A year in review

Every year I make a photo album for our family.  December is the best time for such things because of all the sales, and I like to have the book ready for sharing when we visit family at Christmas.  This year, I mostly forgot about it until the last minute, so I spent last weekend wading through well over 1000 photos, choosing layouts, and adjusting margins.  It's a lot of work.  It's also full of remembering and reflecting, which are generally things I like to do.

However, I didn't consider how the changes in our family would impact this project until I opened up the "Winter 2015" folder.

Photographs can make life look peachier than it really was at the time, I know this.  But they also reveal the beauty that was missed while we were too caught up in the details.

It was so painful going over these photos.  It is hard to see what looked like excellent bonding and healing in Allie, and then think about the summer and fall, when she was so angry and triggered.  It is hard to see a photo and remember that there had been an explosion right before or right after the camera clicked.

my four kids.

For example. On Mother's Day, we went to a little amusement park - the kind with a big slide, bumper cars, and mini golf.  It was supposed to be light-hearted and fun, and it was. . .at times.  It was also really, really difficult for all of us.  Mother's Day isn't exactly full of warm fuzzies when you're an orphan, and when sadness is too much for a child, they very often fall back on anger to get them through.  (See Jen Hatmaker's post Parenting Kiddos Who Sabotage Big Days.)

This day is a little window into our lives this past year.  Good start, everyone having fun.  Yes, we've got this!!  Then something happens to trigger fear/shame/sadness and the day erupts in rage.  We as parents hold on, try to be steady and keep everyone safe, emotionally and physically.  We try to move towards a deeply wounded child, and somehow succeed.  Another plank in the bridge between her heart and ours is built.  We all come back together, more or less intact.  Each time Allie challenged us with her behavior, saying "Well, can you love me if I do THIS??!!" we met her (only by the grace and power of Jesus) with a resounding yes.  You are safe and we are here, even in the ugly and the pain.  Each time we made it through a crisis (big and small) I would think, 'we are making it!  We are going to make it!'  But I got far too attached to what "making it" would look like, and when it would happen.  Expectations are such a killer!

I look back over this year, and I feel the same way I did when I wrote the posts explaining Allie's arrival:

"I'm writing this before Allie arrives because I want the story of our path up to this point to stand on its own.   Who knows what it will really be like for us?  Maybe we will be a poor fit and we will struggle constantly for the next two years.  Maybe our timing will be perfect and we will each change each other's lives in amazing ways.  Maybe some of both. 
The truth is that this journey has been Spirit-led every step of the way, and that remains true no matter what happens over the next few years and beyond. 
This story is about hearing a whisper and responding by continually laying it before God, even (and especially) when it appears sort of impossible."

Many of you have asked about Allie - if we've heard from her and how she is doing.  The answers are "yes," and "not great."  We had hoped she could visit around Christmas time, but her choices while at her group home have made that really unlikely.  However, she does stay in contact.  Cards, letters, texts, Facebook, phone calls - lots of communication going back and forth.  Even though we are very concerned about the choices she has been making, we are so grateful that she feels connected to us still.  Our story is still being written.


  1. You have made a difference, my dear friend. You may not see it now. You may never see the full healing we wish and pray for. But you have made a difference. Your precious Alli knows what love is, knows who Christ is, knows who she could become in Him. Love you!

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  3. And for some funky reason, every time I comment on your blog, it comments twice. Maybe it's just because you need to hear everything twice. Hard-headed, or something...

    1. It's true. Hard-headed and three times would probably be better. ;)


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