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Why I love kids and old people

*Names have been changed in this post to respect privacy

To think as children…

For 7 years, I’ve been a mommy. I spend 4/5 of my time with my littles (the other 1/5 I’d say I’m sleeping…but not sure if now a days I really get that much sleep!) We made the decision to homeschool this year (for a bazillion reasons) making my time with my older kids increase to 24/7. I spend almost every hour of my day talking about legos, baby dolls, play dough and the potty. Granted–I have my occasional Monday nights with mom friends to get together and talk (we talk about our…well, our…kids:).

I used to say I’d never be one of THOSE people. But I’m reminded more and more from my kids about the simple things in life–and why it’s kids that I just love being around. Not just my kids–but any for that matter. Really…the things they say are usually the things that matter most to their hearts.

My favorite color is pink. I love to ride my scooter. I’m scared of the dark. It’s just their hearts–laid out there. SO real.

If you are a good friend of mine–you know this is the way I talk too:). I keep things simple.

And how we speak back to children…isn’t it how we should speak to everyone???

Your favorite color is pink? I love pink!

You love to ride your scooter? I bet you’re really good at it!

Your scared of the dark? That’s okay. I used to be scared of the dark too. BUT, you have nothing to be scared of–God will protect you.”

Why is it…it’s so natural for us to listen to children. To keep things simple. To encourage…and to just love them.

This is the way I really believe we were created to love and treat everyone.

Children and our conversations with them remind us how to treat and love people of every age. Yet, something happens, too often, when we grow up…and we let our flesh get in the way. We forget to listen. We forget to encourage. We even forget to love. Ultimately, we let yuck get in the way and blur the beautiful.

And many times–it seems so many don’t begin to “get it” again…until they physically think as children again…

I don’t want to waste my “in between” not loving, not encouraging, not listening…not living.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarden at the Assisted Living…

There’s an old book full of sayings called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarden”. We have added Friday assisted living visitation to our homeschool schedule/activities. My mom sent me to one while I was growing up for years–and I learned more there than in school probably–so I wanted the same for my children. Start spending chunks of time at a nursing home/assisted living–and you’ll be reminded that all you really need to know in life–you can ALSO learn from the elderly your oldest friends too.

Today, I had an amazing visit with Thomas*. Thomas lives on the Alzheimer’s wing of the assisted living we visit on Fridays. Today, our conversation looked like this:

Hi there. My name is Thomas*. Are all those kids yours?

Hi Thomas. I’m Andrea. Yes, they’re all mine. All 4 of them. Aren’t they precious?

They sure are. You know, children are a real blessing. You are blessed.”

We’d sit in silence…and then it began again.

Hi there. I’m Thomas.

Hi Thomas. I’m Andrea.

Do all of those kids playing at the card table over there belong to you?

Yes, Thomas. They’re all mine. Aren’t they precious?

Yes, they sure are. You know, children are a real blessing.

This conversation–with the same dialogue…altered a bit here and there–circulated the same fifteen or so more times within our visit. But as we sat, more of his heart–spilled. Stories of a wife long gone. Remembering children, he too, was blessed with through the miracle of adoption. We’d sit. And then, he’d introduce himself again.

It reminded me so much of the last months with my Granddaddy Frank.

Sharing the last bits of the most important things engraved on their hearts. Have I ever told you that someone with Alzheimer’s led me to Christ? Yes, indeed. My grandfather. In his late stage of Alzheimer’s I was just 17 years old. I had heard the gospel for years. I even believed. (But we all know well that THAT really means nothing according to James 2:19.) I believed but I had not surrendered my life completely to Christ. My sweet granddaddy Frank looked at me and I’ll never forget this man whom I completely adored looking in my eyes and saying…

“Look. I do not know who you are. But I have a feeling I should. I need to tell you something. Christ died for you. He loves you. And He has a plan for your life.”

The Lord really used that conversation to draw me deeply to His heart. I was baffled how someone could forget everything…forget his granddaughter…forget our grasshopper catching and fishing outings. YET he hadn’t forgotten this. His passion for Christ and heart for the gospel and years and years and years of praying for me–hadn’t gone. He had forgotten so much–but what really mattered…he remembered and he STILL simply loved.

