“I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” It’s Joel 2:25 and I stand on it every day and believe with all of my heart that God will do what He says He will do.
In the wake of my divorce, it was hard to see restoration ahead. And it was hard to see what God was going to do. Sometimes it was hard to see if he was going to do anything. And in the couple of years to follow, as things got tricky with where I was going to live and which kids were going to live with who and hurting hearts and bitterness and anger clouded good judgement…restoration was something I longed for but couldn’t see.
I still remember the day God gave me this verse. I was crying alone in my room during the early months of my final separation and it was one of those things…I just flipped to it in the Bible. And God said, “This is for you.”
Many months later, a man I’d never met in person quoted it to me over the internet.
And months after that, that verse would be proclaimed as we celebrated the covenant of marriage. John even wears that verse inside his wedding ring.
We celebrated it again on October 26, 2010 when our Claire Victoria Marie Carter was born.
She was a long awaited dream for John and his family. He did not marry until his late thirties and as his mother’s only child, her dream of grandchildren sometimes seemed like it might not be realized. (Of course, then all of US came along and now her house is bursting with grandchildren!) John has said he’d begun to believe he maybe wouldn’t find a wife and have babies…and that would’ve been a terrible shame because he is an excellent father. He teaches kids what matter most and he doles out unconditional love to all six and he enjoys the glorious chaos of our large family.
But it was a different sort of experience to have one from birth, one you watch grow and cry and learn and change. A baby that was half John and half me.
Claire is part of our restoration story. Just like Peter and Asher who are in heaven. Just like Nora who will join us in January. Each life has eternal significance and has been a gift from God to us.
That’s what we celebrate today. We celebrate a quirky little girl with auburn hair and a huge smile. An assertive, bossy, little know it all who says the funniest things! We celebrate the perfect fit that child #5 and girl #4 is for our family. We will celebrate her Claire-isms: Cuppa juice (which is chocolate milk), her intolerance for dirty dishes on the table (ugggghhhhh!), her deep love for washing dishes at the sink at Nana’s, her love of Dora, Veggie Tales, Yo Gabba Gabba and Barney, he affection for her shoons, especially her light up ones, the way she loves to read books like Daddy and she loves to write like Mommy, her beancy (blanket), the way she loves to snuggle up in her crib, her aversion to affection (kisses and hugs are doled out quite stingily, but she’ll talk on the phone to you all day)…and a million other things that make Clairey who she is. She is one of a kind and she’s done all she can to keep me humble about my mothering. Oh, and she’s left handed like me- the first of my children to be! She’ll tell you she has fat feet, she has no problem telling the dog, “Go, Caroline!”, she bosses Sammy around and when he gets upset, she says, “Sammy! Why you cry!” She loves to hold her cousin Ezra and will say to Nonnie, “I wanna hold it.” She loves to play at Meema and Pappy’s. When Meema comes by after work, she tells Meema, “Sit on the couch.” She sees no reason whatsoever to hold my hand while we walk to the bus stop or in parking lots but has finally, begrudgingly agreed to do so…if only for whatever bribery I’m offering. Sometimes she does naughty things and puts herself in time out and I think maybe she just decides the offense is worth it. She LOVES her siblings and loves to list their names and ask where each one is. She is happiest when we are all together. She has a special closeness with Lila and the sound of their giggles when they should be going to sleep make my heart swell. They remind me so much of Julia and Aubrey.
Claire has been looking forward to her happy day. She is excited for her friends to come to her party. She can’t wait to blow out the candle. She is hoping for balloons.
She is such a blessing and I’m so grateful that she’s ours.
Happy birthday, sweet Clairey. We love you!