Monday, January 31, 2011

The story of Li...

Lili is yahoo number three. She came to us as a 6 day old baby. She was scheduled to stay just two months while her birthmama tried to get her life in order. Li was the hardest baby we have EVER cared for....and we have cared for quite a few. This kid would SCREAM the whole time she was awake. Constantly. Nothing would stop her...until she fell asleep...exahusted. Honestly...there were many, many days we looked forward to her heading back to birthmama. Sometimes we felt as though we had been taken hostage by this kid. There were days the girls and I would huddle in a corner of the house and pray. 

But she did not leave. Her birthmama could not care for her, and asked us to become her guardians. We said we would.  But it was a difficult decision to make.  We wanted to do what we could to love this little thing, and we wanted to honor God in how we lived our life.  We knew that if she had come to us biologically, we would not be wondering if we should "keep" her.  So she stayed.  And we prayed, trusting the Lord would provide the capacity and the wisdom to love her in the ways she needed to be loved. 

You see, LiLi has sensory disorder. She would scream in a desperate attempt to cope with her senses. She would scream at a truck passing by, scream if someone tried to tickle her arm in a friendly gesture...scream at toilet flushing in the church restroom, and scream at the friendly YMCA nursery worker who was merely trying to help her feel more at home.

We did not understand her at all.  Finally, when she was about 2 years old, we found help through a therapist who worked with her, and with us, week after week, helping her learn to cope with "life."  Li learned how to manage the things that frightened her, and by the end of the year she was amazed by the trucks, giggled at the toilets, and looked forward to hanging out with the Y nursery workers.  And we learned that a bear hug was much more effective.
After working with the therapist for a year, we decided to try preschool.  It was a rough start, but slowly Li began to feel safe.  She started making friends.  A daily schedule helped Li.  Occasionally there a transistion she could not manage.  When she hit a wall, her teachers knew how she would react, and learned how to usurp "the scream!" 

Li has come a long way.  We have learned what she needs to help her cope.  LiLi needs to move...a lot!  We have enrolled her in swim class and gymnastics.  When she is not in gymnastics, she is practicing all of her moves.  Constantly.

We have her scheduled to do something everyday.  If she has a day off, we have to take her somewhere to keep moving.  If we are stuck at home she is sent outdoors unless the weather is impossible.  Some days I make her run steps, do jumping jacks, or forward rolls all the way down the hall.  If she starts to struggle, Jeff grabs her legs and makes her walk on her hands.  He may throw her on the coach a half a dozen times.  We will load up the laundry basket with her baby sister and a pile of toys and have her push it all over the house....just to keep those senses under control.

Last night Jeff and I were a little overwhelmed by Li.  She wanted bedtime to go a certain way, the way it usually goes, and it was not.  She had discovered the plan while Jeff was discussing it with the other yahoo involved.  Her big sister was not going to bed at the same time, and she was not happy.  She was in her room, doing her crazy dance, trying not to scream

Her scream, at this time of night, is very, very, very hard to take.  We were all tired.  We all wanted to curl up in our beds, and enjoy our bedtime rituals.  So when LiLi did scream, we all wanted to join in.  And quite frankly, sometimes we do!

Last night both of us grown ups could have gone down that path.  Oh...I so wanted to jump up and start hollering at them all.  I wanted to hop all over the floor and throw a temper tantrum.  And so did Jeff. 

But God grabbed a hold of our hearts.
He whispered to us...

Look at your Li.  Look at her through MY eyes.
I made her.  I created her...just for you.  I created her just to help you see...

Li experiences life, in a way, perhaps, we all should. 

Li experiences life...fully.

Every inch of her being experiences life....fully.

While we are sleepwalking through the day...
Li chooses to DANCE!

Our little LiLi, the kid who sucked the life right out of us....
 is one who now teaches us how to LIVE.


Sally said...

Absolutely beautiful essay about an absolutely beautiful little girl being raised in an absolutely beautiful family, thanks to an astonishingly beautiful God. Thanks for the goosebumps tonight, Kat. Love you!

Annesta said...

This post made me cry. What a very beautiful picture of how we are with God and how God loves us unconditionally.
Thank you so much!

suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} said...

wow! what a testimony. thank you for this peek inside your family.