Saturday, August 23, 2014

Your 2nd Birthday

To my sweet Caroline,
Girlfriend! You are 7!! You call this your 2nd birthday. We did this one up right, sister.

This year has so much more joy, for you and our whole family. Last year, no one involved had a clue what we were doing. You didn't know what a birthday was, we didn't know you or what you liked, and we were all going though the motions and just doing the next thing in front of us. But THIS year, packages have been coming for you for a couple of weeks. I know what you like and have had so much fun picking out all the things and making it just perfect for you. You have an opinion now about your party and a frame of reference for what we are even talking about. It's not your first rodeo anymore.

You have had some major breakthroughs lately. Ever since you came home, you've been unable to relax or feel confident in your own opinion.  If you didn't have a direct goal, you would stand in the middle of a room and ask what you should do next. You didn't know how to go find something to play with or trust your judgement on what you could do. You got a rainbow loom recently and you love it. Now, when you have time to kill, you pick that up and get to work even if no one does it with you. That is HUGE. You have never done an activity, on your own, without someone telling you to. Now, you are relaxed enough to make a decision and trust that it's fine. I still smile every time I see you get that out. You are gaining confidence.
You have many wonderful things ahead of you. This past year has been one of so much healing and growth for you and our entire family that it's astounding. But I think this is just the beginning of what is in store for you. God is using your story and past,that's true, but that is not your identity and was never intended to be. You are slowly becoming separated from that and starting to see yourself as Caroline Goolsby, who likes to help in the kitchen and wear outrageously fancy dresses.

One quality I admire about you is that you will try and try without fear of failure. You will work hard at something and it doesn't bother you at all to mess it up 20 times because you believe that you will get it eventually. You do whatever you have to do to be successful. That skill will take you so far in life.  I love your determination!

Also, you now feel comfortable doing something different than Harris. You were both enrolled in a summer camp. He was over it by day two; you loved it. I told you both you could do whatever you wanted and it was fine. Harris chose to stay home but you wanted to go ALL BY YOURSELF. Girlfriend! That is unprecedented behavior! We started calling you Miss Congeniality because at school you were getting invited to birthday parties for kids from other classes that I'd never met. When we went to camp (which was pretty big) everyone in the halls greeted you by name. I was intentional about not telling people there your story. I think you appreciate just being known for being Caroline. So no one had special sympathies towards you. You just captured their hearts and their attention because YOU have a big heart and an interest in everyone that you meet.  And it is so genuine. I love your sweet heart. Your life will be rich because you invest yourself in other people so wholeheartedly.

You recently bought some gum (your favorite) with your own money and I think you were more excited to share it with me and our babysitter than you were to actually have any yourself. God gave you an inherently generous spirit and it is such a blessing in our home. You are the first to say, "I can share" or "Let me help." I really don't know how you maintain your niceness in the face of two toddlers that do not really reciprocate that selflessness. I'm in the same boat and quite honestly, it gets a little old. But it doesn't seem to wear on you. At dinner the other night, out of nowhere, you told Daddy and me that you would make sure to take care of us when we got old. You elaborated that you would fix food we like and take us to Dr appts. What 6 yr old thinks of that?!?!? But you do because you have such a caring nature.

Here you are patiently putting on Hayes' cape for 500th time. 
Caroline, we had an amazing vacation together. At the beach, you wanted to read your favorite adoption book ('I Wished for You' thank you Fesslers!) and you, Harris, and I were cuddled up together talking about how I wished for you before you came home. Harris said, "You weren't the only one wishing for Caroline!! I wished for her too!" I hope that stays in your heart always, that you were wanted and prayed for by our whole family. We didn't know you or your name but we knew there was another Goolsby that wasn't home yet. There is a scripture that says 'God sets the lonely in families' and it has completely played out in our home. God gave us a longing for you long before we ever knew you.

There was a void in our family that I didn't know existed until you came home to fill it.  You have resilience, kindness, generosity, and an enthusiasm for life that is very special. I've never met anyone like you.
I have done NOTHING to deserve to get to be your mommy. You are another evidence of God's grace in my life. I am sometimes overwhelmed when I look at you and just see all God has done. You were a blessing given to us and we are so thankful to call you a Goolsby. You are the feminine glue that binds those crazy boys together and we wouldn't be the same without you. You hold a very special, important role in our family that no one else could fill.

We set up a little landing zone for all the school gear and put a verse for each child by their spot. Yours is
"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12.
 My prayer is that you will KNOW you are a child of God and understand all that comes with that.

"The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." Zeph 3:17

Caroline, the creator of the universe is so captivated by YOU. He is hanging on your every move and just waiting to see the next rainbow loom creation and praise you as much as you desire. His perfect love rejoices instead of rebukes. I pray that we will be parents to show you glimpses of his perfect love even though we do it very imperfectly. The way we parent you is just a shadow of the way Jesus wants to shower his love on you.

