Friday, March 10, 2017

I Wonder What It's Like

Recently at one of Henry’s Soccer practices, I watched on feeling defeated and frustrated.  The sun was setting, it was gorgeous and the little 8yo boys were working their hearts out, all but one, that is.  My Boy wasn’t with the group and  had no desire to be.  I felt bad for him for a while and even cried a bit thinking he must feel left out and abandoned,(even though the team was doing the right thing) but God quickly reminded me of several things about Henry’s disorders and I finally saw Henry for who he was and is.  I’m still seeing it in a fresh and NEW way even now, and I am so grateful for this.  It all really got me thinking deeply about things from Henry’s perspective and I truly believe God wants me to see things more from that view.  I think it’s important for you to see things from where Henry is and where our family is too – maybe why we do the things we do in a way, when it comes to these particular struggles.  As the Holy Spirit impresses upon me to share, I trust that there is someone out there who can somehow be encouraged by this part of our story tonight . . .

“I Wonder What It’s Like . . . “

By Ryan McLaughlin, Dedicated to My Son, Henry

I wonder what it’s like to be a boy in a world which doesn’t understand you.  What’s it like for those around you, having certain natural expectations for your behavior and yet, you truly cannot comply, cannot even force yourself to conform to what is the societal “norm”. It is simply mentally and physically impossible for you to do so because your brain works differently, it’s wired differently, and that is the true and only reason.   Dear Boy, what is it like, having the world around you, your community, teachers, coaches; your neighbor and friends (and parents of friends) misunderstand your every word, your every move?  Truly, your language is not ours and yet you are no less of a person than me, or anyone else on this planet!  You have just as much right to be heard as anyone else, no matter what your language, so keep communicating, Dear Boy.  

I wonder what it’s like to think differently, to process everything differently than the rest of the world. No checks and balances, no groundings or time-outs or any other mixture of discipline; not even rewards for good deeds because those things don’t register in your brilliant mind.  How do you NOT understand true right from true wrong?  It’s possible.  Consequences are hard to wrap your mind around if you don’t feel the danger or warning most of us do.  What goes through your mind as you run across a busy street without a flinch, just to gather your ball which ended up on the other side of the road?  What you are you thinking when you decide to climb to the very tip top of a tree and attempt to jump all the way down?  Nothing phases you, nothing that should concern you concerns you, ever (like your own safety or ideas about ‘what would happen if I . . . ?). 

I wonder what it’s like to physically touch, feel and sense things so differently than everyone around you.  Your senses are like mine yet multiplied by 10,000.  A tiny pinch or minor fall is a major ordeal to you, full of pain, causing sobs, feelings of agony and even fearing the pain of death! How do you go about the day feeling that intense pain over and over again?  Your overwhelming feelings in the environment cause you to run and hide, finding the tightest of places – shelves in the grocery store, the bath tub, storage bins, even the clothes dryer brings comfort your senses. You want to feel safe. It’s your “fight or flight response”; you want to feel secure – something every human longs for.  You feel every movement, hear every sound and the sensitivity to it all must be maddening even in everyday life – the school bell, the TV, sisters crying, big brother’s friends loudly playing; the lawn mower buzzing and even church music meant for praise . . . the sounds of the world can be torture to you.  I’m now sensitive to that.

I wonder what it’s like to have the same thoughts run through your mind continuously, endlessly, seemingly without end.  Your focus right now is on dogs and you’ve started looking for the next dog you want in life, even though we have two healthy ones at home.  You learn about breeds and memorize the details; you make lists of what to name your “one-day pet” and dream of where they will live, how they will act, and more.  You talk about dogs to everyone who will listen and you draw pictures of them with your family, then show us internet picture upon picture of a certain breed you decided upon that particular day and you start trying to convince mom and dad your new dog would fit right in.  Do the constant thoughts make you tired?   Do they stop when you close your eyes at night, Dear Boy?  Do you notice when the obsession comes in and takes over or is it a silent dictator, seemingly ravaging your entire being?

