Picking Locks, Pickle Juice, and Patience

Mama said there will be days like this. Thursday was one of those days. Thursdays start bright and early for me as my husband leaves for Bible study before the kids are awake. I get up as he gets out the door for some quiet moments before attending to bottles and breakfasts and backpacks. My goal is to get everyone diapered, dressed, fed, and ready to go so I can be out the door at 8:50 am to take my oldest son to preschool. The morning had already been off to a rough start with spilled oatmeal, tantrums, and an assembly line of poopy diapers that pushed me back from reaching my desired goal. In an attempt to make things easier, I put my oldest son in his room to play with toys while I cleaned up some of the mess and took the stinky diapers outside. As soon as I got everyone else ready, I breathed a sigh of relief and went back upstairs to get Elias. The door wouldn’t budge. He had locked himself inside his room.

After gently asking him to please unlock the door and hearing some cackles and then a “NO!,” I sighed and started to jam anything I could find inside the pinhole to turn the lock. Meanwhile my infant son was in the room next door in his pack and play, crying because he was ready for a nap. My daughter was downstairs in the pack and play, crying and wondering why everyone had deserted her. I was on my knees, staring into the abyss of the door’s pinhole. I posted on social media for help. Now the 2-year-old prisoner started to get a bit frustrated with my lack of McGyver skills. “Get me out, Mommy!,” he screamed. I called my mom. I called my husband, who ended up driving all the way home to attempt to help me. After a FaceTime call with his brother for further instruction, my husband finally popped the lock and my son ran out with a big grin, yelling, “You did it!”

My husband took my 2-year-old son to school, I got my infant son down for a nap, and my daughter happily played next to my feet in the kitchen while once again, I went back to the rest of the breakfast mess. After the storm of the morning, the calm was returning. I turned to face the sink and wash an oatmeal-encrusted dish while humming “When Peace Like a River” when I heard a loud pop. As I turned around, I saw Charlotte looking up at me with a mischievous smile. She had pulled the Costco-sized jar of pickles down from the pantry shelf and was happily splashing in pickles, spices, and brine that was starting to seep under the oven and refrigerator door and slowly make its way across the kitchen floor. “Here we go again,” I mumbled. I swooped down to wash off the vinegary but happy baby and stick her in the confines of her pack and play.

There I was, back on my knees. Picking up pickles. Sopping up brine. And it hit me. Motherhood has brought me to my knees, both literally and figuratively, more than any other occupation God has given me in my life. Not only am I on my knees on any given day spot cleaning under the table and reaching under the couch or crib to find my child’s toys he lost, but God has also driven me to my knees in a posture of humility time after time as I am forced to die to self and serve these children. Who knew cleaning up pickle juice could lead to such an epiphany? In that moment, I knew God put me exactly where I needed to be, realizing my desperate need of his grace in order to handle the morning’s activities with an attitude of patience.

This morning’s devotional from “New Morning Mercies” (September 23) by Paul David Tripp rang true for me in light of Thursday’s events. He says that God “doesn’t teach us a lesson just once. He comes to us in situation after situation, each controlled by his sovereign grace, each designed to be a tool of transformation, and he works on the same things again and again.” God knows my tendency to get easily frustrated, to turn to self-sufficiency, and to want things to go my way. I’m more like my own two-year-old son than I like to admit. Yet lovingly, consistently, and patiently, my Father gives me daily opportunities to grow and change. He promises that he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). The process is not easy and I don’t like it, but it’s for my good. My prayer is that I can reflect this same patient attitude toward my own children and the things they are learning.

For now, the kitchen floor is relatively clean once again and doesn’t smell like pickle brine. There’s a lock on the pantry door, and the lock on Elias’s door knob is temporarily duct taped until we can find a time to reverse the knob. All is calm, and I’m sitting in a chair as I type. Yet I’m sure God will bring me to my knees once again.

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Laughter

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.

