looking through me

Tag: joy

expected gift (in the living)

Five months and nine days—one hundred sixty-two days—after saying goodbye to Grandma we say hello to the newest member of the family: a baby girl.

This is life. In the goings and the comings. In the goodbyes and the hellos. Always dynamic, never static.

Welcome to the world, Baby Girl.

You are ours and we are yours. We’ve been waiting and praying for you longer than you’ll ever understand. Without you we weren’t complete—we may have thought we were, but we were not. That’s the beauty of this family. We long for the presence of each one. And now you are here, with us.

We will disappoint you and confuse you and frustrate you, but even in those moments I pray you will know how deeply loved you are. Because we have loved you, we do love you and we will love you. Period. You are loved. It’s a beautiful non-negotiable. It won’t be perfect—not a one of us is—but it will be constant.

It’s a great, big, scary, wonderful world you’ve entered. And I can’t wait to help carry you into it in our embrace.

Happy Birth, Baby Girl.

Love,
Aunt Kristen

 

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for the joy

“. . . for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

That snippet of scripture runs through my head over and over. As Grandpa is in the hospital,[1] as Grandma is on hospice, as nine people are gunned down while praying, as friends watch one of their newborn twins die—as the week unfolds in hard upon horror upon agony—those words slip through the static.

And when they do I am back in a blue-walled, un-air-conditioned sanctuary in inner city Philadelphia. It’s a steamy, hot July day fifteen years ago, and the words are coming out of the mouth of a puppet named Job, accompanied by a guitar and energetic day campers. It’s always the setting for those words. Always.

But today I read the words and the soundtrack stopped. The singing of the children faded away as I noticed the beginning of the sentence: “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”[2]

Do not be grieved.

There is reason to grieve. Reasons are piling up by the minute. Grieving is necessary. The pain and loss is real. But it is not the end.

Even in the face of death—in a setting different from the one in which the words were first declared—strength can still be found. Not in retribution or even justice. Not in peace or resignation. No. Strength comes in a more disarming fashion: joy.

“. . . for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

I need that strength. I need that joy. I need that God.

 


[1] He is now rehabilitating out of the hospital.
[2] Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV)

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