Monday, December 29, 2014

The Wonder of Christmas

Another year of Christmas memories, of togetherness and love and family, has been tucked away in our hearts. All the glitter and excitement of the past month is over.  The day after Christmas was a 50 something degree day and when you live in central Illinois, you seize that unusual occurrence to bust a move to take down the outside lights when your hands won't freeze off.     The next morning was also garbage pick up day. With all that balmy sunshine factored in, we made haste to get all the boxes and mountains of discarded wrapping paper out to the end of the drive, lest we trip over them in the garage for a whole week.  The Christmas music has been tucked away for another year and to be honest, I'm not sad.  I confess that, while I treasure the true meaning of Christmas, Christmas music is not my favorite. I think it's because it starts playing in November and, in my opinion, there aren't enough Christmas songs worthy to be played over and over and over for a month straight.  So I wasn't exactly sad to wake up the next morning to "Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone" playing on my favorite radio station.  The only tangible evidence that Christmas was here are a few new gadgets, sweaters and socks, a smattering of left over cookies that probably won't get eaten, and the snow village, which gains the right to another month or two by nature of winter. 

The morning after, Jamee said,  "I most love Christmas two weeks before."  I agree with her.  All the sparkle, the happiness, the gift giving, the do-something-nice-because-it's-Christmas, the humble spirit at seeing the babe in the manger seems to climax a couple of weeks before the actual day.

There's no doubt that children bring a certain wonder to the Christmas season.  We have a little one in our home but Kruz doesn't get it.  He has no comprehension of what Christmas is all about, he never once tried to grab at the tree or tear paper from the presents. He wasn't captivated by baby Jesus in the manger scene.  He wasn't thrilled with the idea of tearing open the crinkly paper, even though he did like most of what was inside. His lack of enthusiasm hurts a little  but we're working on all those areas of development and maybe next year we'll see that spark of wonder in his little boy eyes.  But Christmas Eve was filled with other little people who did understand and I was able to get a glimpse of all that wonder through their eyes.

I asked my great niece, "what do you want for Christmas?" Her face lit up with wide eyes and a beaming smile as she answered "ballerina slippers."  Ahhhh...........of course. My heart tugged, wondering if my own sweet little girl would have wanted ballerina slippers. I know I would have bought them for her if she did.  I know also that our Christmas visit to her grave, which has become one of my dearest Christmas traditions, has to be enough but never will be.  I was the recipient of several pairs of little arms around my neck in soft Christmas hugs and that helps to ease the ache some.

Christmas day was filled with good smells, over full bellies and happy chatter as we all stayed right here at home. That staying home on Christmas day is a new tradition and one that we all seem to appreciate.  We took our time opening gifts and enjoyed a large, late breakfast,which we had prepared the day before. Moise enjoyed a longer than normal shower, his favorite part of the day, and Kruz stayed in his PJs until supper time.

 I grabbed a walk outside with my sister, who lives next door, because the weather was fabulous and her pilot husband was somewhere in the air on Christmas Day.  There was no stress, no pressure to go or do or be.  That, in itself, is a priceless gift.  Around the dinner table, the chattering stopped, the world grew quiet and peaceful as Grant read the Christmas story from the Bible.   In that moment, hearing my sons man voice read of the birth of our Lord, I was achingly aware of how blessed I am and how awesome God is.  But I am blessed every day and God is always awesome and the true meaning of Christmas -- Christ, the child/man -- should not be celebrated once a year, but every day of our life.  In our hearts, in our actions, in everything we do.

 God is good, all the time.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Moise

Fourteen years ago today, without our knowing it, our sweet Moise entered into this world.  I don't know the details of his birth: if he was born early or late or right on time, if he was born in a hospital or in a hut somewhere in Les Cayes, Haiti.  I don't know how much he weighed or how long he was or if he had a head full of dark curls.  Whether his mother labored long or birthed him easily will forever be a mystery to me.  I don't know anything except that Moise was born to change my life.

On this day fourteen years ago God knew that he would work out all the details, as only God can do, to bring Moise out of poverty, across the ocean, to this little central Illinois town and into our arms.  God knew what I did not-- that this child, born to another woman, would be my son.

It's incomprehensible. A truth that I still sometimes cannot wrap my mind around.

