Monday, August 11, 2008

Tea Time?

If you are wondering what "Tea Time" is all about, you can be sure that no one is more surprised by the content of this post than I am. For me, "tea time" would normally appear as "tee time"... as in, I have a "tee time" at such and such a time on such and such a day at such and such a golf course... as in, last Wednesday (my 39th birthday, incidentally!) I had a 9:20am "tee time"... as in, Lord willing, I'll have an appointment this Thursday morning to "tee it up."

And by the way, before moving on, I should mention here that I realize how very fortunate I am to have a wife who enjoys letting me enjoy this wonderfully frustrating game that I like to play so much.

Now to the real point...

Nicol, Summer and I were having lunch today and I noticed a gentleman one booth away from ours sort of going out of his way to get Summer's attention. I have to admit that at first I was a little skeptical of his antics... sorry, but you just never know these days... and by the way, in the unlikely event that one of you reading this post happens to be that guy, please forgive me for my first impression because I'm quite grateful for the very important reminder you gave me today... thanks!

Anyway, here's what he was saying to Summer: "You need to have your daddy go buy you a tea set." She didn't have a clue what he was talking about. And I, well, my mouth said, "Yeah, yeah, great idea!" while my head was shouting, "Not!" (ever have those moments?) I didn't have any intention of getting her a tea set and the odds were very good at that point that I would have made a tee time for Thursday morning long before I would have gone looking for a tea set. Not that I didn't think it would be a good thing. I just wasn't really tracking along with the guy. Nicol, on the other hand, was into the idea. She wanted to go right then to this cool little gift store called Raspberry Row, which was nextdoor to the restaurant we were at - how convenient! - and look for a tea set. I thought better of it and said we could do it later. I guess it was at that point that my mindset began to change and I thought maybe it would be a pretty good thing to take the guy's advice.

A few minutes later I ran into our ambitious dining neighbor near the cash register as we were paying for our meals (you do see what's coming, don't you?). He began to tell me about his three daughters and that he had raised them all by himself and that I better be aware that "they grow up so fast" and "they'll be out of the house before you know it" and "watch out when they turn 15 or 16 and the boys come calling." And I was thinking, dude, you're really depressing me. And then I thought, forget the tea set, what I really need to go buy is a baseball bat for when the boys do come calling... just kidding, sort of... the thought has crossed my mind a time or two... watch out boys, I'll probably go with aluminum rather than wood... it's more durable. :-)

I thanked the guy for the reminder, paid our bill, and went back to sit with Nicol and our friend, Linda, who had just joined us. Then I said to myself, "I'm going to take Summer next door and see if they have any tea sets." So off we went. I was pretty sure at this point that they wouldn't have any, but it's the thought that counts, right? Besides, like the guy had suggested, we could always pick one up at WalMart. So we go in the store and Summer, as she always seems to do, spotted a purse that she just had to have, then candy, then earrings and necklaces, then a couple of bright, polka-dotted wallets, then a pair of Crocs, then some candles, and finally a pack of rather large gumballs. (Sorry to the store clerk... I'm sure you have spent the rest of your afternoon picking up after us.) After running from one end of the store to the other, I was finally able to ask the clerk if she had any tea sets, to which she replied "Yes" and showed me to the display shelf at the front of the store. I opened up the box, gave it a quick look, asked Summer if she liked it, waited for her response (Yeah, I like it!), and decided to get it. And so I did.

Now there are two things that really stick out to me about this "tea time" vs. "tee time" thing.

One, I am amazed at the activity of God in our lives and, more specifically, I am struck at how He is able to use the most "oh-hum" moments of the day to kindly teach us some of life's most important lessons. Seriously, is it not incredible that He can take something as simple as "Hey little girl, you need to have your daddy buy you a tea set" and turn it into "Hey Summer, you like this? Cool, let's buy it and have tea with mommy!"? I am reminded that it's far too easy (common?) to pass off the mundane as totally random or unexpected, even strange and meaningless. But I become increasingly convinced that while waiting for those "flashes of light" moments, I may be missing out on some of the grandest displays of God's activity in my life... displays that I often overlook and dismiss as pointless.

