This morning, as Dennis, Teo, and I woke Sienna from her peaceful slumber, I pulled open her curtains and announced, “Look at the beautiful sunrise. I love sunrises!”
She replied, “More than sunsets? I thought you loved sunsets.”
“Well, I love both sunrises and sunsets.”
That exchange got me thinking…
Sunrises and sunsets are both moments of reflective calm. In the midst of a busy day, I love to take those moments to gaze at the sun as it rises and again as it falls from the sky. They both help me to be still. I’ll look around and soak in the beauty, while taking a deep breath and letting my mind rest quietly.
The sunrise is energizing. It symbolizes rebirth and enthusiasm for what the day ahead will hold.
The sunset is peaceful as the night falls and it’s time to rest. I look forward to cuddling with my loved ones, reading a book, and resting for the night.
Today is the second anniversary of the day I started this blog and, as it seems with everything in life, what this blog means to me has evolved. At the beginning, I wrote about revelations that were so incredible to me. Learning to be in the moment was a hugely powerful transformation in my life and I was so excited to share my insights with the world.
Now that I’ve practiced (and practiced and practiced) being in the moment for a few years, I’m no longer astonished by the insights. Instead, being still means that I’m present in the moment (as much as possible) to act in accordance with God’s will for my life. Which, for the most part means, I’m mindfully loving and serving the people around me.
What does that look like?
On Saturday, while out at lunch, Sienna was teasing me about ordering lamb at the Mediterranean restaurant we visited. She’d brought a lamb stuffed animal along and feigned shock that I would eat a lamb. Her joking crossed the line when my plate arrived and she said, “I hate you for eating that, Mom!” Dennis and I were both quick with the reprimands. “We don’t say that in our family, Sienna,” I said. “Don’t you ever say that. You don’t talk that way to your Mom,” Dennis scolded. I watched as Sienna’s face crumbled and she started to cry.
I related. Oh, how I related. She was upset at being corrected by her father (I know this because I’d been correcting her behavior somewhat sternly for the last two days and she didn’t shed a tear). I remembered how much I couldn’t stand disappointing my dad growing up.
I slid into the booth next to Sienna and comforted her with a cuddle. As I soothed her I explained, “Sienna, what just happened is totally normal. You didn’t know how strongly we feel about the word “hate” and you were testing to see if it was okay to say. Now you know that it’s not. Mommy and Daddy love you unconditionally, all the time, no matter what. But, it’s our job to correct your behavior. We’re just telling you that word is not okay to say. We’re not mad at you.” She calmed down pretty quickly after those reassuring words.
This exchange reminded me how critically important it is to make that distinction within our family. Giving someone feedback or correcting their behavior is entirely separate from our love for one another. Loving each other is a given, it’s steadfast. But, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to approve of everything the other person does. This goes for kids, but also for spouses.
Yesterday, Dennis and I had a brief “date” while the kids were in their Sunday school class. This has become a weekly routine that I cherish! Typically we walk a couple blocks over to a Farmer’s Market to stroll, drink some coffee, and occasionally pick up some veggies or flowers. This week, we broke up the routine a bit and headed to the little coffee “shack” across the street from church. We discovered that they have a cool little back deck that was basked in the mid-morning sunshine. With our coffees in hand, we sat on the bench, knee-to-knee, and talked.
With work, kids, the house, and the demands of daily life, it’s amazing how quickly you can begin to feel disconnected from your best friend, spouse, and other half. This time of talking and mindfully reconnecting set the stage for an absolutely perfect day.
We took the kids to Balboa Park to have a picnic lunch, explore a couple museums, visit our wedding site (the kids always ask to see it!), enjoy the beautiful day, and watch the kids eat ice cream cones. Sienna ate hers delicately and barely spilled a drop. Teo was an adorable mess of chocolate ice cream drippings and 5-year-old enthusiasm.
This morning, before the sunrise and sunset conversation, Sienna was slow to wake and Teo was getting on her nerves (already!), so Dennis came in the room to escort Teo out. I began singing to Sienna this song, “Rise and Shine”. I remember it from my parents’ Christian retreat group years ago. The chorus goes: Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory. Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory. Rise and shine AND give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord.
Over the years, I’ve sporadically and playfully sung this to the kids as they’re waking up. This morning, Dennis had Teo in his arms and was bouncing him up and down to the beat. As I sang the chorus through a second and third time, Teo’s laughter became contagious and we were all giggling. What a joyful moment! And on a Monday morning, no less.
Being still, relishing the morning sunrise and the evening sunset, and being present in the moment mean that I’m able to see and react to the pain in my child’s face, feel when my husband and I need to reconnect, and fully engage when a fun and silly moment presents itself. It means I’m living life fully, while trusting in God to take care of everything.
Thank you for reading these past two years. It means so much.