A Life Well-Lived, Part 1

Our plans are good ones. We will become foster parents. And before we do that, in the Spring, we will visit Africa. We will love it so much that we have to move there.

All our work will be to point us in that direction. We’ll no longer be trying to have a baby. We’ll just be open to what baby God gives – through a foster-to-adopt program in Arkansas maybe.

We are open, but we have direction, excited about all the possibilities.

In Alabama for Thanksgiving, we take family photos. My boys and their cousins play hard, get along well, have made it to the age that I don’t worry they’ll eat a battery or any other small thing off the floor. They enjoy family like I remember doing when I was small. They think it will always look this way – Mama making them a plate-full and gutlaughing with aunts and uncles, Daddy in gracious conversation with BawBaw, MeMaw holding the youngest on her hip. Every day is a secure adventure.

We left Alabama. The usual tears welled up for me, how grateful I am that things do change. I am married to a man that I really love, and for some reason being with either of our families makes my bond with him magnify. I’m glad it’s just us and our boys in that little apartment. We’re on our way home to enjoy the tradition of putting up the Christmas tree, listening to Christmas music, and drinking hot drinks, eggnog, or Merry Gluvine.

When we get home, I run to the store for supplies, and I buy the habituals. After being so open, yet being protective with our plans, I don’t know why I bought a pregnancy test. I had absolutely zero expectations, so I only guess that I took the test out of habit before having a grownup drink.

And it was positive.

It was positive.

Back to the bathroom again. Seth! It’s still postive! Three tests later: it’s still positive!

“I cannot believe it” – what I still repeat two weeks later with permanant green grin on my face.

When I call my Daddy to tell him, I don’t get what I expect. When I used to talk about having a fourth child, he would respond with worry, furrow-browed worry. But this time, he laughed. He was overjoyed, and then he continued on to explain to me how it would all work – a blessing of sort. He said, “Amber, you and Seth are where you’re supposed to be. You are young. You have so many bridges to cross. Stop trying so hard to be great. You are great where you are. Serve where you are. Be grateful where you are.”

He went on to explain that when he was young, he had dreams, and they weren’t the kind that said, “I hope to one day do this.” They were the kind that said, “When I do this.”

And now he looks back at those dreams, and this is what he sees instead: A family who gathers like a great unexpected crescendo, the seasons dry or flooded as they may be. His recliner in the middle, we dance around him: babies crying, sisters piling, laundry mounding, Mama glowing, sons saying wisest things. The louder we get and the faster mine run, the closer we all seem. Spinning so quickly, this life (a head nearly knocked off at the fireplace), the gravity of goodness weighs in. We spin down to the truth about dreams.

A life is well-lived by gratitude in the unexpected, the dream departures. Living ecclesiastically, we take what we get. We find ourselves enjoying how it all boils down.

Five Grandsons and another little one on the way!

All photos by Amy Mitchell Photography.


  1. I’m thrilled for you sweet Amber. And I secretly (or not so secretly?) hope it’s another boy :) The Lord has entrusted you with much friend…and He smiles on you as He gives another eternal soul the breath of life. A little piece of me feels like I know a little piece of you. Like if we met we might hug and even though we don’t know each other, we might then. :) Congrats in the deepest way friend.

  2. I just keep thinking of that Jon Mark McMillan lyrics, “Oh how He loves us” – I feel it in your words, Amber. So delighted for you!!

  3. So happy for you and your adorable family!! What a blessing! When I was your age (eh hem, 11 years ago) we were expecting a third baby to join our family, after a long break with only two. I’m sure some thought we were a little bit crazy and yet, we were wanting our home to be filled with FAMILY! Congratulations!

  4. Amber,
    So much wisdom in this post…God’s sovereignty, reveling in the journey! Congratulations to you and Seth. It is truly a privilege to know you both.

  5. Wow. That is an amazing post. I’m so happy to have found my way here, and to become a witness to your experience.

  6. Beautifully said. Congratulations – and prayers on this journey.

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