You’ve been on my mind a lot. Some days, I forget you’re gone. I’ll be driving down the road, think of something, and reach for my phone to call you. Then I remember.
I’ve remembered a lot this week.
It’s now been two years since you died, and it still breaks my heart. It was just too soon. I wasn’t ready for you not to be in my life.
I’m a mama now, and you were supposed to be here for that. You were supposed to be the one I called every day to report how tired I was or how many times Asher smiled. (The report would have been, “I’m very tired, and I lost count of how many times he smiled, so I don’t care that I’m tired.”) You were supposed to give me advice on how to take care of Asher. Most of it would have probably gone against half of what the pediatrician said, but you would have told me that it worked for your babies and your grandbabies, so it will work for my baby. You were supposed to be here on my hardest days as a mama to tell me you’re proud of me and everything would be OK.
Sometimes, I feel sad for Asher because he doesn’t get to grow up with you in his life. You made my life so much better, and I want that for him as well. Then, I hear your voice from long ago.
I was an awkward teenager. In a world filled with beautiful people (my own mother was literally a model), I felt ugly. Then, I got contacts. Green ones. People complimented me regularly on my bright green eyes, and they made me feel just a little bit pretty.
You didn’t like them. You didn’t think I needed them. For years, you asked me to go back to clear contacts. Finally, you told me why: “You have my eyes.”
When we learned about genetics in high school, I mourned (dramatically) the fact that I didn’t have brown eyes like my parents (after I was confused about genetics and for about 10 minutes thought I was adopted or switched at birth). You replied, “I’ve always liked that you have my eyes.”
Any time I would say, “I wish I looked like so and so,” you would say, “But you have my eyes, and I like that.”
I like that, too.
I hope when Asher looks into my eyes, he’ll be able to see you.
When I peel an apple for him and hand it to him with a smile, I hope he’ll see you.
When we bake a cake together and I hand him chocolate covered spoons, I hope he’ll see you.
When he’s angry and ready to stomp off and I blow raspberries at him to make him laugh, I hope he’ll see you.
When he’s sad and comes to me for comfort, I hope he’ll see you.
When he earns a good grade at school and looks to me for affirmation, I hope he’ll see you.
When he seeks me out to share in his joy, I hope he’ll see you.
When he looks at me with his big, goofy grin and I can’t help but smile back at him, I hope he’ll see you.
And when he sees you in me, I hope he also sees Christ, because that’s who you taught me to see when I looked at you.
Thank you for pointing me to Him. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me your eyes.
I love you, Grandmama.
When I met you, I was a little rough around the edges. Once a fairly cheerful and optimistic person, I was jaded, skeptical, and calloused. I had left a situation a few months prior that frightens me when I look back on it.
Out of near desperation for friendship and strengthening my relationship with the Lord, I entered a room filled with singles (or at least not-married-yets) who gathered a couple of times a month to discuss the sermon and encourage one another. I was nervous and self-conscious. Extremely self-conscious. Extremely nervous. I don’t remember meeting you, but I don’t really remember meeting anyone. I remember surviving and thinking I would be OK returning in a couple of weeks.
Seven years have passed, and I almost don’t remember how we transitioned from that first meeting to falling in love. I think it was like a snowball. We started slowly and ramped up pretty quickly. You were smart and goofy and fun and didn’t seem to mind my rough exterior. In fact, you chipped away slowly at that exterior and brought me back to life.
You showed me Christ. You helped me have fun again. You became my best friend and the man with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. You did it one laugh at a time.
You modeled servanthood to me, always putting others before yourself. You were patient with me. You waited a whole four months to propose to me! (A month in, I would have happily run off into the sunset with you.)
You’ve loved me well these last seven years, better than I’ve loved you. You’ve helped me learn the power of forgiveness, and you don’t hold grudges against me (thank you for that!!). You work HARD to provide for our family, and I admire and respect you so much.
Watching you become a daddy, I feel like I’m meeting you and falling in love with you all over again. You are selfless, always saying Asher’s needs are more important than your own (Philippians 2:4). You wash all the bottles, and you don’t grumble when I can’t seem to wake up in the middle of the night to feed Asher. You can’t wait to come home to see us every day.
