In which this is the inasmuch

I am facing down two deadlines and so this happened: I decided to embark on the ambitious project of organising our tinies’ clothing situation. For five years, we’ve just dumped outgrown clothing into bins and stuffed them in the crawl space. Now I have Evelynn outgrowing everything but when I went down to grab the bin for the next size up, it was stuffed with everything else but and I just went a little insane. I hauled all of the bins out of the crawl space and dumped them out, pell-mell, into the family room. I cancelled school. I worked, no joke, for 8 hours on those stupid boxes. When I was finished, I had 5 bags for the Salvation Army, two boxes to go back to my sister of the clothes I’d borrowed from her, all of the other boxes neatly folded and put away and a skiff of revulsion over how much stuff we have. (I like to think we’re pretty simple in our tastes and our stuff. But lest I start to get smug, I need only think of an entire bin of cute clothes for the ages 0-6 months to remember the truth of the matter.)

I cleaned the house yesterday, Evelynn content on my back in the Ergo while I vacuumed and washed floors. I handed the vacuum to Joseph – he loves to vacuum – in an effort to keep him out of trouble while I did the washrooms but then I heard him screaming and I came running to find him covered in blood, holding his tongue. Apparently, he thought it would be a great idea to vacuum his own tongue but he sliced the top of it open. I can’t even fathom the way his mind thinks sometimes and so he bumbles out ahead of me and my admonitions and my boundaries. We cleaned him up and it wasn’t so bad – tongue wounds always bleed like the dickens. Back to work. Little man, when was the last time you were on the toilet?

Brian is gone, always gone, class, thesis, work, overtime, it feels like I’m on my own and he’s lonely, too. Two months more until grad school is done and then what? people ask. We don’t know but we do know that it won’t be this, two ships passing in the night, anymore and that’s enough to make me want to celebrate with a steak dinner.

I don’t feel guilty in the least for the hour in the morning and the hour in the evenings when I put on Super Why or another show for the tinies and sit down here, to write, to read, to tell lame jokes on Twitter, to sit at my kitchen table and pray pray pray for us all.

I tried to figure out how to work Skype so I could be at the SheLoves Magazine meeting. I really wanted to drive to Idelette’s house to be there in person but I’m home alone and everyone has to go to bed with their teeth brushed and so I’ll try to figure out this Skype thing. It doesn’t work out and I can feel these amazing women, just a drive away, meeting to discuss and plan and pray and work for bigger stories but I’m not there. It actually aches but Anne woke up and the sight of her, her bony ankles poking out of her too-short Tinkerbell pajamas, blonde hair sticking straight up, wanting me and I can hardly breathe for the sight of her.


Anne and I built teepees out of cardboard and straws and playdoh at the kitchen table. We’re nearly finished with On The Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls. I think that if I was half the grown-up that Ma and Pa Ingalls were, I’d be more mature and gracious than 99% of the population. Also, talk about working for a living. I resolve to complain less about emptying the dishwasher. Anne begs to do another page of math work. The laundry needs folding. Again.

It’s the middle of the night and I’m up, standing in the living room alone. I’ve just put Evelynn back to bed after her midnight nurse and in two hours, she’ll be up again. I’m wide awake and the cold house is lit only with stars and the street lights outside. I can’t seem to go back to bed because it’s just so quiet, so still, so other-worldly at these hours. I’m brimming with something like wonder in the loneliness of the night, I can see the stars and something in me wants to stay here, with all the mothers up across the city. A thin connection is there and God is here and I don’t know how but I feel it.
Two hours later, when I’m up again, I’m not so sanguine. I’m tired, I just want to sleep for more than two hours together. I want a day to myself, I want to sit around in my own house, I want it to stay picked up, I want to watch a movie, I want to forget about the world, I want I want I want. I could cry.


It’s funny how these old-fashioned words stick around in my head, thanks to all of those years of memorising Bible verses out of the King James. Inasmuch is one of them.

When I feel it all, too much, when I feel like my life is small and my work is small, when I am here in the living of raising tinies and it feels like that long obedience in one direction that Peterson wrote of, an essay test of spirituality and guts and love, for some reason that one word comes to my mind: inasmuch. It’s just the Old English way of saying “to the extent that.” Which means nothing, in and of itself, I know, but it’s the start of a verse of the Bible that goes like this:

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40b)

There are a lot of ignored and overlooked, a lot of “the least of these” in our world. And three small souls and my work might be one of them. It might not look like much to the outside world when there are big things to do, big dreams to dream, a big world to go out into.  But rescue starts somewhere, small things can be done with great love, we’re all being changed by these days and if anything matters, everything matters. I don’t like being inward and so I do fight to keep us tied to the bigger stories going on around us, but sometimes, its good to remind myself that inasmuch as I do for this small tribe, these beautiful souls, my own self even, I’m making space for God, too.

