“You were with that sad baby weren’t you?”
“I am sorry? What?”
“In the bagel shop, you were with the sad baby?”
“Oh, yes I was in the bagel shop but no I was with a happy baby. His name is Adam and he is my son…”
That conversation occurred about 3 weeks ago in Jacksonville, Florida. Raja, my dad, a friend, Adam, and I had gotten bagels before church and were eating in the bagel shop. While we were sitting there, a barista from the local coffee shop had come in and seen us. So when I walked over to get coffee a little later, she asked me about Adam and referred to him as “sad baby”.
My heart dropped.
For I know that Adam is not sad.
But I know what she saw.
She saw a mouth that when smiling, forms more of a frown.
She saw an opening where the nose should, and will (one day) be.
She saw silence, for the tracheostomy (which will be in place for maybe 2 years) suppresses my son’s voicebox so he cannot cry or giggle.
But I know when he smiles because 2 precious dimples form, even if the curve is downwards.
I know that the opening for the nose is really a blessing, for it indicates that part of his nose is in place and it allows air to pass thru.
I know that he has laughed and cried and cooed and that he will one day again.
And I know how he communicates to us during this temporary time of silence.
I know from where he came from and how beautiful his precious life is now.
I know that he had no name, and now has a name.
I know that he didn’t have a mother or father, and now has mother, father, baby brother!, Mimi and Pops, aunties and uncles, and infinitely more who love him and cherish his life.
I know that his lifetime was in question for a few weeks, but now he has a beautiful life ahead of him.
I know that he once had no way to close his eyes and now he can rest fully with them closed.
I know that the gates of hell did not hold back infinite provision, mercy, and miracles from heaven as over $200,000 was given, in faith, by thousands the world over, in order for Adam to have surgeries necessary for him.
I know that Adam’s life has been a picture of the Gospel to me, Raja, and many others, unlike which we have ever comprehended.
And that is eternal and that is beautiful and that is not sad.
But, how do I share that in such a short time?
How do I communicate that to a plighted barista in the morning rush of coffee seekers?
But I didn’t communicate it fully.
And that hurts.
It hurts to see the glances that we receive the world over.
It hurts to hear the comments many make.
It hurts to have people crowd and stare at my son but not speak to him.
Though I know it is hard for people and confusing to see a baby formed differently with scars, healing, on a young child’s face, it is still hard at times.
Sometimes there reactions make me wonder, “is this journey too painful for me?”
In that place.
Calvary Love speaks.
Calvary Love meets.
And I am running to my Saviour daily to figure out how to process it and how to speak to it and how to respond.
Though I have always known pain, for we live in a pain stained world, this new season with my first born son has changed my perception of pain and has intensified it in my life.
I know motherhood does that, with or without a child with “special needs”.
I know I am not the only mother or woman who feels pain…but I can say that this season has definitely increased my awareness of it.
On September 18th, a baby was born who defied what we, mankind, expect babies to depict.
On September 21st, that baby came to our home to live.
On Nov 2nd, that baby became our son, Adam.
And pain has seared our hearts in this season.
It is easy to ignore pain.
Avoid it perhaps.
But it is impossible to live without it.
Despite what actions we may take.
For this world, tarnished that it is, is not pain free.
But that is not all.
That is not my only understanding of the pain that we are walking thru.
For look at our Savior.
And, I pray, yours too.
He “was a man of grief, acquainted with sorrows”
And what does He ask of us?
“Take up your cross and follow”
Follow? In a life of grief and sorrow?
Yes, “His mercies are new every morning”
And yes, He says “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest…rest for your SOULS”
That doesn’t mean a life of ease and pain free living on earth.
Yes, all is grace.
Yes, His grace is sufficient and His power is perfect in our weakness.
But that does not remove the suffering and pain we may experience on our way.
So, why am I surprised and why do I fret so when the pain is severe?
He told us it would happen.
He even said that if they hated Him, they will hate us also.
Man, tough stuff.
“we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin.”
That Savior who was aquainted with sorrows doesn’t leave us to walk thru these painful experiences alone and without His own depth of understanding of them!
He has gone thru each of them.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”
So, in these times of pain, we are not to fight alone?
