It was the first week of summer. The boys were attending a day camp at church. I thought it was a good idea, since being down 2 kids, to schedule a bunch of errands and doctor’s appointments for the week. So, my girls and I had a busy week of running which included taking the boys to camp, doing our errands, and picking them up. (Honestly this wasn’t the best idea…)
Anyways- One evening that week, my husband asked if the kids and I would like to go pick up our camper out in the country. So, I agreed. On the drive out there, several of our kids feel asleep. But once we stopped, they were all wide-awake.
Out of the van all the kids went. Then the first kid sees it- a firefly! The second kid sees it- a lightning bug. (We live in the mid-west… firefly and lightning bug are used interchangeably.) All five kids spent almost an hour chasing and catching lightning bugs/fireflies.
It was fun to watch while I pretended like I was helping my husband.
When we got home the kids went straight to bed.
The next morning, we got going perfectly fine. Though we got home late the night before, we were off without any issues. On the drive to camp, my boys said, “Mom you forgot to ask us what our best part of the day was yesterday.” (When I tuck them in at night I ask them if they had a good day and what their best part was.)
“Ok honey, what was your best part?” I asked assuming it would be something from camp- the rock wall, zipline, games, something…
“The fireflies!” he exclaimed.
“Yes, catching the fireflies,” my other son agreed.
All these activities… With all the fun things they did that day, their favorite thing was the unplanned time catching fireflies. That really put things in perspective for me.
Don’t get me wrong, they had a blast at camp! They enjoy the planned activities, but this moment was quite humbling. All these things I feel like I have to do for my kids but is it really necessary?
We can plan our kids entire summer. We can have activities planned for every day of the week and weekends. But it really is the simple things that matter. Let the kids just be kids.
Seriously, I struggle with this. Growing up my life was constantly on the go. This sport, that sport, this activity, that activity, go to this friend’s house, now over here… If I was eligible for an activity, I participated. Honestly, it was go-go-go-go. And once we got home, it was go-eat, go- do homework, go- watch TV, go, go, go… I didn’t stop until my head hit the pillow.
So, the very first time I had the opportunity to sign my child up for an “age” appropriate activity, I was all over it. My husband, on the other hand, was like why? Does he want to do it? Is he really going to benefit from it? Why don’t we wait until he expresses interest in the activity?
I reluctantly agreed. But the urge to busy my schedule with activities for the kids did not just go away. And as we started homeschooling, I felt this extreme pressure do everything… I mean I have to socialize my kids… right?!? I even tried many of the non-age appropriate activities.
I quickly realize I wasn’t doing this for my kids. I was doing it for me. I was keeping myself busy and using them as the excuse.
Letting go of the “on-the-go” was a huge step in my faith walk. Learning to manage the schedule and keep the peaceful life-style is not easy. I honestly have to do a lot more thinking, evaluating, and communicating than I ever thought would be needed. But it’s worth it.
Here’s what I have learned: Communication is a 2-way street. If I am constantly talking or busying my schedule, it is much more difficult to hear from God. The first time I recognized God speaking to my heart I heard, “Be still.” This is a message I heard continually for almost 2 years straight.
God, I’m not sure what to do? Be still. God, I am mad right now. Be still. God, I feel like I need to act right now. Be still.
As I have allowed myself to be stilled, I have found so many benefits. I’ve been gently shown that there are some things that are more important than a full schedule- Time. Family time. Quality time. Time to relax. Time to enjoy nature. Time to draw and color. Time to be yourself. Most importantly, Time with God. Uninterrupted time that I spend with God, with no agenda other than to be in His presence. Sometimes the kids do not need a schedule, they need time.
In letting go of a full schedule, I was able to open my heart to quiet. Something I was very uncomfortable and unfamiliar with. But it’s in these quiet moments- it’s in these unrushed times I seem to experience the fullness of God’s beauty and creation. It’s in these times that I can say I experience His peace.
Have you ever been in prayer over something and felt like God wasn’t listening? Have you ever just needed His reassurance in that moment and questioned if He was really there? I have been there too. Remember that often times we go before God and do all the talking, but we have not been still and quiet at all, let alone long enough to be able to hear a response or feel His presence. Like I said before, communication goes both ways. If you are not hearing from God, maybe it’s because your talking to much. Try to be still and look for God everywhere you are, you will likely begin to notice Him all around in your life.
Give yourself the time to experience the fullness of life. Give yourself unplanned, unrushed moments. Quiet down. Listen to God. Experience His creation. Rest in His presence. Recognize His blessings upon you.
Read. Play. Relax. Enjoy our family. Say no to the busy and yes to meaningful.
Make plans, enjoy your life. But don’t let your plans run you.
GO ENJOY THE FIREFLIES!