I don’t know how this life is going to shake out. I feel reasonably sure I will lose some family and friends to this plague, and it could be me. And here in the back half of my middle age, my wife (A NURSE on the front lines of the pandemic, btw) and I decided, before all the mayhem broke out, to foster and adopt babies. Now my wife goes in to the hot zone every day to fight the virus while I have become the 24/7 baby care provider. Two of them are permanently mine! My babies! Innocents who have no idea what is happening! My children with all the love, all the hope, all the dreams and investments any good parent puts into their children, their family.
Now I wonder, every day: Will I watch my children die?
Will they be taken away from home and die alone?
Will I die and leave them without a parent?
Will they survive this without me?
I’m not sure which scenario is worse. I am stunned that the beautiful choices Mrs. Agent X and I made over the last five or six years now put me in this hellish position. I am overwhelmed.
I take seriously the STAY AT HOME orders. I wash my hands, some hours as many as eight times. I go around cleaning door knobs and cell phones. I am vigilant. And I am behind the eight ball, just like everyone else. I feel guilty every time I catch myself rubbing my tired eyes.
I turn to God in prayer daily. He invented the love of a father for a child. He knows better than anyone the pain of child sacrifice. And so I read his Word looking for my place in it.
My kids watch the Prince of Egypt video at least a couple of times a week. I go and read the story for myself too. But the movie music has become our soundtrack of life here, and I feel it, really feel it, when Moses’s little mama puts that basket in the Nile and prays for God to watch over it as it passes the crocodiles, the hippos, the fishermen’s nets, and then gently floats down into… into… into… Oh My God!.. into the bath eddy of Pharaoh’s house! The very heart of darkness!
How many Hebrew babies do not survive the crocs? How many do not survive the execution orders? How many do not survive the current of the flowing waters? But this one navigated all of that and somehow in one of the most ironic moments of all of world history finds favor in Pharaoh’s house where God plants his time bomb of deliverance.
Our little stories of a parent’s heart and an innocent child’s complete dependence don’t compare. In fact, hundreds, maybe thousands, of innocent children will die and won’t even get honorable mention so that God can be God and do God’s thing which, we believe, in the ultimate end of things will far outweigh the sacrifices we pay. (For the joy set before him???)
I am a middle aged man with a life time of wisdom and Bible education, but when I go read about the faith, the utter trust, in God we find in Mother Mary who in a most untimely way is promised a Son only to watch the way God leads him past crocs, hippos, fishermen and henchmen – to watch the slaughter of the innocents back in Bethlehem as her son gives the henchmen the slip one more time – all the way into the heart of darkness – the condemnation of his own people who would not receive him or recognize the day of their visitation, I am in awe. But right there, right amid the contempt, scorn, hate, and indifference of his own people, God makes him King of the Jews and brings salvation to the world even Moses had not dreamed.
And breaks Mary’s heart the whole way there.
Just in case my babies survive me, I hope someone will step in and care for them. They are so young. My kids have some mild (hopefully mild) developmental delays. We don’t want to make perpetual excuses for them with this, but the whole reason they are mine and do not belong to their biological parents is due to the drug addiction(s) those people suffer – which was also inflicted on these children in the womb.
Mrs. Agent X and I snatched them from the fires of hell when they came here, and we have loved them and celebrated them through every first crawl, every first step, every first word, and many, many, many other first experiences. Of those legally and permanently mine, I have a little boy who is three (going on four soon) and a little girl who is two and a half. Neither is of my ethnic background, and thus may face challenges of racism in this life. They both exhibit signs of hyperactivity at least some of the time, and thus bring those kinds of challenges. Basically, they have already dodged a lot of crocs and other dangers to get here, and bear the scars of other people’s sins, which likely they will deal with all their lives.
But they also are incredible human beings. Beautiful people to look at (they both had the same pretty mama), they both are quite smart (even if delayed and not well self-disciplined). They both have big hearts. They both love to sing, to pray, to snuggle, to run and jump and slide and kick a ball, and play with toys, dirt, and water.
My little girl will run up to me and throw her arms up over her head like a cheerleader, and this is her signal to give me a hug. Please don’t leave her hanging if she does this. You should feel deeply honored that she will share that with you. It is one of God’s most precious gifts to my life that she gives it to me.
