It somehow became my best birthday Ever.
The care that she took grabbed my attention. I could see the expectation in her eyes. She had prepared it for me while I worked. A large 38 was written on the open spiral notebook that was my placeholder. She had made my favorite dessert, a simple chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream. The candle was notebook paper taped around an empty water bottle and it was elaborately colored and even had a paper flame. My napkin had been folded and was standing tall. Aleksandra called the family together and led them in Happy Birthday.
It is these simple moments in life that happen unexpectedly, without fanfare, without planning, and without worry... that become the most valuable parts of life. You cannot buy this kind of love. In this moment the world stood silent as a daughter created a perfect event for her father. Chocolate pudding, crayons, and notebook paper carried the weight of the emotion. Her actions were the evidence of her feelings toward me. The depth of her eyes pulled me into the significance of her effort.
I do not worry about the future of my children. Each of them is a miracle to me. They each have a story to tell about how God brought them to our family... whether through birth or adoption, they are all given to us by God. Everything good that has come to us has come by His hand.
There are dangers in the world, and yet... we know that God has overcome the world. When we realize the truth of what matters, our perspective on circumstance changes. When I read my Bible, I see that the most amazing encounters with God occurred in the most unlikely of places: a lion's den, a fiery furnace, at the edge of a sea, in prisons, during famines, and even in the belly of a fish. Have you ever noticed how God was present in each of these situations?
The den of a lion is a great place to pray. You want to be closer to God, then you must be willing to follow Him. When we are forced to rely on Him, he draws near to us. So many times we grumble at the difficulty and fear the danger... and we miss out on the God who extends His hand to us across the fire.
My children will not live a safe life. I can not guarantee their health, or their comfort. And yet... I have no guilt or fear in this regard. What I give to them is far more valuable. They will live a life that allows them to see the face of God.
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~2 Timothy 1:6-8
I look at the faces of my children and I see the potential in them to do great things for God. I want them to be comfortable with risk. This belief that we hold is not a safe one. It is better than safe... it is true. It allowed Daniel to calmly pray as hungry lions slept.
Whatever comes our way, God is able to handle it. He has even defeated death.
I remember the song in my daughter's eyes as I watched her sing to me. I could see that God continues to hold that little life. He whispered words of comfort into her eyes on that dark day when she was abandoned for a chance at life on the steps of a concrete orphanage. He cradled her among thousands as she waited on us to make our way across oceans. He gave her a papa, a mommy, a big brother, a tiny sister, and maybe even other siblings to come... who knows?
God's story weaves through us all. I laughed as the birthday song took its normal ornery turn as Sasha laughed and sang, "you look like a monkey, and you SMELL like one too!"