What a week. What a month. Wait, what a 2011.
This past Saturday, we had a really scary situation. My mom had been feeling kind of yucky for a week or two. She mostly had some really bad back pain. Lower tailbone back pain. Well, after going to a VERY unhelpful doctor's visit on Friday, it was determined she needed to go to the emergency room Saturday.
My sisters and I followed Mom and Dad in to the hospital. Mom could barely even move. Once we settled into the ER room, the doctor came in.
To summarize, he said, it could be severe arthritis, or muscular pain. OR, it could be (and pray that it wasn't) an aortic aneurysm.
You guessed it. She had an aortic aneurysm in her lower abdomen. So when we questioned about the course of action and he said surgery, we resigned to what would happen. When he clarified that the surgery would be RIGHT NOW, we became one group of emotional people.
I got on the phone and called Tony. Thankfully, Rob and Ally were at our house and would watch the girls. Then, I called our pastor and friend, Greg, who said he'd be there in two minutes. And he was.
But before any others got there, we gathered around mom to pray. By pray, I mean sob. It was so hard knowing it was an emergency surgery. We were a mess. Well, everyone NOT in a hospital bed was a mess. My mom, on the other hand, was a pillar of strength. When we gathered to pray, everyone had their heads bowed and eyes closed. No one could pray aloud. No one could breathe without sobbing. So who prayed? My mom. The one getting ready to undergo surgery. She prayed. She prayed for the surgeon and nurses. And she prayed for us.
This is the same woman who, when she was in the hospital another time, had Greg come and pray with her. Greg said when he finished praying, SHE prayed for HIM. He said it was highly emotional because he had never had someone pray for HIM before like that. That's my mom.
So after we prayed, others made it to the hospital. They whisked her upstairs with us in tow to the surgery waiting room.
During the three hours after surgery, at one point there were 25 people gathered in that waiting room. TWENTY FIVE! That should be a true testimony of my mom's ripple. The effect she has on others.
Well, she came through the surgery with flying colors. PRAISE GOD! And the surgeon came out to tell us that the side of the artery was tissue paper thin. He said that between her pain level and what he found inside, we could have lost her in mere hours. LOST her. My heart races to even think about that. God was written ALL OVER this situation. If this were a memorial box post, I'd put a balloon in there. It would remind me of how one side of Mom's artery was like a stretched balloon. But I'd write GOD on the balloon, because He kept that balloon together until the doctors could perform surgery.
She's still in the hospital recovering. Because, when my mom does something, she does it big. Not only was she fighting this aneurysm, she is also fighting gout. Badly. But she's healing. And she's her funny, sassy self.
And I'm praising Him from whom all blessings flow. God indulged our selfishness in wanting her here!
THANK YOU, JESUS, once again. We are not worthy, but OH how YOU LOVE US!
Thursday, April 28, 2011
What a week. What a month. Wait, what a 2011.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Last night, we signed our babies up for kindergarten! *waaaaaah!*
It was a night full of emotions!
Me: Denial that they're old enough to attend kindergarten.
Them: Confusion about WHEN kindergarten actually starts, and just plain excitement!
We walked in to a flurry of activity. We stopped at the first table to get our folders of paperwork (more on that later) We then went around the room, stopping at the different tables.
*Side note* I signed them up for Girl Scouts!!! YAY!!!
Then, while they colored, we filled out the necessary paperwork. I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When I fill out ANY paperwork on them, I get filled with overwhelming pride. Overwhelming love. Weird huh? It's just that I am the one who gets to do the paperwork. And I am the one who gets to sign my name as "Mother" or "Parent". I'm not reading someone else's paper. These papers are for MY daughters to attend kindergarten. MY daughters. We waited so long to be parents, I still just get so excited over things like this. So there, that's a new perspective on paperwork for you.
Back to the round-up...We filled out the paperwork, turned it in, and set up a date for the girls to be tested. The teacher AND mom in me, got immediately anxious! My babies are perfect! Why do they need tested? Haha, I know, I know, standard procedure.
