Monday, November 26, 2012

How My "Thankfulness" Is Different

I have been looking back at old posts I've written this past year and realizing just how much I've changed and am changing.  Still.

This was Christmas last year. 2011.
It's been a process, for sure.  This whole time we've discussed how we were going to be life-changing for Blake.  How we were going to help him.  Give him a future.  Improve his quality of life.  Help him.  Teach him.  Guide him.  Lead him. 

And yet...surprisingly so, he has been life-changing for us.  An unexpected blessing outside of him being a part of our family.  That is something we didn't learn in any adoption prep course.  Read in any books.  Or see in an online support group.

It has been gradual.  Almost unknowingly.  Creeping over us.

And I think I've finally been able to sum it up in one thought...gratitude.

That's what has been life-changing for me.  This overflowing joy that only comes through thankfulness. And this isn't what one experiences by posting 30 days of thankfulness on their facebook page for the month of November.  No.  It occurs from the inside out.  It isn't something you can say and it happens.  It isn't something you can do and feel better.  It is sustaining.  It is wholesome.  It is filling.  It is contentment.  It is pure.  It is slow-paced.  It is savoring. 

People ask me how this past year has been.  What adoption is like.  How we are doing.  How Blake is doing.   What we are doing.  And I'm always mixed with emotions in ways to answer. 

He HATED swinging at first.  Now it's the first place he goes at the park.
I will first has not been easy.  It hasn't always been fun.  Most times I have been without answers as to what to do.  It has been a process.  One that requires lots of patience.  Lots of open-mindedness.  Lots of willingness to change.  To throw all 'rules' out the door and just do it.  Lots of getting over my pride.  Lots of slowing down.  Sacrifice.

But with all of this:  lots of growth.
In many ways.

Physically, Blake has gained nearly 8 lbs.  Mainly muscle.  My squishy little boy is no longer.  He has grown out of 9 months clothes and currently wears 2-3T tops and 24-month pants.  His little feet are stretching out.  He can sit up alone.  Walk all over, up and down stairs, on various terrain.  He tries really hard to attempt's a little stiff-legged, but he manages to get going.  He climbs on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g!  This boy can pull himself up on top of any object.  He has overcome many fears related to heights and swinging motions.  He can sign "more" "eat" "drink" "juice" "please" "no"-(-complete with the head shake and arm cross across his chest)  He motions up and down.  Grabs my hand to lead me places.  Says "Mama." Grunts to get my attention.  He cries at most pain now.  Shows and understands his emotions and those of other people's.  He is starting to figure out this 'naughty' look I give him.  And he moves on.  He can eat off a plate with a spoon or fork, using his left hand.  He can complete puzzles.  Stack blocks.  Drink out of a straw.  Seek us out in a crowd.  Has more motor control of his mouth and keeps his jaw closed and his tongue in more often.  He chews his food much better.  He sleeps all night. 

He has put on some 'weight' you could say!
Physically, for me.  I'm on my feet approximately 15 hours a day.  Climbing on slides, playgrounds, stairs, and in and out of vehicles.  Balancing on items to reach the play dough jar that has rolled to the back of the cabinet, just out of my reach.  I can impersonate nearly all of the Sesame Street character voices.  Sing the Dora and Curious George theme songs.  Translate nearly all 'grunt' sounds into words and other toddler babble.  Get 2 kids out of the van with one hand, while carrying the other one on my hip. 

Using his spoon to scoop up his oatmeal!
All the other ways we've grown incorporate mental, emotional, and spiritual growth into one.  I can honestly say I've moved past this thought process of feeling like we are long-term babysitting.  For real, some days I'd look at Blake and not really feel like he was 'ours' yet.  The emotions/bonding just wasn't there toward him like it naturally is when you give birth to a child.  So for me, realizing the guilt I felt when thinking this way, is 'normal', helped me to release some of this emotion and let time take its toll on my mind.  As he slowly crept his way into my heart.  I honestly believe it has taken this much time for the rest of the family to grow to love him as a brother/son as well.  This is where the spiritual growth has taken off in leaps and bounds...release.  release. release.  Trust. trust. trust.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  Faith.  Faith.  Faith.  Grace.  Grace.  Grace. Over and over.  My prayers have transformed from pleading with God for help, for peace, for comfort, for His grace, and for sleep...every night.  To thankfulness for His timing, for His constant presence, for His peace, for His hand in bringing Blake into our lives.  Gratitude for bringing us through this past year in once piece.  As a family.  For the learning.  For the growth.  For the trials.  For the contentment I now have in everything.  Again, peace that surpasses all understanding. Or in today's language, "chill." 

And finally, also for the new outlook on life.  On people.  On purpose.  It is so much deeper.  So much more real.  So much more fulfilling.  So much more peaceful.

And for God using our little man to change us in such a BIG way, so far.

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