Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Redemption House

As we prepare to leave this haven home, I can't help but think back on the mercy gifts that have been so lavishly poured out in this place. I see the Lord lifting her up to give her those first steps we knew might never happen. I hear the Heavenly sounds of those first words that were literally the very breath of God on her lips. It's bittersweet to leave this home that has served as a shelter from the storms of the last few years, but we are SO excited to move on to our Redemption House.




The last few weeks... oh my. Sharing our video story at church was surreal, but absolutely amazing. Such a GIFT to tell our story of impossible healing. I can't even tell you how many times I have been laying on the floor pleading for the Lord to lift His limitless hand over her sweet brain...all the while thinking we will never shut up about it if He chooses to grant healing. What a dream it is for us to tell her story. (p.s. still working on trying to get our video on the blog...its a huge file & thus far... not working)


We were invited this past week to a church in the town where Rob teaches to share as well & my grandfather(hes a pastor) also shared it at his church. To know that the Lord foreknew how great the depths of power & mercy He was going to pour out over her when we were in the middle of receiving one devastating diagnosis after another is just more mercy than my heart can hold!



Its completely ironic, but the gratitude looks the same as the pleading. That first year or so, oftentimes I couldnt do anything but soak His feet with my tears and plead for the Holy Spirit to intercede because the pain had no words. He gifted us with the faith to BELIEVE, but we knew in His mercy and sovereignty He may choose to say NO. We are experiencing a greater mercy in this life than I ever could have imagined.





So on another note, we closed on our Redemption House a couple of weeks ago & have been getting it ready to move into. Lots of dinner picnics...


Hide & seek in empty closets...


Bench building...



Bench swinging...












and as of today... boxes abounding.




*****

Girlfriend has a new favorite game. Apparently it's called "Mommy, I'm ready for you to potty train me." She likes to take her diaper off (I'll save you the image...though I do have some!) and sit on the potty and say, "I goin' ta pee-pee." Lovely. Planning on boarding that train once we get settled in the new house.


Zachary got his very own Christmas tree this year and falls asleep everynight staring at it.


So hows that for a random catch up post?? We'll be doing lots of unpacking over the next few days, but hopefully I'll get back to updating more soon!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stay Tuned...

Wanted to let ya'll know real quick that I'm trying to get our video uploaded & it's taking some tiiime! Stay tuned and hopefully I'll be able to figure it out soon : )

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A microphone & the zoo

I'll get to the microphone story, but first we'll take a little trip to the zoo. And since visiting just once costs barely less than a year round pass, you may be seeing more zoo pictures in the future : )




Our friends Rachel & "baby Noah" joined us



Girlfriend is not too much bigger than her 16 month old friend!


Such a little stud!

I'll spare you the picture I took of the momma mon..sorry, chimpanzee nursing her baby!






Can we all just agree that sand is the worst ever?! Kids love it though!














*****




So... the microphone. Well, we shot our video for Ansley's story last Wednesday. I'm proud to say that I didn't cry!! I can hardly believe it! I did get choked up a couple of times & Rob cried a bit talking about his dad (who will forever be a HUGE part of Ansley's story), but other than that I was out of my mind EXCITED. The Lord gave us a vision two years ago, and as we sat on our couch shooting the video... it was coming to fruition. Beautiful, glorious... wonderous MERCY & POWER. So much joy I couldnt even attempt to wrap words around it. But, Im confident the LORD will tell HIS story & accomplish HIS PURPOSES for the glory He has revealed in Ansley through our stuttering!




Our videographer spent probably 15-20 minutes trying to get Rob's microphone to work, but it wouldn't. He had tried everything & nothing was working. Of course it had worked just fine when he tested it, but he couldn't get the stinkin thing to turn on! We were looking at having to do our interview seperately, which meant chopping up the flow of just letting the Lord tell her story through our lips. We weren't too excited about that possibility. So the producer said, "Well, lets pray over it!" We all prayed over the microphone & voila... it started working!




