Saturday, October 5, 2013

Slowing Down to Rest: It Takes Work Sometimes

I have to wonder if I am only creating more chaos for myself. Today, as we celebrate our middle daughter's eighth birthday (early), I can't help but contemplate my choices. When an upcoming birthday party consumes all my time and energy, it has to be reconsidered.

Growing up, birthdays were simple. I remember sitting in the church pew debating between my favorite restaurant choices. This annual milestone meant mom and dad were splurging on a rare treat: going out-to-eat. It was truly a special occasion.

I don't recall ever pining over what I missed as I attended the birthday parties of my school classmates. Somewhere along the way, however, I decided my children were going to have grand celebrations. Another year of life beckoned a party with all of our family and friends.

Now that my oldest is eleven, party planning has honestly become a bit of a chore. She has had celebrations (often two) for every year of her life. Add two more girls to the mix and this momma is losing her creativity. Unfortunately, our medium girl has her birthday the latest month of all our children. Not only is she sandwiched between our oldest and youngest in the birthing order, her due date was stuck right between the crazy start of school and the busy holiday rush.

"She justifiably will have middle-child-syndrome!" was the response I gave to my friend's inquiry on the high stress level this week. I can have a home that says, "welcome" to our guests. That isn't my worry. Everyone invited is coming to help Jaycie know she is loved and celebrated. Food can be purchased and even a cake for that matter. It's the future adult-child casting judgment that was wreaking havoc on my emotions. I'm worried she will see pictures one day and wonder why she always appeared to get the short-end-of-the-stick.

So why bother with a party anyway? Am I creating selfish little monsters who demand their moment of glory? Are we begging for a shower of presents every year when our house is already overloaded? Is it worth the time, energy and money to throw this type of a shindig every year (x3)?

After some soul-searching, I'm jumping in with both feet for today's celebration. Today we remember. Once a year (although it should be constantly in a much simpler way), we take time out of our lives to say thank you to God for our daughter's life. There is so much to be grateful for.

So why the big fiesta? It's not about the presents. I don't care if people come empty-handed or bring a candy bar to show their love. Simply put, we want those who do this life with us to reminisce with us. We want our girls to know they have a community of people to count on. In the Bible, God's people set aside times for feasting. The feast was a reason to gather. The purpose was to remember God's goodness.

This past week felt a bit like I was doing anything but slowing down to rest. Today, with a cake in the fridge, a DVD of this past year put to music set to watch, and a home that can welcome our community even with the threat of rain, we are celebrating. We are thanking God surrounded by many of those we do life with.

Sometimes it takes a lot of work in order to be able to rest. Keeping the purpose in mind helps us to stay focused. Resting today... surrounded by those I love... celebrating all our gifts... it is all worth it.

Maybe REST isn't so much about sleeping, zoning out, or stopping all activity. Could it be that rest is more about redefining our purpose? Does rest help us become more intentional?
"This feast will help you remember, like a mark on your hand or a reminder on your forehead. This feast will remind you to speak the Lord’s teachings, because the Lord used his great power to bring you out of Egypt.  So celebrate this feast every year at the right time." - Exodus 13:9-10


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