This past weekend as we had Sophie’s epic (yes it was epic) life celebration service, I spent time writing a letter to my daughter of the ways God has used (and is using) her 42 weeks, 2 days and 10 hours of life in my life. This is the letter I shared at her service.
September 28, 2013
Today we celebrate your life with family & friends & people I’ve never met but who love you deeply. I wish we were just taking a one month photoshoot of you and quietly celebrating your one month birthday in our home and no one really knows except our family. I wish a lot of things today for you, for us, that are not to be. For this is not our story, and this is not your story. So we celebrate your short, yet powerful little life today. Sophie, you have touched the lives of thousands by never uttering more than a cry yet there are no lives you have changed more than your mom and dad’s. We so wanted to be the ones to teach you about life; how to walk, talk, how to eat with a fork, that boys don’t have cooties (but you still have to watch out for them), how to dance with countless dance parties, how to play with others and not be too bossy (since that’s the curse of every firstborn and I know from experience!). We wanted to teach you when you disobey about the love of Jesus, that He died for all the wrong we’ve ever done to make us clean, that we can’t obey on our own strength, but desperately need Jesus. We wanted to teach you that Jesus satisfies our deepest desires and we wanted to watch you grow in being the woman of God He created you to be and all the gifts and talents we would discover He had given you along the way. And the truth is, the greatest things we wanted to teach you about the love of our lives, you have already learned and have and will continue to live out who God has called you to be. So now, you are teaching us the very things we have wanted to teach you from the vantage point of eternity.
We don’t know all the ways the things you are teaching us will change, are changing our lives but we do know our priorities are different, our perspective on life is different and every brother and sister God gives you from now on will be celebrated weekly from the moment we know they are in my womb (we probably won’t be able to show them your baby book however for years to come because I doubt any of those celebrations will be as extravagant as some of yours were!).
I started to write months ago the things God was teaching me through your little life Sophie. There are so many things Sophie! You have been teaching me more of what it means that life is but a vapor and heaven is our home. I’ve begun to see more clearly that the things that seem so important on this life, the details, the “to do” lists that if you could just get done don’t really matter compared to the beauty of relationships, cherishing life. The first 4 months I carried you Sophie, I was not a fan of pregnancy and all the discomforts it came with, yet as we learned that that would be the majority of the time we’d spend with you, somehow the discomforts of pregnancy became just that… discomforts. Discomforts that pointed to the fact that you were alive inside of me and I began to embrace them more fully… they were worth every moment (and every bottle of tums I went through) just to get to be with you longer. I’ve grasped (and still am grasping) more fully that Jesus is our everything, that He is GOOD in all things, that I don’t have to understand the bigger story. I can have questions. I can ask “Why?” and in the midst of it all I can rest in His awesome character, His great love, His abundant goodness. In the midst of the day to day emotions that this journey surfaced, being too overwhelmed to look to far into the future, your little life has taught me more how life is about walking by faith, moment by moment, day by day and if I place my trust in this life, I will be disappointed. There are no guarantees of what’s to come here, and this doesn’t need to elicit fear but rather, turn me to a reckless trust in the One who holds my future, for He is GOOD! Sophie, I’ve become convinced that a life, a heartbeat, no matter how small, God can use to speak and reflect His glory and be a megaphone that points people to Jesus. I’m embracing that the deepest joy often comes out of the greatest sorrow when I press into Jesus.
You’ve turned my heart to greater thankfulness and realization that a thankful heart brings praise, while a heart that complains of the lot it’s been given only grows bitter and joy is swallowed up in anger and resentment. Sophie… the Lord REALLY does give power to the weak. And in our weakness and in our daily life we were created to need people, to be in community, to live authentically, to involve others in our pain, however messy it is and out of that the beauty of the body of Christ is discovered. I’ve seen more fully the power of prayer through your life as people have rallied around our little family and literally God’s love has enveloped and strengthened us as people have prayed!
I’m discovering even now, that if I’m willing to cry and embrace the sadness of loss, I can more fully celebrate what I’ve gained. Tears and laughter together are a beautiful thing and I know you’ve experienced that a lot from your mommy and daddy! You’ve shown me more what real love is… that love is laying aside your rights, your desires for the sake of another. We loved you so much as you were growing inside of me, and then we met you face to face and it was like love erupted from our hearts! Sophie, the love of a mother and father for their child is unmatched, the closest thing for us to grasping the love of Christ for us that you’re experiencing fully right now. And in that, I’m realizing how Christ’s love for us is truly not based on anything we can do for Him, but simply because we are His. We love you Sophie, not because of anything you’ve done for us, but simply because you are ours. And it is a beautiful thing to be entrusted by the Lord to shepherd your heart, and the heart of any child He may give us in the future, for however long God asks us to shepherd the child He entrusts to us. It was the greatest privilege that God entrusted you into our arms!
The true value of our lives is found not in our accomplishments, but on relationships! And life… is meant to be celebrated! Sophie, you have elevated celebration to a whole new level! And our eyes are fixed on eternity more fully, that truly.. the BEST IS YET TO COME. God is intimately acquainted with the details of our lives. He may not answer every prayer request in the way we would desire (and we so desire you here with us now) but He IS present and doing things that “we would not believe if told”. Our God really is astounding! And your life Sophie pointed to that always!
I can’t wait to stand next to you Sophie, to hold your hand and simply delight in Jesus together and see the Lord redeem all that is loss for us right now… I know He will. And you, my little princess, have never lost but only GAINED as you’ve gotten to meet our King face to face! You make my heart long for Jesus more Sophie and when I think of the impact I want my life to have on this world… I hope it comes just a little close to yours! I could not be more proud and honored to call you, Sophia Kyla Dennis, my firstborn daughter… you carried the wisdom of God to our lives.
Loving you forever, Mommy