Friday, January 23, 2015

Fungus and prayer requests....

Yes, that about sums up life here right now...fungus and prayers.

We took Serenity in for her "pre-op" appointments on Wednesday. "Pre-op" seems a little too serious for the procedure we were to have today - she needs a sedated hearing test to be able to accurately determine where in her ears there is a hearing problem.  That way the right type of hearing aid can be used.  It is strongly suspected that it is her middle/inner ear, but they need to know for sure. 

The day on Wednesday started off with traffic worse than normal, so we were late. :(  The first appointment went fine, other than Little Man is getting pretty squirrely at 8 months old.  The poor guy has been to more doctors' appointments than any other child because he has to go to all the appointments until he decides to start eating Gerber foods and not be so cranky.  It isn't fair to leave him with others who cannot feed him or comfort him!  Anyway.... Then we moved on to a nurse visit because one little area on her incision is not healing well.  That was a little traumatic for Serenity.  Deep breath....and move on to the last visit.  It was one of those days we were counting the minutes until we could head home.  This was just the doctor peeking in her ears to make sure they were clear.  No problem, right?  Uh, yes.....a problem.  One of her ear tubes had plugged.  Not good.  Then the doctor asks - and only those of you with an active tornado like Serenity will understand the panic that washed over me - "Does she stick things in her ears?....Like cotton?"  Well, I can imagine Serenity sticking LOTS of things in her ears - as she sticks things everywhere else!  (Her favorite trick right now is to pop her "nose" off her trach and then plug the hole with her thumb to see how fast I will come running as I hear her struggling to breathe!)  I think my answer to the doctor was something like, "Uhhhhhhhhhh.....".   He pulled out the massive electronic scope to see better.  He ended up pulling out the plugged tube to find that there is a fungus growing in her ear.  Not that uncommon (we have done that before with Romeo), but it can be very hard to thoroughly get rid of the fungus.  We have 3 weeks worth of meds twice a day and then will go see the doc again in 4-5 weeks.  If it is clear, we will reschedule.....which is making the test probably around the end of March, beginning of April at this point.  Deep sigh.  After grumbling a bit in prayer, I just left it with trust in Him that there is a plan.  It makes for an easier morning this morning! 

Please pray for quick healing for her.  Pray for the schedule as it will begin to be put together for the spring - Serenity's next skull surgery, preparation for Hope's surgery on her face, more botox injections to ease Grace's CP.  So many good things - with so much pain attached.  I am so very thankful as always for the blessings of amazing doctors and hospitals....what grace we have been given.

I also have a prayer request for this beautiful little man:

This is Aaron.  He is currently in a large Asian country.  He has complex heart problems.  It has been determined that the surgery he needs cannot be done in his country.  However - Praise the Lord! - he was able to have a shunt placed just today that will help.  But he is in the ICU alone.  No mom to sing over him.  No dad to hold his hands.  By the rules, the Nanny in this picture cannot be with him. 

This is just killing my heart.  He is tinier than Little man by 12 lbs, yet he is 5 months older.  There are so many children I stop and pray for....but then some are just like a kick in the stomach and I just can't catch a full breath.

Please pray for comfort and peace for him.  Pray that the Lord is singing over him.  Most of all, please pray that a family steps forward in faith to make him their own. 

Until He comes....

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Prayers answered and PA!!!

Serenity passed her swallow study - thank the Lord!  We need to thicken her drinks at half strength for a week and then we are back to normal!  I am ridiculously relieved about less thing is always good, right?

Also, we received PA from China for Jillian and Brooke!  This is Pre-Approval to continue the adoption.  I am also ridiculously excited about this.  One step closer to our precious new ones. 

And the last thing I am ridiculously pleased about...a sweet picture of Hope.

I am truly blessed!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Prayer Request

On Monday, Serenity is going to have a repeat swallow study.  When they put the trach in, they did a swallow study in the hospital and saw that a small amount of fluids were going in her lungs when she drank.  This is obviously not good!  As a result, we have to thicken all her liquids to a "nectar" consistency.  This wasn't totally new to us as Mimi has to have thickened liquids if she tries to drink something.  (Which she does not unless we make her.) 

