Zion is the type of guy who can walk around with a pebble in his shoe and not notice. This morning at 6 am he exuberantly downed two tangerines, half a glass of orange juice (while the other half spilled down his pajama shirt), and a sugar cube dunked in my tea. A dribble of tea mingled nicely with the orange juice stain as he climbed onto my lap, tightly holding his monster truck with both hands, content and quiet for a split second. A loud noise from outside caught his attention, he plowed straight through the block box and onto the little table to peer out the window. With furrowed brow, he said in his deepest toddler tone, "[S]cawy,cawy twuck!" For all his toughness, spiders and loud noises terrify him. On the other hand Emmaus fears neither of those things, but a spot on his clothes, wet sleeves or dirty feet are completely unacceptable. His new term is, "Aszolutely not!", which seems to apply to everything!
On Thursday afternoon during a brief pause in his tricycle riding, Emmaus suddenly became chauffeur to Zion. With a determined grip, Zion held firmly to the back of the trike while Emmaus cycled faster and faster to rid himself of his brother-baggage. As the speed increased Zion laughed wildly, finally winning over his brother's mood and the two brought out the best in eachother.
Yesterday, the happy twosome became a threesome. I ran upstairs from the back deck to grab the ever-sustaining cup of coffee. In my brief absence, all three toddlers scaled the glass table and shrieked with laughter as they tossed fistfuls of popcorn to the ever-waiting audience of open mouthed labs.
Ezra seems to bring out the best in most people. She loves to serve and in fact one day, she carefully squashed a spider with a plastic bag after seeing Zion's worried expression. Last night at Mags' violin recital, Ezzie was the only one allowed to come as ambassador for the toddlers. When Magdalene began to play, Ezra stood on my lap and silently reached out her hand in a gesture of solidarity to her sister.
Raising these three, or for that matter eight, is a challenge and a joy, but my mountain is finding the time and energy each one requires individually. I'll never forget the words of my sweet girlfriend, Jodi, "It is not how many children you have, but what you do with them that matters!" So my daily hike is making time for each one, setting up boundaries for the family and myself. This is what I do and if any outside activity takes away from this one job for which I am accountable, it must go! The life I lead "between my ears" as another girlfriend, Anne Ortlund, said, must contain right thinking, right actions, must be swept clean daily of wrong thoughts and must be filled with good things. Prayer is the tool for this!
Good friends who treasure our thoughts are the safety net for catching us when we stumble. We all need people who challenge and bring out the best in us, who will not be shaken by the difficulties of life. The sweet fellowship that comes about from reaching our goals together strengthens us daily to plow through the toughest of times.