The football rolled haphazardly, landing at my feet.
Meaning to go back into the house after bringing the boys their hats, I stopped instead and picked up the football.
Me, who rarely ever plays. I drew back my arm, smiled at my Paul, and tossed it to him.
Oh, I wish you could have seen his face! I made his day. His serious but loving Momma, who always seemed to have things to do, took the time to toss him a football in the yard.
What followed filled me up. And them. Immensely. We played football, then baseball, for an hour together. Including Miss Beth, who I carried, running and giggling, around the bases to home plate, after she hit the ball off the tee.
As I played with my children, offering them my time and my giggles, my heart melted. My body destressed. My mind cleared.
Why don't I do this everyday? Of course this is what I should be doing! I'm a stay-at-home mom. The dream of a lifetime. This is why people stay home! Not to do laundry and dishes--although doing them blesses a family too.
The next day I read this post about the pairing of wisdom and play. It spoke to me. Hadn't I lived it just the day before? Laura's words, always so beautiful, captured it perfectly. Wisdom and play are connected.
The intensity of our situation has changed me these last few weeks. My heart wants nothing but to savor what I have--what I have for now. There are no guarantees. Never mind that our mortgage is lower than the rent on a standard, three-bedroom home. Downscaling is the answer for many in our situation. But for us? Downscaling means homelessness. Even an apartment wouldn't be much less than what we're paying.
When mortgage payments are behind, you naturally think that every able-bodied person should get a job. Fast! Including the still-nursing Momma. But logistics--one car and other difficulties--make it impossible for both of us to work outside the home.
As I asked God what I should do to help, he made it clear.
Be a blessing at home. Really bless there. Take the family's pulse. Respond.
I've never quite thought of my role that way before.
Take the family's pulse.
Slowly, he filled me in about what that really means. Dwell close--really close--and know my family. Feel its pulse for signs of wellness or illness. Is there physical exhaustion at foot? Is there restlessness? Is it time for something creative? Something spiritual? Something physical? Something mental? Anticipate. How can we stay well? Focused on his Kingdom? Joyous?
A robot can feed, change, clean up. Sometimes, it feels like that's all I am. A bee-like robot. Buzzing around this room, that room. No time for feelings. Gotta keep moving. People are hungry, thirsty, in need of clean, dry, matching clothing. In need of some clutter-free, sticky-free, crumb-free space.
Robotics don't work. Efficiency doesn't work. The result? A family experiences stress, crankiness, emotional exhaustion.
I must still my body, resist its efficiency, and dwell with my family. Know them. Know their hearts, their dreams, their fears.
Play and laughter are a part of that. They must be. They're binding, healing, forgiving, nourishing.
Paul remarked at tuck-in time,
"You didn't have to do much work today. I really liked it. I had a great day, starting with our bike ride."
How did I miss this, all these months...years? Yes, I've known that children are most blessed by my time. But my mind wrangled with the play-resistance in me. I fought play. I thought I was too grown up. Or that I needed a few minutes alone instead.
Today, high heat and humidity returned, so no rigorous play after our morning walk. But I did dwell with my children, reading story after story in the playroom this afternoon. Giggling at Mrs. Pigglewiggle. Marveling at the Children's Almanac, which Paul discovered in our shelves. Cuddling, talking--as much as the jealous toddler allowed.
I don't know what tomorrow holds. We can only move forward on what seems like the right path--plowing through open doors. In the end, I want to know that I listened to Him. Really listened, and responded like a good and faithful servant. House or no house, my fulfillment will come from that.
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.