Empty Hands Full

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"Empty hands full" by Jake Frost (CatholicMom.com)

By Gugatchitchinadze [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

One of the birthday traditions in our house is to go around the table and have everyone say something they like about the Birthday Boy or Birthday Girl.

Well, my birthday was Friday a few weeks ago, and we forgot to do it.

I don’t know how I let it slip. It was a Friday, and school just started back up so we were all tired, and we moved my birthday meal to Saturday (another tradition: the birthday person gets to choose their birthday dinner, and I like big, juicy piles of cheese-smothered meat, but that’s a no-go on Friday, so we moved the dinner to Saturday). Plus Fridays are Friday Family Movie Night … and the dog ate my homework … and, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen.

But I had a great birthday and Saturday morning as I was still a-snooze in bed, dreaming of the bacon-laden cheeseburger that awaited me that evening, in came my son who just started kindergarten.

Starting kindergarten is a big deal. It’s the first time with full-day school, and the first time going five days a week. It’s also the first time eating lunch in school, the first time taking a lunch box, the first time wearing a school uniform — the first time for The Whole School Thing.

Plus this is the first year we don’t take the wagon on our walks back and forth between school and home. Up until this year he would ride in the wagon with his little brother. But they are both big enough that I decided it was time we graduated to bipedal locomotion. So now we walk holding hands, all moving under our own motive power.

The long days of kindergarten present a lot for a little guy to process, and that tires him out. First thing when we get home, he usually crashes on the couch for a good hour or so. But each day when I pick him up from school he comes out smiling, which makes me happy, and he’s always ready for a new day of school come the next morning. So, three weeks in, so far so good!

Which brings us back to cheeseburger dreams on a lazy Saturday morning. My son bopped into the room and climbed up onto the bed.

“Good morning!” I said.

“Good morning, Papa,” he answered. He started calling me ‘Papa’ after we read all eight of the Great Brain books out loud this summer.

I smiled and gave a mighty stretch and the other kids started arriving and climbing up onto the bed with us. Soon we were all enmeshed in a big snuggle-pod of PJ’s and blankets, enjoying a leisurely morning with nowhere we had to go and nothing we had to do — which is a heavenly state of being!

Into this snoozy, snuggly reverie my kindergartener observed: “Papa, we didn’t go around to say one thing we like about you yesterday.”

“You are right,” I agreed. “Why don’t we did it now? Who wants to go first?”

“I will,” he said. “What I like about Papa is his hand. Well, holding it coming home from school.”

I told you quiet mornings with nowhere to go and nothing to do are the best. THE BEST.

He made my birthday.

And he reminded me of something my mom once told me: “When you pray to God, pray with open hands, open to accept what God wants to send you.”

And for the first time I realized there is one more component to open-hand-praying: thanking God and being sure to treasure what He fills your empty hands with!


Copyright 2018 Jake Frost

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About Author

Jake Frost is the author of The Happy Jar, (a children’s picture book), Catholic Dad, (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family and Fatherhood to Encourage and Inspire, and a book of poetry, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Stars-Poems-Jake-Frost/dp/1725939258/"From Dust to Stars. He is a lawyer in hiatus, having temporarily traded depositions for diapers and court rooms for kitchens to care for his young children. He comes from a large family in a small town of the Midwest, and lives near the Mississippi River with his wife and kids.

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