Hello Goodbye

I felt her almost before I saw her—a little girl blur running to wrap her 4-year-old arms around my legs and snuggle her cheek against my skirt. Taking in her bright pigtails and Sunday best, I greeted her softly, grateful for her warm welcome and the fact that I knew her name.  With Hogar de Vida’s fluid population of 35 children, I am always learning names.  Always messing them up, too.

My hands hugged her close as my heart came a little undone.  People milled around me, exchanging good mornings with tico flair.  They kissed to the side of one another’s cheek and asked about family members while I tried to freeze time.

We were freshly returned to Costa Rica, our new home.  For the 3 weeks prior, we had whirled through our first visit back to the states.  The dust of the Heartland was still clinging to my sandals.  Driving the smooth, well-marked roads had made it feel like our year of language learning and cultural adjustment never happened.  I found myself stepping lightly, holding on to the glow of seeing friends and family, of being fluent in the words on the street.  I was feeling strange again in the place we were called to.

Then this little butterfly of a child launched herself into my lap.  She stayed with me as worship cascaded around us, amusing herself with the buttons on my watch, the freckles on my arms.  The presence of the Lord was richer that morning.  I leaned with my whole spirit into prayers for her heart, her life.  Her giggle sang sweeter praise in the heavens than my voice lifted up.  She wasn’t the first at-risk child to warm my heart, but she was the first to reach so deep that I didn’t want to let go.

In the handful of weeks since, she often greeted me with light in her eyes and a leap into my arms.  I was her cradle as she drifted to sleep while Matt and I prayed over her.  We asked the Lord to break off the trauma of the past and lay a foundation of blessing in her life to grow on.  I assumed we’d have months if not years.

Looking AheadYesterday we said goodbye.

She was sweetly excited to go live with another family member.  Her little feet flounced her dress as she gave hugs and climbed into the cab.  And just like that, the butterfly took flight beyond my reach.  I probably won’t ever know if the bad dreams keep coming or if she feels safe in those new arms.

So this is what it feels like to put your love in a basket and send it downstream.  This is our calling:  to open our hearts and do what we can in the time we are given, then to trust the rest in prayer to the one who sees the bigger picture.   To embrace the hello, and live so that we can grieve the goodbye.

 

    . . .He will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and for evermore.  Psalm 121:7-8

 

Lifting My Eyes

Sometimes when people hear about what the Lord is doing in our family they make a statement:  “I could never do that.”  The truth is that without Him, we can’t either.  Sometimes we stride, sometimes we stumble, but always the ground is taken one step at a time. When I’m struggling, the best thing for me to do is to pick up my pen and journal.  There’s something about putting my thoughts down on paper that makes it easier to sort the good from the bad.  The Spirit led me to let you peek at one of my rough spots as a big hug when the path ahead seems difficult.  It may not always be easy, but He is always good.  When my heart lifts its gaze up from the rocks in the way, I can see His rainbow of love over my life again.

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Lord, it hit me tonight so quickly that it almost took my breath away:  [In this moment,] I don’t want to go.  All these changes, all the work of this year-long goodbye.  Letters, prayer cards, friend-raising, presentations, decluttering, de-stuffing, rent or sell?, storing, packing, decision-making.  Prayer.

Come be with me, Daddy.  Hold my hand.  Wait, it’s clinging to my kitchen counter with all its strength.  Peel back the fingers, lovingly, one by one, and fill them with Yourself.  Help me again to want what You want.  To trust the plans You have for our family.  Give me kisses for orphan faces, momma-bear hugs for their hurts, and laughter for their antics.  Give me tender wisdom to guide team members out of their comfort zones and warm grace to welcome them in as friends.  Give me Your love for them all, and for myself.  Wrap me up in it.  Your banner over me is love.  You are good, and like David in the waiting, I will trust in You.  Let my soul glorify the Lord.

His love over each of us is brilliant.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you –
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm –
he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for evermore.  Psalm 121