Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Swing Time in Seasons

Changes are happening.  The Lord is shutting doors and opening new ones.  Learning to embrace new things and letting go of old can feel shaky in the beginning but as we have found before, it is always for our good.  No matter what, we will still declare the goodness of God!  So, let me share some GOODNESS!

First a quick update on Jubilee (and Holden too).  These two struggled for so long.  I mentioned it in an earlier blog post titled Jubilee's Breakthrough but as only God can do, he not only brought them closer but used the heartbreaking news that our family was not welcome at their school any longer to rise up in Holden a beautiful response.  God is stirring in him a compassion towards the weak as he processed injustice.  We see his heart expanding.  While no one ever wants to hurt, we are getting to witness new growth and a new season in our children because of it.  And the most exciting news of all is that our family has been warmly embraced at a new school where all of our children are welcome. That means, we get to go to one location!  (That's feels like a small miracle!) 

Many have been asking me about Cephas or "Mr. Awesome Sauce" since his double amputation last month.  His legs were healing nicely the first two weeks and we went back for a check up giving us the go ahead to allow him to begin moving about to see how he would find his way.  Soon we noticed that one of his legs was rubbing and re-opening the incision.  We've had to deal with a small infection and lots of drainage again in the one leg and so we have gotten acquainted with the Wound Care Clinic in our town through Mercy.  They have been SO good to us.  Must put a little shout out to Dr. Friesen.  He has such sweet bedside manners and his love for his patients so very obvious.
Surrounded by his AWESOME friends!

We have also been given a bit of discouraging news about Cephas' legs.  His thigh bones are pretty severely curved from malnutrition over many years and with his hips being dislocated and no glut muscles, it's very very difficult for him to pull his legs together- they want to fall out to the side.  When he is in his wheelchair we put a strap around his legs to keep them together and from rubbing on his wheels.  Because the wounds haven't healed entirely (close though!), he hasn't had as much opportunity to try and pull up but the couple times I have seen him he is quite challenged with the spreading of his hips to the side.  Please pray with us for him to be strong in his upper body and that he would not lose his freedom in mobility.  We know that his lower limbs really needed to go.  They were in the way and it was a matter of time before his knees snapped the way he was putting weight on them.  They continued to bend.

So while no one is sorry about the amputation, Cephas also hasn't really had the opportunity just yet to discover what new things await him on the horizon. We continue working on stretching and strengthening and in usual Cephas fashion, he finds a way to see the positive.  His loaner wheelchair has provided him some entertainment.  He really enjoys wheeling himself and so I am prayerful that his joy remains full and that he is patient as he works each day as they come.

Lovely Lucia!  She has new things to share too.  After that long four month wait to get out of her body brace, she had a chance to try that swing at the park she had been watching everyone else use.  It was hardly cozy but it was doable.  She continues to have increasing pain in her hip as she spends more time sitting upright in her chair and we will soon be discussing this with an orthopedic surgeon (or two).  Even so, she squealed at the opportunity to get in this swing!  So here she is!  She handled about ten minutes which we think is pretty fabulous.

Lucia's First Swing

Life is full, so very full.  Pain is part of that fullness.  It's through our pain, we have learned to appreciate more, recognized it's use to take us to new places, causes us to press in to Jesus and not rely on ourselves.  I'm counting it all good, because my Father in heaven is ALL GOOD!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.   Isaiah 43:19

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lucia, Tall and Strong

    Oh the long, long road.  Sometimes I can start to think things are hard, like I can't catch a break.  And then it doesn't take me long to shake that thought loose.  I've got some kiddo's who know the slow and steady trek all too well.  I think Lucia and Cephas have touched so many lives because they have illustrated a  crazy kind of joy under trial.  They truly are filled with a light that could only come from a supernatural Preserver and Protector.

   So this photo you see?  This is the straightest Lucia has EVER sat.  She looks HUGE to me and it seems in appearance she has matured as well.  I think it's the way she holds her head so high, and the hair that has grown (no more shaved heads!) and now even gathers just a bit at her shoulder. 

    She sit up higher in this new borrowed chair (until her own arrives) that is allowing her to see up and over our counter tops so her new favorite thing to do is watch us cook.  She is seeing the world from a new vantage point. 

    Today we went for a walk around the block and then she "helped" me pull weeds.  I noticed a new ease over her.  She asked me loads of questions.  How did you meet Dad?  When did you move to this house?  How did God show you Grace?  And as I shared the story of my life, I could tell she was expanding her processing too.  "So mom, God had to show you how to be a parent to Grace. And you had to not be scared to come back for me and Cephas."  Yes, I told her.  "God had to show me that He would take care of me every time, if I would listen to Him. Sometimes that is hard for us to do." 

   Then she said, "I don't feel scared anymore.  I have a home.  I have a family.  And God has helped me.  It took a long time."  About then a robin landed on the ground nearby and I pointed it out to her.  That bird sat for an exceptionally long time and I was reminded of Matthew 6:26 and shared it with her.  "Lucia, God says that if he can take care of all of the birds, how much more will he care for us?"  She gazed for a long time at the bird.  I swear that bird knew not to move, that she was enjoying him.  "God is good.  All the time.  Never leaves us.  He touches our hearts," she said quietly.

