Monday, February 16, 2009

Four Coffee Creamers

When I awoke this Valentine's Day, little did I know the significance the four creamers in my fridge would have. Sure, I knew this Valentine's would be unlike any other. With a weekend full of ministry plans, a candlelight dinner was far from my mind. Anyone who knows my husband or me knows our commitment to marriage. Ministry and even children can become all too consuming, leaving marital collateral damage in the dust. So it wasn't from a lack of heart that roses weren't on the table this Valentine's Day. But coffee creamers? What in the world did they have to do with love?

The day started off busy. So busy, I don't even remember having a cup of coffee, much less what flavor creamer I used. The kids had breakfast, we wrapped a present for a birthday party Micah would attend, and I began preparations for our supper later that day. Scott had left earlier that morning, so not long after my mom came and picked up Micah for his party, Charis and I left to go "under the Bridge" for Project Love. February 14th was no longer about me.

Even the day before had been a little unconventional. Friday afternoon, I had turned down the card aisle at Walmart, only to see a line of people staring methodically at the display. When I picked up card after card that didn't seem to fit, I turned my cart toward the checkout without a card in hand. Scott and I had already decided spending time together was more important than a gift. Besides, a card seemed a little extra since we were spending our Friday evening at the church helping write more than 300 love letters. That night at least 30-40 young people gathered to peel potatoes, bag muffins, and make Valentine's letters for our church's homeless congregation that meets bi-weekly under the 15th street bridge in Augusta.

It was a new look at love.

The sky was misting and the wind was chilly when Charis and I arrived downtown that Saturday. Under the shelter of the bridge, we looked for ways to help, said hello to those we knew from our group, and met those who had far less than we had ever known. I felt the presence of the Lord even before we began. However, the day was not to be without at least one challenge. Amid the buzz of Bridge team members and young people setting up, I faced a serious dilemma. Having finished a large coke from Zaxby's, could I withstand the pressure in my bladder for another two hours or would I brave the port-o-potty standing ready? Two applications of hand-sanitizer later, I was feeling much more comfortable and ready for worship.

I was unprepared, though, for the two large bottles of coffee creamer--one french vanilla and one hazelnut--sitting on a table. As I watched individual after individual come and get a cup of hot coffee with flavored creamer, I wondered when they had last had a warm cup of coffee. When I remembered the four bottles of flavored creamer in the bottom of my fridge at home, I cried. In the simplicity of the moment, I realized how much I take for granted.

In years past, I might have been frustrated at missing out on having time alone with my husband on Valentine's Day. But this year, everything was different. I still would have liked some chocolates, but just because I really like chocolate. Not because I see them as proof of his love for me. I live in plenty, not only in terms of material provision, but in so many other things as well. I know I am loved . . . by my husband, by my children, but most of all by God. What greater gift could there be than a love that gave all? What greater privilege than to be His love to others? When the years and the boxes of chocolate run together, this Valentine's will be one I won't forget.