We’ve only made it to church a handful of times since Juliette was born.  The service occurs smack dab in the middle of nap time and it’s often hard to muster up the will to go, knowing that we’ll be late (we are always late getting out the door these days), and then we might end up spending half the sermon walking Juliette in circles around the foyer to keep our tired baby quiet.  But we made it out the door at 8:30 sharp this past Sunday morning, as it was an extra-extra-special day at church.  We gathered with family and friends to dedicate Juliette and five of her buddies into the hands of Christ.  We have had six babies born in our community group over the past 12 months.  More than half these babies were born to couples that walked a long, hard road of infertility.  If I ever catch myself questioning the goodness of God’s timing, I’ll pull up this photo:

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There were a number of reasons why it was important to Shane and I that we dedicate Juliette. A big part of it was that we wanted to stand together and celebrate with these other families that have walked alongside us as we’ve dreamed about, cried for, and finally birthed our baby.

But even more deeply, it was important for us to remember and publicly declare that our daughter ultimately belongs to Christ and that we need His guidance, His word, His Church as we navigate our new role as parents.  We leaned on God so heavily throughout our struggle to become pregnant, pleading with Him to bless us with a child.  When I saw that first positive pregnancy test, I fell to my knees and asked Him to protect my fragile heart and grow our budding embryo.  As we walked down the hall toward our first ultrasound, I prayed desperately that we’d see a heartbeat on the monitor.  I lifted little Schnell up to Him at every subsequent appointment, eventually asking Him between contractions for a smooth, safe delivery as we headed to the hospital on September 13th.  And then Juliette was placed in our arms and we were asked to take charge of feeding her, soothing her cries, keeping her safe.  I grabbed the reins in my new role as mama and stopped praying with the same degree of intensity.  Shane and I felt so deep in the trenches, and God wasn’t going to swoop down to deal with a diaper blow-out or bounce her to sleep – those responsibilities fell on our shoulders.  And between the pooping and the crying, we were reveling in the immense joy of parenthood, patting ourselves on the back as we watched our beautiful little girl sleep so sweetly.  God had answered our prayers for a child, and the going was tough at times, but we were figuring it out.  “Thanks, God.  She’s perfect.  We’ll hit you up for a little more help when she starts dating.”

But the reality is that we need Christ in our home every single day.  His work in our family has only begun, and He is to be at the center of our hopes for Juliette, He shall be our guide as we strive to raise our daughter to become kind, compassionate, and brave.  We need Him, she needs Him.

And so we stood in front of our church family on Sunday and promised to give Juliette every opportunity to choose a life of faith; to teach and embody humility, mercy, and justice; to seek support from our church family when we’re feeling overwhelmed or lost.  We pledged to pray for her faithfully and fervently.  As Pastor Eugene laid his hand on her little pig-tailed head, I felt this simultaneous sensation of lightness and weight.  Lightness because we felt so supported, so overwhelmingly loved by our friends and family, so flooded with gratitude and adoration for our girl.  But there was heaviness, too, as I grasped both the responsibility we carry as parents and the fact that even our best efforts won’t yield any guarantees.  We can’t promise her health or safety or happiness.  No matter how tightly we hold her, she is ultimately in God’s hands.  Deep down, I know it’s better this way, but the fiercely protective mother in me wants to lay down a path for her free from pain or danger or sorrow.

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I like to think Jules and O have been buds since before they were born…

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I was a bit nervous when Eugene offered to hold Juliette, fearing her stranger danger syndrome would kick in, but after one little lip quiver she quietly settled into his arms (although she’s looking a little forlorn in this photo!).

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Despite a busy morning and a missed nap, this girl was a rockstar.  That smile!  Still gets me every time.

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I’m so glad my parents were there to celebrate with us.

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Happy dedication day, Juliette.  You are loved.

One Comment

  1. Adrienne says:

    This is a beautiful reflection, Kelly. Thanks so much for sharing.