I’m going to tell you a story, and it’s a story several years in the making.  It’s the story of two women, one who had to let go of control a bit and accept some help, and one who wouldn’t stop asking how she could help.

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Ever since coming home with our daughter from China three years ago I’ve felt overwhelmed.  Some days are harder than others, but the truth is (and you’ve heard me say this on repeat) being a mom to a child with medical needs like Julianne’s  is hard.  Daily wound care.  Daily checking for new damaged skin.  Daily popping blisters.  Daily wondering what the day held for her.  There is a lot about it that has improved over time.  I’m more aware of her needs and much much faster at taking care of her.  I can look at her body and know if she has any infection brewing.  I know when to contact her doctors to get a culture done and antibiotics ordered.  I know when something is “her normal” even if it is a far cry from any other kind of normal.  I’m good at being her mom when it comes to the medical stuff.  Dang good at it.  I was meant to be her mama.

The one thing I’m pretty terrible at is asking for help.  

At first, it was the need to bond with her which prevented me from asking for help from others.  And that’s pretty legit.

Then it turned into the processing of all of the pain of loss.  There’s not many people I really wanted to open up to outside of my group of fellow adoptive mamas because it all seemed too raw to share with others who may not know how to old this grief as gently as it needed to be held.

My excuses started to take on the tinge of despair.   No one outside of this little group of either EB moms or Adoption moms would ever really understand me. Why bother trying to share with others?

Eventually I reached total emotional exhaustion.  We have the day-to-day down pat, but it is mentally and emotionally exhausting to watch your child be in pain every day. My husband and I work together in tandem in a choreographed dance that is her wound care session every night.  A few weeks ago I realized that he was going to be out of town for a stretch of days for work.  My panic levels started to rise as I contemplated handling this nightly routine on my own.  Yeah, I could do it.  I had before.  But emotionally, I was drained.  I cried out to God for help knowing He hears, but feeling like my voice was the most pathetic of whispers.

He heard.

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Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

 

In stepped my friend Angie.  I’ve gotten to know her over the past year in a class we are both in.  She has seen my tears and my anger as I’ve arrived to class after a particularly brutal bandage change.  She knows my unfiltered thoughts about so much I’ve never bothered to share with people “on the outside”.  She walked in the community of a small group of ladies with me and listened to me and listened to God whispering to her.

She asked if she could help.  My typical response is to blow people off as nicely as I can, but for whatever reason, that night I broke.  I sent her a little video of what happens during a bandage change and sent it to her.  I wanted to give her an out, you know?  I wanted her to know that it was okay if she felt like it wasn’t something she could handle or be a part of.

She watched it and said, “when can I come over”?

Since I knew Matt was going to be out of town,  we agreed on an evening when she could come and help out.  I mainly needed the emotional support of having another adult there.  EB can be a very isolating condition, and it does wonders to even have a friend on speaker phone during a tough bandage change if I’m alone.

She came over bearing gifts of dark chocolate and asked what she could help with.  She read books to Julianne while she soaked in her bath and while I cut bandages.  She helped slather coconut oil onto the bandaging materials so that the process would be faster than me doing it on my own.  She kept up a steady stream of conversation which provided a distraction for both me and Julianne.

Once the kids were in bed, she hung out and chatted for a long while and we talked about all the things.  She left past both of our bedtimes and I realized that it could have been a night when I succumbed to the anger that EB often causes to flare up in me, but I didn’t, and it didn’t.  Having someone from “the outside”, a person who does not have to be there but chose to anyways changed that night for the better.

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Here’s the thing.  Chances are you are one of those “on the outside” people for someone you know.  Maybe they are going through a divorce or death of a loved one and you don’t know what that’s like.  Maybe they have a child with special needs and you can’t begin to comprehend what their life must be like.  Maybe their own health is precarious and you just don’t know the “right” words to say.  Chances are you don’t know much about what life is like on their particular “inside”.  Chances might also be that they are afraid to share too much.  People get tired of hearing about the hard stuff after all.  Nobody wants to be a burden.

In the safety of a small community I finally was able to say yes to having someone step into the nitty gritty with me and now I’m compelled to do the same for others.  We all have something we carry that needs to be shared with others and yet we are so stubborn, so prideful, so stuck in our own heads that we would rather throw up walls than risk feeling rejected by someone who has the potential to hurt us.