I wonder what it’s like to be homebound, unable to be in class because of the sheer fear and severe separation anxiety you experience on a daily basis.  I wish you could explain how you don’t miss school or your friends.  Do you wonder if you will ever go to school again, like your friends in the neighborhood?  Do you grow frustrated that this is the third year of struggling socially and, although you test above and beyond, you are unable to sit at a desk in a classroom where everything naturally changes from day to day, in a school where things naturally change from day to day?  Change is too hard – harder for you than for most.  I see it now: change is hard because it doesn’t make sense to you even when it’s explained. My Dear Boy, does the sheer thought of being unable to see me or hear my voice always make you crumble and come undone or does it pop up now and then?  I wonder what is it like to be crippled with fear, needing your “person” or object while you do everything from going to the bathroom, to fixing a snack; from playing in the backyard to taking the dogs on a walk; from brushing your teeth and getting dressed. Do you wonder if the fear will always be there? 

I wonder what it will be like when PANDAS dissipates and starts leaving your body (I hope it leaves in droves).  I wonder what it will be like to see if you without PANDAS as it’s been with you for so long.  I wonder what it will be like to see you FREE – FREE to love in word and deed.  FREE to give of yourself willingly and devotedly.  FREE to share appropriate emotion with your “tribe”.  FREE to care for your beloved animals without the worry of thoughts creeping in, wondering where the next one will come from. Free to understand what others are saying to you – for things to make sense and finally fall into place and in order; for the world of communication to open up before you! I wonder if you will be able to see God’s goodness through it all and how he used it ALL for His glory and for YOUR good. 

I wonder too, what it will be like when the PANDAS storm is over for you. Will you remember the bad and the good?  Selfishly, I wonder if you’ll remember how much we’ve fought for you, Dear Boy.  We’ve fought for you spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally – every which way possible.  There is no doctor I won’t pester, no agency I won’t call; there’s no company Daddy won’t track down nor pharmacy he won’t trek to in any type of weather.  We will continue to protect you, stand up for you and stand beside you always, forever. I have no doubt whatsoever God will bring beauty from the ashes that are PANDAS.

 “I Wonder What It’s Like . . . (continued) . . . “

Dearest Boy, May you never wonder how your mother feels about you or how she sees you the way you truly are . . .

·        You are so intelligent - you get bored with school and homework, making it hard to focus during school time.  You like your brother’s books and his games as they spark your imagination instead.

·        You are so giving – You give away even your BEST toys, even your favorite toys or new toys are freely given by you to your friends and family.  You get so much joy in giving and it comes naturally to you.  It most definitely is a spiritual gift!

·        You are so tender and sensitive – you cover your ears as the world gets too loud and yet you step out bravely and love on your sisters, gently talking to them and singing to them.  The way you still talk about Ellie Kate melts my heart and I hope those memories stay with you always.  You were the first to hold baby Bowen and you did great!

·        I love how creative you are, always thinking outside the box (Mommy usually gets stuck in a box of some kind) and you are always there, helping see things from a different point of view.  You are so creative, you make your own designs and styles, including with your clothes, shoes and accessories as well as toys and science experiments. I’m so happy I don’t have to pick out your clothes each day but that you have an imagination which allows you to pick and choose what “feels” best and looks best to you that day, in that moment. 

·        I love how STRONG you are!  You are so physically strong – strong like an ox, and I love it when you use your physical strength for good, such as helping others or bettering yourself by working out or practicing for your soccer team.  You are a great help to Momma, esp when we are out and I need you to push LB so I can carry Baby B.  Such a strong man!

·        I love that you are passionate and while I hope you will one day break free of focusing on one object or subject alone, I DO so enjoy how you plan out every intricate detail for all involved.  Nothing goes past you, Dear Boy!

·        I love that you communicate differently.  This one is the most difficult, I know, Bud and sometimes this love is a choice, an action for me, without a doubt.  It’s hard for you.  It’s hard for me.  It’s hard for all of us to understand each other.  It’s like speaking two different languages or being from separate planets where what I say doesn’t have the same meaning to you as it does for me and thus, things get confusing, misinterpreted and become beyond frustrating. Let’s promise to always communicate, Dear Boy and I will stand as your mouthpiece, your interpreter or as your liason for as long as you need me to. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Big Catch-Up (and recent pictures!)

In the "Old Days",  you'd see a blog post or Care Page Update every two weeks, sometimes even weekly!  Life goes on and this momma is now older and wiser (and busier), and although I don't post and share as often anymore, we do still so appreciate your support and encouragement in our roller-coaster journey Even when we aren't in crisis, knowing we have friends praying for us, loving us, thinking of us - it means more than you know and I don't think you fully understand until you too experience a deep, life-changing crisis of some type. 