Two, priorities matter. One of the things I struggled with most when Luke died, on the guilt side of things anyway, was the fact that I hadn't spent as much time with him as I wished I had. He had been colicey and I couldn't comfort him like Nicol was able to. So for the time we had him, to a certain extent it was sort of Nicol and Luke, and Summer and I. As any newborn does, he took a ton of Nicol's time and energy, and Summer needed me, so I wasn't able to be with him like I was with Summer when she was an infant. I felt terrible guilt over this... and still do at times. Then I began to think, "You shouldn't have been working out in the yard, or playing golf, or having breakfast with the guys, or watching that game, or..." On and on it went. Guilt over priorities.

I tell you this only to say that some of the guilt was real, some was false. In some cases, I should have made different decisions, in others it was just the way things worked out. But the point can't be missed: priorities matter. I can only tell you that when Luke died, never did I say, "I wish I had been away more doing this or that, or played just one more round of golf, or spent just one more hour cutting the grass or planting trees or pulling weeds, or stayed up watching just one more ballgame, or hung out with the guys just one more time, or..." Never. Not one single time. My first and only thought was, "No, this hasn't been enough time with our son. Not now. He's only 10 weeks old." The truth is, I'd give anything to have just one more minute with him.

God is at work... even in the smallest of things.

Priorities matter.

So I guess I'll sit down with Nicol and Summer and we'll all have tea together sometime real soon... maybe tomorrow.

And by God's grace I'll pay more attention to the next bit of pointlessness that comes my way.

37 comments:

Shawn said...

Greg,
Make sure you bring that tea-set with you when you come next time. I know some big girl cousins who would love to join you and Sum-Sum for tea. ;o)

Good reminder about priorities. You hit the nail on the head-again. Thanks for sharing your thots, bro.

Love, Shawn

Amanda Rooney said...

Greg,
You don't know me. But I have four children - 3 boys and 1 girl. And Kate has her Daddy wrapped around her whole hand (not just the pinky). She got a tea set from my Mother for her 1st birthday. And I had to tell you that when she is in the mood to have "tea", she always invites her Daddy (JUST Daddy). It has become their special time. Oh - and they don't drink tea - its hot chocolate!

I hope you and Summer make great memories with the tea set!

Continuing to pray for comfort and healing for your family,
Amanda

Amanda Rooney said...

Greg,
You don't know me. I am a mother of four - 3 boys and 1 girl. Kate has her Daddy wrapped around her whole hand (not just the pinky). My mother gave her a tea set for her first birthday. She invites her Daddy (only) when she wats to have a tea party. And they don't have tea - they have hot chocolate, but call it tea! It's become one of their "special" times. I had to share because I hope this becomes a special time for you and Summer as well!

Continuing to pray for comfort and healing for you & your family,
Amanda

Lisa-Cinti,Ohio said...

HI Greg, Nicol and Summer,

Thank you for the reminder. I too often choose to do mundane things like clean the house, do the laundry, check my email way too often when I should be spending time with our kids (5, 9). I am often guilty when I am leaving work early and they are still with the sitter but I go home to just chill out and recover from the madness of the working with Special Needs kids all day. I savor those moments of quiet a little too often. I am writing this after I just came home from taking my kids to the park to play after dinner. Its not so much they want to play with me at this age, but they want to go play and I just sit and watch. Tonight my 5 yr old did the monkey bars by himself completely and totally by himself and I got to cheer him on from the bench and that was ok with him. So yes priorities are a must! Thank you for your beautiful reminder of that. I also think that sometimes I do not see when God is telling me something -thinking its just a coincidence it happened, but in reality I find out it was definitely God making it happen!
I pray that each day gets a little easier for each of you, that the pain lessens as each day dawns, our God is big enough, as one of my favorite songs by Chris Rice says talking about asking God questions.. God I figured your big enough, cause I am not big enough.

