Our son was born today at 7:17pm after a miraculous day of answered prayers. And he’s a redhead! Be still my heart. 9 lbs, 4 oz, 21.5 inches long. I wrote this while we waited on him to arrive this last week, and I’m so grateful to finally share this story. More to come on the adventure of today in a couple weeks after we settle in with this little love..
Joshua Cecil Isaacson. This name. Oh, this name. With Grace, we knew very quickly what her name would be. Grace was the undeserved gift we had been given in our marriage. A fresh start. New hearts. A shared faith. I prayed, and that’s what God told me we should name her. It was as clear as can be.
But, this little one. His name has been a test of faith and surrender. Sometimes God wants to change us before He gives us answers to our prayers. Sometimes that change is the answer. And if God is in your heart change, it means that there is a story that points right back to Him. A really good story.
Through waiting and loss and waiting some more, we surrendered and rejoiced in a new path: adoption. And then… the day we finished our adoption paperwork, there were two pink lines. The timing was unmistakably God’s. And there was no doubt in our minds that we should keep going with our adoption. Read the whole story here. Right now, we are waiting to be matched with our littlest girl.
On February 7th this year, something else happened. Another unmistakable God story. Pause right now here and go read this. Don’t read any further till you do. Come right back to this spot when you’re done. I’ll be here : )
So there you have it. It was a big day. Big surrender and life change in the months that have followed.
Back to that weekend for a minute…
Ari and I stood up in church the next morning during a moving song that our friend Beverly sang, grasping each other’s hand, knowing without a doubt that we had been set free. We had let go of the past and moved forward. I can’t even describe that feeling with adequate words. There is no freedom on earth that compares to the freedom of knowing that you have nothing to hide. Nothing to feel shame about. Nothing. You are completely forgiven. His grace is truly amazing.
If you are reading this and have no idea what I mean, or feel frustrated not having felt His grace, or want it more than words–I rarely say this but–I know how you feel. For so long I thought, “Maybe I’m not good enough, or reading my Bible enough, or mature enough as a Christian. Maybe I’ve been too bad. Maybe I’ve messed up too much. Maybe God just isn’t listening.” I felt like I didn’t get it and I never would. Then I had Grace. And God showed me that faith and a relationship with Him are not about my ability to perform well; faith is about surrender. It’s not about me. It’s about Him. Knowing that He is God and I am not and that is a very good thing. He has the power to change hearts and bring what feels dead to life (our marriage for starters), not because we are awesome, but because He is. That is why it’s called the “Good News.” We don’t deserve His grace and He gives it to us anyway. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8
So, whatever it is that has been holding you back from surrendering to Him and laying your burdens down…
Choose God. Set your foot on new ground, against all odds, as Joshua did. Step into the middle of the river and watch God make a way for you. He can.
Nothing on this earth is worth carrying a burden that is holding you back from your Maker. Nothing. For me, surrender is hard. The first chapter of my book starts with giving birth to Grace because that was the most challenging physical surrender I can remember. I had no control and had to fully rely on Him. Equal to that surrender has been surrendering my pride over these years, namely this year. Dying to myself. Times of humility and confession: “God I need you and I want you. But I know something isn’t right. Please help me turn away from all the junk that’s distracting me from what matters—from You.” I’ve prayed that many times and God always answers because He wants our hearts. All of our hearts.
Moving forward means first letting something go. What is that thing God is trying to get you to let go of? Start with prayer if this feels overwhelming or you don’t know where to start. Ask God what to do and then dive in, even and especially, if it feels hard. Surrender is worth it.
Back to February. Having laid it all at His feet, we both knew that Joshua was the name the Lord had given him. God is pretty big on names. Names carried meaning and stories of faith that helped others have faith too. If God changed someone’s heart, a new name came with that heart change many times (Saul to Paul). Ari and I felt strongly that this name of his would tell a story–His story–even if we didn’t fully understand it all yet.
