Saturday, June 20, 2015

At it again!

Hope has been back on track eating again.  Lasagna, pancakes, ravioli, eggs, watermelon.  I am so thankful and so relieved.  Thank you to all of you who prayed.  It is all in very tiny bites and still fed by me - but we are moving forward again.

I also had a special treat last week that I am so thankful for - my Savior does know what I need!  Almost 2 weeks ago, I packed up most of my crew to go camping to my favorite place on earth.  Almost my entire family goes together each year.  I knew just like last year that I needed to stay home with the girls and Little Man.  It was a quiet few days, but very busy meeting all their needs without other hands helping.  Handsome had to bring The Warrior home halfway through the trip for an event he was helping with.  Just before he came home, he jokingly said, "Why don't we trade places?  I will stay home with the girls and you can go camping?"  I quickly said that it wouldn't work.  But when I got off the phone, I felt the Lord prompting me to think about it.  Hmmmm....what if I took both Serenity and Little Man with me?  I really wanted them both to experience camping.  It took quite a bit of work to get all of Serenity's machines and equipment in the car, but we did it!  (She has to be on a pulse/ox monitor as well as a humidifier at night for the trach - so 3 machines and an IV pole all had to be carefully transported).  Fortunately, Handsome stays in a cabin for this trip, so I had plenty of outlets to plug things into.

May I just say it was glorious?  Serenity and Little Man just soaked up the outdoors.  I got to surprise all the kids as they didn't know Handsome and I were switching places.  (They stayed with my parents/sisters while Handsome drove home.)  I just enjoyed and treasured each moment.  I am guessing it will be a few more years before we are all camping together again, so it made the gift even more precious.



Serenity loved every part of it.  BUT the funny thing was she still complained about everything.  We had assumed this was a boredom thing and were feeling more than a little badly for her.  Now, we are realizing it is just part of her complex personality.  She can be surrounded with her favorite things - people, outdoors, and food - and still find things to complain about!  There is some freedom in this realization for us.  We will keep working at filling her days - but also give ourselves a break that she may never be completely happy with any of our efforts.  Crazy girl!

I am on Day 5 of camping clean up - one more load of laundry, a sleeping bag to roll up, and the pop up tent trailer to put back down and it will be done......until the next camping trip.  I won't think about that right now...

Please keep praying for LOA to come swiftly for Brooke and Jillian


....can't wait to hold my newest daughters.  I know time will fly by - but tonight it seems to be too long...

Until He comes...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Joy

I have been simply overwhelmed with joy the last few days that I get to be the mama of these beautiful girls!  My cup runs over with blessings!



Monday, June 8, 2015

Kick back....

I knew it would come, but I am disappointed nonetheless.  Hope is now kicking back at the progress that we have made and refusing to eat "regular" food and drink from her cup.  I knew some kind of kickback would happen - but I think I was hoping it would be in some other area.

The good news is that now I know she can do it.  Before, there was always a lingering doubt - was I pushing too much?  What if she can't do this?  Should I push her?  Now I know.....but still don't know quite what to do about it....contrary to what you might think, you cannot force someone to eat or drink.  And if that person is as determined as Hope, "waiting" it out won't work either.

I would so appreciate your prayers for wisdom and for patience to stay consistent.

Until He comes...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The power of a picture..

See this little face?



Two of my kiddos - Snip and The Professor have loved this little man for quite some time. You may remember that we were his "Angel Tree Warriors" through Reese's Rainbow at Christmas.  Little Snip still regularly puts her dollars in his account.  I just kept looking at his little face and wishing for better pictures.  We have prayed for a family for him for so long! 

Well, to my utter delight, the ladies at Children's House International have met him!  Here are his new pictures!  What a difference a picture makes!




He is so full of life!!!  Is he your son?  For more information, contact Nina at nina.t@chiadopt.org !

Praying for this little man!! 

LID plus!

We are just bursting with good news!  Hope is still eating and sleeping well!  I am so over the moon excited!  So grateful and thankful for this gift from our Savior!

Also, it was confirmed yesterday that we are LID (logged in dossier)!  More praise!  Then this morning, I got an email that we are in translation as of 5/28!  That means we were LID early last week!  Hallelujah!  Our agency said that this is the stage that can take quite some time.  I am praying for blessing and grace on the one(s) responsible for this task - it must be a tedious job! 

I am still praying for September/October travel meaning we need LOA (Letter of Acceptance) in the next 4-6 weeks.  Praying for God's perfect plan and for patience!

Here are a few beautiful pictures of Brooke when she was younger - what a beautiful treasure!


Until He comes.....

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A miracle for Hope!

