While eating supper last night, I asked Lyd what she thought Daddy was doing right now. (Remember, JJ is in Minnesota at the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music and the Arts, aka, WELStock.) I knew that, being opening night at the conference, the Festival Concert was happening at that moment. I have sung in the opening Festival Concerts of the first 3 WELStocks in ’96, ’99, and ’02, and it has always been a Grand and Glorious experience, a taste of what the heavenly choir will be like. So last night, as I sat at the kitchen table with my two daughter, one picking at her supper and the other smearing her supper all over her face — well, I sure wished that I could be singing in that Festival Concert, too.
So, as Lyd and I talked, I explained to her about the Festival Concert where Daddy was. I explained how JJ and I had sung in that concert in the past, and I added that I wished I could be singing in that concert again right now. Then I thought how that might sound to an impressionable child like my daughter so I added, “But even though I’d really like to be singing in that concert, it’s more important for me to be taking care of my two daughters right now. No one else can be your momma! But someday, when you girls are older, I’m going to sing in that concert again, and you and your little sister will be part of the people that listen to the choir sing.” I paused for a moment, and said, “And when you’re even older, Lyd, you’ll sing in that concert with me!”
To which Lyd quickly added, “Can I stand right next to you, Momma? Then I can hold your hand. Maybe when J gets older, she can sing in the choir with us, too, and she can stand on your other side. Would that be good?”
For a moment, I pictured that. Me, singing in a fantastic choir concert. Lyd on one side, J on the other, both girls holding my hands, as is common in many college choirs today for singers to do. The three of us, singing our hearts out. The mental picture made the tears spill out of my eyes.
“Yes, Lyd,” I said, smiling through the tears. “That would be VERY good.”
Later as I was rocking J at bedtime, I thought over that conversation and my longing to be at the conference, and it brought to mind the idea of vocation. JJ was very interested in the doctrine of vocation for a time, and if memory serves me correctly, it was the topic of the annual Seminary Symposium last fall. Martin Luther had strong feelings on the doctrine of vocation, as it was highly misunderstood at his time. He lived in a time where people who wanted to show their devotion to God became priests or nuns or monks, and those people were considered “holier” than average, working people. Luther took a different position; he said that it was possible to serve God well in your day-to-day life, no matter what work that entailed. I believe he said something to the effect that a mother changing dirty diapers or a baker baking bread or a farmer tilling his fields or a soldier serving his country could be serving God just as much as a monk or a nun did, and Luther argued strongly to do away with monasteries and nunneries. People are justified by the faith in their hearts, not by what they did, Luther said.
I reflected on that idea as I finished my mothering tasks. It’s certainly not as Grand and Glorious of an experience to be scraping food off the high chair tray, washing the dishes, wiping dirty behinds, and reading the same favorite bedtime story yet again to a young daughter. But it’s still serving God just as much as singing in the Festival Concert at WELStock. Which is a humbling thought. And while it doesn’t take away my longing to be at WELStock, it helps me feel better about staying at home. My girls need me to be with them at home. Lord willing, there will be future WELStocks that I’ll be able to attend, perhaps even with my girls, but for now, I need to be with them here, building a foundation for their future.
So, I sang J her lullabies with extra conviction as I put her to bed, and I took extra care last night to talk with Lyd about serving Jesus, why we serve Jesus, and how we serve Jesus. We also talked about heaven, and when Lyd brought up hell, we talked a bit about that, too. I know that the most important task in my life is to nurture the faith in the hearts of my girls that was placed there at their baptisms, so my daughters can carry their faith on to their children, and so that we are all ultimately together in heaven forever. Nothing else compares to that.
But, I’ll admit, it was still hard when JJ called tonight to hear him say, “Emily, it’s too bad you aren’t able to be here, because you would really enjoy it.” Yeah, I know. But when I snuggled up with Lyd in my bed last night (she gets to sleep with me when JJ is gone), and woke up in the night to nurse my hungry baby and felt her warm body nestle into mine, it made it a little easier. My girls need me HERE right now — for so many reasons.
(Of course, it also made me feel better to realize that the conference is on a STRICT schedule — breakfast is at 6:30 am, morning worship starts at 8am. That’s 4:30am and 6am California time! Add to that the evening Gemutlicheit which starts at 9:30pm — and you’ve got some long, tiring days going on out there. JJ’s going to be exhausted when he gets home. Plus, his flight home lands just before midnight on Thursday! When I consider that schedule, well, all of a sudden staying home doesn’t look quite so bad anymore!)