Insert nine months of “but!” I began agonizing over this name in the silliest ways and battled between total surrender to God and this: “Josh” sounded too young. His first name would end in a vowel and didn’t fit with the vowel that started “Isaacson.” It was a mouthful. I couldn’t think of any cute baby nicknames that went with Joshua. Joshy? J? We also loved the name and story of Daniel. So, would he be Joshua Daniel? JD? Or Daniel Joshua? DJ? You guys. The name game in my head was a mess. I spent months debating these things in my head and with Ari, and fighting God on it. You see, God wants meaningful stories to be told that point back to Him, and the enemy really doesn’t love that. At all.
Every time I went back to God and let go of all the name game mess, He said, “Trust me. This is my story.” And, friends, His plans have always been far better than mine. This wasn’t about choosing a baby name. It was about our hearts needing to change over the last nine months.
Letting go of our plans for His. Our comforts for others. Our fear for faith.
We told no one our thoughts through this process. We just prayed. We read scripture. The story of Joshua, Daniel, and others who trusted in the Lord. In retrospect, it was very good. It was just us and God. In it all, we were changed in a million little ways. We felt God saying, “Just keep listening…”
And then Kristin walked in my door. She showed up at my house all the way from Florida to surprise me during our team summer BBQ just a few weeks ago. In true Kristin fashion, she breezed in the door with a bouquet of balloons and a freshly-cooked batch of my favorite quinoa salad.
That night, we picked corn fresh from the garden, sampled just-pulled carrots, and chatted over dinner about everything from favorite summer memories to the best doughnuts in the area. And then we talked baby names.The ladies surprised me with a little shower and gave their name “guesses.”
Lisa: Jacob Cecil Isaacson
Emily: David Cecil Isaacson
These ladies know us well. They knew the name would be Biblical. They knew how much my grandpa, Cecil Austin, influenced my faith and love of gardening. It has been a year of cultivating meaningful relationships and spending lots of time getting our hands dirty in the mineral-drenched soil, just as Cecil loved to do. He loved what mattered: God first, his wife, and his vegetable garden. He didn’t care about accolades; He cared about eternity. The first paragraph of my book is about grandpa’s love for his wife, Celeste, who passed the day after we found out we were unexpectedly pregnant. It was also the same day we finished our adoption paperwork. God was undoubtedly in all of this.
And then Kristin: Joshua Cecil Isaacson
The moment Kristin said it, we knew. We didn’t have to speak about it. Ari and I tried to play it off and not look at each other when that name was spoken for the first time. His name. Dinner continued. Kristin was the last to leave. She insisted on helping me do dishes, which turned into deeper conversation about family and our hearts.
As we walked her to the door, Ari couldn’t help it. “Kristin. The name… you were right.”
Somehow it was all confirmed. We all had tears in our eyes. I had no words. Just awe.
But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
This journey hasn’t been about a name or a baby, it has been about God. About who He is. About His power to do what feels impossible. About Him being God and good, even in times of waiting and grief. Waiting on the Lord taught us so much. We waited for His perfect timing for this child to come. We waited nine months for this name to be confirmed. We waited and trusted and failed along the way a lot, but we kept going. And in the wait we were refined. Changed. Readied for whatever He has ahead for us.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. I have clung to these words from Isaiah for two years, in times of doubt and fear, and have seen them come true over and over again. God can do far more than we ask or imagine.
I don’t know where this post finds you. I don’t know your heart today or what’s weighing on you. What I do know: If you are in a season of doubt or fear or feeling lost, trust what you can’t yet see. God is listening. Even when you can’t feel it. He is. He makes streams in the wasteland. He makes all things new.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 NIV
Welcome to the world, son. The Lord will be with you wherever you go.
Lara, congratulations! Joshua is a beautiful name and he will surely spread the news of Jesus’s love. Your story continues to speak to me deeply each time you share more.
We briefly (and randomly) met last summer in Alys Beach. We both had our redheaded children with us. You loved on me, intentionally listened as we spoke, and it was everything I needed. I had miscarried 2 months prior and was desperately searching for answers. Im thankful God allowed us to meet.
May you have rich first moments with your son.
Congratulations Isaacson family!! God is so good and so evident in you all. Prayers of praise for this sweet baby boy are being lifted up tonight 🙂
Praise God for Joshua Cecil! So much love and prayers lifted up to your beautiful family. Love you!
