Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.

Ephesians 1:5-6

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Isaiah 1:17

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shaken To the Core

         Looking back at all the greats in the Bible, I think of the beginning of each of their journeys. The moments God spoke. That moment Moses was asked to lead his people from Egypt, the moment David said "I'll defeat the giant", when God gave Jonah his marching orders and told Noah to build an ark because rain is coming. All of them seemed to  handle their first reactions differently. David seemed fearless, Moses gave excuses, Jonah ran, Noah said let's do this. But ALL moved. All of them changed the course of history in their willingness to finally put themselves aside and follow Gods calling. But I have a feeling everyone of them wrestled with great fear doubt and insecurity of some kind when actually facing their foes.
         Last Saturday while I got out with some ladies Nina started seizing. Not unusual for her, but this one was different for her. It was continual and even after rescue medicine, Josh could not get it to stop. He called 911 and through texts and a phone call with me, my friends and I made our way back home. My mom took our kids while my husband traveled with her by ambulance to the emergency room where she was later transferred to her hospital in Orlando. She had already been scheduled for a 5 day VEEG on Monday so they just hooked her up a few days early to be monitored. I drove up the next day with the kids and Josh and I traded places. On Monday her doctor came in, sure that because of the video Josh captured of her seizure, she would have surgery very soon to remove the tumor on the right temporal lobe that they had decided during the last surgery, not to remove. The news was hard to hear, but we both had a good feeling this was going to be their suggestion.

         On Tuesday, after a few big seizures, that I had not seen from her before, the doctor came in with a look on his face that made my stomach turn. Mind you, this doctor is a very nice, but very professional, doesn't wear his feelings on his sleeve, no non-sense, sort of doctor. He told us that all the activity they are seeing now is coming from the left side. He said I really want to see the seizure that she had Saturday before I feel comfortable making any kind of plan. This was so so hard to hear. Basically, she has a lot of serious activity coming from the left, and the right temporal lobe.

        On this same day, a family who was visiting Abbi's orphanage was able to meet our sweet girl. The mama posted pictures for me and said, hope you are ready for this sweet girl, she was a ball of energy and everywhere and wanted to be held by everyone! Haha, well she will fit right in, I thought. Then her husband texted me. His text said, "I don't know if you got this information yet, but the nanny informed us that she was given a new diagnoses at the beginning of the month." I braced myself as I prayed a silent quick prayer while the next text came in. "Dear Lord please do not let Epilepsy!" Then the text came through..."she is on medication for Epilepsy but it is not controlled yet."

         I felt like my brain was spinning and I thought I must be dreaming. Do not get me wrong friends. I LOVE my Nina! Despite all the hard days, her dad and I will ALWAYS fight till we are in the grave for her and we DO NOT regret bringing her and Isac home and still believe without doubt this was the journey God called us too. But wresting Epilepsy is HARD! Any mom with a child who has special needs will tell you, life is a dance and your dance looks off beat and awkward and you know you are standing out in the crowd and your dance costumes do not look the same, your beat is different, even the frequency of your dance is sporadic, often times you have to sit many of those dances out and watch from the side lines. Nina can not be outside for really any length of time before the heat starts setting off seizures, I will never be able to leave her with someone and not have my brain constantly wondering if she will have a seizure without me there. And if I am completely honest, I fear one of these days she could have one so big that they can not be stopped. Some of me felt frustrated and honestly a little angry. "Lord Abbi was suppose to be my easy yes!" (Is there any such thing?!?! HA!) "I know sign language, we can get her the help she needs, teach her to love and trust and continue to fight Nina's epilepsy! Two Lord?! Do you see us?! Do you see the guilt I have every time we have to juggle leaving our kids to take Nina to the hospital for surgeries and hospital tests and doctor appointments?! I lose enough sleep over Nina and her seizures!" Now I know I may be getting ahead of myself. I know we do not fully know how severe Abbi's epilepsy is, or if it will be a lifetime battle like Nina's. But in the moment after reeling from Nina's news, I was TERRIFIED!!!!

