This is not your average highlight reel. In fact, most of the things on this list would not make it on the Christmas card blurb. They are messier and more mundane than the things we like to share in updates. Yet they are glorious because of the God of all glory.
Communion at Center City Church. Our church is small and far from a well-oiled machine. In fact, one time a loaf of garlic bread was purchased for our communion. But communion remains the best ten minutes of my week. I tear up weekly as I watch people whose personalities and pains we know well walk in humility to receive and rehearse the grace of God.
A messy teenage head full of curls resting on my shoulder in a gesture of nonverbal comfort after I received a significant rejection in my writing endeavors. He saw the sadness, shame, and disappointment in my eyes. Where most would feel helpless, my son leaned into me in support and encouragement. What a treasure wrested from the ashes of disappointment.
Daily walks with my husband. They don’t look like something from a movie. We don our mismatched ath-leisure clothes and essentially attempt a moving circus walking our two dogs who are stronger than we are. Sometimes we share what we are learning. Sometimes we share our fears and disappointments. Sometimes we get in squabbles about how to parent our children. But always we do life together side by side; I love him.
The weight of many roses. Appa died this year after over sixteen years of braving Parkinson’s Disease. As I watched a very long line of his friends step forward to each drop a rose on his coffin, God taught me the gift of friendship. Appa is resting well in the arms of the Lord and under the weight of so many roses.
Teenage tears. I hate when they cry. It rips my heart out. But I love that they feel safe enough to share their hearts and fears and disappointments with us. I love that they will lay in our bed and tell us what is happening in their lives. Its the stuff of my mother dreams.
Resilience after rejection. My oldest did not make his high school soccer team (though he really should have). I have watched him fight lies and bring his emotions to God. I have watched him live his theology, as he reminds himself that his deepest identity is not as a soccer player but as a child of God. It took my years to learn resilience, and he is lapping me. I delight in this gift of grace.
Stuttering. A year ago, I cried as one of my sons received an IEP for stuttering. Despite all our efforts at early intervention, his stuttering keeps showing up with a vengeance. He hid in shame at first. A year later, he is able to advocate for himself with his teachers and to explain to his friends that he stutters sometimes. He is confident in the way the Lord has made him. God has big plans for that little boy.
Maggie and Mater. In a strange turn of events, we ended up being gifted a pure-bred German Shepherd puppy (thanks, Rega). Our life was a circus without a puppy, but she is the gift we never knew we all needed. She is prissy and is meeting my desire for pink in our home. She loves grumpy old Mater and has made him young again. She is learning to not eat poop. Baby steps, people.
A picnic table in a park. It’s not even mine. I don’t even know if it’s actually a park. But it is the place where Sunday by Sunday, I pour out my soul to the Lord, and wonder upon wonder, he meets with me. He stitches my soul back up. He pours out wisdom and hope and Scripture. He invites me into conversation with the Trinity and lets me come alongside him in his work on this earth.
The body of Christ. In this first year of church planting, I have seen the beauty of the body of Christ in ways I never have before. Elders who cry with their flock. Members who serve one another. Friends unafraid to push through conflict and discomfort. These may not sound like much, but these realities delight the heart of God. He loves his bride deeply and sacrificially. He is teaching us to do the same.