We have to stop this, friends.  We have to stop doing it on our own.

Can we do it all?

Maybe… for a while.  Just like I can handle the bandage change on my own.

But should we?

Nah.  It’s not what we were designed for!

We were made for community and I guarantee you this… somewhere there is a someone who is hearing a whisper, the breath of Heaven prompting them to reach out to you.  Now, will you let them?  I can tell you this:  it’s worth it. 

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Angie, thank you.  Thank you for being persistent and showing me with your actions that you care.  I know you are busy during this season.  You have your own three children and husband to care for in addition to putting together a church retreat which was only single digit days away when you gave up your night to help me.  Your actions reek of sacrifice and of Jesus in you and it’s something I really needed to see.

Love you much, friend.

Saying Yes to Giving Grace

**It was a privilege to be able to share this part of our adoption journey.  Some times when I write I write to process information in my own head and heart.  This time, the processing has been completed, and completed a while ago.  This writing is different – it comes from a place of wanting others to know that IF they feel the same way I felt, you are not alone, and furthermore, there is still room for grace. **


I knew when we stepped into life as a family who had experienced the gift of adoption relationships with other people would be different. I knew that some people understood the “why” behind our choice and some people didn’t. I knew that some people would understand the difficulties associated with living life with our child from hard places and that some wouldn’t.

What I didn’t know was that some of the deepest post-adoption hurt would come from the one place I thought would be the safest for me to be… my church.

Now, understand that when I say “church” I’m not talking about the Church–with-a–big–C. Church is the body of Christ all over the place. Church is in Texas and Mexico and Africa. Church-with-a-big-C is why we said “yes” to adoption; it’s being a part of God’s family, walking in obedience to His call, and allowing the Holy Spirit to move through you for the glory of God’s kingdom.

No, what I’m talking about is church with a little c. I’m talking about your local congregation where you worship on Sunday and maybe other times during the week as well. I’m talking about the people you live life with; the people you’re in community with. These people are like family, and as such, when there are hurts, the hurts tend to run deeper and impact us more strongly.

We came home with our daughter and quickly realized that the way our church-with-a-little-c did things in a way that presented some challenges for our family. We didn’t think much of this challenge during our cocooning time because honestly, all that was on our mind was letting this girl know we were trustworthy and safe. It was a full-time job.

The time finally arrived when we felt like we could ease back into a new type of normal, and that’s when we had to acknowledge the fact that our new normal was going to have to look different from our old normal. We could still be active in our church on a typical Sunday morning thanks to the effort that our Children’s Ministry has put into understanding and helping special needs families, but we couldn’t participate in the small group setting in the way we had before due to the dynamics our church encouraged for small groups.

We knew we needed to make changes to be a part of a small group, but they were changes that our church wasn’t able to address in a manner as quickly as we were hoping for. We felt frustrated, but knowing that life in smaller community is beneficial to our walk with Jesus, we didn’t give up trying to make it work.

Eventually, we connected with another family who was experiencing the same types of struggles in their own post-adoption world. We started to meet together in a much smaller setting, and after a while, presented our “mini-small-group” to some folks in our church leadership hoping that they would be on board with our desire to honor the leadership of our church, our desire to meet in community with others, but also our need to provide a safe environment for our children. Our group wasn’t typical, but we were excited about it and hoping others would be, too.

Some of the people we talked to were fully supportive, and some were not.

And, it hurtA ton.

I’m not even going to lie here. It took a long time for me to deal with this. Every fiber of me screamed for understanding. I needed to be understood.
I needed our family to be understood.
I needed our daughter to be understood.
I needed for others in the church-with-a-little-c to see that even though it looked different, we were indeed living life in the Church-with-a-big-C in the way that we felt that God was calling us to.



Adoption had changed our family, and it had also changed our particular family could function in social settings. We wanted to be understood and in the middle of all of that hurt we felt completely misunderstood.

The story could end there. It could end with anger or bitterness or sadness simmering in my heart. But it doesn’t.

