taught me: I can pray for both.
Young Christians tend to see prayer as an equation: I ask, God gives; or in some cases, God doesn’t give, but it’s still about the yes or no. Time with Christ teaches a different way. Prayer is more than just requests; more than just adoration. Prayer is a series of little graces, each revealing a greater degree of glory.
Grace can be a “yes”; but it can also be a “no”. Grace can be the surprise of a blessing you never asked for, or the trial that presses you closer to God. Little graces might be cool weather for the week postpartum, so you don’t even need the air conditioner and the leaves turn to brilliant red and orange.
Little graces can be the birth that went exactly as you asked, even when some of it was so hard you cried.
Little graces can be not getting the job you prayed for, only to discover, years down the road, the “much more” He had in mind.
Perhaps the most important thing about little graces, though, is how invisible they are. The smallest graces are seen only by those with the faith to ask for them. Not “faith” in the sense of prosperity gospel, but pistis in the sense of loyal relationship. Small graces are asked by those who know Christ so well they feel comfortable asking for the insignificant.
And because they ask for the insignificant, they see the glory of God.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:9: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
“His eye is on the sparrow” – the most boring and brown of birds. What makes us think that He cares only about the great things we’ve groomed into our prayers? What makes us think He doesn’t already see the specific wishes of our secret heart?
He sees. But He still wants to hear.
From our lips to His heart flow the burdens great and small. I’ve found that in releasing the smallest hope to His hand, I have a greater confidence in His world-level work. I asked for cool weather and a beautiful birth. These were little graces, just for me. When I look at the world, I see His hand sustaining, changing, drawing, and justifying because I am being trained to recognize His movements.
The little graces train us to see them; they train us to recognize His glory. Even when His glory is as small as an autumn leaf.
In this season of celebrating God’s graces, there are many other little gifts that have made it easier – here are some of my favorites!
- Preggo Leggings Snapback Postpartum Leggings, Black: I bought these through an Instagram ad and I ADORE them. They offer compression around the midsection through the upper thigh, which is just enough support for recovering abs.
- Lalabu Babywearing Shirt: I got one of these for myself and Josh and I am OBSESSED. While I love my ring sling and Ergo, this makes it so much easier. And it’s a small Christian family who runs the company! Use code “phylicia20” for 20% off.
- Black cozy slippers: These aren’t the exact ones I bought, but I nabbed a similar pair when my moccasins gave out.
- MAXMODA kimono robe: Josh bought me this for Christmas and it’s a staple. Heavier than a silky kimono robe, but not as hot as a fleece, it’s the perfect weight for fall.
- ILOVESIA Nursing Camisoles: I adore these camisoles. They are fitted, which I like, with plenty of room in the bust and thick straps. Slight v-neck and great with a jacket or kimono over top.
- Hotmilk Nursing Bras: I have two of these in the “Show Off” style. It makes me happy to know I can still wear pretty underthings even when they’re doing double duty, LOL!
- Flutterhabit Lashes: I’ve sung their praises many times, but Flutterhabit false lashes have made mascara a thing of the past for me. I love them! Multiple styles, option of one time buy or subscription (I subscribe). Use code PHY10.
- Press-on Nails: My favorite brand has been Impress from Walmart, but recently my mom grabbed this brand from Sally’s and I must say – they stay on longer, AND they come in the plain French style I like best.
- Woven Together Earrings: One of my favorite earring shops! I love supporting godly women in business, and her earrings are to die for. I grabbed the orange arches from her latest launch.
- Mika Micky Bedside Sleeper: This is a tad pricey, but trust me – worth every penny. We borrowed this from friends before my grandma kindly gifted one to us, and I wish I’d had it with my first two! So easy to use and no getting in and out of bed to get baby at 2 AM.
- Desert Mist Young Living Diffuser: This diffuser comes with a Young Living starter kit of oils (I talk more about this on my Reluctant Crunchy account). We use this as a night light, on the red setting. Just enough white noise, and the red light helps signal that it’s bedtime.
- Knotted Baby Gowns: Soooo much easier than those darn onesies with all the buttons!! I have at least three of these gowns.
- Gretchen Rubin’s latest book Outer Order, Inner Calm. Every time I have a baby, Josh buys me one of Gretchen’s books. I think I own them all now, and this one inspired me to take a few hours to declutter my office! It’s one handbook of hacks for removing clutter and cultivating good habits.
- America’s Next Top Model Season 9: While I don’t support everything in this show (obviously) it’s always been a favorite, and this season in particular was a good watch.
- HallmarkNOW App: I love this app for $5.99 a month! It’s full of wholesome movies that, while cringey and full of cheese, always make me smile. Forever in My Heart is one my friend suggested that was adorable – like a Hallmark take on Leap Year.
I struggle with a form of postpartum anxiety each time I have a baby, and this time is no different. A few things that help are included below (I treat it holistically). I also cut out news, social media scrolling, crime/drama shows, and I don’t drink caffeine (it is shown to increase anxiety).
- NaturalCalm Magnesium: PLEASE research the necessity of magnesium during pregnancy and postpartum. I take this for sleep support, to prevent constipation, and for nerves.
- Vitamin B and D: Both of these were recommended by my midwife to help prevent postpartum depression and anxiety. I was on D already, but added B in on her recommendation after anxiety began to rise. I get mine from Young Living. Recommended reading.
- Chiropractor: I saw mine every week through pregnancy to keep my pelvis aligned for the best possible birth, turn baby from breech, and give room for him to move from side to side. It also helped with headaches and pelvic pain. I saw her again at 4 days postpartum.
- Daily Grace Bible studies: My big journaling bible is too clunky for this season, so I paused my reading plan to go through a Colossians study.
- The Pour Over: This weekly email of news from a Christian perspective gives the top headlines without being too dark, depressing, or sarcastic.
- The Financial Diet Newsletter: This is one of my favorite Insta accounts, and their newsletter is one I never miss.