Now this looks different for each of my children. Just as each of them learns to read at a different pace, they also have their own gifts. One of the greatests joys for me as a parent is seeing God develop those gifts, so that they might love God and people well. Would I consider any one of my children successful if they never went to college and worked as a trash collector the rest of their lives? Absolutely, if they collected that trash with a passion and sold-out abandon for God, and for people.
This summer Trey is developing a deeper friendship with his buddy Ian. Ian came to our church from Jamaica through the miracle of adoption (if you want to be blessed, you can check out his family's story here). Ian has Cerebral Palsy, but I'm pretty sure most of the time Trey forgets that Ian can't walk or have conversation the way other kids do. They are a great match, and became fast friends when Ian first came to Trey's Sunday School Class.
There is a history with these two that's hard to describe; one that often brings me to tears. God is working in Trey's heart through Ian. Trey is overcome with love for this boy (and oh, is he SO easy to love!). I remember when Ian was first introduced to Trey's class at church. Trey came home and immediately wanted to buy a toy for him. He told me that it's fun for Ian to have a toy on his wheelchair tray during class, and he had all kinds of things in mind that he was sure Ian would like.
I have to admit that I got busy and forgot about Trey's request. Several requests and several weeks later, an emotional Trey came down from his bedroom one morning and dumped a pile of change and wadded up dollar bills onto my kitchen counter. With tears in his eyes he said, "Mom, I'll use all of my money, can we just please go buy Ian a toy today?" And we did just that. We had a date, just the two of us that evening, and Trey never thought twice about spending every cent that he had.
The best story about these two came about one middle-of-the-night when Trey woke up with a bad dream. He cried and cried and couldn't shake his fear. I reassured him that God was always with him, and that dreams sometimes confuse us with pictures of things that aren't real. We prayed. I asked him to replace his scary thoughts with something that was real and happy. So we talked about what he could think about that would make him feel better. I threw out things like ice cream, Legos, bike riding and baseball... all with no progress. We were getting nowhere.
And then it happened.
He said Ian's name.
Ian made him happy. His smile. His friendship. His contagious energy for life.
So we got on the computer and found their family blog, and scrolled through picture after picture of Ian. We talked about how God had taken care of Ian when he was in Jamaica, and about how God had a perfect plan for Ian's life - even before he was born. And at 3am, we talked about God's love for us, and how we can be adopted into His family.
Trey doesn't have it all figured out yet. Just the other day, he cried in my arms after a consequence and asked why, if Jesus is in his heart, he still does the things that he doesn't want to do.
Yeah, that's what I want to know too.
I told him that I have the same problem. But slowly, if we'll let Him, God is making us both to be more like Him.
Trey just spent the afternoon at Ian's house yesterday. He reported all kinds of fun, like playing cowboys, checking out the creek, and swinging with his friend. We're hoping Ian can come to our house next week. We'll get as many dates in as we can until school starts up. Trey and I have had great talks about ways he can serve Ian and be a good friend to him. But just like when you go on a mission trip with the best intentions of blessing others, you return only to realize...
you instead are the one being blessed.
After a playdate recently, we said our goodbyes to Ian and his mom down at their car, and headed up our driveway into the garage. Trey suddenly became unusually quiet, sat down on the garage floor and put his head down. When I asked him if something was wrong, he said, "Mom, I loved Ian before I ever even knew him." Somehow I don't think Trey messed up his words. I wonder if God, in all of His compassion and power, put that love in Trey's heart long before any of us ever even knew.
Loving God, and loving people. We hope to do lots more of that this summer.