We are to approach the throne of grace where mercy and grace abundant flow to our aid.
How do we know that He has been tempted and pained in every way?
How do we know that He is sufficient to help US in OUR time of need?
Bind them on our fingers and write them over our doorposts.
Remember and bind and write what?
His deeds of faithfulness in generations past.
That is how we know that His Word and Promise is true.
Parched they were.
Angry they were.
Full of doubt they were.
Pain, fear, disbelief.
They have plagued mankind always.
Wanting to go back and afraid they would never eat or drink again.
But, were they left in the place of pain and fear alone?
What was Moses instructed to do?
“Strike the rock”
And what happened?
Water poured forth for His people to drink in.
And what does Paul tell us later?
They… “drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Chrst”
It was HIM!
The man who was acquainted with sorrows!
The Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world!
He allowed HIMSELF to be struck so that the stubborn doubters could drink deeply and know!
That He is God.
And that He is with them.
And that they can find grace and mercy in HIM, to help them in times of need.
Or, what about Elijah?
When he fled to Horeb?
What did he say on arrival, after running for his life, afraid of jezebel and her minions?
He went into the desert, fell under a tree, and prayed for his death.
The pain and fear were too great.
He did not think he could bear it any more.
He cried “ I have had enough…take my life; I am no better than my ancestors…”
But what happened?
Who met him with grace and mercy to help in time of need?
“all at once an angel touched him and said ‘get up and eat’. He looked around, and there by hi shead was a cake of bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water…”
So, Elijah ate and then laid to rest.
Then what happened?
A second time, an angel came!
“Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you”
<How often do we feel that way? That the journey is too much for us? Oh so often. Does that mean we must give up? Throw in the towel? Give whatever it is that is too difficult back to the Lord? No! Why? Because He comes again!>
“So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God”
We are never left alone.
For He provides us with HIMSELF
The bread of Life
And the water from streams of LIVING WATER
And that bread…
Give us the strength we need to march on.
All the way to the mountain of God.
All the way to the end of this pilgrim journey.
No matter what pain accompanies us.
Praise Him for that dear ones.
Still, it is hard.
For me, too, it is still hard.
It is not just us.
Generations before also.
Those Israelites in the desert.
Even the 12 men closest to J*s*s on earth.
Look at Peter.
When told His S*v**r must suffer, did he accept it willingly, though he has been warned multiple times before pain and suffering must come upon Him?
No, he fought it.
Even offered himself to die first <he didn’t know actually he would deny Him 3 times…not at all go in His place>
Then, when the arrest was happening, what did Peter do in his fear and anger?
Cut off the ear of a guard!
Took it into his own hands.
Did he rest and trust in grace and mercy in time of need?
No, he anxiously attempted his own methods of pain free living.
Did it work?
No, alas, it did not.
He was forgetting Who his S*v**r was.
The One who came “not to be served but to serve…and to give His life for the ransom of many”
Who did He come to serve?
The same people He knew would hate Him, reject Him, murder Him.
Yet, He came, aware of that pain.
He came to bear the pain and suffering and separation from His Father that we deserve so that we, who believe, could go free.
“He became sin who knew no sin, so that we could become the righteousness of God”
He became what He knew not so that we could be rewarded?
And scandalous it is.
Scandalous grace and scandalous love.
Scandalous mercy to help us in times of need and in times of pain on this pilgrim journey.
May I remember that when the questions, looks, and comments come.
May I drink deeply of water living and Bread of Life.
Not just today.
Not just in solitude each morning.
May I not just scribble it in my journal and fail in walking it out.
But may I walk it out daily in the presence of those around me.
Around my husband.
Around believers and unbelievers.
And around my precious sons.
When my oldest comes home, hurt from the words and looks and glares of outsiders and friends.
When he is confused as to why his body is afflicted so.
When his younger brother doesn’t understand.
Through tears and laughter, may I know that life is not devoid of pain.
May I remember that my Savior became what He knew not…sin…and lived a life and death of pain…and calls me to take up my Cross.
May I drink deeply from His side.
And journey on.
