Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Birth Family Christmas

photo 3(1)Tonight we kicked off the first of our family Christmas gatherings. But it was unlike any others we’ll experience this week. A local BBQ restaurant made a great ‘neutral’ meeting place as we traveled across town to get together with people we met a little less than three years ago. A group who we see only a few times each year, yet consider them family. Our birth family.

When we initially began our adoption process we requested a semi-open arrangement. We were cool with exchanging first names and maybe state or city, but we didn’t think we wanted a lot of contact with the birth family. Mae’s adoption came along unexpectedly and detoured our plans. The situation created an open adoption by default. And now looking back over the past three years, I couldn’t be more thankful that our plans and preferences changed.

photo 2(1)I don’t talk about our open adoption a lot, nor have I ever specifically blogged about it. But coming off of a night like tonight, I felt I needed to share about how wonderful this arrangement can be, and how fortunate we’ve been to have a birth family enter our lives. Sure, it’s nice to have a direct connection to Mae’s birth mom for reasons most would assume – health history and knowing her story, etc. But more than that, it’s amazing to have a birth mom, birth uncle and cousin and birth grandparents in the picture for indescribable reasons. There’s something about continuing and nurturing the bond of family even if it looks a little different from the ‘norm’ that is powerful. Redemptive. And all around blessed.

We sat and laughed tonight (mostly at my energetic three-year-old.) We told stories and caught up on life. We exchanged Christmas gifts. And more than anything, we all gleamed an unspoken appreciation for one another yet again. It happens every time we get together. And as the years go on and our relationships deepen, I know it will only continue to grow.

photo 1(1)I recognize that not everyone in an open adoption has this kind of relationship with their birth family members. There are a lot of other stories out there that aren’t so ideal. We’re lucky to have a birth family that’s kind, considerate and amazing with boundaries. They’ve truly made this an incredible experience.

Open adoption might not be for everyone, but I’m glad that it was the right path for me. Our birth mom is the strongest person I know and she continues to amaze me. Her love for [our] daughter has taught me more about selflessness than anything on this side of heaven ever will. Knowing the family my daughter was born into gives me even more appreciation and understanding of her. That in and of itself is an amazing gift – especially at Christmas.

December 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

Undone

undone by Jim Branch

years and years of hard work
diligently putting it all together
piece by piece
thinking all is well
progress is being made

but then you
come and scramble the whole picture
leaving pieces scattered everywhere

you smile lovingly
as I sit in the middle of the mess
knowing that I don’t know
knowing that I’m undone
and thinking to yourself
now that’s progress

An Undone Christmas

I noticed a Facebook friend or two asked if it was too early to take down the tree last night. I publicly didn’t chime in and answer with a resounding “NO WAY!” But I certainly wanted to. Because if truth be told, I was wondering the same thing myself.

Don’t get me wrong – I had a very lovely Christmas. I was with much of my family. I ate enough food to last me the rest of the week. And I received very generous gifts.

But something this Christmas felt off. It’s the first year that an active toddler consumed much of my energy and focus. It’s the first year I had the stresses of a business on my shoulders. And it’s the first year that I tried to make it “feel” like Christmas weeks earlier – only to find myself unsuccessful. It seemed to sneak up on me again. Wrapping gifts last-minute and running late seemed to be pattern. No matter what I did, I didn’t feel like I could “get it together” this Christmas.

As I sat down to reflect this morning, my devotional led me to Jim Branch’s “Undone.” And I began to see my experience this Christmas in a new light. Maybe… just maybe … my feelings of being spread out, disorganized and nearly unraveled … were just what I needed. Maybe there was purpose to them after all. My picture-perfect holiday schedule, sparkly-clean home and organized to-do list needed to go. This Christmas, God wanted me to find the meaning of Christmas in a new way. Maybe he wanted me undone.

December 26, 2012 at 9:18 am 1 comment

The Greatest Gift

Merry Christmas from the semi-colon blog!

It was a year ago Christmas Eve when I received the call that set the direction of this past year. The colonoscopy reports were in, docs were concerned, surgery was recommended. I remember trying to set aside the flood of emotions as I rejoined the family for the gift opening parade. I kept trying to brush it off as we sat in the ER later that evening until about 6 am while Mike recovered from food poisoning. It was like a ton of bricks had just hit us on what should have been the most wonderful day of the year.

I’ve been reflecting over last year’s Christmas a lot the past few days. Even with this Christmas – plans have gone awry. Our “White Christmas” has left us canceling family events and services, and we’re freezing cold in this old house. It makes me really re-think what this time of year is all about.

Growing up a church kid, I’ve always known Christmas was about Jesus’ birth. “The Reason for the Season” and “Christmas is about Christ” were ingrained in my head at an early age. But as I’ve grown and been influenced by culture and life’s situations, it’s really made me dig deeper into those common cliches and figure out what I really believe. Is Christmas still all about Christ when I’m told I have to have surgery again? Can there be joy as you’re sitting in the ER on Christmas morning? Is Jesus really the reason for the season when I cannot make it to my family’s gathering because it’s sleeting outside? Can I still celebrate even though I can’t eat all of the food?

I’ve learned this year that the only thing I need to do to celebrate Christmas is thank Jesus for what He’s done for me. I understand the temptation of skipping over God, or even cutting him out completely, all too well. But I’ve learned that it is not the way to cope with pain and suffering (although it seems reasonable at times.) Jesus offers us hope and love. He’s the source of all good things that have been, and all good things to come. I know the feeling of not wanting to believe because your days are so dark, how could you trust a God that allowed it. And while that’s another post in itself, you’ve just got to trust that God loves you, He has a purpose for you, and that trusting Him is the way to get through life’s biggest disappointments. He came here for us. He came to give us hope in the midst of a crappy world and spoiled plans. He offers us the best gift we could possibly ask for.

This Christmas, I urge anyone who can relate to those of us in the semi-colon community to discover why we celebrate Christmas. Belonging to the cancer community makes for a rough, unfair and often heartbreaking life. It’s one of the hardest things to bear. But the good news is that we do not have to bear it alone. Jesus went through the roughest thing on earth and also died an early, unfair death. And His significance is that He was God, He knew it was all going to happen, and He did it anyway for you and me. No colon issues, ER visits, sleet or snow can take away this message of promise and hope for all of us.

I wish anyone who reads my blog a very Merry Christmas. If you’re a person of faith, I encourage you this year to dig deeper and get to new levels in your relationship with Jesus. If you’re a person who doesn’t consider themselves “religious,” I pray that you give it another chance. Get to know the real Jesus. Read about what he was like. Put aside your stereotypes of Christians (although they are probably very accurate unfortunately) that hinder you from getting to know Jesus and check it out. Give it a chance. It will save your life. It will set you free from your pain, hurts and confusion. It will be the greatest gift you’ve ever received.

December 26, 2009 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment


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