In the southern countryside of Ethiopia, a precious baby boy was born. He would have very round, expressive eyes and a beautiful mouth. His sweet little smile would make hearts sing. His laugh would light up a room.
He would live a short while in the countryside before moving into an orphanage without the sight or smell or sound or touch of his mother. He would come to know life inside the walls of an orphanage alongside 8 other babies. He would learn to sit up on the floor of that orphanage. He would learn to crawl on the rugs there. He would hold the hand of his nannies and take his first steps there. He would go through nights of painful teething and bouts of illness with the care of his nannies. He would be hospitalized twice without the comfort and presence of Mommy or Daddy. He would hear a language new to his family line and understand it as his own: Amharic. He would see the face of a white man and hear his deep voice for the first time and CRY for fear. One day he will call that man, "Dad."
A world away, a family would be preparing for his arrival. They would watch from afar each month as he grew and changed. They would record weights and heights, just as they did for their other 3 children. They would pray nightly on their knees for his arrival. They would put together a crib, wash bedding, hang curtains, and paint his room a fresh coat of blue. They would take such pride in him and hang large pictures of him up on their walls. They would attend baby showers where family and friends would pour out their love and support for his arrival. They would pray for him. They would think about him. They would dream about him. They would love him. And they would wait.
The wait would be excruciating. It would probably be harder on the family than on him. He wouldn't clearly remember life before the orphanage. Every day is just another day in his orphanage home.
Today is Jude's first birthday. We are filled with joy over his life. We are exceedingly grateful for the gift of his life and his future. We are celebrating with Taco Tuesday night (the kids' favorite), and birthday cake with ice cream. We will wear silly hats and hang balloons. We will sing "Happy Birthday to You." We will pray and thank God for Jude's life and for the life of his mother.
We will save his special little #1 cake for him in the freezer. He will get it when he comes home. We will save birthday gifts for him. He will open them when he comes home.
A friend referenced Joel 2:25 a while back and it caught my attention loud and clear. Here's some background straight out of my Bible, NIV:
Disaster strikes the southern kingdom of Judah without warning. An ominous black cloud descends upon the land--the dreaded locusts. In a matter of hours, every living green thing has been stripped bare. Joel, God's spokesman during the reign of Joash, seizes this opportunity to proclaim God's message. Although the locust plague has been a terrible judgement for sin, God's future judgements during the day of the Lord will make that plague pale by comparison. In that day, God will destroy His enemies, but BRING UNPARALLELED BLESSING to those who faithfully obey Him.
Joel tells the story of how the land laid waste, and how the people mourned for the land. It speaks of the Day of the Lord and a call to repentance. The part I am especially fond of is chapter 2, starting at verse 18. Go read the whole chapter (or the whole book---it's short).
Here is Joel 2:25-27, emphasis mine:
"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame."
There will be a day when Jude can have his birthday cake and open his presents. He will be given back his first year of life lived in an orphanage.
Until then, we celebrate with gladness the life that entered this world one year ago today.
Happy birthday, dear Jude! Any many more~
Love, Mommy and Daddy and family