Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter Will Come

It was Good Friday.  We had speech therapy.  Just like we do on every Friday afternoon.  It is our special date, just Hannah and I.  The big kids eagerly anticipate a couple hours with Grandmama and Hannah relishes having the full control of my attention for that time.  It works.  Our little speech dates.

This Friday was a little different.  Two individuals were coming to observe Hannah's speech session from Fayette County Schools (we are in the process of getting her speech services through the public school system to supplement our insurance coverage).  As I walked out the door I mentally began preparing myself to come away feeling confused.  I fully expected them to challenge this or that and ask hard questions about Hannah's progress in speech.  I thought for sure I'd have things to chew on, pray over, and research.  I wasn't really fully prepared for what they were going to say though.

This Friday, as my speech therapist walked me out of our session, she asked to come with me out into the hall to share with me what the Fayette County folks had said.  Yes, they'd asked questions, but they pointed out another area of concern.  One I didn't know about.  One I didn't know to worry about, research, or pray over.  In all my cleft learning and growing, this was one thing I think I had heard of a long time ago, but it wasn't on the forefront of my mind.  And the speech therapist began to describe it and tell me more about it, that she heard it too, and that it would likely be something we had to investigate.  It involves an invasive and traumatic assessment.  It could potentially involve another surgery.  It might involve a new, additional type of speech therapy, above and beyond all that we are currently doing.   All this, in addition to the lack of progress and the likely need for a p-flap surgery once Hannah turns 4.

I listened and my mind reeled.  What was this thing she was talking about?  Was it really necessary?  How did I not know about it?  I didn't even know the questions to ask.  We finished our conversation and we took the mile long hike from speech out to the parking garage.  We got in and Hannah had her candy and I just sat there and stared blankly out the windshield for a bit.  And I cried.  I cried and in  my mind I was so overwhelmed, so frustrated, so confused....the truth...I wanted to quit.  I wanted to quit all of it.  Quit speech, quit tubes and ENT's, quit surgeries and special therapies, quit doctors, quit connected parenting, and attachment focused discipline.  I wanted to quit it all.  All of it.  And I felt horrible and inadequate.  How could I parent this child?  How can I get her the help she needs?  How am I suppose to navigate a sea of specialists for a thing I didn't even know existed till two minutes ago?  What would our insurance cover?  How much would it cost?  I just wanted to quit and stop wearing the adoptive mama hat.  I just wanted things to be "normal" (read this as easy).  It is hard to say.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to give up.  And I cried out to God how on earth was this fair and how on earth did I get dealt this cup and how on earth could we get through this one?

I cried.  I pitched a fit and wanted to quit and pulled myself together and started the drive home.  And I began to reflect on Good Friday and I felt the Spirit nudge me ever so gently...."Take a deep breath.  God chose you.  He knows you inside and out.  He has a plan and charting these waters with Hannah is all part of that plan.  Don't be so hard on yourself.  I know you want to quit.  Look to Jesus.  Look to the cross.  Hear the words of Jesus.  Know that if you quit, you sacrifice something far greater, far better, than you could fathom."

And so I came home and I went back to those Scriptures.  I looked to Jesus.  I heard his words on Good Friday.  Jesus knew this was part of God's plan for Him and He was fully prepared to sacrifice His life for ours, yet His soul was troubled, to the point of sweating blood, over the full cup that was poured out for Him--the experience of God's full wrath on all of humanity for our sin.  Three times he prayed.  Three times He beseeched God to find another way--to accomplish His goal without pouring out His cup overflowing with wrath.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray."  And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.....  Again, for the second tie, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done."  And again he came and found them sleeping....So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again." ~Matthew 26:36-44~

God heard the prayer of Jesus, He knew Jesus wanted to be spared, yet God knew He had something so much better.  Despite His prayers for a change of plan, God fully poured out His wrath.

"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" ~Matthew 27:45-46~

It would have been hard to see anything good in Good Friday.  It would have been difficult to see past the injustice of an innocent man being slaughtered on a cross after public humiliation.  It would have been hard to see that in the dark of that day, light would ever shine again.  How could God use this?  How could the world be right again?  How could life move forward?

