Sunday, January 31, 2016

Best of Facebook: January 2016

1/1/2016: Click here to see photo on FB:

New Year's Resolution to de-clutter and stop resorting to yelling happened before New Year's this year. We have always taught our kids to pick up as they go and only have one toy bin out at a time but lately I have gotten lax and they have gotten messier. I purposed that, even though I wanted to, I wasn't going to go in their rooms and start yelling about the amazing piles of unsorted items that covered the floor. I quietly entered, "I hate that your rooms are always so messy. If you cannot get them cleaned in an hour I am going to help...with trash bags." When the hour was up and the rooms were still brimming with mess I continued quietly, "Bring everything in your room to the living room, they are going to kids that will love them and care for them and put them away correctly." Actually I didn't know who the toys would end up with but it sounded good at the time. I was upset, frustrated, tired of so much mess ALL THE TIME and I needed to hold to my word. Plus I may be a tad extra crabby this week....

Quickly all their junk was piled up in the living room. And I thought, maybe this wasn't the best idea....for 3 days I sorted through unorganized bins, toy boxes, and piles. We then sat everyone down and explained that honestly they didn't deserve anything back. They weren't taking care of their belongings. But we love them regardless of what they deserve so we asked them to list one thing they couldn't live without, two things they needed, and 10 things they wish they could be given an opportunity to take care of again. In tears some of them filled up their list, others just put 3-5 items down. One child said, I like my room so much better clean like it is, I don't want so many toys.

They got to put everything they listed happily back in their room. Some stuff surprised me and I asked, "Are you sure you didn't want this or that, you have room left on your list? I thought you loved it." But they actually liked living in less clutter and didn't want most of it back, some stuff that I liked they begged me to just get rid of it. So we have sold off some stuff, donated tons and my kids are surprisingly super thankful! They have everything they want without the unwanted mess!

6 years infertile. God has done such a work in my heart this past year after writing that infertility post. Heck, He did an amazing work in my heart those five years to get to a place I could write about it without anger. Right now our church is booming with bellys, baby talk and shower planning and I am so thankful to be right there in it all! I am truly so thankful for tiny lives growing and the hearts preparing for the most important journey this life has to offer, to be called "mommy."

While my desire to be pregnant hasn't faded my hurt and anger has. I will be okay if I one day say goodbye to this world without ever having felt a kick inside me. God has blessed me more abundantly than I could have ever imagined. My body could have never given me the amazingly, beautiful and inspiring children that I call mine! Our plans and designs don't always line up with God's but let me tell you firsthand that when you allow your desires to be shaped by God's you find yourself smack in the middle of a plan that is WAY better and deeper than your own ever could have been!

Tell me I am not the only one who has had my day interrupted by two 300lb pigs showing up like stray puppies! Sometimes I think to myself, Lord what on earth are you preparing me for through this!?! After hours herding them, containing them, knocking on dozens of doors, having the Sheriff come out we finally found the owner. After seeing our farm he said, "they'll be much happier here than my small pen." Welcome home Arnold and Sally! I am worn out! :) 

1/9/2016: Click here to see photo on FB:

Remember on New Year's when I told you I got rid of all my kid's toys and you thought I was the meanest mom ever!?! Just for the record my kids have, not one but, FOUR ponies.... :D

"I just wanna give up!"

Us "trauma-mamas" have all been there! Breath, renew yourself in the Word of truth and remember that Jesus saw us in our filth and sin, in our anger and stubbornness and in our selfish desires but He pursued us anyway. He didn't just put up with our sins but He gave His life as a ransom to pay for them.

His love for us was so deep it nailed Him to the cross. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."(John 15:13)

It is so HARD! I know, mama, but pursue these little ones like you were pursued, love these little ones like you were loved and lay down your life for them in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ who laid down His life for us!

Let me tell you about some really bad timing.

Two years ago we sold our big house in our beautiful neighborhood and ready to embark on a two year journey to get debt free. That meant living low (think tiny trailer in the country) so we could be freed from our bondage of debt for good. But then we were made aware of a boy in need of a new home. Bad timing. We can't adopt while we are moving and using every extra penny toward our debt. This would be a private $10,000 adoption. Bad timing. And look at his profile and all the listed "issues" like RAD, PTSD, ADHD...we are still working through some big issues with our other kiddos, how can we add another now? Bad timing.

How quickly did we learn there is no such thing as bad timing with God. For He is the master conductor of only one symphony. Perfect timing. How I regret all my moments doubting God's plan and trusting my own. How thankful I am that God steered my faith and gave me the strength to say "yes" even when my feelings were weak.

