Join Me In The Garden

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I have welcomed all of you to share in the joys and struggles of our family since we began to think about adopting a couple years ago. I have chosen to share our family’s journey with you for one reason, that is to give God glory, and that you may see that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things if we let Him.

God called us to adopt two older girls from China, and we have been blessed beyond measure by our obedience to Him. The road has not been easy, yet it is a path I would choose to travel again.

If you take with you one thing from my willingness to be open to you, I pray that it would be that God moves mountains when we step out in faith to meet the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves. We can count on Him every time.

I am now in the midst of sharing the months that were so dark for me that I chose not to write on my blog. I now share with you those silent months, and how God has made soemthing beautiful of our brokenness.

You can begin the story at the beginning by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog.

May God do the miraculous in your lives, and may our story inspire many to step out in faith to love a child who desperately needs what only you can give.

Blessings!

I’m home

I want to thank all of you who prayed for our family, for each one of your encouraging comments and for each meal prepared while I was in the hospital. Your encouragement and support in our lives bless us more than you know. We have seen God, this Christmas season, in each prayer, in each kind word, and in each pan of food so lovingly delivered to our home.

Thank you for blessing us.

Below are some pictures of the kids at Thanksgiving and since I’ve come home.

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28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
~Isaiah 40:28-29New International Version (NIV)

Many of you know I went to a Christian college, Asbury University. Asbury is located in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky’s bluegrass and horse country, in a tiny town called Wilmore, just twenty minutes south of Lexington.

When I think of my time at Asbury, many people stand out in my mind that I now count myself very blessed to have had the privilege of knowing. One family, in particular, embodied the pinnacle of truth and inspiration that became the entirety of my experience those years I walked the hallowed halls and campus of, what was then, Asbury College. That family was the Moulton family.

Dr. Alan Moulton was my psychology professor, and as I double majored in French and Psychology, I had numerous classes with Dr. Moulton. I’ll never forget his amazing lectures, his ability to weave the reality of God within the study of psychology, his reminder that we are made in the image of our Creator, and his incredible ability to combine humor and information within each lecture.

I soon met his wife too, Mrs. Yvonne Moulton, and she became a mentor in my life that I often think of even now as I go about my days. I am privileged to be one of the fortunate girls whom she shared herself with in her weekly Bible studies. She’d leave her role as Dean of Women, and rush home one day each week to fix a lunch with eight girls, bake chocolate chip cookies, and we were always allowed to eat the batter,and share God’s word with us.

The scripture verses I memorized are indelibly written on the annals of my mind, and the wisdom that blossomed within the fertile ground of her receptive heart, and that she so willingly shared with us still shapes my life today. I can remember her telling us about her dream to have many children around her table. Yet God chose to give her only two, very special children, so she shared her table with us too, and in so doing, we filled her table, and she filled our hearts with her love. We gathered around her table, shared our journals, read scripture, recited our memory verses, and shared our hearts as we ate together and helped ourselves to scoops of the cookie batter she saved for us in a little bowl on the table as the cookies baked in the oven. We’d grab a cookie and run back to the busyness of our days, forever changed by the moments with Mrs. Moulton.

Year after year she has mentored countless students with her discipleship groups, never failing to meet the needs of her very special family too. The Moulton’s lives are an amazing example of how God weaves beauty into the broken fibers of our lives if we give our hearts to him.

I saw this video today on Facebook, and I share it with you here. It somehow seems so very fitting as I come home from the hospital amidst the busyness of Christmas and try to pick up where I left off a month ago. So much of life doesn’t go the way we want it to, yet God is here among us, wanting to work the painful things into something beautiful if we will just give them to Him.

The Moulton’s lives demonstrate that more perfectly than any words strung together on this page can.

Unexpected Miracles from Jessica Fraser on Vimeo.

Life-altering, unbroken, everlasting fellowship with the Holy God is the Gift of Christmas. May we not miss Him amidst the busyness of the season.

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~Luke 2:8-12

God bless you this Christmas.

