Summer Time (and why it shouldn’t be wasted)

Yesterday my 15-year old daughter approached me in the hallway of our home and asked me a question. With utmost sincerity and concern, she said, “Mom, are we having money problems?”

 

“Money problems? No. We’re not having money problems,” I answered. “Why are you asking me that?”

 

“Because I noticed that this week you keep turning off all of the lights in the house.”

 

“Like in the rooms that no one is in…in the middle of the day?” I asked with utmost sarcasm and cynicism. “Of course I’m turning them off. IT’S WASTING ELECTRICITY!”

 

I couldn’t believe she had asked me that! I mean, she’s lived with me for 15 years so even if I had only said, “Don’t leave the lights on. That’s wasting electricity!” once a week for the entirety of her lifetime that’s 780 times! And I know I say it more than once a week. (It’s from my Mom Playlist which is on constant rotation. Others hits include: “For the love of air conditioning, close the door!” and “Why are there so many shoes in the living room?” and “This is my drink. Get your own.” and for our youngest family member: “Are you wearing underwear?”)

 

There’s just something hardwired in me that can’t stand to waste things—electricity, water, food. It feels so extravagant (not in a good way) to dump half of a casserole in the trashcan because you forgot it was there and now there’s a gray fur growing on it. So much time and effort and cream of chicken soup to be discarded as if there aren’t starving people all over the world! It bothers me to no end.

 

Even Jesus saw the value in leftovers after He fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. He told the Apostles to wander all over their mountainside picnic area and collect what wasn’t eaten. I’d like to think every bit of the contents of those 12 baskets were eventually eaten and savored for the delicious, miraculous leftovers they were.

 

Now that I’m in the slow, sweet days of summer break—a place that really only feels different from the rest of the year if you’re a teacher, a student, or a parent of a student—I feel extra motivated not to be wasteful, and I don’t want my kids to waste this time either.

 

I want them to play in the rain.

I want them to catch lightning bugs.

I want them to lose track of time while they read good books.

I want our family to do things after 8:00 pm on weeknights: start a movie, go get ice cream, play Frisbee or freeze tag or some game we invent on the spot in the backyard and commit to it until it’s too dark to see each other’s faces.

 

We are so often warned to be good stewards of all the blessings we’ve been so graciously given. Perhaps the most abundant yet most wasted gift is time. I will try—starting with the months of June and July—to make the most of what I have.

A good laugh

The following is a recent conversation with my 6-year old son, a newcomer to the English language:

 

Ezra (from the backseat): Mom, konk konk.

Me: Um…

Ezra (a little louder): Konk! Konk!

Me: Okay. (feeling defensive)

Ezra: No. You talk “what?”

Me: What?

Ezra: Hamburger.

Me: Hamburger.

Ezra: Hamburger stinky on a bus. Ha, ha, ha. Now, you turn.

Me: Oh! (just beginning to figure out what he’s talking about) Knock, knock.

Ezra: What?

Me: No. You say “who’s there?”

Ezra: Who there?

Me: Boo.

Ezra: Boo what?

Me: No. You say “boo who?”

Ezra: Boo who?

Me: Boo hoo? Hey, why are you crying?

Ezra: Me not crying. Me not laughing either. Boo Who not funny. Stinky Hamburger is funny.

 

I’ve never been all that great at remembering jokes. Usually, if someone puts me on the spot and asks me to tell a joke, I draw a blank. And anyway, who really laughs that hard at a knock-knock joke or a posing of the eternal question about the chicken who crossed the road? To me funniest material is anecdotal. True (and probably exaggerated) stories about people in familiar but absurd situations. Anecdotes just close enough to my own reality to be applicable delivered by a true storyteller are comedy gold.

 

I don’t mean to give the idea that my brand of humor is overly highbrow and intellectual. Years ago, my husband, sister, brother-in-law and I laughed like lunatics for half an hour just by blowing into our hands to make tooting noises in their living room. It was a magical recipe of exhaustion, late night, funny sounds, and adults acting like kids. We’ve never attempted to recreate the situation again.

 

A keyword search of “laugh” in the Bible reveals a mostly not-so-funny picture. Several references are from Abraham and Sarah’s exchange about the improbability of them becoming parents at such an old age. Then there are the “We’ll become laughingstocks” references in the Old Testament made by the Israelites questioning their obedience to God in all things. Surprisingly, the overall depressing book of Job has a sizable share of laugh verses along with Ecclesiastes’ “a time to weep and a time to laugh.”

 

All in all, it doesn’t reveal that God has a particular fondness for laughing. In other words, we may not have Open Mic Nights in Heaven for rising comedians. In spite of the lack of comedic evidence in the Bible, just knowing that we’re made in His image makes me believe that God loves a good chuckle. (Plus He makes us go through puberty. Surely He cracked up when He first invented that one.)

 

There’s nothing quite like a hearty, tear-producing laugh. One that makes you have to cross your legs so you don’t wet your pants. One that lasts longer due to your company of fellow laughers. One that makes your abs hurt like you’ve been doing 100 sit-ups. One that makes you sigh satisfactorily when you’re finished, wiping your eyes and rubbing your sore cheeks.

 

We may not find humor in all the same things, but I feel pretty confident in saying that all of us love a good laugh.

My favorite stand up comedian taking a bow.