This is it.

I was just staring at them, sitting together in the rocking chair in the back living room. They were both totally naked, having taken a bath just before and it’s 81 degrees in the house because our air conditioning is out, so I didn’t make them get dressed. They were each eating a peanut granola bar and starting to watch the wretched Paw Patrol that I allow for exactly one total hour each week.

It hit me then: this is their only childhood. This is it. Just like how I look back so fondly on playing shipwrecked in the cul-de-sac on Cottonwood Place, they’ll look fondly back to this house, this neighborhood. This is it. It’s fleeting so quickly.

Will they like it? Will they remember me being silly and funny or stressed and emotionally absent? Will they remember themselves being naked, like, all the time while I fretted over how normal people are probably dressed right now? Will they remember the total chaos that I feel like their life is? Or will it all be blurry, like my childhood is for me – fuzzy flashes of warm safety and laughter and utter joy?

It changed something in me, just now. I hopped up and started dancing to the music like a crazy person. I picked up Ellie and started swinging her around. We laughed so hard together. That sweet giggle is such a musical sound to me.

This is it for my sweet babies. I’m so happy that they are growing up – it’s supposed to happen. And it’s supposed to feel this quick. What a blessing to be a flash of eternity and to get to remember it well. To see it go so quickly is proof that we’re eternal. But it is so quick, and it is so easy to get lost in what doesn’t matter. But this is it for them – their only childhood. I want them to remember it being beautiful.

So I’m going to keep jumping up for random dance parties. I’m going to let them make a giant mess of banana bread. I’m going to splash in their bath water. I’m going to put down my phone and look in their precious deep brown eyes (and maybe blue – we aren’t sure about Grace’s eye color yet). I’m going to turn off the tv and go outside, splashing in puddles and playing in dirt and getting bug bites. We’ll swim and run and walk and bike and play tennis is this blessed, beautiful place. We’ll celebrate this short life in and out of these walls. We’ll gather with believers and unbelievers in this home, showing the love of Jesus in our short time.

This is it. YOLO, if you will. Our only chance, their only childhood. Help us see it, Jesus.

“This day is fleeting. Soon it will end, and once it has vanished, it will not come again. So let us love with a love pure and strong before this day is gone.”

The Bigger Picture

This time of year, I love looking through my memories on Facebook. Obviously there are many worth seeing: graduations, vacations, weddings, etc. from over the years.

But my favorite is this: in 2009, I had just graduated from college (I graduated May 17, I believe). The following 2 weeks, I stayed at Millikin while all of my best friends slowly started moving on. I was set to stay in Decatur for the whole summer and nanny again, which was so fun for me, but I was used to having my people surround me, and that was going to be different this year. I was excited about my first teaching job for the fall, but I couldn’t actually do much to prepare for it, so things were a bit stagnant on that front. As I stayed around, I did all kinds of things I’d never done before, particularly hanging out with new people I’d barely known before (especially random boys!). I also was working with my roommates to clean out the house, having our final Friends and West Wing marathons, and just enjoying all being together for the last time. While all of that was in fun, it was in anticipation for what was next, which was unknown and scary and kind of sad.

I had the worst semester ever right before that – student teaching was a nightmare, my relationship that lasted for most of college ended, and I truly felt like I would just be alone forever. As my friends started to leave to go on toward Nashville and Chicago and Boston and other exciting places, I stayed in good ole’ Decatur, Illinois, and I felt boring and plain and alone.

You may be wondering why I look back with such fondness on this. The answer is easy: I’ve read the book before, and I know what’s just about to happen. At this point in history 9 years ago, I am moments away from the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced. As I see these old posts full of hope and immaturity and sadness and uncertainty and silliness, I know now that on May 31, 2009, I will be frantically and grumpily washing dishes in the house where we all lived while a bunch of friends are having a good time swing dancing in the backyard. I know a cute boy will come into the kitchen and ask me for a drink, and I’ll be rude and accidentally make a comment that hurts his feelings. I know that a friend will tell me that he is the best guy on earth and is definitely worth knowing, so I’ll send him a Facebook message a few days later apologizing for being a jerk. I know that we’ll decide to hang out for the summer since we’re both stuck here alone with no friends left. And I know that almost exactly 2 years later, I’ll walk down a church aisle toward him while he bawls his eyes out with most of those friends surrounding us again, and we’ll start the journey together.

I love late-May/early-June each year for this incredible reminder. God knows what he is doing, and he can see what we can’t see. I had no idea how quickly Ryan would be in my life after this. I had no idea about our somewhat controversial whirlwind romance. I had no idea that another human could so perfectly mesh with my weirdness. I had no idea what within 9 years we’d have such an incredibly blessed adventure, almost three beautiful children, a goofy dog, a home we love, so many jobs, and so much love and laughter everyday. I had no idea what was coming! But now I do, because I’ve read the book.

If you are in a place where you are waiting for God to move, you might not realize that he is already moving. You might not realize that in such a short time from now, a dream will be realized or something life-changing will happen. Remember that he can see a bigger picture, and he really knows what he is doing. The story he has for you is a lot better than any you could make up for yourself. He wrote the book, and he knows what’s next.