Holidays are wonderful family times, but holidays can also be are hard – especially for families with kids from “hard places.” The pressure of special events, increased anxiety, and disruption of schedules due to school vacations, can sometimes bring about true crisis.
Four years ago, I wrote a post to my readers on Christmas Eve. It was early in the morning; my family was sleeping and snow was falling outside the windows in the pre-dawn hour. I’d been silent, unable to write for several days as I tried to make sense of the crisis we found ourselves in.
A few nights earlier, we’d reached a point where we couldn’t keep our daughter safe. For years our therapist had told us to call 911 if certain lines were crossed, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.
We were afraid.
As Christmas break approached, and our daughter’s ability to regulate declined, my husband, Russ, and I set our own limits. We made a safety plan and promised each other we would follow through.
Friday was the last day of school followed by a fun Christmas party that evening for the family. By 10:00 pm, we were in the emergency room with our daughter for a psychiatric evaluation and they were looking for a bed on a pediatric inpatient unit.
Today, four years later, as I write, snow is once again falling outside my windows, and the memories are so powerful, my stomach hurts and I have tears in my eyes.
We sought help that Friday night and God met our need. Our daughter was safe, our other children were safe, but the events leading up to the ER visit were traumatic for every member of our family.
Our daughter was admitted to the inpatient unit 90 miles away that night. While her need for safety was met, this also meant she was not with us for Christmas, which brought up many hard emotions in our family. The hospitalization added new people to our team. We asked God to open doors, help us clearly see them, and give us the grace to walk through.
God was (and still is) writing a story with our lives. Every good story has a conflict or problem to solve; without it, the story has no significance. That night was a turning point in the conflict of our story. We didn’t know what was going to happen next, but we knew the author and we trusted him to write a good story with our lives.
I wrote these words that Christmas Eve morning,
I believe with all my heart that there is a good ending coming. One day, Kalkidan will be whole and she will be healed. I don’t know if it will be in one year, or even in this life, but I know it will happen because she is a precious and loved child of God.
I firmly believe there is nothing outside of God’s control, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead was at work in our family and in Kalkidan’s life. She needed to be healed – we all need to be healed. We’re all, every one of us, broken in some way.
Our daughter’s story began before we knew her; there was suffering and pain beyond what most of us can imagine. God wove her into our family knowing the harm done to her would not instantly heal. We sought many answers, and I don’t regret a single path we took on that journey.
The hospitalization led to residential treatment, which was a journey of its own. God used that program, those people, those months, to open Kalkidan’s heart to the possibility of love, and to the knowledge that family was safe and could be trusted. She found healing we hardly dared hope for.
Christmas 2014 was a time of healing, laughter, and joy. Kalkidan was a miracle in our midst and we gave thanks to God – we were amazed at the changes and the joy we felt.
We didn’t know it then, but Kalkidan’s race was a sprint and not a marathon. Her life ended in a tragic car accident only two days after that sweet Christmas of 2014. She was healed, in part, this side of heaven, and fully healed when she ran straight into the arms of Jesus.
Christmas is nearly here once again and our family yearns for Emmanuel – God with us . We are deeply thankful he doesn’t leave us to journey through this life of brokenness alone. We cling to him and to one another.
Question: Are you parenting children from hard places? Share your story with us in the comment section below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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