the right to hold you

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My girl, Sissy, can bring out the best in me and the worst in me, seemingly within the same instant.  We have definitely had times in public where we are THAT family – the ones that although people are looking at us sympathetically, they are simultaneously wondering how we ever let it get to this point in the first place.  I don’t know friends, I really don’t.  I’m not sure how we got here, or what greater plan God has in matching up me and my girl, when I can often see how much she would benefit from someone more patient, more kind, more disciplined.  But I do know this – I’m doing my best.  She’s doing her best.  We are family.  Life isn’t easy, and we don’t get it right all the time.  But we will never stop loving each other, and fighting for each other, and being committed to being a family.  I know I am the exact Mama this girl needs, even when I don’t feel like it.  And I know she is the exact girl I need, and she regularly encourages me to be better than I am.

So I will often sing the song, Baby Mine, to my girl at bedtime, as a reminder to us both of what is really important.

 All those same people who scold you, what they’d give just for the right to hold you…

It always makes me teary, and any leftover grudges I’m holding onto from an early-morning meltdown fade away.  Because I’m 34, and she’s 3.  She’s a baby.  She’s MY baby.  And at the end of the day, I (and obviously Daddy K) am the one who has to answer for how well I’ve loved her.  It’s on me.  So I’m the one who gets to hold her.  And even though I don’t always act like it, I know it’s one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.

I don’t deserve the right to hold any of my children. One of the elders at Soma Tacoma, Jeff Vanderstelt, regularly talks about a conversation he has with his children when they are complaining or discontent.  (In fact, he has shared it at the gathering enough that I always laugh, thinking about their family sitting around the Thanksgiving table is 15-20 years, and the kids laughing and rolling their eyes, saying, “Remember how Dad ALWAYS used to ask us, “Are you breathing?” 🙂 ) Anyway (and I’m TOTALLY paraphrasing here, forgive me), he says that when they feel entitled or wronged, etc, he will gently ask, “What does the Bible say you deserve?”  And of course they say, “Death, Dad.” (And here I picture them sighing exasperatedly, because they know where this is going.)  “Are you breathing?”  “Yes, Dad.”  “Pretty good day, huh?”

And it might sound tongue-and-cheek to you, but that word has spoken to my heart OVER and OVER in the last few years.  What do I deserve?  Death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Am I breathing? Um, not only am I breathing, but LOOK AROUND, child.  I have an incredible husband, beautiful children, a roof over my head, friends who love me, and on and on and on.  Pretty good day.  Scratch that – it’s an unbelievable day.  Because I deserve death, and I get ALL THIS.

And it’s not even just that I deserve death in an obligatory “everyone does” kind of way.  I fail my children daily.  I yell at my girl because she just. won’t. listen. and I attempt to bully her into obedience.  I try to guilt her into feeling badly for her actions, and often find myself trying to retaliate with the maturity of a third-grader.  Then, I chose to scroll through FB or look at something on my iPhone instead of getting on my knees and engaging in Bug’s world.  All he wants is his Mama’s attention.  I choose myself over them every day.  And although there are many, many times where I can let myself drown in guilt over that, I am ultimately thankful for it.  Because I get the opportunity to repent (to them and Jesus), to show them what it means to be broken and need a Savior.  To demonstrate (clearly/obviously/tangibly) that if you put your hope in anything other than Jesus, it will fail you.  Even if it’s in your Mama.  They know firsthand there is only One who is perfect, and it isn’t me. They get to be wrapped up in His grace, and witness their Mama asking for forgiveness and mercy.  It’s okay to blow it, friends. He’s already taken the fall.  Keep loving and trying and learning and growing.  All is grace.

So I know that I don’t deserve the right to hold Boo, either. Adopting him isn’t our ministry, or our calling, or an act of service.  He’s not a project. He’s a person, and more importantly (to us), he’s our son.   We will inevitably fail him too — but we’ll never stop loving him.  And we know he deserves a family.  So that’s why we are doing all of this — we are fighting for the right to hold him.  We are the lucky ones.  He’s more than we deserve.

We get to hold this sweet love every night, and tell him his Mama and Daddy love him.  We get to squeeze him close with his brother and sister and remind them all that their family loves them no matter what —  no matter how many tantrums they throw, or sleepless nights they cause, or how much anger they may incite.  The love will always be there – it’s who we are, because it’s who He is.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

We’re coming for you baby!  We’re coming because we want that right.

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