You are a man of integrity, a man I can admire, a man I love to point to and say, “He’s my husband!” You bring joy and laughter into my life. You’re the best at telling dad jokes.
I’m so thankful I met you seven years ago today. I’m grateful God wrote us into his story, and I can’t wait to continue watching it unfold. I love you!
His pediatrician came in, and we collectively gushed over his sweetness and the milestones he’s reaching. She assured us we’re doing a great job, and she even said it’s both perfectly NORMAL and even EXPECTED that Asher isn’t sleeping through the night. Mentally, I scratched that off my list of things I fear I’m doing wrong as a parent. (All mamas have that list, right?)
Then, something unexpected happened. I hugged Asher close to me and started crying in the exam room, and I revealed my biggest fear to our pediatrician: “Asher is doing great now, but I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m watching him, looking for signs that something’s wrong. Waiting for him to break.”
Our pediatrician sat on the exam table, looked into my eyes, and spoke truth to my soul. While we must be practical and responsible, looking into the future and watching for certain things, we cannot live in fear. We must rest in the comfort that God is in control, and we must live in and enjoy the present. I nodded that she was right, and I inhaled the sweet smell of my baby as I felt the quiet rhythm of his breathing.
A verse drifted into my mind, one that a sweet friend shared with me recently: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a, ESV).
If I’m loving my son well today, I won’t fear for his future. I will rest in the comfort that God is sovereign and has a better future for Asher than I could ever imagine.
How do I love my son well? I look to the One who loves the best.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, ESV).
Jesus is the only one who has ever loved me perfectly, and he didn’t fear laying down his life in order to perfect that love.
If I look to the example of Christ and lay down my life daily for my son, I won’t have to fear. I’ll lay my life down for him when he’s healthy, and I’ll lay my life down for him if we face challenges down the road.
Where are you today? Are you fearful in a certain situation or even in a relationship? Look to the One who made you, the One who laid down his life for you. Rest in his perfect love as it casts out fear.
This weekend, I attended the Created for Care conference, a weekend for adoptive and foster mamas. Going in, I anticipated being encouraged and leaving with practical knowledge on bringing up our sweet boy. I left with something a little different, something I wasn’t expecting.
The first breakout session was on Friday afternoon. I attended a Creative Quiet Time class, a little unsure of what to expect. I sat down at a table with shiny gold and silver paper, a couple of tablets, and sample stars. Hmmm. I suppose I could get behind connecting with God while making a shiny star. I chit chatted with the ladies at the table regarding the genius idea to use cute Kraft style wrapping paper as a table cloth, and we waited for the session to begin.
The session leader, Virginia, asked us all to come to the front for a few minutes before we began our time with the Lord. I tried not to sigh as I gave into her request, remembering days gone by when I LOVED sitting in the front of the room as I soaked up information. Now, I would much prefer to hide in the back of the room.
Virginia shared that the theme of the weekend was Shine, and she asked us to think of people who shine. What made them so shiny? No, it wasn’t oily skin or sequin-covered dresses. Joy, contentment, positive attitudes, and time with the Lord were all shouted out, even the fact that most shiny people are thinkers and dreamers who are moving forward in life.
After we reflected on things that make people shine, Virginia shared with us reasons that people lose their shine. Discontentment, unconfessed sin, disobedience, not spending time in the Word or prayer, etc.
That one caught my attention. She said most of us, as we grow older, stop dreaming. That’s me. I’ve had dreams of writing, teaching, and speaking for years, but I stopped doing much about those dreams.
Virginia guided us through a time of prayer. She asked that we would each hear from the Lord. I felt a bit skeptical, but I asked God to help me be open to hearing from him.
And I did.
I sensed God reminding me that I am his, and because I am his, I can dream. I sensed him encouraging me to be confident in who I am in Christ, to trust that he will enable me to pursue the dreams he has placed within me.
