We've done the engagement, the wedding, the first house (and the second), announcements, and the plethora of fun and exciting activities and parties that go along with all of those milestones. Our kids are nine, six, and just shy of two. We've decided I like my sanity, so no more baby announcements or newborn photo shoots will be sent out from our mailbox. Nobody stops me in the store just to tell me how adorable my gangly prepubescent kiddos are. I have my eye on a vow renewal, though, so I can relive the wedding planning fun at least one more time. Our crew is coming out of that amazing time during a person's life where you're establishing and building your family while constantly celebrating all of life's big events along the way. We're now coasting into a new "settled" stage.
Same old, Same old
This new time of older kids and really settling our roots down in the ground feels a bit like a constant Tuesday afternoon. You know, nice because of its consistency but also a bit vanilla from the mundane. I do the same routine at 2:45 PM every Tuesday: car line, after school activities, then the kids' homework, probably cook tacos for dinner, and then hold my breath until bedtime. No frills. Tons of love, but nothing that makes my heart skip a beat. I find myself waiting and wishing this time away by thinking that maybe one day the excitement will build again.
Gosh, how parallel my faith is in respect to this time in my life. This mundane season has felt less magical, less miracle worthy or prayer necessary. Sure, God joined alongside me in theory in the day-to-day, but nothing risky or traumatic was happening so I allowed the gap. To me, my current relationship with God is best described as the next morning cooking breakfast in the kitchen alongside your spouse after having had a big fight the night before. You're moving around each other like a game of PAC-MAN, still hesitant to talk or touch even though you made up because the gap still lingers and the connection between your hearts seems further than before. It's awkward. Again, I find myself waiting and wishing this time away, thinking that maybe one day my deep passion with God will build again.
Humility Will Do That to You
I was humbled recently in my parenting as I read an article discussing how we as parents only have "18 summers" with our children. Eighteen from start to adulthood. When you put it that way, squishy baby or smelly kid...it's all celebratory. Before I know it, if I wait, the time will have passed, the moments gone, the chance missed. That thought definitely makes me want to cherish all the Tuesday afternoons and then some.
In a more traumatic scenario, a family member's complications after childbirth led to almost losing someone very special to me. The reality of someone you love leaving this earth made my relationship with God more pressing of a concern than the casualness I flung on it before. Why was I waiting to need Him and connect with Him only when tragedy struck? Why wasn't it pressing to talk to Him over my morning cup of coffee instead of only through desperation and sobbing tears?
These days of wash, rinse, and repeat are the meat and potatoes of our lives. They are the middle juicy part of a sandwich. Just a simple slice of white American cheese and a few slices of Boar's Head smoked turkey that are ordinary on their own, but what really makes the sandwich in the end. Even though dust settles, it doesn't mean we should. I am determined to allow now to be special enough in my family and with my God. Moments of humility will do that to you. They will show you the perspective of time well spent, whether mundane or celebratory.
Celebrate the Ordinary
So while I may not be amongst those planning baby showers or engagement parties, I can certainly find celebration in my everyday. We just threw a pretty mean dance party in the bathroom yesterday when my youngest successfully used the potty for one of her first times. My kiddos decorated the entire driveway with "welcome home mom" scribbles when I spent some time away at a blogging event last week. The last day of school held excitement as I picked up the kids in car line and balloons poured out when they opened the door.
In the same respect, I got myself a coloring book for adults full of praise and hymns to God. You know, just because I want to honor Him with a little fun. I've begun to use the timer on my watch to remind me to breathe throughout the day. When I stop and practice the slow guided breathing, I thank God the entire minute just for being Him and loving me.
I don't want to spend my time missing old times or waiting for new ones. I don't want to settle for a faith that's only for special occasions or tragedy. The mundane moments in this settling stage of life hold a beauty all on their own if you let them. The trick that I've come to realize is to not wait for the big things, but to relish and celebrate in the little things along the way.
This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a doughnut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.