Thank you for those who have sent messages with encouragement and concern. We are still here!
It has been a jumbled season of searching and waiting, rejoicing and grieving. I have stopped trying to sort out what may be because of our Brooke leaving and what is just this season of life. I have spent time wrestling with my Savior - "Is this the path You would have us continue on?" "We haven't missed a turn in the road, have we?" "You are still leading and guiding us, right Lord?" I have just needed His loving confirmation that we are indeed still walking with Him. The wrestling takes a lot out of me emotionally. When I have confidence, I can cling to Him and continue running. When I start to question, I begin to stumble and fall as my eyes turn every direction but onto His face. I let all the whispers around me distract and derail me.
Yes, I am sure some of this is because the path has led us in places I never wanted to go. I thought Brooke would be in awe of the Christmas lights and licking frosting from Christmas cookies off her hands. We had already bought her Christmas dress as all the "little" girls have the same type of dress this year. What do I do with that dress? It seems like a little question, but it really is not....I can't bear to give it away, but I can't bear to keep it either.
My days will be busy and full of joyful Christmas things and then something - like an email from the funeral home saying that her grave marker has finally been set in place - pops up and it brings the joyful noise to an instant silence in my heart. I need to remind myself that my precious daughter is not spending her Christmas in a graveyard - she is rejoicing with the very Savior we are celebrating! But emotions can be very hard to reign in and redirect at times. Some days the grief seems quieter and then I feel guilty - other days the grief is roaring and I just can't find any relief.
We have also been wrestling over adding a second child to Lucy's adoption. It would be so easy - emotionally, financially, logistically - to just get Lucy this time. But our heart cries, "How can you leave one behind?" We had several times settled on a child but then found out that child had a family coming - which is a cause for rejoicing!!! But then we must wrestle again. We know each time that happens, it means that God has another child for us. We are completely and utterly confident of that. But the wrestling in prayer can be a wearing thing. We have submitted LOI (Letter of Intent) to adopt for a precious pumpkin that has been on our "list" for long time. When we hear back from the country, I will post a picture and some information. We will hopefully know by Monday.
We had the final post-placement visit with the caseworker on Tuesday for Hope and Serenity. It is always a cause for reflection as we tell her what has happened over the past months. She felt that Hope was a completely different little girl than when she first met it. From one point of view, I can see that. But my heart is always broken by the depth of damage that was done to her over her first years of life. How would she be different if she had been in our family since birth? I think seeing Jillian thrive in even the first few months she is here just emphasizes that. But it is so much easier to think about "what ifs" and so much harder to answer the "what now?". Hope is just such a complex tangle of hurt and missing connections and unknowns. The other day, we did have a break-through with Hope. My mom had her at the school table with the other kids and through a great deal of prompting, was finally able to get Hope to drop a little colored bear in a bucket. This is the first time we have EVER seen her to this. If she is just playing on the floor, she will pick up an item - but I have never seen her put an item in a bucket, box, purse, etc. It is one of the "basics" of play. She will put toys in her mouth or scratch on them or spin a part - but she doesn't put them in and out. I was thrilled and sad all at the same time. I purposely kept out of her sight because she seems to not be willing to do anything if I am watching. I was reading a wonderful post by Susanna at The Blessing of Verity. She was discussing Katie, a little girl they adopted from a situation even worse than Hope's, and she used the phrase "learned helplessness". This just brought clarity to my struggles with Hope. She won't even try to do things, like feed herself or pull herself up or pick up a toy, because she has learned to just sit and wait for it to be done for her. Even worse, she has learned in the past that she will be punished if she does try. How do you even begin to repair that type of damage? Only through prayer and patience....and more prayer and patience. Hope spends her days playing on the floor and scooting around the house in search of another item that she can scratch or bang on to make noise. She does spend more and more time observing what others around her are doing and that is very good. She gets very excited when new people come and she wants to interact, but she has not learned how to do so appropriately. She does what we call the "octopus" in that she scoots very close and wraps her legs around the person. It is very disconcerting to other small children and even to adults that are not familiar to her situation. We are really working to help her with this, but without much avail at this point. She ends up completely overstimulated and we have to remove her from them - which is very sad. She is sleeping well finally. I do still have to hand feed her all her food. Occasionally, usually when there has been some kind of change to her routine, she will fight me on the food - but she has plumped up and is growing taller.
So what are my hopes and dreams for her over the next year? I would love for her to start to feed herself - like small pieces of graham cracker or Cherrios or something of the sort. I would love to see her learn to interact with people on a more "typical" level so they can see how amazing this little fighter is - how far she has come - rather than the oddity of her behavior. I would also love to see her begin to interact with her environment - such has putting toys "in and out" of something, stacking, etc. I am still praying over how to begin with each of these things.
Serenity has changed so much over the last two years. Physically, she has grown a great deal - plus the skull surgeries have altered her looks. She now has glasses and her hearing aids are in process. We finally were able to get her sedated hearing test done and she does have significant hearing loss. Again, I am on pins and needles to see what differences the hearing aids make. I am hoping it will begin to open up meaningful speech from her. Right now, she has a few words that we recognize, but others may not and a lot of pointing and gesturing, with a few words in sign language. She gets frustrated - we get frustrated....really praying for a breakthrough.
We are finally seeing some progress with the potty-training! I am so very relieved. I had spent so much time praying over this and really felt it was an important part of her maturing. I think if Hope has "learned helplessness", Serenity at times has "desired helplessness". She still wants to be treated like a baby - but on her terms. She doesn't want to have to use the potty - but she gets very angry if we don't change her messy diaper RIGHT NOW. We still have a long way to go, but I feel like she is finally getting the idea.
I have so many hopes and dreams for her. They have changed as she has been home and we can see that there is more damage cognitively than we had originally thought - due to pressure on her brain and lack of oxygen at night. But I know there is more to her future than searching from one mess to make to another. She is just beginning to pick up books and look at them (probably due to the glasses) and she is beginning to try puzzles though she has a very short attention span. As we have not been letting her be a "baby" with the Chipmunks (Jillian and Little Man), she has switched to being very bossy older sister and telling them "Mo!" (her version of "no") on most things. But then she gleefully joins into their mischeivousness in the bathrooms and out of mom's sight.
For her this next year, I am praying that the hearing aids make a huge difference in her attention span and her desires to learn. I can't even imagine the frustration of only hearing bits and pieces. She is doing better in her interactions with others, but we still have to work pretty hard to get her to keep her hands to herself. She wants to run them through people's hair, on their necks, and even under their shirts....soooo not "okay".
Jillian is thriving. She has a very strong personality - not a surprise - so when she is happy she is very happy. When she is cranky, she is very, very cranky!!! She and Little Man get into all kinds of mischief. We call her the mastermind and he covers the PR once they get caught! They are the dynamic duo! She did have some abnormal blood work results as far as clotting as they prepare for her surgery in January, so waiting to see what that means. But overall "thriving", "mischieveous" and "adorable" sums her up.
