My Family

My Family
Summer 2015

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

St. Jude and Shriners Hospitals for Children (and Ronald McDonald House)

I don't think about it often enough with gratitude.  Maybe it's because I'm often overwhelmed and there just are not words to say to acknowledge everything these two hospitals and a home have done for our family.  I forget that not every family has been touched like ours has by cirucumstances needing these facilities.

But, today it was brought to my attention.  And I am working on an attitude of gratitude.  So today I just want to say

Shriner's Hospital of Greenville, SC for everything they have done for our sweet boy Lucas.  We look at him each day and he is just "our boy".  We don't really see the fact that when he gets dressed in the morning he has a few extra steps to take care of because he first has to slide his prosthetic legs into his pants and then add an extra pair of socks and slide on a liner, then his legs.  But, this morning I watched him get dressed for school without one word or thought about the fact that he had those extra steps to take.  He just does it.  I am so grateful to Shriners for having helped us take care of our boy and make his life so much better.  He loves the fact that he is taller than he would be without his "legs".  He loves the fact that he has "Five toes".  He rarely if ever complains about any of it.  But, much of that is because Shriners has made it just part of who he is and they treat him with dignity when he goes for his appointments and adjustments, etc.  Thank You Shriner's Hospital for all you do.  Other hospitals would also be great I'm sure, but we have never paid a penny for any of the services they have offered to us.  They are AMAZING!

and also

I remember the 3 months we spent with our dear Jacob in 2003 at 
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN
I won't ever forget all they did to help us do everything we could to assist Jacob (age 5) in his cancer treatments when there was nothing else left to do.  I am SO grateful for all they did when there appeared to be nothing left to do.  They were visibly saddened when they had to send us home with no treatment options left.  But, we knew we had done everything humanly possibly to help our boy.  They are who they say they are.

We were also touched by people at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from St. Jude, where we lived for 3 months.  This video really sums up a lot.

Again, none of these facilities required ONE penny from us.
That alone is overwhelming.
I know the money may seem like a shallow topic to bring up.  But, my reason for doing this post is to bring an awareness to people.  When you see those commercials with those sick and/or sad looking children in them needing help, they are OUR children.  It's all real.  These are not actors.  And nobody thinks it will touch THEIR family. 
Our family is a testimony to the good work all 3 of these facilities offer.  They've brought comfort to us, relief from the financial stress and burden, and also amazing knowledge and wisdom for each situation.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all who donate time, money, or anything else to the work and love that goes into doing what these places do.

To God be the Glory for using them all to Bless others.
From someone who was blessed and continues to be blessed.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

@ REI--"that guy is running out the door with a mannequin leg"

Sometimes I'm not quite sure where to start with a story.

Let's just say I did a lot of shopping today because it was "tax free" day in Georgia and all clothing under $100 had no sales tax applied. It's an annual tradition in the state.  And since there is usually sales tax on EVERYthing in this state including food, I took advantage of it to buy things for my family that they have needed for a while.
I came home from Kohl's with a pile of clothes for Isaac and Peter since they both needed some things to go on their trip to Thailand next month.  But, I chose to keep most of what I had for Lucas as Christmas gifts. Needless to say, that may have been a mistake because he got in one of his Funks over it.  By the time he had launched fully into it I couldn't turn back because he was getting kind of ugly about it.  (just a note: we did end up going to ChuckE Cheese later and that made him happy)
I also needed to take both Peter and Isaac to REI - an outfitting store-- to buy some good hiking shoes.  Lucas had to come along.  He was not pleased.  And he made all of us pretty miserable while we shopped.
By the time we were done and standing at the register, I was "done" and so were Isaac and Peter.  We were done with his antics.  I offered to buy him some things, but he wanted a $55 flashlight and was not interested in anything else.  Umm "no".
While Peter and I were checking out, Lucas and Isaac were getting on each other's nerves behind some shelves behind us out of sight.
At one point, I turned around to see Isaac running out the door of the store with Lucas's legs in hand and Lucas tearing off after him footless running and hollering.  He is Fast too.  He is a speed demon even without "legs" on. Recall, Isaac is that 18 year old that looks like a long haired hippie to some (but he is NOT a hippie just to be clear)
I hate to say it, but it didn't really phase me, because that's what Isaac does when Lucas tries to use his legs as weapons--stomping on his feet or kicking with them.  And it HURTS!  So, that was Isaac's solution.  Remove the "weapons" and get out of the store. Although running and yelling probably wasn't the best plan.
When I turned my attention back to the register, I realized the 2 ladies behind the counter were freaking out.  They saw Isaac run out the door. At first I didn't realize they were talking about the situation until I heard one of them say in a panicked voice,
"That guy just ran out the door with a pig".
Ok I misunderstood...but that's what I heard.
insert laugh line here.
I couldn't quite figure it out at first until she called upon another rather large male employee to run after him because they thought something was tragically wrong.

