Thursday, October 2, 2008

First "I Love You"

Until very recently, Elli would never use words to communicate. She would copy words, even phrases, that we said, but would never use them on her own. Unless you are a mother who has with a child like this, I think it would be hard to grasp the emotions that go with having a child who cannot see and cannot talk. It is humbling and heartwrenching-- wanting so much to get inside their little heads and know what they are thinking. Wanting to turn the light on for them-- not even just physically, but cognitively. Wanting the world for them when they can't even tell you they are hungry or thirsty. Well, the past few weeks have brought some major breakthroughs for her-- she has spontaneously said a few things-- like "night night" when her head hit the pillow, "downstairs" as we start walking down the stairs, and of course her daily "OATMEAL!" when I first walk in her room in the morning. These few words have been AMAZING to us-- true miracles. We are so excited that she is learning that words have meaning and that she can use them to communicate. It is pure joy to hear her talk.

Today the absolute sweetest thing in the world happened. I had just picked the kids up from school and driven them home. Parker, who has always loved Elli in a very special and perfect way, was hugging and talking to her as she was waiting for me to get her out of the carseat. I came to the side of the van and said, "Oh, Elli-- did you miss your Parker?" She giggled as he hugged her and then said, clear as a bell, "I love you."

I couldn't believe it. Parker about flipped out with joy. I was so glad that there were two of us there to witness that she really did say it! I thought it very fitting that her first "I love you" was to the best example of unconditional love toward her that I know. Parker plays and loves on Elli in a way that is sweet beyond description. I will never forget the words he said to me just a few days after Elli was brought home from China: "Mom, if you could catch blindness, I would still want Elli." Pure love.

Another sweet thing happened with Elli on Sunday. It was the annual primary program at church. This is where, following the Sacrament, the children of the congregation put on the rest of the program. It is always a beautiful program with music and sweet testimony. This year's theme was "I Am a Child of God." The program began with 6 children standing up one by one and saying "I am a child of God." After the third child, Elli's voice spontaneously rang out with a very loud "I am a child of God!" It wasn't spoken perfectly, but everyone heard it and understood her and it brought many tears to the congregation. The children then sang, "I Am a Child of God," with the first verse in English, the second in Spanish, and the third in Mandarin. Our family was asked to sing the third chorus by ourselves. It was so neat to be able to stand there with our children, singing in the first language of Elli and Graci. Jessica held a picture of Graci since she wasn't able to be there (due to the heart surgery). Such a special day.

Yes, Elli, you are a child of God. And if He had favorites, you would be one of them!

By the way, the first time I heard this song playing, my heart nearly burst for the beautiful message in it's first phrase. I know it is true!!!


  1. Christi--so amazing. I can't believe Elli's progress lately. And so touching that she said "I love you" to Parker. Wow.

  2. oh and p.s. I love the song. I looked up the lyrics--beautiful! I've had a sad day and needed something uplifting.

  3. What a doll! I wish I could have been there during the program to see you sing. I know it was beautiful. Miss you.


  4. Oh, wow. My heart just split right open at "if you could catch blindness." I will never be the same.

  5. Christianne -
    Hi! This is Kelli (Jensen) Barton. Sorry, I found your blog on Tiff's and had to stalk you a little. WOW - you and your sweet family are so inspirational. You've been through so much. I had no idea. This post about Elli brought tears to my eyes. What amazing things you guys are doing for these two sweet girls. I admire you both so much. I hope you don't mind me snooping a little now and then. I love blogging because of all the old friends you find and can now keep in touch with. My blog is private but if I had your e-mail address I'd love to send it to you. That way I don't feel as guilty for being so nosey! It's good to find you - it's been a while!

  6. Yeeeeha! This is what I get to do for a living!!! There is NOTHING like opening up a child's heart through language. It is a high that I never get tired of (23 years into this profession). I am thrilled beyond description for this breakthrough in Elli's development. Happy dancing in my heart! And by the way, God does have favorites and we are all it! He's perfect that way!

  7. Christianne,
    I am so happy for your daughter. I loved your description of getting into your child's head and wanting to turn on the light and for one of the first times in recent years I feel that someone really knows the anguish of having a child who can't talk. My oldest daughter is 7 years old and she has Rett Syndrome, which took away her language. She babbles and she knows what she is saying (we call her language Meganese)and she can be pretty hilarious, but she is the only one who knows what she is saying. Thanks for your honest, heartfelt posts!
    Marcy (Foote) Cox
    PS Sorry to be a blog stalker. I somehow stumbled upon your blog and I am happy I did.

  8. Help! How am I supposed to work with tears running down my face? I am so excited about Elli's progress!

  9. I have been follwoing your beautiful family since your trip to Elli. You have an amazing family. This post brought tears to my eyes. I cannot even imagine what life is like with Elli. I am sure it must be hard at times, but moments like this make it all worth it. She is a beautiful little girl. God Bless her and your entire family.

  10. Hi, I found your blog and wanted to post a note about congenital heart defects.

    My son Jacob is 18 months old now and was born with a heart defect: Transposition of the Great Arteries (d-TGA). We did not know before he was born and he had to be emergency transferred to Primary Children's Medical Center. He had open heart surgery at Primary's when he was 5 days old.

    I am part of a local non-profit support group called Intermountain Healing Hearts. I do not know if you have seen the posters about our group in the cardiology department when you have been there for appointments. We have over 130 families with children who have various CHDs and even some CHD adults in the group! What a blessing it has been to be able to talk with and ask questions of other “heart families” who truly understand what your family is going through.

    The group website is:
    We also have a Yahoo group for email exchange.

    We would love to have you join our group. Please let me know if we can be of help to your family in anyway.

    Christina Davis

  11. Love your new blog (I just found it!) So glad that Graci is doing well...I have been thinking about you guys recently. What a special special treat from Elli! Much love and prayers for you and your family!

  12. You are truly a miracle family. Your faith and example and hope give us courage. Thank you for being doers of the word. That is the key to happiness. We love you all.

  13. Hi there! My name is MaLeah and I live in Mt. Juliet, TN and have been following your blog since before you went to China to pick up Elli and still lived in TN. I was happy to see that you have a new family blog and that I can still keep up with the goings-on with your family! I was so happy to hear that Elli's first I love you was to Parker. I'm sure he was thrilled! I look forward to keeping up with your family! If you'd like to see our blog, please go to