Grace is just being her beautiful, happy self but we are now planning for a surgery with growth rods for her scoliosis. There have been some amazing changes in the technology and this will mean no more chest brace for 18 hours a day - which we could never accomplish anyway. I am assuming this surgery will be Feb or March - hopefully before we go to get Lucy.
My kiddos are straggling out, so I am going to enjoy this quiet Saturday morning with them. Will try to snap some pictures today, but here was our best attempt at a family picture the other day. Yes, Romeo DID deliberately hide most of his face behind his brother and he may or may not have had to run a few laps for his choice to mess up the family picture after very specific warnings. Keepin' it real here folks.
Until He comes, we will rejoice in both His birth and His death and resurrection to save us from our sins. To Him be all glory, honor, and praise!
The Lord is showing His faithfulness day by day to walk me through the sorrow. I am missing Brookie even more as we are talking Christmas stockings, celebrations, and thankfulness. It is almost one year ago that we decided to adopt Brooke and Jillian. I went into Thanksgiving day with such joy that those beautiful girls were going to be ours. I am even more thankful now....but oh, how I miss her. How I would love to have her cuddled on my lap....
But day by day, I keep walking, knowing that someday I will be with her in heaven with our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jillian is simply amazing. She is so adorable and smart. Nothing is going to hold this little girl back! After our initial assessment with our amazing craniofacial team, the doctors were not overly concerned about her skull needing immediate surgery. We then shifted the goal to getting thumbs for her, along with a few digits for each hand. But a few days later, the craniofacial nurse called to ask us to have Jillian's eyes checked asap for any pressure on the optic nerves. (You may remember that the pressure on the nerves was what catapulted Serenity into surgery last fall.) They got us in last Friday - sure enough, there is pressure on the optic nerves. Surgery for her skull is set for January 22nd. I was hoping for thumbs....but obviously this is much more critical. We will hope for thumbs before summertime now. :)
We are also coming up on the two year mark of Hope and Serenity being home. I need to pull out the old pictures and do some comparisons. Serenity, sporting her new glasses, looks so different. I will need to get pictures. Once again, the anniversary marks a time of me wrestling with what I had hoped for Hope and where she is at. Has there been progress? Absolutely! Is it what I had dreamed of? No. Is she better off? YES!!! So I need to be content in that.
This will be anti-climatic to some, but we are going forward with Lucy's adoption. The grief of Brooke's passing was closely followed by the great fear that we would also lose our Lucy girl. Having her here cemented her in our hearts like nothing else could. As I said in an earlier post, I had assumed that God had brought her to us so that we wouldn't be tempted to "wait" awhile before the next adoption even though we would be worn out emotionally and financially after getting to the end of the race to get Jillian and Brooke home. Well, it turned out to be much more - He knew we would want to just tip toe away from adoption and heartache for a while....but we couldn't without leaving our precious Lucy behind. So here we go....trusting God to provide for all that we will need again. We should be so excited to watch and see how He provides again, but instead we ache a bit. Our "faith" muscles are sore from so much exercise....but here we go again. He is faithful always.
I will soon post our list of expenses, but for now our fundraising link at Reese's Rainbow is here and for The Shepherd's Crook is here. We have completed the homestudy and are waiting on initial USCIS approval. My prayer is that we can be DTC (dossier to China) by Christmas - this would take God moving things along smoothly and quickly - but is not outside the realm of possibilities because we don't have to redo fingerprints.
God is good. My heart aches so much still - but as a mama, I don't expect that ache to ever really go away. I just hope to learn to live with it.
But live goes on beautifully....day by day...birthdays and lovies and buddies...
Thank you for all the love and support. I needed it....
PS - Still praying for my Angel Tree babies - Rudy and Ginny!
I had found Reece's Rainbow many years ago, when we first began praying about a special needs adoption. The first time I scrolled through the pages, I was honestly horrified. All those children. All those needs. I was completely overwhelmed and quickly moved on. But God continued to work on my heart. Through the story of Kathy and Scott Rosenow at The Shepherd's Crook He showed us that He could do amazing things through a large family, focused and dependent on Him. We found our precious Grace through The Shepherd's Crook.
Then the Lord brought me back to Reece's Rainbow after we had already begun Grace's adoption. This time, my heart saw each precious face as an individual...a precious life...a pearl without price. I was still overwhelmed, but in a different way. I wanted to do something this time....I wanted to be part of the rescuing of these precious little ones. Through Reece's Rainbow, we found Serenity and Hope - and have been fully engulfed in the world of special needs adoption.
Both The Shepherd's Crook and Reece's Rainbow have accounts for people to donate toward the cost of the adoption of a specific child. It is an amazing way to help other families, even if you cannot adopt. Each year at Christmas time, Reece's Rainbow has their "Angel Tree" - it is the opportunity through much promotion and effort to build the adoption accounts of these precious children needing families - a way to remove what is usually the biggest barrier to adoption - finances. A child is not put on the Angel Tree unless they have a "warrior" - a family/person committed to advocating for that child. The stated goal is to try to raise $1000 for each child. Honestly, my hope is just to raise up prayer warriors to pray for my Angel Tree kiddos.
This year, there was a lack of "warriors" compared to the amount of kids that were able to be on the Angel Tree, so they allowed us to be warriors for two kids for the first time. Both are very precious to us.
The first is Rudy. We were his Angel Tree warriors last year. It is heartbreaking to see him still there...still needing a family. You can read more about him or donate to him here.
The second is beautiful Ginny. Look at those freckles!!! Her description and donation button is here.
I will share more about them soon...but until then, PLEASE pray for them. That God would raise up families to save them.
I have been avoiding the blog a bit - but then I feel badly as I see how many people keep checking back to see if I have posted again.
Honestly, this blog was not my idea. I am a very, very private person - my family was floored that I began a blog. It was truly the Spirit pressing upon me that I was to share our journey. That I was to be the voice for the voiceless even though I did not want to be heard or seen or critiqued. But through it, I have "met" some wonderful friends - people with hearts like my own. People doing things because He asked - not for their own gain, desires, or fame.
