I found Ken’s denim pants just under the corner of my chair in the TV room. Ah…”Ken who?” you ask. Well, this particular Ken has been in my life for over twenty-plus years now. He actually lives here, well “there” — there in the family room. He moved in after his twelve-inch fashion-doll girlfriend moved her residence here about the time my oldest niece was probably about three years old. They live in the pink house with the blue roof, which is a toy box, in the corner by the fireplace; although that particular toy box was here before they showed up. They are just part of the multitude of toys that have found a happy and simple life residing there.
This toy box holds a special place in my heart. First, because the original user of the pink house was my oldest niece, so she would have a place to stash her toys at Papaw, Nana and Sissy’s house. (AS IF one toy box was enough!) Second, the toy box was also used by my next to oldest niece when she lived here. Third, the other grandchildren have had their days playing in there also. Then finally, most every child that has ever been in this house has made a beeline for the corner by the fireplace to lift the blue lid off that pink house. Somehow, even if they have never been here before, once they scope out the corner of the family room, they seem to sense that there is something there, something magical awaiting them within that weathered, old, plastic box of a house. Even though I do not have small children around on a regular basis any longer, and I have never had any children of my own, I cannot let that toy box go. I think, because I have no children of my own, that the memories made in the corner with the pink and blue toy box are too precious to let it go.
Some of those particular precious memories just happened to have been made over this past Memorial Day weekend, hence the reason for Ken’s pants to have escaped the pink house! My younger cousin and her husband along with their three children were here over the long weekend. Although everyone has their own “pad” or “tablet” of some kind, and technology seems to be replacing “playing,” that little ole pink house is still a favorite for the children. With ages ranging from a very quiet and thoughtful eleven year old young man to two girls, (an eight year old drama queen and a five year old clown,) they all three dipped into the treasure chest of toys that reside in that pink house. It is so fun to watch how the children’s imaginations gear up and take off in completely different directions with the most simple, basic toys; but then these are exceptionally special children in the first place.
My cousin and her husband, who did not have children, made the decision to adopt a child. They went through their state agency, took all the parenting classes, endured all the home visits and were approved as foster parents…foster parents with the intention of adoption. Then all they had to do was sit back and wait. I may be wrong, but I do not believe they had to wait very long. They got a phone call about a little girl that was under one year old. That was exactly what they wanted. Ah, but there was a stipulation. There was also a four year old older brother that they wanted to keep with his sister. What to do? What to do? They decided they wanted both children; talk about a ready-made family! They took them home and got them all cleaned up and the journey began. The very first day that the children were in their home, they became a family, true family in the largest sense of the word. The then-four year little boy, lay in his warm, safe, clean bed and decided then and there that the folks in the other room were “mom and dad.” He moved in heart, soul and all! Sometime around two years later, they were blessed to receive into their family a new-born little girl that has added so much love, interest and fun…seriously…she is the most entertaining child ever, and she is their full, biological sister.
Some of our favorite times are when they come to visit. We fell in love with them and they with us the very first time that we met, some eight years ago! I believe the way my cousin and her husband came into parenthood has made them much stronger parents. They are so family oriented. They put God first and allow Him to guide their parenting. I see them using the techniques that they learned in their parenting classes. I see them taking time with the children and making sure that they are taken care of at meal time and bed time. They are constantly checking on them. They frequently go on educational outings and out and about for fun weekends. They have structure and rules and regulations in their lives, but they are patient and loving. They are growing as strong, independent, respectful children whom God has given a second chance as family.
I have always believed that God places your family around you, whether by birth or sometimes even better, by proximity. Sometimes our closest friends ARE our family. My cousin and her family are such a prime example of this. Their children are so much like them, both physically and personality-wise. To see them you would never think that they are not their biological children. The older two are like each of them and the youngest is a combination of both of them. God created that family long before they ever thought about adoption.
Sometimes my mind does wander down that path of, “What if?” I try not to let it stay there too long, although speaking for myself, I think I would have been a great mom! I know that God has a plan for my life and it just did not happen to include children. I do have special memories of when I got to be a mom for a little while to a special five year old after her world had been torn apart by the loss of her mother. She was a pretty independent young lady by the time she was five, so there was not a lot of entertaining necessary. She would dive into that pink house with the blue lid and have toys strung half way through the family room. We just let her leave them there all week because we loved watching her play. She cleaned it all up on Friday evening. The most special part of our days were when I was putting her to bed at night. Every night, every night, I would tuck her in and then read to her until she was asleep.
Caring for her physical needs was important, but the most important thing that I did for her was to take her to church and introduce her to Jesus. Now, headed toward her third year in college, she has a strong spiritual foundation to base her life on. That strong, independent five year old has turned into a strong, independent young lady. I am proud of the person that I helped to mold and am excited each time I see something new that makes her eyes light up.
I do see that my cousin and her husband are working hard at doing it right. They are putting God and family first. I believe that I did it right with my girl by putting God first and making her time with me a time of healing, being loved unconditionally and being taught about the love of Jesus. I hope that as they travel this road of life that they can all find, in their own way, a life that is as happy and simple as the pink house with the blue roof!
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)