Sunday, December 21, 2014

A little Christmas wish....

I get up early in the mornings to have some quiet time before the day starts.  I drink my coffee.  I spend time in His Word and praying over the day to come and the things on my heart; friends and family, struggles and joys, a world that needs Him so desperately, the fatherless. 

This morning, I have my cup of coffee and just the lights on the Christmas tree on.  It is quiet.  Well, relatively speaking.  I can hear the hum of the humidifier that Serenity is hooked up to at night to help keep her lungs moist with the trach.  I hear the baby swing rocking back and forth as I try to keep Little Man asleep.  I hear Hope "s'moping", as the kids call it, back in her bed.  It has been part of most nights here since she came home.  She huffs and puffs (I don't know how else to describe it) in her bed when she wakes up.  It isn't a cry.  That we respond to.  It is just an "institutional" noise.  We used to try to get up and stop her, but the girls have said that the noise doesn't wake them up anymore, but us coming in does.  So, we let her s'mope.  So it is quiet compared to the days...but always life humming around me.

I look at the Christmas stocking hung up.


Sixteen lives represented.  I think of the few short years - which seemed an eternity at the time - that it was only two - Handsome and I.  How lonely it seemed.  Now, I rejoice over each precious child that God has given us.  I think of each of their stories ~ each so unique, yet also so intertwined with one another.

Sixteen....but I have a little wish.  I wish there were two more hanging this year.  Two more for my two tiny daughters overseas that are waiting for us.


Brooke


Jillian

Yes, the Lord has called us to redeem two more precious little lives.  We have the first home study visit on Monday.  We will be turning in paperwork to their large Asian country hopefully by Tuesday.  In two to three weeks, we should receive "PA" - which is preapproval from their country to move forward with their adoption.
 
Little Brooke is three years old and has been blessed with an extra chromosome.  I have wanted for so long to adopt a child with Down Syndrome, but God always had another precious little life for us instead.  I have always rejoiced over His choices - but have secretly hoped that meant that we would adopt at least one more.  Brooke is at an amazing home, run by an American family.  You will have to read their story here.  It is pretty incredible.  I am so thankful that this is where one of my daughters is - she is loved and well cared for as she waits.  I am jealous that Handsome will have the chance to meet them when he and The Helper go on the pickup trip.  I am going to find out from our agency if it would be acceptable to get in touch with them after we have received "PA".

Precious, tiny Jillian has Apert Syndrome, just like Serenity.  (Did I hear you squeal, Jessica Cooper?) She just turned a year old at the end of October.  She is about the size of our 7 month old Little Man - who is not so "little" - so at least for now, it appears she is well taken care of.  She is in a government run institution in the same general area as Brooke.  The biggest difference (that we can tell) right now between she and Serenity is that Jillian's thumbs are also fused, giving her "rosebud" hands.  This will give her very little ability to use her hands, unlike Serenity.  I cannot wait to get her home and have Serenity's amazing team begin freeing her to thrive.

This was a long battle to come to the point of truly trusting we were hearing God's voice calling us.  It seemed so crazy....but that story will have to wait for now.  I will just praise Him for their beautiful lives.  I will praise Him that each life matters.  Even two tiny little girls tucked away in an enormous country, both abandoned at the gates of institutions.

We are trusting God to provide all that we will need - the strength, the courage, the ability, and the finances.  We have a tax-deductible account with The Shepherd's Crook - another amazing ministry and family.  If God should lead you to give, you can click here.

More than anything, we need your prayers.  Please pray for the meeting on Monday with the social worker. We have truly loved each social worker that God has brought into our home.  Pray for the medical reports to be done on Monday so we can move forward with that step.  Pray for the "PA" to come back quickly.  Pray for peace and patience as we wait.  Pray for each day as we strive to fill our children's hearts and minds.  Most of all, pray that God is always glorified.

Another adventure begun...


Saturday, December 20, 2014

It is enough....

For several weeks (well, maybe months), I have been mentally eying the date of December 13th.  It was almost like a countdown in my head.  It was coming....what did I have to show for it?  December 13th was the one year anniversary of Serenity and Hope coming home.  I simply cannot believe that a year is gone.  No, I even need to rephrase that - a year has gone by.  You see, as December 13th crept closer and closer, I began losing perspective of what God has done in this past year - it is not gone, it has been used completely and fully by God for His purposes.

He brought home these two little ones:

He brought this Little Man safely into our home:

He carried precious Grace through her hip surgery at the end of June

He provided what Serenity needed to thrive through the hands of doctors; air through a trach and the removal of pressure on her brain by a skull expansion....

And He brought her safely home again.

To thrive...

 
All the while He was doing this, He was providing for, nurturing, protecting, stretching, growing, blessing us.  A million hallelujahs would never be enough.  I simply cannot praise His Name enough for all He has done!  He has redeemed me!  To Him be all glory, honor, and praise.













And yet, I had lost sight of all of that.

I guess I didn't realize how much I was counting on posting the incredible changes in one little life a year after she was rescued from an earthly hell.

