Saturday, December 21, 2013

...what is needed more...

She sat at the round table, taking her tea; it's a daily practice of hers. Most days I buzz by her continuing on with the whirl of “doing” whatever it is that seems so important at the time. But last week, I sat with her and we talked of Christmas.
Eve is a blessing to me, to our home, to our puppies, to everyone. She arrives at our house singing every morning. You can tell exactly where she is on the property if you'll just pause to listen... she's always singing.
Two weeks ago while working in the kitchen, I could hear dear Eve singing in the wash room (she calls it her “store”). Always singing in Swahili, I can often recognize the tune and enough of the words to know she's worshiping our Abba. On this particular day, I thought I recognized the tune. It was a song i'd heard so often in my childhood... “Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy praise... streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise..” Subconsciously, unknowingly, I began singing in the kitchen the song her tune brought to my mind. Oh what a comfort to sing that old hymn in this kitchen sooooo far from where I had first learned it.
Sometime later, still kneading dough in the kitchen and still singing, she comes mopping through the house, still singing as well.
Both of us consumed in the work before us, hardly noticed each other's presence ---- until...
simultaneously, we froze and looked at one another...
we paused for about 10 seconds...
and then laughed ---- soul-laughed ...
I said, “Eve, where did you learn that tune?”
“From a mzungu missionary when I was a child.” she answered.
“Eve, do you know the words in English?”
“Yes, but they come more freely in my tongue.”
“Oh Eve, may I sing for you... and you tell me if they are the words you learned long ago?” Her sweet smile said, yes.
And I sang...
“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy praise.

Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it, mount of they redeeming love...”
I continued on with the next verse --- as she began singing with me --- in her tongue.

Oh Lord.
In a kitchen in Kenya --- two daughters worshiped you in different tongues with the same words, and you drew near. We felt you as close as the air passing through our lungs.

… and You whispered “home” to me. “you're beginning to understand what 'home' is really like”

How often have I shed tears over missing home ----- and there's nothing wrong with that. Surely some of those tears our Jesus cried were over the “culture shock” of being so far from His real home... Heaven.

But still, singing to Him, with her, a song from my childhood, from the other side of the world, and feeling His Holy-skin-closeness... I learned something new of His definition of home.

So as I sat with her for tea-time last week, I should have known class was back in session. But some learners are a bit slower than others...

We talked of the days she would take-off for Christmas to be with her children. We talked of a special meal we could plan for our two families to share during the holidays. We talked of her daughter's recovery from a recent bought of malaria. Then I asked, “Eve, we would like to bless you this Christmas with a gift that will bless your home. But I do not know what is most needed or wanted...” She smiled that timid, humble smile and remained quiet. She's truly such a beautiful daughter of God.
So I said, “Last week in town I saw a jiko (cook stove used here) that is much safer than those usually used. It uses less charcoal and it does not produce carbon monoxide. I wanted to buy it for you Eve, but I felt I should ask you first.” She said, “Mom, may I ask how much it cost?” “Yes, it cost 3800 ksh.” She gasped and said. “Oh mom, I have a good jiko that cost me 250 ksh, and while the other might be safer... I will share with you what is needed more.”
“Clothes for my children.”
clothes ---- for her children ---- shoes for their feet ----- food to cook on the jiko she already has ---- oh Lord.

For how many years have i viewed Christmas presents through the lens of “what do they want...?”
But today, it is truly as it should be...
“what do they need...?”

It's surely the words you asked your Holy self... even You who knows ALL... You looked down at Your scrambling children and faced the words... “What do they need...?
And THAT is what You sent on that first Christmas morning.
You did not send us what we would have “wanted”.
You sent us what was NEEDED.
We would have asked for this... or that... and the gift would have been forgotten weeks later.

But You sent us what we needed. And now over 2000 years later the Gift is still living inside us and being offered again and again to those who haven't yet accepted it.

Eve's words --- “I will share with you what is needed more...”
She didn't see my soul vibrate when the words spilled out of her mouth.

“I will share with you what is needed more...”
and YOU did.

Forgive me Lord for all the years I spent trying to figure out what was “wanted more” ---- when there is a whole wide world around me who is hoping someone will share with them what is “needed”.

3 weeks ago, I visited dear Eve's home. We are trying to find her a safer place to live, but in our driving about one day, she invited us to come visit her children and see with our own eyes “why” she is praying for a better place to live. She raises 4 children, alone. Their father/her husband deserted her before the last were born, twins, a boy and girl. She is thankful he left, because with him left the beatings. She lives in a stick/mud home with 2 windows (no glass) that is about 10x15. The two older daughters sleep in chairs, while Eve and her 9 year old twins sleep together on a twin bed. Small, crowded, dark --- but neat, welcoming, and... dare I say it... Holy. There was a sure sanctuary in that tiny space. She is a beautiful daughter of the Most High God.

“I will share with you what is needed more...”

It's taken 51 Christmases to get me to this place of understanding ---
You shared with us all what was needed ----- forgive us for warping it into wants Lord.

May I be a daughter who remembers, truly remembers, Your Gift ---- You gave us what was needed. And You've placed us in a world full of needs... needs trump wants...
You showed us that didn't You?

Last week, I had a private crying session.
I cried because I couldn't go shopping with my daughter, walk through the Christmas lights, listen to Christmas music, have something warm to drink, share a Christmasy evening with her...

Then I sat with dear Eve at the round table --- and heard, “I will share with you what is needed more...”

Tomorrow she and I will go shopping...
in the open air market (the place where the “discards” from wealthier places are sold) --- with no Christmas sights or sounds.
It will be dirty and dusty and it likely won't smell very good at all.
But our thoughts will be steady on “what is needed more” --- 

My Christmas looks different, yes. But it's being Authored by the One who cares most about “what is needed more”.
I'm learning Lord...
Merry CHRISTmas ---
may you get “what is needed more”.

©2013 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe


  1. beautiful beautiful beautiful. that is what He has proclaimed here too. i love that He gives us new opportunities every morning to see with His eyes what is needed, and to give as He gave.

  2. and i love that you, Jenn, always reflect His goodnesses --- love you my friend --- Merry CHRISTmas :)