“We called your number almost thirty minutes ago! We put your food to the side but it’s very cold. Here, take it!”
I felt badly, but I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve been sitting alone, in a booth, for the past hour and a half and time has just slipped away. Solitude does that for me now. I started writing, started reading, started slowing down in order to hear a Word from Him and then the noises around me faded into a hum and the minutes on the clock slipped by unnoticed. No one knows where I am. My phone is turned off. I am alone and quiet with my King. A glimpse of pure heaven.
It felt like moving mountains this morning to get them all there, but it was worth it. I opened my eyes at the first glimpse of sunlight and then a secret grin swept across my face. I prayed that each child was feeling well and that there was no major earth catastophy today! After nursing a sick first grader and being practically homebound for two weeks straight, I was just sure that someone would wake up with the virus and we’d have to cancel. But three sets of warm, rosy cheeks and restless little legs pulled us out of bed. Excitement was brimming on their tongues.
“Today is the day!” her curly head said.“Yes, today is the day!” I replied. My steps were a bit quicker and my patience much extended. I knew what was coming was a gift.
We did our morning chores, dove into crisp bacon and fluffy pancakes. Said goodbye to Daddy. Changed a diaper and wiped a messy face. Helped our little blonde boy get his new shoes on. Chased that little blonde boy down the street (his obedience or rather his recent disobedience I’ll save for another post!). Cleaned up another juice spill.
I took a deep breath when the girls started gathering their favorite toys and shoving them into book bags. “We need this stuff Mommy!” they said. I laughed, they were about to spend the day at DeeDee’s house. A much anticipated trip for them, and a reprieve for me. Let them bring whatever they want, I was about to spend some hours away. Have you gotten away lately?I remember when Lilli was little and I would drop her off at my Mom’s, I often would spend my few "free" hours driving from spot to spot, unsure of what to do with myself. Unsure and without a plan.
Now, three kids later, our schedules are so busy and the grandparents are so commited that I’ve learned to become purposeful when the invitation comes my way to take our children. I've also learned to ask.
My Mom blessed us on Saturday, allowing me some glorious spontaneous time to “play” at her farm as she nurtured the two youngest. Lilli headed to the pier with Daddy to catch some crabs.
“You go, Jodi. Do something fun," my Mom, dressed in her favorite farm overalls, nudged.
I hestitated. What should I do with myself? What did I WANT to do with my time? I thought of all the things I could knock off on our neverending "to do" list. The back to school shopping list, the grocery run, the dirty van.
Before I’d be looking around, stuck between so many choices. Angry at the end of the stint because I didn’t do what I WANTED TO DO to refresh.
But I have learned.
Time is short.
Time is love.
Love is purposeful.
I knew how I wanted to spend those precious moments. I grabbed my youngest brother and we made a beeline for the overgrown horse field. His strong arms bringing the black wheel barrel down the lane, while I organized old tack and threw out grimy, stale feed. My baby brother, who in the busyness I rarely get the blessing of spending time with alone, joked and talked with me as we mucked our run-in shed. We stood, side by side in the dust of that little barn. Paused for a minute as he told a story and I remembered him as a little boy. Back then he looked so much like my son Tripper does now. Fair. Blond. Strong. Wild.
Now a father, husband and a man. Now a friend.
We hung up our pitch forks.
“Do you think we can still do it?” I asked.
“Do what Jo?” he said, his green eyes twinkling and catching mine.
“Rider pick-up! The way we used too?”
It's been months since I could be adventurous. Felt free.
He didn’t have to say a word but just ran to the middle of our overgrown clover field and waited , crouched down, with a huge smile. He waited as I raced toward him.
My husband, yards away, said he hasn’t heard me laugh like that in a long time. A reminder of the young woman I used to be before all of the responsibility, early mornings, late nights, sinus infections and sick kids wore me down. Present. Engaging. Real.
Time away….used with purpose.
And then came setting up bikes, poles and cell phone timers to see who was fastest. Belly laughs as we cantered toward our make-shift barrels and raced to the finish. A reminder of the hot summer days Bobby and I spent with Jimmy and Diana as children. Hours spent competing and making up games out in the horse field, when we were looking for things to do, when time was on our side.
Have you had a chance lately? A chance to get away? To laugh until your insides hurt?
To relax? To rest in the presence of the Lord?
What’s keeping you from stepping out and doing this for yourself? We make so many excuses, but we always have a choice.
How are you choosing to spend your time?
We are better mothers when we take the time to do things that help drawl out our core passions. When we take time to pull away and become refreshed.
Be intentional, carve out some time. Even just for an hour or a half of day. Use the time wisely, use it to refuel yourself. Forget about others might say or think you should do.
Pursue what blesses you!
For now, I’m back to the Panera Bread customer counter.
Hopefully, that dark-haired lady will rewarm my soup!