He told me something I’d heard a million times–and even BELIEVED. But it wasn’t until that moment that I realized how REAL God really was. And if He was real–I wanted to live my life surrendered to Him. My grandfather’s thoughts and memories and already gone–but the Holy Spirit was still speaking through Him. Granddaddy Frank still knew his greatest love…and it spilled over into my life that day.

Some people think it’s nice that we’ve decided to spend our Fridays at the assisted living–but I’ll be the first to tell you it’s completely selfish on my part (in a good way!) because it’s what my heart wants to do. I’m really the one ministered to as we go. These are the people I feel really get it. I’ve often felt I some times have a hard time connecting with others…maybe I’m weird or maybe God just made me to hang out with the simple minded. I just feel so myself around little ones and older ones–and I have so much to learn from them both.

Today, I watched new older friends working so hard to stay in the lines while coloring balloons–and I loved hearing them “Ooo and Ahh” over Parker’s masterpiece. He drew them a picture of their home…

[AND just to make you smile–when a staff worker brought out yogurt for snack time–Frank started clapping (he thought it was for him!) Compassion and joy fell on these elderly for this new little friend–and a table of 5 fed Frank THEIR yogurts. I tried to stop them–but they were all clapping every time Frank took a bite. Frank was loving the attention, and they were having the time of their lives. I eventually just let them have their field day deciding five consecutive yogurts never hurt a kid, right?!]

Recently, I had someone tell me some differing opinions they have on our adoptions, disagreeing how I openly talk about adoption related to our family, differing views about our work in Africa and how we raise funds for our work in Africa…and even some times adoption related things. Doesn’t it make you wonder where as grown-ups we just go wrong? When do we forget to just encourage and love one another? When is it okay sit around and decide how we think others should live? Why is it okay to decide what is right or wrong in someone else’s life? And this–is why I just can’t help but love kids and old people all the more.

After one of my many rounds of introductions today with Thomas*, he looked at my precious 4th child and asked if he belonged to me.

“Yes, he does Thomas. He is every bit mine. A gift from the Lord indeed.”

Thomas looked at me and said, “We couldn’t have children. But we have 3. We got them through an agency. They were a gift…our blessings.”

Now, folks in between might take Thomas’s words apart. I can hear it now. “we got them”??? But I see Thomas for his heart. And how much joy and love he has for them. And although he won’t remember my name 5 minutes later, we see one another for who we are. I love that he still hasn’t forgotten the things that matter most to his heart. And I listen…without ever dreaming of taking him apart. I won’t judge him. I won’t even ask him how he raised his children or disagree with it. Because in the big picture–that isn’t really what matters. AT ALL. It doesn’t matter for him–and it shouldn’t matter for me either. And if we have time or make time to sit around discussing how others are living–then we have no time to truly live His great, big, beautiful plans for OUR own lives.

What matters most, I believe, is what my Granddaddy Frank remembered most during his last days. That God loved him–and He loved me. He died for us. And despite Alzheimer’s for Thomas or my inability to remember anything due to lack of sleep and craziness–He ultimately has an amazing plan for our life. I love how God used Thomas in my life today–to remind me of this. I love that God still uses Thomas to encourage and love despite him ever being able to remember that he did that today. Truly, the Lord and His love over us is all that matters. And in between knowing and believing and LIVING that–we are to love, we are to encourage and when time allows…share and enjoy listening to the things that matter most in our hearts.

My favorite color is pink. What’s yours?

Anna - September 2, 2011 - 2:14 pm

Oh Andrea,
I should know better than to read your blog at work! My co-workers are looking at me funny since I am welled up with tears! This post is so special. And I am just so proud of you and what you are doing! I worked in an Alz building for 2 years, and my Oma suffers from it. I just know how much joy you and your kiddos are bringing to those folks. (((hugs))) Thanks for the inspiration.

Jen - September 2, 2011 - 2:25 pm

LOVE this. Love it Love it Love it!

