Thursday, May 3, 2018

& to Think... We Could Have Missed This

I took a deep breath and unplugged the little Christmas tree in Silas's room. It took me a second to allow reality to truly sink in, because the next time the little camping themed Christmas tree was lit... he would be HOME. After we loaded our luggage into the car, I grabbed my backpack and quickly, Jared's hand. The trip to the airport seemed to take forever as Mal, Zach, Jared and I tried to make small talk; but in my head and heart, a million questions, concerns, and yet, confidence as the tears began to well up in my eyes. We arrived at the airport, unloaded at the curb, then my little sister wrapped her arms around my neck as I wrapped my arms around her sweet, round 7 month pregnant belly. She took my face into her hands and through her own tears, said, "Morgan, I don't know if I could do this; but you, you can do this. God built you for this. And, I know you are going to be an amazing mommy." 

2 months later...

It is Christmas Eve, and we have all come to Mallory and Zach's house for dinner. Silas was busy playing with the wrapping paper from previously opened gifts and was quite entertained, so I decided to take a second to help Mal in any way that I could. I found her in her bedroom, attempting to feed my sweet nephew, Redic, who had just arrived only 5 days before. She had a million questions, concerns, and yet was confident as the tears began to well up in her eyes. I walked over to her and through my own tears and a few giggles, I said, " Mal, I don't know if I could do this; but you, you can do this. God built you for this. And you are already an amazing mommy."

Over the past year, God has used the miracle of our baby boys to teach us so much about Him and His heart. She grew bigger while my countdown to Colombia grew smaller. We continue to learn so much from each other through laughs, fears, tears and tough talks filled with LOTS of GRACE. The past year could have looked extremely different for us and our friendship if we would have chosen to focus on the differences in our journey to motherhood. However, because of GRACE... LOTS of GRACE, we chose to embrace the difficulty in the differences which has resulted in an experience that only our sweet God could have orchestrated. We could have missed this...

Why do we choose to let our differences divide us? Why are we intimidated by a different perspective or path? Why do we use our gifts or experiences as an opportunity to elevate or disqualify ourselves instead of an opportunity to learn and educate others? Why do we "worship" the gifts instead of the Giver of every good gift? I have learned to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, because it is there, where my faith is fashioned, and my God is glorified. Because He has created us for community, let’s learn to embrace the difficulty in the differences, and journey with each other anyways. As I navigate this new season of motherhood, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what ultimately defines a woman... and for me... the answer is not motherhood. It's simple... CONFIDENCE in her CREATOR. Whether she is single, married, gives birth to many babies or none, breastfeeds her babies or not, works, doesn’t work, thick, thin, rich, poor, white, brown, black, old, young. CONFIDENT and COURAGEOUS women who carry each other; and in humility, love each other and challenge each other to be their very best while sharing stories and journeying together. NO competitions. NO comparisons. Just iron sharpening iron. On mission together, to KNOW HIM and MAKE HIM KNOWN. Choosing JOY in the JOURNEY.

Because Mother's Day is just right around the corner, I have asked Mal to write alongside and share her journey also in order to truly show how we are ALL more alike than different.. as women, mamas, sisters, friends, and children of God. 

To our boys, Silas and Redic...

the waiting MOM:
We waited for you for many, many years, but only knew about you for about ten months. For those ten months, I obsessed over the few pictures and one video I had. I was very busy with lots of paperwork, appointments, and social worker meetings while fundraising in order to pay agency and travel expenses needed in order to bring you home. I anticipated an official travel date and waited anxiously for the process to be approved. 

Daddy and I always knew we wanted a baby one day, but we were so surprised when we saw that + staring us in the face. I was so excited, but all I could think about was your Aunt Morgan. She and Uncle Jared had been wanting a baby for so long, and they were still waiting to go get cousin Silas. You see, Aunt Morgan and I have always been best friends. She protected me, and I protected her. A few months before we knew about you, she and Uncle Jared met your cousin, Silas, but they had to wait a long time until they could be with him. I knew Aunt Morgan would be so happy and excited to meet you. But I was still very anxious to tell her.  You were a sweet secret between me and Daddy for about 10 weeks and then we started telling our family about you! I bought t-shirts for me and Aunt Morgan that said “Best Auntie Ever” because I knew that we were going to be the best moms and aunts to you and Silas. As you can imagine, Aunt Morgan flipped out, Nay and Grammy cried, Granddaddy smirked, and Pop left to go to Dollar General because he didn’t want anyone to see him cry. From the very beginning, you were loved.

