It was an interesting week for us, one that was filled with spontaneity, emotionalism, and change… you know, all those things that make me feel uncomfortable. Nicolas turned six today and we celebrated his birthday yesterday with a number of people from church, including the adoptive family of his biological cousin (and if that doesn’t sound like something out of Jerry Springer, I don’t know what does). The party went well and we managed to keep the church where we hosted it in mostly good condition… minus the hole in the wall at the base of the stairs positioned in a location where a plastic teeter totter encountered the wall after having been pushed down the stairs; an idea that, while it was not instigated by my children, I did find out originated by my oldest. Sorry Josh, at least I didn’t nearly burn the church down this time.
Ever since we got back from Thanksgiving I have been wrestling with the idea of whether I wanted to get a Christmas tree. On one hand we are travelling to Atlanta for a good two weeks in the month of December and it does not make sense to go through all the setup work when we will only be able to enjoy it for a couple of weeks. On top of that, for various reasons (whether it was living in a small apartment, living in a camper, travelling for most of the holidays, or just moving into a new house) we have gone nearly 11 years without ever having decorated for Christmas, why break a perfectly good streak. On the other hand, my children are now getting old enough that they are forming memories that will stick with them for a lifetime, I don’t want a Christmas tree to be something you have to go somewhere else to see, I want my children to be able to experience that joy. Monday I decided I wanted to go after work and get everything I needed for a tree, lights, ornaments, a tree stand, and finally a tree. Monday, I ended up working late. Tuesday I decided the same, much with the same results. By Wednesday the decision to wait was getting easier, I had two fewer days to enjoy the tree before we left, and besides, I could pick up all the important tree related stuff on sale after Christmas was over. Thursday night I sprained my back (yes, apparently, that is a real thing), and with the pain I was in and the time I spent visiting a chiropractor in the morning the odds that I would have time to leave early that day were increasingly slim. Nevertheless, I optimistically blocked time off on my calendar so I could try to get out early.
Miracle of all miracles (which actually sounds kind of blasphemous considering the season we are entering) I found myself only blowing past my self-imposed deadline by 30 minutes and I fled the office praying that my back would hold out long enough to make it through the store lugging around a Christmas tree. It was a good choice; you would have thought I was a crazy person the looks my kids were giving me as I tried to stuff a real tree through the front door of the house. And for those of you that know my father well enough, no, I did not have to trim the top 6.5’ off of the tree to get it to stand upright in the living room.
Anyway, all of this culminated with a conversation Leslie had with Nicolas in the car earlier this evening. During this conversation Leslie asked if Nicolas had had a good birthday, to which he replied that he did; and after a few moments of thinking said, “I don’t have to move homes any more, right?” Leslie then said, “No, you get to stay with us forever.” “Good, I’m glad,” he responded. Our lives have changed a significant amount because of this addition to our family and he has caused me to face a number of realities in my life, personality traits of which I am not proud of. I have really struggled with the type of parent I see in myself when I deal with him, things which have been downright ugly at times. But somehow, through all of this, God has used Leslie and I to provide a place of sanctuary and stability for this little boy, a place that he can truly call home forever.
I don’t know why God chose us to provide a home for him; all I know is that He did. We’ve laughed and cried, sometimes both at the same time (like when we discovered he had taken scissors to a large chunk of his hair in the middle of his forehead and then proceeded to lie about it), but it has been a journey that has been remarkably easy, at least in terms of the transition, for our little boy, and we are continually amazed at how smoothly things have gone. It is times like today that remind us that despite all of our failings God is still using us to make an impact in the life of this little boy.
For those of you interested, here is the link to the audio for the sermon I gave last week about contentment.