The Glorious Now

It was a lovely Sunday in August.  A perfect day!  It felt like the kind of day that would be wasted if not spent out of doors.  We decided to be spontaneous and head out for a picnic at Gifford Pinchot State Park rather than go to church. 

It is so hard to be spontaneous with 8 children!  We had to think about clothes and swim suits and towels, diaper bags and nursing pillows and bibs, strollers and chairs and food.  The children were all excited to help, so the preparations went quickly.  Probably the biggest hurdle was myself.  My very non-spontaneous self.  I fretted about this and that, what I would wear that I wouldn’t feel ugly in at the “beach”, what I would feed the baby, how much of the day we had already wasted by sleeping in and taking our time. 

Chris took me and looked me in the eyes, “You don’t need to stress.  Just enjoy this day.”

I was determined to put all worries out of my mind and sincerely try.

The drive felt incredibly long because of closed roads, a crying baby, and a screaming teenage girl (who acts more like a three year old with her special needs).  Chris and I decided to laugh through it, hoping it wasn’t an indication of what to expect on this outing.

The park was beautiful!  We found a half circle of picnic tables under a tree and staked our claim.  Then we went down to the lake to watch the children swim in the murky water.  They had a wonderful time!  I stuck my feet in but didn’t relish the slimy feeling of the bottom.  We took a break and ate our lunch.  Everyone was still happy, so we went back to the water. This time we took camping chairs and sat under the shade of a tree.

I looked out on the lake, full of joyful children. The sounds of laughter and splashing floated through the air. The sky was blue. The sun was shining. The trees surrounding the lake were beautiful. 

A cool breeze kissed my face, and I felt the presence of God.

“He is right here, right now,” I thought to myself. “He is filling me, surrounding me.”

Then it struck me – THIS IS IT! 

This is what I had been longing for all spring and summer.  I had hoped for a getaway to the ocean.  True, this was no ocean with pounding waves and sandy beaches. There was only a small cement embankment to separate the grass from the water. But it was perfect! 

THIS WAS IT!

This was the rest.

This was the vacation I had been envisioning, praying for, hoping would come.  I didn’t have to wait for a perfect moment in the future.  I had my heart’s desire RIGHT NOW! I wanted to just sit in the peace, to enjoy it as long as I could. I sent up a quick prayer that none of my children would get hurt and come running to me with shrieks and bloody appendages.  A few more minutes passed and the peace remained.  The park was crowded with people on such a lovely day, but everyone was friendly and having fun.

Then a new group arrived and set up a very large speaker which began blasting hip-hop music.  “No big deal, it is still a perfect day,” I tried to tell myself even as my annoyance grew.

“Why do these people think that everyone here wants to listen to their music,” I thought to myself. “I would be so embarrassed to intrude on everyone’s gorgeous day like that!”

Just then a new sound came through the speaker. A ukulele.  The sweet and soothing ukulele version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” which had always been a favorite of mine.  It brings the joy of dreaming and the contentment of dreams come true.  In a season of broken dreams, I had avoided the song, as it had become very melancholy to me. 

But today it was the finishing touch on this “dream come true moment” that God had orchestrated for me.

No, I wasn’t at the beach.  I didn’t have all my goals accomplished or all of my concerns taken care of.  It was simply…

THE GLORIOUS NOW!

I was present.

I was content.

I was deeply blessed.

The Golden Days of Summer

Ah, those glorious days of summer, kissed by the golden sun!

flower 3

I was sitting on the back steps under the sunflowers.  My children were running barefoot in the green grass.  I wanted to drink it all in and not miss a thing.  Summer won’t be around much longer.  The sunflowers only last for a few weeks.

flower 2

We will never be exactly the same as we are right now.  My children are growing taller and getting smarter every minute.  Soon the toddler will be a little boy and the little boy will be a young man.  As I watch my children playing in the summer twilight, I think back to the summers gone by, memories now faded and misty with time.

The absolute glory of the end of school.  The days suddenly full of free time, balancing between excitement and boredom.

summer 3

Discovering new things.

summer 4

Riding bikes.

summer 9

Playing in the cool creek water.  Catching fireflies that turn the dark into a magical fairy land.

Picnics outside.

summer 2

 Birthday Parties.

picnic  Fun and laughter.

Kraley and CalvinGet-together with friends.

summer 1

Now I am grown, and my friends are grown, and we have children of our own.

summer 7

We still feel like we are teenagers.  Full of fun and adventure.  Youthful and energetic (at least during the first half of the day)!  Still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up.

Yet we see that some of our babies have become teenagers.

summer 5

Mature and responsible.  Standing on tiptoe to peak out over the horizon to catch glimpses of adulthood.  We realize that we are teenagers no longer.  We are adults barreling down the road of life to middle age.

And look at the fruit our lives have produced!

summer 6

Nineteen children who play in the golden days of summer.

Soon these days, now crisp and sharp, will fade into memories.  School will start again.  The air will become cool.  The leaves will change.

But God’s goodness is unchanging, unwavering.  We can savor every drop of summer while we look forward to the glories of autumn.

The radiators turning on for the first time.  The nippy air, permeated with the smell of wood smoke.  Children romping in the leaves.  We can treasure the past, revel in the present, and joyfully anticipate the future. We are pursuing God and dwelling in His love, day in and day out.  We are going from glory to glory, going from good times to even better times.  We are confident in the promise that these golden days of summer will come around again.

Before we know it, a summer will come when children will go off to college.  Someday some of them will get married in the summer…perhaps to each other!  We may be gathering as childhood friends turned into family, watching our grandchildren playing barefoot in the grass.  And we will be different too.  Our hearts will be stretched and expanded to contain more love…more of the goodness of God…more golden days of summer.