Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

The tree is up. The house is decorated. The lights are twinkling outside. Wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons have taken up residence in our living room. Three little children are bubbling with excitement....and one in particular is absorbing each moment with a most special twinkle in her eys! A year ago we ached with sadness over the fact that Selah was spending one more Christmas without her family. Now it is a Christmas complete...and I am so very thankful that on Christmas Eve after everyone is sound asleep, I will have three rooms...and three little foreheads to kiss as I say a prayer of God's protection, healing, and love in the lives of each of the three little treasures He has so lovingly given us to parent.

                                        Jingle Bells performed by those three little treasures!

One year later, my prayer for each child as I lay a hand on their sleeping little head, will be so very different. Last year I remember praying so desperately for peace and patience as we waited to bring Selah home. I remember praying for her safety and for the Lord to be preparing her heart to leave the only world she had ever known, to become a part of our family. I prayed He would open her heart to receive all the love we had to offer. I prayed that each of the boys would be prepared for all that would come with having a new sister who may have difficulties adjusting. I prayed that their love and acceptance would be never ending and that Selah may learn a little about Jesus from the way they and Bryan and I would love her. I prayed that jealousy would not have an opportunity to enter into their little hearts and I prayed that their hearts would remain intact throughout whatever would face us. I prayed that God would continue to mold their hearts and bring them closer to Him.

As I reflect back, I see how God has answered those prayers and more. Honestly, there are moments (actually days...several days..) where I feel as though my prayers are not being heard. I feel like He is just not making good on His promises! I know that sounds awful, but it is the truth of my roller coaster emotions. He always pulls me up out of that place of "yuck" and sets me back upon the rock of truth where I can confidently say that I know that I know that I know that He DOES make good on His promises...all of them! His Word does not come back void! And then is when I can so clearly see how He is healing Selah day by day. He has been at work slowly opening her heart to our love. It is definitely not on my time schedule, but I believe His timing is perfect and He knows why it takes as much time as it does. I also see how He has so abundantly and even more so than I could have ever dreamed, filled the hearts of our two boys with this amazing love that it such a model of what He desires for us. The sun and the moon set on their little sister. There is nothing she can do that will make them mad for more than a minute! They had moments when they needed to talk about how things are different now and when they felt waves of sadness pass over them for what we were all experiencing with Selah, but there has never been a moment they have wanted to change things and never a moment they didn't recognize that Selah's behaviors did not come from her heart...but rather from the trauma of her life before us. They were often better at seeing that than even I! They were able to remind me of her progress and the positives even in the midst of the most difficult of times. This wisdom was so beyond their years. What a precious gift God gave us in this wisdom! He is using Selah and her story to mold Zachary and Landon's hearts....as well as the hearts of so many others.

My prayer this year will be for Selah's continued healing. This year I know the specifics. Last year I had no idea. There has been so much more than we could have ever dreamed possible. I am praying for the continued molding of our hearts and for each of us to develop an even stronger and closer relationship with Jesus. I am praying for strength to continue the fight in this ongoing spiritual battle. I am praying for wisdom, for discernment, for patience, and for love.  I am praying for a little girl to have a  joy that starts deep in her heart and shines through in the twinkling in her eyes. A joy that is not quenched by memories of the past, of fears of the past, present, or future, or by an other emotional, mental, or physical challenges. And finally, I am praying that next year I can look back at this year's prayers and see them answered in abundance!

In keeping with my reflection of the answered prayers of last year, I don't think there is anything more vivid than the two pictures I recently looked at of Selah. One is from the airport on the day we arrived home. The other is a most recent one. Just look at how God works! Eight months are in between those two photos. Eight months, lots of love, lots of prayer, and lots of nutrition (10 pounds and 4 inches worth)!

My prayers are with all those who have brought your little ones home and are adjusting, those in the midst of the brutal wait between the two trips, and those in just the beginning phases of your adoption! May you feel His love, comfort, and guidance each step of the way. God is with us and is not going to let go! Many blessings to all this Christmas!

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’  
Matthew 1:22-23

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Through the Eyes of Trauma

Last week was a tough one. Selah's surgery to repair the strabismus in her right eye went fantastically. Even in the beginning it felt that she turned to us for comfort and let her walls down a little more and just wanted lots of loving. The tough started a couple of days later, after the eye was feeling better. It seems that the trauma of the surgery triggered some very unpleasant memories that consumed our sweet girl and brought out all the fear, rage, and pain that we experienced in the beginning. She acted out some of the memories in her playtime with her speech teacher, followed by extreme acting out over the same topic a day later, and then fell apart emotionally. The whole experience was so traumatic, but God used it for the good as He is always so faithful in doing, and each day is showing the return of Selah's joy and emotional stability.

For me, God used this to break my heart all over again. I know that I have struggled with finding the correct balance to being emotionally engaged and disengaged. It is important to remain disengaged from the behavior so that you can handle the actions without anger or hurt entering the picture. It is also important to be connected emotionally to your child so that they can always be reassured of your unconditional love. In my situation, in the beginning I was so emotionally connected that I couldn't separate the behavior from the child and the actions triggered an emotional response from me which was too much of a burden to bear. As time progressed, I became more emotionally defensive and worked to remain emotionally detached from the behavior. This, in turn, sometimes separated me from my daughter and from being able to feel her pain or understand her actions. Last week, God showed me where I had gone wrong and He gave me the amazing gift of truly, in a very physical sense of the word, seeing her actions and feelings through the eyes of the unthinkable trauma she has experienced in life.

By Friday I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Bryan was able to take the day off (Veteran's Day is not a given holiday at his work) and he treated me to a day to myself. He took all three kiddos and spent the day at the movies and visiting his parents. It gave me time to rest, think, pray, and listen. At one point, I sat down at my computer and returned an email to Emily, who is our post adoption support at All God's Children. I wrote to her about all that had been happening in our home and a bit about my heavy spirit. The writing started a thought process in me that lead me through my last few weeks of reading, of prayer, of Bible study, and of the last couple of sermons at church. I started seeing how so many pieces of my life seemed to be coming together to show me one very important thing about my call in life right now. Everything had been about shepherding a child's heart, believing in the power of God to heal, leaning into His Spirit to hear His wisdom and gain His strength, and never trying to run away from what God has called you to. At that very moment I received a return email from Emily (what are the chances that she was right there and able to respond so quickly?) and it was if her words were sent by Jesus Himself! They started the tears running. Her words simply confirmed my thoughts about Selah's trauma and reminded me to care for myself. Her words reminded me to see Selah's behaviors through the lens of trauma rather than acts of manipulation or defiance. The "brain" part of me knows that...but something in her words cracked me wide open and I let it all come rolling out! And what does any Mom who is an emotional blubbering mess do? Laundry! Right? As I transferred one load to the dryer, started another in the washer, and yet folded another I cried...and cried...and cried. It felt as if God had given me this gift of envisioning the horrors she lived. I say gift because, as much as it made me physically and emotionally sick, it broke my heart to another degree of truly understanding my little girl. I will never forget that moment. I feel like it changed my heart once again...and made it better and stronger.

