Over the next few weeks, my church is celebrating the Grand Opening of our beautiful new worship and mission center with different themes each weekend. This weekend’s theme is beauty, and since I had to go over to the church on Friday to do some filming and have a meeting, I got a preview of some of the art that’s being installed for the special day. It was amazing, really. And I can’t wait to go this weekend and see the rest of what’s planned — I know the music and drama is going to be just as phenominal.**
It got me thinking about my own life. I know the weekend talk is going to be about creating beauty in our own lives, and I’m all for that. But the truth is, with small children, sometimes it doesn’t feel like there is all that much beauty. Sometimes life is just sticky. Everywhere. Everything and everywhere is sticky when you have kids.
There’s the cheerios that are constantly crunching underfoot and the kids toothpaste that inexplicably gets smeared all over the bathroom, on every doorknob in the house, down the banister in the stairwell, and onto the cat. And I’m not kidding. I had to shave the cat.
There’s the paint on the dining room table and the marker on the carpet. The chocolate milk on the couch and the gum (or is it Silly Putty?) on the seat of my pants (now where did THAT come from?). It’s every where. The stick. The goo.
When my kids were younger, it felt like every single day started with poop. I’m serious. Before I could do anything, I had to deal with one child who had diarreah, one child who had a dirty diaper, and even the cat decided to join in by pooping on the floor. All before 7 am. Tell me you would deal with that before coffee any better than I did and I will call you a liar. I cursed a lot that day. That day was not beautiful. That day was, well, poopy.
But you know what? On quiet mornings like this (maybe it’s because the kids are still asleep) I can see beauty in it. There is something absolutely stunning about an entirely dirty kid at the end of a summer day for example. I love it when my kids have dirty knees, stained clothes, sticky faces and messy hands — along with an exhausted look on their faces — because it means they were out there living the kid’s life. The kid’s life is supposed to be messy — messy and dirty and sticky and muddy. The sandier and muddier and wetter they are, the more fun they had. They are using up their lives instead of wasting them in front of a tv or tablet.
There is beauty in their faces, in the way their little bodies are so perfectly made for running and jumping and climbing. Beauty when those bodies are being used for that purpose. There is beauty in the seriousness of their play, the importance of it. The intention behind it is to be serious about fun.
My kids get to live a beautiful life. They probably don’t know it, but they do. I hope that someday they will look back and realize how lucky they are right now. Lucky that they have stuffed animals with which to play “The Stuffed Animal Game”, whatever that is. Lucky that they have each other. Lucky and blessed they have a home, a family, 2.5 cats.
I think of little Sonoma*, who I met a few weeks ago. She is the same age as my daughter and lives in a homeless shelter. My first experience of her was when, as I welcomed the residents into our church building, I said, “C’mon guys, we’re going this way.” I began walking and instantly felt a small hand slip into mine. I look down, and there was Sonoma, smiling up at me. She stole my heart that day, that little girl did. I still think of her almost daily, living at the shelter. Her parents were not there. I don’t know where they were. I have a picture of Sonoma too, but she is not mine to share with the world.
I also think of my friend and the foster child she lost. Little Alana* is just four, returned to her pedophile father by a judge who either didn’t have the whole story or is simply an idiot. I pray for Alana daily too, and I cry when I pray. I pray that she’ll be returned to the mom and dad and siblings who love and miss her, and that both she and Sonoma will somehow, someway, live a beautiful life. I pray for my friend, who wakes in the middle of the night crying, sure she hears Alana calling for her. If you, too, are the praying sort, please pray for these two little ones.
It might make your life a little more beautiful if you do.
*not their real names.
**come join us for a weekend of beauty at The Life Christian Church http://www.tlcc.org