Lisa

created2teach said...

WOW! Well said. I have noticed in my own life that my image of my daddy influenced my image of God. Spend tea time with her, and when she is old enough, spend tee time with her too. Not only will you build a wonderful daughter/daddy relationship, but you will foster her relationship with her Father!

I would love to hug your wife and tell how much she has ministered to me. She has probably heard it thousands of times. My oldest child is 10 and gets weepy everytime we sing I Bless Your Name. And I, of course, always think of Nicol.
Blessings

Stuarts said...

A special memory for you and your daughter to share together. I hope you have many memory filled tea parties with Summer, even if it requires you to put on a frilly hat and sip with your pinky raised :)

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful reminder. God can invade the smallest parts of our lives with His hugeness at any point. We need to be so conscious to be aware of Him!

There's a great book we have that you might want to pick up to go with the tea set...it's called "Just Mom and Me Having Tea", and it's a great little devotional book for little girls and their Mommy's at tea-time. I got it at CBD for Grace.

I'm sure Summer and Nicol would love it.

God bless,
Elizabeth

Mocha with Linda said...

Summer is blessed to have you for her daddy.

maggieallen123 said...

Hey,

Thank you for sharing your day with us! I love your reminders of priorities and what is really important in life. It was good to hear you say that you had true and FALSE guilt...because I really believe satan wants to completely keep you guilt ridden never to be able to raise your head again. It is good to recognize that false guilt so you can hopefully throw it off and not carry it with you.
The whole time I was watching Steven Curtis Chapman's family on Larry King I was hoping so badly that y'all were watching it as well. I loved what he said about the "bread crumbs" of life. That God gives us little bread crumbs of sustenance to help us walk again and be able to get up in the morning and help us heal.
Thank you again for reminding me what is important.
Please let Nicol know that I have downloaded about 6 of her songs on iTunes and I listen to them everyday at work. Press On and Resurrection are my favorite and also they are my prayer your family.
Love,
Becky

jilljohnandhope said...

Thanks for the reminder. I sent my daughter to bed tonight after only one book, when what she wanted was to read 3 books ("cause I'm 3" she says.) I can promise that tomorrow, we will read 3 'cause she's 3.

Skerry said...

I have a 10 yr old daughter and one of our favorite ways to spend time together is to visit a local tea room and get lunch. She loves picking out the tea we will have, drinking out of the fancy tea cups. It is our time and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Thank you for such a touching reminder to make time with our families a priority. My continued thoughts and prayers for your family.

Anonymous said...

Tea time or tee time for you and Summer--all time spent well together, when time is at a premium.
I am reminded that you were a tiny bundle once, and you grew into a fine young man--"train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it."
Blessings today and always, as you listen to and heed the advice of the neighboring empty nest parents sitting across the way.

daniella said...

Greg,

I've been following your blog since Angie introduced it on hers. I admire the way you listen to our Father and share it with us here on this blog. Many husbands and fathers can learn a great deal from you.
daniella summers
www.ChuckandJoshiella.blogspot.com

marcifarci said...

Gregory D ~
You're killin' me here! The things you blog are so deep and insightful.
Oh to be carefree and happy again! I often wish things were like they were when we were kids. We had alot of fun didn't we??? We probably even had tea at Grammie's a time or two. Although, I've never had a "tee time" I'm glad you are having some good moments that you can smile over. Hope you had a good B-day, that means my B-day is only 6mos. away and I'll be 39, Holy Cow!
You are a wonderful person and I'm lucky to be your cousin. Keep in touch!
Love You Much!
Marci Ann

amanda said...

Oh, the memories I have of tea parties with my Grandma...you're starting a great thing with Summer! :) Thank you for sharing!

sheila said...

