A few months ago we asked Eli and Ellie’s mom to write a blog post for us describing their new life with a a mom and a dad and four older siblings! And despite the fact that she has six kids (including three toddlers) she did! And so here it is. 🙂
I don’t even know where to start?!
First, how do we say thank you to all of you who have so faithfully and beautifully loved, cared for and prayed for our precious Eli and Ellie?! We wish we could meet each and every one of you, get to know you, and love and pray for you the way you have for our beloved son and daughter, for our family, and of course for Mandie Joy and Rachel. Thank you is just NOT enough! We continue to stand in awe of how God chose Mandie Joy and Rachel to be such an intimate part of God rescuing Eli and Ellie and saving their lives…to be the foster mommies that God used to shower our babies with His love and truth and to teach them about family. We can’t stop giving thanks and praise for the way Mandie Joy and Rachel loved and cared for Eli and Ellie as their own for almost a year. Our family has been forever changed by those of you who have been on this journey with Mandie Joy and Rachel! We are eternally grateful for how each one of you has been a part of Eli and Ellie’s story and how God used you to be part of how they’re now thriving at home with their Mommy, Daddy, brothers, and sisters…in their forever family…RIGHT WHERE THEY BELONG!
When we look into their eyes and watch them embrace with joy the love of their family…we can tell that deep in their hearts, Eli and Ellie KNOW they are right where they belong! They know that they are in the family that God chose for them since before time. Truly, since the moment we walked into our home holding Eli and Ellie in our arms…they knew they were HOME! Finally, all eight of us together! Finally, all six siblings hugging, laughing, rejoicing, and celebrating together what we had all been dreaming about, praying for and waiting for since December 2010.
We are continuing to marvel at how God alone creates family. Eli and Ellie have only been home for six months, yet it feels like we’ve been together forever! We’ve been soaking up these last six months, being very intentional in this intimate time of bonding as a family of eight. In these last six months, there have been many “firsts”, lots of laughter, a whole bunch of snuggling, hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s”, challenges, healing, restoration and more! Hannah, our two year old, still wakes up and asks first thing, “I go play with Eli and Ellie?” Eli’s first word when he got home was “sister”…for Hannah. Hannah still calls Eli “sister” occasionally, too. John David, our five year old, is growing into such a tender brother who looks out for his younger three siblings and loves when he gets to be home with just mommy, Eli and Ellie. He still likes to be “twins” with Eli, and they have many matching outfits. This won’t last forever; at least we don’t think it will??
When we put the twins to bed at night, all the children still like to go into their bedroom together. Just tonight, all three babies lined themselves up on the floor to get their diapers changed and jammies on, and then started drinking their bottles together. We now call Hannah, Eli and Ellie the “triplets”. They will never remember life without one another. In the midst of all three of them wanting the same toy or something of the sort (imagine that), we’re already seeing how they care and show compassion towards one another…it’s beautiful! Hannah wants to help give Eli his medicine and pray for E&E every night, Ellie is the first one to come right up next to a sibling if they’re crying or got hurt, wanting to make sure they’re okay, and Eli will always give a hug to say “sorry”… they’re always there to cheer one another on when someone’s learning something new or does a good job. God did give us three babies very close in age, so we can only imagine God’s plans for the three of them to have each other as they celebrate many wonderful moments together, but also as they face what might be hard at times. Each of them will have different challenges ahead. We know that none of our children are defined by their needs, nor are we, and we will watch God heal, redeem and restore in magnificent ways, however; when times might be hard…I believe these triplets will have an understanding for one another that is very unique.
Since E&E have been home, we’ve watched Ellie go from scooting on her bottom to walking and now to running as fast as she can. She is truly one of the most JOYFUL little girls (with a bit of sassy mixed in) that I have ever known…she fits her name…Eleanor JOY Gallagher! She is confident, secure, caring, sweet, very funny, full of life, and smart! Ellie is SO very proud of her family! I feel like at times she just wants to shout…”I LOVE MY FAMILY!” from the rooftops! She loves to say all of her siblings’ names with a big smile and she’ll just look at me at random times and say “mommy”, just to say it. She is talking SO very much, wanting to learn all the words she can quickly. She’s excited to keep up with her big sister Hannah. OH MY…not sure if I’m ready. She is now saying, “I’m funny” and “please stop”. “Please stop” is a good thing to know how to say in a family with six children. God continues to give us moments of sweet intimacy while He is at work healing broken places in her heart. I’m so thankful I get to hold her, pray over her, look into her eyes and tell her, “you are a desire of my heart, you are my daughter, and I love you!”
And Eli…we have watched Eli continue to grow into a tender, yet strong little boy. He is a fighter, yet he is oh so snuggly. He’ll hug you anytime anywhere and he’ll even hold on for a great big long snuggle. He has the funniest little laugh, and still loves to play peek a boo. He is fascinated with music, and LOVES the guitar. However, he’ll play any instrument you put in his hands. God knew Eli and his daddy would enjoy playing music together, and now Eli has his own little guitar to play so daddy can play his own. Eli is also a little explorer and has lots of fun trying to figure out how things work. This is really good, and really not so good at times. He’s super smart, and we can’t wait to see what God does with the way he thinks. Although Eli has been known to be a mommy’s boy, daddy and Eli have done some major bonding, and they’ve got a really good thing going! Eli asks for “dada” A LOT now, and daddy actually get’s some of the best snuggles I’ve ever seen. Recently, Eli got tubes put in his ears, as he was struggling with continuous ear infections. We believe the Lord set him free in a place that was being held captive. God really did gift Eli with special ears that hear music unlike most 1.5 year olds. Eli was still drawn to sound and music with ears that weren’t even hearing to their full capacity. His ears were FULL of wax, fluid, and bacteria…with no way out! Now his ears can hear like they were made to, and he is no longer captive but free to enjoy the blessing of having gifted little ears! In one week, he is parroting new sounds and trying to say every word we say. He has a great little singing voice and has picked up almost 15 new words his first week with free ears!
As some of you know, we have six children. Truly, I would love to write a separate blog post about each child…going on and on and on about just how special each ONE is, and how each ONE has changed our lives in every good way!! And not because it’s always been easy, we have experienced hard, and there remains hard…but beautiful hard, life changing hard, and God is never finished being the author and perfecter of our faith, so it is through the hard that He continues to reveal more of who He is and what He’s like, and He compels us all to want to be more like Him. He is faithfully at work in our family and in each one of us, drawing us to Himself, and revealing more about who He is. We thank Him daily that through our children and the humbling privilege of being parents…we are learning more about God’s unfailing love, what He’s like, how He parents us, and just how beautiful He is.
Watching the children together as siblings is probably my favorite thing to watch every day! The way they do life together is precious, and yet we’re all still learning too. Our children can’t imagine life without each other. The older three adore they’re younger siblings and they are such encouragers. E & E light up whenever an older sibling enters the room. They are so content to be RIGHT WHERE THEY BELONG, being loved by their mommy and daddy and siblings.
Please know that we’ve been so moved by the prayers that have been prayed on behalf of Eli and Ellie and our family, and we are experiencing God’s goodness, His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, and His love in abundant measure! And what God promised to us when we chose to say, “Yes God, we would delight in being Eli and Ellie’s family”…God is fulfilling…MORE FREEDOM AND JOY for all of us! Even in the days and moments that are hard and challenging…there is more freedom and joy in Christ! Thank you Lord!
And here are a couple of videos of our babies turned into toddlers! (password: twins)
Eli and his guitar: