The Gift of Now

I’m sitting here in my bedroom listening to the muffled sounds of reading and “close the door,”  and a toilet flushing.  I catch myself holding my breath in the quiet thinking someone is going to break the peace and yell.  Breathe.   We’re trying to hold this little house together with that “FOR SALE” sign out front and all.  And our bedroom is where things pile up.  So, above this screen, I see pictures stacked against a wall.  My wedding portrait, Savannah’s three month baby shot, a canvas of our three and a cousin sitting in the root of a great big tree in the Tennessee mountains, a painted and personalized piece from a music student.  Dolan’s cub scout leader uniform hangs on the dresser knob.  The shampoo and conditioner I bought today sits on the other dresser, along with a bell Savannah gave me a few weeks back when I was sick and she wanted me to need her.  Snippets of full life saturate my surroundings.  A candle flickers right next to me.  And my scratched out notes.  Because I don’t like to forget the now of yesterday afternoon or this morning.

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We took a brisk morning walk… because I said yes when one of my children suspected there was a monkey in the next door neighbor’s yard.  Thought it’d be a good time to go over habitats and climate patterns and such.  AND…because it would be really fun to see a monkey in our neighborhood!  We’ve already got chickens and a bunny on one side and a pop belly pig down at the other end.

I’m so glad we did.  Because, it all went sour after that.  Altogether pungent, really. Attitudes, silliness, you name it…I just didn’t want to teach anymore.  I cut spelling lessons short.  I told them, in my nicest voice, I was tired.  It was just no good, no good at all.

Sometimes right now looks frightfully messy. Guilt and degradation seep in quick and it’s all a downhill monstrosity in your mama heart.

We needed toilet paper.   Otherwise, loading everyone up in our state of mayhem would have been out of the question.  Shopping alone after daddy arrived later was what I had in mind, but then I realized I was going to be nearly comatose at 7:00.  So we began to fill the cart. It’s broccoli, spinach, oranges, and popcorn.  Then chicken…where I stood for too long.

He said, “Hey!  That’s food!  Don’t do that!”  the older gentleman in the neck brace.  “You better keep an eye on him,” he told me right before walking off to the cheese case.  Full of curiosity, I walked over to the seafood cooler behind me.  And there they were.  Little finger prints where one of my boys had nearly punctured the plastic wrap on a hunk of fresh salmon.  I never said a word.

And on the way home, that same one, he said:

Mama…I feel like we’ve been pushing you too much today..Kinda like (pauses to think a while)…kinda like you’re a prairie dog and all of us are coyotes.”

I just looked at that red stoplight and him in the rearview glass.  He’s staring right through me.  His insight is comical and scary.   Quite a simile, young lad of six!  He’s saying he feels kinda bad about that.  And I love that a little rearview mirror is a panoramic window into his heart.  I tell him I feel bad about things too, like raising my voice and not finishing something we’ve started.  It was quiet on the backroads.

Sometimes, right now is humbling.

Rest time was not a rest time.  Rather, it was fretful and unsettled.  More disobedience and moving to different rooms to attempt minutes of calm before a bustling afternoon. There was a talk on top of a floor pallet.  Utter frustration and wiping of eyes from the expenditure of a long day.

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C.S. Lewis once observed:

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own,” or “real” life.  The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life–the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination.

And so, yesterday’s “now’s” become today’s catalyst to become diligent in the trenches of day to day life.  

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It was a few weeks ago.  A long , full, demanding day was coming to an end as I stood over a hill of dishes.  I so badly wanted to check it off the list.  But he had been asking all day if we could play chess.  “I’ll set it up, Mama.”  So assertive.  So bent on spending the last minutes of the day with me.  And I was stopped in my speech…”In a minute” wouldn’t come out.  Only, “Coming baby.”  Oh, I just wanted to give my list another check.  Proving to myself I could accomplish my own excessively arranged agenda.  But alas, “the true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”  {One of my favorites – Laura Ingalls Wilder}

As I listened to him proudly announce the job of each piece and move them with confidence, I realized the grace in this NOW.   The dishes sat and waited.  They grow in number, but not in heart and soul.  They mount up but they don’t remember my neglect.  They are a muck and mess but, unlike 5 and 6 and 8 year old’s, they’re a quick study and need no diligent encouragement to sparkle and shine.

Now is what we have.

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It’s all we have.  We don’t have early this morning any more.  We don’t yet have tomorrow.  Or even tonight.  We have now.

It’s a good time to run hug someone.  Right now.  Now is a good time to notice a face, ask about last week’s boo-boo.  Now is the time to kiss that little sweet spot on the back of his neck.  Or brush and dry her hair slow.  Or stop the laundry and throw a batch of cookies in the oven.  Or text that hard working spouse.

Housework is meaningful.  It’s necessary and important.  But when it replaces the beautiful moments that are passing us by, it reigns supreme.  And what’s the legacy in that?

Tempers and attitudes and too many bouts of silliness frustrate and leave us in a ragged inner rage.  But if children are made in the image of God, every moment is a part of something greater, something bigger, something we can only squint and strain to see now.

James 4:14…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

We have, by grace, now.  

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And somehow, being thankful for it makes it sweeter still…

~k.

 

Comments

  1. Speechless. Love you so much!

    • Love you sis….. I’m praying for you… that with all the hills and valleys of raising little people, you have a million “right now’s” that take your breath away. :)

  2. Kristen that was beautiful, I hope you are writing books about children and raising them.
    Are you all moving? Love you all can’t believe how much your little ones have grown.
    Aunt Joyce

    • Aunt Joyce, so so sweet of you to read and share here! It is SO good to hear from you. We are in the process of selling to move closer to Raleigh due to Dolan’s long commute. Papa and Granny are excited, as are we!! Hope to see you soon…We love you~

  3. Kristen, I can’t say enough…how proud I am of you. I know He is proud of you too. You are a wonderful Mommy to the three to which you have been entrusted? You are loved.

  4. Chesha Oliver says:

    Your words are so very beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us readers. It so mirrors my own.

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