Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The email is only two sentences long, just about scheduling and logistics.  On the surface anyway.  But my heart catches in my throat, because of what we’re scheduling.  Yesterday your dad got his second chance at life and freedom.  Today he showed up for the meeting that mattered.  And next week he meets you, his son. 

This is good.  This is great.  Chase, this could be the beginning of setting things right for you.  This is what you deserve, a Dad who loves you and can hardly wait to meet you.  This is what I want for you – at least my mind does.  But my heart has spent months preparing for the possibility of loving you and weeks doing the things that make me your Mom and you my Son.  And, of course, I suspected I loved you already.  But the feeling is more real than ever, when suddenly the possibility of having to let you go takes on a name, a shape and the first step in that direction.  I’m way ahead of myself, of course, but the edge of uncertainty is suddenly looming closer than before.

Oh Chase, my selfish soul is already scared of the road I will have to walk, when what matters is the road you will have to walk.  I can’t even type it without crying, dammit.  Let us both put our hope in the One who is Faithful.  The One whose beauty and love chase after you every day of your life, son.  For you will be at home in the house of God no matter where you spend the days of your life.  And so will I.  Home in Him, where there is peace, assurance, and hope for whatever road we walk, together or apart. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Breathtaking Wonders

My jaw dropped and my stomach sprang itself into knots when I found out about you, little one.  Another precious heart, another broken start.  I had been nervous for the better part of a year, knowing it was entirely in the realm of possibility that you would come to be.  And I was entirely incapable of convincing God that I had done enough, I had given enough, I had said ‘yes’ enough.  So it was always in the back of my head that we might be in the position we were about to be, but I had high hopes for the logic and rationale of my husband.  He would talk me down, convince me that there was no way we could parent another and that no one would expect us to.  For goodness sake, they all wondered what we were doing with five – and so did we some days.  But apparently we keep forgetting that this story isn’t about us.

It was back to back nights in April that the Great Story-Writer wrote my dreams.  One night I find myself in an entirely glass hotel on the sandy ocean floor watching the tide come in to slowly swallow the whole building.  I fall asleep under the glowing blues filled with whales, sea turtles, brightly coloured fish and all the creatures that make it easy to believe in a creative Mastermind.  The next night my kayak glides across the top of the ocean, alongside glorious cliffs.  Crystal clear water again gives window to the waters teeming with beautiful, majestic life below me.  I wake up smiling that this God of the universe gives me glimpses into something glorious, letting me behold His glory for just a moment in my sleep.  I know there is more to this divine kiss, some kind of meaning I am missing, but I have to wait.

A month later I hear Him again.  He flashes the slideshow of ocean dreams through my memory and says “you will see my wonders.”  I am excited, a little bit giddy even.  The rush of hearing His voice quickens my pulse and lightens my step that day.  And then I am nervous as I remember: every time I have ever seen His wonders it is because they are preceded by the kind of very difficult situation that requires a wonder.  I tell God that I wonder if I even want to see His wonders and He is okay with my snarky attitude. 

I get to revel in the loved-and-spoken-to aura for a week before that moment that my jaw drops and my stomach flops and my mind goes into overdrive.  The moment I find out that my daughter has a baby brother.  What now?  The first wonder is that my reasonable, rational, logical husband has been drinking the kool-aid and doesn’t say “no” right off the hop.  Or was the first wonder two years ago when these organized, type A, control freaks of parents loosened their grip on the wheel that directed the size, race, trauma, baggage, and permanency of their family?  When they opened themselves up to love and lose, to co-parent with the government, to be open to intrusion and scrutiny. 

In any case, now we are actually having the conversation about a sixth child, making the spreadsheet, listening for guidance.  The conversation is fairly circular, something like “How can we possibly do this?” followed by “How can we possibly not?” and back to “But how could we possibly do this?”  The spreadsheet lists at least 47 reasons not to take our daughter’s brother into our family.  And yet every fibre of our being knows that we will deeply regret saying no.  We waiver for days.  Uncertain we are capable of a decision this weighty.

In various ways we hear God whisper, reminding us that He thrives on being More-than-Enough when things seem insurmountable.  “You will see my wonders” echoes in my mind as His breath blows across the surface of the deep.  Is this really just the beginning, I wonder?  How much will He call us to?  What does He know about us that we don’t?  Because this doesn’t seem like a very good idea, humanly speaking.  But apparently we keep forgetting that this story isn’t about us. 

Truth speaks from the pages of scripture, like it always does.  First He catches my attention with the interweaving of His words and my dreams.  Psalm 107:24.  We were witnesses of God’s power out in the ocean deep; we saw breathtaking wonders upon the high seas.  We were witnesses of God’s power out in the ocean deep; we saw breathtaking wonders upon the high seas.  My heart skips a beat and I steep in the words for a days, amazed at how truth spans thousands of years.  Of how He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  At how in His immense majesty He is also intimately personal.

And then my lens broadens and He speaks again.  Psalm 107:21-31
So lift your hands and give thanks to God for his marvelous kindness and for his miracles of mercy for those he loves!
Bring your praise as an offering and your thanks as a sacrifice as you sing your story of miracles with a joyful song.
Some of us set sail upon the sea to faraway ports, transporting our goods from ship to shore. 
We were witnesses of God’s power out in the ocean deep; we saw breathtaking wonders upon the high seas. 
When God spoke he stirred up a storm, lifting high the waves with hurricane winds.  Ships were tossed by swelling sea, rising to the sky, then dropping down to the depths, reeling like drunkards, spinning like tops, everyone at their wits’ end until even sailors despaired of life, cringing in terror.
Then we cried out, “Lord, help us!  Rescue us!” And he did!  God stilled the storm, calmed the waves, and he hushed the hurricane winds to only a whisper.  We were so relieved, so glad as he guided us safely to harbor in a quiet haven.
So lift your hands and give thanks to God for his marvelous kindness and for his miracles of mercy for those he loves!

We aren’t sailors, Bernie and I, but we hear the message loud and clear.  Sometimes, when God speaks, He stirs up a storm, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t speaking.  There can be waves and reeling and spinning and despairing, and none of that is the marker of whether He has spoken.  We are terrified at the notion that things are going to get that hurricane-like in our family, but it really is not hard to imagine that they will.  We worry about our other 5 kids and whether they will resent this little one for bringing more chaos.  We worry about our boys and how they will understand the balancing of our responsibility to them and our responsibility to God.  We worry about the opinions of others and what they will say behind our backs.  We worry about buying a vehicle that fits one more.  We worry about vacations, music lessons, sports, hotel rooms, airplane tickets.  We worry about three under three and six under nine.  We worry about going back to major uncertainty after our family finally feels settled.

And then when we start to pray about all of these worries we get sidetracked.  We fall asleep praying about our worries and wake up praying for this precious new life.  Who will love him, who will sacrifice for him, who will care for him, who will invest in him, who will fight for him, who will be there for him, who will lead Him to his Great Story-Writer. 

When we imagine saying yes to him joining our family we are scared.  When we imagine saying no we are devastated for him, devastated for Shania, and ashamed at our lack of faith. 

And so we say yes to God and yes to Chase.  We lift our hands and give thanks to God for his marvelous kindness and we trust for his miracles of mercy for our family.  We have been witnesses of God’s power out in this ocean deep; we’ve seen breathtaking wonders upon these high seas.  We will be witnesses of God’s power out in this ocean deep; we will see breathtaking wonders upon these high seas.  We have hope in His presence in these stormy seas and we have hope in His faithfulness to guide us safely to harbor in a quiet haven (in 20-30 years).  But in the end, this story isn’t really about us.