If Not in Church…

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Surgeon General’s Warning: This post contains hypocrisy in varying amounts, read at your own risk :)

So, to be very honest, I was not looking forward to going to church this morning. It had been a very busy week. I just started at the children’s hospital, I went on a commissioning retreat, and had family and friends in town, in short, the stress of a lot of good things happening too close together. So, I wasn’t excited. I even considered not going, but only in the way I consider not brushing my teeth — it’s an option, but it’s not one I generally ever take. 

Part of why I eventually went, besides the fact that I believe the Holy Spirit is at work even when I’m reluctant or grumpy, is because today was a slightly different Sunday. We were doing a ‘church swap’ with a Mennonite congregation down the road, so we could get to know one another. This meant that some folks from the Mennonite church came to our 9:30 service and we were going to head over and join their 11:00 service.  

And a funny thing happened, as it sometimes does, I got what I needed to hear for the day from the children’s moment. Now this may just say something about me and my ability to process information but there is also something to how we get to the root of the idea sometimes when talking to children. The elder was talking the children through the story of Moses. He reminded them of how they had learned about Joseph and how that had led to the Pharaoh’s fear of their being too many Hebrew men. The part that really struck me though was when he started talking about the midwives who wouldn’t kill the Hebrew baby boys. He talked with the kids about how we generally consider disobeying to be bad, but that there are times when we have to say no to power to follow God, especially because God loves all of us, and we are not to take life.

I thought to myself, wow, these children are being taught about saying no to power when it goes against love of God and love of neighbor. Why haven’t I talked about this in church before? Because if we don’t teach children (and adults) in church that we sometimes have to say no to power to say yes to God, where are we going to learn? In school? Maybe, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. On the internet? (Here’s the hypocrisy) I’m going to tell you in a blog that there’s a limit to what we can learn from the internet and blogs. I really appreciate the blog posts I’ve read and articles that teach me and show me perspectives different than my own, but it’s not the same as a conversation. (And I’d hazard a guess that some of the comments section on blog posts and articles would make Jesus cry). Now here’s the balance, many of our churches lack diversity of perspective but that doesn’t mean we’re excused from discussion, it just means we do still need to invite and read and ask questions. But we, as the church, are where this conversation needs to start, because it’s our responsibility, and if not at church, then where?

At the end of the day, I was also reminded about why the Body of Christ is deep and wide. We often have different areas of emphasis, and we can learn from each other. Today, I was so thankful to learn from my Mennonite brothers and sisters and to be reminded about one of the ways that we are called to be the church.

For When I Don’t Have Words

Reading the news the last few weeks has left me at a loss for words. The first time I was asked to be liturgist at church this morning I turned it down. I only agreed the second time because I believe the Holy Spirit gives us words when we have none. (Or as I told my husband – “The Holy Spirit ain’t let me down yet”)  During the time of confession I admitted that while I believe that the Kingdom of God is here and not yet, sometimes I feel like I cannot see the ‘here’ for all the ‘not yet.’ And so we prayed, I led the congregation in praying for Ferguson, for Israel and Palestine, for Iraq and West Africa, though my words didn’t seem quite right, or enough, though I prayed God would use them.

And as I prayed I realized that I do not always need my own words. Sometimes all I can say is “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.” That has recently been my starting place when reading the news. I can pray from Scripture and pray that we might know the perfect love that casts out fear. I can pray the words of the saints who’ve come before, such as the prayer of St. Francis and that’s who resonated the most with me this morning. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.” Those may not be my words, but I can say them as a prayer for all the feelings I cannot quite express…

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace– I may not have all the words, but please guide my actions, I don’t want to pray without also acting…

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace– Forgive me, for I know that I participate and perpetuate systems of oppression and injustice and I’m not even always aware of how, please open my eyes, inform my heart, teach me new ways…

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace– Give me ears to hear the cries of injustice, do not let my heart grow heavy, let me never say that the cries of Your children are not my problem, not my concern, bring me alongside brothers and sisters who can speak to my blind spots and can teach me how to love my neighbors more fully…

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace–Help me to see all the ways that your Kingdom is already here amidst the hurt and brokenness in this world, draw me to those places so that I might participate in the in-breaking of your Kingdom…

