On the Friday before Halloween weekend, while I was busy making soup and cleaning the house before hosting a gaggle of college girls, we got a call from daycare that Mila was sick and needed to be picked up. I sprung into action as most good moms do, setting everything aside and jumping in the car to go scoop her up and play Dr. Mommy for the foreseeable future. It is when the kids are sick that I feel motherhood at its core. I hold their sweaty, feverish bodies, lay nose to nose in bed all night so I can keep a close eye on them, and this time around, even caught a few handfuls of throw up. It's unpredictable and definitely not glamorous, but we show up anyways - with back rubs and whispers of "Mommy's here", ice chips and popsicles, extra bubbles in the tub and extra snuggles on the couch. We ride out it, say silent prayers of thanksgiving for mostly healthy babes, do our very best to keep puke from getting on the Pottery Barn couch.
After a long night of little sleep Friday, I woke up disappointed that she wasn't better and that the gorgeous weekend in store would most likely be spent on the couch. I was feeling all sorts of sorry for myself, jealous of everyone's weekend plans while cynically bracing for the flu to pass through every one of us and completely interrupt our plans for Halloween. It is in moments like these when I realize I have much growing to do when it comes to being flexible, curbing my expectations, and going with the flow when things don't fall the way I planned them to. Satan creeps in and reminds me of all the things that aren't going to happen or get done, and plants a seed of fear, distracting me and telling me I can't handle even the smallest of storms.
But thankfully, God is much bigger than all those voices, and it's in those moments when life slows down that allow us to learn and grow and feel God's work through the small, often missed moments of grace that exist everyday. In Present Over Perfect, Shauna writes: "I'm learning so much through the silence, and the space created in its absence. My crazy brain has always been my gift and my challenge, and I've tried everything to lower the volume in my head, because things really do get loud in there. What I'm finding, though, is that it's my job to lower the volume just enough so my ears don't bleed, and so that I can hear the music of my life."
Late morning that Saturday, still in our pajamas, I heard a soft knock on our door. Thinking it was just the neighbor boys, I took my time to answer it. When I opened it, I felt an instant rush of fresh morning air and warm sunshine on my face, immediately elevating my spirts. And at my feet was a little book, a purple Gerald and Piggie book with a pink satin bow tied around it. By this time, Angie was halfway down our street, wanting to go unnoticed and also surely avoiding our germ-infested house. This sweet blessing, as small as it may have seemed to Angie and even Mila, was just the grace I needed that morning. This is the music of my life, the small notes that play the sweetest tune, but often get drowned out by my own plans, expectations, and the demands of daily life. Shauna goes on to write that, "I've missed so much of my actual, human, beautiful, not beautiful life trying to force things into perfect. But present. Present is real and tactile and something you can hold with both hands, something rich and warm. Present is a face bare of makeup, a sweater you've loved for a decade, a mug that reminds you of who you used to be. It's the Bible with the battered cover, the journal filled with scribbled, secret dreams. It isn't pretty, necessarily - it isn't supposed to be."
Present showed up on our quiet Saturday in so many ways. It showed up in Mila's wild hair and sweet toes curled up in my lap as I read pages of my book in my favorite flannel shirt and mug of black coffee. It showed up in a tupperware of Halloween cookies from Beau's secretary, text messages from friends and my mom, and fresh air seeping through window cracks. It showed up in a hot bath and a makeshift tea party in the tub, a fresh pair of pajamas, and a sweet hour of Halloween play in the woods.
A feel months ago, I took part in a Bible study on discipleship, exploring the ways Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet through investing in others and loving and serving them the way Jesus did. Just like Angie showed up for Mila (and more importantly, me) that day, I, too, have been striving to be more intentional about investing in others through small, often simple acts each week. Doubling a recipe for dinner and sharing with a friend who could use a night off from cooking, writing a hand-written thank you note after being invited to their table, gifting a book that inspired me to a friend, and showing up for a coffee date at just the right time even though my schedule was telling me there was no time for it, have been simple ways I can use gifts to be there and bless others. Having eyes and ears open to the needs around me, God has provided opportunities for me to show up. And at the same time, it opens my eyes to all the people who show up for me, too.
Who are people you encounter every day that you might go the extra yard to show up for this week? What needs exist in your current place? How might you use your own gifts to bless others around you? How, in turn, have you felt the hands and feet of Jesus in your own life?