Precious Lara. Thank you for sharing the story of your boy’s strong name that is full of meaning and promise and the love of the Lord. Welcome to the world, baby Joshua Cecil Isaacson. We are so eager to meet you. Congratulations, Lara , Ari, and Grace. God is so good!
He looks just like Grace! Such an amazing blessing he is and you in the world! I love seeing how these babies are transforming our lives! Soak up this time, rest and cherish every moment. So happy for you friend!
Love HIS name!! (our first born is Joshua John) And love the story God is writing here and now declaring the wonder of His love through you, Ari, Grace and Joshua . xoxo
Congratulations on your blessing! Thank you for writing this, it has opened my heart to God in such a bigger way. God bless your family.
Beautiful words, Lara! Thank you, as always for sharing from your heart so that others lives will be impacted! Joshua Cecil is precious! xoxo
Oh Lara, you are such a light. I bought your book and read it this last January when I was in a dark place and so lost. I’d lost who I was and what my purpose was. After reading your book and much study of scripture I found myself again. The Lord created in me new life through your words. And my year continued. But as I am about to start my final year of school and earn my master’s degree this fall I became scared again. I was afraid I’d fail, and that I was not enough. But I remembered your words. I’ve been re-reading your book again this fall and yet again through the words God gave you I’m letting go, surrounding, and letting God be. And in just the past few days I’ve seen God move in leaps and bounds as if to say “I got this rest in me.” So thank you Lara for your words I hope to meet in person some day and love on your family. The Lord has placed Chapel Hill on my heart in the last year and I hope to move there next summer with the hopes of securing a job that only the Lord will provide. I pray for your family. Much love and happiness to you and your family’s new addition.
So excited for the arrival of Joshua. You all look beautiful and at peace. Thank you for your ministry and your ability to inspire from a hospital bed, Lara! Your loved! –Jessica
I’m in tears reading this! God is speaking to me through your words. God is so good to us. Praise Him for Joshua! I loved what you said: its not about us but about Him. About His power to do what feels impossible. Your story of your pregnancy with Joshua encourages my heart so much. I’m a little over halfway with my second daughter. My first is in heaven–we lost her at 26 weeks. I’ve been sensing God tell me to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid on days I’m feeling more anxious and fearful. This pregnancy is challenging and strengthening my faith. Nothing the Lord does in our lives is in vain. It all has a purpose: to draw us closer to Himself so we can make Him known to those around us. Thank you Lara for making Him known!
Congratulations, Lara! Thank you for your open heart and honesty in all of your posts…they always hit me straight in the heart, and I was in tears by the end of this one. So happy for you and your growing family 🙂
He is gorgeous! Congrats on that little chunk of heaven!! What a beautiful day!! (From a fellow redhead)
so good Lara! So happy to see your baby boy!! It’s like he was there all along 🙂 thinking of you friend!
Lara, I’m speechless. After reading this post, I can feel how God is using you to touch other women such as I. Thank you for sharing your stories, and I pray that God continue to bestow His love on you and your family.
I thought we were the only people to find out they were expecting at the same time they finished their adoption paperwork. I feel less alone now！Maybe not less overwhelmed, but less alone. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Lara- congratulations on your sweet baby boy and being open to the love that God has for you and your family! Just wanted to write to let you know that this brought much peace to me tonight as I am 38.5 weeks with our 4th and have played the name game this whole time and after reading this her name will be Gracie! I’ve also had some anxiety throughout the pregnancy, which is not normal for me- this was just the perfect time for me to read this as it was just what I needed to hear! Thank you for sharing what God put on your heart to share.
Congratulations, Lara! He is gorgeous! What an absolute blessing from God!
Congratulations! I’ve learned over the years that God does this thing with names…He’s very particular. We had names chosen for our first born, then found that when she arrived the names didn’t fit her! So, back to God we went and waited (guess how long?) Three days! for a new name. She’s 18 now.
Your words pierced my heart in such tender places. I love how you share about letting go and caring about what matters and your son’s name confirmed and how it’s all a story about God. Thank you for the reminder to trust what we cannot see and to keep listening.
Wow, this is so beautiful that I’m almost at a lost for words. Congratulations!