ADDITION: Please pray for the Fenske family, whose blog is shown at the right. Their daughter "M" is hospitalized...again....with shunt issues. This family has been through the ringer this year and still comes out swinging ;-) Pray for M's recovery and for the Fenske's to have a Christmas filled with joy despite the less than ideal circumstances. Yet another family embracing those children who others have forgotten...the true meaning of Christmas...Love.
It is almost 10:00 am on Christmas Eve, and the kids are fast asleep. Their treat is to sleep in as late as they can today with no one waking them up, after having a couple of late "party" nights on their school break. Josh is off on one of his first ever real "big boy" adventures, as his best friend's family took him skiing for the first time for his birthday, which is the day after Christmas. Dominick is at work, plugging away serving holiday travelers along with our amazing long time crew who work with him.
And Mom? I am sitting here writing all of you, writing my children who will one day read this blog (I hope!) and learn more about who their Mom really is.
I am at peace for the first time in 12 years. We are experiencing our first Christmas without feeling as if someone was not present, that someone is family-less. This year has been one of incredible highs and lows, ones you have faithfully followed. Adoption journeys have ended, regardless of what others keep hinting at, our family is complete. I wonder if those who give birth have this profound and deep sense of relief as they have their last child?
For those who adopt, I think you continue to hold your breath for months after children come home. The adjustments are huge, the personalities are unknown, the inner strengths are being discovered. It is as if now, a year later, we can let our guard down, handle what comes up with relative ease, and know truly that we have been successful in pulling together extraordinarily different personalities and creating a whole unit out of them, thanks to God's continuing presence.
Yesterday was one of those days where I just felt SO whole. Starting the day with hugs from each of the kids, we spent the day hanging out, getting Matt's new shoes (much cheaper this time!) and his orthotics were fitted. We giggled a lot, we played a lot, and I looked into the faces of each of our children with such wonder. It just hit me that this shouldn't work, this family of ours. We should never be this blessed, this happy together. I am thankful that the hard times always seem to remain in the background of our memory, and the good times are the ones that rise to the top. It's easy now to sit back and say "Easy peasy, look what we made!" without acknowledging the very, very painful stretches for each of us.
Twelve years of family building comes at a cost, it tears down...but it restores. It splays open...but it tenderly seals holes. It breaks down walls, but it rebuilds with gates. I am a wholly different woman than I was when we began, remnants remain but they are small. I am wiser, more easily contented, and far more loving than I ever imagined I could be for I was hard and cold before. God reached me through the immediate acceptance of Matthew, the wonder of healing of Joshua. God touched me through the humor of Kenny, the nurturing of Olesya and the strength of Angela. Each of our children has taught me so much.
I rarely talk about the beauty of our children, for that is the least important thing for me...the beauty in each of them resides internally for me. But as I leaned over the side of the bed last night and gazed down upon a sleeping Joshie, there not out of fear but so he didn't wake his brothers with his early morning trip, I found my heart skipping a beat as I thought to myself "He is the most beautiful child ever to have lived!"...and at times throughout the day yesterday I felt the same thing for each of the kids. Now, I know they are absolutely NOT the most beautiful children ever...I am realistic about that...but they are to us. Each of them is the most handsome, amazing, brilliant, beautiful, wonderful child ever to have walked the Earth!! Even Mr. Kenny whose self-initiated lip revision surgery worries me because I love that smile of his, is such a bright, shining star! I never, ever have wondered what children "of our own" would look like, for these ARE our own children...perfect in every way.
And isn't that what every child deserves? A parent whose heart skips a beat when they smile? A parent who believes in all they have to offer the world and helps them discover those gifts? A parent who would die for them if need be? Whose love is passionate, gentle and strong all at the same time?
Jesus had that. Mary and Joseph believed in him. I have to imagine Mary looking down at him with great Mama pride beating in her chest, not just when an infant but as he grew, thinking in awe "How did THAT come from ME???". Joseph claimed him as his son, despite information to the contrary, and without question he raised him as a cherished child.
We all have that, in God. A spiritual parent who loves us beyond measure, who gazes down upon us with delight and astonishment. What some have lacked in the physical presence of "perfect" parents (tongue in cheek on that one) they can find if they look to God.
I know that the peace our family has this Christmas will not always be. I am realistic enough to know that hard times are just around the corner, and perhaps that makes this feel that much sweeter right now. What those will be is anyone's guess, but we are due, they will come, and we will somehow muddle through the best we can.
But for the next couple of days, we will not worry about that, we will not fret about what is to come. We will celebrate love...for that is what Jesus really brought us all...Love.
May your Christmas be filled with warmth and peace. May you have love this day, tomorrow, and always.
And may you know how your support and encouragement throughout the years has made a difference in the life of our family.
Our journey continues down new paths, as we grow together in love using homeschooling as one of the tools.