Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? -Matthew 6:26

As we walk through this adventure called life, we remind ourselves that we are all precious children of our Father-- those of us who have walked a little further down the road striving to guide those who have been entrusted to our care for a time. Here is our journey down this path.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 8th

Every year (obviously) this date comes and goes. Some years it passes and I just keep moving. Some years, I suddenly catch my breath realizing what day it is. You see, 17 years ago, on Feb 8, 2000, our world suddenly stopped spinning. We were living in Cincinnati and moving through life - enjoying relationships with some really great friends and enjoying (yes, enjoying!) residency life for me and work for Jeff. 2 weeks before that, we had started telling family and friends our exciting news.  We were having a baby!  All of the excitement and hopes and dreams young couples have for a growing family had been swirling through our minds, our families were excited--the first grandbaby was coming--and our friends joined us in celebration.

Then it happened. As I sat in a classroom in the hospital listening to a lecture, I noticed a very odd feeling -- ‘bubbly’ I’d later say. Must be nothing, I thought. Then again, and again. My mind began to wonder, then worry, then panic. When class was over, I went straight to my car and home - and my worst fears were realized. I called Jeff. I called the doctor. They said to come straight in. I honestly can’t remember if Jeff even made it there before I had the ultrasound confirming what, in my heart, I already knew.

“There’s no heartbeat. I’m sorry.”

“But”, I thought, “that is our baby”. The baby we just saw 2 weeks prior with a strong heartbeat. The baby we’d taken tiny little ultrasound pictures of to my parents’ house and surprised them with our news. The baby we were supposed to welcome in September.

Gone.

No more.

Just like that.

The next few days were a whirlwind of medical procedures and grieving.  Grieving over and over again with each person we told--people who just 1-2 weeks before had rejoiced with us, now cried with us, prayed with us and loved us well. We took a few days and went to see both of our parents. Rested. Grieved.

And then life began to move on. And healing began. Quickly. The Lord’s grace was so felt during that time and we never felt hopeless. I said before that some years I catch my breath realizing what day it is. That ‘catch’ isn’t because I am suddenly overwhelmed with sadness or grief. It is actually a sudden realization that the pain has healed-that I didn’t see the day coming and dread it. That it might have just passed in the whirlwind of the week and I might not have remembered. But most years I do. That memory, though, isn’t of the gut wrenching pain of that day, but of the path we were led on.  

In the weeks after our loss, so many people loved on us and so many women told us that they had lost babies, too. Most of whom I’d never known that about. I was surprised how common and how un-talked about miscarriage was.

What a shame.

What a shame that for some they feel so alone when they are not.

What a shame that we/I still don’t talk about it much.

What a shame that some people brush it under the rug and say insensitive things like, “oh, you were so early” or “you can try again”. Yes, we were early, and yes, we could try again, but that didn’t make our loss any less real. In NO way does what we lost compare to losing a child you already know and have held and raised, but it was definitely still a real loss. A loss of hopes and dreams. A loss of the future we had already started to plan. A loss of a baby that we already loved.

The initial pain and grief was definitely real, but the healing is real as well. I remember being overwhelmed with a sure feeling of hope. That my heart’s desire to be a mom would be fulfilled. I knew, just knew, that the future held at least one adoption for our family. To be honest, I was a bit scared, though. I’d always wanted to adopt, but my plan was to do that AFTER having a baby or 2 by ‘the old fashioned’ route. Being our first pregnancy, the fear and worry of ‘what if we can’t?’ was definitely there and I was worried that if I got pregnant again soon, I’d be overwhelmed with worry.  

Well, the Lord was gracious. He didn’t allow much time for worry as we were busy with life and when we found out we were expecting again, the joy returned - and the worry did not. I can’t even explain it. I had a ‘peace that passes understanding’ about this pregnancy. I’d like to say I was mature enough that I deliberately gave it to God, but I’m not sure about that. There was definitely prayer, but it just happened. The Lord gave me peace, knowing all was in His plan.

