I've been doing something else the last few years instead. I've chosen a word for the year. It's either something I need to work on or a theme for the year. My word for 2015 was hope. We were in a constant state of maybe-Baby-S-is-leaving. We knew leaving wouldn't be the best thing for him. Sometimes it was hard to trust that God had the best in mind for our little guy. So I fought for hope that year. My word for 2016 was joy. We knew Baby S was definitely leaving and it was hard to feel gladness or joy in our circumstances. I struggled for joy even when very good things happened, like finding out Baby Gigi was coming or moving into our first house together. I didn't want to just SAY that God works things for his glory and our good; I wanted to FEEL it deep down. Joy.
A new year starts tomorrow, but my new word started 43 days ago. My word for this year is redemption.
My prayers for Baby S shifted around two months ago. We knew his circumstances would create long-term challenges for him, but the things I was hearing from Birth Parent were becoming more and more dire. They were weighing heavily on me. I realized that my prayer for Baby S needed to change. It needed to get deeper. God hasn't chosen to spare Baby S of hard things in his life, so I need to realize that he has a plan in this. My prayers for Baby S shifted to pleading with God to use these very hard things in Baby S's life to shine his love for our little guy. I started praying that God would speak his love and power so loudly in our lives by walking Baby S out of this incredibly tough place and into healing and wholeness, and that his wholeness would be all the more beautiful because of the journey.
I started praying that for Baby S just a couple of weeks before we saw God move in a way that was an unmistakeable answer to that prayer. It's a start to a very long road, but we've seen such incredible growth in our little man already.
God allowed some things in Baby S's life that looked truly awful from where I'm standing. But I believe and I can SEE that he is going to use those things to make Baby S's life story even more beautiful. I believe someday Baby S will talk, and the wonderful things he says will be even more incredible because once he didn't have a voice. I believe his beautiful smile and joyful spirit will be an encouragement to many people, and his amazing positivity will be all the more impactful because of the negative circumstances he's walked through. God is going to take those very hard things and redeem them for something so beautiful that an easy life couldn't have had the same impact.
Such a beautiful gift to have all three of our little ones safe and sound this Christmas!
There are still no guarantees for Baby S's long term future with us. There is a strong possibility of him being here forever, but if we've learned one thing from foster care, it's how quickly things can change. (Remember how we finally accepted two and a half months ago that Baby S wasn't coming back? Remember that we were all ready to re-open for a new foster care placement only TEN DAYS after Baby S came back?? Things change SO fast!) I'm not walking into this year more naive than I was last time we had Baby S in foster care. But I can see that God is already starting to redeem these rough couple of years, and I am so ready to watch his work this year. We're not even in 2017 yet, but his redemptive work has already taken my breath away and I am incredibly excited to see God continuing to move.
Our non-verbal child who wouldn't make eye contact is looking, and laughing, and starting to say words. He's joyful. He wrestles and teases and loves to play chase! He trusts that we'll come back for him. He sleeps in his big boy bed all night long, gets up too early, and then snuggles every morning. He finds me to kiss his boo-boos and then runs away all better. He's working so hard and making so much progress. That's after six weeks, guys. God is so good, and his work in Baby S is so beautiful. This year is going to be incredible.
I can't wait to soak in God's redemptive work in Baby S's life - and mine - in 2017.