the body of Christ

In April, I was asked to share our family’s story with a group of folks who have financially and prayerfully supported our schools by giving to the Educational Support Services fund.

While I have often written about our journey at Apple Pie, Anyone?, I had never given a speech before. It was no small joy and even honor to stand before so many who have walked with us for so long. I considered it an opportunity to say ‘Thank you.’

But, as I was writing everything down, another Truth came through loud and clear:

The body of Christ is incomplete without my special-needs child.
The body of Christ is incomplete without my imperfect self.
The body of Christ is incomplete without You.

Hear me, Friends. Whatever your cross, however tall the weeds you are pushing through right now…

The body of Christ is incomplete without you. He does not make mistakes and He is not sorry. He is sovereign and holy and just. Grace and peace to you today.

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My child is a screamer.

My child is a screamer.

Please don’t judge me.

HI! Have we met? My name is Elissa, and I’m the Mama to 4 beautiful children. Three have been with me from the beginning, and my youngest was adopted at age 7 from Russia.

It’s not clear exactly what happened to our youngest son before he joined our family, but a special recipe of neglect, trauma and abuse has left our nine year old functioning at the developmental level of a four year old, both cognitively and socially. He doesn’t do crowds, he doesn’t do stores, and he doesn’t like it when life deviates from his picture schedule.

As his adoptive mother I’m new to this whole world of special needs parenting. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to figure out that my new son’s temper tantrums were fear based, not orneriness. I’m still sort of trying to figure out what will send my son into panic mode. It’d be so much nicer if my son would come to me 10 minutes before he had a meltdown to tell me “Mother, I’m simply over stimulated by the options at the grocery store today. If you would like to avoid having me throw bananas at you, you’d be wise to take me home soon.”

Yeah, that doesn’t happen.

I’m the one with a screaming kid in the checkout line. Fortunately my little guy is the size of a six year old so I get a slight measure of grace from curious onlookers. But mostly I can feel their stink eyes burning into the back of my head. Their judgmental thoughts echoing in my psyche,

That boy is too big to be riding around in a buggy. Not to mention throwing a tantrum.

Can’t she keep that kid quiet?

Just give him your phone and shut him up already. (So he can throw it across the store? I think not.)

I hear these sentiments because I have thought them myself. I have callously assumed the screaming kid on the next row was just being ornery to get a treat. I have also assumed that his Mama was too lazy and self centered to make him get his act together.

Oh sweet Jesus did I really think these things about other women? How could I have been so judgmental? Thank you Jesus for bringing my new baby to me to help me be a better Mama. A less judgmental Mama. A Mama ready to link arms with those other harried Mamas in the checkout line and do our best with what we’re given. 

ElissaElissa Peterson is a slightly off kilter Mama to 4 who likes to pretend she has her act together. She writes about the joys of dancing through life with a very special 9 year old glued to her hip on her blog: Don’t Let Life Pass You By.

 

blessed by Bella

I spotted.

Just now.

This means I’ve been on progesterone 3 months and I am not pregnant.

Am I sad? Indeed.

But, waiting for a baby hasn’t been..

*PAUSE*

It just hasn’t been as painful as I thought it would be.

I’ve been trying to unpack my feelings on this.

Asking myself if I’ve just stuffed my feelings.

What I’ve realized is….

Bella has taught me one thing and one thing real good:

This too shall pass.

I am not a patient person (though I work on it).

And I am not good at not getting what I want (ask my parents!).

I’m a bit baffled as to why I’m not a hotter mess waiting for another child. To some extent I know for a fact it’s because of all those praying me through this. There are moments where I literally feel the prayers said on my behalf holding my head above water when it would have be so easy to slip and let myself drown.

But.

But what I really realize. Is that the gift I have, this special gift of unexplainable peace and patience.  This gift is because of Bella.

With her FPIES and EOE we face years of being patient. She may outgrow FPIES by age 3 or 4 (or she may not).  Her soy reaction was at 9 months. So right out of the shoot, we had 2-3 years ahead of us of not knowing….and waiting.

And…this period of waiting has taught me, how to wait.

Like I said, waiting for a baby month after month, would have drowned me in sorrow and anxiousness; prior to Bella.

I have moments and days where I cry (usually Day 1 of my cycle!).  But generally speaking, I am doing ok.

Thing is. I’ve learned how to tread water. Before Bella, the boat would have gotten rocky and I would have fallen apart and drowned simply in the vast amount of my own tears shed.

But now, it seems the boat can rock, toss me out and I can be in deep, deep waters….and yet… I can tread.

Now hear me out. I much prefer to be in the boat, with a cool beverage and sun beaming on my face – much prefer. But and since, rough waters is what I’m facing, I can tread.

I will tread.

And please, do know, I am in rough waters.

It’s not easy waiting. And with every arm I push out to keep myself afloat I am weary. With every breath I take to bob along the water or with every push of inertia to excel over a wave coming my way, I find myself tired and worn.

And let me tell you, I have NEVER in my life been so interested in my own nipples. Or my body, in general, for that matter.  If you’ve tried for a baby you know what this odd fixation is; this thing where you wonder many’a moments if you are pregnant so you read every potential sign your body may be giving you.

Did I just pee more often than usual?

Was that a mood swing (or do I need to sign up for anger management?!)

Am I tired, tired – or have I just been on my feet since 7AM?

You get it. And I’m stuck in it. Just because I’m doing ok waiting doesn’t meant I’m not waiting; looking for signs that this season will pass.

But. In the midst of the weariness I feel strength.

(LEMME tell you, waiting is work!)

But this? This work. It makes me stronger.

Like a good work out, this waiting is.

And it is a beautiful thing when you realize you can face your deepest fear….

And live.

In the depth of longing, there is strength and living.

I am not alone. (Jesus hold me up in this water if I get too weak!)

And I am getting stronger.

All this beauty in waiting.

All this because of Bella.

 

This too shall pass.

 

God’s gift to me; in her.

 

• Kaylee (and husband, Dan) have one daughter, Miss Bella, who lives in a world of FPIES,EoEDelay in Gastric Emptying.  Kaylee works full-time at Start Garden and fine-tunes plans to take over the world while driving to doctors’ appointments.