I do not scrapbook.
Many of my dear friends do. I envy them for their hobby, their weekend scrapbook parties, and their fun gadgets.
But I have resigned myself to the truth. For one thing, I'm craft-challenged. I have no idea why Elmer's Glue doesn't work on scrapbook paper, or what to do with all of those funky shaped hole-punchers. Secondly, when I gave the whole thing an honest try, I was left with a mess of poorly-cropped pictures and stickers - way too many stickers. Perhaps the most important reason why I do not scrapbook is because, unlike 99.9% of women in this world, I cannot multi-task.
During that one disastrous month of scrapbook-dabbling, wherein I resolved to make Punkin a homemade baby book, there were countless conversations like this:
"Sweetie, please don't touch the paper-cutter..."
"M'kay, Mama." Big eyes follow my every move, her pacifier pelting the quiet with loud sucking noises.
"Is Elmo over? Go run along now." (That's such a lie, I've never said "run along" to a child, but you get the gist.)
"Mama, pwease pway ponies wiff me?"
"No, honey. I'm making well-documented memories for you..."
"I don't want memowies. Pway with me," with a foot stomp for emphasis.
"This rick-rack needs to be glued on, okay?!!" With a foot stomp for emphasis.
Suddenly, it seemed so ironic that I wanted a break from mothering...so I could layout pages and cut and paste images about mothering. I know that scrapbooking is usually done as a pleasurable hobby - and many semi-covetous blessings to you all who do it with this mentality - but for me, my motive was [big, cleansing breath right before public confession #429]...
... to promote myself.
There, I said it.
And Punkin, when you get your baby book as a young adult or when you look back at it as a young mother and wonder how your mother ever had time to put that many stickers on one page, just know the honest-to-goodness truth: that at times, it was more about me than it was you. I pray you don't say the same about your entire upbringing...And I pray you don't hate me for this honesty.
I'm pretty sure, though, that Punkin knows - maybe better than anyone - when her mother is functioning from her own strength, for her own glory. Short fuses, many distractions, rigorous schedules, tedious planning, withering worries, and always, always, self-promotion. The saddest part is that living this way means I'm not really living, not the way I was created to live. When I choose to function this way (and it is a choice, I believe), I leave real interactions and simple moments behind while I plan, prep, and promote...
The same can happen with my blog. When surprises unfold or delicious moments unfurl, I sometimes find myself grabbing a camera or a pen. And completely missing the raw, unedited first cut.
It reminds me of the time a woman came to our home to "visit" and soon after entering, pulled up a chair and sat down for an evening of uninterrupted Facebook. We hardly talked to one another. At one point, she looked up and asked if I was on Facebook. At the time, I wasn't.
"No," I answered.
The one time of her visit that I watched real emotion flit across her face was at this point, when she leaned forward and said, "Oh, you really should Facebook. We could get to know each other..."
What is it about life that makes some of us shy away from really experiencing it? When my children are opening presents, I'm gathering the wrapping paper trash. When I take them to the swimming pool, I spend far too much time worrying about who's getting tired, how to stave off a public-shower fiasco. When the children go to Grandma's house, I must resist the temptation to work around the house, to plan ahead, get ahead. I may not be drugged by Facebook, but I know I am guilty of spending much of my day not engaged in the day.
Was Jesus only talking to the poor when He said, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:31-34)
I will always be a planner. Tomorrow's coffee is already ground and ready for the french press, fresh lemon juice is frozen in cute ice-cube squares for those moments when the recipe calls for it. God made me this way and like Martha, I thrive with the personality He has given me. But also like Martha, I must not use this "planning ahead and working hard" mentality as an excuse to become "worried and bothered by so many things" (Luke 10:41). I love that Jesus did not tell Martha to stop being Martha. And He certainly hasn't told me to stop being me.
If anything, He whispers to me words like accepted and complete. These are the gentle words that prod me away from perfectionism and towards excellence, away from busyness and towards engagement.
The key to being truly engaged in life is a simple one: choose the better, the part that cannot be taken away (Luke 10:42). When we choose God (and I do not mean this in an "obedience" sense as much as a heart sense), His peace, promotion, and priorities take over. Suddenly, life becomes more of a saunter than a mad dash, family becomes more of an adventure than a burden. Distractions become opportunities and scrupulous plans become exciting anticipation.
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness... I've given up my grit-your-teeth attempts to do even this in my own strength. Seeking his kingdom can be as much about self-promotion as my own scrapbooking endeavors! But when I come to Him with my heart, not my completed to-do lists and clean-house awards, I find His love to be so healing, like salve on a wound. I may still choose to write a blog post or work through a busy schedule - the outward behavior might not look any different. But like Paul, I rest, and labor in this: "I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." (Col. 1:29, NIV)
By the way, an update for you: I've moved on in life. I might even call myself "Facebook savvy." Well, that might be pushing it, but Hillary did teach me how to make little hearts on my posts. I have yet to try scrapbooking again, mostly because I am afraid of it. If you are having a scrapbook party and you had my invitation all ready to put in the mailbox, please don't snatch it out of the pile, now that you have read my admissions. I'm happy to come and eat all of your salted peanuts and cream-cheese-and-cucumber-sandwiches. Just don't put a glue stick in front of me or in my panic, I just might eat it too. Or maybe I could come with my blurb book and you could help me slap a few stickers on the pages!
To all of you who multi-task and manage to scrapbook, kudos to you!
To all of you who can't manage it, I suggest you try a family blog, and one day, when your kids are 18, you can just press print and send them on their way.
But whatever you choose, whatever I choose, may we do it with hearts that are His, not hearts that are hindered by busyness and distraction.
Carry on, dear friends, with whatever inspires you - whether that be scrapbooking, Facebook, blogging, or some other hobby. And remember to enjoy the memories as they unfurl for the first time, before nostalgia and blog-status and scrapbook-layouts threaten to leave you treasuring the documentary more than the live stream.
Resting in Him,