Monday, February 12, 2018

I Don't Know About You...But Clark is 22!

Twenty-two years ago, I gave birth to our 4th child. 

He was 12 1/2 weeks early, and he weighed just over 3 lbs. He spent 7 1/2 weeks in the NICU, and then we brought him home to live happily ever after with us. 

But, at age 2, he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a form of cancer. He had surgery to remove the tumor and part of his liver, and, within a couple of days, he started his chemo regimen. 

People who know Clark's story may get tired of me rehashing it every year, but that's okay. I just never want to forget what God did in our lives...what He did for Clark. 

Because, by God's plan and provision, Clark turns 22 today. 

I've seen God's hand on his life every step of the way. 

So now, when rough or uncertain times come...and they have, and they will, I go back. I go back to the tiny baby who was born way too early...and to the toddler who endured what no child should. 

I go back to the fear and the unknown and the sleepless nights of crying out to God...and I remember the faithfulness of God. 

And I remember the love, attention, and constant support of family and friends from near and far away. 

I am grateful to everyone who has walked, and continues to walk, this journey of life with us. You are a part of this day, because God used your prayers to sustain us on many occasions, and I never want to forget that. 

Psalms 139 reminds us that the number of our days was planned, before we were even born...so none of what happened to Clark came as a surprise to God. 

And I remind myself that, before the foundation of the earth, God made a plan to send His own Son to die for me. And for Clark. 

And for you. 

It's because of this, if you know Him, that any of us are able to face the difficulties and challenges of life. Amiright? 

Jesus alone gives us strength when we are weak. Jesus alone gives us peace in the midst of trials. And Jesus alone fills us up when we are empty. 

So, I will keep telling Clark's story, every year of his life. Really, it's God's story of what He's done in Clark's life, and in ours. 

It's a story He continues to write. 

Happy 22 years of life to Clark! So thankful to be his Mom. 

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalm 139:16

Monday, December 11, 2017

Back in the Saddle (but probably just for today)!

I can't believe it's been a MONTH since I've posted on here. MAN...I'm slacking.

I started this blog to kind of journal our experiences with raising Joshua...to have something to share with my children, and their children, one day. This technology will probably be obsolete in 10 years...SO WHAT AM I EVEN DOING?

We're doing well...just busy, I guess.

We had a great Thanksgiving. Our middle son, Logan, and his wife, Morgan, were home for nearly a week. We had to share them with her family, but we still got to see them a LOT!

Since they'd had a traditional Thanksgiving meal with her family Thursday morning, I decided to make a NON-traditional meal for us on Thursday night: marinated flank steak, roasted green beans, mac'n'cheese...stuff like that.

It was good.

Also? SIDE NOTE: I can hardly type the word, "traditional" anymore. Joshua calls it, "TRANditional," so that's what we say here at home...and probably will say it forever.

I catch myself all the time...saying things the way he says them. Like, it's just normal to me...but I'm sure everyone else thinks I'm from the hills.

We tried to get a family picture for our annual Christmas card, and it was every bit as fun as you can imagine...when one of the 9 people needed their nap, and another one wanted to hold our crazy dog, Beelzebub, minion of the realm of darkness.

After several attempts, background changes, etc...I'm happy to say we ended up with...NOTHING.

We ended up with NOTHING.

NO PICTURE.

It's a first for our family.

I mean, as homely and cheesey as we are...as wild as the stages of life have been...as many times as the weather hasn't cooperated, or one person has been sick, or another one was picking leaves off the tree and throwing them on their brother during the picture...we have always managed to get SOMETHING.

Not this year.

I'm kind of sad about it.

But thankful? OH MY WORD, I am so thankful. These 9 people mean the world to me.

So undeserving of the blessings God gives me each day.

"Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done." (Psalm 105:1)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Day 11: Thankful for My Dad (Veteran's Day)

Went to see my favorite veteran today: my Dad. 

I told him "Happy Veteran's Day," and tried to make him understand. I even wrote it down for him. I don't think he *got* it, because all he said was, "very nice." 

He recognized me right away, which was great, but then, even tho Clara said he had been asking for me all week, he goes, "where's Leanne (one of my sisters)?" Ha! I told him that she would come another time. 

He seemed a little confused, so I said, "but look who I brought!" I took Clark's hand, and pulled him over. I said, "Dad, this is Clark." He looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "I know."  

