I've been dodging the question for weeks. Actually months.
"So, when are we going to have a shower??!! When are you going to register??!"
And as much as I dread the question because quite honestly-- I'm running out of responses (...or is it excuses..?)-- my heart is so touched every time someone asks. I love how God has given His people so much love for this little girl. How He has laid it on their hearts to provide for her in these huge and small and specific ways. Just this week, someone dropped off a giant box of diapers, a huge can of formula, a quilt, a stuffed animal, and the cutest clothes and headbands you've ever seen. They were all gifts that had been sitting at church for us the past few weeks, all from different people. What??? Seriously. People have been so generous, so thoughtful, and so downright excited. And to me, that's what that question represents. A heart that has ached for us. That has waited for us. To have our turn at the fun stuff. It's tough for me to find the words to really explain how loved that makes me feel. Truly.
But when it was asked to me most recently by my BFF and her mom, it was different. And as we sat in the car and talked about whether to shower or not shower (baby shower, that is), my friends mom put it in a way that I hadn't previously considered.
And she asked my why I didn't want to put one on the calendar. Was it because I was afraid? Was it because I was in denial? Because really what it came down to was this question-- What has God given me? What has He given me about Isobel and her time and place in our family? Has He shown me, literally given me a promise, directly from His heart to mine that she will be ours forever? Or has He just asked me to trust Him day by day, and nothing more for now?
She asked me that a week and a half ago and I have not stopped thinking about it since.
Actually? I've been agonizing over it. Has God been trying to show me something? To give me a promise? It may not be a dry piece of fleece lay out on a rainy day, but is there something that He's tried to give me, from His heart to mine? Is it possible that maybe He's been trying to but I've been too crippled by grief and fear to listen to it? To take it?
Ten days later and I still don't know.
And as I sat tonight, rocking Isobel to sleep, the tears began to fall, as they do on so many nights. Because she's eleven pounds of miracle, snoring away in my arms and I know this sounds nuts, but so much of the time, I still can't believe she's real. Because I knew that God could still grant us the desire of our hearts and give us a child, that He could heal the hurt and restore joy. But I had no idea it would come like this. Maybe 3 or 4 or 5 years from now after thousands of dollars worth of fertility treatments and a whole lot of anxiety. But to come like this. Practically overnight. Door, after door, after door, swung wide open. Obstacle after obstacle after obstacle just smashed to bits. Mountain after mountain after mountain-- moved. And as I sat tonight with her, praying that God would protect her as she sleeps tonight, and that she would grow up to be a woman who loves the Lord and loves people, I began to pray for something else. I began to pray that God would let us be her forever parents.
(crickets, crickets, crickets)
And I'm sure you're thinking-- what the heck?? Haven't you been praying for that all along???
I have to be honest and say that I really haven't. I've tried so hard to accept that this journey might end in the biggest heartbreak of my existence. I've tried so hard remind myself that God gives but He also takes away. I've tried so hard to recall that we are not called to a life of comfort or of happiness but of suffering for the cause of Christ. That obedience is costly. And that He asked Jesse and I to take this leap, but He never guaranteed that what lay ahead would be easy or would feel good.
And while all of those things are true, and I'm grateful that the Lord has ingrained them so deeply in my mind. That isn't all that there is.
Grief. Isn't all that there is.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
There is also laughing. And dancing. And healing. And good gifts. And when I think about the picture that Jesse sent me today of Izzie with her headband fallen down over her face, or the ten minute "conversation" I had with her before bedtime tonight-- I know that these things are also true. These past 11 weeks may not have been a time of sleeping (;-), but they have been a time of laughter. And of healing. And of great great joy.
And so while I'm still trying to be quiet and to listen and to figure out if God is offering me a promise of what is to come, until He makes that known to me one way or the other-- until then, I still have the gift of another day with this little girl. And for now it may not be enough to get that Amazon registry going or to plan a party day (believe me-- we want to have a BIG one!) just yet. But it's more than I need.
Today I choose joy. And I choose hope. I choose to boldly ask that we would be allowed to be Isobel's forever parents. And I choose to remember that as much as God asks us to do really really hard things and to sacrifice some of the things that we hold most dear, He also has ordained a time for healing and restoration and He loves to show up in big ways and give us big things that we don't deserve.
John 1:16 "From the fullness of His grace we have received one blessing after another."