Blessings All,

Update

I want to thank you all for your prayers and comments. I’ve appreciated them so much but do not get much time to use the computer. I’m writing this on paper so my husband – the ruggedly handsome Mark (as added by Mark) – can update all of you for me.

These first couple of weeks have been so hard, and I really had no idea how sick I had become.  I think I lost myself in caring for all the needs and somehow forgot to take care of my own.

Honestly, I felt more in control and healthy when I restricted (eating) and eventually began fasting for long periods of time, and in the end just completely lost my appetite.  The re-feeding process has been very difficult and dangerous, but I finally feel stronger and am able to eat my meals.

It’s hard to accept that I could have grown so sick or could have allowed myself to get to the point where my life was in so much danger, but it further reminds me that God uses broken, earthen vessels to do big things for Him.

Our children are doing well, although they miss me.  Eliza, Evangeline and Steven are living with my sister and her husband because they are teachers and can get them to school on time.  The rest of the kids are home and going to school.  My sister, Brenda, and my friend, Stephanie, are organizing meals for our family, so if you would like to provide a meal, please email Brenda at blivengood@vineland.org or Stephanie at sffarrell@comcast.net.

You may also send cards or letters directly to me at:

Sheppard Pratt Health System, 6501 N. Charles Street, Towson, MD 21204,   ATTN: Diane McCaslin

Thank you so much for your prayers and support, they mean so much to me.  God bless you this Christmas season.

Blessings.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  -  James 1:2-3

 

A Hard Thing

I know it’s been slim pickings around here.

The girls are good. Evangeline has a full leg cast and is healing from surgery to rotate her tibia and to add bone grafts in her right foot. Andrew is healing from surgery for Pilonital disease which has proved to be rather painful, and is awaiting surgery for his eyes.

The rest of the kids are well, except little Jon who has something flu-ish. Colin is loving his life at boarding school with the Atlantic City Ballet. Sophia, David and Jonathan are all preparing for Nutcracker also with ACB.

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Evan has been working on a degree in computer repairs and IT, and playing his guitar, but just broke his wrist. :-/

Victoria just took the SAT and is looking at colleges, and will be mothering our littles over the next weeks.

I hope you’re all well and am praying for each and every one of you. You haven’t heard from me in a while because I have been on a downward spiral with Anorexia. I have tried hard to fight it on my own. I don’t understand it. I feel like this is a spiritual battle because God was doing so much in my life and through me. But I’m losing the battle and last week my family Dr. said that I am dying. I have not really eaten much for 18 months. I am going to Shepherd Pratt center for eating disorders in Baltimore, Maryland. I don’t want to go and be away from my family now at the holidays, but I don’t have time to wait, and I want to be with them for many more Holidays to come. I am sad and broken, but know that God has a plan, and wish to do this with grace and thankfulness for God’s faithfulness even when I am faithless.

Please pray for Mark and the kids, and know that I will be praying for all of you this Holiday season. I will have access to a computer and would welcome your emails, but I won’t have my cell phone or iPad.

Did you hear that sigh?

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And here is a link to an Atlantic City Press Article about their trainee program with a video of our son and pictures of him in class.

May God bless you all this Holiday season, and I’ll be back on the other side of this.

Blessings.

Out of surgery

The Dr. Just came out and said the surgery was successful. She’s doing well. No complications. He did everything he hoped to do, and she’s in a cast above her knee.

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She can go back to school as soon as the pain is under control. She’ll be so excited to hear that.

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I’m not sure how long we’ll be here yet. It depends on how she tolerates the anesthesia and the pain, and how quickly she’s able to keep things down. We’re definitely here for tonight.

Here’s a picture of right before we went back to the OR.

We are so thankful that she’s out, and can begin the recovery. It will be a good six months before she can walk on her foot because of the bone grafts. Her tibia is pretty stable because of the plate and screws.

I should be able to go see her in recovery soon.

On top of all of this, Colin texted that he injured his Achilles’ tendon.

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One day at a time!

Blessings all and thank you for your prayers.

Here We Go Again

Evangeline is having more surgery today. It all came upon us very quickly, too quickly, in fact for sweet Evangeline, who just had her major spinal fusion in June, and for all of us too.