Since Christmas, our lives have been super exciting and equally as busy.  Although I've longed to share with you God's goodness, the ups and downs, our prayer requests and heart-cries, there are several reasons why I haven't . . . mainly, we want (and need) to be private as the adoption is still taking place and isn't yet final, although major parts have been (and soon will be) ensured.

There've been other reasons such as the following
(bullet points are my 'thing' so bear with me) . . .
  • Henry still being on homebound services, unable to go to school because of his severe separation anxiety coming from PANDAS. 
  • PANDAS is causing major bladder issues so laundry is going constantly (seriously, do they sell professional-grade/size washers and dryers, bc if so, we need one!).  It's a full-time job and I'm not good at it.
  • As with many families around the Country, we've dealt with sickness and viruses, although thankfully Lucy has been spared and we've avoided hospital stays! 
  • I've received a new diagnosis and I'm continuing to learn to live with physical limitations, which I absolutely hate. 
  • Conner has been in the throws of junior high, facing the emotional ups and downs while also enjoying close friendships, church youth events and sleep-overs.  We are so proud of him as he has so much to carry on his shoulders.
  • Mike has even been sick this winter, which never happens to My Guy.  He's soldiered on and is working harder than ever to provide for us.  I'm thankful he loves his job and loves who he works with too! 
  • We've been blessed with new home health nurses and although it takes some adjusting, having new personalities in your home, we are thankful for the help, knowing Lucy is cared for overnight, esp since she's on continuous feeds and has more seizure activity at night.  She loves her new nurses but has missed school bc she likes to stay up ALL NIGHT with the nurse, playing, singing and calling out (which we love to see and hear but she also needs to get back into routine; Little Miss Sass).
  • Hope Link, the Foundation we started in honor of Ellie Kate back in 2009, has grown by leaps and bounds and we are enjoying cultivating relationships with new families!  Doing life with families like ours, families with medically fragile children and families who have also buried their babes; it's just something more precious than I can explain.
  • My computer has broken a million times and with a shattered screen, I still attempt to use it on a daily basis.  It shuts down multiple times during use and it beyond frustrating.  I will say that being unable to use a computer has brought a new freedom which is great!
Of course, one of the main reasons it's been hard to update is because we are now a family of seven!  We now have FIVE children, one in heaven and four living on earth.  It is WONDERFUL, PERFECT, HAPPY and even PEACEFUL, and that can only be from the Father!!  We are so enjoying our Bowen Jane and she is bringing light and life to deep, broken and dark parts of our hearts.  The Lord is using this Little Girl to awaken us again in many ways and it's so good to FEEL again and to have the JOY that new life can bring. 

Bowen Jane, age 2 weeks

First pic of the gang of four (notice Lucy's not-so-happy face)
We are in LOVE

Since bringing Bowen Jane home on that beautiful, grey Christmas Day, I've learned quite a few things (again with the bullet points - sorry) . . .
  • Having a baby at (almost) 39 is SO much different than having a baby at 25 (and I didn't physically give birth)!
  • I'm older and wiser as a momma, purposefully trying to treasure each and every moment, every smile, every coo, every cuddle while also seeking advice from fellow adoptive mommies.
  • Mike and I are continually reminded (as in, every few moments of the day) just how precious and miraculous life truly is! A "healthy" baby is miraculous and we do NOT take it for granted.
  • Big age gaps in siblings isn't a negative but rather a gift.  I love watching Conner esp holding and kissing Bow and Henry comforting her and singing to her each day.  It's just the beginning of their relationships too - happy tears fill my eyes when I think about the precious things the boys get to experience with this little girl in the future!  They are already stunned at everything she can do - her purposeful movements, the way she can look them in the eye, the way she eats her bottle - all things their other Sissy's just weren't able to do.  I am in awe of this Gift!! 
  • Life should be simplified and we're working on doing just that - it's beautiful and brings peace; we hope it's something the boys will carry on with them always.
  • Our red handi-van is now officially TOO small for us!  Although God DID give it to us when we also had four children in our home, the boys are much bigger (Conner is taller and heavier than me!) and don't show signs of stopping. We've had this grand vehicle for around six years and God literally brought it to our door!  He alone provided for us before, and He will provide our next vehicle as well. 
  • Rooming with a baby is heaven on earth for me!  Since we don't have a bedroom for Bowen Jane, she will be in with me and Mike which is something now recommended (babies rooming with parents for the first year at least).  The tight room has inspired us to simplify even more:)
  • Lucy has taken on the role of Big Sister and she's doing a great job.  My fears have fallen to the wayside and although she still sometimes turns her head from me and Bowen, occasionally refusing to kiss the baby or her momma, she is GENTLE and soft when she does touch and kiss her Baby Sister, just like Ellie Kate did with her. 
  • All of a sudden, Lucy is no longer a baby.  She's a little girl and reminds us more and more of Ellie Kate each day.  Some of her baby-happiness and joy seems to be gone, which breaks my heart and I wonder where it has gone.  She sits deep in thought although she still busts out with deep giggles when we least expect it.  This seems to have happened overnight or maybe it's bc I treated Lucy like a little baby for so long - really, up until Bowen came home.  She's wanted to be a big girl and now she is but there is a twing of pain and heartache that comes with knowing she's growing up as well as fear of the unknown for her health and her future.
  • It feels SO good to have FOUR children in our home, in our vehicle, in our bed, in our arms again. 
  • She's still gone.  Even though we have four babies again in our home again, our Consecrated Princess is STILL missing.  Ellie Kate will always be missing and our hearts will always ache for her, long for her and we will always notice the hole her presence has left here on earth. 
Lucy, age five

