I am still just a child!

Over the course of the last school year, I joined a wonderful group of women in moving through three different Beth Moore Bible studies. These women spanned the breadth of most of a lifetime, a few late high-school, all the way up to late 80’s and 90’s. There were single women, young moms, old moms, grandmothers, and beyond – basically nearly every step of life was covered, and almost any experience and life situation had been lived by someone in that room. Each week, these women rallied together to lean on each other, laugh, share stories, and encouragement, but most of all – to chase after Jesus together. I would sit at my table of women that gathered together each Tuesday morning, and thank God for the accountability, for the vulnerability, for the challenge of seeking constantly, not just on Tuesday mornings, or Sunday mornings, or whenever someone asked me to lead worship for their gathering – or when i’m so desperate for relief that I can’t see straight. Don’t get me wrong, all those times are great to chase after a much needed Savior – but I want my life to be more consistent than that, and even more importantly – God deserves more than that from me.

Back to my story – it does have a point: One morning, on a random Tuesday, my good friend who was facilitating the study decided to open up the morning’s session with a few birthday wishes. She called upon two lovely elderly ladies who had just celebrated some very ancient birthdays (to my 36-year-old standards), I can’t honestly remember how young they had turned, but it was up in the late 80’s or early 90’s – enough to cause me to tear up for what came next. While the room of 50+ women sang happy birthday to these silver-haired beauties, one woman took just a minute longer than the other to take her seat. My friend chose that moment to recognize the fact that this woman had been attending this Tuesday morning Bible study for every year that it had been happening. She simply said what an honor it was to have her there. I don’t think for a moment that I will ever forget what this beautiful, creaking soul spoke next. She paused, and looked around the room slowly, with a soft smile and glistening eyes (as tears are literally rolling down my face as I write this), and said, “I am still just a child!” – ACH. This woman went on to say that she followed Jesus daily and went to Bible study faithfully because she knew that there was always something to be learned from the Bible, and from her Lord. That if we are receptive and open, there is always something more to be taught – another way to grow, and another way to mature under the wings of His mercy, grace and incomprehensible love.

From that day on, my commitment has been to never allow myself to be stuck – to constantly seek after knowledge, to chase after growth and maturity, to never be satisfied with being “the same”. This morning, the pastor at church said something I’ve heard multiple times before and finished the sentence in a whisper as he spoke it:

“It’s okay to not be okay…

But it’s not okay to stay there.”

For me, having days where I’m just not “okay” – is great, it’s normal, it’s healthy – sometimes just admitting to myself that I’m really not okay right now is SO FREEING. However that freedom will quickly darken into bondage if I allow myself to stay in that head/heart space. I have to also give my spirit the freedom to gut-check my soul and say, “get yourself off the ground. NOW. If you feel the need to stay on the ground, then may it be flat on your face before Jesus or on your knees but you will NOT be living in the fetal position wallowing in your not-okay-ness.”

“I am still just a child!” – That absolutely wrecks me every time. To hear those words coming out of an 88+ year old woman with life creasing her face in a way mine can’t even dream of just wrings my heart out like a dripping washcloth. After everything she’s seen, after each study she’s been through over the same scripture passage, after each friend she has seen pass on to glory, every new life she’s witnessed come wriggling into this world, after every heartache and every joy, every minute of those umpteen years on this earth – she still looks in the mirror each day and says, “Lord, here I am – just a child before you – teach me, mold me, make me – until the day you call me home!”

Challenge 1: Be teachable – there is always, always something more that you can learn – no matter what the subject/task.

Challenge 2: Find an aged soul like this amazing woman and plaster yourself to their side – they are wise, they are beautiful, and they are irreplaceable. Learn from them, listen to them, let them know how important their life and experiences are to the generations like you coming after them.

Challenge 3: Read on for some disassociated intel on post-adoption life! 😉

Last Saturday Wesley was invited to play a 3-on-3 tournament with a little group of 6 and 7 year old boys – he was absolutely giddy about playing soccer outside and when we finally drove up to the tourney – he took a look at the 20+ games happening simultaneously in the large sports complex, and the hundreds of people milling around and promptly announced, “I no play soccer today. This no my soccer now.”