Yesterday, I took Hope in to the endocrinologist.  They want to be sure that all is well with her pituitary gland.  She has lost weight again and is back to the weight she was when we brought her home.  She has gained an inch - but 3 inches would be a better gain.  The others that have had her diagnosis often have issues with their pituitary gland, especially regarding growth hormone.

As I talked with the doctor and she asked questions, I told her it would be very hard to know if it was growth issue or an eating issue without any blood tests.  They will do those in the early morning in a few weeks.  (They are also testing cortisol levels, which are highest in the morning).  It was also discussed that there could be issues with cortisol - which I have heard can be chronically low because of the stress of orphanages.  The doctor said it should be resolved by now, but the studies I have read said it never really resolves on its own - so it will be interesting to see.  She doesn't have any of the symptoms so far - but always good to check.  The final check will be on the thyroid gland.  If it is a cortisol or thyroid problem, it would mean medication every day.  If it was growth hormone - it would mean a daily injection.  My heart almost stopped.  I don't know what my poor girl would do if I had to "hurt" her every day.  I have had to do daily injections, it is not fun. :(

I was driving home pretty heartbroken for my girl, the Lord hearing my heart.  I thought, I just need to keep trying to get her to eat more even though the appointment with the therapist is not until the end of the this month.  For some odd reason (the Lord's prompting, but I didn't see it as that), I decided to make some egg noodles to chop up into tiny pieces with some sauce on it to try to feed her.  The girl I could barely get to choke down a little oatmeal that I was mixing in her blended food!  I also thought I would try to spoon feed her chunks of banana - the girl that only ate Gerber blended bananas.  And why not try a few of the "puffies" (the dissolving rice stars that Gerber makes)?  I might as well have been thinking that I should just go out and join an Iron Man race with no training.  My biggest girls were looking at me with that, "Okaaaaaaay, mom, do you need some more coffee?" look.  I prayed briefly, "Lord, please help her to eat it."  AND SHE DID!  Every last bite of it!  A small bowl of noodles with spaghetti sauce, 3/4 of a banana, a Gerber applesauce, and 10 puffies cut in half!  Then I handed her drink to her (which she almost always refuses) and she snuggled up on my lap and drank every last drop!  I am still in shock.

THEN at dinner, she ate cheese ravioli cut into small bites and a cup of yogurt!  The girl that would only eat the blended foods that tasted completely fruity!  Different textures, different tastes!  PRAISING MY SAVIOR!

At bedtime, I thought maybe I should heat up some milk in the sippy cup that she uses and try and see if she would drink it while I rocked her.  Again, this is the girl that NEVER wants to drink!  I added some powdered calories to it as well as some probiotics.  She drank it all down and wanted more!  I gave her another cup full.  When I tucked her in, she smiled and laughed.  I am sure that going to bed after having her tummy FULL was an amazing feeling.  I did not hear her "s'mope" (her unique noise) once last night.  I am still in shock!

Last night I had trouble sleeping because I was thinking through all the foods we could try with her now.  Scrambled eggs, pastas, soft breads in tiny pieces, cooked carrots, chunks of soft fruit!  Can you tell how excited I am.  I have prayed over my girl every day - that the Lord would heal her heart, mind, body, and soul.  So many days of seeing nothing change - yet knowing that God could heal her in an instant...so I kept asking.  Oh, praise the Lord, oh my soul!

We will still see what the blood tests say - and the appointment at the end of the month will give us a good idea if her new eating habits help her to gain weight - I am so excited to see what life will be like now that she is finally eating!  Oh, happy day!

Until He comes - all praise, glory, and honor to His Name!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Part 5? Sheesh....

I feel almost a desperation to get to the end of this part of our story....I apologize for two posts in one day, but here goes...

The kids' new rooms were wonderful - but what about the rest of the stuff?  I see now how foolish all the "stuff" was - but honestly, we were just like every other family we knew - only we did probably have less stuff because we have always been more conservative financially.  I wanted the "Better Homes and Gardens" look - only kid-friendly.  I loved gardening and flowers and sewing, and decorating and  china and painting.  I loved having parties and enjoying big get togethers.  I had not been able to do that for a while - but the Lord revealed very clearly that it was my "goal".  I was climbing toward the same goal as the rest of the world, just on a slightly different ladder.  It was the "things of the world" on a tight budget.  Everything around us had assured us that God would bless us in this way.  The harder life got for us, the more people pulled away because they didn't have any answers for us anymore - except that maybe we hadn't followed God after all - and that was why all of this was happening.  That we had made a mistake.

After we sold off or given away over 50% of our stuff, we put the rest of the stuff in the garage at the new house and put the big house on the market.  The agent was sure it would quickly sell.  We waited for a phone call that first weekend - all the other houses in the area were selling in days if not hours of going up.  God would take care of this quickly, right?

