About colleenawilliams22

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Thoughts on “Coming Home”

I’ve been back in Texas for about a month now. The closest comparison I can find to coming home is when you put on a pair of jeans that used to fit but now are just a little too tight. You wiggle around a bit, suck your breath in, and finally get them on but it’s not the fit it used to be. You make do but it will never fit like it used to. That’s what life if like for me in the States. Some of my Indian habits are still sticking around. I still want to go turn on the hot water heater so I can have a warm shower. Fruits and vegetables don’t taste right to me after years of eating them fresh and in season. And as much as I complained about how hot the church I went to was during the hot season I miss the simplicity that it offered to me. Somehow I arrived during one of the coldest springs in my memory and I’ve been freezing ever since I got home, my body can’t seem to adjust to the cold after too long spent in a tropical climate.

Sometimes it seems like my time in India was just a dream, like a story that I read and filed away in my memories. And other days I can close my eyes and perfectly retrace the steps I took through Anchor Home every day and still picture the streets of India I called home. I miss the kids so much it hurts some days and I feel guilty for everything I left behind that was unfinished. And I’m having to remind myself that I could have spent the rest of my life there and there would still be things unfinished as that’s just a part of life. Some things on our to-do lists will never be completely finished and I’m learning to be okay with that.

I’m struggling with readjusting to the ways things are done in America. I’m still discovering parts of culture here that I had either purposefully ignored in the past 3 years or just plain missed out on. I learned what it meant to “be woke” and am having to wade through the current political climate and figure out what’s actually going on and what role I need to play. I’m also rediscovering things that I enjoy doing. For most of the past 3 years I lived in crisis mode. There was always something going wrong- both big and small. There was always a sick child, or a child who needed surgery, or we were understaffed, or there was a fight over rice, or we have no power. There was always something going on and I never really relaxed. Even during my time off I was still connected and took phone calls about issues going on. I’m finding it hard to have so much free time on my hands and I want to savor it as much as possible and get over the guilt of having the free time. I’m finding it harder and I have to be purposefully about reconnecting to things I love to do such as reading books or lingering over the newspaper with a cup of coffee in a quiet house.

I’m learning how to define myself without the context of what I did in India. I always tried to keep God at the center of my work in India and not make it about anything else but doing his will. But that’s difficult to do and I slipped often. For 3 years I was Colleen who worked with orphans in India with special needs. And now I’m Colleen who is going to graduate school. That’s a big role shift that I’m having to learn to be okay with while redefining some external parts of my identity. I’m serving the same God in the States that I served in India and what I’m doing now is no less important then what I did there. But I’m slowly processing through what I experienced over the past 3 years and figuring out how to tell my story and teasing out the experiences and lessons that I want to carry with me into the next chapter of my life.

Recently I was talking with a friend who has also recently returned to the States. And she said something to the essence that she wasn’t okay but felt okay not being okay. And right now I’m okay with not always being okay. Sometimes the most random things still hurt, like seeing a Pizza Hut and being reminded of some evenings spent with the kids at the Pizza Hut in India. Or certain smells or songs that remind me of the home I left behind. And that has been the hardest thing, leaving behind a home that was full of memories, people, and places that I had come to love.

So for right now I’m still slowly trying to gather all my thoughts and “renter” into life in the States. I’m getting everything in order to start graduate school in August and slowly reconnecting with the people, places, and memories that I love here. I remember very vividly my last week in India stopping and thinking that this part of my life was firmly closing. Even if I returned to India to visit or even long tern someday things would never be exactly the way they were when I left. I’ve had to grieve for this fact and then finish out that chapter in my life so I could start writing a new one. It’s been hard and difficult but I know this is where God wants me to be. I grieve for the people I left behind in India though. The decision to go to India wasn’t nearly as difficult as the decision to leave. But I’m slowly trying to remake my home here in Texas even if the jeans don’t quite fit right.

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Waiting Wednesday: Penny

Penny-3-300x300Penny is the sweetest 8 year old who is in need of a forever family to call her own! Penny has the greatest giggle and the brightest smile. Penny has been in the care of Sarah’s Covenant Homes for the past 4 years and although she is receiving great care she needs a family that is willing to call her their daughter and give her unconditional love.

Penny’s official age is 8 but we believe that she might be a year or two younger. She is small for her age, which might be due to malnutrition or related to her genetic syndrome. We are unsure of Penny’s official diagnosis but several guesses we have are Rubinstein–Taybi syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, or some other genetic condition potentially coupled with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Penny is also profoundly deaf and wears glasses.

Penny’s joints hyperextend but with extensive physical therapy and leg braces we have

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Penny practices standing several times a day 

seen some improvement with her ability to weight bear. She started crawling in the Fall of 2017 and now crawls all over her house. She recently started taking steps when supported at the waist and her physical therapist thinks she will be ready for a gait trainer soon. Now that Penny is on the move she loves to crawl and find her favorite things! Penny loves to find cups that have something in them and is known for her ability to find the one cup in the whole house that has water in it. She will pull up to kneeling to get a cup on a table and has even pulled over a whole mop bucket in her quest to find water! Penny also loves the color green and her favorite toys are green. She doesn’t have good play skills but will entertain herself for hours with her favorite green toys.

Although Penny loves everyone she is attached to “her people”. Recently when her long time caregiver was out of town and myself and her IMG_6349other house mom where out of town to attend a conference she was upset for the 3 days when we were all gone. When we got back she wanted to be hugged and picked up and would cry every time we put her down. Even if she cannot speak she is well aware of the comings and goings of everyone and would thrive in a family with a consistent routine. Penny is currently learning to communicate through picture symbols. She uses pictures squares and was recently introduced to the Ipad where she is learning with the same picture symbols. We tried sign language for a while but she never caught on so we switched over to picture symbols and she does much better! She will use the pictures to request more of an activity and could so much more with consistent speech therapy.