Anyway, through Brooke's passing, I have wanted to hide away. I didn't want to read another nasty troll comment or deal with someone else's opinion of what we should do or have not done - based on not a scrap of information - just their own self-righteous feelings. Yes, I can see what site people have come to ours from - I know that we get a lot of "hits" from people purposely out to criticize large, Christian, adoptive families - yes, it is that specific. I have gone to those pages just to see what is being said - and it is a bunch of foolishness. Criticism without knowledge. And even more foolish - criticism without offering any alternative besides "it isn't our job to save these kids" or more honestly, "let them die". And most of the time no alternative is offered - just criticism. I have said it before and I will repeat it again. A few of these people may be very clever and witty in their criticism. But clever does not equal wise. These people rage against the children of God - I do not have to defend myself. He says that retribution is His job, not mine. I can leave it in His Hands. I am sure some of you are even reading this paragraph now...I have nothing but true sorrow for you. You deny Him and someday, when it is too late for you to still seek Him, He will deny you. My prayer is always that you will seek Him. That you will become children of almighty God. He may not ask you to adopt or have a large family - He may call you to prison ministry, to the homeless, to another country, or to simply, but completely serve those you see everyday. But this will all come from a completely new heart. When you are saved, He tells us that He brings our hearts of stone to life. We change from death to life. One day - when you least expect it - He will either come or you will die. You will stand before Him and will be condemned...not just for your nastiness against us, that truly is nothing - but for every lie, every evil thought, every thought that did not honor Him as God. We all stand condemned - there is nothing we could possibly do to erase the tiniest bit of our sin. James 2:10 says that whoever keeps the whole law, yet breaks it at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Cleverness and wit will not save us from a holy God. Only the salvation offered through His Son, Jesus Christ. Only His death on our behalf.
The days have been full. I still wish some moments that I could find a quiet moment to cry my heart out for my baby girl - but I am also thankful that I cannot. I need to be with my children, I need to be with my husband, I need to be managing my home. I need to remember that Brookie is not suffering, she is not lonely - she is with Christ! One of my children is home forever - exactly where she should be. I pray fervently that each of my precious children will be ready on the day that He calls them home. This is my greatest prayer.
We are coming up on two years that Hope and Serenity have been home. As always, I wish that Hope was farther along....but she is moving at her own pace. There have been changes and growth - I just long for her to dance and sing and play with others. Again, I need to still my heart to just rejoice that she is safe. I will post more as we hit that mark in December.
Serenity is still struggling with wanting to be a toddler, not a six year old. Some of my older kids help with the kids' classrooms on Thursday morning at our church while the moms are in a Bible study. This morning, Serenity went as well. It will give her some "classroom" time on a limited, protected basis. We keep trying to find ways to help her be a "big" girl. Potty training has been a complete failure so far - but I know it is a battle that we have win. There is no reason she should not be able to learn with patience and a working timer. We will just keep working at it...in 30 minute increments. ;-)
I am out of time this morning...but will try to update more very soon.
Please pray for little Chelzey - still needing a family. She most likely has AMC. She is the most beautiful, amazing girl...
I cannot even come up with a title right now...."Moving on" isn't right because it sounds like we are leaving our Brookie behind. Any reference to time is hard to work with right now. Time is moving on - that is how God designed life - but in some ways it still seems stuck on the day that Brooke passed away.
I miss my girl. How I miss my girl. As I have seen with others going through grief, the time leading up to the burial/memorial is a complete mix of emotions - disbelief, intense grief, but we have something to "do" - we need to get ready for the burial/memorial. Friends surround us - we don't have to go some place where people don't know we are grieving. But then -as is right and good - life must continue onward....
Handsome felt it most after the memorial. He thought he was doing really well, especially Sunday evening after the memorial. We were surrounded by precious friends and family. Some had come a long way to be with us. One of my friends that I have not seen since high school came! It was a mix of grief and joy to share Brookie's little life with so many. My mom made the church look so beautiful. We wanted it to be a celebration of her life, so we brought the special things that Brooke loved and reminded us of her that we had already put in a "treasure" box. It made the most beautiful display as people entered, along with big beautiful pictures of her. Each table had a sand pail holding balloons, rubber duckies (she love the bath), and candy sprinkled all around it. It was so perfect. But then Tuesday morning, he just simply missed her. All the activity is done...and the "missing" is still there.
I think that part of my struggle is that I still think she is coming. I have loved her from afar - from pictures and videos - for so long, I just feel like I am still waiting for her to come....that any day now the hole in my heart that is shaped just like Brooke, will be filled. Four days just wasn't enough to make it real that she was finally home. Getting her up in the morning was like getting to open another amazing gift - she was here! She was mine! Now my waiting continues, but in a different way. I am now waiting for the day we are all together in heaven...
I have had to continue onward with doctors appointments and grocery shopping. I almost wish that it was still tradition to wear "mourning" clothes. Then I wouldn't struggle with how to answer the casual question by the cashier of "How are you?" I really don't want to cry in the supermarket line, but I can't really bring myself to say "good". I have settled for, "It has been a tough few weeks, but I am here." No one really questions any farther. It works. Not at my blood draw though (I have to have my blood tested every few weeks to make sure the blood thinner I am on for life is at the right level). She said, "I missed you two weeks ago, you never cancel!" The tears started flowing before I could even really answer her....and then she started crying too....it was a mess. I am glad there were not any other people in the lobby at the time. I feel like I should have some sort of reward each time I return from a "normal life" thing without crying (too much). Pretty sad, huh?
But even with the grief, my life needs to continue on. Brookie is just tucked in my heart for the journey, rather than holding my hand.
And life is still beautiful. Jillian is such a firecracker - just like big sister Serenity. When Lou and Handsome first got them in China, it really seemed that she couldn't do much with her hands. But they both allowed her the opportunity (and insisted a bit) that she begin trying to do some things by herself. She has made huge progress. She has now figured out that she has a tiny part of her hands that she can "pinch" something small with - like a piece of bread and feed herself. She almost has the hang of using a spoon. We found a sippy cup that she can use by herself. She is SOOOO much happier. The more she can do, the less frustration and temper tantrums.
She is still greatly limited and that brings a great deal of frustration and crying - very hard on all of us. I am counting the days until her first huge appointment with the craniofacial team and the hand surgeon. I know she will need a vault expansion sooner rather than later (making the back of her head bigger) - but I am really hoping we can get her in to have her hands worked on very quickly. I know it will depend on what they find with the CT scan. Eleven more days...
In the meantime, the most precious part is the camaraderie between Jillian and Little Man. They are 7 months apart, but in many ways on the same level as Little Man is a little more advanced for his age (due to so many big siblings to copy) and Jillian is a little delayed due to orphanage living. They make quite the pair. We are calling them the "Chipmunks" as they run and play and get into mischief just like two little chipmunks would. Oh, how I love it! It reminds me of the days when Smiley, Romeo, and The Professor were all under two years old. (They are only 2 months apart.) It was crazy, but it was so much exhausting fun. I will post more pictures soon - but here are two from the other day:
I think it has been very good for Jillian to see Little Man doing "normal" family life - she hasn't seen it before.
