While in Rwanda for our international missions trip, we went shopping at an artisans' market.
While there, I couldn't take my eyes off the crib mobiles.
Eventually I confessed as much to my husband. He assured me that even though we did not yet have a child, that even though we were not yet even pregnant, we could get one.
So in the single biggest act of hope I've mustered since miscarrying last year, we bought a mobile.
Upon returning home, I tucked it away in a closet, unsure if we'd ever actually need it.
A month later, I wept over a positive pregnancy test.
Even so, our joy was dampened. As my husband commented, “This feels different, doesn't it?”
If last year taught us one thing, it's that a positive pregnancy test doesn't necessarily result in a baby.
So we told our parents and a few close friends but otherwise kept our news quiet. We asked them to hold onto hope for us – especially during those times when it was hard for us to do so.
And there were, or perhaps more accurately, there are times when it's hard for us to hold onto hope.
Early and ongoing spotting led to three ultrasounds before our first trimester was even over. Each proved that things were progressing as they should with the baby. Yet still, I found it difficult to hope.
As I've contemplated this these last few months, I've found myself thinking about spiritual gift inventories – the ones that help you discern which of the spiritual gifts listed in Scripture the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon you.
I regularly use these with the teens I serve. As a result, I've taken them quite frequently. While my top gifts vary slightly depending on the test and I suppose even the mood I'm in at the time, my bottom gift never does: Faith.
The teens I work with always make fun of me for this. “How can a youth pastor not have faith?” they say.
I try to explain that it's not that I don't have faith; I do. I believe in Jesus. He's the foundation for all I do; My anchor in life.
The part of faith I struggle with is trust. I have a difficult time believing that everything will be OK. Rather than live in anticipation of things going right, I expect them to go wrong.
So it's been with this pregnancy – which is why I'm so thankful for those who have been our hope holders throughout this journey.
A few weeks ago, we found ourselves in the office of a maternal fetal specialist. Concerns over a family history of blood clotting sent me there.
The concerns proved to be nothing. And while we certainly gave thanks for that, the highlight of the visit was an unexpected ultrasound.
I don't know if the baby just grew significantly since our last ultrasound or if the ultrasound itself was a higher resolution, but the detail we could see was absolutely astounding. The ultrasound tech confirmed the baby's brain and appendages were all there. And then, as if to demonstrate as much, the baby moved one of it's arms, almost like it was waving at us, as if to say, “Relax guys. Trust. Have faith. I'm OK.”
That's the day I started falling in love with my child.
Before then, I was too afraid to do so.
But now I've finally begun to hope, really hope.
That day, I got home from the specialist and pulled the mobile out of my closet. I walked down to what will soon become our nursery and stood there, daring to dream about the arrival of our little one.
To be sure, in the days since then, I've still had daily moments of fearfulness – especially this week. At 15 weeks, we've finally begun to tell people our news. Each time we do, I panic. “What if something goes wrong? How will we ever deal with all these people who know?”
Silliness, I know.
If something were to go wrong these are the very people who would walk with us through that journey.
These are also the people who will pray for us, rejoice when our child arrives, and hope with us every day between now and then.
Because, as I wrote in The Jesus Gap , “As much as the cross is about death, it’s also about life; as much as it’s about paying a penalty, it’s also about redemption. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is God. I also know he’s not a distant God. Instead, he’s a God who’s with us in the thick of things. He dwells with us in the darkness and, eventually, carries us to the light. As a result of my experience with miscarriage, I can now say with certainty that my faith in Jesus gives me hope. In fact, Jesus is my hope.”
Jesus is my hope when there is no reason to hope.
He's also my hope when, as is currently the case, we have every reason to hope.
I'm pregnant and so far, everything is going well.
And so I'm daring to hope that things will continue to go well; That in May, we'll hold our little one in our arms and rock him or her to sleep while looking at what's become our symbol of hope: A mobile from Rwanda.