Just living my life, and making it work!

Archive for May, 2016

We Aren’t Awesome People, We Serve An Awesome God

I’ll be the first to admit my husband and I aren’t like all the other families on the block. For starters, we are visually impaired. This means we live our life using public transportation as neither of us can drive. Second, we have five children, and two of them are adopted from China.Two of the three of our biological children are also visually impaired. Our oldest adopted daughter has Spina Bifida, and uses a wheel chair. She is very independent, and a great kid, but there are lots of doctor visits to schedule, and medical bills to pay. Not to mention that with five kids there is more food to buy, more laundry that needs washing, several schedules to iron out, and some one is almost always in need of correction. But, that  also means there are more birthday celebrations, more laughter, its never boring, and there is almost always someone to play with.  We live crazy, super fun, super loud, and sometimes stressful lives.
We have great friends and family who love us, and support our decision to build a large-ish family through both birth and adoption. In an effort to be encouraging I often hear “Y’all are AMAZING! I don’t know how you do it. I COULD NEVER DO SOMETHING LIKE WHAT Y’All HAVE DONE.” While I know people say this with nothing but love and respect, it makes me cringe.

I cringe because it vastly diminishes the role of God in our lives. There is nothing extraordinary about us except when God called we said “yes”. We were just as scared about an unknown future with adopted children as anyone would be. Like everyone else we wondered where the finances were going to come from, and if we had enough emotional reserves to parent kids from hard places. We worried about the impact on our three biological kids, and what if we had a child with big hurts that led to big family problems.  BUT, we were more confident in God’s abilities than we were  not confident in our own.

You see, we are confident that God doesn’t ask for what He isn’t willing to provide for. We are confident in His Word, and His promises. We are confident that aligning our life with His priorities will always be more fulfilling, than living with worldly comforts. We are confident that He sees each of our children, and will provide them with hope and a future. We are confident that God is our redeemer, our healer, and our source of  strength in times of weakness. There are those hard, messy days that make me feel like a failure, and doubt my ability to shepherd this crew. I remember that I am not enough, nor will I ever be enough, but I am confident that He is. I am confident that  His grace fills in, and restores all of the cracks.

At the end of the day we are just as frail and human as anyone else. By thinking we are somehow better than average it kind of lets people off the hook. It says others don’t have to do what we have done, because somehow they have the mistaken belief that we are more equipped. Don’t get me wrong, I get that adoption is a calling that not everyone has. But, I’ve heard  1,000 times  “I’ve thought about/wanted to adopt/foster, but….”  My prayer is that all of those who have even the smallest seed of orphan care planted in their hearts will bravely say “yes” to that calling. Does it require sacrifice? Yes. Is it hard and uncomfortable sometimes? Yes. Do we sometimes mess up in even big ways? Yes. But, there is no sacrifice or mess up too big for God to heal, and redeem. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be a active participant in a small piece of God’s redemption story in the life of a living breathing human being who needs you. 

“We adopt not because we are  redeemers, but because we are the redeemed.” Sermon by David Platt 

What if We Weren’t Brave Enough to Say “Yes”? 

The first time I saw Quinn’s advocacy video I couldn’t stop thinking about her. We decided to adopt again from China, and honestly thought we were looking for a young girl with vision issues. Low vision is something we have lots of experience with, and are comfortable living with. Quinn didn’t have thick glasses, or a blind cane: Quinn had a wheelchair.  I saw a remarkable child with such resiliency, intelligence and kindness, but that wheel chair scared me. I prayed for her mother to find her. I knew in my heart that she needed a family if she was ever to have a real chance at life. But, that wheel chair scared me.  Over the next month or so I looked over hundreds of kids’ advocacy files, but Quinn was always on my heart. I just kept going back to that website, and back to her video. I must have watched it a dozen times.

Over time I started to wonder if she could be our daughter. We even contacted her adoption agency and asked to review her file. But, she was an older child? Could we deal with the emotional needs that sometimes come with that? But she had spina bifida, and used a wheel chair. But, we live in a two story house, and have no ramps or bathroom bars? But we don’t drive, and use public transportation?  But how would we pay for the medical bills? But…..but…..but?  We weren’t brave enough, and sent her file back.