I wanted to be able to "show" the world amazing transformation pictures.  I wanted her to be walking and maybe beginning to talk or sign.  Some families have truly incredible transformation stories.  I love seeing and reading about them.  I love praising Christ for what He has done!

And yet, my precious Hope....






We struggle to get a good picture of her.  In most of the pictures above, she has the same scared look as in her profile picture.  She is still on "hyper alert" all the time - every noise, every movement, every bit of life has her vigilant for her own safety. Anything new is a threat.  Any change throws her back into chaos.  Where is our amazing story?

It is there...it is just in the tiny details.  The details that would not seem important or huge to anyone else.  She is not screaming every night anymore.  She does not lay on the floor like a limp rag.  She is drinking independently from a cup now.  She scootches on her bottom to get places close by.  She can tolerate short trips to the store or church without too much fallout when we get home.  She does smile at her family and get excited when they play with her.  

It doesn't sound like much to you, does it?  I understand.  

This was my struggle.  I want so much for her!  There is so much possibility - so much ability unused.  There is so much awaiting for her!  And yet, she is still trapped in her own little world.

I am pouring back through all my adoption materials and research.  I am seeking out help from those that have "been there, done that" before me.  Last night, God arranged for me to talk with the most amazing adoptive mom - one who has been in these trenches for a few years before us.  She had so much to say that I needed to hear - so much direction and perspective.  It was like God was pouring out healing balm on my soul! One of the many things that I pondered after we talked was that we are in a very small category when we adopt; an even smaller one when we adopt special needs as a large family; an even smaller one when we adopt special needs as a large family from a truly horrific institutional setting...and when we say that we have adopted special needs, as a large family, from a truly horrific institutional setting and her name is Hope - we are in a category by ourselves.  There are no "experts" on Hope.  There are people who can give direction and insight - but no one who knows what is a perfect solution for Hope.  No one, except her Creator.  And He gave her to us.  He put her in our family by His beautiful, perfect plan.  He knew what she needed, and it was us.

So what does that mean to me?  It means that where she is right now is enough.  It is enough that she is safe and loved.  She will never be hurt again.  She will never be ignored and neglected again.  She will never again feel her tummy hungry, she will never again feel her body dirty.  She will never again be stuck in a crib all day with nothing.  She will never again be touched by hands that do not love her.  She will never again be ignored.  She will never again cry without her mama's heart breaking for her.  She will never again be alone but for her Father in heaven.  She will never again be an orphan.

This is enough.  It is more than enough.  This is the beauty of adoption: that a child born of someone else, even in a different country, is placed in a family and is loved with a fierceness that only God in heaven can understand.  That regardless of what she is or is not able to do - regardless of the damage done to her - regardless of whether that damage will ever be repaired - she is a beloved daughter who carries her father's name.

This is enough.

This does not mean that I will not keep seeking direction and guidance for her well-being.  It does not mean that I will stop crying out to my Savior for her.  It does not mean that we will not continue to seek to help her grow and thrive.  I am not giving up because she is my daughter!  But it does mean that I will strive to never lose sight of the fact that she is safe.  She is beloved.  She is mine.

It is enough.  Praise to God that it is enough.



To Him be all glory, honor, and praise.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The most amazing man....

Happy 20th Anniversary to the most amazing man in the world. Today I celebrate being married longer than not being married - quite a milestone. I love you now so much more than twenty years ago – and I was crazy in-love then. I have seen you grow and strengthen as you seek His face and carry our family. I have seen you soften and love so deeply it hurts as you take a new little life in your arms - or a life that has been discarded and abused by others. You have stuck by me in my hardest times – through my endless tears seventeen years ago over the empty nursery that we thought would never be filled and now through the craziness of a house full of blessed chaos, noise, laughter, needs, and treasures without measure. How I love you, my best friend. We would have never guessed where He would take us, we were so young - yet even with all He has blessed us with, you are still my greatest gift here on earth. May our Lord richly bless you for your sacrifices and love for us.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas cookies, anyone?

SOLD - THANK YOU!
I made two sets of felt Christmas cookies and mugs that I am selling to raise money for little Rudy on Reese's Rainbow.  One set has two red mugs and one set has two green mugs.  Each set is available for a $25 tax-deductible donation to his account at http://reecesrainbow.org/70513/rudy .  Please leave me a comment if you are interested - the comment will not be published.



*The pattern was used according to the creators copyright description.  Also, the marshmallows are pretty small - I can sew them to each other in a pile if you are worried about a choking hazard.

Thank you!

Please continue to pray for a family to find little Rudy - what a treasure!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Praising God!

We are home!!!!  We are home!!!

PRAISING THE LORD FOR HIS GOODNESS!

A post coming soon...but today, I am just going to hold my kiddos and rejoice.


This was Serenity's nap time - The Helper just needed to be nice and close.  I understand the feeling. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We are still here....I promise!

It has been 3 crazy-busy weeks since Serenity's first surgery.....three long weeks.  Honestly, it has gone much, much smoother than I anticipated.  That is the benefit of planning for the worst scenarios - you end up most of the time with a pleasant surprise.  Actually, it is a little hard to use the word "pleasant" when talking hospitals, etc., but you get the idea.

