Tonight, I held my 7 year old daughter while she cried.
We were praying before bed like we always do. Justin had to work early so he wasn't with us. I was sitting on Cora's bed, thanking God for today and for the money we were able to raise for Reign. She leaned in close to me, and after I ended the prayer I noticed she was crying. Through her tears, she said, "mom, I just love Reign so much. I wish she had a family."
Oh, my heart.
I reassured her. "God loves her too. We should just keep praying her family will find her."
She was sobbing now. "It's just so sad, that so many kids die..."
Tears welled up in my eyes. It's a beautiful thing. I am proud of what a compassionate little girl she is. But it's bittersweet....because she is right. Children die every day, many without knowing what it feels like to be loved. I can hardly think about it without my heart hurting.
But I didn't always know.
It was January. I had just returned from a girls trip to Florida, which was a rare treat for us New Englanders. I was working on getting to my goal weight; I had taken up running and had two 5k's under my belt. I had several races planned for the upcoming season. I was also hoping to get my motorcycle license in the spring, and had been enjoying weekly nights out with my friends. I finally felt like I was getting to do some of the things I had been missing. I was becoming more independent. I was enjoying a life I never had (since my husband and I were married straight out of high school.) Deep down, I knew, I sensed that I was pulling away from my family, and most notably my husband. As a matter of fact, only weeks before, he had confronted me about that very fact. I rationalized that I deserved some time away, since I was always home with the kids and had very little time for myself.
That all ended with a positive pregnancy test.
I remember that moment. I was in complete disbelief. My first pregnancy was a surprise, but nothing like this. This was beyond unexpected. This was not wanted. This had to be a mistake. It was at a time when I was finally finding myself again. I was at a weight I hadn't been in years. I felt great and had plans for the future. How could this be happening?
I cried a lot during my pregnancy. I cried because I felt trapped, I cried because I felt guilty that I felt trapped. I knew I would love the baby, but I couldn't help feeling like I didn't want to love him.
One night, sitting on the couch with my husband, tears streaming down my face, he said, "remember what the song says, 'what if your blessings come through raindrops?'" ("Blessings" by Laura Story)
I will never forget that moment. I knew he was right, but couldn't see past the wall in front of me.
Well, I can tell you...having Evan, my beautiful, third baby, changed me in so many ways. Has anyone mentioned how ridiculously insane the transition from 2 to 3 children is? It's INSANE. I felt crazy. Evan hardly ever slept (and still doesn't) and several times I reached the point of crying for hours because I was so tired. I felt like I was losing my mind.
And in the midst of this, God was whispering to my heart. He was pulling my heart strings for the orphans of the world. He was assuring me that we still had so much love to offer another child. All the while, He was doing the same in my husband's heart. I can't even believe how crazy the timing was. I could barely deal with what was in front of me, never mind even thinking about adding to it! But, that's how I know it was purely God.
He moved my heart. He used the birth of my son Evan to change me and mold me, to set me on the path that Jesus walked - the path of loving and defending the fatherless.
I had been living for me. I wasn't a bad mom or wife, but I was self-centered. I was self-conscious and had low self-esteem, but I was still thinking so much about myself, instead of others. The things I was doing, were they bad? Not necessarily. As the Bible says, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. I was living a life that was not what God wanted for me. That alone should be enough of a reason to make a change. But we don't always see the things we need to see until God makes us see them.
I just spent the last several weeks fundraising for a child I have never met. I have spent my money and time just for her. Today, we raised over $380 for Reign. We also raised over $400 for her during our online auction. Once all the payments from ornament orders come in, I will have reached my goal of raising $1,000. It has been hard work, and I feel exhausted. But He keeps me going. I've never felt closer to the heart of Jesus than I have since I started advocating for orphans. It's like everything suddenly makes sense, like I stepped into the light after being in a dimly-lit room. Like the last puzzle piece fitting perfectly to complete the picture. It's all so clear now. THIS is the gospel in it's purest form.
And my daughter...she gets it.
I don't know exactly what the future holds, but I know I cannot sit idly and enjoy the pleasures of this world like I used to. Once you know, you have to act...it's a Biblical command. So I've given up living for myself, and I'm choosing to live for others. To make my life count.
Because I wouldn't ever want to live a life God didn't want for me.