I started praying a very simple prayer some weeks ago that changed my days, my life.
Now, don’t sit on the edge of your seat too much, it’s nothing fancy. Your three year old could say it with their eyes closed walking backwards, your dog could probably mouth it in his sleep while he dreams of milk bones.
But it has served to save me from the insanity and the splendor which is life. The last month, if I am not sleeping, eating, wiping cute little derrières, or playing make believe with the twelve additional stuffed animals Roman has deemed members of the Jennings family…from “Tigger”, his new pretend brother, to our newest make believe cousin, “Angry Bird”—nothing like having a plush red bird with a scowl to sit with us at dinner time—if these mundane, yet magical moments aren’t occurring one thing is certain: I am upstairs in our room writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Scripting my heart out, pouring sweat into each word nicely tucked into my desk glancing over at pictures of those I love staring back at me in white wooden frames that need a dusting or two, freshly picked hydrangeas peering over my screen floating in fresh water tickling my nasal passage with their floral aroma, fooling me into believing that their glorious scent somehow means my desk is clean, but then I look down only to see papers strung out from here to Timbucktoo and then back again—an organized mess only I can translate.
Writing this book might be one of the most fulfilling, yet exhausting things I have ever done, as is any calling that God gives the human heart—never easy, but brilliantly rewarding. But, oddly enough in this journey to write my heart out each day, I have fidgeted and fumbled with the art of living. Because most of my days are filled with doing, doing, doing. You know, the going,going,going dance we all do each day—only to lay down in bed and wonder where the day went. Often feeling like we are surviving our lives, instead of living them.
About two weeks ago, I hit a wall or rather the wall hit me, I felt like I was a monkey hooting and ‘ahollering on a treadmill chasing all the other monkeys, but going nowhere fast. Trying to be best wife, mother, friend,writer and feeling like I was good at none of them. I don’t say this as a pity party, pity tarnishes the sheen out of life, and leaves us crippled by a false reality. I am simply saying I was depleted, yet I had so much simplicity me begging to fill me up: a husband cleaning the kitchen up as I wrote, a boisterous little boy drawing me a picture of messy, glitter infused swirls and circles in the den while simultaneously peeking at me around the corner, a sweet little cherub faced baby girl that sleeps so soundly just below, and friends loving me for the imperfect person that I am.
But, yet I couldn’t absorb these blessings without getting distracted by all the demands life can force upon you. I was preoccupied by all I felt I needed to be done… thinking, “only for it to be tomorrow or two weeks from now then life would be more peaceful, more settled”. My mind would fall for this bait every time it plopped into the choppy waters of my thoughts. I would release my nibble once I tasted its bitterness and realized that life was never going to change its pace, in fact, I think the more you surrender your life to God the more He gives you to do, to invest. And for weeks, I struggled to grasp what does it mean to “do” life in the moment without getting distracted by the magnetism of the future? By the allure of when it is____I will be enjoy life. When it is____I will finally be fulfilled. You know what I mean, we all are in seasons of our lives that we think we will be better off when____. And much like you, I was stuck in this ruse… mouth salivating, staring dead ahead at this carrot that dangled in front of me otherwise known as the future.
A couple weeks back, as we returned from our Sunday family walk (yes,totally gooby, but all four of us saunter through Sylvan Park while Seth and I talk about all things significantly insignificant with Posey strapped to her daddy in that Bjorn thingamajig and Roman riding in his wagon, singing some cartoon theme song slightly off tune). After our stroll that particular day, I came in flushed face, once again thinking of the work that lie ahead of me, and then Iooked down at Posey’s dimpled grin, felt Roman’s big clumsy hand gripping my leg with love as I changed Posey. And I grasped something. This is life. Changing diapers. Going on walks. Making pancakes for breakfast. Eating peanut butter in the car on the run. Thanking Jesus for the goodness and the heartache in my life while I do yoga. Letting the bed go unmade for fifteen more minutes, so you can look out the window on spring taking its turn and pray at least for a minute or two for someone else, write letters to your friends old school style, pen to paper. Turning your phone off while you drive in the car with your kids because you don’t want them to lose the art of conversation nor do you want to miss out on their lives. This is it. These are the small moments that on our death bed we will long for, yearn to have just one more taste of their sweetness.
It was this trivial moment at the feet of a changing table and a smelly diaper, that I got a gust of fresh air, blinders were taking off my eyes…my eyes that were seeing everything down the road, yet missing everything in front of me. And this prayer floated to the top of my conscious, only for my brain to turn up the volume so my heart could hear it clearly. It was this modest, yet bold prayer that cleared my foggy vision: Don’t miss today, Lindsay. Don’t miss it.
For the last several weeks, every day, out loud or internally this is my prayer: God, please don’t let me miss today. That has been my sustenance, my plea each day when my feet hit the cold,rickety brick floors of our kitchen and I rummage to find the coffee’s “on” button, still in a sleep haze, headed to write before the house wakes from slumber. It greets me and reminds me that I can either live today thinking of tomorrow, striving over what closets need to be cleaned, which flowerbeds need replanted, which thank you notes are all too late. But then I realize this: Don’t all our tomorrow’s just end up being our today’s that we never took the time to enjoy?
Enjoying the moment, right here, right now is not our human nature…we want to skip today, through our tainted vision the future seems to glisten more. To not fully live today with all its imperfections and beauty intertwined, is like foregoing that present that sits right in front of you, but you don’t want to unwrap because it isn’t swathed in shiny paper like all the other pretty ones that sit further down the table. Those attractive gifts that you and I so badly want to reach over and rip open, never realizing that unless you first unwrap right where you are today, all those attractive gifts are just collapsing empty boxes cloaked in sparkly paper.
And with realization, I uncover the present which this very moment, wrapped in tattered paper with torn edges—and when I open it up, I stop to notice that Roman has nestled all his stuffed animals next to me, Mickey Mouse and Alvin the Singing Chipmunk included in the montage. All huddled at my feet, to keep me company as I write because, “Mommy, they wuvv you” , Posey giggling uncontrollably because the sweet girl thinks anything he does is just downright comedy central-esque. Then I look to the left to see a pile of laundry as high as the tower of Babylon, a stack of books shoved in the corner, all half read, and winter clothes that need put in storage. Finally, I glance back to my computer to see my book proposal minimized in the left corner of my screen still not quite finished, and I realize this is my life. And I don’t want to miss it.
Here we go, with my random pics of everyday life…
Roman and his daddy playing Angry Birds, also known as plastic birds flying through the living room
And finally..my good friend Paige sent this song to me several weeks ago when life seemed to be running me into the ground—ironically, she runs a national magazine and has little two girls, yet she was sending this to me–maybe I could learn from her?! It’s the only song that when I turn the volume up as it plays, my life actually quiets down.
In the words of Patty Griffin…Have a heavenly day…