Our family started the evening of July 15 with plans to attend a graduation party and a birthday dinner. God had other plans. When we pulled up to the party of a sweet girl from our church, we noticed Elias’s adoption lawyer walking into the house. Jokingly, I said to my husband, “If he offers us a baby, let’s say yes.” Although this comment may seem kind of crazy, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Despite the adoption-related twists and turns of the past two and a half years, Ross and I had engaged in several conversations over the past few weeks about the future of our family. We came to an agreement in the end that we had the financial ability and the desire to do just one more adoption with Glenn, coming full circle. Of course, we were thinking this would all happen a few years down the road when we had all our ducks in a row and our other kids out of diapers. When we walked in the house and said hello to Glenn, we reminisced about the last time Glenn had seen Elias on his adoption day. Then Glenn looked at both of us and said very casually, “You know, I have a birth mother due in two weeks if you’re interested. I’m showing her different options for adoptive families on Wednesday.” Ross and I laughed. And then we paused. And then Ross said, “Well, we’d have to think about it. We’ll let you know.”

Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill;
He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

On the way home from the graduation party, Ross and I talked it out. We eased into the oh-so familiar territory of making such a life-altering decision. How could we do it? Are we ready for this? Are we crazy to even be entertaining thoughts of another baby? Yet something about this situation nudged us to not say “no.” We continued to talk about it all the way up until our babysitter came to watch the kids so we could leave for a birthday dinner. We were silent on the way over, but once we pulled into the parking lot, Ross said, “I’m just going to give Glenn a call to ask a few more questions about the situation.” He picked up the cell phone, and as we sat with the car turned on to keep the air conditioning flowing in and blocking the muggy Charleston air, he called and got a hold of Glenn right away. It was a brief conversation, and it ended with Ross saying, “Ok, well, we will pray about it and let you know.”

We walked into the restaurant to our group of friends and began to enjoy conversation. An hour later, Ross checked his phone and he had three calls from Glenn and a voicemail. He went outside without announcing where he was going. I was turned to face the other ladies at the table, so I didn’t even notice he had left. All of a sudden, he came back and said, “Can you come outside please?” We walked out and he said, “That was Glenn. The baby he told us about is coming tonight, and the mother wants Glenn to choose the family. Glenn wants to choose us, and we have to make a decision right now.” We laughed, and then we paused, and then we said “yes” to each other at the same time. Apparently, not long after Glenn had gotten off the phone with us, the birth mother called and said she was in labor. She didn’t have time to look at potential families, and a decision needed to be made right then and there. So on a humid, warm night standing on the sidewalk off of Coleman Boulevard, we said yes to this baby.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercies and shall break in blessings on your head.

Saturday night was a long night of tossing and turning as we waited for an update. Ross and I always laugh with each of our babies because we know what’s about to come with an infant in the house, so you’d think we’d enjoy our last uninterrupted night of sleep. At one point in the dark, I asked Ross, “Are you scared?” He said, “Yes.” “Do you think we’re making the wrong decision?” I asked. “No,” he said, “just because it’s scary doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision.” We continued to toss and turn and pray. Eventually I got up at 4 in the morning and started to walk the dark streets of my neighborhood. These early morning walks have been a habit many times for me in the past two and a half years. Before the arrival of each baby into our home, I walked in silence and waited and prayed. Finally light came on July 16, and with it the sweet news: “It’s a boy. He’s healthy. All looks good. Come meet him today.”

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

The road of adoption is always risky. The potential of getting your heart ripped out of your chest by a birth mother changing her mind or a baby leaving your arms because of a contestation is real. Yet this time, the addition of another son just feels like a big grin from God. A smiling face. A laughing love-offering from the God who likes to give good gifts to his children. This sweet, olive-skinned boy sleeping next to me as I write this is named Isaac, meaning laughter, because we’re laughing at God’s plans for us which are far beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

When we were waiting in our hospital room for the papers to be signed, Glenn, Ross and I had the opportunity to share about some of the bittersweet moments of our lives, the losses we’ve all experienced which are common to any and all people living in a world marred by sin. Ross and I still miss our child who left us. She’ll never be far from our hearts and our prayers. Yet, the human heart has the capacity to both grieve and laugh, to let go and receive. There is a time for everything and a purpose for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3).

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

As I write this part of our family’s story, my heart is burdened for those in the time of loss and letting go of dreams, babies, expectations, and ideas of what they thought life would look like. The times when laughter does not come easily and tears seem to constantly flow. To you, I say, “You’re not alone.” Although this chapter of our story is a sweet one, it comes after a very bitter one. I don’t know why God works the way that He does, but I do know this: He never stops working. When it seems like He’s sitting back and taking a break, when you think He’s not hearing your prayers or cries, He’s there. God is actively putting together every detail of your life to show forth His glorious love and kindness, even when it comes through pain and heartache. I pray for you today, that you would know His love and believe in the depths of your soul that He’s not forgotten you, that though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

*A big thank you goes to William Cowper who wrote the hymn “God moves in a mysterious way.” These words have been a balm to my soul for many years.

Hope for humid seasons

We’ve reached that part of summer in Charleston when the humidity lies so heavily that we all start to move slowly and sweat through our clothes just to take a plodding walk to the mailbox. Sometimes the daily Christian life has its own seasons of what feels like nothing more than a slow and sluggish crawl. We continue to fall into the same sinful patterns over and over again. The lies of the world, the lures of Satan, and the lusts of our flesh press in on us like a hot blanket of humidity. We grow tired and weary. Looking to ourselves, we only despair at the lack of progress we seem to be making as we inch along in our sanctification. Hope is hard to find here, but we could use some. Poet Emily Dickinson described hope as “the thing with feathers – that perches in the soul.” No offense to Emily, but hope as a flitting fowl doesn’t seem like much hope at all. She claimed this bird of hope sings a serenade through every gale and storm, yet a tiny bird is easily blown off her perch, feathers and all, when a big gust comes.

Hope needs a heftier analogy than a bird, and the book of Hebrews has one that can carry us along in the seemingly hopeless situations of life. The author describes hope as an anchor for the soul, one that is “firm and secure” or “sure and steadfast,” depending on your translation (6:19). The author of Hebrews wrote to a group of Christians who were tempted to turn back from the message that they’d heard, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, when taking the journey of godliness felt too difficult to sustain at a persevering pace. It’s been a hard trip for them filled with trials and persecution, and the temptation is to begin to “drift away” from the truth (2:1), to neglect to hang on to their “original confidence firm to the end” (3:14). Yet the author desires his readers, including us, to “have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish” (6:11-12). So how does our anchor give us hope?

This anchor of hope keeps us right where we need to be not only during the winter gusts of trials but also those slow summer stretches of daily life when the wrong perspective could cause us to drift unknowingly farther and farther away from our resting place. Gentle, distracting breezes of excessive leisure and lack of time spent in God’s Word and in prayer seem like a respite. The reality is that they rock us toward the shore of self-satisfaction and self-sufficiency, leaving us confused about how far we’ve gotten off track. Yet the anchor described in Hebrews keeps us from getting swept away by waves of discouragement because we are weighted down and staying fixed by the promises found in Christ. He will not let us go. In fact, the first twelve chapters of Hebrews argue that there’s no better place to be anchored than in him. He’s superior than any of the competition because he sympathizes with us in our moments of malaise (4:15). When we’re too tired to hold on to the rope, he is the one in the heavens living to make intercession for us, to pray for us, and bring us the strength we need to stay put despite setbacks (7:25). Christ is the “better hope…through which we draw near to God” because he himself has experienced the oppressive heat of the everyday struggles of this world, yet he did so without sinning (7:19). Because he made it through this life perfectly and is seated at the right hand of God, he’s qualified to be the anchor we need in order not to veer off course.

Sometimes humid summers in Charleston and spiritual seasons of seemingly slow movement give us “drooping hands” and “weak knees” (12:12). But let’s lift those drooping hands, strengthen those weak knees, and remember the hope we have as we are anchored in Christ. By his intercession, he promises to “equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” (13:21). How’s that for some hope?

