It’s no ordinary morning that I find myself back in these simple pages. I’ve had a night, a sleepless night, of wondering and listening to God for His love for me. In seasons like the one I currently reside, loss and transition and disorientation are the expected companions. What I was not prepared for, however, has been the constant presence of hope and even her sister… gratitude.
I care very little this morning for looking around me and noticing all of the ways I might have failed, how others might have failed, how our very human culture seems to fail at the most basic levels of human kindness and care. It is probable that part of my awakened state came as I read a brief report of what we are learning is one of the greatest massacres in American history. Colorado, my heart has been with those mortally and emotionally wounded by the impact of one human who could not creep out of the fear and loss and disorientation of his own soul.
Instead, out of nowhere, my youngest boy giggles in his sleep. Loudly. For several minutes. And suddenly in all of this mess, the fullness of joy breaks in. Right there while I am in the dark, lightness. Right there in a place of fear, total abandon and freedom.
And isn’t that just what God offers? Daily, amazing, sustaining grace in forms both profound and plebeian. Surreal and simple.
So the dark nights make way for dawn
Stars make way for morning birdsongs
Skies transform daily into canvas
Only One knows how to move nature through perfect design.
Shame and fear are silenced when Gratitude sits at the breakfast table.
Counting even the trials as joy, she hands out a cup of remembrance.. God loves.
Hope sings of better things to come like so many early birds perched safely in their nests
She laughs at the days to come and has no fear of what’s ahead
Only One knows how to impart this confidence of heart.
In this exact moment, soul grateful.
When my toddler wakes up, earlier than any us want to, my husband and I have a silent competition to see who can stay in bed longest. We are on vacation, so the prize of sleeping in is even more coveted. This morning, I lost. B and I went for a early walk into the fields of my in-laws’ farm. Watching B delight and discover every bird, bug, and little clover puts me in remembrance of the Garden. All of this, put on display, the beauty of an untouched morning, an unblemished day, it is intoxicating. Here is all of creation, waiting to be enjoyed and inhabited. I make myself notice the grass blades, tiny mushrooms budding, and the sounds of cars zooming to work in the distance. But I am not zooming. I am slowly watching the first sights and listening to the first sounds of this day. Good. Morning.
How do you get up each day? With feelings of expectation or dread? How are you right now?
on a quiet afternoon, i lay my youngest child down for a nap. It doesn’t work. So I pull this teary young babe out of his crib, lay him down in the bed next to me, and cover his wet cheeks with mamma kisses.
He falls asleep in this posture with my lips resting softly on his cheeks. He is beautiful and soft and still and receptive. Motionless and submissive to the moment.
And God is kissing me.
God reminds me in this quiet place that in the same way I run to comfort my wailing child, God runs to comfort me. God wraps me in the grace of a parent who is more concerned with my peace than what I can accomplish. God holds me in this moment and I am still and receptive.
Before I became a parent, my prayer requests to God were spiritual activities done in order to maintain clear communication with God. I had the underlying expectation that prayer would be answered with a “yes”, “no”, or “wait.” Yet, with the birth of our first child, the fervency increased to such a degree that prayer became a way of breathing. Prayer was my posture before the only One that could keep my children safe from life’s unknown assailants.
Lying undisturbed in a hospital bed, my 8-year-old daughter slept peacefully for the first time in several days. The wind and rain rapped against the glass outside on this dark night just before Christmas, but in this room, all was quiet, save for the rhythmic beeping of her oxygen monitor. Pneumonia was the diagnosis. Never had my prayers been so earnest and simple: “heal her and bring her home.”
Three days later, we were still in the hospital waiting for a change in my daughter’s condition. We were wondering if our daughter would be able to come home for Christmas and wondering if her pneumonia was not some other affliction. Laying our hands on her body, we prayed for her as a family, wanting to believe that God was in control. That night I stayed with my daughter and prayed that her fever would lower to the prescribed temperature and we would leave the next day. Instead, her fever spiked again and we lost hope that Kayla would go home. Sensing her discouragement, I crawled into the big hospital bed, pulled her into my chest, and hugged her thin hot body. She asked, “Mom, why when you pray for healing does God not heal you right right that second?” “Sweetie,” I replied quietly “that is a very good question.” “Mama,” she mused, “I think it is because God wants us to know that life is hard.”
I was alternately saddened and amazed by this revelation of what my daughter described as our human condition. I had to examine my motives. Were my prayers merely for an escape from danger or for the wisdom to live through difficulty in the power of God’s sustaining grace? I now saw the need for both.
That Christmas, God not only provided a way for my daughter leave the hospital, but a way for me to leave my limited experience with prayer. For both, I am grateful.
I am fortunate to know many families who have made the courageous and compassionate decision to adopt children. One family in our neighborhood adopted three infants from three different families into their family of one 10-year-old girl. What made this process so endearing was the way the older daughter immediately referred to her newly welcomed additions as sisters. She would even say things like “ Don’t you think that Cristina looks like me?” To see these four girls walking down the street in front of our home always brought my four children running excitedly outside. At their young ages, they could not fully comprehend a process that would allow an only child and three children with no parents to become a full family. They could not fully understand the reality that these three babies were once abandoned and left without resources. Nevertheless, what they could understand was that this family lived in the same house, walked to school together, and had the same parents. They had a newly created identity called family.
I am always reminded when I think of adoption, that we have been saved into God’s extravagant family. We have been plucked out of an obscure future that was once without a future hope and given not only a Father, but also Brothers and Sisters! Even though we are born into particular families, our identity as followers of Christ makes us a part of a universal family. In this new family, we exhibit identifiable traits where we begin to resemble one another in the image of God. As we grow in God’s family, we see that this is just one of the mysterious ways that God saves us.