Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zai Jian, Nine!

I tucked in my nine-year-old for the last time tonight.

When Cyber Friends Become "Real" Friends

On our way through Kansas City last weekend, I had the chance to finally meet face-to-face a friend I have known online for 10 years. Heather was instrumental in giving advice and encouraging me when we were adopting Dayna. She and her family have recently moved from New Mexico to the same Kansas City suburb as my cousin. So we stopped for a brief visit on our way through. We definitely need to leave more time for our next visit. I think our kids agree.

Family Visits

Graduations, birthdays, road trips - they all lead to great family visits.

I don't know who is more smitten.

Cousins together in Kansas City

With some of our kids

These smiles pretty much sum up our evening and feelings about each other

Brooke Aubriana

While my nephew was going through his graduation ceremony from basic training, his big sister was being wheeled into an operating room on the other side of the country. My poor sister was torn in a million directions last week.

I mentioned in my last post about my niece who was experiencing severe preeclampsia. After 6 days in the hospital, her body just couldn't take any more. It was time for baby Brooke to enter the world. As so many of us were holding our breath and waiting for news, little Brooke decided to come out kicking and screaming.

Yes. Screaming. At 28 weeks, this little girl is a scrapper. And has the lung capacity to make a big racket. She came in weighing 1 lb, 14 oz. (I'll never forget, since my birthday is 1-14.) She was on a CPAP for a little while, but has been breathing on her own ever since. She needs a feeding tube because she's not quite strong enough to eat on her own.

But in the last few days, they have doubled her food intake. She came in at 1 lb. 15.8 oz. this afternoon. She should tip the scales at a whopping 2 pounds tomorrow! (I'm guessing one good wet diaper and she's already there.)

Please continue to pray for my niece and her husband. This will be a long haul in the NICU - likely until Brooke's due date in mid-July. They live about an hour away from the hospital (and in fact closed on their first house the day Brooke was born as well.) So they are juggling time with Brooke, time on the road, packing and getting ready to move. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

But a great cure for exhaustion and anxiety is to look at baby pictures. So here are some of my favorites:

April 20

April 20 was a tough day. I knew it going in, so maybe I was a little better prepared. It was actually a great day for me - but a hard day filled with many questions for some people I dearly love.

We were coming off the one-year anniversary of the death of one of Dayna's friends. Emotions were high, and prayers for Grant's family were close to my heart all day.

One of my little guys from my BSF class (10 months old) was having his second major surgery reconstructing his digestive tract and bowels.

And a 16 year old girl whose family is so close to my heart was having a long-awaited kidney transplant. (This sweet girl was blessed enough to have not one, but TWO parents who were a match for her - but over the last year or so, both parents were diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer that was only found because they were going through donor testing.)

So I was armed for battle. Dressed in the armor and prepared with a prayer plan. Three families under enormous pressure. Two children undergoing surgeries that are almost unfathomable for their ages.

And boom - on Sunday morning, I got an email. My sweet niece who is expecting her first baby is in the hospital. It looks like preeclampsia, and the baby may need to be delivered at 26-27 weeks. It was a dangerous time for my niece, delivering the baby could save her, but what about the child?

Oh, my heart was in a million pieces. I had people praying for me so I could pray for others. I'm in tears now just remembering. I must say - I don't know that I have ever felt so much power in prayer as I did that day.

I'm proud to announce that my little guy is safely home and has no further restrictions on his little body!

And this sweet girl with her new kidney - went home yesterday. Nine days after transplant. She has the summer to recover before starting her final year of high school. Her recovery has been nothing short of a miracle at the hand of God.

I look forward to the day when there is no more pain. No more illness. No more death. No more tears. But until that day comes, I'm honored that I had a glimpse into the Kingdom of God as He allowed me to intercede in prayer on behalf of these wonderful people.

Army Strong

14 long weeks! We are so proud of my nephew who not only persevered, but absolutely thrived at basic training. Last weekend we had the privilege of watching him take his oath and graduate, becoming a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Army Reserves.

Empowered to Connect

Dan and I had a chance to attend the Empowered to Connect conference this month. The ETC conference encourages and equips parents with some strategies to help connect with children who come from hard places. As much as we love our children and look forward to the bright futures they have ahead, we can't ignore the fact that they have a past that may include some difficult realities.

It was so encouraging for us to come home with practical strategies for the difficult behaviors. We've noticed just in the last month a lot more cooperation, increased snuggles and connection, a decrease in periods of disregulation and physical outbursts. We still have a long way to go, but after this conference, we felt a huge burst of HOPE.

If you are an adoptive family, you probably know about Karen Purvis' book "The Connected Child." I have the book. I read the book. It was filled with great theories. But I didn't know where to go next. Then I found Dr. Purvis' videos online which took things from theory in my brain to hope in my heart.

But all of it really came together for me in these two days. If you ever have a chance to attend the conference - RUN, don't walk!

My biggest takeaway from the weekend was this:  

"Our children bled before they came into our care, they should not and shall not bleed while they are in our care." 

But a great follow-up was this:
"God is a restorative God. It's His natural design. We broke our relationship with Him in the beginning and He sent His son to restore us and meet us where we are. We must do the same for our children."

Easter 2015

I love our Easter traditions. Starting with a trip to the Mahoney tower to see the sunrise.

Getting ready for church.

And searching for eggs.


2015 Easter Preparations

Making Easter cookies - never complete without flour on the nose (and ears, and table, and floor, and...)

This is serious business

Trying a new experiment

Sharing the Easter story through Resurrection Eggs

Sweet sisters

Just Like Riding a Bike

Ah! Spring. A little girl learning to ride a tricycle. And a big sister eager to show her around the block.