Friday, September 26, 2014

Labor Day

Joshua was born on September 1st, 2014.  
Labor Day.



I spent two days in labor (and in denial) and landed at the hospital just in time.  Just a few hours before he was born, I was timing contractions on an app while walking around Bass Pro Shops with Paul and the kids, wondering if this would be the day.

It was.



While the kids were playing outside with Paul, my cute little contractions rolled over into massive, falling-on-the-floor-waves while I was on the phone with Belinda (I was trying to convince her I was probably in false labor) and suddenly my house was filled with neighbors and friends and babysitters, all helping Paul and I get out the door.

Delivery was fast, and I found myself staring into the face that was the result of a thousand miracles and even more prayers.  



The next day, friends who had been waiting to meet Joshua began pouring into the hospital.



This picture of Becky meeting my son, the same one she and I mourned together in the Chicago hospital, brings me to tears every time.


And finally, it was time for him to meet his siblings. 

He belongs to all of them, equally, and they know it. 



 After coming home, I have seen each child care for Joshua in their own way.  Lilly and Daisy are "Little Mamas" and are such a help to me.  



Coming from a place where children are often the caregivers of other children, Haven is very protective over Joshua.



Aaron makes sure I know when Joshua is crying, and he insists I pick him up right away!  If I do not get there quick enough, I often find a toy car or block sitting on Joshua's chest.  He wants Brother to know we are here for him.  



Birthing a child after 4 adoptions has changed my perspective.  I am more appreciative of the privilege of caring for my newborn.

I find myself comparing my children's institutional life - and what they lost and missed in these early weeks and months - to Joshua's life.  

For example, now that Joshua is 1 month and weighs 9 pounds, 
I have not forgotten that this was what Mimi weighed at 1 YEARS old.  


As we hit that 1-month mark, I think of the pain and loss that 3 of my babies were ALREADY experiencing at this point in their lives, and how one son's life can differ so much from another's.


But that was Before.

And this is After.


I praise God for giving us all a picture of how it SHOULD be - of babies wrapped up warm in the love of their family home.  I know seeing this played out in our family serves as healing for my adopted children.

Every child deserves this.


And someday, when Christ returns, the fact that there are more children than there are parents in this world will be remedied.

 He is coming to set things straight and claim His children as sons, and adoption and foster care will no longer be necessary

(Come quickly!)



Until He returns, all of these children are stewarded to our earthly care.  They are worth fighting for, they are worth our time, our attention, our sacrifice, and our patience.  They are the only earthly treasure in our homes that we have any chance of bringing into eternity.  

They are arrows to be shot out into the world to reflect His Glory and tell His Story.  They are the future rulers in the Millennial Kingdom.  And they are a picture of His love for us.


And as we fumble our way through this life as the parents of seven of these treasures, we cling more than ever to the saving Grace of Jesus, freeing us from the standards and expectations of this world - and from the Law - which we can never appease.


We could never deserve this.  

And we thank Him everyday for a seat among Princes
and for this abundant heritage.


"He raises the poor from the dust, 
and lifts the needy from the ash heap; 
He sits them with princes, 
with the princes of His people. 
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children."







Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baby Joshua


I have kept pretty quiet about the details of the medical emergency that took me off the airplane to China in a wheelchair and landed me in the Chicago emergency room, leaving Paul scrambling for a travel visa to take my place

What I experienced is called a large subchorionic hematoma (a blood clot), and it ruptured behind my baby's placenta. 

I was actually 12 weeks pregnant when we got on that flight to claim Haven and Aaron.  As the plane began to taxi towards takeoff and eventually on to Beijing, it became clear that something was very, very wrong.



Labor pains hit hard and fast, and I began to bleed.  Heavily.  

I was evacuated from the plane.  Lilly, Becky, and I prayed through tears and shock as I was wheeled away from the tarmac while the flight took off without us.  I found myself in the ER, where a triage nurse tried to bring me back into reality while checking us in:

"You are having a miscarriage, and this will be over soon."

Then I heard her call in my diagnosis over an intercom - quietly citing the medical term "incomplete abortion" - and I wept.  Doubled over in pain, I felt all of my plans literally slipping from my body.  

But His plans are better... 


And that nurse was wrong.   





His name is Joshua.

He is already a conqueror, and he will succeed Moses and Aaron, 
just as his namesake did in Deuteronomy.




His middle name will be Lazarus, because on that day in February, I laid in the hospital bed and mentally buried another son that I would never hold, in total peace, and handed him to Jesus.

And in His grace, He handed him back to us.  




Our son lives.

Joshua is due September 6th, 2014.  

Because of this date, we have always known he would be a boy; so we named him immediately - before the gender ultrasound.





You see, September 6th is the exact one year anniversary of the day that the original son we meant to adopt died, and the very same day that we committed to bring home Aaron in his place.



It is a day of Redemption...





And we have seen a lot of those in this family.  




Our children have been pulled out of the desert, out of alleyways, out of the hands of wild animals, out of starvation, out of neglect
and out of suffering....



and have been providentially Hand-placed into our home 
by a tender, loving Father. 


Paul and I were no exception to this.  



We were lost, we were rebels to His Law; and we were facing certain, permanent death as a penalty.  But He chose to intercede on our behalf; paying our ransom with His life and placing us into His Family.
  
Because of Jesus, death has literally lost its sting
and we watch His Redemption Story repeat itself 
in our children's lives. 



We have known we were pregnant since Christmas morning.
Since that day, we have seen healing in all of our children 
in ways we never would have expected.





After Miriam asked me with tears in her eyes 
if this baby will travel on an airplane to live with another family after he is born, 

because it is all she knows... 




I placed her hands on my tummy and explained the basics of God's design for family, and she leaned into me with relief.


Our Mandarin tutor helped us explain my tummy to Haven.



Now when we meet someone new, Haven takes my hand and announces that I am "Haven's Mama", and then pats my belly and says, 
"Joshua, Haven's baby."


And my Lilly - the one who bravely prayed over her Mama in a hospital bed asking God to save the baby's life -  despite having already been told that the baby was gone - she reminds me at every opportunity that God heard her prayers...




And I remind her that He *ALWAYS does.

We have been chosen over and over again; 
blessed with life and love and a family that has been 


divinely knit together.  




We have gone from 2 children to 7 in just TWO years.  
We are exhausted, ecstatic, and filled with hope.  We can laugh about tomorrow, because we know He holds the future in His Hands.


But what will we do with all of these children?




"As for me and my household, 
we will serve the Lord."  


*****


Amy graciously blessed our family by donating her time and these pictures 
as a part of the Red Thread Sessions project. 

Amy is humble, remarkably talented, has a huge heart for Jesus and the orphan, and her blog is filled with all sorts of beauty.  Go on over and check it out, or find her on Facebook:



*For families who have suffered the loss of a miscarriage, or the death of an infant or child - or are raising a child with mental or developmental issues, please consider this sermon:




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Impossible


Sometimes you ask your friend to pen a letter for your daughter's Lifebook, so that someday in the future, she can see from an outsider's perspective how much her family wanted her, loved her, and fought for her.  

And sometimes, your friend nails it.  

Thank you, Belinda.

To Haven:  http://psalm1139mama.blogspot.com/2014/06/impossible.html



Friday, April 18, 2014

Empty Beds


It's been a whirlwind since we've been home.  

First came a sort of medical triage, as a number of unexpected medical issues for both children had to be treated quickly.  

At first, it was simply one appointment after another...until they all started to blend together.  


To make a long story short, both kids are headed to Dupont Nemours Hospital in Delaware to be evaluated for surgical needs and receive other treatments.  

We know this is the right path, because it has become clear that these kids need the best specialists in the country after spending their lifetimes in cribs without any medical treatment.  We will do everything we can to make this right for both of them.

As we push through the sleep studies and other steps on the way to Dupont, we are watching as our children slowly come to life...


This sweet boy loves his Mama, 

and his favorite thing to do is climb all over me.  


We aren't sure how much he can hear, and he has no language at this point, but he communicates quite well using one finger.  

I fetch whatever he points at and am pretty much his puppet, 
which he loves.  


I'm head over heels for this kid.  

I always have been.  

How blessed we are that God vetoed our plan to "only adopt one" this time around.  What a treasure we would have missed...our beautiful boy.



As for Haven, 
she loves her new family so much.
  
Especially her Mimi.



You see,
Mimi understands adoption better than any of us do.

She remembers everything.



So they are best friends...

Like Tigger and Pooh.



Haven recently lost two front teeth.  

We have no idea where one of them went, 
but we are certain that Mimi had 
something to do with it.  



Haven loves her dog, George.

And she naps on the floor, 
so she doesn't miss anything. 


We are back to school now, 
and after a few curriculum modifications and changes...

all six of them are officially a class together!


  
Lilly schools in the afternoon during naps.

 In the morning preschool sessions, she serves as my helper - 
she is such a good sport!




I am totally impressed with Haven - 

she is able to master new skills quickly.  


I can tell that she knows she is playing catch up, 

and that she is absolutely determined 
to learn to do everything that Lilly can do.  



Aaron's progress is nothing short of 

miraculous.  





Of course, while I am very happy with his rapid improvement in movement, crawling, walking, and putting together small puzzles and games...  




Mostly, 
I am just rejoicing 
over the joy he has found in this family.




On a weekend that symbolizes Resurrection and Redemption, 

I have to revel in these images...


Of my children...


Resurrected.  


Redeemed.  


And while the journey has been long 

(and not at all what we imagined for our family 
when we got married ten years ago),



He has given us Joy along the way, 
and has refreshed our hearts with Living Water
over and over again.



And all the while... 

The story of our own Redemption
 is being repeated before our eyes.


As a little girl finds Home


And a little boy 

is brought back to life.


Happy Holy Week.

We rejoice in Empty Tombs 

and Empty Beds...



"Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, 
who was crucified.  

He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.  

Come and see the place where He lay..."