Enough (Coats and Quiet Lights - #SmallWonder Link-up)

The More We Own The Less We Have to Name

If we had only one coat, we would call it Warm,
but if we got another, it would not be Warmer,
      just our other coat,
and if we bought, borrowed, stole
      or rescued from the trash
a third, fourth, or fifth coat,
if our closets held so many coats
jackets, parkas, capes, stoles, mantles and mackinaws
that if we changed them daily from October through April,
rotating cashmere, leather, fleece and down,
scarlets and peacocks, blacks and browns,
if we had coats to cover the entire tundra
      and with it all our ancestors
who ever felt the chill of His absence,
none of these would be Warmer,
none of these would be Enough.

- L.N. Allen

We have a whole room in our house lined with hooks and devoted to the storage of coats - a startling array of outerwear designed to ease six people through four seasons of weather and everything in-between.  That small back room, a former porch now closed in, boasts more coats than Baskin Robbins has flavors - a coat, you might say, for every palate. 

I also have a whole room in my mind devoted to the coats of my past, a musty closet so full that the door will hardly stay shut.  Digging my way into memory's closet, I find, way in the back, the mustard-gold wool coat with large toggle buttons that I thought was oh-so-trendy in high school.  Hanging near it, or cast forgotten onto the floor, lies the bright orange and navy blue windbreaker that matched so well with my eyes, but made me feel like a construction worker every time I wore it. 

The dark wool pea-coat I bought at the Salvation Army during college still hangs stiffly on memory's hanger.  It was ungodly heavy, decked out with two rows of silver buttons and appeared to be a real cast-off from the Navy.  Nearby would be the thin yellow rain coat I bought for a camping trip with my then boyfriend who later became my husband, as though the purchase of a coat between us somehow sealed the deal. 

Hanging toward the front, still usable, would be the burgundy knee-length coat that makes me feel a little like a rock star every time I wear it.  This is the coat that caused my husband to suggest in a gentle tone when I returned home from buying it, that maybe we should consult each other before making big purchases. 

I have too many coats (maybe I always have) and my husband and children do too.  Lately I'm hunting for a back-up winter coat for my daughter.  I've made multiple trips to a variety of stores, ordered two online and returned, all because I don't like the way her bright pink parka from last year is starting to show some wear. 

Walking into Old Navy on yet another scouting trip I noticed a box for donating old coats as you buy a new one and I thought, "Why not keep your old coat and buy a new one to donate?" 

I didn't do either, though, not that day nor since. 

The coats we wear, like much of our clothing, are often a symbol for identity, announcing to the world our interest in outdoor sports or our need to hide behind something long and warm that covers us.  Our coats hold us, warm us, and I have to restrain myself every year to keep from buying an over-abundance of fleeces and hoodies at yard and consignment sales, so great is my desire and my pleasure at covering, clothing, my children.

I have too many coats as our back room will tell you and many days I'm convinced that this is more of a burden than a blessing.  I wonder what these coats might tell me if I were to listen to them one by one?  

Certainly they would speak of my vanity, my desire to fit in or stick out in equally competing measures.  They might mention also, perhaps shyly, my fear of the cold and how holding myself too tightly rigid only makes the shivering that much worse.  They would probably also want to know why I don't go out more often, to enjoy the cold or the rain or the wind, especially now that I have them to keep me.   

Gracious God, we in our frail humanity fear the cold, the wind, the rain.  To put it more plainly, ever since that incident in the garden, we fear exposure.  Forgive us, please, if we go a little overboard in covering ourselves and the ones we love.  Help us to bear, oh Lord, your stripping.  Teach us to welcome the first breath of frost and its burning sting.  Help us to learn to let Warm be Enough. 

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Friends, are you longing for a moment of Quiet in the coming Holiday Season?  I want to invite you to subscribe to my Advent Email Series called, "Quiet Lights."  Signing up will allow you to receive an email of a simple poem and a few good links to add wonder to your Advent journey.  Watch my blog later this week for more info or subscribe NOW by visiting the link.  