And, just in case there was any doubt in my mind that all this had been arranged by God, He placed one more confirmation in my day. As I finally left the laundry room, having pulled myself together again, I saw that I had a missed call from my friend. It was the same friend I had felt the urge to call as I was crying because I wanted to share my revelation with her. I had just spent some time with her and she knew of my frustrations over Selah's behaviors. The message from her was a directive to find and listen to Casting Crown's song "So Far to Find You". It was actually an order...not a suggestion, and I was to do so IMMEDIATELTY. The funny thing is she had been listening to the cd for a few months now, but had never paid attention to the lyrics until this very moment as she was on the treadmill at the gym! She had stopped her workout just to call me because she was so moved and KNEW I just had to hear the song NOW! I was obedient (:-) ). There I sat listening and blubbering all over again. It was my personal confirmation that God was in this...He was working on us all. He is loving us through it all and He is not ever going to let go. He showed me Selah's pain on a level like never before and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be her mommy and share her pain with her and I will always know that whatever she dishes out will never compare to that what she experienced in her short 4 1/2 years. I know I can handle it because we have a great big God who loves us so...and will walk with us every step along this journey to healing.

Below are the lyrics and then the YouTube of the song. Be blessed....but make sure to have the tissues nearby!

You were broken, abandoned
And crying all alone
We were waiting and praying
And longing to bring you home
And then we saw your face
In a moment you were wrapped up in our hearts
We took a step of faith
And now here we are

Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you

From a world away, I journeyed
Just to hold your hand
You will never be alone again
I’ve come so far to find you
So far to find you

You were fighting and fearful
You were hiding your heart away
But I was trying so hard to show you
‘Cause there were no words that I could say
If you could see my heart
You would know that all I want to do
Is care for you

Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you

Here in your eyes I see
Reflections of myself
How I’m the child that’s really running
But I can hear a voice that’s whispering my name
Saying come to me, don’t run from me
I’m all you need and I am calling

Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
(I have come so far)
Will you take my love and give up the fight
(I have come so far)

Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you

From Heaven’s throne
Down to a rugged cross I came
It was My love for you that brought Me all the way
So far to find you
So far to find you

You were broken, abandoned
And crying all alone

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Seeing From the Perspective of Heaven

Happy November! Before we know it, Thanksgiving and then Christmas will be here! Yikes...!

October was a fun filled month. I always love October because it starts cooling down here in Arizona. This year it took longer to actually cool off, but, FINALLY the beautiful weather is here and we remember why it is that we love Phoenix so much!!!

Selah began wearing the brace for the scoliosis. It was a horrible three nights of rages and screams and very little sleep, and then another four or so nights of restless sleep and some anger issues and regression, but then she seemed to settle into accepting life in the brace. As frustrating and difficult as it was, though, God used the brace to bring hidden blessings. The brace gave Selah such wonderful deep tissue pressure, that it helped to calm her significantly. Our occupational therapist was amazed at the difference in Selah.

Also, because the brace was designed to come halfway down around her bum and hips, it has pulled her hips together and helped her to walk with a narrow gate placing one foot directly in front of the other. She has continued to do this and keep the straight posture even for the couple of hours each day she is without the brace! It has also stopped her from rocking at night and sleeping with her torso flat on her legs like a closed book. The design of the brace makes it impossible to do that. I believe that was the biggest portion of the raging for the first week. Even though she falls asleep at night lying flat now, several times throughout the night she would sit up, rock, and either fall asleep forward or flop back. It was a blessing because it took Bryan and I out of the quotient and put the blame on the brace which in turned caused her to turn to us for comfort. The other part of the rocking I think was simply habit...similar to sucking a thumb or pacifier that had never been broken.

Today we found out even one more hidden blessing! We saw the cardiologist today for a follow-up on her enlarged aortic root. The ultrasound was promising in that there had been no progression of the enlargement! Praise God! That was even without medicine, therefore the doctor doesn't feel we need to start any new medications at this point! And...the hidden blessing? He told us our biggest fear is going to be any blows or hard impacts to Selah's torso. That could cause the "eruption". With her brace, he said she is actually well protected. Funny how God works!

Selah's surgery to repair the strabismus in her right eye is on Friday morning. Please pray with us for success, quick healing, and no emotional setbacks. I pray that God will use this time to draw her even closer to us.

Otherwise, we continue to stay busy with day-to-day activities. As I celebrated my birthday this year, I remembered being so sad last year because we couldn't seem to get our I800 approval from the NBC. I remember having a nightmare officer that kept changing her mind as to what she wanted from us. Ugh...how many wasted days, extra fees, and overnighting costs we accrued! It now seems so long ago.

Landon playing i9 basketball

Zach's team won the championship for the Halloween tournament!

Halloween was really fun again this year! Both sets of grandparents had arrived back in town for the winter months and were here for trick-or-treating and our neighborhood potluck of chili, cornbread, and a million other yummy treats! The weather was gorgeus....the boys were cute...and our little Selah made an adorable little ladybug!

My tribute to the Jayhawks in honor of Bryan and the boys!

The back.


Zach was a KU basketball player and Landon a KU fan!

Do you think her big brothers adore her, or what?

Charley, our sweet babysitter, and Selah. Dorothy, Toto, and a ladybug :-)

Selah's Mr. Potato Head Pirate Pumpkin deserved a big hug and kiss!

I am reading this book right now called Spiritual Java by Bill and Beni Johnson. A friend gave it to me as a birthday gift and I love it! It is broken up into small chapters so that you can read it even if you only have a couple of minutes here and there. The jacket cover says "God will take you into supernatural new territory, and your explorations will not end until you are fully walking in  His prefect plan for your life. Each time you enjoy a few more sips, you will be warmed and energized to step out into your world with renewed Kingdom effectiveness. May each sip of every chapter be spritual java for your soul." Kinda fun, huh? I'm going to leave you with two little sips of that java that I related to the journey of an adoptive parent. The journey where you lay your life down daily for another..the journey where that laying down can seem like the heaviest of burdens on some days and greatest of joys on others.

