…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)
Nose to nose.
We sway rhythmically into our nightly routine in the soft-lit room– the bathroom light illuminating our faces.
Long shadows on the walls.
Pink bed and covers.
Red-and-white striped 3T Christmas pajamas in October.
I choose my battles and a reindeer-clad Little Bitty hums into my chest.
Her face tilts up as she asks, Will you sing the words?
The shape of her curved lashes an outline on her cheek.
More than a tad off-key, I sing our bedtime songs. With words.
She twirls my hair and changes the wording to the song, interrupting to say, It should be soft black hair, Mama, because my hair is black.
Together we re-sing her song, altering the lyrics.
She twists my hair with little hands framing my face.
Her bitty eyes lock with mine and she proclaims, I’m going to tell you a story, Mama.
She shimmies her shoulders out of the blanket to a more upright storytelling position. I’m well accustomed to this bedtime delay tactic.
She says, Once upon a dream, I was in a cradle and you rocked me. And you kissed me. And you loved me. And you sang.
Colors and shapes are taking form on the landscape of her story the past few weeks.
This morning, we snuggled with chocolate milk sloshing into the past– her chattering of a time when I changed her diapers when she was a baby.
What she remembers is true.
We’ve had her in our home almost 12 months full-time, but she came and went regularly for a whole year before that.
She was not even two-years old the first time she came– curls piled high on her head, a ponytail and bow, watchful eyes, out-turned bottom lip.
That little 22-month old poked at her chicken nuggets on her plastic high chair tray.
My kiddos giggled and settled child-sized red Windsor chairs around to read board books, holding them high for her alert, dark eyes.
A tiny toddler then, but she still recalls the crib she slept in for intervals spanning 13 months.
And I love that the Father gave her those memories. She can truly say I held her when she was a baby (albeit a toddler baby).
As I held her last night at bedtime, she mentioned the other families she’s lived with.
It’s been a while since she’s brought them up.
Our recent visits with her brothers have tilled the soil– new seeds of questions sprouting.
She processes the green sprouts out-loud– how one Mama carried her in her belly, another Mama took care of her for a significant amount of time after that, and how she’s made it to the Mama here in our home.
And she ponders when she came to our home and slept in our crib. And how she now sleeps in a loft big girl bed, sharing a room with her sister.
I say, you were born in my heart.
She replies, No Mama, I was born in Jesus’s heart.
I reply, Yes, sweet girl you were born in Jesus’s heart.
She’s still trying to fit jagged pieces together.
Make sense of a world of foster care that doesn’t ever make sense in my heart or mind.
Can we ever fully fit together or understand the raggedness of generations and cycles of fallenness?
It’s like trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle with only half the pieces– the gorgeous scenic picture not fully seen because of what’s missing.
And so it is with all our lives. He brings beauty from ashes (Isa 61:3).
We get glimpses of the picture, but not the entirety.
Beauty is being woven and we can not see it fully this side of heaven. Our hope not resting in the things of this world (2 Cor 4:16-18).
No. I can’t wrap my brain around all the facets that’s led to this place of me rocking confused and hurting little ones.
The soaked, upturned soil is hard to navigate.
But He knows. He sees.
And I rock.
And I pray.
And I place that tiny girl in her tip-top pink loft bed.
Blow her a kiss.
And rise to do it all over again tomorrow.
Only because of His immeasurable grace.
Melanie and her husband, Kevin, have three biological children and live in Birmingham, Alabama. They have been foster parents for two years. More of their story and journey can be followed at Melanie’s blog Running to the Father.