So what does Serenity think? We wondered as she still looks intently at people's hands and feet - what would she think about someone that looked like her? It has been a weird combination. She was very happy with Jillian's (webbed) feet like hers. BUT she is not happy with Jillian's hands. She keeps trying to pull the fingers apart - much to Jillian's dismay! She also is obsessed with Jillian's head shape and wants to continually run her hand over it. Needless to say, Jillian is NOT happy with all the touching - because it is very determined touching and Serenity does NOT back off!
It has been a tough time for Serenity. She has her Lou back to love on her - she had missed her! And Jillian is Snip's buddy - so Serenity doesn't have to share Lou - but she is still very jealous. I think the biggest issue is that she wants to be like the Chipmunks - playing silly and rough, eating messy, doing "toddler" things...but in reality, she is a six year old. It is the same way when we bring a newborn home - you realize that the next one is growing up...only Serenity would prefer not to. It has been a good, gentle reminder to me that I need to start expecting more of Serenity, little by little. We have let her stay in the "toddler" world, but it is not good for her. I will of course still snuggle and love on her - I do that with all my kids until they decide they are too big to sit on my lap....but I need to help my little daughter start to move forward. She has gotten so tall and her looks have changed. She looks like a four/five year old - but she still wants us and company to pick her up and hold her like a baby. It is getting understandably awkward for those outside of our immediate family. When she plays with The Boss, who is 4 months younger, but in reality quite a ways ahead of her, she behaves on a higher level - not a six year old, but better than a toddler. This has been good and The Boss does very well playing with her - but I am seeing she would prefer the "toddler" level, not the school-age level.
So, I think our first step will be to potty-train her. I honestly should have tried a year ago - but I am just simply completely dreading it. I think that with her (as with everything with her) it will either be super easy and she will catch the hang of it immediately OR she will fight it tooth and nail. Potty training is really, really, really not a happy thing to do. I have not had an easy adjustment with any of my kids. I would so appreciate prayers for patience and wisdom with her.
I am praying about some other ways to encourage her to move forward. We have stopped putting her in a high chair even though that makes containing her as she eats much easier. I also need to work more on letting her help with more and more things. She LOVES having something to do but she HATES having to do it any way but hers. I am praying for more direction and wisdom. Please pray for her, that she knows she is loved completely and that she will learn to ENJOY moving ahead.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. God is good. Always. We hurt, but we continue on the path He has laid out for us....
I just wanted to thank you all for your amazing love and support. Our GoFundMe - which we were urged to do by so many - raised $1500 MORE than the costs associated with the funeral. I am completely overwhelmed - amazed - humbled - broken again with gratitude. GoFundMe ends up with about 7.5% of that - so the extra money will help to cover those fees. Plus, I had chosen not to do flowers on the casket because of the cost - a decision that I regretted deeply, but knew I could not do it. But now, my beautiful Brooke will have beautiful flowers and I will also buy a rose bush (or two) for my front yard to have for her.
I know it is hard for some to understand how money could be so tight, so I feel like I should explain a bit. Adoptions are expensive - very expensive. Brooke and Jillian's cost around $44,000. It is not even a drop in the ocean compared to the value of a precious life - but it is a real cost. We had many, many people give a great deal of money. A rough estimate this morning (I will go add it up later), would be about $20,000 was given to us. That is an AMAZING amount given by people that love us and love the orphan. It is reason to stop and PRAISE the Lord! But it still left about $24,000 that we needed to provide. God brought that money in through Handsome's business (we are small business owners) and just living as simply as we could. We DON'T have $24K in our budget - just like you don't. We didn't know where it would come from - but we trusted Him and we had what we needed. But it took ALL we had. This happens with each adoption. It is just part of the process. In addition, Handsome was gone from his business for 2 weeks - as he is the "heart" of the business, income goes down. Again, this is all part of the process, we expect it. A final piece would be that we are entering what is typically a slower time for the business....so that is a factor as well. We don't regret a moment or a dollar spent. But we know that the choices we made would make it tighter. A family member had offered to loan us the money for the funeral - and for that we are so grateful - but you all know the burden of debt.....we hate that weight....we hate that burden. We are not debt-free as the adoptions over the years have taken a toll - but we are not choosing to put a child's redemption on hold so that we can be debt-free. We solely trust in our Savior to tell us when to go and when to stay. This is a matter of faith and obedience. We will not delay obedience for our own desire to be debt free.
Mornings are so far the hardest for me. I wake up and immediately remember I am not whole. As I think through my day, I want to be thinking of what I will dress my Brooke in and think of her sweet smile as I pull her out of bed into my arms.....the grief seems bottomless.
Thank you for sharing our burden through your prayers, your words of encouragement and sympathy and your gifts.
Today, Handsome and I went to the funeral home. It is a place I passed almost every week as a child when we went to church. I always thought as beautiful as the cemetery was, I never wanted to have to enter that place, because it meant sadness and goodbyes. That hit me so hard as I walked through the parking lot today. Sadness and goodbyes. Places I never thought I would have to go...
Grief is a odd thing. Things that did not bother me, were huge to Handsome....and the other way around as well. Details that I would have said before now would not be important to me, were suddenly very important. Little things..like the color of the casket. Why would that be so important? I will never see it again....but it just had to be white.
A couple of times, my heart was screaming that I couldn't do this! I couldn't make these decisions....I should be home.....I should be rocking Brooke....not planning her funeral.
The hardest thing was picking the headstone - how do you sum up a priceless treasure on a tiny headstone? But God gave us the words and in it was a tiny bit of closure. After her name and dates, it will say, "Once orphaned, now our treasured daughter. Ours and His forever. Psalm 68:5-6."
I am still not ready to try to close my eyes tonight and fight to not picture her during those last horrible minutes. Or to try not to run through my list of "I wish" or "What if". Last night was a very, very hard night. The darker it became, the darker my heart became. Tonight, I feel all your prayers. I know He is with me. He was yesterday too, but He was holding me as I drowned in sorrow and regrets. I know this is just the beginning....
Please continue to lift us up. This is just the beginning of a long battle. I don't know how I am going to put my baby in the cold ground and walk away. I know I will not be walking away whole - I will have to figure out how to live with a gigantic piece missing.
Parents should never have to pick out headstones, grave sites, and plan funerals.....I cannot wait until He comes....
My darling baby Brooke danced her way into our lives when we first saw her picture 9 months ago. My sweet daughter danced her way into her Daddy's arms on Sept 13th. She delighted him with her smile, her songs, and her spunk. She danced her way from my dreams into my arms on Sept. 24th. She sang, she smiled, she danced, she snuggled - the daughter of my dreams.
On Saturday night/Sunday morning, she lost some spunk and developed a fever and began throwing up. I felt yucky too - fever/nausea. I thought we were in for a tough round of the flu. I worried about my tiny girl and prayed through the day and night. On Monday, we decided to take her in if she could not hold her food down. But she did! The fever subsided a bit and she began eating. I was still worried over my tiny dancer and tried several times to get a sooner appointment with a doctor. (We were scheduled for 10/8 with our pediatrician). I finally got an appointment for Tuesday morning with a doctor who specializes with children with Down Syndrome. I told Handsome though that we would take her in to urgent care if she started throwing up again. We kept giving her liquids and food. She began to play again, though weakly. Then she got cranky! She didn't want to be held and hit her sister when she tried to help. We thought she was on the road to recovery....
