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!) just does not seem possible that she could run the Schumaker house hands down! 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 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!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unfolding with the Power of God

God "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3) - One of many verses I am claiming for my daughter.

Our transition has been rough...way rough, but as I watch my daughter be changed each day, I know that God's promises are reigning as truth in her life.

She is beautiful. She is precious. She is a treasure and I am so glad that God gave me her.

Her grief is immense and achingly intense and often my emotions feel as though they are completely raw. It hurts so badly to watch your child hurt and not be able to help them.

She is unfolding, though, each day. Her smiles are so bright...I personally think they light up the whole world! Each day I see a little more of who Selah is meant to be unfolding from beneath the layers of protection she has formed over the years. I am waiting with joy and anticipation for the awesome work of God to shine brightly for all the world to see! Someday, our princess is going to live with a freedom and confidence that is reflective of her knowledge that she is chosen, cherished, and beloved by not only her family, but by the God of the Universe. She will know that she is a princess to the King!

An amazing friend of mine has put together a massive document of foundational scriptures. Here are a handful of the ones I have been focusing on when I am praying over Selah. I thought I would pass them along to all of you. I think they are perfect for our little ones we are waiting to get and for the little ones snuggled safely in their beds right now. Enjoy!

Leviticus 26:6 I will give you peace in the land and you will be able to sleep without fear.

Leviticus 26:13b I have lifted the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk free with your heads held high.

Psalm 30:5b Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 34:19 A righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.

Psalm 145:13b,14 The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, curing their pains and their sorrows.

Is 43:18-19 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him. And by His wounds we are healed.

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.

Isaiah 61:7 Instead of their shame, my people will receive a double portion and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land and everlasting joy will be theirs.

Joel 2:25 I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.

Blessings and smiles,

Friday, April 8, 2011

Our Final Day in Bulgaria

When I mentioned earlier that Selah liked to be out and seemed to have a spirit of adventure with no looking back, today once again proved my theory correct! We spent the day downtown walking throughout the historical and government area of Sofia. She loved walking and walking and then walking some more! We were able to see all the major churches and historical sites once again. When Bryan and I did that in one day back in September we never dreamed we would be able to conquer it again with Selah in tow! She way more than tolerates it, though, she absolutely loves being on the go! Our biggest complication is having a newly potty trained little girl who thinks it is so much fun to visit ALL the potties in town!

Actually, our most stressful times are in the apartment. I don't know why, but in there she gets very upset and filled with anxiety. I'm not sure what the correlation is...maybe just the close quarters or that we have minimal stuff here to occupy her. The apartment is a 2-bedroom, though, so it is definitely not overly small. I hope with a routine and more toys to play with at home, she will do better in the home.

I feel like we have had some major breakthroughs with Selah today. Even though it started as a miraculous bedtime, she ended up having another night with very little quality sleep. But, despite that fact, she started the day with a smile on her face. She has started singing with me again which has been so fun! We have a book with the song "BINGO" written into story format and she has the song down perfectly! Well....melodically anyway! The words and letters aren't anything that sounds even remotely similar (except for the "OOOOOOOOO"- yes..she really holds it that long!), but she sure has the melody down and sounds great! We also did some dancing today to a little Ricky Martin on VH1," Living la Vida Loca"! She loved it! I thought for sure Daddy would bust out the "Daddy Dance"...that will be a funny day! It is quite the move.... ;-)
I love this picture because I can see pure joy on the face of sweet girl. It is my favorite from the whole trip!!!! 

Our flight leaves at 6:00 am and one of the ladies from VESTA will be picking us up at 3:30...ugh. But, it gets us into Phoenix at 6:00 pm so that should help the transition. It won't be too late and will give Selah some time after we get home to explore her new home and brother a little before crashing. I am praying for a safe and smooth flight with no delays and for our girl to sleep a little bit, at least, and not have delirious tantrums throughout the flight.

Ciao for now! Next stop, home!

P.S. Debby, I know you are leaving the states tomorrow and we will pass each other in the sky somewhere! Best wishes and many blessings on your visit! I am praying for you all!

 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Psalm 91: 11-12 

Blessings and smiles,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New Day

Today was a beautiful day in Bulgaria! The sun was shining and it must have been in the upper 60’s! We were finally able to head to the park and explore! It was such a blessing! Selah enjoyed herself so much and we so enjoyed being a family together. We talked of Landon often and missed having him with us to make our family complete. Zach kept talking about how much Landon would like the park and then spent about 15 minutes on Skype telling him all about it!