It’s no surprise to me that after weeks of fighting with the words to communicate the depth of feeling I have regarding this topic that the words would suddenly start to spring out of my heart in these days surrounding Easter. Grace, grace. God’s grace. Grace that covers us and our multitude of sins. Grace that chose to hang on the Cross even knowing what darkness my heart could hold on to. Grace that calls me, woos me, won’t let go of me. Grace that won’t let me simmer in the hurt which had morphed into resentment.

Anger and resentment have no place in a heart claiming Christ as Lord and so it has no place in mine. Jesus knows all about those people who caused us to feel misunderstood, and He loves them. He knows all about the hurt in our hearts and He loves us.

He loves. Period.

I found myself guilty of believing that other people’s empathy toward us was a prerequisite for their significance but it’s not. I was wrong and the recognition of my own wrong-ness has given room for forgiveness.

Truth be told, this is hard to share. The only reason I dare is because I know that there are others who probably have felt just as hurt by their local church-with-a-small-c.

Maybe the child with special needs you welcomed into your family hasn’t been welcomed into your church.
Maybe your child looks “normal” on the outside but struggles with the hurts which abuse and neglect have caused on the inside and your church doesn’t understand.

Friend, know that your church-with-a-small-c isn’t always going to get it right. They are people. Humans.

Just. Like. Us.

They will make mistakes. They may not be compelled to fight for our children in the way that we are and that’s okay.

Your church needs you. They need your child. They need your family. They need to see that adoption doesn’t look the same from family to family. They need to see you not give up both doing what’s right for your child and walking in obedience to God. They need to feel the grace they may not even know they need. You may be the only family they know who has obeyed to the call to adopt and they need to see this love lived out.

And you? You need your church! You need the community offered by others walking with Jesus. Don’t give up on your local church-with-a-small-c. Don’t fall prey to the lie that you can walk your faith on your own. They need you. You need them.

It’s possible that this will be tough, believe me, I know it possible. The saying yes to hard things doesn’t end once you’re home with your new child. There will constantly be new chances to follow Jesus in laying down your life for the sake of others. If that looks like showing grace when others in your church seem to not understand you, then so be it.

It’s a “yes” worth saying.

You will find yourself leaking out the icky stuff like anger while the good stuff like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control fill you up to overflowing.

You’re okay with saying “yes” to hard things, and God will give you the grace to say “yes” to this, too.

**Originally shared at No Hands But Ours **

About this time last year, I was in discussions with the principal at the school my children attend.  The discussion revolved around the potential need to add another 2nd grade class during the 2017-2018 school year, and would I be interested in thinking about a full-time job?

Honestly, the thought of working full-time hadn’t crossed my mind, but I said I’d pray about it.

While in the waiting to find out whether or not  the added class would be a go or not, I felt strongly that God was calling me to take a faith-step and apply for the Discipleship School our church offers from Sept. – June.  The tagline, “what if one year could change everything” intrigued me as I knew that there was so much MORE available to me when it came to knowing God, being in relationship with Jesus, and walking in the Spirit.  And so, I applied.

Shortly after being accepted into the 2017-2018 discipleship class, I received a phone call welcoming me to the staff of my children’s school.   I felt total peace about this.  I KNEW it was where I was supposed to be.  The thought of full time work, plus taking a class of my own, plus the ins and outs of life with a family of six could have scared the pants off of me.

But it didn’t.

I went into this year knowing it would be tough.  I didn’t know exactly how tough it would be, and I’m thankful for that.  Working is great; I love what I do and enjoy the environment I get to work in.  Discipleship School is amazing;  even though I have to chug extra coffee on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to stay awake during and after long classes it’s worth every drop and every sleepy-eyed wake-up call to the alarm clock. Life at home has been different, but it’s allowed me to see to an even greater degree which things are important to me and which things just aren’t.  FYI:  clean floors?  Those fall under the “not really that important” category these days.  It’s also allowed me to invite my children into taking more responsibility for the home we live in, as well as giving me the chance to appreciate even more my dish-washing/laundry-folding/breakfast-making/super-hot husband.