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy… Amen

It’s Not a Mission Trip

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Yes, I just got back from Haiti, but no, I wasn’t on a mission trip. It’s hard to explain really, at the travel clinic, the pharmacy, going back through customs, “Oh, are you going on a mission trip?” And I say no, I’m not, and here’s why…

Mission trips have come to carry a lot of baggage, they suggest conversion attempts, building things that people can build themselves, having a white savior complex, bringing Jesus to people, you name it. Generally the idea is that you are on a mission trip to bring or do something to/with a group of people. There are many many problems with this attitude and approach (which other people have spoken to more eloquently than I, please see attached reading list) and for that reason, I do not want the work that we do to instantly be associated with all those things – because all those things is not what our trip was about…

We went with the La Gonave Haiti Partnership (http://lagonavepartners.org) to the island of La Gonave off the coast of mainland Haiti. We were a church group who’s motivation for what we do is building the Kingdom of God, which (when I am being my most optimistic self) I believe is what missions trips are attempting to do, build the Kingdom of God, show Jesus’ love, but here’s where the split begins. We were not “bringing Jesus” to the folks in Haiti. Jesus is already there. First of all, we’re working with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, anything we do, should be coming alongside the work of the folks already working and caring there. Side note: The clinics we helped with were run by Haitian doctors and midwives, the church services we attended were not led any differently because we were there. But even if we weren’t working with a church community, the Holy Spirit is already at work, that’s what prevenient grace means, it means we can and should come alongside, but we, personally, don’t “bring Jesus” anywhere.

So what does this kind of trip look like then? It looks like forming relationships, listening, learning. In the same way that when I go over to a friends’ houses, I listen to their struggles, I learn about how their life is going, maybe I have come over to help with something or maybe I will help with something next time, but we don’t consider a visit with a friend to be a waste if we didn’t help them hang up all their pictures. On the other hand, we also don’t treat our friends like they’re incompetent or that we know more about their life and home and how to solve their problems than they do. The same idea goes for making new relationships in other countries.

So what should we call what we’re doing? When I get frustrated I tell people we’re doing development work, and we are. The partnership as a whole does lots of development work from women’s sewing co-ops, to a goat project, to working with the clinic. We are participating in the economic development of the island of La Gonave. But we are more than just a development trip. We are people of faith forming relationships with brothers and sisters who live far from us to further build the Kingdom of God together – we are partners in Kingdom-building — it’s a partnership trip.

It’s a little more awkward to say, I acknowledge that, and true, people won’t instantly know what you’re referring to, but that’s part of the beauty of it. When you are asked what a partnership trip is, you can talk about continued relationship, about community meetings where we hear each others’ stories and also needs and dreams, where we work together and don’t assume that we know the other person’s life story or needs before asking them. There is a reciprocity to partnership, there is mutuality – it’s not perfect, but it is people, fueled by faith, participating in the in-breaking of the Kingdom together.

Why, yes, I did just get back from Haiti – I was visiting with/ working with/ getting to know, our partner community on the island of La Gonave, and I’d love to tell you more about it…

 

Additional Reading Material –

Blogs/ Articles:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pippa-biddle/little-white-girls-voluntourism_b_4834574.html

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/volunter-tourismwhitevoluntouristsafricaaidsorphans.html

Books:
Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission. Christopher L. Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2010)

Development to a Different Drummer: Anabaptist/Mennonite Experiences and Perspectives. Richard A. Yoder, Calvin W. Redekop, and Vernon Jantzi (PA: Good Books, 2004)

I didn’t ask for perfection…

ImageAt one point in my life I would have called myself a perfection, and, in some specific areas, I still am, but tonight as I unevenly put cupcake wrappers under jar lids for wedding favors, I realized that a perfectionist I am not. You see, I am getting married in less than five days, and I know, and hope, it will not be perfect.

If my wedding is in any way a microcosm of our relationship or the life we will have together, then it shouldn’t be perfect. We will have things go wrong that either need to be laughed off or worked through. Neither does it need to appear perfect as I hope we live a life that is honest and open to struggle and imperfection. This doesn’t seem to be what the world is saying about weddings though. People keep asking me if I’m nervous and not to worry if things go wrong. I’m not worried. I have two pastors, a groom, family, and chocolate cake. The rest is extra.

