Friday, September 27, 2013

Fun Friday - Update 3

Praise God for healthy, happy kids! For the last three weeks each and every one of the kids has been sick. Three of the six requiring emergency room care. This mama and papa are dancing for joy that health has been restored. The power of prayer is so amazing and we are incredibly grateful for so many praying for us through this journey. God is good - all of the time - God is good!

We also received the updates on the girls. Both are off of their medication and in "good" condition. They are weighing in at around 8.5 lbs. Such awesome news!! Their little cheeks look a slightly fuller and their eyes bright and alert. I love this picture above. Look at her sporting her little Mary Jane's and bows on her wrists! Ahhh, I can't wait to scoop them up and love on them!!

Thank you Jesus for health. Thank you for giving this mama the grace and strength that I desperately needed to get through the last couple of weeks. It's easy to forget what an absolute blessing it is just to feel good. To be able to run, play, dance, have energy and enjoy fun, silly moments together. Thank you for reminding me that you are all that I need. You are there in the calm and the storm. You are here and you are there. You are everywhere that I am and in the places that I can't be. Thank you for providing. For being my shelter, my quiet place and retreat. Thank you Father. Amen. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mud Run 2013

Victory for us! We did it! We ran our first 5k together! I've always wanted to try a mud run and this guy was kind enough to run with me this morning. He hadn't ran in a really long time. For those of you who don't know,  M was drafted after high school to play catcher for the minor leagues. He played for 4 years before he went to college where he played quarter back for the University of San Diego in California. His only frame of reference regarding running is for punishment - not enjoyment. While playing football he tore up both of his knees (you'd have to ask him for a complete explanation of his torn ACL's, MCL's, dislocations, and cadaver ligaments). When exercising, he mostly uses the elliptical and lifts. So for him to run with me is a BIG deal! I, on the other hand, have always loved to run. I've been running for as long as I can remember and find great enjoyment in my time especially when running outside.

We are both competitive and are always striving to learn more and to be better. During our run, I caught myself feeling that competitive edge since I had been running for months now and was in good shape. I ran ahead for a bit and then instantly stopped and waited for him to catch up. I felt like God was reminding me that this is a lot like our life. There are going to be times that he is ahead of the curve in God's plans and I need extra help, more support. M is so compassionate and in tune with my needs. He is my tough rock and my gentle landing in the same breath. There is also going to be times that I'm more at peace and he needs my gentle, strong spirit with God's direction. Times that I need to rally in his corner with love. To stand firm in faith as we wade through the obstacles of life. But the important thing is that we don't give up on each other. That we are there through each muddy trial. That as long as we make God our focus in our marriage, our family and our life then anything can be accomplished. We finished a strong race together!

So look at him, in a trailer full of wood chips, covered in mud and still smiling. There are so many times that I stop in awe that God gave me him. 

Seamlessly crawling over each hurdle. 

 Look how sweet he is to help hold the tire for me as I slip in mud. Always taking good care of me -of our family. 

You want me to do what?!? The requests that appear to me to be the biggest obstacles - stretching me the farthest - always end up being the grandest adventures of blessings. 

Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for my amazing partner and for each moment that we get to experience together. He truly is everything that I could have imagined in a husband and more. Thank you for knowing just what I needed when you gave me him. He challenges me to be a better person, to grow in faith and to love more each day. He is my companion and best friend. Thank you that you have blessed us so abundantly! You have given us the tools to succeed in a healthy marriage. You have given us instincts to parent in love. You have given us ordinary days to enjoy and give thanks. Busy days to grow. Challenging days to gain perspective. Chaotic days to give us patience. Quiet days to rest. Peaceful days to soak in your presence. Adventurous days to remind us to explore. Hard days to turn our trust to you. This life, this journey has been worth every minute together in marriage with you! Thank you Father, Amen. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fun Friday - Update 2

Baby E

Baby G

We received our update today that the girls are improving. They are noted to be in "fair" condition and are still on medication. They look like they are feeling yucky in their photos and I'm drawn to my knees in prayer for these precious children. Through it all, I feel at peace with God beside me. I just know that  He has plans bigger than I could imagine in store for them. I know that He is holding them while I can't. I trust that He has the bases covered while I draw near to Him in prayer. 