Then suddenly, she went limp...and went blue. We called 911 and began CPR. CPR on my own baby. There are some horrors and some scenes that will never be gone. We continued until the medics got there....but my baby was gone.
This child I prayed over for so long. This child I longed for and begged God for. This child that danced her way through my heart and dreams and finally into my arms is gone.
I know she is now dancing with joy with our Savior, Jesus Christ. But oh, how I long to have been able to hold her longer. Our dance together had just begun....
The medical examiner called this evening - a call we were waiting desperately for....for some kind of answers. My beautiful baby died of pneumonia. It went from her lungs into her bloodstream - and therefore, everywhere. I asked through my sobs how she could have died so quickly of pneumonia - she was seemingly getting better. He told me - though I knew it already - that every body - especially those of children with special needs - reacts differently. He also said that it appears that her immune system was not functioning right. These are just the preliminary results - there is more testing to be done.
For Handsome, this brought great peace - that we had not "missed" something or had done something wrong. Her body did not give us the indications that we would assume. She was not running a high temp - it was 99.7. She was not coughing. Plus, I had the same symptoms that she seemed to have....so we didn't think differently......
For me, I just ache to hold my baby. My mama's heart cries, "How could I miss that?"....but even as my heart rages, I know in my head that there was just nothing screaming that something was wrong. The "what ifs" are raging around me....what if I hadn't have had the same symptoms....we would have rushed her in.....what if....what if...what if....these are the demons that dance around me tonight. I want my baby girl. How I want my baby girl....
We don't know what the future holds - I am still struggling to find the next breath - we just don't know....the only thing I am sure of is that my God is good and that the black thoughts are closing in.
Please pray for my family. Pray for my children. Pray for my son that took turns with me doing CPR. He had to do CPR on his own baby sister. Pray for Handsome as he struggles with deepest grief.
Pray for the days ahead as we need to do things that no parent should ever have to do - choose a cemetery...a casket....a headstone....
Pray for me as the demons scream with glee all around my heart tonight...
TODAY!!! Today in about 4 hours, my amazing husband and three precious daughters will be home! It honestly does feel like the end of a long pregnancy - you feel like the end will never come, and then all the sudden, you are about to hold the little one that you have waited so long for!
I will try to send pictures of them at home and give an update. It will be interesting to see what Brooke and Jillian's reactions will be to all their new brothers and sisters. Serenity LOVED being surrounded by people. Hope was utterly overwhelmed on every level. Grace loved hearing the voices and being held. The Prince quickly latched on to his oldest sister and viewed the chaos through the safety of her lap. Romeo and the Professor were tired and overwhelmed....we shall see what this new day holds.
I am in so much awe of what God has done. He has blessed the trip so richly for Handsome and Lou (typing out "The Helper" is getting wearisome - so a different nickname...). They both thoroughly and completely enjoyed this trip - an amazing thing! Our other adoptions, besides Bulgaria, I would say that it was very interesting and I am glad I went, but I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" the trip. The pick up trips are very hard - so full of emotion and heartache....Bulgaria was just plain HARD. I am so thankful for God's gift of this to Handsome and Lou....because they are going back...
For those new to the blog (as the number of viewers have sky-rocketed lately), Handsome and I had wanted to begin another adoption last summer through an agency we had already adopted through several times. They had a little 10 year old girl with Down Syndrome, called Lucy, that we fell in love with - yes, that IS the way it happens, we fall in love with a picture - led by our Savior. We were so excited to get started on her adoption along with a little boy in the same orphanage. Unfortunately, to our shock and surprise, there were things that we no longer saw eye-to-eye with the agency regarding our choices and family. After a great deal of prayers and tears, we knew that the Lord was leading us elsewhere. But, the way that the adoptions work from China, we could not adopt Lucy because only that agency had her file.
The Lord lead us onward to Brooke and Jillian - which we were so excited about - but our hearts hurt for Lucy. We found out that another family was coming for the little boy - praise the Lord! - but Lucy still waited. After a series of events last spring in which our hearts were again broken for all the orphans aging out, Handsome told me that he wanted me to find Lucy and see what happened to her. He said he wanted to go back for her as soon as Brooke and Jillian's adoption was complete. I told him that we would have to wait at least six months to a year per China's policies. He said that was fine. I agreed, but put the idea on the back burner. It seemed so far away - plus, we have talked about "going back" every time we have adopted and then the Lord changes the direction or we are so overwhelmed we need to rest for awhile before our hearts were ready to step out in faith again. Sooo....it just seemed like another idea that would never come to fruition.
About a week later, I got an email about hosting a child. We had talked about it briefly before committing to Brooke and Jillian, but decided it was not a good "fit" for our family. I had ended up on the email lists because of it. I simply deleted the email. But as I moved on to my prayer time, I really felt I should go back and open it. When I looked at the kids available for hosting, my mouth fell open. There she was! Our LUCY! My excitement quickly dwindled as I assessed our situation - we were already in the process of adopting. Our money needed to go to that. Plus, I just couldn't see Handsome wanting to jump in. Another HUGE leap of faith....
However, Handsome wanted to start IMMEDIATELY. I contacted the agency and told them our situation. They said they would speak with the officials in China and see what they would say. To our shock and amazement, they said we could begin her adoption immediately upon Brooke and Jillian coming home - they waived the whole 6-12 month wait! Praise the LORD!.....Gulp. Wow. Okay. Where would the money come from for the hosting fees? We still had huge adoption bills looming. Plus, were we really ready to commit to this? It is one thing to talk about it - a completely different one to jump in. Kind of like saying, I am pregnant....and I am going to be pregnant again the moment (well really before, if that was possible) the first baby is born....
God provided a family in TX who anonymously paid half of the hosting fees and then He provided through Handsome's business, a friend's gift, and living simply for all that we needed. It was amazing and difficult all at the same time!
As you know, if you have been following us, Lucy is completely and utterly amazing and adorable. She fit perfectly into our family and hearts....and then we had to say goodbye. It was crushing. It still is. My daughter lives on the other side of the world right now. If fact, even more crushing, Handsome was within miles of her during the trip to China and couldn't go see her. :( It has made these last months a strange tangle of emotions - we are so excited to get Brooke and Jillian home!...but still long for a little girl over there....
