Dear Elias

Dear Elias, 

today you turned five. I don't know if you will ever understand how in love with you I am. My heart beats wild for you! You won't believe this, but even more wild than how your heart feels when you get your hamburger and fries. The moment I picked you up out of the water and brought you close to my heart, I knew I would never be the same. You have such an important place in our family. We all need you and adore every sweet, crazy, and feisty part of you! These five years have been a celebration of life. You have helped us all enjoy life more. 

Elias, I want you to know that I am honored to be your mom. I am so thankful that God chose me to love you and walk this beautiful life alongside of you. Happy Birthday my Love! We are so proud of you!

365 Days (A Birthday Post)

Reflecting on 365 days seems impossible. The days blur together, but somehow all of them are important. They are significant to who I am today. If you asked me what my most memorable days of thirty-one were, you would probably be suprised by my answer. You might guess that it was the day my first book was released. It was an exciting day, but it wasn't my most memorable. Or you might think it was the day I found out I was pregnant with my baby that grows inside my belly today. It was special, but it didn't change me like you might think.

The most memorable days were the ones that made me feel pain and loss. In July I sat at the edge of my aunt's bed and desperately focused on her sweet voice as she spoke her last words to me. That day I experienced heavenly joy, but also deep sadness. It was a day that felt painful, yet healing at the same time. It was a precious gift that has changed how I think about how I live life, and how I accept death.

It was the days that made me feel frail. Lying on my bed while blood soaked through pads that came unwelcomed—nine months too early. I hated my own skin, I wanted relief from the pain. Confusion clouded my mind. Discomfort reminded me of bitter emptiness that I couldn't fill. That day wasn't something I wanted to experience again, but it did something in my life. It changed me, and God gave me a gift I didn't ask for.

There were days I was the mother I never wanted to be. Losing my temper, making a fool of myself. Sucking all the joy out of our home. Robbing my family of anything good because I felt stressed, or I was too tired to handle the screaming, complaining, and requests. I remember kneeling down and looking my oldest in the eyes, "Please forgive me, I was wrong, I shouldn't have yelled at you." I hugged his six-year-old body and cried. He pulled back to look at my eyes, trying to understand the emotion that I felt. He forgave me. I changed that day. I am still becoming the mother I long to be. I needed that day to remind me.

There are the life-changing days that I remember so clearly, then all the ones in-between. The in-between days bear the marks of the life-changing ones. I think differently because of them. I act differently. I get on my knees and ask for forgiveness, because I don't know how many days I have to teach my son one of the most important things in life. How many days do I have left for my children to see me as an imperfect mother—humbled, kneeling down to look them in the eyes. When they think of me, will they remember that I was quick to ask for forgiveness, and quick to find joy again?

Will my husband look at me and know that it has been the pain that has made me beautiful? That I had to endure the heartbreak before my inner beauty could become more vibrant?

It wasn't by chance that I have changed and those wonderful, painful days have made me something better. It was Christ doing a powerful work in me. It was me struggling to find hope and opening my Bible. Reading through tears, begging God to help me to hold fast to him amidst the pain. I battled my beliefs and questioned God and he was faithful to pull me up out of bed. He dressed me in his strength, because mine will never accomplish anything. 

365 days seems like a blur, with a few days that stand out in my mind. But not one of those days went unoticed. Thirty-two years ago I was designed and fashioned in my mother's womb. Even then, God already knew how I would need to change. He knew the sweet difficult moments that I would desperately need so that beauty could take root in my soul. He knew that I would question his plan and that his grace would give me freedom.

Today I am more broken then ever—and carefully put back together. Refashoined with beauty. It is because of Christ in me that there is any good. 

A Journey To Share

I have been given so much love and support in the last five years, as I have tried to navigate being a mother to a little guy with Down syndrome. Strangers have quickly become my closest friends. We have something that we can't explain. My family has accepted and proudly walked this unknown journey alongside of us. They have been gracious to me when I have experienced lows, and have celebrated the highs. I have met incredible people through my blog that I am so thankful for. People that are dear to me. Because of my son, I have realized how much I need others.

Every year we celebrate Elias and his friends at our local Buddy Walk. It's a time that makes me reflect back on all that he has accomplished and how far we've come as a family. It's a time to show our love…because we're crazy about him!

Thank you for sharing in our journey! And a big thank you to my sister-in-law, Nicole, for capturing this day for us!

© 2014 Natalie Falls