Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring: Hope Against Hope

Spring is swooping in around us on the wings of the mourning doves and robins. Our neighbor's tree has already birthed tiny white blossoms, and our little tree, that still has Chloe's pink coming home bows in it from six months ago, has gentle green buds emerging. Soft rain fell yesterday, and the earth below has started to soak it up and send brilliant greens up the shoots of each blade of grass, subtly changing it from winter's dusty dry brown to replenished green hues gently speckled throughout our yard.

Spring brings hope. The ground thaws. The earth warms from brisk frosts to warm soil under the sun's rays. Life emerges from the dirt floor beneath. Or, in our case, it also emerges from the plastic planter in our kitchen with potting soil and tiny seeds that little toddler hands planted a few days ago. With a little hope, and hopefully not too much over watering (as is my usual dismay in my attempts to grow things), green shoots will soon burst forth from the soil.

But it's a test in patience. We must be patient. We must wait for the Lord to grow this beautiful plant that will burst with pink and orange petals (I can't tell plants apart, otherwise I would have said the plant name just now!). God's Word says, "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives growth," 1 Corinthians 3:9 (ESV).

It's not up to us to make every plant grow, every seed take root. It's the Lord's doing.

I think back to the day two Decembers ago, when the ground was hard, the snow was falling, and the earth was fast asleep, hibernating for winter, that we had our first ultrasound with Chloe. And it all went wrong. We were pregnant for the third time, expecting this amazing gift of a healthy child to be born in the Spring, and to welcome this child when the flowers blossomed and leaves were finally back, swaying up in the branches, playing in the trees. It was a refreshing and exciting thought. But the ultrasound read differently. Like the frozen air outside, that grabs your breath as it escapes your warm mouth and holds it in a mist before you for that split second, yeah, that's what the results were like for us. Our hope for spring and all that it meant were gone. It felt like when the blossoms are on the bushes and about to bloom and then there's that dreaded late frost that unexpectedly blankets the earth in the deep of the night, and you wake to petals drooping to the ground and breaking under the weight of purplish-blue crystals, which look pretty on the outside, but you know it's hurting the plant within.

But we held on to hope.

And the Lord made her to grow. Small, tiny actually, but He grew her nonetheless.

Perhaps you've had a hard ultrasound to take in. Perhaps you're awaiting that moment of spring while carrying a child within, but you've found yourself on that cold table hearing results that do not make sense and it feels like a hard and sudden frost has hit. It's hard. It's gut wrenchingly hard. I've been there. But the beauty is that there is always hope. Our prayer is that if you've heard Chloe's story, then you've heard a story of hope springing up where once there was none. Our hope is that if you're in the same situation we were in a year and a half ago, that you'd choose to hold on to hope when there is none, because sometimes, that's where the best gifts arise. Perhaps you're hearing words like trisomy, CDH, missing a kidney, hydrocephalus, or perhaps the diagnosis is simply that the baby needs delivered early as a preemie...still, do not give up hope.  On this journey we've seen so many littles who have endured hard beginnings, like the frosted petal that somehow, against it all, broke free from that frost and emerged vibrant and colorful. Will it be a hard journey? Yes, most likely, it will. But even the smallest flowers, with the thinnest of stems can withstand the most brutal thunderstorm and wind and survive to see the beautiful rainbow after the rain.

Be encouraged today. Have hope in the midst of a season of fears and what if's. Perhaps yours is a story of trying again after a loss, and thus it's so easy to be ensnared by the grip of fear. Or an adoption that didn't go as expected and hope was lost. Or you're in a season of longing for another adoption after a successful one. Or, your season has nothing to do with any of this, but perhaps is just as hard of a season to walk through and you feel distracted, stuck, hopeless. Do not stay in a season of fear for the future or guilt of the past.  Allow yourself to mourn and grieve, but also give yourself grace to have joy again. "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba, Father!" (Romans 8:15). Cry out to the Lord.

Perhaps in hoping against hope, a spring will come again. Perhaps that spring might not be what you imagined, perhaps it won't include a baby as described in this post, or other longings, such as a new job, a better financial situation, a new fill-in-the-blank. But He will do a good work in it because that's what He does. He is faithful and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:21-23). He takes our messes, our ugly or unexpectedly frosted-over, cold hearts, and makes them new again. The Lord doesn't leave us or forsake us. Instead, He changes us and molds us more into His image and makes His heart's desire for us become our heart's desire. "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart," says Psalm 37:4. Know that it means that He will grant you His heart's desire and plant it within you. Not that whatever you want He'll grant, though sometimes He does. And with that, plans might change, journeys might shift. He might guide you in a new direction that you never saw coming. In our case, He brought us a spring with a new baby girl. He did sustain her in the womb. But it took a path we never imagined. We never thought our heart's desire would become to help others with special needs babies. We never intended when deciding to have a third child to lead a life outside of the normal and ordinary, but He did. We never thought that having another child would teach us so, so many hard lessons, trials, triumphs, fears to be faced, and praises and joys, but it has.

Hope against hope. And spring will come again. 


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