17 months ago we met these two cuties. They happened to be walking by and noticed Jason working on the front sidewalk and asked if they could watch. Little did we know that this was the beginning of not only a beautiful friendship, but also of a greater understanding of what it means to love like Jesus loved.
On February 17, just 7 months after we met them, Larry lost his father. He finished out the school year at his Grandparents house and then the courts decided he needed to live with his Aunt across town. Within a week or so, Jonique moved away to the projects with her mother, step-daddy and baby sister.
Let's just say, I cried a lot.
I had hoped and prayed that God didn't bring these kids into our lives for such a short time to only have them leave again.
Thankfully, that hasn't been the case. The first weekend of every month Larry & Jonique spend the weekend with their grandparents, which means they also spend it with us. I intentionally keep that weekend free and wait with anticipation for that 8am knock on the door Saturday morning. Somteimes Larry shows up in sweats with a bowl of cereal in hand. And other times he shows up before breakfast, hangs out and has a little coffee with us, then runs home to grab breakfast and come back.
And occasionally, he calls us mom & dad.
Jason and I have longed to be parents for a very long time. And until that day comes, God has so blessed us to have the opportunity to spiritually father & mother kids that desperately need it. I believe we've grown and benefited from these relationships, maybe more than they have. I have a greater understanding of what it means to not just talk about living as Jesus did, but actually doing it. And that the only true way of reaching someone and showing them who Jesus is - is through relationship.
The picture above of Jason and the kids was taken last Saturday at the Rivergate Skate Center. Larry asked that we do something fun to celebrate his 13th birthday (which is actually on the 14th), but because he was at Grandma's last weekend, we celebrated it then. Jason and I piled up the neighborhood kids into 2 cars and headed out to Rivergate and for 3 hours we all had a blast. I had made carrot cake cupcakes (per Larry's request) and we had pizza, nachos and coke. I even put on some skates myself and took a few laps! It's amazing what I'll do for these kids. :-)
This isn't the most flattering pic, but it's the only one I have of the 3 of us AND Jonique took it, so I couldn't hurt her feelings by saying it wasn't good enough. And really, in the large scheme of things - is what matters how we look or the relationship it signifies?
After skating, we all headed back to our house to watch a Christmas movie and play some games on the iPad. Around 7:30 the kiddos headed home and were anxious to start all over the next day.
Sunday, after Jason and I went to church and had some lunch, I had picked up my friend Robbie to help me work on some sugar cookie dough that Larry had also requested for his birthday. Within a few minutes we had 2 girls cutting out sugar cookies in the dining room, Robbie (my sweet gay friend that I work with) and I in the kitchen baking and frosting cookies and then 2 boys and Jason in the living room playing games on the iPad. And to top it all off, within a short time Larry's mom Sonya showed up at our front door with Larry's cousin Tootie. So naturally I invited them in as well. It was actually a really awesome thing because over the last 17 months Sonya and I hadn't spoken more than 2 words to each other and here she was in my dining room for almost 2 hours sharing with me about God working in her life, what she learned at church that morning and about her 1 year anniversary coming up in March of being clean.
God is big.