Monday, July 9, 2012

Giving Up Olivia

 "This is not my fight. This is not my child. I am not the Creator of life or future. I am the steward. Scripture tells us that when you are faithful with the little, God will make you ruler over much. Here is your much."

I remember being 12 years old, sitting at the dining room table reading my Brio magazine, when I saw an advertisement for Teen Missions. I felt a tug on my little heart, and as soon as my parents walked in the door from a missions conference in Switzerland, I asked if I could go to Iceland for a month. Without hesitation, they gave me their permission, and bent over backwards to support an ambitious little girl who had no idea what she was getting into. I remember my dad driving me to Dover to get my pictures taken for the bookmark I would send out to my trip supporters; on the way home we would discuss US/Israel foreign policy. My mom sat down with me and her tattered address book, helping me make a list of people to call on to support my trip. They were pouring into me from the earliest age, and my parents were the most exceptional example of this principle.

I didn't know it then, but this was the first of many tangible moments where I can distinctly recall being released to the Lord. "Have your way with her." They didn't fear my plane crashing, or being abducted, or whatever else parents think they can control. It is all in vain: the worrying, the fretting over what could happen. It could happen under anyone's watch, so why not let me go and let God do unbelievable things with my life? Why not let the One who sees and knows all be the protector over me? I went on to be a part of nine more trips in the next ten years, all before I was 22. I served in Iceland, Brazil, Venezuela, and then Romania for six summers.

My parents showed me such an incredible picture of faith. If you aren't familiar with the Bible, you should read this true story of a father and a son. God asked the father, Abraham, to sacrifice his firstborn son (put him on an altar and light him on fire). Abraham believed that God was the Almighty, and out of the most beautiful picture of obedience, he proceeded up the mountain to offer his only son. Here is the story in a very short format for anyone who has never read it.

Fast forward 13 years.

I had an out of body experience last weekend. We were at Olivia Teagan's dedication, facilitated by our very close friends and mentors, Heath and Jill Forbes. I was in a room, surrounded by people who know and love us, and now love our daughter as well. There I was, after years and years of telling myself that when God gave me a child, I would promise to give it back. Ben and I had more discussions on the theology of infant baptism than probably any other child-rearing topic. We both adamantly agreed that it was crucial for us to entrust our kids to the Lord from very early on, knowing that we are called to be stewards of whatever he gives us, whether it be situations, finances, whatever. I struggled to take it all in, to comprehend the gravity of what we had chosen to do. The day had arrived and we were just trying to make good on our promise. It was less about Olivia and more about us. We wanted our community to know that we are believing that God will make himself known to her very early on, and that she will make her very own decision to follow him. It is up to us to guide her and steer her and make known to her the Truth.

This is such a beautiful predicament, "giving up Olivia". It sounds so foreign to people. Why would we ceremoniously dedicate our child to a God who cannot be seen or touched? But that, my friends, is just it. That it where parenting becomes unfathomably amazing. We will see and touch God when we believe in Him. When we garner up the faith to know and believe in our heart of hearts, that He is real. That He will do anything to protect his children. That He sent His Son to die for you and me. That when we give Him our lives, our family, our babies, my baby, the blessings will pour out. They will be immeasurable. The peace and joy will be uncontainable. There is nothing quite like it, I assure you.

Returning home from the hospital, or the birth center, or the woods, or wherever you had your kid, is of the most daunting things a parent will ever experience. Realizing that I am going to mess up. I am going to fail. I am responsible for this little life, that will hopefully become a big life. And that is why we put such an emphasis on our public declaration. We want everyone to know that we refuse to raise her on our own. We cannot and will not be responsible for her well being. We would drive ourselves crazy trying to control her every move. It just isn't a road we are willing to go down with someone so precious as Olivia.

It is so freeing to know that we have given our girl away. Given her back to the One who knitted her together in my womb. Trusting that He will guide her every step, and believing that she will call on Him through a faith of her own one day soon. Sure, God has placed us in her life to protect her innocence and defend her safekeeping. But again, we realize our role as her parents is to steward her. To guard her.

There were family and friends who couldn't be with us, and for you I will share the challenge that Heath and Jill issued: "Here is your much. This is it. It does not get bigger than this, and guess what? God entrusted you with it. He doesn't think you can handle it. He knows you will turn to him. You have no other choice. This job is hard and it sucks sometimes. (When you hear your five year old say Jesus take the wheel, you know you've said it a couple of times). And that is why you all are here. You are not just family or friends. You are diaper changers, meal bringers, phone callers, truth speakers, accountability givers, late night prayer lifters, stroller pushers, Hank walkers, grace bringers, life givers....You are Olivia's legacy. Please don't take that lightly. You have the power to hear from God on who Olivia may become, what gifts she has been given, or to advocate for her when her parents are stuck. You all have a purpose."

"I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He's dedicated to God for life." (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

If you are interested in replicating a dedication such as this, or are just nosey and want to see more, visit me tomorrow ( for pictures and more little details of this incredible day.

Maribeth Scott is a sweet spot in my life.  She and her husband, Ben, showed up in our lives just about 2 years ago in out "Before I Do" life group.  And here we are talking about their baby.  She is the one who pushed me over this blogging cliff... Maribeth shares my love of Mc Donald's (we know, we know, pink slime), Phil and Ted strollers, dessert before main course, framing pictures and the Word.  I hope you have just fallen in love with her, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment