innocent lessons

by Kayla Raymond

Jeffte. He’s my oldest. Bless his heart. His rich brown eyes can melt your heart, but boy, does he know how to get on my nerves! He’s 6 and a half years old, 100% boy and most days doesn’t have a care in the world.

He has made me a firm believer in karma. My mom tells me I had a way of losing things as a child (maybe as an adult I still do) but, Jeffte once managed to lose a pair of brand new tennis shoes after only a day! I can’t say I was ever that bad. It’s either karma coming back for all the things I “misplaced” or it’s just Jeffte.

He has been a part of our family for three years now. We rescued him, more or less he was so sick they handed him over to us, from one of the worst orphanages I have ever witnessed. He conquered hell and recovered from a severe sickness. He has lost his belly and his chunky baby cheeks. He is an athlete and doesn’t sit down unless there is a movie to watch.

Even on our roughest days, he always finds a way back to his mama’s arms. His sloppy wet kisses and the way he shuffles his feet down the hallway are some of my favorite things.

I imagine the way I get on God’s nerves sometimes, too. The way I tend to lose him throughout the day, the way I make earthly things more important than him or the way I forget how truly forgiven I am. I pray for more patience, God knows I need that after asking Jeffte for the tenth time to go brush his teeth. I pray for more guidance, because God knows I need that too, being I’m the most unqualified person to be a mother to three kids. I pray for more forgiveness, because I’m only human. We all need a little bit more of that.

I tell Jeffte, “ya know, buddy, Jesus cries when you don’t listen to mama and papa. The bible says we are suppose to listen to our mama’s and papa’s.”

I can see it in his eyes, he is sorry. I tell him the greatest news, “but, Jesus always forgives you if you say sorry.”

Was it wrong of me to guilt him with the tears of Jesus, maybe. Jesus is kind of a big deal in our house, and we don’t like when we see people crying. But, for this mama, it worked. The next morning, we brushed our teeth without even being asked.

I have learned so much from my kids, it’s amazing. The innocence and joy they have for life blows me away. All three of them have overcome more in their short lives than I can even fathom. I stare into those dark chocolate eyes and wonder how God can trust me with them.

For some reason He does, though. I can feel it in the way He blesses me with the lessons they teach me. I feel it at morning breakfast as Wishla manages to throw all her cereal on the ground. I feel it as Loveson proudly shows me how he can tie his shoes all on his own. I feel it as Jeffte wraps his arms around me before bed and there’s a mutual feeling of forgiveness.

The biggest lesson these sweet babies have taught me is their innocent love. I seek this love for my Father in heaven, as these children teach what it means here on earth. As they sneak into bed in the early morning, I’m reminded of the gift for another day I’m given. As they pack their backpacks and tie their shoes, I’m thankful for all our blessings. As I clean up their messes and wash the dishes, I’m thankful for health and energy. As I kiss them goodnight, I’m thankful for the journey that has been so full of miracles, leaps of faith and grace. As my own body falls into bed, I’m so thankful that I am loved and a daughter of the one true king.

People say, “I don’t know how you do it.” Mainly friends whose futures don’t have kids for a while in it say this, but they’re right. I don’t know how I do it, but I do know why I do it! These kids are my greatest inspirations, they make me a better person and I don’t think I could do life without them. Even though they’ve ruined any idea I once had of Sunday afternoon naps and I can’t eat a plate of food without it being shared, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jeffte. My oldest baby. Bless your heart. Thank you for reminding mama what the meaning of forgiveness means. Thank you for making me look more directly toward our King as we grow up and do life together. Jeffte. My first baby. Mama loves you, and so does our King.