Bella calls to me in her four year old lisp, "Mama, look! I found a wasthp nesth!"
"Bella, just stop, not right now," I shoo her away with my words, having barely glanced her way. I'm intensely focused on helping one of her older sisters with schoolwork.
But something stops me this time: this is my moment to not repeat yesterday's failings.
Dust yourself off. Try again. Repeat.
And they grow the fastest while I'm standing at the drier folding towels.
I know I do this too often, shoo them away when I'm doing something that I deem more important than their story, or question, or just their wanting to be with me--to have my full attention.
I ask her again to show me what she found. She holds out her hand and shows me the dormant wasp nest. I tell her how neat it is. A few minutes later when she comes running, exclaiming she caught a butterfly, my interest is definitely peaked.
"Wait! Don't move! I'm going to grab my camera." I gazelle-sprint for the camera, and dive back to the front yard, just in time to capture her holding the butterfly.
How do I capture time? Can I really put it in a bottle, make it stop just for me? They grow so fast. How can I be sure that I'm not carried away with daily demands so much that I'm ignoring the most glorious command--investing in these precious lives that God has given me?
They look up at me, light in their eyes as they hold the butterfly with broken wing, and I shoot the moment away, shutter clicking.
We go inside and eldest daughter and I google search how to fix a broken Monarch butterfly's wing. Our butterfly prances around on our hands, drinking from a coca-cola bottle cap. It takes a while, but I find instructions and courage enough to fix the little guy.
Lorna and Bella watch intently as I feed the winged creature by gently putting a needle dipped in sugar water up to his curled tongue, and it rolls out straight--long, thin, and straw-like. We watch in amazement. We are quiet in the moment--really present with one another.
Then I tell Lorna that her Father will be home soon, so we need to put him away and begin supper--I tell her to put the little guy--who she says is Albert if it's a boy, and Flutter Shy if it's a girl--into a jar with lots of large holes in the lid.
And my mind starts doing that spinning thing again--how to do it all? Pour into four little ones, clean messes, serve Husband, take the time to share a broken-butterfly-wing-moment with my daughter?
Isn't a clean, peaceful home part of living holistically? Isn't that part of my job description? And time with my Lord went out the window today--how did that
happen? Isn't that part of the recipe for peace and joy also?
I look over and see the butterfly, Albert, in his jar, lying on his side. I dash over and rip the hole pricked lid off, and pull him out. The holes weren't large enough and he is dying. Eldest daughter is really, really sad. So am I.
I know that all the messes will not be gotten up and the supper will not be nearly done when he walks in the door, but I let it go. It doesn't matter as much as this moment with this precious one and her butterfly.
This is the sacrifice for spending time with them, investing in them, being interested in what they're interested in: everything will not be perfect.
I cannot capture time and imprison it in a bottle, and it does not wait just for me, just for little me. I begin to see, and the glass that I see through darkly gets a little brighter and I see that this is the theme of living holistically, to putting my faith to action--yes, everyday there will be messes, none of it will ever be perfect, and time will never slow down for me--so the most important thing is that these precious ones have their rightful place in my heart--coming only after God and Husband.
And nothing--nothing--comes before. Not laundry, not supper strictly held to the clock, not writing or blogging, not answering emails, not sweeping floors. At the end of my life, I will not wish that I had folded more laundry or answered more blinking lights and buzzing screens.
I will want more broken butterfly wing days.
I look at my daughter's sad eyes, and I look around at all the things to be done--all the demands--they stare me in the face--but I stare right back and I courageously choose the right thing.
I let the rhythm of them carry me, these precious ones, their smiles, their sweet dimples that beg to be kissed, their inquisitive, trusting eyes asking questions, needing me and I let the rhythm carry me into the night until I sigh a contented sigh of having given all and lay head on pillow.
#345 light streaming in, light in daughter's eyes, a moment realizing how priceless she is
#346 baking cookies from scratch with my girls--eldest daughter learning how to do it on her own
#347 my relief at planning and knowing we will be done with schoolwork by Christmas with a long break
#348 folding laundry by drier, heater, and 1000 Gifts on audio and my wonderful friend who sent it to me
#349 hot cocoa and the conversation i have with the girls about how some children in the world would love to fill their bellies with these things--how it is sobering to us all
#350 hot tea at bedtime and reading 1000 Gifts
#351 a close friend that sticks by me, forgives all my failings, and in the midst of her crazy schedule, she needs me enough to anticipate carving out time to run with me and talk until it's much later than we intended to stay
#352 hot chai tea and a table at the book store--me springing to buy her tea, her springing to buy us both muffins and this verse of scripture: "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."
#353 this verse: "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel."
#354 Husband saying, "Go!" and him tenderly caring for me
#355 staying at home instead of going out and all of us finding plenty to be content with right at home
#356 telling Husband over airways as he drives home that I was lonely without him and the girls missed him too on this Saturday, and him sounding so happy to know that he is a priceless piece to this family puzzle
#357 hard eucharisteo--not going on our anniversary trip that we had planned, but instead going on a string of small dates to the movies or to get coffee--being at home with the kids 24/7 and this stubborn heart that longs to escape learning to be thankful for my context
Please join me at Ann's site for more gratitude lists and thanks to God:
Also, linking up with Jen at Soli Deo Gloria: