Thursday, December 30, 2010

Six years ago...

We were getting ready to be married!

The 6:00 chimes sounded and down the aisle we went. I was trembling!!!

Husband and wife!


This picture makes me laugh. I had asked for sparking white grape juice because I can't stand the taste of champagne (or any other kind of alcohol for that matter). I originally had a cup of juice, but it somehow got switched. I was pretending to drink a sip after each toast : )


Running through sparklers...




We have AMAZING things, seriously, to tell you about what the last week has looked like. I will try to get the story up soon. What a story the Lord is unfolding! My little girl is going to tell the world the marvelous deeds and the mighty, limitless power of our God!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Her eyes and our hearts


We know this day all too well. We know sitting in that fluorscent doctor's office with tears in our eyes better than we'd like. Today was another one of those days. It was Ansley's first opthomology appointment and it was crushing. We went because it is common to have vision problems with microcephaly, but also because of Ansley's drifting gaze that we have mentioned before. The doctor confirmed that both of her eyes do drift on occassion (she categorizes this into three stages). The first third have drifting occassionally and can sometimes be helped with glasses or eye patching. The second third drift often and will most likely need surgery and the third group is already at the point of needing surgery. Ansley is between the first and second group. Her eyes are mostly stable, but she could potentially need a surgery to strengthen the muscles of her eyes. The problem, as explained to us, is rooted in her brain not correctly keeping her eyes "still". The news only got worse from there. Upon further examination, the lower region of her eyeballs did not form correctly in the womb. This has resulted in Ansley having periphral blind spots. From what she could tell, her direct line of vision is intact and functioning properly (Praise God!), but a few spots on her periphrary are "blind". Her estimate was that Ansley's blind spot is in the top part of her eyes. Similar to if you are shading your eyes from the sun. If she needs to see up, she would have to look up or tilt her head up. She will have a more thorough vision exam her next visit (in 2 months). In addition, these problems can also lead to retinal detachment which would cause severe vision impairment and need surgery. She will have to be monitored regularly to make sure this is not happening. We also found out she has astigmatism. As a result, Ansley will need to start wearing glasses and follow up with later tests. The news feels like more than we can bear.


We have been here before, but, in all honesty, it doesn't make it any easier. There are a lot of people who treat Ansley's story as a difficult season we went through when she was born, but now "everything is fine". Nothing could be further from the truth. Our fight for Ansley in prayer is a struggle day in and day out. God has done great, miraculous things, but is a daily struggle to fight overwhelming fear, paralyzing grief and sadness, anger... all of it. To have to continually, over and over and over lay our daughter down at the foot of the cross with hope and expectation of God's power, but with submission to His sovereignty. Every milestone and every miracle that you read about is trudged through by fierce prayer and deep places of desperation and pleas before the throne for mercy and power to be poured out. Oceans of pain and grief that only the Lord can bring us out of. It is daily that in my time with the Lord, He wraps Himself around me as I weep through this. I know that He weeps with us. I know that His presence if covering us and will pick us up, stand us up on our feet and push us forward with hope and the ability to keep moving. Keep walking in this dark, cold valley and keep clinging to His light that makes the dark places go away.


I drove away screaming, sobbing and shattered. We have been highly emotional this past week anyway--our first Christmas without Dan, and facing the reality that we can't have anymore (biological) children and our hearts have been crushed under the weight of this day. This news. If there is one thing I have learned walking through grief, it is that the Lord desires our hearts. A broken and contrite spirit. He doesn't desire us to stuff pain away because we are suppossed to be happy. Happiness does not mean JOY. We rejoice IN THE LORD, because He is faithful and good, but that does not mean we are not to grieve or have sorrow at times. Our hope comes from knowing the Lord's love will never fail us and that He is faithful and good because His word says so. The scripture that says all things work together for our good doesn't mean life is going to be "good" in the sense of happiness, it means He is working our lives out to make us more like Christ.


So, we ask that this Christmas you pray boldly for our daughter. We have found so much power in praying scripture over Ansley, that we looked up what we could for you all to pray in her name for God's glory.


PRAYERS FOR ANSLEY: Pray we would believe God is able: "As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored." (Matt. 9:27-30) Pray God would have compassion on us: "Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." (Matt. 20:32-34) Pray that we would have faith to pray boldly: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road." (Mark 10:51-52)



Pray Ansley's sight would be restored to full clarity: "Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly." (Mark 8:25) Pray that this mountain was placed here so that God might display His works to the world through healing our daughter: "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him...“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing." (John 9:1-7)



(Also pray that her language would move forward.) Thank you and please keep us in your prayers this difficult season. We have seen a curved bone that was "not necessarily" a sign Ansley wouldn't be able to walk straighten out as she grew. We have canceled a feeding tube appointment because our baby who "couldn't swallow" immediately began to eat. We have seen high tone that required several minutes of stretching to bend Ansleys knees completely disappear. These things give us courage, but still--the battle is so tough. Pray that Ansley's sight would be another one of God's miracles.




