Embracing God’s Gifts
By Melanie Dobson
It was supposed to be a quick errand – in and out of the store in five minutes or less. But Karly, my 18-month-old daughter, didn’t care about the time. As I prodded her along the sidewalk, she stopped every two or three steps to outline the creases between the bricks, stomp on the rusted metal grates, and point out a gaggle of geese flying overhead. Every flower and tree trunk distracted her. Every person received a giant smile, a wave, and a cheery “hey-yo” (hello).
Now I admit, I’m a classic Type A, planning and cramming my hours with “important” tasks. I don’t have time to pluck the leaves off bushes or roll in a mound of mulch while squashing the scratchy pine straw in my hands. A successful day is one filled with accomplishment, and this day was no exception. I tugged on Karly’s arm to move closer to the store’s front door, but every time we’d take a step, she’d discover something new.
Checking my watch, I scooped Karly up and rushed toward the store. She was content on my hip for a moment until something caught her eye. I felt a tap, tap, tap on my shoulder.
“Down, peas (please),” she begged.
I glanced around us and saw the parking lot with its clusters of busy shoppers rushing back and forth to their cars. We were supposed to be on our way home fifteen minutes ago.
“We’ve got to go, honey,” I explained as Karly squirmed, her tapping more frantic against my arm. I was obviously neglecting something critical, but I had no idea what.
“Peas, Mama!” The urgency in her voice made me stop and look into her big, brown eyes. She was about to cry. “Peas!”
I relented and set her down at my side.
Like a bird, she flew out of my arms, and for a second, I thought she’d just figured out a way to escape her mom. I didn’t worry for long, though, because she knew exactly where she was going. She bolted toward the corner, and in one swoop, she wrapped her arms around a black street lamp and squeezed it with a smile. Then she came back. Mission accomplished. Apparently, the lamp just needed a hug.
That wasn’t the first time I’ve admired Karly’s zest for life. She seems to embrace not just the street lamps but every moment with her enthusiastic hugs. She rarely asks me to slow down, but she compels me to, inspiring me to stop and reflect instead of slamming through life by accomplishing yet another chore. No matter how hard I work, my “to do” list never goes away. In fact, it seems to expand and grow every time I check something off. But in the midst of my seemingly endless cycle of rushing and activity, my young daughter continues to give me a glimpse of what I believe God desires for me and for all His children.
Trimming my busy schedule is a welcome yet almost traumatic thing for me to do. My tasks have become the core of my life, leaving no time to stop and appreciate the beauty in His world. Karly’s vocabulary is simple and slurred, but with her enthusiasm for life’s smallest details, she’s taught me to slow down even in the midst of a rush. I’m learning to take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery before I move on. And I’m learning to pare down my “to do” list into what’s critical instead of elevating every task to a red alert.
Embrace Every Moment
On the simplest days at home, Karly delves into everything new with fervor. The most ordinary things inspire creativity. She crumples paper, drums a kitchen pot, and climbs into or on a box. There seems to be nothing she can’t use to build and create. On a recent trip to Disney World, she was much more interested in entertaining the people in line than experiencing the rides. She made friends, patting people’s backs and playing with their hair. She embraced these moments in line to make even the grumpiest among us smile.
Squeeze the Street Lamps
While I’ve yet to squeeze a street lamp, it seemed perfectly normal for Karly. In our world, it’s odd for adults to do something extraordinary with no obvious purpose. I don’t understand why Karly needed to hug the lamp, but her strange action inspired me.
Even as Karly’s years pass from toddler to teen to adult, I pray she won’t lose her zest for everything life has to offer. I want her to embrace the people who need love and appreciate the beauty around her. I want her to make every moment count – not by piling on more chores and tasks, but by embracing the gifts God’s given her, whether big or small.
I still have my calendar and a list of things I want and need to do; yet, I’ve learned a great life lesson from my little girl. No matter how frantic my schedule, it’s essential to take a deep breath and relish in all of God’s creation – the people, the pine straw, all the flowers, and even the street lamps that need a hug.
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of eleven novels including Where the Trail Ends and Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan. She still hasn’t hugged any street lamps, but she and Karly now enjoy exploring as they homeschool. More information about Melanie and her story is available at www.melaniedobson.com.