Summer. It’s the sound of freedom to students, as they look forward to pitching the books, jumping in the pool, and hanging with friends. To me, it’s just downright stressful. I don’t get a break from work, and all of the sudden schedules are all over the place.
I’m a routine based person, and all the changes summer bring throw me a curve ball- especially in our blended family situation. That ‘summer calendar meeting’ that we have with the girls’ mom stresses out my control loving heart so much. But I’m learning to stress less and enjoy the girls and all their adventures.
One such adventure began Memorial Day weekend, when we took the girls camping. I’m the only one who grew up camping, so the rest of my family, though eager to help, isn’t super knowledgeable on what to do as far as helping me pack.
So the giant to-do list was long in my head, and I let worry set in. Will the girls have fun? Am I being too strict on what we can and can’t pack? Will we have enough food? Will someone get cold in the middle of the night? You know how this goes.
The night before the trip, I was stacking clothes, and my youngest popped in the room with a huge grin on her face. She was carrying her microphone that connects to an iPad, creating a portable karaoke machine. My genius Christmas gift win a few years back.
“You want some music while you pack? I’ll even sing from in the closet so I’m not in your way”. To be honest, I really didn’t. She keeps the volume up pretty loud on that thing. But her heart shone through her smile and I sensed that she was trying to lessen my stress in her own special way. So I conceded. “Sure! Just knock the volume down a couple of notches.”
She had discovered YouTube karaoke, and started putting on a concert. I was half listening, grinning and nodding so it appeared I was paying attention. But then she started getting really animated, putting on quite the performance. Hand motions, working the mic stand, the whole nine yards. I realized she really was trying to put on a show for me, and I needed to actually pay attention, not just pretend.
So I did. She about five songs deep when I was done sorting clothes. The next item on my checklist was to pack the cooler in the kitchen, but I couldn’t help the nagging feeling that that moment was more important than checking off a packed cooler. It was like the Holy Spirit was nudging me to sit down and enjoy my daughter.
As I put the basket of clothes down and crawled up on the bed to sit cross legged and listen, I felt the stress melt away. Before I knew it, the to-do list had turned into a ‘to sing’ list, and we were taking turns performing for each other. We belted some Carly Pearce, Tina Turner, Lady Gaga, Sugarland…we were rock stars!
At one point, my husband yelled up the stairs, asking what we were doing. “Singing karaoke….duh!!” He just shook his head and left us alone.
As I figured it would, this little jam session morphed into a presentation for the rest of the family. We picked our strongest performances, and decided to wow Ava and Brandon. They tried to appear interested, but were already pretty invested in who was going to survive on Master Chef.
I chose my Sugarland song and then acted as Hallie’s hype person to make sure the crowd stayed involved as she channeled her inner Tina Turner and ‘rolled it down the river’. Someone had to be the backup singers shouting “Rollin’ ” for her!
It was one heck of a show. And yes, I had to go to bed an hour later than I planned, but it was worth the time spent not packing.
My brain will run wild and keep me distracted from the moments that the Lord places right in front of me. Then I wonder why I’m stressed or anxious. It’s as if the Lord is saying ‘I gave you the opportunity, but you were too busy with other things.’. Sometimes it’s the dog begging to play, or the sunset I need to sit in my car and look at for a moment. Or the worship song I need to engage with instead of my phone. Or that employee who really is needing something deeper than work advice. Or that long story that my husband is telling me that I’m not interested in.
I miss these all the time, but I’m grateful that the Spirit pressed a little bit harder that particular night. It’s made me more aware of those moments when they come up. And it’s given me a well spent hour with my daughter to bond over music, something ironically I’ve always loved doing with my own dad. Something I never would have added to a checklist.