A Haines Home Companion: On Joy and How We Love
When I was very small, Saturday mornings were the only mornings we had Daddy at home that we weren’t rushing about in the before-church fits. My little sister, brothers, and I would wake as early as possible with our tangled hair and find Mama and Daddy’s bed. We would crawl in between them where it was warm in body heat and heavy blanket. They smiled up at the four of us crawling in, even though my Daddy worked like a mule and needed the rest. We called it “cartoon day,” because young’ns, Saturdays used to be the only day you could watch awesome things like Smurfs, Snorks, and Land of the Lost. A mother and father holding their babies with their sleepy eyes and hot breaths, there is no purer of a thing.
Our boys love to sleep in our bed. I let them in as much as possible, even if it’s for naps or for a smoother transition into their own beds. One night Ian and Titus went to sleep holding hands.
This is a photo proving that Seth is the best dad and husband on the planet. Here he’s washing dishes while Titus clings to him with an unusual grip. Some days, Titus just won’t let go.
Here they are as super heroes.
Here’s Isaac teaching Titus how to shoot a basket.
I don’t have any recent photos of Jude because the boy just doesn’t sit still long enough. He’s my one who is the very most like me. We fight the most. We dance the most. We’re the ones who feel the most. When I get him alone, we have what I call campfire conversations. He’s so good at them.
On our way to the grocery store the other day, he asked me why he doesn’t feel joy. Ha, I thought. I wonder the same thing sometimes. So between home and Walmart, we prayed together and asked the Spirit to speak to him about what has taken the place of his joy. We talked about what it means to “hear God.” We talked about that still place, the place where either peace or unrest can swell up inside you. You’ll hear Him speak to you as a thought in the still place, in the quiet. You’ll run that thought across what you know to be true of God.
So we were quiet and it only took a moment. I won’t tell you what He said, but God spoke to my Jude. I am learning that He is speaking a great deal more than we are listening.
Here’s the one extremely random recent photo I have of Ian, and it’s from a terrible angle. He’s the funniest human ever born. He really wanted a photo of himself with the American flag while on a bathroom stop at McDonalds on our way to Alabama.
Speaking of bathroom stops, I acquired a new story on our way there that involves me laughing so hard that I was on my hand and knees in a public restroom. To preserve the threadbare dignity of all involved, you’ll need to ask me about it when I see you next, and then if you tell anybody, I’ll cut you.
I got to go home to write during Spring Break, and I know I haven’t told y’all about what I’m writing yet, but I will in a few weeks. My sister watched the boys while I holed up in her attic. After she worked her tail off on my behalf, we finally got away together, just the two of us. We shopped and ate frozen yogurt, and when I said goodbye, we cried so hard and did one of those hugs that reminded us both of our Aunt Josie. I ache over my entire body with missing. The older I get, the worse I am about it. We only got one photo of ourselves, and this is it.
I leave tomorrow for Haiti. I asked Isaac what he knew of Haiti, and he really knew nothing. I mentioned the bad earthquake, and he immediately responded with “why would God ever do something like that?”
I’ll share my response and our conversation from the ground there, from that island where I hope to see the tangible goodness of God in the land of living. We were so glad that Ike felt the freedom to doubt with us, to speak his question.
What we believe about God has a way about it. It either reaches down into deep roots of bitterness during hard circumstance, or it produces fruits so good that it nourishes even in absolute worst conditions. Ask me how I know. Ask me about holding my limp baby in the hospital. Ask me why my heart feels broken into two solid pieces right now. There are things I’ll never type.
I’ll tell you what I do have going for me, and sometimes I wonder if you have it, too. I wonder why we connect here, you know? I wonder if you love people how I do. Now I’m not saying it’s easier on me to love my enemies. I’m saying that I am in love with perfect strangers. I am in love with subcultures and anyone different. Somehow that’s what makes me feel connected. I wonder if we have our own special, good way of not fitting – together. This makes me excited and also a tad desperate for you.
PRAY: So would you pray for me while I’m flying to Miami and then on to Haiti? You know how goobery emotional I am. Pray I’ll be tender without falling apart. Pray for my words. Pray I brim with joy.
GET A BAG: Also, I love the thought of a bunch of us from all over creation putting paper bags behind our bedroom doors so we can start chunking some things in it. Maybe ask your friends to do it? Let’s do a big yard sale together. You don’t need a plan, just a bag.
SHARE: If you feel at all inclined, when I post here it would be an honor if you would claim me in public and share the work I see. It may be my greatest honor to be a voice connecting you with real flesh and blood Mystery Stewards there in Haiti.
Facebook is a good place to spread the word, too.
If you’d like, here’s a little button code, too. <a href=”http://helponenow.org/haiti-stories/”><img alt=”1200×1200-a” src=”https://amberchaines.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/1200×1200-a-600×600.jpg” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>