    I was behind her pushing her along and tears welled in my eyes.  People will never know her suffering.  Never know the kind of time and torment she has endured.  She will always express life to those who see her and yet the kind of lessons she has learned - none academic - have prepared her for so much more in this world than those who were raised "having it all."  Thoughts came flooding of those who feel sorry for her or look on her thinking she doesn't know anything....and my oh my,  she knows so much more than we can imagine.

    She is gifted in relationship.  She sees hearts.  She wants to understand them.  Doesn't get impressed by a thing, only moved by the love she sees.  So quiet she often is,  and sometimes silly, she has a precious personality.  She was a gift to me.  God chose her to quiet my own heart.  No mountain I wouldn't climb for her.  How God can take those things we are certain we couldn't do, and then mold us to be so in love with them, that we think how did we ever live without them, blows my mind! 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Living as Light Under Trial

     I have a few desires with our blog.  I love that I can record our life happenings as a remembrance and to share with our friends and family.  But I also want to be honest with those who are walking similar journeys, so they can be encouraged and to know it's not about perfection, but lots of grace.  I want those who are about to step into adoption, to look at us, and to be encouraged that God's grace is more than enough. 

     At the same time, I want to honor my children and their stories.  There are pieces of their stories they want me to share and pieces they don't.  And there are aspects of our journey I don't share in order to protect and other aspects I feel prompted to share for understanding, education and ministering to hearts. 

    A couple of posts back I wrote about Jubilee's Breakthrough.  I waited to share some of the challenges she had walked through because I didn't want it held against her.  Our pasts become our testimonies of what God has done in our lives.  And so, because Jubilee has had such incredible breakthrough, I wanted to share it as encouragement for those who had been in the trenches doing hard work for many months without seeing success.  While we are in the middle of many BIG blessings and expansion in our home and hearts, we can, at the very same time be reaching down into a pit trying to pull another one up.  Highs and lows come together many times for our family.

    I was excited to share Jubilee's new found freedom and the joy that comes with it - until that blog post was used against her.  Can i just say - if we ever hold someone's past against them and decide they should not be given a chance then we have shot ourselves in the foot.  What chance should we be afforded? 

    Randy and I pray about the experiences we place our children in.  We think we are a bit on the conservative side and cocoon with our children, being careful with what they participate in until we feel a prompting by the Holy Spirit and see the fruit that has come from our cocooning period.  Only then do we consider placing them with others.  We take into consideration who they will be with, even the room they will be in, the duration of time of the activity and the subject. 

    We have a little girl who has overcome a mountain, is beginning to feel as though she belongs.  Joy is filling her heart.  Peace rests with her.  New steps are being taken.  But fear came to meet us a couple days ago.  When we signed her up to join Rainan in two, one hour classes (I am able to be there for), we were told the school was unable to care for her needs- because of the blog post I had shared. 

     Fear prevented any openness to meeting her, to giving her a trial period, to trusting the wisdom of Randy and mine in allowing her the opportunity to grow in experiences that bring her joy!  Fear read my blog and instead of seeing where she is now, decided where she was is still present.  I have to be honest, I have wondered if I harmed her by sharing.  We certainly didn't imagine anything but for the body of Christ to celebrate with us, and to partner with us in encouraging her successes.

    God has been so good to minister to Randy and I to remember that this ministry goes far beyond what we do with our children but our battle extends to stand in faith and truth against the fear that still permeates within the body of Christ, unable to see the abounding good works that God is doing.  For a moment, we trembled in the sting for our daughter.  For a moment.  But through forgiveness, God reminded us that this is still Grace Haven.  In the safety of Jesus, no matter the injustice or unfairness of man, God reigns and will make overflowing joy abound for our daughter!!  Her fate is not determined by man and so OUR joy overflows too! 

    Certainly we pray for healing to happen and Jesus to break His light into the areas of fear but whether or not that happens this time and incident for Jubilee or not, we believe He is using this opportunity to grow us.  Jubilee has witnessed our hurt for her, she knows without a doubt that when we told her she couldn't join Rainan, that it wasn't us rejecting her.  She laid her head on my shoulder then looked at me and said, "So they don't like me?"  I told her, "Sweet girl, they don't know you!  If they knew you, they would absolutely like you! You just keep praying and doing your very best and God will show you amazing things."

    As I was meditating in the word, the Lord brought me to Isaiah 49:8-9.
I love it as I noticed that the background of the verse is probably the year of Jubilee!

This is what the Lord says:

In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you;  I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, 'Come out,' and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'

    Our freedom wasn't stolen!  Jubilee is being set up for greater things.  God will make a way so that the living testimony of His grace in her life will be made known.  We will not be shaken!  We will not stop sharing the amazing work God has done.  Glory be to God!

Please join us in prayer for families and for God's people that no offense of man can become a snare to the transforming work of the Cross.  Jesus said, "It is finished."  His love is made complete in us!  (1John 4:12)