Lila made her way into this world on July 20th, 2019. It was all a blur, and movie-like almost, as I stood on the sidewalk outside of Longhorn's Steakhouse. My belly was full (in more ways than one), and I was on the phone with my dad when my water broke right then and there for all of the patiently waiting customers to see. I stared at the puddle in surprise and giggled as Phillip yelled at me to get in the car. (I guess he didn't think it was funny.)
I quickly realized how funny it wasn't as the contractions became stronger. I had been reading books and watching documentaries all to prepare me for this moment, and somehow none of it mattered. Lila was on her way, and that was all I could think about!
She arrived at 10:58, a little over two hours after my water broke. What a whirlwind!
She was tiny, dark and beautiful. I couldn't believe I was her mom. As I held her close and stared at her, all I could think about was how miraculous of an experience this all was.
In the beginning, it was as if I had trouble believing that there was really a baby growing inside of me. However, from the very moment I felt her move, that all changed. All of the sudden I was overly aware that she was there, that she was a part of me. As she grew, so did my attachment of her. I started dreaming of who she'd be and what she'd look like. It also became so evident to me that she did not belong to me, she belonged to God.
God gave us this gift of Lila, and she was in His hands. I don't mean to sound morbid, but I had to train my thoughts to acknowledge that truth. It did, in a way, stunt the growth of my attachment to her. But looking back, it was a gift. It was a gift to be able to fully recognize that she belonged to HIM. That HE was allowing me to be her mom--not her creator. From time to time fear would rise up in me--what if something happened to her? What if I lost her? What if I lost her during delivery? But the fear didn't stop there. What if she gets sick after she is born? What if she gets in an accident and dies suddenly as a child? What if?
Then an overwhelming peace came. She belongs to God. He is in control. He will take care of her. And if He decides to call her home, she will come, whether I am ready or not. Acknowledging that truth early on allowed me to fully love her without overwhelming fear. (*I am human, so not completely without fear.) To care for her and raise her with the attitude that she belongs to God. Now, I know she has only been here for 3 months, and the reality is that as time passes and she grows, it will be challenging to remain in this mindset. However, by choosing to raise her in this way, I will take it day by day. Daily I will choose to lift her up to the Lord. Daily I will love her like the miraculous gift she is.
With one placement ending during the 7th month of my pregnancy, Phillip and I decided to take a break from foster care until after Lila was born. We could take up to a six month break before having to redo our training, so that was the plan. Now, we find ourselves at the end of our break, preparing our hearts to open our home again. It is a bittersweet feeling, but it doesn't come without fear.
Like I said, early on in my pregnancy, I was able to train my thoughts and come to grips with the truth that Lila belonged to God. Although Phillip knows this in his mind, it was still sinking into his heart. Phillip became anxious about foster care and its role in our family's life. He was fearful of what could happen to her once we welcomed other children into our home--children who come from a broken past and who have experienced violence and abuse. Through many prayers and discussions, we finally agreed that foster care is the path that our family is called to. That meeting these broken children where they are and loving them like Jesus does is the life we want to live.
As I thought about the fear of what could happen to Lila as we open up our home more and more, I was reminded of Abraham.
" He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” " Genesis 22:2
Take your son, your only son, whom you love...and offer him there as a burnt offering. (If you have never read this story, or it's been a while since you have, read it now! )
Wow. If this story didn't get to me before, it certainly does now that I am a parent. Abraham, being the faithful servant he was, obeyed. He didn't question God. He didn't bargain with God. He was obedient. Was he so full of faith that he knew the Lord would provide a lamb? Or was he acknowledging the truth that Isaac belonged to God? Or both?
I sat, with tear-filled eyes, and thought to myself--I love Lila, but God loves her more.
I want to raise my family in a way that honors The Lord. I want my time on this earth to be about other people--sharing the love of Christ. I want Lila to understand just what Jesus intended our lives to be--full of love and sacrifice.
Lila Monroe Smith is a pure JOY. She is the sweetest-natured baby and loves everyone she meets. She looks just like her daddy, but might have her mama's eyes. She is the best snuggler and loves to chat. She loves being outside and reading books. Lila is the best gift--and we are so excited to be her mom and dad.
Thank you to Dixie Cook Sherrod for the beautiful photos!
Updates: Since originally writing this blog in 2019, we did receive our second foster placement when Lila was 7 months old! A teenage girl joined our family and was lovingly referred to as "sissy". She and Lila developed a bond that I will always remember. She cared for Lila with as much love and attention as we gave her--what a beautiful thing to experience! God is good, all the time. Though this story was woven with bits of heartbreak, we know and believe that God's timing and purpose was perfect. We are still uncovering the fruit from this sweet time, much of which was produced in my own heart. Now we have a second child of our own with hopes of opening up our home again to foster care in the future. I am still learning daily how to hold ALL of my children with open hands.