Moise doesn't seem like a fourteen year old.  He is a little child-old man-teenager.  He is indeed a teenager. He has raging hormones with attitude, occasional acne and the beginnings of facial hair to prove it.  But in his heart and mind he is a little child, a very little child.  So pure, so innocent, so sweet.  He loves Goldfish, and fruit snacks, watches "Baby Einstein" and plays with light up toys that play music.  I still have to remind him to say "Hello" or "ByeBye" or "Thank You."  And yet, his body is so much like that of an old man.  His eye sight and hearing have failed him. His body groans and grumbles at every move and he delights in the feel of his bed at the end of every long day.  He is a little boy with teenaged hormones in the body of a very old man.

Moise doesn't care about his birthday or Christmas or any other cause for celebration. To him, every day is the same.  He wakes up in the morning, goes to sleep at night and spends the time in between doing the same things he always does.  We've given up buying lots of gifts for him.  He doesn't want them anyway. He can't see them or doesn't know what to do with them, or just plain doesn't care about them.  We bought him a set of K-Nex for Christmas which he cast aside after a few minutes of trying to see the pieces and Grant ended up putting them together.  Still, we try to make his day special in a Moise sort of way.  The sun was shining so I bundled him well for a few minutes on his beloved swing.  We let him go most of the day without the hated shoes and AFO's (Ankle and Foot braces).  For dinner, we deliberated between what we thought would be his pick of places to eat: McDonalds or Culvers.  We opted for Culvers and his chicken strip value meal was the best thing money could buy for him.

His birthday means far more to me than it ever will to him.  For me it is a time of reflecting on all that Moise is and all that he means to me, to my life.  Moise has taught me some of the greatest, most valuable lessons of my life. Today I realized that somewhere over the course of the past fourteen years, Moise has become my own little hero.  He is so strong, so resilient, so accepting of whatever hard things come his way. He faces every new challenge without complaint.  And he perfectly, so unconditionally.  In so many ways, I wish that I was more like him.

Happy Birthday Moise.  I love you more than words can ever tell.

God is good, all the time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

She Said "Yes"

Sunday evening Jamee got engaged to her boyfriend, the one and only guy that she has ever had eyes for.

Excited doesn't even begin to describe how Jim and I feel about this engagement. Grateful.....
Humbled.......Elated....... Praising God.

Caleb is a year younger than Jamee and they began with what we thought was a childish "puppy love" when Jamee was in eighth grade and Caleb in seventh. And maybe it was just a spark of "puppy love" at that time but it flourished into something much greater.   At that age the kids used to come home from school and announce that "so and so is going out with so and so." To which we would respond, "Oh really, where are they going?" It always amazed me how a girl could be "going out" with a boy and then a month later be "going out" with another boy and yet they never really went anywhere together. Our response was maddening to the kids but also effective in downplaying all of the pairing off of couples of the opposite sex.  Jamee and Caleb were never "going out" at that age but we knew that she was a bit more fond of Caleb than she was of other boys.

When Jamee transferred over to high school and Caleb was still in middle school, we thought it would be the end of their puppy love.  But it wasn't.  They continued on with a not-really-dating-but-unofficially-spoken-for status for several years. It helped a lot that Caleb's parents downplayed the relationship thing equally as much as we did. I can't even say exactly when their relationship became "official" but I think Jamee was a junior in high school. Up until then, I always felt like there was a measure of safety in their sweet relationship. They were never pairing off or going out alone together but their commitment to each other was strong enough that Jamee was seen as "off limits" to other guys.  That was perfectly fine with Jim and I.

Over the years we have sent up many, many prayers on Jamee and Caleb's behalf.  They were two young people with incredibly high moral standards.  As they matured we had the beautiful privlege of watching them grow in an ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ and with each other.  They have weathered some tumultuous times.  Caleb was there for Jamee as we journeyed through the grief of Laynee's death.

When Jamee left for college in Saint Louis, we wondered if their relationship, would last.  It did.

A year later, when Caleb left for college at U of  I we wondered, again, if the relationship would last.  It did. They handled the distance relationship beautifully. 

