all you need is love

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

IMG_1452Tonight, for the first time since she moved in, our sweet M is asleep upstairs in her bed, and I am downstairs with no children. The in-her-bed sleeping thing is only a week old at this point. I am grateful to move on from the carseat/mama’s chest/papa’s chest/carseat rotation we were stuck on. I think we’ve turned a corner into a more routine, less demanding sleep cycle, but I don’t regret these past ten weeks. Not the dirty house nor the endless tv watching nor the indentation in my couch cushions because I sat there the bulk of every day. Not that it doesn’t cause extreme exhaustion. Not that there weren’t plenty of frustrated tears. Not that I don’t feel that all-too-familiar pressure to schedule this baby, to make her sleep all night, and the pressure doesn’t end there, does it? Then it’s the pressure to put my littlest in preschool, to ease up on the nurturing care because ‘isn’t he too old for that kind of thing?’, to allow more freedoms, less freedoms, different discipline…pressures from this world to achieve visible success with your children are unrelenting. I feel all those things and more, but there is no regret.

“And so we measure our success not with statistics or growth charts, but with love. And we hold our ground, refusing to be moved by what the world tells us we should be doing. Even when we trip over disappointment and set-backs, we regain our footing in the sure and ever-present promise of hope in Jesus. Because the darkness will not win, and success neither belongs to us nor can be measured by us anyways.”
-Rebecca Stanley

I read those words today and it rings so true in my heart tonight. I know so much of what we do cannot be measured. We may never see results. Not from this foster care thing, not from the years we’ve spent pouring into the lives of teenagers, maybe not even from the hours upon hours upon hours that we spend nurturing and training our own children. But I still have hope.

Some days, on days like today, I see that hope realized. I have children who continue to look for the marginalized in their classes, who continue to give their whole hearts to whatever child we bring into our family even when they know it might end in extreme pain. I have a littlest who will pray with all the sincerity and innocence that her three-year-old heart can muster that this sweet baby will be in our family forever, and alternatively, I have a youngest son who prays with the same amount of fervor that this baby will someday be reunited with her mom.

And then there are those magical days when I get to look at the growth chart of this tiny born-too-soon life and see the scientific evidence that proves this whole thing. I can watch the doctor and nurses’ wonder over the growth chart, over a baby that has grown steadily and gradually from birth, the whole time she was in the NICU until she moved in with us. Just a steady increase at about a 5-10% incline.

Then: love.

She moves into a home. With a family. The line takes a sharp turn upwards – about a 50-60% angle increase. The medical professionals took visible pleasure in that increase, showing me the results on a couple different charts. I don’t know their medical conclusions, but I know mine: love wins. It wins every time. Sometimes we don’t get to see the victory, but that just makes me more grateful for the moments when we do. Sometimes we get the actual scientific proof that everything that we’re doing is important. That these past ten weeks of newborn craziness and family adjustments and tears and joy really do matter. We are literally changing a life.

Whenever we pick her up and soothe her crying, we teach her that mamas and papas are here to take care of you.
When you cry, you are heard.
When you’re uncomfortable, we will ease your pain.
When you’re hungry, we will feed you. Enough. Every time.
When you need to hear a heart beat, we will hold you close.
When you hurt, we hurt too, and we will work our hardest to help you feel better.
When you are lonely, we will be there to hug you tight and shower kisses over your sweet head.
We are here.
You are loved.
And oh sweet girl, whatever the coming darkness may be, there is no darkness in this world strong enough to overcome this hope we have in Jesus.

Love wins.

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