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  • rain

    i needed this, in my own way. i don’t have the littles like you, but i can’t figure out skype and i want to curl up with on the banks of plum creek and walk around with only moon and stars as my light, and it’s ok if my ankles poke out of my pajamas. your breath-catching at the sight of her? this is holy ground.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Amen. I know you know, luv.

  • Mizmelly

    AHhhhh YES! Thank you! You spoke my heart AGAIN and gave me perspective when I needed it. You are living BIGGER all the time. I’m reading your words in Ireland, friend, your reach is far and the Good God we know and love flows through you and across continents. THank you for being real.

    • Sarah Bessey


  • Library_techie

    ummm, wow!  how often I forget in the business of day to day.  Thank you for the reminder and as a mom of three under seven years old I need reminding.   My children, my husband, my greatest gifts that God saw fit to bless me with.  And all I do for them, I do for Him.  What a great way to start my day, thank you.

  • KathleenBasi

    You keep such a good perspective, Sarah, and such a good balance. I think not many of us are called to “great things,” but to “small things with great love, as Mother Teresa said.

    • KathleenBasi

      And those small things sometimes feel bigger b/c they’re crowded together and unacknowledged!

      • Sarah Bessey

        Amen, sister.

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    My pastor said that when he says his day is crazy, he usually means that he is crazy in his own mind. And what a comfort it is to know that God can handle our heads and straighten us out, showing us the way to the most important things in life… like vacuuming your own tongue.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Dude. BOYS trump rabbits every time.

      • Ed_Cyzewski

        Well they can certainly do things that are more exciting with a vacuum cleaner. Our rabbits just hide in a box whenever I vacuum! But yes, we look forward to having kids scrambling about our home.

  • Kristen

    Thank you. Really, thank you. And I attribute my son’s knowledge of his lowercase alphabet to Super Why. Thanks, PBS.

    • Sarah Bessey


  • Sillydoodah

    Thanks. I needed this today. It is good to remember that “small” lives are valuable lives and that yes, everything matters. Everything.

  • Kristine

    Thank you Sarah.  I am overwhelmed by wiping/blowing noses with my wee ones today…and fighting my own selfishness and self pity.  I am inspired how you can write out your thought process – and just like so many of the psalms, go from honest reality to praise by the time you’re through.  Thank you.

  • Carrie McKean

    “I don’t like being inward and so I do fight to keep us tied to the
    bigger stories going on around us, but sometimes, its good to remind
    myself that inasmuch as I do for this small tribe, these beautiful
    souls, my own self even, I’m making space for God, too.” 

    I swear sometimes you write what is in my heart…

    • Sarah Bessey

      I love knowing I’m not alone.

  • Jenn

    I think it’s your last paragraph – small things that can be done with great love… making space for God.

    So true.

  • Katie Noah Gibson

    So beautiful, Sarah. Such a small yet powerful word – inasmuch. Thank you.

  • Madelyn

    Inasmuch I love your honesty.

  • Melody Reid

    love love love this post Sarah!!!!  

  • Goeastyoungone

    All I can say is, Thank you.

  • Addie Zierman

    This is lovely. It seems like it’s been this kind of week (weeks? month?) for many of us. I resonate with that tension: one moment, filled with wonder, the next with exhaustion. And the terrible bins of laundry. I resonate with that too.

  • Bernard Shuford

    Holy cow. Vacuumed his TONGUE? OUCH!

  • mustardseeds

    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you. 

  • Arianne Segerman

    I had a breathy comment about shaping these little souls into Jesus peace warriors who change the world and those whose lives they change will certainly think it no small thing that we invested in our first Mission (motherhood) above all else. But I’m too sleep deprived to put it into any more words than that, and so it is. 

    Same thoughts rumbling around in my noggin too…

  • Diana Trautwein

    Yes, yes – and yet again YES. These things you and every mother of tinies do (does) – these things matter. A world is built on these ‘small’ things. The nurturing of a compassionate soul is a calling, a gift, a responsibility, a miracle. Times three? An accomplishment of mammoth proportions. “Inasmuch…” YES.

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