I'm not sure how to start a post like this...except to say I can't ever remember a time when my heart was so strangely divided between joy and sorrow.
Extraordinary joy for a dear couple who are currently half-way around the world, preparing to bring their long-awaited baby girl to her new home on American soil. Extraordinary sorrow for another as they try to say goodbye to their daughter who was unexpectedly welcomed to her eternal home in Heaven this week.
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We met Craig and Celeste as young newlyweds back in the mid 90's. We were part of the same Bible study. Both are elementary school teachers, each of which taught Brennan. Later on, we served with them when they headed up our junior high youth group. In all the time we've known them, they have taught and cared for countless children, yet never having one of their own. They have exemplified quiet patience, trust and faithfulness as they've walked this long and difficult road.
A couple of years ago, they prayerfully began pursuing a private adoption. Everything seemed to fall perfectly into place. There were many showers and gifts and they prepared a special room in their home for this baby who already had a place in their hearts. When they received the call to come to the hospital on the day of his birth, they were overjoyed. They arrived and began waiting to meet their new son. After a number of hours, they were given the news...the young mother had decided to keep him. They were devastated.
After continued prayer, they began pursuing other options which ultimately lead them to this adoption, which is now finalized. We've been getting updates from Korea each day this week. As of Friday, it will be official. On Sunday, they will make the long flight back home to start their new life as a family. As you can imagine, a huge number of people (past and current students, their familes, teachers, friends and family) are completely overjoyed that God has blessed them with a beautiful baby of their own.
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It was also in the mid-90's, when we met the other family, Kurt and Shari and their daughters, one of which also named Celeste and Rachele. They were brand new to our area at the time, and we met at church. We learned Celeste and Brennan were the same age. Beginning in first grade and for many years, they attended school and church together. She was very well-loved, beautiful, smart, energetic and fun. She transferred toward the end of high school and soon thereafter, her family relocated to California. We saw her once after that time. Apparently, she had just come home several weeks ago during Christmas break, as well.
This past Sunday, she was a passenger in a car that was involved in a very tragic accident, and she passed away. It's still so hard to believe. All week, our hearts have been broken for her family, and others who knew and loved her. For our kids, this is the first such loss of a former classmate in their adult lives, which I think is especially hard. There is a helplessness we all feel because her family is so far away. There has been quite an outpouring of love to her family on Facebook, and of course many prayers on their behalf which her family indicates has been a great comfort. Praise God for the peace that comes in knowing we will see her again!
I can't tell you how many times Matt Redman's song "Blessed be your Name" has played over in my head this week. He does indeed give and take away... May we show humble gratitude when he gives, humble grace and strength when He takes away.