With God ALL THINGS are possible" Matthew 19:26

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Living Water

John 7:38 "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."


The doctor said it would only take about thirty minutes. I walked back to the waiting room almost trying to make myself cry, but it wouldn't come. There was just too much peace. I sat down and weighed my options of flipping through Golf Digest or People to pass the time. The woman in front of me, twenty years my senior and clearly waiting on the same thing, seemed to want to joke with me about the situation, but I found no humor in it. After awhile, distracting myself just wasn't enough... I needed to just sit with Him. I thought about receiving Ansley's diagnosis and shortly thereafter finding out that if we chose to conceive again the chance of a recurrence of microcephaly was 25%. For awhile, it wasn't even an issue we addressed. There was too much grief to even go there yet. When we finally began to talk and pray, the answer was clear. Why would we ever willingly risk the health of our child in that way? Why would we risk putting Zachary through what he has had to endure again? Why would we willingly risk the next baby maybe not having enough brain tissue to survive outside the womb? All for what... he or she having Rob's eyes? My curly hair? How could ever willingly make that choice?


Rewind two and half years...


Jason and Holly, my brother and his wife, had called us asking if we wanted to come hear their friends from church talk about their future ministry opprotunity. They were in the process of raising support to go into full time orphan ministry. I went expecting to be touched, write a check, play with the kids and head home. But instead, as I sat and listened, the Lord wrecked me forever. That day absolutely changed my life. Mrs. McB (http://growingmcbs.blogspot.com/) told a story of being in an orphanage halfway around the world. This particular orphanage was a place where children lived often because their families were unable to care for them. Every Sunday, they would dump a huge pile of nice clothes in the middle of the floor for the children to change into because their relatives came to visit them that day. Mrs. McB watched as this precious, two year old little girl threw elbows and dove for this one dress that she wanted to wear for to look beautiful for her Mommy. She then told us that she sat with that precious child at the gates all day waiting for a Mommy that never came. I looked over at my two year boy playing with his cousin in the backyard and it all clicked in that moment. The Lord made my heart come alive for the orphan in that moment. A moment I had no idea was planting the first seed of love for my future child(ren). I understood (albeit a TINY glimpse) why our Savior commands us as the body of believers to care for the orpans. Because my ache in that moment over imagining my precious son having to endure such a moment made me realize how infinitely more the King weeps over His fatherless children. We knew, before Ansley ever came along, that we wanted adoption to be a part of our family.


Fast forward back to yesterday..


. It had been fifteen months of praying and aching and weeping over the decision, but the Lord continued to give peace. NEVER once a moment of doubt for either of us. Doesn't mean it was easy... oh good grief, no, but there was peace in it. Confident peace. I sat in that waiting room remembering what it was like seeing my precious babes up on that ultrasound screen for the first time and I wept. I remember exactly where I was and exactly how it felt when my two loves moved inside of me for the first time. Sacred treasures. I hold so dear the moment I saw each of them after laboring for them to come into this world. My heart has never know so much love in such an instant. There is an ache and a healing to lay at the foot of the cross, but it will come. Even though I know I will never feel that first movement of life inside of me again, there is a stream of living water running through the very depths of my soul that will never run dry. A fountain of life to fill me up. Because at the end of day, I am His and He is mine.


Psalm 36:9 "For with you is the fountain of life..."

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Season for Prayer

I felt led to take a moment to ask for you all to lift us up in prayer. We know we are approaching a season with a lot of difficulty and emotional struggle. Can't go into much detail, but the days ahead, as weird as it seems to say this, are filled with a need for "extra" prayer. I read this passage from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and was very encouraged.

"The early saints, that they dared to do at God’s command things which carnal reason would condemn. Whether it be a Noah who is to build a ship on dry land, an Abraham who is to offer up his only son, or a Moses who is to despise the treasures of Egypt, or a Joshua who is to besiege Jericho seven days, using no weapons but the blasts of rams’ horns, they all act upon God’s command, contrary to the dictates of carnal reason; and the Lord gives them a rich reward as the result of their obedient faith. Would to God we had in the religion of these modern times a more potent infusion of this heroic faith in God. If we would venture more upon the naked promise of God, we should enter a world of wonders to which as yet we are strangers. Let Jeremiah’s place of confidence be ours—nothing is too hard for the God that created the heavens and the earth." (June 30th, PM)

We ask that you pray: for Ansley and us to act on God's commands, contrary to the dictates of human reason. Pray for obedient and heroic faith. Pray for us to hang our hearts on the promises of God's word and thereby enter a world of wonders of which we are yet strangers. (I feel as if we have gotten a taste of this wonder in the past year, and we find ourselves yearning for more.) Pray for bold confidence that nothing is too hard for our God. Pray for spiritual protection and resilience to survive a difficult season.