Ha. Nice try.

Once we explained that his game was only 3 kids playing at a time, and this park had lots of games on it, he was wary, but semi-agreeable – and as we made our way across the park to his field, he caught sight of one of the boys on his “team” and said “oh, here it is!” and promptly went to stand by the 6-year old he knew. 🙂 (cute “awwwww” moment). We figured he’d maybe make it through 1 20-minute game…he played all three of his games and played pick-up for a 4th game! haha! By the time the last game was over, he was spent as it was hot – but a happy camper! All his siblings had come to watch him play, as well as his Uncle Reid – so he had been able to show off his skills and have a cheer squad as well!


This past week has given us a few beautiful heart moments – and one of the most important for us to see has been the unfurling of his heart in a new manifestation. Earlier this week, we had some running around to do, then Abby, Wesley and I picked up Logan from her basketball practice. Logan was ready to head home, sweaty and spent from a hard court workout, so after chatting with some good friends and their new puppy (adorably named HARLOW…awwwwww) we hopped in the car to head home. From the minute we got in the car we knew something was off, because there was a body missing – Wes was still sitting on the curb alone, while the rest of us were in the car, and then he turned around and walked back inside the building. As I was scrambling mentally to think through “WHAT IN THE WORLD?! WHAT TRIGGER DID I MISS? IS IT LUNCHTIME ALREADY?” and the quickly following “noooooooooooooooooo…..” that whined a resounding wail in my head as my brain played through the wonderful tantrum that was apparently imminent given this behavior… – he slowly walked back out on his own and stepped up into the car and into his seat. (this in itself was an alteration – because I didn’t go chase him down to coerce him into obedience)

My tactic from this point was simple – pretend there’s no issue, and treat everyone like normal, well-adjusting children on a happy joyride home from a super fun sports activity! I think you can probably hear my fakey-high-pitched voice, laced with faux-laughter, tittering at the silliest of jokes that aren’t really silly, a telltale sign that I am internally STRESSED OUT, and that basically my spleen is walking a tightrope between my esophagus and my mucous membrane because I know full well that at any moment I may be launched into a parenting situation that I don’t feel prepared to deal with. Laughing at me yet? (no? oh, WITH me. Got it. – yeah it’s funny when it’s not YOU.)

Well, we made a timely trip to the gas station, because prior to this display of pre-traumatic-meltdown behavior Wes had reminded me that we needed gas in the car, and that he wanted to help pump the gas. My last ditch effort to distract him from his Forest GRUMP attitude. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned because when we pulled up, he immediately told me in a commanding voice, “I no do gas today. I no help you. I stay here in da car.”

SIGH. “Float me away up to glory, send Kris home, drop an ice cream truck or a monstrous Lego batman-mobile in front of my car so that he is jolted out of this funk, because I really really REALLY don’t think I can handle this today, Lord. In fact, heaven would be nice. Now would be the time for Jesus to take advantage of His second coming…cute white angelic horses with golden clouds…”

Yeah. Abby helped me pump the gas.

BUT – after my pointless pleading with the Lord for asinine twisted “blessings”, I took a deep breath and opened his car door and leaned in for a quick heart-to-heart. I said, “it looks like someone made you grumpy today. I’m sorry you’re grumpy, honey. Do you want to tell me about it?” {shaking head, no} “That’s okay. When you’re ready to tell me, I would love to listen! So if you want to tell me later, you can, okay?” I left it at that, and removed myself and went to close the door and then I heard some soft mumble-jumble of lips and breath sweetly speaking. I paused, slowly leaned back in and said, “Can you say it again, because I couldn’t hear you…” and he said, “I’m grumpy with Abby!”

I just about died, and then, after realizing I was not actually passed out yet, said, “You are???!! Thank you for telling me! You’re grumpy with Abby, what happened? How did Abby make you grumpy?”