The park was gorgeous! Right now the trees are just beginning to bud and the flower gardens are being planted! I can only imagine how green and lush the area will be in only a few more weeks! Those of you traveling over the next few months will be in for such a treat! There were several paths and playgrounds throughout and even two outdoor “fitness stations”! The exercise equipment was really high-tech and in great condition and people of all ages were using them! Very impressive!

We also had our Embassy Interview today which was quite quick and easy. Everyone was very friendly and they just asked us a couple of questions. I was really happy to be able to locate the man that went to speak to our judge on our behalf. Without his efforts, who knows how much longer it would have taken to bring Selah home! They brought him out to meet us so that we could personally thank him and let him meet Selah.

Selah had a very good day today. When she woke up in the morning, she really seemed to pull away from me a lot. After a couple of hours, though, she warmed up again and became her usual loving and giggly little self! She brought us big smiles and really had a wonderful time playing with Zachary and Daddy at the park! I played some, as well, but I tend to be the memory keeper (aka photography and videographer!). It was really sweet to see her play so well with Zach. He again was the most awesome big brother ever. There are so many things that happen where he would NEVER cut his brother some slack over the issue, but for Selah there is an endless amount of that slack!! He even let her take his cherished “Lamby” to bed tonight! Lamby is Zach’s stuffed cuddly that he has had for years and it goes EVERYWHERE he goes. He has never slept without it and tonight he didn’t even flinch when he let her walk away with it to bed! That is love!

Speaking of bed…thank you for the prayers! We witnessed a miracle tonight! Selah cried her way to the bed tonight when we said it was bedtime and I thought for sure it would be another night like the others. But, I was sooooooo wrong and am sooooooo happy to admit it!!! She calmed down with Daddy reading a book and then our sweet girl went to sleep in about 15 minutes! Other nights we have tried both of us together with her then taking turns, but tonight we started with Daddy and my turn never came up! She hugged Lamby close and rocked herself with Bryan’s arms around her until she fell asleep. Huge praises to Jesus! She is still rocking and that may take a while to completely eradicate, but there were very few tears, she let her daddy hold her while she rocked, and it only took 15 minutes! We are so thankful!

Tomorrow is our last day in Sofia and then we have an early flight out on Saturday! We hope to spend some time downtown walking around for a while. Selah really loves the outdoors and exploring, so I think it will be a good day! We will hopefully get to bed early tomorrow night so that we won’t be more exhausted than necessary for the trip back! At 6:11 pm on Saturday we will land in Phoenix! We are so excited to go home! Hopefully I will get to post yet again tomorrow, but I just may be too swamped with packing and getting to bed early!

Thank you again for all the love and prayers!

Blessings and smiles,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Whirlwind of Emotions....

Wow! Another day has passed. But, tonight I actually have some energy after getting Selah to sleep to sit down at my computer and post!

Where do I start? I could ramble on forever about all the events and emotions over the last couple of days, but I honestly cannot figure out how to get it all down on "paper". There are the many many moments of laughter and giggles and cuddles that are so fun! For example, our sweet little gal who has never witnessed anything of the fashion world and never been exposed to what is "girly", has a PASSION for shoes, hair bows, clothing, sparkly jewelry, and clothing! Poor Bry, he is doomed! She spent the morning digging through her suitcase trying on each outfit, changing her shoes over and over and over, and oooing and awing over her pretty necklace, bracelet, and socks Grandma made! Then, since it was cold and rainy today, we went to the mall, where she was drawn to all the shoes, jewelry, and purses! I laughed so hard! Daddy already had to spend some money on a couple of things she just "had" to have!
She thinks her suitcase is fabulous! After pure exhaustion from trying everything on, she plops herself in it to take a break!

Zach has been so incredible. He loves his little sister so much and has unbelieveable patience and understanding. He is wise beyond his years in so many ways.

Outfit #5 complete with a sassy pose!

Then there is the fact that she fits in perfectly with our family in that she loves to be on the go! She gets stir crazy in the apartment just like we do! She keeps bringing me her coat and asking to "go". It is almost as if she is telling us that she has spent way too many days looking at the same walls and it is time to see the world! I just love that spirit!

