You know was lying here thinking just a few minutes ago that as of today 5 little boys have moved into this home and into my heart and lived here for 1 month as of today. CRAZY!!! So many people told me before this, Oh Jen it’ll be just like these are your babies. I will be so honest with you, I thought oh it will be something like that but it won’t really be like they’re mine. I had no idea what to expect, and while I have no idea what it truly feels like to have given birth and have your very own children by birth, at this point in my life, I’m not sure I could imagine the love in my heart feeling much different than this.
Someone asked me the other day if I had a favorite and my response was something like this because it’s honestly the way I feel…I have a favorite depending on what time of the day it is, they are each my favorite at different moments of the day right now.
As much as I hate to admit it, (because it’s not the most opportune time) Antonio is my favorite in the middle of the night, when in those wee morning hours he wakes up because he got scared or got hungry or whatever, and he’s standing there in that crib waiting for someone to come in and hold him. I have had some of the sweetest moments not only with him but with God in that rocking chair in the babies room while I sang him back to sleep or prayed over his little heart and life. I love those moments when he pats my arm to put himself back to sleep or curls his little fingers around mine just thankful that someone came to the rescue and held him. He cries and cries in that crib and then you walk into the room and pick him up and everything is again ok in his world. There’s something about that that just reminds you, that you are a part of something so much bigger than you in this world and you feel humbly grateful for that.
Francisco is my favorite probably during bath time, although it’s hard to pick a favorite time for him because he’s just at this really really fun stage right now where he wants to hug and kiss you all the time and just snuggle and I’m loving that. We have this really sweet little bath time routine though where he comes waddling into the bathroom when I tell him it’s time and he’s all excited and he comes in grinning takes off all his little clothes and gets in the shower where he would stay all night if I let him. When he first came he cried every single time we gave him a shower, he didn’t like the water in his eyes at all and just didn’t want much to do with it. Now, we have to tell him 10 times ok Francisco your other brothers need a shower too. He plays and giggles and tries to squirt me with water and he is just joy. For the most part the kid is just happy and makes you just smile watching him. Then he gets out of the shower and I call him my little guapo chico, which means handsome boy. I take him in to the changing table and get ready to put his pajama’s on him and then I say Francisco, “I love you.” He says, I wuv ooo and I say, I love you more and he says I wuv ooo more and I say I love you most and he says I wuv ooo most and then I pick him up and give him this great big squeeze and we play montan de pico’s (which means mountain of kisses) where he tries to kiss my cheek and when he does i get him and just give him tons of kisses on his little cheek and he just giggles. Ohhhh I love that!!!! Memories that I’ll tuck away and treasure.
Mario is my favorite by far at bedtime. We go in and lay down in their room and the big boys crawl up into their top bunks and Jeff always lays down with Francisco and I lay down to tuck Mario in. We always ask who wants to say their prayers first and we go around the room and it’s the sweetest thing because one of them will say their prayer and the other brothers repeat it. So we let them each have a turn every night and sometimes we’ll get so tickled cause Mario will say the prayer he learned to say before meals for bedtime and Francisco’s prayer sometimes is just 22 Senor Jesus’s in a row and then in the name of Jesus amen. OH it’s so precious and I have to imagine God up there just chuckling too as he watches these little guys beginning what I pray will be a prayer life that is both real and passionate and is always an important part of their days. After prayer time is over though Mario always takes the longest to go to sleep, he runs his fingers through my hair, he kisses my cheek a bunch of times, he rubs my back and then finally he rolls over with his little face as close to my face as he can possibly get it so our cheeks are touching and falls asleep. So many God pictures while you’re walking through life with little ones isn’t there??!!!
