Today, a little boy startled from a bad dream, placed his head on my chest and whimpered until I sang him back to sleep.

Today, I woke up for the 46th morning with an ocean separating me from home. Today, I will find out when I can bring Joseph home.

Today is 8-15.

Today is my son’s first birthday.

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.’”

[Romans 8:15]

Last night, as I stared at the ceiling waiting to fall asleep, I played the audio version of ‘Forgotten God,’ a book by Francis Chan. As Joseph fell asleep, and as I contemplated, listened and prayed for God to bring us home soon, this came from the speakers:

“The promised Spirit is not a small promise. Jesus suffered a grueling death so that I could have the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit. How dare I take this for granted? Because of Jesus, I have received the promise. This spirit is not a remote force. He takes up residence in our lives, in our very body, and by doing so brings with him a deep level of security. Again and again in the scriptures, we read about being God’s children, being led by his spirit and how we received the spirit of adoption.

Kristen has been a friend of the family for the past ten years. I’ll never forget being with her at her mother’s memorial service. As I watched her grieve, there was no doubt that she was loved by this woman who had adopted her from Korea. She was Kristen’s mothernot just some lady who looked after her and paid for her food. It has been years since her death, yet Kristen still has a hard time talking about her without getting emotional. She misses Mom.

This is the type of adoption God speaks of in Scripture. It’s not about having an impersonal guardian who looks over you. It’s about having a parent. The best parent there ever was or ever will be. We have been chosen, grafted, adopted into the family of God. And now that we are a part of the family, the Spirit causes us to call out, “Abba Father!” Remember that Abba is the most intimate form for referring to a father. It is like saying “daddy.” It connotes a deep level of familiarity and intimacy.

As God’s Spirit speaks to our hearts, we can call out to god as Abba. We will begin to experience this intimate relationship more deeply than we ever thought possible. So much so that we will begin to wonder, does everyone feel this loved by God?”

Exactly what I needed to hear.

I am thankful for a living God who loves me enough to dwell in me, even when I am angry and doubting and at my ugliest.

I am thankful for a Spirit who encourages me and comforts me when my hope has been beaten, bruised and buried.

I am thankful.

The Message puts it this way: This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

It’s easy to doubt or feel numb to the glory of God’s fatherly love. But when I look into Joseph’s eyes, the unbounded love I have for this little child reminds me that I only love because my father in heaven loved me first. And while I have an imperfect love, God is unflawed, unconditional love. He who is holy loves me. I am his daughter. My Father’s love is a beautiful, unexplainable mystery.

So, Joseph, happy birthday.

My deepest prayer is that you will come home this week, but beyond that, may you always feel our heavenly father’s all-consuming love, and know and believe that you, too, are a beloved son of the most highest.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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