The Lord has been working on me… the often painful, but always rewarding kind of work. Not content to leave us as we are, Christ comes in and prunes, searches, encourages, and matures. I hope I can start writing again and share more about what I’m learning. But we’ll start with a story about some stale cake.
There has been a slice of cake in our freezer chest for almost seven years. In recent months, the presence of this cake was sending me into a major funk, messing with my already-fragile postpartum emotions. This particular piece of cake, which once brought hope and encouraged faith was now only bringing despair and longing.
The cake has been saved, moved across states, and stored since John’s baby dedication at church when he was almost seven months old in August, 2009. You can read the label on the tupperware holding the remaining slice:
“John's cake to eat when he crawls.”
Back in 2009, I decided to save the piece with John’s name on it as a sign of faith and hope, even if the answers to our prayers for John’s growth and development lingered. It provided a way to move forward in trust, while knowing we had that symbol waiting for us when the proper time came. Looking back, I honestly don’t think I ever thought I would still be praying for my seven year old to simply crawl or sit up independently, despite his severe challenges and poor prognoses as an infant.
So you can imagine how, as the months have rolled into years, this cake sitting at the bottom of our freezer chest has brought mixed emotions. I get a glimpse of it from time to time as I rummage through that chest to pull out frozen meat or veggies, most often to be used for John’s food we make and puree. And as I’ve caught those glimpses recently, I have been downright depressed. It felt like a slap in the face—like another reminder of all the dreams we had that never came to fruition, for a life with twins and the type of life we pictured for John even after burying Warren.
I spoke to a couple of close friends about what the heck I should do with this cake that was now majorly bumming me out. I felt the whole situation was a big Lose-Lose. If I kept it, then the cake remained this depressing reminder of what has NOT happened, how the Lord has NOT provided in these particular ways, and how we can shift our focus off of the wonderful things John IS doing and how the Lord HAS provided in his and our lives. And yet, if I threw it out, I thought that would indicate I was “giving up” on John and possibly an aspect of my faith in God, too. As though I were throwing in the towel and surrendering to defeat in this area. My sweet mom even offered to store the cake in her deep freezer if that would bring more peace.
When explaining my predicament and anguish to a dear friend, she whipped out an amazing quote that had been posted on Instagram that week:
“Go and love someone exactly as they are.
And then watch how quickly they transform into the
greatest, truest version of themselves.
greatest, truest version of themselves.
When one feels seen and appreciated in his own essence,
one is instantly empowered.”
one is instantly empowered.”
This wise friend proclaimed, “M.E., you need to get that cake out, eat it, and celebrate exactly where John is!
Then get rid of it!!”
A light bulb of joy and peace went off in that moment. She wanted for me exactly what God wanted for me: to enjoy John exactly where he is. And what a gift to have friends that can boldly speak the truth we need to hear! To have her and countless others who will continue to pray for John and however his journey is to unfold (just as I do for my other children), but to also pray for freedom for us in the present situation. To know that “different” is not “less than,” as my counselor always reminds me. To set aside some of the striving and deep longing that has marked much of my journey since 2009. To continue to pray for development and to provide opportunities for John, but to also shift my perspective on what that development may look like and to get rid of this albatross around our necks. To celebrate life, God’s goodness, and our sweet son, as he is today: a sweet 7 year with two teeth missing (big boy!), contagious laughter, the relationships he forges, and the joy he brings to so many. As a person, not a milestone in the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book.
The plot thickens. I mulled over my friend’s brilliant suggestion for a couple days, finally telling Meade, “Alright, I have a plan. We are going to get the cake out and eat it.” Then I let him know that Friday night was the night. You won’t believe this. As I was about to take the cake out of the freezer, this text came in from a sweet friend who used to faithfully help us with John’s “patterning” (the exercise we did with him for years that required 3 adults in hopes of promoting the neurological input and connections needed to spur development and, specifically, crawling). She now lives many states and miles away and had no idea that her out of the blue text was confirmation and a gift of love straight from the Holy Spirit. Here’s the screenshot of our exchange:
John HAS grown and developed since those patterning days, and it is a wonderful thing.
So eat cake and celebrate, we did:
And it wasn’t too bad!! And then, let me tell you how GOOD it felt to throw the rest away, container and all! John, like every child, is special and unique and deserves to be celebrated for who he is, for who God is growing him to be, and for how God sees him in light of eternity: whole in every way.
Here is what the cake looked like in its original glory:
John remains a precious child of God. We claimed Ephesians 2:10 for our twins when they were born, and they are both still living this out, even if it looks different but never less than we expected:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As an afterword, Michael was dedicated to the Lord this past Sunday at church. It was a special time as we brought our entire rambunctious crew up on stage with us and both sets of grandparents beamed from the front row. I thought I would include a picture of each of them at their respective baby dedications, all wearing the beautiful christening gown that was made for Meade and worn by him as a baby (our boys have also worn camo booties underneath!). And yes, the best quote of the day was Daniel pointing to Michael, saying, “He looks like a princess!” Yes, he sure did. :)
John's dedication in 2009:
Daniel's dedication in 2011:
Andrew's dedication in 2014:
Michael's dedication on Sunday (you can see the booties poking out):
And of course, Warren is always in our hearts and remains a precious gift to our family: