Monday, November 18, 2013

A Year of Reflecting

Wow, I find it so hard to believe that one year ago today, November 19 (China time, they are 13 hours ahead of us), we were given the gift of another child. That day and the emotions of that time are still so fresh in my mind. There have been so many sweet moments since that time. There have also been some hard times and with those hard times many lessons learned.

The overriding lesson has been trusting in a  Sovereign God. We trusted God throughout the process of the adoption, but when Jaelynn was placed into my arms, I began to learn a whole new level of trust.  I will admit when I first held Jaelynn there was a part of me that was panic stricken. I was no longer reading reports or seeing pictures of her special needs, I was holding a special girl with special needs, and it was frightening. How would I actually take care of her? Had we been over zealous and emotional in deciphering God's will to adopt her? Surely there was someone better equipped to take care of such a special little girl. It was obvious after meeting her that she would need a lot of medical care. I knew this before, but after signing papers that made her legally our daughter, the responsibility felt even more real. Very soon we saw beyond Jaelynn's special needs and saw a five year old that needed a mama and baba like any other five year old. 

The Lord was good to us during our time in China. We only had one day that none of us would ever care to repeat, but even looking back on that day, we are now able to laugh (mostly). 
It was amazing to us that though Jaelynn had never been part of a family, she seemed to have an understanding of what a family was, and she was happy to be a part of us and she fit perfectly.

We are very thankful how God has taken care of Jaelynn during her recent surgeries. Things did not always go the way we planned, but God was good to us and she is doing great now. We are not sure what will be next but we are confident that God will continue to care for her.  
Soon after returning home with Jaelynn it seemed as though the devil was hard at work to discourage me and once again I had to fully trust in The Lord and remember how He had been faithful to us and know that He wasn't going to forget about us now that the adoption was finalized. Between health insurance issues and having to switch companies after meeting the deductible with another company, I was frightened and frustrated. I was confident that I had done the right thing by quitting my job, but the devil was whispering otherwise. I became so worried about all of these things and trying to figure things out on my own that it began to take a toll on me physically. I experienced feelings I have never had and I hope I never have again. I wasn't sleeping well and didn't like being alone. Then we went through a very difficult ministry situation and I knew I had to relinquish all of my anxiety to The Lord. This isn't an easy thing to do, but as I did I recognized how God had been faithful, even in the midst of a very dark time. I saw how he sent just the right amount of encouragement at just the right time. I went from thinking God, what have WE done?, to  God, thank you for what YOU have done, thank you for choosing us to be a part of Jaelynn's life. 
It has been exciting to see Jaelynn flourish over the last 12 months. When we first came home I couldn't even take a shower without her sitting outside the bathroom door and talking to me the entire time making sure I didn't disappear. Now she goes to Sunday School, kindergarten, and does really well on the rare occasions I have leave her in someone else's care. She is doing quite well in school and is making friends. Physically Jaelynn is doing well. She will be finishing a seven week course of IV antibiotics this Friday (YAY). She is starting to move around a lot again. She is even beginning to do some standing exercises (remember she only has the use of her left leg). It is fun to see her accomplish new tasks and see how pleased she is with herself. 

Jaelynn is very much like any other child and we are daily working on issues like patience and obedience. There are daily reminders for her as she likes to test boundaries. She can give you the definition of both of these words and has even been known to point out to us when we are not being patient.  (Which is more often than I'd like to admit)
Since being home we've experienced many firsts with Jaelynn. We celebrated her first Christmas just about 3 weeks after arriving home. Those days are a bit of a blur as we were settling in to life as a family of six. In January we were able to take a day trip to Disney's  Magic Kingdom. My parents and sister were able to join us for that special day and we had a great time. In May, thanks to a very sweet and generous friend, we were so thankful to be able to travel to Nashville for Show Hope's 10th Anniversary Celebration. I can't even describe how fun it was to see so many children together again on this side of the world.

I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. David, Jaelynn and I were together last Thanksgiving, but we were in Zhengzhou, China. I really missed the rest of my family that day and I am excited to spend our first Thanksgiving together as a family. 
(Taken last Thanksgiving)

On November 19, 2012, 13 children became orphans no more as CCAI travel group 1928 welcomed these children into their families. Happy Gotcha Day to all of those families. I think of you and your children often and those first happy and difficult days as we were getting to know our children. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

National Adoption Month - What are you gonna do?

,I had a blog post all ready in my head to post last night until yesterday happened and things didn't go according to MY plan. You see God had other plans for yesterday. I planned to blog about how happy I was that we (Jaelynn) were finished with hospital procedures and surgeries for a while, but shortly after arriving at All Children's Hospital early yesterday morning and seeing Jaelynn off for her minor surgery the doctor returned from the OR to let me know that she did fine with the anesthesia but because of some swelling we weren't aware of he was unable to perform the procedure and that she will need to return in a couple of weeks for a second attempt. If the swelling is still there then they will have to take a more invasive approach to accomplish what needs to be done and would require approximately three nights in the hospital. Jaelynn had a very bad headache when she was waking up from anesthesia which made her quite upset. Thankfully they were able to give her medication and it wasn't too long before she was feeling good enough to leave the hospital and she has been great since. We are waiting to hear when we will return for the second attempt. Though we were disappointed that things didn't go our way, we know that God's ways are higher and this was no surprise to Him and we are thankful that Jaelynn is doing well over all. The wound on her back that has been so slow to heal is finally healing and she is finally able to crawl and move around by herself again.
Jaelynn is back to kindergarten and doing very well and now that she has been cleared by the doctor, the physical therapist can begin to work with her again. Our goal is to teach her to do as much as possible so that she can be as independent as possible. David and I are often reminded as we lift her and carry her around that she will not be 34 pounds forever and as much as we do not like to admit it, we are getting older. Of COURSE David is older than me (just want to make sure everyone knows this). Jaelynn, like all children also enjoys learning to be independent, so why would we not want that for her?
Katie is doing great and it is hard to believe that she will be graduating from Clearwater Christian College in just a little over a year (December 2014).  
Matt is enjoying his first semester at college (also at Clearwater Christian). He is in a couple of the music groups and he has a You Tube Channel that he enjoys making videos for.
I am excited that Abby is enjoying middle school and is doing very well. She received her first report card and she had straight A's. We plan on taking her out for a special dinner soon to celebrate. She has been enjoying being a nursery helper at church lately and this week during our missions conference she has enjoyed taking care of some little ones. She is growing up!
Well this month is National Adoption Month. Adoption doesn't have to call you to the other side of the world. There are children in the foster care system here in the states who need to know the love of a family and more importantly the love of a Savior. Have you felt God calling you to foster or adopt? Please don't brush that nudging away. You could be missing one of the biggest blessings ever. Is adoption hard?... Yes.  Is worth it? ...YES.  I'd love to share our story or just talk to anyone who is considering adoption. If God hasn't called you to adopt that doesn't mean you stand back and do nothing. I know families who are raising funds to bring a child home that you could help. You could also become a Show Hope sponsor. Visit or contact me if you have any questions. Your monthly donation helps provide waiting children with medical care and also provides waiting families with adoption grants. It is a great feeling to see pictures of children who are now with their families as a result of a grant or to see children thriving because of medical care they are receiving and to know that you played a part in their story. So I'll leave you with this question, what are YOU gonna do?