Another translation says:
"The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

He will quiet you by his love. You have questions and they have only just begun, about why your biological parents made the decisions they did and many other things. Those things are only going to intensify as you grow. But you can rest in the promise that God will calm and quiet you by his overwhelming love for you. He has already started the redemption of your life and he's just warming up.. You want so much for someone to know all you've been through and to understand the intensity of your emotions. Jesus does. He was even adopted too! My prayer for you is that you build intimacy with him and your healing continues as that relationship strengthens.

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. Psalm 45:11

You, and I think every woman on earth, want to feel beautiful and know you are seen as beautiful. Your king is ENTHRALLED by your beauty. He created you and marvels at the way your hair curls just so and your eyes sparkle when you are happy. He adores you and smiles when you smile and delights in seeing your joy in him.

You saw this flower and said, 'God put this here because he loves me!' And he does!

I pray that you know beyond any doubt that you are God's child and lay claim to all the power in that. Sweetie, you are strong and so sweet at the same time. You are brave. You have already overcome mountains that looked insurmountable. I am proud of you each and every day. I love you so much, sweet girl!

"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Phil 4:8

I feel like I need to blog but only have one insight to share. However, it is rocking my world. Let me set the stage.

Envision that you have four small children. Imagine the littlest learned to climb out of his crib!

Pretend this was the picture your husband took of him at 4 am. Thank God right now that you are deaf in one ear and your husband almost away hears nighttime shenanigans first and therefore bears the brunt of nighttime parenting.

Moving on. You have a precious autistic preschooler that is missing the structure of school. There will be lots of screaming and gnashing of teeth. But he looks fabulous.

Fabulous, um.....or something. Go with fabulous because you are busy.

Now remember you have two six year olds. Notice that one is breathtaking and get concerned about her teenage years.

This one's love language is quality time. It's important to get on the floor and build Legos.

So, just stay sane and meet all those needs. Feed them, bathe them, and do all their therapies. Just handle it.

That's crazy, right? I would have this in the back of my mind constantly, then when something would explode, I kept thinking, "I can't handle this."

So I couldn't! I would lose my mind right along with them. I had NO IDEA I was talking myself into so much anxiety. This past year I've really started to latch onto Phil 4:8:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

However I hadn't embraced it as much as I thought because I was still telling myself that I couldn't handle things. Now, I tell myself that I am equipped for the good works God has called me to.

If you want to always be able to sing that scripture to yourself, here you go.


Christ in me can overcome these hectic circumstances, even when I cannot. This one thing has changed so much about how I feel during the day. I can't tell you I never get frustrated and regret the way I handled things but I can say it is so much better! The person leading our study described it as re-wallpapering your mind and I think that's a great visual. It's not so much the in your face situations that were taking me out so much as the undercurrent of negative self-talk that I didn't even realize was there. The wallpaper. 

That was it. That's what is changing my days right now. I know it's not big but it has been powerful for me. As soon as one iota of 'I can't' creeps in I know to stop it right there and replace that with the truth that God can. 

Someone also pointed out that the only offensive weapon in the armor of God is the sword of truth. Everything else is defensive, to protect, but by reading the Bible we are able to have a weapon of attack.  

God is so faithful!! I am thankful to have had those truths revealed to me and I wanted to share a couple of other cool things that happened. We took a family vacation for the first time as a family of six and it was fabulous. I finally felt like this was our family and it was normal. 

Not the new normal or the crazy normal, just normal. Caroline felt it too. On the heels of that, she and I had a few hours to spend together, for two days, while the boys did other things. That is next to impossible to find in our home and it was divinely orchestrated. I felt like it took our relationship a little deeper, just being able to indulge her and delight in her.

She wanted to get her ears pierced one day.

She took it like a champ. 

The next day she wanted to bake cookies. This will go down as one of the most precious moments of parenting. She is drawn to music and is constantly singing. After the 4,000th time she told me that she loved mommy/daughter day and thanked me, I realized she was singing the song I'd listened to for miles of running, praying for our then non-existent adoption!

I will always melt a little when I see this picture. This whole experience was pivotal for our relationship, and Caroline's well-being, and our family as a whole, and all I can do is be in awe at what God did. And I just marvel at His sovereignty, to have orchestrated it all.

This time last summer, I was drowning and didn't even know it. This summer is so much better because of what God has done this past year. I wanted to write this down to remember to be thankful at these abundant provisions we've been given. 

This time last year, we were just wrapping our heads around the idea that something was really going on with Walker. We had NO tools to equip him or our family. One year later, we have a diagnosis, tools coming out our ears, and more information and help is coming. 

This time last year, we had NO idea what to do with this little girl that landed in our laps. Our lives got thrown in a blender and we were trying to pick up the pieces. We knew she was hurting but we didn't even know how to help her or move our family forward. One year later, we've got tools. We have been educated, supported, prayed over, and we are going in the right direction.

This time last year we weren't a family yet. We were all walking around, deer in the headlights, just putting one foot in front of the other. We are a family now. On paper, yes, but more importantly, in our hearts. Caroline talks about her brother and she means Harris. Hayes sings Jesus Loves Me to Caroline and kisses her hair when she goes to bed. I say I have four kids and don't offer explanation. I call her my daughter and don't think twice. 

God did all that. And He promises we will see greater things than these.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Phil 1:6