After Caleb graduated from high school he began working for our construction company during his summer and winter breaks.   Jim, Grant and Brock got to know Caleb in a different capacity out on the job site, working hard under sometimes extreme weather conditions.  Caleb was one of Grant's closest friends even before the spark was ignited for Jamee.   Through the years, Caleb has spent a great deal of time with all of us and already feels very much like part of our family.

Jamee will be finishing at SLU in August and will then take her Board of Registy exam for Radiation Therapy and then begin seeking a job in the Champaign Urbana area, near U of I where Caleb attends.  This spring Caleb will take his MCAT exam and later begin the process of applying to med schools. In August he will begin his final year of pre-med.  With all of these things in mind, they are planning a November wedding.  There is a bit of uncertainty concerning where they will ultimately end up living.  It's entirely dependent on where Caleb is accepted into med school.

We are so excited for the coming year as we prepare for their wedding.  As with all marriages, we know that they will have joys and challenges.  We know also that God will see them through it all.  Our prayer is that, together, they can do great things for Him.

God is good, all the time

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Christmas time!!!!  Otherwise known as the most wonderful time of the year or, for many, the busiest time of the year.  But, crazy as it may sound, I find that it's not all that busy. We've learned to keep it simple, which allows for plenty of time to reflect on the birth of Christ.  Ironically, this simplicity is attributed to Moise's complexity.

The older Moise gets, the more difficult it becomes to be out and about.  So, more and more, we find ourselves staying close to home.  He enjoys trips to the store or the mall but getting him in and out of van - in his wheelchair - when it's cold out is unpleasant for all of us.  Unless we can make a shopping trip with just one stop, we avoid it and usually opt, instead, for online shopping where all I need to do is step outside to retrieve the packages. Additionally, of all the places that we go, Moise seems to feel the most agitated and stressed in other homes, especially if they are unfamiliar. Add to that a lot of people, crowded spaces and excited voices and Christmas gatherings can be an over stimulated disaster.  Subconsiously, I do a mental check of a person's home before accepting any invitations.  If there are stairs, or if the home - especially the bathroom - is not wheelchair friendly (and most are not) we usually quietly decline.  And so it is that Christmas time is extremely low key.  A fact that I appreciate more with each passing year.

The kids are all home.  Jade got in last week and Jamee came through the door late Friday night.  It's amazing how much laughter and, sometimes, bickering and joyful chatter they bring with them.  The house is very much alive when everyone is home.  And mixed in with all that joy, tucked away deep in my heart is the aching that comes from knowing that as lively and exciting and joyful my full house is, it's not quite complete.  Our family circle is broken and always will be here on this earth. Our youngest daughter is here, but only in our hearts.

We have lots of baking to do and already enjoyed a bit of cookie decorating with Kruz's play date friends.

The little ones serve as a reminder to me that we don't need extravagance. A plain old square box  provided an entire morning of entertainment, imagination and growing.    The simplest things are often the very best things when our hearts are open and pure enough to see their beauty.

And Kruz is learning from these. It melts my heart.

Christmas falling on a Thursday this year makes it extra wonderful as Jim will be able to take a Friday off as well.  I'm looking forward to a lot of relaxing here at home with my children's voices as background music to my soul.  

I love quiet evenings by the Christmas tree.  The tree, like all the best things in life, is so simple.  But it shines so majestic.  We leave the lights on all through the night and when I step into the living room, in the early morning hours, I am always amazed at how such tiny little lights can light up the entire room.  It reminds me of Christ, the baby who came to be the light of the world.  The baby who came to bring hope for all.  The baby who grew up to die so that I could have hope of seeing my own baby again one day.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
John 8:12

I'm thankful that in an otherwise chaotic world, Christmas time is blissfully unbusy.

God is good, all the time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

God's Plan for Moise

It's not really a secret that my faith has been tried by the monumental losses that Moise has faced over the last year and a half.  His suffering has been great and my heart and brain simply cannot wrap around why one child must endure so much.

 I've taken this matter up with the Lord over and over.

  "Why Lord? Why must he suffer so much? Wasn't it enough to be deaf and to have to use a walker? Was it really necessary for him to be blind and in a wheelchair too?"

