With lice, pink-eye, and the stomach flu filling our week from Christmas day to New Year’s day, we have been a bit pooped and cooped up during Christmas break.
Our little family has lived in the “tyranny of the urgent” mentality as our life centers around cleaning up vomit, picking lice (grown-ups, babies, and eggs) out of one another’s hair, saturating hair with lice-killing chemicals, and then wondering how any of the little gremlins managed to make their way out of the poison alive. I had no idea (I repeat, NO IDEA) how dang resilient those tiny little parasites are. I am also convinced that they are agents of Satan.
This experience has caused me to seriously contemplate homeschooling. Alas, fear of lice is not the greatest reason to homeschool your children. But, guys, I had no clue that getting rid of lice was so difficult, especially when it happens in between vomit sessions.
Jordan was home today for New Years Day, and this afternoon he bravely took the children to the zoo for a couple hours. Elijah has been climbing the walls, destroying furniture, and showing symptoms of severe cabin fever for days. And Lily, though crusty-eyed and woozy, insisted that she was well enough to make the trip to the zoo.
Having been cooped up as well, but not feeling nearly well enough to brave the January- weather and walking (or even riding in a wheelchair or scooter) at the zoo, I stayed home, not sure if I would sleep, worship, spend time on my knees in the prayer closet, or finish crocheted Joseph and his tunic for a late Christmas present.
After some worship time, I sensed that I needed to rest and listen to God’s voice. Sometimes, God makes it clear that it is prayer closet time, when I need to isolate myself from distractions and spend uninterrupted, intentional time in God’s presence, listening and responding. Other times, God simply offers invitations to practice God’s presence wherever I am, even if it is lying in bed, resting.
And so as I lay in bed, I asked God to give me a word for 2020. Of all of the New Years activities that people choose to engage in, my favorite is spending time with God, seeking His heart for the coming year. And often His heart comes in the form of one simple word.
My cat Daphne was lying on my husband’s side of our king-size bed, her back leaning against his pillow. She reached her paw in my direction, as if to acknowledge my presence on the bed and to request physical connection. I responded likewise, and my hand touched her paw. As her purr motor began, God whispered the word “connection” into my heart.
This is the year of connection.
I felt a groan rise up in my chest: But that’s so inconvenient, God.
And true to Himself, he declared, And that’s why it is your word for the year.
I whined, But connection takes so much energy.
Spoken just like a true introvert.
And He’s right. But what truly lasts? Not the music I write. Not the nativities I crochet, or the hats that I sell. Not even the books or blog posts that I write.
What lasts? How well I love: And that looks like connection. Connection is vital. We need to know that others are here with us, and they need to know that we are with them. When in doubt, connection is always a good idea.
So my first step tonight: Elijah and Jordan cuddled before bed while Lily and I cuddled. That’s generally the rule. Jordan and I switch kids each night. But as I walked into the boy-child’s room to turn off his light, he begged for me to cuddle with him. And a voice whispered in my ear: He needs connection. This is your goal.
And so I laid my head next to his on his spider-man pillow, I snuggled up close under his Batman blanket, and I held his face between my palms, gazing into his tired eyes.
He needs connection;
And so do you. This is for you too.
And so I soaked him in. An extra five minutes after he already had his alotted nightly cuddle with daddy.
But my call is to connect:
It’s in the little things.
The touch of hand on a paw.
The tickles and giggles under the blanket.
The prolonged eye-lock that searches the heart of the beloved, rather than moving to quickly to the next task.
The returned phone call that is so hard to make because devoting an hour to a phone conversation feels like a massive sacrifice.
The choice to step out of self long enough to be present with other human beings in their story, their hurt, their celebrations.
Fear avoids connection.
Self-centeredness avoids connection.
Worship of accomplishments avoids connection.
Perfectionism avoids connection.
Pride avoids connection.
Judgment avoids connection.
Insecurity avoids connection.
But love…..Love chooses to connect. Because love has nothing to prove and everything to give. Connection is all about love. It is rooted in love, and surrendered to the authority of the Spirit, it yields love.
And these three remain: Faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)