     Fast forward to Thursday he told us his plan right now is to change her meds up, and hope it calms the left side of her brain down and then take the right temporal in a few months. If that does not work, if neither the right or left slow down, well, we will talk about that when that time comes.

      On Wednesday I was listening to music and heard the song If You Want Me Too by Ginny Owens. The words really struck me and I knew God Himself had used the song to speak to me.

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley if You want me to

'Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

Picture from a mom who visited Abbi last week.
    These words breathed life into my soul as the struggle and fear that I imagined David, Noah, Moses and Jonah wrestled with when God told them to keep moving forward, fought to take over my heart. I know God has grown me so much through the journey with Nina and Isac. It has made me a better friend, parent and wife. It has drawn me closer to Him and made me learn to rely solely on Him for strength that I can not draw from any where else. I went to church this morning waiting and hoping for music that would meet me in my fear and sort of put a band-aid on my fearful heart. But God knew what I needed. Instead the music was completely geared to our God and HIS glory. My eyes were turned more to focus on the sweet baby girl sitting in an orphanage hundred of miles away. A child who lifts her arms waiting for someone to hold her and tell her she is loved and wanted. A child now battling a disorder that is taking away even more of the little control that she has in her life and usually is very frightening to even adults who battle them. And my heart aches to race to China to hold her through each and every one!
Picture from a mama who visited Abbi a few months ago.

    Pray with me that the medicine they are giving her starts easing her seizures, that the orphanage will take her to the doctors soon like they said they would to get us more information about what is going on and that we are able to raise all of our funds so that we can RACE to get her!

      I will add on a bright note, the neurologist is 100% convinced that Nina's regression has nothing to do with the surgery and is behavioral. Which is so fantastic news because that means with a lot of therapy, we can get it back! We have a feeling it is Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Let's face it, leaving the only rooms, bed, smells, people and country she has ever known, traveling miles to a place she has never seen with people she doesn't know, facing three surgeries and days and days in a hospital and doctors appointments. It can really mess with a person, especially one so young. Now the fight is going to be to get an actual diagnosis so we can get her the therapies she needs. So if anyone knows any good Christian child psychologist who has experience with a child who is adopted internationally (not asking too much right?) please let me know!

           Thank you for partnering with us in prayer, financially and support in getting our Abbi home and getting our Nina better!

Don't forget to check out Emma's bracelet fundraiser to help get her to China!!! Emma's Chance

Picture of Isac and Levi :)


Friday, April 10, 2015

Emma's Chance

So as we are getting closer to travel to get our Abbi (YAYAYAYAYAYAYA!!!!), we are trying to arrange our travel plans.
I totally missed updating you beautiful peeps with the information that China has given us the Letter of Approval to adopt our Abbi Grace Qin Noll!!! WOOO HOOOO!!!!!
While thinking over our plans, we came to the conclusion that Josh and I can't both travel this time. :( We just are not ready to leave Nina without one of us, due to her seizures still be so bad and bringing her, we are afraid, would increase her seizures due to stress. So I am traveling with my sister in law!!!
But Josh and I thought  Abbi might fare better with a sibling being with her. We already knew Anna did not like the idea of the looong plane ride (who can blame her!) and Emma had already been asking us over and over, sooo we told Emma if she worked hard to earn her way for her trip, then she could come with me!
She has already applied for a grant that another AP's son (who is planning on traveling very soon) started, to help kids go on their trip to meet their new sibling! We haven't heard back yet, but when Josh asked Emma to really think about why she wanted to go for the application, the girl was in tears! She said she just really missed her sister! (If you have adopted before or are in the process you understand how one can miss someone they have never met! Well kids aren't exempt from those feelings! :))

Soooooo....Emma really wanted to make and sell all kinds of Rainbow loom bracelets to travel to China! So without further are a few of her creations!!!!

                                    *Other creations will be listed on Facebook on our His Grand Design Page

Thank you So much for helping our Emma meet her sister and experience where her siblings are from!

***UPDATE: My mom gave Emma a few things to make some other bracelets so Emma is busy making both! :) Check out the site above for all of the options!!!!!