she is not ours

I know I have not nested enough or planned enough or read enough or enoughed enough – with this whole parenting thing, I mean. I know this because it seems like all pregnant ladies have lists – to do, to buy, to think, to read, to reflect, to pray.

There are also the “don’t worry if you haven’t made a list – this is the one list you’ll need” lists.

I’m not as organized as I used to be (or maybe I am just more honest). I have no lists. [Actually, that’s not true – I am keeping a list of songs that pop into my head unannounced. So far I have: 21 Questions by 50 Cent, Away in a Manger, Video by India Arie, The Storm is Passing Over, We Like to Party, Easter Song by Keith Green, I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross. And those are just the songs that come when I’m near the pen and paper at work where I keep track.] 

do daydream about baby’s hair color and baby’s imagination and what kind of family we will be when baby turns five.
do have doubts about being a mom, though with every day my body confirms that I am created for it.
do imagine what Brooklyn will look like from new eyes as a stay-at-home mom.
do wonder about the privilege of welcoming a baby with special needs – if that is one of the surprises waiting on delivery day.

A few days ago I gave a strange, bullet pointed version of “my story” for our Brooklyn Fellows class. In the process of preparing, I remembered some precious words my mom said once on a terraza in Santa Lucia, Honduras. My parents were visiting from the States for a week and I had taken them to all my favorite spots – the garbage dump school, the feeding center, the orphanage, and the home for boys – before bringing them to my student’s home for a late lunch (except that, in typical ambiguous fashion, Alejandra and I had never communicated or confirmed this plan… so my dad ended up eating a LOT of pastel (cake) and coffee in the absence of meat).

When my dad was on his third slice and my mom had shared all of our galavanting stories, Alejandra’s mom asked, “Don’t you worry about Caroline being here?”

She answered it just like she would her age or her affinity for the country life, “Well, she’s not ours. She is the Lord’s.” So simply, so true.

I nodded with all my silly, missional enthusiasm. I had done a lot of things in that wonderful country – hitchhiked in El Salvador and La Tigra, been stranded overnight hiking a mountain, driven students through El Centro at night, been pulled over by fake cops, taken students with bodyguards on mission trips, rode in the back of pickup trucks, wandered up to houses that looked like mechanic shops, accepted invitations from neighbor-strangers, stayed up all night with students baking pumpkin muffins and making sushi at 2 am, argued with cops who pulled me over and wanted to take my car… the list is too long and too embarrassing to recount. Not all of it was wise or prayerful or good.

My parents prayed a lot. And they never told me to slow down or to move back home.

“She is the Lord’s.”

I don’t know yet the kind of courage it takes to believe that as a parent. I think it’s the way she said it – like I am first God’s family and I am on loan. It was a fact like the price of corn, but it came out like she was announcing I had royal relatives. It rippled across every belief in my heart that God is sovereign and a kind of kinship welled up as if to say, “I am the Lord’s!”

All of the Scripture I read as a child was not mumbo-jumbo. All those verses and sermons and conversations in the kitchen before dinner and talks before morning milking chores – those were about my Father. I belong to Him.

And He is a good keeper, the best.

I have thought about my mom’s words often, especially this past year when we have held so tightly to Will with possessive pronouns: my son, my brother, my husband, my friend, mine.

And even as we push against it, God is saying, “He is mine. He belongs to me. I am his keeper. And I do not fail.”

That’s hard to hear.

It was a strange time to get pregnant – in the first few months of marriage and in the first few months of grief. But God never stopped being faithful, never stopped keeping promises, never stopped claiming us as His. So, now I pray that when people ask, “Aren’t you afraid your baby will…” we will respond, “Oh, Baby K is not ours. Baby K is the Lord’s.”

It sounds crazy, but I can still hear it spoken over me, like last year’s corn prices and the announcement of royal heritage.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thank you for not claiming me as your own – for doing the harder thing in confessing that I am the Lord’s.

14 thoughts on “she is not ours

  1. Oh, I love this. I was never a worrier until I became a mom. I need to repeat this to myself daily (hourly! minute…ly!) Congratulations, btw. Your life is going to become inexplicably sweeter and more significant.

    1. Mariko! I followed your pregnancy journey and love the glimpses into your life as a new mama. Thanks for the encouragement you are via the internet – so special!

  2. Caroline,
    I feel the need to let you know about when I was pregnant with Hannah, just barely, and we received the news that my mom, your grandma, had aggressive cancer and possibly 45 days to live. I remember taking a walk into the country (Cumberland) and crying so hard that I could hardly walk. I didn’t know how I could be a mom without my mom to guide me. Then the medicine worked well for about a year. We knew her days would not be long, but we soaked up any non nauseous days we could have with her. She never got to come and stay with us, but she was still living. And then, pregnant with Kirsten just two months, God took mom to be with Him. How could I grieve such loss and prepare for new life at the same time? How could our baby be born healthy when I cried so much and grieved so deeply? But God held us in His hands, and a little Kirsten was born, and…now she graduates from college this week-end. He did make us a family, even without Grandma Nichols, because He fills in our gaps. Just like He has and will with you. But, yes, yours is a good reminder – we all belong to Him. We are all in His hands. We love you, baby K – you are so blessed already. Aunt Sherry

    1. Oh, my heart. This is so beautiful, Sherry. I think often and wonder about your grieving – all the kids and Grandpa. I cannot imagine being in the place you describe, but I can kind of imagine how God might be your keeper in that darkness. Thank you so much for being on this journey and for going before! Love you

  3. Hey I’m a college friend of Christina’s who follows your blog. I always look forward to reading and this one was so great I decided to comment :). My boys are turning 2 and 4 this month and our greatest hope for them is that they would live for Jesus. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in all we should or shouldn’t do or be as parents, but I love that they’re not ours. Thanks for sharing. (P.s. And, It’s ok not to have lists.. They usually just end up stressing mommies out. 🙂

    1. Shannon – thanks so much for reading! And thank you for your encouragement… I feel the “getting wrapped up danger” is looming on the other side of delivery, so I’m trying to get a head start on my prayers 🙂 Also, good know about the lists 😉

  4. Beautiful words Caroline. I definitely wondered about having a baby with special needs all the time while I was pregnant. Also can relate to many crazy Honduran experiences. I’m so glad to know you and I love reading your blog. Baby K will be loved deeply… first and foremost by his or her heavenly Father, but He will equip you, too.

    1. Oh, Jenna. You know far more than I about the craziness of Honduras adventures. I envy you in some ways because of your nearness to your need – knowing that God is keeping you in the middle of chaos. I always thought Micah did that so well. I love to see pictures of you and your family – you are such a beautiful gift to the Micah family and also to those who live vicariously through your service!

    1. Mariko, How is your little one? What a mystery – this motherhood! Thank you for reading and sharing. That in itself is an encouragement!

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