|Daddy and his boys.|
My dear and faithful husband orders us pizza every. single. Friday and picks it up on his way home from work. You could set your watch by this good man. When he gets home at 6:15, he's greeted by four excited little boys in jammies who have picked a movie and are eagerly waiting to eat that pizza on their Angry Birds blanket in front of the basement TV. It's our little Friday tradition, and the kids love it.
On a whim, I volunteered to pick the pizza up for the first time about a year ago.
"I'm warning you, Jen, they might not know what to do when you walk in there," Paul said with a wink. "They've usually got my pizza out by the time I've come through the door."
Sure enough, I walked into Marco's and asked for our pizza and the two kind folks behind the counter raised their eyebrows at me.
"Where's Mr. Paul?"
I laughed, "I was told that you might not give me the pizza."
They grinned and we introduced ourselves. They told me about how much they enjoy seeing Paul every week and they count on his visits. We chatted for a while (and they did agree to give me the pizza.)
"It was nice to finally meet you! Tell Paul we say Hi!" they called as I walked out the door.
"You, too! I sure will!"
It got me grinning, and it got me thinking.
1. I love being Mrs. Paul (Zink)
2. Then I got that song Bob sang on Sesame Street when we were little, "Ooooh, these are the people in your neighborhood, the people that you meet each day. . ."
3. Living an an ordinary, everyday life sure is a precious gift.
Our culture celebrates the mountaintop, but as our wise pastor Fr. Dan says, most of life is lived down here in the valley of the everyday.
We can Instragram a moment. . .crop and filter and caption and share. . .but a moment is only as good as the life that surrounds it. We may get to the mountaintop a few times, and that sure is sweet- but what about the rest? It seems the things that matter most may not get us "likes" or look like much on our resume or add anything to our bank account or even be very much fun, but that sure doesn't make those ordinary things any less important.
If you are a mom, you probably feel me here. I have washed the same little IKEA cups and bowls and forks and spoons and plates over and over again every day for the better part of a decade. There are apparently no awards for empty sinks (I've been waiting!) and no one notices a clean dish (although, they sure will notice a dirty one!). But I'm learning when we wipe the crumbs on the counter and wash the colorful little dishes piled up in our sink. . . even on the days we don't feel like it. . . even on the days we feel like that's all we did, we're being faithful in the small things. I love what Mother Teresa said, "God hasn't called me to be successful, he has called me to be faithful." Feeling a call to "success" can be a slippery slope in a long-term game like parenthood, and that simple call to faithfulness seems even more important in the perspective of the eternal.
I think about my husband, Paul, and his beautiful heart. He is so faithful in the small things. He has read to the kids every single night of their lives. He makes sure they brush their teeth and gives all the baths and unloads the dishwasher every night before bed. He goes to mass and mows the lawn every week and scoops the litterbox and votes in every election and returns his library books on time and irons his no-iron shirts and uses his turn signal and fills his car up with gas every Thursday and says his grace at every meal. He is an excellent adult, I really enjoy riding on his adulting coat tails. On top of that, he is totally the type of guy who scoops up a bug to put it outside and smiles at babies and shakes hands with strangers and listens patiently to others.
These things can't be measured and a snapshot couldn't really capture them. But at the end of Paul's life, which I hope is a very long one, how good it will be to have been faithful. To have been kind. To have meant a lot to a few special people. In this digital age, it can be tempting to try to mean a lot in the eyes of the big, wide world. Tweet for a day and you can see that shiny prize out there to mean a little bit to a whole lot of people. But the glory and the beauty and the lasting joy aren't in "hearts" or "likes", they are right there in our everyday interactions, all wrapped up in real hearts. . .in meaning a lot to a little.
Its the movie nights and the pew you sit in at church and the cashier that knows you by name and the postman that always gives you a wave. It's the folks you see on your walk and the friends in your class at the gym and the place you always go for lunch on Friday and the neighbor who always looks out for you and the custodian that cleans your office that you stop and chat with and the preschool mom you always smile at during dropoff even though you don't know each other's names. You bring joy and human connection to one another's world.
And then, there's your "people". Your circle- your close friends, your siblings, your parents, your significant other, your kids, your fam. The whole world may never know you, but you are whole world in the eyes of someone special. Every day, day in and day out, you're faithful to that commitment to love your people well. There's no major award for that on earth, but we can be sure in heaven the treasure is being stored. And when we move over to the other side of the veil, those are the folks who will miss us the most.
My friend Charlie and I ate lunch together nearly every day of my teaching career. Every day (unless it was fried chicken day in the cafeteria), he had a brown paper sack lunch with a bologna sandwich and a container of homemade Jell-O, packed by his loving wife. When his wife passed away, I called Paul to tell him the sad news. All I could squeak out was, "Who will make his bologna sandwich?"
Those little everyday things you do for the people who love you? They sure do matter. A sandwich made every single day or a pizza ordered every Friday or a lawn mowed every Saturday or a basket of laundry folded every week or a story read every night might not look like a major accomplishment on paper, but I'd like to think it's the best kind of accomplishment we can have.
This past Friday, I went to pick up the pizza again. This time they knew me when I walked in the door.
I was greeted with, "It's MRS. PAUL!" and they handed me the pizza with a smile so I could turn around and deliver it to four happy boys.
Here's to your everyday.
Keep on keepin' on.
What you do matters.
Keep being you.
"The connections we make in a lifetime- maybe that's what heaven is." - Fred Rogers