It has been ten years since we first took care of a little Caleb.
Photographs from that time depict a tender scene: three-year old Eva and Isabel at not yet two years old, gently cradling a baby boy between them. The tiny trio sit gingerly on the oversized flowered sofa, the girls with dazed smiles and the little guy with serious dark eyes. It was a family photo, or so we thought. Later we realized it was something quite different, a life-changing chapter with difficult lessons that it would take years to understand and yet finally, treasure for its value.
We thought we'd been called to a lifelong commitment; now we realize we'd been asked to meet a need for a brief time, the time needed for his mother to get back on her feet and make decisions with a clear mind. If we had known that from the get-go, perhaps we would not have fallen and broken so hard. Perhaps we would have had greater empathy. Perhaps. Perhaps.
Thankfully, God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. But as we grow to know Him and follow Him, through trial and through error, He patiently gives us second chances to do things right the next time around. So when this summer we were asked to meet a need for a brief time, the time needed for a mother to get back on her feet and make decisions with a clear mind, we were ready.
Certainly, the situations differed. It wasn't a home to be offered, just some hours of babysitting each day for a month or two. It involved picking up Caleb each morning and delivering him to "summer school" with his buddies Ian and Alec. Then picking up this trio for lunch, and play, and naps at home. It meant dusting off the pack'n'play and reassembling the high chair and quickly dismantling the Christmas decorations to "baby-proof" our house again. It meant us and our kids learning some lessons in patience (lots of initial tears) and generosity (toys and time to be shared) and kindness (providing comfort and company as needed.)
Overall it has been fun as we get to experience that truly "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
Ten years later, it brings a smile to my face to remember "our" Caleb as we take care of "another" Caleb.
And I am thankful to the Lord for lessons learned.