We know one of the reasons that the Lord orchestrated this situation this way is that we are tired.,...just like the end of a pregnancy, our human-selves are worn out and longing for rest....we KNOW we would have put Lucy's adoption on the back-burner if we hadn't held her in our arms. It would be too easy to turn away from a picture for awhile - impossible to do after she has been in our home. We are so thankful He knows our weaknesses and gives us grace - and a little precious girl - to keep us moving.
So even as the journey to bring Brooke and Jillian is closing, a glorious chapter of them forever with us begins......and a new journey hits full-swing - to bring our daughter back to us forever. We have already been juggling paperwork for both adoptions. Now I get to close one folder and just focus on the other.
In some ways, this is so much easier because we know the treasure that waits at the end for us...in other ways, it is so much more difficult because we are worn out still from the last battle to save two precious lives. And it is a battle. The trust and faith in our Lord and His promises has to be so much greater....for the strength and finances that we do not have right now.
What cost is too great to save a life? I know every single one of you would do everything in your power to save a life right in front of you....you wouldn't even think of the costs involved....but it is easy to turn away from a picture and a few words....We know there are little precious lives behind each picture and each story...but the weariness and unknowns can quickly drown out the cry for help. We cannot praise the Lord enough for encouraging us to keep running the race set before us...
Okay...tonight I will actually type a few words....maybe. It is amazing how tired I get with Handsome and The Helper gone. Some of it is physical, a lot of it is just emotional. I miss having my best friend coming in the door at night and hearing him tell me all about his day. I miss laughing with him over the silly things the kids have done or have him tell me it is okay when we have a bad day....
The Helper is awesome with pictures and videos - which is good - if it was just Handsome, I don't know that I would hear a whole lot! ;-) But it isn't the same as having them home...but anyway....
My prayer for quite a while has been that this trip would not only be smoother than Bulgaria, but that they would enjoy it. This was a stretch as both Handsome and I are home-bodies and Handsome hates to fly. After all the difficulties in Bulgaria with Serenity and Hope, we were both gritting our teeth a bit over this trip. However, God in His gracious kindness, has fully answered my prayers ~ Handsome is really enjoying China. He is gaining a heart and love for the people there and is beginning to grasp Eric Liddel's passion for these people to hear the gospel. To truly be free in Christ.
Brooke is a dolly. She loves her Daddy. But, she is grieving. She was loved and dearly cared for at her first home. Then, before Handsome came, she was moved back to the orphanage by China's policy. So a huge change and shock...then she is handed over to her new Daddy and Sis - a wonderful thing - but she doesn't know that yet. :( She is very slender and very light weight. Her hair is pretty thin. She is very constipated. They have to coax her into eating. I am wondering if she has some type of allergy or tummy issue - or if it is just grief. She NEEDS her nap each day or a meltdown is sure to come. It starts off as a pouty cry but blossoms into full howling pretty quickly. However, she LOVES to sing and dance. She loves to play with balls. She loves to be held by her Daddy.
Jillian is another little fireball. It must be an Apert's thing....just like Serenity! She has been over-the-moon thrilled to have her Sister's undivided attention. My guess is that even though she was well taken care of, there was not a lot of one-on-one attention - so she is going to just soak that up! Her hands (being completely fused) are very limiting. When she first came to Handsome and Sis, she couldn't hold her own cup, but she has figured that out very quickly! Now she is also figuring out how to use both hands to get some food to her mouth. She laughs and taunts and plays. She has a DIMPLE. :) Another little firecracker to light up our lives with joy (and a more than a little naughtiness!).
Tonight (daytime in China), they are flying to Guangzhou. It is about a 90 minute flight. It will be past the girls' bedtime by the time they get to the hotel, so it may be a little rough. Praying once again, for God's perfect plan - either smooth travels or strength for Handsome and Sis as the girls fuss. In Guangzhou, they will complete the US Visa part of the adoption and will be flying home 6 days from now.....oh, how happy I will be!
Please pray for strength and joy and smooth paperwork to continue. Pray for my kiddos at home as they will adjust to two new siblings.
Life is just not still or quiet right now. The Testy Chef and The Warrior got their licenses this week - wow. It has been nice already to be able to send them out on errands. :) Tonight, The Testy Chef is driving the kids to and from AWANA! What a change this is for me! I am still a little nervous...
Trying to take a deep breath, but that may not happen right now...I will praise the Lord through it all...
Handsome and our older daughter are doing well in China. The absolutely adore Brooke and Jillian! The girls are adjusting well - still some emotional meltdowns and temper tantrums - but honestly, NOTHING like the trauma with Serenity and Hope a year and a half ago....
Please keep praying for smooth paperwork and enough sleep for Handsome and the Helper. Tomorrow we hit single digits until they come home....so ready for that already!
It is the night before Handsome and The Helper head out the door. I have clashing emotions going on tonight.
Today, as I should have been carefully packing, I was sitting at Urgent Care with The Boss. He has an ear infection. It took us 2 1/2 hours of waiting. Sigh. The wait at the hospitals/doctors offices/urgent care are so, so hard. I tried not to think of how tired I would be when I got home....then needed to get kids out the door for AWANA....then start the bedtime routine. By the time everyone is in bed, it is too late to accomplish much.....so it will be an early start tomorrow. I am praying for some sleep. Serenity's monitors have been going off quite a bit again (due to her tossing and turning in her sleep) - so sleep for me has been even shorter than usual.
I am so happy that the journey to Brooke and Jillian is almost over....that they are almost home. But part of me wishes that I had the time to cherish today, before the family changes again forever....and then have time to cherish the first day they are home as our family will have been blessed so richly again....but both days end up busy with details and little faces that need love. I guess that is why Mary, amid visits from shepherds and angels, cherished all "these things" in her heart.....no way to stop and even cherish the moment with hustle and bustle and celebrating.
I don't want my hubby and daughter to leave, especially on September 11th, a day we were sure we would never willingly fly on...but God has arranged it as it is....to stretch our faith even farther. This has been a really hard adoption journey - so many things that God has chosen to shine His light on to show us areas we need to grow and change.
We praise Him through it all - but there were many tears and prayers throughout this process. As of today, with one last promised donation on its way, God has provided all that we have needed for this adoption - through precious gifts from friends and from friends we have never met.....through Handsome's business and the generosity of his customers, and through cutting corners that we thought couldn't be cut any tighter. We are so very, very thankful. He is faithful. Always.
Unlike most of our other adoption journeys, this is not the closing of a chapter, it is merely the end of one part of the story....The Lord is continuing His story as we cling to Him....
Will post pictures as so as I receive them....
Please pray for my amazing husband....for my beautiful daughter....for safety and peace and fun. Pray for my two newest daughters - that their hearts are ready for us and for a smooth transition. Pray for God's protection and blessing on each detail and piece of this journey....
Eight days until Handsome and The Helper are getting on airplane to get Brooke and Jillian! I am so glad it is finally here - and yet at the same time, it seems to be too few of days to get them ready. It is just a busy time of the year.