At the end of that year, we joyfully welcomed our first son into our arms. And what a joy he was. And is. Every time I think about the miscarriage, my immediate next thought is, ‘but we wouldn’t have him’. And I can’t imagine that. I sometimes wonder what life would have been like if we hadn’t lost that first child. I wonder if we’d have a child with a chronic illness, or if we would have lost that baby later in the pregnancy or at birth for some reason. I wonder if that was the Lord’s kindness to us, but then I wonder, well, why couldn’t we have just waited a few months to get pregnant?  I won’t know those answers in this life. But I do know what amazing blessings I’ve been given. And those who know our family know the Lord blessed us with not 2 but 3 babies the ‘old fashioned’ way and not 1 but 2 adoptions to add to our family. And I can’t imagine that any other way, either. Each is such a joy. Parenting these 5 is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done and the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I would trade a bit of it. (Well, maybe potty training...)

I write all of this to stop the silence. To talk about it. To say, “I had a miscarriage” to those of your struggling now.

But, I also write all of this to remember. To remember the Lord’s faithfulness to me and to my family. To remind myself this year--when I did catch my breath--of how the Lord says:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

I would not have chosen to walk the path I did that scary, awful day in February seventeen years ago.  But I do know that it has made me more of who I am today. And that, in this fallen world, the Lord chose to use that pain and grief in my life to remind me of his redemption--how he can make right from wrong--and of his faithfulness to me and to my family. I am blessed to have walked that hard road and I want others to know that there is hope and healing.

If you are currently in the midst of pain and grief from loss or infertility, I hope you hear that.

And let it sink down deep.

Redemption.

Faithfulness.

Healing.

Hope.  

I know you may not see or feel it right now. Your pain may still be so palpable that you can’t see a way forward. The path to healing in your story might be very different than in mine. You may even be angry at me right now thinking, ‘of course she can say that--now--she has 5 children’ ‘she was able to get pregnant again’ ‘she carried 3 healthy babies’ ‘she was able to adopt’. But I will say that it was not the pregnancies, or the children--or even time--that healed my broken heart.

It was the Lord.

I have learned that my story is mine alone--but also that it is part of His much bigger and better Story. So, if you are grieving now, I pray you can look for the healing and hope in your own story--knowing that you don’t have to write it.

Lean hard on the one who is the Author.

Because He writes the best stories.

Friday, October 3, 2014

LIFE

Wow.  It's been a while.  I looked back to see where I 'left off'--and I'm not sure where to begin.  Life has been SO busy.  Crazy busy, tedious busy, big family busy, but good busy.  I definitely want to live life with these precious people, so I've taken a bit of a break from documenting it all.  And it has nothing to do with falling over exhausted at the end of each day.....

I really do love having this for memory keeping, so here goes a quick "Cliff Notes" version of spring and summer.  Then hopefully I can start fresh again and keep up! Maybe.

Thomas






This guy is somehow growing up.  He finished 7th grade and finished well. Earned excellent grades and a prestigious award from the faculty at his school.  Played soccer in the spring (and every chance he gets.) on the school team, continues on the path in Boy Scouts and is such a joy to be around.  Gets my goofy sense of humor and laughs at my jokes.  Love him. Love his choice of friends.  Love being his mom.

Samuel

I can't say how proud I was of Samuel as he finished well at his new school.  A one year transition was a tough decision, but we had a great experience and I think he learned a lot--not just book learning, but about who he is, about life and how to live it to the fullest.  He, too, won a prestigious award and I will never forget the principal saying, "if we could only have him for a year, we'll take it."  What a joy to a mom's heart.  He crossed over from Cub Scout to Boy Scout, turned 11 and continues to live life with zeal.


Has some pretty great friends, too.  :)


Molly

Our sweet Molly--always has a smile.  Such a joy.
Nature lover, built a compost pile after learning about it at school.


 Book lover--frequently disappears and we find her absorbed in a story in a comfy spot.
 Graceful ballerina.
And...we spent a lot of time in May and June with the swim team.  And this girl ROCKED it this year. Went to championship meet in back stroke and butterfly.  She's fast!
Some LONG, but fun summer evenings spent here....
Cynthia

Our 'Spicy Girl'.  Still definitely that!  Also an award winner of an IB award at the end of the year.  SO SMART.  Learning about being a big sister and growing into that role.  Full of life.