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She is having her tibia and fibia cut and rotated to bring her right foot in alignment with her knee. The dr is also going to put in some bone grafts to support the foot which had the toe amputated, and which, even with the braces, is not holding up to the wear and tear of her walking on it. And then, she’s having some tendon work done too.

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Please pray for her little heart. She is so tired and angry about all these surgeries. Hopefully, this will be a short stay and we’ll be home soon.

On another note, Andrew has some sort of growth on the lower part of his spine and will be having it removed on the 28th.

AND, as if that weren’t enough, he is having eye surgery sometime in the new year. He has never used his eyes in unison, and, therefore, has never seen in depth perception. Typically, when this happens, the brain shuts down one eye, by adulthood. In Andrew’s case this didn’t happen which is good. But he sees double, and one side is constantly falling so he’s really not been feeling very well. He’s had a lot of headaches and soreness at the sight of the neoplasm.

He’s legally blind and completely color blind. The Dr. used prisms in the office to force his eyes together, but he was off the scale. Manually holding more prisms in front of the machine enabled him to see in depth perception for the very first time, ever! It was amazing, and I cried. He kept looking at his hand and saying, “Woah! I think this must be what a 3d movie feels like!

The children are all doing so well in school. God is in the details and so very faithful.

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We recently celebrated Andrew and Eliza’s birthdays.

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So proud of all my kids.

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We are so blessed!

Blessings!

A Questions For My Blogger Friends

The past two years have been a whirlwind for me. Unfortunately the blogging world has changed by leaps and bounds, and since I have a WordPress self hosted blog, I cannot have the neat little Google hosted plugin that connected me to all of you whose blogs I loved to read. And I am so technically challenged that I have no clue what I need to do to get connected again.

I’ve kept up with some of you through facebook, but I’ve lost so many because I don’t have place to really connect and keep all the blogs I used to follow.

What do you use?

Help!

An Open Letter to my Niece

My dear niece will be getting married on Saturday to the young man who stole her heart.

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It seems like only yesterday when she walked into our lives, a tiny two year old with bright eyes and a precocious little mind. She was so tiny then.

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She made me an aunt, my parents grandparents, and my brother, a father. He was so proud of this precious child of his own. She came into his life through adoption, and I never saw a prouder, more enamored father than my brother was with his precious little tot with a twinkle in her eye.

Not very long after Kelcie came into our lives, we had Andrew. His bedding was Paddington Bear,

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that famous little bear from England with a tag attached to him.

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I remember standing by Andrew’s crib, the day I brought him home from the hospital, with my brother holding his precious little Kelcie in his arms, who was by then a preschooler. He reached his hands out and fingered the tag. Tears welled up in his eyes, and I knew it was because of his deep love for Kelcie. It was because he knew the pain and abandonment of adoption, and the blessing of it too. It was because of his awareness that Kelcie’s loss was his incredible gain.

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The years passed so quickly then. The babies came so fast. We gathered together for picnics and birthdays, and then somehow our lives grew so big that the parties slowed, and I don’t see my first niece so very often anymore.

My brother has quite a crew of his own.

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My sister has four.

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Now my parents have twenty one grandchildren.

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The circle continues, of growing and living and loving and parenting.

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Kelcie has grown into such a lovely young woman and now embarks on her own journey that will span a lifetime and likely begin a family of her own.

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I put my baby girl on the bus this morning crying, and somehow the emotion of my little girl growing up and watching her go, crying, stirred my heart with thoughts of Kelcie, the little girl she was, the woman she is, and all the things l’d like to tell her.

There probably aren’t enough words in the English language or space enough on this page to share all the feelings and emotions my heart holds for our dear Kelcie.

Yet I am compelled to try.

Dearest Kelcie, on Saturday you will pledge your life and love, by God’s grace to Jeremy. Your heart will be full of all the dreams and expectations of the life that lies ahead for you. And so many of those dreams will come true. I pray God will bless you with all the dreams your heart holds.

