Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A letter to Maran Grace on year 8

Maran Grace
September marks several things in our journey together. This year especially. September is the month we submitted our application for adoption in 2010.  September is the month we met your for the first time in 2012. September this year you turn 8. This September marks you being in our family for four years. For the first time you have lived longer with us than without us. Such a milestone of joy and sadness. I looked at your profile the other day and saw such beauty, so much of your African roots. I thought of all you had come from and through. The first months you were home I saw you mostly through the lens of what you had been through. As months turned into years I stopped seeing you as 'once orphan' and only saw you as 'daughter'. That identity change is something I am still learning today as an adult. Sometimes I only see myself as "failure", "mess up", or "sinner". Although those can be my behavior sometimes, they are NOT my identity. Not in Christ, I am none of those. Hidden in him, he calls me daughter, he calls me holy, he calls me heir, he calls me purposed, he calls me able, he calls me beautiful, he calls me treasured. I feel as if this will be your struggle too. Letting go of what labels you put on yourself, or what the world puts on you, and claiming who Jesus is calling you. Anchor yourself in that identity. Everything else damages, shames and disappoints.
Here is what I see you becoming. Your servant heart is going to be what God uses to show his love to others. You know hard work and it doesn't scare you. Your unexplainable joy will be what draws others to you. God has taken your history, one of little material surroundings, a history that knew hunger closely, and he has made it into beautiful joy and gratitude for what you have. You see the world in a way I never have. A blade of grass, a butterfly, a simple gift or a kind word is like a treasure you open. I can hardly understand your excitement but yet it convicts me that I am far too entitled to the small things in life like a beautiful sunset or white puffy clouds. You see each of these as an exciting gift that you are anxious to experience. 
Your compassionate heart was probably developed out of pain. You took care of your brother like no little girl should have to, but God has taken what was painful and he has made it beautiful in your heart.  He has turned into tender empathy that will serve you and your relationships well. You know how to put yourself into others shoes and feel what they feel. That is a gift I cannot teach and I am so thankful God has developed that in you.
You are generous. You love to share and make others smile. You love to be close, to be touched and hugged. 
These are all gifts I try to remind myself to not take for granted. Your first 4 years were totally out of my control, and I see in that God doesn't need me after all. He is making you into the girl he planned for you to be, and he has been all along. He holds you together.
Each birthday I am starkly reminded I celebrate for two moms. Your birth mom is never far from my thoughts. The first day of 2nd grade, watching you conquer a hill on a  skateboard, another lost baby tooth and that beautiful smile, listening to you read. These are all gifts I get to see in you that she doesn't. So I celebrate for the both of us. I know how proud of you she would be to see all you are becoming. Her and I are not at odds, you can love us both freely, I know she would just love cheering you on. So it is a weighty responsibility and privilege to hold that for the both of us. I am sure your beautiful smile, your smooth dark skin, wide eyes, and joyful spirit probably comes from her. I am thankful I get to know her in a small part through you, your features, your personality. She set you on a path that now I get to walk alongside and I am honored and humbled.
Your name means 'The Lord Comes'. It is the last word spoken in the Bible. It is a reminder that he comes close, and that he is coming back for his children. He doesn't leave us orphaned, he comes to us as a loving father and draws us near. The Lord is close to the broken hearted, he is close to us when we are crushed, he is sharing with us in our joys, he weeps with us when we cry out. The Lord comes close to you. He is your closest friend, he is a Father who will not abandon you or let you down. Your middle name reminds you of the grace he has given, at the cross and every day there after. He gives us more than we deserve, and we can't earn that. You can't behave your way to getting more of his love. He has poured it all out lavishly. Your great grandmother Grace was such an example of this selfless loving without expectation of return or reward. 
I pray this year you grow and learn so much. I pray you keep working out all of the things God is working inside of you and teaching you. I pray he reveals more of who He is to you this year, I pray your desire grows to know the One who created you. I pray God gives me the grace, patience and wisdom to keep being a placeholder for Him, messy as I am, pointing you back to him. I apologize for my shortcomings. I pray we continue to grow our relationship into a beautiful relationship. 
Maran, you are loved. Ephesians 1 calls you chosen, adopted, loved lavishly. Remember who you are, where you came from, and where God is calling you to. 
You are a treasured daughter. Happy 8th birthday sweet girl.

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