"The tragedy is that many believers can't yet distinguish the difference between the burden of the Lord and the weight of their own unbelief." Chew on that one! When we are so burdened and go before Him in prayer, is the burden really about what has been placed upon us? Or is it about the weight of our unbelief in what He can and will do? The book went on to say, "do whatever is necessary to arrive at a place of faith. Then you will be able to see the situation from the perspecitive of Heaven - and you will be able to bring Heaven to earth with a simple word or two."  I know that the days I am firmly planted in that place of faith, my burdens are not heavy. The days I waver, are the days when I fear what the future could mean for Selah and for us. But, I am committed to seeing her medical and emotional needs from the perspective of Heaven. In Heaven there is no pain and no brokenness. That is what I am believing in faith for Selah.

And here is the other one that spoke volumes to me: "But for the sake of becomnig mature and growing in favor so that we can bless those around us, God brings moments into our lives when we have to stand alone in difficulty and testing. God will even blind the eyes and deafen the ears of our closest friends in those moments - so we can learn to minister to ourselves." I don't know about you, but there have been many moments I have felt a bit isolated in my world through various phases of this journey. Now, I don't mean we haven't had wonderful friends and family loving us. I just mean that until you walk this road, it is really tough to understand. It is also very tough to share all that is going on. So many people are simply elated that you have your child now with you and they are unaware of all that can come with adoption, especially of an older child. The last thing you want to do when they are so happy for you is to emotionally or verbally vomit all the gory details! After reading that portion of the book, though, and having a friend give me that same word one evening as I was emotionally vomiting, I realized that this IS part of the journey. God walks us through times like these and strips away many of our other supports to make us dig deep within ourselves, turn to Him and build our faith. Again bringing us back to...seeing things from the perspective of Heaven. It's such a better view from there!

Blessings and smiles,

Friday, September 30, 2011

Busy Days

Where does the time go? It seems that when I get caught up on computer stuff, I fall behind in laundry, and when I get caught up in laundry,  I fall behind in all the other cleaning that needs to be done. This continues on and on sort of like the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" book! It is a funny sort of cycle that is a perfect representation of my life right now! I am always doing one thing to end up behind in another! That is what leads me back to posting nearly three weeks later! Oh well...for a season this is my life. Who knows what God has in store for the next season!

We have been busy with a very full schedule. Selah started in a new preschool three weeks ago. The other preschool was good, but not the right fit for Selah. We began seeing her fall apart every day after school and have tantrums and fits of rage. It would last each day for about 2 hours until I could finally get her to take a nap and then she would wake up much happier. After talking with her therapist and knowing in my heart, we realized that the old school environment had too many similarities to orphanage life. I had hesitated in the beginning, but we decided to have her attend the school because we had hopes of getting some of her therapies through the school district. That didn't happen and I just didn't have the fight in me. It was a blessing in disguise, though, because the moment I walked into the front doors of her new preschool, I knew we had found home. The gals at the front couldn't have been more wonderful. They were so eager to love Selah and learn all they could to help her. We toured the school for a while and just loved the atmosphere. I was so thrilled to hear the Jesus music playing! Before we left the ladies prayed with Selah and it brought tears to my eyes. At the time, though, there wasn't an opening, but two days later we received a call saying that an opening was available! She has been flourishing in this environment! We are so happy for her and for us :-)

Four days out of the week, Selah has either speech, OT, PT, or swimming right after school. Wednesdays we head up to Phoenix Children's Hospital where she has back to back PT/PT therapy. It is a drive and makes for a very long day, but Selah and I both LOVE her therapists! It would be hard to change. Last week we also had a follow-up with the orthopedic doctor. Her spine has increased from a 32 degree curve, to a 50 degree curve in just four months. Not good news. I was expecting some progression, but not that much. The Marfan's Syndrome is responsible for the extreme progression. The doctor had her fitted for a brace that will hopefully stop the progression until she is at the right age to undergo surgery. We should get the brace next week. Pray that she adjusts to it well and isn't too extremely angry about it...and that it stops the progression. This week we also saw the ophthalmologist for another follow-up and instead of any improvement, her strabismus is getting worse. The Marfan's is again the culprit. The doctor explained that surgery would be necessary at some point and that it was up to us to chose now or later. He is a very well known doctor here and quite confident in his work! (Surprisingly, I actually liked this attitude!) We decided to have it done now. At least we can get something behind Selah in the medical arena. It is scheduled for November 4th.  Next month we see the cardiologist again and will determine what meds Selah will take and if or how much her aortic stem is enlarging. I still have not got her into the dentist...I know she will completely fall apart at someone going into her mouth. Sensory-wise, it will be so traumatic. I can see all the decay and I know they will probably need to do a lot of work. Ugh!  It amazes me how resilient and happy this little girl is despite all the poking and prodding done to her on a consistent basis! God has some mighty things planned for our little one! Our little fighter!

Emotionally, we have seen a tremendous improvement. We did decide to turn to some conservative medications which I was apprehensive about, but after seeing the dramatic change in her emotional composure and happiness, I knew it was the right thing to do. Her emotions had continued to be such high high highs immediately followed by low low LOWS. The swings left everyone emotionally exhausted. I had always felt like I was walking on eggshells because I couldn't always pick what would set her off...and helping her come up out of the low place was close to impossible. But for the grace of God!  I don't know where we would be without Him as our rock. God has filled us with strength when we didn't know where it would come from. He has been there every step of the way. Now, though? We see the Selah we knew was in there. She still gets mad and pouts and has control issues. However, we get to play with and love on a happy, giggly, silly little girl so many more hours of the day. Seeing her smile and joy so much more throughout the day, makes my heart fill with happiness! This week she almost fell asleep in my arms...but then she realized what was happening and she jumped up and pushed me away. But it was HUGE progress!
Selah loves her book time before bed!
The boys have finished the first quarter of school and will have two-and-a-half weeks off. Yippee! They both did great this quarter. Conferences were a joy and report cards were super! We are so proud of their hard work. They are both in basketball. Landon is on a recreational team which entails one practice and one game on Saturdays. Zach is on a traveling team which has two practices a week and two weekends a month of tournaments which usually entails four games over the weekend. Bryan and I have been splitting up for their games. Selah can handle one game well, but more than that is just not good for her. One of us stays home with Selah and the other heads to the games. We try to take turns so each of us see at least one of the games each weekend. Wednesday nights is church night. The youth programs at our church are outstanding. The boys LOVE going there. They do the homework without a complaint and amaze me with how they memorize their verses so easily! Memorizing anything has always been a weakness for me! Otherwise, they continue to be such wonderful big brothers. So often, I find myself in tears watching them love on their sister. God has given us so much grace in that area. I am so thankful for the way He prepared their hearts. They teach me many lessons along our journey!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughts About My Special Treasures

I'm so excited about my new blog design! Tenille at The Cutest Blog on the Block designed it for me. I tried and tried...but am hopeless, but so VERY thankful for those with special gifts and talents like Tenille! I smile so big each time I open up my page and see our family complete! A special reminder of God's awesome goodness!

