The Blue Bird’s Song

She’s been with me 13 years now, a little blue bird who lives on my dresser right beside little bowls of loose buttons and the rose my husband wore on our wedding day. She’s remained through a move and many binges of decluttering.

In honor of this new skin on the old blog, I’m throwing an open house. For the month of July and into the first days of August I am going to introduce you to some others in my life who have their real stories of how He has used the seemingly “bitter”  to create new space for Him (and sandwiched in between I’ll have some of my own writing). Though I could write a whole post about each one of them, I’ll let their stories speak for themselves. 
Today, I introduce you to Kelly Raudenbush. I met her in person after months of skyping and emailing with her and her husband about Together Called (an event where Nate and I spoke last year). I had just an inkling of the magnitude of this woman’s gifts and her heart. Then, we walked into a weekend where 50 couples, fresh off the fields of adoption, were pampered and cared for in ways that could only be attributed to one who carried His heart. Kelly was that one. This woman is awesome and she lives her words.

In the moments of fleeting quiet in the midst of loud days, she silently sings a familiar gentle song to remind me.

blue bird

My first miscarriage crippled me. We thought that teeny child was the answer to our big prayers after being told we would likely never conceive. We celebrated life through pink and blue colored glasses and couldn’t contain it. I may or may not have shared the news with more than one store clerk. A few weeks later, a call to my cell from our doctor telling me to pull over because there was bad news left me with blurred vision. They called it a “chemical pregnancy;” I called it devastating.

God is in control. Trust Him. He works all things for good. You’ll see.  

I clung to the words offered to me as a few meals and hugs were delivered, repeating them in my head like a catchy chorus, working hard to transfer them to my heart, wanting to be the woman to suffer well.

When God brought a new life to us again, we celebrated tentatively, wanting the joy we had felt the first time and wanting the days to go faster so that more blood tests and ultrasounds would tell us this was for real and that we would hold this child in our arms. But, that did not happen. The nurse told me how sorry she was. I don’t remember anything else she said.

God is in control. Trust Him. He works all things for good. You’ll see. 

There were no meal deliveries this time. It was all a bit quieter. Though it was when my blue bird arrived. My mother acted as courier, bringing me this treasure from someone I had never met who had heard of the babies we had lost.

It’s just a little something, a little gift from another woman who had lost babies too who thought it may help to have a tangible reminder of their very real lives and your very real loss.

It was nice. I’m sure I cried when I received her though I honestly don’t remember. I put her on my dresser and carried on.

I walked with a limp, not walking well but moving forward, wanting so badly to reach the proverbial silver linings and open windows to redeem my grief. At times, my blue bird found herself crowded out by jewelry or a perfume bottle or some other temporary placeholder. It was just easier to hide that tangible reminder as my spiritual optimism drove me to focus on the “for good” part instead of the “He works all things” part.

Years have passed. We went on to birth a son and a daughter. And, then we lost another two children, bringing our losses to four. We then birthed another son. And, we adopted another daughter. Mixed into the journey of God building our family was watching my husband’s father fade away and die at the age of 56, job loss, coming to terms with having a child labeled as having “special needs,” medical scares and painful surgeries, and seasons of loneliness and anxiety and insecurity. Through it all, that blue bird remained, a tangible reminder not so much of the loss of two babies but of a truth I fought.

blue bird 2

That silver lining, that open window, the bitter turned sweet that I longed to reach in the midst of suffering was the suffering itself. While I used theology in an attempt to dig myself out of a pit by my fingernails, my Father waited and then spoke to my heart. All along, He wasn’t asking me to suffer well by “trusting Him” via emotionally pulling myself up by the boot straps and moving forward in an attempt to get myself to the good He promised as if I’d cross some finish line, experience some out-of-body experience, and have a sudden, divine aha moment and say, “This was why. Now, I understand, God.” Instead, He was telling me He simply wanted to be with me, enter into my mess and hold me still for a while right where I was in the suffering, loss, and grief.

She doesn’t have a name, the blue bird on my dresser, not unlike the woman who gave her to me. But, she has a place and even gets polished off when she’s showing her age. She doesn’t sing a catchy chorus urging me to keep moving because God’s purpose lies ahead; instead, she sings a gentle song urging me to be still because God’s purpose is right here.

Us1With a travel mug nearly always in hand, Kelly enjoys full days living out her passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for the hearts of their children.
After the adoption of their youngest child from China in 2010, Kelly and her husband Mark founded the The Sparrow Fund  to serve adoptive families and have since made the illogical but incredible leap from a “normal job” to full-time purposeful work serving Him in the country of their daughter’s birth.
You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking