Embrace the wow of now

Written by Nicole Zasowski
Published on May 31, 2022

It was Sunday afternoon and our new family of five—including our brand-new daughter, Annie—was doing our best to leave the house and make the fifty-yard trip from our front door to our neighborhood community beach. 

It seems to me that the preparation and clean up for such trips these days takes longer than the time we actually enjoy Connecticut’s shoreline. But I reminded myself that memory- making is a worthy investment, and it takes the time it takes. 

Sometimes the process is the point, I told myself yet again as I rubbed every square inch of my kids’ limbs with sunscreen. 

Wisdom from a child

James, sensing my pending exasperation, said, “Just embrace the wow of now, Mom.” I am unsure whether to credit his old soul or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood—a sort of remake of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and his favorite show. 

Wherever it came from, I decided it was a good idea, and I heeded his wisdom (I found out later this was, indeed, the wisdom of Daniel Tiger). 

For every person in the family we packed towels, beach toys, spare chairs in case all the Adirondack chairs at the beach were occupied, drinks and snacks, bug spray, and all the supplies needed for a lemonade stand. 

James, now five years old, had begged Jimmy and me all summer to have a lemonade stand. In the midst of a full season, it seemed this bucket-list item kept getting pushed out, and today was the day. 

We decided that taking our lemonade stand to the beach where most of the neighborhood spent the weekend together would be a nice way to engage with the neighbors. Also, we felt that having a few customers would make for a more encouraging experience for James. 

A community activity

When our stroller brigade had made it to the beach, we promptly set up camp, including the much-anticipated lemonade stand: ice, several jugs of lemonade, and a choice of red or blue plastic cups stacked on a picnic table. We had planned to serve complimentary lemonade, but the neighbors insisted on encouraging James’s entrepreneurial spirit and began handing him money in exchange for a cup, which of course we refused. 

Finally, we compromised and allowed the neighbors to pay James in pieces of sea glass—a currency that was more than acceptable to James and one that he was probably more excited about anyway. 

This started a neighborhood sea-glass hunt on the beach. Adults and kids alike would cheer when they found pieces of sea glass in the sand. Many shared their spoils with fellow neighbors who had yet to spot a piece and promptly brought them to James in exchange for their cold treat. 

After about forty-five minutes, our neighborhood beach looked like a family-friendly party. 

I smiled watching James handle each piece of sea glass with reverence and take pride in handing every neighbor, old and young, a cup of lemonade. 

Together, we celebrated the long days of summer, new friends, and the gift of community. We laughed and made space for play and delighted in the beauty of the boats parading in and out of Long Island Sound. 

When the last cup had been poured, James fell into the Adirondack chair next to mine, exhausted, as if he’d reached the chair from the farthest corner of the world. I snuggled sweet Annie, sweaty on my chest as I brushed James’s hair away from his tired eyes, keeping one eye fixed on Charlie who was playing with, but mostly consuming, the sand. 

I watched the bow of a speedboat rip the water into wings of spray. I noticed the sunbeams climb down the oak trees that hovered in the corners of the beach as Long Island Sound pulled its shining sheets over the shore.

Interacting with God in celebration

It wasn’t long ago that this scene—or joy and celebration of any kind, really—would leave me feeling uneasy and afraid, unsure of God’s presence in my joy and confused about how to interact with him in celebration. 

I’m learning to talk to God with excitement about my dreams, believing that he is eager to hear them and keeping my gaze focused into the future with an expectant heart. 

I recognize God’s presence in both the seemingly mundane and monumental joys in my life. I love celebrating with God instead of seeing celebration as merely the result of the struggles God has carried me through. 

I talk to God about what brings me delight instead of waiting for desperation to connect us. In my most innocent, childlike imagination, I see God basking in this scene, elbows nearly touching mine in the Adirondack chair beside me, lifting his face to the warmth of the sun and marveling at the goodness before us. 

He’s laughing with gladness alongside me as he watches me delight in his gifts. 

He’s not surprised by his own abundance and generosity. But he celebrates with me wholeheartedly, and his voice is tender in this joyful place too. 

He’s cheering on my kids—his kids—as they interact with the world he made. Maybe, sitting next to me, he’d watch the boats float in and out of the sound and tell me which one was his personal favorite. 

I see now that celebration is not a pathway that leads me away from God. Rather, celebration is essential to God’s character and central to his mission. Where is God in the room? He is at the center of the celebration. 

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Nicole Zasowski

Nicole Zasowski is a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of WhatIf It’s Wonderful? and From Lost to Found. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three young children. Nicole would love to connect with you on her website: www.nicolezasowski.com where you can download a free guide to help you navigate your own “What if…?” questions.

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