God seems to always be using each of my children to speak to me in different ways. Through Selah He teaches me all about His timing and His power of healing in life...and about miracles. Through Landon, He teaches me about how He places hearts with a never ending capacity to love and protect no matter how rough, tough, or messy a little boy may be…and He teaches me about surrendering to the mess. (I am SUCH a work in progress in that area). Finally, through Zachary, He teaches me about how He designs our hearts and minds to be specifically ours. He has shown me what grace looks like when we have had a bad parenting moment and He has given me insight to a heart that moves with wild abandonment when convicted with a passion. Through all of my children He is daily giving me glimpses and whispers into what His love, grace, comfort, and passion looks like. Each of my sweet babies gives me the gift of knowing God more and more each day.

With that said, I just have had to share this special little Zachary moment! That  kiddo always seems to manage to catch me off guard! He so often can carry on like a wild child, wrestling with his little brother and making impulsive choices that get him into trouble, and then he does something so amazingly sensitive it makes me want to cry!  One night, before bed, (or actually when he was supposed to be asleep!) Zach felt moved to write each of his family members a note. He left one for Daddy on his pillow alongside one for me on my pillow. It simply told us how much he loved us and thought we were the best parents ever. Simple and sweet. For his brother, who was already sound asleep, he left a note AND two small coveted Lego creatures. Landons’ note was a little more detailed. He told his brother that he thought he was the best brother ever and that he knew they would be best friends forever! And finally, for Selah, he left his prized bunny (the very one he won all by himself playing the claw game) and a precious letter that so touched my heart! That night, I had been exhausted and not feeling a lot of peace or joy in my day…but the love of God that was demonstrated in my sweet boy's actions made me go to sleep without a doubt about the presence of God in each and every day. The exhaustion sometimes causes me to not feel Him, but on that particular night, He used my son to show me just how much He was right there in the midst of it all and lovingly creating beauty out of my chaos!


But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14

Blessings and smiles,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Steady Steps

Selah is developing and growing with slow but steady steps. It is so fun when those little “aha” moments happen…the ones that to most people may be taken for granted, but to many who have adopted a toddler or older child, they are moments of pure joy! One of those very moments happened just the other day, as we were driving home from dropping the boys off at basketball practice.  I begin to hear Selah talking to herself. You see, this, in itself, caught my immediate attention because it has never happened before! Be assured that this little princess LOVES to talk…like REALLY LOVES TO TALK. As in from the moment she wakes to the moment she sleeps! Her preference is to direct about 95% of her conversation at me. I do have a sneaking hunch that this is contributing to my current brain condition...the one where my brain feels like a jumbled mess of unconnecting brain connections! But, back to the car scenario. To talk to herself? Never. Therefore, I immediately look back through the review mirror and what do I see? I see my sweet girl holding two little smurfs (from Happy Meals, of course) and she is having them jump down from her carseat into an imaginary pool! Did you catch that word? Yes….IMAGINARY! Sweet Selah, for the first time had used her imagination and was truly PLAYING! It was a moment to praise God in a great big way! J Since then, she has been engaging in a lot more imaginative play. Soon thereafter, she set up barbies, other dolls, and a stuffed Scooby Doo all around a little table to enjoy a meal together. I got a picture of that one! It was the first time while in the playroom she didn’t just repeat something we had played with her, but rather she put her own personal little twist of imagination into it! And just yesterday she created a huge display of matchbox cars and trucks arranged on top of and all around a large structure created by using those big colorful cardboard blocks! I am so incredibly thankful and encouraged by see her finding ways to play independently and to see her little imagination developing.

Her English is coming along as well. She understands so much and is learning new words every day. She is often very difficult to understand, though. I understand almost all of what she says, but most people cannot. It is just like when our boys were learning to speak at around age 2-3 and I could understand everything they were saying, but others would not. Is this something any of you are finding as well? Selah was considered speech delayed in Bulgarian and the orphanage staff said that she never really said many words at all. In four months, though, she can say at least 100 English words and phrases! I am believing the pronunciation will come in time! The fact that she has already surpassed her language performance in Bulgaria (in a mere 4 months!) is a miracle and testimony to God’s goodness!

She has also made huge strides in attachment. Her indiscriminate affection has almost completely disappeared. She doesn’t even try to kiss new people anymore! It is kind of like it happened overnight! One day she was doing it, and then the next day it seemed she was all done! Praise God!
Also in the area of attachment, I feel like some of her walls have been crumbling with me. It feels as though she is resisting me less and being less oppositional. There are definitely many moments in the day where she is desperately trying to maintain control by doing the exact opposite of what I have asked or of what is expected, but they have lessened considerably. I am so thankful for the healing that is happening in her heart. I know it can’t feel good for her, by any means, to be so hyper vigilant about each moment of the day. It definitely hurt me as well because as much as you can know the “whys” to her behaviors of rejection and opposition, after a length of time, you begin to put up your own set of walls without truly realizing it. In order to deal with her emotions and the constant confrontation, I needed to detach a bit in the sense of not taking her actions personally. But, when you detach to not take these behaviors personally, it becomes easy to detach somewhat emotionally as well which is not good at all. When these children are pushing us away and displaying these detached and oppositional behaviors, it is when they most need their family to lavish the love. It is a tough place to be in for everyone involved! Thankfully, though, God has been healing her broken little heart more each day. This in turn is allowing her to accept my love and to trust me just a little more with each hurdle we cross. He is healing Selah and, in turn, changing me. He is a good God!

