A Front Porch Song

When I was a child, there weren’t entire television channels devoted to my demographic.

Or if there were, I knew nothing about them. We didn’t have cable.

And neither did my Granny.

When my Mama went back to college when I was 4 years old, I would go to my Granny’s to spend the day, and my memories of her house are so simple. Her toy collection included one or two big bouncy balls and a couple of children’s books.

That’s it.

But it’s so funny. I didn’t even notice the lack of toys or childish entertainment available to me. I would play with her costume jewelry. I’d braid the strands of yarn hanging off of her potted plants. I’d walk laps through their circular house with my Papa (who had emphysema and was on a strict, albeit slow, walking regiment).

But what I remember most is sitting with Granny on her road-facing porch watching the cars drive by, talking, and singing. She’d sing “Old McDonald” with me over and over again, and I never grew tired or bored in our spot on that mint-green glider.

Granny is no longer with us in this world, and her house was sold long ago, but I carry her simplicity in my heart, and it dictates much of what I long for for my own children.

Thus, I couldn’t help but think of her this morning as I sat with my 3 children on our own front porch, watching the trash truck make its rounds, talking about our week and singing songs about God.

On days like this unseasonably cool and rainy July morning, we don’t really need that bucket of toys on the side of the porch. We don’t need Nick Jr. or Disney Jr. or Amazon Prime. We don’t need much of anything, really, but the chairs beneath our bottoms, a few songs in our hearts, and yes, the cup of coffee to my left.

Toys and TV will mean less and less to my children as they grow in wisdom and truth, and though our scene is much (MUCH) more chaotic than the one I enjoyed with my Granny, I pray that my kids will remember these simple and repetitive days with the same fondness and appreciation that I have for my own memories…

Something tells me they will.

The Best Days…

The best days are not necessarily holidays or Christmas-bonus days or personal achievement days.

They are the days when you wake up in January to 70-degree weather. You have your husband open the bedroom windows before he goes to the shower and you lay in your bed for a near hour just drinking in the fresh, balmy air that shoots a steady breeze right across your pillows.

They are the days when you make yourself a breakfast tray and sit in your bed with the windows still open, slowly drinking your coffee and orange juice and marveling over how beautiful an ordinary day can be.

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They are the days when your Princess lays on her fluffy pillow bed nearby, gazing out at her Kingdom and mirroring your own appreciation for nature and fresh air. “Doing good, Mudder?” she regally asks as you continue to sip your coffee. “Doing REALLY good,” you answer, thinking that only the addition of a ladies’ maid could make this morning better. (Cause somebody’s got to fix that hair…)

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They are the days when you dress how you want and you spend the hours how you want, and the only thing you need is a good friend to give you a push or two.

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They are the days when you sit on the front porch and watch your greatest blessings, and you think you might just be tasting Eden…

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You thank God all day for the reminder of what life should be like, and you pray over your children, yearning for the day when all of you will live, and work, and play there forever. Together.

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I think we should have more days like this, don’t you?…

(And I mean that).

Time to smell the azaleas…

Don’t talk to me.

I’m in mourning…

But in the best possible way, I suppose, as Mr. Gore received a good bill of health yesterday at the Spine and Orthopedic Institute of Tulsa. So the good news is that, although he is still forbidden to do anything too taxing such as take out the trash for a few months (thanks a lot, doc), he is allowed to drive once more…

and go to work.

Which explains my mourning.

I held on to his ankles as he walked down the sidewalk, dragging along behind him like a sack of grain, laying in the dirt sobbing as he shook me off of his feet at the driveway and sped off in the car.

Just kidding. That didn’t happen. We hugged (and kissed…shhhhh, don’t tell), and waved and hugged one more time and then me and the kids all clapped and cheered for him as he walked away to get in the car and drive down the hill for the first time in over 3 weeks, his study books and computer piled in the passenger seat next to him. He was smiling. And wearing real clothes. He looked amazing and happy and 100% back to normal.