Every morning, as Jim wheels him from his bed to the bathroom for me to help him start the day, I feel the familiar twist in my gut. It's a twist of love and affection and unfairness and anger and wanting to punch something, all gnarled into one place in the depths of who I am.  Hunched over in his wheelchair, unable to hear because he's not wearing his implant yet, unable to see a blessed thing, legs stiff and contracted and trembling from the clonus that grows worse by the day, he tries to chase sleep from his head.  I wonder how it is that he faces each new day, knowing that there is so little to look forward to. His is a world of hazy darkness and distorted sound, all observed from wheelchair level.  If I were him I would be tempted to pull the covers over my head and never get up.  Yet he has little choice.  We pull him from bed to wheelchair to toilet to shower, back to wheelchair and onto the bus and he hasn't a word to say about it, because he can't.  I thank my God every morning for a new day, for life and health.  But if I were him? Would I be grateful for another day like his?

It seems Moise's Cortisone hip injection has run it's course.  His pain has returned with a vengeance, proof that the steroid drug is something like magic.  I'm grateful God makes brilliant minds - doctors or scientists or researchers or whoever it is that makes wonderful things like Cortisone shots.  However, when I called for an appointment with his orthopedic doctor, the nurse said "Doctor wants you to bring him in to discuss our options."  Translated "It's probably too soon for another injection."  I have a hunch that I know what the other "options" might be and and if my hunch is right, we won't like them.  But I'm not panicking yet.  We'll just wait to see what doc has to say.  That appointment isn't until January 2. Three weeks. Not too far off, right?  No, not for me.  But I suspect Moise feels like he's got a knife protruding from his hip and, in that case, three weeks may as well be forever.

The pain overwhelms me.  I can't feel it.  But I see it.  I see it in his flinching when he moves, in the way he holds his leg with his hand,  in the pain lines etched in his face, in the alligator tears that roll from his eyes.  There's not a blasted thing I can do about it.  I'm totally and utterly helpless against the pain.  We pump him up with pain meds that take the edge off but they don't take it completely away.  And then he's tired and groggy and can't function well.  A vicious cycle.  And that feeling of helplessness, the total lack of control, the I-want-to fix-this-but-can't feeling is where the greatest trying of my faith comes into play.

This morning as I helped him dress, he grimaced at every movement.  We struggled, he and I together, to get him into the shower and then back out and dressed. Throughout the morning ritual I chanted, in my mind, what I know that we know, "God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good."  I whispered the words to the song, the one that we sang at my daughter's funeral.

God is good, all the time
He put a song of praise in this heart of mine
God is good
God is good
All the time.

I was sweating by the time he was dressed, medicated and back in his wheelchair.  He had silent tears as he slumped, in silent resignation, in his chair. I pulled him close, forehead to forehead, held his hands and prayed with him, for him.  "Father God, I know that you are good and you do good.  Always.  No matter what.  But I need you to help me out because right now I can't see the good. I see a little boy, who has never been anything but sweet and pure and innocent, hurting so badly." I prayed for the pain to ease and for the Holy Spirit to fill him with the peace and comfort that I cannot give him.

Later, after the internal battle was quieted,  I remembered an experience from last week.  A woman who has only recently entered into Moise's life, in an educational capacity, asked if she could come to our home.  Moise can't tell her about his home life so she wanted to come see where he lives and learn about our family and how things roll at our house.  While she was here she shared a tiny part of her own great heartache and how Moise, with all of his challenges, is playing an important healing role in her life.  She knows beyond a doubt that all of it is God ordained.  God went to great lengths, not the least of which was moving her half way across the country, to bring her and Moise together.

When I step back and look at the bigger picture, I can see the lives that Moise has impacted as a direct result of the last year's challenges and my faith is renewed.  God has a plan for Moise's life and it's an important one. Somehow God will use all of the pain for good.   I don't have to understand it. I just have to trust, even during the hardest days, in the one who does understand it.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5

God is good, all the time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grace, According to the Measure of the Gift of God (part 2)

"If you had known about Moise's disablities before you agreed to be his host family, would you still have done it?"

 Jim and I have been asked that question more times than we can count.  I'll be honest, it's not a question we're fond of.  It's completely irrelevent because the fact is, we didn't know.  No one knew.  We saw countless doctors, surgeons and therapists during his months in the hospital and not one of them suspected Moise had brain damage.  However, if we lay aside the irrelevance and take the question as it is intended, the honest answer is a resounding "NO." Jim and I would never, at that point in our lives, have volunteered to host a child that would never return to his home land, especially not one with severe disablities.

