My posture is a bit different this evening as I sit down to gather my thoughts.
Most usually, I wait until the children are in bed or otherwise situated before I even attempt to jot down a blog post. The reason being, I kind of have trouble doing any two things at one time – cooking and listening to people talk, patting my head and rubbing my tummy, driving and reading street signs, being alive and doing any sort of math problem, watching television and folding clothes – in other words, I’m a big, fat dummy and need absolute silence in order to properly think or do much of anything.
But today, I’m feeling spontaneous and am sitting at the kitchen table with my refurbished laptop, my eldest children on either side of me, happily occupied with their coloring books…and, evidenced by the buttery fingerprints on my keyboard, there is a giant bowl of popcorn right smack in the middle of the table. Betsie, of course, is locked up nearby us in her highchair, eating sugar snap peas and deli turkey and as much popcorn as she can convince us to share with her. For, if Betsie is loose, NObody gets ANYthing done, whether they are a big, fat dummy or a smartypants genius or even, I’m betting, the old lady in the shoe. Betsie just has that effect on people.
So what is it that has me feeling so spontaneous? What has happened to me that makes my heart feel so contented and calm within me? How in the world am I able to sit amongst this throng of little people and find the mental fortitude to make intelligable sentences?…
I don’t really know. It has just been one of those laidback (but productive) Saturdays that makes me want to be near to my family, to count my blessings, to bask in our togetherness as long as possible.
And all afternoon, an old song has been lilting through my mind, the perfect soundtrack to highlight our first weekend in November…
Got no diamonds, got no pearls,
Still I think I’m a lucky girl.
I’ve got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
Got no mansions, got no yachts,
Still I’m happy with what I got.
I’ve got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night…
It all started this afternoon during the children’s naptime. I was going through the 9,000 pictures I have stored on our desktop (sadly, all of them taken since January), deleting some, adding some to albums, moving some to the external harddrive…
And as I scanned through photo after photo of my family last Spring, I could hardly fathom how quickly the children have grown and how much they’ve changed in so short a season. Days and moments I had completely forgotten about came rushing back into my soul in a flood of sweet memories. And although I enjoyed looking at all the fun parties we’ve had where our clothes were matching and our hair was tidy, the sweetest pictures were just of us…unscripted…untidy…mismatched…living!
They were pictures of life and life abundant, the very thing I set about celebrating here on my blog. And they were so beautiful, they made my heart ache. Not because we are particularly special or beautiful people, but because the things I see in those pictures are real and substantial things that are eternal and were the main components of the perfect world God initially created for us to enjoy: love…family…laughter…innocence…work…nature…home…
Each and every one a gift created by and given from a very loving Father.
As the children woke up and our afternoon wore on, we all ended up in the old, spacious shed on our property. Mr. Gore was finishing up a woodworking project and the children and I were sitting on our bottoms on a swept-off concrete slab, coloring and talking (we color a LOT in this house). I looked around me. Mr. Gore was deep in concentration as he measured and tinkered, and looked especially resplendent and manly with his coarse, red beard glowing copper and awesome in the natural light of the shed. Gideon was dressed in a full-out pirate costume, complete with strands of beads and a bright red headwrap. Rebekah was covered in dust, as was her ditsy floral sundress that is two sizes too small, her “golden hair” (as she affectionately calls it) flowing down her back where it ended with little curls, also covered in dust. Betsie was, again, locked up, this time in her big, red wagon, peering up at us from behind her straggly bangs, eating a box of raisins and doing her darndest to reach the bucket of crayons. (She loves to eat crayons even more than she loves to eat raisins).
And my heart just sighed for a minute, and I thought…
I could live in this shed with these people.
These moments of clarity and contentment are my very favorite in life, and I can’t tell you how much I love it when all of our junk is out of my sight and I am with the people I adore, and I asked myself the same question I’ve asked a thousand times this year: why, Mrs. Gore, do you continue to store up treasures on this earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19)?
For there, in that dirty old shed, with a bucket of crayons and two coloring books, I was as happy as I’ve ever been in my entire life.
And I realized once again that NOT being rich is a great blessing.
I’ll never forget the first time Mr. Gore mentioned this rather radical thought near the end of a sermon, and he encouraged our congregation to stop striving after silver and gold and to refrain from doggedly pursuing the next level of financial comfort, not because it is a sin to be rich, but because God might be showing us great mercy by keeping us in the financial situation we are in. He went on to point out the many times the Bible warns us of the snare of money, and how the human heart is naturally inclined to make gods of the corruptible, citing John Calvin’s famous words: “the human heart is an idol-making factory”. My heart agreed so vehemently. “Be content with your lot,” he warned us, “for God might know that if He gave you more, you would become a slave to it. One of the greatest blessings in your life might be that the small income He has given you is just enough to keep you from depending upon yourself. Rest in that.”
I would never have come to that conclusion on my own, but the minute the words rolled off of his tongue, I was a believer. How great and how kind is our God, working all things for our good, even when we are little aware of it.
Since that day, the drive inside my soul to make more so we can have more has slowed considerably, and I am learning to relax with what we have today, knowing and trusting that God knows best what we need for our future. In the meantime, even though there are springs sticking up through the cushions of our couch, and even though our cars are becoming more “vintage” by the day, I am seeing with fresh eyes how abundantly we have been blessed, and how little we need to live happily and contentedly in this world.
And who knows? Someday we might have to move into our shed, and convert our home into a boarding house (what? I told you I read a lot of Christian fiction). But guess what would go with us? Love. Laughter. Gratitude. Probably a bucket of crayons and a couple of coloring books. Some flowers maybe and a set of lace curtains. The sun in the morning. The moon at night. But most importantly…
Grace that sustains us, that fulfills us, and that allows us to have even the tiniest speck of love or gratitude in our hearts in the first place. Grace that is enough for today and gives us faith for tomorrow.