A couple of months ago, James was out of town. Grandma, the kids and I went into Houston to visit GoGo and Angus and Great Grandma Hagler, and the whole family was there--Adam, Katie, Johnny, Aunt Brenda...it was a quick, but great visit. As often happens in a group like that, we were going around kind of talking about what was new since we'd been together last, and when Katie asked me what we'd been up to, my immediate answer was, "Nothing, really. No news is good news, right?" Because in my mind, we'd had no major calamaties, hadn't won the lotto...nothing was really different in our lives since we'd spoken last. My Mom leaned over to me and said, "You guys are ALWAYS busy--how can you say 'nothing'?"
That exchange has sort of stuck with me. We are always busy, frankly, as hard as I work for the opposite to be true. It seems like we're always running hither and yon, even as we limit the kids' after school activities and I try to limit my work time to their school time. Hmm. I've been thinking on this, and I think it all comes down to attitude. It drives me NUTS when people (Moms, especially--sorry, girls) complain about being busy. Some wear it as a badge of honor (and truthfully, I used to see it as such.).
But now, I see it for what it is: a roadblock. An idol. Something that keeps us from living fully--and from fully living in the moment.
That little "every day matters" button has been on my blog for years, and I truly believe if our family had a motto, that would be it. My Dad's illness and death was life-changing for James and me. I've blogged about this so many times...we truly learned to keep the first things first (faith, family, friends) and to slow down and really, fully enjoy the little things every day.
Because when you get right down to it, it's those little things that make a life.
I talk about that a lot, too, because I believe it so strongly.
Yesterday's Jesus Calling made me remember that visit at GoGo's house and my conversation with my Mom...and it affirmed my feelings about "no news is good news."
"Be thankful for the quiet days, when nothing seems to be happening. Instead of bring bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek My face."
Jesus Calling, April 13
Right after I finished my quiet time, I moved a stack of photos that are waiting to go into our Project Life book (yeah, I ran out of page protectors after I finished Noble's 4 year old year and haven't had $$ until this week to order more...I have a big ol' stack of pictures from March 8th on that need to go into our book). Anyway, when I picked up the pictures, I thought about how true that quote above is--how much living we do on quiet days, how much life is in our routines.
These are the pictures--there's one kind of towards the top that's our posed Easter picture (and yes, the one right before it where James is griping at Noble and I'm rolling my eyes behind my sunglasses will go into the Project Life book right beside it!), but other than that, our Project Life book is filled with little, every day things and crappy phone pictures. Not the posed, "perfect family" moments because we don't have a lot of those. :) And besides, do you really think our kids are JUST going to remember what we want them to remember? No--they're going to remember life as it really is. And it ain't about those few moments a year when the stars align and everyone smiles pretty for the landmark picture.
Life is...gray hairs. I'm 38, for pete's sake, it had to happen sometime, right? But life isn't just about finding the gray hairs, or mourning them--it's in all the crazy things my kids and Boy have done to put those gray hairs there. Right?
Life isn't...just where we go, it's how we get there. And going together, as a family.
Life is...taking time together. MAKING time together. And appreciating that time, even if it's only a few minutes here and there. (And yes, for James, life is about playing with fun new apps. :) )
Life is...giving. (Are we accidentally reinforcing to our kids that life is about getting? Is that what WE focus on?) Kids need to learn from the start about giving and yes, about tithing. Noble was so proud to collect money to buy farm animals for poverty-stricken families throughout the Lent season. He put the whole roll of quarters the Parkers gave him for his birthday into his barn, and his Valentine money, and any money he could get his hands on. He was so, so excited to GIVE. I hope he never loses that excitement!
Life is...being thankful. Every day. Thanking God for the little things and the big. Thanking people who make a difference, big and small. And letting those people know it. This is a thank you "note" James made for Aunt Peggy...it's actually a series of 4, and it cracked me up that he would take the time to stage all of this and make this for her. Would James have written a thank you note 15 years ago? Nope. Heck, would I? Nope. (See stories about wedding thank you's. Argh.)
Life is...celebrating. Celebrating successes, big and small. Celebrating every day stuff, and big stuff--birthdays. Celebrating each other, and letting each other know how much we value each other and love each other and...celebrate each other. The kids made James a banner for his birthday out of some of his favorite things, and their favorite things about him. :)
Life is...silly. Document the silly games you play, or the silly things you talk about in the car--at 4 and 5, Kayci was all about the slug bugs and kept count of how many we each saw in a day. It was an ongoing contest. Well, Noble's Noble...and whenever anyone sees a slug bug, from the back seat comes, "I take your points." Several months ago, he finally, finally decided that IF a slug bug was parked in the grass, you could keep your points. But just last week he decided that, if as in the case of this slug bug, the car is on BRICKS in the grass...well then, he'll just have to "take your points." I drove by slowly and tried to snap a pic so I can write that down in our Project Life book...it's so silly and goofy, but SO Noble!
Life is...turning off the TV and spending time together. Playing games, reading books, doing dishes...it doesn't matter. Some of us think we can only have fun when we go places, or again, when all of those stars align and everyone's on the same page. How often does that happen? I used to think I couldn't relax until my house was clean (ha!). Dude, I'd NEVER relax now! We have to make time, and take time, for each other. Whatever it looks like, your kids don't care. Just stop and BE. It gets easier the more you practice, trust me.
Because it does. It's all we have friends...our lives are made up of those every days, not those once in a while perfect days. Teach your kids to really live, and to enjoy, and to savor...not to be discontent unless everything is perfect and we have exactly what we want how we want it. Because that's the opposite of being content, right? Discontent.