Hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree always puts me in a reflective mood. Between the purely decorative ornaments, I pull out symbols of my most treasured memories. An ornament my in-laws gave us after we were first married, and another after we moved into the first home we built together. There’s the Precious Moments “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament that my sister-in-law gave us after our first child was born, and souvenir ornaments from many fun trips to Disneyland. Even more sentimental are the mini-framed pictures of our daughter Ellianna – one of her first Christmas, and nearly every year till now (she is 5) – reminders of the years ticking by all too quickly.
On silent nights after the kids have gone to bed, I sit by the Christmas tree, seeing its lights and reminders of the past, and I ponder. I think about the coming year, and what thoughts and events will fill my mind the next time I decorate the tree. It’s a time to hope and dream for what’s next, and reflect with gratitude on the prior year.
This year, my reflections are on events I could not have dreamed of last year at Christmas.
It all started near Christmas of 2014, when my sister invited me to a ladies’ Christmas Candlelight Dessert event at her church. The topic was something like “How to Have Peace Through the Holidays.” That night, Brenna Stull, the guest speaker, shared some fun holiday tips as we enjoyed our hot cocoa and cookies. Then the evening took an unexpected turn when she began sharing her story of how God moved her and her family’s hearts toward adoption. She shared so genuinely about this experience and how her family came to adopt two children from Africa, I was moved to tears.
That Christmas, my daughter, our only child, was three years old. She is our miracle baby. Before she was born, I had experienced three early-term miscarriages. Two years after she was born, I had a fourth miscarriage. We hoped to have another child – I grew up with three siblings and my husband grew up with two. Yet we did not know if it would ever be a possibility for our family.
The Christmas Candlelight event was the first nudge that led us to filling out an adoption application. I was a little nervous, but finally decided to start by contacting an agency several friends had used. My first contact at the agency was very friendly and helpful and gave me the first step: fill out a brief application and send in a $50 check. I thought, “I can do that!” That simple first step led to the year of 2015 being punctuated with filling out paperwork and taking adoption classes.
By December of last year, I completed our “match letter,” which birth parents would review and use to select prospective adoptive parents for their child. We went into the matchbook right after the New Year, January of this year. We had no idea how long it would be before we’d have a baby in our arms – I told my boss at work it could take a year or more. Three weeks after we submitted our match letter, I was taking a nap and woke up to find a voicemail on my phone from the adoption agency. My husband was sure it was a request to complete more paperwork. Much to our surprise and joy, we had been selected by a birth mom who was due any day.
When God decides it’s time, things can happen very quickly. Late January, our precious son was born. We had a few harrowing moments when we weren’t sure if consents by the birth parents would be signed, but after many prayers and a few anxious days, Weston became ours.
Weston is now 10 months old – a very sweet, happy boy who has given our family immeasurable joy. This Christmas, as I trace back the memories of this year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has wrought. There is a new ornament on the tree this year, and with it, reflection on the incredible story of Weston’s adoption.
Life is filled with challenges and some great sorrows – infertility, death of loved ones, and just daily stresses. In these times of reflection, I see that God is good through it all. And as I look at the ornaments, these little “stones of remembrance1,” I see His hand on our lives.
I love these lyrics from Christy Nockels’ Silent Night (Holding Us Now) from her album The Thrill of Hope:
On a starlit wonder of the night
You came so all would be made right
And the baby that all beheld
The same baby Mary held, is the same God
Who is holding us now
The ornaments on the tree tell this story. God is with us, He is holding us; walking with us through all of life. I can’t think of a better time to remember this than Christmas.
1See Joshua 4:4-6, 20-24