Saturday, April 27, 2013

The simple gift of a free Saturday

Psalm 92:4-5 (NIV)

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
   I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
   how profound your thoughts!
Spring has most definitely sprung in our neck of the woods. I know this because the deer have eaten our tulip buds, I can’t put my car in the garage at the end of the day unless I put away all the bikes first and the bounce house has been inflated in the front yard for at least nine hours today. At the moment it’s ten after seven, Kristie has gone to meet some friends for dinner and I just fed the boys by putting three bowls of corn dog nuggets out on the front stoop.

I also spent a good deal of time this morning cleaning out the minivan, I’ve done a bit of laundry and some dishes and found time for a four-mile run while Charlie was taking his nap. I watched the end of the Bulls game (all three overtime periods) and am just about as happy to be alive as would seem humanly possible.

Last night we got together with our small group on a Friday night for the first time since before Lent. Not everyone could make it, but most of us were there — and most of us brought our kids. Watching the boys pile out of the van and sprint off toward the other kids already playing in the back yard, being amazed at just how long the sun was giving them enough light to let their imaginations run wild and then getting to reconnect with some of the most important people in my life was the perfect start to a weekend made delightful by just how little is written on the family calendar.

Sure, our neighbors might think it’s weird to see a five-year-old running laps around the cul-de-sac in his Mario costume. They might wonder why the third-grader needs a dry erase board to enjoy a bounce house. And they may start to presume we’ll be relying on our inflatable babysitter for the duration of the summer. But none of that matters on a sunny day (high of 62, which should not be remarkable for late April) with nothing to do.

Both Jack and Max asked if we were supposed to do something today. They were surprised to find absolutely nothing on the agenda. And while each has spent a little time inside staring at a screen, and I’m certain there were one or two sibling dust-ups, it’s been mostly bliss. A true gift. I consider God the giver of all good things, and especially so when nature (read: going outside without a jacket) has such a prominent role in my positivity.

It’s a time for happiness. The challenges have not gone away or even faded from view. As we shared around the table at our group gathering Friday night, each family discussed encountering significant difficulties. But that does not prevent us from embracing joy in togetherness, finding comfort in simple pleasures and rejoicing in God’s grace. Each day is a gift, and sometimes the simple gifts are the most cherished.

A prayer for April 27:

Lord, thank you for sunny skies, warm temperatures and a day with nothing to do but enjoy being alive. Thank you for the laughter of children, the bonds of Christian friendship and the chance to experience them so regularly. Though I realize much of life is an uphill climb with many toils and snares, I am thankful for all of the days I get to spend here. The happy days, the sad days, the so-so days — each are a gift from you, and I hope my life reflects gratitude for everything you have bestowed on me and my family. Amen.

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