Lonny and I are heading to Michigan. To our favorite lake. To the rich place that holds memories and gives memories and settles our hearts deep.
But the packing is something else.
There are stacks of clothes and stacks of food and boxes and bags and totes. My stress level climbs to places I don't want it to to go. But there's so much to do. The list is long. The hours are short. Only when we climb into the Suburban, in the early hours, will I breathe. But for now, the chore list presses hard.
"I've done mine, Mama," Zay says. "I've packed my own bag."
He's lumbering across the living room, dragging his black corduroy bag. It's packed crazy full, bulging at the seams, zipper gaped open with unmet plastic teeth. The boys and I have talked about what to pack. Two shirts. Two shorts. Swim trunks. Boxers. There's a washing machine at the cabin and this part of packing can be light.
"Forgot something," Zay says. And he abandons the bag and shoots like a streak up the stairs.
And I wonder, what's in this stuffed bag? A half-dozen shirts? Every pair of jammies from the child's dresser drawer?
So while he's still overhead, I tug the zipper.
And the treasure falls out.
There's his stuffed monkey, the sock one, with the sailor cap and black bead eyes. There are markers. A notebook. Three wrestling dolls. Two books. Swim goggles. An empty brown root beer bottle (pirate prop). A video game. Flashlight. Magnifying glass. Binoculars. Superman action figure. Bizarro, too.
I spread the bag wide. Not a pair of undies in sight. Not a toothbrush to be had. None of the necessary things. There's nothing practical. Not a hint of chore.
Everything is carefully planned.
But it's expected blessing. Premeditated, cut-loose, throw-your-yoke-off fun.
His focus is on the blessing.
And I'm taken. I'm moved. This little guy. He's ready to grab the goodness. Nothing we deserve. But everything He holds, ready for us, grace and gifts and life, ready for the taking.
Our Father's merciful gift.
I press and push the goods back into the bag as Zay comes tumbling down the steps.
There's still the packing to do. That's just a part of life. But I'll do it with less stress. Less pressure. With hands that work past the necessity but stretch open for His goodness.
For gifts so sweet.
Given in grace.
Goodness beyond the bag.