TA Friday, July 29th, while celebrating Gracie's successful reading at Sunnyside Elementary, our lives switched into hyperdrive. The next week, Gracie had all day camp at Aowakiya for a week, while we frantically prepared for our journey across the world to get Gemma. This included a wonderful visit from Grandma and Grandpa Peterson from Tacoma. Nonetheless, it was a very busy, hectic, intense time for everyone, especially for a 7 year old girl!
As Amy and I excitedly packed and prepared for the trip, we both commented on how we knew Gracie was going to be great on the trip. It just so turns out that we underestimated our precious Gracie as she has been nothing short of fantastic the entire trip. I can't express how proud and blessed I have been this entire trip by this little girl, who has made sacrifices and adjustments beyond her years, with little-to-no complaining along the way. This trip has been a wonderfully fun and memorable experience, but also overwhelming, tiring, scary, and stressful. Add to all of this the fact of getting another family member, one that will need lots and lots of extra attention, love, and care, and you have quite a big adjustment for ANY person. That makes little Miss Gracie's behavior all the more impressive to us.
Last night, while on our boat cruise Gracie said to Amy, "mommy, I miss the 3 of us." Yep, all the fuss of Gemma's LOA and TA, prayer, travel, packing, flying across the world to the place G was born and united with us, witnessing an absolutely heart wrenching "Gotcha Day," then making big adjustments and concessions all without a fuss, and yet she still says what is in her heart in the most gentle, loving way. Since Amy shared that with me, I've once again been overwhelmed with a grateful heart.
More importantly, it has impacted me as a parent, husband, and person. I'm going to be transparent and tell you that I've had moments of failure and selfishness on our trip. I've been stressed and impatient with Gracie and reacted in ways I'm not particularly proud of... ways I don't want Gracie to remember me by. Even further, due to the challenges of adapting and caring for Gemma, and all her special issues and needs, in a foreign place, I've at times found myself inadvertently neglecting Gracie emotionally when she needs me most. By God's grace, I've been convicted and caught myself, but still, Gracie has been an anchor despite all the challenges.
As we wind down our time here in China, the birthplace of my two daughters, I'll always remember how a beyond-her-years courageous little 7 year old girl traveled across the world and braved so much to welcome a new sister with love, patience, and understanding. Because of her , I know that I am a better person because of it and I know those who know her will be too.
I love you Gracie Faye Aijin Miller. And I'm very blessed and proud to be your daddy.