Greg,
Thank you for your honesty. My husband stays home with our children while I work outside of the home. Satan loves to give us guilt. I remember one day coming home from work and seeing my big, strong husband sitting on the floor with barretts and ribbons all through his hair. His two little girls were just giggling. We now have two boys also and there are times when I just want the clock to stop. I just said to my husband this morning as I was snuggling with Owen, who is one, I want to remember everything about this stage, but somehow I know I won't. It will blend into the past. Fortunately there things that my mind will give me and pictures help. An older gentlemen gave me some great advice one day while I was in the store with my two daughters, then 3 & 4. I must of been looking harried and probably not 'christian motherly' type. lol. He said, 'Excuse mam, The days are long, but the years go fast.' Yeah, ok I thought, now let me just get out of this store without anyone else trying to run away. But later I thought of that and now 4 yrs later, it is still one of my favorite. I don't always stop and live the moment, but I am trying to put my priorities in order. God is good, I mean sometimes he is so patient with me he'll get a child to beg and whine before I finally get the hint. (Reverse pschology??). I was reading a book on Esther, Chuck Swindoll's and he talks about building monuments of life's events so we can look back and remember what he brought us through and celebrate. I always thought it was ironic that we lost our third child on Thanksgiving Day 2003. God is so bigger than my thoughts and my ability to comprehend. He takes care of us and has proved himself over and over again, I need to put up some monuments, I want to be able to testify to my children how amazing our God is. Take care of those two beautiful girls in our life Greg. I will continue to pray for healing and comfort at the dark times. (I love to look at the picture at the top of the page of Luke & Summer, he just has such a kissable chin.) Love, sheila

Gail Lynn said...

Greg: The memories you will make with Summer and Nicol will be priceless. You will teach Summer so much so much about a Father's Love!!! God bless you as you learn to make memories of the small things in life.

Denise said...

What a beautiful story.
As I get ready to send my oldest "baby" to kindergarten next week, I'm filled with guilt and regret . . . for each and every day that I didn't seize the opportunity to spend time with her in a meaningful way. I have a whole list of things I want to do with her in the next week . . . I think I'll add a "tea party" to that list today : )

Julie Doody said...

Greg,
Your words have rung very true. And we are all guilty of not noticing the "little" things that God puts in our lives. Unfortunately too many times we think that God needs to strike us in the forehead with something big. It's not always that way!

You and Summer will have very special memories of tea parties together! Something so simple yet so special.

I'm glad to see that you are enjoying "tee time". You and Nicol and the rest of your family remains in our thoughts and prayers!

Take care & thanks for sharing. I hope it helps to heal you and bring others to the HOPE that we have!
Love, Julie & Adam

Tasha said...

What a good daddy you are!Summer is so blessed to have a man in her life as sensetive and caring as you.You remind me of my husband.We have 2 daughters and he plays kitchen with our three year old.She takes his order like a little waitress and then makes the food in her play kitchen.Her little face just lights up.God bless you.And I pray that you will not have thoughts of false doubts.Take care~Tasha in Indiana~

Angela said...

Greg,

Tea time won't be a stretch for you at all. You are a very tender, compassionate Daddy.

We are blessed, even in the midst of mourning (Matt 5:4), when God is present and involved in our lives. I am so thankful that you see His hand even in small things like the kindly suggestion of tea time from a (very wise ;)) total stranger.

Love you!
Sis

Your Wife said...

Words cant explain the saddnes that I have for your loss,thank you for sharing so we can pray for you and share the burden.
My prayers are with your family andlike your blog says Your are being a light in this world.
We have 3 kids 11girl,9boy and 5 weeks old boy.
Such an inspiration for our walk with Christ.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughtful reminders. I pray for your family every day. Your message is powerful and one that will stick with me for a long time (every single day, I'm sure). Peace be with you and your family.

candesintx said...

So many times I stress over a house waiting to be cleaned that I rush through bed time routines. How proposterous!

