This blog was so graciously written by Niki Kredit, a long time volunteer and friend of Katelyn’s Fund!

One of the new holiday pictures I got this year is of a pair of cardinals sitting on snowy branches. I love cardinals, especially in winter time. My back yard is home to lots of birds and squirrels and rabbits and tall trees and there are almost always at least a pair of cardinals. I set out a variety of kinds of bird seed in hopes of drawing the birds to my yard and they do not disappoint. Cardinals come in pairs……if you see a bright red male there is usually a quiet and more subtle brown female nearby. Last spring I even got to see a mama helping her baby bird leave the nest for the first time and begin the lessons ofmoving forward with hops that graduated to flight. It was an amazing gift to behold.

Psalm 104:12 says The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. I love the birdsong of lots of birds but especially of the cardinals and if you sing to them in a similar way they sing back! They seem to be very relational and that is, perhaps, why I am so drawn to them. Relationships matter.

Recently there was a big blow up between one of my kiddos and myself. There was yelling and crying and deep grief that was very unsettling. Parenting is hard. Growing up is hard. Navigating relationships within adoption and foster care is hard, hard, hard. Some kids are really hard to be in a relationship with but still, relationships are necessary to survive. After this fight I felt really defeated and helpless. How could I possibly make things right? I prayed, I reminded myself that God created this child and that He alone knew the right path to take. I asked the Lord for wisdom, for help, for understanding and for fresh love and ability to stay in relationship here and the God of all good things heard my prayer. He answered me. He did not bring in the right parenting book or therapist or miracle cure……He showed me where I went wrong. He showed me the rupture in the relationship that I had caused and then with a very humble heart I knew how to repair it.

Rupture and repair is an important piece of caregiving. Essentially, in the world of infant and early childhood mental health, it describes when a parent or caregiver isn’t there to meet a need and the child reacts to that. Once I understood where the rupture happened, I knew I had to go back and identify it with my child, own my part of it, be flawed and imperfect and apologize and be curious about how it could have been different if I had chosen a different method. My child heard me and felt validated and affirmed and willingly and lovingly accepted my apology and my words.

It’s messy work but it’s the right kind of work. It is the work of relationships and not being right or being deserving or keeping score. It is humble and it is hard.

When sin entered the world, our relationship with God experienced a rupture. There was a tear, a crack, a flaw in the relationship between humanity and the Almighty that we could not ignore. It changed the relationship. God found a way to repair this relationship with his children. He created a solution to resolve this rupture so that we could be with Him, live forever in his presence and that repair is Jesus.

As we move through the season of Advent to the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus, I imagine there could be a few more altercations within the relationships I have with my children, my husband, my co-workers, my extended family and possibly even between me and the Lord. The holidays can be so stressful. I hope I can pray again and again something like this…..

Dear Father, I have found a rupture here. I feel the tear, or the crack or the flaw in this relationship, this vessel, this jar. I cannot fix it on my own, so please show me, Father, how I can find the way to repair it. Help me to restore this relationship to the goodness you mean it to be. Help me to see where the repair is possible. Jeremiah 18:4 says “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Help us, Lord, to cherish and hold tenderly our relationships with others and be near to us and help us when things go wrong. Strengthen us and keep forming us, Father, into the jars you can use for your glory. Thank you. Thank you for allowing us to be in relationship with others. Help us to protect and delight in one another. Most of all, Father, thank you for being a living God who desires to be in relationship with me. I am in awe of the beauty of being able to fix my eyes on you and call to you for help, for wisdom, for all I need.

When you see a cardinal….look for it’s mate. There is a relationship near.