As we approach our third annual Tender Lights event we are day by day preparing all the little things that are needed to accomplish such a heartwarming event. This has to be my favorite event and the one I look forward to most each year.
It is at this event that I myself get to pause.
It isn’t the nature of our work to talk about the families we meet each year and to tell details on each situation, all being so different and so impactful. We keep all those moments bottled up in respect for the families but we would be remiss to say that they don’t affect our hearts as well. The memories of each meeting come flooding back at this time every year and as I sit and count the lanterns this year I can once again feel those harsh moments of pain that these stories offer.
As I gather the sharpies and the tealights and pack them in the boxes ready to head to the event, I remember the look of shock and the stillness of the room when we entered in one moms room this summer. She was so quiet, seemingly almost afraid to talk because she just wasn’t sure of anything in that moment. Who would be? I can remember a mother, while sad, just admiring her beautiful daughter and all those perfect parts of her. She held her so gently and smiled while she talked to her. Loving her daughter in her pain was all she knew to do. I wish even now I could help them.
I move over some of the wedding dresses that so many women have graciously donated and pull out our box of t-shirts to take inventory again. I see an impression kit, misplaced and away from the others, and as I hold it, I see a mom who couldn’t bring herself to even look at her full-term babies footprint we had just moments before taken for her. She wasn’t ready and my heart just aches. The pain surges through me and my breath is stollen while tears begin to well up. I grieved so much with her, and still do.
We try to be strong, but truth told, there’s no such thing. I read a heart-wrenching but ever so faith inspired blog written by a mother who recently gave birth to her second child, now sleeping. She said, “Jacob and I are not strong! It almost makes me mad to hear people say it because we are broken and we are defeated and we are weak. But in our weakness, we can see glimpses of God’s strength. If anyone can see anything good from us or in us, please pause! You are seeing something glorious, heavenly, holy. You are seeing the Spirit at work. It can only be by God’s grace, so don’t miss it! Soak it in and thank Him for His goodness.”
Isn’t that truth? If we rely on our own strength we’d never make it. It isn’t ours as mothers, fathers, and loved ones. It isn’t ours in Tender Mercies. We fall apart too. We leave the room and we cry. We talk to God and we remember the moments. Every one of them. They build, each and every one, so gut wrenching and never understood. We reach out again, and again, and again. Then, we love. There is nothing more important than to love. Especially in the stillness.
It all floods back. The hard times, the good times, and the emotion in all of it. We look forward to Tender Lights just as much as you do. We get to share in a memory that means so very much, every single day, to you and to us. We are with you. Then. Now. Forever.
Our prayers are that anyone ever touched by a visit, an event, or even a simple letter would have a moment with God that gives them peace and love. We pray that he gives little loving moments through others, images, or in things you see or smell. We pray for moments that we don’t know about. It’s the things we don’t know, but we hope for, that God gives each and every one of you as a tender mercy.