Click here to subscribe to Quiet Lights.

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Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  


  1. I love this, Kelly:
    "Help us to learn to let Warm be Enough."
    There are so many ways that we overcompensate for our fears of not feeling secure or safe or affirmed or whatever. May we learn to let God be enough and not try to outdo him with our own efforts. Thanks for sharing this; wonderful lessons here.

    1. "Overcompensate" yes, that's a good word for it! It takes wisdom for me to discern the difference between wise preparation and overcompensation - although I think I know which direction I tend to lean - I always tend to over-prepare food when hosting a meal!

  2. "We fear exposure". I'm thinking this season about taking all these things off, and like the leaves that fall to herald the change from fall to winter, I'm letting go. It's definitely scary living this vulnerability but it's where my heart takes me. Loved reading your words here and join you in this prayer. Help me Lord to let go.

    1. Thanks, Lisha. The other day one of my boy's called out in the van, "The trees are naked!" Winter exposes them and prepares, may it be true also for us.

  3. Kelly, yes. I am a bit of a coat-collector myself. I have so many. Just the other day I realized that I haven't worn some of them in ages, but it's not easy to part with the "oldies but goodies." Fortunately, since we moved to the mountains, it gets cold enough to use them more frequently. I have decided to wear a different one to church every Sunday. (And yes, maybe give some away...)

    I liked this that you said: "Help us to bear, oh Lord, your stripping."

    That is the hardest thing of all - His pruning and refining work to shape us into the image of His Son.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! May it be filled with faith, family, friends, fellowship...OK, and lots and lots of food!


    1. It is so hard to let go, especially if it's served us well in the past. That resistance to letting go is such a good thing to ponder. Happy Thanksgiving, Sharon!

  4. This really speaks to me as I have an array of coats and jackets. Being naked and so very vulnerable is truly scary for me too and covering up feels safer. But being before the Lord as me, as the one He created, is really how I want to be. I will be pondering warm and warmer and enough for some time. I love this post, Kelly.
    Father, may I be the way You intend for me to be and give You my fears and neediness. I want You as my protection and my warmth. Amen.

    1. I'm grateful for your pondering. Trust is at the heart of all of this, isn't it? Trust seems to be at the heart of Enough.

  5. Your words affirm my minimalist tendencies -- and I'm always trying not to be Pharisaical about it, which, I suppose, is just as bad as being excessive. We humans are amazing in our capacity for creative sinning.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Ah, yes, I too am familiar with that form of "creativity" ;)

  6. Great thoughts inspired by a room of coats. Interesting time of this post as my husband and I just had a conversation about coats this morning. Our daughter lost her brand new north face coat (got on sale for good price) still.....lost it after wearing it for one week. She is wearing a hand-me-down and not real happy about it. She doesn't like the way it looks. Somebody slap me please. I went looking at Goodwill today just in case I saw a lighter weight jacket - nothing in the line of coats at all. Salvation Army....same thing. We can afford to buy another coat but I'm not going to because what she has will work perfectly. But my heart is aching for the families that really truly can't afford a coat and they won't be finding one at Salvation Army or Goodwill today. Two years ago our church gave away coats and shoes in October and I never understood the real need for this until today. Incredible.

    1. Isn't that the truth! I was looking for a winter work-coat (chopping wood, etc) for my husband at a few second hand stores and some stores have literally NO men's coats, children's too. Motivates me to get upstairs and clean out the ones that no longer fit my kids so someone else can use them THIS YEAR, not next. I find it very hard to teach our kids the value of their possessions, even though we're frugal by some standards, they have SO much. And, also, they don't know what it's truly like to be cold.

  7. 'let warm be enough.' Kelly, I, too have more coats than I need....what an interesting parallel you have here. Great food for thought.