Today a phrase popped into mind that epitomizes the past week: “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Goodness, what truth that is.
I was feeling a little burnt out and cynical as the school year came to an end when like a fairy godmother new life came and turned the pumpkin into a coach! With two new volunteers from North Carolina who throughly embody the joy of the Lord and 15 (yes, FIFTEEN) kids coming to the Kennel this past week, things have gone from blah to ta-da! Gosh, God is good.
It has been in the midst of this joy of the Lord that another important word has popped up: Family.
We have always called our Kennel staff and kids a family, but this past week it has truly felt that way. Cameron has been coming to the Kennel most days (the only perk of his frustrating and lack-thereof work schedule) and the kids have taken to continuing the “daughter/son” phrasing. Cameron takes to the role with gusto. He loves being dad as much as I love being mom/auntie/sister. And in a community where good “dads” are hard to come by, I love watching him interact with the kids in such a way. Plus he is a big muscly dude so he takes the commanding stance well!
So yesterday we were at the church picnic and we just had five of the kids with us, but they are circling around Cam and I pretending we are their parents as they get introduced to Cam’s family, who they immediately call their grandparents. They just assumed that his family is now their family, a characteristic that I love about them. And they stall as Cam and I try to take them home, working to convince us that we should take them on our date, and stopping to check out the ins and outs of my house as they choose the rooms that they want to live in. I don’t mind that they are trekking through my place and checking everything out, I love having them around. And we talk about our next adventures and when they can stay over and no, you teenage girls cannot housesit while I am on vacation but thanks for the offer.
And I realize that this is what I want my life to forever be. I know that wherever I live I want my house to be full of a bunch of kids that call us family, that come in and out and are related to us or not. I know that I want my household to be full of love and laughter and fun. . an unconventional family with a ton of crazy kids.
This is actually the most family I have had around in a lot of years, since I moved to the West Coast and left the family on the East. My heart bursts with joy as the love between the kids and us grown-ups continues to deepen, and the trust increases, and we know that we would do anything for each other. It is new life after a lull of exhaustion and cynicism. In with the wind is joy, such joy, and it all comes from the Lord.
I will end with this: One of our youngest "kids" (who always asks where her "dad" is when Cam isn’t around) was hanging out with me at the Kennel the other night. They had all been tattooing me with washable marker so I decided to share the love and write a “tattoo” on her hand. I AM LOVED is what I chose. It was what I wanted her to know and what I hope each of these kids gets tattooed on their hearts as they continue hanging around the Kennel and becoming family with us. I am loved. The knowledge of this truth changes everything. Indeed, it has for me.