“She’s you,” he said.
The house was quiet and I was free to breathe and to let him hold the vulnerable version of me and the snowball of my questions that had accumulated between 7am and dark.
“It hasn’t been that long, has it?” His memory sharper than mine in this area.
I always knew I was his training grounds for her — but I just didn’t think God had used me to train me for her. Nate held me when I lashed out at him and wasn’t threatened by what felt like a deluge of emotions when our first year of marriage made it safe enough for me to cry. He locked the car doors when I wanted to run and said “I forgive you” with more than just his words, well beyond my quota. He showed me love, unrelenting, before I had a language for it.
Nate cupped my early to mid-twenties in his hands and found the tiny shoots in that dirt.
The same thing he’s doing with her.
The incarnate God is forever making Himself tangible for those of us mystified by this kind of love.
We once feared the havoc adoption might wreak in our home. And then we started to see that their physical fatherlessness is not all that different from our own spiritual independence. I can no longer fear what I see in them when I have hope for my own regeneration.
A morphed form of the orphan crisis is undercover here in our cushioned western world. It’s tucked, deep, disguised among believers and non-believers, alike. It fills church pews and coffee shops and Bible studies and social gatherings. It’s the ache that wants to cry “Abba, Father,” but doesn’t know the Father as Abba-Daddy.
So as we celebrated her ninth birthday I looked into almond eyes, so different than mine, but saw my little girl who is just like her mama. Though we have legs that run hard, we’ve been out-run. Both of us. And I’m learning new layers of His creative love by the way she is responding to it.
Though I’m biased, I believe that the weak-ones over whom His pursuit is most-obviously needed tend to have the best life stories.
Friends, the transformation in this little girl from last year until this year (and from last week, until this week!) tells the story: we come alive under our Daddy’s love.
And as the Hagerty tradition goes, here is her birthday letter — one her eyes won’t see until she’s nearly out from under our fold.
Just when I think your life-portfolio for a nine year-old couldn’t get any bigger, you surprise me. Today — in one day — you went from tucking cash in an envelope for someone in need, to trying your culinary hand at the family’s favorite Saturday breakfast, to pinning up your doll’s hair until it cascaded all down in curls, to creating big-flowered headbands for a friend. And you ended it by filling our hushed home with your fingers brushing keys and your lips singing worship. Many things I’m not so sure I could do and most-all that you taught yourself. My nine year-old is quite the renaissance girl.
But even underneath all those exterior demonstrations of beauty, lies a treasure-trove we’ve only just begun to open. We see the hunger in you that your mouth can’t yet voice. Child, you live determinedly. For Him.
Lily Joy Hagerty, you do the hard things. You say “yes” to Him when it hurts — in your, now, nine year-old sort of way. You get back up after a fall. You are training your heart to receive, when all of your life up until now may have given you reason not to. There are decades behind your eyes, yet you still curl up with your Addy and choose the safety of childhood.
You, me and a cup of tea, we make for great Saturday afternoon fun. And your Daddy and I finally have another with whom we can roll eyes and laugh at those things the flash-pot attention spans of littles don’t catch.
Your humor lights us up. And so do your giggles. Last week you wrote in your gratitude journal: “I am grateful that I do school at home. I am grateful that I have a Mommy and Daddy who are guffie.” Though the latter reveals holes in the former, I’ll take your appreciation for our “guffie”-fun over perfect-phonics any day.
My Lily you are bright.
A bright light.
Little one, my little one, you are teaching me with your life about the strength of His love.
Happy Day of your birth it was for Him and for me.
I am crazy about you,
First photo compliments of Mandie Joy.