Archive for March, 2012

  • 3:15 a.m. ponderings

    Date: 2012.03.29 | Category: Benjamin

    I woke up wide awake at 3:15. I would have sworn that it was 6:15. I felt that good. I’m sure when it is really 6:15 and I need to get ready to go workout, I may not be feeling quite as chipper. Plus, I’m not looking forward to lifting for my lower body. My arms still hurt from Tuesday. I obviously should have taken a set of bands with me to China. 3 weeks off is too long! 🙂

    This morning in bed, I laid there for a while and listened to my children breathe. I slept with the crew last night because Gracie needed held because she felt nauseous after her chemo and Ben needed the other arm after his big day or he wouldn’t go to sleep. Maisey who does not want to be cuddled (because then she might actually close her eyes and she’s fighting it with all that she has) has scooted herself over on top of my head on the pillow. Hopey is at my feet and her dog scratched at the door until I let him in to sleep beside us both. All of this should NOT have led to a good nights rest, but it did. So I find myself awake this morning thinking about Benjamin and what led me to him.

    I’ve written about it before so I won’t go into great length about it, but I will say everything about adopting him was a HUGE leap of faith. Dan and I both trusted with all our hearts that this was a God thing. We knew going in that his defect was unfixable. It didn’t make sense how attached we were to him. How we wanted to proceed even though we knew he might not live long enough for us to get him. We knew all of this, but I had hope from our earlier talks with Dr. D. I cried, when at Hopey’s appointment months earlier, we discussed Benjamin and Dr. D said that he could maybe extend his life for 10 more years. What a blessing 10 years would be. I cried again yesterday when they said that specific surgery was no longer a possibility. It’s hard to listen to the doctors say well there’s another procedure that maybe could be done, but only a couple of places do it, you could ask around after we have more information from the cath. Dr. D said that the procedure can lead to arrhythmias in their early 20’s but you wouldn’t have to worry about that because his life expectancy will not be into his 20’s. I don’t want to hear that. I want to hear that after all he’s been through there is a cure, that there is a fix. I know Benjamin doesn’t know any better. I know that if it’s before the age of accountability he will go to heaven and if he lives long enough, I will be able to lead him to Christ. Benjamin’s life after this one will be full of many, many blessings. But darn it, I’m his mama and I want to be able to fix it.

    I’ve had to fight so many thoughts of worry, anger, bitterness during this past year. I had to confess my mental attitude sinning quite a few times yesterday. I’m angry that I lost a year with him waiting for stupid bureaucratic paperwork. I’m angry that there is a culture that doesn’t value his life. I’m worried that I won’t be enough. (Although that one is subsiding after yesterday. He let me comfort him at every point. He believed me when I said, “No owies!”. He let them do the tests.) I’m upset that his little life has so little value by the world’s standards. I know he has great value in God’s eyes, but the world has let him down. He was starving. He is malnourished and protein deficient. He is so little that you can see his heart beat between his ribs. He has been alone and fighting for so long. I’m filled with pain because I couldn’t do anything to protect him or comfort him.

    I’m trusting God’s plan. I’m trusting in Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. I know that doesn’t mean there will be a miracle, but I haven’t given up hope. I know that doesn’t mean everything will be cheery and work out well. Life can be very sad and unfair. I have sick kids. I’ve signed on to take care of children with special needs and still my healthy, sweet, baby got lupus. Life can seem very unfair, but the reality of it is why shouldn’t things happen to me? Am I somehow above the bad? Who would I wish it on? Who would I say deserves it more? No one. God choose me to mother these sick little kids and I will do it to the best of my abilities. Their lives touch so many more lives than mine ever will. I watch Gracie and see how she moves people. I’ve seen how good people are as they supported her. Gracie has a faith and trust in God that is amazing! People still talk about Codey. People still comment about Hope and her story. I can’t see the big picture. I wish I could with Benjamin. I wish I could see why he went through what he went through. I know in my heart that there is a bigger purpose. I know with all of my being that God brought him to me for a reason. So at 4:15 I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes, hoping that I can let go of the negative emotions that sometimes just show up, and that I will be able to stay completely and utterly focused in the moment of being his mama. What a special, special boy he is. What a sweet and loving spirit he has. Dr. D said he couldn’t believe he was playing and alert. His blood work is off and just touching him causes petechiae. Ben is sick and yet he is so happy. He giggles and giggles and play so hard. He isn’t angry. He is just love. What a gift I have been given. What a blessing that I get to be in the moment with him, that I get the gift of being his mama, that I get the privilege of comforting him.

