The Giving Tree

Every six weeks our school has a writing contest. We read a book about the assigned theme and then whoever wants to participate writes a story. This time our theme was love/sacrifice and we read The Giving Tree. Oh my word. That book hits you right in the feels. It’s pretty heavy for first graders and I usually get questioned about my watery eyes when I read it.

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Student #1: Mrs. G, are you crying?
Student #2: No, she’s not crying. I think she just has allergies.
Student #3: She is too crying. She always cries in books like this.
Student #4: Yeah, remember when she read us Love You Forever? She really cried a lot in that one.

And so it goes.

But really. That poor tree. Sacrificing everything just to make her boy happy. Giving of her branches, her apples, and herself, until she’s just a tiny stump.

So, as I went to write my story for the contest, I contemplated the ideas of love and sacrifice. Love is easy. I could write about Chris or loving my girls or the love of my parents. Chris makes sacrifices for me. I know my parents have sacrificed for me their whole lives, just like I try to do for Claire and Lucy. But true living sacrifice? Someone who gives themselves completely for the joy of someone else? Someone who embodies the selfless love of Jesus?

And then I thought of her. Lucy’s first momma. Of course. Her path crosses our family’s story at the intersection of Love and Sacrifice. That one decision she made – to give life – and to share life with us, have changed all of us forever.

And so I wrote. I wrote about our giving tree.

As she enters the room, that precious bundle in her arms, I see it in her eyes. Above the tear-stained cheeks, intermingled with the grief, it’s there. This is the day that will change all of our lives forever, and I can see it so clearly. I can see the love.

At home, we unpack the carton she sent with us, touching each item gently as we pull them out. The soft fur of a pink teddy bear, a snow globe with delicate yellow roses painted at the base, a plaque with the words, “When I count my blessings, I count you twice” scrolling across it. Tears fill my eyes as I place them on the new one’s shelf. So tiny and fresh, she doesn’t know yet how much these things mean. She doesn’t fully understand this love.

When the pictures arrive in the mail I see the courage on her face. And always I see the love in her eyes. When the e-mails arrive exclaiming over the pictures I’ve sent and the new one’s beauty, I hear the love in every word. I feel the pride she’s beaming, even when far away.

I don’t see the tears she cries. But I get to brush tiny tears off baby cheeks and hold a little one close. I don’t know the painful thoughts that must fill her mind some nights as she lies down to sleep. But I get to watch deep breaths enter and exit a little chest as my girl sleeps peacefully. I will never know the full weight of her sacrifice, but I am thankful every second of every day.

Love is not always easy. Love is sacrifice and giving beyond the place that it hurts. Love is painful and difficult and heart wrenching. And love is beautiful.

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Pearl

Last night I lingered in the rocking chair with Lucy held tightly in my arms.  As I gazed at her face I was breath taken with her perfect, tiny features.  The gentle curve of her ears, her dainty pursed lips, her smooth round nose, and her delicate eyelashes.  As my lips brushed against the soft baby skin of her cheeks, my heart was filled to the brim.  This child, this precious child, is mine.  A child that was unknown to me just three months ago is my daughter.  She is so precious, so valued.

Gonzalez096Photo by Delrae Ward (delraesphotos.com)

As I sat there, I was reminded of the story Jesus tells in Matthew.

‘“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”‘

Chris and I were like the merchant.  We were looking.  We were longing.  We were searching for something of great value.  We completed mounds of paperwork.  We wore out the road between here and Fort Worth.  We didn’t sell everything, but we did make huge financial sacrifices.  We endured lengthy interviews and people perusing our home.    Our world was turned upside down in this search, this journey, to bring our Lucy home.

Lucy is our pearl.

And God has a pearl too.  In fact, he has lots of them.  He didn’t complete mounds of paperwork.  But he did travel the path from heaven to earth.  He gave up everything, the very thing he held most dear, his son.  He endured ridicule, beating, and eventually death.  He turned this world upside down in his journey to bring his pearls home.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.’ Ephesians 1:3-6

Adoption is our father’s heart.  He longs for his children to be in his arms.  He journeys and searches for each person.  Each person is wanted, desired, valued.  You are wanted.  You are desired.  You are valued.  You’re worth everything to him.

You are his pearl.

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