Truth Wins

I did not touch my computer all day yesterday.

It was my gift to myself.

(I say this not to brag—goodness knows I waste enough time on it every other day of the year.)

This morning, sipping my coffee and taking a quick scroll, I know it was the right decision.

‘Tis the season.

The sonogram pictures.

The perfectly rounded bellies.

The tiny ones dressed in their “My First Christmas” finery.

I love you all dearly.

I do.

And also I want to gouge out my eyeballs with a spoon.

It is a weird place to be.

Two weeks ago, I felt fine.

And then one phone call.  One hour of false hope.

One more knife to my mama-heart.

And I’m back on my knees, gasping for breath.

My body knows how to do all the things.

Wrap the gifts.

Bake the cookies.

Light the candle and sing about a silent night.

Snuggle the squirmy big girl who nestles under my chin and whispers,

I’m glad I get to stay.

I’m tempted to lie about it.

Because I have the happy pictures too (I’m just not in any of them).

I’m tempted to keep silent.

Enough Bah Humbug already.

But, friends, today truth wins.

Because I know I am not alone.

Today, I choose to say it out loud.

I know this is not how the story ends.

I know joy comes.

In a very real way, I know Emmanuel.

And also

I know the nagging ache of uncertainty.

I know the sharp sting of a little one crying for his mama.

Another mama.

I never knew the empty places could hurt so much.

But they do.

Real, actual heart pain.

This is true, all of it.

And today,

Truth wins.

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True Religion

We Jesus-following adoption and foster care advocates love us some James 1:27.

It’s like the theme verse for our tribe.

(Lookie there, I just turned myself into an advocate with my own tribe.)

In any case, we love the part about looking after orphans and widows in their distress.

This, we yell from the rooftops, is true religion.

We sweep the edges, we seek out the marginalized, we hold the Little Ones that need a safe place for a moment.  Or a while.  Or a lifetime.

And it’s not just the Little Ones who capture our hearts and our attention.

We start organizations to keep kids in families.

We fight for reunification when it is safe.

We give money and diapers and phone numbers of therapists.

We offer rides and childcare and second chances.

We cry and plead before the Father for the mamas and daddies too.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

This is where faith gets frighteningly real.

This, we scream, this is true religion.

The rest of the verse seems like an afterthought.

Lots of times it’s left out altogether.

But friends, I believe the rest of the verse is there for a reason.

And (after you’ve done all this) to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

This foster care and adoption business opens our minds and our hearts to a world that is hard.  Unfair.  Broken.  So, so broken.

A world where mere miles from my middle-class existence, mamas struggle to raise their babies with absolutely no safety net.  No connections.  No one to call if it all goes south.  No.  One.

A world where I have to answer hard questions from my second grader.  Questions like, “if drugs are bad, why do people keep making them?”

A world where babies are shaken to death and teenagers call in television cameras to plead for a family of their own.

A world where social workers know the calls that you won’t refuse and so you feel used.  Taken advantage of.  And you say yes every time anyway because you must.  Because of the Little Ones.

A world where easy answers and Christian platitudes do not cut it.  Not even a little bit.

Friends, it is hard to stay unpolluted when this world collides with your own.

Impossible, really.

The words are tumbling from my heart because I am here tonight.

Feeling used.  Taken advantage of.  Polluted.

I am tired of calls that send my heart soaring and then sinking.

I am tired of plans abandoned, of being everybody else’s back-up.

Tonight, the taking care part feels easy (though I am the first to admit that some days it is anything but).

It’s the keeping oneself from being polluted part that is hard.

And so, I let the words tumble from my heart.

And I plead with Jesus for the Little Ones.

And for myself too.

Tonight, I plead for myself too.

Joy Comes

There may be pain in the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

The words do not come easily.

But they come.

You guys, not only do I believe this,

I feel it.

My brain tells me that I should be more sad.

That there should be tears as I fold tiny socks and store them away in a box.  Again.

That a baby shower should wreck me.

That all these advent longing posts should resonate more deeply with me right now.

And yet

Though my arms literally ached this week (because what do you do when you know you have only a precious few days with a Little One?  You hold them.  All.  The.  Time.), my heart is full.

My heart is full.

And one word describes how I feel about it all.

Hopeful.

Because joy comes.

Because He is the restorer of the broken.  And I have seen this with my own eyes.

Friends, we can only endure the shadow times if we know the Light.

And this weekend, I have wept with sisters who have known the shadow times.

And I have laughed with sisters who are celebrating the Light.

Because joy comes.

And so

This morning I look around and see a bunch of messy imperfect people.

Many of us have lived the shadow times.

Some of us are camped out there right now.

Many of us have known pain in the night.

Some of us are feeling it right now, this very moment.

And still it is true.

I know it with certainty.

The pain will not last.

The Light will break through.

Friends, joy comes.