A return on my investment. Actually, I've been getting a lot of those, but this one was super significant. This one is my dream come true for today. A dream that lives in momma's hearts everywhere.
It's all my patient, and repentant when not so patient, parenting paying off. It's all the overcooked dinners and unread books because I have to stop many times to help work through conflict/resolution issues.
All parents must feel a special need to have their children love and care for each other. I imagine lots of parents discussing into the night: "how do we help these kids not hate each other".
I know Brad and I have despite the fact that they are wonderful friends and playmates. I feel the responsibility keenly. Maybe it's because my brother and I struggled. I am ashamed about how I treated him growing up. We drove each other crazy - on purpose. Or maybe it's because we are blending families here. I want both the girls to have such a good experience in bonding. I carry that responsibility as their caretaker.
I have thought of and prayed for blended families more since blending someone into my own. I have thought of and prayed more for families who adopt and foster. Not because loving a kiddo is hard - that's easy. But I can't heal heart wounds on either side of this blend. I can't put my hope and 35-year-old wisdom into these littles.
Life is theirs to discover. Life is theirs to learn. This is their journey.
And as it is, I'm their journey guide right now. For better or for worse. I'm what they get.
So often I must stop cooking dinner, and I go plop down on the living room floor. I take a deep breath and say again, "Can I help you two somehow? Would you like me to help you work through this?"
My forever, tearful Amia shakes her head yes and our graphted-in girl does too. I listen. Everybody gets a turn to talk, and I say, "You are allowed to say how you feel, but it matters how you say it." And I say again for the hundredth time in these past months, "How could you say that nicer? Can you try a different tone? Can you think about how she feels? Can you apologize? Could you forgive her? Could we move on? This relationship is too important to fight over this. Loving each other is worth more than ________."
These type of conversations are a daily part of our routine for months, sometimes more than once a day. Then today, there was a return.
I overheard a small disagreement in the living. Nothing major. Nothing to dry my wet dishwater hands about. Still, I held my breath.
And I heard one say, "How about we just quit arguing and move on?" Then, I heard the other reply, "Okay."
I heard, "Okay".
Be still my heart.
They resumed their play and that was that. I continued washing dishes beaming. I called into them after a moment of quiet thanks, "Good job, girls! You did a good job letting that go and moving on!"
I can't put into words my joy and gratitude. Months of pleading, praying, and teaching turned into a moment of, "okay". It probably won't tomorrow. It may not in 5 minutes. But, it did now. It's a glimpse of what is to come.
What I am going for here is the life long friend, the sisterly bond that is joy and giggles, the forever love of two blended girls becoming one family.
We will see what they will discover, and learn, and choose for themselves. I think today was an inkling. I think today was a promise of love.
I loved it.
It was a wobbly start even though my six-year-old looked confident as she
picked up her bike. A breeze whipped her hair across her face as she looked
over her shoulder to throw me a smile and to make sure I was there, watching.
She had protestingly donned jeans, ever my skirt wearer. Last year, she had
finished the best part of bike season fairly proficient. We had even biked
together, though a little precariously, in the addition where we live. Now, at
her first attempt this year, she expected the best. However, the bike wobbled
under her as her muscle memory geared up for the first time in months. She fell
over several times. It actually took a couple of days for her, but soon she was
riding confidently and feeling rather happy, I would say.
My bike wobbled too as my friend told me they were headed back to the
hospital with her little girl. I was walking along just fine when God asked me
to start riding again. I too glanced over my shoulder to make sure He was
there. I got out my bible and let truth sink into my heart from passages that
had sustained my life more than once in storms. A couple of the pages seemed to
fall open to these deep, life-preserving verses. Others stayed hidden deep in
my own rusty "muscle memory". A slightly easier season of life had allowed my
muscles to weaken a bit as I focused on other things. Now my heart demanded
them to do their job. I found myself reminded of my desperate need of
So with It is Well playing in the background, I got on my
bike. I flexed my memory, "Is it first Corinthians four or second Corinthians?"
I checked both and reread, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly
we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
I climbed back up on the bike and unsteadily rode toward Jesus. The process
of surrender and trust is a wobbly one at times, at least for me. The drive for
me to encourage my friend with life-giving truth and not just kind words makes
me get back up when I fall.
However, I gained strength and momentum in the riding.
Paul reminded me of my aim in Philippians 3, "that I may know Him and the
power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death." The courage God gave to the early disciples in Acts 14 gave courage
to me, "strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Jesus' life itself begets strength in Hebrews 5, "Although He (Jesus) was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered."
I continued reading reminding myself of our sovereign God, our great
treasure. As I focus my mind willfully on who He is, my heart fills with love,
adoration, and gratefulness. When the God of the universe promises Himself as
Abraham's very own shield (Genesis 15), when He guarantees the priestly tribe of
the Levites the inheritance of Himself (Deuteronomy 18), I find myself saying,
"Lord, I want You as my shield and inheritance!"
"You are my portion and my cup...indeed I have a beautiful inheritance,"
Psalm 16 declares. "May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation say evermore, 'God is great!'" Psalm 70:4 sings. "You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes," Psalm 119:68 reminds.
I am biking hard now in hot pursuit of God instead of my own understanding,
and there is indeed the fullness of joy in His presence.
the day that china came to us felt special, but i didn't know how special.
i picked our exchange student up at the airport in great excitement. she was sweet and kind. i am mesmerized by her culture. i am intrigued by her family and her life a world away.
but what floored me was my american. my little american gave up her bed, her room, access to some of her very most important toys without complaint. i watched her as she walked unknowingly in Christ's footsteps, and i marveled.
while i've been trying to prepare my american for the losing of "life" that finds true life, i was not expecting to see the beautiful reflection of truth in my young daughter's eyes yet.
while there's lots of sad news - hard news in the world, i look at my daughter and see hope. i see good news - The Good News.
welcome, our china doll.
"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 16:25
last night, as i tucked amia into bed, i turned out the light and whispered to her what i do every night...
"Jesus loves you. and daddy and i love you."
and every night she asks me to say it "one more time." and, i do. however, last night, after the second time, she stretched out her little arm and wrapped it around my neck saying, "snuggle with me a minute."
and as i nuzzled my nose into the side of her head and breathed deep the magic of her love, the world stopped. all that mattered was being close to my daughter and soaking in this moment that i knew in a blink of an eye would be a distant memory. so as i struggled to etch this instant into my forever dreams, i felt the invitation to "snuggle" into God.
as i struggle with all the emotions that go with the territory of having a loved one with a chronic, life-altering illness, i need reminders to "snuggle" into Him and rest. i spend a lot of time busy taking care of the day-to-day things which occupies my mind. when i have quiet moments i occupy my mind with mindless activities so as to not engage in my own pain. but i often feel the invitation... to acknowledge my pain and snuggle into God's presence, letting His nearness comfort me. sometimes i accept. and those moments are the moments that give hope to today.
may your unfailing love be my comfort.... psalm 119:76
emily... just plain emily.