The Gotta-Do’s and the Good-to-Do’s

Sometimes the grind really grinds you down.

All the Gotta-do’s get mixed up with the Good-to-do’s, and it all gets out of whack.

Gotta do dishes.  Gotta do laundry.  Gotta do e-mails and texts and fb messages.  Gotta put the dollies in the dolly box, crayons in the colouring bin and random socks in the sock basket.  Gotta get to the lawn and water the garden. Gotta fill the van with gas, gotta take the garbage out, gotta get the shower sparkling, gotta, gotta, gotta.

Gotta-to-do can really take its toll.

But the Good-to-do’s are life-giving.

Good to stand beside a bright 7 year old who is determined to make her dad’s morning coffee just right with as little help as possible. Good to stop and listen to the chatter of a funny 5 year old who is constantly informing me about all of the things she is thinking and learning. Good to read “The Sneetches” to a beautiful curious 3 year old snuggled up beside me in the most deliciously comfortable way. Good to play on the floor with a sweet 10 month old flashing his irresistible toothy grin at every turn. Good to stop my dinner prep to kiss my dusty husband when he walks in the door from a long day at work.

Good to praise the Lord and forget not all His benefits, every moment of the day.

Like the heavy scent of springtime lilacs, they are that fragrant breath of fresh air you need but forget to take or REFUSE to take because the Gotta-do’s are in the way.

Loosen the grip on the Gotta-do’s and grab the hand of those Good-to-do’s – that’s the goal this week!

lilacs in spring

So fragrant!

And then, Spring

It’s the strangest, most wonderful, yet most ordinary thing.

A couple of weeks ago, all the trees in our neighbourhood were bare twigs reaching up to the bright blue sky, sunlight streaming through, casting their thin shadows on the ground.

Then, one day last week we were going about our daily routine when suddenly one of the kids noticed a hint of green on some of those very same trees.

“Mama! Look! The leaves are coming!” she shouted with glee.

So they were. And then I remembered that after winter comes spring, every single year, no matter how long and cold it is. This year’s winter felt like it would never end, but here we are – bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, trees are bursting with leaves. The sun has warmed the earth, waking what was asleep and breathing new life into what was dead.

There’s just so much in that, isn’t there? We all have places in our lives that appear to be long gone, where the cold rushed in and left an icy stillness in its wake. Sometimes those areas sit in frigid silence for what feels like forever.

But then, the air shifts, the season changes and we begin to feel the gradual, steady warmth of the Holy Spirit stirring in us, breathing new life into our hearts, astounding us with the beauty of growth and newfound strength.

Isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful? We’re resting in Him as He does something new in our hearts today.

rose bush

My rose bush coming alive again.

Dandelion Bouquets

The dandelions are popping up everywhere.

That’s how I know it’s almost Mother’s Day.

As a little girl, I wandered the yard and picked the biggest, brightest ones. I bunched up as many as I could curl my small fingers around and carefully carried them inside, leaving a trail of yellow bits behind me.

“Here Mom! Happy Mother’s Day,” I’d say. As soon as she saw the bouquet in my hands, her eyes lit up, face filled with joy, and she’d kiss my cheek and say, “Thank you, my sweet petunia.”

Then she’d take them and set them in the clear, short-stemmed, pressed glass water goblet on the middle of the table, as if they were a dozen long stem roses.

There they would stay, on that brown table in our tiny kitchen with the matching turquoise appliances, Mother’s Day evening sun streaming in the small west window, until they wilted.

And in the springtime of my teens, right in the middle of that long brown table in the farm kitchen with the strawberry plant wallpaper and brown paneling, Mother’s Day morning sunshine streaming in that east window above the sink, until they wilted.

Year after year, I picked dandelions for my mom. And year after year, they went on display, filling my little heart with joy and pride.

Our dandelions appeared this week, and they don’t stand a chance of going to seed because as soon as my own girls see one, it gets picked… just for me.

The tradition continues.

Without fail, they bloom in three generations of hearts, as a sweet shared memory of the most beautiful Mother’s Day bouquet of all.

I love you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

dandelions for ma

Dandelion bouquets

Taking Notice

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have my own plan for the day and wasn’t bothered in the least by the interruptions that upset my trajectory.

Then I got married and had four kids. And in His grace, the Lord is teaching me day by day about something called “the ministry of availability”.

My attempts to put this into practice have lengthened my writing process significantly today, as in between sentences I am turning to look at my 5 year old who is explaining in great detail the Lego characters she is creating. I’ve paused to read a book, change a diaper and snuggle, make lunch and help my 3 year old sort out her big emotions.

Sometimes throughout the course of the day we have what we would call interruptions and it gets frustrating, especially if you’re goal-oriented.

What if, though, instead of steaming silently that our plan has been tossed aside momentarily, we take a deep breath and shift our thinking? I saw this quote earlier this week and it struck a chord deep within:

“We all ache for someone to see us when we feel invisible.” – Lisa Harper

Yes, we certainly do. In fact, I remember feeling invisible just yesterday and my own heart was the one aching to be seen.

If somebody is bumping into you today a little bit too much for your liking, maybe it’s an opportunity to really see them and take notice of what’s going on. Instead of brushing them away, draw them close. Get interested in what they’re doing. Ask some questions, and just watch what God will do.

The ministry of availability is a choice.

Let’s be the one who chooses to take notice of someone else today. Our “interruptions” are really just opportunities to truly see the person God has placed in our path.

coloring heart

Beautiful heart