A week or so later we still couldn’t stop thinking about Quinn or watching her advocacy video. The fact is, she was a real human being who needed a family. We are both firm believers that God doesn’t ask for what He will not provide for. Although we weren’t sure how it would all work out we took a running leap off the cliff of faith trusting that God would be there to catch us. We called the adoption agency back, and signed the first documents on the long road to make Quinn our daughter.

We brought Quinn home on August 1, 2015. Turns out we haven’t made any adjustments to our home. She can pop her wheel chair up to get through the threshold of our house. She doesn’t need any bathroom bars or bath stools in the tub. She scoots up and down the stairs on her bottom. She went to school in China so we started her in school here with our other kids. She is doing great. Our school has bent over backwards for her, and she is a very self motivated English language learner. She is a nice likable child, and has had no trouble making friends. Especially now that her conversational English is good. Have we had our issues? Yes. Have we had our fair share of meltdowns, and rages? Yes. But, all in all she has melted into our family. It’s almost as if she was always here. She has taught us so much about choosing joy, and determination.

About three weeks ago she needed a major spinal cord surgery. She had a tethered cord and lipoma meaning her spinal cord was attached somewhere it shouldn’t be near the base and it was covered in a type of fat. It was causing a whole host of problems with her body including scoliosis and really tight leg muscles. Her bladder was also affected.  Turns our her case was more difficult than the doctor thought, and a 3-4 hour surgery double into an almost 8 hour surgery. The next three days were very painful, and she had lost all of the functioning in her legs ( her right leg she could temporarily stand on, and used it a lot to get round).  She was afraid that her body would never work the same again, and that physical activities would be even harder for her than before. She was over the extreme pain and having to stay perfectly still in bed. I could see the light that fueled her determination and resilience starting to flicker and burn out. I was over it too. I was doing my best to stay strong and be encouraging for her, but I started to doubt my decision to have the surgery. I went in the bathroom and cried.

I looked up into the mirror with my mascara streamed face, my lipstick and hair a big old mess. I hadn’t slept more than an hour or so at a time in days.  At that moment a Bible verse flooded my heart. It was almost as if the Holy Spirit spoke it too me. It was 2 Timothy 1:7 “God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love…” It reminded me that fear always boils down to a lack of faith. I cleaned my self up, brushed my hair, and decided then that no matter what I was going to trust God. I was going to trust that He placed this child in our family (Psalm 68:6). I was going to trust that He knows ever last hair on her head, and sees what she goes through (Matthew 10:29/31). I was going to trust the plan even if I couldn’t see it. Even if it didn’t look like what we expected, or seemed harder. I was going to trust that it was good. (Jeremiah 29:1)  I was determined to cast out the doubt and fear in my heart, and replace it with trust.

Fast forward three weeks, and she is doing great! She gets more strength and movement in her legs every day. She can now use her legs in ways she couldn’tdo before the surgery. We celebrate with joy and thanksgiving every sign of progress. The hard parts were very hard, but they are over for now. Her body is healthier, and will continue to get stronger. She faces one more surgery later this summer to fix her knee. The tethered cord caused her left leg to bend and get stuck in a bent position. This will be a long 2-6 month recovery, but by Christmas she should be good to go. 

The one thing that haunts me is what if we had said no? What if we hadn’t been brave enough to say yes, because we almost weren’t. We knew nothing about wheelchairs or spinal cord surgeries. All we had to go on was a love in our hearts for this child, and an unshakable belief that God doesn’t call the equipped, but He absolutely equips the called. It haunts me knowing she would have never received these surgeries in China, and would have likely lost functioning as she aged eventually going from an orphanage to a nursing home. The beautiful, determined, intelligent, kind, helpful, joy filled light that shines so brightly within her would never been given the chance to fully develop. Today, because we said “yes”, that won’t happen. Plus, turns out, wheelchairs and tethered cords aren’t nearly as scary and unmanageable as it once seemed.

If God is speaking to your heart about something do it, say “yes”. Even if it is scary. Even if you have no idea what you are doing. You will, and although there will be had spots, it will be an amazing journey. I am happy to talk with anyone considering adoption, or about parenting a child with special needs. It really isn’t that scary, and you really can do it!