There have been so many things lately I've wanted to write about, but couldn't decide which were the most important. My camera and my computer are once again at war. And frankly, it looks like Christmas has exploded in every room of our house. Simply keeping up has been a top priority (although not very successful!). We're still not done partying, and I'm still not done chasing my tail around here. But I'm having one of those "have to write" moments.
I cuddled up on the couch for some precious Sunday afternoon reading. But I went to the computer to look up something related to the book I was reading. I stumbled upon the writings of Carrie Oliver (deceased wife of the co-author of my book), who demonstrated her faith in an awe-inspiring way during her battle with cancer.
Reading through her journey - her faith, her pain, her fear, her inspiration - has stirred me deeply and reminded me of the Rock I have in my Abba. Two months before she died she walked through the grief of losing a child. She experienced the levels of life's grief and pain that I fear and dread.
But she clearly lived by my high school motto: "Carpe Diem." She seized every day. She viewed a trip through the halls of a hospital to another chemo treatment as a chance to share her faith with the hospital staff. She viewed an afternoon of coffee and shopping with friends as a gift from God. Oh, was she ever right.
A couple of days ago we spent some time once again in the Emergency Room with Kayla's asthma. Although these visits are not even remotely in the same category as the illnesses others deal with, they remind me of what a thin line our breath on earth is. Watching Kayla curled up in the wheelchair on her way to xray, watching her tiny little form holding on to the xray machines. Holding her hand while they put in IV's as she sobs. How could we take a single solitary breath for granted?
Even before my reading this woman's journal of faith, this has been one of those days when I have cherished the moments. I have laughed at my babies and squeezed them and kissed them and wondered at how amazing they are. (Even now, as I write, Kayla is sitting at the kitchen table happily eating leftovers and talking my head off - asking questions about life's great mysteries from quintuplets to why we call dinner dinner.)
But I am so completely aware that God's goodness....His faithfulness...My faith...is not based on the fact that He's been so "good" to me by keeping my babies alive and giving us health. My faith runs so much deeper than that - It is based on the merit of His Goodness and Holiness alone. I sincerely pray that He will not test me on that statement.
(You should see my crazy Kayla now - standing on the kitchen chair in nothing but her elephant panties demonstrating the loud and amazing call of an imaginary bird she created - an "Aparigon." And she has corrected me on my spelling of said bird.)
Anyway...I've been letting the overwhelmed feeling of life creep in lately. I've enjoyed having my husband on break from PhD work and having a break from our normal relentless school and home schedule. And as the end of the holidays approaches, I feel the noose tightening around me again - making my stomach nervous and my mood negative. But how could I not realize that stopping to watch this elephant panties-clad kid demonstrate the egg-laying call of an imaginary bird is one of the purest joys I could experience? I know that figuring out a way not to be overwhelmed and get it all done is incredibly important. But it's so much more important that I remember to be present in the moments. To remember to live each day with joy - by choice. Not to ignore the pressures, but to drink in the beauty. It's all around me - sometimes buried under the "stuff" explosion that often happens in our cozy little bungalow.
(Did you know that an Aparigan is a hairy bird - it has hair on its head? We have the picture to prove it.)
It's one of the reasons that I love so much to walk. My walks clear out the stuff. I see the pine trees heavy with the snow and the fog light on the air and I remember to drink in the beauty. I feel the pain of my many ankle injuries and I remember not to take walking for granted. I feel the freezing air and am so grateful for a warm cozy house full of imaginary birds and crying babies. (These birds can also see and hear in the dark....Really, they can!)
I'm full of unshed tears of gratefulness.
I'm thankful for 5-year olds who can get their baby brothers out of bed after naps.
I'm thankful for naps!
I'm thankful for my cute little house.
For our gorgeous Christmas tree, surround by the gifting of about 14 Christmas parties.
For my handsome, incredible, diaper-changing husband
For good jobs and good friends and good food
For the joy of the years I have with my little children
For the frustration of a child with illness, which gives me compassion and understanding and a hunger to learn.....
For the heritage of a close family
For the sound of my mother laughing with her upraorious siblings
For the experience of learning under my father's direction
For books and music and walks
For grace and mercy, which I do not deserve
For forgiveness and comfort
For the rest of being anchored to an unmovable Rock
For the fear that keeps reminding me not to take the days for granted....
(I would like to happily announce the arrival of two baby Aparigans in our home - I just witnessed their hatching in a nest in our living room.)
As usual, when the Spirit has a message for my heart, it has been sent through many sources....spoken in different ways....come at me from many directions. I have been reminded through my child's illness, the passion of William Wilberforce, the journal of a dying mother....
I believed it when I was 17 in the excitement and dreams of youth. And I believe it now - as a 30-year old, overweight, goofy, dreaming, sometimes frazzled mother and teacher and wife.
I must seize each day. Stop for the moments. Be a constant student of how to work less and get more done. Never ignore beauty. Resist the urge to let life bury me. Don't hide the fact that I cry a lot and laugh really loud. Hug my babies. Kiss my husband. Respect my authorities. Respect everyone. Learn more about my students. Listen to more music. Talk more to my Abba.
Carpe Diem, friends. Seize your day.