Marvin is my favorite when we’re in the room after they’re all showered and clean and we’re putting pj’s on and he always wants to romp and play and be ornery and some nights at 8:30 I am so tempted to get irritated with that and rush through it and tell him to stop but he’s got the orneriest little grin that melts your heart every single time he looks at you. So we usually end up playing and he’ll pretend like he can’t get his leg into his pj’s and fall a hundred times and I’ll tickle him or he’ll climb on my back or hide under the bed and we just play. He reminds me sometimes to just chill and laugh. His laugh just makes you want to laugh with him…but always after we’re done playing and his pj’s are on and his little hair is all combed and he’s ready for bed we’ll do the where’s my hug game?? Sometimes I say it first sometimes he does but he always hugs me to show me how strong he is but when he does he usually just sits in my lap for a few minutes and lets me hug him. He’s the one that after being at Casitas seems to have picked up some of the hard and so those are precious moments when he doesn’t feel like he has to protect his heart and just lets me love him. I treasure those times and I pray and try to remember that to a 7 year old little boy it’s important that he sees me take time to play with him when he wants to. The play days will be over quickly I know and I don’t want to miss out on them either.
Yovani, the big brother, is my favorite first thing in the morning when I’m sitting on the couch waiting for them to get up and he’s usually the first one to come barreling out of their room (with the exception of the baby of course) but I’m usually laying on the couch under a quilt and he’ll come and just lay down right beside me and hug me and tell me good morning and I’ll tell him I love him and he repeats it and just giggles. He does that everytime you tell him you love him, like he loves it but doesn’t ever really know how to take it or what to do with it. Precious time cause he’s getting to that stage where it’s not always so cool to hug and kiss people you love and in the mornings he usually initiates the cuddling and it’s sweet.
There are a thousand other moments during every single day when I look at them and think if I loved these guys anymore my heart would burst wide open. It’s this new kind of thing in my world it really is because usually I get to control how much of my heart I let go in any other relationship in my world, and I’m a classic only let so much of yourself go that you could recover quickly if something happened, and I just have fallen hook line and sinker for these little guys. It’s like just throwing your heart out there and knowing regardless of how hard you tried you’d never be able to control giving it to them anyway and so I just trust God to take care of it, that loving them with a heart that is wide open to doing so will be worth whatever hurts may come with it because the joy of having them wrap their little arms around my neck and knowing that they are trusting me to be a safe place where they can love and be loved just has invited me into this beautiful image of the way God is with us. I’m learning something every single day from them about God’s love. Every day!!
Don’t know if I ever really have told you their story but they came to us because their father had been put in prison for alleged homicide and their mother was simply too poor to take care of them. She had let one of them go at a time youngest to oldest, so Antonio went into Casitas first when he was about 2 months old because he had maylaria and was really really sick. Then Francisco and then Mario and then Marvin and Yovani about a month apart all of them were “abandoned” willingly by their mother because she knew she was unable to feed them. They all came extremely malnourished with several health problems and she really was just without options. We met their mother when we first went to pick them up from Casita’s. She was standing in the corner weeping as she watched them leave to go with us and my heart broke for her then. We got an opportunity to see her again just Friday, the boys were so excited to see her and we got them all dressed up and gelled their little hair and they looked so doggone adorable and went to visit mom. The visit went so well and I just really really really like the momma. She is sweet sweet stuff. I don’t know what the future will hold and some day they’ll possibly go back to live with her if she can find a way to make it work and we’re just praying about what’s best in all of that for these 5 little boys that we all love now. Was a neat thing to look at this lady and just share this gratitude for each other. Her sorrow is our joy which doesn’t seem fair somedays but when I looked into her eyes I could tell that there was joy there that her boys were doing well. As we got ready to leave the visit, she grabbed ahold of me and gave me this huge hug and she thanked me over and over again for taking such good care of her boys and again I had this awesome awareness that I am given this amazing privilege of being a part of something that’s really huge, not because I deserve to be, I have no idea why most days, but I am so grateful for it.
So it’s hard to believe that I’ve tucked these little hearts in 30 times already and I’ll go do it again here in just a few minutes and I’ve bathed them 30 times and we’ve eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner together 30 times and I honestly didn’t know 30 days could fill my heart up this full!!
Thank you to all of you who are loving us and praying us through. We covet them and we couldn’t do it without them. This ministry is as much yours, those of you who cover it from your knees, who help it with your pocketbooks, who send us supplies, who write us notes of encouragment, all of it. This ministry is yours as much as it’s ours. God brings it all together to make something beautiful!! Thank you Father for the privilege of being a part of this!