~ 1 samuel 1:26-28
perhaps it isn't a perfect comparison. i wasn't barren and longing for one son like hannah. our quiver was actually kind of full. but, nonetheless, her words strike a tender place in me. she longed for something so much it caused her to fall to her knees. it caused her to beg. it caused her to even bargain. her husband, elkanah, asked her why he wasn't enough. "don't i mean more to you than ten sons?" (eye roll). her priest, eli, observed her praying and wondered if she might be drunk. "get rid of your wine!" he callously told her. hannah hadn't been drinking, she had been praying. i suppose sometimes those two things can seem similar. let's face it men don't always understand the great emotions of a woman. hannah is clearly a case in point. she prayed and she wept and she poured out her heart to her God. this was a woman who was ready to pull out all the stops whether the menfolk were on board or not.
for me, it was strange to have four children already in my home and yet to feel moved to pray for a fifth. some would call it indulgent. some cultures would even find it offensive - at the very least globally irresponsible. anyone watching our family knows we have enough on our plates. but if you've been journeying with us for any length of time, you also know this was something layed on our hearts. it wasn't something we ever tried to make much sense of...it wasn't something we attempted to graph or analyze or chart. sure, we did a little of that early on...i remember sitting at a pool last summer and making a list of all the reasons why we should say YES to bella. i never got to the NO portion...never wrote down the "cons" ...i knew there were many practical reasons why we shouldn't adopt. some people even attempted to bring them to our attention. but, i never wrote them down. the YES list was all we needed. one thing we said early on, was that we didn't know how this story would end. we didn't know if God would really lead us all the way to china...all the way to this little girl. we hoped. but we know sometimes He brings things into our lives for other reasons. last summer as we began to pursue bella we found out she was admitted into the hospital here in china for emergency open heart surgery. the very week she was placed on our hearts was the week she was undergoing an operation on her own heart. the very week. isn't that mind-blowing? we had shared her story with our friends and family. we knew at that point hundreds of people were praying for this little girl. this little girl who was virtually alone in a hospital for an entire month. i remember thinking that this could be the very reason God introduced bella into our lives. just for the prayers of so many. i knew that it could have very well been about the prayers for her and not necessarily the adoption for us. i remember bargaining with Him a little. telling God, yes, i understood this could be how He worked...but promising, a bit like hannah did, to give her to Him, if He would just bring her to us. "then i will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." bella's haircut tells me the razor thing is already a done deal...but it wasn't of my doing. can we modify that just a bit...how about a razor will never, AGAIN, be used on her head? anyway, i recall the many deals i attempted to strike up with God. silly woman. we don't need to make deals with God. this isn't how He works. i know that now and i knew that then. but sometimes, we mamas get desperate. rick and i agreed to just take one step at a time and do our best to listen to the Lord's leading. that was all we could do. it is amazing to sit here this morning on our last day in china. we leave later today and we have the exceeding and abundant gift of bringing home a little girl we call bella. we weren't sure last summer how this story would end. we hoped desperately to be at this point some day. and now we are here. the truth is, we still don't know the ending. in many ways we feel like we are back at the beginning. we are about to enter another new chapter with bella. a new bella. a new life. the very thought brings tears. i thought i'd cried it all out already and yet i sit here in my hotel room and think about bringing her home and i am overwhelmed with the goodness of it. the absolute goodness of my God. how can i want anything else but to offer her to Him. this has always been about His glory and though we don't know how He will use her life, we do know it will continue to be about His glory.
i think back over this year and remember the tears, the prayers, the pains of adoption paperwork. they are like the pains of childbirth...soon forgotten in the aftermath of joy. i look into bella's eyes and i can hardly remember the 5000 forms required to get us to her. they are nothing. they are nothing in comparsion to the little girl in our arms. we will most certainly dedicate this child to the Lord. just like we've done with our other children, we know she belongs to Jesus. we might not enter the temple as hannah did, with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, but we dedicate her nonetheless. she is His. she has always been His. and to God be the glory.
"i prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what i asked of Him,
so now i giver her to the Lord..."