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Three of the Qualls clan on a sibling panel at Refresh.

Three of the Qualls clan on a sibling panel at Refresh.

For someone who has hardly left her home since Christmas (with the exception of physical therapy), I’ve been traveling more than I expected.

First, we went to Refresh, which was as wonderful as ever. Our family felt so loved. We hugged loads of people, had some tearful conversations, and Russ and I even had a little time alone. Put it on your calendars now, friends, February 26-27, 2016. There is nothing like being with over a thousand fellow adoptive and foster parents to encourage you in the journey.

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And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Ph 4:7

Last weekend a wise friend said to me, “You can’t have the peace that surpasses understanding until you stop trying to understand.”

That is right where I am. I’m still trying to understand the car accident and our loss of Kalkidan, but it simply isn’t possible.


I had big plans to post something today before we leave or Refresh, but the simple task of doing laundry and making packing lists has taken all of my energy. This is only my third day on my own and I feel somewhat incompetent.

We’re loading up some of the kids and bringing them along; I’m not ready to leave the younger ones yet. My sister is going to keep Eby and Little Man while the older ones stay with friends near the conference. Together with some other kids and adults, they are going to be on a sibling panel.

tears in a bottle

It’s been eight weeks since the day Kalkidan left our arms and entered heaven. Maybe I should just say that it’s been eight weeks since she died, but it hurts my heart to write those words. As I grow physically stronger and begin to reenter the world, I want to share something with you about our grief.

Don’t be afraid to talk to us about Kalkidan and our loss. Please don’t worry that you’ll make us sad or that we’ll cry. We already are sad and we’re thankful for moments to acknowledge it.

family dinner

giving thanks #1611 – 1620

new paint that I adore in the dining room

Hannah’s visit, which was longer than usual thanks to her research rotation


In the days following the accident, a wise psychologist and friend came to our home to meet with with our family. He talked about grief and what we all might feel and experience. Then he said something that I’ve thought of many times since that day.

He said we would experience the profound presence of absence.”

Think about that for a minute.

winter jam qualls girls

Kalkidan turned 13 last October. This was a much anticipated birthday, so much so that she began talking about the day she turned twelve. She couldn’t wait to be a teenager and loved to remind me that it wouldn’t be long before she could take driver’s ed.

In recent years we’ve encouraged our kids to ask for experiences rather than “things” for gifts. As we talked about what she wanted for her birthday, Kalkidan realized there really wasn’t much she needed to own. Keeping her room organized and somewhat tidy was a challenge, and adding more “stuff” wasn’t going to make it any easier.



Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

I know how important it is to be in the Word of God, and even more so during a time of deep suffering, but I’m finding it hard to focus chapter by chapter. So I set a task for myself.

Friends (many of you) have sent cards and emails that include verses to encourage us.

Dr Quinn

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman has become part of our slow journey through grief.

Evenings are hard. Once dinner is cleaned up and the boys head to bed, the house becomes quiet; it’s unsettling. Kalkidan was a bundle of energy, often talking, singing, and recruiting us to play games right up until bedtime. The strange calm in our home feels heavy.

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sweet memories of our trip to Nebraska


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Laura’s help all of last week (thanks for the plane ticket, Mom and Dad)

Hannah arriving next Thursday

waking up Saturday morning and not immediately counting one more week since the accident