A quick smile between cuddles -starting to feel better! Love this little guy.

On the home front, this mama is hanging in the shelter of the storm as we have had a sick baby at house for the last 2.5 weeks. Q was the first to make a trip to the emergency room with body aches, chills, and a fever of 105.2. He looked and felt terrible. We were concerned because we couldn't get his fever to break. We gave him a warm bath and medication. Nothing. We called the on call nurse who recommended that we go ahead and take him to the ER. Of course, shortly after the doctor walks into the room he is suddenly bouncing off of the wall and well again. We were very thankful that further tests were not needed. We chalked it up to a virus and battled with the fever for a few more days. Thanking Jesus he is on the mend! 

Love our sleeping little boys. See that spot between them. Yeah, thats where I woke up approximately 10 seconds ago.

Then these two little ones decided they were missing out on the party. S started to run a mild fever and then woke up barking like a seal in the middle of the night. Ughh - croup. Anyone who has ever had a child with croup before immediately recognizes the deep cough. I gathered pillows to prop him up and checked his breathing. He sounded ok despite his viral infection. Come morning though his croup had significantly worsened. He woke us up with stridor, in-drawing and heavy labored breathing. Watching your child struggle to gather air into their lungs is terrifying. We quickly tried the hot steam/cool air trick but we were past the point of allowing time to be on our hands. He was now in panic mode with loud cries between gasps for breath. Another trip to the ER. This included rounds of steroids and epinephrine breathing treatments. After several hours of monitoring him we were sent home. We "slept" sitting upright with hot/cool treatments for the next several nights. I use the word slept loosely in relation to closing my eyes as I rest my hand on their chest to make sure they are ok. C also caught the same virus though his was milder with coughing only at night. Thank you God for that. And thank you for more sleep. I know God is here in these moments and I know that He has it covered. They are absolutely adored by our Father and His to have. He holds them close. He will protect them from getting any sicker. He's got me covered. I'll do what I can do and he'll do the rest. 

Passed out. Can she get any cuter- even when she is sick?!?

Then there is our little girl who never misses an opportunity to be part of something fun. She joins in with a different virus and has been vomiting the last couple of days. My heart breaks for her as she has requested to sleep with a big round bowl by her bed. Which really means in our room on the floor. Or our bed in the middle of the night. Just in case you are wondering, yes, it is possible to fit 4 sick kids in your bed. The bed obviously becomes smaller and you are unable to move. But hey, anything is possible. You just have to adjust your expectations a little. Thank you Jesus for flexibility. 

Lord, please be with our family as we sail through this week. We are in the eye of the storm, yet I feel you close. You love each one of our children. You love us. You care about their sicknesses and their hurts. I know that you are going to use even this to bless us all. Glory to you as we press into your will. Please guard our hearts and minds. Thank you for healing and for your desire to hold us close. To be near. To hear our prayers. To answer with delight. To give us your word and for allowing us to dip into the true living waters of life. In your name, Amen. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

(Not So) Fun Friday - Update 1

Every Friday for the remaining journey of our adoption, we will receive an update on the girl's health, weight, growth, etc. We also get 2 pics each of their sweet little faces. This has been our first full week waiting for an update on the girls. This Friday, I happened to be at a christian women's conference out of state with several other women. I of course, checked my phone several times starting early Friday morning. I may have refreshed my e-mail close to 1,000 times but nothing. After a remarkable teaching and worship, I reached down to check my phone one more time. I noticed that I had a message from our agency. My heart sank as I listened to the message, "Good afternoon, can you call me when you get a chance? The girls are sick and I want to talk to you before I send you their update. Thanks." I jumped seats to the nearest exit and called our agency back as soon as I could. Trying to get through 15,000 women to exit the conference was no easy feet, but a concerned mama has super powers when it comes to her children. Only the answering machine picked up my call.