 Because we were young.
 Because we already had four children.
 Because our children were too young.
 Because he wasn't ours.
 Because we had  never laid eyes on him.
 Because we didn't love him yet.
 Because we didn't have the emotional, physical, and financial means.
 Because someone else was better suited for it.
 Because a child with disablities did not fit into our picture perfect view of life and family.
 Because we didn't think we had what it took to parent a child like that.
 Because it didn't make sense.
 Because it would be too hard.

It was not happenstance that we didn't know. God knew that we wouldn't have agreed to host him and he withheld that information from us.  He knew that there was only one way we would agree to become Moise's forever family.  We had to love him first.  We had to love him so much that it crushed our hearts to learn of his disablities.  We had to love him so much that sending him back to poverty, where he would surely die, was unthinkable.

Unlike Jim and I, God wasn't surprised by Moise's diagnosis.  He knew, before Moise was born that we would become his parents.  He knew, before Jim and I were married, what he had planned for our family. He knew that we would be mommy and daddy to two more children with disablities and that we would have to give one of them back to him.  He knew also that there was no humanly possible way that we could do any of it on our own, so he poured out his grace.  Over and over again he poured out grace to do the thing that we didn't know how to do....parent children with disablities.

For unto everyone of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of God..  (Eph 4:7)

We couldn't possibly have known it that night at the airport, but this verse, which rooted itself so deeply into my heart, was God's promise to us. He didn't promise it would be easy or that our hearts would never ache.  He promised his grace, exactly the right amount, at exactly the right times, exactly according to his gift.

If we continue reading in Ephesians 4, we read  verse 8) "When He ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men."  verse 11) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers and we all know that to some He gives the gift of music, drawing, writing, or speaking.  Some are given gifts of healing.  Some can lead and some can organize and some are gifted in hearing the heart of others.  Some are very aware of their gifts, while others have yet to discover their gift.  Some of us have gifts that we would never, ever have chosen for ourselves but God gives them anyway and then blesses us abundantly if we use them.

God's Grace. So unique. So perfect. So personal. So individualized. Given to each one of us, according to the measure of the gift of God.

God is good, all the time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Post Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, my favorite of all holidays, has come and gone.  Leftover turkey and stuffing has been devoured, tables and chairs put back in storage.  Orange, brown and gold are neatly tucked away, making room for red and green and all that is merry.  November has turned into December and signs of Christmas are popping up everywhere. It's a joyous time, all of it, Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the hecticness and peace and love in between.

 Last week's celebrations started mid week when the girls came home from school.  In my four years of college kids, I have never been so grateful to have them leave the big city as this time.  Michael Brown, protesting and riots, and the jury's decision not to indict is eerliy close to them and it felt so good to have them in the safety of small town life.  Here, I could touch them and see them and know that they're fine.  Here, Ferguson feels like an entire world away.

Jamee made herself scarce while she was home, spending most of the time at the library or locked away in a quiet room studying.  It's her final final's week and her classses and exams are intense.  My mama heart wanted to tell her to take a break for a few days, to give her mind the rest it so desperately needs. That same mama heart admires her discipline and determination and knows that the light at the end of her education is in sight.  She's taking exams this week and the rest, the last nine months of her schooling, will be spent interning in hospitals, applying all the classroom knowledge.

Jade spent most of Wednesday in the kitchen with me. Baking and preparing and setting tables with more settings than we really have room for.  Jim and the boys joined us in the evening.  It's tradition. The men make the stuffing and prepare the turkey in our house. It's a hot mess of bread cubes and broth, laughter, mild irritation and mountains of dirty dishes. Jim sips a glass of wine during the preparing and now Jamee joins him in that, which seems flat out impossible.

Thanksgiving morning dawned with light snowfall.  We weren't exactly dreaming of a white Thanksgiving but we got it anyway.  It was a reminder that sometimes things come unordered and there is beauty in them if we look for it.

