Last night a bunch of people from church came over to sing and pray for Andrew, while all the children went outside and played. Diane prayed that A.J., our 3 year-old, and Gracie, our two year-old, would still be able to be children, yet at the same time, understand way beyond anything we could ever expect, so that they could make this situation easier for us rather than more difficult.
This morning when we awoke, I told A.J. and Gracie that Mama and Papa had to leave for the doctor's and would be gone all day, but we would see them at dinner time. I expected them to get upset, as they often do before our numerous doctor's visits, but A.J. said happily, "Okay, Mama, so I have to obey grandma."
I knelt to his eye-level and squeezed him. "Yes, A.J.! That's right!" I usually have to make a big emphasis about that before we leave, but instead, A.J. surprised me by initiating it.
At six in the evening that night, upon hearing us enter through the door, A.J. and Gracie screamed in excitement, running to us, hugging and kissing us as their normal greeting, Gracie so strong, always almost knocking me over.
"Shoe off. Shoe off," Gracie said, grabbing at my heels as I was taking too long to put down all my bags.
"Thank you, Gracie," I said. "Yes, I will take my shoes off. I'm not leaving you. I'm staying."
Then A.J. threw in: "Mama, I obeyed grandma today! I obeyed grandma today!"
"You did? I'm so proud of you, A.J," I said.
Later, I asked my mother-in-law if the children had obeyed her. After thinking through the day a moment, she agreed that they had. The rest of the night both of the children were exceptionally obedient.
As I put their pajamas on before bed, A.J. said, "Mama, I shouldn't touch this."
I was putting his leg into his sleeper. I looked up to see what he was talking about. He was dangling his hand near the chord of his light.
"No, you probably shouldn't touch the light, A.J." I pulled up the zipper on his sleeper.
He put his hand down. Then, he said as he often has the past few weeks, "Mama, I will take care of you." But what he said afterwards was new: "I will take care of Papa. I will take care of you, Mama. And the way I will take care of you is to obey you."
I put my hand on his soft face. "Thank you, A.J. That's so sweet," I said.
And then he said, "I love to take care of you, Mama. I love to obey you."
I pulled him into my arms. I had never taught him these things or to say any of these things. Since Diane prayed for the children at our house, though the children had not heard her, it is as if A.J. is a new person. I no longer have to compel him to obey us. When we ask him to do something, he is quick to do it and so happy to do as we ask. And if he accidentally displeases us, he breaks into tears, as if he is so broken-hearted that he didn't take care of us. I have never seen A.J. like this before. He is only three years-old. We have always had to give him the motivation to obey us. Now, it as if his heart has changed and he is self-motivated to help us in any way he can by eagerly obeying us.
When they were ready for bed, I put Gracie in her crib and sat next to A.J. on his bed. Andrew came in and sat beside us. Before we could say much, A.J. said, "Dear Lord, I pray you would heal Papa. Please help me to obey Mama and Papa and Grandma. Amen."
Gracie made a sound.
"Mama, let Gracie pray for Papa. Gracie needs to pray for Papa," A.J. said.
I picked Gracie back up out of her crib and placed her on the bed between A.J. and Andrew. Gracie, not very articulate, didn't even want to try to pray.
"Dear Lord," A.J. said again, "Please heal Papa."
We sat silently on the bed for a minute. A.J. was looking over at Andrew. He pointed to Andrew's forearm, where they had taken the chunk to make new tongue, in a splint. "That's Papa's ow-ie?" he said.
"Yes," I said.
"We shouldn't touch it?"
"No," I said. "It hurts him more if we touch it."
He pointed to the top of Andrew's right leg, where they had taken a layer of skin to cover his forearm. The wound was concealed by Andrew's blue running pants, yet somehow A.J. knew this was the leg. A.J. said, "And that's Papa's ow-ie too?"
"Yes," I said.
He walked over to Andrew's other side and embraced his left leg, the way Andrew had showed him he could do when Andrew had been standing up-right one day. A.J. curved his back, hugging only the designated left upper leg, as if cautious not to hit anything else that might be injured.
I showed A.J. how he could sit down next to Andrew and give him a real hug on his left side too. A.J. climbed back onto his bed on Andrew's left side and nestled under Andrew's arm. "Dear Lord," A.J. said again. "Please heal Papa." When he finished praying he said, "Papa will be better tomorrow after you get back from the doctor's."
"We won't be going to the doctor's tomorrow, sweetheart," I said. Then automatically, "We don't know if the Lord will heal Papa or when."
A.J. slid out of Andrew's arm and crawled towards me.
"Let's pray," I said. "Dear Lord, please answer A.J's prayer and all our prayers and heal Papa completely. We love him so much."