Our recent series of posts has shared the value of parents inviting faith influencers into the lives of their kids. We thought it would be important to hear from the other perspective. So we asked someone who is on the other side of that very invitation how he sees it. Here is what Andy had to say.
I gave Keaton that bloody nose. No, of course not on purpose…we were playing catch with a football on the beach. It was like a Sports Center highlight clip in slow motion. I lofted a perfect spiral. Keaton retreated kicking sand high as he tried to get in position to snag the ball out of the air. He crouched down, then pushed off as hard as he could, diving with his arms outstretched, making a brilliant play! It is possible that I’m romanticizing the moment in my head. It wasn’t a good throw, and he actually “caught” the ball with his face…his nose to be exact.
He spritely popped up and ran over to his father and I with tears welling in his eyes. It was that moment of decision: to cry, or to tough it out. Am I a boy, or am I man? He hadn’t realized that his nose was bleeding, but he knew he had to make a decision. I suppose that seeing blood would have made it easier to cry, but he didn’t. He looked at us, held his head, and laughed. He was tough and he wanted us to know it.
When I was sure he was ok, I snapped the picture. This one hangs on the wall in my office. You’ve got to admit, he looks pretty tough. This is the pic I hope his father show the girls he dates when he gets older. After a few laughs at seeing how he looked in the picture, he wiped his nose, tossed me the ball, and ran back out for another catch, hopefully with his hands.
Being hundreds of miles from my family, including my five nieces and nephews, I’ve adopted the Ortiz family as my own. Or rather, they’ve adopted me. Being a part of the family and pouring into their little lives has given me incredible joy! Instead of thinking about how I’m missing my nephew’s baseball game in Upstate New York, I’ll be cheering on Ellie at her soccer game in Virginia.
There are many practical reasons that being around children is beneficial, especially as a creative. Playing with the Ortiz kids is a stress reliever; it forces me to expend lots of energy (The best kind of exercise - play!), and is often an adrenaline boost of creativity. From building towers with Legos, to inventing games like bathroom ball, the amount of creativity that pours from the mind of a seven year old is fascinating and so encouraging to be around. There’s no multi-tasking, they simply live in the moment with no care for what was yesterday, and no worries about what will be tomorrow. Oh to see the world through the eyes of a child!
On another practical and rather obvious level, it’s also great experience for my wife and I as we prepare to start our own family. Not only do we get to interact, we get to observe. Matt and Kellie are great parents who have been wonderful models for us. We’ve seen everything from how they encourage to how they discipline, and even how they encourage through discipline. They’ve let us into their life and all that comes with it in a way that greatly enriches ours.
But even beyond all of that, my relationship with their kids has driven me closer to God. Being around children has increased my awareness about how God feels about me, how He wants the best for me and loves me unconditionally. I marvel at the Lord’s creativity in allowing children to have such huge imaginations, dreams, and aspirations with no thought to what could hold them back. They’ve instilled in me a Holy Curiosity to go to my Heavenly Father with questions. They’ve given me a better understand of what it means to trust, and to have the childlike faith that Jesus says we must have in Matthew 18.
Whether it’s catching crabs on a beach in the Outer Banks, or simply how excited they are to see me on a Sunday at church, interacting with the Ortiz’s has made me better, and I’m so grateful to be a part of their lives, and a part of their family.
Andy Pisciotti is passionate about storytelling by living great stories personally and telling great stories through media and art that help people encounter God. He works full time at NCC as a Visual Storyteller. He loves film, Settlers of Catan, and sports, specifically the Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Braves, and Syracuse Orange. If he's not watching a game, he's probably out seeking a new adventure on his motorcycle. He is recently married to Juleigh.