Another Lesson My Niece Taught Me

After a stressful day that led me to a place where I really needed my space, the last thing I wanted was to be followed around by a little person who just wanted all, I mean ALL of my attention! Yet, there she was – my little munchkin – behind, infront, on top, beside me from the time I walked through the door. It was cute for the first few minutes, but as the demands of the day continued with having to complete tasks left undone, I just had no patience left to tend to my little person. I tried to escape. Went to my room. Of course, she followed me. As I tried to focus on one of those unfinished things, my niece was there asking one question after another. And in her true likeness, she just wouldn’t give up! I found myself giving unfocused, half hearted, snappy responses. Until I realized what she had been asking me: 

Auntie, how are you? 

How was your day? 

You alright?

I stopped what I was doing, rested my forehead on hers and answered her questions. Now thinking about it, she’s the only person, in the last 22 hours who’s asked me those questions while expressing such anticipation and interest in my responses! Yet, she was the person I had no patience for. She was the one who was receiving my less than energetic responses. Shame on me! 

We talked, we hugged, we laughed. I admit, I still didn’t get it as my patience began to wear out again *hides face* (pray for me). But my favourite little person loved me all the way through. After a few minutes, when I was ready to go back to what I was doing, she pulled me in close and said, “Auntie, it’s sleep time.” She held me close and wouldn’t let me go, and in 1 minute, she was off to la-la land. 

What’s the lesson here? 

Give your attention to the people who are interested in your wellbeing, not the tasks that will drain you. Because at the end of the day, your people matter more. 

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Raaaa!! 

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how I respond to my niece and how God expects me and how I want to respond to my future children. 

Do I want them to learn what is acceptable behaviour or do I want to break their spirits? Is my action just a quick fix or will what I am about to say or do be a life lesson I want them to pass on? Will I be enforcing godly self concepts? Or am I going to put dents or holes in their self esteem buckets?

The problem is that sometimes we react to children to appease our own desire to be in control, at the expense of their well being. I want to be so careful because children are so fragile. Resilient. But fragile. And the truth is, I’ve watched myself and other adults in action and I am ashamed to say that sometimes we act more childish than we realize. Healthy adults manage their emotions well. Unfortunately, lots of us have got a long way to go! 

How about if we quit being associated with fear? No child (including adult children) enjoys being scared. Let’s strive to become our children’s safe place. I don’t know about you, but that’s who I want to be – my children’s earthly solace. Until then, I’m taking my meds and I’m on my way to health 😉 

Auntie, you’re my friend?

Tonight, just before drifting off to sleep while waiting on her parents, she cuddled with me, pulled my face to hers, kissed me and asked, “Auntie, you’re my friend?” I’m so thankful she already has a concept of friendship… And even though we had just had a stern talk about obedience, she knew enough to know that Auntie must be her friend – stern talks and all. 

It was one of those days – a long, tiring and supposed-to-be-over kind of day. My niece and I had had several “runnings.” She was tired, I was tired, but she wouldn’t go to sleep! And I couldn’t sleep if she wouldn’t. Sigh. But then I decided to give her my full attention, which is obviously what the poor little bumble bee wanted. Obviously, I didn’t have the energy. Or so I thought. I invited her to climb up on my bed to lie beside me. We talked about the importance of immediate obedience and then we prayed (she repeated after me) and asked God to help her. From then, until she finally fell asleep, I laughed so hard my throat hurt. That child is such a comedian! Her laugh is often enough to at least inspire a giggle at worst and a big, hearty laugh at best. Tonight, she was on a roll. 

My niece teaches me love and patience. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to hold her in my arms. No. Wait. What’s really amazing is when she takes me in her arms and reassures me of her love. That this little person understands how much her Auntie needs her, and at the time when she is “supposed” to be completely selfish, is priceless. 

She teaches me forgiveness. Out of frustration, I’ve asked her, “What’s wrong with you?” I’ve even told her that I didn’t want to speak with her for a bit (insert shame face). Yet she keeps coming back to me with those big brown eyes and that persistent smile and let’s me know that I’m still her auntie. She never brings up things I did, or reminds me of how I failed to maintain the “favourite auntie award” (licks out tongue at my sister). She just knows how to move on. 

And tonight, she told me that I’m also her friend. And I want to always be her friend. I need her to always be mine. When the days are long and the nights seem like a never ending cricket test match (licks out tongue at my love), if she could just take me in her arms like she did tonight, just in that moment, all will be well again…

When I grow up, I want to be like my 3 year old niece. 

Love is a verb?

I’ve heard it said and have quoted before – love is a verb. But I’ve been thinking – if love is an action word, then every action that appears loving will confirm that love is existent and is being expressed right? I think I’ve been wrong all this time. The reality is that sometimes people perform loving actions but their hearts and intentions tell a different story.

Therefore, I want to submit that love is two things. It is first a Pronoun. God is love. His loving actions flow out of His nature. He loves because Love is who He is. Secondly, I believe love is a noun. Love loves because love is. As an orange can only produce orange juice, so can love only produce love juice (I’m sorry I couldn’t find a better term). Love cannot do anything other than love – forgive, build up, correct, trust, protect, etc.

Why is this important?

Sometimes, we try to perform loving actions, but our hearts harbour a different intention and reveal a different expression. We should ask God to perfect our hearts, to fill our hearts with His love so that we would express a love that has been shed abroad in our hearts. I think if we spent more time choosing to love, instead of choosing to do things that only appear loving, we would lead more authentic lives.

Am I saying we shouldn’t be nice to people we find it hard to love? No. After all, love is not a feeling; it’s a choice. I am suggesting, however, that to continue performing loving actions when we know in our hearts that we do not truly love the object of our actions, is dangerous. God does not just want us to act like we love – He has empowered us to be love. He wants loving actions to flow out of who we are with this new nature. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we dedicated more energy to trying to actually be, we would find that it takes less energy to do.

What Do You Think?

“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree? – The Daily Post

Interesting question.

The thing about politics, religion and other topical…well…topics (I couldn’t resist), is that they tend to connect people. Bonding takes place among individuals when there are common interests. But I’ve also found that sometimes conflicts bring people together. Some of my best friendships were formed after heated discussions, flaring tempers and mismanaged words. Whatever the case may be, we’d have to open ourselves to the risks that lie in sharing our views on politics and religion. 

Some of the most memorable conversations I’ve had have been with people I barely knew.  So as I think about this question, I’m asking myself, “Why would I not want to discuss politics or religion with people unfamiliar to me?” Isn’t the point of conversation to engage, learn and/or impart? Perhaps if the goal of such discussions is just to air my views, maybe I shouldn’t talk to anyone…about anything…period. Conversations, discussions, or whatever we may call them, are not just about ideas. They are about people. So if every time I open my mouth to speak, I am just fixed on making my voice heard, then I should probably only talk to myself. No one wants to listen to a self-centered speaker who doesn’t care to hear the opinions of others. Whatever our strong views are, we owe it to people to show respect for them, even if we disagree with the stances they take.

Here’s my bottom line – any interaction with people we don’t know is ridden with risk. There’s hardly a way to predict responses. A simple “how are you” can emit the most outrageous of answers and could end up in quarrels. I believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. And I think if we find the right way, we should feel free to voice our opinions and raise discussions about things we strongly believe in. And in so doing, we might discover meaningful encounters with strangers waiting to be friends. We might find enemies who need extra grace. We might find different perspectives that challenge ours and which help us solidify what we say we believe. But I’ve found that the greatest discovery has been that I do have the right to share my ideas as much as others, and somehow, I agree. Somehow, I burst past the fear of not knowing how to answer, or what to ask next, what to think and I launch into a place of such renewed confidence. 

So I say, speak up!

My Rainbow 

Because he loves me and wants me to maximize my potential *insert blush face* …my sweetheart does his best to take an interest in the things that interest me (thank you Jesus for such a wonderful gift in my dear best friend). And when I start to lose interest, he gives me the extra (sometimes unwelcomed) nudge I need to get things going. So It was not surprising that when he came across a resource that helps new bloggers overcome writers block so they’d write daily, he sent it to me. Today is the first time I’ve received my daily tip and the challenge is to write something – anything- that includes all of the colors of the rainbow. So…here goes…

My dearest daughter

I started writing these letters to you a while ago and though I’ve not been consistent, I want you to know that I have not stopped thinking about you. Your curious brown eyes have not yet seen the beauty of a sun kissed morning, but I have never stopped imagining the kind of picture perfect life I want to create for you. I want you to experience all the wonders God wants to show you. Oh, I am just so excited when I think about your future! I still can’t wait to meet you. To learn of you. To teach you. To be your mommy. And if I were to choose one symbol that I imagine would represent you, I have to tell you that I think you will be just like the very first rainbow…

My baby, you are a promise. Now, in this very moment, when you are just a beautiful thought in mommy’s mind, God has already decided to let me have you. (I am so overwhelmed with love for you!) He has decided to trust me with your fragile heart and your strong mind. (I am so scared that most days I won’t know what to do!) And in the midst of all of the questions your father and I will have, there is one thing I believe we will be able to hold on to – that you, our darling, are God’s demonstration of His promise to bless us with a heritage that comes from Him, and with a reward that embodies you. 

My baby, you are red – bold and daring. If you are anything like I imagine, you will be passionate. You will find that causes would keep you awake because you just need to find solutions. You will not go through life casually. You will wear the blood of Jesus like a well tailored robe and His passion will pump through your veins. You will see the pain of His heart and you will present yourself to share in His suffering. And though it will be difficult at times, you will stand up for the voiceless because that’s what Jesus would’ve done. You are a fiery one. You, my darling, are a red burning flame. 

My baby, you are orange – because a little yellow never hurt any red one. People love you because you radiate the warmth of the Son. You are just what everyone needs after a long day – a warm and quiet soul. Your deep, wise thoughts will ooze from your lips and will comfort those who need it. 

Green baby, you are Green. You are alive! And though not yet here, I am thankful that you are! 

But as I think about all that I want you to be and have and do, I have to admit I know some days you’ll also be blue (didn’t mean to rhyme. Yea, your mom’s a bit corny sometimes). I used to say that I want to shield you from pain. While that sounds good and parental, I don’t think I’d be doing either of us a favour if I did try to shield you from everything. Oh, I will do everything in my power to protect and steer you right. But my love, I have learnt that some pain will be necessary. And because you are imperfect (I hate to admit it), you may also create some pain of your own.  So I want you to know that mommy will try to be there in the blue days. But if I can’t be, I promise to do everything I can to point you to the One you really need. 

And you are indigo (what is that?! A fruit??). Ok. Fine. You are as clueless about some things in this life as I am right now about what that color looks like. And that’s okay. I will teach you how to find the answers to hard questions: yep – ask Daddy! Mommy married (will marry one day) a smart one. (You’re welcome). 

My baby, you are purple. My word – you are one expensive child to maintain! Your royalty is going to cost us all of the crowns and jewels we worked hard to achieve. But because your heart is so beautiful, you will be contented with the simple things in life. This will make it easy for us to pour our love into your life and to pamper you sometimes. You will know that royalty is not synonymous with spoilt, uncaring snobs. You will be the perfect blend of poise, class and charisma. 

And whenever I look at you, I will thank God for the promise of the rainbow. 

About those children…

Tonight, my house is filled with children from 3 – 8 years old. And the madness is causing me to think…

I love large families. Well, I love the idea of having a large family. Actually…I think what I really love is the way large families seem to always have lots of fun at family gatherings and how you always seem to have a full house. There’s always a story to tell because there are so many personalities involved.  But now that I’m actually thinking about this, I think having a large family would drive me insane! I’m an introvert who loves people, but who needs her space. Oh my word! What was I thinking??! How would I handle that?!

I have a son. His name is Teddy. He loves quiet mornings and roudy afternoons. Sometimes, he seems so much like me. Loves people, but particularly on weekends, he prefers to have some quality time with himself. I don’t know who his father is and probably never will because they don’t do DNA testing on dogs in Guyana. Yes, my son’s father is a dog. No, really – he is. And that would make sense, since my son is also a dog. My dog, Teddy, is the closest I’ve come to being a mommy. Unlike my niece, he belongs to me and doesn’t go home when his parents come to get him. I have 4 godchildren – 2 girls and 2 boys. But I’ve not had to spend more than an hour alone with them. The bottom line here, is that I don’t know why I think I could effectively have 4 children of my own when the time comes. I don’t even know why I want to have 4! I love children, and i believe they are a blessing! But most times, I can barely stand the noise of 1 child screaming through the house! And I’m thinking 4?!

But somehow I think this is okay. Somehow, I believe this oblivion and naivety are important to my development as a woman. I think one day when I do have human children of my own, I’ll look back at this time and think…….well, truthfully, I don’t know what I’ll think. I just imagine I’ll be grateful to God for allowing me the privilege of raising the 1, 2, 3, 11… children He entrusts to the care of my husband (yet to be revealed) and me. 

Until then, I’m enjoying the nights when I get to send the little monkeys home haha! And I think that’s okay too!