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Penny loves to play with shaving cream

Penny has also started to feed herself with her hands and she loves to eat! One of the few times Penny gets upset is if her mealtimes are late. She is drinking out of an open cup with assistance and Penny loves to drink milk, water, and juice. Some of Penny’s other favorite activities besides eating are swinging, going for walks, attending class with her teacher, playing with sensory materials especially water beads, and finding green toys.

Whenever I think of Penny the word joy comes to mind. Penny is the most joy filled child I have ever met. She has a joy that supersedes her circumstances. And she would bring such joy to a family! It will not be an easy journey for her family, Penny will need life long care and there will be challenges, but Penny is a child that helps you find joy in the ordinary and laughter in the mundane task of brushing teeth or changing a shirt. Penny loves to be on the go and would do great in an active family who was willing to put her in a stroller and bring her along on their adventures and everyday tasks. I have known Penny for the past 3 years and it is heavy on my heart currently to find her a family that will love her and encourage her as she grows. She may not be able to verbalize her want for a family but she will thrive in a family and bring joy to a family she can call her own.

Family Requirements

  • Available to both single women and married couples between the ages of 25-55. Married couples must be married for a minimum of 2 years and couples with more than 1 divorce are considered on a case-by-case basis. Married couples combined ages should not be more than 110.
  • No more than 4 children already in the home (Penny could be the 5th child)
  • Adoptive parents should be more than 25 years older then the child they are adopting. (This requirement can be relaxed on a case by case basis)
  • Cost is between $30,000-$40,000 but there are grants and other ways to fundraise to defray the costs associated with her adoption.
  • The process can take between 18-24 months but recently the process has been speeding up and families are getting kids home faster
  • Either 2 shorter trips or 1 longer trip to her country is required to finalize her adoption and bring her home.

For more info about the requirements to adopt Penny please click here

For more info about Penny and to inquire about adopting her please visit her Reece’s Rainbow profile

Even if you can’t adopt Penny please share this blog post so that her family can find her! And please pray for a family to step up for Penny so that she can know the love of a forever family.

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Thomas

Looking back over my blog I realize that it is a bit sparse with stories and updates of Thomas, my oldest boy. Not on purpose but Thomas is easily overlooked in our house. He is quiet and steady and if you ever come to Anchor Gold odds are your your eyes might slide over Thomas and never return to him. If you talk to him odds are he won’t respond and if you are lucky you might get one of his fleeting smiles. But Thomas has taught me some important lessons while I’ve been his house mom.

By worldly standards Thomas will be successful. He won’t get married, he won’t make a ton of money, he won’t write a book that will move you to tears. He won’t meet the typical definition of success in a world where you are judged on what you have done. But when we moved beyond an earthly definition of success and judge Thomas for his impact on others we can see that Thomas’s greatest success might be teaching all of us who come in contact with him the meaning of unconditional love.

I’ve lived with Thomas for 2 and a half years now. I’ve tended to him during his many lung infections, taken him on walks, carried him and his wheelchair up and down stairs, celebrated his birthday 3 times, and taken him to the zoo. And I’m still not sure he knows me vs any one else. But that doesn’t matter to me. Thomas isn’t defined by what he gives. Because Thomas show me what unconditional love looks like. Love where I only give and get nothing in return. Unconditional love is hard to come by in the world. It’s hard to love someone who isn’t giving you anything in return. But when we are able to give unconditional love we get a glimpse of the Father’s love for us; his infinite, all consuming love that we will never be able to comprehend here on earth.

And Thomas’ greatest impact on this world may be on others. For the younger kids who have come to accept Thomas just as he is and fight over who gets to push his wheelchair. At a young age they have come to know what it means to love an accept someone for who they are. On his caregivers who have loves and cared for him even without getting much in return. For all the volunteers who have worked with Thomas over his past 10 years at SCH, who have taken a moment to sit with him and feel the breeze that he so enjoys. Many years ago a team was praying for Thomas and got to witness his first smile at SCH. And although I have no idea where any of those volunteers ended up I can’t help but think that witnessing Thomas’ first smile must have changed their way of thinking and praying a bit.

Last night at bib!e study we talked about how sometimes things that transpire in our lives have nothing to do with us and everything to do with how they are going to impact someone else’s life. And that might be how Thomas makes his impact on this world. His steady and still presence helps us to recenter in the midst of almost constant chaos that seems to be a part of our life here.

Thomas has lived most of his life at SCH and will probably spend the rest of his earthly life here at SCH. He came when he was 2 years old and he’s 12 years old now. Recently I was rereading our founder Sarah’s blog from the early days of SCH. And scattered throughout was tiny Thomas drinking his bottle and hanging out in his bumbo chair. One blog post about growing old with the children has been on my mind since I read it. Cute little boys grow up to be men and sometimes they still need the same care that they needed as boys. It’s hard to get caregivers and sponsorship for the older children. But Thomas needs people to grow old with him. To see beyond what meets the eye and see Thomas for his unconditional love he teaches us and the power of the lessons from those who appear to be the most powerless. Right now Thomas needs $230/month in sponsorship (And shoutout to my parents and sister who are his monthly sponsors right now). I don’t have any inspiring stories to share about Thomas to convince people to sponsor him but I do know this. That in a world full of uncertainty and pain that Thomas shows us what it means to love and to be still and let god work through him. And that is a powerful lessons we can all learn from.

Be Thomas’ Monthly Sponsor