Ellie Kate, age 7

Life changes so quickly, TOO quickly, as so many of you already know.  It's a beautiful, precious gift we've ALL been given, so I encourage you to drink in each moment.  Savor it.  Bathe in it.  Stop surviving and enjoy life; make the changes you need in order to do just that.  Simplify and teach your children to do the same.  Love each other and your family well.  Serve one another and those in your community - you will never regret giving yourself away to your "people", your tribe, your family, your community in which God has placed you. 

Thank you for allowing me to share our life journeys with you.  Thank you for continuing to come back and check on us, loving us so well.  Mike and I look forward to updating you SOON with photos and stories of God's faithfulness throughout Bowen Jane's journey into our family! 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

To Jen Hatmaker - When the Precious Things Don't Live . . . A Letter to Encourage Your Heart

I've never done this before - writing to a particular person, other than to Our Ellie Kate.  However, I feel the need to do so this morning, especially in light of what I personally experienced last night at an event where Jen Hatmaker shared from her heart, where the Holy Spirit was present, where the Father moved in many hearts, including in mine.  While this message is specifically FOR Jen Hatmaker, I do not know if she will ever read it.  I just know I'm supposed to write it and I pray it encourages her heart, especially during the difficult times she's faced within the last few years.  I pray God would speak to all who read this, wherever you are in the world, wherever you are in your journey, wherever your heart may be at this time. 


Miss Jen,

You don't know me from Adam, but I was there Monday night at the 7:30 event, new babe on my chest, there on your left, just a few rows from the front.  I didn't even know you were in town, but a Dear Friend gave me a ticket via FB around 6pm and by 6:30pm, this momma of five (four living on earth), dropped it all and jumped in the car for the 40 min drive up to OC.  My hair wasn't done and I had literally thrown clothes on as I was walking out the door.   I had our newborn, adopted daughter in the backseat and our struggling 8yo son ran after me in tears, as I tried to drive away in our handi-van (handicap van). I did my make-up in the car and later noticed I looked like a bit like a clown with stage make-up upon arrival at the event, but hey - I made it!

I.was.THRILLED . . . thrilled to be away, thrilled to be swept off my feet by the Father, as He so clearly took me away from the mess and stress of everyday life and brought me to a place to focus on Him, as He spoke through you.  Undoubtedly, many people were encouraged and touched, challenged and called out last night, and I'm in that group for sure. 

Your story resonates with me . . . FEAR.  LOSS.  ANXIETY.  HEARTACHE.  FAITH . . . God has rocked me in all of those ways, with all of MY Most Precious Things and more.  While I never hoped, planned or prayed for things to turn out this way, to look this way, to fall into place in this way, God DID.  He allowed things and caused things, and I can now look back with gratefulness and thanksgiving, even though that is still sometimes a choice as I know you so clearly understand from your testimony Monday night. 

Here's the thing, I feel the Lord wants you to know this, to be reminded of this truth: Even if the Precious Things DON'T live, even if things DON'T get better, God STILL redeems what is lost.  It may not be how we thought it would look like, or what we would expect, but He does it and will continue to do it until we meet Him again in eternity. 
I hope and pray my snip-it of a testimony will convey this very thing. 