I had hoped to write sporadically in this little space of mine during the year, but found that time was seriously lacking at the start of the year and all of the transitions being made.  As the fall started to ease into chillier days, Julianne’s issues regarding her Epidermolysis bullosa diagnosis started flaring in a way we’ve never seen before.  Antibiotic after antibiotic.  Pain beyond what any child should have to endure.  By the end of each day I was just zonked — completely drained both physically and emotionally.  Though processing it all through writing seemed like a great idea, reaching through the fog of my fatigue to find adequate words was basically impossible.

As a result of the intensity of the school of life I’ve been in, this place has been silent.  Bare, even.

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Photo by sergee bee on Unsplash

Today I looked out of my window and saw the bright green of the oak tree right outside of my window and despite the agony of having yet another brutal bandage change behind us for the day, it made me stop and think.  As I stared, gratitude flooded my heart.

These past months?  They’ve taught me about a zillion life lessons.

I’m less likely to stress over things that just don’t matter.

I’m more likely to recognize the things that really do matter.

I’m more okay with who I am than ever before.

These months have grown me and changed me (Y’all, I even said yes to getting a cat for my oldest! Me, the dedicated anti-cat person!) and I am deeply thankful for every single tear-stained brutally exhausted moment.

When I started this new season of life, I fully intended and believed it was to be a years-long season, but you know what?  The once stable looking horizon up and shifted on me!  Next year I will be staying home with one of my children to spend a year doing homeschool.  My little curly-headed nugget has had a rough time the past three years  as we have adjusted to our family growing and is in need of some serious one-on-one time.  It’s tough being the baby of the family and losing that status.  While he has handled it all better than I think I would have at his age, it’s his turn to know that we’re making a decision based solely on what HE needs, not what’s best for little sister.  Being the sibling to a child with a chronic medical condition can cause some legit secondary trauma in the lives of those others living in the home.  I am grateful we have the ability to give this time to him, and my prayer is that we not only have a blast learning but that we also get to dig out some of the hurt that is buried in his heart and run after healing for that hurt.

Here’s to new horizons,

a God who constantly keeps me on my toes,

and more life lessons to be learned.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have time to take all that has been crammed into my heart and head this year and apply it.  Can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a group of inherited skin disorders. The last week of October every year is EB Awareness Week.  Since it is known as “The Worst Disease You Never Heard Of”, we choose to share bits and pieces of our life with our butterfly, Julianne.  She is a gift to us from God, and the things that have changed about us since she came home is from China in 2015 are too many to list.

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“Mom, sometimes kids ask me what’s on my arms, and I don’t really like it.”

“Well, what do you tell them?”

“Nothing.  I just say nothing.”

Her reality means that she’s going to be asked these questions for a lifetime.  I know I won’t always be there to fend off the curious stares, or to shield her with my body when she feels uncomfortable.  And so these conversations happen.

“Why don’t you just tell them that you have EB?  You can tell them that this is the way your skin is, but that you love to play, and maybe you could play together?”

She sighs, and tears start forming in her eyes.

“I just wish I had regular skin, Mom.  I wish I didn’t have EB.”

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I can tell she doesn’t always believe me when I tell her how beautiful she is.  I know that she sees the glances and hears the whispers.  She’s finally recognizing that people stare at us not only because she is Chinese and I am not, but because she looks different in a way that transcends ethnicity.

She runs her fingers up and down my arm and whispers that she wishes her skin was like mine and my heart breaks.

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If I could choose for her, I’d choose skin where her scars have faded and her wounds are closed.

I’d choose a life where she could enjoy the South Texas classic appetizer of chips and queso, something she cannot do now because the sharp edges of the chips cut and wound her mouth and throat.

I’d choose nights of restful sleep where she isn’t plagued by the persistent and frustrating itchiness associated with EB.

I’d choose a vocabulary for her that doesn’t include words like “needles” and “barium swallow study”.

I’d choose outings with family where the double-takes don’t happen, where the gazes don’t follow her.

I’d choose a bath time experience that isn’t overcome by anxiety knowing that the pain of the open wounds will be more than she can handle.

I’d choose the sparkliest, pinkest, most girly-girl shoes without wondering if they will rub blisters on her tender feet.

I’d choose for her to run without fearing the fall.

I’d choose for her to be comfortable in her own skin.

I’d choose joy for her… but then I realize… she already has that.

She has the fragile skin, and joy.

She has the wounds, and joy.

She has the different food choices, and joy.

