This happens a lot

Today (as I write this on Monday) was the best day ever. Okay, it was the best day in a long time. It was a very good day. I spent the entire day looking at photos of Annika, putting together a collection for her.

Today (as you read this on Tuesday) was the best day ever! Okay, it was the best day in a long time: twenty-two years ago, this exact day. August 19, 1992 it was a very good day.

Annika was born at exactly about roughly 10:36 a.m. I think she entered laughing. And we have had a lot of really terrific days ever since. Annika and Kaia are God's solution to the problem that arose in the world, "what are we going to do about Jan?"

"She's a little too serious, pretty intense, feels like everything is her responsibility, even a bit controlling," said God to the company She keeps in heaven. "How do we solve the problem named Jan Erickson?"

And so God gave me these girls. And for some reason, I make them laugh. We have lots and lots of photos (period) and lots and lots of photos of Annika cracking up Kaia because of the way I said something, or the look on my face, or the non sequitur that just came out of my mouth. We have dozens of photos of the girls laughing at me, laughing hard.

In this case, they were literally falling on the floor. Falling off their chairs. Out of control. Snorting. Wheezing, gasping for breath. And I have no recollection of what set them off. Except, it was me. And it was perfectly unintended, innocent, unexpected.  

We were at Yellowstone. 2008. Having lunch. And I opened my mouth. That's all it took. That's all it takes.

So much for intensity. Or control. I don't mean to be funny -- at least not at times when this happens -- I'm just goofy enough, usually while trying to be (too) serious, and it sets them off. I absolutely love it when they fall off their chairs. Doubled-over. Uncontrolled hilarity.

Annika who becomes 22 on this day has a multitude of gifts. They humble and astound me. She delights and inspires me. She, and her sister, also remind me of what I value, as Pastor Dave asked us on Sunday. What do I value?

Faith. Faith to see beyond what is to what God will do. Faith to see beyond what was to what is becoming. Faith to look beyond control and see freedom, and creativity, and joy. Faith to look beyond intensity to see an open horizon, filled with possibility and a horse to ride away on! Faith to look beyond responsibility and see the occasions for trust: in what God is up to, what God is doing, what God is making.

What do I value? Of course I value these two girls, and their dad ----- who have taught me to have faith, to give up my need to control, to feel responsible for everything all the time, to lighten up for heaven's sake, to release my grip and trust in God to have free rein to be at work -- in their lives and mine and through all the round world, far beyond and sometimes despite, my efforts.

What do I value? More than crumbs. Jesus said, "I have come to give life and give it abundantly." Like the audacious woman in the text from Matthew 15: 21-28, I am asking for the bread of life.

And like the song we sang yesterday in worship, there is living --- living! --- water flowing through our souls.... And I thirst for more of God's life.... "We were made for so much more than ordinary lives! We were made to thrive!"

What do I value? Abundant life! Horizons. Release. God with free rein to take what I got, what I came with, and make so much more out of it than I can even imagine.

And this is my hope, my desire, my prayer for Annika on her birthday, and for Kaia, and for every single one of us, birthday or not: to THRIVE! To be free. To be so much more than ordinary! To be flooded with living water  'til it overflows and we are snorting and wheezing in laughter, at the sheer hilarity of grace. To delight in gifts as simple as a mother's silly mistake or as profound as the healing of a brain.

It's happened again, it always does when the girls are together. They're doubled over and falling out of their chairs laughing at something I said, and it's the best day ever. To see them overwhelmed with life, abundant and free! The girl is getting cheesecake for her birthday. No crumbs. Thrive!

Jan Erickson-Pearson

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