I celebrated a birthday upon our return from China. I mean, literally, as we were driving home from the airport, I aged. My jet lagged self loved the voice mails, texts, emails, cards and of course the Facebook strand of well wishes that I was able to sift through the next day in my bouts of consciousness. There was an overwhelming sentiment that this was probably my best birthday ever, and that I had received the greatest gift, which was true, but also not.

As far as gifts go, I’ve got to hand it to jet lag for packing a real punch. We definitely had enough time across the world for our bodies to adjust to being 14 hours ahead of most of our loved ones, and returning rocked our world. We longed to fall asleep at all the wrong times, but couldn’t fall asleep when we should have. For days we woke well before the sun would rise, and on numerous occasions, Danny and I found ourselves in bed at 2 or 3 in the morning, surfing Facebook. Jeremiah woke frequently through the nights, usually screaming, and would sometimes be awake for hours. Then, the birds would chirp and our FOUR children would be ready to rock for the day. There is never enough coffee…

We were pretty miserable for the front half of our first week home. I am definitely grateful that that tired fog is lifting. Life feels much more manageable when I’m rested.
IMG_5190Then, there’s this little present to be thankful for…the gift that keeps on giving, and taking, and giving.
IMG_5211 We waited for months and months for him. We loved him from afar, prepared our hearts and our home to have him with us, and traveled around the world to get him. Documenting that journey has been such a joy for me. Processing those events more than once through photos and writing allowed me to experience them in a deep, deep way, and the impact of this time in our lives rests secure.
IMG_5213Five, now six. Reunited. A circle complete – my birthday gift. Returning home signified the end of a long, well documented journey. It’s supposed to be complete, but it’s not.
IMG_5204Completion settles our soul; experiencing the end of a story is predictable and soothing. The act of coming full circle brings our spirit rest. Coming home with our precious babe was a seemingly beautiful end to a pretty amazing story, but it has been anything but restful – and as it turns out, this story is just beginning.

My birthday babe, my greatest birthday gift, has brought us moments of joy, frustration, and grief. But, he has shaped my hope for a story that evolves over time – a continued restoration and shaping of my heart, a son that grows alongside, a family that grows together. We are redeemed. We are being redeemed. We will be redeemed. GLORY.IMG_5221Perspective shifts, and a new chapter to the same story opens.
IMG_5222 We are keeping our world pretty small right now – staying in more than we go out. We are the only ones holding Jeremiah, caring for him, feeding him, picking him up when he falls, meeting his needs, solidifying this thing we call family. Interactions are guided and intentional. Sometimes, it’s exhausting. Sometimes, it’s beautiful. IMG_5231_2When he comes to show me his scratched toe, I see he’s learning – mama cares. His excitement when a sibling wakes up from a nap demonstrates a recognition – siblings are special.
IMG_5240Gifts aren’t always what they seem.
IMG_5253 Sleep is still a challenge. There is still waking in the night, and the bed assignments and hours for shut-eye have much room for improvement. But, we’re working on it. God’s working on us, and we continue to learn to receive the gift of contentment, even as our story shifts and twists.

Redemption is a long road; God is good.IMG_5260