Go Play!

I’m back! Monday Musings took a short sabbatical due to the holiday last week, but now I’m back, sort of 😉  The kids begin summer break today so that means everything work related takes a little bit longer for me to accomplish, but I woke up with this excerpt from my book Blended with Grit & Grace in my heart and thought it would be a good reminder for the moms who have a wee bit of anxiety with the lack of structure that arrives with summer break.  Just keep livin.  

I shooed one of my children out of the kitchen, annoyance growing by the minute with yet another complaint of boredom or a long-winded tale about how one sibling had grossly mistreated another. It sure felt like we were on day 100 million of this year’s particularly long winter break, which marched on and on and on with the recent bout of inclement weather and now influenza circulating throughout the schools.

Ahhh, good times.

I sighed, frustrated at how much energy the kids required during these days without school and irritated with the constant boredom. We had purchased a beautiful property in the middle of rural Tennessee on thirty acres of land, a mighty river flowing in our backyard, with the expectation that our children would spend their days romping through the fields, building forts, playing tag and hide-and-seek, plucking fresh fruit from the apple and pear trees, and whatever else they were able to convince one another to play or do, but that wasn’t generally the case. Usually, they were inside the house, bellyaching about how bored they were.

I returned my attention to the pot on the back burner of the stove, which held dinner for the evening. I began to stir, slowly encouraging the flavors of a simmering beef stroganoff to meld together, an easy family favorite consisting of hamburger, chopped onions, garlic, and mushrooms drenched in a cream-cheese sauce. I inhaled the savory aroma as music played in the background. “I’ll praise you in this storm,” belted out an old-time favorite by the popular group Casting Crowns.

I’d been experiencing a bit of a faith crisis in the recent months as I desperately grasped for control while life spiraled further away from me. So many balls were in the air. The hormonal issues that inevitably arrive with aging. Teaching, which I loved but didn’t love as much as writing. Writing, which was my passion but doesn’t really pay the bills—at least not yet. Raising eight children, now with several teenagers and a toddler. Struggling to do right by Lucas, in pursuit of the best options for him but also needing to sacrifice more of our limited resources and time. The list went on.

It felt overwhelming 90 percent of the time, and I knew I wasn’t handling the demands well. Most of my prayers were more like complaints and resembled grumbling as I begged for superhuman strength to get through the days—annoyed that God would bequeath so many responsibilities upon my weary, aging shoulders.

“Praise you in this storm, huh?” I muttered. I had fiercely believed those words during the most difficult days of life—as a baby grew in my belly in 2004 (a child proclaimed terminal even before taking his first breath) and again as my husband Jason took his last breath here on earth. Now, in my current reality, with a healthy family, a good marriage, my daily needs met, I couldn’t seem to muster up any praise in this pathetic little pity party of a storm I was having for myself.

Jesus, help . . . , I sighed in resignation and frustration.

Go play, I heard gently whispered in reply.

What? I wondered.

Go play! Stop complaining and stop focusing on the negative, and stop stressing about everything that I ultimately control, and stop the bellyaching, and go play! Enjoy the life I made for you! Bask in my creation, jump on the trampoline with your kids, breathe in the beauty of nature all around, enjoy your life, enjoy what I have created for you—for your pleasure! Take joy in the food you are preparing, savor the chocolate pie, sip the chardonnay, make love to your husband, read a good book, teach your daughters how to sew. GO PLAY!

Could it be that my questions about life, faith, and frustrations could be answered in one simple command? Go play? That’s exactly what I wanted my children to do when they were bored and moaning and groaning about everything in life. I desired more than anything for them to stop complaining and bickering and go play! To enjoy what we had purchased for them! To enjoy the beauty of their lives! Could it possibly be that the God of the universe wanted the same for his child? For me to honor him through my enjoyment of what he’s blessed me with?

My perspective shifted, as it usually does when the Almighty has words with me, and a slow smile crept across my face as I poured myself a glass of chardonnay and headed to the back porch to sit with my husband. As I opened the door, still slightly hesitant about leaving numerous tasks undone, I heard a whisper laced with joy, which urged me forward:

Yes, my child, go play.


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