Apr 29, 2015

Nothing Like a Newborn

We welcomed our newest baby home this past week! A six day old little princess who is doing wonderfully in her new home-for-now. She has an adorably sweet disposition and is already putting on weight and settling in well. It has been quite a few months since we've had a newborn and all of our older babies are quite intrigued with this new little person who is taking up so much of "their" time with their Aunties :) 

One of the favorite parts of my job at the Baby House is participating in what I call "bonding initiation" with our new babies. I do my best to spend the first 24 to 48 hours with each of our new babies welcoming them into our home. I do "kangaroo care" with each one, taking off all their clothes and sticking them underneath my clothes so we are skin-to-skin. For our smallest and youngest babies this helps them maintain temperature and helps regulate their heartbeats. For all of our babies it begins to lay some of the first pathways of bonding in their precious brains and helps welcome them into the heart of our home: love! 


I love getting the opportunity to delight over every little, sleepy coo… listening for and witnessing sensations that belong exclusively to brand new babies. The weight of a little body completely surrendered to molding into the perfect space underneath your chin. The adorable uncertainty of first sneezes and itty bitty hiccups. Marveling over each newly heard sound, delighting in the softness of skin unweathered by time, soaking in the reliance of someone completely dependent. 

I know it sounds overly sentimental but I am convinced that there is something intangibly sacred about feedings and cuddles that happen in the still of the middle of the night. It is a privilege to soak up one-on-one moments unhindered by the busyness of our joyfully chaotic home. It is such a unique and fleeting treasure! It is just a snippet in the life of each of our babies that won't be easily forgotten. 

I always sneak a few middle of the night photos with each of my new babies. The photos typically end up grainy and poorly lit and I usually look like a new mom: extremely happy and a bit haggard looking! They are never the best (or most flattering) pictures but I want the Forever Families of each of my babies to know how loved their children were from the very beginning. There was someone who delighted in their baby until they could delight in them for themselves. And there is Someone who loves and delights in them even deeper still. The One who made them, knows them and loves them more than anyone ever could or ever will. Our good, good Father who is perfect in all of His ways. 

Apr 17, 2015

Distance Means So Little When Someone Means So Much

My friend, Sarah, sent me this reminder today from Holland via whatsapp (side note: all my American friends you have to find this app and download it so we can chat more). I have been back in Jozi for a week after spending a glorious three week whirlwind of a trip back in the US. I don't know if I can rightly describe how humbling and surreal it is to have found myself "at home" with so many precious hearts scattered all around the globe. 


Packing my bags and saying last goodbyes to my babies always feels unreasonably difficult; choking back tears and reminding myself again and again that three weeks will fly by. It's not that I am worried for them, our babies are blessed with amazing Aunties and a completely qualified support system, but I miss them when I can't kiss their precious faces every day. As I board the first of many flights, I feel the Holy Spirit gearing up my heart for all the goodness that awaits me 10,000 miles away and I start to truly get excited to be near to all my treasured loved ones on the other side of the globe. 


And my heart was not disappointed :) I don't think there could be enough words or pictures to describe what a blessing it is to be with my biological family, my home church family or my longest time friends. Day after day I was met with the grace and beauty of hearts who are united with mine in our precious Jesus and all the good He is authoring in our lives. 


I had opportunity after opportunity to share stories and pictures of the eternity shaping work God has been doing in and through His love in the lives of the littles that live in Johannesburg in the past 15 months. I was encouraged by the stories of His grace and provision in the lives of people who I hold so close to my heart. I got to give my niece and nephews dozens and dozens of kisses for them to store up until the next time we get to go on Auntie dates and have Auntie sleepovers. I laughed with my siblings and spent quality time enjoying the peace and presence of my parents in their new home. I recounted stories of adventures with dear ones who are walking in footsteps the Lord allowed me to leave behind in California. I was humbled with affirmations and support of this calling the Lord has placed on this season of my life that takes me so far from those who love me.


All the while I eagerly awaited news from the good things happening back at Refilwe. I heard of grumpy and teething babies and of a big boy K getting ready to take his first steps (I resisted the urge to tell the Aunties to push him over so he'd wait to take his first steps until I was back to witness them). Sweet smiles and baby babble words made their way to me across the waters as I soaked up time with American littles  who are nestled tightly beside my African babies held in my heart. It is strange to feel like I have family all over the world who will only meet one another on the other side of eternity. 


I love being an Auntie and I love that I get to be an Auntie to so many! I am thankful that God has provided me with the ability to hop on a plane and be near to those who live so far away. I am grateful for technology and FaceTime and pictures.  I am amazed that I can hop on a huge hunk of metal that hurtles itself through the sky so that in 24 short hours I can be on another continent and back to my African home. 


Only after being back a few short days I had the privilege of being reminded of the immense blessing of this season of my life when I got to participate in our 12th adoption! Baby boy S met his forever family this week and his placement reminded me of the sacred beauty of this journey called adoption. S's placement cemented another layer of trust and hope in my heart in the divine sovereignty of a good, good Father… trusting that God will always be the One who knows and loves all of us best! 


One of the awesome perks of being in America is having access to free, unlimited internet! I used the opportunity to purchase new music and one of my new favorites is "Deliver" by Matt Maher. The bridge sings:

And now I’m like a child at night
Who never has to think of why
We’re free to love and live and die
And there’s no need to justify
The sinner that’s inside of me
Has lost all his control of me

My God, from the flood and from the fire
You brought me out, I am alive
With a faith, just like a child
I’m not afraid, I’m running wild
For everything that will be done
I am yours and you are my

I am being convinced day by day that I can only do what I am called to do because of the Jesus living in me. It is because of my great Deliver that I am free to love and live and die to myself in a dozen little ways each and every day. It is because of His immense love that I am free to lay my head on my pillow at night and not have to lose sleep over all of the "whys" that I encounter living out this calling. It's because of the security Jesus purchased for me on the cross that I have hope for my real Home that awaits me on the other side of eternity. A place where the whole of my family will worship the King of Kings side by side and it is then that my joy will be made complete. I'm counting the days. Come, Lord Jesus, come. 

The Journey of Surrender

It is a pretty spectacular thing: watching a family be born right in front of your eyes. To see years of prayers answered in a moment. ...