(Brothers playing Pokemon GO while watching the Aquatennial Fireworks)
There’s no comparison between this summer and last. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it this way. Shaking my head like it’s still a surprise. Last summer for all that was good was long and hard. A wedding and all my boys under one roof, all summer long. All of it blessing, but even blessing last summer felt foreboding somehow.
This summer is different in every way. There’s not so much happening, just regular days. Big brothers are gone, and we miss them, it’s true. But at home things are normal. Life has rhythm. Regular days of a regular summer. And you wouldn’t think ordinary would be so priceless. But I’m here to tell you – it is. Everything good about this summer is NORMAL. And it’s ridiculous just what a relief it is.
Three teenaged boys with summer jobs. Working hard and staying the course. Coming home tired, shoes soaked through from washing cars, legs caked in mud from moving dirt. Long hours and real labor but all in all they’re pretty happy and willing to go back another day. A regular miracle is what it is.
And we’re busy. I laugh when I think of how normal this is, but for months we felt trapped by NO I’m not going. We wondered if we’d ever be busy again. But this summer we have soccer and baseball and social connections. Running this kid to this and that kid to that. And we love it. This ordinary busy is just what we needed.
Three teenaged brothers are doing normal together. Regular things like lifting weights and soccer practice and going to the store for Mountain Dews. Nils can you drive us? They ask it casual and he says sure and off they go. No big deal. Just normal.
There’s this new game obsession, maybe you’ve heard. Kids with smartphones tracking GPS critters all over town. And I’ve heard the concerns about safety and boundaries and idle youth. But I’m admitting right now I’m kind of a fan of this game. It’s clever and harmless and it makes my kids happy. And maybe happy seems normal, but we’ll take it for now.
Before summer started we worried about how we’d fill endless days with boys at home and nothing to do. We brainstormed trips and camps and summer classes, but nothing ever really worked out. Kyle and I would pray and fret, and always we’d hear Him give the same answer. Trust me. I’ve got the perfect plan.
Turns out, His plan was NORMAL.
I wonder sometimes if settling for normal is a compromise. Do something crazy for God seems so holy, and it’s the kind of thinking that brought us to this. But now that we’re here, I don’t know. Normal seems like a sweet goal for a while.
This morning on my porch I read this Psalm – and it, too, seemed to justify normal. The Happy Home of the Faithful – the psalm has a title. And it feels like an invitation from God to relax and breath easy and enjoy these ordinary days as His gift and provision.
Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
You shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
Your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
Psalm 128:1-4 (NRSV)
Ahh, yes. The happy life of normal.