Pinterest, as well as other people, have suggested that there are certain things I need to have glued together or spent money on or worried about in order to get married. We’ve seen each other through a wide array of experiences, prayed about it, spoken with friends and family, and done premarital counseling without once needing a glue gun, and I think it’s gonna be ok.

You see, I feel like getting married is becoming the last thing on the list. It’s what couples do once every thing else is in place — the jobs they’ve been waiting for, the house, the perfect time. It’s become one of the last steps, and I’ve seen some people where this seems to have really worked for them. However, I see marriage as one of the first steps. A commitment that, even without having everything settled, we’re going into life as a team. That we will figure out some of the details as we go and that we will figure out the rest together.

I hope, in many ways, that our wedding will be a microcosm of our life together. We have benefited from the help, knowledge, and encouragement of two church families. We have had family and friends step forward to help. I could not imagine doing this in four months while finishing grad school and working without all their help. I hope that all their love and support shows in the glorious imperfection of the day. Because at the end of the day, this is just the beginning, and despite what the reception seems like, it isn’t just a party. A wedding requires community participation. Our family, friends, and church family will say that they will love, support, and pray for us. That they witness our marriage and bless it. It is similar in many ways to the congregational participation of baptism. In the same way, I hope that we are marked by grace and can be taught and encouraged by the family and friends around us. So at the end of the day, with the love and support of those there with us, that we will begin our married life together not as the last step in a list of life accomplishments, but as the first step of an imperfect adventure, marked by grace.

Anticipation – Not in Fast-Forward

ImageI am generally a lover of possibility. I am in awe of the possible. I think this is why I have always been a purveyor of crazy ideas. (My dad and I are known for them in our family). Loving crazy ideas means loving the planning and the scheming that comes with an idea even if it never comes to fruition. I plan trips I might never get to go own, name pets I don’t own yet, and generally daydream and plan for adventures yet unknown.

This means that I am good with anticipation. I like the time of looking forward to an event and frequently am willing to undergo the disappointment of the event or occurrence not taking place just for the joy of waiting for it.

Recently I seem to have lost this art. I have been wishing for the fast-forwarding of days. I have two weeks left, after this one, in grad school. I get married six weeks from Sunday. I have already begun to clean and pack my apartment and would move tomorrow if I had somewhere to go. I am ready and excited for the future, and there is nothing wrong with that.

What’s wrong is that I am not living in the present. I have been wishing to fast-forward days. These are my last few weeks getting my M. Div, and I may miss this at some point. These are my last few months as a non-married person, and that’s something to live into. The verse is This is the day that the Lord has made… Not those will be the days…

I’m struggling to know how though. I’m pretty sure this has been the longest Lent of all time. Add in participating in a church merger, helping my fiancé with his commissioning paperwork (think pre-ordination in the UMC), finishing up the semester, and wedding planning, and I’m living in those days that both last forever and go flying by. How do I slow down and live now?

I would gladly take any suggestions that y’all have, but a few that have come to me that I feel obligated to try out.

1)   I will marinate in experience. I am excited about the future and want to get to it, but the future will be experienced in relation to now. The restful moments of this summer will seem more restful in comparison to the busyness of this season. The joy of not having homework will be more profound if I continue to see my schoolwork to the end and with full effort. The excitement of starting a home together with my new husband will provoke even more gratitude in contrast to my living situation now.

2)   I will seek out people that I will not run into as easily in the next chapter after graduation. I know of some awesome folks who will sadly be moving after graduation. What would it look like to carve out time to spend with them and enjoy their company now while I still take it for granted?

3)   I will ask and ask to be asked (yes I just wrote that) to reflect what I am grateful on. Occasionally my fiancé and I ask each other what we were grateful for in the day, but I’d like to make more of a habit of it. My poor gratitude journal has been neglected recently, and it might be time to break that back out and find little reasons to be thankful for these days.

I hope that I can treasure these days in transition and be grateful for what they contain. These last days as Miss and not Mrs. And not Rev. These last days as student for the next little while — These last days in this exact place. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and not fast-forward it.