Today is Serenity's 6th birthday!
We had cupcakes today but are also celebrating on Monday with a combined birthday with The Warrior, who is turning 16. I have 2 kids getting driver's licenses in just a little over a week....how did that happen? The day after the party, school starts - 12th, 10th, 9th, 7th, 6th, three 5th graders, and 2 Kindergartners.....wow.
I must be busy, because it is hard for me to wrap my head around some of these things....like the brain just can't grasp it.
We are desperately missing Lucy. She loved Frozen....so what do we see everywhere? Frozen costumes, Frozen fabric, Frozen on Ice, Frozen yogurt....each time I have to swallow back tears. Praying God is protecting her and she knows we love her.....
As you read this, could you pray for:
1) Protection and safe travels for Handsome and The Helper.
2) That God would be preparing Brooke and Jillian's heart for us and us for them.
3) That God would watch over every detail of the process.
4) That He would provide all that we need for the last of the expenses for travel.
We are praising Him for His faithfulness and for His Hand upon these precious little girls.
We put our beautiful girl on the plane Saturday morning. She did know that something was happening on Friday night when we took out her suitcase and began to repack it. We did send most of her favorite new clothes, though I am guessing she will need to just add them to the shared orphanage clothes pile. We kept her blue dress (seen here at her birthday party) and a few other things so she will have them when she comes home again forever.
We packed some fun new books and toys in a new backpack for the long travel back to the orphanage - about 36 hours worth of travel and waiting... I had bought a necklace set from another family fundraising for their adoption. It was a little tiny heart that fit into the bigger heart on the other necklace. I gave it to her a day or two before she left. She loved coming up and matching her little heart into my big one - getting a big hug every time. we sent it with her as well, though I am not sure if she will be allowed to keep it or not. The agency has said that we will be able to send her care packages and will send out info on that soon.
But she did know something was going to happen. On Saturday morning as I held her on my lap, she did begin to cry. Oh, my heart. :( But that was the last of the tears. Handsome said she was sad and quiet at the airport until he pulled out the photo book we put together for her. Then she lit up and was showing the chaperone all the pictures of what she had done! But it was very hard for Handsome to say goodbye...
We tracked her plane until it landed in Houston...then from Houston to Beijing...then waited for an email confirming that she got to the orphanage after the in-country flight. She did seem well cared for in the orphanage, but it is still not home and family.
As soon as the tears stopped pouring down we started preparing for a social worker coming for a home visit on Sunday. I was tired as she arrived just after church was over for my gang. My throat started hurting - I assumed from the smoke blowing into our region from far away wildfires. But I woke up in the middle of the night with a blazing fever and horrible aches and pains. Monday I just laid in bed and groaned until it was time to feed the babies and then I would head to bed again. Thank goodness it was Handsome's day off. Tuesday was slightly better - tried to at least do the basics. Wednesday I was still tired but eyeing huge piles growing around me was enough to keep me moving. Today I got up ready to really get moving when we got an email - TA (Travel Approval) for Brooke and Jillian! Praise the Lord!
So today we were busy rearranging schedules and sending emails and working on details for Handsome and The Helper to fly out in about two weeks. I had been praying for this for soooo long - but am still amazed it is actually happening. Praying this morning, I said again that I knew God's plan was best and that I would trust Him....and then He opened the doors to travel.
So many things to ask for prayer for....but too tired tonight to list them out. So let's just start with praise for His goodness to us and to two little girls so far away. And of course, prayers for my Lucy girl.
Also today, Children's House International, our agency, got the file of the most beautiful little girl. She is breath-takingly beautiful! Her file name is Chelzey. She is 3 1/2 years old. She is paralyzed in her arms - they are stiff and she is not able to move them at all. This also makes it impossible for her to walk due to balance issues. But she is AMAZING. She uses her toes and feet to do what she needs to do. The agency met her and were simply stunned by her. If you have a place for this little girl who needs a family of her own, please contact Nina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have to put this beautiful treasure on an airplane in just a week....
Just not sure how to do that without all our hearts breaking. Still planning a post on why we hosted, but just not the time yet. Please pray for her ~ that the Lord will sing over her and comfort her pain. That His perfect Will will be done.
Please pray, if it is according to His plan, that Handsome and The Helper can travel the week of September 13th to bring Brooke and Jillian home. If the paperwork is not done, they will have to wait until October and the airfare prices will go up again.
Please pray for wisdom and courage for us to do whatever He asks us to do....
Serenity actually came home Tuesday night, but life has been a bit busy! It was a last minute decision by the doctors (with the nurses helping). The nurses felt that she could have gone home the day before, raising all our hopes though we should have known better! We are veterans to the hospital thing after all, but we made a rookie mistake by hoping before papers were actually signed. Tuesday morning the cranio team said she needed to stay another night....then the plastics team came in and said she was great and that they would talk to cranio. Cranio still said, "No." The nurses were not happy - Serenity is adored, but she is a handful!!! Finally, we were told that as soon as she could see out of both eyes (they were extremely swollen) that she could go home. The evening nurse came in and told Serenity to open both eyes and Serenity could just barely do it, but the nurse, (bless her heart!), said she was good! :)
She is definitely swollen - in fact, the kids think she looks like The Grumpy Cat that is all over the Internet. I couldn't help but laugh! She is acting a bit like the grumpy cat too. In fact, she cried when she left the hospital because she is so pampered and adored there. She has Daddy, Grammy, and big sister to cater to her every whim. She can eat whatever and whenever she wants to and a constant stream of adoring fans (nurses and doctors) coming through to see her. What is there not to like?
All joking aside, she is doing very well. Her courage is amazing. Her ability to adapt is incredible. The swelling will go down - today we saw a little more of that right eye. Just like last time, despite all the stitches and changes, the pain level doesn't seem very high.
We do think however, that we will put off her other hand surgery until next spring. She was pretty traumatized before the surgery and we don't want to ever do permanent damage to that amazing spirit of hers. In 3 weeks, she will have a sedated hearing test and that will be it for a while. It will be a good break for her. We can just enjoy uninhibited Serenity-joy for a while. We will also finally get the hearing aids she needs and her glasses.
We have 2 weeks left with our precious Lucy. So very, very hard to think of sending her away. I am not a fan of hosting - but I will post our reasons for doing so soon.
We are within about 4 weeks of knowing when Handsome and the Helper will travel to get Brooke and Jillian. They will either travel ASAP after TA or be delayed until the first week or so in Oct. Waiting to see what the Lord has in store. We received videos of them both. I was so thankful to see that Jillian appeared very healthy and was walking. Her head is in much better condition than Serenity's when we got her - mostly due to a difference of 2 1/2 years in their ages at adoption. Her hands will need immediate attention and I am sure a skull surgery will be within the first 6 months - but what a beautiful,, beautiful little girl. Brooke was full of energy and life! I am so excited to hold that tiny bit of heaven in my arms.