May I not forget that “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (cs lewis)
Beautiful poem from Amy Carmichael’s “Rose from Briers” (published 1933)
Too Great for Thee
An angel touched me and he said to me,
The journey, pilgrim, is too great for thee,
But rise and eat and drink,
Thy food is here,
Thy Bread of Life,
Thy Cruse of water clear,
Drawn from the brook, that doth as yesterday
Flow by the way
And thou shalt go in strength of that pure food
Made thine by virtue of the sacred Rood,
Unto the mount of God,
Where thy Lord’s face
Shall shine on thee,
On thee in thy low place,
Down at His feet, who was thy Strength and Stay
Through all the way.
O Cake of Bread baken on coals of fire,
Sharp fires of pain,
O water turned to wine,
Thy word is true, this food is daily mne;
Then never can the journey be
Too great for me
As I look back on these past 3 months.
It is quite a blur.
3 weeks-1 month became 6 months.
Unexpected financial needs were provided miraculously in ways only God could author.
A few surgeries became 6 within 6 weeks.
We thought Adam may lose his eyesight despite those surgeries.
Even though Adam had gone 10, or was it 12, weeks without eyelids and still had vision.
Even though all odds were against him and his life and his sight.
Even though we made it in time, the money was raised in time, and the surgeries were done.
There was that risk.
For his eyes were to be sutured shut for days.
Babies can lose sight quickly. That is what we were told.
And I was scared.
I was terrified.
I was even a bit angry.
I felt as though we had worked so hard to moisten his eyes hourly and prayed so hard and hoped so deeply.
And now, in America?
With the best surgeons around?
With eyelids on?
Still, he could lose his sight?
For, in America, under great surgeon’s care, everything would be perfect.
Oh my. How wrong.
No matter where we are.
No matter where Adam is.
Life is given and taken away.
The One who authored life.
Sight is given by One.
Whose eyes even saw our son’s unformed body in that little woman’s womb.
I had taken my eyes off of that One.
I had placed them on doctors, hospitals, America, medicine.
Instead of spending hours before Him.
I spent hours in anxious waiting.
I spent hours crying frustrated and confused tears.
I cried out to Him that it was not fair and that Adam deserved eyes to see.
Oh how silly of me.
I remember one night breaking about this to my husband.
He also had been thru his fair struggles.
Yet his wisdom and restful spirit were a bit advanced from mine.
I remember him telling me that “even if Adam goes blind, this is so much bigger than Adam having eyes to see”
That angered me.
Deep, deep within.
I was not angry with my husband, though I acted it.
I was more angry with the Almighty, the Author of my son’s life and the Redeemer of my life.
I was angry at the Truth of that.
That “He gives, He takes away, His name be ever praised”
I remembered the parable He told, when He walked this fragile earth.
Of the boy born blind.
It was not because of his sin.
It was not because of his parent’s sin.
It was because of the Glory HE would receive.
And really, what do I ultimately desire?
That that is temporary?
Or that that is eternal?
For this body, this flesh, it is fading.
Word says it is like the grass of the field.
So why would I long more for that in my son, than that that is eternal?
Why would I long for maybe 70 years of sight on earth compared to eternal glory for many?
It is hard yes.
Maybe it sounds too radical.
But Solomon saw all that man labored after and it was meaningless.
Sight is not the end all be all.
To me, a new ferocious mama bear in the world, it was.
But HE reminded me gently, it is not.
Adam’s life has been witnessed by so many.
Definitely complications were many.
Outcomes could have been poor.
Eyesight topped off the list of those possibilities.
It took days, probably weeks.
To know His peace in the midst of my emotions and anger.
His still small voice had to be heard thru a heart with sound proof walls that had been erected.
But He did speak.
And I did here.
He alone brought Adam from the womb.
That in itself was a miracle.
He alone brought him into our arms.
He alone ordained the miraculous treatment and provision he is undergoing.
He alone is to be praised.
He will succeed.
And His success is not dependent on my definition of success.
No, for His ways are far beyond my ways. And His thoughts are far beyond my thoughts.
So I am daily longing for faith to believe whatever he places before me regarding my son’s life.
He does have eyesight.
That is a miracle!
Alas! I pray I never forget to praise Him for that.
He continues to provide all of our needs.
May I not forget to cry that out.