Thanks and we couldn't walk this journey without your prayers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!



Well, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We had a great time camping out with Jan, two of Rob's brothers, Kevin and Scott and Scott's wife Dre. It was such a peaceful and enjoyable time. It almost felt sort of like a vacation for a few days! We had lunch with Rob's family and went to dinner with mine, so we were stuffed by the end of the day! And unfortunately, I took ONE picture : ( I was cooking all day though, so I have an excuse, right?

We started a fun family tradition last year going to a local set up of Christmas trees, fun Christmas crafts and lots of fun decorations! One of Ansley's therapists gave us several free tickets, so that was great. Thanks, Mrs. M!

Daddy with his girl in her Christmas dress



Zachary insisted we beeline for the cookie decorating station, so away we went






Zachary actually wanted to ride on the bench on the carousel! Oh, that boy!




Getting the two of them to look AT the camera while making sure Zachary doesn't give Ansley too tight of a choke hold AND smile.. phew!




*****

We got our tree on Sunday afternoon. Zachary was beside himself in excitement to get everything set up. He informed me and Ansley that only firemen could get the tree out of Daddy's truck to bring it inside. Us girls waited inside the warm house : ) One of us more willing to oblige brother's request than the other!




Our firemen getting the tree all set up in it's stand.


(Christmas tree smell- Oh, how I LOVE you!)

*****
Girlfriend having some fun pretend play (goal) and looking A LOT like brother! Rob, Zachary and Ansley are three little look-a-likes. I often joke with Rob that maybe our adopted children will look like me! Haha! And yes, we are adopting!!!!! I could burst! That's a WHOLE other post- long story, lots of our hearts. Coming soon!


Playing a little chase.



Gotcha!!!



Oh my love. I have spent ages trying to find sweet, itty bitty little clips for my sweet's hair. She yanks those slipperly little bows right out. I finally found some at Kroger of all places!



"She's got the joy..."



Ansley, where is your ear?



Where is your hair?



Where is your heart?


Where is your tongue?


And my personal fav... Where is your nose?
And don't think she won't do this to you if you ask her where your nose is!!!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Shutterfly

Wow, I am so excited! Shutterfly is offering 50 FREE holiday photo cards to ALL bloggers! I love sending out Christmas cards each year and have always done so with Shutterfly. They have a ton of great options for Christmas or New Years cards at a great price. It's so fun to browse all their great designs. http://shutterfly.com/cards-stationary/christmas-cards All the spending this time of year can add up, so Im thankful Shutterfly has given bloggers this awesome opportunity!

We have used Shutterfly in the past for many different things and I have always been so thrilled with our results. I can't tell you how many times I get emails for 50 free prints, a free calendar or free photo book. They recently did a free calendar promotion and they turn out awesome.
Check them out to see about getting a great calendar for the upcoming year. http://shutterfly.com/calendars

Shutterfly goes way beyond just Christmas, too. They have adorable photo cards for things such as baby annoucements. http://shutterfly.com/cards-stationary They also have amazing photo books-which is my personal fav. They often send out emails offering FREE photo books. These books are not cheap, so it's an awesome deal. I was able to make Rob a beautiful Father's Day book for just the price of shipping last year! It is definately a treasured keepsake!

Bloggers, click here for more information on how to get your 50 FREE Christmas cards! http://blog.shutterfly.com/5358/holiday2010-blog-submission-form

Monday, November 22, 2010

Please Pray With Us







I read this passage this morning and was really humbled thinking about how it applies to our life:



"Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?...For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you...your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer. O Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant...with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever." (2 Sam. 7:18-29)



I found myself humbled by how much God has done in Ansley's life. It is amazing how many times He has shown up and shown Himself strong and mighty. We are so thankful that Ansley is doing so well. We are starting to get into uncharted territory as far as Ansley's diagnosis goes--meaning Ansley's progress is becoming more and more unheard of for her condition. The "best case scenario" was to make it a year before big delays and signs started showing up. At 17 months and still age appropriate, we are more and more able to say with full confidence that Ansley is what we have always known her to be--a miracle. But, her progress has not been accomplished without the power of prayer. Therefore, we have decided to place Ansley's official 6 month goals out for all of you to pray specifically for her (plus some ones we added at the end ;) While the following list may seem completely random, they are a combination of gross motor, fine motor, balance, coordination, cognitive, social, linguisitc, and mental development. They represent an array of developmental progress. These are her developmental goals to be accomplished by April of 2011:



1. Learn how to go down stairs (safely that is!)

2. Kick a ball consistently without falling down

3. Gain better balance (She is getting better everyday)

4.Increase vocabulary to more than 50 words (She is at about 20 right now! Praise God. Pray for more clarity, articulation, and consistency).

