After spending Christmas with family at my sister’s new home in Georgia, I’m back at my desk, reflecting. Being with family and friends in their personal space allows for insight that phone calls, texts, or even Skype cannot. Last week’s visit helped me see the impact of time I’d previously spent with my nephew.
It’s the Friday after Christmas, and I’m tucked into a cozy spot by the fireplace. The doorbell rings— not once, but twice. I look up to see two sets of eyes peering through slender glass windows on either side of the front door. Two boys waiting, wondering, hoping someone will answer their call.
“Caleb, your friends are here!”
I hear scuffling in the loft. “OK!”
The coveted X-Box goes silent as he bounds from his perch. The boy’s size twelve toes barely seem to touch a step. Still cozy in my pjs, I step into the background when he opens the door. Telling smiles greet him. His countenance radiates gladness.
“Hey, Caleb! Can you come out?”
He looks over his shoulder to seek my approval. I step forward to look around the door frame. One of the brothers rocks on his scooter, patiently awaiting my nod. “Hi, boys. I’m Aunt Robin. Is that rain?”
“No, Ma’am. It’s only a sprinkle.”
Laughter tickles my heart as water pours at the corners of the roof.
“Can I?” Caleb’s hoping his spontaneous, life-loving aunt shows up. She did.
“Go have fun, but wear appropriate clothing—like, a hat and stuff. I’m not sure your mom would approve of your running around in the rain. I trust you to come home if sprinkles turn into a downpour.”
The delight of adventure spilled from Caleb’s face. “I will!” And off he went, traipsing into the woods with the cousins. Their voices grew faint as I lingered at the door. My heart whispered thanksgiving.
Last spring I stayed with Caleb and his dad at their Ohio home while my sister transitioned to a long-awaited position out of state. Finishing the last three months of his fourth grade year without his mom home full time stood to be a challenge. I felt the privilege of these days and marveled that the Lord caused me years ago to hold my life in open hands, ready to respond when He invited.
I got to hear the questions of Caleb’s heart, often without asking. He’s a ponderer. He wrestles internally with things many adults never even consider, let alone attempt to resolve. One afternoon while we sat with his homework, he expressed aloud a huge concern.
“Aunt Robin, what if the kids in my new school don’t like me, and I don’t have any friends?”
Whoa, Buddy. Aunting hands-on isn’t for sissies. I entered into Caleb’s question. I’ve asked of the Lord this same assurance. We are created for relationships. If our relationships feel tenuous, or non-existent, all of life feels insecure. The boy needs to know he won’t be alone.
“It’s hard,” he said. “I won’t be able to just knock on Philip and Ellie’s door when I want to hang out.”
My heart broke. In that moment I became acutely aware of my human limitations.
The open door led to some good conversation to reinforce the things his mom and dad were already teaching. We can tell God our cares and trust Him to meet our needs.
The opportunity to see just HOW God was meeting Caleb’s needs in his brand new community caused my heart to soar. Not only did he have neighbors with kids on ONE corner, but on TWO, not to mention next door! The boy’s prayers, and my prayers, and his mom’s prayers, and the prayers of many a friend were answered by the Lord with resounding LOVE.
Caleb’s a boy whose life-giving auntie whispers words of thanks on his behalf. If you’re a woman with siblings or friends with kids, you’re a life-giving auntie too. Your utterances to the Father matter. The kids you love need your time, your words, your prayers. Open yourself up and give some life.
Thanks for visiting my cyber home today! If you’re inclined to be part of the growing community here, feel free to share your experience. Leave a comment, let us know how these words affect you, and how you are carrying forward the ministry of being a life-giver. I hope this space will become a safe place for you to invite your friends back to. But bring your own pillow; we sit on the floor here. 😉
Wow Robin! You touched my shoes today…or should I say my soul. “If your relationships feel tenuous, or non-existent, all of life feels insecure.” You spoke to my heart today. I am awaiting a friend’s flight home from the north today, remembering how much an impact she has made on mine. Though the miles have separated you and I, I know the spiritual connection has never wavered. Love your words. Those children that are part of my life will be glad to see me Monday morning. Thank you for sharing! Beautiful! Lots of love.
Robin, here I am in Michigan with my own sister and nieces in particular. We just cried tears how she loves it when I come (even with my quirks) and how I love being here even when I know the inconveniences of trying to wrangle with vehicles on a daily basis. Yet, I know deep within me that this part I play in my ‘kids’ lives whenever I have the chance is huge. But I don’t know if it’s more huge for them, or if it is more huge for me. Recently I returned from ministering to a missionary family with three dear children that have been in my live for four years. I’ve been an auntie to them. Of course the boys would shrug that off, yet I heard that the notes I left, and the little trinkets with them, brought a knowing grin to the 8-year olds’ face, the one who said a year or so ago, “I’m gonna miss Miss Renee’…she GETS me!” Sweetest words to my ears, especially from the one who isn’t much for answering deep questions, but knows that my care for him answers what he’s wrestling with on the inside. So, here I am, at the prime of my life also, without a husband or kids of my own, wondering if my role in life is truly to come alongside as an ‘auntie’, dying to ‘myself’ and pouring into children who are needing the TLC of a knowing friend, ‘auntie’, tickler and wrestler. 🙂 There is incredible joy in it. Will I embrace it and simply receive the joy of it, losing myself and yet gaining joy, laughter, hugs, scratches, scuffles, rolled eyes? Your words and reflections help me to see even more the honor of being an ‘auntie’ whether it is with close family or the family that God has brought us into. In not having my own children, I am able to lavish on moms who are wearied in their daily lives, who need a respite, who need laughter, who need their kids to be loved on, treasured, listened to, trusted, showered, put to bed, and tucked in, wrestled with, even corrected just as mom would do. It is a joy. Thanks for walking the same journey with joy, insight and openness. It helps me to walk in the fullness of my singlehood, and even motherhood, as that ‘auntie’. Thanks, friend. Happy ‘Auntie’-ing!!
Not an easy road, is it, Renee, this unchosen, but always adventurous road of singleness? I’m so glad you found encouragement and insight from my story. Thanks for the vulnerability of your comment and for taking the time to make it. I know you are a blessing to the people around you. You’re deliberate, kind, never self-serving, always aware. You’re a life-giver. It’s the call of every woman, whether she sees it or not. You do. You have since I’ve known you. Prayers for you today as you continue ministering . . . and, yes, wrestling. We help mamas and their babies without getting “credit” for mothering from the outside world. Strength to give comes only from above. Stay close. Love to you, sweet friend!
I brought my pillow, I read. I sighed. I am glad to know Robin Stanley. Closing computer now to visit with oldest who just came home! 🙂
Awww! I’m so glad you came! Wish you were on my doorstep, not just my cyber page! One day! Love you much!
Prayers of ours answered as well, Robin! Love you all and so grateful that God put you in our lives during that time, too!
Robin this is beautiful! I think there’s something so very special about Auntie’s that don’t have kids of their own. My older sister is the best aunt – so blessed my daughters have her in their life. She spoils them with love and gifts and her time. She’s their confidant and friend. Thanks for sharing this special relationship.