Boot Camp

Aaron officially left for Boot Camp...I mean Basic Training...today!

I'd love to show you pictures, but apparently I have maxed out my free photo uploading for Blogger.  Bummer.  Didn't even know there was a limit.  Anyone out there using Blogger know of a free way to get around this?  Or do I have to shell over some money? Comment away! Please...I'm behind in uploading pictures!

I digress.

Aaron did leave today.  Truly, he left home yesterday morning.  I drove him to the recruiter's office{then sat and cried big hot mama tears in the car...like I had the day before just thinking about the end of one chapter of life and the beginning of another}.  He spent the night in a hotel on the US Navy's tab and then in actuality left for boot camp today.  

We took the whole clan to see him off.  (He didn't seem embarrassed at all! Matter of fact he seemed to enjoy getting to hold and play with Lily & Joshua before he left and joke with Emma.)

We spent all morning sitting and waiting with him, watched him swear into the US Navy again (yes, we have pics...but again...can't upload), and then shortly after 1pm he got in a van with about a dozen other Navy recruits and headed to the airport.  

I didn't cry this time!  I had been asking the Lord to help me celebrate and rejoice that we and he had hit this milestone {not to mention asking that Aaron's last vision of his mom not be a sobbing form of his mother!}.  And He gave that to me.  It was wonderful to see Aaron look relieved and excited to be getting on with getting on.

Not sure if he's still feeling that way now that he's probably there or almost there...but we'll see how he sounds when he gets his 2 minute call sometime tonight (I think)!

One of the most poignant things I will remember about Aaron's departure was Joshua's response.  Yesterday, when all the girls were telling him good-bye and giving him hugs and it was Joshua's turn...he just burst into big honking, belly-sobbing tears.  He gets it. Hurts my heart that he soooo understands loss unlike any other in our family save Lily.  I tried to assure him Aaron that we will see Aaron again, but it will just be awhile.  He loves his big brother.

So do we.

In Him,


In Everything...Give Thanks

The words of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 echo through my mind as I think about this last year.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

It has been an amazingly unexpected year for us.  Very little ended up as I had thought it might when I sat eating turkey in 2011.

At this time last year, I was dreaming of what it would be like to have my China-born son home and celebrating with us; not knowing that the one who would be sitting here was our China-born son...but our second, not first...something exceedingly, abundantly above all I could have asked or imagined.

We had no idea that Luke would die and that out of his death, he, Joshua and we would experience new life....abundant life.

And isn't that what we celebrate and give thanks for on Thanksgiving?

At its inception, Thanksgiving was a day set aside to give thanks for God's rescue of a suffering, struggling band of life-abandoned, worship-driven, Jesus freaks.  They called themselves Pilgrims.

This year, more than any other, the concept of my being a pilgrim in this temporary world has been driven home more than any other.  This world is not my home.  This tent cries out to be clothed with immortality.  I have so many treasures already at Home.

I am learning to "give thanks in all circumstances" as the NIV puts it.

So this year, not only do I give thanks for the abundance of blessings God has showered on my life...the ones everyone would have agreed ahead of time would be blessings:

My Great God, my husband, my children, my family, my church family, my freedom to worship and live as I feel led, His provision for bringing Joshua home, the abundance with which He has showered us.

But I also give thanks for those things which, had I known of them in advance, gratitude might not have been the first response of my heart...

I give thanks for Luke's home-going and his wholeness in his permanent home.

I give thanks that I have been counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.

I give thanks for the grand mal seizure and the physical rest and illumination it ushered in.

I give thanks for the loneliness of pain that leaves only the Father to run to.

I give thanks that there is much to be learned in the valley.

I give thanks that I can trust that His purposes are for good and not for evil.

I give thanks that I got to see and experience and hear with my own eyes and ears and heartthat 'joy does come in the morning!' Out of  grief, He redeemed the precious life of Joshua.  

I give thanks that He clearly leads and clearly answers the cries of our hearts for wisdom, discernment, and comfort.

