During these last weeks of summer, as we prepared for the unfolding of fall and the return of our empty nest, I heard these words repeatedly in my spirit.
Be Here Now.
One of my favorite things about summer gardening is watching the butterflies that are inevitably drawn to my flowers. I have spent many happy moments quietly stalking my fluttering friends as they happily visited the colorful blooms on a sunny afternoon. Enjoying these visitors requires only that I am willing to be still and notice. There is nothing to do while butterfly watching, I must be satisfied to just be.
Like my butterfly friends, the quickly passing moments with precious ones over the last few weeks have invited me to be still and notice…to slow down and pay attention. In contrast to my usual results oriented “what’s next” modus operandi, I instead often chose to honor the still, small voice whispering:
Don’t miss this…
This is the good stuff…
Be Here Now
Some things were left undone, not much writing happened, but in the past few weeks, I have gathered hundreds of moments that are already becoming precious memories. These moments left behind snapshots, both tangible and in my mind, of the people who fill my world with color and life and joy.
My mother in law, Norma Jean, came to visit for 2 weeks. Because of the health challenges she faces, we aren’t sure how many more times she will make this trip from Texas. Seeing her enjoying her granddaughters, meeting their boyfriends and bursting with pride while she toured her son’s office are scenes I continue to replay in my mind now that she is back home. Our moments drinking coffee each morning, while she relived the day before’s activities and told me how very blessed she is and how much she loves me, remind me of the legacy of love and gratefulness I have received from this woman who I have known since childhood.
My favorite moments with Norma Jean happened at The Lamb Center. My friends at The Lamb Center know all about radical, extravagant hospitality and welcomed her with joyful hugs and words of affirmation. I chose the topic of gratitude for the two bible studies she attended with me, explaining that much of what I knew about counting my blessings had been learned from the lady sitting beside me. We talked about why gratitude is good for us and why God thinks it is a big deal for us to say thank you to Him and to each other, even when life is hard. I marveled at the courage, vulnerability, laughter, pain and joy around the table as I listened to my homeless friends and my feisty, stubborn, beautiful, eternally optimistic second mother find reasons to be grateful in spite of the daunting circumstances they each faced. The very definition of brave, in my opinion.
Be here now.
After I returned Norma Jean to our family in Houston, I flew on to Austin for a whirlwind weekend with old friends and new friends. I attended a high school football game, ate Mexican food with 3 delightful almost grown kids who I have known since they were born and sat for hours discussing life with my best friend since the age of 12. I also met in person a group of wonderful ladies with whom I have been interacting online since March. It was somewhat surreal to hear their actual voices and see their profile picture come to life in front of me. As expected, they were friendly and funny and kind. Standing together, laughing together, sharing with one another while we stood in the backyard of the one who brought us all together is a memory I will treasure forever. Meeting Jen Hatmaker, my writing hero, was just the icing on the cake. Worshipping at the Hatmaker’s church on Sunday with my new Launch Team friends, my lifelong BFF and her friend (now my new friend) was a little taste of heaven. Her sermon made me weep with recognition, longing and conviction. All the big feelings. I remember standing there singing that morning, feeling an overwhelming sense of community and connection, and thinking I wanted to freeze that moment and keep it forever. A Holy Spirit moment in every way.
Be here now.
And my baby girls. Oh my goodness, my baby girls who are not remotely baby girls anymore. Now that they live somewhere else for much of the year, I find that the moments I get to grab with them when they are home are especially precious to me. Several times, one of them would plop down near me when I was in the middle of paying bills, writing, or answering emails and I would just close my computer and hold my breath as they shared a peek into their world before they darted off to the next thing. My snapshots of this summer with them include moments floating on the river with my oldest and running errands with my youngest. A trip to Chipotle with youngest and her boy and lunch in Annapolis with oldest and her boy. The sounds of their friends chattering away in my kitchen or a meal with just the four of us on the back porch on a warm summer evening. A quiet conversation in the car or on the back porch or sitting in the living room. All moments captured in my heart as they return to their other worlds and back to their other lives. I am reminded of the passing time as our oldest starts her senior year in college. This may very well have been the last summer we will all be together.
Be here now.
Although my sweet hubby is the one who remains behind after the trips are over and the visitors have returned home and the kids have left the nest, I am aware that our moments together also require my thoughtful presence and my careful attention. I have a friend who is watching her husband slip away, losing his battle with cancer. They are in their 40s. This was not their plan. Without becoming overly dramatic or maudlin, none of us are promised tomorrow. We just aren’t. We have THIS moment. THIS one moment.
Perhaps I should put down my phone, my day planner, my computer. Look up, look around, notice, cherish, pay attention.
Be Here Now.
Linking up today with Suzanne Eller in this week’s #LiveFreeThursday. This week’s topic is Living Guilt Free.