Jill Rode

Jill Rode

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Grateful for 40

Seven weeks ago today, our lives changed as we welcomed four children into our home. On very short notice, we sold furniture, stored furniture, bought new furniture, assembled said furniture, and child-proofed our home. 

Seven weeks ago today, four beautiful, intelligent, funny, charismatic children unpacked their bags in their new bedrooms.

Seven weeks ago today, I wondered if I would live to see my 40th birthday. I’m only halfway kidding. I’m going to be honest – these past few weeks have been anything but a fairy tale. Childhood trauma is no joke, and as the kids have gotten to know us (and vice versa), the transition has been difficult for us all.  When we signed up to foster these four children, we knew we were agreeing to an unknown adventure. And like all good adventures, we’re still not sure how this one will continue to unfold.

And yet, as I greet my 40th birthday today, I feel grateful. Without the love and support of our family/friends/neighbors/church networks, getting through these past seven weeks would not have been possible. Our family is incredibly blessed. The number of “thank you” cards that we owe to so many stands at a ridiculously high number. Gretchen and I can only shake our heads in disbelief at how so many of you have shown up for us in countless ways.

With that said, in honor of my 40th trip around the sun, here are 40 things I’m feeling particularly grateful for on this day:

  1. Friends who came together in early November to help assemble furniture and ready our home for our kids
  2. The myriad of texts/emails/phone calls/cards that have showered us with support and words of encouragement
  3. The grassroots effort to raise money for a good-sized down payment on “Rosie” – our new (to us) red minivan (a.k.a. party bus)
  4. Our minivan. Yes, I admit it. They’re wonderfully practical. I’ve been convincingly swayed.
  5. The delicious meals that arrive ready to serve nearly every other day
  6. St. Anthony Park Lutheran and House of Hope Lutheran – both churches which have given us parental leave so that we can work on attachment with our kids these first weeks
  7. Advent cheese and whiskey calendars which gave us something to look forward to every night in December
  8. Washable markers…our house walls say “thank you!”
  9. Temperate weather – while this isn’t a good trend for the environment overall, it has extended the season for us to get the kids outdoors without (too many) complaints
  10. Neighbors who field texts/ messages from us asking parental questions and looking for children’s medicines at all hours of the day
  11. Surprise coffee deliveries for Gretchen (when she’s happy, I’m happy) 
  12. Our friend who faithfully has Petunia over to her house so that she can get the 1-on-1 attention (and quiet house) she deserves 
  13. People who make Costco runs for us
  14. Our friends who have taken the kids on afternoon playdates and offered much needed respite for me and Grechen to catch our breath (and take a shower!)
  15. Our 8 year old who loves playing games (often winning) and anything turquoise
  16. Our 6 year old who loves doing hair, makeup, and might just have the best dimples in the whole family 
  17. Our 5 year old who can’t go to sleep until he has neatly organized all of his most precious belongings in his multiple backpacks on his bed
  18. Our 4 year old who is inquisitive and loves his experiments (e.g. making a mess in the kitchen)
  19. Black-owned and operated salons and barbershops who take good hair care of our kids
  20. Our social worker, adoption “coach,” and the kids’ social worker who work with us to problem-solve and think creatively about how best to meet the kids’ needs
  21. The kids’s therapists and my and Gretchen’s spiritual directors who keep us all just a little more sane
  22. Our home which keeps us safe, warm, and provides spaces for memories to be made
  23. Gretchen – When we lay our heads down on our pillows at night, finally closing our exhausted eyes, I give thanks to God for her patience, tenderness, sense of humor, and love
  24. High school helpers and personal care attendants (PCAs) who give us the extra hands/bodies in our home necessary for smooth(er) functioning
  25. Target pick-up and ShipIt that allows us to cover up for our forgetfulness/lack of time to grab much needed grocery/household items
  26. Pizza and movie nights
  27. The Calm app and its awesome sleep stories
  28. Maintaining good health in this time of Covid, colds, and the flu
  29. Former foster care caretakers who continue to be in the kids’ network of support
  30. Faithful ministry colleagues who continue to show up for their people, preach the good news, and spur us to acts of justice for and with our neighbors for the sake of the world
  31. Uninterrupted nights of sleep
  32. Snack packs that keep the kids (and me and Gretchen) fed and happy
  33. Snow pants 
  34. Christmas cookies
  35. Family members who keep us grounded and remind us that we’re loved
  36. Fuzzy blankets and pajamas
  37. My 30’s – they started by meeting Gretchen, midway through I got an incredible church call, and they ended with our family growing to six
  38. Our washer, dryer, and dishwasher which have never worked harder
  39. Petunia…who is only slightly annoyed that she’s no longer an only child in the house
  40. 2021…we may only be two days in, but I’m already grateful for you!

More to explore

Grateful for 40

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3 thoughts on “Grateful for 40”

  1. Roberta Etherington

    Ya hoo- you’re making it. I often wonder what is going on in your direction.

    Happy BIRTH DAY, Jill

    Roberta E.

  2. Will & Mary Ann Salz

    Bravo to you both for taking on this new life and learning new things every day. You have each other for support and the children have both of you to use as an example of caring, love and family. Keep up the good work and we will keep praying for you.

  3. Delighted by the update, happy for the birthday celebrations, exhausted imagining your life, remembering my own challenges at 40, regretting not being nearby to offer more direct assistance, full of gratitude for your friends and family members who are closer AND for your being a part of my life. God bless you and your family on this happy day!

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