I give thanks that 'my times are in His hands' (Ps. 31).

I give thanks that a 'bruised reed He will not break, nor a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.' (Is 42)

I give thanks that even though I do not know what tomorrow brings or what may come in the next 12 months...He does.

I have a long way to go in learning to 'give thanks in all circumstances,' but I am thankful that I have the best Teacher.

In Him,


Special Visit

You may remember my post from a week ago about Orphan Sunday.  I wrote about the call God has upon each believer to care for widows and orphans.

I had written of how prayer is often tagged on as an "if you can only" sort of suggestion.

I would put to you that it is an absolute must for each of us.  

Having a face to pray over specifically makes praying so much easier. (So go to the websites I linked and pick a cutie and start praying!  New Hope Foundation, Philip Hayden, etc.)

I came across a quote from David Platt on another blog this week.  He said this in his book Radical :  Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” 

Last Sunday, I told you about the amazing impact the prayers of one woman in Australia made in the life of our littlest boy.  

How she had been holding him and praying that he would have a family soon...right as we were praying over his file and sweet little face!  At the very moment!  

She knew his name (Tian Hu), she saw and kissed his face, she held him in her arms, and she prayed.  

And she recruited others to pray, too.  Her family, her friends, her church.

Tell me prayer isn't powerful!  Or more like...the One Who prompts us to pray is powerful!  

This week...{drumroll, please!}...this week....she and her family came to our house.  

Remember they are Australian.  

For those of us who haven't had enough sleep (or caffeine)...that means she lives in Australia, Down Under, on another continent.

But as the Lord so beautifully orchestrates, she and her family were visiting Washington DC now.  Not in the Spring or Summer of 2012 when Joshua wasn't yet home, but now.  

We got to fellowship and rejoice together over our awesome God and His answers to our prayers.  They got to see the answer to their prayers and we got to hug the ones who stood in the gap for Joshua and for us.

And we made new friends who feel like old ones.

Only God!

And, she had photos of a piece of Joshua's history for us.

But that's another post!

Terri & Bernie, Bailey & Abby...thank you!

In Him,


October's Bountiful Birthdays {Ally}

Finishing out the month of bountiful birthdays is my Allyson Faith.

She has been the sweetest thing for the last seven and a half years...since she learned to crawl.

You see, she's our people-person.  She became the happiest baby once she could crawl and follow me around all the time.  She couldn't stand the exersaucer or baby swing or high chair...unless you were sitting right next to her.

My girl loves company!  Lots of siblings has been God's gift to her because she always has a playmate!

Well, my sweet companion Ally turned 8 a few days ago (although she kept thinking she was turning 9 since Anna Grace turned 9 in June and they do everything together!).

We celebrated with a Mommy-Daughter Birthday lunch at the place of her choosing...Subway taken and eaten at Target!  It was too chilly for her in Subway.  And, she wanted to SHOP at Target!.

And, shop we did.  Boy, could I tell she getting older because of what she wanted.  A necklace with the letter A on it, hair accessories and, of course, clothing!  Not that she didn't request a few several toys as well, but that dolling herself up was first choice that day didn't go unnoticed!

She also got to pick the dinner of her choice...Vinny's pizza...and her cake.  You guessed it!  Another cookie cake.  Glad we like Chocolate Chip cookies!

 We are so thankful the blessing the Lord has given us in Ally.  Fun, funny, sweet, and caring.  Level-headed (most of the time!), peace-making, creative.  Love her laugh.  Just hearing her laugh makes me laugh.  And that smile!

Best of all she loves Jesus.

Two nights ago, after hearing of a very real fear of a recent convert from Islam to Jesus, she walked into my room and said she had just been reading her Bible and saw that in Joshua 1:9 it says (her paraphrase) "Be strong and courageous for God is with you."  And, then she prayed that this new Jesus-lover would be strong and courageous and know that God is with them.

Now that was a gift for her mama.

Praying she will always cherish the gift of Jesus above and before all others...