It was such an amazing joy & priviledge and I can hardly wait to see it! Our pastor will be sharing it in a couple of weeks to finish up his current series on prayer. We'll put the video up after that :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The JOY of the Redeemed

What can we say about the anniversary of this day? We will never forget what it felt like hearing the results of Ansley's MRI. I can remember it like it was an hour ago... BUT, today we celebrated the JOY of redemption. The unending MERCY GIFTS from the One who redeems. October 1st. Our Redemption Day.

Rob got a random teacher appreciation coupon of sorts & we decided to use it & celebrate with the kids. We went to a touristy town an hour-ish from our house to ride go-karts, play games and just celebrate REDEMPTION. Cannot even tell you how much fun we had watching our boy (the redeemed princess was too little for rides) be a little fearless. A far cry from just a year ago when his timid nature sometimes crippled him.


It's hard to tell, but do you think these two like each other?




Wouldn't you know... the place was called the Redemption Center!

Brother loves riding the "racecars". Dont even think about calling them go-karts.









Our redeemed princess. Merciful gifts of LIFE poured out...



When I passed the other car Zachary told me he was proud of me for learning to drive fast like Daddy finally.



Turns out bumper cars isn't as fun when you're the only car on the track!





*****

Our pastor has been graciously mentoring Rob since Dan passed away & has been such an amazing blessing to us. He shared with us when Ansley was just a baby that he wanted to share her incredibly story with the church at some point, but he just didn't know when. Well, the time has come! He is getting ready to start a series on prayer & we will be filming her story here in a few weeks to share with the church body. We are beyond thrilled at any opportunity to speak about the MIGHTY work of the Lord in her life and I will not cry. I will not cry. Do you think if I say it enough it will help?? :)


Thankful.

Rejoicing Hearts.

JOY of the REDEEMED.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beyond Explaining

"It's remarkable. It's just... it's remarkable."



Though we wouldn't have quite labeled ourselves as nervous this morning, my hand still shook while I was filling out Ansley's paperwork. We just can't be in that office and remain unaffected by the previous two years. But... we sat hopeful. Shaking, but hopeful. Remembering not to make her neurologist's words an idol, but to rest in where our Hope comes from and KNOW that her Creator determines what her brain will be capable of.



Ansley sat on Rob's lap with her "A,B,C,D book", as she refers to it, and showed him the words God has put into her mouth. He remarked about his notes from our last appointment that were indicative of her having significant language delays/disabilities and commented on how astounding and remarkable her vocal gains had been. But, I think the puzzle is what got him. He watched in amazement as she followed our direction of picking each specific shape up, by both color & shape name, and placed it in it's proper position.


"This is just remarkable."



He was astounded not only that she knew her numbers, letters & etc, but that she said everything so clearly. He commented that it was certainly beyond crediting therapy to her gains. Her progress was beyond explaining. He felt quite certain she may very well not qualify for any special assistance at school through her county testing next summer. (Side note: I'm not sure I've ever mentioned this before, but it's a test we've known about and been praying for since she entered Early Intervention Services. It's a county test at the age of three to test overall development for entering the school system.) We've heard every therapist she has ever had say the exact same thing, but hearing it from the neurologist was... well, remarkable!



So, we continue on. We will never lose hope that through the Lord's mighty hand of strength and mercy that He will continue to deliver her. Thank to those of you who have chosen to believe with us from the beginning. You are a rare jewel to us. You just have no idea how grateful we are to you. Thankful for the gift of rejoicing today!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thursday

Oh my word, it would take a lot to give a full update on the past few months... and since we all know how well I did keeping up with the 'Summer Adventure Series', we'll just hit a few highlights!


Crayons galore, people. All day. Everyday.


Ansley's therapist brought Zachary some Hulk gloves (and mask & costume!) and we are all about some superhero fun around here!





p.s. Girlfriend packs a mean "Hulk maaash!"


Sibling love (with some splashes of rivalry) as usual...



Ohhh, my not so little man had his last, first day of Pre-K. We made the decision long ago (with the late summer b-day) to wait on Kindergarten. Oh, I am soaking in this last year with him at home!!



And can I just say... Sass-a-frass is in full force around these parts! And we love it!


