You see, Reilly's dream has been to go up in a hot air balloon.
We got there after supper and stood in line for over an hour, chatting with friends and watching the sun slowly set below the trees. As we got closer to the end of the line (but still some distance back) the announcement was made that once the sun went down, the ride was closing.
There was no way we were going to make it.
The other kids were disappointed, of course, but Reilly was devastated.
The Wanna Be's oldest daughter "S" (and a close friend of both Reilly and Kathryn) was closer to the front, so she grabbed Reilly's hand and desperately asked each person in front of her if they would take Reilly with them in their group so she could go up.
Each group said no.
"S" cried... not that SHE didn't get on the balloon ride, but that her friend Reilly wouldn't be able to.
As the last group descended, and the rest of the line slowly made its way down the hill, I turned back around with Reilly to ask if there was ANY way they'd consider taking her up... even for just a minute. At first the man refused, but then he asked, "Is it just her?" I said yes, and he said, "I don't have any more fuel, but I might have enough residual heat to take it back up once more. It can't hold more than just her, though."
Reilly's dream came true.
My other kids, who also wanted to be in the balloon, didn't complain ONCE. Instead, they all started jumping up and down, waving and cheering for Reilly.
My heart was pretty much put through the wringer -- from Reilly, who tried to put on a brave face but couldn't hide how devastated she was, and "S" who gave up her own chance to ride in order to try to get her friend on, to the Wanna Be and the rest of her family who also gave up their own ride to try to get Reilly on, and my other children who pushed aside their own disappointment to truly cheer for their sister. I thought of my husband, who just wanted a quiet weekend at home, but graciously chose to forgo that so that we could do something special for the kids.
As I was walking back to the car, I thought, this is what love looks like... not the starry-eyed "falling in love" sort of thing that comes easy because it is so intoxicating... but the daily, slogging-in-the-trenches, giving-when-it's-inconvenient-or-hurts kind of love.
So, the next day with camera in hand, I tried to capture more moments of love in action, like when Grace offered to hold the baby so Mommy could get some hot tea (and she was rewarded with a huge smile from Joseph!)
Or when Christopher, who was running out the door to play outside to play with Sean, stopped and graciously agreed when his little sister asked him to play "Little People" with her. It wasn't just a "let's get this over with so I can get back to what I was doing" sort of playing, either. He set up all sorts of rooms for them, changed voices for the different characters, and gave Grace all the attention she was wanting.
He never even knew that I had heard all of that, or that I took this picture. He performed this act of kindness and then went on his way, never mentioning it to anyone.
Meanwhile, Thomas spent his free time teaching his little sister how to play baseball, cheering her on with every hit she got. I'm not sure he ever got a time up at bat. All I could hear from the kitchen window was his excited laughter whenever she managed to hit the ball.
Later that afternoon, the Wanna Be called and said she wanted to "hold the baby." She came over with her daughters, picked up Joseph, and took him for a walk (enabling me to get some much-needed cleaning done). Did I mention she had had a rough day at home, and STILL chose to look beyond what was going on there to reach out to a friend to offer a helping hand?
I could write on and on about the love shown by friends, who fed us through the month of August... the woman at church that I don't even know who crocheted a blanket for Joseph, or another woman at church who came over and did ALL of our laundry, fed us dinner, and just gave us three bags full of school supplies.
Not a single person listed above said "I love you," but their actions screamed it just the same.
I am humbled by their example, and convicted by the fact that too often my love is just talk.
Which brings me to the latest book we're reading in our Bible study: Consoling the Heart of Jesus. In it Fr. Gaitley talks about how we console the Heart of Jesus by ministering to our neighbor in look/action, word, and prayer. We need our interaction with others, as best as possible, to say, "I delight that you exist." We are to see those around us as worthwhile because they are created by God, loved dearly by Him, and are meant to reflect something of His glory that no other person has ever done before. By seeking to make each encounter with another person reflect those words -- I delight that you exist -- we will find ourselves (by God's grace) performing little acts of service.
And then everyone can get a glimpse of what love really looks like.