Thursday, August 23, 2012

No tears here...

In just 12 short days, my daughter will begin Kindergarten and my son his senior year of high school. I'm trying really hard to wrap my head around those two facts. Seriously y'all, how can I be old enough to have a senior in high school already, yet young enough to have a kindergartner? Yet another proof that God has a wonderful sense of humor. (On a side note, I sat through Ellie's kindergarten orientation the other night looking at all the incredibly young moms around me and thought to myself "What in the blazes am I doing here? I could be their mother!". But I digress...)

I've had more than one person recently tell me things such as "You're gonna be a mess on that day!" or "Just wait to see how your heart drops when your son is preparing to graduate" or my personal favorite, "Their first day of school will be your worst day of the year. Get ready". Seriously people, is this supposed to comfort me?? But it has got me to thinkin', and I think I may be the weirdest mom out there because y'all, I AM NOT SAD ABOUT THIS.

Before I get hate mail from people telling me how horrible it is that I have just said I am not sad about these milestones, let me explain. (If you still want to send me hate mail, go on. You won't be the first, I can assure you.) I love the milestones of life my children have faced and will still face in the future. And I'm not a callous person; I cry all the time these days (now THAT is a change from the days of old!). I shed a few tears when Ellie went to pre-K last year, and I shed even more when Bryan walked out of the courthouse with his driver's permit earlier this year, I mean, come on, I'm no freak. My kids are growing up, and there's a twinge of sadness about that. Each step through a milestone is one step closer to the door to the world outside of our home.

But isn't that what our purpose is? To raise our kids in a Godly manner so that they can flourish and spread His light to others once they leave our home? Isn't that why I've spent more time than I can count on my knees before my Father asking Him to pour His spirit into their hearts? Isn't that why I pray Ephesians 3:14-20 over them every day? (go read it now, y'all. I didn't type that for nothing!)

Here's my take on school. This is nothing to be sad about to me.

First day of preschool 2009
For Ellie, if there are tears on my face, it is not because I'm sad. Quite the contrary! That child was, just three years ago, sitting in an orphanage in Woliso Ethiopia with no hope of ever being taught anything other than survival skills. Her birth mother cannot read or write, and her biggest dream for Ellie is that she will learn. So, when I see my big girl walking with that massive backpack, carrying that sweet pink lunchbox, my heart soars. She is a walking miracle, learning more than she or her birth mother ever dared to dream. How can I be sad for that? And when she goes into that room and shares herself with others, I believe that God smiles on that. She is learning not only academically, but to be a friend, to share God's love, to serve others, to be humble, to let others go first, to speak up for herself, to imagine. Nope, I'm not one bit sad about that.

Bryan's first day of high school-2009

My son is a bit different. He is a senior this year. I'm not sad about that either. In fact, my heart sings over this. I've written about him before and the struggles he has had in school and personally. (See my blog from December 31, 2011 for more on this) Last year, we took him out of the public school and did our first year of home school. To say that he did well is a ridiculous understatement. He ROCKED that year! And not only did it show in his grades, but he smiles again. He is confident again. He is growing spiritually again. He is still here with us. Enough said. So, no way am I sad that he is progressing. This is natural, and he is becoming the man I've prayed his whole life that he would become. Don't think that I'm putting him on a pedastal because I'm not; he's a 16 year old boy. He messes up sometimes, no doubt. But he also does the right thing more and more, and I'm learning that I can trust him with more and more. To see him sorting through the decisions that he will have to make in the next year is exciting. I'm trying my best to keep my mouth shut encouraging him to seek God's will and to just pray without ceasing for him. Not always easy for a big mouth like me:)

So, 12 days from now, I doubt you will see many tears from this girl. But if you do... they'll be tears of joy and not sorrow. They'll be proof of my love for the two God has entrusted to Jeff and I to parent. Thanks be to God.

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!