Ashley - September 2, 2011 - 2:26 pm

My favorite color is also pink! I love to wear dresses. They make me feel pretty. I also love to dance. I’ve danced for 24 years and recently gave it up when I went to work full time. It’s where the Lord has me right now, but boy do I miss dancing!!

This is a precious post and helps to remind me to get back to the Heart of people. Thank you.

Kristy - September 2, 2011 - 2:43 pm

So special! I love talking to older people. During my high school years I cleaned six different houses…all owned by older people. I had the BEST conversations about life…they have so much history…:)One lady told me, “I LOVE everybody even though I don’t always love what they do” that has stuck with me and it makes it easier to talk to my children about other people 🙂

Beth in Atlanta - September 2, 2011 - 2:57 pm

The color I absolutely love is purple. I have something purple (a pillow, a vase, a candle) in each room of my house.

And I absolutely loved your post, Andrea. My daddy is 90 and he has dementia. As I have seen him become more confused and disheartened by his current state, I’ve wondered if he is going to remember his faith. I so don’t want him to lose that. So your story of your granddaddy Frank was very precious and reassuring to me. Thank you.

Kelly - September 2, 2011 - 3:07 pm

I read your blog almost daily, but I don’t think one has every touched me so deeply! When did we forget how to love and encourage each other? When did we forget that if it’s important enough for somebody else to say, it’s important enough for us to listen to? What a beautiful reminder today. My grandfather died a couple of years ago in an Alzheimer’s unit and I hope he had visitors like you to listen to his same stories over and over and brighten his days. Thank you for this. And my favorite color is purple. 🙂

Tara - September 2, 2011 - 3:32 pm

I read often, but rarely comment. I just had to say this encouragement – really shows me how we make life TOO complicated – it all really boils down to Him and loving Him, and loving others – and it looks more simple than we make it…thank you for the reminder.

abby - September 2, 2011 - 3:51 pm

my favorite color is blue. and this is so beautiful and true. I hope I can stay young and old at heart throughout these inbetween years 🙂

Cristie - September 2, 2011 - 4:48 pm

Your favorite color is pink?!?! That’s a beautiful color!! I think you should wear a pink shirt today! 🙂 my favorite color is teal!! You’re amazing!

amy - September 2, 2011 - 4:51 pm

Oh wow!!! My emotions are in overdrive. This is so true. Simple. Why can’t we all just love each other.

Jessie - September 2, 2011 - 5:37 pm

Loved your words! It is so true, I think it was one reason I was a teacher before staying home.
My favorite color is yellow and aqua.

Desiree - September 2, 2011 - 5:40 pm

Thank you so much for sharing that! Such a beautiful truth. ;o) My husband always said children are so special because they JUST came from Heaven, straight from the arms of Jesus, more recently than anyone else! Hang out with a child and you learn a lot about our loving God ;o) Always a cool thing for me to think about. Hope you have a great weekend!

Callie - September 2, 2011 - 6:44 pm

my favorite color is purple. But even more than purple, I really like sparkly things. They make me feel like a princess. I relate better with children as well. Yesterday I got told I looked like a monster, that my hair is too long, and that I could be the prince while we played pretend. But I also got invited to spend the night, that my new friends wished I lived in their guest house, and I got to remind little princesses that they are loved and beautiful in God’s eyes. It was the best day.

Briana - September 2, 2011 - 8:13 pm

What a wonderful story this is. Thank you for sharing it and writing from your heart. 🙂

Christina - September 2, 2011 - 8:46 pm

I LOVE this post and the heart with which it was written! Love God and Love Others – why is it so hard to get sometimes! 🙂 Thanks for the precious stories, the smiles, and the encouragement!

Kim - September 2, 2011 - 10:15 pm

And pink and blue are my favorite colors!

Melissa - September 2, 2011 - 10:39 pm

Is this my first comment on here? I can’t remember but I’ve enjoyed your blog for about 6 months. I’m not an adoptive parent but the Lord has been dealing with me about ministering to widows and the fatherless and your blog is such an encouragement as a mom (I have one 5 year old daughter) and as a Christian woman. This is a beautiful post…thank you for this!