    On another similar note, I don’t know what to do when people say I am amazing. It seems weird to even bring it up but I feel I have to. It makes me feel very uncomfortable because the truth of the matter is I don’t feel amazing. I don’t think it’s amazing to love your child. It’s like commending me for breathing. I know God commands us to love our children. He also commands us to care for the widows and the orphans. I have seriously been told James 1:27 by 7 different people this week, even my Purpose Driven Life devotion had it. I’ve had this verse typed in the center of the pictures of my World Vision children for years. I understand what God expects of me, but that is not why I adopted Benjamin. I adopted Benjamin because he is my son. I don’t believe I’m amazing, but I do believe that God is amazing. In a computer full of little faces that all need love God brought me to my son. I knew he was my son with just a glance and the most wonderful thing is that Benjamin trusts that I am his mother! God is AMAZING! So my hope through all of this is that people will not look at me because the truth is that I am just an imperfect human*, but instead look to a God that is unbelievably amazing. God did not cause Benjamin’s pain – a world full of humans with free will caused his pain. Bad things happen. Could God fix them all? Yes. Could God make this a perfect world? I’m pretty sure it started out that way, and we took things for granted and messed it up. God deserves praise for working things together for good for Benjamin.

    *My devotional prayer this morning says it all:
    Dear God, Thank you for a new day. I know that everything I am and everything I have is a result of what you have allowed in my life. Sometimes life is very hard; other times it is full of happiness. I know you are always there and your blessing is available…if only I will listen and obey. Please help me to recognize the gifts you send and the doors you open each and every day. Give me wisdom to see and do your will. Thank you for the spiritual gifts you have given, also. I pray that you will use those gifts to work in and through me to minister to the world and draw people to you. In Jesus’ name I pray and give you praise. Amen. (by Os Hillman)

    So even though I am sometimes sad at the unfairness of Benjamin’s life, you will not see me angry or frustrated at God. You will instead see me praise a God that is good. A God that has led me to my son and who has loved my son for all time with a love that I can not even fathom. He knows the number of hairs on Ben’s head and He holds Benji’s future in His perfect, all knowing hands. I trust that. I pray that Ben’s life will be happy and that I will be able to truly live in the moment with him. What a gift it is to be his mama.

  • A good reminder…

    Date: 2012.03.29 | Category: Thoughts to ponder, Uncategorized

    “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
    If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
    If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
    The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
    Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
    For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
    ― Mother Teresa

  • Words that change your life…

    Date: 2012.03.29 | Category: Family Life

    I woke up this morning thinking about so many different things. This story was one of them. It goes along well with one of my favorite sayings – Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I love sayings, stories, quotes that make you think. That make you truly stop and appreciate what you have and who your life should be lived for.

    Welcome to Holland

    I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

    When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

    “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

    But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

    The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

    So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

    It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

    And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

    But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

    c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

  • So it’s official, I’m a lucky, lucky mama…

    Date: 2012.03.26 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Maisey

    I get to wake up to these two sweet faces every day. I’m amazed that all the things I worried about never came to be. Yes, I said I learned my lesson, but obviously I had not. As a mama who loves her children and their cuddles, it was hard to think that Benji and Maisey may need time to warm up to me. But that worry never came to be, the kids both came to us that first day and have been attached ever since. Benjamin said “Dada” just two days in and while we were still in China he told me, “Wo ai ni Mama!” My heart just melted. Last night he looked at me at said “My mama” over and over again. He giggled and giggled. I love that. I love that they adore all their siblings already. How is that even possible? It’s like they have always been a part of this family. I was truly amazed at how all the children in our group were so attached to their parents and how quickly it happened. They obviously wanted to be loved, but it was so much more. Maybe God does what Dan had prayed for and He gives them a glimpse of who their parents will be. Dan prayed over and over again for Benjamin and Maisey to dream about us.

