[The best moments happen] when we enter the joy and sorrow of the people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it’s not strictly about the food, it doesn’t happen without it. Food is the starting point, the common ground, the thing to hold and handle, the currency we offer to one another.
–Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine
I know I’m not ready to be a real writer yet because I still tend to borrow patterns and styles from whatever I’m reading the most. Right now I’m obsessed with Bread and Wine and it’s hard for me to think of anything except as it relates to my dining table. So with that in mind, as I sit down to give you an update on our family, two years after delivering a child to Heaven, my first thoughts are of our delicious birthday dinner.
I think this works, though, because the fact that we celebrated the day of Sam’s birth with feasting and smiles really does tell you a lot about how we’re doing. Two years ago, hundreds of people came to Sam’s memorial service bringing enough food to feed thousands. In the weeks that followed, long after I was fit enough to stand up and work in my own kitchen, our friends stuffed our stomachs and our fridge and our countertops with Crock Pot dinners and casseroles.
Despite all that, I did not feel full. I felt overwhelmed and defined by the emptiness of my womb, my arms, the nursery. All of my plans for our family and my dreams for our future were marked by sudden empty spaces where this baby would have been.
But as my favorite author Nancy Guthrie encouraged me, “God does not see my emptiness as a problem; he sees it as an opportunity: a place where he can fill me with more of himself.” Consider how he filled the empty void with a vibrant and living creation. Or how he filled all those empty wombs with children of promise: Hannah, Sarah, Ruth, Mary.
And we joyfully testify that God the Re-filler has indeed healed our empty, aching hearts. He gave us a sweet extra year with Only Abby, a year to potty train and work through night terrors and giving up the pacifier. Last year, he gave us sweet, smiling Jem. But most of all, he has filled us with himself, with a love for him and a longing for his Kingdom to come.
So a week ago Sunday, we invited our family over after church and celebrated Sam with a feast. I made a delicious and foolproof pulled pork, served with barbecue sauce on top of a sweet potato. (I don’t even like sweet potatoes, but this is a perfect pairing.) On the side, we served veggie slaw, fruit salad, and Hawaiian rolls.
Y’all. Everything was so good, and I can say that without feeling boastful because all I did was follow one very simple recipe, and everything else was just putting fresh stuff in bowls. I didn’t think to take any food pictures until the end of the night, but I think that this one says it all:
For dessert I made a Texas sheet cake (using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, which is ALMOST as good as my grandma’s). This seemed like an appropriate choice for the occasion, because Sam is in Heaven, and eating this cake is as close to that as we can get.
Just like last year, it rained the whole day (remember, this is Texas, in July. Stranger things happen, but not often). But the storm broke for just a few minutes, long enough for us to run outside with our blue balloons to take some pictures with Sam’s tree. Then we let our balloons go and hurried back inside before my hair started to frizz.
I’m not typically a signs-and-wonders kind of girl, but I do love this: for the second year in a row, the storm blew over as the day ended and we saw a bright rainbow in the sky. And then the next day (Sam’s actual birthday), we were driving down the road and saw a DOUBLE rainbow. In Texas. In July.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. Heart, body, soul: abundantly full.