It was a blessing the first morning to wake up warm.  A smaller house made such a huge difference in the cold weather.  We were in a bit of a bizarre situation - the house was really not "ours" yet.  Some of Handsome's brother's stuff was still in the house and we just had to work around it.  But I looked at the pile of stuff in the garage and knew it would never fit in the house.  So began the process of getting rid of another third of the stuff we had left.  Oh, how it hurt!  When was enough, enough?  I was so scared of giving away something, only to find out later that we needed and not have the money to replace it.  I had so much to learn about my Savior being the Provider.  It didn't seem like He was Providing now!  To make it harder, two families in our extended family were moving into their dream houses.  How different it was to move because you had to, not because you wanted to!

One of the hardest things for me at the new house was the tiny master bathroom.  I mean TINY.  The shower door was so tiny, I had to back into it with my huge pregnant belly.   The tiles were permanently stained.  I would climb into the shower and sob my heart out, because no one could hear me.  Ironically, when we moved 8 years later,  I missed the shower the most.  It had become my "prayer closet" that I learned to pour my heart out to my Savior and wait on Him.

One day, as I was driving the kids to church, I was silently crying out to the Lord to give me some kind of hope, some kind of direction.  When I got to the nursery, there was a new woman helping that was fascinated with our story and my boys.  She said that she too had adopted.  She said the struggles with her new daughter were so intense she wanted to give up.  WHAT?  Someone who understood?  I was so excited!  Was the Lord answering my prayer for direction?  There were several other families that had adopted from China, but they really didn't have any struggles with transitions - they just looked at me in confusion when I would ask.  I asked her how she dealt with it.  She said calmly, with great patience, and compassion.  Hmmmm....that hadn't worked for me so far.  I said, "Well, how long did it take?"  I waited in breathless anticipation....maybe we were just on the verge of a breakthrough...maybe there was hope!  I leaned forward, every hope I had hanging on her next words.  She smiled and said, "Oh, honey.  It took...well let me think...it took at least two weeks."  WHAT?  "Two weeks?", I gasped out.  She said, "Yes, how long have your boys been home?"  "Six months", I choked out.  Her face fell and she said, "I really don't know how to help you.  I am sorry."  And she walked away.  She left, just like my hope....

The pit I was in was getting darker and deeper.  I was swallowed up in despair.  Our big house just sat untouched on the market.  The Professor still screamed and jumped every night.  The battles raged on with Romeo.  The "Three Amigos", as we called them, could get into trouble faster than any children I knew.  The days were ticking by until the new baby was due.  How was I ever going to do it?  I missed laughing and playing with my kids, but there was no laughter left in me.  Poor Handsome, hard, hard days at work and then even harder nights at home with chaos and a wife in complete despair.

When things were at the darkest, a friend of a friend called and said she felt she really felt the Lord leading her to share her story about her adopted daughter.  Little warning bells went off in my mind - I knew she only had boys, no little girls.  I felt a shiver building in my soul.  It is not my story to tell, so it suffices to say that their story ended in disruption and the re-adoption of the little girl into another family.  She finished by saying, "You don't have to go through with this if it is just too much.  Maybe the boys would do better somewhere else."

So began the blackest 30 minutes of my life.  I pictured give the twins away.  I pictured the relief I would feel.  The blessed relief.  Was this the answer?  I ignored the pounding of the Holy Spirit on my soul - I just wanted the relief.  Then, I suddenly pictured passing them on to someone else.  I pictured their little baby faces and the betrayal there.  Who would be patient enough with The Professor's oddities?  Who would force Romeo to learn when he didn't want to?  How could I give away MY boys?  I could sooner cut out a piece of my heart and survive than to hand MY boys to someone else.  The blackness that surrounded me fled in the light of that.  No, my feelings hadn't changed - there was not a miraculous pouring out of love in my soul for them.  I just knew they were mine.  This is what the Lord had asked me to do.  This was His plan.

I see this now as the beginning of the Lord rebuilding my heart.  He had stripped me bare of everything.  Everything.  Now, He could begin again.  Slowly, but surely, over days, months, and years He began gently teaching me truth.  Helping me to see the ugliness of my own soul and the beauty of Himself.  But at the time, I could not see it.  I just felt that I had to find a way to keep moving.  That this was my family - and that I needed His help.  No miraculous changes, just a desire to move on from the blackness.

Our big house sat on the market for four months.  Four long months while everything else sold in days.  We ended up selling it for $40,000 less than we were asking - plus paying a huge amount of rent on the house while we waited.  This was another kick in the stomach when money was so tight....there went the money we hoped to pay off more bills and to buy a car that we would all fit in.  When Snip was born, we would no longer be able to fit in one car....that seemed to be a final straw at the time.