He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; He snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them. For He broke down their prison gates of bronze; He cut apart their bars of iron. Psalm 107:14-16 (NLT)

Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;He got you out in the nick of time. He led you out of your dark, dark cell, broke open the jail and led you out. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy that He gives to the children He loves; He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors. He snapped the prison bars like matchsticks! Psalm 107:14-16 (The Message) 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Beautiful Surprise!

The other day I received an amazing gift! Our very dear friends happen to be very close friends with an absolutely amazing photographer. Jennifer of Jennifer Jones Photography is not only an amazing photographer, but simply an amazing woman. She puts so much thought and prayer into every shoot and it is so obvious when you get the opportunity to view her work. Well....our friends, Coleen and Bill, arranged for Jennifer to be at the airport when we got home with Selah! We hadn't seen any of the work yet because all of our lives seem to take on these crazy twists and turns. BUT, this week I was given the most beautiful video EVER! We all sat and watched it and of course I was bawling and even sweet little Landon said, "Mom, this just makes me cry remembering that special day!"

A couple of my favorite shots were of my mom and Selah. In the very beginning of our journey (even long before we started the paperwork) my mom and not really been on board with our decision to pursue adoption. She just couldn't understand why we would take any chances when we had a strong, happy family already. But, the pictures you will see will show you just how powerfully God works! He is so awesome! My mom grew to love Selah even after the very first photo we saw of her. It was the photo we saw when we tried to get her referral the FIRST time! Mom felt just as we did! This little girl was meant to be ours. Then, over time, mom became just as excited and crazy in love with Selah as we were! The pictures of their first meeting are precious! Then there are the photos of sweet Landon waiting ever so patiently for us to bring his little sister home to him...precious. The peek-a-boos with Grandpa Bob (Bryan's Dad) are so sweet, too. And finally, as I sat with my precious baby girl in my lap and could feel the peace in her little soul as she relaxed in my arms and saw her healthy rosy cheeks(our Friday check-up revealed a 7 pound gain to bring her to 36 pounds now!) and enormous smile....it seemed an eternity ago that we brought home the Selah with the exhausted and frail little face. Only 3 1/2 short months ago she was a little one filled with rage who bit, scratched, and hit. She was a little one so weak that she could hardly get up and down our steps. She was a little one that screamed and rocked in terror for nearly 48 hours without sleeping. And now? Remember that verse from Joel? God will give back all that the locusts have taken...? He is giving it back day by day! This beautiful video reminded me of all the work He has, is, and will continue to do! He has plans for our sweet princess and I am so excited to witness all the victories of her life!

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for sharing your amazing gift with our family! What a treasure you have given us!

Note- It is HD quality so it takes a little longer to download.

Blessings and smiles,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

School Days Once Again!

School has already started here in Arizona! The summer went by so quickly, but it really is a good schedule most of the time! It is so hot here in the summer the children can't play outside unless they are in the pool, and even that is too hot sometimes! Because our summers are shorter, the kids get two weeks off in October, at Christmas, and in March. It is beautiful here during those months so it really is more enjoyable for the children. This year, though, our boys were not ready to go back. We spent the last weekend in Colorado for a Schumaker family reunion and they were so upset at not being able to stay and have fun with their cousins. Our extended family is quite spread out, so they miss not being with family and this time seeing their tears, made ALL of us cry!

The reunion was so much fun. I feel very blessed to have married into such an amazing family. There are a gazillion Schumakers and they all have the best time together! Mary C and Francis and all their children and grandchildren organized the event and did an amazing job! So much work went into it! Selah got to meet everyone for the first time and she did so well! She charmed everyone with her smiles and sassy, but funny, little attitude. Even a life spent living in an orphanage could not take that amazing spunk out of her spirit! Praise God! Life back at home and school, has been a little more challenging after the weekend, but I think after a few days of adjustment she will be on track again.

Monday morning we took all three of our sweet kiddos to school. Zach is in fourth grade this year and preparation was so different this year for him! It feels like he has grown up overnight. He has never worried about what he was wearing, how his hair looked, or what kind of shoes he wore. This year that all changed! I am thanking God for his age appropriate development and the independence he is developing....but, I'm not to crazy about the drama involved in it all! The child would have worn a paper bag last year and now this year he was nearly in tears Sunday night making sure he looked "cool". REALLY?! Ugh. But, the drama opened the door for a great teaching moment about life and friends and how getting approval from others will never satisfy our desire to be loved. We talked about how all friends are human and will disappoint him and hurt him, some more than others. That is why we live for Jesus....He will never waiver in His love for us. I'm tryin' to "train them up"...really, I am!

Landon entered first grade and, thank goodness he dressed in whatever I picked out! lol! His shirt had a shark on it, so all was good in his world! He thought his brother's drama was waaaay over the top! :-)
He loves his new teacher and had a great first day!

And, our sweet Selah started pre-school as well! She seemed to do well on Monday and didn't have hardly any fears. Our worry more often is that she doesn't show any separation anxiety. I will be thankful for the day she is hanging on my leg and crying that she doesn't want me to leave!  She did seem to get a little nervous and hugged me tight (which I was relieved to have happen), so I am praying that her true attachment to us is developing. I am hoping and praying that this will be a positive experience for her and that she will flourish in the classroom. I am praying the teacher is filled with compassion and love for our sweet girl and is capable of walking her through her struggles. We have been blessed with such amazing therapists so far, so I am praying for more favor in this area for Selah!

Below are a few photos from some July fun!

Happy 4th of July!

Zach found a recipe and decided he wanted to prepare this delicious dessert. It was much harder than he thought....guess who ended up preparing it? It was very yummy, though!

Her laughter is contagious!

Waiting for fireworks.

On the water slide with Zach!

One tired little boy...I've never thought to put my head IN the pillowcase to sleep!

Catching lizards...what more can I say?

Princess for a day!

Selah with her cousin Jadyn in Colorado.

Back to school!

I love the contrast of the sports backpacks and Selah's Tinkerbell!
One a random note, I really need to change my blog design since there aren't any pictures of Selah and the boys look so young, but I know little to nothing about the process. The gal that designed mine a few years ago is no longer designing. I think I am going to tackle it and see what I can come up with! In the meantime, there could be some major construction disasters! If anyone has any tips as far as great websites or places to go to learn about web design, I'd love to hear them!
Blessings and smiles,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Catching Up

Yikes! Once again, time has managed to escape me and another day passes where I say..."I will definitely post tomorrow!" Hmmm.....I'm thinking my accuracy rate in the "tomorrows" may not even be floating above 0%!

