We were invited to come to Tsega's dedication ceremony. This was also the first time Tsega was brought to church, as she had been safely cocooned in her new home until then. I honestly have never witnessed anything like this. We ended up arriving at the church at the same moment as Jo and Steve. I walked through the church doors with Jo carrying Tsega, and as soon as she stepped in the building people began clapping, taking photos, and just rejoicing in the long awaited presence of this sweet little girl.
The service started with praise and worship, and the excitement and joy in that church was palpable. I fought tears the entire time. I have seen a lot of baby dedications in my life, having grown up in a church where those were the norm. But I had never, ever seen one like this, and any words I can think to describe it fall so flat. It was emotional and beautiful and tender as the pastor edified Jo and Steve to raise Tsega (along with their other children) to love and worship and serve her Creator, and to give her right back over to God. His words were poignant and from the heart, and it was so refreshing to hear the emotion in his voice as he swallowed back tears. He mentioned a few times how the whole church was behind their adoption and supported them through it, and I could sense that was true.
The dedication climaxed in the most beautiful, thoughtful, God-ward way. The pastor called to the front every person who had prayed Tsega home over the past two years to surround Jo and Steve and family. It was breathtaking. We were shoulder to shoulder circling their family. There was no room left in the front. My tears fell quick and hot as the Pastor prayed a beautiful prayer of dedication over Tsega's sweet life - giving her back to God. Then as we lifted our bowed heads we were led to sing the hymn that JO has continuously sang over Tsega since bringing her into her care How Great Thou Art. I dare say there was not a dry eye in the room.
As I stood there trying to sing past the burning lump in my throat I just kept thinking that I had just seen a true and beautiful portrait of God's redemption. I will not forget that moment for as long as I live.
Later, at the reception the church held for the family, Jo and I were able to get this photo captured together with our Ethiopian babies. It is something we dreamed of and talked of for the past year. Joanna taught me so much as she allowed me into her story. She taught me how to trust my Savior more, how to say amen or Yes, Lord, and mean it, and how to walk the hard paths with grace. I could fill up pages of a journal with wisdom she has gifted to me.
At the end of January, after our first trip to Ethiopia, when I was aching and feeling as if I could be swallowed up in the pain of leaving my youngest baby behind in a third world country, and Joanna was waiting and waiting for a court date to see her baby girl, she mailed me a card. The card is tucked in between the pages of my Bible. In the card is a photograph of a beautiful tree loaded with pink blossoms. Jo wrote this on the back of the photograph.
I believe Summer will come - we will feel the warmth of the sun on our faces and hold all of our children soon enough.
With a deep sigh of joy, contentment and amazement, I can say that Summer has come.
And on Sunday I truly did feel the warmth of the SON.Subscribe in a reader