The family weekend ended yesterday. The bustling rooms have grown still.
After sleeping in for a bit this morning, I put the house back together- washed the towels, stripped the beds, put away the good china that we used to celebrate Resurrection Sunday, and I spot-cleaned the strawberry Jello stain out of my new apron. The house is clean again but also quiet.
I find that my heart is full and empty at the same time.
It is full because we had a wonderful weekend of laughter, trivia competitions, and worshiping together too.
It is full because I got hugs and life updates.
It if full because I got to look in their eyes to catch a glimpse of the status of their hearts.
It is full because I enjoyed several quiet corner conversations - opportunities to chat intimately, one-on-one, to hear about their struggles, victories, and prayer requests
* in the family room with my eight-months-pregnant daughter as we discussed her upcoming delivery.
* at the kitchen sink while washing dishes with my college junior son, discussing future plans.
* at the kitchen table with my white-collar son about a recent corporate project he was working on.
* around the dining table with a sewing project with my college freshman daughter who spoke of friendships and final exams.
... You get the idea. It was the little conversations that connect me to their daily lives. These are the moments I savor.
My heart is empty because they returned to their lives and the house feels big and lonely.
I find myself thanking God for the rooms that provide space for us to gather, the dishwasher that makes my work easier, the flowers in the hanging basket outside the kitchen sink that bring me comfort and joy while I wash the glass pitcher, one of the last signs of celebration.
I'm also thankful for the porch swing where Rich and I sat holding hands yesterday evening while we watched them drive away. It gave us a moment to rest our feet and recap the weekend joys. That led to a few statements of "wish-we-would-haves" about days gone by.
"Wish we would have savored the moments more." "Wish we would have slowed down more." "Wish we would have focused more on hearts and less on grades."
"Wish we would have worried less and prayed more."
"Wish we would have remembered to take more pictures, more days off from the grind, more time for God discussions and nature walks."
We have learned to turn our "wish-we-would-haves" into action-steps of relationship impact now, in each moment, with the hearts that God brings into our lives from day to day. We have also learned to be fully present in whatever moment we are in - rejoicing, weeping, waiting, seeking, caring, listening, learning, teaching, and trying.
And so it is that in this clean and quiet house, I thank God for the moments we shared.
And when the aching begins to creep in, I lead my heart to the feet of Jesus where I focus my attention on praying for each one of my children, their spouses, and our grandkids, praying for their current situations, their current struggles and victories and asking God to hold their hearts close to Him always.
Then I fold the kitchen towel, place it back on the hook, and ask God what lessons He has for me today and what ways I can join Him in His work today. For each day has been allotted many moments and I want to make the most of each one.
Little side note: While some of the kids were home this weekend, I asked them to share on the podcast a snapshot of how God has remade their heart or lessons He has been teaching them lately. Here is this week's podcast - "Snapshots of hearts in transformation, episode 179." I hope it brings you encouragement as you lead and love the hearts in your family, whatever age or stage they may be in at this time.
*Because Episode 179 was a last-minute change, we were not able to produce the sound quality that we usually bring to the podcast. I was hesitant to publish it since it doesn't meet our usual sound standards, but I didn't want to keep these messages from you. We'll get it better next time! CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO LISTEN TO EPISODE 179 "SNAPSHOTS OF HEARTS IN TRANSFORMATION"
Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM, is mom to seven, grandma to four, and wife to Rich for 31 years. They have graduated six with one more in eighth grade. God has placed a calling on Val's heart to encourage and equip intentional moms to build strong families, through her podcast, books, blog, events, and Facebook mom community.