Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An empty house, but a full heart

Psalm 146:10 (NIV)

The Lord reigns forever,
   your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.
The house is empty tonight. It’s not entirely quiet, as there’s a load of blue jeans in the dryer, but compared to the usual ruckus at this address, it might as well be the surface of Mars. Kristie and the boys are visiting her parents for a few days, so I’m trying to be productive. As I was driving home from work, I realized this would be one of those nights I might not speak a word until getting back to work in the morning, as it’s often easier to communicate with Kristie via online chatting or email instead of phone calls. But then someone called to do a phone survey about the state lottery, and I patiently answered every question.

Usually when I’m home alone for a few days, I try as soon as possible to pick up the house as best as possible, because I know then it will stay clean for a few days. Last night I shirked on that responsibility a bit in favor of watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, a decision for which I have zero regrets. But when I walked in the door tonight, I promptly got to work. There’s something nice about running the vacuum under the table and knowing I won’t step on a Cheerio as soon as the next morning.

When I do these home alone power cleaning sessions, though, I do have a tinge of sentiment. I’m not trying to erase evidence of the kids, and I don’t just jam the spare toys in any available corner. I know well the day will come (and it will seem too soon) when there won’t be 24- and 48-piece puzzles scattered about the main floor, when there won’t be stray Goldfish crackers underfoot, when I will load the dishwasher and not a single item will feature the picture of a cartoon character.

Of course, we’re prolonging that day with a new baby on the way. Yet it remains inevitable. And certainly there are many other changes in store. Eventually I will read my last bedtime story, wash and fold my last shirt than snaps in the crotch, see a thunderstorm approaching at night and not worry about which boy will wake me up in fear. All these things that define my life will eventually be replaced by other stuff. It won’t be any more or less important, just different. And yet I am pretty convinced that no matter what, even when they don’t live under this room, my mind will still swirl around the needs of my kids.

My house is quiet tonight. (The dryer stopped but now the air conditioner is running. A tradeoff. Last night I went to sleep listening to Vin Scully broadcast a Dodgers-Giants game, which was a remarkable pleasure.) If we don’t have bad storms again, I should get as good a night’s sleep as I’ve had in ages, though usually I can’t get fully rested when I’m not with the ones I love most. Such is the life of a dad, or this dad at least. If I prayed nothing else every day, “Thank you for my wife and kids” would still be on my lips each morning.

God is great. Life is good. Not always easy or fun, but very, very good. I would like for everyone to have so many blessings they lose track, and for everyone to remember the source of all those blessings. To God alone be the glory.

A prayer for June 25:

Lord, thank you for my wife and kids. If I have nothing else in this world, I will have them to love, and I will never forget what a blessing, honor and responsibility it is to be their husband and father. Thank you for trusting me to care for them, and for the way they enrich my life. May we always be able to feel as close as a family as we are now when everyone is together nearly all the time. I am so grateful for the happy noise that fills my life, and I owe it all to you. Thank you. Amen.

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