But then.....Easter.  All the bad comes undone and all the good floods forth.  We begin to get glimpses of the good that was intended.  We experience the full blessing of His sacrifice.  We are saved!  We are made whole!  We can rejoice and stand in victory!  And only because He accepted what God had for Him.  He didn't quit.  He could have easily taken Himself off that cross and ascended back to Heaven.  But He didn't.  He allowed it to be finished.

"But the angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay." ~Matthew 28:5-6~

And I heard that voice again.  The Spirit prompting me.  "Do you see?!  Do you SEE?!  ALL the good that came because He didn't quit!  Don't quit.  Don't give up.  Don't lose heart.  It is hard to see the good in Good Friday, but it is impossible to miss the good in Easter.  Easter WILL come."

There is so much joy and peace in that, isn't there?  To be able to live like we know how the story will end?  To know He has conquered death and is coming again to stand in final victory?  And we get to be part of it all because of all that happened on Good Friday.  He didn't quit.

Many of you have so sweetly inquired about Hannah's hearing since she had her surgery for a new set of tubes back in February.  I have avoided writing about it because I had nothing to write about.  We came away from a test we expected to give us concrete answers with nothing concrete and just another ongoing list of theories with no understanding of when the theories would be tested.  We had a follow up with the ENT today and I expressed a long list of concerns that were all very thoughtfully heard and attended to by the nurse practitioner we saw.  We had an unexpected (and not scheduled) follow up hearing test immediately after my concerns were heard and met again with the nurse practitioner.  The skinny?  There is definitely something going on and she is not hearing as she should.  Just what is going on is the big mystery.  Tubes could be plugged, they could have fallen out, who knows....but they are not doing what they are designed to do.  And so we go back in a couple weeks and retest and do more extensive looking in her ears to figure out what on earth is going on.  The nurse practitioner heard all of my concerns, listened to me advocate for my daughter, and joined in on my team.  She gave my shoulder a reassuring squeeze as we left and said, "We will figure this out.  She will hear as she should.  She will make progress in her speech.  We are going to help her." She has no idea how much this quitter Mama needed to hear that.  It would have been easy to not see the good in today.  Truly nothing was accomplished (other than the fact that I successfully survived an over two hour long appointment at the ENT with all four children in tow).  It would be easy to see today as a waste.  But I know the story of Good Friday and I know there is good buried in the hard.

And so I take a deep breath, put my big girl pants back on, wipe away the tears, send a few discouraged texts, and move on.  I don't have to solve this problem today.  I don't need the answers tomorrow.  God loves me and His plan is big and far beyond what I know.  Easter will come.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter, Y'all

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb,
taking the spices they had prepared.
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb..."
~Luke 24:1-2~

"...but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus."
~Luke 24:3~

"...He is not here, but has risen."
~Luke 24:6~

He is risen!  Risen, indeed!
From our family to yours, Happy Easter, y'all!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


I know this post is a little late.  Okay, a lot late, but life is always busy and seems to rev up to break neck speed once the weather changes and the days get a little longer.  Better late than never, right?  I'll thank a puny, pitiful child who's been hit hard by strep throat this week for slamming on the brakes and giving me the chance to slow down just enough to sneak in a moment of writing.

Hannah recently turned three!  This was not her first birthday at home with us and it was very obvious she'd been around the block once before because she fully embraced the fun and excitement in the days leading up to and on her birthday.  The countdown was full throttle after the twins had their birthday and the excitement over a Minnie Mouse cake was palpable.  She....was....excited!  Let's get the party started!

I was out of town, traveling home from a conference I attended on her actual birthday so we dragged things out just a bit more and celebrated two days later.  She didn't seem to mind the ongoing and never ending celebration of all things Hannah.

She is so big!  Three!  Hardly a baby anymore, certainly not a toddler, she is most definitely a pre-schooler in all ways.  She tags along with so much of Joshua and Grace's school, I swear she is going to skip right through PreK and perhaps even K.  We've started a reading program for the twins and she is learning right alongside.  She is smart

Hannah is our loud, boisterous, hilarious, giggly girl.  She provides all of us with hours of entertainment with her dancing and gibberish tales.  She is affectionate and lover of all things Mommy (cooking, cleaning, nurturing, laundry--if I am involved, she is involved).  She adores her big sister and could play baby dolls and Legos with her for hours on end.  She's discovered a rich love for books and reading and rocks the cutest dark black piggy tales you have ever seen.  She is brave and so resilient.  She's incredibly independent and harbors an impressive bit of stubbornness.  She knows what she wants and she expresses it clearly.  She longs to be held, snuggled, and told she is precious and loved.  She is so incredibly bright and clearly very coordinated.  She is ready to start dancing like big sis and start her own adventure into gymnastics.  She works so hard to learn, to know, to understand.  She is so complex and I see deep in her eyes there are questions she yet doesn't have the words to voice, but I know they will come and I am unsure I will know just how to answer them.  She is amazing and we are so thankful and so blessed to have her as our daughter.