When I finally made the connections, and asked her what she said and realized she was very upset, I found out she thought Isaac had run out the door with the leg to a mannequin.  But she was very confused about "how" and "why".
I misunderstood her initial verbage.
I satarted to laugh and told her,
"no that was just my son running after my other son with his prosthetic legs in hand"...
"sorry, I know it looks strange but he probably was kicking him with it and got himself in trouble..."  and continued to try to explain "us".
The more I talked, the more I realized how strange this whole thing must have sounded to her.
Her brows softened and she relaxed a little bit.
She called off the Store Security guy that was chasing Isaac out the door,
and we eventually all kind of laughed about it.
But, I do wonder what story she is telling her family and friends tonight about what happened at work today.
Lest anyone think we are insensitive or unkind parents or family to our boy, he knows he cannot use his prosthetics as weapons with us and he can completely defend himself with his brother.  Our sibling rivalry may look a little different than most, but it's just the same in many ways.  Even being 9 years apart, they go at each other just like any other brothers may.  And in that respect, we are just like any other average American Family.
 --ok maybe not.  =) But, it is "us".

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Living without mom...and life moves on.

Living without her just Stinks!

I haven't blogged much in the past several months partly because it's been such a whirlwind of trips back and forth to Wisconsin.  Officially, I spent 55 days there from March to June and then we made one more 10 day trip back in July for some final family time up there.  So it's been a lot of days in Wisconsin this Spring/summer.

Let me just say, losing the second parent is a bizarre thing.  Losing one is one thing, but when they are both gone.  So weird.

Now that I'm back to "normal life" (ha ha ha ha) I find myself missing those little calls I used to make to her.  For example, Lucas started school yesterday, but I couldn't call her and tell her.  She would have been so excited.  And her personality was always such that the smallest or biggest things just made her so happy.  At her funeral people commented at how she lit up a room with her smile and her laughter.

I can't quite reconcile the harshness of death and the lightness of her spirit and life.  So, I choose to remember those happy sweet mama moments and cherish them.

And now life moves forward.

School has started for Lucas.
Isaac is doing his own school work and continues to take tests to move toward starting college next Fall.
Peter is trying to make up for lost time with work.
I'm attempting to get this house back in order.
I have to admit I'm tired.  And feel like there's a lot to do around here to make sure our house is in order...spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially, etc.

Big things are on the horizon for us.
Isaac and Peter are taking a trip to Thailand in September to do some mission work with a long time college friend of ours for 2 weeks.  Lucas and I will stay home.  I really want to go, but realize that it's a bit of a catch 22.  Going overseas to serve orphans while you leave your own "former orphan" alone at home with someone for 2 weeks, seems a bit backwards.  And I think this is a good trip for Peter and Isaac to be on -- Father/Son-- this Fall.  I will be at home praying over them continually.

There may be another trip coming up in November for us also (still under wraps a bit).  That one Lucas may be able to come along for, but Peter would stay home.

Once again Pastor Louie is challenging us to ponder "Who Am I?" (book of Ephesians study).

