On Christmas Morning {Gift of Children}

“Momma, I got the first gift of Christmas”, my 7-yr-old son whispered to me as I was waking from a deep sleep.  He was referring to the sleigh bell from the story “The Polar Express”.  Somehow, I managed to pull off this surprise by sneaking it under his Christmas tree without waking him up.

I grabbed him, pulled him into our bed, and suggested some Christmas snuggling. His giggles were often interrupted by his fervent asking, “When can we go see what Santa left?”  Soon, our daughter woke up, scurried into our room, and squealed at the thought of rushing into the living room to check out what goodies Santa had left.

On Christmas morning, my thoughts often returned to the Momma’s-in-Waiting who woke up to a quiet Christmas.  They might have sat in front of the tree sharing gifts with their husbands, or other family members. Perhaps, they gifted their dogs and cats with plenty of treats, or maybe, invited neighbors over to share in Christmas morning.

I thought about the Christmas mornings without the patter of footsteps quickly making way to the tree, or sounds of children as they shouted to the tops of their lungs about the tokens of love left by Santa.  I thought about the Momma’s-in-Waiting who still wait for a little stocking to fill, or little hands to make sugar cookies with.  My mind returned time and again to the Momma’s-in-Waiting who hoped for a child to share Christmas with.

Yes, I thought about the Momma’s-in-Waiting, and the one I used to be.

I also thought about the multitudes of former Momma’s-in-Waiting who were experiencing Christmas morning through the eyes of children for the first time.  I visualized them stumbling out of bed just in time to watch children rip open the wrapping they had spent hours taping together.

I thought about how their smiles, and hopeful expressions spoke volumes about their new Christmas mornings filled with the pure joy of believing little ones who were captivated by bright paper and pretty bows.

Yes, I thought about the former Momma’s-in-Waiting.

There was much love and thankfulness in our home on Christmas morning.  Gifts were given, surprises were discovered, and laughter was heard throughout the home.  Grandparents showed up in time to witness the absolute innocent thrill of childhood.  It was truly a special day where memories were made.

Often though, my thoughts returned to that place of gratefulness for the gift of children that the Lord has given me, and so many other former Momma’s-in-Waiting.  I marveled in the way He has worked it all out, and rejoiced in the gift of adding one more child to share Christmas with this year.

The contentment of a life lived in experiencing a faithful Lord is truly a blessing beyond comparison.  It is a life lived in full awareness of just how merciful our Heavenly Father is.  

On Christmas morning, I thought about the Momma’s-in-Waiting who long for the sheer delight of children to fill the halls of their home.  I thought about their quiet hopefulness for children to share Christmas with.  I thought about their desires to pass along traditions, or start new ones.  I remembered their yearnings for answered prayers, or, just answers.

I also thought about the former Momma’s-in-Waiting who were waking up for the first time with a child or two eagerly guiding them to the Christmas tree.  I thought about their contented and thankful hearts who understand that life will never be the same again.

On Christmas morning, I was reminded, yet again, about the mastery to which the Lord weaves our lives.  I could not help but smile at the fulfillment of my prayerful longings to be a mother.

On the day where we celebrate the greatest Gift of all, I was reminded that children truly are a gift to this world.

Christmas From my family to yours, I wish you a new year filled with hope, joy, love, grace, life, and all things in between.  I especially hope for a year filled with the blessed reward of children.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.  -Psalm 127:3

By the Grace

“Don’t grieve your blessings.”  This is something I told a friend several weeks ago following our lengthy discussion of the sorrow seen through the eyes of those of us involved in the welfare of others.  Something as simple as a bite of a bagel brought my friend to the full awareness of how little she allowed herself to enjoy food since feeding the homeless.  It is easy when one works with the forgotten in our society to carry a small measure of guilt about the gifts we have been given, or the benefits we have worked hard for.

After spending many years now in human services and child welfare, I am keenly aware of the good things I have had in life.  Things like a stable home environment where I knew that, no matter what, there would be food on the table, a bed to sleep in, and a mother and father who greeted me each day, are just a small portion of the blessings that touched my childhood.  These are the things that are good, of worth, and that securely shape a child’s life.  These are the things that often go unnoticed when they are present every day; and yet, these are the things that are grieved so much when absent.

I grew up in what I consider a fairly liberal Christian home.  My mother was never one to judge others on the scale of how “Christian” they were.  I learned through her that passing up a homeless person because of “what they might do with the money” is something that I should not do.  Whether or not they are going to spend it on alcohol or whatever vice they cling to, is something that should not prevent giving.  Instead, I learned that the same Father in Heaven watching me is also watching over the dirty, restless person asking for help.

After all, it was not too long ago that I was that dirty, restless person.

