All of these gorgeous photos were taken by Kristie Coia a few weeks before we left Oki.
I was alone in my parents' kitchen, emptying the dishwasher and microwaving a sweet potato for Oz, creating with my own tinklings, drawer closings, and aromas that gentle pre-dinner commotion. The Welcome Wagon was playing tinnily from my cell phone.
Up on a mountain, our Lord is alone, without a family, friends, or a home / he cries ooh, ooh, ooh, will you stay with me? / he cries oh, oh, oh, will you wait with me?
Max trotted in and I figured my sister must have let him in from outside, where she was playing with our kids. I looked out the window and saw Eva's fuscia-clad back, determinedly hunched, the hands at the ends of crossed arms just poking out from under clenched elbows. I could feel the attitude before she turned around to say something to those behind her, her brow furrowed and nostrils flaring. I know her so well, I can tell in a 2-second glance that something is up. I almost went out to "fix" her attitude until I remembered that my older sister is, in fact, an adult and mom of two and can probably handle it.
Jesus, help me find my proper place / help me in my weakness - my cell phone sang on.
A wave of the bigness of raising a child washed over me. I think I know her so well. I do know her so well. Her favorites and least favorites, what overwhelms her and what she thinks is cozy, what she's going to think is totally amazing (she doesn't know it, but she's going to have her dream come true and get to go fishing for her birthday!). But every day she grows and surprises me with what she's learned, how she's matured, what new aspect of life she can observe and what subtle change she will notice. My temptation is to think that I'm the world's resident Eva-expert who can always tell whether she or her playmate is in the wrong. Well, OK, I mostly am. But she is more than my idea of her and more than the sum of her parts. She is not just me and Nathan all blended up and rebaked; she is not just a beating heart and a head of dark golden hair and an attitude; she is fearfully and wonderfully made.
She is her very own person. Always has been. Now that she's almost four she's just showing it more. She is not a vanity project for me to shape up into my idea of perfect, and it would be awfully presumptuous of me to act like she is. All I can do is teach her the best things that I know, pray that her heart grows to love the truth, and equip her as completely as I can to choose her battles and fight them well.