The girls have continually been at the forefront of my heart since referral. Though they are healthy according to the most recent blood work (6 weeks ago), they were both born prematurely, now weighing only 7 lbs at a few months. Though they are being taken good care of in a transition home - being kept warm and fed around the clock - my mama heart aches to be with them. They are so tiny and we are fully aware of the risks involved with babies in their situation. We understand that they are in a 3rd world country and that infections run ramped. But I also know that we serve a heavenly Father who loves them and cares for them. Within the hour, our agency called back. Both babies have been struggling with bronchitis, fever, rapid breathing, and lethargy. Baby G was taken to the hospital to be evaluated further. From what I understand, she was there for a 4-5 days. Both girls have IV's, antibiotics, steroids, and IM injections for continued treatment in the foster home. Their bronchitis had turned into pneumonia. From the last conversation that I had, the girls were both starting to feel better. Praise God for modern medicine and the opportunity for them to now have access to care.

Though the latest verbal report says that they are on the mend, I've caught myself fleshly really feeling the depths of my worn heart as I realize that I can't be in two places at once. I want to be with our girls especially while they are sick and I need to be with our children at home too. So I pitched a fit tent this afternoon. I have decided that one of the worst feelings in the entire world is having a sick child (or two) and not being able to physically do anything to help. So thats what I told God. And the spot where I camped out this afternoon. I let fear seep in and chose to focus on it instead of leaning on God and trusting that He has a plan far greater than I understand - I had a fear free slip up. God has been nudging me to let down my guard and let him in that fear space. During afternoon worship my sad, closed eyes faced the ground. But He prompted me to keep looking up. To come to Him. He asks us to keep our eyes focused in His direction. There is no need to look around but to turn up my head toward Him. To trust Him. God is not angry each time we question or fail but instead he is incredibly patient. He is waiting to forgive us. He is a gentlemen. He approaches us in kindness. He is polite to remind me that He offers prayer. He offers peace. He offers the kind of love that surpasses all understanding. He reminds me that though I don't always "get it", He already knows how the journey plays out for us. He goes before us and beside us. He's got this. We know that we follow a mighty God who has let us be a part of their story. It's in these moments that He reminds us that He is in control. Continents apart, He holds us all in the palm of His big, glorious hands. I marvel at the way that He placed them in our path. We pray for them daily and we are honored to get to know them more each week.

I firmly believe that God gives us circumstances to build our character and make us stronger. He brings trials to chip away the unwanted and sculpt us into the work of art that he wishes to shape. It's when I come to Him in absolute brokenness, that He uses the thin fabrics in my heart to knit together the building blocks of my life journey. The more that I welcome the opportunity to draw close to our father, the more that I understand His indescribable love for us and for our girls. The more that he shows me His heavenly love, the more I trust His perfect ways. The more I trust, the more I desire to be obedient. Each day is filled with love opportunities if we are willing to seek and explore all that He has to offer spiritually. To not be shaken or moved. To know His will for my life. To make my desires parallel with His. To give up my dreams and replace them with His. To shift my earthly goals to mirror eternal blessings.

Dear Father, thank you for our girls. Thank you that you offer prayer and peace in a world that caters to our fears. Thank you for your great, perfect love. We are humbled before you as you remind us once again that so much of our lives are out of our control though we cling so tightly the idea that control is ours to have. Thank you for reminding me that fear often leads to panic while trusting your plan leads to overwhelming peace. Thank you for the friends that surround us to continue to pray for our girls. You remind us of the importance of community. There is beauty in sharing our lives with others so close to your heart. If there was ever a need for us to go to Africa to be with our girls during a time of illness, I pray Lord that you help us discern your will during that time. I pray for health and protection for each one of our children. Please bring abundant blessings with each virus, each set back. We trust your plan Lord. Thank you once again for giving the honor of being parents to beautiful, sweet babies. Amen.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Surprise Referral

