Posts filed under Letters

letters to you :: the moon and the waves carried me to you

The weight of you felt heavy that day, I remember it well. 

It was a full moon — one of the Super ones that lit the sky into a brilliant shade of luminescence. The energy pulled me close and I paced down the halls at work. Anticipation pulsed in my veins and I struggled with how to go about my day when all I wanted was to some how find my way to you.

You're coming soon, I whispered. I just knew. 

I sat outside that night and ate my dinner, staring at the moon and creating mantras for only you and me. Something about papa and I being ready and how you didn't have to wait anymore — we'd be here on the other side to catch you.

I kept staring at the moon, convinced that if I looked hard enough, and waited long enough, you would appear beside me. I had a lot of those moments when I waited for you. Moments where the love for you was so strong I felt like I could pluck you out of thin air. These were the days where the words would stumble over themselves trying to get out of mama's head and onto the piece of paper in front of her. Ricocheting off of each other, hollering at me to get this down — get it all — write it before we leave forever. 

I tried to write that night but couldn't. Staring at the moon I could feel the words batter my ribcage. They were pushing up and out faster than I'd ever experienced and I ran up the stairs trying to catch them. 

When I sat down at my desk at work and pulled out my notebook, nothing happened. The words were just there and now they were gone. I could still feel you, I just couldn't articulate it. How do you explain that sort of magic? I managed two lines before my hand threatened to cross them out completely. I don't remember the lines, but I remember it had something to do with the ocean's waves, carrying me to you. Even writing those lines felt entitled. How can I be feeling this? I wrote  something about how difficult it is for me to accept gifts and then sighed, clicking the pen shut.  

I got up out of my seat. 
I stretched. 
I paced the hallway again. 
I came back to the paper. 

I knew the words were there — I knew there was a message for you, from you, with you — I couldn't tell I just knew you were so close I could feel you. Right there. Breathing. Every time I focused on the feeling it felt heavier in my bones. 

And then, the words —

They say the moon
carries energy. 
I feel it as I go about my day. 
She becomes a living, breathing thing. 
"Listen," she says. 
People stop and watch her rise iridescent, 
Her light pushing away the blue black
of night
I feel you in her gaze, silent and aware
You're waiting - I know this
like I know my own skin. 
You can come now. 
We're ready. 
The moon is pulling you
out-out-out- 
do you feel it?
Do you hear my heart skip a beat?
Do you feel my tears on your cheeks?
I'm watching the same sky
feeling the same moon call me out,
her energy pushing me toward our
beginning.

I sat back when I finished writing and tried to catch my breath. These words came from a deeper well than I originally anticipated and I had to swallow back more than a few tears. I was so anxious to see you and hold you and kiss you and know you. I wanted it to be now. I wanted to trace the line from your eyes to your nose to your mouth, wanted to whisper in your ear, "mama's here. You're safe. You're home. You're so very loved." 

Two days later, with the light of the full moon still burning up the night sky, your papa and I made our way to you. It was time. I stared at the road shining with moonbeams and wiped the tears from my cheeks. Soon, the ocean would catch those tears. Soon, I would write other words about waiting and the strength of your Mama Rad. But driving down those country roads through Texas and Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia and the Carolinas I knew then what I knew a few nights before: the moon and the waves were carrying me to you and little lion, my wait was almost over. I couldn't wait to hold you close. 

Posted on February 27, 2017 and filed under Letters, Mom-Heart.

letters to you :: they call you by name

She asked if I was missing you. 

Maybe asked isn't the right word. Knowing this friend, it was probably more of a statement of understanding. Hand on my back, deep breath in and out.

"You're missing Jubal right now, aren't you?" 

I cried, then. Clunky tears that fell to the ground and left a puddle on the wood. I do not hide the missing, but I've lived with the weight of you in my bones for so long that sometimes I forget there's actually a hole. You are my phantom limb and this time of year is when I feel that ache the most. 

The other day I walked outside and saw that Papa placed a BABY ON BOARD sticker on the back window of our car. I froze. 

"When you told me you got this sticker I didn't realize you were going to place it on Rex Manning now.

He peeked his head up over the roof and shrugged. 

"What? I'm future-casting." 

I laughed then, swallowing the lump in my throat, and opened the car door, pushing away the thoughts of how I would respond to the questions from those who do not call you by name.

Those are the questions where it's easiest to shrug and look away. It's best not to hit them with the full weight. Those are the moments I bite my tongue and look at the sky and raise my Hustetler eyebrow because 've waited long enough, don't you think? 

But then there are those who do call you by name. They remember when the weight of it all begins to chafe. This is what's hard to explain — the need of me letting go of this particular burden. The ones who call you by name? They are the keepers of the flame. They see the hope flicker within and they refuse to let it die. 

They've wiped the tears. They've shaken their fists. They've giggled with anticipation. 

They're in this until the end.

"I prayed for Jubal the other day." 

I stare at the text message and read it over and over and over again, letting your name fall on my lips, the softest tickle of a whisper. 