I was scheduled for inducement the week before my extended family all left on a camping trip.  It seemed everyone else's lives were moving on as our just sat in despair.  I sent Handsome and the three oldest on the trip - we wanted to limit the effect of all the changes on our oldest three and camping was a very important part of our life.

I went in for the scheduled inducement with despair wrapped around me.  Our house was still not sold.  Everyone assured me that God would give us a happy, content baby.  That He knew my limits and would not push us beyond that.  That seemed pretty naive to me, considering I had passed my "limits" a long, long time before.  Hard to go into labor with nothing left to fight with.  All our other babies so far, except Smiley, had been pretty cranky.  It seemed too much to hope for a happy baby.  The labor was much longer than the last time, but Snip was finally born about 12 hours later.  She came out tiny, healthy, and screaming.  Handsome left pretty quickly after that, knowing that he needed to be home for the other kids.  I sat in the hospital bed with my screaming baby.  As I looked at her, I realized I would have chosen not to do this.  I would have chosen to never have this precious life.  Again, she was SCREAMING.  I realized this wasn't a happy, fuzzy, fluffy, emotion filled moment - this was deep conviction from the Holy Spirit in my heart.  God had chosen to create this little life.  He had plans for her - and I would have chosen in my selfishness to never have done this.  This was a changing point for Handsome and I.  We would choose now to let God decide on our family size - though we could not see how we could do any more.  It was a complete changing point.

I brought little Snip home and a week later it was just me, the Three Amigos, and screaming Snip.  It was so hard.  So very hard.  We finally sold the house.  I walked through it one more time before turning over the keys.  I put my head against one of the walls in the hallway and sobbed.  I sobbed my heart out - not just over the house - but over all the dreams we had had that were now shattered.  We were broken and unsure of where life was going to take us.  There was no joy there, because we weren't convinced we could trust Him.  What of His promises?  What of all the things we had been taught?  Why did our life look so different than everyone else around us?  How did we walk through the fire and come out victorious on the other side?  It was a closing of more than a physical door.  It was a closing off of "us" in our selfishness and self-seeking desires.   We could not see it then, but it was also a time of building.  God would take our life - empty and broken to pieces - and would build it again in beautiful simplicity - teaching us the Truth about Himself and His promises.  But it would take years before we could look back and see it.

How much I would have done differently in my heart if I could go back.  How I regret those wasted years.  But I would not change what I know now that they Lord was doing.  I would never want to relive them - but I can rejoice over them now - but not with the happy joy we picture - but with the joy of the Lord.  That is our strength.

So much happened after this - so many changes.  No, God did not immediately replace all that had been taken from us.  These were still long, pain-filled years - but in the end, we didn't want those things back....we learned so much.  We have gone through dark times since then when Mimi was born and we thought we would lose her.  But the Lord is the anchor of our souls now - so the storms raging around us rock our lives, but we are not adrift as it seemed then.

So, Mama V, the story of 4 to 7 in nine months.  Not a simple story to tell.  Actually, it has been hard to walk those days again in my heart - but I am so thankful for all He did.  I am so thankful that He saved me for eternity.  I am so thankful that was not the end of our story.

Until He comes - all glory, honor, and praise to Him.

P.S.  You know the "smell" of the twins?  It lasted on The Professor for over six months.  On Romeo, for over a year.  I have no idea why other than poor nutrition.  As you can guess, it just got worse to me with the pregnancy - like immediately gagging over a bowl.  My sweet sister-in-law found Johnson and Johnson Baby Cologne to put on them.  I did.  EVERY day.  Now I cannot smell that smell without immediately getting nauseous.

And Romeo - he is an amazingly handsome, strong young man.  Still stubborn as the day is long - but he needed that to survive.  I am so amazed and in love with this young man.  He is my son.  I am so very proud of him.  God gave me one of the most precious gift in him.  I cannot wait to see the story God will write with this amazing kiddo.

And The Professor - some of you may have guessed it long before I ever even had an inkling.  He has autism.  God graciously did not reveal this to me until he was about 8 or 9 years old.  I had sworn by then that I could handle any special need except autism.  God not only gave me the precious Professor - but I also am convinced that The Boss is on the autism spectrum as well.  It is still a massive challenge for me - but God has given Handsome a deep and abiding compassion for these sons of ours.  He would not hesitate to adopt another child with autism - I am trying to hold an open hand before my Savior.  I love these boys desperately.  I would change their diagnosis for their sake - but I will rejoice in them, protect them, and challenge them to see them grow in the beauty that the Lord has for them!