Joy, week 12
*Note: I started this post on Sunday afternoon and returned to it late Sunday evening, then fell asleep typing. I’m sorry to be publishing it late!
As I type this post, my two youngest girls are playing together in the kitchen and the room resounds with their laughter. It reminds me to pause and smile with them, letting their happy moment pull me in and lift me up as well. I review in my mind all the moments this week when earnest words, big blue eyes and little heads bobbing side to side while they told me all about such-and-such brought joy to my heart. These little ones are such a blessing!
It was such a joyful week. Last night was the culmination of weeks of practice and I was thrilled to attend the General Young Women’s Meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Watching my daughter sing with all her soul was unforgettable. The warmth in my heart was equally strong each time I saw a girl I know on camera. It has been years since I’ve been involved in an experience that has filled my heart with the love of God like this one has. I am eternally grateful for every minute of it and have a list of things I’m going to do to keep this memory close.
One of the blessings that has come of this choir experience is a closer relationship with my daughter. She’s been wrapped in the arms of so many wonderful women lately that her tendency to shrug out of my hugs is gone. She’s learned to want the love that is offered in outstretched arms and even leans into them. I was amazed when, after the broadcast, she grabbed my arm and pulled me toward a friend of mine so that SHE could get a hug from her! (Thank you, Julene!) I have this desire to hold on and make sure she stays that way.
As I’ve pondered my activities this week, and even the activities of the past few weeks I realize that a larger percentage of my time has gone to my teenagers, meaning that instead of dropping them off and going home to the rest of the family I’ve spent a large number of hours going with them, staying with them. Their schedules have just worked out in such a way that they’ve had activities where it was appropriate for a parent to attend with them. I’ve loved it, loved the pace and the fun of keeping up with this incredible, energy-filled stage in life. It’s been an interesting taste of what will be my daily life in a few short years.
The challenge is that I’ve also had a two year old at home crying for Mommy. She is so brave, so independent, and yet so totally dependent on me that I often shake my head in wonder. If she hasn’t had enough of me (meaning undivided attention and arms wrapped firmly around her) she won’t sleep. I can’t count the number of times recently when I’ve walked in the door and immediately seen a little body running toward me yelling, “Mommy! I need you!” Her words do something funny to my heart every time I hear them, expected as they’ve become. I am amazed and grateful that I could be so necessary to someone, but there’s also a little secret in there: I know what she means, and that it’s a real need, and that she knows I will do something about it as soon as I can. I get it, and she gets that I get it. But she does need it before 11 p.m.!
Because I’ve been running with my big kids and not just running them to and fro, life at home has suffered. The house isn’t what it should be and the children are up later than I’d like. I sincerely tried to plan my week wisely to allow time for recovery in these areas, but the way things turned out was nothing like I expected.
Every day there was a moment when my schedule miraculously cleared a little. A carpool or a ride worked out, saving me precious minutes in the car. I would shake my head in surprise then run to the work I was behind on, believing I would get it done. Without fail, the phone rang or a knock was heard at the door and I was able to help someone who needed encouragement. I had some really amazing conversations and felt the love of God in these experiences. Just as they ended, every time, my life suddenly resumed it’s hectic, noisy pace. On Wednesday I shook my head in amazement and got down on my knees to acknowledge God’s hand at work. The timing was too exact to be anything but.
I loved that pace, that feeling of “see a need, meet a need.” There is a precious feeling that comes with service, one I crave. I love the rhythm the Lord imposed on my week; I just need to learn to maintain all the other parts of life in a more fluid way so those opportunities don’t trip us up so often. I know that service comes with some degree of sacrifice, but the basics ought to be covered. At least a dozen times each day I thought, “I’ve got to write that in my journal!” but there was so much to write, and so much happening, so many things being pushed until late in the evening that much of it remains unwritten.
So, when it’s so obvious that the Lord has something other than housework in mind, you can’t go and judge yourself or your week on that thing alone. I had a moment of 200% humility when a dear friend knocked on my door unexpectedly and my kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off in it. I let her in, we sat and talked, and then I let her sweep my floor and clear the kitchen table. I have NEVER let someone do something like that before. It was hard to do, but I did it. (Thanks, Aubree!) On Saturday morning I took a deep breath and walked outside to ask a neighbor for help with one of my children who was struggling with her behavior that morning. They kindly let her work in their yard with them, giving her the attention she needed while also separating her from the situation she had created inside. Yes, I had some precious help this week.
We celebrated a birthday this week, the magical #6. We read books together. We made an emergency repair on a vehicle and 3 hours later I got rear-ended in that same vehicle. I sold concessions at a lacrosse tournament. We celebrated wins and endured losses, prayed and worked. I met new people and discovered connections with them that surprised me. The good and the bad were sprinkled liberally among each other throughout the week, but my strongest feeling was one of gratitude for all that could have gone wrong but didn’t. I met some needs and blew it on others. I felt broken this week, and weary, but I learned something that I should have learned long ago:
Sometimes life backs us up against a wall, a big, thick wall that is terrifying to stand against as you watch the world approach. I’ve spent too much time pinned against that wall, part of me wondering if it’s going to kill me one day. This week, as I stood against that wall (particularly on the day when we had issues with our car) I really worked to be mentally and emotionally tough, to have faith and not fear. As these feelings of total relief and gratitude filled my heart in the midst of obstacles that cost us precious dollars and even more precious minutes, I felt the wall give way and realized I was falling into the arms of my Savior and experiencing his grace to a degree that I haven’t felt before. I’m learning that his Atonement is about so much more than sin.
As I said, it was a joyful week. (Sorry, another travelogue this week!) Honestly, I’m not sure how the week held so much, and there’s much, much more I’m not sharing!
I did work on some goals. My garden seeds were ordered and have arrived. I MUST get the seeds started right away, a task I feel a bit intimidated by. I did some weeding.
Although it doesn’t sound like it, I did a lot of cleaning. I went through both of my teen-ager’s rooms and closets, organizing, washing, sorting, cleaning. While I firmly believe that kids should learn to take care of their own spaces, I also look around at my own house and see the effects of being too busy. They’ve been feeling that same pressure and I enjoyed giving them a calm place to come home to. I also did a lot of cleaning up after the little ones, like the day when my youngest threw a glass of water across the kitchen in a moment of frustration. There’s nothing like cleaning up glass and water together!
I did a better job of cooking dinner, washing laundry, etc. I also did a bit of reading. No sewing. I didn’t touch my machine. I’ve completely blown it on birthdays this month, missing every one so far (except my son, thank goodness!). I feel badly about that. I worked for a few minutes on a project for my home but haven’t had the time to return to it. Still, it was a great week and I feel blessed to have lived it. I hope to do a better job this week!