“Stretch Marks”

20151028_201425Having kids is hard, growing our family was tough.

With my first kiddo I was young, scared and unsure of anything other than I loved this thing growing in my belly with a fervor I couldn’t put into words.

Carrying my second baby was tough. Not one day passed that I didn’t get sick and I spent the last 3 months in and out of the hospital hooked up to IV’s…man was he worth it though.

My third baby grew deep in my heart and not in my womb. That time seemed like an eternity…14 months of wait and struggle, tears and joy. Is there such a thing as a fourth trimester? In adoption I believe there is!

The first two gave me stretch marks as I awaited their arrival; the third gave me memory marks…dates etched not into my skin but into my head and heart. The day we sent him back to Ethiopia, (after hosting him for a month) the day we heard he was sick in the orphange but couldn’t do anything about it 8, 217 miles away , the day it was “official” but I couldn’t quite yet hold him. The day I sat in a small damp and dusty court house in Addis Abba Ethiopia hoping the judge would say yes.

As I reflect on the marks that each of my children have left on my body, my heart and my mind, I see them differently now. I see them as beauty marks etched into my soul by the one who knew my story all along. These beauty marks are scratches, scratches into a sneak peak of what heaven will look like. Where heaven and earth meet for a moment. 

I would not trade the lines on my tummy for anything, my bulging belly brought me joy unimaginable.  I would not trade the lines around my eyes and mouth for anything, brought to me by many smiles, many years and lots of tears. Tears as they head to college, tears as they head to school in America for the first day, tears as they head to high school and the clock ticks loud in my head…

I stop often to reflect on all the ups and downs and everything in between. I fight daily for the strength to be fully present in the present. I won’t get this day back, this year back, this time back. I may never again have one in fifth grade, this one will never be a sophomore again, I many never again get to have late night talks with one about what med school to apply to…I hold the moments close. I hold the current close as memories flood my mind…med school…what about when you wouldn’t let me brush your hair but only let Daddy do it before preschool. Homecoming dance?…what about when your only stress was where your yellow “feely” blanket was? You want to play what instrument in band? What about when you first came to us and all dogs were “baby doggies” instead of puppies because you didn’t know the English word.

The memories, the marks. The beauty marks that I treasure to the depths of my soul. Scarred by grace and love for which I am beyond grateful.

What marks are left on you and in you that you need to embrace and celebrate? The ones on your skin or the ones on your heart?…

My challenge for myself in 2016 is to continue to lean into the “scars” of life and let the beauty in the markings be my joy.

James 4:14 NLT How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog-it’s here for a little while, then it’s gone.

James 1:2-4 NLT Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

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