After we prayed together, I decided to spend my time with the Lord doodling in my journal rather than going to one of the stations. As I doodled, I reflected on the dreams he’s given me, and I asked him to show me the hindrances within me to achieving those dreams.
Many of those hindrances were because I was focusing on my “don’ts” rather than my “dos”, a trap Virginia said leads to discontentment and not pursuing our dreams.
I don’t have a mentor pouring into my life and teaching me how to achieve my dreams.
I don’t have lots of connections.
I don’t have a large reading audience for my blog.
I don’t have teaching or speaking opportunities.
I don’t have enough material.
On and on.
It’s time to focus on the dos!
I do have a Savior who empowers and equips me to do all that he has called me to do.
I do have a loving and supportive husband who wants me to pursue the dreams God has given me.
I do have a great community of faith who can pray for and encourage me along the way.
I do have a blog, and it doesn’t matter how many people do or don’t read it at this point.
I do have the entire Bible and 34 years on this planet, which sounds like plenty of material to me!
So, this year, I’m going to take steps to making progress toward those dreams. I don’t know what that’s going to look like at this point, but I’m going to start by writing with more intentionality on my blog (this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Sometimes, that will be about adoption related topics, like many of my posts in 2015. Other times, I’ll be writing about passages in Scripture, with possible teaching recordings to accompany those posts. Even if I don’t have opportunities to speak in front of other women, I can create opportunities to teach. Will you pray with me as I pursue these dreams?
What about you? What dreams have you had? Have you pursued those dreams? If not, what’s stopping you? I’m praying God will give you the courage to pursue the dreams he’s given you. After all, you’re his, and because you’re his, you can dream with him.
One of the most frequently asked questions since Asher was born has been, “Where did you get his name?”
Asher is a twofold answer: First, there is a connection to his birth mother. His name was a small way we could honor her. Second, Asher means “happy.” If you follow me on Instagram (@shutterchelle) or we’re friends on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen our hashtag, #ashermeanshappy. In Genesis, during The Great Baby Race, after the birth of one of her sons, Leah says, “‘How happy I am! The women will call me happy.’ So she named him Asher” (30:13). I knew that would be true once God placed a baby with us. I knew I would be happy and the women in my life would know it! Also, when we met Asher’s birth parents, we all said over and over how happy we were. Asher seemed like a fitting name.
Marcus, his middle name, is after my Pop Pop. I’ve always been close with Pop Pop, and I love that we were able to honor him this way. When I first researched the meaning of Marcus, all I found was something along the lines of “the god Marcus.” Eh. That wasn’t a deal breaker for us, but it also wasn’t a “woo hoo!” for us as far as a strong meaning for our child’s name.
One day, I had a little down time while I was waiting on Joseph to install a cable box for someone, and I felt prompted to research the meaning of Marcus one more time. I found an article that said Marcus can mean “to harvest.” At that time, we were still debating if the baby’s name would be Asher Marcus or Marcus Asher (methods of determining the order including yelling the names across the house and using the names while shopping for baby items). Finding the “to harvest” meaning settled it for me. I knew our baby’s name was Asher Marcus, and I knew the Scripture we would pray over our son.
“And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'” (Luke 10:2).
We are praying that our sweet Asher wouldn’t just be a happy child (which he is!). We’re praying he would live up to his full name and be “happy to harvest.” We’re praying he would not only pray to the Lord of the harvest and ask for laborers, but that he would be an answer to that prayer.
I know Asher is only six weeks old (almost seven, eek!), but I see it in him already. His birth mother told us she felt certain Asher was created for a purpose, and she wanted him to be parented by believers who loved God’s Word and who loved serving the Lord and would pour those things into her son. In general, Asher is a happy, content, smiley baby. He lights up my life! But you should see him when we read stories of Jesus to him or when we’re just talking about Jesus. He’s different. He focuses in, looks us right in the eyes, and seems as though he’s already soaking it in.
We’re praying big things for Asher Marcus, and we KNOW we serve a big, good, faithful God who IS going to do big things through Asher. We’re humbled and honored to have a small part in God’s story, and we can’t wait to watch it unfold.