This is a guest post by my lovely friend, Amy Brockhaus of Tiny Green Elephants
With the moon shining down, the cold night air pressing against the windows menacingly, you wouldn’t hear them, their silence learned. This is where they come from.
It’s really just too many children, with no parents to hear their cries, not enough workers to care, they learn that their voices won’t be heard, their needs will go unmet.
They silence themselves, don’t hope for comfort or cry for care. Which is where we found our son and daughter. My husband and I found ourselves in Russia, upstairs in a crumbling building, the smell of cleaner and mildew and twenty tiny eyes on us, hopeful, but silent.
We took our son and daughter home with us, and they joined our family, from 3 to 5 in a day, our two year old suddenly with two siblings, an older sister and younger brother.
Our middle of the nights looks different from most families who bring new children home. Most new parents are up with tiny cries, meeting little needs, teaching at such a young age that they are safe, and the world is secure, just because they are there.
Our nights were different. Our son, 18 months old would cry pitifully when we rocked him to sleep, he wasn’t used to the touch, the care, it overwhelmed his system. We would stroke his small cheek and whisper prayers over him, “That he would know he is safe now, that his heart would be filled.” As the moments passed, his little body, so boney and frail back then, would grow limp and only his featherly, brittle hairs at the top of his head moved as we rocked, back and forth. His thumb nail was almost sucked off, his only form of comfort his entire life, his thumb was his mommy, his daddy, his big hugs and comfort, his release from fear and loneliness.
And so each night we rocked, as his body grew rounder, his hair grew thicker, a shift happened within. The cold air was pushing against our windows from outside as well, but it stayed outside, and didn’t creep into his heart. His heart was here, with mommy and daddy, as he learned to suck his thumb, less, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Our daughter, 10, held all of her comfort, her wish for a mommy and daddy, hugs and love and fear in her thumb, as well. We spent a good deal of those first few months allowing these children, our children to learn that they aren’t alone. That they aren’t in charge of protecting their own lives, that they are cared for. Basic, right? No, revolutionary. The single thing that changed them more than anything else that entire first year.
“You are not alone. We are here for you, and we will be here.”
Sometimes people, if they saw our kids before and after say, “Wow, that’s so cool! Must take a special family…”
But the secret is, it actually doesn’t. All we had to do was be here. In our homes, and tell them true things.
“You are loved. You are safe.”
It was so basic it’s almost easy to miss, to overlook and think there must be something more, but there wasn’t.
// Let us believe that God is in all of our simple deeds and learn to find Him there // Tozer
When I think about Jesus, what stands out most to me isn’t the bigger things he did, he didn’t adopt lots of kids, start a bunch of programs, follow a list--but he went fishing with people. Ate meals with friends, stopped and talked to people on errands. “Well, He’s God, so he must have done lots of fancy things…”
Well, maybe not. Maybe his fanciest things was his focus; time spent. Looking at people and telling them true things, no need to rush them away.
Our kids now, the orphanages wouldn’t recognize them. They are chapter book reading, singing, dancing piano playing, sweet loving kids, filled to the brim with life. They are kind and gentle and are a true gift to us, I’m not just saying that phrase, but they really are. Those first few months were less glory and more life re-hab. The medicine being time spent, which layered in the thought; “You are not alone. You are loved.” Over and over. And isn’t that just what everyone needs to hear.
Don’t count yourself out. You have you, and that is enough to change lives, seriously. Crazy, right?
//Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”
But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”//
Amy and her husband, Andrew, have three kids, two by way of adoption. Now-a-days the Brockhaus clan spends their time gardening, planting trees, hosting large dinners of unfancy food for lots of people and trying to see people the way God does. You can read more of their adventures at Tiny Green Elephants.