Life Happens Here

I sigh as I look at the ever-growing laundry pile on the living room chair. This is how it goes every week. Wash and dry on Saturday. Plan to fold on Sunday. Plan to fold on Monday. Plan to fold on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Back to Saturday – wash and dry and then add the clothes to the laundry pile. Will the laundry ever stop?

Then I hear Him whisper, “LIFE happens here.”

And I see those tiny socks in a new light. Tiny socks that cover my tiny girls’ tiny feet. Sunny spring rompers that my first girl wore, passed down to my second. Chris’ shorts that were worn in one of our after-the-girls’-bedtime basketball games that I have come to love. And I am thankful for the LIFE that happens here.

I look out the window at the backyard. There’s no designer fire pit. No fancy patio with sandstone pavers. No magical wooden tree house. Definitely nothing worth pinning. All I see is leftover mess. Baseballs littering the grass, the grill cover flung haphazardly over the table, and a blanket wadded over a tree branch.

Then I hear Him whisper, “LIFE happens here.”

And I remember yesterday evening. Chris manning the grill while turned around watching his girls. Claire hitting balls off her T, saying, “Watch this one, Mommy! I’m going to hit it to the moon.” Lucy by my side on a blanket, sitting up strong and tall, all smiles. And I am thankful for the LIFE that happens here.

I see the trail down the hallway. One cowgirl boot, then another. Sock #1, sock #2. Jean shorts. Yellow striped top. Another mess to pick up. Another mess that I didn’t make. I sigh and remember the days of cleaning up only my own messes.

Then I hear Him whisper, “LIFE happens here.”

And I imagine the thrill in my girl’s little heart when she heard Daddy ask the question, “Who wants to put on their swimsuit and run through the sprinklers?” I imagine and then I remember that same thrill in me when my heart was little. I remember small, simple moments like that and how they weren’t small at all to me. I put down the boots in my hand, kick off my own shoes, and walk to the door. The mess can wait. In an instant, it’s all so clear.   And I am thankful for the LIFE that happens here.

I mutter to myself as I grab the mop and bucket from the laundry room. That dog. Sometimes he makes me crazy. Muddy footprints trailing through the kitchen – around the table, over to his water bowl, and then back the way he came. I fill the bucket with water and begin to mop, muttering all the while, “That dog!”.

Then I hear Him whisper, “LIFE happens here.”

And I think about that dog with little Lucy crawling on his head, look of wonder on her face, as she explores his eyes, nose, and whiskers. He just wags along, offering a lick on her cheek every now and then, which causes her to erupt in giggles. I think about that dog chasing Claire round and round the living room, while she shrieks and laughs, begging him to go faster. And I am thankful for the life that happens here.

Dirty dishes fill the sink, crumbs cover the floor, and an assortment of leftovers await their tupperwares. I do not feel like cleaning up this mess after my long day. I begin a small pity party in honor of myself, likening me to Cinderella in my mind. I start humming…Cinderelly, Cinderelly, Night and day it’s Cinderelly, Make the fire, fix the breakfast, Wash the dishes, do the mopping. My pity party is really picking up steam.

Then I hear Him whisper, “LIFE happens here.”

I see Chris at the sink, scrubbing away at the dishes, as he does every night. And I remember he’s my partner – always faithful in every type of mess life brings our way.  I see the leftovers and remember the refrigerator full of food that I pulled ingredients from just hours earlier.  I clean up crumbs and put away a sippy cup, and think about my family sitting around the dinner table together, talking, laughing, sharing our days, and I am thankful for the life that happens here.

When the carpet needs vacuuming and the toilets need scrubbing, pause. When the kids need baths and the sheets need washing, pause. When the furniture needs dusting and the weeds need pulling, pause.

When you are exhausted, when you are discouraged, when you are 100% certain that you will never be enough, pause.

When you don’t have an ounce of grace left to offer yourself, pause.

Pause and listen to His voice, His voice which is full of grace. Pause and let Him remind you, “LIFE happens here.”

Pause and see those little everyday messes for what they truly are – signs of life.

signsoflifeAnd be thankful for the life that happens here.