Thursday is our bi-annual neurology appointment. I'm not nervous, Im not entirely excited... but Im eager. The last time we saw him, he said he didn't believe normal language development would be possible for her. Among other things... The further we walk down this road, the more the Lord build the confidence in us in His Word, His power... His mercy. While her neurologist is the expert, and I don't believe he has been wrong about anything... her Maker has the final word and THAT is why Ansley is where she is. Her doctor knows the brain & certainly knows what Ansley's would have most likely been capable of... if ever. But... it is because of the strength of God's outstretched arm and His lifted hand of mercy towards our cries for her that we walk in that office on Thursday with confident hope.

We will take her beloved magna-doodle & show him how she recognizes (and says) all her letters and numbers. We will show him how she can draw an 'x' and circle. We will take her puzzle to show him how she follows the direction to grab each shape & place it where it belongs. And even if he speaks words over her again that take life away, we know where our Help comes from. We are confident that the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY will continue to deliver her. We know its impossible, but we will continue to believe. He has delivered her thusfar, and I will risk everything to believe in His great, unmeasurable power & mercy to continue to do so! Come, Lord Jesus.



(As you know if you've been following us for awhile, these appointments can sometimes be very difficult to get through emotinally, so we would immensely appreciate your prayers!!)


Matthew 19:26 "Jesus said to them, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Babe of my Heart

I'm going to just let you know that within the first 15 seconds you are probably going to want to "x" out of this video. If your heart is beating, it's going to feel an ache. KEEP WATCHING. Redemption stories will wash over you. THIS is why. This is why, as the body of believers in Jesus Christ, we are commanded to care for orphans in their distress. I understand not everyone is called to adoption, but we are all called to do something.

(Turn up your volume...love this song. My word, has He turned our dust into beautiful things!)


Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's time to tell you...

Deep breath.


I've never really hesitated to share my feelings in my little space of the blog-0-sphere. Sometimes forgetting this isn't actually my private journal. I don't really see it going differently as we begin this new, beautiful, unknown, scary, exciting and wonderful journey.


Adoption was something Rob & I talked about back when we were dating as a, "Oh, wouldn't that be amazing?" kind of thing. But, three years ago the Lord turned my heart inside out in an instant for the fatherless. The burden God has placed on my (our) heart(s) has only increased in those years since, and we have spent the last yearish waiting and wondering when the Lord would say, "GO!"


As we drove to our college leaders meeting several Saturdays ago, I certainly had no idea the Lord would reveal Himself the way He did. Rob asked me where my heart had been in regards to adoption lately and we began a conversation that has been happening more and often in recent months. We "planned" to adopt an African American baby boy domestically for our first adoption. While my heart has been in multiple places (particularly Asia), Rob was thinking more about going the domestic route the first time around. He had read Tony Dungee's book about how great the need was for domestic adoptions of African American boys was and it touched him greatly. Meanwhile, I had read quite a bit about it as well, and it just sickened my heart that these boys were in any way thought of as "less." But, we never felt the PEACE to move forward. We both knew, undoubtedly, that we were getting a "not yet."


So, back to the conversation... I shared where my heart had been recently...all the while thinking, "Unless you say you're ready to adopt from Asia, because then just hand me a pen." I then asked him where his heart was and he floored me when he said the Lord had been giving him visions in the past couple of months of a precious one from Asia. My stomach went through the floorboard, the tears came and I turned to him and said (actually I'm pretty sure I yelled), "Are you serious?!?"


When we got to the meeting, our college pastor, JC, said he wanted to start the day by all of us spending an hour alone with the Lord. As I sat overlooking the quiet lake, I tried to still my heart. I didn't want to just throw out my questions and beg for answers. I knew I needed to hush it up and just BE with Him. When I finally felt like it was time to dig, He washed such amazing peace over my heart and through His Word, showed me that ITS TIME. Time to put that seed of faith He planted into action! Time to move... time for Him to set a lonely child in our family. Oh, gracious. There were some tears left on those rocks, I can tell you that!


Psalm 68:5-6 "A father to the fatherless...is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families..."


Meanwhile, Rob was fifty yards away sitting in the woods. He was letting the tears spill out over the ache of the loss of his father. And in asking the Lord to fill the void of that space, God brought it all full circle in a moment of clarity. "The father of the fatherless..." (Psalm 68:5) God awakened Rob's heart in a deeper way to the cry of the orphan, and he knew... ITS TIME.


