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If you could change one thing today about your life, what would it be?

PorchApril

Mike and I have been beyond blessed the past few months to have our daughter Amber and our only granddaughter, Libby, staying with us. We are all eager for Ben’s return from deployment in the Middle East late next month, but oh how we will miss the girls!

We’ve fallen into a welcome routine these bright spring mornings. Parents of young children are chronically sleep-deprived, so Libby’s Baba (that would be Mike) and Mormor (yours truly) have delighted in taking the early morning shift as Libby’s companions.

Mike typically gets to her crib first and brings her in to see me. While he does physical therapy on his knee (still sporting a railroad-track of stitches after two major surgeries the past six weeks), Libby and I take an early-morning walk around the lagoon at Northside Park.

Libby quacks at the ducks. She waves to passing dogs, blowing kisses to their owners. Watching her, I breathe my prayer to the One who is Caretaker of all, “How blessed we are. How can we thank You enough?!”

Living with and loving Libby comes with lessons, too. She’s learning about the world every day.

Libby reaching

We’re learning at the same time.

Over Libby’s oatmeal this morning, I said to Mike, “How are we different now than when she and Amber arrived in February? We’re helping to teach her life skills, but what has she taught us?”

We laughed about how we admire the ease that a toddler has in simply saying “No,” a skill the two of us have yet to master.

We commented on how exceptional Libby makes us feel when she hurls 25 pounds of diapered energy at our knees and looks up through a tangle of blonde curls to exclaim, “Yuv you!”

But do you know what a toddler models best?

The value of play.

Life for me is primarily work. Not simply my 40 -hour-per-week daytime job, but the 24/7 work of pastoral ministry. Caring for people, meeting needs, connecting them with others who can help.

Work matters. But watching Libby, I’ve learned that so does play.

Flinging ourselves down on June’s carpet, we point out the denizens of the trees, exclaiming in wonder.

Libby in grassBlowing bubbles in the backyard, we spin in circles until we collapse, giddy with joy. Swinging at the playground, we feel the wind in our face and something holy rises up, unbidden.

We remember that it actually can be fun to be God’s children.

In Leonard Sweet’s The Well-Played Life, the author reminds us that pleasing God does not have to be such hard work, and that playing is not just for children.Well-Played Life

“In every age of our lives,” writes Sweet, “we need to tap from deep within the sense of God’s gift of play – the consciousness that in every part of life, everywhere we look, in everything we do, we can experience God’s pleasure.”

Living with and loving Libby has taught me that.

Who will I play with when she is gone?