This year we met two beautiful families.
One family had nine kids ranging from 9 months old to 16 years old. They were from Louisiana and the most delightful people. The parents were calm and attentive. Not once did they seem scattered or thrown off. The children were engaged and having so much fun. My little one instantly gravitated to them. So did I. There was something to be learned here. Even though they traveled with only 7 kids on this day, they seemed so at peace and content.
One of the little girls came up to me and proudly proclaimed that she was the "*Jamie holder." (Jamie is the baby brother.) You could see in her sparkling eyes that she was being allowed to work in her area of gifting within the family, and she felt very important because of it.
There was the active, "watch this" kiddo. He was the guy that loves wrestling and throwing sand occasionally.... just for the joy of being a boy outside by the ocean. 😊 My guy and him got along quite well. They had the most fun, and I guarantee you left with the most beach in their hair and swimsuits by day's end. His parents didn't hover over him, but let him be him until it was intrusive on another. Mom walked by at one point and just casually said, "Hey, our boys are throwing sand at each other." (I saw them but was waiting to see if it was to be a fight or play time.)
Because of the calmness of their parenting, it was so nice to just walk into the sandstorm of our kids and lovingly redirect them to using their sand with a bit more intent on castles instead of each other. 😳😎
It was just so nice to see parents who expected their kids to be kids, but also expected the goodness in them. They defaulted to good instead of looking for ways to find ouch moments.
The other family we met was a mom and so who traveled to the beach together while dad worked. The son was 5 years old and fantastically spunky. He had emerging vocabulary, and was definitely leaning to use it well. The cutest thing ever. As my youngest and him played, his mom explained to me their journey of adoption. They first received their son into their home and hearts at the age of 3 weeks. At age five, they are still waiting finalization of the adoption. She explained that while the process was long and arduous, it was so worth is.... he had changed their lives. They are seeking to adopt again, and I saw this Mama's eyes shine as she talked about the little one that is right now simply a dream in the heart of her family. Simply beautiful.
There was one family that we did not meet, however. They were at the beach a day before us, and they left their hearts on that beach. The day before we went to the beach, a family lost their two year old there. The undertow was simply too strong.
I didn't learn if this until the end of our time there, but it brought me to my knees.
I don't have any words to explain this. It made me want to hold my kids so much closer. To take them to the bayside where there is no undertow. Where there are no waves. It made me want to tuck them away from life and keep them in the safeguard of all the safe places. Never to see the places in life that might test their strength -- or mine.
My instincts were to take control of all of the variables... and it felt heavy, burdened, and scary. Such a far cry from where we had just been.
I prayed and God brought me this verse.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything
heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I will confess, this family's loss felt heavy. Ill fitting. Just not okay.
It was too much for me, and I didn't even know them.
But God does.
So, I left this beach with a real life lesson on how to trust His hand in the lives of my kids. This world in all of its beauty, has trouble. And this world in all of its trouble has beauty.
Both ends of the spectrum are too much for me to carry on my own. My mind can't comprehend it all.
God has offered to let me find rhythms of grace while He does the heavy lifting. He promises that regardless of what's going on around us, we can live freely and lightly. I'm pretty sure that's the only way I can raise kids in this world. With his help. With his strength. With his promise.
I ask that you pray for each of the families I've mentioned here. Each with their own journeys. So different, and yet so much the same.
And after that? I ask that you look around your world and pray specifically for families. Pray for those you admire, and those you are in the trenches with. Pray for those that you see struggling, and those with unthinkable burdens.
Pray for my family, if you will, too.
I'm definitely praying for yours.
We are in this together, friends. Whether we are at Mayberry at the Beach, or the day to day life of our normal world.
Be salt. Be light. Be in this thing together. God, first. We follow.
Copyright © 2016 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.