We headed out for some impromptu family pictures.  I had idealisticc visions of big, happy smiles and photos that say "we've got it all together."  But the photos speak truth. Our family is imperfect, terribly, unbelievably, perfectly imperfect. The girls enjoy photos, Jim tolerates them and the boys flat out loathe them.

 Grant and Brock are good sports.

 But Moise and Kruz?  They have no pretenses.  They feel what they feel.  They hate family pictures and they won't pretend the don't.  In the end, I love the pictures, the memories, the beauty, the smiles and even the frowns for they keep us real.

Thanksgiving dinner was somehow very calm and very loud, all at the same time.  That many people in one house raises the decibel level, there's no way around it.  But it's the peaceful sound of clinking dishes and multiple conversations and laughter.  The sound of family.

As we ate, I remembered, with a sharp pang, back to a year ago when Moise was in so much post surgery pain. The last year has tried and stretched us in mighty ways.  Moise's surgery didn't have the results we hoped for but he is resilient and we are finding ways to make the best of what is.  We've moved on and we're not looking back or staying stuck in what should be.

Jamee pulled herself away from studying long enough to do some early Black Friday shopping with us. We don't care much about the great deals.  It's more about greeting each other in darkness of the early morning hour to don coats and gloves.  It's about warming our hands around mugs and breathing in rich, hot lattes.  Hot breakfast at Bob Evan's tastes better after early morning shopping in the dark.  Actually, maybe it's really all about food and not about shopping at all.  But most of all, it's about laughter.  We laugh a lot when we Black Friday shop.  Maybe because we're sleep deprived or maybe because it's the ushering in of the beautiful Christmas season or both. And perhaps the most beautiful thing about that Friday is that when the shopping is done, we still have two and half days left before we return to work and school and real life.

Back at home we brought out Christmas.  Twinkling lights, reds and golds and greens and carols speak, "it's December.  Let's remember the One true light of the world."

  The nativity, even with the angel Gabriel that won't stand up straight, serves as a daily, hourly reminder of Christ the King, who came to save the whole world.

So much happened over this Thanksgiving weekend and not all of it was lovely.  We rode a few waves of hurt and anger and frustration.  We had to make some tough decisions and learn again that sometimes life isn't fair.   These things, along with all the good, are a part of growing up and being adults.

Yesterday I put out the snow village that our children bought for me over the years.  It makes me want to step into that miniature world for just awhile.  It's so quaint, so peaceful, so uninterrupted. When I look at it seems impossible that anything there could ever be ugly or unjust.

 Yet I know that such a place does not exist.  No country, no city, no village is perfect and without blemish.  The world is beautiful and life is good, but not perfect and not always peaceful.  Peace, true peace, can only be found within our hearts and it can only come from the baby who deserved a palace but was given a manger.  It comes only from the child who grew up to die so that we can know peace.

 To know Christ is to know peace. Happy December.

God is good, all the time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Grace, According to the Measure of the Gift of God (Part 1)

There's a verse that I love tucked away in the pages of my bible.  Unlike Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16 and a host of other scripture verses that most Christians, and maybe even some non-Christians, can quote instantly, I find that very few know this verse. For those of us raised in Christian families or in weekly Sunday school classes, this verse probably didn't make the memorization list.  

 For unto everyone of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of God.  
Ephesians 4:7

 I think of this verse, written by the apostle Paul, as "my life verse."  It's almost as if God whispered it to me one day and said "This is your verse, you'll need for it for the rest of your life."  It brings peace and contentment and calm assurance to my heart.  Even though I know it well, I go to it often in my Bible. It's not enough just to recite it. I need to read it, to see it written on the pages of God's word. The word that gives me the strength to face each new day.

This verse rooted itself deep into my heart many years ago, on the day that Moise was placed in our arms.  Jim and I were so young, so unsuspecting, so oblivious to the fact our life was about to be irrevocably altered.  That day, before heading to the airport to meet the private jet that would bring Moise to us, there was a sense of nervous anticipation.  I searched randomly through my bible for anything that would calm my spirit.  That's when I found it, though I openly admit that I didn't fully comprehend the verse at that time.  I understood the grace part but the rest eluded me.  Understanding would come in due time.