So much has been happening! I'll try to give a brief description of a few events!

The school year ended and I cannot believe the boys will be in 4th and 1st grades next year! They had a great year with wonderful teachers. I know God was watching over us when He gave them the teachers they had. Each one knew just how to teach, encourage, and love the boys during the exciting times and during the tough times. It was a year they will never forget!

Selah has been doing really well. She amazes me each day with all that she is learning. It is truly amazing to see her little heart healing and her walls coming down. I think back to the beginning when she would only allow me to hold her in a very specific way...a way that gave her a feeling of still being in control. I am someone who loves with hugs and kisses and cuddles. I am simply wired that way. Therefore, it was really difficult for me when she wouldn't allow me to cuddle her, or rub her back to comfort her. To her, that touch was scary. It meant letting down her guard and surrendering her survival instinct. Fast forward two-and-a-half months, and we see a little girl who wants me reaching back to put my hand on her leg or foot when we are in the car! She gets quite dismayed when I say I just cannot continue the contortion move for very long! And just the other night, I was lying next to her on the floor as she was playing with Zach's old train set ( :-) ) and she scooted over to me, put her little back next to my hand and signaled for me to rub her back. It was precious. So, we continue to celebrate each of these milestones and praise God for the healing work He is doing in her!Are there still really rocky times? Yes! Most definitely. But now, we are all in a better place. We have all been healing and getting our "tanks" filled back up. We know that the hurdles are there, but they will pass and we will be stronger on the other side. And most of all, God has already shown us miracles in our little girl...and we are truly claiming His Word that says He will return all that has been taken away from her, and as my bloggy friend, Shelly reminded me, "He knows the way that Selah will take, when he has tried and tested her, she will come forth as GOLD. She will shine so brightly...Jesus, before the beginning of time, knew that she would have a rough start in life, but that she would come through it as precious, shiny gold." (Job 23:10).
Shining like precious gold...and sharing lots of joy and love with Daddy!
We finally got in to see the cardiologist last Friday. He confirmed that Selah does have Marfan's Syndrome and her aorta has been affected. Right now it is enlarged by about 2.5 cm. I guess that when it reaches 4 cm, they need to operate to replace it. For now, we monitor her heart closely. In 4 months we will go back to see if there is any change. He wanted to track it a bit without medication to see what it is doing, but at that point, he will want to put her on a medication that slows the enlargement process down. Because of this, Selah will never be able to play in any competitive sports. She can play leisurely, but not to a degree that would exert her heart too much. That could cause an aortic aneurysm. I know that God had His hand in this as well, though.He has blessed with an amazing musical gift. She can hear a song and may only know a couple of words from the whole thing, but can sing it from beginning to end with all bridges and choruses included! It is precious! Her favorites are the ABC Song, Jesus Loves Me, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!  I believe this gift will help her to heal any frustration or hurt that she may experience by her limitations. The boys are so athletic and sports is their life, so I know there may come a day she resents not being able to do the things they can do. As much as I wish she could have the chance to make her own decisions about what to pursue, I am confident that God will make a way!

The big news is that we took a family vacation! You are going to think we are plum crazy when I tell you where...but we do have good reason for our madness and the trip ended up being a wonderful thing for our whole family! You see, we live in Arizona. It is unbearably HOT here in the summer. It is even too hot right now to hang out in a pool! We have the mountains to drive to in order to get out of the heat, but our beautiful mountainous region here has been under attack by horrible fires. Things are so hot and dry, fires easily start by the least little spark. So, our other driving option is California. So, off to California we went and, yup...you guessed it...Disney Land! It is only about a 6 hour drive and then we can have beach time, too! Well, we were a little leery, but Selah absolutely loved the Easter Bunny at the Mall and LOVES stuffed cuddlies (just like our boys :-) ). We had a feeling she would love the characters...and thankfully we were right! She absolutely adored the characters and the rides. The lines and waiting for her turn? Not so much! She did have several meltdowns, but she usually does throughout each day, so really it wasn't any worse other than we were in public! Here are a few of photos from Disney.

After Disney, we headed north and stayed in Ventura on the beach for a few more days. Once we got to the beach and had some time to just relax, Selah loved the sand. She did NOT like walking in it, but she loved sitting, digging, and sifting through it! It was very relaxing and therapeutic for her. The funniest part was when this enormous and shaggy dog came down to the beach with his owner and while the owner was chatting away on his telephone, his dog decided to take care of business on our masterpiece sand castle! Selah and I were standing nearby and Selah just kept saying "Uh-oh!" "Uh-oh!" "Uh-oh!" Then Landon came running over and he was rightfully annoyed with both the owner and the dog! After all, he had worked a very long time alongside his brother and father making this sand castle a masterpiece!!!!! I guess the dog thought it looked like the perfect spot....
This is just how much she did NOT like walking in the sand!

Zach is always simply amazing with his little sister.

Ahhhhh....finally getting to just sit in the sand!

One of those rougher moments...but, really, that pouty little lip almost makes us laugh!

And here is the magical smile that seems to light up the world!

So much fun in the sand.

The boys are like fish! They LOVE the water so much!

On a sad note, we just lost our beloved dog, Cisco. He was with us for almost 16 years and was such an incredible little guy! He will be deeply missed. We have some wonderful memories of our furry little friend and he brought us lots of joy and laughter throughout the years! The boys are taking it very hard right now. This is their first experience with grief. They have shed many tears and it breaks my heart to see their pain. We are praying for their comfort, and for God’s glory to shine through their pain.

I also wanted to share a link from a trauma therapist who specializes in adopted and foster children and aspects of RAD. I love what she has to say. It has helped me understand so many more of the behaviors Selah demonstrates. This therapist has a book called, “Learning the Dance of Attachment - An Adoptive Parent's Guide to Fostering Healthy Development" which I really found helpful as well. It is easy to read and very informative. It helps in recognizing the behaviors that are due to attachment or trauma issues and gives you easy games, exercises, and activities to enable you to rebuild that platform for your child.
Permanence by Holly van Gulden - This link will bring you to one short video, but from there you can find several others from Holly that I think could really be helpful. There have been so many behaviors from Selah that I never would have connected to attachment issues. It has helped me to understand and then develop a plan..rather than fumble along and lose more precious time.

