This weekend we went to a cabin near Lake Tahoe with some of our dearest friends, the Roberts. Beauty permeated the whole weekend. It was beautiful to get prolonged time to laugh, play, and talk for hours with Lauren and Stephen. It was beautiful to watch our boys adore their baby boy. This morning as they were packing to go, Everett announced, “This is my baby Finn!” It was beautiful to witness my boys getting caught up in their grandiose surroundings. And each time they got swept up in the moment, they directed their delight at me.
You see, all three of my boys do something so incredibly special when they are overwhelmed by beauty and love: they direct all their feelings at me. I have noticed and loved their tendency to do this before, each in his own way, but this weekend they were so effusive in light of the beauty surrounding us that it pushed me to love better and with more abandon.
Yesterday we were driving back to the cabin after a full day of swimming and exploring. The boys fell asleep for awhile, and Ryan and I were deep in thoughtful, inspiring conversation about faith and vocation and adventure. It was a lovely, sleepy end to our day. When we pulled up to the cabin, Liam sat up and declared from the backseat, “I need to hug and kiss you, Mama! I’m just so happy for you! I’m just so happy for you being my mama. I need to hug and kiss you!” Even though Liam is excellent at expressing himself, I could tell he couldn’t find the words for this moment. He couldn’t tell me that everything good and beautiful about our family and creation seemed to have worked together to give us this day and this quiet night. He just felt “happy for me” and needed to hug and kiss me.
This afternoon, after an adventurous hike over boulders and through tree groves, we all dove into the pristine waters of Silver Lake. The icy-fresh water, the towering cliffs, the squeals and giggles as my boys prodded each other to go deeper, Harper’s excited splashes as she bounded all around us—all of it and more than I could even grasp—took my breath away. Sawyer turned to me, and I could see in his sparking eyes that he felt all this too, this as-close-to-Heaven-on-earth-as-we-can-get moment. Through blue lips and chattering teeth, he sputtered a litany of almost nonsensical love declarations: “I love you, Mama…love you…LOVE YOU…that you’re my mama…LOVE you…swimming mama!” I laughed and told him that I love him too and that I agree this is a magical, God-filled moment.
Finally, as I held a soaked-through Everett on the walk back to the car, he looked over my shoulder at the lake and said, “It’s so pretty, I just hold you.”
I have written a lot about finding the joy in tough stuff and on dark roads. But I hope that when I experience those purely joyful moments and pain is the last thing on my mind, I will respond like my boys. I want to hug and kiss and hold my loved ones and declare my love, even in nonsensical ways, to my Heavenly Father who is behind and in and through it all.
My prayer for all of you will always be that joy will be part of your every day lives, even when it’s hard to find. But today, I pray joy will be all around you in such a breath-taking way that the only way to respond is with love.
"Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8).