4, semi disbelief/joy

Today is bittersweet. Not in the way you’d think either. Sure I’m balancing between semi disbelief and full joy that my daughter has been with us for 4 years! That said, isn’t life in general a balance between those two things? I know many this week going through what should’ve been full joy, yet circumstances beyond their control have caused disbelief, so many unanswered questions and everything but full joy. Lives of my very own friends, my daughter’s friend, not to mention all the lives we all hear about on the news, turned upside down in an instant.

Today I celebrate my daughter turning 4 while how many are saying goodbye to theirs? This breaks my heart. I can’t wrap my head around it.

This morning my daughter is at preschool celebrating Valentine’s day. Thanks to where she goes she is being taught about what true love and sacrifice looks like everyday. That said, while she’s celebrating love this morning, how many are hurting so deeply while sacrificing so much time, money, and tears over trying to conceive, adoption, trying to comes to terms with being a smaller family than they had planned or loving a life they didn’t envision?

Sometimes life is hard y’all.
Sometimes life leaves you in semi disbelief.

Sometimes screaming, yelling, and demanding things change/improve so noone else has to go through the same experience in the same way because it feels like the only answer and sometimes it is an answer.

Sometimes trusting and believing one day it’ll all make sense and in this life there’s a greater story in which we only know part of and have to trust the One who knows fully, is all we can do.

I believe every year I become more grateful for my daughter, my family, and life itself. Life is a gift, not to be taken advantage of but instead taken moment by moment and enjoyed to its fullest because it’s way way too short and sometimes so hard you can’t take it any faster.

Today I just want to acknowledge all those going through something so hard it feels as though your breath has been knocked right out of you. You are loved. Your faith, your will to fight, your whatever it is that gets you through to the next moment, stay strong friend. You will get there, wherever it is, you will get there, even if you’re crawling you will stand up again and you’ll look around and you’ll be surrounded by SO MUCH GOOD because so many love you, including me.

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Letting go so she can be who I want her to be 

M is not the same when I’m around. If you’ve ever spent time with children you probably know they act different when familiar faces are around. Marijka is no exception. She’s attending her first summer camp this week. It’s yoga themed and only two days in I can tell she is enjoying it. Is that because she is excited to run off when we get there or because at pick up time she runs to me and quickly shares all the fun things she’s experienced while I was gone? Absolutely not, in fact it’s the opposite. I can barely squeeze one or two things out of her about her day but you know how I know she is enjoying it? Pictures the staff send me along with my quiet observations while keeping myself out of her sight.  These things speak more than words about her day ever will. What I witness while quietly observing her or looking through pictures that were taken of her morning, is a girl I rarely get to witness when I’m present. 

My shy and hesitant girl at drop off who is refusing to acknowledge anyone or respond when being interacted with instantly opens up and becomes a confident leader when I am out of view. 

It takes me letting her go for her to become everything I want her to be. That’s hard to write and even harder to do. The result however is worth it…

Confidence, occasional hesitation while accompanied with a serious steady look on her face as she assesses a new situation and what her next move will be. Concentration, trust and decifering good/bad judgment of others and situations because of social interactions without mom or dad to run back to and ask for their assessment. Letting others help her and understanding she can seek help from others. 

I’m sure there’s some phsycological explanation for all this but I like to believe it has to do with her own sense of trust/confidence that is being built in herself. When we are around she has us to lean back on (similar to a crutch) and she takes it because it’s always easier to lean on what you know verses try new things or enter an uncomfortable situation. However, when she’s given the chance to prove she can do this on her own she rises to the challenge and I couldn’t be more proud. When given the opportunity, children can prove to themselves and others they can do just about anything. They just need the space and opportunity to feel like they can try first. Also lots of encouragement and advice about how to keep trying if they don’t succeed the first try. 

That last sentence reminds me to be clear about something. It’s obviously important that we are present for our children when they need us and they do need us a lot. I do witness this other side of Marijka from time to time I am just also well aware that in order for her to become everything she and I both want her to be I have to let her go and have experiences on her own, away from me as well. Everyone acts different depending on the circumstances around them. I want her to know I’ll always be here for her but it’s OK and encouraged to go out and be someone who makes a difference and can be their own person in this world and I’ll be in the background as her biggest cheerleader. 

