Meet me at the table

“I’m ready to go home and back to school where we don’t see each other 24/7 but only at dinner.” 

This is what my 12 year old daughter said to me about 5 days into our Orlando trip.  Who can blame her?  We had been to Disney World (Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios).  We had also been to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and Aquatica and Wet and Wild.  This was the whirlwind tour of Orlando led by my husband who had a plan to get us on every thrill ride within 30 miles.  We were exhausted. 

Her statement made me chuckle…isn’t that the truth of relationships?  I love you but 24/7 is a little much.  This is why many happy marriages thrive because of separate his and her bathrooms.  This is why we redid our basement.  We wanted the kids to have a place to go so we could be alone upstairs.  Yes, we love them but too much togetherness can often just be too much. 

I did love that she recognized we see each other at dinner.  I have tried to make dinner time family time in our house.  I don’t always succeed but most nights, we have dinner together.  It may be hot dogs or macaroni and cheese but we are together.  The fact that she acknowledged dinner time as together time says many things to me as a mom…she relies on that time, she appreciates that time, she knows that whatever else is going on, she can count on dinner with the family. 

All of this makes me think of our relationship with Jesus.  Often, we are too busy or too tired to be with Jesus 24/7.  We find it difficult to constantly be in a state of prayer or thanksgiving.  We can’t read the Bible all the time.  Our faith is important to us but as my husband put it not so lightly, “It can’t be JC 24/7!”  We find pious people who constantly talk about their faith tiresome and judgmental.  We want to have some fun!

My daughter knows that she can have access to her family when she wants us or needs us.  We will always be there for her.  As her parents, my husband and I see this as a blessing.  She can go out into the world to experience life and she will always have a home, a place to feel safe and regroup and know love.  Our heavenly Father must want us to know this too, we are never alone… Jesus is waiting for us at the table.

Memories

It is summer vacation and this means more family time and possibly some family vacations! Family vacations can be great but they do not always meet our expectations. 

We go into it like this…We want to make memories!  It’s a once in a lifetime chance!  We need to get pictures!  You better behave! I said SMILE!

I can’t tell you how many kids I saw crying at Disney World (Including my own!).  My girls and I started making up words to “When you wish upon a star” that weren’t very nice…more about dreams never coming true.  It was funny at the time but also a little stressful. 

My husband’s friend gave him this advice about Disney World, “just get out your wallet, take a bunch of pictures, and in 10 years, it will all make sense.”  (The wallet part is so true!)

Often, we try to create the big moments for our kids.  The Disney moments…the birthday parties… the Christmas morning magic.  All of these things do create memories but truly the most amazing memories are usually in the quieter times.  I remember going to Disney as a kid, but I mostly remember the car ride. 

My favorite memories are in my back yard, swinging on my stomach on my swing or jumping on the trampoline.  I loved it when my mom read me all the Judy Blume books.  I liked “tooling around” in the car with my dad.  I loved it when my brother lifted me up to make a basket in the hoop in our driveway.

We get so frustrated trying to get that perfect picture of everyone together.  We have a classic “family portrait” from my childhood where my one brother is making a face, my other brother is laughing, you can tell my dad is saying something under his breath, and my mom does NOT look happy! It’s like the Santa pictures where the kids are crying.  They are so great because they show what happens when you try to force the fun and togetherness!

My favorite pictures from growing up are the ones that aren’t perfect.  We aren’t in matching outfits on a beach somewhere.  We are in our home or our yard, laughing, living…often, you can see a mess in the background and our hair doesn’t look perfect but we’re happy, CONTENT. 

Over spring break, we were on a ride at Disney World that had a fake beach and my daughter said, “I wish we were at the real beach, not on a ride with a fake beach.” (Out of the mouth of babes, huh?)

We can’t manufacture fun and we can’t make our kids have fun no matter where we are.  We can love them and laugh with them and enjoy them whether we are on the road or at home…then we can let them decide which pictures they like best.

Practice

Okay…that was tough. 

Just being still long enough to listen to “Let it Be” was a challenge.  Is this what you are thinking?  Come on…you were multi-tasking while listening weren’t you?

Stillness is difficult because we are socialized to accomplish, to earn…earn money, earn respect, earn “our place in the world”.  Isn’t this what we think?  But just by being here, we have a place in the world.  We exist. Our life is a gift.  

Now don’t get me wrong, we still need to LIVE.  We cannot just sit around and listen to the Beatles all day.  Although I think some of us tried that in college…

You know how people say they are trying to be centered?  I like that image because in the center of us is our heart, not our mind.  Our soul, the good stuff, is in our center.  When we find our center, we find our TRUE selves.  I love the quote that says, “We are not human beings trying to be spiritual, we are spiritual beings trying to be human”.  Your true ESSENCE is your spiritual self, your soul. 

Throughout the ages, different races, religions and cultures have been challenged to find a way to stillness.  Of course, this is an individual practice…our world is busy and definitely not still.  The fun and exciting part is trying to be in this world but not OF this world. 

Now you are thinking, okay that’s great yada, yada, but how do I get centered?  This is also an individual thing.  Some people use prayer, some use yoga, some use walking the dog.  Some people literally remove themselves from the world…take a sabbatical.  For me, yoga has been the tool to awaken me and along with prayer, they sustain me.  It’s a constant battle but I now feel I have the tools to “return to my center” if I feel too worldly.  I love that we say we PRACTICE yoga and we also practice our faith.  I’m so glad I don’t need to be an expert but I can still practice. 

One time I was in a group of people complaining about all the things that were wrong with their church and I heard someone say, “We should be glad our church isn’t perfect.  If it was, they wouldn’t let all of us in!”  We are all just practicing…try “Let it Be” again, maybe it will get easier.  (You might want to step away from the laundry and the dishes and the email first.)

Ommmmm…..