Wide expanses of sky, pasture, and vacant property have afforded us the gift of achingly beautiful sunsets on a regular basis. We've made a practice of looking to the west each afternoon and searching the sky for indicators of a spectacular finish to the day. In fact, we've entirely rearranged our furnishings lately, and I've the pleasure of sitting at the dining table with the faces of my family all around, and a window to the back deck, and I'm often the crier-"Look out the window-it's amazing!"
It is NOT typical for me to pay attention to the sunrise. Although, (much to my chagrin), I'm often awake, I'm too groggy or uncaring to observe the daylight creeping across the front yard and into the house.
A little person and a little Holy Spirit prompt brought me right awake today, however, and I had eyes to see and a heart ready to receive the beginning of another day.
My young daughters and I found ourselves drawn to the windows and we sang (as we often do):
Good morning, God.
This is your day,
I am your child,
Show me your way.
The simple pleasure and profound wonder of this morning's moments with the little ones brought an up swell of emotion to my heart and my sleepy brain tingled with the sense that my decision to focus on "the little things" as a means of directing my spiritual and personal growth this year is confirmed.
We are very good at tackling huge projects. In the face of mess, chaos, rubble, broken fences, unruly pastures, uber- busyness, and large family dynamics we appear almost to revel in the jumble of it all. It's an unlikely gift-we are are almost always optimistic and confident that we have the resources and abilities to accomplish all that we've taken on. It's not prideful, I assure you, even though we love to give you a "tour" of how the farm and the century old home is being restored. I think our desire to draw you in is to share the pleasure of it all.
Does it surprise you that we struggle to be good at the little things? And, what to you may seem obvious is not so clear to us. For example:
- Many times I've come downstairs at the start of the day, older sons and husband already off to work, and the back door gaping wide open.
- Chicken chores are complete...except, we turned off all the barn lights, filled the waterer and feeder, but oops-spreading their scratch grain in the bedding of the large coop-totally forgot.
- One of the children takes a lovely long bath, and leaves the bathroom straightened up-except for the tubful of grimy water I find growing still and cold.
Please, please, please don't read the small list above as a tally of complaints. And, although each one of the bullet points is a real and recurring example, they're just to make a (helpful) point.
In this wonderful, wild, ongoing adventure we have much to learn.
Don't we all?
I mean, really, you could probably make your quick list of the things you and your family struggle to be good at as well.
And, in the larger scheme of happiness, productivity, and faithful living not any one or combination of my examples are grounds for griping, and in my case concern. It's just part of the whole picture here, and perhaps someday I'll be able to write about some of the underlying causes, but for now I want to move to why I want to make 2012 a year of "the little things".
For some of you, my list makes you gasp, and perhaps think, "I would never be able to handle that!". And, true, each of my examples might be altogether irritating, irresponsible, and even thoughtless. But, in the big picture of things (which involves a fragile life and all of our days being numbered), at least in my book, these are little offenses.
But, I am presently very mindful of scripture's counsel regarding "the little things". God has made it clear that there is not one part of this world or our days that escape His attention, and His eyes rove about the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him, (I Chronicles 16:9). It’s not a stretch to find instruction in God’s word that points us to “the little things”.
When Faithful God looks upon me, upon our family, He does indeed see that we do the big things well. Praise Him for equipping us to do so! But, He see the gaps too-not just the obvious ones, like the back door swinging open in the early light.
He sees the gaps in my heart. He knows when I've covered over the "little things" with my big accomplishments or lofty plans, and most ashamedly, my sin.
Things like a meek and quiet spirit. Things like giving generously and caring for the least among us. Things like bringing justice to a job and due diligence to planning. Things like true humility and patience. Things like finishing what we've started or putting in a full day of home education.
I've observed in this new to me blogging world, many Christ followers who use the new year to evaluate and then give direction to what is to come by choosing an identifying word or words to give shape to growth and effort. And although it doesn't seem like a natural move to me, (expressly because of my faults in the little things department and difficulty with follow through), I am throwing myself in the ring.
"Little Things" have been on my mind for several weeks and what I'm beginning to understand is that many of them are the mysterious beginnings of the really big things:
- Three days in a row of solid food for my dad
- Chemotherapy loosening its stronghold enough for 10 turns walking around hospital corridors
- Real whipped cream on jello
- Pre school joy in how cream turns to a frothy delight when you add air
- A simple touch, first born son reaches his arm down the pew, and gives my shoulder a squeeze-I love you, Mom
- A fresh peppermint, moistening my oh so dry mouth, allowing for more singing
- Water in a pink cup, quietly placed on the pew near where I stand
- A tiny craft pom-pom keeps the kitty busy and we gather round and laugh together at the show
- Weekend Farmer Husband drawing me close, and our final words of the day a prayer
- Fresh buttery popcorn
- Eating like kings from the harvest preserved
- Two succulent flavorful roasts, (and this my friends, is actually a HUGE thing, as up to this point I've been unable to cook a roast properly)
- Spontaneous community with friends and neighbors
- Celebration of God's sovereignty in the life of a little one who never saw her mommy or daddy's face, but whose tiny life is having a big impact
- Sunbeams dancing through the window welcoming me to morning
- Projects getting finished and pockets of our home and farm coming to order
- First week of home education following Advent and Christmas productive and pleasurable
- Games, legos, puzzles, drawing, books, crochet and busy hands
I'm starting to see through this door of naming a year-it's open just a crack. All these little things- they add up don't they? Lord, may it be so that in chasing after the little things you would find me faithful. Ah- the contentment of serving You well-may 2012 mark that path.