It's been a whole month since I've journaled to you, baby girl. While life has been filled with the busyness of Christmas preparations and therapy and a wedding and company and family and you, there's been little time for sitting down and pouring out my heart here. But honestly, I've had so many thoughts brewing in my mind that it feels like I have written them down somewhere. Thoughts about parenting and adoption and orphans and Down syndrome and life that just spill over into my prayers these days, like one continual thread, and it's all woven so tightly together that I don't even know where my thoughts end and my prayers begin sometimes..
I've had a challenging month emotionally, Lily. I've written about it before, but I don't do very well with change. Your older brother Josiah moved out this month...left our home and married his best friend in the same weekend, and I'd be lying if I said I handled it all like a seasoned mother. I felt the same pulling of my heartstrings in two different directions that I did when Jason left home and got married three years ago...joy and expectation at welcoming a new daughter into the family, and sorrow and a bit of fear about him leaving our family and starting his own. I wrestled with those feelings all weekend- sometimes I think there's something wrong with me, Lily. I wonder a lot if I just love my kids too much- or does every mama go through these intense feelings when a child leaves home? And I guess I thought it would be easier this time, having done it once already.
And yet I learned some lessons from my first experience with those changes three years ago. The most important was that I have to choose to put my mind on good things.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- this is my mantra this month.
And seeing the love in your brother's eyes as he watched his beautiful bride walk down the aisle is one of the pure and noble and truly lovely things I've fixed my my mind on again and again. I am so blessed to be his mama, so very blessed.
And that mantra was etched on my heart the weekend of Josiah's wedding, as events unfolded concerning the adoption of a little boy who I poured my heart and prayers into. I found myself vacillating between grief over Ty and his family and joy and relief for Peter.
And isn't life just like that sometimes, Lily? We wrestle with the conflicts and turbulence that life hands us, knowing that although we can experience the grace and mercy of a loving God, we also know that we're not in Heaven yet. I think much of our grief and fear is a result of losing sight of that simple fact- things on this side of Heaven are not always the Father's perfect will. If they were, we'd be there already. But we do know that He works all things together for the good- good and bad - and even if it takes til eternity to see that happen, that is what we place our confidence in.
Things here won't make sense if I keep expecting it all to work out perfectly. Horrible tragedies occur every day- and none of it is the will of God. We live in an imperfect world, where atrocities and holocausts and children left to die in orphanages are not at all what God had planned, and if I attribute those acts to a gracious and loving God, I accuse him of something worse than child abuse. But if I put free will into the mix- the fact that God has given us each a will to choose between good and evil- and factor into that a loving Savior who can somehow redeem my failures and inadequacies if I give them to Him...and taking that a step further, if I put my trust in a God who sees all- good and evil- I can trust that at the end of this life He will make right come out right. Not everything gets resolved here.
Which brings me to another conflict of my soul- the risks.
Because life is a risk when you think about it, isn't it, Lily? Getting married, finding a career, starting a family, parenting- it's all a risk. There are no guarantees, and every one of our decisions, no matter how carefully calculated or prayed about, can result in an outcome we didn't plan for.
I remember the day my doctor slid a piece of paper across the table with calculated risks printed out carefully before me. Odds of a woman my age giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome were high, much higher than just a few years previously, when I was pregnant with your brother Jackson.
But I was willing to take that "risk", the risk that I would give birth to a baby who was different in many ways than my previous nine children...because I gambled on a God who knows all and who will not give His children a stone when they ask for bread. And I'm so glad I took that chance, Lily- that chance that you might be more to us than anyone could have told us, and in spite of the risks and challenges that extra chromosome presents, you're worth it all.
I've had my heart hurt more than a little this month when it comes to risk taking in orphan advocacy as well. I get my emotions and thoughts and prayers so wrapped up in the children we pray and give for, and sometimes things don't turn out the way we'd hoped or planned. Sometimes things happen that have me questioning everything, and wondering where that perfect and all-knowing Father is, the One I've placed my trust in to work it all out. Sometimes my heart is so heavy with grief that I just don't know how to sort it all out...and again it comes down to this:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think on these things.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Is it all worked out here? Everything working together for the good?
We're not in Heaven yet, dearest Lily.
Honestly I don't have an answer for why some things happen the way they do. I don't understand how entire cultures can place babies like you in orphanages to die, why children who share your chromosome are sometimes neglected so greatly that their own bodies refuse to grow, lacking not only nutrition but love and care and hope. I don't understand why a mom can travel across the ocean to rescue her sons, and have one of those sons become unavailable to her because of someone else's unproven motives. I am struggling- yes struggling, Lily- with the why's of it all.
And isn't that true of all of life?
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
And sometimes those high places are the hidden corners of our minds, the battleground for truth, where we find that eternal conflict raging, and we struggle to reconcile life and what we know of it with God, and who we believe Him to be.
But I've determined, sweet Lily, that I am not going to let this life define God.
Sometimes life is hard but God is good - and we falter when we mix those two things up.
And when it comes down to it, we all take risks in life. We took a risk when we married, we took a risk every time we conceived and bore a child, my children are taking a risk as they enter the adoption process, I am taking a risk when I put my heart on the line for the children I advocate for, but in the end it is all worth it.
Because there is a God in Heaven who sees all and knows all, and somehow, although in my finite mind I can't figure it all out, HE IS GOOD.
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Loving my Savior, and loving you,