 

 

Hurry

This morning while getting Claire dressed…”Hurry, Claire.  It’s time for breakfast.”

Getting out of the car at Claire’s school…”Come on!  We don’t want to be late.”

Climbing into the car after school…”Get in your car seat fast.  Let’s go.”

While playing Concentration together…”Quickly, Claire.  It’s your turn.”

Walking home from the park, “Claire, hurry.  Walk a little faster.”

How many times each day do I rush her along?  How many times is she told to hurry?

Is this the message she’s receiving?  Hurry!  Life is a rush!  Can’t be late.  We’ve got somewhere to be!

It’s not the worst message.  I’m not rejecting her or putting her down or making her feel like she’s not enough.  But that’s not what I want her to think life is.  It shouldn’t always be a rush.  It shouldn’t always be hurrying onto the next thing.  Life is so much more than that.

Yes, getting to school on time is important.  Honestly, without me pushing her along, my pokey little puppy would never make it.  It’s great to teach her responsibility and the value of punctuality.  But really, Shannon?  When we’re playing Concentration?  Why?  Why do I feel the need to make her rush through it?  Why am I in such a hurry?  Before I know it the days of Concentration will be gone and I’ll be wishing for those moments on the carpet together, watching her plan her next move.  It goes by too quickly as it is.  Why try to speed things up?  More than she needs to pick up the pace, I need to slow down.

So when she dawdles on the way home from the park – collecting sparkly rocks in her pockets, gazing into the sky in search of the airplane she hears, hopping carefully over each crack in the sidewalk – I’ll try to slow down enough to allow the joy in her eyes become the joy in mine.

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Real

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I think this quote is so true.  At least for me it is.  The more I look around and see what appears to be perfection in others, the further from perfect I feel.

I have had so many conversations lately about the perfection of facebook and pinterest, and the pressure that we – women, wives, mothers – put on ourselves to be perfect.  Not even just real life perfect – internet perfect – a kind of perfection that doesn’t really exist.

Now, I love facebook.  It is a wonderful way to keep up with old friends, share funny stories & big life moments.  But it’s not real.  It’s not life. Facebook is our highlight reel.  It is the best of the best of us and our family. That’s okay too.  I know we all have people in our newsfeed who share real life with us, and way too often.  We hear about every fight they have with their spouse, every time they feel even slightly under the weather, every time their child gets on their nerves.  I’m not advocating that!  But I do think it’s important to remember what facebook and pinterest are – the highlight reel.

Real life happens between the facebook-ready moments.  It happens in the midst of whiny kids, and laundry to fold, and errands to run.  Life is these things.  It’s definitely not perfect. It’s messy and disjointed, and sometimes it hurts.

But life is beautiful.  It is the greatest gift.  It’s all we have.  If we don’t learn to take joy in the in-betweens, we will find ourselves always living for the perfect moment and feeling like we never measure up.

So, in an attempt to share real life with you, here are a few of our less than perfect moments.

This is sweet Claire – in timeout.  Fits are the season we are currently in.  And whining. Chris and I are not fans of either, so Claire often finds herself in this corner.

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Here’s our laundry chair.  At least that’s what Claire calls it, and that’s honestly a very accurate name for it.  This chair has a pile of laundry in it always – well, at least 97% of the time.

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This is my sewing machine.  It’s on the top shelf of the closet.  I got it for Christmas in 2011 with big dreams of all the cute dresses I would sew for Claire.  So far the number of projects I’ve completed is…0.  Sewing is hard work and I am not as patient as I thought.  Someday I guess.

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Here’s our bed.  It’s not made and it’s covered with laundry.  This is not the exception.  It’s the rule.

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Here’s Claire’s baby book.  It is filled with all the sweet and wonderful memories from her first year of life.  She’s 3 1/2 now.  Next to the book is the pile of memories that have happened in the 2 1/2 years since her first birthday.  Somehow I haven’t managed to squeeze 30 minutes out of the past couple years to add them to the book.

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Finding joy in the journey is all a matter of perspective.  If you can’t find any roses, stop and smell the dandelions.