To Occupy This Space – Part I

Sascalia - Folk Art House Painting Art Block Print Mixed Media CollageLooking back is London – gray and green and wet – spotted with the occasional red of mailbox or phone booth. I imagine the clouds were thick and the moon was small on the night we were born. From gray-green to gray-brown was New Jersey, neighborhoods in off-white and blue, me in my blue and white Easter dress running down the sidewalk, to the green-brown of the farm. Still a white house, but mud and brown and black sheep in spring grass and more mud. Then is Kentucky, blue and green, green shutters on our Buckeye house, green playhouse, green backyard on wide open sky. The parsonage is brown-brown — first was poop brown shutters on a poop-brown house – now blue-brown – infused with care and personality. Birmingham was yellow-brown — dirt and pollen and sunshine — black and gold uniform against a red track stadium — the color of summer and woods and miles of trails. Atlanta has been green-brown — new and lush yet city. Apartment in brown and off-white — was home and now not home — my blue green kitchen just asking to be packed up. The future is green and blue and open. Maybe too open. I want a porch swing and a lawn for you to mow and a place to inhabit. I want roots — green and brown and deep. Where we can fix and lay claim and make our own. I want place and color and noise and sound — that we may look back and say that we made it ours. That we occupied that space and called it home…

My Anti-Bucket List

ImageI learned very quickly at the children’s hospital that we all had a list of “Things my (future) children cannot do.” These lists always corresponded to specific incidents we had seen or been on call for. I remember talking to a child life specialist as we waited in the ED for a child to be flown in. It was kind of like a game of go fish to see if we had the same list. I offered up jet skis, she countered with unfenced in swimming pools, so far we were in agreement. I added knives sticking point up in dishwashers, which she agreed was wise to add and upped the ante with donkey rides. I didn’t ask.

I’m pretty sure we all play the same mental game though. I think everyone in life plays it at some point or another. We read about a tragedy in the news, and we ask ourselves if that could happen to us or our loved one. We can “brush it off” so to speak if it was an act of stupidity, but sometimes it just was an awful accident. This was especially true at the hospital. My best friend once told me that she could work in an adult ER but not at a children’s hospital because adults do things to themselves but children, for the most part, have things done to them.

So back to my anti-bucket list. I will admit that by the end of that summer my future children were going to be reduced to sponge baths and would probably require intense therapy, but Lord help me, they would not drown. And yes, this view was excessive. Hyper controlling a child’s environment will not protect them from all ills and will make for a scared and possibly scarred child, on the other hand, some actions just need to be thought through, and anecdotal evidence does not make up for solid research when it comes to child safety.

It is beyond heartbreaking to see children brought in for the oversights and mistakes of others — ammonia left in juice bottles, infants held by toddler siblings and dropped, children left unattended in and around water — the list goes on. And now I am in the in between space — I have been in the hospital and am now preparing to go back. I have seen things that are frequently restricted to medical personal, and it has left its mark, and it has left me in quite a quandary.

I see people in Target with their baby carseats perched on top of the cart and want to go warn them. I see children at parks near ponds with no parent in sight, but those aren’t the hardest. The hardest thing is seeing children I know and love in or around something harmful. And it’s super rare, the children I am around have caring, well-informed parents. I do not have close proximity to any neglected children, so it’s usually small things. But I can’t decide if I’m ready to be the person at the playground who points to a child climbing something they shouldn’t and says, “I’ve seen children who have fallen from that height. Depending on how their head hits can determine the damage done — they could be fine, but are you willing to risk it?”

I have no answer. I really wish I did. I sometimes feel that I have seen too much and have not found the balance in how to share experience without spreading fear. I don’t know how my parents did it exactly — we were not raised to be fearful, but our environment was pretty safe. So, sometimes I know I get one comment, a whole lot of prayer, and whispered plea, “Dear Jesus, I don’t want to get that page,” because I’m not sure how I’d handle the fact that I’d seen the possibility and could do nothing to stop it.

In Doubt of Optimism

ImageI was at a concert the other day, and the band stopped to dedicate a song to a fan. They said that this song was a favorite of a fan of theirs who was a young man with cancer. He had listened to the song during chemo, and they had had the chance to meet him, and he had had an effect on them as a band.

So far so good in terms of dedication. Then they told us this young man had passed away, but that his legacy lived on. “He never frowned or complained — He was always optimistic.” They told us this, and reminded us to be thankful, and reminded us again. “His parting legacy was optimism.”

