Celebrating Annarose

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This Friday Annarose will graduate from high school. It’s hard to believe that our middle child, our sixteen-year-old daughter, has reached this milestone. Even more notable is the way God has shaped her through the experiences of our life as a family.

She is a remarkable young woman known for her friendliness and compassion. Last week she was named Student of the Year at Moscow High School (even though she attends part time), and Most Inspirational on the track team. She has also won several great scholarships, including the Idaho Governor’s Cup, which will be presented at the state capitol next Monday.

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Russ and I don’t take much credit for her accomplishments. In fact, if you simply look at the facts, she really shouldn’t be this amazing girl. We led our family into a desert of suffering. We had no idea it was coming, and if we had, we most certainly would have turned back to protect Annarose and the other children. Never would we have willingly chosen this for Annarose – but God did.

She once told me that the saddest moment of her life came after a morning of homeschooling with her best friend. That afternoon, as she walked up the steps of our front porch, I met her at the door, my face stricken with stress and fear. Amidst the sound of screams and raging, I told her that our home was no place to be right now and she should turn around and go back to Emily’s. I wanted to shield her from the turmoil, yet she felt alone in the world.

The suffering in our home was more than any of us could bear; we were in a dark place. But Jesus used that darkness to teach Annarose about his light. What could have pushed her away from us and led her down a destructive path, somehow made her love us more. The childhood we had so carefully planned and protected was shattered and in its place, something more beautiful was created. I stand in awe of Jesus – completely in awe.

Had our life not changed, had our tidy world not exploded, we might be tempted to take credit for our children’s successes and who they are. But the Lord laid us bare so that he would be glorified. It’s not us – it’s all Jesus.  We’ve been rescued from worshiping GPA’s and SAT scores. We’ve been saved from our own pride and our idol of the perfect family.

We are proud of Annarose and the young woman she is becoming, not solely for her accomplishments, but because she has a heart to love the lost and broken. She cares about those who suffer more than she cares about herself. She is far from perfect, thankfully, but she is amazing, and we love her so much.

Never would we have chosen the path she has endured, but we can’t deny that not a moment of it was wasted. As we celebrate Annarose this weekend, we look at her and say, this is the hand of God. He has done something beautiful.

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

36 Comments

  1. Ann Hodgman
    June 2, 2015

    Beautiful in every way–both Annarose and this post.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Thank you, Ann.

      Reply
  2. Laura Draper
    June 2, 2015

    She truly is an inspiration to those around her. I've been thankful to get to know her, in the few passing moments while attending church. God has many plans for her.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Thank you, Laura, we're excited to see what God has in store for her.

      Reply
  3. victorioushopeac
    June 2, 2015

    "We led our family into a desert of suffering. We had no idea it was coming, and if we had, we most certainly would have turned back to protect Annarose and the other children. Never would we have willingly chosen this for Annarose – but God did." I remind myself of this every day when the guilt and doubt begin to creep in. Thank you for being vulnerable to remind us that when God leads us on our journey of sacrifice, we don't need to worry about the chaos around us; God can redeem that as well. One of my new mantras has become, "My God is bigger than that!"

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Indeed, He is! We need to obedient and wise.

      Reply
  4. Luann Yarrow Doman
    June 2, 2015

    What a wonderful tribute for your amazing daughter. I just love when a person's beautiful outsides are matched by their beautiful insides. Congratulations, Annarose!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Thank you, Luann. I'll pass your congrats on.

      Reply
  5. Robin
    June 2, 2015

    Lisa, what a beautiful tribute to Annarose and what the Lord has done. Beautiful redemption! Hug your girl for Maddie and me!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      I will, Robin. So good to hear from you.

      Reply
  6. Mary
    June 2, 2015

    What a testimony to what God does–faithful work in the lives of each of his "sparrows." Even when it seems the circumstances visibly damage–he somehow builds. I don't know how. But your post today reminds me that it is so and I need to pray more and depend on myself much, much less.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Me too, Mary, me too! More prayer, less of my own effort.

      Reply
  7. Jacqueline
    June 2, 2015

    Isn't God good! I have seen in my own 16 year old transformations that came about in her life by having younger siblings join our family! She was in shell shock when at 8, she went from a "pampered" youngest to having to become an older sister to children with special needs. It too has created a heart of volunteerism and compassion through the struggles. You're right, it's good that we were sheltered from knowing the difficulties that lay ahead; God in His goodness has used them to build character in us all.
    I have found your blogs a source of inspiration in our own struggles and have too found joy despite the moments of ache and grief. Thank you for your openness.
    So happy for Annarose!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Thank you for sharing your story, Jacqueline. God has a much bigger plan than we do.

      Reply
  8. Emily
    June 2, 2015

    This post made me cry.

    Annarose, I love you so so much!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      I'll be sure to tell her. She loves you too, Emily!