Afterward, we toured the school, and peeked in on some of my fellow teachers (they will be in the K-2 building while I'm in the 3-6 building). The girls got to love on some baby chicks and got to see their new classroom. They were SO excited!
Well, until it was time to leave.
By the end of the tour, you could see that the girls were NOT ready to leave. When I tried to take a picture at the entrance, you can see Abby bossing Laney to smile. Laney was not ready to leave, I think. Abby wasn't either, but she knew the quicker she smiled, the quicker she could get back to being nosey.
Us: You'll start this fall.
Them: When is fall?
Us: After summer.
Them: Is it summer now?
Us: No, it's spring.
Them: When is summer?
Us: After Spring.
UUUUGH! It was like a bad rendition of "Who's on first?"
So anyway, the little sweeties basically figured out that it was going to be a while before they could start kindergarten. But they quickly recovered with, "Ok, where are we going next?" Home, babies. Home.
*sigh* So there you have it. My daughters are no longer preschoolers....they're kindergarteners-to-be.
I'm excited, sad, anxious, happy, thrilled, and devastated all at once. Maybe on their first day, I'll drop them off and go meet with the school counselor. Bah! And for now, I'm going to soak up every last preschooler drop from them. Before they learn everything else this fall. Which is after summer. No, it's not summer, it's spring. When's summer you ask? After spring....
Monday, April 18, 2011
OK, I want to start with a Stinker story.
My heart, this morning, ached.
On the way to school, Stinker and I were talking about this coming weekend's plans. We were talking about dying eggs, and that she could wear her Easter outfit to church Saturday night.
This prompted her question, "WHY would ANYONE go to church Sunday morning, this weekend? It's EASTER!"
I literally, had to pause and process what she said.
I gingerly said, "Honey, Easter is not about the bunny. Easter Sunday is one of the biggest celebrations in a Christian's life. Do you know what it means?"
She said she didn't.
We talked, then, about the significance of Good Friday, and the resurrection on Sunday.
The look on her face was priceless! She said she kind of knew all that, but didn't realize that was what Easter was all about.
Her next comment? "Well, I don't want an Easter basket then! That's not what it's all about! And where in the world did the bunny come in?"
Bwhahahahaahaha. I told her the bunny wormed his way in, just like Santa.
Tender girl. Learning so much every day. I'm so thankful to be a part of this.
I bet some of you are wondering where the name Shawn (in the title) comes into play.
Well, Shawn is my nephew. One of my nephews. One of my adorably handsome nephews. He's married to Jenn, and they have two gorgeous children, Greyson and Kynlee. They're a truly beautiful family.
Shawn has a tender heart. But he's no follower. He questions things. Always has. When I was helping in youth group and he was attending in junior high, he blatantly asked, "How do we know the Bible wasn't just written by some drunk guy?" See, always thinking. Not willing to just go along with things because he was told to. I love that about him. But that is also what has had him keep Jesus at arm's length.
So, anyway, I saw Shawn this weekend at Mei*er. He and Jenn were there getting t-ball stuff for Grey. They saw us in line and came over to chat.
Jenn said she had been following our blog (well, she always follows it) and was looking at Vanya. We talked about his situation, etc. She said she also followed our blog to Adeye's blog and couldn't get over how much one of her daughters looks like Kynlee. They are built the same, and share the same hair color and thickness.
This led Shawn to jump into the conversation. He said for me to STOP posting about adoption. To STOP posting about our newest nephew Olliver. He was half joking, but half serious.
He said it was tearing him up. He said the posts about Vanya and such were breaking their hearts (yay!). How all Jenn could talk about was adopting now. And how Oliver had touched him so deeply.
Of course, I cried there in Mei*er's line.
I warned him that I was going to start praying harder than ever for him. And that when I pray, things start to happen, so, "Be afraid, be very afraid!" Muahahahahah!
