Friday, December 12, 2014

A Minute with Nikki - Her First Christmas

We’re working on a year home. December is month 11. In some ways it feels like much longer than 11 months, and in others, its gone by in a flash. Through it all, we’ve seen such incredible growth in this little lady. Growth in going from a size 6 when we got here to now wearing appropriately sized 10 pants. Growth in seeing glimmers of her being able to self-regulate when the plans go awry. Growth in seeing her deal with disappointments and taking criticisms better. Growth in making lasting peer friendships. Growth in eating a cheese stick (originally thought to be the most vile food products on the planet). Growth in manners, patience, maturity, caring for others…the list can go on, because, well, my daughter is amazing.

But the most glaring growth that we see in this child, as we are in the thick of the Advent season, is her spiritual growth. From such a pure and tender place, Yiyi started to explore her faith early on. Not because we pushed it, but rather gave it an air of mystery and intrigue.  For a child who thrives on those things it wasn’t a tough sell. It started small, a prayer here, a Jesus Storybook Bible story there, and then it just continued. What started out as simple questions “Who is that shu shu (man), mommy?” “Why is his head bleeding?” “What’s wrong with his hands?” changed to statements like (after a friend died) “That’s ok, now he’s going to be with Jesus until his family can get there. He’s no more hurting or sick.”

We originally thought the “Jesus is the reason for the season” Christmas pitch would be a hard sell.  When Yiyi came here, quickly the questions about “The Christmas Man” started. Although she never celebrated Christmas, Yiyi was knowledgeable about the whole Santa deal. She has much trepidation about strangers coming into our house, so quickly I spilled the beans about the truth of The Christmas Man as I promised her that nobody comes into our house without our permission to deliver presents or otherwise. The girl loves her presents, so she seemed un-phased that I was the total Santa Grinch. So long as she’s getting presents, they can get under the tree however they want to!

But then the Elf on the Shelf (ours is named Spider Man) came. With him, he brought a note that said he was coming to visit for a month because he is also a new follower of Jesus and wanted to learn more about Advent with Yiyi. Seemingly forgetting about my telling her Santa isn’t real, she took right to the magic of Spider Man the Elf. We light our Advent wreath candles before dinner each night and talk about what each candle means. She sticks with it and remembers better than I do that week 1 is the hope candle. Last night we found the little known movie “Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Elf” and watched in horror as first Nestor’s mom died, but then is selected to be the donkey that a very pregnant Mary rode on to Bethlehem. Not surprisingly, Mary riding the donkey to Bethlehem is the part of the movie she remembered best and was talking about this morning. And we’ve broached the subject that Yiyi will only be getting three presents for Christmas, just like baby Jesus got. Surprisingly, she was totally ok with that. Then she set up the Nativity, perfectly, like she had done it 11 years previous, with absolutely no prompting or instruction. She totally gets it, 100% she’s down for it all. Down with Christmas, down with Jesus, and down with her new beliefs.

Once again, Little Miss has surprised us. She has declared Christmas is her favorite holiday, though we’re still two weeks out and she hasn’t seen one present. She loves the lights, music, fun, family, (and the hope of presents to come) but most of all, she loves it because she truly understands the meaning behind it all. That is not something my husband or I did. That, my friends, is what we call A Christmas Miracle.

Nikki has been working as an adoption social worker for the past 10 years.  The consummate single gal was married in 2012 and started an adoption process to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs from China soon after.  Nikki loves writing home studies in the Western Missouri area and preparing families for the realities of adoption.

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