Watermelons and wistfulness

Watermelons make me wistful. When summer starts to creep in and those green orbs begin appearing in cardboard crates at the Charleston grocery stores, I’m transported to my grandparents’ farm in Indiana. It’s there where I learned the skill of searching for the perfect watermelon. Just ten minutes down the road from my parents’ suburban neighborhood, my grandparents lived in a house with a farm stand and fields of fruits and vegetables in their backyard. This central hub for our huge family get-togethers was where I spent many hours with a crowd of 27 cousins. On more than one occasion when family began to trickle in for a festivity, my grandma, “Mimi,” would lead me right outside their back door to the farm stand to pick out a melon. Together, we’d run our hands across the piles of melons fresh from the dirt, turning them around and looking for the ones with the yellow belly smack dab in the center. We’d spot the dark webbing which signals sweetness and pick one up to make sure it was heavy. Confident that we picked properly, we’d take our prize inside to the kitchen counter and place it on her old wooden cutting board. Mimi would raise the big knife reserved for such rituals and whack it right down the middle as the two pieces cracked open. She’d give me a wink and together we’d share the heart of the melon while no one was watching, giggling that we got to eat the best part.

Last week I had the opportunity to bring my children back to this farm where Mimi still lives. My son is old enough now to experience a glimpse of the good parts of my family’s culture. He marveled at the big blue tractor and the red barn. Just like I did when I was a kid, he spent many of his days during our trip with a cluster of his own cousins who became his playmates. It was a joy to watch him, yet the wistful feelings welled up within me as I realized his everyday life looks very different from my childhood memories. In Charleston, we don’t have the gift of family down the street. On a slow afternoon, we can’t hop in the car to Mimi’s house to eat some fresh watermelon or call on cousins for a play date. Family visits take travel, money, and effort to make them happen, and we only go back to Indiana a few times a year. It’s strange and a bit sad for me to realize that some of my deeply ingrained memories and daily patterns of life as a child are experiences limited only to special occasions for my own children.

The night before we boarded our plane to come back to Charleston, I came to the evening church service with some of that wistfulness whirling around in my head. Then the pastor opened up the Bible to Proverbs 14, and one verse in particular stood out to me: “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” As a parent, I want to raise my children in a home that acts as a refuge. I start to worry sometimes that my kids are missing out when I think about all the ways in which my childhood home went beyond the walls of my own house to the connections I had to my extended family. I tend to lack confidence that I’m giving my children all that they need to thrive. Yet the passage in Proverbs reminds me that far better than any family culture is a faith heritage passed down to the next generation. Elias and Charlotte might not have cousins at their beck and call or a family farmhouse down the road, but they have parents who seek to fear the Lord and a church family who has vowed to help us raise them. I can have confidence that as I seek to fear God and honor Him with my parenting, He is the one providing His refuge for my children through circumstances providentially planned for their good.

We’re safely back in Charleston now, and one of the first things I did upon arrival was to go to the grocery store with my kids. I stood over that watermelon bin while Elias looked on from the cart and Charlotte peered up at me from her carrier. As I turned the melons around and tapped on them, I explained to Elias the secrets of securing the best watermelon. He may grow up as a Southerner, but I’m not letting him or Charlotte leave my house one day without having learned how to pick the perfect melon.

What’s mine is yours

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I pulled out paper plates and plastic utensils, set out some extra folding chairs around the dinner table, fired up the grill, and hosted three families in our home for hamburgers. We had taken a hiatus from hospitality due to a stressful series of events in our family, and much has changed since we’ve been in the regular routine of inviting people to our house for a meal. This time around, our shared living spaces feel smaller as our kids are taking up more room. The conversations are interrupted much more by attention-seeking toddlers and babies. This season of life means that the food itself can’t
be fussy or formal, and the house is not immaculate. Yet even though hospitality may look different these days, the important parts stay the same. Last week when the kids were put to bed and we’d moved on to dessert, this group of people who barely knew each other at the beginning of the night were friends by the end of it as we shared not just a meal but our lives together.

So many articles and books have been written about hospitality: using the crockpot to make meal prep easier, making sure to have drinks readily available throughout the night, how to strategically set the table to make conversation flow. While those topics can provide helpful tips, let’s not get caught up in the details and forget in the process of planning our parties why we do it in the first place: to invite people not only into our homes but also our hearts. Hospitality begins with more than just an outward display of affection through a dinner, dessert night, or play date. It starts with a heart attitude that says, “What’s mine is yours. Come stay for a while so I can know and love you better.”