We have received some amazing gifts from people - we are blown away by the generosity of people, some who have never even met us. We are praying for the last monies needed for travel. I cannot believe it is almost here. Keep praying!
Please also pray for this little man - he is in URGENT need of a family due to heart issues. For more information on this treasure, please contact Nina at CHI - email@example.com . Please lift him up in your prayers.
I realized that in all the hustle and bustle, I did not post here about Serenity's surgery on Friday. Good grief!
On Friday, Serenity had what should be her last skull surgery. She had a "front orbital expansion" - meaning that they moved her forehead forward to better protect her eyes. She will still need surgeries on her face, but this is the last on her skull.
It started out a little rough as she now recognizes that she is at the hospital for another surgery. Handsome (who is staying with her) said that they had to give her some meds to help her calm down. That hurts my mama's heart. :(
The surgery took longer than the 5-6 hours estimated because as they opened her skull, the found all kinds of holes in the dura (the membrane that is between the brain and the skull). It was also twisted in areas that it should not have been. They repaired it all successfully. It sounds like this is something that is part of her Apert diagnosis, but it does increase the risk of infection as the dura keeps the spinal fluid from leaking/infection.
Because of the anticipated swelling from the surgery, the doctors stitched her eyelids shut so that, um, the eyes wouldn't pop out due to the swelling. (My stomach rolls over every time I think about it!) This has understandably made Serenity absolutely miserable! We were told at first it would only be for 24 hours....then it changed to 48 hours....now we are looking at 72 hours? There has been massive swelling. The doctors still feel that it is within the realm of "normal" - but she is miserable. She just laid on her Daddy's lap all day yesterday - our little whirlwind that doesn't slow down for a moment. :( She is also not eating - the child that is a bottomless pit. :(
Would you please pray for her today? Pray by His grace that the swelling would recede, that they could take out the stitches, and that she would begin to eat? She is pretty traumatized - like having to be put into one of the "cage" type beds because she won't stay put. She has also managed to pull out her catheter (OUCH!!!) and one of her IV lines. Yeah, not good times.
I am beginning to think we may (after consulting with her doctors) delay her other hand surgery until next spring or summer. It is probably not worth the trauma right now that it would cause. Prayers for wisdom with that would be appreciated as well.
I cannot wait until Handsome and Serenity are back at home...for all my babies to be under my wings again where I can comfort and hold and protect them as best I can.
We are praising God that our next round of fees for Brooke and Jillian have been paid. We are down to the travel costs and fees - which is still a significant amount, but we are trusting Him as always. (I will do a post soon on how we can "afford" to adopt so many times as I keep getting that question.)
Mimi is feeling better after her antibiotics for the UTI. I am anxiously watching for signs that the iron supplements are helping her anemia. I love that tiny girl so very, very much!
Finally, we are having such a grand time with Lucy. She is so amazing and so very sweet. We were given tickets to the baseball game and Handsome took her to some of the local landmarks - she enjoyed every minute. Today she has a dentist appointment (Mimi's dentist happens to be Chinese, so he should be able to communicate with her!). Tomorrow we will take her to the zoo...next week swimming and camping. I am finding however, that grief over sending her back is starting to taint every thing. I know it is part of the program - but oh, how it hurts. Praying for God's grace and leading.
My Savior is so good to me - always hearing my cries and pleas - never letting me drift too far from His side. It is another time of pruning and redirecting as my stubborn heart wants to go its own way. He is giving Handsome and I glimpses of what He may ask us to do in the future. My breath is taken away first of all by His amazing plans - but then second of all by fear. I cling to Him each day for the strength and grace to do all that is required of me. He promises His storehouses never run dry - am I able to trust that completely? Only by His grace...
Until He comes - come soon, Lord Jesus, come soon.
There are days, like the last few days, that I wrestle with my own desires....my own human plans...my own human dreams. I make plans in my head all based around me and my tired, weary heart. I make them for several days, imagining the relief I will have when they come to pass....
Then my precious Savior gently reminds me that I am not my own, that I was bought at an infinite price and that He is not done....
I can only put my hand in His and bow my head, ashamed I have forgotten again that I am not here for me.....even as my emotions rage around this submission.
Today, these are the words rattling around in my heart - bringing comfort, yet also conviction...
If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will
draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. God’s call will put
such demands of obedience on you that you will not be able to follow
other people, or measure yourself by other Christians. At times, He will
let other people do things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians who seem very religious will push themselves, pull
wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans. You cannot, and if you
attempt it, you will meet with failure and rebuke from the Lord.
Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, but
the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you
begin it, He will lead you to despise yourself and all your good works.
Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy
left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor. God wants you to
have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon
Him, that He may demonstrate His faithful love for you in supplying your
needs day by day.
God may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in
obscurity in order to produce some fragrant fruit for His coming glory
which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but
keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit
for it now. The reward for your work is held in the hands of Jesus and
you will not see it until He comes.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you with a jealous love. He
will rebuke you for the little words and feelings or for wasting your
time. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a
right to do as He pleases with His own. He does not owe you an
explanation of these mysteries. But if you give yourself to be His
child, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and give you the precious
blessings for those who belong, heart and soul, to Him.
Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy
Spirit. It is His option to tie your tongue, or chain your hand, or
close your eyes in ways that He does not seem to use with others. And
when you are so possessed by the living God that your heart delights
over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and
management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the
vestibule of Heaven.
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and He has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my
head without the will of my Father in heaven. In fact, all things must
work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by
His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly
willing and ready from now on to live for Him. –Heidelberg Catechism
Hello, my praying friends! I have a couple of requests to ask for you to lift up in prayer....
1) Mimi (our biological daughter with special needs) has been struggling this last week. We finally have some answers. She has a UTI - which can be much more serious with her because of her kidney issues. She is EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY anemic - starting iron supplements and looking for causes. She has also had several seizures. We are trying to determine if she is prone to them or if they are due to hypoglycemia.
Please pray for my sweet girl - she is at the core of my heart. It is so hard to see her struggle and to be so pale and in pain. The pain is fading as the antibiotics do their work. Pray that the doctors can find the answers needed and that her body is able to rebuild her blood supply with the extra iron and vitamin B.
2) Pray for our Lucy girl - that we can fill her heart, mind, body and soul while she is here. We love her so very much. It is going to be very, very, very hard to put her back on the airplane. Please pray for our hearts and hers through these next 4 weeks. She LOVED the baseball game this Monday - she loves EVERYTHING we do! :)
3) Pray for the funds we need to complete Brooke and Jillian's adoption. God is always faithful - but He does stretch our faith a little farther with each adoption. We need the last of the orphanage donations and then the travel fees - airfare, hotels, etc. We are trusting Him with all we have!