the expecting MOM: 
I helped daddy choose your name and nested in your room. I packed suitcases and played a guessing game with what size clothes, shoes and diapers to bring. I fell more in love with your sweet face and big brown eyes with every Skype date every Friday morning and learned as much Spanish as possible. I decorated for Christmas in October as we prepared to live in Colombia for the entire month of November. I was scared the day would never come that I would actually get to hold you in my arms and call you mine. I gave everyone the same answer when asked the same questions, but was grateful every time they asked about you, because it gave me hope. 

I went to doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment and lost count of how many times I had to potty in a cup! But hearing your heartbeat and seeing you grow made it so worth it. Against my better judgment, I googled way too many things, and my belly grew bigger and bigger. It wasn’t long before there was no denying that you were well on your way. Lots of people would ask me when you were coming, and I would always say, “He’ll be here at Christmas!” hoping in my heart that that was true and that Silas would be home too. I decorated your room while Daddy and I disagreed on your name for the longest time. I’m so thankful for your daddy though. I sat up many, many nights feeling you move inside of me but so worried that something was going to happen to you, scared that I was not going to be able to do this. But every little kick, every little hiccup, was a welcomed reminder that God was faithful and that gave me hope. 

the new MOM:
We navigated a different culture as best as we knew how with you in our arms. We  made it to our appointments on time...barely, and approached bedtime and mealtime the best way we knew how. We walked to the market and spent a lot of time at the park. You rocked your first international flight and the night you met part of our village, was a dream come true. You are navigating new spaces and places like a rockstar making friends wherever you go while I am learning to go with the new "flow". Our time since returning home has been full of time with the tribe, lots of doctor appointments and therapy sessions. You are learning new things and surprising us every, single day.

Our lives changed in an instant. During our first night together, I remember looking at your dad and saying, “Now what?” We felt clueless, but knew that God had given you specifically to us. The first few days were filled with us navigating this whole “eat, sleep, poop” routine. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Something that is supposedly so natural continues to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. But through our uncertainty and lots and lots of support from others, you were and still are the best baby. Since Day 1, you have slept and eaten like a champ. You bring such joy to everyone you share your smile with, and every day with you is a gift.

being MOM:
Being your mom has been the greatest, most humbling gift. It has taught me so much about myself and because of you, I want to be the best I can be. The anticipation and expectation of life with you is so much more than I ever could have imagined or hoped for. You challenge me and encourage me to smile bigger, dream brighter, run faster, dance longer, sing louder and also create, love, and serve smaller, deeper, quieter. I am no better or no less, because God chose me to be your second mom; instead, I simply have a responsibility to steward your sweet soul, asking God for wisdom daily as I navigate your needs and disciple you as you grow. I am so grateful and humbled that God chose me to be your forever mama, my sweet sunshine boy. 

Redic James, you’ve changed my life forever. As a little girl, I always worried about if I would be able to read my baby a bedtime story, talk with his teachers and doctors, and basically, be a good mom because I stuttered. But now that you’re here, at the end of every day, I swaddle you tight and look at your sweet face and think, “Wow, God did this.” So I know he will remain faithful. I always want to be your voice of encouragement, pushing you to be the best you can be. I pray that God will teach you those same principles of redemption and grace that he taught me. You make my life richer and sweeter. I am so thankful that God chose me to be your mama.

We always knew we wanted to be mommies, well... because we wanted to be just like OUR mommy. Happy Mother's Day to you, NAY! And THANK YOU, Mama, for being such an incredible support to both of us in such unique, sweet ways while on this journey and for also choosing JOY in the journey! We have had friends tell us what good mamas we are, and to that we say, "Thanks... We get it from OUR MAMA."

To ALL WOMEN... mamas, sisters, friends, and children of God: 
"Dear sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. Understand this, my dear sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (JAMES 1)

Again, God created us for community, so let’s learn to embrace the difficulty in the differences, and journey with each other anyways, friends. Our journey to motherhood was different, but the Giver of our precious gifts, the same. Mal and I continue to be humbled by the lessons we are learning and the perspective we have gained... And to think, we could have missed this. 

Worship in Waiting: 

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