3 things made me smile today – on a Monday, no less, so I am staking them as Wins 🙂
1. Thinking After School Outside the Box: The Working Mom Guilt (WMG) had been going strong since last week when our pre-Ker has been on a kick of going anywhere except her after school program. “Mom, did you find me someplace else to go in the afternoons, yet?” was her little plea. When we got to the heart of it – it’s not that she doesn’t enjoy it, it’s simply that she is there for so long…after the snack, after the playground, she doesn’t want to just sit there and watch TV. My little one was bored! We came up with a plan together of creating special folders of activities for her to do during this last hour of after school time. I talked to the director and teachers and finagled some logistics and VOILA! With some extra communication and $1 activities from Target, after school is BETTER!
2. Fresh Fruit at 4. Every day I hit the slump. A cup of coffee and snickers just tastes/feels so good. Like an old friend giving me a big hug. But I know better. I used to keep some oranges or apples in my desk for these moments, thinking that if I have them, maybe I’ll eat them. Now I’ve turned it into fun. Today I took an entire carton of fresh strawberries! Is it too extravagant to snack on fresh pineapple? I think not 🙂 Quite refreshing, really.
3. Have Cards – Will encourage. I happened to have an extra package of really fun, animal valentines in the car tonight. “Mom! I’m about to go to dance class! I want to give some Valentines to the girls at dance!” I love catching our kids being generous, eager to encourage. Tonight struck me of how much I want to keep extra little things around, simply so I can help facilitate my kids being generous. (*Sidenote – our local Goodwill had some great Valentine cards for about 75% off the regular store prices – brand new – never been opened. I wanted about 2 dozen but ending up buying about 4 dozen.) I am so glad I did! I am encouraged to see where in our budget I could spend on little tokens to encourage encouragement. Do you know how many Valentines I could buy with $5 I may normally blow on a couple of Happy Meals? 🙂
“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”
1 John 2:18
Those living and teaching in opposition to Christ have come and are coming. There is more than one. There is a stark contrast between the purity and innocence associated with children and the darkness associated with the antichrists. It is not pleasant, but we are called to live with a degree of urgency and awareness.
Most businesses have a conference room, or if they opt for formality, a boardroom. It’s where the important people gather to discuss, to decide, to determine. It’s an auspicious space with dark, austere furniture. By design, the space makes a strong impression of success…
Some of my favorite pictures from this Christmas don’t show much “Christmas” at all – they aren’t of the tree, of overflowing stockings, or carnage of opened presents. They are of my young family all piled on our bed. We are un-showered, our teeth un-brushed, our socks don’t match.
But these are the people most important to me, gathered together, to discuss, to decide, to determine. A while ago, I read a post on Facebook of a woman who shared how her adult children still gather on her bed to share life. This continually warms my heart.
Raising young children is all together exhausting and exhilarating. Exhausting because so much of life is lived on little sleep. Exhilarating because we are laying foundations of beliefs and behaviors. We are starting and growing memories.
Our bed will likely not have fancy furnishings for several years. There is nothing formal or impressive about it. You don’t look at it and think “success.” But, I pray it is a prominent gathering and meeting place of my family for several years. I pray that each day, as I pull up the sheets, blankets, and quilts, I don’t forget how special it is to have a bed full of childhood chatter, wonder, and love.
Yes, Lord, as the years pass, may our bed be our boardroom.
My husband does housework. I am extremely grateful. So, the other day, when he quietly bemoaned that a lot of times he doesn’t see the point of doing the dishes anymore because they just keep piling up, or the point of laundry, because it multiplies exponentially, I totally empathized. It actually started an interesting dialog between God and I.
Some people wonder about the meaning of life. I wonder about the meaning of housework. And God’s answer made me laugh. I didn’t want a sugar coated explanation that housework was what a good Christian wife (and husband) did, or the proper activity to provide a nurturing environment for growing babies. I didn’t need a pep talk to keep up the good work because I’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have two little kids, I’m pretty sure my home will maintain a sense of healthy, disorganized chaos for another decade, at least. I needed something pragmatic and real.
And the good Lord delivered. I heard his small, gentle voice ask, “well, why don’t you bag it all up, and toss it out?” “Why don’t you get out the really, big, black bags, chuck in those pots and pans, all those dirty socks, and throw them out?!” “Lord, that is ludicrous!” (I thought, respectively, of course). I could never do that. I am way too cheap. I’m the type that cuts paper towels in half before using. Dishes and laundry are not disposable. They are meant to be taken care of and used for years. (And my husband and I both have clothes still from high school, so that is years!)
This got me thinking. Very few things in life are disposable. Outside of paper plates, napkins, (hey we even reuse plastic silverware), we are called to be good stewards of what is given us. And that means take care of it….consistently…. like all the time…. like never-ending. Like the dishes and the laundry. And the time we have each day, and the relationships that enrich our lives: the children and spouses that are given to us, on loan, to love and nurture, while we are given time on earth. And the words we say.
All of these things are valuable and worth holding onto and taking care of. None of these things are disposable.
It would be nice if Sunday mornings included hour long meditations, a hearty, homemade breakfast, and time to pray over the hubs and each child for an exceptionally special day. But I don’t particularly care to write “nice,” I prefer more to write “real.” Which is why a good Sunday morning for us means we are all relatively clean and whatever parent is closer to the pantry doles out cereal bars. We grab the travel mugs filled with hot joe and hit the road. I can’t help myself, I do typically serenade the car with a rousing rendition of “GO TEAM!” as we back out. (Getting a family out the door, on a weekend morning, – I don’t care who you are, – its an accomplishment worthy of celebration. )
Some mornings are easier than others, like this morning, not so much. It was quiet. The bed felt so good. We could have very easily stayed snuggled under the covers, in the special quietness that means small children are still sleeping. We battled. As much as we want to love God with every fiber of our being, we love sleep too. And then my very manly, tough husband met his kryptonite. A certain 30 lb, blond cutie would be very upset to miss the meeting of the Body. “When she wakes up, and it is past time for church, I can’t bear to tell her we just didn’t go….” I followed him up and out of the bed. Time to put the coffee on.
In a perfect world, as parents, we would be spiritual leaders for our kids all the time. But perfection is exhausting, unrealistic, and unattainable. So I try (some days better than others) to embrace reality. Reality says sometimes the pre-schooler gets it right, not Mommy and Daddy. Because to her, there’s no question, no battle. Church means friends, fun, and time that is unlike any other where she learns from people who care about and love her. Thankfully, it was her spirituality, her simplistic faith that helped to prod us this morning.
I was moved later in the day when I shared our morning with a girlfriend, and she too had a similar experience. The doldrums of adulthood can so easily kick in, and it was her teenager who affirmed that going to church was the thing to do. (My first thought, I have to admit, was “oh, so I am not the only one?!) Then my second thought: what a cool God thing for us both. I know of at least two households today where the younger generation helped boost the spirituality of the older.
I have a new appreciation for why Jesus calls us to be like children. Its kind of the biblical version of “KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.” And I appreciate, so much, those who work in the children’s/youth/teen ministry. It is hard to know the depth of impact you make, day in, day out, making copies for class, cutting construction paper hearts, learning the songs and singing them with unrestrained joy, but it isn’t only the kids you are impacting.
Your heart to serve the little ones are helping to fill the seats with larger behinds as well 🙂