It’s seven A.M. and I have already retrieved my son from the neighbor’s yard. They woke up to find him staring in their back window with a toy sword shoved down the back of his shirt in the hopes that one of their kids would come out and play.

Just as I get the four-year-old back to the house I see my two-year-old’s tongue pressed against the glass of the sliding back door.

“Buddy don’t lick the window,” I say, mentally adding another strange instruction to my list of things I never thought I’d say.

Then, I notice the smell of chili powder and… curry? It’s coming from the kitchen. With the two-year-old safely removed from the horrors of my sliding glass door, which ironically actually looks cleaner than it did before, I hurry to find our six-year-old with every spice imaginable pulled from the cupboard and red puffs rising from the bowl she grips in the crook of her little arm, “Look Mommy! I decided to make taco seasoning for Poppy! Do you think he’ll like it?”

Before I can answer, she’s licked her finger, thrust it into the mixture and declared, “It needs more salt. Will you taste it?”

A strangled sound comes from my mouth, and based on my daughter’s face, I can tell she’s not sure whether I’m going to laugh or cry. I’m not sure either.

Welcome to my life. If I could sum it up in one word, that would probably be, “Messy”.

agoodcause - volunteer

I know I’m not the only one, just as you think you’re about to have time to do more, to volunteer, to spend time getting to know the community, life changes, things come up, it gets hard. I was once asked by someone about a service my church offers, he said, “I always hear people say they love doing it, but they can’t seem to find the time. If it’s really that great, why is it so hard to get out and do it?”

It’s tempting to say because I’m too busy chasing my son out of the neighbor’s yard to leave the house, let alone do service. Or, if I have some extra cash, I’m getting a babysitter!

And I doubt anyone would judge me if I did say that, but the truth is that the very reasons we have trouble leaving the house to volunteer or donate are the very reasons why we need to.

I’m reminded of a time a neighbor was sick and in need of some meals. At the time, we only had one vehicle and one child. I made dinner, packed my daughter into the stroller, and headed out to do some service. Five years later, I don’t remember the crazy details of that day, but I do remember how I felt when I left home for a moment and thought about someone else’s needs instead of my own. I remember thinking how much easier it was than I had expected, and I remember the joy on my neighbor’s face as she played with my daughter. The entire experience wasn’t an interruption to my day, it was a break.

I’m not advocating putting so much pressure on ourselves that we break from the burden of it all, but I’ve learned from experience that when we give where we can, our own trials seem lighter, and we can step back just enough to push the strangled laugh-cry into genuine mirth. Life isn’t going to get any less crazy, but by giving of ourselves the crazy is put into perspective, and it turns out, a little crazy can be a lot of fun.

Author:  Amber Mae


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