I also learned a lot about love from my father. It is only now, as my own children are growing at the speed of light, that his lessons are resounding in my heart. He was a stoic man, not one to hug and kiss and gush like Mom, but he showed his love through his steadfast commitment to his family. When the toaster broke, he would stay up all night to repair it, so we could have toast with our eggs in the morning. When the holidays rolled around, he disappeared into the garage, his makeshift Santa's workshop, to build toys and wooden objects for everyone in our neighborhood.
Although our parents give us our first lessons in love, perhaps our best teachers about love are our kids. The greatest joy of love in my life has been in giving birth to three wonderful children and adopting seven more. When I held my firstborn, Isaiah, I knew that my life would never be the same. For the rest of my natural life, my heart would be walking around outside my body, in the form of my child. I learned more about love from Isaiah in the first few hours of his life than I had learned in the twenty-four years of my life prior to nursing him to my breast. For eight years Isaiah and I were alone, just the two of us, going camping and dirt biking, moving from state to state and exploring every patch of beauty along the way.
All of my kids are special, and all are very different. I stand in amazement when I ponder my three biological children, how they could have emerged from the same womb and all be so completely different from one another. My firstborn, Isaiah, was never once sent to the principal's office during all his years in school. He was never in a fight...he never talked back to a teacher...he obeyed all the rules, and would get so frustrated with me when I would break all the rules. My lastborn, Zachariah, gets a note sent home from school every day. His talking back has been elevated to an art form. He doesn't own a pair of jeans for twenty-four hours before the knees are ripped. As Isaiah taught me about God's quiet and gentle love, Zachariah has taught me that God has a wicked sense of humor!
Lonika is my oldest daughter, and although I did not give birth to her or raise her (she was adopted as an adult), she is the daughter of my heart. A single mother, Lonika works hard every day to provide for her daughter, Jayla. Lonni has a great sense of humor, and when she sets her mind to accomplish something, she does not give up. She is determined, focused and very gracious.
Shaylah has a tender, sweet heart. Like my firstborn, my secondborn was also graced with a very gentle spirit. She is not a rough-and-tumble sort of girl the way I was. She moves with grace and is always a peacemaker, not a troublemaker like her momma!