In an absolutely unexpected moment, the Lord said, "GO!" We have started walking down the beautiful, heartbreaking and miraculous road of adoption... and couldn't be more full of anticipation as we wait for the child (or children...hint hint) God has chosen for our family.


John 14: 18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

SOLD!


It only took two YEARS, but we have finally found a house! We are moving to a smaller, more quiet area of town and are so excited as we have been looking forever! One thing I LOVE is that because it's new construction, we got to go write scripture all over the foundation.




Rob checking out an area where he spends a lot of time... the back porch!




Bubbs and Sweets have been loving running around in the dirt.






























Joshua 24:15 "...Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Friend in Need

As of yesterday, Dan has been rejoicing in the presence of his savior for one year. Dancing, undoubtedly. Though it was up for debate whether he would receive rhythm in his two left feet upon receiving his new, heavenly body : ) And in case you are lost on what I mean, scripture talks about believers receiving new bodies in Heaven (1 Cor. 15:42–44, 48, and 54; Phil. 3:21 ).



It still feels like it was an hour ago. When someone is so heavily a part of your life, (obviously me... much less so than Jan, Rob & his brothers) it is hard to feel like they aren't just going to come walking back through the door at any moment. When Rob and I were talking about it a few nights back, he had an interesting thought.... he wondered if maybe it doesn't fully feel like he is gone because through our faith in Jesus Christ, we know he is fully alive. His soul is certainly more alive than our's are! Afterall, what is a body without a soul? Its because of the Bible's promise of eternal life in Heaven, through belief in Jesus Christ as our savior, that we know Dan has received his eternal reward.



Dan lived to serve others. And in light of his heart, today... I plead with you to lift up the precious Raby family in prayer. To say they have been through a lot would be a gross understatement. Jared, a youth pastor at one of our area churches, and his wife, Sara, were expecting twins in the spring of 2010. However, in early December of 2009, Sara received an emergency c-section to save the lives of both Sara and their twins because of the threat of preeclampsia. Ethan and Addison were born weighing just under one pound each. They survived by the mighty strength and gracious hand of our God.



For the next eighteen months, Jared and Sara continued to document the victories and challenges, however big or little, (and there have been plenty of both) continually giving the Lord the glory for every deliverance and gift of life he granted the twins. The Lord has given them the steadfast faith to endure the journey he has laid out before them. And they have been faithful to proclaim His name through it all.



Just a few weeks ago, Ethan began having some difficulties. After a visit to the pediatrician, Ethan was immediately sent to the children's hospital under the suspicion of leukemia. While his tests came back negative, they received a diagnosis of Aplastic Anemia. A condition where the bone marrow does not produce new, healthy blood cells. He was diagnosed as severe, and the condition was just as intense as if it had been leukemia. However, labs came back that Ethan in fact had Myelodysplastic Syndrome (or MDS ). It is very rare in pediatrics and in Ethan's case, severe and life threatening. Ethan's best chance for a cure is a bone marrow/ stem cell transplant. They are currently waiting for a matched donor. Upon receival, Ethan will be heading to the best Children's hospital available to receive chemotherapy, his transplant and recovery.
Would you please, please, pray that a matching donor would be found quickly and that Ethan would remain healthy and strong as they wait? He needs a match quickly, because there is a high probablity of this particular illness to turn into leukemia.



If you have been following our journey with Ansley from the beginning, you have seen the glory of the Lord's outstretched arm and you have seen it's limitless nature of power. Jared and Sara have also witnessed the same immeasurable amounts of the Lord's mercy and power poured out over their twins in the last eighteen months. Oh, how I ask you to plead with fervor at the feet of Jesus for this precious family. Would you pray not only for Ethan, but for his sweet twin sister Addison as well during this time? Would you pray for the Lord to sweep Jared and Sara off their feet in a flood of his presence and peace? They rest in the knowledge of knowing Jesus intercedes for them, but they need the body of believers to come around them in support and prayer for their family during this difficult time. Thanks ya'll. So much.