It’s possible to be lavish in our get-togethers yet stingy in our hearts. I’m guessing that’s why the apostle Peter tells us to show hospitality but to do it without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9). Why would the exercise of hospitality make us grumble? I can give you some first hand experience in this regard. It’s not always easy to interrupt my family’s flow to host a group of people. It takes time and forethought to schedule and plan a meal, and sometimes I find meal planning on a budget for just my little family to be overwhelming enough. Engaging others takes energy: the exchange between guests doesn’t always come easily, and awkward pauses may fill the gaps between stilted conversation. The house will be inevitably messy at the end of the night, and my current pastimes already include picking up after everyone’s messes. From the perspective of my own self-centered heart, I have grounds to grumble.

Yet with the perspective of Christ at the center, I have every reason to fling open the door of my home and my heart. There’s a reason he said, “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35). We can take his word for it because Christ sacrificed immeasurably more than a quiet night watching Netflix when he gave his life by laying it down for us all. And in giving his life, he received a seat at the right hand of God and the privilege of preparing a table for us to sit around on the final day when we will feast together in communion with him and our brothers and sisters. Until that day, we gather together around each other’s tables and enjoy a foretaste of the fellowship that will be ours in full when that day comes. In exchange for inconvenience, we remember our lives are about so much more than just ourselves. The guests who fill our home end up filling our hearts as we make room for them there.

On Sunday, I’m going to see those people we hosted for dinner. This time around, however, I have more to say to them than just “hello.” I’ll ask one of the guys if he got the job for which we stood in a circle at the end of the night and prayed. I’ll have a book recommendation for the girl who asked about a particular topic she wants to research. These acquaintances have become friends as we’ve given some of what’s ours and received so much more in the process.

 

 

 

Identity in ascension

We live in a culture surrounded by a loud, flashy fight for identity. Social media begs the question, “who are you?” and offers a platform to portray yourself. “Try one of these identities on for size,”  all the images seem to shout. “Be a stay-at-home mom and have perfectly planned activities for your children.” “Be a working mom. Show all the things you can juggle.” “Be the person with the smiling face. Have everyone check out your chiseled body, your perfect house.” “Let your anthem be that you’re living the good life. Be the person who can say, ‘I AM at the center of my carefully crafted kingdom.’” This siren call for superficial self-promotion can leave me feeling disoriented and distracted from who defines me: the great I AM, Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul says in Colossians 3:3, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” My identity in him is not constantly flaunted or formed by others’ opinions, but safely tucked away in the one who currently lives and reigns over all the chaos of culture.

Last week Thursday was Ascension Day, a designated demarcation in the Christian calendar of holy days that so often passes by unnoticed. Yet it celebrates a crucial aspect of our identity that is otherworldly. We celebrate and remember the Christ who not only came in flesh, died on a cross, was resurrected from the dead, and appeared to witnesses but who has also ascended into heaven and has taken his place at the right hand of God. We are in union with this Christ. As a result, we too have died to our sin and have been raised to new life. Now our very selves, the core of who we are, is hidden with our Savior in flesh and blood as he is in heaven.

Our union with Christ in his ascension may seem theologically cerebral, but it has such important application for our identity as Christians. Two major implications come to mind. First of all, the fact that our lives are hidden in Christ means that we are protected from the onslaught of lies from the culture about what defines us. This myriad of messages attack us from every side, urging us to live for our own glory: to amass as much wealth as possible, wear the best brands, train up tidy children who look and act like ourselves, do whatever it takes to ensure that leisure, comfort, and physical beauty will describe our daily living. To truly win in the eyes of the world, our narcissistic and pleasure-seeking best should take place right at this moment and be on display for all to see. I don’t know about you, but I look a lot like a loser to the world. I’m a medium sized mom who buys my clothes at Target, and my son considers “adventures to Aldi” a thrilling activity. My evenings are not spent out on a yacht sipping wine but reading a book and drinking tea. You can find me most days dealing with toddler tantrums and teething. The kids and I spend a lot of time in the backyard, and they play in a small plastic pool. What you see on the outside is what you get, and it’s really not all that impressive. Yet Christ, my life and my true identity, is currently hidden from view of the world. I’ve already won in him even though you may not see it, and he is my validation. My triumph doesn’t take place in eye-catching Instagram stories or Facebook posts. My worth has already been proven by Christ, and my victory is in heaven. I am currently awaiting the day until who I am will be fully revealed as I see Christ face to face, not just as in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). Until that time, Christ in his person is protecting and keeping my identity.