He chose us IN HIM and has always had His eye on us.  He has always been intentional toward us so that He might dwell in us by His Spirit.  We are the Church in Christ Jesus.  The Truth is we are loved sons and daughters that God planned since before time began.  He brings the dead to life. And He breathes life into us.  It's ok if we have weaknesses because it gives Him room to show HIS glory, not ours.  If He can use this fragile imperfect pot of clay to do His service, then the Glory goes 100% to Him.  It's no longer "look what I can do" but it's all about what He can do.  God even transformed Paul from a killer of Christians to a man who preached Jesus to the world.  We need to be Open to hearing from God. Let His breath breathe life into us.
We ended the gathering on Sunday with Louie giving us a little time and permission to sit quietly to hear from the Lord.
I heard "Be Open"
Peter heard "Stop running"

Stay tuned for details on What The Lord Can Do!

Some Things To Know by the author at

A friend posted this article and I loved it so am reposting it also.  I've highlighted a few of my favorite points...and chuckled yet related to the crazy as well.  All I can say is God sure has some crazy plans sometimes when it comes to adoption.  And many people that know us must think many of these things about us sometimes.  Just so you know.  We are not the only "crazies" out there...=)
Dear Friends of Waiting Adoptive Moms: Some Things To Know by the author at
1. Your friend is not crazy. (She is adopting.)
There is, I will admit, a fine line between those two but still it’s good to remember. The international adoption of a child requires enough paperwork to kill a small forest. And more governmental red tape than you can believe. Imagine your longest, most frustrating trip to the DMV. Now quadruple that, add in twelve more governmental agencies in two countries, and remember it’s not a driver’s license you’re waiting for but the final piece of paper that says this family you’re creating can finally, finally be together. Yeah. Not crazy. But close.
2. She loves a child she’s never met.
It’s possible. So possible. It’s irrational and crazy but it’s reality. Does she love them like she will once she gets to know them? No. But she loves them. She wakes up loving them and goes to sleep loving them. She drives to the grocery story and aches to have them safe and snug in the carseat waiting for them. She pushes her cart around the store and hears a child cry and her heart pounds wondering if her child is crying? Alone? Hungry? She might even have to leave an entire grocery cart full of food in the yogurt aisle to go home and cry because it just is too hard. Way too hard.
3. It’s difficult having your heart on the other side of the world.
 To people on the outside they don’t look like our kids, on paper they might not be our kids yet. But in our hearts we love these children like they are and yet we’re not together. We’re moms without children. It’s an ache that doesn’t go away. It starts before we see their faces and only ends when they’re in our arms. So we walk about with half our heart missing. It’s hard to breathe, to think, to speak. Something always feels missing. Because they are.
4. She is addicted to her email.
It’s okay. This is a temporary condition and most make a full recovery. It can be diagnosed by refusal to allow separation from her smart phone, or glassy-eyed concentration as she clicks “refresh” over and over and over on her computer. Other signs may include: waking up in the middle of the night to check because it’s X time over there, and muttering aloud “must get home, must check for update, must get home” while out in public.
5. Her child has been through trauma.
If she’s like a lot of moms she won’t be advertising that fact everywhere because she respects her child’s privacy. But children don’t come to the place of needing a second family because they were placed in a cabbage patch by unicorns and leprechauns. Adoption comes from loss. Loss she will see in her child’s eyes and in their heart. Loss that as a mama can make your soul curl up in a ball for an ugly cry. So don’t tell her the kids are lucky. You wouldn’t tell a person who lost an arm that they’re lucky to have a prosthetic one would you? I mean yeah, they are lucky to have that replacement. But you know what would be luckier? Not losing that arm in the first place. So please be understanding. Also, maybe instead of asking for her child’s story outright ask “are you sharing about his history before you?” That gives her a chance to either answer you or bow out graciously.
6. Adoption isn’t pregnancy.
