This post, as well as several others have been floating around in my head for some time now, and this one in particular needs to be released! We have been sooo busy lately. Not the usual busy, but a different kind of busy. The reason for our new found busy - ness will have to wait for another day... another post. (This time I will try not to let 6 months pass between posts :) This is a story that needs to be told - a story of God's gifts.
The setting: A family reunion weekend in my hometown. A weekend filled with hugs and laughs, questions and stories, and just a special time to spend with aunts, uncles, nephews, siblings, parents, and other relatives.
The time: Archer turned one the wednesday before, August 3rd, but we weren't able to celebrate his birthday yet, with a cake and candles and the hoopla that is so fun with a first birthday. We had hoped we would find time over the weekend with family, but we also had a big family picture, and we didn't know if it would all work out.
The characters --- aka - the people: My family. I have three sisters and one brother. We are all married with 2, 3, 4, and 4 children. Paige is my littlest sister and she is only 14 - needless to say she is not married or with child, but she is the coolest aunt any of the 11 nephews could ask for, and a pretty sweet aunt for the two nieces in the group. She is also a pretty special sister, and she closes the age gap between parents, siblings, nephews and nieces better than anyone --- playing with the youngest and keeping up adult conversations with the oldest. Such a fun dynamic for any family to have. My mom married my stepdad after my dad passed away when we were all younger. With all of the sorrow and confusion of losing a parent, I am not sure that his transition into our family was an easy one, but I have thanked God many times for the gift this man has been in my life.
The place: My family's farm... really a big house in the middle of farmland, much of which is farmed by my brother and stepdad. A beautiful spot with a view to the East that is usually breathtaking, but especially so in the summer with the fields full of life --- waves of grain, there is a reason it is called "the heart of the country."
The realization: I miss her more when we are with our whole family. When all are accounted for - each with his or her respective family. It is at these times that I miss Amelia the most. It is as if I am aware of her absence in a different way. I don't know why really. I mean, I am used to our family now. The three boys, P and I. It is familiar. We miss Amelia... we always will. But it feels normal. Sad but true, it feels normal. I am used to it.
As we were each lining our families up for photos, and placing people and moving this one over a smidge - you sit, no - stand here, scoot a little further in..... smile everyone - look here --- CHEESE!
The clouds: As soon as we headed back towards the house these clouds are building... and building... and pretty soon it is a massive wall cloud that everyone is ooohing and aaahing at. I have never seen anything quite like it.
The party: So the pictures ended and we all head back into the house for cake and ice cream. We will have time for Archer's birthday cake and singing after all, and we are also going to sing happy birthday to a couple others who recently had birthdays as well. But first --- to Archer. I mean, it is his FIRST birthday, and he was also borderline sleepy because it was nearing his bedtime. So on with the party
The backstory: So we called Archer our rainbow baby, and you can read about why from this post, when I first introduced him to you on this blog - http://hisgraceabides.blogspot.com/2010/05/introducing-our-newest-love.html When I think about Archer, my heart swells. Each and every day I feel blessed to call him my son. I love all of my children, that goes without saying, but the past year with him has been precious. He has the sweetest demeanor - so content. And at the same time a ham. What a precious gift - a precious rainbow baby, now filling our lives with so much joy.
The answered prayer: After the birthday song is done, and the candles were blown out (by Owen before Archer grabbed the flame) Archer is diving into his cake, and we are passing out cake and ice cream bowls. Someone looks to the East out the wall of windows at my parents' house and there in the sky, where the dark clouds had been was not one rainbow, but TWO. Arcing over the horizon in majestic form, I tried to not let the tears fall. I tried to smile - because how can you not smile when you see a cake covered face of your baby, and frosting smushed between every finger, and him grinning from ear to ear. Slowly, I look around to see faces caught off guard, some tear filled eyes, and more love in one room, so much so that my heart hurts. My mom says, "I prayed that God would send us a sign of Amelia today, during our pictures". She is missed not just by P and I when we are all together - the whole family. God answered her prayer, and His timing is perfect in all ways at ALL times. And if you could have seen those rainbows, you would agree with me that God is a bit of a show-off. Oh how He loves us.
Pictures hardly do justice to the naked eye view of things, but you can see the span of the rainbow in the top photo, and you can catch a glimpse of the larger second rainbow on the picture below. Thank you Jason and Cindi for the photos :)
The gift: This is the part of the post that has kept swirling in my head, and swirling and swirling.... and I'm just not exactly how to write it. I tried to tell my friend Jane about it the other day, and she "got it" because good friends do even if it doesn't make any sense when you say it, and even if you can't talk right because you are crying. Thanks, Jane. You see, the gift of a child in most peoples' minds starts from the very beginning. When you find out they exist, even before you know when they will arrive, before you know if they are a boy or a girl, your mind starts thinking about him or her. You imagine diapers and blankets, and giggles and cries. You think of all the things you can teach him or show her, the talks you will have, the memories you will make. The gift of a child is all the joys that you will have when raising them. The funny things that are said, and the cute faces that are made.
The gift of Amelia was harder to understand. It took awhile to see that even her short life was a gift to us. As short as it was we were blessed to have known her, to have prayed for her as her heart beat within me, and to have felt her kick, and to have seen her move and roll on the ultrasound screen. All things that we would never have wished away. Better to have had her for a short time than not at all. To most people we are a family of all things boy, but we know there is a sweet little girl who holds a very special place in our family. A touch of beauty that we were only able to hold for a little while - born sleeping in our arms, living in heaven this glorious day.
It is so impossible to explain, but just maybe, her gift to us is unfolding... little bits at a time. A quiet moment that P and I have in a bustling room filled with wedding goers and joyous hugs and smiles, and we miss her. Our eyes wet as tears dare to fall and our throats burn. And we share a closeness, a moment that I can't love him anymore than I do at that moment, and just maybe that is another gift to us from the One who made her. Just maybe she was never meant to jump and play in our home, but to bring us closer to eachother, to help us love our boys better.
I stand in my mom's living room and I peer at the double rainbow outside in all its beauty and think, just maybe... this was the gift we were meant to recieve. Tears roll down my cheeks, and I think --- this is a gift. We dreamed of the gift of giggles in the hall and squeals at dinnertime. Of curly pigtails and dresses and sparkly shoes. Those gifts are truly gifts - we are sure, but we are also sure that Amelia has allowed us to recieve gifts a plenty if we would only wait for them, and realize them. A gift to sisters and a mom who live states away from eachother, and yet we share tears and hugs at the sight of a rainbow-filled sky. Our differences melt away with hugs and smiles as heaven is brought close. As we share a sorrow, we receive a gift of closeness.
I think about heaven more.
I think about what our lives mean here on earth more.
I think about what God wants of me this day - for His kingdom's purpose.
I talk about her and I mention God and heaven to people I may have been afraid to before.
Just maybe the gift of a child is sometimes not what you dream of at all. Just maybe the sickness or death of your loved one is not what you feel is the best plan for your life or his or hers.
Sometimes life is not anything close to what we imagined it would be. I am still learning about our Creator and His love for us.
I will always be thankful for the gift of Amelia, the gift that is still unfolding in our lives.
The bottom line, I trust the Gift-Giver. The Giver of all things.