All right, I’ll admit it: almost every night I tiptoe quietly into Russell’s room and watch him sleep. Yes, I am one of those moms. Last night he was sprawled out on his back with his arms in the air, but sometimes he’s rolled up like a ball or lying on his side with a friend under his head. Russell has lots of “friends” in his crib with him. When I tuck him it at night, his stuffed animal friends become a comfort for him. He smiles at them, and plays with them, and shares his bottle with them before falling asleep. Mr. Turtle is a prize I won from Jay Hedberg during a fun and silly game at Brian and Lara’s rehearsal dinner, and Brown Bear is a gift from John Miret when Russell was born. Another friend, “Little Dog,” was an impromptu gift from Sharon just before she moved back to Malaysia. Gabby gave Mrs. Red-White-and-Blue Bear to Russell for Christmas last year. And, finally, my niece Lola and G-Ma made White Bear for Russell at Build-A-Bear last summer. All of Russell’s “friends,” with their amazingly creative names (I know!), remind me of the rich community that surrounds our lives as a family.

Last week I learned that some dear friends had received very scary news about a genetic disorder in their unborn child. This kind of news has a gut-kick effect that is usually followed by numbness, anger and denial, and ultimately fear and sadness. Tim and I happened to have dinner plans scheduled with our friends the day after they received the news. We listened and they shared, and we all cried at the table together. Then we prayed, and as we bowed our heads, I was overwhelmed with the reality of how much this baby is loved. No matter what happens, this baby is so incredibly loved. An amazing community of people surrounds this baby, who has not yet even emerged from the womb. Many people deeply love the baby’s mom and dad, and their love extends to the child they have never met.

I don’t know – I really don’t know – why God allows things like genetic disorders and natural disasters and terminal illnesses and so many others kinds of suffering. In this situation involving my friends, I keep thinking, “Wow, Lord, you are going to have to give some kind of account for this in eternity because it just makes no sense.” But one thing I do know is that love and friends and community surround this little one, much like how all those stuffed animal friends surround Russell as he sleeps.

When I think and pray for this child, I imagine a community of love – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and a whole slew of other “friends” gathered all around this precious one as she sleeps and grows inside her mom.