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!!!