(August 20) Fifth-Day-of-School Pictures

I love the "first day of school" pictures. My Facebook feed was overrun with them last week. Little kids going off to school for the first time gladly pose with backpacks that are twice their size. Is there anything cuter? Moms make sure that their little one is completely ready for the big first day. Everyone gets up early, the hair is combed, and the perfect outfit has been selected. Parents, filled with equal parts pride and fear, send their children off to start a new school year, and all collectively ask themselves, "How did they get this big, this fast?"

I often joke that what would be really interesting is to have mandatory "fifth day of school" pictures posted. You know day five? It's when the newness of the school year has worn off. The early rising has given way to oversleeping and there is barely enough time to get your shoes tied before the bus comes. Oh yes. The fifth day of school. Moms chasing their son out to the bus because he forgot his lunch. Dads turning around and going back to pick up the homework that was left on the dining room table. It is no longer new. It is no longer fun. It is just...normal.

Normal is where real life is lived. Normal is when you realize, as you are backing out of the driveway to take them to school, that your sweet little kiddo forgot to brush their teeth. Give them a piece of gum and call it good. Normal is when you look at your child's face and realize they have half their breakfast glued to their cheek. Oh, everyone knows what is coming next. Mom licks her thumb and goes in for the "mom scrub." Oh, the dreaded mom scrub! Is there anything worse?

None of this happened on the first day -- but this isn't the first day anymore. This is the fifth day and it's just about survival now. The first day? Everyone is up early and has time to spare. The fifth day? You just hope your child has shoes on.

Not every single day is a "first day of school" kind of day. And that is perfectly ok. We persevere. We live most of our lives in the very normal, very routine. We generally exist in the hectic waters somewhere between the thrill of the first day of school and the relief of the last day. A majority of our life is less than picture-perfect. Press on!

Proverbs 12:11 says, "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense." Working the land is not usually fun. Any given day may seem like more work than reward. Yet the hardworking farmer knows he must continually work the land day after day. True success is found in what we do when routine sets in.

When the honeymoon gives way to laundry...when the new furniture has been stained with kool-aid...when the thrill of making the football team turns to running sprints with no end in sight...this is where real life takes place and where perseverance is required.

So do not get discouraged if you feel like your family rarely can pull off the "first day of school" look. It's ok -- you don't have to do it again for another 360 days or so. In the meantime, live life to the fullest. Embrace the normalcy and thrive in the routine.

Another translation states Proverbs 12:11 this way: "Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense." Do not chase fantasies. Do not try to make your life or your family appear to be fantasy-land. No one's life is perfect. So enjoy whatever this normal day brings your way. Make the most of your time and make a difference in the life of someone else. Choose to work the land rather than chasing after fantasies.

Work your land. Invest in your marriage. Spend time with your children. Get to know someone new. Work the land. Those who do, have plenty of bread the proverb says. You will have what you need when you learn to enjoy what you have already been given.


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