It just isn’t. Well, it is in that at the end of it the hope is to have a new son or daughter in your arms. But I’ve yet to meet a pregnant woman who wonders how old her child will be upon entry into the family. Adoption is different. There is no due date for us. Let that sink in. No due date. And even given preemies and late arrivals with the baby by stork method you have a narrow months-long window of time in which the baby will arrive. That brings us to point number seven.
7. She probably doesn’t know when the child is coming home.
And she has probably been asked this approximately twelve times that day. Because you, her awesome friends, care about her! (And also you secretly worry she’s going a little nuts, see point #1.) And I get it. It’s hard with adoption because you don’t know what to ask. I feel that way with pregnant ladies, like what am I supposed to say? “Your ankles really don’t look that bad do they?” Recently I learned the always safe phrase “you look great – how is baby doing?”, the adoption equivalent is “I know you must miss your kiddos, how is the adoption going?” Or, if you don’t have time to have her break down and cry all over you try the even safer “can I see your latest update pictures?” and then ooh and aww over their cute faces. Even if the pictures are horrible say something positive. I mean I don’t tell people that their sonogram pictures sometimes look like aliens made of bread dough. (Except yours Amy B. Yours is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.)
8. She isn’t sure they’re coming home.
This is the part of the adoption process that makes you want to crawl under your bed and not come out until it’s safe again. This is the part that tears you soul in two. This is the part that you wake up in the morning remembering and going to bed at night fearing. Because there are no guarantees. And that’s hard. No, not hard. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s not just the fear that your child might die before having a family, it’s that this child you love with every ounce of your being might grow up in an orphanage, on the streets, or worse.
9. Your friend is kind of stupid.
I know. That’s harsh. But it’s true. You try operating on a daily basis with only half your heart and half your brain, because that’s what it’s like. ‘Cause they other half of you is wrapped up in a tiny person who is half a world and what feels like a lifetime away. Also, because of the time zone difference it means that half of you is awake pretty much all the time.
10. She doesn’t need to hear your HAS (horrible adoption stories.)
Yes, I know, everyone knows of someone’s uncle’s neighbor who adopted a child and then the child burned down the school with the power of her mind after her classmates dumped a bucket of pigs blood on her. (Oh wait, that’s the storyline of “Carrie” isn’t it?) But sharing these stories are the equivalent of telling someone hopping in a plane for their first sky-diving session “I watched this video on youtube where a guy skydived. He died. And his body was all smashed and stuff.” Maybe it’s true but it’s also not overly helpful. Unless you’re the kind of person who also goes up to pregnant woman and says “I read a book about this lady who got pregnant one time, she gave birth to a kid who became a serial killer and sewed a suit of clothes out of his victims skin. (Shoot, that’s the storyline of “Hannibal” isn’t it? Well, I tried.)
Do “Adoptive Kids” sometimes grow up and do horrible thing? Yep. You know who else grows up and does horrible things? “Vaginal kids.” So really, the warning should be more along these lines: “You’re going to be a parent huh? Good luck with that.”
11. She has probably done her research
Don’t assume she’s going into this because of a driving urge to be mistaken for Angelina Jolie. Unless she is also demanding everyone call her husband “Brad” it probably comes from some deeper place. Or you know, her husband’s name really IS Brad. Chances are she’s read books on adoptive parenting, has agonized for hours over which adoption agency to choose from. Made a decision. Then agonized some more. She’s thought about the ethical questions. And if you don’t think she has then maybe ask. “How did you pick your agency?” “What led you to X country?”
12. She looks brave on the outside, she’s brave on the inside too. But she’s also a mess
Which, I think is what mothering and loving is all about. Being a mess. Throwing your love out there and not knowing if you’re ever going to get it back. It’s scary. It’s vulnerable. It feels like you can’t breathe and when you can it hurts to do it. And you don’t want to complain about that because you picked it. So you pick up the pieces of your heart and you keep going. You keep going because at the end of the day what you go through as an adoptive mother is nothing compared to what children go through when they live their life without family. And that’s what this journey is all about.