Lullaby

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I cried when it came on the radio again tonight.

I wonder if I always will.

It was the anthem of our time together, Little One, the drum-beat that I hope somehow made its way deep into your bones.  Deep into your heart.

How he loves us.  Oh, how he loves us.  Oh, how he loves.

Day and night, rocking and walking and snuggling, I sang you all kinds of songs about Jesus, but always this one.  It was ours.

I chose this one on purpose, Little One, not because it is my favorite song of all time, but because if there is one thing I want you to know, one thing I want you to remember, it is this.

He loves you.

I miss you, Little One.  The way you rubbed your face back and forth against my body when you were tired.  The way you quieted in my arms– your heartbeat, your breath synching with my own.

I love you, Little One.  I fell hard and fast the moment that I met you, the moment that I first held you—tentative because you were so, so tiny, the moment that I kissed your head and it all felt like pretend.

In my mind, our time together was too short, but my mama-heart knows that for your mama, it was so very long.  And for you, Little One, it was just a blink that, if all goes well, your conscious mind will never even remember.

I hope I helped you learn that the world is safe.

I hope I helped you learn that someone comes when you cry.

I hope I helped you learn that mamas can be trusted.

I hope I helped you learn what it feels like to be loved, treasured, cherished.

You were never mine, Little One, in the same way that even my own daughter isn’t mine.

You were made for Him.

You are His.

Know this, Little One, if you remember nothing else.

As much as I love you, as much as your mama loves you, he loves you more.

How he loves you.  Oh, how he loves you.  Oh, how he loves.

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On perspective

I am a little bit of a perfectionist.

Ok, if you know me, you might be laughing right now.

The truth is, I spend a fair amount of time and energy trying to order and control just about everything (and everyone) in my life.

I like things done well.  I like to see projects through from beginning to end.

I like data.  Quantifiable results.  Measurable success.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, I sing.

Echoes of Revelation.

My heart is captured, full of longing for that day when I will join my song with all of creation.

The great cloud of witnesses that has gone before.

The great cloud of witnesses that will follow.

Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be to You

I imagine looking around at this great cloud of witnesses, the faithful throughout history, and suddenly I feel small.  Very small.

Not insignificant, for I am confident of my place here.

When I catch my Father’s eye, I know that he values my song, my story.

But I know too that my song is not an end unto itself.

Today this is freeing.  So freeing.

In that moment, that song of eternity for which I am made, my data doesn’t matter.

My quantifiable results, my measurable successes (or lack thereof) are forgotten.  Insignificant.

In that moment, it is my heart, my love, my voice that matter.

And not mine alone.

It is our hearts, our love, our voices that matter, friends.

Joined with the ones who have gone before.  Joined with the ones who will follow.

In this moment, this song of eternity for which we are made.

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Jesus-song

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I’ve mentioned before that you should make your kids memorize Bible verses.

Seriously, do it.

All of my adult life, the verses I memorized when I was a little girl have come back to me when I need them.  These past few weeks, they have been flying at me fast and furiously.

I’ve known this one forever.  And, honestly, it’s never really resonated with me that much.

But then I fell in love with a tiny human.  And lived goodbye.

And in response to all of the whys, I only know a few things.

This was not a mistake.  I did it because it was right.

When I pleaded with Jesus to be excused from this assignment, or at least to get some more details, the very clear words of instruction were “one thing.”

Mary chose the one thing that was necessary.  Sitting at Jesus’ feet.

For me, sitting at Jesus’ feet meant living hello and maybe and I love you and goodbye.

The darkness is big in goodbye.

Time slows down.  Sleep is elusive.  No words fit.

The redemption ache throbs loudly, so very loudly.

And then silence.

Waiting.

But, at last, a word.  A picture.  An assurance that hope was not misplaced, that all may still be well.  Permission to exhale.

I am driving home and I hear it.  Not with my ears, but with my heart.  My own personal Jesus-song.  It tells me that faithfulness is not wasted.  Obedience is not ignored.

He sees.  He delights.  He sings.

Friends, this is true when we hear it and when we don’t.

If you have chosen the one thing that is necessary, if you are sitting at his feet, he sees.

Your faithfulness is not wasted.  Your obedience is not ignored.

He delights in you.

He is singing over you.

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On Making Room

Carried to the table.

Seated here, with family.

Just moments ago, a stranger.

Broken.  Crippled.  Rejected.

But now sought after.  Chosen.

Not just invited, but compelled.

Because of kindness.  Because of mercy.

Always, he says.  Always you will eat here.

With family.  At the table.

***

We sit around the table too.

Eating the bread.  Drinking the cup.

Sometimes we see ourselves in his eyes.

Broken.  Crippled.  Rejected.

Carried here.  Welcome here.

But often, too often, we think we’ve gotten it together.

We guard our seat at the table, feeling entitled.

Forgetting the kindness.  Shrugging off the mercy.

We look around and see him in our neighbor’s eyes.

Broken.  Crippled.  Rejected.

Our eyes narrow in judgment.