A second aspect of the ascension that matters for us is the fact that our focus should remain not on the transient things of this world, but on what will last. In Colossians 3:1-2, Paul says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” What should take up the most of our time, energy, and affections are not fleeting fashion trends, perfect bodies, or making life seem like a constant vacation. Those things amount to very little in the grand scheme of God’s story. Instead, our gaze and thereby our priorities experience a seismic shift to heaven, to the throne of Christ. Our life in flesh and blood is seated there, and we want him to tell us who we are and where we are going. With Christ taking up the most space in our hearts, we get to spend our lives here seeking what does and will matter: Christ’s glory and serving His kingdom instead of our own pleasure and ease.

I write this after a week that did not feel all that glorious or glamorous. My son was loudly and consistently acting his age (two years old), and my insomnia kept me from the sleep I desire. I don’t have anything tangible to show for last week other than a perpetually dirty floor and a never-ending basket of laundry. But I’m taking Paul’s exhortation to heart, that who I am is defined by so much more than what the world would say I’m lacking, as I serve Christ in the little things. I’m choosing to take time in the mundane yet meaningful moments to enjoy the life God has given me as I anticipate the day I meet my true significance and am embraced by his nail scarred hands.

Church in person

I’m going to share a secret. My Sundays, labeled the “day of rest” for the Christian community, are not all that restful for me as a mom. Well, at least from a physical standpoint. Gone are the days of leisurely Sunday afternoons with quiet reading and naps, long walks, and stimulating conversation sandwiched between services. Lord’s days these days can often feel like a long race to the finish line of getting all the kids in bed at the end of a day, letting out a sigh of relief that we made it through the stuffing of children into nice clothes, the shuffling back and forth to church. And yet after suffering the leper-like qualities of quarantine due to some nasty illness, we missed two weeks of church, and I can honestly say that my soul was not any more rested. All I wanted was a Sunday filled with that busy back and forth of our typical routine. Why? Because even with the lack of napping and long, lazy days, Sundays with God’s people in His house do more for my soul than Sundays spent on my own terms.

I think there’s a common misconception that fulfilling the duties of a Sunday are just as easily accomplished by spending an hour or less watching an online sermon, checking it off the list and moving on to other more “restful” activities. Yet the main point of the Lord’s day is that it is a gift, not a duty, and the benefits involved are so much more rich when experienced in person. God meant for us to come together, rubbing shoulders with our brothers and sisters, shaking hands and giving hugs, sitting together under the preaching of His Word, and eating bread and drinking wine at His table as we celebrate Christ’s finished work for us and begin a new week in light of all He has done. In between all the trips to the nursery to feed babies or change diapers, my soul needs the bodily experience of being part of the church, taking my place in the pew and worshiping God in His presence. I taste with my mouth and see with my eyes that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the author says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We can tend to think that it doesn’t matter from Sunday to Sunday whether we show up and take our place next to our church family members, that they won’t miss us this week. Yet even just sitting and taking up space is an encouragement to the people around you. Together we are saying, “Yes, I’m with you in this.” Though everyone else may be out at the beach or eating brunch, we’re here to remember and reflect on the Gospel, to be reoriented to the reality of who we are and whose we are.

So this coming Sunday, from morning till evening, our family will show up at church. I’ll run after our son as he attempts to grab six cookies from the refreshment table and stuff them in his mouth. I’ll leave the morning service during the offertory to feed my daughter her bottle. Yet I’ll be with my brothers and sisters in person, and together we will hear the good news of what Christ has done and respond in prayer and praise. And at the end of the day, after my husband and I have tucked the kids in bed, my body will be very tired, but my soul will be rested.