Monday night, when you were talking about getting through the difficult times, you reminded us that as Believers, we will always overcome, which is absolutely true.  You even said, "you'll live and you're people will live".

But the thing is, what if they don't?  Meaning, what if you don't live or what if your Dearest Ones don't live, as in physically, there is death?  OR what if the difficult, the struggle, that specific heartache . . . keeps going on and on and on?  Even after experiencing it personally or as a family, even after you think God has brought you through it, what if God keeps you in it, always

With all of this in mind, and with the Holy Spirit laying this on my heart for you,
I'm daring to devote this blog post to you, in hopes you will read it;
in hopes others will be encouraged in the Faith. 

The MOST perfect example to me of personal loss, heartache and anxiety is Job.  I was spurred on to re-read it and was reminded of just how "human" Job really was - how he too broke down and longed for a break, longed for God to step in.  His testing lasted a long time and had life-changing consequences or outcomes.  He was left without his servants (A big deal in Biblical times), without his precious children, his family, everything he owned (which was a lot), even his friends.  STILL, God used it for His own glory and for Job's good and in the end, Job STILL chose God and worshiped Him! *For those who haven't read Job, jump in and read it as it only will take a little time to do so.  You won't be sorry! 

Job 1:21, ESV
"And he said . .  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 3:25-26
“For what I fear comes upon me,
            And what I dread befalls me.
      “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet,
            And I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.”

Within the last 14 years of marriage, my husband and I have faced the following (please know I'm not listing for a 'pity-party' or for ya'll to feel sorry for us. I simply want the world to see that Believers face ON-GOING trials sometimes - trials that don't stop or let-up, and it isn't because of anything we've done or didn't do, nor is it bc of anything our kids have done.  It's because we live in a fallen, broken world.  It's because God is glorified through brokenness!):

  • We have been given two, gorgeous girls born with NKH (non-ketotic hyperglyccenemia, or glycine encephalopathy), a rare and terminal genetic disorder
  • We've suffered financially in great ways because of medical issues and strains brought on by medical fragility
  • We've spent months upon months in the hospital, esp with our eldest daughter, Ellie Kate.  She spent most of her life in the hospital here in OK and in Texas and bc of that, we weren't able to bond and presently love the children we had at home during those times.
  • Ellie Kate left this earth December 23rd, 2012 just days after her 7th bday.  She was home on hospice only three days before she died, but we were able to be there, holding our Darling Girl, as she took her last breath here and her FIRST breath in Heaven. 
  • After Ellie Kate died, our youngest son was diagnosed with PANDAS, which is brought on by strep.  Strep attacks his body and brain on a daily basis and the symptoms it causes can be hell on him and on everyone around him.  We struggle to seek the best treatment, find the best doctors and counselors, but even still, he struggles and it is heartbreaking.  (symptoms are similar to mental illness as well as Aspergers and Autism).
  • Our eldest son struggles with fear and anger - anger that he is the only "normal" or "healthy" one in the family, anger over so much childhood that was strained.
  • After Ellie died, our youngest son was also diagnosed with brain malformations and seizures
  • Our youngest daughter, Lucy Belle (who also has NKH) has many appointments and therapies throughout the week.  She doesn't walk or talk and only eats via g-tube.  She has intractable epilepsy and seizes many times on a daily basis, despite being on a total of 12 medications for seizures and for her disorder. 
  • My husband has experienced job losses over the years as he's tried to balance sleepless night and hospital stays with his work commitments.  He even lived states away from us for a year in order to provide for our family.
  • I was called to leave my career in Higher Education; Speaking and writing is something I love, but God has allowed that also to be put on the back-burner, which is sometimes super frustrating and sad.
  • I was diagnosed with several auto-immune issues, including Intercystial Cystitis, which causes severe pain in the bladder and kidneys (like a constant severe UTI). I can't work out bc of physical pain, and God has taken away any pride I might have had in my body. 
  • Friends have come and gone - most have the best of intentions but it is so difficult. lt's hard to love and befriend a family with special needs and medical fragility, which I totally understand.
Our list may be familiar to many and I am sure there are so many who's lists are
much more lengthy and detailed than ours! 