Jubal Vox. The voice of a trumpet.

I close my eyes and voice the prayer that's been stuck in my gut for weeks. 

Jubal. We're ready. Come home. 

Posted on October 20, 2015 and filed under Letters.

letters to you :: little lion man

little lion man,

sometimes, it doesn't seem real.

sometimes, in the rush of my day, i forget you're coming. i get sidetracked, you know? 

but there's always this filter running through my heart - a whisper of what's ahead of me - and if I stop long enough to listen, i hear it.

earlier this week your papa and i saw you for the first time. it was a grainy picture sent to us via email. as soon as i saw the picture i felt something shift inside. my heart beat faster. my throat got all tight. my eyes started leaking.

it was the first (of many) tears your mother cried over you. and i sniffed the tears back and giggled because there you were - right there - so close but not here. not yet. 

for a moment, i saw you. you're still so young in this picture - the size of a small vegetable - but with these big eyes staring right at us. it was like looking through some type of portal. a picture of life with you - grabbing for things, squealing with delight, looking at the world with wonder.

it's enough to make me wish away these next few months. but i wait. just like i have these past three years. and i marvel at the way you're capturing my heart not-yet-here but almost-and-so-close. 

- mama

Posted on March 31, 2013 and filed under Letters.

on the eve of holidays.

Little one, I remember two years ago, right about now, I fought for control over our life without you. Your mother can be selfish in so many ways, and in those moments, I craved comfort.

And motherhood is anything but comfortable.

But we jumped in, as we always do. Your papa and I aren't known for decisions that make much sense. We like it this way - forces us to rely on faith.

Like now.

There was talk of Halloween at the dinner table tonight. Costumes brainstormed and party invites discussed. It made the old ache return - deep in my chest - because only a few weeks ago I believed there was a chance we'd see you by then. I even stopped a few times at some of the tiny dog-eared suits and lady-bugged bottoms.

But if you weren't going to be here by then, you'd definitely be here by Thanksgiving, and I remembered the Mama's Little Turkey shirt I almost placed in the cart when papa and I went to look at carseats.

And well...let's not get into Christmas. Not yet. My heart's too tender to think of another one spent waiting without you.

Can I tell you something? It's hard right now - this keeping the faith. I don't understand why we would need to believe we were so close to having you in our arms only to find out we have longer to wait. And I know in the end, it still may not make sense but at least we'll know you really were out there waiting - that there really was someone who needed a mom and dad.

I'm tired of answering questions. Tired of these empty arms. Tired of the road that seems covered with challenges.

Two years ago, on the eve of holidays, I breathed in the cooler air and believed with all of my heart you and I would find each other. Despite my fear, despite the knowing of just how hard this process would be or why adoption would be our plan A -

I knew.

And now?

And now, I'm a little sad and a lot disappointed that our Christmas card will seem lacking without you in it.

But here's where everything shifts - here's where I remind you (and me because you know how forgetful I can be about these things) there is no lacking in the plan of Christ and right now our family is full to the brim of love and just waiting for you to spill it over.

Our God always sets the lonely in families - and we are no exception.

Will you hurry to us? We're here. Waiting.

Posted on October 18, 2012 and filed under Letters.

waiting for you.

dear one, it's been awhile since i've written you, but it's not because i've forgotten. it's hard to put into words exactly how i feel about you, even though we've never met. i feel my heart bend toward you more and more each day. i pray for you - wherever you are - that God would keep you safe and loved and somehow you would understand the absolute magic of us coming together.

that's what it is, you know. magic.

i know there will be some brokenness involved. i know there will be moments where you wonder at your beginning. but know this :: this waiting period has revealed to me the goodness of One who knows and heals and makes right the broken pieces.

no one is ever left incomplete.

all we have to do is trust and believe.

this is where the magic begins my little love. mostly because there are moments where i don't feel as if i trust and believe as i should, and yet He moves and heals me anyway. usually when i'm driving and see the sun creep over the distant hills, waking up as slow as possible, the oranges and pinks and yellows streaking across the night sky. this is when i remember the magic. this is when my heart starts beating a little quicker and my mind moves to you - and even now, even without knowing, i'm thankful.

so here i sit, listening to the morning wake up, and i know one thing more than any other :: we're still waiting for you.

i love you, pumpkin,

mama.

Posted on June 4, 2012 and filed under Letters.

a letter to you: one year later.

a year ago, your papa & i decided to find you. i hope you know we prayed for you. i hope you know every day i think about you.

it's been a rough year. some day, when you're old enough, i'll tell you about everything that's happened. hopefully, you'll know our Papa and know His goodness. hopefully you'll see His hand leading us to you the entire way.

because here's the thing little one: i wouldn't trade a second of the struggle i've seen this year if it means it's getting me closer to you. and at times i get a little freaked out and at times i wonder if i can even do this mom thing, but i know He's able. i know once i look in your eyes it will all seem silly. and if He's called me to pursue you and motherhood and risking all my love, then there's nothing else i want to be doing.

our application is almost finished. we're doing everything we can to get to you. i promise. every day i remind myself that we can't rush you just as much as we can't rush ourselves. timing is what it is and we might as well rest in His hands and rely on His movings. if there's one thing i've learned this year is that nothing happens outside His will and everything happens for a reason.

and you know what this means with you? you were meant to be with us. you were meant to be our child.

you are not a mistake.

christmas is almost here - our second christmas knowing we have a little one coming but not knowing when. i can't help but wonder if this time next year i'll be holding you in my arms. i only pray this is true. if not, know we'll still be waiting. know we'll still be praying.

i can't wait to see you.

