I saw my first hummingbird this morning. She was little and green and so delicate looking. She glided ever so wistfully on the warm dewy breezes with the skill and elegance of a ballerina. She came right up to the rain spattered pane of glass where I was looking out. She’d caught me in my jammies and sitting at the table, still groggy from sleep, holding my first cup of freshly brewed coffee in front of my face. My hands wrapped around the handle on one side and the smooth side on the other. I’d held it to my face just to let the steam rise up and tickle my nostrils with its tantalizing aroma. I was just about to take a sip when this little buzzing beauty stopped by.
Now she was fluttering outside my window, her wings barely visible, and her tiny eyes glaring in at me. I could almost read her thoughts as I watched her, and I think she was trying to tell me, “Hey lady, where’s the juice?” Oh my goodness, the juice! Sure enough, the chains were dangling, but the feeders were not there. They were put away since Christmas. I’ll get right on that, I thought to myself, and wanted to tell her, just as soon as I finish this magnificent cup of coffee.
I held my cup away from me, elbows perched on the table, and watched as my graceful guest took a quick flutter over the garden and then buzzed by my flower pots. I had two of them hanging on hooks on the porch and they were filled with some kind of succulent with red blossoms. Yes, I suppose that is what attracted her. In just a moment though she had lost interest in my vegetation, turned on her wings, kicked her engine into hyper-drive, and sped on a beeline off into the vast blue sky. “Come back! Come back! I wanted to say. “I’ll get them!” But it was too late. She was gone. Perhaps someone down the road has their feeders out for her.
As the last drop of coffee dangled from the brim of my big ceramic mug onto my waiting tongue I rousted myself into action. First I went to the cupboard where last I had put my feeders after washing them out last fall, put the kettle on the counter by the sink, and then got to work making a brand new batch of sweet nectar. As it was cooling I disassembled my pretty green glass feeders, then filled them up with the glistening liquid, and hung them on the empty hooks outside hoping the little darlings would give me a second chance tomorrow.
With that chore accomplished, I went to get dressed, made a list for the grocery shopping, and ran out the door before the heat of the day. As I drove down the street I happened to notice a banner hanging outside of a church. VBS it said, and the theme and the dates were listed. Wow, that’s right, summer break from school was right around the corner, wasn’t it! The town was soon to be inundated with restless little people with nothing to do. It got me thinking how much those VBS banners, tied to t-posts on the church lawns, were a lot like my hummingbird feeders. If they hang them, kids will come!!!
I thought back to my days of young motherhood and how VBS was a major staple of our summer activity list. It’s definitely how I entertained my kids when they were young. I felt with all the secular imbibing their little minds had taken in over the school year, they could really use some Spiritual flushing and rejuvinating over the summer. In fact, if I dealt my cards right, we could spend all summer doing the VBS circuit, and they could see how exciting the Bible can be. It was the perfect antidote to classroom withdrawal. The kids would get to hang with their friends, learn about Jesus, do crafts, play games, sing songs, have snacks, be active, and it all came with a minimal cost, a couple of canned goods, usually, and a small daily offering, .50 cents or a dollar maybe, tops.
I got to thinking how this old lady, with more time on my hands than good sense, could invest in her family, rather than be lazy, sitting on my couch all day, gazing out the window and watching life pass me by. At the same time, what a blessing it would be to get to relive some of my fondest memories of young motherhood.
As a young mom, I always looked so forward to summer. I thought of it as a time to unplug from secular mainstream and snuggle in with God. I thought of all the ways I could help try and tutor my kids in the subjects they struggled with so much during the school year, but we didn’t have the time to address. I thought of all the projects that needed done, that we could do together. Mother’s Day was usually about the time I put on my rose-colored sunglasses and started daydreaming of all the fun we were going to have over the summer. I envisioned the glorious bonding experiences – just the kids and me.
I always took advantage of the bargain priced summer passes for the roller-skating rink, Summer Movie Matinees, and swim lessons at the swimming pool, and could usually count on the cousins visiting for a few weeks in June or July, which would include camp-outs, sleep-overs, sunbathing on the roof, trampoline bouncing, playhouse lounging, bike riding, park picnics, hiking adventures, and various other backyard shenanigans. I made sure to have a freezer full of popsicles and all the stuff on hand to make Orange Julius’s and French toast.