For if I do forget, the rocks and stones will surely testify.
Friends, His ways are beyond our ways.
As are His thoughts.
I know what it is to rage within and disagree with status quo and future fears.
Rest. Be still. He is Abba. He knows.
He does take too.
And thru it all, He will be praised.
May our hearts be softened and steadied to praise Him thru it all.
“trust an unknown future to a known God”
-corrie ten boom
How quickly they have come and gone.
Stretch marks are not here to mark his arrival.
There were not 9 months to prepare for his coming.
10 weeks ago, our first born arrived.
And what a joy, what an incredible joy, he is!
I have not been able to write on here as much as I wanted.
For my heart and mind are full and my Spirit, His Spirit, is rejoicing within me!
You know how Mary stored it all inside of her heart?
I pray I can store it all there too. And that I can recall it all over the years.
For I could have never predicted this journey Raj and I have been on.
I have always longed to adopt. The children of India have really been on my heart since…well, I was 16 and read the words of Amy Carmichael.
As I have gotten to know children and the lack of families surrounding millions of them, I have longed to be used by our Abba Father to care for them.
But after marriage, Raj and I knew our focus needed to be Him and one another.
So thoughts of adoptions were merely whispered prayers and hopes for the future.
And I saw so much purpose in teaching nursing students and serving in many different ways than adoption.
So when Adam was born that humid October night.
When Adam was first seen that humid October night.
When Adam first cried that humid October night.
When Adam was left alone that humid October night.
God was at work that humid October night.
God was preparing us that humid October night.
God who “places the lonely in families”
Oh how He loves us!
Oh how He loves Adam!
Our home of 2 soon became 3 and we can look back and only fall on our knees in gratitude.
We look back and raise our Ebeneezer in worship and gratefulness.
Of His faithfulness.
He is good.
His mercy endureth forever.
He is Abba and He is Emmanuel.
He never forsakes.
I remember a question that hit me as we were in the process of adopting.
And we were told that Adam would not live.
No longer than a few weeks.
I remember asking “Can I raise a dying child?”
“Can I love him as my own and treasure each moment knowing he is dying?”
And I hear in my heart,
“You, too, are dying”.
“Raja, your beloved, he is dying.”
Yes, our Spirit’s will live. But this body, it is fading.
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”
After all, didn’t Solomon tell us
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die”
And “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever”
Yes, we are eternal beings. That I know. And in that I rejoice. We will one day see all things made new!
The idea that we are all dying is not some fatalistic idea.
Each year that passes, I see changes in my own body. We age and no man knows if he is guaranteed tomorrow.
Did I choose to not marry Raja because one day he may die before me?
Do I love him or any of my family and friends less because of unavoidable death?
I love them deeply in this moment.
Then why should I question loving, adopting, and caring for this precious boy because medicine says let him die?
There is no answer.
And one day, when other children enter our family, I should not look at them in a different way.
I love each of them, my husband, and all my loved ones with love from Heaven. Love one day at a time.
We do not know what tomorrow holds. I know this moment. I know Jesus. I know what love is. I know His word.
And, after all, “the word of the Lord endures forever”.
Flesh fades like grass, but the Word endures.
The Word will give me the strength I need to love Adam.
No matter what tomorrow holds.
Then how merciful of Jesus to show me a physical, tangible Hope, just after He walks me thru the struggle of considering the brevity Adam’s life may be.
I hear from a team of specialists that there is hope. Surgeries can be done. And Adam can have have a beautiful life ahead of him.
And as time passes, I see him grow and thrive and change.
I hear him cooing.
I watch his deep eyes watching me.
I feel his hand press against me.
I see him feel loved.
What if fear HAD conquered?
What if I said “no”.
What if He did not move in my heart to say “yes”?
What if I said that I could not love this little life because of what others say?
I would not have tasted of such love.
Raja and I would not have labored together on behalf of this precious life.
Raja and I and many others would not have been driven to our knees in pleading for so many doors to open along the way.
My praise filled prayer tonight:
“Thank you Abba. thank You for filling me with faith to walk this out.”
So, in the questions you have.
Press into the one thing Eternal, the Word.
Flesh fades. He remains.