Happy Birthday, sunny Jannie

The baby has a birthday tomorrow.

Janneke Grace will be four years old -and hopefully a lot healthier- tomorrow.  She is dealing with a stomach virus (again) that threatens our plans to celebrate.  Recognizing that we could have cake any ol' day, we wish for at least good health tomorrow.  Tonight, she showed some promise when she smirked and played with balloons that Sophia blew up for her.

I went back in the blog archives and looked at our posts for this date in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. I am reminded of how we have been cared for and how much has changed.  Our first blog post was Janneke's birth.  Not so sunny then.

Welcoming a child with special needs into the family can be interpreted in different ways.  With Rachel, we had approximately eight weeks to absorb the surface issues of raising a child who would be medically fragile.  For us, Janneke was the second child with significant medical concerns - and her presentation was a complete surprise to everyone.

I can still recall that first day of her life, as I held my moaning baby, purple from all the bruising of birth.  All our visitors told us we would be okay with our beautiful baby.  I didn't believe any of them; no one carried enough validity for me to believe that we could be okay.

Janneke's birth rocked our world.  Knocked us off our feet.  At times, our social graces and rational thinking were (and still can be) buried under sleep deprivation and anxiety.  We've read the Welcome to Holland poem but wonder if it's missing a few cuss words and a stiff drink.  In some ways, we feel that only now in the last year are we learning to stand again.

It is a bit dicey when you share your honesty about parenting special needs.  It is a living grief - but we are not always mournful.  It is a daily sorrow - but no one has died.  Each day has reminders that our life is not a normal pattern, not the dreams we thought we'd live. Sometimes people don't want to hear that, or they get tired of hearing those words and wonder when we will get over it.

Grief (of any kind) shapes you; you are never the same, yet you learn to live with grief.  There is constant fight for joy, a wrestling match with God - who has promised more than once He won't let go.  We are not our own, nor are we on our own.

He has created us wholly, so the emotions of anger, frustration, and bitterness are just as valid as the joy and praise.  He has also created people that have come into our life to help us, encourage us, and pray for us.  A community of grace.

This isn't a perfect life. And it was never promised to be any different.

In this life, we choose to fight for joy.    I appreciate the words from Sanctus Real "Run" -

don't lose heart when you're feeling low
when the road looks long and
you don't know if you have the strength to make it home
you're not on your own

Makes me think of Mumford's "Holland Road" -

but I'll still believe 
though there's cracks you'll see
when I'm on my knees I'll still believe

Our Maker made Janneke.  She has brought us joy, and she has taught us much grace in these first four years of her life.  We move forward, trusting (D.V.).

Happy Birthday, Baby.


Spring shadows of a recent walk