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Hiding Place



Psalm 32:7-8 "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."


On nights like tonight, there is nowhere else to run. I can do nothing but curl up at the foot of His throne. The tension releases as I let the tears spill out and the sobs do their shaking. Because He desires my heart. He desires me to lay it down at his feet because there is nowhere else to put it. And though my flesh may fail me, I serve a God who does not grow tired or weary (Isaiah 40:28). He promises to grant strength in my weariness and to increase my power, through Him, when I am weak(Isaiah 40:29). He makes this parched, thirsty heart bubble up like a spring. Not because I deserve it, but because He loves His children extravagantly. And He delights in rescuing my heart (Psalm 22:8).


This evening was difficult to walk through, to say the least. We knew Ansley may never utter a word. She speaks clearly and identifies all 26 letters of the alphabet. NOTHING but the lifting hand of mercy and compassion of our Lord could have done this. We knew she may never take a step on her own. My God has lifted the lame to make her leap like a deer. He has turned our 'wailing into dancing' more than we could count. He has made our hearts leap for joy and we will give thanks to Him forever. But sometimes our enemy doesn't just throw stones to trip us up... he heaves the biggest boulder he can find. And tonight, it crushed me. It did. I can't do this and not be honest. I can't put on a parade of "having it all together" during the moments when the reality sinks deep. But you know what? I have a God who "is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). He gives me the strength to lift my hand in praise when I'm too broken to speak. Because He never lets go.


My love gave me the time I needed to process alone, and then he held me and let me share my fears and pain. And then, he went to battle on my behalf. On behalf of our family. And like a carrot leads a horse, he blinded me to anything but the sword of truth. He bound the enemy's plans against us by the power of the name of Jesus Christ... and the more he prayed, the more the Spirit began to stir. Swirling hope and a renewed spirit to bring my feet back to a march. And He gave us the strength to keep believing in His word, because there is nothing else worth listening to. And because when my flesh fails, and this world brings trouble...there is NO other hope, but the hope of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Marantha.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Adventure Series-Z's Bday (Day 1)

We want to always make sure (in light of Ansley's birthday celebrations) that Zachary knows his birthday is just as important, just as special...just as worth celebrating in a big way. Well, we had a hotel voucher and a few random giftcards, so we decided to take Zachary on a special birthday trip to our favorite place!! We waited til the morning of his birthday to tell him and he was ecstatic!




We started our day at the kids museum and pretty much stayed the whole day... this place is SO MUCH FUN!!!

Water fun...










"Little Yellow House" fun...





































Girlfriend could play on a slide all day long. All day long...



Whatever it takes to get the job done. This boy watches his Daddy thats for sure!









HOW is my boy all grown up and turning FIVE?!!! Everytime I look at him he gets bigger. I am SOAKING UP my snuggles and Mommy lovin time because I know the clock is ticking til my boy doesn't want hugs & kisses from Mommy!








Our hotel certificate said "king", but the concierge bumped us to a suite! Holla! Always nice to not have to sit in the hallway once the kids go to bed! Oops, just realized I deleted the living room portion and Rob is asleep. Your imagination is going to have to hold you over on what the other side of the room looked like : )



Finishing off day one with a birthday dinner. Complete with cake, of course!






Oh my goodness, we love this kid more than words could express. The instant I saw him and became a mother was really one of the most beautiful, breathtaking moments of my life. Absolute love like I'd never known. A wise mentor, Toni, encouraged me long ago to view the strong willed nature the Lord gave him as something God could use for good. She encouraged us to pray that the Lord would use the fighter spirit that he has to be a warrior for the kingdom of God. How dramatically that view can change everything! It turns something that presents tough discipline challenges for parents into something the Lord uses for good. Not to mention... refines the character of the parent as they attempt to discipline IN LOVE. As the Lord disciplines us. We definately don't always succeed with this... but its certainly the goal ; )




Happy Birthday Bud, Buddy, Buddy-O, Bubbs, Bub-a-lub, Brother, "Brover", "Bubba", "Zac-a-wee", Dude, our Zachary (We have lots of pet names in this house!) WE LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY!!!




*Scroll down for Day Two*