As of Sunday, February 17, we have been the proud parents of Anah Joy for five months. What made the day especially special was being able to dedicate her before the Lord in the presence of our church family. I don't know what has happened over the past month, but I know that God has been doing some very deep work in my own heart. I know it is not because of my own efforts. Perhaps it is better to say that it is in spite of my own efforts. He has been helping to learn how to love Anah as she is instead of focusing on all that she is not. As I do so, He is showing me what an amazing little girl she is.
One of our biggest accomplishments this month was learning all the names for parts of her face. Every day, I would go over them: eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair. We would go over them when I washed her face every morning. Later, we added "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"! After a couple weeks, she was able to point to them when I asked her. Then she was able to point them out on others' faces. The crowning moment came when I asked her to wipe her nose---without any signs or other indications---and she did it! Something is sinking in!
She has continued to show great interest in books. One of her favorite things to do is sit with a big pile of library books and flip through the pages. We would read every day, and we would catch her trying to "read" out loud too. She's definitely our girl! I am very hopeful that one day, Anah will not only learn English but read as well.
We have also been amazed by how God is providing for us. We know that Anah is going to need a lot of physical, occupational and speech therapy. In the past month, God has surfaced some friends who are willing to love on her and at the same time, provide some of those therapies for her. We have also had others who were willing to provide a helping hand during the day while I am homeschooling the others.
In terms of her health, we have finally gotten the dentist, which was a big ordeal. We took the risk of waiting till later with this one, mainly because we wanted to find a good pediatric dentist who was comfortable with Down Syndrome children, and because this one area has been the most difficult for us to handle. She fought the dentist while she was there but it is clear that she will need to be at least sedated to get the work done.
She has been having some regular physical therapy but she is not a girl who likes to move. There seems to be a lot of fear, particularly of stairs. We are not sure why, but getting her to be physically active is a challenge. She likes to join in with her brothers while they are wrestling, but that is not necessarily the kind of thing we want to be training in her!
What I am learning is that what took a short time for my other children to learn, Anah will learn, but very slowly. I have to break things down into small steps, and sometimes I even have to break those down even smaller. I can tell when the steps are small enough when she is able to copy what I am doing. Sometimes it is a matter of repetition of these small steps, over and over and over.
I am realizing how God must feel about me sometimes. Some things I seem to make great progress in. Some things seem to take a long, long time. I am sure that He has had to break things down for me to smaller and smaller pieces so my mind can understand. Sometimes He takes me down paths that I really don't want to travel, knowing that in the end they will strengthen me and help me in ways I cannot understand now. And I am sure that He cheers loudly when things finally click and the light bulb turns on!
Even though there still is a long road ahead for us, I can see that He is at work...in me, in Anah, in our family, in others. My job is not to figure out what He is doing, but to simply obey and follow as He leads. Sometimes it is just singing silly songs every day. Sometimes it is through discipline and training. Sometimes it is by faithfully stopping what I am doing to take her to the bathroom. And through these little steps He is moving, imperceptibly but surely. To God be the glory!