      Reply
  9. Laynie
    June 2, 2015

    I've re-read this several times, in tears. Thank you…Thank you!! I so worry about my 8 year old daughter who has grown up in the dark place. So many times she was sent to my parents to protect her from witnessing the rages and chaos. I worry about the impact of that, but so far – she is a kindhearted and sensitive young girl that always roots for the underdog. I needed this reminder that God is in charge and knows what He's doing. Bless you…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Laynie, I'm glad my words are helpful to you. What a blessing that you have parents near who can step in to support your daughter and shelter her. I think that is a key to keeping the environment from being entirely overwhelming for children. I am praying for you right this moment.

      Reply
  10. AmyE
    June 2, 2015

    Tears flowing. So beautifully written, as always. I see the same type of fruit in our 3 bio kids as our house continues to often be in turmoil And agree wholeheartedly with how the chaos of our home has stripped me bare of pridefulness in my children's accomplishments. They are good stewards of the seeds that have been planted and I pray that their roots continue to grow deep. Blessings to you all.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 2, 2015

      Yes, that's it exactly, Amy. It's not that we haven't planted the seeds in our children, but they've been good stewards of our efforts – and God is glorified. Blessings to you.

      Reply
  11. Kim
    June 2, 2015

    We are in the process of adopting a teen. A question we are asked fairly often is "But what about the influence on your other children?" I (have to) keep reminding myself that I am committed to trusting God. He has called us to this, and this adoption has in effect caused me to give all of my children to Him in a way that I hadn't before. It can be terrifying, and we haven't yet reached the place where we can say "Yes, He has brought good out of this after all" Your post, and where God has brought your family, is such an encouragement to me. Congratulations and many blessings to Annarose.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2015

      I'm so glad I can encourage you. We can only be faithful and seek the Lord's wisdom. Many blessings to you, Kim.

      Reply
  12. Amy
    June 3, 2015

    THis is so encouraging to read. My older two bio kids have walked a difficult road with their younger two adopted sisters…My heart has lately been heavy as I consider the impact our decisions to adopt have had on their lives. Thank you for sharing your storyu and your perspective.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2015

      What our kids experience is so significant and needs to be acknowledged. One of my most important topics to speak on is Giving Voice to Siblings. I feel so passionately about it – and yet – despite our many failings, the Lord is so faithful.

      Reply
  13. Mavis
    June 3, 2015

    Wow! So encouraging – thank you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2015

      You're welcome, Mavis.

      Reply
  14. DFNY
    June 3, 2015

    "As we celebrate Annarose this weekend, we look at her and say, this is the hand of God. He has done something beautiful."

    What a truly beautiful post, Lisa. Annarose is so inspiring. I remember her preparing the Thanksgiving feast (I think she did it twice)–a young girl organizing a complex project with many volunteers and to-dos, all to help others in need. A truly lovely heart who gets things done. Please pass on my congratulations on a job well done, and graduating at 16 is no small feat.

    Best wishes for her now and in the future.

    Blessings,
    Damaris

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2015

      Thank you, Damaris. I'll be sure to share your kind words with her.

      Reply
  15. Pam Parish
    June 3, 2015

    Friend, this made me cry. I've read it several times. As you know, we have one beautiful biological daughter who's walked this road with us as we've gone from one child to seven in seven short years. She's amazing and incredible. It's easy to overlook their resilience and story in the midst of the overall story of family. I forwarded this to her and said an overwhelming THANK YOU to her once again. She is my hero.

    I love you!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2015

      I can imagine how your heart feels toward your sweet girl, Pam. The way their lives change, and they change and grow is truly remarkable. So nice to hear from you!

      Reply
  16. Sharon
    June 3, 2015

    This was so encouraging to me. Thank you, Lisa.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2015

      You're welcome, Sharon.

      Reply
  17. Amanda
    June 3, 2015

    Tears, flowing as I feel hope for my daughters as the Lord spoke to me through your words. I will admit to being stuck in fear and sadness at how the absurdly high levels of stress could negatively impact the other children. I thank you for sharing, and am now committed to praying daily for God to use this journey to build character and strength in the girls. Thank you, and keep sharing your heart, you are a blessing to many!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2015

      Amanda, thank you for your encouraging words. Prayer is absolutely our best protection for our children.

      Reply
  18. Laurel
    June 5, 2015

    Again . . . I could have written this about my daughter, Hosanna, who is also graduating from high school tonight. 🙂 She, too, was named Most Inspirational on her track team. She, too, has become a beautiful, loving, compassionate young woman, despite the crisis that became her childhood (years we would never have chosen for her and the other children, but years that the Lord has used in each of their lives).

    blessings to you and your family as you celebrate Annarose this weekend!

    Laurel

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 9, 2015

      Congratulations to Hosanna too!

      Reply

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