I couldn’t help but feel like they sold that young man short. I believe he was more than just a smile, that he left more than a legacy of optimism. It also made me realize how few words we have when cut off from a language of faith. Was this a young man of joy? faith? hope? Those are words that mean something. That’s a legacy. And maybe they meant joy or hope, but they didn’t use those words. They said optimism. And I believe that their dedication was more harmful than helpful.

I want to dedicate a song to a person who battles cancer faithfully and as a human being. I want us to stand in front of thousands and praise the person who laments. Who looks at life in its fullness and is not afraid to tell God and others the truth. Why don’t we praise lament?

I remember being in the children’s hospital and talking to families who had heard too much of this optimism language and thought that smiling was their only faithful answer. They faked smiles for God and others, and then told me all the questions they were too afraid to ask God. So, I told them about the Psalms. I told them that David (Forgive me OT 501) expressed anger in one sentence and praise in the next and that if David could do it, did that not mean that they could too? We would discuss how the Psalms are freeing because we are given permission to still find joy and praise in one moment and ask God really hard questions in the next moment, and all within a place of faith.

So, if we find this in the Psalms, why don’t we find this attitude in churches as much? Someone has to balance out culture that praises optimism in the face of childhood cancer – because that’s insane. The young man died — to be optimistic was ultimately pointless — but to be people of hope and faith does not depend of circumstance, and it does not silence the lament of those who are suffering.

So, here’s to those who lament, who leave a legacy of both praise and anger, who engage the wholeness of God with their whole selves, and here’s to those who provide that space for wholeness for others. 

Dayenu: It would have been enough…

IMG_0448This is a love story, and a falling back in love story. A story of God’s abundance and what it is to learn that it would have been enough… Dayenu

I learned this beautiful Hebrew word, dayenu, when I organized a Seder supper for my church. It means, “it would have sufficed” or “it would have been enough.” It is part of a beautiful liturgy that recounts the liberating deeds of the Lord and how any one of the acts God did would have been enough. For instance, if God had only saved the Israelites from the pharaoh and not brought them through the sea, dayenu. And it was through that Seder, that I  finally found a word that encompassed Eastside Church for me.

If only the Holy Spirit had not left me alone, it would have been enough. I had a really great plan second year of seminary. I was a pastor’s kid in seminary who felt/feels called to chaplaincy, and I was told my second year contextual education placement needed to be in a church. So I picked a lovely church for myself, one with good pastors, a big staff, lots of stuff going on, but I picked it to prove that I didn’t want to work in the church. This is one, a poorly designed experiment, and two, bad sportsmanship. Thankfully the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me be with either, and after a chance encounter with Eastside Church and a few great conversations with their head pastor (And a conversation with the empathetic pastor of the other church), I was onboard for a church plant adventure that turned my understanding of what church could be upside down.

If only God had renewed my love for the church, it would have been enough. It would have been more than enough to be that excited about going to church again, about developing a ministry team, and even about planning and running meetings. My eyes were opened to some of the resentment I carried from being a PK, and I was able to let it go and embrace the gift of church again, and enjoy the gift of a new, loving and welcoming church family.

If only God had renewed my love for the church, and not allowed me to work on the justice ministry, it would have been enough. I came into my time at Eastside as a really useful PK. I could be asked to do things at the last minute. I didn’t need lots of instructions, and I knew what could be talked about in front of the congregation — in short, I was well trained. What  I was not use to was being given free reign. The first time I went to check in on a decision I was making for the start of the justice team to be told, “I trust you, do what you think is best,” opened up channels for pastoral leadership I didn’t know I had. I transitioned from pastors kid to having authority in the church.

If only God had allowed me the joy of the justice ministry, and not introduced me to my fiancé, it would have been enough. If it seems a little corny, perhaps it is, but it wasn’t simple either, and it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. I met him that first day I walked into Eastside, he was the head pastor’s younger brother. I have not been allowed to forget that upon starting work at Eastside I said I was looking forward to working with the lead pastor, but wasn’t sure I could work with his brother. At first this was true, we fought over Advent candle readings, but then we started running together, learned we worked really well together and ultimately were half of an exploratory trip to Haiti, and came out liking each other more.

