Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Overdue Update


I bump into people all the time who ask me how Maggie is doing and so it occurred to me yesterday that I should probably post an update. :) 


We have been home for 3 weeks and honestly every day is better than the one before.  One great day was last Friday when Maggie got her IV out.  Not only did this make life a lot easier but it was also a big piece of the closure puzzle that I really needed.  She is still on blood thinners and seizure meds, but those are much more manageable.


I took these pictures the week she came home because I had purchased these dresses for the girls to have their pictures taken in July (for Maggie's birthday and Ruthie's gotcha day) and obviously never got to that.  I knew my window was closing on using them, so we headed over to my neighbors house and took advantage of her amazing backyard. Thanks Bernie. :)


Now back to Maggie.  She is getting weekly PT, OT, Speech, and vision therapy.  It is a lot but they come to us and that really helps.  Her personality has completely returned which we are so thankful for.  She is as funny and expressive as ever.  This morning she was singing at 6:00 am in the kitchen and woke up the entire house.


She is pulling up and letting go but not taking steps on her own again yet.  Her left arm is about 70% to where it used to be.  She can open her hand and use it when forced to.   While she has more words now, they are still a bit slurred but that is improving too.  Her vision is hard to assess but it appears that she neglects things right below her nose.  We see this with food and crayons.  She looks out for things but not straight down.


That about wraps it up.  Thank you for praying.  We are blessed.



Monday, September 8, 2014

For Someone Very Special- Hold On

This is for the adoptive or foster mom who is struggling.  I have read your posts, I have read your blogs, and I can't get you off of my heart.  This is not just for one mom in particular but for the many moms who need to be encouraged on their mountain climb or mountain survival - whichever it is.  Thank you for being honest about your struggles and your fears.  Your honesty pushes me to reflection and prayer and I am thankful to be able to walk this road with you.  

I have spent a good deal of time in prayer for you today, asking God what He would have me say to reach your heart and bring you hope.  I believe He is directing me to encourage you to hold on.  


When you are facing your mountain and the enemy floods your thoughts with lies of regret, hold on.

When you can't find the energy to pretend another day, hold on.
When you have more questions than answers, hold on.
When you feel alone in a room full of onlookers, hold on. 

The picture of a mountain has consumed my processing of what we experienced with Maggie.  At the hardest part of the journey, when I felt trapped in my reality without the energy to move forward, all I could do was hold on because falling was not an option.  I had come too far, and you have come too far, to let go and fall.  Can I remind you of some things you probably already know?  


Forgive the C's.  It just came to me that way.  

HOLD ONTO CHRIST.

  • You are not alone.  Just as He went before you to orchestrate the events of your placement, He also went before you to where you are right now.  
    • Deut 31:8  "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."
  • Just as He brought you to this point, He is still there to carry you through it.  
    • Matt 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."  

You are not stuck on this mountain.  Just hold on and let Him guide you to the next phase of the journey.  This too shall pass and He is already going before you.  


HOLD ONTO YOUR CALLING.


Remember who called you to this journey.  Remind yourself of the ways He confirmed that this was the right road for you.  Go back and read your posts, emails, and blogs of when you were waiting for that referral or placement.   Don't let the momentary struggles make you forget the journey that brought you to this place and who placed you on that road. 


1 Thessalonians 5.24 has meant a lot to us in our adoptions:  "Faithful is He who called you, and He will bring it to pass."


HOLD ONTO YOUR COMMUNITY.

Some of you do this so well but others, I am sure, are holding their struggles in for fear that what they are experiencing might be looked on with disapproval.  You have to seek help.  I urge you though to seek the right help.  Sometimes the voice that makes us feel better is not the voice that speaks the truth.  Choose your community wisely and whatever you do, don't push them away.  



HOLD ONTO YOUR CHILD.


When I was struggling to bond with our foster child, the best thing that I could do was rock him.  Sometimes we are tempted to run away from that which makes us uncomfortable, but that is the worst thing you can do here.  There is power in touch to help both of you get through this.  If you can't hold them because you desire to, hold them because they need you to. 



HOLD ONTO YOUR COMMITMENT.


I think of my commitment to my adopted child like my commitment to my marriage.  In my house we don't mention the word divorce and likewise I would never utter the notion of turning my back on my commitment to my child.  Oh I can hear the thoughts in your head.  Hold on sister before you start cursing my name.  


I don't want you to feel attacked by me.  Quite the contrary.   I want you to feel encouraged to take every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5).   


I am not belittling your experience at all.  I just know how the seed of a negative thought, watered by emotion, can grow into a giant weed that does not help you get through this and to the top of your mountain.  I want victory for you.  Victory does not come to the runner who spends the race talking himself out of the finish line.  



