As we continue to explore motherhood, loss and redemption, this week’s Faith Notes guest post comes from Janna Lynas:

From the beginning, my heart opened. Then just as quickly, it closed.

Once my husband, our 6-year-old adopted son and I left his land of familiar smells and people, textures and sounds, our son closed off his heart. Mine soon followed. It happened so fast, I was caught off guard. I didn’t even realize that I was grieving until months later. I was just trying to survive, and so was he.

It has been five years since our son entered this country and our family – five years that have flown by. Time has its way, but for me, it’s as if I’ve lived the last five years as a mother to a very young child. There are large pieces and parts that are forgotten. If not for my love of journaling, I’d have little recollection of these years.

I was reminded just this week, one day before our son’s 11th birthday, what some of those old days were like. They were very hard emotionally and sometimes extremely distancing days of the heart and mind. I was surprised and scared by how quickly I went back to this time. I had to choose to love my child.

“Love is patient, love is kind.” This old verse from 1 Corinthians was on a loop in my head, travelling down the long road to my heart. Silently, I prayed it through our traditional birthday breakfast-in-bed celebration. Even as my son walked in the door from school, I was still repeating it.

Birthdays in my family are a long celebration of picks of favorite things to do, presents to receive and food to eat. Our son loves to cook. So I invited him into the kitchen, still repeating, “Love is patient… love is kind.” He had picked his favorite meal of tacos and guacamole. Of course I threw in a vegetable. I’m still the mom!

We began cooking together, and somewhere between showing him how to peel an avocado and add seasoning to the meat, I had stopped chanting the verse. Those words had finally reached their destination. I didn’t realize it, until the food was prepared – my son quietly playing in another room while I chopped olives on a small white cutting board, the black salty slices rolling off the knife in a haphazard pile.

I stood there – knife in one hand, pitless olive in the other – overcome with the joy that had been restored. There was a warmness I could feel inside again, and I knew my son and I would be alright.

We set the table that night, each of us sharing one thing we loved about this birthday boy and tacos on a Tuesday. And I smiled at it all. I was reminded in my mothering mind (the one that tries to get it right and often doesn’t), that small things, like cutting olives for a birthday dinner, are really big things after all.

Janna Lynas lives in the Midwest with her pastor husband and four children. She loves listening to real-life stories and taking notes. You can find her thoughts in word form at