Full and Rested

It happened.

I fell in love with Him all over again.

I spent last weekend at the Created for Care retreat, studying the outline of His face with over 500 women whose heart beats for the orphan. He met us there and His beauty was breathtaking. In that room, there were over 650 former orphans represented, home with their forever families.

These 500 women "got me." Every single one of them have a story very similar to mine. They have waited and waited and waited (some are currently) to be mothers. Their families look like mine. They get double-take glances in stores, they answer hard questions about adoption, they have deep fears, desires, and worries about raising their heartgrown babies. But more than anything, the mamas in that room love Jesus. Because really, that's why we adopt.

I'm still trying to process the whole weekend and am having trouble putting into words all my heart took away. The last several weeks leading up to this conference, my heart had become so weary. I would fall into bed each night exhausted from busy days, but what was really tired was my heart. Being a mama is hard. Being a

working mama

is really hard. Being a mama to a child that comes from hard places is very hard. Please hear me, it's so beautiful and worth every second, but it's hard. And after a while it can take a toll on your heart.

Brandon always makes fun of me because I have so many best friends. And I do. Really. I'll admit it. I have a good handful or two :) of really BEST friends. And I love them so much. They have walked really dark roads with me and have finally seen our dark turn to morning. But most of them have babies that grew in their tummy. Their children look like them, they have their personality traits, and they know their medical history. They have stretch marks on their bellies and I have scars on my heart. And we are all mamas, so we talk about mama things, but as hard as they try, they can't understand parts of my story, because it isn't theirs.

There's a peace and relief in knowing you're understood, isn't there? I was thinking about all the mamas I was about to meet as I was throwing things into Selah's overnight bag (I had to borrow it). I got a glimpse of my brown baby girl handing me her toy so I could tell her thank you for the 100th time that day, and I cried thinking about all we have gone through to bring her into our family. All the years of

infertility treatments

, the nights crying in an empty nursery, the hundreds of necklaces I stamped to bring her home, and all the years I spent trying to understand a Sovereign God. When I finally made it to the retreat, with all these women who understood me and our journey, I lost it. I cried most of the weekend.

Just a warning...what I am about to share is real and raw. It isn't wrapped up nicely in a perfect box with a beautiful bow. It's heavy and hard to swallow, but keep reading. There is a good ending. With Jesus, there is always a good ending.

Adoption is beautiful. It's a physical display of the Gospel. Adoption is a story of redemption and hope. Grace is intertwined between every word of each adoption story. But in order for there to be beauty, redemption and grace, there must be a mess. In a world before The Fall, there wouldn't be a need for adoption. God didn't intend for His people to be His enemies. It is because of our sin and our brokenness that we need to be redeemed.

Adoption is loss for all parties. Loss, in our case, of natural children. Not having children that look like us or feeling a baby kick in my belly. Loss for a birth mom. Loss of the chance to give baths, put on band aids, and see those first steps. And loss of a birth family for the adoptee. Loss of knowing family heritage, and answers to many questions.

I went to the retreat with eight women from our Orphan Care ministry (

Hope for Children

) at our church. All of these women also have adopted children or are in the adoption process. Some of them are in my two handfuls of best friends, but then others I really got to know on this trip. After a full day of learning how to parent our heartgrown babies, love and serve our birthmoms, and gazing on the beauty of a Father to us all, we sat down in one of our rooms on the bed. We were all emotionally drained and were making jokes (really funny ones!) to ease the mood. One of the women started crying and said, "It is so terrible that the only way for me to have children is for another mother to loose hers."

It's such a weird feeling, this adoption thing. On one side, there is complete joy and rejoicing for new life, and on the other side, there is grieving of life lost. It's hard and messy and absolutely beautiful. And then I look at our story. I couldn't dream of a more perfect adoption story for Selah. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect relationship with our

birth mom

. I never pictured God would write such beauty is the midst of our mess.

So, adoption is beautiful, it is messy, but it is FULL of grace, hope, and redemption. And after all the heaviness, we get to land here. In the grace part.

The very first night,

Beth Guckenberger

, invited us to a weekend of "Kol d'mama de Kah." This Hebrew saying is the same meaning of the sounds a new mama whispers to her new baby. She doesn't really have words to say, it's mostly weeping, but it's staring intimately into the face of a love, words can't describe. It can also be described as the intimate whispers of a husband and wife, face to face.

This past weekend I grieved, rejoiced, and postured myself for Kol d'mama de Kah with the Lord. I brought back some really practical tools to serve my baby better. I met so many mamas with stories like mine. I heard about all God is doing around the ENTIRE world to "set the lonely in families." And it was beautiful.

