Thursday, May 30, 2013

Advice for a day — or a lifetime

Deuteronomy 4:39-40 (NIV)

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.
Tomorrow is the last day of third grade. Jack thinks he still has class on Monday, but I don’t have any supporting evidence. I suppose we’ll find out definitively based on how much stuff he brings home tomorrow. We know for sure preschool is over for Max since he hasn’t had to go for the last two weeks. I would love Charlie to graduate form the toilet training academy, but he’s opted for a deferred enrollment. Baby comes in October, champ. I only change one kid’s diapers at a time.

As usual, the end of the school year signals a sea of change in our family dynamic. There’s less urgency before bedtime and no rushing out the door in the morning (both of which make it even harder to get to church on time each Sunday). The grocery bills go up as we have a third grazer on the premises at all times, and more hours spent playing outdoors don’t cut back on the eating — they just leave a bag of Goldfish on the driveway and get a dirty handful whenever the mood strikes.

Our changes, though, are not incredibly significant. Despite starting at a new building, fourth grade won’t be all that much different from third. Kindergarten will be new for Max but old hat for the family. And that new baby in October? A change to be sure, but it’s several months away. And it’s not like we’ve never lived with a new baby in the house.

Still, the end of school and start of summer forces me to confront the reality of my kids growing up, slowly but surely. Sometimes it still staggers me to realize Max is now older than Jack was when we first moved here four years ago. Nearly every day Charlie wears an outfit I closely associate with one of his older brothers. Time marches on. This truth is neither surprising nor overwhelming, but it was heavy on my mind when I read these verses from Deuteronomy.

The command at first seemed to me like the sort of thing that might be good to tell someone who is embarking on a new phase of life — perhaps written by hand on a nice piece of stationery to kept at the ready for when the going gets tough and the tough needs a bit of help to get going. It may well serve that purpose one day for me as it relates to my kids, though in the time I’ve been working on this project I’ve come up with several good examples such that it will be a challenge to pick a favorite.

But as I read them over and again, I realize these verses fit neatly into another collection that’s been picking up steam over the last 13 or so months: nuggets I really ought to read and reflect on regularly — weekly, perhaps, if not more frequently. All I really want in this world is for life to go well with me and for my children. It appears that’s what God wants for us as well. For everyone, really. It shouldn’t be so hard to get along with one another, life shouldn’t be filled with as much stress as we’ve put upon ourselves as a culture.

But it is hard. Life is filled with stress. My hope is in the Lord and nowhere else. So far, that’s been more than enough to get by.

A prayer for May 30:

Lord, I acknowledge you this day and every day as my creator, my redeemer, my hope and my strength. You alone can give me a peace that defies logic. Only you can forgive my sins, which are many. I can do my best to obey your decrees and commands, but I will always need your love to carry me all the way back to you, where I truly belong. Please don’t ever let me go. Amen.

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