Metaphors are my Jam.

Geraldine is my spiritual director. She's an older Episcopal woman who is also a licensed clinical social worker. She reminds me a lot of my mother's sister, Aunt Carolyn: very wise, very careful with her words, and quite compassionate. I've been seeing her for a few months now and her office is one of my new favorite places. It's cozy, cluttered, and it smells like dust with a hint of redemption. It's stacked high with books, papers, kleenex boxes, and children's drawings that she's apparently collected for years. She has two wingback chairs and a rocker. The first time I came, she said "sit anywhere you're comfortable." And she meant it.  I love the rocker. It's a peaceful place and I have nothing to do there...I just have to be.  "Jerry" lets me talk about anything I want during our hours together. She invites me to begin with wherever I am on that day, and then, when I finally take a breath, she reflects what she has heard, both with her ears and with her spirit.

One day, as I was telling her a story about Amber Joy, I included a bit about how her favorite games to play right now are pretending to wrap a present and then handing it to her dad or me to open, wanting us to chase her, anytime, anywhere, and how she loves to close doors and have us knock so she can open it. These three games have been swirling around in my head for awhile now and I think there is a novel to be written about what God is teaching me through this seemingly ordinary play.

"Open the Present!"
She waits with a grin while we take the 'present' from her, unwrap it, and talk with amazement about what we got and how much we just love it! Then, she takes it back, wraps it again, and we start all over.  Jerry mused that, as much as the game gets tiresome, maybe Amber Joy is on to something. See, when we got home from Taiwan, it was like the day after the wedding. The event that we had planned for so many months with tears and gnashing of teeth had finally occurred and we were now home with our girl. There's honestly a "now what?" feeling for several days! We had spent way more energy preparing for the adoption than preparing for parenting. Honestly, I'm not sure we could do it any differently even if we tried. All we knew during that time was preparing for her homecoming. The "after that" was just an after thought. 

Jerry asked me to consider Amber Joy's continual gift-giving as a life lesson for me. She's here, every day, offering me something that only she can give. And, on the flip side, so am I. So are we. We are a family. Every day. Forever. We get to enjoy each other's gifts from now on, if we only take the time to accept what the other one offers and delight in it. Every mama knows the endless appeal: "want to play with me?" How often are my excuses just plain selfishness? Things that don't really need to be done right now pull me into the kitchen or the laundry room and away from a memory to be made with my child. The moments are gifts and the greatest is that my child longs to know me and be known by me. I am the queen of choosing "good" over "best." I am committed to many good things in my life. But I am also convicted that the best things in life are the relationships I have with my God, my husband, and my child. That means I may have to sacrifice the good gifts to unwrap the best gift.

"Chase me!"
There's not a day that goes by when we don't hear the plea from Amber Joy to "chase me!" She loves to run around the kitchen/living room open floor plan with mommy and/or daddy hot in pursuit! She wants to be chased down the driveway, around the house, and especially in the yard. It hit me one day that we're all a bit like Amber Joy when she begs for someone to chase her. Isn't that what we all want? We don't just long for love, but we long to be fought for, cherished, and chased! My little girl, once again, has given me a wonderful metaphor for the love of God. The good news? We are being chased. The Bible itself is God's decree that He is coming after us, and fiercely. Even after we believe in the person of Jesus and his saving power, God doesn't just leave us. He continues to chase us for the rest of our lives, gently leading us into the way of Jesus. I'm so glad. I pray that I will always desire my heavenly father to continue chasing me and sometimes, even allow myself to be caught. 

"Knock on my door!"
Last but not least, tea parties are very popular in our home. Amber Joy will dress me up in a hat, jewelry, and sunglasses and we say "dahling" a lot. She especially loves it when mommy speaks with a British accent. Her obsession with doors is overwhelming. She absolutely ADORES opening and closing doors. We aren't sure why. But her favorite part about a door is when one of us is standing on the other side.  She giggles and closes the door and then says, "Knock on my door!" Before we even have time to raise our fist to the door to knock, she knocks on the other side, supposedly letting us hear how it's supposed to be done. After we knock, she politely and brightly opens the door and says, "come in!" as if she's never seen us before. Then, we're ushered into the tea party for fruit, cakes, cookies, and tea.

As is His way, the Lord has been teaching me through the parables of parenthood. When spiritual truth comes by watching a four year old child at play, I'm reminded again that God can and does use the mundane to reveal the profound. Every day, I have the opportunity to chase God, open the gifts that He gives, and knock on doors where I will find Him waiting on the other side. And not only that, but God is inviting me to do these things, over and over again! His mercies are new every morning. I'm grateful for the lessons I'm learning during this time when the days crawl, but the years fly.

I want to hear from you. What are some lessons you've learned from watching your kids?


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