She is Free

Kalkidan painting

I was sitting in a middle seat, fighting air sickness, the bane of my travel existence. I put in my earbuds, hit play, and a worship song began streaming into my ears that I had never really listened closely to before.

On the day when I see
All that You have for me
When I see You face to face
There surrounded by Your grace

All my fears swept away
In the light of Your embrace
Where Your love is all I need
and forever I am free

Kalkidan – she is free. I could almost see her, light, joyful. Tears began trickling down my cheeks.

Where the streets are made of gold
In Your presence healed and whole
Let the songs of heaven rise to You alone

No weeping
No hurt or pain
No suffering
You hold me now, You hold me now…

She is fully healed and whole – no weeping, no pain, no suffering. I wish I could see her, see heaven, just for a moment. I know it’s so much more, so much better than I could possibly imagine. But I’ve never been there and the emptiness in our hearts and our home is so loud, so big.

In the wee hours of the morning, I arrived home to find a box from a dear friend; her daughter created the painting at the top of this post. Kalkidan moved through life with energy and color. I can only imagine how vibrant and colorful she is now.

Heaven. Kalkidan. Jesus.

So much to think about, and so few words to say.


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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.


  1. Anderson
    September 30, 2015

    The painting is stunning. What a beautiful gift!

  2. Julie Gumm
    September 30, 2015

    That painting is BEAUTIFUL!!! What an incredibly thoughtful gift and way for you to remember the way Kalkidan lived! Praying for you.

  3. AmyE
    September 30, 2015

    I have thought often of the long road of healing my own son still has before him. His trauma still too big for him to face. And while I certainly do not wish for his death, I often find myself longing for him to be able to "skip" the hard part. I wonder what it would be like for him to be free of the shame, guilt and sadness of his early years. Beautiful words, as always. And the painting is breathtaking!

  4. Bev
    September 30, 2015

    So glad for this post. I must confess that until this post, I held some sense of unfairness that your opportunity to fight for her healing was cut short just at the point where she was turning toward that healing. It felt so unfair to have read your story of struggle and pain and holding on to love with your fingernails, and then to have it end before the culmination.

    But today, this post, this is a beginning of a culmination, isn't it? The painting and the music so beautifully remind us that even if it seems too short…even if it WAS too short…still, she is free. She no longer has to fight against the mistrust and self protection that her early trauma required of her in order to allow herself to be loved. She is free.

    Yet my tears flow even as I write this, because of course you must still grieve her loss, even as you are grateful for her release from all the things that were hard for her. You loved her so much. I wanted you to be there with her to see her reach out for that freedom to love with all her heart. But getting to that point also involves a lot of pain along the way, at least it has for my kids who are still not healed as adults.

    Such a mix of emotions! I truly am so glad and grateful for the freedom she has now. And I wish that freedom did not come with such a loss for those who loved her so much. My prayers are with you.

  5. sophie
    September 30, 2015

    Fabulous painting.
    What a gift.

  6. Jeri
    September 30, 2015

    God's perfect timing…he knew you needed to see her in heaven and there she is. I'm in awe. His love is never ending. never. She must surely be every bit of that painting and more. Much prayer as always…

  7. Sharon
    September 30, 2015

    That is an amazing painting. Beautiful.

  8. Blessed
    October 1, 2015

    That seems to embody the spirit of your daughter so beautifully. But the best parts are the love behind the gift and how God perfectly timed it so that it would be part of His message of love and comfort–and joy!–to you today.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 1, 2015

      God is pretty amazing that way.

  9. Mary Andrews
    October 1, 2015

    The picture is SO Kalkidan!!!!!!!!! Love you. Mom

  10. Tricia
    October 2, 2015

    What a beautiful painting. It speaks deeply to the heart.

  11. Kayla
    October 6, 2015

    What a sweet gift! After my mother-in-law died, while soaking in the tub and having one of those Job like conversations with God, I so clearly remember Him saying "Do you think you loved her more than me?" And then He reminded me of how she now feels deeply His unconditional love. For my mother-in-law, who struggled much with the idea of being enough and being loved just for who she was, this really was true healing. Doesn't change the way I miss her but it certainly changed my perspective on heaven being a place of freedom.


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