Yesterday morning was a typical morning spent checking the grocery shopping chore off my to-do list, for me though the chore is a little thrilling, and almost wrong. This is because for the past few years Joel has refused to let me grocery shop. A house rule created by the fact that when I grocery shop I easily spend fifty (or more) dollars past our budgeted amount. Add a few trips like that into a single month, then over an entire year – our budget would be spiraling out of control. I am picturing a plane nose-diving for earth, smoke filling the air behind it, with absolutely no survivors in the crash landing. Out of family preservation I, Amy-Lynn have been banned from entering the grocery store.
I am not sure Joel thought far enough in advance to see that by making the rule at the time he was setting me up for a future gift. Now, when I am given the opportunity to grocery shop, I am excited about it. I find actual joy when my choice toilet paper is on sale for $3.97 – I can sneak two packages in the cart because I know that is a good price. As I walk the aisles, I am mindful to look for great deals and keep in thought of the budget that has been entrusted to me. Without Joel stepping in to tell me I was out of control, I would have continued on the no thought shopping train, and financially we would be way over our heads.
Thursday afternoon I sat in front of my computer trying to think up something noble to share in light of Sam and Ben’s second birthday. Perhaps pictures of them over the past year, or words for them to reflect on when they are grown? When I came up dry, I thought ” Amy-Lynn snap out of it, take the time to bake them a cake, throw up decorations and spend energy applying what you feel in your heart to physical acts of love for them to enjoy today!” Yes writing is a great expression of love and thought, but to two year old kids a sugar filled cake, and balloons hanging from the ceiling is perhaps a little more speaking their love language. I needed to step back from my own desires, be present in preparation for their birthday, and show love in the act of serving them.
I found a recipe on Pinterest for a “Simple Vanilla Cake.” I knew there was without a doubt no way I could pull off a cake looking like the one pictured (patience in cake making has never been a strong quality of mine, I am more a box mix type girl) but the recipe seemed sound, and I had all the ingredients. As the butter whipped around the bowl of my electric mixer I realized I had just made a conscious choice to unplug, and plug into my real life. I made the choice to be present in the moment that was unfolding, I was going to take part in my real life!
This may seem hilarious to you. Well duh?! You live your life every day, you are doing it now. Yes that is true, but the question is – Do we live our lives with purpose and determination to be actual participants in it? Most of the time I would say I am not, I am thinking about what I have to do next, what to have for dinner, how much longer it is until bedtime, how many more days until Friday? Everything and anything goes around and around in my mind like a fast flipping billboard. I am often checked out of pleasure that is possible when fulfilling my calling as a mom.
Responsibilities like grocery shopping become boring and too much work. A few years ago I disregarded our limited budget, never took a list, and threw care into the wind. My irresponsibility and carelessness caused our family stress when a few days before pay day we needed milk or bread. Now I take the time to be mindful and present as I fill my cart, as a result stress over bread and milk has subsided.
Life is a gift each moment a piece of the whole puzzle, from the ordinary everyday to the extraordinary one time amazing. Looking back and knowing I was fully present when my boys turned two is a gift I gave to myself as much as it was to my boys. Not the easiest thing to be as a mom in today’s fast paced, share everything world. But being a present participant of our lives is worth the fight – I am sure of it. Presence is an important tool as a mom, and a crucial part of living life for God and His purpose. When we are in the moment, small prompts and quiet heart tugs are easily heard. We can show His love to others when we are open to hearing His purpose for the time here on earth. Thursday afternoon His purpose for me was baking a cake with love!
Speaking of the cake, there were crumbs all through the icing, I attempted to write “Happy Birthday” with green icing, took one look then swirled the scribbled mess into the top. I cut a picture from a party hat left over from Annaliese’s first birthday (wasn’t downsizing part of my personal vision?) and placed that on top. Sam and Ben were happy, the cake was delicious and we had a good time. As for me I have a sweet memory tucked into the corner of my heart, filled with an act of service and the sweet sound of singing Happy Birthday twice to two sweet boys with candles stuck in a home-made cake.