This is where I almost died even more (if that is even possible).

“Because Abby tell Logan she STINKY.”

It was literally all I could do to hold in my laughter and my dark anxiety was blasted to absolute bits as a bright light poured onto the scene! 🙂 I immediately recalled that after coming outside from basketball, Abby had turned to Logan and said, “EWWW Logan, you stink! You need a shower!”

OH. MY. GOSH. This kid had just displayed the first instance of compassion that we had seen in 8 weeks of being home – I literally was trying not to bawl and laugh and dance around with a gas pump in my hand!

After recovering, I said, “wow. Do you think that made Logan sad when Abby said she was stinky?” (cue a direct prompting glare to Logan in the front seat to nod her head vigorously) to which he responded, “yes.” I told him that wasn’t very nice of Abby to say that, and she probably should tell Logan she was sorry for not being nice.  Then I had a quick top-secret meeting over the gas line with Abby about making a very vocal apology to Logan in front of Wes for saying that she was stinky… LOL! From there, it took about an hour or so for him to warm back up to Abby, and for his compassionate grudge to wear off – but this showed us directly that he is learning, and growing and realizing that people get feelings hurt and mean things make people sad – especially people he loves.

We got to see it in action again this morning in a very sweet way – Abby has had a super wiggly tooth dangling for about a week, and even though Wes has offered multiple times to pull it out for her (he’s a tooth-pulling master), she declined his generous offer. This morning, in near-tears, she begged Daddy to pull it out for her, but was too scared to actually open her mouth for the extraction. Wes took about a split second pause and said, “here Abby,” and crawled over me to sit next to her, “You can hold my hand. Squeeze my hand!” and laced his fingers through hers, plastering himself next to her side. Kris and I choked out a few tears silently and then I gave Abby the stare of absolute death {in love – it is possible, I promise}, and whispered, “you’d better take full advantage of this one! You don’t want to leave him hanging!!” to which she said “I KNOW!!!!” and then opened her mouth with the dangler in full-reach.

He grinned when the tooth popped out, and accepted her hug of thanks – and went on his way. But that boy’s heart grew a size today – for sure. 🙂 We see little changes every day – and it continues to be a beautiful ride, an exhausting ride, and an enlightening and educational ride!

Another adoptive Haiti family came by for a quick visit today with their 4-year old son who has been home 11 months – it was so good to see another family in the FLESH that has been through it and is so far ahead of where we are – to observe parenting tactics and discipline measures that look very familiar to what we are using, to hear the same words and phrases used in dealing with resistant behavior, and most of all, to talk with someone who has been there, done that – and is not “OVER IT.” – but is still living and learning through it. It is amazing how someone I’ve only met once, but chatted with over email a handful of times can feel like a longtime friend simply due to walking a similar journey. Our conversations are open-ended, always asking questions – always learning, which was the inspiration for the opening story in today’s post.

I’m still just a child – in every way – and I will strive to be until the day the Lord calls me home. I will commit to learning, growing, taking hold of any and every opportunity to mature and change by soaking up wisdom and knowledge from others around me who have gone before – from those who have walked where Jesus walked, who have stood before the Lord, asked for GRACE, and received it, from those who may be older but who still would like to exchange knowledge for knowledge, and attempt to learn from me as well – although I’m tempted to make them sign a waiver saying they may come out with the shorter end of the stick.

We are all still just children – and the day that I decide I’m not is the day I’ll begin to be stuck, and I’ll grow old and rotten and cantankerous and just tell people, “deal with it – this is just who I am.” – I don’t want to be that person – ever. I want to be who Jesus wants me to be – and while my God may be an unchanging God – I am a child whose desire is to be constantly changing – by an unchanging Hand.

Blessings,

Laura

Wes helping Mommy make lasagna

Wes and Abby at the fountain at the park

First trip into our woods to hack some trails! He wanted to know if there were bears or lions in there. No on both counts. 

Playing with Daddy at the park

REST. 

 

Ice cream outing!

 

 

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