    Benjamin and Maisey have played really well together. They both patiently wait for me to feed them. Benjamin shares his toys with her and there hasn’t been any hitting. I look at how bright Benjamin is and I wonder how they couldn’t see it. There was nothing said about that in any of the papers we received. He has said 50 or more English words already. He points to things and says “What is it?” and repeats whatever we say. The best news about Maisey is we truly think she can hear a little bit. Dan put the headphones on her right behind her ear and turned it up. She danced around and when he turned off the music she got upset. It was a repeatable thing. What a blessing that would be to be able to give her hearing. Benjamin is pretty sick. Our cardiologist wanted to do the heart catherization right away, but Dan and he agreed that Benjamin probably isn’t healthy enough to just do it. We have an echo, chest x-ray, and EKG on Wednesday. The cardiologist agreed to work him in on Wednesday when we are over in Iowa City getting Grace’s chemo done. It is nice having connections, but I think it should work that way for all parents.

    I can not believe how blessed I am to be able to be a mother to these two sweet little kids. They have wonderful spirits and they laugh all the time. They melt my heart over and over again. What a gift God has blessed me with. I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful beyond measure!

  • One of the moving stories I heard on my trip…

    Date: 2012.03.23 | Category: Adoption

    We met lots of wonderful people, heard amazing stories, saw incredible things while we were in China.  I have so much I want to write about, but my lack of sleep is catching up with me.  I did, however, have to make a small post about a family we met while we were there.  They weren’t with us for most of the trip, but met up with us when we reached Guangzhou for the visa paperwork, physicals, etc.  They have 4 biological children and have adopted from China 6 times – their last adoption being just 6 months ago.  They met this 14 year old girl when they were there last August picking up their 9th child.  Blythe acted as a surrogate big sister to many in the orphanage.  The story is wonderful and I wouldn’t do it as much justice as it deserves so I’m attaching the link to their blog about their adoptions.  They have a wonderful family full of love.  I was like a little girl who just met someone new on the playground that I really liked. I was just so excited!  Tamera, the mother, has a large family, a big heart for God, homeschools and some of their children have special needs.  It was so much fun to talk to her.   The website is worth it just to see her cute little kids, but if you have time, read Blythe’s story.  It’s worth the time.  God is good!

  • Moved Beyond Measure

    Date: 2012.03.20 | Category: Adoption

    This has been the most enlightening trip. It has changed me in so many ways. I’ve been through a few things in my life. I’ve had empty cupboards, had to accept charity to pay medical bills, had to bury a child, watched my children fight for their lives, but through it all I’ve had family. I’ve been so blessed, truly, truly blessed even in the worst of times. I have children whom I adore and a husband who is my best friend – who is able to make me laugh in the worst of situations. We make a good living now which allows us to help support our mothers and others. But this trip has shown me true poverty and true need and helplessness in these orphanages. I used to wonder what can I do to make a difference. I can only do this little thing. Why even try? But if you make a difference in one life it’s a huge thing to that person. Pick something that moves you. Listen to God’s prodding. I think Satan likes that we feel overwhelmed & unable to make a difference. It keeps us from trying.

    Maisey has been told by at least 4 people that she is a lucky, lucky girl. I understand what they are saying, her life held little future for her here. In America she might get her hearing. She can fix her jaw – if she wants. I feel blessed to be her mother.  First, because she has a beautiful, wonderful spirit about her. She is so animated and so funny. Second, because I can give her opportunities that she otherwise wouldn’t have. God lead me to that. He placed this wonderful opportunity on my heart, at this point in my life.  I’m completely & utterly blown away.

    And the same with Benjamin, we can change his health. We can give him a chance at years of life.  But the most surprising thing for me is that I have been so moved by his trust and ability to love. We pout about the most trivial of things. We whine about the stupidest things. I have been able to stop and truly live in the moment here. To watch him blossom right before my eyes. To hear him giggle, run to me with arms outstretched, to say I love you and last night he ran up to me and kissed me. How often do we appreciate the kiss of our children? Truly appreciate their love and the blessing that they are? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my children. I get how easily they can be taken. I don’t let things get me down on most days. I try to live in the moment. I understand that learning your times tables isn’t as important as building your foundation & learning to rely on God.  We push and prod and expect certain things based on the world’s standards. I’m letting go of even more of that. Maisey & Benjamin are so far behind where they need to be.  Will they ever catch up? Does it even matter? (Toby Mac is playing in my head right now “I don’t want to gain the whole world & lose my soul”!)

