Our church is rather non-traditional, I suppose, so our dedication experience may be different than what you'd associate with a typical baby dedication/baptism/christening. For starters, we went with a clearance-rack white dress from Target...no fancy gowns. That's not a rule or anything, we just don't have any family heirloom gowns floating around and I didn't see any reason to spend tons of money on a fancy dress just for the heck of it. I'd rather buy more jeggings and moccasins. ;) Obviously I am a failure of a parent because I don't even have any good close-ups of Millie in the dress. Luckily, it's the same dress she wore for our photo shoot last week, so you'll get to see it eventually.
We start by going up to the front.
|Contemplating the massive importance of this day...and lamenting that my former biceps have melted into a pile of fat. Wah.|
Then he opens up the floor for anyone in the church who has anything they want to share- encouragement, blessings, prayers, etc. This may seem weird, but my church has been praying for us and for this baby for six years. Lots of people have lots of things (and tears) to share. Thankfully, our parents videoed everything- one day Millie will be able to watch and hear how many people love her and have been praying for her and for us. I hope she will love it.
|I took this opportunity to weep and make faces like this. Don't you wish you'd been there?|
And then it was done. But not really, because I haven't told you the most exciting part.
Not only did a whole slew of folks from my family and Matt's family come out, but a lot of Camilla's biological family were there as well. Back in August, before we'd been released from the hospital, one of J's grandmothers had asked if we were going to have Camilla baptized, and if we were, would it be okay if she came to watch and support us? I was floored and honored and told her that nothing would make us happier. So when the dedication was scheduled, I let her know. She asked if it would be okay to invite some other family members; we said absolutely. Word spread quickly around the family, and yesterday there were NINE amazing folks from Millie's birth family-- including J!!!-- there at church to support her and us.
I was blown away. I mean, I knew they were coming, but still. Blown away.
Because this is how they have been from the beginning-- 100% supportive of J, 100% supportive of us. Overflowing and abundant in their love for all of us. They came and they loved us and they held Millie and they exclaimed over her cute nose, her red eyebrows, her adorable moccasins. They told us how thankful they are for us, how often they think of us, how excited they were to be able to support her on this important day. We hugged and we cried and when people shared words of encouragement during the service, J shared. She told us again how thankful she was for us. Can you see why I can't stop crying?? Oh, and they don't live in town, by the way. J rode overnight on a bus to be there that morning.
There very well may have never been a child so loved by so many.
I am so thankful and encouraged that this is Millie's heritage. That she will know and be known and loved by all of us? Unbelievable. I never even dared to hope that we would be in an open situation this positive. This is redemption beyond my wildest dreams.
So yes, yesterday was amazing, unbelievable, breathtaking, tearjerking- pick your adjective. I waited for this day all of these years, and I didn't even know what I was waiting for. I never could have imagined it would be what it was- my greatest hopes fell far short of the reality that we experienced.
A year and a half ago I wrote about the locusts. I had no idea what my redemption would look like- I only prayed it would come. I felt this peace inside that one day, redemption would come. And then, over the next few months...well, it was the opposite of redemption. It was the misery of the previous four years amplified by like fifty. Thousand. But somewhere deep inside, a tiny piece of my heart clung to the hope that He would restore the years that the locusts had stolen.
And now I'm living in that redemption, and sometimes I'm so overwhelmed I can't even breathe. He has restored the years that the locusts had stolen.
The paradox of this new phase of my life is funny, in a way. Really, it's all about Millie. Anyone will tell you that being the parent of a newborn isn't all about you. But in a way, having my life be all about her for now...well, it restores me. When I change her diaper, my soul rejoices. When she cries for 20 minutes and I have no idea why, but I do the best I can to comfort her...a part of my broken heart is healed. When she smiles at me (completely unintentionally, probably because she has gas), the tears of months past are replaced with happier memories. When the biological family of my daughter hug me and thank me for loving and parenting the baby we all love...I can't even describe it. It's too beautiful and my heart explodes. This is redemption.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5 (emphasis mine)