Two years ago we welcomed a 6th child into our home (It is Not a Good Time blog post). I am so glad we did because my Sam-the-China-Man is something else and there would be such a big hole in our family if he wasn't here to fill it! He is quiet, humble, eager to please, super smart, generous and has a quick wit that can have you roll on the floor laughing. It is hard to think that Sam hasn't just always just been here. His transition period was subtle, he fit right in so quickly and his struggles never seemed more than just normal un-taught childish stuff (much less than the crazy, bizarre attachment stuff we had previously known). This kid is just fantastic, I mean, just look at them fine dance moves!

Memory from two years ago, Jan. 15th, 2014:

"Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different if I were able to be pregnant. If I had 9 long months to plan for the arrival of a new baby. If I was given time to bond and love this child while they grew in my womb. I ponder what it would feel like to celebrate their coming arrival, to have new, gift-wrapped baby showers for my new and perfect blessing. I wonder if God would give me the treacherous and vomit-filled pregnancy to break me in to the reality of what it means to sacrifice your whole self for another. Or if I would have the wonderful, glowing, "I loved being pregnant" kind that would whisk me away to a land of rainbows and unicorns.

Then I come back to my reality. I have never been asked about our new arrival based on the size of my belly or made aware another was on the way by peeing on a stick. I have never, previously, had more than 24 hours to plan for the arrival of a child. Ever since day one I have been a mother of over double the national average of children in a normal home. I have never been able to claim their coming on our insurance, and have had to navigate the art of fundraising.

I sometimes mingle with the "grass is always greener" mentality and wish I fit in to the normal mommy talks about C-sections, epidurals and breast-feeding. I have never felt an unborn baby kick or been up all night with a newborn but I can show you the redemption of a delinquent and a runaway. I love my grass. It may not be new and fresh and green but it tells a story of redemption. It was thrown away but now it's wanted. It was walked on and neglected and abused but now it is loved and cherished and nurtured. I love the story God picked for me to live. The story of hurt, trials and loss that has morphed into the most glorious, redemptive love story.

All adoption begins in loss, grief and pain. Our son is joining us in our joy through his hurt. Our son is gaining our heritage through his loss. Our son may not feel our love while he walks through his grief. My life may be different if I had been given the gift of pregnancy, I may have even ignored the command to "care for the orphan". I may not have been given the opportunity to suffer with those that suffer and to sacrifice my whole self for these 6 little broken ones. I might have missed God's amazing power and healing. I might, just might, have fit into the category of "normal"."

Today was just AMAZING! God brought an army to us today. He must have big plans for our farm! Over 60 people from 3 different churches showed up to bless us by helping us clean up our 7 acre property. We serve an amazing God who can move mountains!

We are on a food journey with Brittney and she is doing SO good! Look at this girl who had a food aversion and NEVER took anything in via mouth is tasting and loving these GRITS!!!

When Brittney came to us she was pump fed formula 24 hours a day via her J-tube (a feeding tube placed in the jejunum, bypassing the stomach and upper GI tract). Her pump would continuously pump 50ml, about 2tbsp, of formula directly into her intestines for her to digest all day. Working closely with her gastroenterologist and her dietitian, we have slowly, yet successfully, transitioned her to being fed via her G-tube (a tube placed through the abdominal wall directly into the stomach).

Once we found she could handle food pumped directly into stomach we began a slow moving transition to increase the amount of food being pumped into her stomach while simultaneously decreasing the amount of time throughout the day it was being pumped in. Our halfway mark was achieved around Christmas when we were pumping 130mls, about a 1/2 cup, for only 10 hours a day. That means Brittney's body and GI tract could rest all night and she didn't have to be hooked up to her feed machine and tubes over night anymore! It also ended her BMs in a diaper over night and she is exclusively using the potty!!! Big win!

Our goal that we are reaching toward is to transition her off her feeding pump all together and begin to make her blended meals from real, whole foods! We are so close and soon she will get 4 bolus feeds via her G-tube then we will begin another slow journey of introducing real foods to her stomach while continuing to let her experience the amazing sensation of tasting foods by mouth!

"Adopt anymore children since we last saw you here?" Said the nurse checking us into our appointment.
I laughed, "Nope, we were here only 3 months ago."
"And are you sure you're not pregnant? They say it always happens after you adopt!" She eyed me carefully.
I smiled, "not pregnant either."

Yesterday we had a check-up with Brittney's nephrologist who is pretty far away, a 6-hour round trip drive. He said she looks good and her monthly bloodwork looks great. Happy news for sure!

Brittney has a terminal illness that doctors say will one day take her life, yet it is amazing it hasn't already. When we got that call asking us to be Brittney's family one thing that stuck out was the case-worker saying that many families had met and loved Brittney but all of them said the same, "it will be too hard to love a child that will die." Oh, if they only knew what they were missing; how can you not love a child that will die? We will all die one day. We must think do we want to die with no family, alone in a hospital room or do we want to die surrounded by people who love us deeply. And Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." (Matt. 7:12 and Luke 6:31)

This is what Brittney has:
"atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS) is a rare, life-threatening, genetic disease that can damage vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, and brain. In patients with aHUS, blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body, a process known as systemic thrombotic microangiopathy, or TMA. The disease can occur at any age and can lead to potentially devastating consequences. In the past, even with management about 50% of all people with aHUS die, needed dialysis, or had damage to their kidneys within 1 year of being diagnosed. There is no cure, and it is a genetic, lifelong disease." from

Her doctor is happy she is continuing to stay stable and is pleased that the very strong drug (Solaris or eculizumab) that she takes via her chest port every two weeks has kept the disease at bay for 4 years now. Every day is a blessing with this girl who is filled with the joy of life! Everytime I look at her I am so thankful we trusted God over our own fears. And Britt is clearly thankful that she is a well-loved daughter and very spoiled sister of a large family!

FB memory from 2 years ago today as we were preparing to travel to Michigan to adopt our Sam:
"What is it like to have a building excitement and growing body over nine long months? What is it like to explode in joy and ignite rejoicing all around you when your precious bundle makes their miraculous entrance into this world? What is it like to celebrate their coming arrival? What is it like to have things like baby showers, gifts and dedications? What is it like to have strangers and friends know just by looking at you that you are expecting another blessing? What is it like to feel their overwhelming excitement? What is it like to finally hold your new, perfect baby that shares your nose or your eyes? I don't know the answer to these questions.

What is it like to know of a child hurting? What is it like to learn that their parents who experienced their amazing birth no longer want them? What is it like to have your heart break into a million pieces just by looking at a picture of this orphaned child? What is it like being chosen by God as the parent of this sad, grieving and confused little one? What is it like to want to take all their hurt away but know that you can't? To wish, if only, they could have been protected, wanted and loved? What is it like to be asked again and again about your new child's pain and struggles? To be reminded of their great loss during their very short time in this world? To be informed of how hard life will be for them and for you? What is it like to desire an unending love so deep it will wash over this child like an ocean? What is it like to cry when they’re not looking when they open up enough to express their past hurts? What is it like to walk with them in their grieving, in their anger and in their lack of trust? What is it like to pursue them when they push you away? What is it like to only know suffering? What is it like to see amazing redemption? What is it like to see them finally smile, laugh or play? What is it like to know there is no higher calling than committing your life to an unwavering love to this, once unlovable, little one? What is it like to adopt a child? This I know all too well.

Turner will join our family in 2-3 weeks. I am not walking with a waddle and a belly but my heart is full and bursting. I wish it was all joy and excitement but my joy shares a seat with sorrow. Turner is losing so much and will be so confused. I can hear his questioning, "Why didn't they want me? Was it something I did?" We are expectantly planning his coming arrival, nesting even. We plan on leaving to travel Friday, Feb. 7th or Feb. 14th to bring home our new son. It won't look like all the pretty posts about sweet baby showers and cute newborn pictures but it will be a growing blessing for a family just the same. Turner, with all his baggage, his hurt and his rejection is still a BLESSING! To our new son, we cannot wait to meet you!"
(Picture was taken Dec. 2015 and shows what fun Sam has been!) :)

We have over 2 acres of bamboo we have been slowly cutting down. The kids have used it to make this little play house....pretty freaking cool!

Beautiful memory from 1 year ago when God was preparing our hearts to adopt our Brittney girl!
*With great love, comes a greater risk of pain.

Our lives have been opened up for comments, criticism, ridicule, but mainly for great encouragement! We have once again announced to the world that we are willing to walk down a road of adoption. Maybe for one who is healthy, maybe one who is sick. Maybe for one who is advanced, maybe one who is delayed. Maybe for one, maybe five.

Sweet little old ladies say the funniest things when we break this news every year to our church, "So I hear you are thinking about adopting again?"
Me: "Yes ma'am, that is true."
"You are going to be like the little old woman who lived in a shoe she had so many kids she didn't know what to do." People listening in began to giggle.
Me: "Hopefully not the shoe part, but when I don't know what to do I must solely rely on God. That is where I want to stay."

All I have to offer God and this child is my willingness. I am not the perfect wife. I am not a fantastic mother. I am not a great teacher. I can't ever get to the bottom of my to-do list. I stumble and fail much. I am not thinking of adopting again because I think I can handle it. I am not necessarily even ready. I want to adopt again because Jesus does. See adoption is bigger than just us. Through our adoption story runs a scarlet thread. A thread knotting our hearts for adoption to the One who adopted our hearts.

By opening up the door to adoption, I am offering myself as a sacrifice to the One who sacrificed all to me. Emptying myself so I can be filled with His glory. I am simply saying, "Lord I am willing, if you choose, use me." So when my husband loves me fiercely, my children call me blessed and onlookers say, "you are amazing, how do you do it?" I can say, "It is not me, but the One who lives in me!"