Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not for Show-and-Tell

Baby Girl staying warm
Ha, today.  I must have had a sign on my head that said "STOP ME AND ADMIRE MY CHILDREN!"

Seriously, it ranged from kinda-rude-and-annoying to best-stranger-interaction-ever.

I walked to the store with Jayce and Anya in their stroller.  They like their stroller and I like my exercise. They were completely bundled in layers and layers of clothing, resembling marshmallows.  Well, brown marshmallows.  Chocolate marshmallows? Yeah, chocolate.  Probably a dozen people smiled and waved at the kids, said hi or a passing "how beautiful/cute/adorable/whatever".  A few interactions stuck out to me though.

Neutral interaction:
Ok, so as I walked through the parking lot to the store, one of the cart-collectors stopped me and asked if Jayce and Anya were twins?  I smiled and said "Almost! They are 6 months apart!" The poor befuddled fellow was like, "How did you do that??" Ha ha, I told him it took talent.  A lame explanation, I know, but seriously what else was I to say? Someone please comment on this post with some witty one-liners.  I need them.  Thanks.

Slightly positive interaction:
We went inside and I was looking for long sleeved shirts for Anya.  It's close quarters back in the baby section, as if moms with double strollers aren't expected to be there.  There were a few people commenting how adorable the kids were, blah blah blah, and one lady asked if they needed an extra grandmother?  Because "you can never have too many grandmothers."  Cute, thanks.  She then proceeded to help me look for shirts on the clearance rack, which was actually kinda nice.

Annoying interaction:
Making my way from the clothing section to the grocery section, an employee blocked my path and said (loudly, with that shrill voice that sounds like an under-educated reader of tabloids) "Oh my gawwwwd!  Look at that!" Calling to her fellow employee: "Lucy!  Come here and look at this!!!"  All the while she was staring slack-jawed, gaping at my kids, as if they were a box of newborn fuzzy aliens.  She began to make a fuss over the kids as I excused myself to get around her.  I smiled and gently said "We're not for show-and-tell today" as I scooted off in the opposite direction.  Poor Lucy stood there rather awkwardly.

Best. ever. interaction:
Before braving the cold walk home, I stopped by Starbucks for a latte.  Standing in line waiting for the barrista, a guy and a gal came over towards me.  The guy apologized for interrupting me (which he wasn't) and said that he just had to come see the kids.  He began the general "so beautiful, so handsome, blah blah" stuff that everyone says.  He then asked if they were adopted? He seemed genuinely interested in our family, so I volunteered a little more info about their birth-country, age, length of time at home, etc.  He asked their names, complimented Anya's smile, and asked if he and his gal-friend can give them high-fives (thank you for asking!!!!).
Then he says: "I'm really touched by what you guys have done.  Thank you for providing a safe place for these kids."

Wow.  Of all the things to say to an adoptive mom, I think that is the about the best.  "Thank you for providing a safe place."  Yes.  He understands.  He understands there there was hurt in the past.  He doesn't patronize them or tell them how lucky they are.  He doesn't tell me what a saint I am.  He doesn't see them as cute items at a boutique.  By that one phrase, he communicates that my kids are valuable.  They are people, they are precious, they were once at risk, but now they are safe.  Thank you, random stranger, for that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Toddling in Truth

3 John 3-11 (NIV)

"It gave me (John) great joy when some believers came and testified about your (Gaius') faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you.  They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.  I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us... Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God."

Recently a friend asked if I was loving being a mom, what I liked most, and what I didn't. Well, I'm not loving being exhausted and having my attention called to every minute detail of a toddler's life. I'm not loving the diapers and how long it takes to go to the grocery store, the inability to be efficient or the fact that I have no cognitive abilities anymore. (Some would question whether I had any such abilities to begin with. Regardless, I have none now.)

