Haley Kate recently started throwing her arms around my neck, burrowing into me, and saying, "Ahh... my own Mom." Sometimes she says it possessively and sometimes she says it with the "ahh" voice that comes from feeling at home and cozy.
Today it was while I was trying to talk to her seriously. She reached out, grabbed the sides of my face and said, "You my own Mom" and kissed me in the affectionate way toddlers do, when they come at you and you aren't sure if they're going to kiss your lips or bloody your nose.
The other kids remind her, "She's MY own Mom, too." Haley looks at them like she's considering, but not certain she's willing to share.
This week marks one year of being Haley Kate's "own Mom". I will never accurately articulate the privilege it is. It sobers me, challenges me, humbles me, and her little feisty face continually reminds me of God's extravagant, undeserved gifts.
Haley is opinionated and fun-loving in the free spirited way that causes her to throw back her head when she laughs. She has no problem keeping up with her older siblings and if everyone else is sharing about their day at the dinner table, she often pounds her fists on the table and insists, "I'm talkin'! I'm talkin' FIRST!" Ahem...clearly she's a Taylor in every sense.
She's a daddy's girl. She's the type of Daddy's girl that waits for him to come home at the end of the driveway, singing songs she makes up about "Daddy come home" at top volume. She's the smart Daddy's girl who quickly cries, "I want Daddy!" when she knows she's in trouble.
From the moment I heard about Haley as a foster child with an unknown future, she completely had my heart. I never held back. Yet, this year of having her for keeps has given my heart rest I didn't know it needed. When those big hazel eyes meet mine, "You're my own Mom", I grin. "Yes! Forever! Forever I get to be your Mom."
“By you I have been upheld since birth; you are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of you.” Psalm 71:6.
The conversations that happen when I'm tucking my kids in are often life changing... at least for me. There's something sacred in the moments of reflection, the pondering questions, the prayers that summarize the day. When I say "sacred" I mean the kind I see as a mom because I have magic ability to look past fidgeting, whining, and the somersaults my two year old is doing in her bottom bunk that are not helping her wind down.
We talk about the day, tell stories, and take turns praying (which also includes distracted tumbling routines, interruptions, and jabbing at each other when they see I have my eyes closed.)
For some reason we've often landed on the subject of persecuted Christians and missionaries in other countries. Hudson heard me talk about Christians in Saudi Arabia and had dozens of questions about why someone would cut off a person's hands just because they read the Bible. He began praying every night for Christians in Saudi Arabia. This young Hudson Taylor has felt quite a connection to the missionary Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) and his ministry in China. Seeing his sensitivity towards missionaries and Christians worldwide, I began sharing more. About a month ago I shared with them about persecution in Egypt and we prayed.
One thing we've discussed extensively (When I say "extensively" I mean for an elementary and toddler level) is how God's purpose in suffering is often different than we expect. We imagined that if we were witnessing Stephen stoned (Acts 7) we might think God never showed up. What a bad ending!
Then we looked closer. We saw that Stephen had an opportunity to share God's words with his accusers, very publicly. Even while Stephen was being stoned, he experienced the Holy Spirit and miracles. We know that later one of his persecutors, Saul, believed in Jesus and became Paul. How many more miracles stemmed from Stephen's life and death that we aren't even aware of?
Just throwing myself out there a bit...