That Time Jesus Paid for my Lawyer

Sometimes I hear people say “you know, foster adoption is free.”

It always makes me cringe a little.

Because the reality is that it doesn’t take much money to adopt from foster care (although you do have to prove that you are financially able to take care of a child).  But it is hardly “free.”’

You pay in blood, sweat and tears.

You pay in sleepless nights and desperate pleas and time taken off work for appointments that all have to happen during business hours.

In any case, you get financially reimbursed for most things along the way.

Including a lawyer.

My big girl’s adoption was easy-peasie.  Or at least as simple and straightforward as such a thing can be.

I called a lawyer, went over a few things on the phone and met him for the first (and only) time on adoption day.

I never paid him a penny.  The money went straight from the agency to him.  Easy-peasie.

As I’ve mentioned before, everything about Little One’s case was different.

Nothing came easy (except falling hopelessly in love with an infant… oh. dear. goodness)

When it came time to finally get a lawyer, I wanted the best.

So I researched.  And I called.  And I used my brain and my mama-intuition to make a good choice.

Because everything about this case was different, I used my lawyer for some adoption-related things before finalization.  It ended up that I paid her just about exactly one thousand dollars more than I would be reimbursed by my agency.

I didn’t care a bit.  I am not poor (just cheap!) and the peace of mind was worth every single penny to me.

Until a sweet friend slipped an envelope into my hand one evening.

Inside was a card full of encouraging words and cash money.  This friend had received a windfall and wanted me to use this money to help pay for an adoption lawyer.

Eyes wide, my big girl and I counted the bills.  So many bills.

Bills totaling exactly one thousand dollars.

There is no way this friend could have known how much I paid.  Or how much my agency would repay.

But the God who counts hairs on our heads also counts pennies.

The Jesus who takes care of sparrows also takes care of solidly middle-class mamas.

Breath catches in my throat to think of it still.

That time Jesus paid for my lawyer.

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Life’s like that.

Two years ago, December nearly broke me.

It was Little One’s first Christmas, and he was not spending it with me.

I found out later that he actually spent his first Christmas in the hospital… and I honestly think it was the gracious provision of God that I didn’t know that at the time.  I’m not sure I could have handled it.

It was also my Mamaw’s last Christmas.

This, of course, we didn’t technically know at the time either.

But I think our hearts did.

Of course, my beautiful daughter deserved everything I could muster up for her.

And I tried.

Wrapping gifts half-heartedly at the last second, I walked through all the motions.  I did all the things.

All the while missing one that I loved so hard it physically ached.

Hopes and expectations rising and falling with every phone call that cold, dark month.

Such a long darkness, that December

***

This year, both of my babies are home.

Home forever, snuggled into bed in their Christmas jammies.

My Mamaw is in heaven.

Also, I guess, home forever.

And I feel the happiest I ever remember feeling in my whole life.

No, things are not perfect.  My job is not super fulfilling at the moment.  I lock horns with my big girl, so much like me.  Little One is loud and wild and leaves a trail of random objects in his wake all the time.

But my babies are home.

You guys, my babies are home and I cannot help but smile.  And decorate.  And buy all the things.  And wrap tidy piles of presents while humming Christmas tunes.

I’ve never much felt festive at Christmastime.

Until I did.

Life’s like that, I think.

Even for those of us who love Jesus.

There are Decembers that will nearly break us and ones that make us wonder how in the world we ended up with everything we want.  Every.  Single.  Thing.

And so.

Let’s be gentle with the ones who struggle to go through the motions, whose hearts ache so hard that they physically hurt.  Because they are us.

And let’s be gentle with the ones buying all the things and doing all the things and feeling all the festiveness.  Because they, too, are us.

Let’s link arms and light candles and hold space for the ache and the celebration, the grief and the joy, the sobs and the festivity.

Because we’ve been both places and we will again.

Because life’s like that.

With

It’s a little word, one we don’t think about much.

But today, it’s the word that captures for me the whole story of Christmas.

The whole story of life.

With.

It’s a joining word, a connector.

Emmanuel.

God with us.

With in the joy and celebration of permanence, of forever family done and done.

With in the endless chatter and toy-strewn house and perennial sleep deprivation that is toddlerhood.

With in the moody angst and pointed words and wishful independence that is pre-teenagerhood.

With in the job that I once loved but now leaves me feeling exhausted, angry and incompetent every day.

With in the silent death of little dreams, the little griefs that feel too silly to even name.

With in the vast expanse of adventure ahead, all shiny and wide and possible.

God with us.

Why does this matter?

Because this Word that was with God in the beginning (John 1:1) had to be with us.

Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.

(Hebrews 2:17)

The Word made flesh had to be with us to bridge the gap.

The gaping chasm between a holy God and broken, rebellious, decidedly unholy humanity.

Broken, rebellious, decidedly unholy me.

This is the story of grace.

The story of Christmas.  And Easter.  And every single day.

This is the story that changes everything.