Monday, September 8, 2014

Enjoying Today.

"Noooo!" I hear my son shriek from behind me, in chorus with a tersely uttered "These are MINE!" from his older sister.

I turn to the scene of two toddlers frantically grabbing handfuls of the two dozen animal cookies that I've set out on the counter for them to share. These two are stuffing penguins and bunnies into their cheeks as fast (or faster) than they can chew, just to spite each other; obviously more concerned with keeping the food to themselves than with actually eating the snack. 



After some frustrated mommy coaching about sharing, I remind them that it's important to slow down while eating since they won't be able to enjoy their cookies while being worried about getting the next bite. The kids eyeball me in their usual "Sure... ok Mom" fashion. I give them each two more cookies and they scamper off to harass their dad for a reading of one of their favorite books. 



Five minutes later finds them cuddled on each side of my husband on the couch reading "We're Going On A Bear Hunt". I peek around the corner from the kitchen and can't help but grin at the sweet little story huddle that's happening in my front room. We have been reading that same book for two years running and they love it every time. Looking at my kids sitting together I am suddenly imagining them as 5 & 4 years old instead of 2 & 1. Will they still love to cuddle with their favorite book, or will this moment be one of those that finds itself extinct and faded into history before we as parents realize what has happened?

For a few minutes my thoughts run this rabbit trail, as they often do, until I suddenly realize something. That little lecture I just gave my kids about enjoying their snack has an application for me as well. I may not have an issue with enjoying my cookies, but enjoying my life in the moment without worrying about what's coming next is another story. 

It is tough to be satisfied with where you are in life. I know that I often find myself caught up in what I don't have or dreaming about the future life I'd love to be living (take one look at my Pinterest account and you'll know it's true). Not that dreaming about the future is bad or desiring things is wrong in itself, it just depends on the precedence I give these things in my heart. I often find that the more time I spend thinking about the future, the less I am able to truly enjoy what I have today. 

So what's a mama to do? We all want to enjoy our daily lives. Something that helps me keep from worrying about the next bite of my proverbial cookie is practicing thankfulness. 

A long time ago a wise friend of mine told me that to combat bitterness and discontent in her life she journaled every night and wrote down three things from her day that she was thankful to God for. She said that it transformed her as a person and gave her a powerful perspective on life. I myself am a horrible journal keeper, but I do thank God every day for the small and important things in my life, like story time with my kids, a kiss from my husband, or 30 minutes of down time while I drink my coffee in the morning. Being continuously grateful allows for me to enjoy the life that I have to the fullest, no matter what my circumstances may be. It's when I shift my focus to what's "missing" that I feel my joy slipping away. It is so important to me to love the life God has given me because like John Piper says "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

There is a lot of freedom that comes with living for today. When I feel thankful, I find that I am less concerned about what will happen with my kids and more able to enjoy them for who they are and what they do right now. I think that the more I embrace this approach to life, the more that kind of freedom will grow. It's a freedom that my husband and I pray daily for, because it is a daily need for us and for our kids too. I hope that as time goes on that I will find that a thankful heart is the core of who I am rather than something I periodically struggle with, because when that happens, I will be having my cookies and eating them too. 

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