I was shocked to log into my blog and realize it's been 9 months since I've written. It makes me sad and makes me long to jump back into the writing world where so much of my heart lies. 2016 has been quite the ride as we added our surprise blessing just 5 days ago, all while we continue to wait for our 2nd Ethiopian son to come home. But, hopefully, I can find some down time, and quiet (ha!) to sit and write more frequently. It's the personal getaway I long for most. But anyway, now on to the real reason for this post.
As with all of my more precious pieces of writing, such as the stories of how each of our children have arrived in our family, it takes me days of mental processing to let everything sit, to relish in the details that are near and dear to my heart. That somehow, words will reach into my soul and adequately express all that is there. I have no specified writing plan, or specific words, phrases, or categories. Just me, a quiet room, a sleeping newborn next to me, and the sun shining onto the exact spot where she arrived earth side.
The Story of Sylvia Jae.
We found out I was pregnant back in December. I remember it vividly. I walked in the door from working on my thesis all day. The kids were going crazy, and Jon was trying to calm the crazy by reading books to Penelope in her rocking chair. The big kids ran in and out of the room, jumping on the bed, and were basically going insane. It was a madhouse. Christmas was just around the corner, the house was decorated, the stockings were hung, and the kids were excited. (Plus, they had just been with Daddy for about 8 hours straight. haha). I snuck into the bathroom, took the test, and stood there, shocked. I walked into Penelope's room, showed Jon the test, and he laughed. A good laugh, and said, "Great! Why not!" Baby #5. Ready or not, here she comes. Little did we know, that phrase would be the exact description of her arrival!
Crazytown. That's what the new year felt like it was ringing in. Finishing up my graduate degree, working a part-time job from home, homeschooling, riding the long, unexpected roller coaster of international adoption, and preparing for the arrival of a newborn. We were overwhelmed. Jon would often say, "2016. It's going down in the books." And going down in the books it was! There are about a dozen blog posts I could write between the start of 2016 and when we announced at 28 weeks pregnant that Baby Oren #5 was coming. However, that would definitely make this a post longer than anyone would read. Someday I'll go back and chronicle it. But for now, let's just say that those long months riding out the unknowns of the international adoption process on top of everything else listed above, finally came to a head as we surrendered our children, our family, and our visions for how this year would play out, to the Lord. That weekend in late May was by far one of the most emotionally difficult weekends we have been through, but also, one of the most freeing. There is freedom in giving up control and allowing God to do the work He was planning all along.
Over the next few months, our family began to grow and change in ways it desperately needed to. More joy. More contentment in the present. More simplicity. More Spirit-filled. Smaller life. Deeper emotionally. And most importantly, bringing deep joy and the enjoyment of life into the legacy of our family. Seeing it lacking, understanding where the chains of a more solemn approach to life, God, and Christianity came from. Realizing that it damages souls and damages legacies to live in such a burdened way. We wanted our children to pass on a joyful and connected view of family life and one's relationship to God, to their children, and their children's children.
Each of our children have arrived into our family in very specific seasons of life, as do all children when they join a family. With each of them, a special word describing that season and their story always came to mind.
Mekonen's story is one of God's goodness.
Evie's story is one of God's faithfulness.
Penelope's story is one of God's mercy.
When I think about the many months leading up to Sylvia's birth and when I think about all that has gone on in our family personally, the descriptor word that keeps coming to mind for this season is JOY. So that's the descriptor word that so easily molded itself to our daughter's story.
Sylvia's story is one of God's deep blessing of JOY.
We pray that she, and all of our children, grow up in a home that is filled with abundant joy. Not the kind of "solemn 'joy'" that many conservative Christians seem to abide by. The ones where it seems they believe God never smiled, or laughed, or that being in relationship with Jesus is solemn, burdensome, and one that is driven by strict rules and "becoming more righteous." Well, it's none of those. It's about abundant life. Jesus came to give it. If we are His, we have it. It's about living out of the heart He gave us. It's about a spirit-filled life and a spirit-filled home. It's about a life filled with joy. And that dear friends, is what the season of waiting on Sylvia's arrival has taught us. That God has a deep blessing of JOY for each of our families- one that He desperately longs for us to simply take hold of. It makes me wonder all the blessings that God is holding straight out for us, that we simply choose not to grab hold of, or that we are completely blind to even noticing them hanging there, just waiting for us to simply drink deeply.
Stay tuned for Part II - Sylvia's birth...