We have been living the last 24 hours in a surreal cloud of bliss. Yesterday, September 3, we received "the call" that would forever change our lives. Today, on the 4th, we accepted. We are so grateful for God's plan and provision in our journey. We know that He is in control and we trust His plan. We have felt God calling us again to the edge of fearless living. As I was running earlier this week, I told our Father, that I lay everything at his feet. That I was open for any plans that he orchestrated. I told Him that I wanted to learn how to live a life free from fear - to really dig deep and trust Him in all areas of my life - not just the ones that I chose to give Him. I want God in every nook and cranny - to fill every crack. We are forever grateful for his guidance in our lives.

As you know, a year ago, we were lead on a journey for what we thought was a little boy from Ethiopia, Africa. We were thinking that he would be around 12-18 months at referral. We had been approved for 2 children this the last year (being cleared for our home study and USCIS - just in case). As this last spring came, we really believed that God was asking us to adopt two. So we moved forward thinking that we may get one boy and one girl - probably around the age of 2 years old when they came home. So you can understand our mouth-dropping shock and overwhelming excitement all in one breath as we heard the words -

Healthy Identical Baby Twin Girls!!

This morning, on my drive, I was praying for God's unconditional love and direction. I felt like time was standing still. Like my mind just couldn't comprehend what was being said. I wanted a clear sign that that we were to say "Yes" to these sweet little babies. That this was God's design. I prayed that my heart would be filled with peace as we move forward with the acceptance. The worship music was playing and I just spent quite time seeking Him. As I look over my shoulder to the South, a double rainbow peered between the clouds. God has since, opened the dam to floods of tears, joy and love. Our hearts over pouring with excitement. We celebrate in the miracles all around us!

I've been quite blessed to get to experience life as a twin. When my mom was pregnant with my brother and I, she had no idea that she was having twins until six weeks before delivery. Mom was measuring on the larger side for a single pregnancy so the doctor wanted to further investigate. At the time, she did not have access to ultrasound images, so instead they took her to radiology to have an X-ray. To everyones surprise she was pregnant with twins - my brother and I. How awesome that God allowed both my mom and I to experience the joy of big surprises!

Our babies are very healthy despite their low birth weight and premature delivery. Please join us in praying for our girls. Please pray that they would gain weight and grow. We are praying big, mighty prayers for health and safety. That God would protect them from infection. We pray for super natural protection as he holds them in His hands. We pray that we can smoothly travel through the PAIR process and that He expedites the rest of our journey to bring them home to our family!!

Oh Jesus, I'm at a lost for words. And that's a big deal since I always have something to say. We are stunned. Amazed. Blissfully thrilled. We are so pleased that you picked us to be the parents of two little girls. Thank you for this honor. Thank you for trusting our family despite our imperfections. Thank you for looking at our hearts and making your desires ours. God, we continue to trust your plans for our family. We want to live our lives broken for you. To pursue you on a radical journey of love. Thank you for redemption. For adoption. For calling our family to be part of the miracle of adoption. Please, Lord, hold our girls while we are oceans apart. We know that twins in adoption is extremely rare. We know that our girl's situation is special and nothing short of a miracle. We know that you ordain these special circumstances that we can't always understand. Please Father, continue to bless our journey. Please break down barriers and any obstacles that stand in the way. Please prepare our family for twins. Oh, my goodness, we are brining home twins!! Thank you Jesus. From the bottom of our hearts. Thank you. Amen.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul". Psalm 143:8

** Please note that we have been asked to share limited information at this point in our adoption. Please take this into consideration when asking questions regarding their region, location, age, etc. We will share with our close family and friends as desired. The girls are not legally ours yet, until court, and we must protect their privacy as much as possible. We will share more as our journey unfolds! Thanks so much for being part of our story and for praying for our family during this exciting time!! **