My 7-year-old Sweet Girl

4:26 PMHeather

Sometimes, defining moments in life seem nothing but mundane at the time.  It's only later, in hindsight, that we realize their significance.  Over the last 10 days, as I have plotted and planned a slumber party for my baby girl as well as a big surprise birthday room re-do, I keep thinking of a defining moment in my journey with the Lord in relation to this child.

Chris and I were fulfilling our monthly nursery duty assignment, as parents of preschoolers were asked to do at our church at that time.  Having a son the same age, we were caring for the eighteen month olds that day.  They were a spirited bunch, and Chris and I entertained them as best we could.  There was a darling little girl in the group, although I couldn't begin to describe her.  Other than her shoes and her bow.  Those shoes.  They were little black patent mary janes, worn with lacy white socks.  And she wore a big bow in her hair.  When I looked down at her shoes, that image stuck in my head while a sadness welled up in my heart.

Later that day, after the hustle and bustle of our morning had long passed, I contemplated why I felt a sudden twinge of sadness.  Then, it dawned on me.  I was a perfectly contented mother of two precious sons.  Having worked in adoption with infertile couples, I was quite pleased and blessed to be a mom.  I did not take for granted that I had, indeed, been given the privilege of giving birth to two such wonderful creatures.  But, I realized I had an unrecognized expectation that in my "someday" of mothering, I would have a little girl.  I would do pink, frills, lace, dresses, bows--and yes, those little black patent mary janes.  

But, after two children, our family was complete.  Despite an occasional dull nag that spoke of a sense of incompleteness, we decided we would have no more children.  Pregnancy didn't come easily for us.  I had one sister, and my husband grew up an only child.  So, two children seemed our max.  And, many many days of mothering two boys, I felt my abilities had been stretched beyond the need.  There was NO WAY I could handle another child--of either gender. This realization and strange grieving for black patent marked a wrestling match.  And, with time, I surrendered it back to the Lord.  I chose to believe Him for the good and faithful and omniscient Father that I love and serve.  So I chose to let go of the expectation to mother a girl.  In time, I actually began to feel sincerely joyful to consider my someday daughters-in-law or granddaughters, and the things we would share later in my life.  

Thus, you can imagine, it was quite a shocking cold December morning when we discovered over a year later that God had a different plan.  But, that is just His character.  When I choose to trust, He chooses to bless my obedience.  Sometimes those blessings look mostly like I imagine.  Sometimes they are different and at first I doubt them.  But sometimes--sometimes they are just dramatic displays of His GRACE--His unmerited favor.  

Just look at her.

Truly, hardly a day goes by that I don't remember that she is a gift of grace.  After complete surrender--just look what my God did for me.  Not because He had to--but just because He could.  I can't even say her name without being reminded of His grace--because Caris means grace in Greek.  My little Caris Emily.  That precious gift that was the missing piece of our family puzzle--that we didn't realize we were missing!  Black patent shoes and hair bows and all.

And so it was with quite a contented sigh that I started this day braiding her hair.  I didn't take for granted the chance to do a girlie room make-over.  I wouldn't trade my sons for anything.  They are treasures and delights.  And, she is the cherry on top of the cherry of it all.  

Happiest of days, my sweet 7 year old!  Thanks for being a constant reminder of the depth of His love and the width of His grace.  May you experience it fully all the days of your life.

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