Mom also used to say, “But by the grace of God, go I.”  This statement often crosses my mind in so many situations in life.  Sometimes, Christians like myself, forget just how close we may have come to an addiction, an abusive relationship, a life lived in darkness, or one that is painted with tragedy time and again. Sometimes, Christians like myself, forget that it is by GRACE that we have the blessings in life that we have.

My fear, especially during times of hot-button issues and busy seasons of life, is that we do not do a good job of showing others just how intentional our Lord was, and is, and forever will be, in declaring His works through our actions.  I wonder if we are so busy saying we are Christians that we fail to show it through our actions and reactions to others who feel that the God we believe in has forgotten about them.

During this Christmas season that often becomes full of fret over gifts, and hurried schedules, my hope is that we remember Jesus.  We remember His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection.  My hope is that we remember He came to save all of us.  ALL of us.  I also hope that we never fail to remember,

“By the grace of God, go I.”

Dear Infertility (Part 4)

Dear Infertility,

I was reminded of you today.  I was out picking up Christmas presents for my children.  You know…

the ones you swore I would never have.

As I was waiting outside to pick up a big package, a kind gentleman began boasting about the love he has for his little girls.  I concurred with him that girls really are quite special.  I love hearing Father’s speak kindness about their daughters.  He spoke about their ages, and that he would not trade them for anything in the world.

Dear Infertility, I agreed with him.  I would not trade my daughter for anything in the world either.

As the conversation progressed, he mentioned that in just a few short years, things will be different with his daughters.  Their bodies will be changing, and he is concerned that he will not fully understand what they are going through.  He pointed out that he would “Send them to their mother” for answers.

“You know what I mean, right?”  he asked me.

I was caught in a moment of not being sure what to say.  The cold wind whipped around me as if it knew it would not take a lot to push me off of my feet.  I nodded at him, and then said,

“Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”

Dear Infertility, the truth is, I do not know all that he meant.  You changed my life as a girl.  Well, maybe not just you.  My illness, my hysterectomy, and the aftermath that followed, all played intricate parts in the unfolding drama of this life.  All of you took away that unique experience that makes up life in a female body.  The normal path I was born to take came to an abrupt dead-end.  In its place, a new path emerged that diverted from the one taken by every other girl I knew.

Thinking about you feels as though I’m watching you from a rear-view mirror.  You are in the distance, slightly distorted, and not as close as you once were.  I can only see parts of you, but you are still there.  Looking back causes my body to ache just a bit, as if it remembers the pain it once carried.  It winces.  It freezes up.  It will not forget.

Dear Infertility, it appears as though I will never be fully free of you.  Just when I have let you go, or do not feel you anymore, you come raging back at me.  You come up behind me so quickly that I coil back into that girl who once wondered what the heck life was going to be like living as a girl, growing into a woman, and being forced to meander through a baby-bearing world.

As my daughter grows up, I will face you again, and again.  I will have to admit that I do not understand what she is going through as her body starts to change.  I will have to ask for help in explaining it all to her, or better yet, so that I can understand it as well.

Do you know how much that actually frightens me?

Dear Infertility, I will keep my eye on you.  I will continue looking back in that rear-view mirror just to make sure you have not snuck-up on me again.  I will especially watch you as my daughter draws nearer to the age where her God-given body starts to fulfill the experience of life as a female.

I was honest when I replied to the gentleman that, “Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”  It is true.  Girls are interesting in so many ways.

Dear Infertility, because of you, my life as a girl has been very interesting, indeed.

Related Posts:  Dear Infertility 

                         Dear Infertility (Part 2)

                         Dear Infertility (Part 3)

At the Feet

IMG_2402I have been thinking about Jesus’s feet lately.  I know that sounds odd, but I keep thinking about His feet as He grew from infancy through the time of His death.  I visualize Him as a precious baby.  I see Mary as the doting mother who kisses them.  She must have washed them, played with His toes, and made sure he was wearing garments to protect them.  The pitter-patter His feet made when he was toddling around must have been sweet sounds to her ears.

Those tiny, and seemingly insignificant feet, were soft and beautiful in the sight of His Earthly parents.

They were the feet of an innocent babe.

As a young boy, His feet must have traversed mighty adventures.  They carried Him swiftly as He explored the terrain and discovered the world around Him.  Those feet were small, and seemingly insignificant, yet tough and capable of keeping up with a boy’s curious life.

They were the feet of a boy whose Earthly life was the fulfillment of a Promise.

As an adolescent and young man, those feet walked Him into places of worship. They carried Him throughout His time of learning.  Those feet were average, and seemingly insignificant, yet they carried a Savior who would soon declare Himself to the world.

They were the feet of a Sovereign and Wise young man.

As an adult, those feet; the ones who were kissed by His mother, whisked Him through times of play, and walked Him into places where His knowledge grew, were the same ones that held His tired body up as He achingly marched His way up to the hill where He bled out.

They were the feet of Sacrifice.

Those beautiful, torn, and weary feet were pierced and nailed to a tree.  They were ripped for us all.  They were witnesses to the most tragic, yet significant moment in time.

They were the feet of the Messiah.

Three days later, those same feet picked His body up, walked Him down a road, and held Him up as He fulfilled the promise of Resurrection.

Those eternal feet are the feet of the Risen Savior.

We are asked to be the feet of Jesus.  We are told to go to places where the least of these dwell.  We are directed to walk into the lands of strangers, and to carry our brothers who are fallen.  We are asked to walk in humility and service to others.

Yet, our feet will not be torn.  They will not be nailed.  They will not have redemptive blood trickling down them.  They will not witness the wail of a Savior’s cry, the tears of His mother, and the agony of pain felt.

Our feet will never leave the kind of print on the world that His did.  If we say we are the hands and feet of Jesus, what are we saying?  Do we fully understand the undertaking that is?

At the feet of Jesus, we find love that lasts, and grace that resonates deep within. Do others find that in us?

His feet.  His glorious and beautiful feet were nailed.  They were broken for us.  They paid it all.  

He paid it all.

His feet.  His weary and worn feet never lost sight of His vision.

His feet.  His glorious and broken feet walked Wisdom into this world.  They carried the breathing embodiment of  compassion that this world thirsts for.   

His feet took Him to strangers, met them where they were at, and impacted them in a miraculous way.

They were the feet of Salvation.

We are the feet of Jesus.  That is both an honor and a challenge.  Are we able to show compassion?  Do we desire to impact others in a way that feels miraculous to them?  

Will others find us at the feet of Jesus?

Related Post:  my scar, His Scars

Worth It All

As November wrapped up and I was putting away our Thanksgiving decor, I thought about what an eventful month we had.  To be able to adopt a child in the month that is designated as National Adoption Month was a wonderful thing.  Recently, I was asked how I felt about adoption.  I’m not even sure I will ever find the words that truly describe how I feel about it.  My answer went something like this, “Adoption offered me the opportunity to parent my children, and in parenting, I am able to see glimpses of God’s grace and mercy.”

Maybe that is not the answer expected, or even understood, but it is one that I find myself returning to.  Of course, adoption means so many different things to me.  It has layers upon layers of meaning, but yet, I still come back to these two things:

GRACE and MERCY

Grace.  Parenting is grace in action.  It is a recipe made up of mistakes, successes, frustrations, celebrations, and growth for everyone involved.  Recently, I said to my daughter, “I’ve told you so many times not to do that.  Why are you still doing it?”  In the same breath after I said it, I felt a little jolt of the realization that I too have been told to not do things, and yet, I still do them.  Over and over.  Time after time.  Each day though, I wake up anew with the same thought that not only does my Heavenly Father love me, He also saturates my life with grace.

Mercy.  Adoption is mercy.  It is the collision of love, compassion, and the heart-felt yearning to devote one’s life to another.  It is the recognition that merciful love poured into all of our lives.  Merciful Love intervened.  It moved us to new places, and settled us into our places of belonging.  Through adoption, we are able to get a sweet taste of love that speaks, “Yes.  Yes, you.”

Our little boy with whom we adopted recently is thriving, happy, and very much-loved by all of us.  Since our son and daughter are also adopted, it was an awesome opportunity to teach them more about the process, and reasons behind it.  Throughout this experience, our children have learned that adoption, in many ways, involves sacrifice.  Our son and daughter both had to move to different rooms to accommodate for the baby. They both learned that mommy and daddy needed a little more time with the baby to meet his needs; which in turn, meant less time with them.

Big SisThey also learned that love was the motivator for helping out the baby who was in need. They knew that his birth parents were not able to take care of him, and that he needed somewhere to go.

In essence, they learned of grace and mercy.

I’m so thankful for this past year of our lives.  It has been a difficult one, but also one with enriching moments that included many valuable lessons.  Adoption has proven again that the Lord is truly faithful, especially during the times when I felt complete exhaustion and worry.BigBro

When asked my thoughts about adoption, I may continue to stumble over my words. Honestly, there are so many ways to describe it.

It is grace.  It is mercy.  It is love.  It is growth.  It is the notion that we are chosen.  It is sacrifice.  It is hard, and easy at the same time.  It is love.  It is incredible.  It is humbling.  It is redemptive.  It is compassion.

It is worth it all.