We gathered there in a church basement with no intentions of decorating. We would cook her freezer meals before the baby arrived. We’d spend time together in the kitchen. We would stir and laugh and boil and chop. It was her fourth baby and she wanted to keep it small and simple. We aren’t girls who celebrate in small ways, but we did our best to honor her humble request for small and quiet. It would just be the 5 of us, “the playgroup moms,” the ones who meet each week with sippy cups in hand and burp cloths on the shoulder. I confess that I wanted to invite everyone we know. The struggle is real for me, friends. I’m inclusive to a fault, they say. The others talked me into minimizing my list of extras to her sister. It was a compromise that suited the party well.
When the other moms texted, “Bring snacks,” I had just returned home from back to back trips to Haiti and the Wisconsin Dells. After morning church services, I ran to a nearby Dollar General and bought chips, dips, salsa, and sweet tea. I was running on empty, but couldn’t wait to refill my own figurative pitcher. Laughter and friendship will restore a parched and tired soul any day of the week.
I arrived early enough to help Rose unload. Every friend brings a different spiritual gift, you know. Rose brings the party with a capital P. My idea of “bring snacks” was to grab store-bought tea. She unloaded an entire party from the back of her SUV. The decorations and special surprises just kept coming. There were bags of homemade presents, tubs of hand-crafted paper fans, a cake from scratch. There was a backdrop. A backdrop. And I brought store-bought sweet tea and tortilla chips, for the love. I had to remind myself all I know of various love languages and spiritual gifts. I felt like I’d missed the mark, but I knew this was Rose’s gifting. While I wasn’t on my A game this particular Sunday afternoon, I can get on board with a good party! I love a good party. I jumped right in with the necessary pinning and hanging. I helped swag a garland and style a tabletop. Friends are better together.
Amber and Kayla arrived carrying bags of ingredients, aprons, and crockpots. Those girls show up with witty senses of humor and big hearts. They make every conversation both funny and heartfelt. We enjoyed the company of one another as we continued to pin and hang, swag and glue, style and tape. I made a playlist of sunshine themed songs to add to Rose’s party-in-a-box.
Our Sarah arrived. There’s something about cooking together that joins hearts. Stirring pots, frying in pans, chopping vegetables, telling birth stories. (Why do women do this? We absolutely cannot help ourselves. Baby showers make us speak of epidurals and such. It cannot be avoided.) Her sweet sister joined us adding to the already abundant sisterhood in the noisy kitchen. We laughed about feeling almost “old-fashioned” like pioneer women.
As we cooked together in aprons, we learned the truth about women of past decades. There’s a unique bond in a shared kitchen. As everyone’s hands fell in rhythm of dicing and peeling, we held the same goal. We weren’t cooking for ourselves. We were cooking for one. There was a sacredness in that kitchen, as if our very chopping could usher life into the world with a little more love.
Isn’t this the way of showering the people we love? We harmonize gifts and relationships together. We blend our lives like a simmering stew. Together, we serve one purpose. We come together to bless one. All for one. This is what we do when we show someone our love. We bring what we have to the table. Our lives combine for the real joy.
The day lingers on. Meals are bagged and sealed and marked for one freezer. The freezer itself will remind a new Momma of our love for her and for her tiny bundle. We continue laughing until we cry. We joke that our mom bladders can’t handle the kind of laughter they once endured. Isn’t that the truth?! We open beautiful mugs in vinyl, cursive script reading, Mom Fuel. I’ll be darned if Rose didn’t even make us our own take-home gifts. She’s that good, I tell you.
At the end of the day, I reminisce and consider once again, the various spiritual gifts and love languages of this tribe. We overlap a bit; some of us strong in similar areas. A few of the girls show love through the giving of gifts: big and small. This is not me. I simply forget. I try, but it isn’t my natural way to show love. I’m in the camp of the girls who love through words of affirmation. I joke with these gift-giving friends, reminding them that I truly do love them dearly as sisters. I may not think of the perfect gifts the way they do, but this doesn’t signify less care. By golly, I could write lovely words: letters, cards, blog posts to show my love forever and ever. Want a whole song? Done. How about a Haiku? I’m on it. I will wax eloquently about my love for you until the cows come home. Perhaps I shouldn’t be in charge of setting any price limits for gift exchanges. Eh? I’ll convince you to call off the gift-giving every time. Let’s just tell one another how we feel. No?
When we gather around someone to show them love, we won’t look the same. We will shower them in acts of service, hugs, quality time, and the like. We will be inclined to hospitality, compassion, discipleship, and mercy. Some will be quiet introverts whispering their heart. Others will loudly shout their affections and support from the rooftops. None of these acts of love is small. They are all meaningful and needed. Every gifting, passion, and talent is needed. Bring what you have to the table, mix your speciality in, and smell the sweet aroma. Your people need you to show up. They need you to be you. They love you for you. And so, you love the way you love. That is needed.
Shower the people you love with your kind of love. I’ll be over here writing blog posts to show my kind of love.
From my heart to yours,