I also remember how just when we were all starting to slip into lazy mode, sleep-in-til-8am, stay-up-til-midnight, TV-binge-watching, and oh so unproductive summer routines, every once in a great-great while I would selfishly crave a morning to myself, to spend outside in the fresh air, in my Bible with a hot cup of coffee, listing to a favorite worship CD, soaking up some blue skies and summer sun, the smell of blooming lilac bushes wafting in the air, green grass tickling between my toes, and the various birdie’s serenading. Ahhhhh!!!! the dew-covered serenity of it all!!! And what I would have given to be able to bask for just a few uninterrupted hours, without a kid whining for breakfast, or sniveling that they can’t find their shoes, or begging in their I’m-soooo-bored-voice if the neighbor kids can come over and play, pleeeeease? What I would have given for a grandparent to knock on my door and ask to kidnap the kids for a few solitary hours.
So, here I am, a decade and a half later, the grandparent. Slipping on the same rose-colored glasses and imagining how I can be a blessing to my grandkids like I tried to be for my kids. It’s easy to be lazy, but how much work is it really to get up, get dressed, pick up kids, take them to VBS’s, drop them off, and in a couple hours, repeat the process in reverse? How much trouble is it really to throw down a slab of clay, a box of crayons, a set of dominoes, a deck of cards, or a good book and spend an afternoon showing little people how to do it? How much trouble is it to drag out the sleeping bags, pop a bag of popcorn, and then camp out together and giggle in the guest bedroom on the king-sized bed watching movies until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer? How many memories can we pack into a day, a summer, a lifetime?
I shared my plan with my daughter one day before school got out. Bless her heart, she was more than happy not only to share her children with me and let me relive some of my best mom-moments with them, but to also go with me to all the churches in town and gather information. We made a notebook of all the information we could from the info stations of each church, and I started writing VBS dates on my calendar.
We found that pretty much every week of the summer some church or another in our town was having VBS, and the weeks that were empty, those weeks could be easily filled with other things that were available in our community, like gymnastics camp, movie matinees, library day, picnics at the park, Frisbee golf, hiking, floating the river, fishing, baseball games, rodeo, etc. Whatever was lacking in our town could be done at home: backyard movies, cookie baking, a lemonade stand, bike riding, learning a new board game, a homeschool science camp – using You Tube, a homeschool art camp – using You Tube, swimming, soaking our feet in tubs of sudsy water, crafts, Nerf gun wars, taking pictures, collecting items for craft projects, etc. There were also going to be birthday parties to host and attend, 4th of July fireworks, and bull riding would be in town the weekend before school started back again.
Well, the best laid plans of mice and men. Fast forward to September and can you guess how our summer flew by? It was hands-down one of the best summers EVER!!!!! One for the record books, for sure. We filled it with lots of sleepovers, VBS every week, visiting cousins, tons of crafting, “Hunter-Hunted” Nerf wars in the back yard with grandpa, yard-saling on Fridays, ice-cream, BBQ, hot dogs, watermelon, and everything else on the list. By mid-August we had been-there-done-that, seen it all, done it all, and had to start changing gears for back-to-school with clothes shopping and gathering supplies (and you know the whole love affair that goes with all of that NEW STUFF). By the time things started to slow down, which, honestly, they never did, it was right about perfect timing for the kids to start missing their routines, their desks, their friends, and could hardly wait for school to start again.
I want to encourage all you grandmas out there, that if this page full of rambling words has caught you in your jammies, sipping your morning coffee, and gazing out your window at the tiny hummingbirds scavenging for food, I hope you’ll think about the little people God has gathered to us, who are just as hungry for our time, our love, our attention, and a great big long sip of GRANDMA, as those returning hummers are for that red nectar.
I hope if your mind has sauntered off into a delicious daydream of motherhood-gone-by, that you’ll be spurned on to good works by GRANDMA-not-gone-yet. I hope if you have grandkids, and more time on your hands than good sense, that you’ll get busy and be useful before the little people in your life hyper drive off to another feeder (and be gone forever). I pray you feel equipped by what you’ve read here with an arsenal of great ideas to keep your family busy, Stuff it all into your ditty bag and unpack it with the ones you love while sipping a slushie lemonade in a hammack in the shade, all along the summer trails of life.
Oh that we would consider it all joy, to serve the precious darlings we’ve been so blessed to have in our lives. Oh that we would not waste another moment sitting around in our jammies staring out a window, but jump up and number our days, and sprint into action to redeem the time. May we treasure the memories that will be made, before a single tick-tock of life robs us of them! To the praise and glory of God!
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'”