Friday, November 30, 2012

Welcome to the World Baby Joelee!

Joelee (taken from Joely) is Hebrew and means God is Lord made her way into this world at 7:37a.m. November 27.....  after a little excitement and drama.
We weren't real sure of her exact due date.  I kept saying Dec. 6.  But, I was huge and the ultrasounds kept giving us dates ranging from Oct. 31 to Nov. 26.  The doctor went with Nov. 26.  I had an appointment with him the evening of Nov. 26 and at first he was saying we'd wait a bit longer.  Then for some reason he decided to do an ultrasound.  The ultrasound revealed that the amniotic fluid was decreasing and so waiting no longer was a possibility.
He decided that I'd check into the hospital the following morning at 6:30 to be induced.  I was terrified.  Jurnee was such an easy delivery that I was expecting the same this time.  And I've heard so many horror stories of moms being induced, it lasting forever, it being more painful (and no epidurals here due to a shortage of doctors!), and often resulting in a C-section.  None of these things sounded too exciting to me.  But, nothing really to do.  
We went home that night knowing that tomorrow morning we'd be checking into the hospital and hopefully meeting our baby girl soon after that!
I set my alarm for 4:45 and got up.  All was well until around 5:30..... I began to feel a little "weird."  A little bit later when we were entering the car, it was clear that baby girl was coming on her own.  No induction was going to be needed.  Now our worry was if we'd make it to the hospital in time.
We did!  We entered the reception around 6:30, the time we were to be there anyway.  An hour later, Joelee was here.  She weighed 9 pounds and 11 ounces!  A big, healthy baby girl!
After spending the day, night, and most of the next day in the hospital we were released to go home!

We drove up in the car and everyone was excited that we'd come back.  The kids all came running over to the car and Jurnee was shouting with joy!  We let her get in the car a big.  Joelee decided to make a little crying sound.  Jurnee did not like this one bit.  She looked over at Joelee and began screaming (crying) as if to say, "Get that baby out of the car!"  Her crying continued pretty much the rest of the night any time she was near Joelee.  

Our strategy then became let's help Jurnee get used to the new baby.  It seems to be working.  She gets excited and says "baby" now when she sees Joelee and wants to sit next to her!  Last night she even wanted to fall asleep next to her on the bed!  I know they're going to be best friends as they grow!  It might be hard in the beginning but I'm excited that they'll be close and always have each other.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Jurnee!

A year with Jurnee!!!!!!  Time has gone by so fast.  Just seems like yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital.  She's brought so much joy to our lives.  She loves going for walks with her daddy, playing with her big brother and sister, and swimming with her mama.  She's got her daddy's good nature, his ability to keep a conversation going, and is as friendly as he is!  She's adventurous like her mom willing to try new foods, loves being outside, and of course, anything to do with water!  

We arrived at the hospital at 8:30 p.m. and Jurnee was born at midnight.  She's not stopped going since.  She's always on the move.  She's walking (although wobbly) and prefers going at full speed rather than just walking.  She prefers to spend her days outside watching birds and the big kids play.  We can already decipher when she's saying bye, ball, baby, and quack, quack!  

We're looking forward to what God has in store for her life and feel so blessed that God chose us to be her parents!

Here's a look back at the last few months:  (I didn't get photos in June as that was when our house was broken into and life was just a bit crazy.)  Click here to see the first six months!

July- getting ready to go to church.  
Yes, I know I'm dressed for Christmas but if I waited for December, it would be too small!

August- so glad my big sister lets me borrow her bear to nap with ! 

September-  I really, really love the water!

October-  We spent Independence Day at the lake.
I loved being near the water!

November-  It's my birthday!  I'm a year old!

No birthday party would be complete without my first taste of cake!

I loved it so much I swiped a piece from a friend's plate.
By the time I finished I was decorated in cake.  It was everywhere-
all over me, in my hair.  I even shared some of it with Daddy's shirt!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou is one of my favorite poets.  Guess I'm in the kind of mood where I just want to read through some of her poems.

Here's one that sort of expresses how I'm feeling today:

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The cage bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks 
of another breeze
and the trade winds soft 
through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting 
on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a cage bird stands
on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts 
on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and 
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Orphans No More

Did you know that U.S. has over 129,000 children waiting for adoption?  The state of Arkansas alone has 500 children that are in foster care waiting for families. 

During various times while working in the states, I've gotten to know some of these precious kids.  I've also gotten to know a multitude of families that have expanded their families through adoption.  Some have adopted internationally (both older and younger children).  Others have adopted out of foster care (also both older and younger children).

