The bedtime process with our children involves many layers…family devotion time, then my reading aloud to our sons while we lay on the grown-ups’ big bed together, then I lie down with each boy on his own bunk for a few minutes before final hugs and kisses. While I spend those last few minutes with my boys–those last little bits of connection with them until the next day–they like for me to tell a “little girl” story. Once I commented that I needed to dig around in my old brain box to think of a suitable tale to tell, and, ever since then, my younger son will announce, “Get digging, little girl!” to usher in the story time.
Sometimes I fudge a bit and tell stories from adolescence if I just can’t come up with a good story from when I was little. Tonight, I told the story of how my Spirit class from middle school spent hours one day standing in front of Wayne Lee’s grocery store (the same grocery store where, years later, I saw a live chicken escape from the cab of a man’s pick-up when he opened the truck door. He and his teenage son commenced a wild and wooly–or perhaps feathery –chase of the hen.). Our purpose there was to interview people by asking one simple question: Why did you get up this morning? So with clipboards and notebooks and pencils, we stopped shoppers going in and out of Wayne Lee’s to pose this question to them. Later, a reporter from our local newspaper came to take a picture of us. I have the news clipping somewhere, and I remember that I was wearing a jean jacket with a Bruce Springsteen button on it for the photo.
The answers we received were varied, and needless to say, people were surprised that we wanted to take such a survey. The next day, we asked our school principal the same question, and I remember that he said he got up that morning because he GOT to go to work–not because he HAD to, but because he GOT to.
When I woke up this morning, I didn’t ask myself why I got up that day. For the most part, that issue has long been settled for me. But I did think, as I got dressed and made the bed, that I wanted to do something useful and beautiful today. I talked to God about that; I asked Him that specifically–to allow me to do something both useful and beautiful today.
I sat down at our kitchen table tonight–once the boys were in bed, and the house was quiet–with Bible and journal and pen (and tears, lots of tears–I frequently cry when I pray.) I wondered, was there anything beautiful and useful in my doings this day? Because I was examining myself, my tendency was to think initially, probably not. But God gave me the grace–what grace!–to listen to Him tell me about some of the useful and beautiful that He gave me the grace to do on this very day.
I helped another shopper at the grocery store locate the organic bananas among all the conventional ones, and I did it with gladness. I planned and cooked a meal that delights my younger son so much, he declared “I LOVE that!” when I told him what we were having for supper. I turned away from washing dishes and putting away leftovers to sit back down with my older son so he could have some company as he ate the last few bites of his supper. I whispered in my boy’s ear–the one who has yet to lose any baby teeth–“you love me so well; you do such a good job of loving me,” as he sat in my lap and hugged me. I saw the grin break over his face, and then he jumped up to run off–and, of course, I let him. Letting him go was useful, and watching him run was beautiful; I knew he’d come back again later.
So God gave me the grace to live out beauty and usefulness today, and He gave me the grace to see it, to hear it when He spoke it over me. Recognizing God in my life, in the world around me? Sounds like a great reason to get up in the morning to me.