Posted on November 19, 2011 and filed under Letters.

a letter from us.

There have been a handful of moments in our marriage where we knew, without a shadow of a doubt, God was behind the events unfolding around us. One was our trip to Kenya this past summer. While there, we fell in love with the people of Kibera – a slum that makes up a little over a square mile. In this tiny area of Nairobi, 1.5 million people call home. Leaving those who showed us true joy was heartbreaking -  before the plane even landed in Houston, we knew the land of Africa grew deep in our bones – we’d be going back. Skip forward a few months, and you’ll see Russ and me in Starbucks, heads bent low and talking feverishly. It’s November 5, 2010. We’ve just decided to start the adoption process. “I don’t care where we adopt from  – as long as we’re doing it,” Russ says. And for some reason, my hearts leans towards Ethiopia. We jump head first and immediately begin to see God provide – and the enemy come against us. Within weeks of our decision, we meet some friends at a restaurant. Before we even order our meal, our friend looks at us and asks, “would you guys be interested in taking a trip to the Horn of Africa in March?”

I felt the tears form as I looked at Russ. For those of you who don’t know, the Horn of Africa makes up the countries of Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Uganda, Kenya and Djibuti – for the second time within a year, we were going back to Africa – and to the very area of our future child. Dumbfounded, we let our friends know about our decision to adopt and their own eyes filled with tears. It wasn’t until recently our friend told us he didn’t even know to ask until he pulled in the parking lot with his wife. Once again, God revealed to us His goodness. The moment we felt surrounded and overwhelmed with obstacles concerning adoption, He came in and reminded us of His purpose.

While in the Horn, we’ll be assisting a partner of the Austin Stone who currently serves through medical assistance, fitness, and women’s development. We will also be visiting an orphanage that recently opened. Although we may not know specifics, we’re anxious to see what God has and the connections we will build with the people. Our desire is to build relationships that will provide a firm foundation for future trips through Austin Stone and return home with a better idea of how we can fit the Horn of Africa into the current mission of ministering to unreached people groups.

There are a few ways you can join us on this trip. First and foremost, we request prayer. We will be gone a week: March 11-20. We need prayers for health, safety, wisdom, and provision and for the Lord to use us. We are building a team of at least 20 people to pray for our team every day we are there. If you would like to join our prayer team, we’d be incredibly grateful.

Also, this trip will cost approximately 5000 dollars. We need this money by March 1. We believe, from personal experience, God will provide. We never anticipated returning to Africa so quickly, but we feel led and can’t wait to see what God has for us while there. If you want to join with us by supporting us financially, please contact me and I’ll send you donation cards via e-mail.

In Ephesians, it says “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Sprit deeply and gently within us.” [3:20]. There have been countless moments within the past few months where Russ and I distinctly feel His Spirit gently and deeply within us – moving us to a place far beyond anything we ever anticipated. Please continue to pray for our hearts, that we’d be pliable and open to His leading. More than anything, this is what we aim for – and we can’t wait to see Him bend our hearts closer to Him through this trip.

Penda,

Russ & Elora

Posted on January 23, 2011 and filed under Adoption, Letters.

letter to you: telling the family.

dear little one, we told the family about you today.

i have to admit - i was a little nervous. not because i didn't think everyone would be excited. i knew they'd be thrilled with the news of tiny fingers soon grabbing at every thing within reach. oh and they were besides themselves with joy. both my mom & papa's mom put their shirt on immediately -all smiles. no...i wasn't nervous about them wanting you. i was nervous because of the wait.

sweet one, there are some days i can almost sense you - i know you're out there. other days it feels as though we'll never get to hold you in our arms. telling the family and answering questions about the wait made it seem that much longer. we did it, though and it was so beautiful. more and more, we are aware of how God is bringing us to you. he truly knows. and even though it seems as though this whole process will take longer than we want, we'll wait and we'll pray.

one day i'll get to touch your beautiful face - one day i'll see just how perfect you are for our family. almost as if God handpicked you for us. and then i'll be reminded...

you were.

until then, we'll wait. your aunt rhonda will more than likely paint you a picture or two. aunt christina & aunt blanche are already talking about throwing a party in your honor. your older brother devonte keeps talking about how he's going to teach you all about style. i have no doubt this is true.

we love you, precious.

- mama & papa

Posted on December 27, 2010 and filed under Family, Letters.