5. Follow two and three step commands. (emerging skill.. meaning she is beginning to do it)

6. Use a neat pincer grasp to pick up small objects. (emerging and improving leaps and bounds)

7. Stack items during play. (emerging)

8. Drink from on open cup. (We aren't too worried about this one. Jordan and I laugh that we will wait until the TEIS cleaning specialists offers assistance to meet this goal!)

9. Begin sitting at the table in her own chair

10. Increase problem solving skills.

11. Increase ability to feed herself with a spoon.

12. Begin feeding herself with a fork.

13. Imitate household chores (She has starting swiffering as of recent! Very cool development and very cute!)

14. Begin showing ownership of her toys (begin saying "mine")

15. Taking and sustaining a bite on her own. (emerging)

16. Begin putting on shoes. (emerging)

17. Begin taking off shoes. (emerging)

---

As for our list: Continue to pray that God would prevent Ansley from having seizures, her language would explode before our next meeting with her neurologist, God would give us courage and endurance, spiritual protection, keep our hope strong, and continue to use Ansley's story to tell His story of redemption and restoration in what feel like hopeless situations.



Thanks so much for joining us on this journey! We have been able to go into Ansley's last two six month evalutions with everything checked off the list. We pray the same for her next one in April.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Giving Thanks

Ephesians 5:19-20
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
I'm so thankful to spend my moments and days with my treasures. All of us parents have moments that drive us to the brink of insanity, but the joy... oh the joy children bring. Sometimes it seems so taboo to talk about the struggles of parenting; like no one wants to admit the realities of how difficult it can truly be at times. But, it is ridiculous how much the difficulties are trumped by the moments that you'll remember forever. The late nights in the rocking chair, the laughter of sibling love, the things that come out of their mouths (!), the questions they ask that melt your heart, when you begin to see a desire for God in their little hearts... treasures.
When I wake up in the morning with the mindset of making my day with them about bringing praise and worship before the Lord with the way I mother them, it's outrageous how differently our day goes. Especially in those challenging discipline moments. Zachary has such a strong will and there is a thick, black line between breaking a child's will and breaking their spirit or tearing them down with words. Discipline is a crucial time to press in with love. It's hard sometimes to find the balance between being firm and stern, but doing so in love. Especially when you feel like you're going to go stark raving mad : ) Grace.
******
Zachary walked around laughing hysterically at himself for a good twenty minutes listening to different sounds in the stethescope.

I'm sure you can imagine the sounds that a 4 1/2 year boy might come up with


One of our many "follow the leader" games came shortly thereafter. Ansley simply grabs onto whatever Zachary is holding and he drags her behind him while they both laugh their little heads off.




And oh dear... I consider you warned before viewing this next photo of Rob's annual tradition. After he is over growing out his beard, he trims it down piece by piece. All he needed was a cowboy hat and he could've walked onto a western movie.
I present... the Fu Man Chu (sp?):



Girlfriend has a new trick...


Turning, tuuuurning...


She did it!


Psalm 68:34 "Proclaim the power of God..."

By the way... did you notice the chair in the background of the fu man chu picture? It is missing it's seat cover. Why? Because that was the starting point of our weeking stomach bug-fest. I was in the kitchen when Zachary started screaming. His stomach came up and up and up in the chair before I could move him. Poor guy. He had a rough night and the next morning it was my turn!! Lucky for me it was the weekend so Rob was home to take care of the kids while I was unconscious in bed! We are all better now and thank the Lord Rob and Ansley did not get it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Come and See!!

Psalm 66:5
"Come and SEE what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!"