In Him,


October's Bountiful Birthdays {Joshua}

Joshua's birthday is 3rd in the line-up of our Bountiful Birthday month of October.

The 22nd is his birthday and boy was he ever primed and ready.

He had quickly figured out what all this birthday business was about thanks to Lily's and Aaron's birthdays. 

And, he was ready!

We always sing the kids "Happy Birthday" when they wake up in the morning, often around the breakfast table.  Joshua was so funny when we began singing at breakfast for him.  He remembered that a cake usually arrives in the middle of the song and he had the most expectant and confused look on his face as we were singing and no cake was coming.  He kept looking behind me and then at me like...Hey, Mom! You're forgetting the best part!

He wasn't overly excited with my explanation that the cake would come when Baba came home from work.

He did, however, spend the rest of the day singing 'Happy Birthday, Joshua" to himself.  

Stinking adorable!

True to my word, we had a little celebration for him in the evening complete with a few presents and...a Cookie Cake.

He was soooo excited to have his turn at this birthday thing.

I think we could have just given him a card, because he clung to the one Grandma and Grandpa sent and kept looking at it over and over!

The day after his birthday marked the 3 month anniversary of the day he was placed in my arms.  My how much he has blossomed in that time...how very far we've come!

I feel like we are beginning to know the real Joshua and, oh my, is he ever a sweetie!  He is so affectionate and tells me, "I wuv oo, mama" several times a day.  Hugs and kisses and sooo snuggly.  No better feeling than his head on my shoulder.

Still fiesty?  Yes, but not as much.  

And, he is loving having Lily to pal around with.  

They are beyond adorable.  

Their squabbles have died down to a normal level and I foresee a formidable duo in our future.  Brains and brawn working together to accomplish much...like riding around in the Little Tikes grocery cart with Joshua pushing Lily tonight.  Or the lip gloss incident of two weeks ago.  Lily just had to teach him how to apply it...only he went whole hog and did his entire face.  The glitter was quite lovely.

I can't wait to see what the next months and years hold for us as we continue to fall in love with our adorable, silly, snuggly Joshua.

In Him,


Back to Philadelphia

Joshua has had a really rough first week with his casts.

He was just miserable.  

Whining, crying, not eating, sleeping in 20-30 minute intervals with no naps.

I thought he was going to fall asleep sitting in his high chair yesterday he was so tired.

And so were we!  Reminded me of the newborn baby days!

He kept complaining about his left toe and after talking with the nurse who helped cast him, we decided heading back today was the best option.  He just shouldn't have been quite that miserable.

Possibly unhappy and uncomfortable?  Yes.  But, not to that extent.

So, back up I-95 we went.  Mercifully, the Tylenol with Codeine helped him sleep longer stretches last night and so Kevin and I were able to stay awake for the drive!

Don't you love how when you take a child to the doctor they instantly act like nothing is wrong?  Yeah, he had that going on.

However, after removing the casts...

...with the nifty saw, which Joshua kept telling me was loud...

and a bit ticklish...

(...until we hit the uncomfortable toe area!)

We saw first-hand the source of all the discomfort...

Apparently, the cast had been putting too much pressure in that area.  The picture really doesn't due the degree of redness and raw skin justice.  

Seeing that validated the drive up there.

He had a little break from the casts, during which he laid on his back and kept his knees in the bent position!  We kept trying to get him to straighten his legs, but he was having none of it!  Finally, while playing with a toy he straightened out.

Wish we'd gotten a picture of that!

Then it was time to recast with slightly different pressure points and more padding in the toe area.

He chose orange this time around.  
Green just left a bad taste in our mouths!

We were all so surprised at how cooperative he was...again...to get his casts on.  I thought he would lose it when he saw them coming with the plaster again, but he just laid back and let them do what they wanted!

Just love this picture with the nurse!  She's the one I talked with on the phone to see if what he was experiencing was normal.  She quickly worked us in today.

Can you tell Joshua was thankful?

Now we have...as Grandpa called them...pumpkin legs.  Just in time for Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Cookies, Pumpkin Scones...aaahhh.  