It really isn't a big deal in the scheme of things, it is just a hassle.  Kinda that "one more thing" hassle.  Serenity drinks a lot .... and each time it has to be thickened.  We also have to be vigilant about not leaving cups around that she can drink out of - even more so now because she is always on the hunt for them.  She does not like the thickened liquids and I can't say that I blame her!

Anyway, on Monday they will do another swallow study.  Would you join us in praying that she has adjusted to the trach and no longer needs to have the thickener?  It would just make the day-to-day a little easier!

A fun picture for you - though not the best quality:

That happy face would be hope in a swing!  AMAZING, huh?  I have been praying for over a year to get an indoor swing.  I knew this would  be an amazing "therapy" tool for all the girls, but especially for Hope who has just never had any "sensory" integration. The problem?  To get all the pieces we would need the price tag was almost $400.  Gulp.  I asked the Lord to provide, if it was His plan, but just never felt free to spend the money on it.  We know that every dollar belongs to Him, so if we don't feel peace, we don't do it.  At Christmas time, we almost bought it anyway...we just felt it would be so important...but just couldn't bring ourselves to go against what we don't feel fully comfortable with - especially with praying for every dollar needed for the new adoption.  So, I just laid it at His feet. A week or so later, I was discussing it again with my mom as The Helper was listening and she piped in, "Hey, Mom, you know they sell swing hangers that wrap around tree branches for $25?"  WHAT?  Sure enough, she showed me in a catalog.  The design of our manufactured home has "exposed" beams between some of the rooms....and they just fit around the last one I tried.

Thank you, Lord, for always providing!  

Add an outdoor swing...and TA DAH!  We are still praying and searching for more of a hammock style swing that Grace can lay in....but I am thrilled for this right now.  Serenity LOVED it - of course!  Mimi wanted nothing to do with it.  And Little Man....

He squealed and laughed until he was worn out! Happy day!

Finally, Mama V ~  I just loved your comment about visiting the blog to see Brooke's beautiful little face.  It just gets you, huh?  What a gift God is giving us!  So these are for you!

  And here are a few of my precious Jillian.  I completely understand why they shave their heads in the orphanages...but how I wish they wouldn't!

Don't worry, little one...we will let that hair grow.  Your big sisters can't wait to play with it!

Please continue to pray for our Savior to move the mountains to get these little ones home.  We have our final visit with the social worker on Monday.  I am praying that she will be able to complete the home study very quickly after that...then on to USCIS approval.

To Him be the glory ~

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Little ones needing families....

As I pray over my Jillian and Brooke ~ we have our paperwork ready to send to their country to get "PA" (preapproval) on Monday ~ I cannot help but be burdened to pray for some other precious lives so in need of families:

Meet Mikayla and Milo.  This dynamic duo is so precious to my heart as they have Apert Syndrome like my little dynamo, Serenity.  They both live in the same foster home.  How amazing it would be to have them adopted together.  Yes, these kiddos need quite a bit of medical intervention; but their amazing personalities and beauty make it so worth it.  Something that always strikes Handsome and I when we are at the doctor's office or hospital is the abundance of amazing medical resources we have here in the U.S..  They can do amazing things - relieving pain and pressure, restructuring and reshaping - the list goes on and on.  God is faithful - He will provide all you need if you are a disciple of His.  Please at the very least - because in reality it is the most powerful thing you can do - lift these children up in prayer.  

Then there is Ekko and Elliot.  Another pair together in the same orphanage.  Both have been blessed with an extra chromosome.  Both would be amazing blessings to a family following Christ's leading.

And another precious pair with Down Syndrome.  Lucy and Caden.  Both in the same orphanage.  Both Lucy and Caden are listed on Reese's Rainbow.  To see Lucy's file (called Mary Lauren) on RR, click here.  To see Caden's file, click here.  Both have grants that will help with their adoption costs.

And finally, little Rudy.  He also has Down Syndrome.  My kiddos love this little guy.  We are praying he is found by a family soon - he is such a treasure.  His file is also on RR here.

If you want more information on any of these precious treasures, please leave me a comment with your email address.  I will not publish it.

Please, please pray for each one.

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.



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 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.