He was beautiful. And my heart is full and rested.

And P.S, I got this picture in the middle of a session! He said, "Daddy trying to do hair...so scary!" #c4cdadsurivial

Dear Working Mama,

I'm so proud of you.

I watch you hit your alarm clock three times every morning and fumble out of the bed. Your exhausted feet hit the floor and you know you won't be off them until you fall into the bed again at night. You rush to get ready. Throw on your clothes. Look in the mirror, and wonder if you can make it through another day. 

You dread waking up your sleeping baby to brave the bitter cold. After you put all the bags in the car, her bags, your bags, lunches, and who knows what else, you stand there and hold her. Yes. You're running late, again. But you breathe in her scent because it will be the last time for 7 hours. 

You strap her so tight in the car seat she might as well be going to the moon. You pull out of the garage and check the "going out the door" list in your head before you close it. And you're off. 

You sing to me all the way to work and I love it! She's listening to you and although they're just babbles, you're teaching her to love me. I know you feel stuck sometimes and wonder if what you do really matters. Sweet mama, it does. 

I watch your heart break every time you walk into the sitter's house. Not because she isn't wonderful, but because she isn't you. She's the one who gets to hear a belly laugh and see a squishy smile all day. You'll have to share your sweet girl with so many over the years. Do it graciously. I'm written all over her little life.  

I hear the prayers you pray for her as you walk out the door. Don't worry, Mama. I know you love her more than your heart has words for, but she was mine first. 

I know when you get in the car, you put on a different face. Your work face. I know you're trying your best! I see how hard you work, even when you feel no one else does. All the meetings, meltdowns, expectations, and pressure. It's a lot. Too much sometimes. And you can't stay there all day and night making the newest, best lessons anymore. You have to budget your time and use it wisely now. You might not be on all the committees like you used to, but I watch you love. And I love that more. I'm so proud of you. 

I hear you whisper to me throughout your day. I know you can't wait to retreat with me, but I'm here now. I give you those super powers when you feel like you can't make it until bedtime. 

You've learned that perfect looks a little different now. So it's okay to leave when you still haven't graded those papers. You've done Kingdom work today and your day is only half way over. It's time to put your mama face back on.

You run up the steps to pick up your sweet girl. I love watching you with her. I had your family planned out from the beginning of time, and I love watching my beautiful plans. 

You glance at the mirror, still shocked even after a year, that your daughter is asleep in the car seat. I love your grateful heart.

We went through a lot to get her there, didn't we? 

I hear you make all the phone calls in the car. Because not only do you work during the day, you're a mom, but you also pay bills, make appointments, and work out the schedule for your little family. Everyone depends on you. And I love how you depend on me.

I hear you mentally go through the "what to do when I get home" list. It's so much. Unpack all the bags. Repack all the bags. Iron your clothes, her clothes, his clothes. Lay them out. Pack lunches. Cook supper. Clean up from supper. And that's a day you have at home. That's a day without a meeting or appointment, so you have extra time.

And although you have all of that to do, I'm so proud that she comes first. You know how fast she grows up. And tomorrow, she won't be this little. So I watch you get in the floor with her. You play, read, and sing the Bumblebee song. You are doing Kingdom work, Mama. I am so proud of you.

When he gets home. Everyone's day is better! I know you two aren't perfect, but I also know your hearts. And you really long to love each other like I do. Your marriage is so beautiful to me. You both are putting the Gospel on display, and she is watching.

I watch you glance at the clock. Because for now, life runs on time. And your days just don't seem to have enough. Someone starts to get cranky and it's time for a bath and bed. It's okay when you feel guilty that you're glad. I give you just enough energy to make it through the splashes and tantrums. And I hear every word you softly sing over her. I am already answering those prayers for her. Mama, you just wait to see what I do in her life. And you will be a part of it. I laugh sometimes when you dose off. And then other days, I want to come down from heaven and carry you to YOUR bed.

The "things I have to do today" list is almost complete. And even after all of that, you still come meet me on the white couch. It's my favorite time of day. I get all of you. I understand that you can barely hold your eyes open, but Mama, my Truth is just the refreshment you need. My Word is the energy you need to love hard tomorrow. You serve so many all day, and you need me to serve you. This is how I do it. I love on you through my Word. And all I need you to do it open it. I'll do the rest. And I'll give you rest. You're learning to dance with me and you're getting really good.

I watch you melt in the shower and wash the day away. You fall into the sheets that you will all too soon stumble out of. And I sing over you and pray for you while you slumber. You did more Kingdom work today than you will ever know, sweet Mama.

And you will never know how proud I am of you.