Friday, January 25, 2013

Kind of Perfect

Most afternoons, I hit a wall.
It's 3ish, and I'm tired.
I can't read aloud to the kids because I fall asleep every time.
"Moooom, you're reading so slow.  Are you even awake anymore?"
After a full morning of school, Davy running amuck, and lunch time, the house is thrashed.
Most of the chores that need to be done haven't been done because I've been teaching school.
I need to start thinking about making dinner.
All I want is chocolate, potato chips, or a nap.
Or maybe all 3.
It's the time of day when I am most likely to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or depressed.
Or maybe all 3.
It's when I know we need to be outside, enjoying the natural world, seeking beauty, living life, and enjoying being together.
But often I quell those thoughts and we stay home.
I push the kids out the door to entertain themselves in the back yard, and I try to catch up on all the things that need to be done around the house.

You see, there is this battle that wages inside me constantly.
One part of me longs for adventure, spontaneity, creativity, and living out my dreams.
The other part of me longs for order, a clean house, planning, and things happening on schedule, like dinner made before 6 pm, the kids bathed before dinner, and the house picked up before Daddy gets home. 
Sometimes I listen to the freer part of myself.
More often, I do not.
What happens is I fall into a trap that says, "if you just get this done, then you'll be able to enjoy doing that."
The trouble is, as soon as this is done, that is not.
I'm just never done!
And at times, it paralyzes me.
Today was one of those days.
It rained in the morning, and it was gray and dreary outside.
It was the kind of school morning with lots of interruptions, and quite a bit of frustration on my part.
It was mixed in with pure delight at our science and geography lesson, and hugs of encouragement from my big boys when they noticed my mood.
Still, by afternoon I just wanted to put away laundry, clean the bathroom, sweep the floors, and set my home, really my world, at rights.
Do you know that feeling?
But the sun came out.
And James was terribly sad that his buddy couldn't come play.
We'd been inside all morning and everyone needed air.
We needed to run.
We needed to live.
We needed to be free.
We went to the beach.

As soon as we got there, I breathed deeply.
"The fresh sea air smells so good, doesn't it, Mom?" James asked me.
It did.
This place is less than 15 minutes from my house.
Why don't I do this every day?

We walked down to the sand.
It was the hour of perfect, golden, light.
The sky was big.
And the sand hills were calling us to run up them.
And roll down them.
And to laugh.
And to enjoy being together.

After that it was off for more exploring.
To look for shells.
To watch the surf.
To watch the sky.
To exclaim over birds.
To love each other.

As I stood there, looking at the sky and the sea spread out before me, one of my favorite hymns came to mind.
"For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the sky,
for the love which from our birth,
over and around us lies.
Lord of all to Thee we raise,
this our hymn of grateful praise."
"For the joy of human love,
brother sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild.
Lord of all to Thee we raise,
this our hymn of grateful praise."
It became very clear to me that all those moms with grown up children, the ones who tell me the house work can wait, are right.
And also that the part of me that longs to be free needs to be listened to far more often.
It's hard for me to do.
As much as I long for the one, I long for the other.
But the thing of it is, one makes me feel much better in the end.
When I embrace my freedom, I find that all the things that so easily overwhelm me, don't seem so big.
My circumstances have not changed a bit.
Just my perspective has.
Knowing the unfinished chores that awaited me at home didn't make me feel panicky and "behind".
Instead I could say, "It's not that big a deal. I'll get to it tonight.  Or tomorrow."
And then I could let them jump off the sand hill for a while longer.

I have said before that being a parent has been the best thing for me to see the worst parts of myself.
It has motivated me to lean into God and ask Him to change me.
Without kids, I could more easily believe I am in control and can manage just fine on my own.
But this passel of kiddos show me everyday that I am not in control, and I am not managing just fine on my own.
So I ask for His grace as I walk through these days of raising my children.
And He gave it to me today by sending me to the beach.
He gave it to me by helping me to say "yes now!", instead of, "maybe later."
He gave it to me by giving me a perfect kind of afternoon when I wasn't looking for it at all.

He gave me peace and joy today as I walked in His creation.
And because of that, He gave it to my children, too.
If you don't ink God speaks to us through the beauty of this earth, then you are missing out.
I am ministered to in deep and mighty ways by the beauty I see in sky, sun, water, bird, and tree.
I am ministered to because those things point me to my Creator.
That is why I find it so valuable to take my kids outside.
That is why I love to hike with them more than anything else.
We see God outside.

I don't often go on Pinterest--once every week or two.
But the other night I went pin crazy and pinned a bunch of things on my "Words" board.
I am inspired by words.
So I pinned and pinned.
I believe these ideas swirling around in my head helped push me out the door today.
I feel like these ones here really encapsulate what I learned today and the way I want to live.
I hope they will inspire you too.
Love from,


Melanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melanie said...

This, is a rich, rich post, Greta. Rich in visuals and thought and emotion. I will have to return again to soak it all in. Hugs.

Naomi Putnam said...

Thank you for that bit of refreshment, I need a reminder that a clean house is not that important as I too am a bit of a neat freak. That's my favorite hymn too, it was great to read the words again!