Several of you have asked if there is a story behind our baby girl Noah's name.
Oh, guys - you know me so well. OF COURSE THERE IS.
I've told you before that grief is exhausting. In the early days, it ate up SO MUCH of my emotional bandwidth, leaving me with this strange feeling of scarcity. I would acknowledge that my threshold was necessarily low, and end up doling out my emotions with pinching thriftiness.
A little for you, a little for that.
Whoops, I anticipate a tough weekend coming up, so I can't have this conversation right now.
So when my best friend Danielle asked me if we were trying to have another baby, it took me a while to come up with the words to text back.
I....don't...can't...no know how to words I think about that...
So I told Danielle with my fumbling words that I wanted another baby but I didn't know how to "try". I knew that the mind and body and spirit are so deeply connected but that my spirit was too conflicted to focus on and foster a new life.
I knew I should be praying and healing, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, depleted as I was. I didn't know how to hope or believe. I didn't remember how to ask God for things. I just knew how to survive: eat, sleep, play with Aidah, mow the lawn, go to work.
And Danielle -- I cry as I type this-- told me it was okay. She told me her first thought was of Moses- the story from Exodus 17 where his arms get tired in battle and his men take turns holding them up. In her amazing mix of humor and tenderness, she offered to 'hold up my uterus' for me. To pray and hope and petition God on my behalf, so that I could focus on just treading water.
She promised to pray over me, Drew and my uterus every morning. She - worshipper that she is - said she'd be singing a song over us too. She asked if I was familiar with Great are You Lord by All Sons and Daughters.
I certainly was.
The first Sunday after we lost Finley, Drew and I bundled up and ventured to church. And I laughed, sharp and bittersweet, as it was announced that we'd be starting a series on Praise. Over the following weeks, I'd stand in the back of the room, cry my way through worship and listen with surprising encouragement as our pastor introduced the seven Hebrew words for praise. And every week the worship team would start that song, the one with the words I couldn't even sing:
You give life, you are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, you restore
Every heart that is broken
It's your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, pour out our praise.
Great are you Lord.
I'd never been one to lift my hands during worship. I was raised in a fairly conservative church and - in general- I'm just not a physically exuberant person. But I felt them lifting - almost of their own accord- during this song. And I'd imagine I was holding out my shards of heart and hope, lifting them up because this is all I have these days. Let that be enough.
And something would uncrunch inside me, week after week. The Spirit who promises to be near to the brokenhearted was there, holding my hands with and for me.
So I lifted them as we learned about Hallal, which translates, "to be clamorously foolish"
And Yadah, extending hands in praise - the antonym to wringing your hands or bemoaning.
And Towdah, as we're commanded to thank God for gifts 'not yet received'.
And Zamar, which means to praise with music.
I don't know a lot about praise or prayer. I don't understand how a God outside of our time and space interacts with our petitions and pleadings in the present. But I know that in those weeks, my second daughter was - in some brutiful paradox- mourned in praise. In Yadah, as my wringing hands danced open.
And consequently, I believe that my third daughter was brought about through diligent and joyous Zamar by a clear-hearted worshipper who loved and fought for us both. I truly believe that as I trudged through my shadow, Danielle prayed light into my womb.
In Hebrew, Noah translates to "comfort" or "rest". I can't help but picture her peacefully and secretly rocking inside of me as I weathered a storm of grief, as all of the waves and breakers swept over me. I imagine Danielle's prayers, creating a vessel of safety for her to grow in, as I focused on my recovery. I remember the mantle of warmth and calm that would settle on me, week after week, lifting up my brokenness in the back of that church sanctuary.
Comfort. Rest. Praise.
Noah Zamar is our rainbow baby. A promise after a storm. I hope and pray that she is like Danielle. That she too is gifted to lead people into that place of tenderness where their hearts can open to Christ. That she speaks truth, hope and light over people who are in mourning. That she advocates for people - not just in a blithe, general way - but fiercely and specifically in the areas where they feel weak. That she would see and name them when they are weary.
Thank you Danielle, for being Emmanuel to us. Thank you God for Noah Zamar.