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Pack Wisely

Summer is slipping through our fingers. It seems like this sacred window of time opened only yesterday. We start with our game so strong, don't we? We hadn't been out of school a week when I was searching sales ads with a magnifying glass in search of all the necessary magical elements for summer fun. I learned the hard way that it's really not all that wise to get all your groceries, a fire pit, a grill, and new lawn chairs on the same day - no matter how great a bargain they may be. The ol' minivan was faithful as ever, but it was real tricky there for a minute when the girls in the red shirts and khaki pants were wondering with me how that back hatch was going to latch.

We've toasted marshmallows, blown bubbles, planted flowers, taken leisurely strolls, watched the stars, fireflies, and fireworks, too.  Life has slowed to a pace that allows us to look it, and the ones we love, in the face.  Where girls once were, I see women.  Where little ones used to sleep, I find people with long legs and arms lying. Where my baby boy sat stands an inquisitive boy in his big boy underwear. My tall, dark, and handsome groom has gray in his beard and lines by his eyes. The years have been so very short. I heard that a thousand times when my arms were filled with babies and my cart was filled with diapers and wipes, but I never knew how soon it would be true.

As surely as life is passing us by, the magical Summer elements in stores are slowing being shoved aside and school supplies are taking their rightful places on the shelf spaces; we all know what that means.

I keep penciling in fun activities on the calendar and doing my level best to balance work and play so we do not waste a single day. Determined to keep August way out there on the horizon where it belongs, I'm squeezing Summertime for all its worth. Let's be real though. The plans mothers have in June look a lot different from the ones they have in July. We've done all the fun things, but the little people have had all the fights, too. They've seen all the shows, played all the games, eaten all the foods, and asked all the questions ad nauseam. It's hot and we are tired. With that in mind, August isn't altogether threatening. Hope twinkles there, too. Our friends - routine, predictability, bedtime, and quieter days - are waiting for us there and we know it.

As we try to decide which activities which children will participate in this Fall, I am reminded of the significance in choosing wisely, packing wisely if you will. Summertime is so treasured in part because of the margin and intentionality the slower pace allows. Have we forgotten we have the freedom to choose those things all year long? What if family dinnertime was as fiercely guarded as the ball schedule and the bedtime routine? I love to see my little ballerina light up on the dance floor, too, but I am convicted that I am more married to her schedule than the opportunity to disciple her. 

"But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'" 
Matthew 19:14 

I don't know about you, but I refreshed my feed more times than I care to admit checking on those precious boys stuck in that cave this week. What began as an innocent excursion threatened to take them from their families forever. I ache for their parents, for what they have endured and what they will be left to help untangle in the weeks to come. I am guessing that everything else will take a back burner as their focus rightly turns toward mending their dear sons back to health and wholeness. Soccer is clearly a passion they share, but I'd venture to say soccer is nothing more than a meaningless afterthought to them in these moments. 

There is such value in activities, so much to be gleaned from being part of a team. I want that for my children. When one of my girls put her cleats away after ten solid years on the diamond, my heart sunk. We love to cheer our kids on, to see them use their gifts, to shine like the little stars we know they are. There's nothing wrong with that. 

As believers though, we have a greater responsibility.

We need to cheer our kids on, encourage them to identify and use their gifts, to shine like the little stars we know they are - but we need to be all doing that for His glory, not theirs. All the trophies in the world will tarnish when His kingdom comes. Are we equipping them for that? Are we helping them find their true identity in Christ or are we telling them to find their value on report cards and scoreboards? 

These are the questions I am asking myself. True story - I'm not even good at consistently tucking my kids into bed. By the time the day ends, we are all so exhausted and "over it" that we remind our kids to brush their teeth, tell them we love them, and exhale when they climb into bed. My dad read me bedtime stories every night of my life and I will cherish those memories forever, but sometimes life just straight gets the best of me and intentionality goes out the window. I don't like it, but it's true more often than not. Anybody with me? 

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

The reality is that I have exactly two more Summers with my firstborn before she walks that graduation line and starts a life of her own. She's never driven a car or had a real boyfriend. We have a lot to teach her and a whole lot of life to squeeze into these last few years with her. Suddenly, I'm alright with this margin created by the absence of ball practices after all. We can use that. We need that now. As I wrote about before, I thought I had all kinds of time. She really was the little bright eyed baby in the bassinet by my bed just a little while ago and yet, here we are.

And after her, Lord willing, they'll all fly from this nest.  We owe them - we owe Him - our best.

""Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
Ephesians 5:14-17

As Summer fades away, and as these little ones grow up, may we not forget how strong we started. May those memories of trying to squeeze all the fun in spur us on to good deeds in the seasons to come.  May we not forget though, that no matter how carefully we plan our calendars (or pack our minivans) some things simply will not fit. Let us be mindful to make room for what matters most, so that when the window of this current season closes, we are content with what we made room for and at peace with all we had to leave behind.


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