As I sit on my bed, the hum of the 10th load of laundry running in the dryer, and the quiet back and forth of Izzie's swing in the background, I can't help but once again feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the miracle that lies sleeping in that swaying swing. 11 weeks ago, I didn't even know she existed. 11 weeks ago I was knee deep in yet another anniversary date of the loss of one of my babies born into heaven.
And now here I sit. Baby clothes are in my dryer. Baby clothes. And my house is overrun with two kinds of baby seats, a swing, a stroller, a car seat, and 20 different kinds of baby bottles. And I think about how tomorrow marks two weeks we've had with her. Two weeks since we saw her face for the first time. Two weeks of zero sleep, endless diaper changes, the constant dusting of formula powder on the kitchen counter, and nonstop paperwork. And as challenging as its been ( I knew this newborn business had to be hard, but I had no clue just how hard it was), I wouldn't trade it. I wouldn't trade it one bit.
And I wonder if I have just one more day left of it. And then it will all be gone. She will be gone.
And as I've been consumed with these thoughts since we learned of our upcoming hearing date this next Monday morning, I'm brought once again to the scripture that I sat here reading 11 weeks ago as Jesse and I were trying to figure out what to do. Where to go. And how to make the biggest decision we'd ever faced.
And so today I opened my Bible back up, to the same passage I read 11 weeks ago when we first learned of Isobel and I felt so lost, so confused, and so terrified to hope. And as I now sit and consider all that Monday will hold for us- a decision as to what happens next with the only child I have ever held in my arms as my own-- I take great comfort in the Truth it provides.
Joshua chapter one and three tells the story in which Joshua leads the Israelites out of 40 years of wandering in the desert and into the Promised Land. They had finally come to the edge of the Jordan River, the last thing that stood between them and the end of their wandering, their waiting, their suffering. As they waited, God told them to follow the ark of the covenant and cross the river to the other side.
He asked them to do the impossible. 11 weeks ago, God asked Jesse and I to do something that felt impossible. He asked us to trust Him, and to jump. Jump big. He asked us to walk through the open doors He'd placed before us, even if that meant bringing home a little girl for only a short period of time and then stand by and watch as He allowed her to taken from us and placed elsewhere. And I can imagine how the Israelites felt as they stood at the edge of the Jordan, hearing God tell them to cross over. To jump. Jump big. And trust that the Lord would provide a way. Would take care of them. Would somehow get them to the other side to safety.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
And as I sat up with Izzie in the hospital, praying that somehow God would continue to make a way for us to bring her home, but fighting just so much fear that in the 11th hour that would change, and my friend texted and reminded me that I needed to speak and sing Christ's name so that the enemy who was bringing in the fear and uncertainty would leave, the very first thing that popped in my head was that super old song from Vacation Bible School. We actually used to teach it to the foster kids that I worked with at camp every summer, and it went something like this-- "Be strong- BE STRONG! and courageousssss. Do not be afraid! Be strong- BE STRONG! and courageouss, God is never going away ay ay ay!" ....And don't forget that when you sing it, you're supposed to put your arms up and flex your muscles.... ;-) And so even though my arms were full and I couldn't do the motions (bummer), I sat in that hospital cube, Isobel asleep in my arms, whispering out through my tears, " Be strong- Be strong! and courageoussss, Do not be afraid!" And it may be a little hokey, but I tell you what. My fear left. My tears stopped. And my heart found peace. The circumstance hadn't changed. But God encouraged my heart and gave me peace.
And I'm pretty sure that as we head to the courthouse on Monday morning, I will be whispering that song to myself. On repeat.
And just as you all were the army that carried us across the river at our last crossing as we spent nearly three very difficult days in the hospital, I am trusting that the Lord will use you again as we face another crossing tomorrow. You are our people. Our army. You've been praying on our behalf for weeks. Some of you months. Maybe some of you for years. We need you.
These are the specific prayers on our hearts for Monday, if you wish to join us.
1. Peace for Jesse and for me. This is emotional and scary stuff. Pray that God would bring his Word to mind and that we would find solace in that, no matter the outcome. Even now, as the evening approaches, I find myself getting more and more restless. It's time to break out the scripture and the hokey songs and maybe even the muscle-flexing.
2. Clarity of thought for our attorney. She has been out of the office off and on over the past two weeks, and we learned a few days ago that it was due to a miscarriage that she and her husband were suffering. Please pray that God would give her strength and comfort during this time and that she would be able to recall to mind all that needs to be presented on Monday.
3. Commissioner Mullenaux will be hearing our case on Monday and determining if we will be approved or denied for temporary custody of Isobel while we work out the 6-12 month certification process with the agency and the state. Please pray that she will have understanding, that she will hear our hearts for the Lord and for this child, and that God will give her the clarity of thought to make the decision that is best for Isobel and for us. We hope that is to be able to continue to care for her and one day adopt her into our family. There is also a chance that the Commissioner may determine that she needs more information before she can make that decision, in which case we may walk away from tomorrow's hearing with no additional information but another hearing date.
4. If you are so bold, please pray that we will not receive yet another hearing date for this decision to be made at a later time, but will receive a decision on Monday, and that it will be for temporary custody to be granted to us.
5. If we do not receive a favorable decision on Monday, please pray that God would comfort us, and carry us as we grieve what will be an unspeakable loss. Pray that the enemy would not gain a foothold in our hearts, if that is a valley we must walk. At this moment, it's a terrifying thought. But this is where our God has brought us, so He must have a plan. And we know that it will be for our good.
6. A little bit of rest before tomorrow would be great.
7. We need to be down to the Juvenile Court in Durango by 8:30 am on Monday, so we will be leaving here extremely early, fighting rush hour traffic, and hoping to find the courthouse and our hearing room in time. If you could pray for the logistics of all of that as we navigate in the early, cold morning, with a newborn baby in tow, we'd appreciate it.
I'm going to wrap this up in here in a minute and go pick out my clothes for court tomorrow as my husband and I make every effort to keep our daughter. And even as the gravity of that statement settles in, these are the things in which I find peace and refuge in this most uncertain and emotional hour. To God be the glory for all that has already been accomplished through the life of our Isobel Grace. Amen.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20
14 For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come. 15 With Jesus' help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of his name. Hebrews 13:14