every day my three-year-old daughter asks me the same question, even though my reply is the always the same.
"mommy, can we keep evan?"
"yes, we can keep him."
my heart is full because of how much she loves her new baby brother, and at the same time my heart breaks for her that she has had to experience the loss of jonathan and has to ask that we keep her new brother.
i realize that while kate's life has always been good and filled with lots of love, i'm also not oblivious to the fact that she herself has suffered a loss and is still processing it as best she can for her age. while she was not yet two years old at the time jonathan was born and not affected directly by it, she most certainly was affected through us. i think we did our best to keep life as normal as possible for her during my pregnancy and after losing jonathan, but i'll just say that it was during this time she learned to play independently. i did not have the energy or patience to sit on the floor and play with her because my focus was always somewhere else. to this day, i feel regret and guilt about missing out on that precious time with her, even though (maybe) i did the best i could manage. the fact she will most likely have no memory of it makes me feel a little better and thankfully it hasn't affected her fun and high-energy personality.
i also feel bad for her that part of her routine on sundays is to visit a cemetery or that each year she will mark jonathan's birthday as a bittersweet day and not at some super hero-themed party. she'll never get picked on by him or find pleasure in returning the deed. there are so many precious moments that she'll miss out on - that we'll miss out on - because he's not here with us. it makes my heart sad to know how this affects her life even though she is not fully aware of it all.
she often talks about death and asks us questions about jonathan or about her grandmothers who have recently passed away. once she told us that jonathan died because he fell into the fish tank (i'm thankful for the comic relief!) it's quite the challenge to explain to a preschooler about death, so i'm sure we'll have to revisit the topic quite a bit until she understands better. but for now it's a great opener into a conversation about God, Jesus, and heaven. that seems to be comforting for her.
so obviously, we wondered how she would feel about us actually bringing a baby home with us this time. and for 3 and a half months now, she has shown nothing but love for evan. she loooooves that baby boy and can't hardly keep her hands off of him (i can relate.) she talks about how she has two brothers now, one here and one with Jesus, who's taking excellent care of him.
our adjustment to life as a family of four (five) has been very smooth. evan is a very good, easy baby which has been like the cherry on top of an amazing blessing. kate has adjusted extremely well to being a big sister and is very helpful. i persevered through the sleepless nights with thankfulness and perspective and am finally getting a full nights' sleep now that evan has been sleeping 10-11 hours straight. i've also been eating well, exercising daily and i have lost all the baby weight. i feel better than i have in over two years! it's been so nice to have the energy to keep up with kate and spend the time with her that she needs from me and also to take care of evan.
looking back from where we were almost two years ago to where we are now, i'm amazed and humbled by the journey the Lord has taken us on. the reward for us has been a deeper relationship with and love for the One who rejoiced with us at each hill and guided us through each valley. He has proven Himself to be always faithful, trustworthy and good. the blessings that the lives of each of my three children have brought me, at the risk of sounding cliche, has completed me. He has certainly brought us to a place of restoration.
"The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed." ~Joel 2:24-26
one recent evening as kate and i were driving home in the near dark, i swerved to avoid a rabbit. from the backseat, kate asked me, "what's wrong, mommy?"
"it's OK....i was just trying to avoid hitting a bunny."
"if you hit the bunny, it's broken?"
"yes. but i didn't hit it, it's OK."
and kate replied, "'cause if it's broken, God will fix it."
yes He will. maybe not in the way we would hope for God to fix it, but in the end He shows that His ways are perfect, His Word is true, and He is faithful.
i cannot help but notice the "threshing floors will be filled with grain" in this scripture; i had not even noticed it until today. less than a month before jonathan was born, i had written this blog, the threshing floor , and i LOVE how today this scripture is like a reply to the blog i had written on that day.
here is a snippet:
and i believe the process of threshing has been chosen for me. i don't attempt to understand fully what all this means for me. but perhaps this trial is the very tool God is using as i am being "threshed" and "winnowed"...where the worthless chaff in my life is removed completely and only the good remains. and while it is so very painful, He reminds me daily that He is the one leading me through it, and creating in me a stronger faith and character than what i had before it started. in the end, my "harvest" will be a blessing.
filled with grain, indeed.