I know how hard the roads to adoption and foster care are.  I know the kind of fight you had to have in you to get through the requirements and past the naysayers.  I know how you have had to advocate for your child.  I know you have to be tough as nails to get this far and that is how I know you have what it takes to get through this.  You didn't land here by accident.  You were called because you are among the special few who can lay aside their desire for comfort to make a difference in the world.  

That is how I know you have what it takes to hold on. 



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Unpacking

Sorry it took me a few days to get this one posted.  We are home!

We had a sweet last day on the unit.  Maggie said goodbye to several of the team members who took such great care of her.   We were sad to leave them and I think they were sad to see her go.  She loved her time in therapy and the nurses became like 2nd mommas to her.


On the last day, I dressed her in an outfit that was given to her while she was still in ICU.  It says, "I Am God's Masterpiece."   I saved it for her going home outfit as a testimony of all that God had done in her life in such a short time.


The ride home was uneventful and similar to car rides of the past.  She was out in a matter of minutes.



The night we got home, the excitement continued when Ruthie lost her first tooth.   Life never slows down around here.  


So I titled this "Unpacking" because that is what we have been doing the last 3 days on several levels.  Yes we have been unpacking physically but we have been unpacking emotionally and spiritually as well.  I was thinking in my only quiet space (the bathtub) yesterday about how we have brought home both baggage and gifts in each of those areas.   I had just finished putting away our physical baggage and gifts when it hit me that there was a lot still out there to deal with that might not be put away as easily.  

This experience has changed all of us.  Emotionally I discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was but also more complex than I anticipated.  Here when things are settling down, I strangely feel most unsettled.  I know it doesn't make sense, but it comes in waves and I hear that it is normal and to be expected.  We are all finding our place again and the family is being patient with my sudden urges to clean out various closets or take on big projects.  The kids seem much more settled now that we are all together and Trent I think is adjusting better than any of us.

Spiritually this experience has strangely been a gift.  Trent and I have both grown in our understanding of who God is and how He moves.  This has prompted great conversations with the big 3 and I think in the end we will all say that we are spiritually in a better place for having to deal with God honestly through this.  I have been doing some writing about what God has taught me and that has been incredibly therapeutic.  I don't know if it will become anything more than a gift to Maggie some day but we will see.  

This picture was taken tonight.  We are taking turns sleeping in Maggie's room so we can administer her 2:00 am IV and I shot this just before she crashed.  Sweet girl.   :) 


Thank you as always for all of your prayers and encouragement.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Guided to the End

Today is Maggie's last day of therapy and our last night in the hospital.  I have known this day was coming for weeks but it is still a bit surreal.   We have spent this week slowly bringing things home and saying goodbye to all of the friends we have made at TCH.  Several people have stopped by her room just for social visits.  I love the relationships we have formed with her care team.  They really do love her.   Several have mentioned how amazed they are by how good she looks and how her improvement encourages them.

I had a cool moment yesterday with one of the nursing assistants.  She came in to change Maggie's bedding and was humming a song that I recognized.  I smiled and started to sing along.  She got all excited and started singing too.  Here are the words to the song:

Wonderful, Merciful Savior

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we hopelessly lost the way


[Chorus]
You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we're falling before Your throne

The verses hit me and I started to cry.  I knew God had ordained that moment here in the wrap up to remind me that he had been there right beside us the entire time.   A friend texted me as I was listening to the song over and over and asked how I was feeling.  I responded, "held".   What?  Did I really just say that?  Yes, I finally felt what it meant to be held.  It was not a momentary feeling of comfort but an overarching reflection on God's continued presence and sovereignty.  I didn't even think about it before I typed that word which is probably why it got out before my filter of self-reliance caught it.

My friend Rebecca and I have had multiple conversations over the past few months about what it means to be held.  I have told her how I didn't feel held but instead I felt like God was sending me out to do what I needed to do.  Rebecca who normally affirms all of my spiritual insights refused to accept this one and would regularly throw verses back at me about God carrying us and holding us in the palm of His hand, but I just didn't feel it.  I didn't at any point feel abandoned but I certainly didn't feel snuggled either.

Yesterday it came together for me, I think.  I believe the language we use in the church of training people up and sending them out is short sighted.  It implies a sense of self-sufficiency.  The message is, you have the tools you need so go put them to good use and climb that mountain for God.  But that is not the picture for me (after this experience anyway) because it leaves out the guide.  We aren't sent out.  No, we are guided.  The guide makes the map, packs our supplies, pitches our tents for a place to rest our heads, nurses our injuries, cheers for us when we struggle, debriefs with us along the way, and leads us over the mountain while taking every step beside us.  And yes, Rebecca, sometimes even carrying us. :)

So it appears we will wrap up this guided adventure in about 24 hours.  Thank you for all of your prayers, words of encouragement, and tangible support.   Please continue to pray for our adjustment when we get home.  Maggie is not mobile yet and has not had anyone further than arms length away from her in 2 months.  I believe we may be in for a bit of an adjustment.