Here's one family that I've know for over 10 years that has an incredible story of how adoption changed their family forever.

Click here to watch their story.  (Wish I could have figured out how to put it up here..... but the link will have to do.  It's well worth watching!)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Grafted- A Story of Grace

Grafting is a horticultural technique where tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another plant so that they may join together.

For Christians, grafting takes another beautiful meaning!

"But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."  (Galatians 4:4-7)

Through spiritual adoption, believers are made to be the sons of God.  We are heirs with Abraham and partake of the covenant which God made with Abraham.  As sons of God, we enjoy the full claim to the inheritance of the kingdom of God.

"Yet to all who believed Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."  (John 1:12)

Being a child of God is through faith in Jesus Christ by grace through faith.  It is through spiritual adoption through faith in Jesus Christ that we are made children of God!

In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes, "Sonship to God is not, therefore, a universal status into which everyone enters by natural birth, but a supernatural gift which one receives through Jesus Christ..... the gift of sonship to God becomes ours not through being born, but through being born again."

What an awesome honor it is to be called a child of God.  What a beautiful picture of adoption!  In all my mess, my brokenness, my sin, God still looks at me and calls me His child.  When God looks at me, He doesn't see a second class child, a burden, or an unwanted responsibility.  He only sees the blood of His Son covering me.  I am His child with the full rights and benefits of being His child!  Grace!

I love that picture of adoption.  Take a look at it from a natural perspective.  A child left to die.  A child left to starve to death while tied to a tree.  A child beaten to unconsciousness.  Abandoned.  Born to a drug addicted mother.  Neglected.  Unwanted.  A broken mess.  But, redeemed through the gift of adoption.  Given a second chance at life.  Grace!  A child grafted into a family, made their own.  A child adopted into a family forever.  A family to forever call their own.  Grace!

"God sets the lonely in families."  (Psalm 68:6)

My prayer throughout the month of November (National Adoption Month) is for many more families to be open to the idea of adoption.  For many children waiting for a family to call their own to be adopted into a family.  A prayer of grace in the lives that adoption has touched!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Excerpt from "Tread Softly on My Adoption"

The adoption world here in Uganda is very ......  I'll leave you to fill in the blank.  There are those that are very much for it and those very much against it.  Those that say there is too much corruption involved in adoption and those that have wonderful experiences that were very open and void of corruption.  Many say that orphanages (and adoption- especially international adoption) shouldn't exist.  Others say that, while that may not be the best option for a child, it's better than the alternative.

So many sides to the issue.  I don't think there is any one way to quickly fix the problem.  Some orphanages aren't great.  Others that have grown up in wonderful orphanages will tell you that it saved their life and provided them with a "family."

To me it's not black and white.  I believe we have to look at the gray areas in the middle.  Look at each child and family on a case by case basis.  Can this child be reunited with his family?  Can her family even be traced?  Was there abuse?  Does the family want the child back?  Will the child be in danger if taken back?  What is best for the child?

There are many children that can possibly be reunited with their families.  There are hundreds of thousands of others (all over the world, not just in Uganda) that for various reasons can't.  Take a look at the U.S. foster care system!  How do you return a child whose mother left her for dead back to her without there having first been change in that mother's life and assurance that the child won't be put back in danger.

When I hear criticisms against adoption, I somehow take it personally.  I'm not out to tear families apart.  I'm not out to take a child away from her mother.  I believe any parent that fosters or adopts a child wants what is best for the child.  Yes, God is with the biological family.  But, I also believe God has a plan for families standing in the gap when biological families can't care for their children (whether that is through fostering or adopting).  I believe there can be redemption in adoption.

Recently, I've started reading many blogs...... mostly blogs by other mom's and their daily struggles with life, children, careers, etc.  In one of the blogs that I read, the link below was linked there.  I clicked on it and really liked what the writer had to say.

Here's an excerpt from it:

"Family living doesn't come easy- the tumble of personalities, insecurities and contending wills.  We each struggle with identity issues, questioning our worth, wondering if we can contribute something of value to the world.  What parent, adoptive or not, hasn't had to battle personal anxieties while fortifying the healthy identity of their child?  Isn't this par for the course in family formation?  Iron on iron, friction forging character and undaunted acceptance culling a child capable of self-love- this is indigenous to every family, right?"

Click here to read the entire article and in the meantime, "Tread Softly on My Adoption."

So much more that could be said on this issue (from many points of view) but for the sake of not making this too long, I'll end here with the conclusion that if we are ok with all of us being "adopted" into the family of God, shouldn't it be ok that we "adopt" children into our family?