She has the crazy intense itchiness, and joy.

She has the medical vocabulary she shouldn’t have, and joy.

She has the anxiety associated with pain, and joy.

She runs without fearing the fall, she dances without fearing the consequences.

EB Awareness Week

Yeah, EB basically sucks.  No other way to put it.  In fact, saying it sucks is being kind.  Language typically used to describe this thing can run toward the salty side on a bad day, ya know?

The daily wound care, the pain, the stares.

The dedication of a closet to medical supplies, the doctor visits, the whispers.

The limitations placed on her, the anxiety, the knowledge that this skin she is in is different from the norm; it’s enough to make a sane person a little crazy, yes?

But even with all of that (and more)… she is joyful.

She knows that little things are big things in her world, and every little thing brings her joy.

I see her pain and it used to make me roll my eyes a bit when I hear others talking about their own experiences, experiences I might have classified as “lesser” in my mind.  But then I see her reaction, and it’s straight up compassion. She knows what it’s like to hurt, and she hates seeing other people hurt.

I can learn a lot from her.  I have learned a lot.

You are a rare one, my girl and you are making me rare, too.


 

For more information about EB, check out www.debra.org.

There are many different ways to help.  DEBRA sends supply boxes to families with newly diagnosed babies, they also send supplies to families who may not have insurance to cover the cost.

Another great resource is EB Research Partnership, which is dedicated to helping to find a cure for this devastating condition.

Sometimes you wake up to see the sun rise and are met with darkness, clouds, a downpour of rain off in the distance. 

Unexpected. 


Sure, it’s not what I rubbed sleep out of my eyes to see, but the downpour left me wanting a drenching of my own- a Holy Spirit sort of reminder of who I am, who my Father says I am. And so, I listened while the wind blew and the waves crashed. 

My expectation was to be dazzled by color, drawn to praise. 

Instead, I was quieted by the storm, drawn to repentance. 

Unexpected. Good. 

Twenty-four hours later, my eyes appreciated the beauty of the sun rise in a new way, in a deeper way. My soul could process the beauty differently because of the clouds. 


Grateful. 

I used to believe that there would come a day when our family dynamic would feel “normal” –  that we would mesh together in a way that was seamless – that the memory of the time Before would be blotted out by the Present, that thoughts of the Future wouldn’t always be accompanied by some degree of anxiety.

Normal?  As it turns out, it’s just not for us.

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I believe that when our lives turned upside down halfway across the world that they were destined to remain upside down in many capacities.

I believe that when we saw the faces of the children staring at us as we looked through windows into crowded orphanage rooms we can never be normal again.

I believe that walking through specialist appointment after specialist appointment and living with the constant shadow of unknowns means that “normal” is a thing of the past.

I believe that seeing the rawness of pain associated with the loss of birth country, birth language, and birth culture will cause us to never be normal again.

I believe I will never ever EVER be used to people staring at our daughter and her scarred and wounded skin, and that pounding of my heart as I see the hurried glances is a part of who I am now.

I believe that adoption is breathtakingly difficult, and that the trip is just the start of the journey.  I believe that the longer your child is home the more difficult it becomes to explain the impact of past hurts, the more difficult it becomes to accept that while time is a great healer, the amount of time required is sometimes overwhelming.

I believe in accepting that the hard things we are called to do are HARD.  I believe that they will mold us and change us and out of that giant mess will come a beauty only seen when we throw ourselves into the arms of a loving Father, desperately and freely confessing that on our own, we are not enough for this great journey He has us on.

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I pray for a heart that would pound in a rhythm which sounds off-beat to the rest of the world.

I pray for eyes that would look for ways to love deeply.

I pray for a soul to find total satisfaction in Christ alone.

I pray for a voice to speak words of encouragement.

I pray for feet that would be quick to run to the aid of others.

I pray for hands that would hold loosely the things of this world.

I pray that every time I look into her dark brown eyes I would see the great work that the Father is doing in our family, that we are ALL learning what it looks like to love others beyond the natural boundary lines we would draw for ourselves.

I pray for daily recognition of the new mercies, steadfast love, great faithfulness, and hope given freely by the One who is walking with us on the good days, and carrying us on the hard days.

