A birthday and a hope.

Dear Gabby,

DSC_0025-2Happy Birthday my big one year old! Wow, what a day! Did you realize that 38 people came to celebrate your life today? Did you also realize that all of your friends, “brothers” and “sisters” (the kids) outnumbered the mommy’s and daddy’s? Just so that you are aware, we are not doing this every year. You will not  have your own memory of this day, so I am going to do my best in giving you some of my favorite highlights.

 

I was holding you as the majority of people came through the door and as a mommy’s girl you were not quite ready to be passed to another person’s arms, but I know a trick. You love to walk, and although you can’t quite do it on your own yet, its a great way to warm up to someone (someone being everyone who isn’t mom) by holding their hard and showing off your developing agility and gusto. Your tiny feet pitter patter along the hardwood floor and your face lights up along with whoever is holding your hand at your joyous ability. It works every time.

All the kids were your favorite, and it was a favorite of everyones to see you enjoy them. A kiss from Charlotte and giving back one in return would produce three room full’s of “Aww!”

 

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You love sugar! You would have eaten that entire cake if I would have let you. Your baby hands were covered in vibrant pink icing and your face became all of a sudden a very rosy glow. Cameras were going off left and right, and we never got bored of watching your inquisitive and comical expressions as you discovered a new love for sweets. I jumped into your messiness and allowed you to give me a big kiss.We together enjoyed the same taste of the sugary deliciousness of cotton candy. (The icing was cotton candy flavored)

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You were much more involved with opening presents then you were at Christmas. You grabbed that paper at the top and ripped it all the way down to the bottom, the only problem was that you had several helpers who also liked to open presents. Knowing you were not quite as fast, they volunteered to “help” you. Your helpers were Selah, Nevaeh, Lorenzo and Regan. And you, being the kid lover that you are, had no problem with it whatsoever. In fact, having your friends help you open your gifts was the same as playing together and for you it couldn’t get any better. Just remember that when your older.

 

IMG_0386Wrapping paper, bags, clothes, ribbon, toys and people gathered all around. You had just started pulling the tissue paper out of the small gift bag resting in between your legs when Lorenzo, who was sitting next to you, reached out for a toy that was being touched by a toddler. He declared, “Don’t touch that toy, thats DSC_0054my sister’s!” (Lorenzo is my crazy 5 year old who I had the privilege to be a mom to for a year and a half. He is now back home with his real mom along with the rest of his brothers and sisters. This amazing moment shows the closeness of our forever foster family.)

The last memory I will leave you with is the result of eating too much cake. I’m sure your tastebuds were singing for joy at 3:00 but your tummy was pounding its fists on the floor at 5:00. Your grunts and groanings lasted until you fell asleep on your Mommy. I love cuddling with you, so you just slept as I continued to talk with friends. Poor Sadie who was sitting next to me, for by that time, you were only asleep because the mess was in the diaper. But today was a special day and that indulgence was worth it.  Which is why I gave away all your cupcakes for people to take home, it’s only worth it because it was special and out of the ordinary. We can’t do that every day.

The rain came as everyone was leaving. The rain came as wet drops on the grass and pavement outside, and the rain came as a dead and quiet fog inside a big house. It came as it seeped into the loneliness of a widow’s heart. This day was very special, which is why your Mommy cried listening to the patter of rain on the windows.  Your Daddy was not here to smile at me while you were zonked out on my chest. He wasn’t here to push you around on your pink flashy princess car from your Uncle Matt. He wasn’t here to pick you up and help you dunk your ball in the Easy Score Basketball Hoop he specifically picked out for you. He wasn’t here. A heartsick and despondent tune played strong in the wind.  It tangled my hair into knots. DSC_0147The celebration of your one year of life was over and he missed it. Then a blow of consciousness slashes at my heart as I realize He is going to miss everything. There will be many of your special days and there will be no Daddy. And all I can say after the celebration is, I’m so sorry sweetheart.

And as much as I would love to promise you that I will always be there to watch you blow out your candles, I can’t. Life is precious and uncertain and a gift. So, my dearest daughter, you will have to let God be your Daddy. My hope and prayer for you is that through the pain and loss of your Daddy, your relationship with God will become one of complete dependence and love like you have never known before. I also pray that you will trust and feel deep within you the immense love that God has for you. And don’t believe it because I said it, God said it to you. “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! . . . 1 John 3:1″ So when you are sad, let God be your comfort and let him love on you. He might take away your pain and He might not. Don’t be angry if He doesn’t take away the pain, for it’s through your pain God is able to be so close to you. He is getting me through, and he will get you through as well. 

 

 

 

 

Not just words

Gabriella (Gabby) has been an absolute blessing to us! She brings so much joy to our lives and everyone around her. I really can’t believe that God has allowed for me to take care of her and have the opportunity to be her mother. So many people have offered to watch her while I go down to the hospital but honestly I love bringing her with me. Chris and I are able to laugh and smile at her and she is so good that it is not a burden. It was like God knew exactly what I needed to bring me joy at a time like this.

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I probably would be a wreck if I did not have some purpose and joy in taking care of my little angel. However, she still does not take the place of “my other kids”. To be honest, I thought she would. When our four kids went back to live with mom I thanked God for giving me Gabby so I would not have to experience that void in my heart of no longer being a mom. I remember thinking, “this will be a nice change, I’ll be able to spend more time enjoying and taking care of just Gabby.” I was sad that they would not be living with us anymore and I would miss them terribly but I would still see them. It was more often when they first went home and now it is less often.  The other day I was so emotionally upset because plans were made for them to come and visit Chris up at the hospital but I never got to see them. The younger kids came before I got there and the older kids never showed up in the evening. I was missing them so much and I was very surprised at my sudden longing to see them.

Chris  was doing better and had more energy to stay awake and talk but I was in quite an emotional mood. I realized that my heart and love for those kids can never be replaced. I have a new love for my own daughter but by no means did it replace my love for Xavier, Aiyana, Lorenzo and Nevaeh. I thought about how it must feel for kids who are told that they get to see their mom or someone they love and then it doesn’t happen. In foster care the kids had visits once a week for two hours with their mom. We would meet at Bethany Christian Services and most of the time Mom would come. There was a month long period though that we would show up and the front office would tell us that Mom cancelled. The kids didn’t show it right away but during the following week their behavior showed their disapproval of the situation. It would be hard to have that promise that expectation of seeing your kids, your mom and then they don’t come. I was put in their shoes that day.

And then I realized that Gabby is never going to replace the love that I have for Chris either. There may come a day when I have to say goodbye to my husband and no one will ever replace him or the love that I have for him. Having to say good-bye or think about saying good-bye helps you to realize who is most important in your life. Am I still thankful and full of joy even if I don’t get to see my four foster kids as much as I like? or if I have to say good-bye to Chris? or if something were to happen to Gabby? Is God enough? If everything is taken away from me, would I still bless His name?

We sing about it all the time and pledge as a believer that “God is number one in my life!” Do we really mean it? How do we even know if it is true? I remember when I was young saying that God was most important in my life but looking back I had no clue what I was saying. How can I say that God is “number 1” or “most important” until it is tested? Now, I have been tested and without a doubt I know the truth of my heart because I am able to still be faithful to God despite the loss and struggle and hardship and it brings me peace.

It a peace knowing you are taken care of and loved by Almighty God. It also a peace knowing that your love for him is strong enough to be satisfied in Him and Him alone.  Even if everything else you love is taken away, is God enough? Is He more then enough? I’m still in the process of honestly answering those questions myself, but at least now its real and not just words.