“See what great love the father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
Kids. So often when we think about our kids and how much we love them, we think about tucking them in and kissing their head, or the hug they get after returning from camp, or the tears we shed their first day of school. Warm memories. Memories like this are the camping memory equivalent of a roasted marshmallow straight out of the fire. All the gooey and good.
We used to be a camping family. Moving to Haiti did in that kind of vacation for us. Now we want air conditioning, steak, comfort, and ease when we rest. Everyday life is too much like camping these days. Anyway, when I remember back to camping I think of all the gifts. I remember hiking, creek play, dinners over the fire, and s’mores. I don’t think back to how I couldn’t sleep, was too hot or too cold, hated setting up camp, and definitely heard large animals outside the tent. Inexplicably, those moments are part of what makes camping so wonderful and weird. The good, the bad, and going through the adventure together.
Likewise, part of what makes parenting so great is the hard days. It’s not just the roasted marshmallow moments. It’s making them bathe, go to bed, do their homework, write thank you notes, take their vitamins. It’s hard conversations and accountability. That’s love too, isn’t it? When we take the eye roll from our kid because we know that 10 years old is not too old for a bedtime. We know that good sleep makes for happy, healthy kids. Since we love our kids, we do the hard parenting stuff. It’s love.
“Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don’t all parents correct their children?” Hebrews 12:7
I am stateside and I am missing one who has been around recently almost as much as my own kids. He visits me everyday in Haiti. He Eats 2 BIG meals, plays soccer, colors, listens to music, and (his favorite) watches movies in French. I will hear him being the announcer and crowd as he kicks the ball alone in the yard, but imagines the stadium. I listen to him giggle as the kids outsmart the boyfriend in the movie, “Are We There Yet?”. He colors flowers and then quietly plays with the colored pencils. He has seen so much suffering in his young life and out of respect for HIS STORY, I will not share those details here. We have bought him shoes and cleats, given him a bike, fed he and his extended family, all in a effort to improve the situation.
Can I tell you what he loves the most? And he really loves Kris’ scrambled eggs so you know this must really be important! He loves Kris and I to watch him chew up his vitamin. His vitamin. I started giving him a chewable vitamin everyday and just like with my kids when they were younger, I explained, “I know it tastes bad, but chew it up and get it down. OK let me see.” It ends with a gulp of water and an open mouth to show it’s gone.
One exhausting day, I handed him his vitamin and food and started to walk away. He called me back. “Please watch me chew it up.” My heart nearly beat out of my chest containing the heartbreak that I knew made this so important to him. From that day on I have waited, he shows me, then smiles at me. When Kris and I knew I was leaving Haiti before anticipated, Kris memorized the creole phrase, Kraze nan bouch ou, so that he could take over this important work. I know now how much this kiddo needs that kind of love. Maybe most of all. To be loved enough that someone does the inconvenient, hard things. Someone cares enough to make him take his vitamin and it means the world to him. It means the world to me and reduces me to a puddle of tears every time I think of his face receiving that love. His face beams like I’ve given him the best gift in creation. For the record, I love the marshmallow moments too and so does he.
I don’t really know what else to say, except that he is teaching me big beautiful things. Love is a tapestry of beautiful pictures with the underside a mess of strings and knots that can look like chaos. Hard things, sacrifice, pain, embraces, goodnight kisses, and new shoes. I love both sides and know that there would be no picture on front without the chaos on the back. If you see a backward tapestry in my home, you will know why.
Go be love today.
The marshmallow kind and the vitamin kind.
Whatever God places in front of you.
The world needs both.