 As we stood at the airport waiting for the plane, the verse rolled around in my head.  My arms and legs quaked as the pilot placed the tiny bundle in my arms and I knew, in an instant, that this baby was critically ill.  Suddenly I wanted out.  I didn't want to take this baby, with his rashes and filth and ashen lips to my home.  I had known the baby would be sick, but this was much more than sick.  I didn't think we could do it.

But then Moise's radiant smile pierced my heart and grace stepped in.  I knew then that we would take him home.  We would care for him in the best way we could.  We would do whatever it took to get him back, safe and healthy, to the mother whose heart ached for him.  As I buckled him into his car seat I asked Jim, "why do I have a feeling our life is never going to be the same?" Jim answered simply, "because it's not." We didn't know how or to what extent, but we knew that this child would change our life.

Grace became a mainstay as we struggled through months of hospital stays and surgeries.  It whispered to me through countless hours of rubbing his tiny head and singing to him, not knowing if he could hear me or not.  It became our hands and feet when weariness and exhaustion threatened to overtake us.

 That same grace held us up when we feared that we would give him back to his creator rather than his birth mother.

Grace held me that awful afternoon when through a fog, I heard the devastating CT results.  "The entire frontal lobe is calcified, the myelination pattern is grossly abnormal. He has severe brain damage.  Moise will likely never walk, or feed himself or hold his own head. He will be an eternal child."   Grace lay there on the bedroom floor with me as I was immobilized by disbelief and pain and fear for this child's future, his life.

Grace steadied us as the doctors voice crackled through the line of a telephone call from Haiti. "I have Moise's mother here with me," he said.  "She doesn't want him to come back to Haiti.  She knows he'll die here."  And then the words that took my breath away, "She wants you to keep him.  She wants you to be his mother."  I couldn't have spoken a word if I tried. Then a woman's voice came softly on the line.  Moise's mother. She said three words, "Merci, Merci, Merci."  (Thank You, Thank You, Thank You) They were words that felt like a punch to my soul.  This woman just assumed we would keep her baby, that I would be his new mother.  We never said "Yes" Why was she thanking me?

Grace was there as Jim and I agonized over the impossible decision that lay before us.  We could start the adoption process for a child whose future seemed so dismal or we could send him back to Haiti, where he would undoubtedly die. To adopt meant that our family would never have what the world views as a normal life, a lifetime of challenges and fears.  To not adopt meant the death of a child.  Grace stayed with us as we prayed and cried and explained it all to our children. Grace spoke through the mouths of our children, (who knew one thing above all, that we loved our little baby) when they said they wanted him to be their brother.

And Grace gave Jim the courage to speak the words that we both knew were true.  "There's not really a decision to make.  God made this decision when he placed our little boy in our hearts."  

Grace has promised never to leave us and it hasn't.  It has traveled this journey through all the bumps and twists and turns. Through all of the sunshine and the many, many storms, grace has carried us.

For unto everyone of us is given grace.  Grace!  It's for you and for me and it meets us right were we are.  Grace is the strength and the courage and the ability to do that which we cannot do.... according to the measure of the gift of God. be continued

God is good, all the time. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

This Is Why It's Worth It

In the world of special needs, there are days when the world seems to stand still for just a moment. You hold your breath, afraid to move a muscle lest you break the spell.  Something big's about to happen.  You know it, can see the look of sheer determination in their eyes.  The next milestone, the next big hurdle is right there, about to be cleared. The effort, the endless therapy sessions, the frustrations, the mind numbing weariness.  All of those things fade into distant memory when, suddenly, the thing you've worked so hard for is happening right before your eyes.

Today was one of those days.  One of those wonderful, beautiful days when I know, without a doubt, that regardless of how hard it can be or how long it takes, it's worth it.

During his physical therapy session his therapist, Shannon said, "let's see what he does with a walker."  She found one, although a bit large for him, in their stash of adaptive paraphernalia.  He was uncertain at first but Shannon didn't give in to his objection.  

 Tears came to my eyes at the glorious sound of his little feet step, step, stepping on the tile.

He is so proud.  I am so proud.  It's moments like this and the feeling it brought to my heart that trump all the difficult moments.  I remember exactly what it is that we are fighting for.  That smile is worth every grueling moment that we have put into getting here.

God is good, all the time

Let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap if we faint not
Galatians 6:9