Last night it took me 45 minutes to do bedtime with Esmae. Simply, I was delighting in the squeezing of each dainty little toe, and savoring the tiny, excited, splashes she was making in the warm bathwater. I pulled out the camera and desperately tried to get a photo to document all of the sweetness that she is. Although much of the day was spent trying to soothe her through over-tiredness, I held her in my arms this evening before bed wanting to never put her down and wanting so badly to absorb the very feeling of motherhood in that moment—the feeling of wishing I could freeze everything: the smell, the softness of her body, the sound of her breath, the beauty of her deep blue eyes staring into mine, her little hands in her mouth. It amazed me this evening all over again, my love for her. It wasn’t until I sang to her in my arms this evening that I remembered having that exact same feeling with Martell near exactly two years ago—clinging to every detail of the cuddly newborn love.
The amazing part to me is that it never stops. I still delight in everything—small yet significant—that Martell does in progress towards becoming his own little person, uniquely him.
Two nights ago we got a phone call with a request to create room in our home for a five-year-old boy.
“I’m not sure why I’m calling you. I know you just finalized your adoption with Martell, and just had your baby, but I kept thinking of you guys. You’re just so good with kids,” our caseworker spilled out over the phone. “Do you want to even hear about him?” she asked.
“Go ahead and tell me about him. I’m thankful you called,” I responded.
In a case of domestic violence, four children were removed from the home of their parents. The father was arrested, mom wants to leave the state, and the kids have all been split up between foster homes. Little man needed a place to call his home. He needed a place to sleep, eat, grieve and heal.
Can you imagine? Whether dysfunctional or not, this family was his family—they were the ones who put him to bed at night and fed him his sustenance, who cuddled him, who formed his person and influenced his beliefs. Carved into his mind, this boy will forever have the smells, the sounds, the sights, and the tangled web of feelings from the night his life was clumsily dropped, shattering in a thousand pieces. Etched into the deepest wells of his soul will forever be the encapsulation of the night it all fell apart.
Here I was doing my best to keep a tight grip on the wholeness of a moment with our newest little life while this sweet soul was there likely trying his very best to convince himself that this moment wasn’t real—longing to shake it free from the grip of his present reality.
The phone call came at 4:26 P.M. and we had until 5:00 to make a decision about whether or not we would add a member to our family. Everything went silent as I called out to God for guidance. My immediate response to the request was yes, let’s take him in, as was Gabe’s, but we decided to take some time—34 minutes, to be exact—to think it through a little bit. We stood in the kitchen with both of our kids, and prayed for this precious family, for this sweet little boy—forgotten or maybe just lost in the mix of a mess. We prayed for him to know what it feels like to be delighted in, to feel deeply wanted, to feel inexplicably comforted, to experience the love of Jesus, that while he moves into a new home where he’s unknown to them, that he would somehow know that the every hair on his head is accounted for, and each tear fallen from his eyes is kept in a jar and recorded in God’s book. We prayed for guidance.
As we returned the call from our caseworker to see if she had found a family for this sweet five-year-old, my heart sank all the way into my stomach when she said that they just did.
It’s a little bit difficult to explain how I felt that evening as we watched “Charlotte’s Web” in the basement, but incomplete is the closest word I can come up with. I felt as though there was a little boy missing from the big brown couch.
Did we miss it? Should we have responded as soon as we both said, “yes”? You see, the thought came into my mind almost immediately after thinking “yes,” that I was being foolish for even considering him. What would people say?
“You need to focus on your family right now.”
“You have such a small baby. She needs your attention.”
“You really shouldn’t interrupt birth order.”
“What if he was a bad influence on your children.”
“Just settle into life a little bit first before taking on something new.”
The list could go on. Trust me, I ran it all through in that split second after allowing my desire to take him in to enter my heart.
But I am convinced that when we lose our hearts into the hands of Jesus, whether easy or unbelievably hard (and trust me, we’ve been there), we give to Him permission to enter into our tender, guarded places where He gets to work. He asks us over and over to lay down our pride, to let go of opinions, and He asks us for our hand so He can lead us—maybe through the deserts, but always through so we can be walked right up into the cool water of His presence. Foolish to the world, maybe, but eternally ever-so wise.
Maybe we missed it. Maybe we really did. God is bigger. I believe that. I’m still working on the, “in humility, count others more significant than yourselves” thing. The Word says that this mind is mine through Christ Jesus. I pray I would have the mind of Christ. I pray I would respond quickly in obedience to Him. And I pray that the sweet boy in someone else’s home knows that he has been created, uniquely him, in the image of a God who loves him more deeply than I or anyone else ever could.