I often look back through our pictures, the pictures of the last seven years. They do an excellent job of telling our story. A few years ago, my friend Lindsey urged me to pick an online photo site and organize my photos. We did it together. Sitting on the couch, laptops in hand, we spent hours uploading and organizing photos. I didn't fully appreciate it then, but, boy do I now.
One of my favorite features is that it puts all my photos in order by date taken, so scrolling through them is like watching my kids grow up right before my eyes. It's a neat thing to see.
The other day as I was looking for a few pictures to post, I started thinking. Some of those photos were taken during some pretty rough spots in our lives. Some of those photos document times of pain and hurt, even of loss. But the funny thing is, I can't really see that in the picture. Let me show you what I mean.
Take this picture...
This picture tells a story. It was Ashley's eleventh birthday. She had been with us five months. She was mean. She was angry. She was a handful. It was hard to find her enjoyable, even on her birthday. That day, however, Hannah gathered all their dolls and lined them up on my bed. She crawled underneath and called Ashley into the room and in the sweetest doll voice she could muster, she sang "Happy Birthday" to her new sister. Did Ashley appreciate it at the time? No. Did I? Absolutely. I knew how hard it was to bless Ashley in the beginning. I knew what it took for Hannah to make that moment happen. It's more work than you think.
And this one...
See those two teenagers helping their little sister build a sand castle? They didn't have to. I didn't make them. They volunteered. Is she kind to them? No. Does she make fun and laugh at their expense? Yes. They showed her love and kindness anyway. The first half of 1 Peter 3:9 tells us, "Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing." Ashley and Hannah not only know that verse, but daily live it. They are loving the hard-to-love. I only wish it was as easy as they make it seem.
I can learn a lot from those girls. A lot about compassion. A lot about patience. A lot about turning the other cheek. A lot about grace. They've been that hard-to-love kid. They understand what that season feels like. They understand now how they made others feel. I'm going to stick close to them. I think those girls are going to change the world and I don't want to miss it.