Since being home, several men have earned the endearment of "Papa" in my son's life. My bro-in-law Brian was holding Alazar our first weekend home and as he was falling asleep Alazar made up a song about his "Papa Chu". The nickname stuck and at least four times a day, Alazar asks "Papa Chu?"
Every time the doorbell rings, Alazar screams "Papa Clay!" and goes looking for my dad. And when Le's dad enters our house, one word escapes my son: "PAPA!"
Since we've been home, I find myself being overwhelmed by watching my children experience new things. The lake, an escalator, popsicles, and chicken nuggets all have a special memory in my heart. But I am most amazed at watching my children experience the love that surrounds them. No matter who it is, every member of our family has been caught in the current of love that rushes from Ruta and Alazar. But sometimes in the midst of all this joy, there is raw sadness some days. I cannot help but remember all those faces that greeted us at the orphanages in Ethiopia. They were searching my face for just one thing: Love.
Our small group has been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This week's reading was about giving away all of ourselves. One of my favorite quotes is "the good things we cling to are more than money: we hoard our resources, our gifts, our time, our families, our friends." It resonated with me that for so long I hoarded my family to myself and I was hoarding their ability to love and wanting it only for myself. For each member of my life, when they are with my children, I have a new appreciation for who they are and how they show love. While I have always adored my brother-in-law, I never before noticed how gentle and patient he is with those he loves. And while I've loved my dad my whole life, I've never heard him sigh like he does when Alazar nuzzles his chest. And it wasn't until three months ago that I knew how much my father-in-law can laugh until he hurts. I truly know by watching my family what it means that it isn't love until you give it away.
This Father's Day, watching my kids give cards to the special men in their lives, I started to cry. I wonder how many kids in the world are just waiting to give that kind of love. Waiting to call someone "Papa" and change the world for a family who is brave enough to stop hoarding themselves and give their love away.