Preparations for a new baby are no different for us now than they were during the days when I watched Jaclyn beautifully waddle around getting things ready. She’s still cleaning this, moving that, and bringing home an occasional outfit for the baby. While even she will admit that she doesn’t feel a lot of the biological nesting feelings that nature provides an expectant mother, we still know we are where my ancestors would call the “short rows.” Which means in addition to our jobs, three kids on five different ball teams right now, church, and trying to continue to fill out grant applications and put money together for the adoption itself, we are physically preparing for a new baby to join our little clan – in a matter of weeks!
Speaking of our little clan, we decided to use this Spring Break week to devote a little attention to the current members. Spring is no doubt already our busiest time as far as activities for the kids, so we know that adding a baby to the mix will only multiply that. So, a few weeks ago we made plans to drag our three minis out of town for a few days to just hang out and spend some time together.
We left Sunday (stopping along the route to go to worship service in Alabama), spent a day at the beach in Jacksonville Beach on Monday, a couple of hours in St. Augustine on Tuesday, and arrived at our final destination in Titusville on Tuesday night. Since we’re only about an hour east of Orlando, we took the kids yesterday to the happiest doggone place on Earth. That’s right, for twelve hours, we wandered the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The kids made several observations, as is typical:
JP: Has declared this the greatest vacation ever each day since we left. Disney made that three in a row.
Gabe: Decided that Disney’s FastPass (where you can schedule up to three rides that you skip waiting in line for) is the greatest invention ever.
Kara: Went from middle school pre-teen to six-year old princess-loving little girl again. (And I’m not sure what the grammatical rules say about using three dashes in one sentence.)
Overall, it was a long day, but a fun one. We were all exhausted and wished we had worn shoes with cushions in them, but enjoyed watching each other enjoy different parts of the day. And along than the second mortgage it requires (hence, the decision for only one day of it), we know it will likely be a long time before we can bring them back, especially with a new baby. W*As a side note, there are many, many people that decided an infant would enjoy Disney World. Pushing strollers, dragging them through lines for rides, and other misery-inducing activities re-convinced me that they should have thought that through a little more.*
With the large crowds comes a heightened sense of protection for the three that I’m in charge of. We made constant checks that they were under our wings somewhere, even making JP and Gabe hold our hands at times of great congestion or moving quickly. It was during one of those times that a sobering reality hit me.
We had just arrived on the compound (campus sounds friendlier, compound more accurate) and were moving to get from the parking lot to the monorail that took you to the actual park. The crowd was going to get a little congested, so I reached out for JP to hold my hand. (If you’ve heard the story about JP getting probably the worst spanking of his life for running out into traffic a few years ago, you know the boy doesn’t blink an eye when asked to hold a hand.)
Holding your little kid’s hand is necessary to direct them or just keep up with them when they’re little. Often, with their little hands, my finger is all they needed. Kara did it, Gabe did it, and JP does it. I thought it was cute when Kara was little, but was accustomed to it by the time the boys were big enough to need it. So, it was still cute, I just knew it was what they would need to do.
Well, yesterday, when I put my hand out for JP in order to keep up with him in the crowd, he didn’t grab my finger. He needed my whole hand. What a bummer. Now, I know God has called us to adopt and hopefully we will have Scott #4 within the next month. If so, he will need my finger again in a couple of years. But, JP has always been the baby. And, he’s moving along just as quickly as the other two did.
So, after a moment of thinking, “well, crap,” something God has been planting in my head all week festered back up. Sitting in church in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, the pastor threw something out there at me that was one of those hurt your feelings moments. Step on your toes moments. Make you say “well, who asked you,” at least in your mind. Basically, his challenge was that a true follower of Christ can only find true joy in Christ. This doesn’t sound unreasonable, but wait a second while I try to hurt your feelings a little with this question:
Where do you find your most enjoyment? The moments that give you the greatest joy or where you find you are most fulfilled?
Watching your child play sports?
On a date with your spouse?
On a beach or other vacation?
Accomplishing something at school or at your job?
Watching a sports team play?
All of those things are fleeting, mortal . . . temporary. Our relationship with the Creator of the universe is eternal, if it is genuine. If we only call on His name in times of need, or when our kids need something, or let’s be honest, sometimes when we just want something, then the authenticity of our relationship with Him may be debatable. If I only talked to Jaclyn when I needed her to do something, or when I had a bad day and needed to vent that to someone, our relationship would suffer greatly. And the same in return from her. I want a daily, constant relationship with her, not one that only meets certain needs on a sporadic, uncertain basis.
So, when JP took my whole hand it hit me again. I want to do my best as a Dad to prepare my children to fulfill God’s plan for their lives. But, if I live the average American life span (around 73 years), then less than 1/4 of that will be spent raising my kids into adulthood. And, while it makes me a little sad that our funny little toddler has turned into the 6-year old that we have to tell not to throw the ball so hard at t-ball practice as not to hit one of the other little kids with it, I know he will continue to grow up. I’m proud of Kara making the middle school softball and basketball teams, but in only three years she will be filling out high school schedules to start in the fall. They keep growing, but look to us for the examples of how to be a believer, even if they aren’t doing it consciously. So, we will continue to refuse to play travel softball on Sundays, we will be willing to follow God’s call on our lives (even if that means changing diapers again), and we hope to turn out four little Scotts that impact the world for His kingdom. But, at the same time, making sure that my relationship with Christ is the source of my joy and not just there when I need it or when it is convenient. As well as not letting the adversary distract me with things that are temporary – money, success, or even my wife and my kids.
Prayers this week can revolve around much of the same – for Tiffany’s health and decision-making. That she continues to find assurance in her decision to adopt. For us, that the right preparations are being made and that God continue to both comfort and reassure us. We have likely found a place to stay in Phoenix for a reasonable price, but will still need to find transportation on a moment’s notice, so pray that those little details will work themselves out.
This week, instead of a verse, I leave you with a quote from Jefferson Bethke’s book Jesus>Religion. Just another reminder that my faith walk is important on a number of different levels.
“Of 100 non-believers, only 1 will read the Bible. The other 99 are reading the “Christian.”