Happy Birthday, Miss Hannah!  We are so glad you are ours!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Celebrating You {Birth Mama Reflections}

A birthday doesn't come without you being here.  You are very much here.  Ever present in my mind.  You float through my mind wistfully when I see her giggle and play and cause me to wince as I lose my temper or raise my voice. 

You likely feel forgotten.  You are not.  You never will be.  I see you.  I see your tears fall and feel the same wetness, hot and relieving, rolling down my cheeks as well.  I feel the gut wrenching brokenness your heart must have experienced.  I know you did what you thought was best.  What would give her the best opportunities.  What would give her the best chance at a full life.  You did what you thought you had to do and slipped back into the shadows.  Perhaps you watched to be sure she was safe.  Or maybe you took one last lingering look and turned and walked away, unable to look back for the ache threatening to cause your heart to burst out of your chest.  You walked away and maybe you tried to forget or maybe you tried to cling to the memories you made in the short moments you'd had.  I will never know or fully understand.

You may have had to leave.  You may have had to make a hard choice.  You may think you will be forgotten and your lives will just simply move forward.  Separate.  Forgotten.  Gone.  But you can't be separate.  You can't be forgotten because I see you.  Everyday I see you in her.

Let me assure you that you are not gone.  You are very much here.  I see the deep seriousness of your eyes when I look into hers.  I see your beautiful grace and movement as I watch her spin, twirl, and dance.  I know your intelligence as I watch her blossom and learn.  I know your quirky sense of humor as I learn what tickles her funny bone.  I see glimpses of the depth of agony you felt that day as I watch her shout and cry out in night terrors.  You are here.  You are talked about.  You are loved.  You are cherished.

You may think you gave everything up that day. That she is my daughter now and no longer yours and while I am so thankful I have the blessing to raise her as she walks this earth, she is not just mine.  You gave her life.  Your womb put breath into her lungs and a beat to her heart.  Our Creator never wanted this for her--for her to know this brokenness and loss of not knowing her birth mama, but He knew the sin in this world, He knew the pain would make messes of things, and He created a plan of redemption.  Somehow in all the mess, He chose me.  I don't know why He would choose me.  I fail everyday.  I muddle through, I sin, I make messes.  I fall short and do the wrong thing.  I have a hot temper and am horribly introverted.  Yet in all that hot introverted mess He saw something in me that He could use.  I stepped out and said yes, and now, she is here.  In my life.  Everyday.  And I get to know all the good that came from your broken and hard and dark places.  You don't get to see that good and it seems horribly unfair.

It was her birthday this week. Your daughter, my daughter, our daughter just turned three.  And while I sang, "Happy Birthday" and had the pleasure of making a cake of pink Minnie Mouse goodness and opening glittering packages, you were somewhere on the other side of the earth, likely thinking about the hardest, most broken day of your life and you likely wondered where your daughter was.

Our daughter is here.  She is bright, she is happy, she is beautiful, and she is treasured.  She is full of fight and spunk.  She adores Minnie Mouse.  She loves to sing Jesus Loves Me and offer our lunchtime prayer.  She learns quickly and walks with a spring in her step on her tip toes.  She loves to dance and do acrobatics.  She loves to have Mama close to rock her and rests peacefully in the security of my arms.  She wants to be loved.  She wants to be close, all the time.

China Mama, I will never comprehend the circumstances behind all that happened that March day, but I will assure you, our daughter will be raised to hold the highest esteem for the gift of life you gave her.  I wish so much that you could be the one raising her for the sake of you both, to spare you both the brokenness of such loss.  But I thank God and glorify Him for allowing me the honor of stepping into the place you felt you were not able to go.

Today I celebrate Hannah and all that is her life.  Today, I celebrate you and all I see of you in her.