David
LOVED this!

 Is continuing to learn about life in a family.



Has spent a lot of time following everyone else around.....


Fireworks on the 4th were a hit!


 Learned about fireflies.

 And even made it through his first dentist appointment.

 We are all continuing to adjust to our new addition.  He's doing better and better.  We have good days and not so good...probably more to come on that later.

Artwork
One really neat thing we got to do this summer was to participate in an art project for the waiting room in my office.  We needed a lift and the children/grandchildren of the doctors in the practice painted pictures of the days of creation.  The final project is great and really gave it a lift.  Here are our contributions....


 Molly's horse.
Cynthia's birds.
 Samuel's lamb.
 Thomas's lion.
 What a fun day...I'm just sad that I usually go in the back door!

Family Vacay
We had a short family vacation/adventure this year.  We borrowed "Doreen" from some friends and headed to a camp outside of Charleston.  What a fun time!

 We got to put David's toes in the sand for the first time.
 And the camp had some great activities.  Kayaking, a water park (no pics there),


 A climbing wall....that's Cynthia at the top!!!
It was really a fun week...lots of outdoor time and lots of good family time.  I don't have many pictures as I guess I was a little busy.
Well, it doesn't really do it justice, but if I can post something, I will feel like I can move forward, so check back and see if I keep up any better....Happy Fall!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

My heart now walks around in FIVE pieces.  Blessed.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Day 5


This was by far my favorite day....D did well, we had a wonderful lunch with a new friend...and we were going HOME. :)


We ran an errand to a hotel with our driver--really nice place, so snapped a few shots there.  Family and friends.




Pictures from the balcony at the Garden Palace restaurant.  




Trying to capture the experience of driving in Addis.







Pictures will never do it justice....you just have to experience it!


Security system at the guest house. :)

Courtyard...

Guest house....




If the kids were the sweetest memory I have, the sheep truly left the biggest spiritual impression on me. I keep thinking about these images in my head.  The sheep.  The sacrifice.  The Son.  It just seems so much more real this way.


All of these waiting to be sold, to be sacrificed.  Unknowing what their immediate future holds.  Ignorantly waiting.  But, the reality of the one who was sold and sacrificed when he KNEW what was about to happen.  And not only knew but willingly CHOSE to do it.  For us.  For me.  I don't ever want to forget these sheep.



It seems that sheep have been a recurring theme in my spiritual understanding and growth.  When we were adopting C, we found out the meaning of her name (New + Happiness= future of happiness) while at a women's conference.  I then went to a talk where the speaker explained that the shepherd knows us by NAME and calls us by the name of who we really are....tears, of course.  
There was another time when a guest preacher explained the significance of the term the Lamb of God--the Savior of the World.  Starting with Abraham and Isaac--the ram replaced 1 boy,  the Passover Lamb saved the firstborn in each family before the Israelites left Egypt, then the scapegoat tradition was done yearly to 'cast off' the sins of a community, then priests would sacrifice lambs and other animals to gain forgiveness for the Jews.  Then Jesus.  When Jesus appeared, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  
The WHOLE world.  What a savior.  And what a reminder it must be to the beautiful people of Ethiopia to celebrate Easter with such a tradition.
More recently, at an adoption conference, the amazing speaker told us about 'green pastures' like in Psalm 23.  There's a great explanation here if you are interested, but it isn't what you picture.  Basically, the 'green pasture' is small bits of grass on a rocky hillside.  Each sheep listens for the shepherds voice to tell him where his next bite is...the bite that will sustain him for right now.  Until the shepherd shows him the next bite.  That's not what I want my 'green pasture' to be like.  I imagine lying in the sun, relaxing, and being quiet and content.  Well, I guess I should have realized a long time ago, life isn't like that.  I need each bite--one at a time--to sustain me.  And I have a good shepherd who guides and leads me - even through the rough transition of adoption - to that next energy giving, life sustaining, savior dependent bite.  I was feeling weary, but not hopeless.  And our faithful guide has continued to bring us through these days--dependent on him.  That's a good place to be.