And it would have been enough. Any one of these events would have been enough. To fall in love, to fall back in love with the church, to discover a church home, and to lead in uncovering a justice ministry. How does one begin to say thank you for that? How do I continue to live into that gift? For the Holy Spirit that will not leave us alone, for a God who offers greater banqueting tables of abundance than we would ever dare pull up a chair to ourselves, for more than enough. Dayenu, it would have been enough, it would have been more than enough for me…

On Walking with Babies: Thoughts from a Nanny

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I was thinking today that I have been so blessed to get to nanny through grad school. It is an amazing thing to be paid to do something that brings me joy and is my stress relief. Part of this has been getting to nanny and baby-sit for wonderful families (There was that one that yelled at me for singing to their baby but that didn’t last long). At my current job, when this little person was a tiny infant, I did a lot of walking so that she would sleep. I even joked that I felt like a baby walker (you know, like a dog walker, just for babies), but it turned out to be the most wonderful time. The little girl got to bond with me so that now that she’s older she never cries to be handed over to me. I got the wonderful peaceful experience of having time each week where I had nothing I had to do but walk and talk to this little person and pray and think and actually take a moment to be quiet and enjoy the day. And this is when I got to thinking, that while I trusted, but didn’t quite understand, the real purpose behind my walks, these parents were on to something, and that something was creating a world where their particular little person felt safe and loved, even if it wasn’t the most convenient system for them, and it further dawned on me — The folks whose children I have watched have had different parenting styles and children with different personalities, and I, as a non-parent, make no attempt to tell other people how to raise their children, but I have noticed one major thing these parents all have in common.

All of the parents whose kiddos I’ve watched and seen grow into happy, well attached little people have acted with the understanding that parenting is a sacrifice — that things are not ever going to be the same again and they are at peace with that. I’ve seen this get lived out in multiple ways.

Firstly, they know that you cannot spoil a baby. My grandmother always told me this and it’s funny now to read studies that back her up, but she told my mom, who passed on to me that you can spoil a toddler, but cannot spoil a baby. Your job in life is to make sure that that infant knows that the world is safe — she will be fed whenever she is hungry, soothed when he cries, and held as much as possible. Infants are not even able to manipulate when they enter this world — they are responding to stimuli and when parents and caregivers respond back quickly and consistently, they create calmer, happier babies who know the world is a safe place.

Similarly, I have watched parents either become more or less scheduled as the child needs, even if that isn’t their natural style. I have seen people who were incredibly laid back develop a basic routine so that there child has the structure s/he needs. I’ve also seen normally super organized people realize that tiny babies’ schedule has to be more flexible because they’re growing way too fast to always have lunch at noon and tea at three like they might. (I’ve also watched overly schedule driven parents have to change when kid #2 shows up, if they didn’t relax at all with kid #1, but that’s another story).

Lastly, I have watched priorities and plans change. I got asked all the time in the children’s hospital if I had kids, and I’m sure when I go back the same question will continue. I would usually politely say no, but I love children and hope to someday, and then turn the conversation to their child. What I’m really thinking is nope, I’m still a student. I have dreams and goals to accomplish that are pre-children so that by the time I have kids I will not drag them to concerts as if I didn’t have them, or resent them for keeping me from accomplishing my goals, or try to shoehorn them into my schedule so I still feel like I’m in control.  I realized a few years ago and was grateful for the fact that my parents had me and my siblings at a point in their lives where we were their dream. There was no thought of rushing to get us out of the house so they could get on to the rest of their lives, they hadn’t put their dreams on hold for us, they had accomplished or modified the dreams that didn’t include kids before we arrived. I’m in no way saying this is purely an age thing, though being older does help. I know people at all different ages who are doing a beautiful job raising children because they love those children dearly and make the sacrifices to care for those specific children.

For some families I have seen the sacrifice be over control or perceived productivity, for others it is missing out on events or hobbies that they would have participated in pre-children, but all these families have put the needs of their children first, not spoiled them, but created safe, responsive worlds where needs are met and lives are flexible, and just enough schedule is held to create stability and structure.

So, even though I walk a lot less now, I am thankful for the parents who have allowed me the opportunities to care for their children, who have taught me about love and sacrifice in all of its unique forms, and are creating safe and happy worlds for the beautiful little people I am blessed to know.