Our anticipated going-home day is the 21st; so just a few more days. But this morning as I am tired and 1-hand typing as Little Man is already up, 3 more days feels like a long time!  Here is a picture of my precious girl from last week:
This was before the skull surgery ("vault expansion") on Friday.  For the surgery, they shaved a once inch strip from ear to ear over the top of her head, but they left the rest of her hair.  I cannot tell you how much relief emotionally this is - something about having her shaved completely would have really crushed my heart.  Now with some creative hair-dos or some big (soft) headbands, we should be able to hide the chevron shaped scar.  When they do future surgeries, they will just keep coming back to that original place.  Again, hard to describe the emotional relief in that.

I would guess that most people would not be able to see differences in the skull/face, but they are amazing to us.  Even though it was an expansion to the back of her head, it has relieved the pressure on her eyes and face, so everything looks less puffy and profound.  In six months, they will do the front of her skull (not the mid-face).  This will probably reshape her face in a much more distinct way.  But I am not ready to think about another surgery yet.  I have to keep reminding myself that future surgery stays will be measured in days, not weeks.  This one was so long due to the trach placement.

So how is the adjustment going to the trach?  Ummmmm, Serenity has made it easy.  One of the biggest things with the trachs is that they can get clogged very easily with the secretions from the lungs - which therefore blocks of the breathing - immediately a critical situation.  Well, Serenity has such a hard, forceful cough, we are rarely having to suction her beyond "maintenance" cleaning.  She also figured out how to "talk" around the trach within a week.  This is amazing!  It also gives a safety factor of her being able to communicate to us if something isn't quite right.  Handsome and I are finishing up the last of six classes this morning on trach care/emergency care.  It is a little scary, honestly.  But I keep reminding myself that God was sovereign before the trach, and He is sovereign now.  Serenity is never out of His Hand.  There is great comfort in that.  If I trust His plans are perfect - even when I don't understand them - then I can rest in His Hand.  This does not mean that nothing bad will ever happen - and that the pain wouldn't be devastating - but it does mean that nothing will happen outside of His perfect plan.  Ever.

I had planned to update the blog every other day or so with new prayer requests and updates.  But then real life got in the way.  By the time I get home from the hospital and give everyone some lovin', I am so tired I just sit and hold someone until it is time to start the bedtime routine.  When I get up in the morning, my time with my Savior takes precedence - and I need that time so desperately! - and then it is time to start the day rolling again.

I am so humbled and grateful for all those that have helped us - my parents, Grammy Caroline, my sisters, Handsome's parents and those from church that have brought meals.  It amazes me that so many people would give so much for my family.  It is amazing too, how knowing that someone else is bringing dinner is such a relief.  The very long drive home from the hospital saps the last of my energy.  I have a huge amount of compassion now for those who have to commute in traffic every day.

Today, a home care rep from the hospital is bringing all the supplies and machines we will need.  I have found in the past that it is a little unnerving to see all this "hospital" equipment in my home.  All of the sudden it makes things feel very critical and scary, even though it is all here to help us.  I am trying to gear myself up for that.  It will actually be nice to have a day or two to get everything arranged and in place before she is home - though I would prefer to have her home instead!

I need to get the day rolling - but I know it is bad when The Testy Chef says, "Mom, you need to update your blog!".....Thank you for all the prayers and support, I can never tell you what it means to me.  Please pray for peace and strength for these last few hospital days.  Thursday and Friday will be a little more difficult as Grammy and my parents are flying out for much needed vacations.  In God's grace, they were scheduled long before the surgeries - I know that they would have been cancelled otherwise.  But it I see it as such a gift to them all after some busy, busy weeks.  Pray for Serenity's peace.  I am afraid that she thinks she has just been moved to a new orphanage.  On Saturday, we did see her dealing with some depression, poor baby!  Yesterday, we finally got the "okay" to take her anywhere in the hospital, so The Helper and I took her to the cafeteria.  She was so excited!  We will do the same today after the last training.

I am anticipating a wonderful Friday night with us all home together again!  Handsome has spent almost every night at the hospital - what an amazing, wonderful man I have been given! - and if he is home, I am at the hospital....just need us all together again.  I have told the kids that Saturday is just a "jammie" day.  They looked at me like I had finally lost my sanity - I am never up for just a "jammie" day...but it has been a long three weeks!

May everything be to His glory!

Until He comes...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Quick update....

Just have time for a quick update.  Serenity's vault expansion (adding to the back of her skull) went very, very well.  The doctors seemed very pleased.  They said that she will need surgery to the front of her skull (not the face) in about six months. 

So now they are trying to work her slowly of her pain and sedation medications.  She is really having a tough time with this, plus lots of vomiting from having that area of her body operated on.  She is not really eating.  Worse still, she is not drinking.  She has to have thickened liquids due to the trach and she is NOT happy about it.  This morning she was simply refusing to drink. :(

Please pray for her comfort, for smooth easing off the medications, and that she will eat and drink.  All of this is critical to her moving closer to coming home.  Pray also for Handsome and I as we have 3 days of training this week - as long as Serenity is out of the ICU.  Please be praying these are not delayed.

Loving this sweet girl and wanting her home!