The gates opened to our guest home as the car that was carrying her to her prayers’ answer slowly pulled in. She “knew” before she was told that her day had finally come, that her family was here. Jesus told me, she had said to the woman who confirmed the news a day after.
A day I envisioned a dozen or more times in my mind’s eye, looked nothing like what I’d imagined. K@mpala’s sky had set early for my liking but God knew this holy moment needed a curtain of privacy. My family sat waiting in the dark on the steps for this baby to crown and I sensed the aroma of God filling the birthing room.
The car came to a halt just long enough for us to hear her squeal from inside: “Daddy!”
Lily launched out of the door, and in seconds (in between joyful acknowledgments of her newest siblings), found herself no-longer-fatherless in the arms of her earthly daddy. Such a picture to me, this eight – or maybe ten – year-old with her legs wrapped around his waist and her arms clasped behind his neck as if to say hold my story, Daddy. Hold all of me.
She found safety in him, as my weak heart searched for safety in my own Daddy. This release of months of waiting to brush my fingers against the skin of my daughters’ also brought with it a weight of reality.
I am entrusting you with much, He told me.
To which I responded Father, I’m still a little girl and you are calling me to speak life to her dry bones. How could this be?
The day after Lily fit herself so naturally into our fold, she sat on the front lawn of the orphanage Hope has called home and scribed letters that were translated to her new sister. We deflected the intensity of the moment – because how can a five-year-old grasp this new family who has traveled half way around the world to receive her? – by drawing flowers and writing notes on construction paper.
“We want you to be in our family … don’t worry … we love you so much,” read Lily’s letter to Hope. The family she had met for the first time, less than 24 hours before, was one she now owned. Lily and Hope — who shared a country for five years — would now share headbands and baby dolls and bed-time rituals.
And a Daddy.
His oldest received him with vigor and the next tentatively warmed to him. First his gentle hand on her back, then a “yes” to a hug and finally she giggled when he threw her in the air.
And I stood back watching the collective 13+ years of fatherlessness among my daughters and wondered why He chose us.
The past few days have seen my weakest moments. I had no way of anticipating this rush of emotion which would come at the hands of my new daughters’ initiation to family. As their history is woven with my history, my need for the Father to write the story is all around me.
During the day, I am learning to be a mommy to four, and during my nights I have curled up like a daughter and said Daddy, I need you.
I can’t help but think that this stretching is releasing a greater healing than any strategy I can conjure up to restore them.
Healing for them, and healing for me … just the way the Father works.
In subtle ways, I have sought to build a life of safety, one I can measure, assess and ultimately control. But my heart was made for freedom.
And in the same way, I whisper prayers at night for their true-and-deep healing, the Father is so graciously administering healing to me. This orphan spirit rears its ugly head in all of us one way or another — seeking for us to be independent of our Father. He is using this very moment, where orphans-no-longer are finding what it means to be daughters, to allure my own heart to lean uncomfortably into His … until it becomes natural.
The day after I wrote this post we visited Hope again with the intent to bring her home with us this time. We arrived at her orphanage and the shy eyes that found comfort in staring at the ground for much of our visit the day before lit up when she saw her father. Her footsteps followed those of her new sister’s.
She ran to Nate and jumped in his arms.
Every one of us — even those that seem the least interested — were made to cry “Daddy!”