I digress...

Mama and her littlest boy...smiling again.

Boy, did we miss his smile this last week!

The sure sign that he was feeling better was his power naps almost all of the way home.  In his sunglasses.  For some reason he wanted to wear them all the way home...in the dark.  

Guess he's catching up on all of the sleep he missed this week.

Now, if only Kevin and I can!

In Him,


Bountiful Birthdays {Aaron}

It's official.

My firstborn turned twenty on October 20th.  20! The big two-oh.

He's moved into the all-I-want-is-money phase of birthdays.

A month after I turned 20, I got married.

A month after he turns 20, he'll be in boot camp.

It's really too much for this emotional mama to handle after the Navy post...so let's just talk about cake...and brothers.

The cake...mercifully not another Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake.  As much as I love them, we needed a break.

Aaron requested an ice cream cake.

Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard Cake here we come!

Joshua trying to get some of Aaron's piece.  Little sneaker!

Threatening to lick his hand if he didn't get a taste!

Innocent as can be now that he has his own piece.

Just love this picture of the brothers.  

Might have to frame this one...

In Him,



First Trip to Shriners...First Casting

Today Joshua had his first visit with Shriners in Philadelphia.

Kevin, Joshua & I left yesterday afternoon in order to be there for his appointments beginning at 8:30am.  Thankfully, I had been prepped by other bloggers that this would be an almost all-day affair.

They do as much as they can in one day, knowing the distance many people have to travel.

Joshua was born with Arthrogryposis which affects all 4 of his limbs, so he got to see both the upper and lower limb doctors today.

Dr. van Bosse (lower limbs doctor) had helped us a great deal when we were reviewing Joshua's file, and now 8 months later Joshua sat in his exam room!  What a blessing! 

We saw the upper limbs doctor first, who had a wonderful bedside manner.  He was very good with Joshua and encouraging about how well he is presently doing.  He was very understanding of Joshua's need for time to bond with us and encouraged us that the best OT right now is loving on and playing with him since he's doing so well!  And more good news...no more hand braces for now!  Not that he was leaving those on anyway...

One of the most refreshing things for me personally was to hear and learn that there was no new information, so to speak.  What we had researched and observed about Joshua and presumed would be the course of action all turned out to be exactly what occurred.  

And that course of action began today!

Dr. van Bosse began serial casting of Joshua's bi-lateral club feet right then and there! 

They put some soft gauze wrap on before the plaster.

And then they began wrapping...

I did my best to keep Joshua's hands out of the way, which really wasn't hard.  He found it all quite interesting.

He was such a good little patient and only wiggled a teeny bit!

See the angle of the foot in the picture above?

The feet will be casted bit by bit further and further out to stretch the muscles until his foot is pointing almost unnaturally in the pointed out direction.  How's that for technical jargon?

They won't stay that way permanently...it's just for stretching purposes. 

Still smiling!
Now on to leg #2...

If we lived closer, Joshua's casts would be changed every week!

Since we don't...we have 2 options.

1) Come every other week for new casts

2) Stay at the Ronald McDonald House and follow an accelerated schedule of new casts twice a week.

(Dr. van Bosse and his resident hard at work.)

At this point, we will begin with option 1...every other week trips to Philly and see how his feet respond and how Joshua handles being in casts.  If it becomes clear that he will be in casts longer than we feel is ideal I will seriously consider option 2.

Joshua chose to go with green for his casts.  His sisters ooh-ed and ahh-ed over them when we got home!

By the time we were done, I think Joshua was starting to wonder about these new 'boots.'

We were forewarned that the first day in casts can be difficult due to the muscle soreness, but that he should come around in a day or two.

Poor boy was just miserable on the way home.  He just could not get comfortable and was sooo tired, but couldn't sleep.  We tried every manner of propping his legs up.  Motrin, Blue & Curious George helped for a little while, but we're hoping that a good night's sleep and the chaos of home will be the best distractions of all.

Pray for our boy...he's such a sweet, tough trooper.

In Him,