This morning on our drive to church service, I began singing a praise and worship song that seemed to be stuck in my head from the time I woke today. Our oldest son, H, was riding with me (we'd split into two cars because after church, some of us had to be one place, while the others wanted to go their way) and he said, "Hey! I woke up to that song on my alarm clock."
The song was Matt Redman's You Never Let Go and as with most songs I hear, it's the chorus that fixes itself in my brain best. I explained to H how that song has carried me through some of the darkest, most difficult moments I've faced in the past year.
I talked about how certain songs just really have helped me through tough times and that whenever they come again, it brings me back to those hard moments and I'm reminded of God's love and grace and somehow, my faith is strengthened again like it was the very first time I connected with the song.
Our daughter, J, was also in the car and so that she didn't feel left out -- and because she loves to hear stories about when she was little (in comparison with the other kids, we have had her since she was very, very little) -- I brought up another Matt Redman song, Blessed Be Your Name, which I affectionately call my J-song.
When J was seven months old and she had been with us five months, she returned to live with her birthmother. As foster parents, we had done our part to be good to J and care for her as best we could. It was hard to let her go, but that is the role of foster parents (the part I hated the most, really, because I'm not so good at guarding my heart from attaching to the children). We delivered her to her mother and spent some time with the two of them in their new home and honestly, we felt at peace and had the highest hopes that for J's sake, that her mother would pull things together finally.
But even at peace with our goodbye, there was still a grieving process and a houseful of baby things that we wouldn't need unless the call came to take another infant. I didn't want another infant to replace the memories of J, but I did want that hole she left in my heart to heal quickly. We can't really speed that process along, I've discovered.
A few days later, we attended our church service (we lived in another state at that time, so the destination was completely different from the service we were headed to today). The first worship song that day was Blessed Be Your Name. If you know the lyrics, there is a bridge (? I'm no expert in music terms) in the middle of the song that talks about how God "gives and takes away." Well, that day, my heart heavy with loss, I broke down in sobs during that part of the song. I was wrecked for the whole rest of the service and couldn't sing anything -- I could only close my eyes and listen to the lyrics.
So by the time I was through explaining this to H and J today, we arrived at church. Well, guess what the first song of the service was? It was my J-song!
I kept trying to make eye contact with H, who was sitting a couple people away from me, but he has Nonverbal Learning Disorder and so he wasn't connecting with my glances at all. After the song, as usual, the worship leader invited us to greet the people around us before we continued with more music.
Sitting only a couple rows from the front, I ran up to greet the worship team. After a quick hello, I was so excited to tell them how relevant that song was because it's meaningful to me and I'd just been talking about it with our kids before the service.
The leader responded, "You know, we didn't even do that song during the early service ... before this service started, we decided to do it and we just printed up the lyrics and did it just for second."
I was stunned. I ran back to explain to H the situation and he was pretty amazed. Then I started telling each person in our row. If they'd handed me a microphone I would have shouted it to the whole congregation, even though I really don't like public speaking.
This situation, to me, was pure evidence that God was there in our service today. He was reassuring me after this tough week of scary chest pains and unpleasant stress tests, of child behavior issues and arguments with extended family members, that He is here. He is in control. He Is.
And I sobbed through the rest of the music set, because God is good and I couldn't help myself but to feel it down to my core.
Explaining to our children moments like this one can be so impossible. I love when I find books that speak to them on their level(s) and just say to them what I want them to know. When I read the books aloud to them, they hear it in my voice and the words become words that their mama told them. I like that.
A book I purchased recently and just really enjoy reading to the younger kids over and over (they must like it to, because they request it often) is called How Big is God? by Lisa Tawn Bergren.
I will not understand God's complexity until the day I kneel before Him in heaven and I accept that for now. But it sure is super cool when He reveals just a tiny bit more of Himself to me. It reminds me of my worth to Him. He is awesome and powerful and yet, He concerns Himself with little ol' me. He is just so good.
Oh, and maybe it's obvious, but unfortunately, things did not go so well for J's birthmother, so five months after our goodbye, we got the call to take her back. It was one of the happiest moments of our time in foster care that I can remember.