Tee hopped in the car yesterday afternoon a little down in the mouth. It's taken me years to figure out that saying means frowning. I'm not exactly quick on the up-take.
Some friends had been giving him a hard time and he was upset. When I asked what his friends had been saying, he said they had made fun of him because he wouldn't ride a roller coaster.
"Mama, they said I was a chicken."
I thought about my boy, about the fact he doesn't ride roller-coasters, is not a fan of heights, and can shed a tear or 75 when he gets knocked around on the football field, baseball field, or a good ol' fashioned Monopoly game.
Then I thought of what really makes him brave.
"Tee, you are surrounded constantly by kids who've grown up a lot differently than you. They don't look like you, talk like you, or even play the way you do and you handle it great. You have a kid living in your house right now, sharing your room, your clothes, your Wii, your Mom and Dad, and even once gave your brother a black eye but you've seen what his home was like and extended an incredible amount of grace and mercy to him. Even if he's not loving you back. Even if he might steal from your piggy bank. Again. You're loving on his little brothers not because you especially love babies but you understand they are your neighbors and God tells us to love them. You, son, are brave. You're brave in the big things, the things that matter, the things that are hard and build a lifetime of character."
Lots of people ask about how my kids handle living where we live, dealing with what we deal with on a daily basis.
I think they are amazing, gracious, funny, and sometimes fearless.
Olivia was with me when we got the call about the kids last Thursday. She'd had a fever virus but NOT THE SWINE FLU, DEFINITELY NOT THE SWINE FLU - and we had just finished lunch. We drove over to the apartment which was surrounded by police cars and a fire truck. The police had kicked the door in, retrieved the children and had their mother in handcuffs. The kids were sitting in the back of a police car and obviously scared. I told Olivia to go sit in the car with them and talk with them which she did happily. She told jokes, talked about our dog, and Slurpees, and Wii Sports. She was a little ray of sunshine for them that day and kept telling them she hoped they could come live with us.
After the drama had quieted, I pulled her aside to talk with her and thank her for being amazing.
"Baby, you saw a lot of stuff today, are you ok? Do you have any questions for me or anything you want to talk about."
"No, Momma but you have food in your teeth. There. And there."
Our kids are are learning to put on the full armor of God daily and to do it with joy. They are learning that life isn't pretty or perfect and can be full of heartache. But they're seeing the Lord provide for them, use their individual giftings for His glory, and that His strength is made perfect in weakness.
And they are brave, roller coasters or not.