I’ve been discussing my family with a lot of different people since we’ve gotten back from China. New friends never quite believe me at first, and old friends still think we’re just a tad crazy. But the biggest thing that I have noticed from all these assorted conversations is that I almost always find myself wrapping back around to, “Yes, I realize it is crazy, but I wouldn’t trade my family for anything. I have learned so much.” I realize, at first, that might sound a little weird. I mean, you’d think I would want a normal family, a quiet family ( if you think that, you don’t know me well enough 😉 ) or a house where I don’t stick to most solid surfaces after a meal. But outside the normal, the quiet, the unsticky, I have learned so many amazing things, and so I thought I would share some of them with you. Hopefully, it will bring you in a little closer to understanding my family.
~Love is a verb. (Who started singing DC Talk? It couldn’t have been just me…) Anyway. Love isn’t words, it is actions. In the ultimate example, Christ didn’t just say He would save us; He did it. He told us of His love, and then acted. Love isn’t a fluffy note or an occasional sweet gesture, though those are kind and good. Love is hard; love means putting another person completely before yourself, sacrificing your wants/needs to their wants/needs. Love is a mom who gets 3 hours of sleep to make sure her babies are safe and happy. Love is parents who will willingly buy a bus, even though they could get a fancy car, because the bus better suits the well-being and comfort of their babies. Love is travelling around the world to hold a face you have only seen in a picture.
~Bask in the small things. It is so easy to get caught up the the fast-pace of today’s society. There is always a cell phone to be on, a phone call to take, an errand that has to be done. If we focus on those things, we miss out on life; we miss out on sticky kisses, new tricks, little blue feet jumping around the house, new dance moves, new words, new signs. We miss out on silly jokes, messy dinners, and sleepy faces. We know to relish the big things, the graduations, birthdays, dance recitals, sports games. But when I look back on my life so far, the little things are the things I remember. Those little things are the things that are truly important.
~Slow down. I realize that the situation that I have grown up in is drastically different from that of my peers. With that difference comes a difference in views. For the average person, death isn’t a daily thought. It just isn’t, not in the way that it is when you are living with a child with a known shortened life-span. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder what the next day will bring; not a day that I don’t pray for one more healthy day for my siblings. I look at my siblings and I know enough, medically, to know that, if I live my life as a normal, healthy female, I will outlive most of my siblings. That’s a hard pill to swallow, some days. But always in the back of my mind, I have to realize that He has a plan for all things, and that His ways are not our ways. So, because of that, I pay closer attention. I stop and listen to a babbled story from a three year old. I answer when they call, ‘Boo!” for the hundredth time. I laugh when someone gets into the nail polish and tries to paint her own toes. Because I know, someday, those are the things that I will want back. I don’t want to look back and regret that I didn’t fully enjoy them while I had the chance.
~Give the kid candy. I got terrible looks the other day when we took the littles in for a blood draw. Mom and I had brought twizzlers, a favorite among the littles, to give them when they were done. Now, I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to pull an obscene amount of vials off a screaming two year old. If you haven’t, here’s the long and short of it: it sucks. As big sister, I thought they completely deserved a reward, and yes, that was a twizzler. You would have thought I had handed the kid an anaconda, the way some of the parents in there looked at me. I understand, consistently rewarding a child with food creates an unhealthy relationship between a child and food, according to somebody in a textbook; but when you’ve got a sad kid who just went through something awful, the poor kid deserves a piece of candy. So give it to them. It won’t hurt them, I promise.
~Laugh! I honestly believe that the biggest reason, besides our faith, that my family has been able to stay so close throughout our trials is our ability to laugh together. My entire family has a great sense of humor, and that humor has gotten us through some hard times. I can look at any situation my family has gone through and think of something someone said/did to make the rest of us laugh; whether it was a diaper-hat, a made-up dance, a well-placed joke, or randomly breaking out in song, we have fun. We laugh together; it relieves the stress, even for a moment. And those moments are what have kept us close.
~Don’t worry. I have noticed lately that I worry about the stupidest things. I have siblings that are really sick, and I’m worrying about whether my shoes are cute? Really? (sometimes I think I should just bop myself on the head.) There is no reason to worry about my shoes, God will provide what I need, which is not always what I “want” but that’s another lesson for another day. In that same breath, I shouldn’t worry about my siblings either. They have their number of days; no worrying or fretting on my part is going to change that- it’s just going to irritate everyone around me. Instead, I need to have faith that God is there, when I fall, when I am weak, when I need Him- which is always. “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. Don’t be afraid, little flock,because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:31-32) My life gets so much simpler when I leave my worries with Him, knowing that, when the inevitable bad days come, it will be His strength, not mine, holding me up.
~Be silly. Dance in the rain. Slide across the floor in your socks. Have cozy coup races. Dance with a bucket on your head. Let them lick the baking bowl (as long as there aren’t raw eggs. That’s the bad kind of silly.) Let them wear their princess dress with their cowboy boots and pirate hat to Hy-Vee. Make blanket forts. Break out in song, and dance if you’re able!
Embrace the silly, for that is where many memories are made.