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I’m not good with titles 

We all have that one person. It could be a friend, spouse, niece, nephew, close or extended family member… Someone who words just can’t adequately express how we feel about them. This could be positive or negative expression but the example I’m going to give in this post, it’s positive. It’s my daughter. She’s changed me. 

I know every parent at some point says their entire life has changed after having kids. For me it’s more than just my day to day or how I choose to spend my time that’s changed. Sure those things may have changed some but what I have noticed is my relationships have changed. My heart has changed. I’ve noticed people more. I’ve noticed brokenness more. I’ve always had empathy but since having my daughter I’ve found myself feeling and hurting and loving so much deeper than ever before and not just my daughter but people. People I didn’t used to appreciate or recognize as much as I do now. I’m still learning what to do with these emotions so I’m not saying this to sound proud or like I have things figured out. To say I don’t have it figured out is an understatement. 

God uses different people or experiences to show us things He wants us to know. He has definitely used my daughter to show me His never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love for me and others. My heart aches for those who are hurting and the unjust situations in our world many others and even at times my own family (albeit on a first world type basis) experiences.  I believe God’s heart aches at these things too. 

I called my mom on her birthday. I texted her in the morning but later that day I dialed her number into my phone and called her. I told her I know I texted you earlier but I’m guessing you wanted to hear my voice. When I think about Marijka getting older I can’t imagine living as far away from her as I see my parents having to do from their children and grandchildren because myself and my siblings are spread across the country practically in every corner. I’ve spoken with my parents and in their heart, as well as I can imagine in most parent’s hearts, they wish it were possible to be everywhere with everyone but unfortunately it’s not so they do the very best they can trusting God with the rest of their children’s lives they can’t be a part of. 

Life happens and I know there will come a day when my husband and I will watch M drive away and have to trust we’ve done our very best possible with the time we had and trust God with the rest of her life. Right now though, I can’t imagine it so I call my mom and let her hear my voice and try so very hard to put myself in hers as well as others shoes. It’s uncomfortable and painful but I feel the need to in order to be the person I want to be. 

Think again about that one person. Someone who words just can’t adequately express how we feel about them. If it’s negative emotion I’m curious what the relationship would look like if we took a moment to step into their shoes? 

If it’s a positive emotion or deep love that person stirs in us, I’m curious what the world would look like if we spread that love among friends, family, even strangers. What if we couldn’t go on with our own day to day tasks without making sure others around us were able to accomplish theirs along side us? What if we loved everyone the way we love that one person? Too hard? That one person is most likely someone you’re really close to. It may even be yourself. If it’s someone else, you’ve probably had a relationship for awhile and trust has been solidified right? Definitely. You wouldn’t, you couldn’t just love a stranger right? 

Well on our own you’re right we couldn’t and we wouldn’t. We may try but we are human and our love is conditional whether we like to admit it or not. I love my daughter and if asked I would say it’s unconditional love. Loving certain people is easy no matter what they do. You may get frustrated or your attitude briefly changes toward them but your love doesn’t change right? What about others though, strangers, or those you’re not so close to? There’s a condition. Humans are incapable of loving unconditionally on their own. We don’t like to hear we’re incapable of things either but it’s true. This, this is why I love Jesus. He makes the impossible, possible. Only through relationship with Him can I truly put myself in other’s shoes, love them unconditionally, and truly make a difference in relationships. He is my example and He can be yours too. 

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our life’s for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, (I think we are addressed this way because we are all God’s children) let’s not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:16-18

It’s time to ACT. It’s time to stop talking about change and it’s time to stop waiting for someone else to make a difference. Start praying now. The power of prayer can be described in a whole other post but in a nutshell it’s where you begin not end. Start with prayer, start with silence and listen for direction. It will come and with that go, RUN, and make a difference in the life of someone you may have never imagined coming in contact with. It can happen. It will happen and someone’s life in addition to yours will be better because of it.  Let’s make the world a better place one person/situation at a time. 

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