I have a favorite picture from 2015.
As much as I love this picture, the things unseen in the photograph are a bigger part of this picture I love so much.
On the other side of the shot, taken with my iPhone, is me. Me, the mother of the five children. Pictured are our four biological children and our adopted son. And in the stroller right next to me, is a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
At the moment this picture was taken, we didn’t know if the little boy not pictured… fast asleep, would be ours to keep. At that moment, it was understood that after a year and a half, he would probably be leaving us soon.
Aside from the fact he was asleep, he was our foster son. And we are not allowed to post pictures of this little boy not pictured…fast asleep.
Next to me, is my handsome husband of 23 years. He was gently jostling the stroller to keep the little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
To a further extent, he was busy jostling the stroller to keep the little boy not pictured… fast asleep, he was also, weepy and tired.
Neither of us were in the mood for pictures.
The culmination of events that lead up to this photograph were agonizing.
The picture was taken at the graduation of our son, Luke, from a military academy. We had sent him there as a wake-up call. We were all fully awake. It was expensive. And on top that expense, we had bills piling up for the legal fees for the hopeful adoption of the little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
And what you see in this picture is our five children. They were so relieved to be reunited. They were looking forward to catching up, sleeping late, and frolicking on the nearby beach. In this picture you can see their adoration for each other. What you don’t see is the pleas moments before the photo was snapped, to take the picture with the little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
You can’t see the prayers prayed. The tears shed. The hope of something better, lessons learned, wounds healed, and a desperation for the photograph to included their brother, our “foster” son, a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
Further, from this picture is a biological family, of a little boy not pictured… fast asleep. They love him. They are worried. And they snap photographs that don’t include a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
We know how to pray for Maggie, John, Luke, Sophie, Sam and a little boy not pictured… fast asleep. We pray for good things to follow them. For them to grow in wisdom and strength. We pray they will fully embrace Jesus, and that they came to serve and not be served. And we pray they will live long lives singing the Lord’s praises.
But we also want to pray “Lord, let us keep this little boy not pictured… fast asleep. Please let us raise him…”
And we know we cannot pray this prayer.
What you cannot see in this picture is the reality we came to as a foster family of a little boy not pictured… fast asleep. It is not about us. It is not about the hurt or the pain that would come to any of us should it go one way or the other. It is simply about the goodness of God the Father and how He chooses to move in the life of a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
We cannot pray “Lord, let us keep this little boy not pictured… fast asleep. Please let us raise him…” if that prayer were to be the demise of his biological family? We cannot pray against them! That we might increase – means that they must decrease? That we be triumphant means that they must fail? This prayer is not one we can utter and honestly profess a love for a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
In this picture, my favorite picture from 2015, you see five of my children. What is not pictured is the hearts of a family who learned to pray. And we learned to pray in the simplest form. We learned there were the spoken prayers, bold, loud, persistent, and fervent. And we learned the most important prayer. A prayer we learned to pray when we didn’t know what was right or wrong to pray. A prayer not against persons, a prayer not for our gain. A simple prayer, “Thy will be done…”
Not pictured is the story of heartbreak, not a win, not a loss. Not pictured is also a win and a loss. Not pictured are all the hopes and prayers of many – part of the story of a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
And as I type 1,000 words about a picture that speaks one million words, my heart breaks and rejoices for all the depths of the all the emotions I have felt in being a part of the story of a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
The weight of loss is not wasted on me. The depth of gratitude cannot be measured. The magnitude of sorrow is an ironic twist. And I know that none of those things will be accurately conveyed in a picture, one I am sure will be my favorite in 2016, when we finalize the adoption of that little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
And today, on his birthday, I feel we have journeyed a million miles. I have seen pictures of him on this day two years ago – so tiny – neither of us aware our paths would cross or that I would love him so. The picture of a newborn baby boy fast asleep speaks volumes to me; it is one I can’t explain. Had I met him that day, I couldn’t have hoped at that moment he would be ours. I couldn’t pray for bad things to befall him or his people. So at this moment, his second birthday, I have a favorite picture, it is the one that tells the story of a family in wait. A weary family, joyfully reunited, waiting on the Lord to answer a simple prayer for a little boy not pictured… fast asleep.
Thy will be done.
Happy Birthday, Code Name Charlie… Go forth and vandalize my love, may your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Mommy
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jer. 33:3
❤️ My friends at Social Print Studio Challenged me to write a post about my favorite picture of 2015. Neither of us probably expected a manifesto about a little boy not pictured… Fast asleep. But I am so glad they asked. This has been a soul searching post. It made me think and it made me look forward to this year’s favorite picture… Thank you Morgan for the inspiration.