Happy Birthday, Awesomeness!

April 29, 2017

I can’t believe you are 13. Your child-soul is fighting hard against your adult-body, but life and growth follow the pattern God designed, and whether we like it or not, you are growing up. I am amazed by you. Every. Day. (I can hear your playful response in my head, “Yeah! I am pretty amazing!”)

Your sweet, little stuttering voice has given way to a deep manly voice that only breaks when you giggle. Your bright orange hair has darkened, leaving only a faint trace of the “read-head” you used to be, and the redhead temper has faded as well. (Thank you, Jesus!) 🙂  The fiery, strong-willed spirit of a defiant toddler now has a voice. You’ve changed, and you’ve stayed the same. You know who you were, and who you are, and who you are meant to be. You have grown to recognize the value in how God made you (as have we), and you have taught us SO MUCH about His goodness, His grace, and His creativity.

We used to call you our BULLDOZER. You plowed through anything in your path and were not deterred by stumbling or even falling. You were tough as nails, and we feared a future of frequent-flyer miles in the ER. You were loud, and bold, and in a constant state of motion. You have been our real-life example of inertia, and we now know for certain that an object in motion TRULY will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. 🙂

I often find myself watching you and admiring your handsomeness, your gentleness, your contagious smile, and your magnetic personality. You put others at ease. Well, okay… you put other kids at ease…and you put Daddy and I at ease…but you make some adults very, very tense. 🙂 HA! That’s okay, though. Your easy personality draws others in, and kids of all ages find joy in friendship with you.

You will not be contained. Tight spaces, tight clothes, anything that prohibits your freedom of movement crushes your spirit and ignites the fight in you. Just like when you were a little man fighting to be free of our arms restraining you, you are still full of fight for freedom. You pursue freedom and you promote it.

Remember the time you asked me why in the WORLD I would spend time putting on make-up instead of just looking “regular”? To you, “regular” is better…more honest…more free. You challenge my way of thinking, and I am a better person because of you.

I am amazed at the maturity you show in valuing your childhood. It seems ironic to call it maturity, but it really does take a wise soul to appreciate this time in your life. You have a Peter Pan mind-set and have zero interest in growing up and being forced to become a responsible adult. You TREASURE the freedom of being a child and I love that you LOVE being a kid. It makes me smile to picture you as a grown man, looking polished and refined on the outside, but – no doubt –  keeping the child alive on the inside.

Even though you don’t want it to happen, I see it happening, sweet boy. You are growing up. You have passed me in height and could now lift me more easily than I could lift you. It’s not just your physique and voice that announce your manhood, but also your willingness to lay down yourself for others. You stop what you are doing to tend to the needs of your baby brother or sis without a single complaint. You jump at the opportunity to help someone to understand something. You are a natural teacher and a leader.

While I will always treasure your childhood, as you do, and fondly remember your roly-poly baby days, your bulldozer toddler days, your spinning through the halls elementary years, and your transformational teen years, I look forward to seeing each step of your growth into manhood. I admire and respect you and can’t wait to see how the Lord uses your life for His glory.

Happy Birthday!

He did what we couldn’t

Because Jesus did what I couldn’t, I was able to stand and praise Him Sunday – knowing that my praises ring out to a LIVING God. EASTER, Resurrection Day, as I like to think of it, is the crux of Christianity. It is the pivotal, powerful, perfect completion of the work that Christ came to do on the cross.

And this year was especially powerful for us, as we have experienced a resurrection of sorts in our family – a coming back to life – an overcoming of death and destruction to awake to beautiful victory. Almost exactly a year ago, the final court session was held which declared our foster children officially “fatherless” and “motherless,” as the legal parental rights of their biological parents were terminated. Termination. Heart break. Death. Destruction There is nothing pretty about foster care. Its weight is immeasurable.

These innocent, precious babies were completely unaware of the storm they had been in for more than a year and a half prior to that day, and they remained unaware of the uncertainty of their futures – of our future as a family.  Termination was not followed by an “end” or a break to the stress. Instead, we were greeted with shocking news that they may be taken from us forever.

We couldn’t do it.

We couldn’t take it.

We couldn’t breathe.

We couldn’t think.

Heart break. Death. Destruction

How could the Lord have brought us so far to let us be drowned in the sea?

We recounted His many protections, interventions, and miracles over the past year and a half of our lives as we learned new terms like ICPC and contested adoption, and we cried out to Him to help us. We chiseled hard at our stubborn hearts trying to make them willing to obey even if our fears were realized.

The thing was, we couldn’t do it.

We couldn’t fix it.

We couldn’t make ourselves submit.

We couldn’t bring beauty from ashes.

But God

There it is again. That life-changing conjunction that started it all: but God. We used to be among the masses of people who “couldn’t” imagine fostering because we “couldn’t” bear to lose a child. We used to struggle to find compassion for people who made foolish choices that destroyed their families.  The list of what we “couldn’t” do goes on and on and on.

Mom and Dad used to say “Can’t never did anything”. It’s true.

But God did. He overcame sin and death. He defeated hell. He promised His children the VERY SAME resurrection power that raised Jesus from the grave, and He gave us a beautiful thing called GRACE that floods our veins just when we think “can’t” is going to win out.

My mind flashes back to the day we received “the call”. Two babies – one boy, one girl. Will you take them both? The kind woman inquired. Lots of people are willing to take one or the other, but we want to keep them together.

I raced to call my husband who was far from home in a job that kept him busy for long days, and he met my question with a question: Well, can you do it? Because the reality is that most of it is going to fall on you, at least for now.

My eyes welled with tears because the truth was that I could not do it.

But God…

And we said YES not because we were able, but because we were willing and HE was ABLE.

Because He did what we could not, we love two children that weren’t born to us, as if they were.

Because He did what we could not, we love the families from which they came.

Because He did what we could not, we invested every part of us into helping those parents of theirs, into cherishing their original family, into walking through the fire of foster care only to find ourselves compelled to walk it again and again.

Because He did what we could not, we celebrated THIS Easter, Resurrection Day, with all five of our beautiful children and five biological family members worshipping the Lord with us and our church family. Together.

And I stand amazed.

As I watched my children surrounded by the love of BOTH of their families, I could not help but think of how far beyond us this is. We couldn’t fix anything. It was hard, and ugly, and awful, and full of death and destruction, but the resurrection power of Jesus Christ brings beauty from ashes. He didn’t bring us so far to be drowned in the sea. He brought us to the end of ourselves so we could KNOW the work was HIS.

“He’s alive. He’s ALIVE! Oh Happy Day! Happy Day! He washed my sin away. Oh Happy Day! Happy Day! I’ll never be the same. Forever I am changed” We sang it Sunday, and my baby boy’s eyes lit up as I sang it to him again today. This Easter was an especially “happy day” for us because in more ways than one, we got to see the resurrection power of our Savior do what we couldn’t, and we will never be the same.