But what am I loving? I had to think, and didn't have a good answer for her.  I love my children, I love my family, and I love knowing that this is absolutely what God has for my life right now.  I couldn't, however, put a finger on what I love most about mama-ing (ha, a new word).  After about a week of thought, I have a tentative answer: I am loving watching Jayce and Anya develop and show some characteristics of 3 John.  

At the beginning of this post I quoted from 3 John where we see the author finds the greatest joy in seeing his children (other believers) walk in truth.  John is the only New Testament author that uses that phrase "walk in truth".  In fact, he uses it repeatedly in 1, 2, and 3 John, so that it's a reoccurring theme throughout his letters.  In each passage, the idea of walking in truth is surrounded by ideas of loving God and reciprocating His love towards those around us.  

How does a 2-year-old, though, walk in truth?  What does that mean, anyway?

Here are my thoughts-without-cognitive-ability on this passage, simply based on the passage alone:

John writes about faithfulness.  His children are consistent in what is right.
These people have integrity towards other believers that they do no know.
They are loving.
They act on their faith.
They show hospitality.
They are unified.
They do not put themselves forward but consider others first.
They imitate what is good rather than evil.

Each of these things are concepts that my children (age 19 months and 25 months) can successfully do. And, honestly, I see the beginnings of each of these in both Jayce and Anya.  

I love seeing them obey happily.  We are working on the "consistent" thing, but it's a work in progress.

I love seeing their affection for each other and for Philip and I.  Sometimes the affection takes the shape of a wet, slobbery, heartfelt kiss or convulsions of excitement to see us in the morning (Anya).  Sometimes it is an unsolicited kiss on my kneecap, or randomly playing with my hair and using a brush to innocently create a rats-nest on my head (Jayce).  Jayce and Anya will give each other arbitrary hugs and kisses throughout the day, and watch out for each other's needs.  Jayce keeps track of Anya in great detail, alerting me to any potential need she may have.

I love seeing them do things for us, pick up something we dropped or help mop up a mess, just because it seems to them like the nice thing to do.  They both truly have kind hearts.  I have to remind myself to accept their kindness, but that's a post for another day.

I love how much they enjoy our friends and family in our home and are happy to share their books and toys and demand a story.  Both of them are content and comfortable with people in our home.

I love how much they are attached to each other.  When they are separated, they ask about the other one and are unsatisfied until they are back together again.  They are happy to be together, and I have often thanked God for His wisdom in allowing them to be placed in our home together.  God knew what He was doing.

Anya is learning to give Jayce his vitamin before she eats one herself.  We have practiced this a few times and now she anticipates me and takes Jayce his "treat" before she comes back for her own, rather than shoving Jayce's treat in her mouth first.  She is actively learning to put Jayce ahead of her own impulses and wants.

They watch and imitate Philip and I, our friends and family in the way we speak and act: not raising our voices, interacting kindly, being snugly and loving.  Jayce and Anya use their hands to explore their world gently, not intentionally being destructive (unless Anya gets a hold of a book....).  They are gentle with God's creatures and are considerate when exploring our faces with their fingers. They take joy in doing things correctly and in obeying well.  They seem happy that we find joy in them.  

It's ironic that I'm writing about this today, since today was not a "walking faithfully" day for the small folk.  I'm not sure I can reasonably equate "walking in truth" with "being nice" but based on the passage and the context, there has to be some link.  I'm not even sure how these concepts can be taught, other than modeling them and praying hard that God would use His Spirit to transform our kiddos into His image.  

I am reminded daily that these are His kiddos that He has entrusted to us.  He is the One ultimately responsible for them, and He is even more desirous that they walk in truth than we are.  Prayerfully, both Jayce and Anya will soon understand and believe the truth of God's Son, Jesus, and His sacrifice for them.  When that happens, they will be indwelt by God's Spirit and  be further equipped to follow in God's truth.  Yeah, looking forward to that.  Until then, by the grace of God, my two toddlers are toddling in truth, learning how to imitate what is good.  Watching them act on this good is definitely my favorite part of mama-ing.