Thursday, July 24, 2014

loving well

We have had a bit of a funky summer. Maybe I am just getting older, or maybe an extra dose of LIFE is happening all around. Either way, this summer has not been the light-hearted season I had planned. It has instead been colored by a kind of heaviness and melancholy that comes from witnessing the imperfection of humankind and the simple passing of time. There have been friends walking through difficult circumstances, loved ones growing older, children who need a new kind of parenting less about need-based provision and more about understanding choices that are right and wrong. There have been health issues and deep theological discussions, the answers to which may only be found in heaven itself. There have been confrontations with life and death and the space in between.

So when an ankle injury resurfaced from almost 20 years ago, knocking me off my feet, and my husband severely strained a muscle temporarily incapacitating him, it seemed almost comical. There is no one left to take care of us, both hobbling around like old people. (I admit I initially had little to no compassion for my husband's injury when it prevented him from taking care of me... then his pain-induced nausea turned him a sallow shade of pasty green and I decided it was the real thing.)

However debilitating these physical injuries are, they are nothing compared to some of the spiritual darkness we have witnessed over the past few months. I would choose our physical dilemmas any day over some of the other struggles in the lives of those we love. Contemplating all of it leaves me with a sifted down, simplified view of the complex life I am living. At the end of it all, whether my end comes fifty years from now or some time this week, I want to know one thing: I want to know that I have loved well.

Have I loved well in the harried moments of my day? Have I loved well in selfishly stolen quiet times? Have I loved well during the bedtime ritual when little eyes and ears want just one more story, just one more song, and just one more moment with me? Have I loved well on the telephone when conversations drew tears on the other end, through the chaos of needy little ones on my end? Have I loved well in the grocery store though I feel rushed to make it out before the meltdowns begin, when a gentle old soul with all the time in the world stops to admire my children? Have I loved well or allowed resentment to rob my joy because of a worldly understanding of justice? Have I loved well by noticing others, by remembering important details, by listening, by praying, by pausing, by encouraging, by serving, by sharing, by being present?

That is all that really matters. Loving well.

The realization has made this summer feel more inward and less outward. There has been more time with family and less time on the computer. This is as it should be. In the midst of the heaviness, here is a photo summary of some ways we are trying to love well this summer...

We spent some cherished time with my grandmother, visiting from Texas. What a blessing for my children to spend time with this Godly woman, building a relationship with their Great-Grandma!

My littlest love is requiring lots of attention these days, now crawling and standing wherever he gets a chance. He is one of the better reasons I haven't found much time to sit at the computer...

And two other little people I am trying to love well. Some days are easier than others. But the benefits include lots of trips to the pool and the beach.

Loving family and friends on the Fourth of July.

At some point this summer I let my girls watched Disney's The Little Mermaid for the first time. We made sure to fast-forward through some of the scary parts to protect young and active imaginations. The girls were enamored and we have been living in an underwater kingdom ever since. The day after their viewing Annike told me, "Sommer can be Ariel, and I will be Flounder her fish friend. Karsten can be Sebastian (the crab) and Papa can be Prince Erik.  Momma you... you can be the Evil Sea Witch!"

Gee thanks. Looks like I have quite a bit more work to do in the "loving well" department...