Raise ’em Up

You can make fun of me if you want, but something weird has happened to me the last few years.

I cry. Often.

I used to never cry. I bottled it all up. Pushed it down. Acted like it didn’t get to me.

But now? Now the tears flow. Many times without warning.

They sneak up on me during random Facebook videos that pop up in my feed.

They get me when I’m at a kids’ recital, end of year program or talent show (watch her get the crowd going at the 1:48 mark).

They roll when I see two old people holding hands.

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Last Saturday, our two oldest girls had softball practice. Immediately after was our son’s baseball game.

The little Naturals won their game, we all piled in two different cars and headed home.

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Two of our kiddos were in my backseat. The windows were down, and the music was up.

Our family loves country music. We like all kinds of music but especially country.

A new song came on, and I was close to changing it to something more familiar. Well, the unexpected song almost made me run off the road. The whole crying thing, remember that?

Don’t listen to Raise ’em Up if you have kids. It’s a guaranteed tear-jerker. It’s a sneaky kind of tear-jerker though, it pulled me in deep and then undid me during the last verse.

So you meet someone
The only one
You take her by the hand
Make a stand
Buy some land
Make some love
And then babies come
Raise em’ up
Raise em’ up

Raise em’ up
Trophy high
Raise em’ up
To the sky
Raise em’ up
Show everybody that new born smile
Raise em’ up
Tall and strong
Raise em’ up
Right from wrong
Raise em’ up so damn high they can hear God singing along

By ‘right from wrong’ my eyes were so blurry with tears, I debated pulling over. When we got home, I made Brooke listen to it with me in the kitchen. Kids at our side, wondering why all the commotion. Why the urgency. Like it did with me, it sucked Brooke in. The ugly kind of tears were coming from both of us.

Later that night, we had the privilege of being guests at the home of some dear friends of ours. Like us, they have five children under their roof. Like us, their home is full, loud, chaotic. Like us, they’re doing the best they can and failing forward many times each day.

But unlike us, their children aren’t biologically theirs. They’re fostering to adopt. Children that have stories that would make the hardest person empathetic. Hard, twisted, lonely, ugly stories. But stories that are gradually, slowly, methodically being rewritten by new parents who loved them enough to rescue them from the turmoil.

We sat on the back deck that night with these dear friends. Four adults, ten kids. The kids ate mac and cheese, the adults had cocktails. The kids played baseball and climbed on the swing-set. The adults cheered, talked, and laughed.

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I mentioned that song. The Raise ’em Up one. Our friend jumped up from his seat and turned off his playlist. He replaced it with this new Keith Urban song.

He turned it up loud. We all listened to each word. I told myself I wouldn’t cry, it was the third time I’d heard it that day after all.

That last verse hit. I was thankful my sunglasses were on. They covered up the ugly.

I wiped my eyes, and turned to look at my buddy. He was removed from the table at this point. With his back to the house, he was facing the three adults immediately in front of him with the 10 kids in the distance.

He didn’t know I was looking. Not sure he would have cared had he known, but I watched him for a minute without him noticing. He was soaking it in, hands behind his head, almost in disbelief.

He kept saying, quietly to himself, “would you look at that?” He was astonished at the simple, yet beautiful reality of 10 kids playing in his backyard. The same backyard that a few short years ago held nothing but a dog.

It now was full of kids. And his eyes were full of tears.

Raise ’em up.

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