*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?