Scraping the peanut butter jar with a dinner knife until it is clean enough to send back to the company for a refill was something my dad took pride in. He never passed up the chance to get the very most out of things. Could be the way he was raised; wasting nothing, taking nothing for granted, getting the most out of what we’re given. Could be he just loved licking peanut butter off the end of a butter knife or he was just finishing what her started. Probably a lot of those things. The thing I love about this picture is that I took it on my kitchen counter. My child evidently picked up a few things from his grandfather as I believe all of his grandchildren and children did. Good things like not taking advantage, not wasting, not assuming. Good things like working hard so you have enough to save and yet some to give away, using all that God gives. My dad left us with so many great lessons that it would take forever to list them all and as big events happen in our lives, I can hear his voice in my ear encouraging, pushing, congratulating, comforting. We spent a lot of time around one another. Wasting nothing. Wanting nothing really. Oftentimes just spending time. I watched him scrape a peanut butter jar many, many times and sometimes I thought, “Oh for crying out loud, just get another jar. It’s empty.” But if he had, I wouldn’t have gotten the message and more importantly, neither would my children. Sometimes buried within a person’s odd habits can be some pretty good lessons. So scrape the good stuff out of life, take nothing for granted, use all God gives, know others are watching, waste not, want not, and most importantly, enjoy.
When they are young and life is a zoo, we cannot wait for our children to grow up. When they are grown and ready to venture out on their own, we wish they were still our babies. There is truth and wisdom in truly enjoying every moment with our children. There is truth and beauty in allowing the good and the bad to be remembered, to be time spent together well. Before we turn around, what seems like just playing dress up turns into the real thing.
This past weekend my oldest daughter had the final fitting of her wedding dress. Wow. She’s just incredibly beautiful. She had her trial run with hair and makeup on Saturday and when I saw her after work, again, wow. On Sunday, as I watched her youngest sister play volleyball and the second oldest coach volleyball, I listened as she and her father were trying to decide upon a song to dance to after the wedding. I’m cheering for each point as tears fill my eyes. I’m happy to be in a large arena sitting alone, my emotions bouncing off the walls. I’m happy to be multi-tasking as I have for years upon years, enjoying each and every moment that I could with my children while juggling work inside and outside our home. It’s funny but I think the harder we had to work to make it to many of our children’s events, to spend time with them, to take care of them when they were sick or to arrange for them to be taken care of, the more all those times mean to us. My children are keenly aware of all of those moments. They seem to take nothing for granted.
Ya see, my mother took them to choose hats and furs and to drink tea that day. And that night, they enjoyed the day all over again by sharing it with us. I guess my point is that time does fly by and we may feel we miss some moments but what’s important is that we make the most of those that God gives for us to be together and that our children know the importance of being there for one another. Seems like yesterday when this bride-to-be and her maid-of-honor were playing dress up together and in a little over two weeks the one will be making sure the other one’s veil and dress are laid out perfectly to walk down the aisle. Ya know, we have to live life no matter how fleeting, no matter how hectic, one event at a time, one moment, one diaper, one game, one dance, one wedding at a time. It may not be all make believe and dress up in fur coats and hats, but it is a gift. A real gift. And I could not be more grateful to God for all of it. The make believe and the real.
I received this picture from my college freshman from the laundry room, obviously somewhere other than her dorm, and it made me really stop and think. She’s beautiful like the others but she’s way different than her sisters. Not one of the others would sit in the clothes cart while waiting for their laundry to dry. One would study, one would leave the clothes and run errands, and the other would probably just chat it up with everyone in the room as she waits. The point is, regardless of being raised under the same roof, every child is different. I know that’s old news and I’m not just realizing it, but this picture reminds me that they each think differently. They each act and react differently, learn differently, and even eat differently. I have no gluten, no meat, no dairy, anything goes children. I have always prepared, slightly anxious, last minute is fine, come from behind children. I have don’t talk to me in the morning, mornings are okay, I love mornings, is it already morning children. And the list continues but the point is still the same. Isn’t God Brilliant!? He makes life so exciting and yet quite the challenge. When we embrace differences, we succeed. When we fight differences, we remain in constant turmoil. And through it all, when we pray, we find peace. Whether our children find their way by making laundry fun or making it a chore, whether they wait until the last minute when they have nothing else to wear or they deal with it as the basket fills, they will all figure it out in their own way, at their own pace. Give boundaries. Set standards. Pray and watch with wonder. Then pray more. It’s a strange world and each will set out after it in a different manner but hopefully, their differences will someday be our delight.