I Will Choose Joy

Tonight the air was humid as we walked across the grassy field. We’d parked in the far parking lot, the soccer field separating us from the large building where we were headed for the restroom. My little girl skipped beside me in her ballerina attire – all but the shoes because the shoes are only to be worn inside – myself in leggings and a thin cotton striped dress. When I wear it, my husband always gives me a second look just to make sure I know he notices me. We’ve learned through our decade and a half together through tears and late night talks how to show the other the love we continue to choose as we honor our vows. My little girl skipped along beside me, talking nonstop as always. She talked about her dance class we’d just left and the bench we passed and the flowers she stopped to smell. 

We walked into the large, empty lobby. Only a handful of people milled about and I could see them watching and listening to my sweet little chatterbox as her voice stretched through the vast space and echoed against bare walls. She paused to do a twirl on the worn red carpet in her black sheer skirt and I cheered. 

We left only a few minutes later and walked back toward the soccer field. I could hear my husband yelling instructions to his team as we followed the sidewalk. They were practicing their newly acquired skills. I smiled at the pride I feel in calling him mine as I caught a glimpse of him running down the field in his bright yellow cleats with a bunch of young kids. Our son among them, with stars in his eyes for his daddy/coach, was intense in his focus to do everything just right. 

This, for a few weeks now, has been our ordinary Thursday nights. 

We rush to school in the morning, to a lunchtime picnic with friends in the park, then we rush to squeeze in some rest in the afternoon before heading out to dance and then soccer. Leaving there we would rush to eat dinner and brush teeth and change into jammies before covering kids with blankets in beds. All this has been our exhausting, trying at times, but fun nonetheless Thursdays. But just then on the sidewalk, in between the rush of a schedule, holding the small hand of a sweet little girl who’s look mirrors my own, I was struck with the simple wonder of it. 

This, my friends, is a beautiful, brave and wild ride. 

This morning while still in my pajamas I sliced a pepper, added a few grape tomatoes and packed them neatly into a black and white patterned bag with ice packs nestled about. I made lunch meat sandwiches with the lettuce my kids balk about, and stuffed organic chips and salsa and plates and napkins into that bag. Then, as we all cozied on blankets in the shade, we ate our little lunch with friends in the afternoon heat. It’s September and most people who talk about the weather these days are ready for Fall. I, on the other hand, am not sure I would ever be ready to see the warmth of summer end. Days like this are a little slice of heaven to me. It just makes my heart a little happier. After we’d played and packed up and headed for home, my perceptive son acknowledge my attention to the nutritional value of our food. And in so many words, thanked me for my consistent practice to do so. 

Just before bed my little girl, whose been fighting a pesky cold, burrowed her stuffy nose into my neck as she cuddled on my shoulder. Her skin was clammy but she didn’t shy away from the comfort of my hot embrace. We snuggled her into bed with head elevated and medicines taken and she smiled ever-so-sweetly in that way she always does that screams “I love you mama” and “Thank you for taking care of me.” 

This, my friends, is a beautiful, brave and wild ride. 

The text read something along the lines of, “We got our newest ‘No’ for the wall today!” My parents didn’t have a clue what I was trying to articulate in a cunning way, so instead I reworded my failed attempt at humor to say we’d received another no on this adoption journey. This time, however, was different. I knew it when we’d said yes, even though something in me still pumped the brakes with the reverberating message this wasn’t the one. 

I texted a trusted friend to share with her our newest loss but even as I typed out my frustration over my own devastation, I found words I hadn’t anticipated showing up on my screen: 

I can’t be upset this little boy is going to a great home. And I can’t be upset at the privilege it was to pray this family through their decision to make an adoption plan. How amazing is it that God used our ‘yes’ to confirm their decision even when in the end it meant a ‘no’ for us?! 

This, my friends, is a beautiful, brave and wild ride. 

Doing life with the same man year after year isn’t always easy. Raising little people who watch my every move even when they don’t listen to my every word, who are growing into their attitudes, strengths and weaknesses and who stretch the boundaries at times can be trying. Chasing after an adoption with pain and loss and heartache at seemingly every turn makes me want to quit more often than race ahead. 

Yet, this is a beautiful, brave and wild ride friends. Not because any of this is easy or smooth or pain free. Oh to the contrary. It’s because of the hard parts along the journey we can more readily realize the joy. The beauty of life does not rest solely in the flower but stretches deep with the roots into the grit and pain, the ordinary and normal. The courage to stay present in the toil, the day-to-day hardship and frustrations, yields the greatest wealth when the light of the extraordinary pokes through the grey skies of ordinary. If you’re looking for the bland, you’ll find it. But if you’re keeping your eyes peeled for the little moments of joy woven between the rush, you’ll spy them with glaring regularity. 

Because this, my friends, is beauty. It is brave in the face of hardship and it is wild with uncertainties. And there is so much joy if I choose to find it in the wonderful and miraculous ordinariness of God’s infinite design of family.

This, my friends, is a beautiful, brave and wild ride.

It’s an adventure I will choose over and over and over again.

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