That spirit has been shining brightly in more ways than one! It shines very brightly in the fact that she had approximately 36 hours of a "honeymoon" period! After that, she decided all was fair game! One small example is when she went over to the stove and turned it on. I told her "no touch, hot" (in Bulgarian, thanks Maire, for the phrases cd ;-) ) and about five minutes later she did it again! I again took her hand away and said "no touch, hot".  About an hour later, she was standing next to Bryan and she ran quickly to the stove, turned it on, took a quick look at him, and then darted away and did her little rocking thing to comfort herself. So, she was testing us but at the same time worried about her misbehavior. Little stinker...but after we held her, looked into her eyes and told her the same thing again but with a little bit more emphasis, she didn't try it again. In so many ways she seems so little and as if she is not processing everything, but then when she does something like that I can tell she is processing A LOT and really testing to see how big our love is. I pray she will soon realize our love is waaaaaay BIG and we're never leaving....ever!

On the other hand, there are times that are absolutely tough. The nights are beyond what I could fathom. The fear and the heartache that come in her sobs leave me feeling so inept and so helpless. I just keep speaking the name of Jesus over her. I claim His promises for her life....I claim Him as her Peace, her Comfort, her Healer. I sing quietly in her ear. I hold on and hug her even when she pushes me away. I have realized why the director mentioned that the nights are not good. I fear what her nights have been like for so long. I fear the ache she has so deep in her soul, but I know that fear is not the answer. Like Bryan told me tonight, the past is the past and all we have is today and tomorrow and the next day. God will make a way...God will heal her broken places and open her heart wide to be filled with His love and our love. I cannot forget that...not even for a moment.

Thank you all so much for all of your prayers. Your love and prayers can truly be felt and I know that God is hearing them! Please don't stop them from comin' though! Please pray for all the open spaces of loneliness and insecurity to be replaced with a confident sense of belonging and a knowledge that she is a child created by a God Who only creates that which is beautiful and wonderful....and that she has been chosen long before the stars were ever even placed in the sky. Pray that whatever has hurt her soul during her life, be long forgotten because none of her past defines who she is today and in the future. Please pray that all of that hurt be replaced with joy...immeasurable joy!

Love to you all!

Blessings and smiles,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Immeasureable Joy!

First of all, I am so sorry I didn't get any posting done last night! The good news is that one little princess wasn't letting go of me nor had she any plans of sitting still until I got her to sleep...and that required me laying with her which is not good on as little sleep as I have had!

Selah Day- April 4th, 2011 - a day of experiencing the goodness of God in amazing magnitude! We started the morning with a 7:30 pick-up by Petko and then stopped a couple of times for another parent and translator. We made a stop in Plovdiv to drop off the other parent and then headed to Narechenski Bani! I was so nervous the last few miles....I had butterflies in my stomach! Zachary was so cute. He was really nervous, too! As we winded through the mountains, we came around that last curve and there was the little village! And then...there was her orphanage!

We walked in and went to the director's office where we talked for a few minutes. Within ten minutes, Selah comes around the corner in the arms of one of the caregivers! I don't know if they handed her to me, or if she reached out to me, or if I just grabbed her out of their arms!!! All I know is that she was in my arms and I just couldn't hold her tighter. (and yes, of course, mush that I am, the tears were flowing) God confirmed in that moment, though, that He had prepared her heart and that she had never forgotten. Our prayers had been answered.

We were there for another 45 minutes or so asking questions and signing some paperwork. At first the assisstant director whom we had gotten to know on the last visit and loved so much, was not there. I was sad because we had hoped to see her and then at the very last minute she arrived! Someone had called her and told her we were there! She came in just to say "good-bye" to Selah and greet us. She is such a treasure and I know she was loving Selah well for us while we were gone.

Finally, it was time to leave! Yippee!! Again, God was so good. She didn't cry or even look back. She jumped in that car with us and was just as happy as could be! We drove for quite a while and then stopped for a late lunch. We were all starved by then, especially Selah! She was getting upset because of being tired and hungry and started wanting to comfort herself with the rocking. I know that it is the reality for orphans, but it still aches when I see it. I know that in time, though, we will be able to be her comfort.

Lunch was fantastic the child seriously ate more than Bryan! For anyone that knows Bryan, that is quite an accomplishment!!! She ate everything on her plate and a lot from everyone else's plate as well! She is not afraid to try new foods...for sure!

We arrived back in Sofia and went to the police station to apply for her passport. It was a smooth process and soon we were back at the apartment. By this time, though, it was around 5:00 pm. First thing on the agenda was a bath for sweet Selah. In her true spirit of adventure, she jumped right in and LOVED it!  I brought baby lotion along and gave her a nice massage after which she loved, too! Then we dressed her in one of her special outfits and I had my first adventure with girl's hair! It was so fun because she sooooooo enjoyed it! She loves pretty things! 

