Friday, July 5, 2013

summer bucket list

It's July already. I almost can't believe it, can you ? Maybe it's because our family went through so much in May and June- the birth of Hayden, the loss of my father and Sam's, and the news that our grandson is now able to be adopted by Jason and Naomi - that those two months are a blur of events and emotions. We are still rejoicing over Baby K and Hayden, and still very much grieving and missing our dads. 

My dad and mom would have celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary next Wednesday... Sam's dad's memorial service will be held in Arizona next Friday... it is still so hard for us to believe these two men we called Dad are not with us anymore. Honestly, I still feel like it's not real. Part of me feels like we'll wake up tomorrow and it will all be a dream and we'll see them again. So when it's all too much to take, I remind myself that is exactly what Heaven will be like - like waking up - and this life will just be a dream, and we will see our loved ones again. In the blink of an eye we'll be changed and reunited.

That's how we get through the difficulty of our losses - remembering that this life isn't all there is. And at the same time, we embrace the beautiful things life does have to offer ... waking up to sleeping babies snuggled beside us, summer days filled with things we didn't have time for during the school year, picnics and beach trips and celebrations and church and campouts in the family room ... we don't want life to go on sometimes, but it does.

I think the hardest part about losing the people we love is forcing ourselves to move forward. I want time to stand still, and I don't want anyone to forget that the world is a little emptier with our dads gone. But things just don't work that way, you know? Diapers need to be changed, dinner needs to be made, laundry always needs to be done... life doesn't stop for grief. 

I love what my dear friend Ann has to say about these seasons of life...

“It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us...” 
~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

And I'm so thankful for these bright spots of joy, the little rays of sunshine that force me to focus on what is lovely and pure and true.  

I've heard so many people say the same thing about tragedy, and I'm experiencing it myself right now. Death and loss bring a greater appreciation for what we have. It causes me to love my children harder, hold them tighter, linger over a goodnight hug a little longer. 

I still remember the night of September 11th - I wanted all of my kids to sleep in our bedroom, and I wished my brother and sister and parents and I all lived in the same state again. Why does it take a tragedy to make me realize what's really important in life? I don't have the answer to that, but I'm letting this past month's events shape me in a good way. I'm taking notes for the future: stop sweating the small stuff, slow down, take time for the truly important things, and don't let a day go by without intentionally showing the people I love that I love them.

I want to live life fully awake - I want to pay attention to the goodness that is right in front of me.

nursing her baby :)

I am finding myself praying more and praying with greater fervency for the people I love. I feel so aware of the fact that there's just a veil between this life and the next - we're all just a heartbeat away from eternity, and I want to live a life that is pleasing to God and meaningful and intentional. 

 ^^^ this is Lily, dancing in Children's Church. she's not content to just sing.

I want to relish these moments when my little ones are still little. 

I want to let them stay in bed with me a little longer in the mornings, wake up slowly, savor this time when the most important thing in their lives is which baseball card is the coolest.

I want to add meaningful things to my summer bucket list, things my kids will remember. Important things like buy a snow cone at the park, and spend an afternoon at the library,  and enjoy a game of Clue... 

I want to stop worrying about what the world will look like when my kids grow up, and just enjoy what it looks like right now. 

I want to soak up every blessed moment of this day.

Like this moment....

...and this moment....

...and this one too....

I am determining to notice the little how my baby smells after his bath...

..or how he curls his fingers and toes...

...and how his tiny arms reach the top of his head when he stretches out just so...

I want to slow down and pay attention, be thankful for the miracle of life.

Because there are miracles all around me if I look. Jutting right up against the hurting spot in my heart there are incredible answers to prayer, and it's okay for the two to co-exist. That's life in all its marvelous complexity: our hearts weren't intended to yield only to grief. There is a time for sadness and a time for mourning and in the midst of it all God brings grace and comfort and hope. 

One of the things I'm most thankful for in my life is a happy childhood. I was blessed with two parents who loved to make things wonderful for my brother and sister and me, and even in times of struggle, we always knew we were loved. We weren't a perfect family - we fought and cried, we made up and fought again. But there was aways love, and I am so grateful for the solid foundation my parents gave me of family. I want my kids to have those kinds of memories. I want them to know that no matter what we did or didn't have, we had love. 

I am so mindful today of the blessings I've been given. We don't live in a mansion, we don't drive the nicest cars, and sometimes we're just barely getting by. 

But I have things that no amount of money can buy. I have untold riches in my possession because of the grace and mercy of a loving Savior. 

Like a husband who adores me...

And a little girl who is sunshine itself...

...and little people who fill my days with joy unspeakable....

So again, I'll borrow from a friend's words, because really my summer bucket list is summed up in this:

How many moments of my life have my eyes been wide open but I've been rushing, racing, sleeping right through?
How many of the popsicle days and the running and twirling and spinning days.
How many of the moments of melting ice cream and crazy laughter and dangling bare feet and the setting sun igniting the moment of NOW.

Someone wake me up to the beating of wings and splashing of water... the setting of fog at twilight... the way the leaves and the childhood slip away in the woods, torched with the last of summer. 

What if we really figured it out? That gratitude for the seemingly small and insignificant - this is the seed that plants the giant miracle in the midst of it all - so COUNT the ways He loves... a 1,000 more.... never stop... so that when you wake in the morning you can't help unfold your hands to the heavens.
And though you grieve and though you wonder... though the world is ugly... it IS beautiful! And though time moves on - its moments are holy.
And though the planet spins a blur - you can slow and you can wake and you can trust and you can pay attention to the moments with this offering of thanks. 

Because this is how you spend your one life well... receiving each moment for what it really is - holy. Ordinary. Amazing Grace. A gift.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

What's on your summer bucket list ?


Bethany said...

This is beautiful Patti, and so very true! Loved seeing all the pics of the newest little man :)

Rochelle said...

I am so sorry about your dad and father in law! My heart goes out to you both.
Love all the pics and videos!
Hold those sweet ones close!

Race Bannon said...

My sister tried to throw me out of moving TravelAll...

Crystal Kupper said...

I like your line about not worrying about what our children's world will look like someday but enjoying it as it is now. On my list: enjoying our last summer in Oregon (and America) for several years.

Kelly Marin said...

am in awe of how you so beautifully and eloquently write, your family is a blessing and we love you guys

Kelly Marin said...

am in awe of how you so beautifully and eloquently write, your family is a blessing and we love you guys

nicole said...

So many adorable pictures in one post! A great message for all of us ~ praying for you.

Erica said...

This is so, so very beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. I am praying for the part of your heart that grieves and the part of your heart that celebrates. I am also just thanking God for your gifts - you bless us all Ms. Patti!