I walk the aisle at church, clutching my husband's arm. The nausea snakes through my head, my stomach. I am reminded each minute of this new life growing inside my womb. I steady. He passes me the bread, the cup. We return softly to our seats. The guitar plays, worship music that pierces me. Hot tears stream down this mama's freckled cheeks. I chew the bread - my first communion - eucharisteo since I've started this journey of counting gifts, hunting down grace.
I cannot sing this morning. The only music here is spilling of soul-tears. I am so sorry. I whisper it deep within myself. I am sorry, Lord, for my ungratefulness. In this moment, I know I have to mourn it all. I am letting go of my plan once again. I am releasing my grip on time, on fears, on dreams, on it all. I am so sorry that I put my expectations on you. I am so sorry that I confine you to my mirror instead of seeing you through that magnifying glass. I am so sorry that my perspective is small, ever-questioning, seldom-trusting your vastness.
I'm rereading Ann's words this week, preparing my heart for Easter Sunday. "Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things - take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. I have glimpsed it: This, the hard eucharisteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty" (Ann Voskamp, 100).
It's no accident that later this year - around the Thanksgiving holiday - a new baby will join our family. It's no accident that in this year of waiting to follow God's call to Haiti, in this season of giving thanks in all things God has gifted us with a wild surprise - a new life.
Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled to add a new baby to our family. We may have four or five one day, and I would be perfectly happy. But this way was not my plan. We were on the road to adopt from Haiti. We planned to wait a few years through piles of paperwork and jumping through hoops. We had this little dream, this rising passion, that we could give new life to an orphan, maybe two, who needed a forever family. And now, because we will have more than two biological children that door to Haiti may be closed. I mourn that today. Tears pool in my lap for the orphans of Haiti. Hot tears of righteous indignation as I know how hard it is to adopt, how difficult for millions of orphans to be united with a loving family. I feel a kind of helplessness as I can barely stand up without losing my breakfast. First trimester sickness. I feel the emptiness.
"And emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy" (Ann Voskamp, 97).
My womb has only just begun to swell with child but I feel the fullness of this moment. I am overwhelmed by it. I cannot conceive - how Mary birthed that boy. No, she never asked for that gift but her Father knew she was the one. He filled her womb and give her one joy-full gift that would change the world.
I see His body - the boy's - broken, bleeding on a cross. How His mother must have wept. How she must have felt her insides torn out as she watched them mishandle her Love. How she pondered it all in her heart. How she was truly Great with Child.
No, I did not plan this pregnancy. Never asked for it. Didn't mark squares on my calendar. But I know all's grace. I know this is a most profound gift in a time when I've been changing my perspective to see His gifts. I know the ugliness is in me as I fight with my God about what I want and when I want it. I know the beauty, the absolute miracle is in this little babe - the one whose life we celebrate today.
I drink the grape juice, swallow it down in all its sweetness searing my throat. I wipe tears and thank Him. A real kind of joy swells starting from my womb and traveling outward.
More gifts from my counting journal, approaching halfway to one thousand...
438. ginger tea to settle my stomach
440. sweet Meilani kissing my belly, her new baby bean
442. egg crepes with melty cheese
445. looking through developing baby pictures with my girls, the wonder of eyes, fingers, toes forming in the womb
447. perfect timing - sharing another pregnancy journey with my dear friend Cori just a month behind me
448. Leo Ford, a soft-spoken, kind MediCal case worker who finally helped me through the hoops after 6 hours of waiting - full medical coverage for our whole family
456. a bag of Chipotle burritos laced with guacamole delivered by my love on the night I can't bear to make dinner
465. reviving scent of oranges
482. encouragement raining down from so many friends