Steph - September 2, 2011 - 11:26 pm

I take my 3 kiddos to the assisted living wing on Wednesdays. And our friends there love each one of my kids evenly, regardless of their different skin colors and special needs. Perhaps even more so because of that. Because life is simple there, and we spend time just loving each other. Thank you for encapsulating that feeling!

Diane and family - September 3, 2011 - 10:30 am

I have never commented on your blog before, ever, BUT, have enjoyed and been moved by so many of your posts. This blog post is beautiful! I, too, have been moved by so many who are asked to suffer, in differing ways, in their lives OR what we might perceive to be suffering, and, yet, in each and every person I have run into, they still have the ability to cling to their Savior!!

Your family is beautiful! I am the Mama to five children, three born in China! Adoption was never on my radar, but, so THANKFUL it was on God’s:-) and so thankful that we ran right into His plan for our family!!

Many blessings to your family as you wait upon your sweet Treasure who waits for you in China OR wherever God directs your hearts!!

Thank you for this beautifully(is that a word? 🙂 humble post!!

Jenna - September 3, 2011 - 2:28 pm

My name is Jenna and i came across your site. You are wonderful caring and kind women. Your kids are adoreble. wow I love your post. I was born with a rare life threatening bone disease, developmental delays, and many other diagnosis. I am in pain everyday. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I think positive, and help other’s, because there is always someone worse off then me. I visit my grandma at a seniors home, and my grandma has dementia. There are three grandchildren living in the same town as my grandma, and I am the only grandchild that goese to see her every week. i get a joy out of seeing her and I love it. About four years ago, there was a lady named Dorothy who was in the same home as my grandma, but a different floor. She didn’t have alzimers or demenita, just her health was bad. I would visit her every week, untill she passed away. I loved Dorothy and she loved me. I also visit a guy named Joe that lives in the same place as grandma. His health is just bad, and I love visiting with him. I am also trying to raise a million dollars for BC’s Children’s Hospital. I love it when people sign my guestbook.

Tammy Wolfley - September 4, 2011 - 12:42 am

I’ve never commented before either, but this post made me smile. As I have had my own in home licensed child care for over 5 years and starting on this very next Tuesday morning, and every Tuesday after, I will be taking my 5 littles (1 of which is mine, other are my child care children) to a nursing home 2 blocks from me to visit for an hour. My childcare name is Little Friends Daycare, so our special visit for the activities calendar there is named “Big Friends Little Friends”. You and I have a lot in common. I absolutely adore and love children and the elderly, and relate to them so well. I’m probably more excited than anyone to see what the coming months bring with our weekly visits. I’m excited to see relationships form, and to learn from them during our time together. The theme is to “bring back childhood memories.” So I’ll be planning activities with arts and crafts, play dough, simple baking/snack making, reading books and nursery rhymes, tying 2 of the most opposite generations together. I am so excited to see what is in store, and feel so blessed that God has given us this opportunity! Thanks for this post! Love it!

Robbie - September 4, 2011 - 10:01 pm

Visiting from a friend’s blog—what a beautiful post, what a beautiful family, what a beautiful heart!!!

marci - September 5, 2011 - 6:25 pm

Pink too ! and yellow and all colors…Beautiful story of Thomas and your children. Xom

Debb - September 8, 2011 - 12:14 am

Oh, Andrea, your words bless my heart! Again! Beautiful, beautiful post! How true….we are here to Love God and Love Others for God. Doesn’t get much simpler, really. Love this precious reminder. You are such an amazing woman of God, my friend! I LOVE watching God use you ~ and your precious heart! I remember visiting people in a nursing home as a youngster too……and have been blessed by elderly folks who have such amazing stories to share when I worked at an AL center as a physical therapist. I love the rawness and genuineness of both littles and older peeps. May I spend “the middle” of my life much the same. Thank you, Andrea. P.S… fav color is purple!!! 🙂

Kristi - September 9, 2011 - 10:25 pm

So touched by this. I’m on the receiving end of the love and encouragement lately and it has reminded me in a BIG way how God uses our seemingly ordinary interactions to spread His extraordinary love.

Our Invincible God… » Babe of my Heart - September 17, 2011 - 1:02 am

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