God made our minds so beautifully complex. One minute, my Dad was talking clearly about current events, and people he knows...and the next minute, he wasn't making any sense (to us). Or, he would make a random comment about a conversation we'd had an hour ago. Like, it took his mind that long to process what we were talking about earlier. It's all in there, he's just not firing on all cylinders, and not everything is connecting properly. 

He perked up when his "mobility meds" kicked in, and he was excited to eat lunch. 

My Dad, my veteran, is 100% disabled now. He needs help with everything, and relies heavily on Clara. He has fallen hard several times in the last couple of weeks. Altho doctors say nothing is broken, his left shoulder is swollen, and it's black and blue all the way down to his hand. 

He told me that things had really gone downhill for him, physically. 

He spends most of his days in his recliner. He can't hear well, and he's confused a lot of the time. He enjoys getting out and going to church on Sundays. And while he may not remember a lot of things, or even most things, Clara says he remembers everyone from church. How sweet is that? 

I wish he could go to church every day.  

He got emotional when he talked about our family. He said, "I love my family, and I love my kids." He told me we should come again real soon, and bring Rhodie. 

As we left, I gave him a kiss, and rubbed his head. I said, "I love you, Dad." He said, "I love you, too, Marty." And then he said this: "you've been a real nice addition to our family." 

WHAAAAT? 

I mean, I guess that's good, Dad...SINCE YOU MADE ME.

What in the world?

My Dad...humble, faithful, quiet, kind. Knows my imperfections, and loves me anyway. Loves all of us, my siblings and me, unconditionally. Served our country, his church, our family, and others. He prays for us every day. Always sees the good in others. 

Points us to an amazing God. 

I am thankful for every second with him.

"Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation, Your mighty miracles to all who come after me." Psalm 71: 18

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Day 10: Thankful for the Blessing of Adoption

About a year ago, I was sitting in church, when the pastor asked for everyone, whose life had been touched by adoption, to stand. 

I sat there, and let my eyes look all around the room. I saw young people, old people...and families. I remember thinking, "WOW! This is amazing!" 

I have a heart for adoption. I have friends who are adopted, and friends who have grown their family by adoption. 

To me, adoption is the perfect picture of what Jesus does for us, when we choose to follow Him. He takes us out of our broken state, and brings us into His family. He takes us from a place of no hope...and He becomes our hope. 

As with any adoption, there is sacrifice. There is the death of what was, or of what could've been...and it is replaced by something new: a new life...a new family. 

And it is permanent and binding. 

Likewise, when we join the family of God, our names are written in His book of life (Rev 3:5), and they can never be removed. 

When there is an adoption of a child, the state will issue a new and amended birth certificate, with the adoptive parents' names on it...and they are forevermore that child's parents. 

Back to that Sunday in church: after everyone sat down, Jim elbowed me, and whispered, "Uhh...HELLO?" I said, "what?" He mouthed the name of a family member, and I said, "oh yeah...I forgot!" 

I mean, it never even crossed my mind. 

Which is kind of like it should be, huh?  

There's no difference in any of us, in the eyes of Christ. 

My life has been touched by adoption, and I'm so very thankful.

"God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure." Ephesians 1:5

Friday, November 10, 2017

Day 9: Jesus Is The Cure

My sister took this picture of me and my Dad during our last visit. 

He talks so quietly...I had to really lean in to hear him. 

Finally, I just went and sat on the edge of his chair. What was he saying? I don't remember, and it doesn't matter. I just knew that I didn't want to miss a word. 

He used to leave me with really sweet and poignant nuggets of truth from God's word. Not so much anymore, but that's okay. 

He has lived out his faith. The example he set has spoken volumes to everyone who knows him. 

When I got home, I stared at this picture...so thankful to have it, and hoping to sear it into my memory. I looked at the bracelets on my arm, and took a close-up picture: "relentless." That's what I think of when I think of my Dad. 

He was relentless in his devotion to God; relentless in his desire to protect and provide for our family; relentless in his prayers for me and my siblings. And so, now, because of his example, I try to be relentless in my devotion to God, and relentless in my desire to protect my family. 

And I am relentless in my prayers for my kids...for the things and people who are important to them: day, night, middle of the night...I am storming the gates of Heaven on their behalf. 

And the blue cuff I wear...it's words to a song by the group, Unspoken: "You are the cure." 

He is. 

God is. 

Wars, shootings, unrest, protests, elections, and every other thing that keeps us awake at night. There's only one cure for the sin and evil that seems to be rampant in our world today: Jesus. He is the cure. 

And that's what I'm thankful for today.

"As Your name deserves, O God, You will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory." Psalm 48:10