“Anyone getting another cup of coffee?”
“Well, I’ve already had two, so I don’t need it.”
“Ok, just make eight cups.”
“But. … Well… I might want another…”
“Better make it ten.”
“Kathy had filter through her thoughts to discern the difference between want and need.”
That was the scene yesterday morning. Did I need another cup of coffee? Well… not so much. But did I want it? It turns out, yes. Yes indeed. It was a good call.
Most decisions that I make are based on want. I have generally all the material things that I need. But surely I want much more. I could write about minimalism and the benefits of an uncluttered life… but I wrote this on my birthday. And so I got things that I am happy about. I may not have necessarily needed any of them. But, now that I have them, they each have something that brings me joy.
Joy now. Joy is something that I always need.
When Joy is in spare supply, life is dreary. Simple and mundane tasks become onerous chores. The To-Do list never slims down. Conversations are short and patience is shorter. I’m weary when my joy is limited.
But when Joy is abundant, everything changes. Energy blossoms. Creativity blooms. Tasks are conquerable. Complex work is accomplished. And I have energy to spare.
I can’t really schedule it, when Joy is overflowing or when it is sparing. But there are things I can do, I can place in my life that bring me joy. For instance, I love wearing scarves, and so when I pick one out, I am thinking about where it came from, conversations that I have had because of them, and ways that I have been changed because of them. They are simple pieces of cloth. I don’t really need them most of the time unless it is winter. But they bring me joy.
I look for other things like my scarves to bring me joy when I need it. When I have joy, I need to share it with others, and it grows. Thank you for making my life more filled with joy.
I think my daughter hugged me for the first time today. Waking up, she makes noises to let us know that she is ready to be not in bed any more so I went in to go get her before we left for the morning. I unzipped her blanket and drew her into my arms up out of the crib. And she held on to me.
She’s kind of done this before, but this time was different. It felt more intentional. She held on, reaching around me, and it wasn’t grasping or a desperate holding on when she pinches the skin of my neck and clutches to me.
She embraced me.
My husband and I are her mainstays. We care for her, talk to her, change her, feed her, provide her with everything she needs as soon as we can figure out what she needs. We are the strong center that she calls for when she gets cold or wet or hungry or lonely. We protect her from falling when she rolls, we hold her safe, and we carry her through the day. She trusts us.
I’ve never been trusted like this.
Granted, I’ve never been able to provide so much for a single person. My daughter depends on me. It’s been a wonderful journey watching her develop her agency. She’s developed control over her hands and her feet and her mouth and her voice and her body. Soon she will be able to do more than roll to where she wants to go as she learns to crawl and to walk. I knew being a parent was cool, I didn’t realize that it would be this full of so many new things. I didn’t imagine that I would get philosophical about a hug from this morning. But here I am, in awe of this human being who is learning who she is just as much as we are learning who our daughter is.
We named her, but she is becoming her own person.
Now, I know that all of you who have raised children of your own have had your own experiences that either relate or sound utterly dissonant. And I know that I sound a bit dewey-eyed about this little human being that has entered my world. I’m sure part of this is due to sleep deprivation. However, this little rebel continues to draw me out of myself, teaching me how to love someone unconditionally. I’m learning how to be a better wife and a better pastor in the mix. I’m learning a little something about God’s love as well. God, who loves us, watches us develop our agency and how we learn to get up and walk, either away or towards a deeper relationship with God. I look forward to the time when I can embrace God and trust God like a child trusts her mother.
In the meantime, I cherish the tiny moments when I get the slobbery half kisses. And that is good.
God we draw near to you today in faith and trust. Make your presence known to us as we receive your word through all our worship. As we gather, we pray for the people of this church, that as we learn to thrive emotionally, we will be open to granting and receiving the support we need to live wholly in you.
We give thanks for the ways that God blesses others through us as we are faithful givers to the mission that we support as a church. We pray for the people of the Charlotte area as we join together to collect food to fight hunger. We pray for the people of this nation, especially the community of Flint, Michigan as they grapple with the injustice surrounding their water crisis.
We pray for the children of the world, for their safety and health in all circumstances, especially as their families leave homes torn by war.
As we draw close to you, heal us in body, mind, spirit, and relationship. Lead us to act as your people in all places and at all times. Amen.
It was so good to have our first snow in our new home. We only lost power for an hour or so, we had everything we needed, and we didn’t have to make any hard decisions about leaving home in order to get to work or go out for an emergency. It was beautiful, the white blanket that covered what we are only now beginning to recognize as home.
It was nice while it lasted, but now it is time for it all to melt. Our back yard is still a bit dangerous with the sheet of ice covering the blanket of snow—my husband nearly got his car stuck on his way to work this morning. The ice is still hanging out in the shaded parts of our road, threatening to send us sliding out off the road… not something I want to try with my baby in tow. And I want to see if we have any volunteer flowers that are waiting for the first hints of Spring… I’m ready for it, even though Spring is still two months away.
It’s odd, the way that the snow melts and water runs off from the mountains that would be puddles in summer. Water keeps coming from places that we normally see as dry. Its like with snow, the water took a pause. With rain, the deluge is immediate. The ground is immediately sodden, and then can work it’s way to the roots and trees. With snow, the water is kept in holding. Until the sun or warmer weather melts it, the water stored in the white blankets is kept in a holding pattern, waiting to see if it will gently water the earth, or erode down to the bedrock.
We wait for the snow to melt. We wait to see if anything changed under the weight of the icy blanket. Did something get pushed aside when the snow plow careened through the neighborhood? Did anyone skid into a new place, creating a path out of a green space? Did the trees get damaged by the ice, or are they stoically waiting for the thaw with the rest of us?
What is coming next? How much will the melted snow reveal? And when will these new things take their place?
Almighty God, our hearts break with the injustice in the world. We grieve that there continue to be people made in your image that are caught up in slavery through human trafficking. We confess our participation in a system that enables slavery through the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the drinks we share.
Make us your hands and feet in working to break open the systems of power that keep people enslaved.
Work through us. With Isaiah we cry out to you:
“Isn’t this the fast I choose: releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke, setting free the mistreated, and breaking every yoke? Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into your house, covering the naked when you see them, and not hiding from your own family? Then your light will break out like the dawn, and you will be healed quickly. Your own righteousness will walk before you, and the Lord’s glory will be your [defense].”
–Isaiah 58:6-8 CEB
Break your light into the darkness of Human Trafficking, that all may be set free so that “justice [will] roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
–Amos 5:24 CEB
We pray in the freeing and powerful name of Jesus, Amen.