The future will hold pain and loss too. Let it draw you closer to each other. The feelings in your heart will come and go like the ebb and flow of the tides. But that doesn’t matter. It’s not the feelings that make a marriage, it’s the choice to love, no matter what, no matter if you feel wronged, no matter if the bills are too big and the problems seem insurmountable, and the kids need shoes, and the pipes are leaking. Marriage isn’t about the feelings. It’s the choice to love, every single day, an imperfect person. Someone who hurts you and falls short in so many ways. And you, precious Kelcie, will fall short too. Know that as you begin your lives together.

You’re marriage will need a lot of grace. You will need the Savior to help you love when the feelings fail. You will need to forgive and be forgiven.

Choose to love each other even on the days when you can’t think of one reason you married this man. And you will have days when you wonder why you did. Invite the Heavenly Father to fill your hearts and live in your home. Pray for His fruit to fill you and your husband and your children.

Galatians 5:22-23English Standard Version (ESV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Don’t be afraid to be the first to say you’re sorry when in your heart it feels like his wrong is worse than your own.

Never go to bed angry.

When you are out in public, kidding with your friends, never allow yourself to put your husband down, even jokingly.

Always choose to praise him, to speak of him with love and gentleness and grace.

In humility, always defer compliments to him, and thank him for his role in your success to others.

Praise him. Thank him. Love him.

Put God first, your husband second, your children, if they come, third, and yourself last. And God will bless you with an immeasurable joy, and a marriage that will go the distance, and be a reflection in the flesh of God’s perfect love for you.

God bless you, Jeremy and Kelcie. And know that I am always here loving you. There’s nothing that is too awful to share with me, no pain too deep, no secret too horrible. I will always be on your side. And I will be praying for you.

You have blessed our lives immeasurably, and I am privileged to be your Aunt.

I love you.

Aunt Diane

Blessings!

Not the End of the Story

A NOTE TO THE READER: This is one post in a series of posts that will share the story of how I came to know and grew to love my daughters who were adopted at fourteen years old, mere days before they aged out of the adoption system. It does not reflect my feelings now. If you are joining me in the midst of the series, you can access the whole story by clicking on The Silent Months on the top menu bar of my blog. I choose to share my story to address a topic that is taboo in the adoption community. I share it to normalize the feelings that so many feel and yet are too ashamed to share. I share it to provide support to those who feel alone because there’s a big white elephant in the room, and no one can talk about it. I share it in support of adoption, in support of every single precious child waiting for a family, every one of which deserves to be loved and is lovable, every single one. Why can’t we talk about it? The feelings are real. The process of attachment can be easy and it can be painful, and the more we support parents who experience the painful side of adoption, the more we help the children. There are far too many disruptions, especially of older children, and if we as a community can come to see the feelings and the process as normal, perhaps we can provide support to those families and in doing so, help the children. Adoption is rooted in pain and loss, and often the process is painful. AND it’s okay. Before you offer your criticism, please read, Eliza Today, A Preface, and God’s Heart and Workers for His Harvest Field .

I’d like to say that all was well and easy after we brought Eliza home.

But that wouldn’t be truth. It’s wasn’t the end of the story. Things were better, but healing took time. I was reminded that love is not a feeling, but a choice. Just as in a marriage, the feelings come and go, but the choice to keep on loving with our actions is what makes our marriages go the distance. It’s no different with loving our children.

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We do not have the same relationship with each one of our children, nor do we love them the same. We love each one deeply with an unconditional parental love, not one more than the other, yet the feelings aren’t the same, nor are they constant. Relationships are fluid and take work. All relationships are like that.

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I honestly believe, as much as it was hard on us and Eliza and Evangeline, to let the girls go for a while and take a break, it was healing to our family, to all of us, the girls included. With the girls out of the house, we realized how much our biological children had been called upon to give, how they’d been hurt by the ever pressing needs of Eliza and Evangeline, by my frequent absences while I was at the hospital, and the total shift in family dynamics by adding two children into the mix, out of biological order.

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It gave us a clarity, and narrowed our focus as parents about how we needed to more intentionally address each one of the children’s needs. And perhaps, gave us a clearer perspective for us as parents, that while we had halted everything and focussed on blending the girls into our family and addressing Evangeline’s medical needs, our bios had big needs too, and that Eliza and Evangeline were only two of the eleven who really needed us.