So when I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His, He is also breaking Shawn's heart.
So, Shawn. I never knew you did, but I know you're reading this now. So the following kiddos are for you.
These kids did not CHOOSE to be HIV+. They did not CHOOSE to be left behind. They did not CHOOSE not to have a family.
What will YOU CHOOSE to do about it?
And the THOUSANDS...MILLIONS of others.
So there, Shawn...just for you, Love!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Friends, I shared with you about how this little guy, Vanya, has my heart.
It was seriously to the point I had people asking daily, "Is he your son?"
While I prayed and prayed and prayed about it, I honestly kept hearing "He's not yours..." whispered from our Heavenly Father. Mind you, had Tony said for us to pursue him, I would have wrestled with God on his no.
However, today, I received confirmation that sweet Vanya is not ours.
His situation has changed. He has to have a PAPER READY family go get him! This should be a family who is paper ready and waiting for God to show them their child, or paper ready and already planning a trip the Ukraine. They could then easily add this gorgeous boy to their family.
We are not paper ready. We're not even paper started.
Therefore, if you love me (yep, I'm pulling out all the stops) and if you love family, PLEASE post a link to ADEYE'S website on your social networking sites, blogs, well, and even your forehead. His family IS out there. I know it, God knows it, and VANYA knows it.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Two weeks ago tomorrow, my gorgeous nephew Oliver was born and then went home to Jesus.
His parents, Rob and Ally, declared Wednesdays forever known as Oliver Day. So, today, is Oliver-day Eve.
Things have calmed down some. The services are over. The planning, preparing, and wondering are through. And now the reality of life without Ollie is upon us.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
I am the one who commented on someone's FB status last night. I'm the one who typed it.
His mother led an immoral life. She could not take care of her son, so Vanya was living without even the basic necessities of life and was removed from her care. His father refuses to acknowledge his existence--he will not accept this little boy as his son and has chosen to leave him in the orphanage.
According to those at the orphanage, Vanya is a sweet little leader. And he loves to be loved. Who doesn't?
My heart. This is where God broke me.
Not a day goes by without Vanya asking his caretakers if someone is coming for him yet? Has he been chosen? Will it be his turn next? He has seen countless young children being adopted all around him.
Friends, a report from a missionary who knows Vanya states that he believes that one day someone will come for him. He believes that some day he will have a family to love him and he will get to live in a "real home." It's a dream he believes WILL come true.
Here's the reality--Vanya is on a list to be transferred from his current orphanage. Once an orphan reaches a certain age, they are usually transferred to a heinous mental institution for older children and adults. Vanya will be transferred any day now, and no one knows where he will be moved to. It is an undisclosed place from which he will never be able to be adopted. Vanya will live the rest of his childhood in this place and when he is old enough to be released, well, who knows what awaits him?
All of this and he's eight. EIGHT.
Vanya has two things against him. He is an older child, and not very many people are willing to take in the older kiddos. And second, Vanya is HIV+. Although many perceptions of the disease have changed over the years thanks to the amazing efforts of ministries like Project Hopeful, there is still quite a lot of ignorance regarding raising a child who is infected. Most people just do not know. They have no idea that it really is a do-able thing and that these kids deserve families just as much as others.
I'm going to be WAY vulnerable here. This need, this thing they call HIV+ is something that has been weighing on my heart for some time. I have been talking to God about this. It was a need we had never considered before. Not because we were afraid of those three little letters. But because we it was so unknown. Some reasearch, reading, praying, reading, praying, and reading about it, only made me realize that it is a need that is SO manageable.
Am I saying Vanya is ours? That's not up to me.
Am I saying we would take a child that had HIV+? Yes. Without hesitation. There would have to be a lot of education done for others.