I am REALLY going to do my very best to post more often so that these posts don’t have to get soooooo long! Selah is going to start a preschool program on July 25th so I will be at a point where I will have a moment to myself again! Maybe my brain will regroup and I’ll be able to put a coherent thought on paper more frequently! I have been so happy to see so many more children going home with their families. It may be a rocky road filled with bumps, curves, ups, and downs...but to earn the love and trust of a child who once believed no one could ever be trusted and to see their eyes begin to sparkle the way God designed them to, is worth every single step along that  very rocky road!

Matthew 19:26, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (NIV)

Blessings and smiles,

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

There is a Princess Turning Five!

Selah is turning five tomorrow! We actually had a little mini-celebration on Friday because her grandma was in town from Kansas. She was adorable all day singing "Happy Birthday" to "deewa Sewah"! She didn't quite have the words, but she nailed the melody line perfectly!  A very precious memory.

We decided not to do anything big at all because a lot of people and excitement still seem to really overwhelm her. Even our very small gathering of my parents and Bryan's mom along with presents, a princess cake (that she picked out :-) ), and ice cream was enough to cause her to become very anxious. She was very happy, but we can always see it when she starts to "deregulate". I learned that big word from our therapist! It is the perfect description for when she goes from a somewhat calm state into this place of super hyperactivity which would then lead to a meltdown. At least we were able to calm her by jumping into her night time routine before she had the meltdown and she even slept pretty well.

I know it has been such a long time since I have posted. My weak excuse is that I am simply wore out. I think part of it is that I am not as young as I used to be, and as cute and sweet and adorable and as absolutely crazy in love we are with her, she is a handful! She shows me so much love and affection one moment and the next she is testing me to the extreme. I so wish I knew what her thoughts were. I wish I could tell her just what she needs to hear to give her peace and chase her fears away...but I can't. I am just not sure why she does many of the things she does, but I do know that whatever the reason, she has a very valid reason for doing them. The longer I live out the reality of adoption, I truly understand so much more. I thought I understood before, but not until now, can I fully comprehend everything your child and your family goes through. Selah is a miracle. Her spirit so bright and her smile and joy so contagious. I can't get through a grocery store without getting stopped several times by people commenting on her smile. She seems to just draw in everyone she meets. To think of the life she had, the traumas she may have experienced, the deep grief, and then to see her smile and the joy she spreads to so many around her is simply a miracle. She shines the light of Jesus brightly from within and I firmly believe He will continue to heal her both physically and emotionally.

We have spent a great deal of time with specialists. We, of course, started with our Pediatrician and from there we were sent to a huge list of specialists. We are waiting on some tests for absolute confirmation, but what has been found is that Selah has Marfan's Syndrome. It is a disease of the connective tissue. Read about it here. It would account for the scoliosis that we noticed when we first picked her up, her super flexibility, her super long legs, and dislocated lenses that were just found last week. We see the cardiologist soon to determine the extent of damage, if any, to her heart. With Marfan's, the scariest part is that it can cause the aorta to enlarge and an anneurism to occur. If there is noted enlargement, there are meds to help keep it from enlarging more and then we would have to make sure she does not participate in competitive sports. If no damage is found, she can participate in whatever she likes and we would just continue to monitor to catch if any enlargement ever begins. 

At this time, like I mentioned, Selah's lenses are dislocated and we will need to monitor her eyes closely to watch for detachment of the lenses or of the retina. Right now she can see through her lenses, but the dislocation has caused astigmatism which is why she is now wearing glasses. She picked out the cutest little pink ones (of course!) and really seems to like wearing them for the most part. Praise God!

Other than that, we have begun speech, occupational, and physical therapy. The strides she is making is absolutely amazing! She is a completely different little girl than the one we brought home 8 weeks ago. Again, watching the miracle of our little Selah, is such a gift...the gift of watching God work. There are still times when the load seems too heavy...when she pushes me away or throws things at me for the one thousandth time in a day...when the boys have behavior that is reflective of an exhausted Mom with her bucket of patience on empty...when Bryan's work keeps him gone for too many hours with no relief...or when I find out about one more specialist I must try to schedule into our very full day. Those are the days I cry....and then feel guilty for crying because my blessings are so many. And then, those are the days when I am reminded that in Jesus there is no condemnation and that He really begins His work when I finally let go and simply stop trying to make it all happen myself. Those are the days that He reminds me of His love and forgiveness and He shows me the beauty of the moment. He shows me that He is our Redeemer and Healer of all and He is there with us in each moment.

Blessings and Smiles,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Month!

As I sit and reflect today on the last month, so many things come to mind! I have stared into the eyes of our little princess so many times today and watched her smile and heard her giggle over and over. I am simply in awe of her resiliency and in awe of our awesome God Who has been working so faithfully in her little heart and mind...and in ours. The first couple of weeks pushed us to limits that were stretched beyond anything I could have ever thought possible for any of us. Then progress began. Selah began to lay her burdens down. She began to let us love her in the moments of pain. It was still so hard, harder than I ever dreamed, but God kept giving me glimpes of His work and He worked in so many ways to reassure all of us. He worked through those around us loving us and sometimes just happening to say the very word of encouragement we needed to hear at that very moment.

Last week Selah came down with a cold which she seemed to have the worst. We all had the sniffles and didn't feel spectacular, but I think because her little immunity system was down with all the stress, she caught it and had the worst symptoms. Her nose is still running and she sounds congested. But, when she first caught the cold, she was pretty frustrated with it and it just made her plain old grumpy! Sweet Zach told me that morning that he just knew that this was actually a blessing from God because it would give Selah the chance to see how much better it is to be cared for and loved by a Mommy when you are sick. He said she was just going to love me more after this was done...and followed it with a "You'll see, Mom!". My sweet and insightful little guy...he is such a wise little soul who so often knows just the right words to make me feel better!

Well, anyway, the week wasn't the best...it was very exhausting, but in the midst we certainly did see growth in so many areas! She laid back in my arms for the first time that week. It was only a few moments and she had to jump back up, but she did it and since then has been surrending to my love and care even more. Then came Saturday night. To make a long story short, because of her extreme anxiety and stress and not sleeping for almost 48 hours, our doctor gave Selah something to help her sleep. It worked so well and allowed her to get some sleep so that she could deal with each new day and its new set of stimuli. Saturday night, we needed to start the new bottle which had been refilled. Within 20 minutes her personality changed and she raged and raged and cried and cried. She had an adverse reaction because the prescription had been slightly changed. It was awful. We found out later that a very small percentage of the young and the elderly can have this reaction. We called the doctor and after a few hours figured out what had happened and got the right medication which eventually helped and by Monday morning she woke up with her sweet smile! It was all so scary, though, because we were trying to figure out what happened, what triggered these behaviors, and then finally realized about the meds. Bryan and I and the boys were all stretched to the very limits watching our sweet girl regress so much and not know what to do with all this rage.