I've made a concerted effort to take a deep breath, read a story (twice)and kiss little heads good night.

If it was our last moments together I want it to be special. Always. Perhaps that's a mother's heart (paranoid?). I don't always remember to slow down but I'm trying.

Kristy said...

That is the sweetest reminder for all of us. Thank you.

Praying for your family - to the God of all Comfort.

Blessings

Sheri said...

This is a great post. Well, they all have been. Thank you for the reminder. So many of us get involved in other things and miss out on what is important. Including me. Must look for a tea set for my Gracie.

I am praying for you guys.

Michelle said...

God Bless you and your family- May God continue to use you to show us all what is really important in life~

krista said...

Another wonderful blog, Greg! Thank you so much for letting us into your thoughts. Love you lots.

xo
KJ

georgia tarheel said...

Good wise instruction. Thank you for sharing with us. Tea parties are something I remember doing, whether with my sisters or on the bottom of the pool with friends (those are the quickest!)! Tea time...brings back good memories.

Still praying for you all.

Leah said...

Wonderful post...thank you for reminding me I need to be better about my priorities...life is short...you just never know...

Amanda said...

What a sweet post... I am ready for tea time with my daughter...

Jennifer said...

Greg & Nichol,

Thanks for really sharing your thoughts. We continue to pray for both of you and Summer. God is on the throne and He loves you all so much. Our son, Kyler, went to live with Jesus 4 years ago. God has been incredibly faithful and our walk with Him has been much closer. I believe that through the hard times God is preparing us for a greater service for His honor and glory. Praying that God's love and grace will continue to strengthen and sustain you.
In Christ, Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Greg & Nicol,
I found your site through Angie's. And I found hers while searching for Selah's music. It had been recommended to me as music that would heal the spirit. See, on March 27th of this year, my daughter lost her first baby, my first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl named Sophia. As you said in one of your previous posts...our lives changed in an instant. She was due to be born a week later and when my daughter when to her regular doctor's appt. that morning, our nightmare started. So I wanted to take this moment to tell you how healing it is to me to read your blog...because everything that you are feeling we feel too...and you give me so much strength on those days when my faith is not as strong as it should be. Thank you for being so brave to write about what you are going through, I know how hard it has to be. Luke was so beautiful...and I know that he, Audrey and Sophia are playing up in heaven with all the other little angels!

Hugs to both of you!
Maria Paris
California
maru2656@msn.com

NC Mommy said...

Greg,
Nicol has been a huge musical inspiration to me for many years. Her songs helped to carry me through the loss of my own baby four years ago. I can't tell you how many times I listened to "It Is Well With My Soul" and "Draw Me, Lord" in those dark hours.

As I read and heard about the tragedy that has been visited on your family, my heart has broken for you. I have wept bitter tears for you and for what SHOULD have been for your family.

Please know that there is a family in North Carolina that prays daily for your comfort, peace, and strength to get through each hour as you deal with the loss of your beautiful boy. We pray for God's protection of your marriage, for solace and blissful ignorance of her parents' pain for Summer, and the balm of Gilead for your hurting hearts. We find comfort in the fact that we WILL see our little one again, and hope that you will find comfort there too-- Luke is just a little ways away, waiting for you in the arms of our Savior.

Jennifer said...

Greg & Nichol,

I previously commented and mentioned that we have a son named Kyler in heaven. We have a blog if you'd like to see what God has been doing in our lives the past 4 years. In case you can't open it it's www.evansfamily97.blogspot.com

Keep holding on to Jesus,
Jennifer

dlyn said...

There is nothing more poetic and blessed than seeing a grown man hold a tiny teacup between his forefinger and thumb while he has a tea party with his little daughter.

Tasha said...

Okay,I guess I have had the volume down on my computer each time I have read your blog because I heard the song With Hope for the first time today.WOW,that is powerfull.The tears were flowing as I looked at Luke's sweet little face.Bless your hearts today and always.