Then, there are people like my friend Audrey who has adopted a little guy from the same country as Vanya. This is what she said about HIV adoption:
"It is TOTALLY do-able. Our son is healthy and wonderful. We visit his doctors every three months for a checkup and he takes meds twice a day. Other than that, HIV doesn't affect our lives at all. Jacob turned seven two weeks after we brought him home so we have done the older child adoption thing too. He is a blessing to our family and I CANNOT imagine what our lives would have been like if we had said no to this very special guy."
Vanya is on an anti-retroviral drug and is doing fabulously well.
Time is crucial. Vanya needs a committed family before he is transferred. We're racing against the clock here. The problem is that adoption costs money--and heaps of it. I hate it, but there is nothing that can be done about it. We call it ransom. Most families who adopt do not have the $25,000+ lying around to cover the adoption costs, so they fundraise. They work day and night to raise the funds that they require. It is hard work but the reward is priceless.
Therefore, Adeye, has set up this fundraiser! There's more! Read below!
The Eli Project is an incredible ministry who is advocating for Vanya. It is founded by Chris and Mary Malone. I love these guys. They have such huge hearts for the orphan. They adopt the children that no one else wants--those who are overlooked and in dire need of being rescued. They truly are an amazing family. The Malone's walk the walk. I love that about them.
The Eli Project is a 501(c)3. I have set up a Chip-In where donations can be made. Each and every dollar will go directly into Vanya's adoption grant fund right here at the Eli Project. That money will all be given to his family to cover his adoption costs. All donations are tax deductible.
Now you can head to her blog to find out the rest.
Friends, you will not want to miss out on this. You will forever impact the kingdom of God.
And spread the word. The more people who see sweet Vanya, the better chances for his family to find him!
Maybe it's because I just lost a gorgeous little boy a week ago today. A little guy that I thought would be so much fun to watch grow up and become a man of God. But Vanya has my heart. Another little boy who deserves so much. Who deserves to be loved. And a wonderful woman who is helping raise the ransom for him. I cannot wait to see who he becomes.
Thanks, God. You broke my heart for what breaks Yours. A silly little guy who wants to be loved.
Monday, April 04, 2011
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).
That was my scripture in my daily devotional today.
I need His comfort.
Because I will need to comfort others this week.
...AND I WILL PRAISE YOU IN THIS STORM...AND I WILL LIFT MY HANDS...
as promised, pictures of my newest nephew.
Oliver Matthew Junebug
Pictures: Fingerprints of Grace
Friday, April 01, 2011
Olliver Matthew Junebug was born on March 30, 2011. He weighed in at 2 lbs 8 oz. at a whopping 13.75 inches long. Oh, and he was PERFECT.
Once I upload pictures, I'll prove it to you.
He was gorgeous. I could have snuggled him for days. But we didn't get to.
Oliver started giggling in heaven a mere hour and 40 minutes later.
But that's a miracle.
Our fasting and praying WORKED.
This sweet little guy with super underdeveloped lungs lived for an HOUR AND 40 MINUTES! He was not struggling. He did not gasp for air. He simply rested against his mommy's chest and soaked up the love. Daddy got his share with Oliver too. And they invited us, the family, to come in and whisper sweet lovin' to him too.
How blessed are we?
Every time my heart aches to see him, God reminds me that he granted us time we never thought we'd have.
But we're human. Sometimes it still hurts.
My newest nephew.
Thank you, Jesus for your blessings.
I know you'll take better care of him than we ever would.
And to my gorgeous nephew,
You, buddy, rock. You were a fighter from day 1. You knew there was lots of fun to be had both inside and outside of Mommy. So you fought. But Jesus had different plans for you. And I'm thankful. You won't have to deal with the junk in life. You were and are now perfect.
Have fun with Mamaw and Tressel. Get in lots of trouble with your Papaw's too, ok? And watch over us here. If you can, help ease your mommy and daddy's pain. It sure is hard without you.
I cannot wait to see you again. You'll be able to tell me all the secrets that nephews tell their aunts.
Until we meet again...I love you.