Next we Skyped with little L at home because he was heading to school shortly and we were so happy to see that he and Grandma and Grandpa were doing great! Our friends had stopped over the night before to fix the volume on the webcam for us! Our first night we hadn't been able to hear them, so our savy tech friends rescued us! Thanks, Kar and Isaac!

We then headed to the park and dinner and by the time we got home, Selah and the rest of the Schumakers were exhausted. The director had told me that Selah never lays down to sleep unless someone sits by her. If you leave her, she sits up and lays her body on her lap and rocks herself to sleep that way. They said she often sleeps sitting up.... So, pj time, kisses, prayers and snuggles went well, but sleeping did not. There were moments where Selah cried and my mommy heart wanted to make it all better, but all I could do was hold her and love her. I wish I knew exactly what the tears were about...just the difference of where she was? A grief over leaving everything she ever knew? Or was there even more? I may never know, but I do know that God met us there and as I whispered the name of Jesus over her again and again throughout the night, she finally calmed. She woke me up at 6:30 am with her hands on my cheeks, holding my face, looking into my eyes like just like my boys have since they were babies,  and giving me the most precious kisses ever.

Now? We are all still in pj's trying to entertain our little busybody! She wants to check out EVEYTHING! There is nothing left unturned! She is so excited about life....and I am so thankful God has filled her heart with such resiliency and such unstoppable JOY!

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;let them sing joyful praises forever.Spread your protection over them,that all who love your name may be filled with joy. Psalm 5:11

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We've Made It!

We arrived safe and sound today without any delays! Our flights were smooth and connections all on time! Little Zach seemed to do fantastically and told us a number of times that it really wasn't that long at all! He doesn't like to sleep very much and usually doesn't unless forced to, or is in the quietness of his own room. Therefore, out of a total of 24 hours, our super energizer bunny slept zero minutes on the first stretch, 45 minutes across the ocean, and another 45 minutes from Munich to Sofia! He insisted he wasn't tired, but when we forced him to lay down, he zonked out and I don't know if he will make our Skype call with Landon and Grandma and Grandpa at home!!!!

Tomorrow morning VESTA is picking us up at 7:30 am to drive us to Selah's orphanage. By 10:30 our time (12:30am AZ time), she will be in our arms forever! Can it really be true? Pinch me if I'm dreaming!

Please pray with us that sweet Selah's heart will be prepared to know us and love us...that her fears will be quieted and that she will simply know that she is loved, cherished, and chosen by not only us, but by the God of the universe Who so perfectly created her with an amazing plan for her life.

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

Now? We get to call home and Skype with little L and then I am showering and going to bed! Tomorrow is a big day :-)

Blessings and smiles,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Our Dreams are Coming True...Tomorrow we Travel!

It's here! It's here! It's here!!! We are leaving TOMORROW to go get our baby girl and bring her HOME!!!

We are so incredibly excited and thankful that this day has come at last! There have been days when the mountains seemed so big and I grappled with how big our God is....but through it all, He has shown me time and time again that He WILL and DOES move every mountain that rises before us! WHICH reminds me of a great song :-)

Our very good friends came up with a song for each of their girls when they were born and so, of course, they found the perfect one for their daughter whom they adopted from China. I've loved it and think of it so often, but truly did NOT want to be a copycat! But, last week, on American Idol, the group performed "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and when I heard it, I couldn't even sit still...I thought I would burst! After all we have gone through to bring our Selah home, I want her to know that there just "ain't no mountain high enough, to keep us away from you, girl"!

Of course, I have to give you the lyrics, and you CAN'T just read them...promise me you will be singing! ;-) I KNOW you all know this song!!! Get out that hairbrush, or pencil, or whatever works as a microphone and sing it out just like you did when you were a kid! How can you not?

Listen, baby
Ain't no mountain high
Ain't no valley low
Ain't no river wide enough, baby

If you need me, call me
No matter where you are
No matter how far
Just call my name
I'll be there in a hurry
You don't have to worry

'Cause baby,
There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you

Remember the day
I set you free
I told you
You could always count on me
From that day on I made a vow
I'll be there when you want me
Some way,some how

'Cause baby,
There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you

No wind, no rain

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I'll be there on the double
As fast as I can

Don't you know that
There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you

Don't you know that
There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough

 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,before the Lord of all the earth. Psalm 97:5

BTW- I will be posting as often as possible from Bulgaria...depending on how much Miss Selah lets me :-)