Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Things parents should never have to do....

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....

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

With deepest grief....

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...





Thursday, September 24, 2015

Deep breath.....here we go again!

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...

Ready....set...go!


Until He comes....


Thursday, September 17, 2015

A few words...

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...

Until He comes....

Monday, September 14, 2015

Quick update

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!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The night before......

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....

Until He comes....

Thursday, September 3, 2015

8 days......

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.

Here we go.....