November’s Gifts

The leaves changed and fell and I hardly noticed. The most virulent, obnoxious election ever flooded the airwaves and feeds, and as of the second week of October, it all seemed very inconsequential, like so much noise. Perhaps that latter ignorance was a gift.

I remember this closing in, the wide world suddenly becoming very small – the size of a rocking chair. Activities narrowing to only a few that matter.


When my two kids were born, I was leaning close to 30. I’m now just a couple skips from 40 and I have 10 years of mothering experience in my pocket. Ten years of nights that show a clear upward slope of sleeping hours for mama and child. This gives me perspective and hope, because right now, with a 7-week baby in our home, sleep is the topic my brain can’t stop thinking about (dreaming about?).


The fact that sleep is my biggest challenge right now is a gift. In the world of foster care, that’s a pretty mild complaint.

The election came and went. I was up anyway and watched the inconceivable become reality. The explosion in our little world tempered my response to the political upheaval. Big and small kindnesses of relatives and friends for our family-of-five inspired me and reminded me of the bigger, more important impact of millions of kindnesses over who is in office.


We suddenly became part of a beautiful community I only barely knew before – foster parents. A circumstance of our case led me to a gracious, wise, seasoned foster mom who has wrapped me under her wing and has spent hours with me on the phone (texting and real conversations) and meets me in person. She encourages, gives helpful advice, lets me question and process, and provides incalculable perspective.

We ran into (ok, walked by) Ellie’s new basketball coach and his family at the annual Thanksgiving Run for the Hungry in our town. Guess who welcomed in children and adopted through foster care for years? Yep. Them.

Other gifts stack up like so many packages, each one unwrapped with gratitude. We landed a compassionate, competent primary care provider, a fantastic foster family immediately responded to my plea for respite care while we are out of town right before Christmas, and our baby boy started daycare without a hitch. My SLP friend Nicole covered my absence from work, making possible the unexpected gift of staying home with baby boy for his first six weeks.

Just as if I had actually given birth, many dear ones sent meals, clothes, baby gear, messages, gifts, and encouraging words and prayers.


For months we prayed, along with our closest family and friends, that our first foster placement would be the right fit for our family and we would be the right family for that child. I wasn’t picturing a newborn, but he was our first call and it seemed right.

Which is surprising. My friend Annie once half-jokingly introduced me to someone at church as a mom who only started enjoying motherhood when my children learned to read. I shrugged, agreeing with her analysis.


So we fit our family around this tiny bundle who upends everything as babies do. It’s hard, smelly, tiring, and emotionally weird. But I’ve also pulled out a nice stack of old favorite board books, we’re smiling and laughing more, and widening our little circle of family.


He is a gift.

For as many days as we have him, we are altogether his, love pouring in to all of us in ever increasing measure.



7 thoughts on “November’s Gifts

  1. JACK and MARILYN DRYDEN says:

    Dear Jenae-

    Your chronicling the world you inhabit is so lovely. I almost always cry a bit after reading your posts- with gratitude to God for you and your unique ability to speak emotion into words. This especially blessed my heart. You are so right that babies expand and contract our world at once, setting our family pace to their rhythm. I always marveled that my Mom said the birth of each of her children was filled with joy, not the burden of the work ahead. Your post reminded me of why this is true, even though I still can’t quite fathom that she truly embraced with joy the exhaustion that must have been hers.

    I’m guessing from the timestamp on this post that you are home with little boy today. Hope his little body throws off this cold quickly.



    P.S. The photo of your grandma is just gorgeous!


  2. Heidi says:

    Katie and I ran into each other the other day and agreed how we cry at each if your blog posts. Every. Single. One. This one was no different. Thank you for
    sharing. Love you!

  3. Mindy says:

    This is beautiful. I must have missed you at the run. I love that your family is just loving this little person with nothing expected in return. Shine on, girlfriend, shine on. ♡

  4. jim dryden says:

    thank you Jenae for being in
    my life- uncle Jim

  5. Dayna says:

    I smile with Annie that God is giving you another opportunity at babyhood. He is so good.

    I do not know the goodbyes of a baby, but my life is full of continual hellos and goodbyes, amazingly beautiful and yet excruciatingly painful. Trusting always in the promises in 1 John 4: “God is greater than our hearts.”

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