My five year old son defines wealth as the cuteness of his baby sister. “Mommy, we’re SO rich.” His earnest little face looks with adoration on Tirzah, and he constantly tells me how adorable she is and how he feels like he is as rich as a king because he gets to be her brother. Literally, his mind cannot comprehend how her precious life could even be compared to money. I almost don’t want to tell him what people usually mean when they talk about being “rich.” To do so would take away his perfect innocence in believing that the people in our lives are what make us wealthy. He’s absolutely right on so many levels.
Tirzah arrived into our family in a particularly special place. She is my seventh baby to live here on earth, but is really the eighth baby in line behind a brother who went home early. She was conceived on the very day he was to be born. I rejoice that Yahweh saw fit to give life to us even as we wept on that day, taking comfort in our kiddushin. When life comes forth, it is often in the darkest of night. Seedlings start to grow in the soil, being awoken to the warmth of the sun before ever seeing its light. It reminds me that He is always life-giving, always bringing forth a fulfilled promise in some area of life even when other stormy circumstances would seek to cloud us completely from His glorious workings. It takes work to look for the hope of the rainbow.
Seven is the number of completion, and eight is the number of new beginnings. Taken together, Tirzah’s life represents both closing doors and opening doors at the same time. Her name means “God delights” and also refers to the beautiful place He brings us to. When I first heard this definition, I immediately thought of Psalm 23. He restores my soul. He leads me beside still waters. I shall not be in want because HE is my Shepherd. Her middle name is Love, which has an obvious meaning on the surface and a deeper meaning in what it represents to us as her parents. We didn’t pick the Hebrew word for her middle name because there are several words for love in Hebrew, each with a slightly different focus. Chesed is a noun and means goodness and kindness, favor and mercy. God embodies chesed because His very nature is goodness and kindness, and His covenant with His people is one of everlasting mercy and favor. Racham in verb form means to “show compassion” and is often used to refer to God and how He shows compassion on His people. It is an active word, used descriptively in how He brings His people Israel back from captivity in Babylon, how He loves those who fear Him as a father loves his children, and is pictured in how He “abundantly pardons” those who repent of their sin and turn to Him. Interestingly, racham shares the same root as the word rechem, which means womb. There is much illustrated by such a tiny word as love. The compassion we show when we care about lost souls. The life-overtaking power in what I feel towards my children and husband. The sweetness of loving friendship we share with brothers and sisters in Christ. God’s love nature must be expressed. First, through Yeshua. Then He chooses to do it through us, imperfect vessels though we are.
I believe Tirzah is the last baby I will birth. There are many reasons for this, most of them being health-related. However, I have another reason to be excited that Tirzah is both a “completion” and a “new beginning.” I believe that as the door is closing to my child-bearing, the door is opening to our family adopting or fostering. Adoption has long been something on my heart, but I’ve been content thus far having all my babies through pregnancy and have put adoption on a back shelf for when God would awaken it properly. It has only been in the last year or so that God has begun doing a work in both of us for growing our family in a different way. I still have no idea how God will accomplish this. There are probably more obstacles than there are green lights. After all, we have a huge family already, we have no money for such and endeavor, and there are many things with my kids pulling my focus and energy already. But the needs of children the world over are vast and heart-wrenching and our God is not limited if indeed He has purposed us to be a family to the orphan. We’ve asked the Lord to break our hearts over the things that break His. Toddlers running around naked, alone, and hungry and children dirty, neglected, and abused break His heart. We aren’t supposed to look away just because it is uncomfortable to acknowledge the utter darkness many millions of children endure in this world. He is moving in us to say “yes” even though we have no idea what this process will look like. Saying “yes” to Yahweh’s will is part of the reason we’ve given the middle name Love to our last baby. Will we agree with Him in how He longs to show compassion? Will we act out the divine mercy and favor we’ve been shown? Will we be kind to those who God Himself passionately exhorts us to remember and care for? We are making the first step into the next frontier of our lives, whatever ministry God has destined for us to accomplish.
I’m saying goodbye to a season that has defined so much of me that sometimes I don’t know where I begin and my children end. There is grief as I look down at the precious little body nursing at my breast, willing my heart to memorize the weight of her in my arms all the while knowing how close I am to being “baby-less.” I leave the comfort and sleep of my bed to nurse her several times a night, smiling in spite of the exhaustion because I’m realizing these quiet moments are numbered. It would be easy in many ways to continue getting pregnant and having babies. It’s what I know. Indeed, there is a large part of my heart that wants to keep on having children, despite my body rebelling against this notion. I am in a comfort zone where I know what to do, what to expect, and how to survive it. Stepping out into a brand new place where I’m not only being stretched to a capacity for what teenagers will need, but towards increasingly advanced school work, not to mention what kinds of children and situations we’ll see as we pursue being foster parents and/or adoptive parents. Much has been required of me in these ten years I’ve been a mama, but I feel like I’m on a precipice, about to dive off headfirst to an even greater degree of pouring myself out. The picture I keep getting is of me letting go of a railing as I stand right over the edge. I’ve never been very good at trust falls even when I’m falling into the Everlasting Arms. But here I am! It’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Meanwhile, as I fall into the new season I’m reminded that it’s okay to cry tears of goodbye, to know that every fiber of my being will miss the treasure of carrying and nourishing babies. Each day seems sacred to me now that I know these moments are slipping through my fingers. Many women have told me that the ache never really goes away. How can it when we get to be part of something so divinely wonderful as creating life? The thought of not bringing any more souls into the world saddens me, but there is so much life here already that I can impact. If I keep my eyes open and on Him, He will show me where He wants me to pour out my nurturing.
For today, I embrace fully the moment I’m in. It’s amazing how this new perspective means that I am actually seeing the truly meaningful experiences of motherhood instead of the superficial ones. The mundane becomes exotically beautiful. Not even a post-seven-baby-body can take away this joy.