There’s a pile of luggage at the bottom of the stairwell. An array of minion-decorated backpacks, colorful duffels, and pink handbags adorned with flowers and fairies. We’re leaving town for two short nights. Two nights. And the pile is taller than our toddler and large enough to fill a small moving van. I have no idea how we’ll fit it into the hatchback trunk of the CRV.
My mind races through the contents of the bags. There are lists in every room of the house. There are enough snacks to feed a small family for weeks, enough emergency medical supplies to last our family close to a year, and enough extra diapers for a week. You just never know.
Trying to remember everything for a short family trip with young children is enough to induced mild chest pains in my anxiety-prone diaphragm. I once decided to compile a master list of needed items, which is a great idea – in theory. The problem is that the needs of my two-year-old are entirely different than his needs a year ago. A year ago, he needed jars of runny baby food, the baby chair, multiple bibs, and baby spoons. This year he’ll eat the same foods as his older sister. In addition to the changing needs the come with passing years, winter trips are entirely different than summer trips, and the packing also depends entirely upon the destination.
The pile looms in the corner as the sun peaks over the pine trees out the window. I pick a cuticle and open God’s Word for some truth to center my racing mind. I’m reading in 1 Chronicles these days, and the thin ribbon opens to a page I must have read before. The black ink is highlighted neon yellow: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples” (1 Chronicles 16:8).
I chew on the words and drink down black coffee. Fuel for the day.
Too often, I forget to chew on the words. Too often I take them in like one more task to complete – like dishes that need cleaned or pillowcases that need folded. He doesn’t want it to be like this. He wants it to be like a love letter – pondered and memorized and cherished.
I think of how life would be without these two small people bouncing about in need of snacks and dry pants and crayons. I look at the worn blue backpack at the bottom of the pile. Ten years ago, that backpack was the only luggage needed on every weekend trip. Ten years ago, I could fit all I needed for five days in that pack. Things were simpler. But simpler doesn’t mean better. There was less work at home, but it wasn’t better. It’s better now.
I ponder these things and forgive myself for disdaining the work that sometimes comes with parenting. I give thanks. I call upon his name. I commit to make his goodness known. Are opportunities to serve others not opportunities to give thanks for the honor of sharing in Christ’s heart for investing in others?
The work set before me today is stacked higher than the bags on the steps. There is laundry, cooking, and an article assignment that will take at least three hours. I’m not looking forward to it. It’s the gritty kind of work that feels more like a college research paper than a soul-satisfying outpouring from my heart.
I give thanks anyway. I thank him for the opportunity to create with my hands and bless others. I thank him that there are words to write and dishes to wash. I thank him that though it feels like a heavy weight, it’s more like a minion backpack filled with purpose and blessing.