Clues to a Perfect Life (Part 2)
A perfect life isn’t built by planning, scheming, and orchestrating it into what we think it should be. A perfect life is discovered.
And the discovery transpires through our perfect days.
Last week, I began a series on how to discover Clues For a Perfect Life. No, not perfect in the first definition of the word, “as good as it is possible to be,” but “perfect” in the sense of the second definition of the word: “absolute, complete, used for emphasis.”
Life can be complete.
I stumbled upon a quote during our own vacation to Duck a few weeks ago, that made me sit up and take notice:
“Perfect days can give clues to a perfect life.”
We all have those days when we wish they would last just a little bit longer. We feel a sense of eternity in our hearts, a sense of joy clings to our spirits. On days like this, life feels complete.
Those feelings and experiences live in our lives as clues, and on days like this, we should gather those clues and carry them in our pocket. We should write them down in a journal and speak of them with our spouses, and listen for the voice of God in them.
Today, I’m sharing three more clues I discovered while reflecting on our time at the Outer Banks, that I hope will inspire you to look more closely at your own life.
When you take a vacation this summer or find yourself wishing the day would last just a little bit long, sit up and take notice of what makes the day seem perfect. These are clues for the perfect life.
Every family is unique and different, but we are also similar in more ways than we think. I’m hoping the clues I’ve discovered can inspire you to create a life of perfect days ... magical, joyful, and beautiful.
Clue #4: A Loose Schedule Can Lighten the Burden of the Everyday
Have you ever noticed how a time crunch can steal the joy out of most things?
I love cooking. But when my time is limited, it becomes more of a chore, one more thing to cross off of the list, rather than a creative endeavor used to bring the family together.
This can be true of most physical activities. Making beds, going to the grocery store, mowing the grass can all seem burdensome because there is no time and space in our crowded days.
But when we were at the ocean, after a day out on the sand reading and writing, I found coming home to prepare dinner a joy, a welcome change. Only because I had provided adequate margin in my day for play and soul care.
In Gift from the Sea, Lindbergh observes,
“Most of these physical chores would be burdens at home, where my life is crowded and schedules tight. There I have a house full of children and I am responsible for many people’s lives. Here, where there is time and space, the physical tasks are a welcome change.They balance my life in a way I find refreshing and in which I seldom feel refreshed at home.”
At the Outer Banks, meals were savored. I kept them simple but took time to enjoy each bite, relishing the communion with my family around me. I wasn’t rushed in the preparation as our schedule was loose.
One evening, we went out with the pixies for a “fancy” dinner at the Paper Canoe. It was memorable to see them act so grown-up, wearing special dresses, behaving proper. The occasion was not lost on them … or me.
They ordered specialty pastas and we devoured the most delicious bread together. Bread is always better when there is scrumptious dipping sauce. The pixies branched out, eating what they might have stuck their noses up at before. All because the meal was “special”.
I found myself asking, “Why don’t we do this more often at home?”
The answer is simple. My schedule is too crowded. I don’t take the time to prepare, adding special touches of delight to the meal. I rush through making dinner, knowing that after dinner my to-do list awaits.
Instead, might I savor the process of cooking rather than seeing it as another task to get through?
There is no anticipation of the beauty to come. If I would put more thought and take more time to incorporate beauty into our gatherings at the table, mealtimes could be magical, which leads to the fifth clue.
Clue #5: Make Mealtimes Magical
Our dinner out revealed to me the importance of making mealtimes magical. It’s amazing how olive oil with spices in a dish can create wonder.
“We dip our bread in it? It’s so tasty!”
After our trip, I found myself asking, “How can I be more thoughtful in our mealtimes? Rather than selfishly rushing through dinner so I can get to the things I want to do, is there a way to savor the meal and slow it down?”
I only have so many years to have my girls sit around our table. What do I want them to remember about our time together?
I think this is such an important question to ask. The memories you establish around the table together are the memories they will carry with them years later.
In her book, Here Now, Kate Merrick writes,
“Mealtimes are a gift. They are a time to stop what we are doing … and refill the body … How have we forgotten the beautiful significance of this very primal activity? What have we become that we throw this gift away?”
So, light the candles. Put out the goblets. Pour the sparkly drink. Serve the oil with the bread. And talk. Savor the conversation. Laugh at the little things. Work together cleaning up. Feel the magic.
How can I bring the pixies into the eating experience, giving them each a role to play? How can I teach my girls to receive food as a gift? How can we sit at the table and notice the beauty of the soul sitting across from us?
Tomorrow, when I head to the grocery store, these are the questions I’m asking. I’m looking for little things to bring the magic into mealtime. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A little oil, a little sparkle. A simple meal can still be magical.
Sit. Savor. Feel the magic of mealtime.
Clue #6: Say “Yes” Way More Than You Say “No”
This last clue is just plain fun. Whenever the pixies would ask Tim for something while we were at Duck, his common response was, “Yes. The answer is always ‘yes’ because we are on vacation.”
After awhile, we started to laugh about it. The pixies caught on quickly, and started to shoot for the moon in their requests.
Is life not a bit more complete when we find ourselves saying “Yes” more often than “No”?
Yes, I know that for many of us, “No” is a word we need to learn because of our overcommitments. But I am not talking about learning to say “No” in response to breaking out of the people-pleasing mold. I am referring to the joy of saying “Yes” to adventure, life, God.
Because, after all, isn’t this what He says to us,
“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus ... God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20-22, MSG)
Yes gives a feeling of lightness and freedom. The days feel lighter, the tasks sweeter. We get the sense that things are only going to get better.
So I dare you this week to say “Yes” more than you hear yourself saying “No” to God, your spouse, your kids. You might find yourself laughing when you least expect it.
These three simple clues I hope will inspire you on your journey to discovering a perfect life.
Remember, days like this, when the sky seems bluer, the air crisper, are just glimpses of the eternal He has placed within us. How can we bring that heaven culture to earth?
I look forward to sharing three other clues next week that relate to simplifying, getting outdoors, and letting go of control. Let’s see where the clues take us.