He First Loved Us

For most, your child's birthday, the moment you first meet them, and the moment they become family happen in the same instant. For our kids, these are three separate events, worthy of note to some, and celebration for us. A year ago yesterday, we met John and Hope and welcomed into our home, along with their 5-month-old sister Kate, who had stayed with us for a month and a half as a newborn.

It gets confusing, I know. Bear with me.

I remember the first night, leaning down to say goodnight to Hope, and having the briefest hesitation as the words "I love you" formed in my mouth. How could I love her? I had only met her. She was nearly 4 years old. We knew nothing of each other, had no reason to trust one another, and were probably mutually a little intimidated of each other. In that half-breath, I learned something of love - and something of God - that I hadn't yet known in over 33 years. That Love could be given even if not received or returned. That Love would be - must be - born in the heart of the one loving, not as a response to the one being loved, but as an act in itself. Love... God... was in the room that night, although there were no tears or goosebumps or throat lumps or shivers or hearts strangely warmed to serve as evidence. Just a simple decision. A declaration that would be proven through a million daily sacrifices and assurances, failures and forgiveness, smiles, tears, winks, hugs and kisses.

My children love me, but I loved them first. Someday when they read verses like "we love Him because He first loved us," I hope, deep inside, they will already know what that means.

One year. Happy day.

**Written by a foster/adoptive Dad, sharing a milestone. Shared with permission, names have been changed.