We have prayed so often in our pleading for Ansley's deliverance and healing that Rob and I would have the opportunity to spend our lives sharing Ansley's story. Pleading that if the Lord gave her this merciful healing through the great display of his power, that we would forever be bondslaves (in a good way!) to being obedient with our lips and telling of his marvelous work in her. Well, today I got that chance! My sister in law, Holly, is the leader of a moms group at a nearby church. Their theme for the year is "Testify" and Holly asked me to come testify about God's power and share our story. I was so excited at getting the chance to share what the Lord has done in Ansley's life, but also nervous out of my mind trying to prepare! I don't know of too many of us who are all that comfortable with public speaking! But, I felt confident in knowing the Lord would accomplish His purposes in bringing Himself glory and praise through His glory in Ansley's story. They had a morning and an evening session, so it was double duty. One beautifully surprising thing was how much calmness the Lord just washed over me. I was literally going nuts the entire week before in nervousness, but that morning I was just excited to share and really wasn't nervous at all! Another HUGE shocker was that I not shed a single tear. Im typically a sobby, weeping mess when I share our journey and aside from getting shaky voiced a few times, I had dry eyes! So so thankful for today!

"Our God is a God who saves..." Psalm 67:20

Random story for this next picture... For those of you who don't know, when Ansley was about a month old, Rob sliced the tip of his thumb about 95% of the way off with a tablesaw. I ran to get our neighbor to stay with the kids while Rob shoved his hand in a bucket of ice. We live relatively close to an ER and had a humorous moment while flooring it, flashers a-blazing down the road. We turned onto the main road and as I was going about 70 m.p.h. a motorcycle passed us! I looked at Rob, who was as calm as a cucumber because it seems to be physically impossible for him to fret, and said, "Hm, well maybe he cut off his thumb, too." We laughed. Then he said he was getting lightheaded, so I focused back on the task at hand. No pun intended : ) Anyway, it was rough little ER visit (obviously more so for Rob than me who had to get multiple shots inside the openness of his thumb). When we got home later that night, I made sure Rob was comfortable in bed with all of his fashioned pillow elevation devices around him (the dr. said it HAD to stay elevated while he slept) and went downstairs to the 4 week old sleeping in the pac n play.
I remember being so incredibly shaken and feeling terrified to go to sleep. What if Rob called for me and I couldn't hear him? What if something happened to Ansley? I grabbed my Bible and opened it and had one of those moments where you are just so overwhelmed with how ALIVE God's word truly is to us. My eyes immediately saw Psalm 4:8 that says, "I will lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Great moment. It became a verse I pray over my babes everynight at bedtime and when those pesky nighttime battles (nightmares, fussing etc) come. So, all of that to say... I love this shirt. And the girl wearing it. Not in that order.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Songs of JOY!

I know, I know... I've been a terrible blogger lately. I'll make up for lost time in this incredibly long, picture heavy post! We're gonna keep it lighthearted here on this one people (I know, don't choke). Just picture stories of what we've been up to lately.

So... random thing you should know about me is that I MUST have LIGHT. I like all windows open with light streaming in during the day and lights ON at night. I'm sure my dad is shaking his head right now as I called their house a dungeon the other night when I went over there because it was so dark. Well, the reason you need to know this random fact is so you can appreciate more fully the mommy patience it takes to enduuuuuuure Zachary's latest love. Closing the blinds in the middle of the day (groooooan) so that he can light the way with his flashlight since he is a fireman. If you don't get that, you're not alone. I baked by the light of the stove during Ansley's nap. Mommy points. Haha!

What has Little Miss been up to lately, you ask? Oh, well let me just tell you. Little Miss has developed herself a little um... shall we say, spunk? Her 'spunk' is known to strike at any moment the wind shifts in the slightest direction she does not care for. Case in point - the duration of a minute:
DRAMA:

JOY:


DRA-AMA:

Don't worry... I put the camera down and much loving ensued...
We won't refer to them as fits. We will call them her "fiesty flare-ups."
But Little Miss has been up to a little (lot) of this...

Her most favorite new love is SHOES. A game she plays is walking over to our extremely organized pile of shoes that we leave by the garage doors and bringing the appropriate shoes to their owner. Hello cognitive!!! And she does this all day long. I probably put my shoes on 37 times a day. She is in love with all shoes of all kinds and wants to wear them all day.
Exhibit A:
Here she comes saying, "Momma, Momma..."



"Seriously Mom, put down the camera and help me."


Are Zachary and Ansley still as in love as ever you ask?
Yea huh.


Well, what else does Zachary like besides being a fireman?
Wrestling... always lots of wrestling.



And apparently now smiling for cameras instead of running from them!


He also loves pulling Ansley around in this mini wagon, though I've yet to get a picture of that actually taking place : )

There might also be some "heated sibling interactions" over this grocery cart.


And just for good measure... overalls cuteness!



And just in case you were wondering if Ansley is still obsessed with her spatula?



That would be a YES!

I'll be a better blogger now!