Please read Hop On Pop to her and read a Beginner’s Picture Bible to her also. She loves the word “yellow” and will repeat it a lot – sometimes holding up red objects only to say “yellow” which in her mouth sounds like “lellow” or sometimes blue objects. Also watch out for her since she is a climber! She can get herself into trouble climbing if you are not watching her constantly!
My little boy LOVES to ride the school bus. He loves his teacher, Mrs. R, and wants to learn, when you can get him to sit still. One of the best disciplinary motivators we have found for him is to allow him to watch “one” – just that one word often conveys the idea to him. If he gets a good report from his teacher, then at the end of the day when we lie down for bed, I will let him snuggle and watch one child video from YouTube on my phone. He really likes the videos about construction trucks or maybe toy cars. One of our favorites is the one about the “excavator” – the one with that ridiculous song!
Oh… now for my confession. He sleeps in our bed now. Part of his developmental delay (both kids, really, but my boy especially) manifests in chewing on things excessively. Odd things too. Books are a favorite, so don’t let the kids run off with a book; they will chew it up if left unattended. But when he was just a little guy, we put him in his crib at night with a video monitor and watched when he woke up in the wee hours with anxiety and began chewing on the crib rail. In a few nights, it appeared he had gnawed half way through it. It looked like a beaver had chewed it. Eventually, and especially since the virus epidemic (since mama – Mrs. Agent X, the nurse) has taken to isolating in the back room away from the rest of us, he snuggles on me all night. It’s heart breaking to wake to him crying for her in the night as he sleeps.
I have hopes and dreams for my kids. I dare to hope that when God navigated the basket(s) they drifted the proverbial Nile in and found their way to this house, that he had plans for them. I tried to treat this house as if it were the very HOUSE OF GOD in which I am the door keeper warned to be alert and ready. And so I opened the door to these ones with expectations of God.
Now the world outside our door is chewing up and spitting out people by the thousands every day.
I would not have got into this baby ministry without Mrs. Agent X, and now she is one of the most vulnerable of necessity workers in our community leading a team of nurses in the PICU – the very place they actually gather the very sickest of virus-infected people in one area. She is dealing with incompetent stockpile preperations – lack of PPE, shortage of supplies, and like soldiers facing a war, she is leading young nurses into the fray and very will might not come home one night. (I often think of those 9/11 firefighters climbing flights of stairs with hundreds of pounds of equipment as if they were going to rescue people – when really they mostly just showed up to die with them instead.)
Did you ever see that movie Three Men And A Baby? Well, in this house, it’s three babies and a man! And if Mrs. Agent X doesn’t come home, I am in real trouble here.
Of course, alternatively, she might well bring home a viral hitchhiker that will infect us all, and then who knows what happens?
All I know right now, I am putting my babies in the proverbial basket and floating them out into the proverbial Nile.
Oh… the foster baby you ask?
Yes. I have one of those too. I cannot talk about him though. She is spoken for by another, another who yet hopes against hope that he will return to that family. That presents ironies and challenges I am not at liberty to talk about, but a thoughtful reader here can probably begin to imagine.
Look. I am fully aware that others in this pandemic are facing realitiies I likely never will. I shutter to imagine our little family in an apartment building in New York about now. We are blessed with a high fenced backyard here which we take advantage of just as much as we can. In fact, I need to get off here now because it’s almost warm and pretty enough outside for us to take advantage, and I don’t want to waste a moment of precious time I have with these God-given blessings talking about this to strangers. But even though our story is not the worst, I hope to give voice to others. Maybe your story resonates at some key points with mine.
This is sort of a message in a bottle. An S.O.S. of sorts. A desperate prayer, and a plea for my brothers and sisters in Christ and in battle to think about how we care for one another as we go through this thing. I am betting that if I survive this as door keeper at the house of God that more Angels of the Lord will come knocking here, and I pray I am alert and ready when He comes. Yet, if I don’t survive, I have these precious little ones who have these little personalities and special needs which I pray find love and attention.
Thanx for reading, and may God bless and keep us all.