October 30th was a glorious, autumn day, sunny and unseasonably warm with just a few white clouds dotting a brilliant, blue sky. It was a day far too beautiful to spend indoors, so in an unprecedented move, I cancelled school for all five of my kids. Now before you gasp at my complete lack of judgment, let me explain. I'm not only my children's teacher (Yes, all five of them!), I'm also their attendance officer, curricula coordinator, and superintendent all rolled into one moderately sane, usually strict, rarely impulsive, home school mom, and I love nearly every minute of it.
October 30th, however, presented its challenges early. The day dawned with my husband in Europe, my kids not getting along very well, and with me facing some unexpected medical testing the following morning. So in a flash of wisdom, credited only and entirely to God, I cancelled classes and announced that we were heading to Kohler-Andre State Park for the day. Attitudes changed in the blink of an eye. My kids were whooping and high-fiving, packing snacks and water bottles, grabbing hiking packs and cameras, chattering, laughing and singing. There was no longer any trace of the pestering, squabbling siblings who'd oppressed the very air five minutes earlier.
That's when it hit me. Life is all about perspective. When we're excited, eagerly anticipating something, or pleasantly surprised, we perceive life differently than when we're bored, frustrated or stressed by our normal, daily routine, or weighed down by circumstances beyond our control.
Seven years ago, I emotionally checked out of life for a year. I functioned. I existed, but I didn't feel. Then one morning, I awoke realizing with sudden clarity that I'd given away a year of my kids' lives, of my husband's life. Life could change in a heartbeat and I had pushed it away. God had graciously offered me the gift of another day with my kids and my husband every single day for a year, and I had, in essence, told Him I didn't want it. It wasn't good enough. I'd wanted only what I couldn't have, and I had missed the beautiful, precious gift I'd been given.
The morning of October 30th, God graciously answered my pleas for patience and wisdom and gentleness in parenting my children, and He showed me a better plan for our day. He offered me laughter in spite of tears, beauty in the midst of frustration, and delighted children at the very moment I was most missing my husband.
That afternoon I watched my kids running with abandon up and down the dunes, jumping, rolling and wrestling in the sand. I watched them shed their socks and shoes and race to the water's edge the moment our feet hit the beach. I listened to them laugh and encourage each other as they climbed trees and launched an all-out, old-fashioned leaf fight. We sat amazed at and fascinated by a giant anthill. And that afternoon I remembered to savor the moment, to soak in the beauty surrounding me, to breathe deeply and feel the immensity of God. I remembered that God is enough, that He is all I need, that He loves me more than I can begin to imagine.
Cindee Snider Re lives in Sussex, WI with her husband, their five children, two cats, and two Shichon puppies. She enjoys quiet evenings, long walks, good books, homeschooling her kids, and lots of good, strong, hot, black tea.