    So my tidbit of advice today is simply this. Life is short. Pick some place to make a difference. Pick something you can see.  I like things like Smile Train for just that reason. For $250 you can change the life of a child, open a world of opportunities to him or her. There are hundreds of these opportunities out there. We all think we can’t afford to, especially in these times. But I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I don’t need.  How often I buy stuff only to donate it to Goodwill (not that that isn’t important too).  How often I impulsively spent money – at all the different points in my life. We rush through life trying to accomplish things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  Will God be saying “Well, done good & faithful servant.  Your house was always spotless?” (This has always been a testing point for me. I like organized and most days my life is organized chaos.) But in my hectic, I don’t spend as much time as I probably should in the quiet. So I ask you to spend time in quiet moments. Listen to His prodding, whose life is He going to allow you to change? Start small and just smile at others, open a door, prepare a meal for someone, let someone go first in line – even Christ helped people one person at a time. What will your calling be? Where will He lead you? I shall be praying for you. Spread a little joy today – it’ll change your life too!

  • I hope they don’t remember.

    Date: 2012.03.19 | Category: Adoption

    One of the most heart wrenching things that has happened on our trip was a rather small event in the grand scheme of things. Dan woke up to Maisey crying in her sleep. She sat up in bed, the nightlight was shining & she had her back to him. Her little shoulders were just shaking as she sobbed. Here’s this little, frail girl crying on a corner of the bed. It just breaks my heart that her thoughts bring her to tears in her sleep. This was not an I’m hungry cry or even an I’m frightened cry exactly. It was more of a broken hearted cry. I hope that they don’t remember any of the painful moments that we couldn’t protect them from.

  • Normal(ish) Days

    Date: 2012.03.19 | Category: Adoption

    Well, we’ve settled into some semblance of normal. We wake up, go to the most amazing buffet here at the China Hotel (Marriott),  accomplish whatever paper work needs to take place, then it’s nap time, play time, supper & more playtime then to bed. It’s been wonderful to just get to know the kids better. We haven’t been doing tours or anything because the kids just get worn out & cranky. Things have been going so much better than I anticipated. They get along well. Play well together. Share their things – even food. Benjamin has been wearing the kid’s picture around his neck. He wakes up & asks for it first thing every morning. He loves to FaceTime with the kids. Maisey is a ham. She is really coming out of her shell even with others now. She waves & smiles. Benjamin learned how to feed himself already. I can’t believe they were still feeding him & that no one had tried to potty train him. Our cultures are so different. He’s a bright boy. He’ll catch on fast. I have been saying thank you to him in Chinese. They told me to say “shaya shaya” (xie xie). Yesterday he corrected me until I said it fast enough & the correct way. I think I’ve got it now. 🙂
    I am still blown away by their willingness to trust & love. They’ve had a very tough life. Benjamin’s security blanket is a spoon & a cup. He falls asleep with them.  He had been carrying crust from his pizza around for about an hour. I wasn’t even thinking & took it out of his hands to wash them. It put him in a crying jag that lasted 10 minutes. They just have this fear of people taking their food. It breaks my heart. I take too many things for granted. Ice, running water that I can drink, clean clothes, food that is plentiful, food that doesn’t cause food poisoning (we’ve had 8 people get it so far), good medical care – just to name a few.  I’m so blessed to be born in this time & in this place.

  • Pictures

    Date: 2012.03.18 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Maisey


    Kids playing in the hotel.

    A bit of light reading.

    Look who loves his hat!

    Maisey does too.

    Cuddle buddies.

    Look at those handsome boys.

    Mei Mei’s favorite spot: Mommy’s lap.

  • Update:

    Date: 2012.03.18 | Category: Adoption

    Mommy update:
    It’s so hard to be half way around the world from your family. I miss them all like crazy. We are getting closer to being done. Yesterday we got their passports so we left for Guangzhou. Today we got their physicals done. Maisey weighed 17 pounds fully dressed. Benjamin is almost 23 pounds. They both look like they’ve put on a little weight. They should, they are like little birds, mouths open, waiting to be fed all the time. It is so sweet with them sitting there patiently waiting for you to feed them but heartbreaking at the same time. Neither of them has been taught how to feed themselves. Oh by the way…..The best thing happened to me today. I was boiling water (because you can’t drink any without boiling it first) for Maisey’s bottle & Benjamin ran up behind me and yelled mama. He then said wo ai ni mama. He giggled and giggled. My little boy told me he loved me. I tell him all the time & he said it back.
    Yep, I’m a goner. 🙂