Twelve and fourteen... that's how many years it took these two beautiful kiddos to gain more life experience, faith and wisdom than this mama has gained in thirty three years. Five days... that's how long it took them to turn my life and my heart upside down.
No, not upside down... right side up!

One month ago they sat, waited and wondered... half an hour from their home as water seeped through the doors and windows and filled it's halls and rooms, taking most of their material belongings, drowning their homework, clothes, furniture, memories...

"It's a total loss..."
Those are the words their grandfather used as he described their personal experience of the devastating floods that took 90% of the homes in Denham Springs, LA the weekend of August 13.

Ninety. Percent.

My son's biological family lives in Denham Springs.

These two beautiful kiddos are his brother and sister.

All of their belongings sat under feet of water for days. They were essentially homeless, sleeping on air mattresses at their aunt's house.

Water changed their lives in those few days, as they very literally lost just about everything but each other... and I didn't realize it at the time, but in the days and weeks that followed, that same water would change mine too.

We invited them to spend some time with us a week or so after the flood took their home. They had a safe place to stay with family and didn't need to come, but they excitedly joined us for five days that I could never have known how badly I needed.

He knew though... He knew I needed to see Him actively moving, and that two beautiful children and a whole lot of water would be His agents of change in this mama's heart that has been in an ugly crisis for a couple of months...

He knew I needed conviction.

And when two kids who have lost everything, teach you how to truly have everything, conviction is the byproduct... and change happens.

We pulled into the driveway after picking Mercy up from school in a downpour. Our ditch was full and water was slowly making it's way over the road.
"Wow," I said, "I cannot believe it has rained enough to fill our ditch already!"
Looking out the window, the fourteen year old responded, "It's amazing how fast the water can rise..."

I think that was the moment that knocked me over. These weren't just going to be a few days of sibling fun and games. This was real. These people who I love deeply were in crisis and I couldn't allow myself to forget that. The Lord made sure I wouldn't lose track of that detail or fail to grow through these days we shared with these two kiddos.

I wouldn't lose track of the depth of this crisis when I questioned the fourteen year old about the condition of his clothes, after sitting under water for days; stained, ruined, all of them. And no way would I fail to grow when he swore up and down they didn't need anything new. He said they had all their clothes, they would be fine. He didn't take those muddied and stained clothes for granted for one second. His gratitude for what they were able to save was a gift to me... a gift that showed me I have been living so very wrong.

...and I sure wouldn't forget what these kids had experienced when the twelve year old stood with me and a group of strangers, describing the details of the flooding, and all that was lost in their home while her sweet grandmother was sick in the hospital, all only about two months after losing her great grandfather very suddenly. These were such crushing conversations to hear, but this precious girl made sure I wouldn't let them pass by without extravagant growth, as she shared these words with a smile on her face, very seriously reminding us as we all had tears in our eyes, "God's got this." Not a minute of hesitation in the provision of her God. She trusted Him completely, and that was an incredible gift to have the opportunity to witness.

Not only was that incredible trust in His provision a gift, but the actual experience of seeing Him provide for this family and these two kiddos was absolutely life changing. Watching friends, acquaintances and complete strangers come together to get these kids and their grandparents new clothes, new furniture, loads of food, school supplies, shoes, beautiful new Bibles.... and the timing of all these people and pieces coming together cannot be explained as mere coincidence. What an incredibly loving God we serve, who meets each of us in our own unique crises and gives us just what we need at just the right time.

...and in this heart crisis I've been stuck in, He knew those days with those kids were just what I needed at just the right time. Their hearts did an important work on my heart, one that I know will stick around for a long time... and when my heart starts to slip from these lessons, I'm so grateful that these sweet ones will only be one short hour away, ready to head our direction and remind me of the loss they experienced due to water, but the great gain our God gives us through this cleansing water, His Holy Spirit.

"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you..." (Ezekiel 36:24-27a)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:10-15)

Photo cred to J-man's sweet birth mama <3

And you know for those few days my son cried every time I picked him up, because if one of these two big kids was in the room, he wanted them... not me... and the smile that put on my face was BIG. That's when I knew I would never forget that these precious ones aren't just Jaiden's family. They are my family, my heart and soul, and I love them to pieces.