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With four little ones in the house who begin waking up at 5:30 in the morning, my times of prayer are not quiet moments of solitude and retreat. I hunger for that, but until I’m ushered into a new season of life God has taught me how to practice His presence and to “pray without ceasing” (1Thessalonians 5:17).

I mention that so that you can know that as I sit on the couch praying, I’m surrounded by the clatter of Legos on the other side of the room, the bickering of two brothers from the bedroom, and the the inquisitive grunts of an almost-two-year-old asking for a snack.

“Mmmm??” she asks, holding out her snack cup to me.

“Not now,” I say and pull her onto my lap. I continue with my prayers, and to my surprise I begin weeping.

I’m not a cryer. I long to be able to cry more readily and more appropriately, but the tears in my heart just don’t typically flow from my eyes.

Pearl, still on my lap, bends down to look up into my bowed face.

“Mmmmm??” she asks, pointing at my tears.

“Mommy’s crying. It’s okay,” I pull her closer.

She bends down again to look at my face. She begins to look concerned.

“Mmmmm????” she asks again, a little worried.

“It’s okay, sweet baby. Really,” I smile a little and hug her close.

She bends down to look one more time and her lip begins to quiver. Then her eyes begin to fill. She looks at me one last time, with great intensity, as if she wants to make sure that I’m really doing what she thinks I’m doing. Then she opens her mouth and lets loose with a loud wail of utter agony. She cries so hard that her little chest is heaving with spasmodic breaths, trying to breathe in between passionate sobs.

I hug her close and rock her, our tears mingling together; her still giving little hiccups now and then, me trying to suppress my giggles. Eventually, I wipe away both of our tears and she wanders off to find a big brother or sister to play with, leaving me to finish my prayers alone. But she leaves behind her a  new addition to my prayers–thankfulness at being shown what weeping with those who weep looks like.

** No babies were pinched in the taking of these photos. **