Within the pain and heartache, even at our lowest points, even at MY lowest points, God has been FAITHFUL and TRUE.  I've clung to what I know is true, as you encouraged us to last Monday:  It's the only way to get through the circumstances that don't make sense, that don't stop, that don't change. 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

In God's faithfulness, and BECAUSE of the things I've listed above,
God has done the following and MORE . . .
  • PERSONAL MISSION:  God gave me a personal mission through our journey - a mission to love and serve those within the special needs community, and it's a mission our family has adopted as well.  I never would have looked at precious people in this way, and never thought I would be an advocate within this special community.  God had other plans, and through our experiences, HE has given me a new love for those who are physically broken.  I am SO GRATEFUL! 
  • WONDERFULLY MADE: God stirred my heart, and the heart of our church, to start Wonderfully Made, a ministry to families within the church, whose children have special needs or who are medically-complicated.  God has taken this ministry and grown it greatly and it isn't because of anything I've done, or that we've done as a family!  There are now Wonderfully Made ministries (and those like it) around the country, reaching out to this people group who are SO easily forgotten by the Church!  Families see that they are NOT forgotten.  Children see that they ARE important, no matter how they are made by God, no matter what may happen to them on earth.  The atmosphere among the typical kids at churches changes too and everyone has become more loving, more accepting, more understanding of families like ours. It's all because of God's goodness and rich plans which we couldn't foresee.  I am SO GRATEFUL!
  • OKC HOPE LINK:  God stirred within us a desire to start a support group for families whose children suffer from rare and serious disorders.  A precious friend of mine started Hope Link in 2007, reaching out to families like ours, letting them know they aren't alone.  Hope Link is open to any and all, no matter what your religious beliefs or backgrounds. In the last few years, we've become a 501c3, have developed a Board of Directors, and have seen continued growth within the group!  Hope Link has monthly support groups for moms, support for dads, events for the families throughout the year, a kid-free night where children are cared for by trained professionals, an annual retreat to spoil these warn-down, warrior mommies, and so much more!  We have given back to Make-a-Wish Oklahoma and give Care Baskets to OU Children's Hospitals, letting families there know they are loved and not alone. 

I am the first to admit that I am not any more special than the person next to me.  I haven't earned God's grace or goodness or even favor.  He hasn't punished me and my family by the difficulties He's allowed to befall us, but rather He has done so that we may KNOW that HE ALONE is GOD.  He has done so that it's obvious HE alone gets the glory.  He has done so for OUR good and for the good of our children. 

Even though the bad times, the tough times, the heartache doesn't yet stop for our family; even though we are still in this season of total dependence upon the Father, even though we don't always see "the light at the end of the tunnel" . . .  I personally can say that He is STILL GOOD and He DOES GOOD and we can all trust Him with everything we have, even our MOST PRECIOUS things - especially our Most Precious things.  He takes them and makes something more beautiful than we could ever have hope or imagined - so much better than anything we could have planned!  His ways are not our ways, and I'm truly grateful for that today. 

Like Job, we firmly say, Job 5:9, “As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
9who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number:" Job 5:9

Jen Hatmaker, if this applies to you, GREAT!  If not, that's totally fine too.  At least I've been obedient and sent it out for all the world to see.  I hope it's an encouragement to you, if and when those tough times don't stop for you and for your family.  I hope this is an encouragement to fellow Believers when the struggle seems to never end.  He WILL redeem and bring life, new ministry, new purpose, new joy! 
It may not be the way we expect, but He will ALWAYS do it, just as He's promised. 

*One last story of redemption for Our Family - God has given us a precious baby girl through adoption; a baby born in Shawnee, across from OBU, by doctors who attended your same school.  God allowed Our Daughter to be born on our Ellie Kate's Heaven Day, December 23rd!  Only God could bring redemption to that day in such an intimate way!

Truly, "The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!" (Psalm 126:3)

With Great Love, Appreciation and Hope,


*Further promises from the Father:

Joel 2:25 (NIV)

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great army that I sent among you.  

Isaiah 40: 8-10 (ESV)
"But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
    and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
    I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10 fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand"

Isaiah 43:1-2
"But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you."

Psalm 30:11, New Living Translation
"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy"

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

All of Me

The Beauty that is Adoption is so much richer, so much deeper, so much sweeter, than I ever thought possible - and we are just at the beginning of it all!  As you may remember, Mike and I have always had a heart for adoption and God so clearly stirred our hearts deeply towards it again, especially last December.  Here we are, a year later, with a Baby Girl in our arms - this Most Precious Gift; an unspeakable gift, because I could never fully put into words just what Bowen Jane means to me, to us, and we've only had her in our arms less than a month! 

