Yesterday was Abeni's First Birthday party.
What a great time we had! The house was filled with beautiful Ethiopian children, amazing parents and siblings, and amazing friends who have been a support through this journey.
At one point I just stopped and watched all that was going on around me. I, for once, did not feel teary-eyed. i just felt so filled with joy and that rare but wonderful state of contentment.
I looked at the man whom I married - a man who is brave, courageous, loves me and our girls so unconditionally, a man who has stuck with me. This man is one who has never once made me feel guilty that I could not give him more children. This is a man who never questioned for ONE moment whether or not to give his daughter his kidney - even knowing it was life-threatening for him. This is a man who was willing to put his heart out there for a baby he had never met, and now is totally in love.
I watched Bella as she played with her three girlfriends. I watched her help her little sister open gifts. I watched her love being a hostess and making sure all the kids felt welcome and cared for. This thriving, beautiful, smart girl with a compassionate heart was not supposed to live past the age of five.
And I watched Abeni. This beautiful gift who I am convinced has traits like me! This baby girl loving all the attention, already fighting with her BFF over toys, and giving hugs and snuggles to whomever is available to receive one.
How is it possible?
How does one reconcile so much grief in one's lifetime and so much joy at the same time?
I do not have the answer to this.
But I will say - I could not have come this far on my life's journey without God. I know how that sounds - I know it can be such a cliche. I know when I have read statements like that, I have rolled my eyes, too.
Please hear me - I am not saying that I am thankful to God for how He has "blessed" me with my daughters and my husband, although I certainly am.
I am thankful to God for how He has "blessed" me by allowing hardship and grief so that He could knock my socks off by showing me who He REALLY is...His character, the immense freedom I have in knowing Him, and how much He loves me.
And this is why I do not like the words "blessed" and "blessing" because we only use them when something that we and the world perceive as good happens. So much of life's blessings do NOT happen in these moments - they happen in the grievous ones when we are on our knees.
So, as I enjoy my family and its completion, my heart is full and I am enjoying the sweet ride of contentment right here. Right now.