Sunday, November 15, 2015

Living for the Moment

I love Instagram. I post almost every day. Ironically, the criticism social media receives for being a mere highlight reel of people's actual lives is exactly the purpose for which I use it. One quick snapshot a day to memorialize what I want to remember--a slice I hope to hold onto--a moment that made my heart cry "yes, this was a good thing today."

There are a lot of parts of my life that are present every day and yet not what I want to promote, preserve or perseverate on. The chores, the squabbles, the messes, the outbursts...spilled coffee, dirty floorboards, hurting hearts. Of course those moments are there--and God is working in them to sanctify my heart---but who wants that in their chatbooks to flip through later?

So, I post the moments my heart treasures--the ones that make the rest worthwhile. Lately I have felt a real twinge every time I post a photo--a desire to tell the rest of the story. So, without further adieu, a few of my recent Instas and 'the rest of the story.'
Last night Ryland & I had a long overdue date night to see Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors perform...To get here it took not only concert tickets but 2 hours driving, coordination with an out of town soccer tournament, 90 minutes of packing 4 duffle bags of lovies, medicines, contacts, church clothes, play clothes, books and the like with the 'help' of five children, awesome grandparents who fed, loved and put to bed our big boisterous brood.

About 30 minutes after this picture was snapped we returned to my inlaws' house to a very sick little girl who I spent 3 hours laying with in a toddler bed as she cried and coughed--and an outraged brother who was exhausted from sharing a room with her and took personal offense at the noise from her coughing fits.

BUT...for  a few beautiful hours, I was just a girl on a date with a guy I adore and that is the picture I want most to remember.


A couple of weeks ago I captured this shot of little girls, staring out the door waiting on Trick or Treaters to walk up onto our porch. It was Halloween. They were simultaneously revved up and exhausted, squabbling even as I snapped this photo. There were tears. I had to make a rotation system for who got to hold the big basket of candy when the people arrived. But they were giddy and nervous as this was the first time they had ever been Trick or Treating or passed out candy.

(And the next several weeks are going to be magical as I recently received a breathless, incredulous question..."Wait! What? Christmas is Jesus' birthday????")

This make up free, unflattering angle recorded the freedom and joy we all felt last Sunday as we had an outing as only a biological family of five. It was a true Sabbath afternoon. We exhaled. We enjoyed each other with silliness and true, guttural laughter. (And if you look closely you will see that R is ducking in the middle behind my head because he is an 11 1/2 year old boy who doesn't particularly enjoy photos.)
And today, a snapshot of two of my girls walking along a bridge our foster daughters have been curious about for weeks. What you can't see is the one who most wanted to go made choices that caused her to miss out on the outing, and we left her behind shedding angry tears. Shaken and sad, we went anyway, because sometimes that's just what you do. As we walked I replayed all of the events that almost kept us from going, while these two girls chatted like sisters and I thought "This is good. I'm glad we didn't give up."

Looking through my camera roll I realized I could do this for most of our pictures. For every sweet reason I want to remember a moment there is at least a tinge of bitter. It's what makes life so complex and full.

Most are familiar with the 80/20 rule (also known as Pareto's Principle), a business term stating that 20% of what we do is vital and 80% is trivial. The older I get the more I can see that this seemingly off-kilter ratio is applicable to many parts of my life--and can often feel more like 90/10.

The majority of what I do during a day seems insignificant, dull, frustrating even--but when I experience those rare flashes of clarity, focus and purpose I KNOW they have redeemed the less memorable parts. Fruit comes from faith and work. I can almost hear my soul remark, "OK, now I get it. This is what all the drama was about."

Every day it seems God is sending me a little wink--a reminder that He is still VERY MUCH in charge.

Last week a challenging morning resulted in a tearful apology from me to one of our girls. In a stressful situation I jumped to the wrong conclusion and in doing so had hurt her little heart. I later heard from a friend that she had observed the whole thing (unbeknownst to me). Embarrassed, I fumbled to explain the circumstances that led us to that moment in the hall at church. She tearfully told me how God had used the picture of me, humbled and on my knees apologizing to this child, to speak to her heart. God redeems even our messiest moments.

As a tired and overwhelmed 40+ year old housewife/mama of five, my definition of "living for the moment" has evolved. It is far less about being footloose and fancy free and instead about keeping my eyes wide open for the moments that redeem so much of the challenging parts of my life.

These glimpses of beauty right smack in the middle of messiness are IT. Like the gold miner who sees the tiny glint and realizes the hunt has been fruitful...redemption is found in the small moments that dot our path. May we fix our eyes on the PRIZE not the circumstances and the challenges on the way.

Yes, we must give those obstacles our attention as we pass through...but I want my eyes to be fixed on redemption, grace, love, lessons being learned and the truth that God is active through it all.

1 comment:

Denise Ross said...

Dear JMom, I love your truth here. I too find a lot of the messy in my life parenting 3. Our circumstances may be different, but I learn from and learn from what I'm trying to teach in the world moments with my kids. I'm learning to parent with grace and love, but I mess this up often and parent out if exhaustion and frustration. Then I hurt the people I love. This is certainly a journey. I am surprised and my heart gladdened when a Jesus moment is expressed by one of mine and then I know that like you, though I mess up often in this parenting thing some of the really important lessons are being grasped and held tight. Learning to parent Gods way pulls me up many times. If He were as short and sometimes hard as what I am to me kids, to me, I would have no hope. But He parents me with so much grace and love and patience that I'm seeing spots where He pulls me up and softens my heart so it is with grace and love that I parent these moments not with exhaustion and frustration.