On one of our first dark nights pacing the hallway up and down, up and down, the words just came out. We needed a song, this little one and me – a song full of true words and simple enough that I could summon up the tune at 3am when the rest of my body pleaded for sleep. I whisper-sung it out over her night after night. In taxis and on motorcycles and in the longest lines, she laid her head down and fell asleep to the words that were as much an anthem for me as they were for her:
Ali Rose, go to sleep
Jesus knows how to keep
Ali Rose while she sleeps
Those nights of rocking and shushing were filled with lots of questions. What is your plan for this baby? How much should I love her? Will I get to watch her grow up?
Our lullaby served as a constant reminder that Jesus knows how to keep. He knows how to keep Ali Rose and me and the orphans outside my reach. He knows how to keep me when I feel out of his reach. He knows how to keep my heart, my future, my dreams.
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This week, almost two years later, Ali Rose’s forever mama handed me her sippy cup full of milk and let me do her bedtime routine. We read a few books and then, without even thinking about it, I started singing our old lullaby. To my complete surprise, Ali Rose sang along with me. Then today I overheard her singing it to herself as she played with her brother’s legos. That silly little song imprinted somewhere in her baby spirit and even if she can’t remember the words, they soaked into her back then. Some little part of her resonated when she heard that tune again.
When I first sang those words over Ali Rose, we didn’t know what her future would hold. We didn’t know if she was healthy. We didn’t know if she had a family. We didn’t know her story. But we trusted Jesus to keep her forever and to keep us when we had to let her go. What a blessing to have handed her so confidently to one of the most precious families I know. I’m so grateful that God’s plan for Ali Rose makes it possible for me to see her and know her as she grows up, but this little story of the lullaby comforted me for another reason.
There are children out there in the world right now who were mine for a season. I prayed over them, sang to them, fed them, wiped their tears, and now they’re out of my reach. The temptation is to despair – to decide not to love and lose again – but Jesus knows how to keep them (and me). His promise to hold them forever is enough to warrant my willingness to hold them for a season and trust him for the rest.
Don’t underestimate the power of speaking truth and blessing over the people in your life, even (perhaps especially) the ones you only have for a season.