Thankful

It was one of those moments.

She was sitting on my lap and her head found it’s way into the crook of my neck. She had one hand draped around my shoulder and the other wrapped around a strand of my hair. I was singing to her a mixture of “twinkle twinkle little star” and “Jesus loves me.” I knew that she was completely content in that moment. Other little ones were still running and playing around us, but she was all there; soaking it all in. When I would stop singing, she would start singing back to me a melody of unrecognizable sounds with frequent “i love you’s” thrown in. I would look down at her, her up at me, just for a quick reminder that we’re both still completely lost in this moment. I couldn’t help but think about how many of these moments that she will get to share with her forever mom.

So often I believe I’m the one that’s helping her. I tell myself that I’m helping with attachment and the fact that one day, she will attach to her forever mom better because of the bond that we share. I’m here for her.

But in that moment, I was reminded that she has also done something remarkable in this heart of mine. That, black haired, brown eyed, 2 year old little girl has taught me more about loving orphans than she will ever know. She gives me new motivation to love well each time I am around her. The way she grabs my face for kisses reminds me that these are real kids longing for real affection. When she kicks her shoes off in a temper tantrum, I remember that she needs me here to fill the ever vacant spot of a mom to guide her and direct her. When I see her love a child younger than her in the same ways that I show love to her, I am in awe that she has already learned so much. When I tell her that Jesus loves her and she responds “I know,” I know that I am here to plant seeds in her delicate and young heart.

She is so easy to love. It just comes naturally. She has reinforced that it isn’t always necessary to have the same blood coursing your veins to share this kind of love.

As I was soaking it all in today, I took a look around at the 30 kids playing in front of me. It was almost as if time stood still. I was overcome with the deepest gratitude that I have been able to be a part of each of the kids‘ stories. I sit here trying to come up with words to explain how deeply I feel for each of them and all I know to say is that many families will be blessed by the treasures that these kids are. Each and every one of them. Many a family will learn similar things as I’m learning as they begin to parent these kids. Those families will never be the same and I know, without a shadow of doubt, that they, also, will be forever grateful.

As time slowly fades and the seasons change, I will face some dreadful goodbyes. I know that their young hearts may forget me with time, but what I choose to focus on is that their faces are forever imprinted on my heart. That isn’t a season. That will stay forever. I vow to never forget this time I’ve had with them and the way each one of them has challenged me and loved me.

They are extraordinary.