I pray to never desire the time Before, to never dread the work involved in the Present, to always carry hope for the Future.

Normal?

Never.

I got a box delivered to our house today.  It was sent by a friend and filled with wound care materials.  You see, this family found themselves with an excess of supplies when their six year old daughter passed away last week due to complications from Epidermolysis Bullosa.

I had avoided talking to Julianne about Georgia’s passing because, honestly, it felt too surreal even for me.  The two girls have birthdays just days apart, and they came home from China just months apart from each other.  Last fall, the girls had a chance to meet in person at an EB clinic, and though the meeting was brief, the memory of it stuck with Julianne.  After all, meeting other kids with her same rare condition is, well, rare.

I began to unpack the box, and naturally, she inquired about what was in it, and where it came from.  I gently explained that Georgia died last week, and my girl began to sob.  She buried her face in my shirt and grieved the loss of this little girl she barely knew, but felt some sort of connection to because of their shared circumstances.

I hugged her close and rocked back and forth, my heart broken all over again and I whispered, “It’s okay, we’ll get to see her again, right?”

Her face raised up, her tear-streaked face cracked a tiny smile, and she commented, “Yeah, in Heaven, Mommy!  And when we are there, we won’t have any more EB!”

She’s so right.  We grieve the loss of this little girl.  We grieve the circumstances in her life that made it so much more difficult than most people in America could imagine, or even care to imagine.  We grieve the suffering, and the pain, but we rejoice in the hope of Heaven’s healing.  I don’t know how I could have even said anything to Julianne without this HOPE.  It’s so real, almost tangible.  She knows deep in her know-er that Georgia is healed now, and the thought brings a smile to her face.  She knows deep in her know-er that one day she’ll be healed, too, and see her friend again.  No more EB.  No more pain from a traumatic past.  No more of any of it.  The thought makes a giggle bubble up inside of her, and she can’t contain it.

I still hope my daughter’s lifetime sees a cure developed from this condition, but if not God is still good, and hope of the eternal sort will still rule our hearts.

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Georgia’s family has asked that her memory to be honored via donations to either Children’s Hospital of Colorado, where her team of doctors treated her while stateside, or to China Little Flower, the organization that cared for her while she was in China.

 

Another holiday is upon us, and though this is the ONE day of the year our family values and celebrates more than others because of the sheer impact it makes on our Jesus-loving hearts, it’s still a holiday.  And we still struggle a bit.  You may not see much of your adoptive or fostering family friends this weekend, and I wanted to explain why.

The Egg Hunt.

Fun?  Yes.  I won’t disagree with you.  This tradition is one of our family favorites, and a favorite across the board in many American families.  But for some kids?  It’s fun with a twist.  It’s fun with a major sense of losing control over circumstances.  It’s fun with extreme anxiety concerning the number of eggs received, the amount of candy in the basket, the sheer amount of kids surrounding them.  It’s sensory overload, and an inability to cope with the noise and colors surrounding them.

It’s fun.  But not fun for everyone.

The School Break. 

Hurray!  A long weekend!  Fun, right?  Yeah, it’s fun.  Unless you’re the kid for whom schedules are life.  If you’re the child who panics when the norm changes, even if what’s going on is something enjoyable, school holidays bring the need to control what’s going on around you in ways that may disrupt family life to some degree.  Some of our children don’t thrive in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of environment, and so school holidays are hard for them.

The Family Gathering.

Regardless of whether the child’s extended family is supportive of their specific needs or not, regardless of whether your relationship with your extended family is good or not… family gatherings are yet another situation where our children may find themselves feeling overwhelmed and unable to regulate their emotions well.  For us, participating in our family Easter gathering is important, so many other activities tend to fall to the wayside for us to be able to do this one.  We have to prioritize differently, and manage our schedules differently.  It’s worth it, but it’s why you may not see much of us outside of this one event.

Church. 

We attend church very regularly, and serve regularly. Our children are very used to being at church, but our church, like many others, looks a little different on Easter Sunday.  There are more events to consider, and the normal schedule may look a little different on Easter morning.  We love it, but it’s another something to process as far as how to do these things as a family is concerned.

The Bottom Line?