I looked pretty amazing, too. Well, I had on make-up by 8:30, which truly IS amazing…

But on the inside, I was laying in the dirt, crying.

Our 3-week staycation is officially over.

It wasn’t easy…in fact, I’ve never worked so hard in my life…but it was one of those special times of learning and growing and togetherness that I know in my heart I will never forget; when my memory scans back over the years, these past 3 weeks will certainly stand out a little and warm up my insides and cause me to thank God.

Here in the confines of our home, with Spring breezing through our open windows and azaleas blooming larger than ever by our front porch, we discovered a new path in the journey to living a simpler and happier life.

Much of it, I suppose, had to do with our empty schedule. We had absolutely nothing to do – nothing we could do, even – for 3 long weeks. The result was that we found things to do at home. We found work to do at home. We read books. We mapped out our garden. We planned upcoming events for the church. We watched movies. We made homemade bread. We had picnics. We took walks. We played soccer and baseball. We made goals for readying the schoolroom before Fall. We planted rose bushes and catmint (thanks Brian!). We organized. We nearly lived outside. We got to know our neighbors a little better. We had friends over. We played boardgames. We were a family with more than enough time to act like one and thrive as a result.

We also found great joy in being “stuck” at home. In one of her illustrations, Mary Engelbreit writes “Bloom where you’re planted.” With the temptation to hop into the car and drive to Tulsa or drive to a neighboring town or drive to my parent’s house every other day not even an option, this is exactly what we did. We bloomed. And it made me realize that I spend a lot of time getting us all ready, loading up into the car and driving somewhere, usually to buy more junk to bring home. Once we return and unload ourselves, the house is a wreck and I look around growing more frustrated by the minute by all the things I want to do to make improvements around here but can’t because we’re never home long enough to do them and don’t have the budget money because we keep spending it while we’re out and about and don’t even have the focus to accomplish them because we’re living all over the place. Being stuck here resulted in us tending to what we’ve been given with focus and determination and satisfaction (and we had budget money to spare because we didn’t have any junk to spend it on at Wal-Mart and Target!). We got a taste of what life is supposed to be like…and it was pretty awesome.

And then, of course, I grew up a little during this time, something that always hurts, but something that I always cherish. I love to learn and I love to grow and I love to understand the truths of Scripture a little more clearly, so I am very grateful for what happened in my heart this month…

I learned to be a real grown-up again, driving a post-op patient home through 5:00 traffic. I learned to run errands again, reacquainting myself with the post office and the bank and deposit slips and the UPS place and the gas station and the phone company. I learned to drag the trashcans to the end of the driveway. I learned how to juggle putting 3 kids to bed at the same-ish time on two different levels of the house. I learned how to serve my husband. I learned how to maintain a tidy house (by rarely sitting down). I learned how to work hard with a cheerful heart. I learned that I was growing a little bit lazy and entitled before (the “downside” of having a more-than-helpful man with a flexible schedule and a super-close office).

Basically, I relearned what my roles are and that performing those roles is more fulfilling than having hours of “me time” and all the relaxation in the world. And I learned that you CAN do it all…you can enjoy each one of your kids and teach them and have food on the table and have a fulfilling marriage and have a clean house…but you CAN’T do it all while trying to live for yourself. A little bit more of Mrs. Gore died this month, and as ever, that is a very. good. thing.

And the craziest part of the entire thing was that time went by a lot slower than it normally does. I’ve been looking for the trick to accomplish this for years now, trying to figure out why some days would zoom by while others seemed like 4 or 5 days wrapped up into 1. Well I’ve found the answer, at least where Mrs. Gore is concerned. Stay home. Work hard. Play while you’re not working. Waste time on the computer when you’re not working or playing. Commune with your Creator. At the end of each day, you find yourself marveling that this morning was actually this morning and not a couple of days ago…

The conclusion? Back surgeries are da BOMB.

So are our azaleas.

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Coming soon, I’ll tell you about all the amazing people who ministered to us during this time…it is so good to be a part of the family of God!