It started with a word.
I was sitting at a stoplight, praying about my word for 2016. It was October. I remember leaning against my window and the chill on the glass surprising me.
I have words for every year. Normally, by this time, I know my word. I kept wondering why I hadn't gotten a word yet. I wondered if I missed it somewhere. I wondered if I would even have one. It wasn't like I was resisting a word, but for the past five years, my words have been anything but kind. While I was curious why I hadn't received one, I wasn't actively pursuing it.
I was hesitant. But that day, something had me thinking about it.
So I'm sitting there, praying about my word, and I whisper under my breath —
I think it might be rooted.
There was something about that word that called to me, something about grounding and breathing and remembering who I am in this flesh and bone. I thought it might be a hint. I looked out the window, contemplating, and the answer hit me square in the chest. It was the most audible I've ever experienced the Spirit's voice.
"Your word will be mother."
My breath hitched. My heart flinched.
And then I started to weep.
I didn't share anything about my word. In fact, I wrote about the reasons why I wouldn't be telling anyone other than my closest friends and family. This was not meant for public consumption. This was going to be an internal shift — an intimate pull toward what caused me the most pain. I knew the truth: my words are never about the obvious. Not really. So even though there were implications beyond what I fully grasped in that moment, I focused where I could: the mother heart of God.
Next came the message.
It was less than a month after first hearing my word. I was in the middle of teaching when it popped up on my notifications. I paused for a moment, not really knowing the person who reached out to me.
...for a few days now I've been resisting reaching out to you....she said. She consistently receives prophecies for other people, she told me, but rarely shares them. But for me, she kept hearing tell her, tell her, tell her.
And so she did.
This is the year your adoption will be resolved.
I started shaking when I read it. The tears came immediately, sparking a visceral reaction similar to when I sat in the car at the stoplight and heard mother whispered across my soul. I wiped my tears and responded as best I could, thankful she risked vulnerability to share. Regardless of the outcome, I knew I couldn't ignore the message.
Just like I knew I couldn't ignore the way mother was etching its way into my year.
Then there were the eagles.
I would see them flying outside the window at work — back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. It was late spring by then, and I was a few months into living my word. I had a necklace with Mother Mary on it. I was leaning into the discomfort of what it means to love God Herself and how that influences me as a woman.
I was trying not to think about the adoption.
The eagles though — they kept haunting me. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I would watch them and know without a doubt they were meant for me. But then they disappeared. For weeks, I saw them every day — and then suddenly it was as if they never existed. I missed the way they calmed me, how methodical they were in flight. How majestic and overwhelming they looked against the backdrop of crystal blue sky.
So on Mother's Day, I asked to see them again.
Please? Just so I know You're still listening. Just so I know that this whole adoption thing isn't a joke...let this be Your message to me that You're working — that You see — that this process is moving.
That afternoon, I saw them. Like specks of dust against a cobalt sky, they were just within my vision across the fields below our offices. I got greedy.
That could have been a fluke, I prayed. Let me see them close. Let me know this is You.
And then they were everywhere. Swooping past my window close enough to touch. Circling above me at a stoplight. Following me on a backend road on my way to my niece's birth in College Station. I never went more than a few days without seeing them, ever present, always circling back and forth, back and forth, back and forth above me.
They were my guardians, seeing what I could not.
In July, Russ and I were driving back from my mom and dad's. I'd seen eagles there, too. When I told my mom about them, she looked at me and smiled.
"They perch on my fence all the time. They sit there, watching."
Something vibrated in my core, spreading to my throat and down my arms.
On the way home, I looked at Russ.
"It's happening soon, love." I whispered. Tears were already running down my cheeks — it's what happens when Truth comes up and out and I can't hold it in anymore. He didn't say anything, and I wasn't expecting him to — both of our hearts knew what happens with hope deferred.
I wouldn't say anything either.
About a month ago, a friend sent me a message with a picture of her holding a starfish.
"I saw this and thought of you," she said. "I threw it back into the ocean. What does it spark in you?"
Immediately, I thought of a time I threw something back into the ocean. It was a shell. On it, I'd written a dream.
I want to be a mother.
That was three years ago, though — it couldn't have anything to do with this...could it?
"I keep getting the word return," she added.
I told her about my throwing seashells back into the waves and she responded immediately.
"Oh love. Love. Return to the dream. You have to return to the dream."
My heart broke open then because I realized I was already there — at some point, in some way, I'd found my way back to the mother root. I'd never been so scared of anything in my life. I knew the possibility of pain involved. I knew this was where vulnerability, for me, was born. The tears traced a path down my cheeks and I let them rest. I was too tired to even attempt to dry them off. I couldn't stop thinking about my word. It kept repeating internally, a syncopated rhythm of hope and fear and promise. I fell asleep early that night — my heart too tender to process the questions.
How did I find myself in this place again?
How will I ever recover if the answer is no?
A week after that, I knew. I wasn't even thinking about it when it happened. I was in the shower and stressed because we were running late. I had a mental list of everything I needed to do and then...
The truth came up and out and poured through every vein like an effervescent light. I stopped for a moment and stared at the drain, focusing on something solid. My hand reached for the tile next to me and I took a few deep breaths.
So this is what it's like, I thought.
I didn't know how I knew, but I knew.
Our call was coming.
The call came four days later. When I saw it was our agency calling, my heart stopped.
I was right.
I picked up the phone to answer it and then placed it back down on the desk. I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready for the absolute high and anticipation I was experiencing to plummet so succinctly. That up and down had happened so many times it was a ritual. Expected. I decided to wait until our caseworker left a message, because then at least I knew whether or not I would be calling her back. Once I got that notification I stepped away from my desk and out into the hallway.
"I want to talk to you about a birth mom," she said.
There it is.
I rolled my eyes and hit the call back button, the frustration building with every ring. We'd talked about this before....they knew we didn't want a placement. They knew we wanted a hospital call. They knew we weren't willing to take that risk.
I walked over to an area in front of the elevators and looked out the window at the people walking below me. Our case manager answered the phone and told me the situation.
"We had a birth mom call us," she said. "and her due date is November 23."
I paused. "Okay." I was already prepping myself for how I would tell her we weren't interested. I was ready for the you're her second choice or we've shown her your book so be ready for a match....
"She asked for you guys specifically, Elora. She said she didn't need us to find a family because she already knew who she wanted to choose."
I wish I could explain what happened then. I wish there were words to articulate the feeling that washed through me as I listened to her tell me the story. I kept shaking my head. This didn't make sense. I pressed my hands against the window, my fingers turning white with the pressure. I needed resistance, something to offer support. I was desperate for something to help me stay present in that moment.
Remember the people walking across campus.
Remember the way the clouds are building to your right.
Remember the way your hands are shaking. The way your chest feels heavy and light.
Remember how it feels to have the tears of six years of waiting pressed up against your throat.
The window of my expectations shattered.
I thought about timing.
I thought about sitting at a stoplight and hearing your word is mother.
I thought about messages and gifts and words spoken.
I knew then, just as sure as I knew anything else: it was time. This was it.
Our little lion man was coming home.
I was a mother.