relentless journey

HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY CREW

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Baby Girl,

Unbeknownst to us, sweet girl, you made an entrance into the world on this day last year. We had just spent the week at Mimi and Papi’s for Thanksgiving. It was five thirty in the morning as we loaded the car and headed for home. I can still feel the warm tears running down my cheek, the lump in my throat as I fought back a greater flood, all for fear of unearthing the fullness of my emotions before a seven hour drive. I told them I didn’t think we would be a family of three by Christmas as I had hoped. We said our good byes and began a drive home more dreaded than usual.

You see, I had been dreaming of you for some time, made plans, let hope root down deep. That morning, the unwelcome feeling of delayed dreams formed a layer around my heart, heavy and cold as the winter morning’s frost.

The tears had just began to dry as we passed this familiar scene. God had painted a picture I knew not the full significance of that morning. The ground was surrendering it’s soft and fertile soil to yet another barren winter, but the sky had an intangible softness breathing palpable hope into my soul. I had not enough faith to think you would be born that day, but a holy kind of peace began to flow through my unsuspecting veins.

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Nature has always had a way of awakening my soul, silencing the enemy of fear and lies, and telling the truth about who God is.

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As we arrived back home, we slipped back into familiar routine, still unaware that you were waiting. We found out about you on November 30th. The details were few, but our yes was quick. The next day your dad got a call that would change our lives quickly as anything ever has and likely ever will.

That day began a different sort of birth story and the forming of our family.

A story of loss before gain. Sorrow before joy. Broken before the chance to build. Joy atop a layer of guilt. Many more questions than answers, all unreconciled this side of heaven, yet an opportunity to make heaven known on this earth. This is adoption.

It wasn’t until December 1st that we knew you would be our daughter. Your daddy got the call because he had been so involved in the process that they wanted him to deliver the news to me. Your see, sweet girl, he is a good one, but by the way you look at him, I’m pretty sure you already know that. We were slated to attend his company Christmas party that night and I had just woken from a nap. He came home early, and still waking up, I was confused to say the least.

He handed me a card and an oversized bag full of onesies for you to wear. I read and reread these words, though none of them seemed to register.

“YOU’RE GOING TO BE A MOM TO A LITTLE GIRL” read the card. For a moment, time stood still.

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Next thing I knew we were packing and making of a flurry of phone calls. We were excited, frantic, scared, and in love with you who we had yet to hold in our arms. “Lord, fueled by your grace and mercy, by the power of your spirit, help us as navigate the coming days.” This was my prayer as we gathered our things and caught the first flight we could to Phoenix.

The next few days were a blur, though I vividly remember seeing you for the first time. You were placed in my arms, and just like that I became a your mommy, a moment that still feels surreal. I hope you know deep in your soul Crew that you are an absolute miracle. How you ended up with us was an effort of love by so many people that we will be forever grateful for.

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That day began a journey that wouldn’t always be smooth, but has always been worth it. In many ways, this year has walked us, at times with a limp, closer to God and His ultimate hope. As we faced uncertain times, I wore out the pages in my Bible that hold the first book of Peter.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-7

I had never full grasped that hope is alive in Jesus Christ. Imperishable hope for a future that bleeds into our today. This is the story adoption, sweet girl.

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Your daddy and I love you more than you may ever know. You are the definition of joy and you have lit up every room you have ever entered. Not a day has gone by when we haven’t let out a kind of laugh that comes from way down deep, escaping before it can be contained. I’m convinced God gave us children to remind us of His grace, mercy and a love that is greater than we could possibly imagine.

Watching you grow this year has been a gift unlike any other. You came to us as a five pound seemingly fragile newborn baby with hilariously over expressive eyebrows. Now we see your personality taking shape. You are funny to the core, curious, on the move, sweet, spicy, and your own little person. We could not love you more.

Today you turn one. As I sit in a room lit only by our Christmas tree, I find myself in a deep well of tears and gratitude. In just one short year, you have changed me in more ways than have the previous thirty six combined. You have peeled back layers that I never knew I had. You have shown me that I can do hard things. You have made me look at your daddy with a different kind of respect and a deeper kind of love. You have made me a mommy. Your life, sweet girl, is the fullness of grace.

Happy birthday from your mommy, daddy and so many others who love you so.

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*All family photos by Meshali Mitchell