Monday, August 25, 2014

First Day Memories and Hopes for a Great Year

Today I sent the big 3 off to their first day.  Like most of our summer, it didn't quite fit the motion picture I would have written for us, but it was sweet in its own special way.  Trent was at the hospital this morning with Maggie and I managed the send off just fine.   The last few years I have planned a photo shoot around the first day or even made a video to share our experience.  This year, I was really proud of myself when I remembered to pull out my camera.



 Jack had to leave early to catch the carpool for his first year of intermediate school.  He was super excited and that was a real blessing to this nervous mother's heart.  His enthusiasm was evident in his willingness to even stop and let me take his picture.  We did, and he was off.  I am praying it is a great year for him and that God places some sweet friends in his path.


Ruthie was none too excited about waking up early or having her picture taken.  I believe she is the most nervous about this day as she was not her usual expressive self.  She has had a rough summer and I am praying for a year of confidence building for her.  She has a great teacher and that gives me real peace.


Sam woke up as sweet as ever.  He is excited about his teachers and to have so many of his friends in his class.  He has already told me that he wants to learn to play guitar, learn to play the piano, win the spelling bee, and be in the high school musical this year.  I love his ambitious spirit and zest for life.  I am praying for responsibility for him this year.  He will be switching classes for the first time so getting where he needs to be with everything in tow might be a bit of a challenge. 



Trent left notes for the kids to open this morning.  Jack read his before he left and said, "that's cool".  His heart was in a good place and I am certain Trent's words contributed to that.  Sam and Ruthie read theirs too and it was an equally sweet time.



Sam wouldn't hold my hand on the walk to school.  Apparently he is too old for that 3 years before his brother figured out I wasn't cool anymore.


I love those kids and I trust that God has them right where they are supposed to be.  I doubt it will go like I see it in my head (because it rarely does), but I believe it will go exactly like it is supposed to.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Adopted!

I had a sad moment with Ruthie the other night.  We were eating dinner with some friends who are preparing to adopt their foster child.  I asked Ruthie to tell him what adoption means and she said, "It is where I live."  

What?! That's All?  Just where you live?  Clearly I have failed somewhere.  
A hundred thoughts went through my head in a few short minutes:
Have I not told you that you were chosen?
Do you not know how much you are loved?
Have you heard what we sacrificed to bring you into our family and how worth it you are?
Is it not clear that even though you were not born to me, I feel as though you are completely mine?
Did you miss the part where I love watching your life unfold and anticipating how you will change the world?
Adoption is not just where you live!  

Later that night we snuggled in bed and discussed what adoption really meant.  I said all of the things that I thought I had said before but that she clearly needed to hear again after a tumultuous summer.  I saw this peace wash over her as she reached out and grabbed my hand then fell asleep.

Last night I was back up at the hospital.  As I was falling asleep myself, I replayed my experience with Ruthie in my head and God said, "Now you see exactly how I feel!"
It was an aha moment.  
How many of us relate to God adopting us into his family as just a place to live? We see heaven as the goal and the end?  How many of us miss the relationship? the love? the sacrifice? the hope and future? the purpose for today?  

Ruthie wasn't ungrateful for a place to live and I don't think anyone is ungrateful for heaven, but there is soooooooooooo much more!  Let us grab hold of the life that adoption in Christ gives us and not just the residence it secures. 


In case you are not familiar with the notion that you were adopted by Christ:
“In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15)

“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Slowing Down

The strangest thing happened over the last 7 1/2 weeks.  My crazy busy life came to a screeching halt.  All of those places I had to be and things I had to do were immediately put on hold so I could focus on what was most important.  And you know what happened?  Yep, the world went on.   My perception of what was important and the reality of what really needed my time were not in sync prior to June 29th.

Life is starting to pick back up again.  Ruthie started soccer last week, school starts next week, Maggie comes home on the 28th, and the cycle will resume.  Oh how I want to do it better.  I so don't want to get sucked back into the hurried life that inevitably works to choke out the purposeful life.  We may have to institute some changes around here.

So an update...

Maggie had another MRI today.  Her frontal lobe continues to improve at a steady rate.  Her thalamus, however, is improving more slowly.  The plan is to send us home in a week on continued IV antibiotics.  Maggie will have 8 hours of in home therapy per week as well.  Because of her pic line and because her WBC is low, we will be limited to where we can take her and what we can do.  It will be great to have her home though and I am setting my focus there.

On another note, we had an incredibly special visit today from another member of the family. Our good friends who are adopting our former foster child were in Houston and came by the hospital.  It was great to see him again and hug his neck.  He is doing very well with his parents and you can see God's hand all over that family.   We figured out that he has grown three clothing sizes in one year.  It's amazing what a little love can do.  We are thankful that God allowed us to be a part of his story.  What a blessing!