We had scheduled and rescheduled and rescheduled family photos with Vicki Lynn who is the most amazing photographer and person! She is beautiful inside and out and talented beyond belief! I was bound and determined to make this shoot...even with Selah still pretty unhappy! Our shoot was at 5:00 pm so it had been several hours for the medicine to get out of her system and for the new one to take effect. I continued to have faith that we would make it and at about 4:00 pm we started getting a couple of smiles out of her that would be followed a few minutes later by her favorite phrase which is "No More Mommy!!!!" said with all the feisty emotion one could create! It kinda makes me smile now, even though I of course always tell her "we don't talk to Mommy that way"! Anyway....we headed out to the shoot and it was a challenge, but we had moments of where our sweet girl was shining happy and moments where she was ticked at the world! But, she did love Miss Vicki and had plenty of hugs for her! At the close of the shoot, I was a bit nervous and wondered how the pictures would come out...and last night Vicki sent me the photos and created a slideshow. I sat there and cried because even with all that was going on she was able to capture our love for Selah and her love for us. It was such a gift to me because it showed me that even in the worst of days, we are all a family and our love still shines through! I won't say anymore...just watch!

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.  Psalm 34:8


Saturday, April 30, 2011

We Really Are Alive...Just Quiet!

Sigh....I cannot believe I am actually sitting with my computer on my lap after 11:00 pm with some remaining daily allotted brain cells! I will probably regret my late hours tomorrow, but it really feels great right now! :-)

Life has been more exhausting than I ever could have dreamed! Our sweet Selah has turned our worlds upside down :-) When I look at her cute little face with those round little cheeks, big black eyes, and all 34 pounds (she has already gained 4 pounds with us!)...it just does not seem possible that she could run the Schumaker house hands down! But....in her own little way, she surely does!

She has come so far in the last 25 days. Each day I see the little girl she was meant to be coming out from behind the fear a little more. Each day I see her walls fall down a little more. And each day, we see her turning to one of us just a little bit more instead of one of her learned orphanage behaviors when she is facing a moment of rage, pain, or stress.

Has it been rough? Yes. Definitely. But honestly, I think that the hardest part comes from inside myself. I look at this little girl and I want to do her so much justice. I want to be the Mommy that can kiss all the hurt away. I want to fix her world for her. The yuck that creeps up in me, though, way too often, is the yuck that says "you are not equipped". Those are the darkest moments. It's the ones where I sit in a heap and cry because I just witnessed an ache so big inside a little girl so small and I was unable to make it better.Those are the moments I cry and beg God for the wisdom...to equip me to be the Mommy she needs. In those moments I am so aware of my glaring inadequacies and I am evermore aware of how the healing power of God works. It does not work because of me, but in spite of me. I try so hard to hear Him and follow His guidance. I want so desperately to be the conduit He uses to heal every little emotional and physical ache our baby feels, but the truth is that I am not always able to even be that. Messing up is part of being human and part of being a Mommy, but this time around, I feel the pressure is at another level. She has been failed over and over again in her 4 little years of life and even if my failures are not even similar to the failures she has endured, my heart can often not bear to think of failing her in any way.

I know...heavy stuff. That is why it has taken so long for me to write. I always fear putting the heavy stuff out there because I would never ever want anyone to fear adoption or turn away from a calling on their life to adopt. I also would never want anyone to ever think we have regrets. We don't. Selah is our precious treasure. She is such a blessing and I thank God for giving her to us...for allowing me to be her mommy!

On a happy note, we have just had two nights where she actually fell asleep laying flat! She needed to rock for a couple of minutes, but we have been trying to put pressure on her back with our hand while she rocks (which really annoys her), and then these last two nights, she simply flopped back laid flat, and looked at me like I was super annoying, but, praise God, went to sleep! It is so amazingly wonderful! This is the same little girl that stayed awake for almost 48 hours straight.. rocking many of them. The same little girl that rocked for 12 hours straight and if we tried to touch her, screamed as if we were causing her physical pain. It is also the same little girl who progressed from that to sleeping but only when rocking herself to sleep and then remaining in an upright position the entire night. That same little girl has gone from that in gradual steps to the going to sleep while flat on her back and my arm gently touching her. I call that amazing progress! I call that our amazing God! It leaves me so encouraged for what is to come!

There are so many other happy moments and great things, too. She is understanding so much English. She is speaking a few isolated words and phrases, but her comprehension is amazing! She has really warmed up to the boys and doesn't seem to fear them anymore (or our dog!). She looks to Zach as her protective "big" brother and is allowing him to care for her a little rather than just play. He loves that! She is also connecting with Landon much better, as well.

She is still an adventurous little soul and it makes us smile so big! I have to be very careful though, because too much could cause a huge meltdown. I am getting better at reading her signals better though and I can tell when something is not comfortable for her.

On a funny note, she likes to touch everything...including people. All people. We might be walking by someone and she sees bling on the back end of someones jeans and she hesitates not a second to go see exactly what that bling feels like! Hmm...there is an embarrassingly funny story that goes with that one! ;-)

Also, I feel we have really been blessed with the doctors that God has placed in our lives. Our pediatrician and her whole office staff is amazing! They have also connected us with the best of specialists for all the areas we need to focus and we have appointments lined up. We also have been seeing an absolutely amazing Children's Trauma therapist who works almost exclusively with adoptive and foster children. She is an amazing Christian woman and has been such a blessing in our life.

All in all...we serve an amazing God Who is walking us through each little step and we are so thankful to Him for our little treasure. We see Him working miracles each day and we feel Him comfort us in each moment of despair. God with us...Emmanuel.

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
We started swimming lessons for therapy and she did great!

Hmmm.I'm thinking she has stolen the hearts of Grandma and Grandpa!

Big Brother Zach. A precious moment.

Love for Daddy while coloring Easter eggs.

Lovin' the Easter Egg hunt we made in our backyard!

Our family of 5! Easter Sunday at Church.

Landon and Selah...melt my heart!

Our little KU fan! Aunt Denise sent her this cute dress just 'cuz she knows how much Daddy loves KU!