This is a pretty good image of how I spent most of my year:
with my arms full of babies.
(As in, I cashed in a groupon on a massage recently- the masseuse told me it was evident I worked with kids. "Your back is twisted in the way we always see with someone who has a baby on their hip all day..."-
I was so proud.)
My life was FILLED with children this year;
so, oh, was it filled with joy.
It is joy to see God's design in how they develop.
It is joy to watch their growing exploration of the world around them ("Bubbles! Colors! Blocks! A bird! Look!").
It is joy to be the recipient of their gleeful affection.
It is joy to see their innocent, un-self-conscious personalities expressed.
It is joy to hear their questions of faith.
It is joy to see the purest human love between parents and their babies.
It is joy to deep-down know just how valuable a life is, even when they have yet to "contribute" anything to society.
It is joy to delight in their beauty and uniqueness.
It is joy to pray over their lives.
I loved going to Rez- a church that number one, has tons of small children, and number two, values them. Kids are welcomed and encouraged to come to virtually anything. I love seeing them come down the aisle with their parents; I love serving them the Eucharist; I love seeing them dance in the aisles during worship. I love the hugs I get from the kids in the families I know. I love that a good friend's four-year-old was scared to take Communion so they had her come to me for her first time. I love seeing them fall asleep on their parents' shoulders during the service. I love that we hear of God as Father with these examples of it surrounding us. I love that they are growing up feeling safe and accepted in an atmosphere of faith.
I loved teaching the elementary-schoolers at Iglesia every week. I love that Steven, Kym, and I took the kids to see a children's play at the college and they still talk about it months later. I love taking them out for hot chocolate after class and that they call it "going on an adventure" ("Are we going an an adventure to Starbucks tonight?!!"). I love that the moms will call me if they need a babysitter. I love that I joke with them that "God wouldn't recognize me taking Communion without a baby in my arms!" (joke- bad theology- He does!)- because most Saturday nights, I reach for the wafer while juggling at least one toddler in my arms and another clinging to the hem of my shirt.
babysitting them, I love playing at the park, I love that I met M. the day after she was born, I love watching Michael and Lisa be parents, I love being Tia Emily.
And finally, obviously, there was my job.
All year I had eleven babies assigned to me. I got to read to them, I got to chart and watch their development, I got to cuddle and do crafts, I got to plan activities that were particular to their needs and strengths and preferences, I got to observe and encourage and fill with joy at their relationships with their beautiful parents. I got to fall in love with them and see them grow over a whole year.
(And it's so sad I'm totally not allowed to post pictures of them, because they are the.cutest.babies.ever. Seriously. Be sad you can't see them.)