Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recognizing a Pattern

Those of you who are parents know how much we can learn from our children. When Nicole and I found out we were going to have Ava, I kind of imagined a new apple growing on our family tree. However, since she has been born, I have realized that our tree has grown an entirely new branch! It is such a privilege to be able to experience first hand her little personality as it develops and the temperament and characteristics she is growing to possess. It is funny at times to get to see the little quirks of human nature that all of us have as they begin to surface in the personality of this little person. Seeing these has helped me to understand myself so much better.

When we first brought Ava home from the hospital, she weighed roughly 5 lbs. She had been born about six weeks early, but she was doing well and growing fast. Because she was so small, we had to feed her every three hours whether or not she seemed hungry. I can remember many nights having to wake her up at 3:00 a.m. to change her and feed her, and there were quite a few times when she seemed more content to sleep and was upset with me for waking her up. Just about every night it was the same. Before I would wake her up, I would go get her bottle ready and place it in the bottle warmer. While it was warming I would go wake her up. As soon as I picked her up she began to cry. She would be upset because she wanted to go back to sleep and she was hungry. Before I would feed her I would change her diaper, which normally made her cry more. Not only is she tired and hungry, but now she is also feels cold and uncovered.

She was mad at me because she was sleeping comfortably in her nice warm bed, and then I came along, woke her up and stripped her of her clothes. Little did she know that I already had her food warming up in the next room and she would soon be back in her soft bed wearing a fresh, clean diaper. To her this was all a big inconvenience, but in reality, I was doing what was best for her. As the weeks passed, it was still the same night after night. After all that time of going through the exact same thing, she still did not seem to understand that her warm bottle would be waiting as soon as her diaper was changed. After she finished eating I would burp her and place her back in her comfortable crib. Through all of this, I began to notice a pattern . . . but it was not with Ava - it was with me.

I looked back in my life and saw many examples of the Lord doing what was best for me, and I responded more like an infant than I did an adult. He would begin to shake me out of my comfort zone and I would cry out because I wanted to stay warm and cozy. He would begin to strip away my defenses and clean up my mess, and I would complain because that season wasn't very enjoyable. I would grumble and gripe that everyone else is being blessed and I have all this pressure. You would think after a while I would begin to understand that these seasons all have the same outcome: I always end up better off than I was before. Just as Ava would lie there and possibly think: "Am I going to be cold and hungry forever?!" I have often wondered: "Are things ever going to get better? How is this going to end?" Even though Ava could not see the bottle that was just a few feet from her and would soon be hers to enjoy, I still had everything covered. Even though we cannot always see the outcome of our unpleasant and uncertain seasons, we can rest assured that our Father has everything taken care of, and everything will work out just in time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prelude to a Kiss

Last week Nicole and I had to take Ava to the doctor. As usual, we spent a good while in the waiting room before it was our turn to see the doctor. There were quite a few people in the waiting room that day, and Ava made her way over to play with a little boy not too far from us. The little boy was a couple of years older than Ava, and incidently he was African American. This little man was quite the gentleman. He obvioulsy understood that Ava was younger than himself, and he was very gracioulsy sharing his toys.

We watched them play for a while and chatted some with the boy's mom. As I watched the two beautiful kids interact, I couldn't help but wonder what Ava thinks about differences in skin color. She is too young to have any prejudices or stereotypes, but surely she must look around at a group of people and notice differences in hair color, skin tone and maybe even accents. What about the little boy? What does he think when he notices differences? As the two continued to play, I may have gotten my answer. The two were playing and having a great time together. All of a sudden, out of the blue, Ava leaned up to give the little boy a kiss. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. If she tries to kiss random boys a few years from now, we might just have a problem :) but this was one of the most innocent displays of love and affection that I have ever been blessed to witness.

I don't know anything about that sweet little boy or his family, apart from those few minutes in that waiting room. However, since that time, I have thought quite a bit about what Ava must have been thinking. She was expressing her love freely, in spite of any differences in race, social class or even the reason he was going to see the doctor. How things change for the worse as people grow! No wonder Jesus told a group of adults that they would have to become like children if they truly wanted to enter His kingdom. I have never ceased to be amazed at what I can learn from children, most of all my own. I think I'll share some more of the lessons the Lord has hand picked for me that have come through my precious daughter. Stay tuned . . .