Ephphatha — be opened.
Oh, how many germs have been mingling on my iPhone screen, tonight? Sophia and Elliott discovered PicStitch and have been making collages of virtual-sticker-plastered faces from among the pictures we took today after mom left for Bible study. It was my second night in the house and first night alone with the kids. We ate mac n’ cheese, cleaned the kitchen, made “Super Duper Healthy Breakfast Cookies,” and had a full-on tickle war before reading The Sisters Grimm and turning out the lights. Preston knocked out quickly and has slept soundly so far, which was almost too much of a miracle to believe to I kept wandering in front of his door waiting for any unsettling sniffles.
I didn’t pray with conviction. I didn’t really pray much at all. But God wasn’t about to let me slip through the cracks because of my lack of understanding. He scooped me up and plopped me down right here in this house in Shoreline, Washington, with Mindy, Doug, Sophia, Elliott, and Preston.
I slept heavily last night. The kind of sleep that wakes you up with a stuffy nose and pink cheeks and puffy eyes. I thought surely I must’ve cried last night if my eyes were this swollen, but I slept so hard I didn’t remember much after steak fajitas for family dinner and chamomile tea. I could have cried, though. There are many wrestling matches I’m in the middle of right now which are plenty tear-invoking. Legal confusion, car repairs, hurt from friends, pain of loss, shame from realizing a mistake or twenty. I reactivated my Facebook, today. I don’t think it’ll take long for me to want to deactivate it, again. I created a new Instagram to collect photos and memories from my days here. I’m still wrestling with the unsettling idea that past relationships, memories, conversations are all saved forever online, ready to hurt and confuse and instill doubt in the relationships to come. It’s partially a personal weakness, and partially a general temptation trap. But perhaps that’s just where I am right now. No matter what, being here will keep me off Facebook enough, deleted or not. I think I’ll eventually work up the courage to delete it permanently, but it makes you wait fourteen days in case you realize you’re making a mistake. That makes it a little more difficult to run from your past. But maybe I shouldn’t be running from all of it. What does repentance look like, for me?
Sophia and Elliott want to do everything all the time, and keep having to remind each other and myself that I’m going to be here for “at least a year, maybe forever, whatever you want.” When I even think about going abroad again after a year with the Irvines, I play with the idea of taking them all with me, to Haiti, or anywhere. Their laughter already feels like home. I sat with Sophia in the waiting room today while Elliott got his haircut and Mindy took Preston to buy ingredients for breakfast cookies next door. I took before-and-after photos and Sophia and I cringed through high-fashion men’s hair magazines, equally baffled by the cuts they called stylish. I’m overjoyed to look forward to sharing these days with them.
Now, I’m sitting downstairs on Doug’s computer while he’s doing a shoot somewhere else in the country, listening to the baby monitor, and leaning into God’s promise of victory over despair and loneliness. These are tonight’s mumblings. I hear Preston mumble in his sleep and my heart leaps to hear him – first joyfully, and then settling into a cringing hope that he’s just dreaming and that he won’t wake the other kids.