Bowen Jane
"Small, Victorious One who is Our Gracious Gift from God"

Those who know me know that I am quite empathetic (to a fault) and one of my main Spiritual Gifts is "Mercy".  My heart bleeds for others and I often feel deep emotions when others hurt.  Even so, I don't pretend to begin to understand adoption and the many layers it holds.  There are so many emotions for the adoptive parents, for the bio mom especially; emotions for the extended  family, for siblings on both sides; it's a ripple effect.  Its deeper than I ever thought, messier than I ever imagined and affects you in ways you don't always understand.  We WILL TAKE IT!  All of it, we will take it, with open arms and happy, humble hearts.  Even though we still hurt for our birth mother (and now friend), even though anxiety rises as the relinquishment date approaches, even with the financial changes it's brought to our family - we will take it and CHOOSE it, a million times over! 

When Ellie Kate was four, before we were pregnant with Lucy, I took her to school one day and heard a song on the radio along with the story behind it.  It was the story of Matt Hammitt and his son, Bowen.  It's where I first heard the name and it's meaning, and Matt shared of their fears and heartache as they've navigated through life-threatening heart issues with their sweet baby boy.  Tears flowed when I heard that song because it so beautifully related to what we felt for Ellie Kate.  The song Matt wrote in response to this specific time in their lives is called, "All of Me". 

Ellie couldn't tell us that she loved us.  She never was able to look us in the eye and at that time, couldn't really hug us or show much emotion toward us.  We knew her life was fragile and we adored her, even though we very rarely got anything in return (don't you know God must feel the same way about us?).  Because of God's love for us, Mike and I loved (love) Ellie Kate and gave (still give) her our hearts forever, regardless of the hurt or pain we knew might come, would come, could come, did come. 

Similarly, our hearts are vulnerable with Bowen.  At this time, up until relinquishment, we are not promised to be her forever family.  We are not promised to even be in her life, even though she is now in our arms.  Things can change in a moment, even up until the end, and while we don't believe things will change, there is still a chance.  That's scary and has brought me terrible anxiety.  Wildly worse anxiety than I have ever experienced.  Adoption is a very vulnerable place to be, no matter what side of it you are on. 

Yesterday, as I was driving, the VERY first song that came on was that same song from Matt Hammitt, "All of Me".  The radio personality even went on to share about Bowen Hammitt too.  I was BLOWN AWAY by God's timing (Which is so silly, seeing all He has done!).  I knew it was God comforting my heart. 

This song has come to mean so much to me, and I want to share it with you.  It is a beautiful reminder for me with all of the children God has entrusted to me - the Even if you don't believe in God, even if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, you can still relate to this song - esp for those of us who have children with "terminal" diagnoses, those who are medically fragile, those with any type of special needs.  We, as parents, choose to love with our WHOLE BEING, even if it is hard, even if it is scary, NO MATTER WHAT. 

I share the words of this song with you today as well as a link so you can listen to it (it's totally worth listening to!).  Thank you for sharing in our journey and for loving us as we travel this new road.  We are so grateful for such support friends and especially for those fellow adoptive families who have chosen to walk beside us, teaching us all about the ins and outs of this precious subject God calls ALL BELIEVERS to participate in and with. 

We can't wait to share more pictures and details with you soon!


"All of Me" - Video Link; LISTEN HERE:


All of Me, Lyrics -

Afraid to love
Something that could break
Could I move on
If you were torn away
And I'm so close to what I can't control
I can't give you half my heart and pray he makes you whole
You're gonna have all of me
You're gonna have all of me
'Cause you're worth every fallen tear
You're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love
Even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me
Is where I'll start
I won't let sadness steal you from my arms
I won't let pain keep you from my heart
I'll trade the fear of all that I could lose
For every moment I share with you
You're gonna have all of me
You're gonna have all of me
'Cause you're worth every fallen tear
You're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love
Even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me
Is where I'll start
Heaven brought us to this moment
It's too wonderful to speak
You're worth all of me
You're worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you
Even if I bleed
You're worth all of me
You're worth all of me
You're gonna have all of me
You're gonna have all of me
'Cause you're worth every fallen tear
You're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love
Even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me
Is where I'll start
You're gonna have all of me
You're gonna have all of me
'Cause you're worth every fallen tear
You're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love
Even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me
Is where I'll start
It's where I'll start
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