Easter is the ultimate expression of Grace.  Jesus choosing obedience, even to death on the Cross so that we might have the hope of eternal life with Him forever.  This is the Best of News, the Gospel truth, and what we live for, and this grace is necessary because we’re not perfect.  We mess up ALL. THE. TIME.  There are many who think that families who foster or adopt live a little closer to Perfection, but it’s not true, not at all.  We depend on the grace of God daily, and during these more challenging, upside-down, topsy-turvy times of year, we hope for the grace of those who love us a little more, too.

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Friends, if you see us making the quick escape from the egg hunt, shoot us a text letting us know you were glad we made it, even for a short time.  If we RSVP “yes” to an event but end up as a no-show, check in with us and let us know you noticed our absence and you missed us.  If we look a little frazzled at the family dinner, know that we truly value being there, but that our mind is going in a million directions trying to help our child process what’s going on around them.  If you see us and wave hello and we completely ignore you, know that it wasn’t on purpose, our brains and emotions are on overload as we process life with our sweet little ones.

All of this may not apply to all adoptive or fostering families, and I’m not trying to make blanket statements, but one statement I believe I can make for all of us is this –  we love you, our village of supporters.

Whether we see you or talk on a daily basis, or not,

whether you are family or friend,

whether you know us in person or just “know” us via social media,

you are doing a grand thing in walking with us through these seasons when our crazy train seems to want to derail.  Jesus gives grace, and one of the ways He gives it is by giving us you.  You are showing love to the fatherless in a unique and special way by showing love to adoptive and foster families, and we see you.  HE sees you, and He delights in you.

 

 

 

 

Today?  Today we celebrate the fact that you are now SIX!!!

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You waited a long time to be six, my girl.  It seemed like a much longer wait that the norm, probably because your older brother was six during the whole year you were waiting to be six.  But now, you’re here!  You’ve arrived.  You are all the fingers on one hand plus one from the other, and you are thrilled to tell everyone you are FINALLY six.

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You’ve definitely changed a lot in the last year, sweet girl.  You’ve grown taller, more independent, and you started full time school.  You’re thriving this year, and it’s a joy to watch.  You are beginning to know who you are, and you’re liking what you find.  This year, you started taking dance class, and your teachers love you as much as everyone else who crosses paths with you.

Oh, and did I mention?  You’ve got some serious sass.  Sass for days.  And most of the time, it makes me giggle.

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Favorite color – pink and white

Favorite animal – ponies and unicorns

Favorite food – oatmeal with blueberries and eggs

Favorite movie – Moana, Frozen, and Little Mermaid

Favorite thing to do – play with my dolls

 What do you want to be when you grow up? – a doctor, and a princess

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This year you get to celebrate with your first REAL birthday party!  We ordered the pretty invitations, we reserved a fun place to play, and we searched for the perfect tutu skirt to pair with your birthday shirt.  You’ve had a countdown going for quite a while, and today is the day!  It’s time to celebrate YOU, Julianne.  You are so worth celebrating.

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Happy sixth birthday, Julianne!  We love you!

“Mommy, I have another blister.  Can I pop it all by myself?”

Her voice was so hopeful.  She knows what to do.  She’s watched us pop more blisters than I can keep track of during the two years we’ve had her home with us.

“I don’t know, J.  The needles are very sharp.  How about when you’re seven?”

I was hesitant.  She just turned six, so maybe I could buy myself almost 365 days before having to take this big step.  I confess that part of me just wasn’t ready to give this task over to her; I’ve only been her mama for two short years and I want more time to be the primary caretaker of all of her boo-boos.

“Mommy, I promise.  I can do it.  I promise.”

Giving over control of wound care is significant in her world.  It’s a step that says, “I trust you.”

And so, I did.

Ever so carefully, she pulled out the supplies she would need.  Sterile gauze, sterile needle, alcohol wipe.

She wiped the blister sites clean to disinfect them.

I had to help her a bit getting the cap off of the needle.

She took it from me with confidence and, while I watched, poked holes in those blisters and drained them.

And when she was finished?

“See Mommy!  I can do it!”

I’m so proud of my little butterfly and this big first.

She’s braver than most.

I did take a video of this for her own memories, but I’m not sharing that publicly.  I have uploaded a portion of the audio file… her little voice is too precious to not share.