A stranger, we mutter.  Not family.

Who invited him?

And then our gaze shifts to the head of the table.

Eyes blazing with kindness.  Arms full of mercy.

The King reminds that we were all carried here.

Invited.  Compelled.  Welcome.

Let’s make room.

***

Read more about the story of Mephibosheth in this guest post by my beautiful sister.

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Empty Spaces

This week, I am channeling my mama and rearranging my house to signal a new beginning. A fresh start.

So, I sold some old stuff. I bought some new stuff. I hauled a nasty loveseat (affectionately nicknamed “the hateseat”) out to the dumpster corral. And I spent a lot of time pushing various pieces of furniture around to different spots.

I was almost happy. And then I saw this.

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An empty space where my daughter’s pink and white dollhouse bookshelf used to sit. An empty space would never do.

So I pushed my furniture around a little more. But nothing seemed quite right.

I decided to run out to the store and buy the perfect thing to fill the empty space. But it was pouring. And I was tired from all of that furniture-pushing.

A black bookshelf caught my eye online. But I am cheap. Really, really cheap.

And so that spot stayed empty for a while, the carpet underneath it still matted a little from the weight that it used to bear.

And I realized today that I kind of like it.

It gives my eyes a place to rest. And it reminds me that, for now, what I have is enough.

So many of us are prone to excess, I think.

We don’t like the empty spaces.

So we fill our lives with more. More stuff. More work. More food. More adult beverages. More frenzy. More, more, more.

Once upon a time, I would have told you that we do this because we haven’t let our empty spaces be filled by Jesus.

But, friends, I have let myself be filled by Jesus.

Really and truly. Again and again.

And still there is that empty space in my life where a baby once laughed. There is that empty space where I went about for four years without knowing my own daughter—without being able to hold her or hear her first words. There is that empty space where dreams collide with reality and for a moment (or many) life is just really, really hard.

But, friends, these empty spaces don’t taunt me by telling me that I need more Jesus.

They remind me that I’m human.

They remind me that as frantically as I push furniture around, I only see a tiny piece of the ultimate design.

They remind me that now I see through a glass darkly, but one day I will see face to face—and I am made for that.

They remind me that though I do not know how the story ends, I do know the Author—and I am made for him.

They remind me that less is ok too. That it’s ok to rest.

And they remind me that, for now, what I have is enough.

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On Winning

How do we measure success at church?  What constitutes a win?

Is it parking spaces occupied?  Seats warmed?

Public professions of faith?  Baptisms?

Well, yes.

And no.

Jesus says that we, his disciples, will be known by our love.

I think a lot of that love, a lot of winning, happens without much fanfare at all.

It happens week after year after decade as God’s people choose to love well.

By setting up chairs.  Or folding bulletins.  Or making coffee.  Or vacuuming floors.  Or soothing crying babies.  Or listening to the one who looks different.  Or slipping out to the hospital in the middle of the night.  Or calling to pray with the one who is grieving.  Or working hard to give generously.

Maybe no one sees.

And, yet.

We need your love.

We need you.

Every single one of you.

All this to say, if you are tired tonight,

Tired of trying to recruit volunteers to the ministry of the hidden,

the ministry of the unglamourous.

Tired of wondering, deep down, if what you are doing matters that much.

Be encouraged.

You, friend, are loving well.

And that is a win.

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On Being Real

This post started out as a list of “things not to say to people whose foster children have just left their homes”(catchy, right?).  Because today I am sad.  And a little grumpy.

But the truth is, the support I have received over the past two weeks has been incredible.  My “village” has stepped up and most of the awkward things I’ve heard have come from folks with good hearts and good intentions who fumble because really, honestly no words are quite right.

There’s just this one thing that I can’t handle.

And it goes something like this: “Oh, don’t worry.  It was good practice for when you get your real baby.”

Friends, I love you.  I really do.

But PLEASE don’t say this to me (or to anyone, ok?).

Nothing about foster parenting is practice.  Nothing is fake.

It is all wonderfully, terrifyingly real.

This child is real.  Just as real as any other child that I may (or may not) eventually birth or adopt.  The middle of the night feedings are real.  The doctor’s appointments are real.  The visits with birthfamily are real (and, by the way—that birthfamily?  They are real too.).  The laundry is real.  The worry and uncertainty are real.  The attachment is real.  The family, my family, we are real.

And so, when a foster child leaves, the sadness is real too.

We are not good with sadness.  It makes us nervous and so we try to make things better, to cheer each other up, to rush through the sadness to the other side.

But, friends, the God I know isn’t in the business of rushing us through our sadness to some tidy fairy-tale ending.

The God I know isn’t scared to sit awhile and feel it all.  To live the sadness just as fully as the joy that has come before (and the joy that, I am confident, will come again).

Friends, it’s ok to sit awhile here.

I am not scared of this place, and you don’t need to be either.

It’s ok to say the wrong thing, or to say nothing at all.

It’s ok to be sad.

It’s ok to just be.

Because this foster parenting thing?  It’s as real as it gets.

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