Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gotcha Day!

my first time holding ellie! August 9, 2009

Three years! Can it really already have been three years that we welcomed Ellie into our family? My oh my, how time flies when you're having fun! Truth be told, there are days when it is hard to believe she wasn't born into our family. She fits so perfectly with that spunky attitude and quick wit. But then there are days when it feels more like three weeks home instead, when her past trauma rears its ugly head and she is unsure of herself or her place here, not quite trusting that this is for real. Adoption is not easy, in case any of you are wondering.

On those ugly days, I try not to overreact, but honestly that's not easy. She's my daughter, for goodness sake, and when she hurts, I hurt. We ALL hurt when she does. I want to take it all away, take away her memories of "bad stuff in my ethiopia", and I want to replace it all with giggles and rainbows. Seriously, what mom doesn't want that? Yet, in my heart I know this isn't what is best for her. I know that her story makes her who she is. Her spunkiness that we love so much (and is so darn cute!) comes from her hurts. That girl had to fight for survival, and it's made her into a magnificent person. Really, if you don't know her well, you are missing out on something special!
One of my life's greatest joys has been to watch God work out His redemption in her sweet life, to watch Isaiah 61 come to life right before my eyes. He is binding up her broken heart, setting her free of past hurts that have held her captive, comforting her in her mourning the loss of all she knew for the beginning of her life, and is bestowing upon her an amazing crown of beauty. She has joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. She truly is a living display of God's splendor. She's the apple of His eye, and it is my utmost pleasure to get the front row seat as her momma.   

In three years,Ellie has learned to trust. She has learned to love freely and to be loved freely. She has learned to play with total abandon (she had NO IDEA how to play when she came home). She has learned to laugh hysterically. She has learned to cry when she needs to because she knows someone will come help her. She has learned to overcome fears. She has learned what family means. She has learned of a Savior who adores her and has a perfect plan for her life. She has learned to love the Cardinals (gotta raise her right!!). She has learned just how awesome it is to have a big brother. She has learned the meaning of "daddy's girl" and to recognize all things ESPN. She has learned what a "girl's night out" is and how good a new pair of pjs feel.

Ellie has learned to live. And because of her, so have I.

I've learned to let go of my selfishness. I've learned to overcome materialism and replace that with relationships. I've learned the difference between want and need. I've learned what it means to grieve and what it means to celebrate. I've learned that the American Dream is not for me, but that I'd rather spend myself (and my money) giving to others than to store it up for later. I've learned that I'm not too old, too fat, too tired, too scared, too whatever to do what God has called me to do. And I've learned that I love the thrill of the journey even more than the result.

Today, I celebrate my daughter. I'm in awe of her resilience, her grace and her innocence. She has overcome more in her 5 years than any one person should ever have to endure. And yet, she smiles and she believes wholeheartedly that there is good in this world. And you know what? She's right; there is.

Ellie, I love you so much. Happy Gotcha Day to you, my sweet Ellie Bean!

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