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During the first year, the girls were home, Victoria had to give up ballet, our oldest sons needed help being launched, and they waited through the many hospital stays for us to get to them.

There were hurts that we needed to address as parents, in the midst of the intense drama of attaching and blending Eliza and Evangeline into our family. The time that the girls were away, allowed us to see some of those needs and hurts and make a plan to address them.

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There was pain in the adoptions for every single member of our family, not merely Eliza and Evangeline. But there were even greater joys and blessings for our children in seeing us, as their parents, step out in faith and trust our children to God, and there is no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing for all of our children by obeying Gods’s call in adopting the girls.

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I think as parents, we want to give our children perfect childhoods. We want to protect them from all pain and hurt, but a childhood of ease and one that makes children more important than the family, or following God in our lives, is not a childhood that inspires spiritual growth in our children. It’s the pain and the hard that allows and encourages our children to realize their need for God.

I did worry about our how the adoptions would affect our biological children before we traveled. Yet I also knew then as I do now that we are called, as families, to care for the fatherless, to meet the needs and prepare to care for others, financially and with our very lives, and that we can trust God to work the hurts together for our children’s spiritual growth as we step out in faith to follow Him.

The past year has been a very intentional one for us as we have considered each child and what each one has needed most. We had a lot of work to do for our biological children and still more healing for Eliza and Evangeline, and of course, amidst all the ‘super focussed parenting,’ a majorly risky spinal fusion for Evangeline.

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Yet, we are all doing so well. If last September, anyone would have told me we would be at this place of healing, with a direction and a plan for each one of our children, I would have said we would have needed a miracle.

But we know the miracle worker.

And He has dwelt among us, joined us in our home and in our hearts, and has brought us through the valley to the mountaintop.

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We stand in awe of His ability to work all the details out in our lives. He got us to China in three months time to adopt the girls before they aged out of the adoption program. He accomplished what we could not with no stone left unturned. And He can and will do the same for all of us after we get home with our children.

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We can trust Him to work out every detail.

We are healed. The children are doing well.

Yet more are waiting.

We live in our homes, and we care for our own. We plan for our own. We go to church on Sunday, and we put our money in the offering plates. And I don’t mean to devalue any of that. We are called to care for our own. Yet we are called to more than that.

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Are we planning for the ones who are still waiting? Are we making room in our lives and in our families and our finances to care for the children who are not free? Are we asking God to show us what we can do to help those who wait?

We live in the wealthiest country in the world, in a nation that stands for liberty and justice for all.

Yet the children wait.

I ask you, if there is one child trapped in slavery or waiting alone in an orphanage for their family to come, are we ever really free?

First Day of School

Yes. I was an avid homeschooler for years. And in my heart, I still love homeschooling. Yet there came a day in January when I knew that the needs were too big for me alone, and that I needed help educating my children. I could no longer do it justice.

So, last January, in the midst of my very low point, I sent our elementary kids to school, and our eighth grader, Colin. They thrived, and it was an overwhelming relief to me.

This year, Eliza and Evangeline are going to school too.

They started yesterday.

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They had a great day!

So this year we have four in elementary, one in middle school, and two in high school. The buses come at 6:30, 7:40, and 8:30. And in the middle of that, Evan has to be driven to Votech for computers by 8:00. It’s quite a morning!

Colin will be going to boarding school with the Atlantic City Ballet. He starts 9th grade and leaves on Sunday. Victoria is finishing up her senior year at home and will be applying to colleges for the fall.

Andrew is working at a restaurant, and will be starting college in January.

God is good! And we are so proud of every single one of the kids. They are all doing so well.

Here are some pictures.

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God bless you all!

Happiness

Evangeline doesn’t have to wear her brace anymore, and she looks just lovely!

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And I’ll let you in on a secret. Her mommy has a thing for her lovely long hair. It tickles me. She’s so tiny. I call her my little sylph. I am completely enamored with her tiny size and lovely demeanor.

Anyway, in celebration of having made it through the enormous spinal fusion of her entire spine, and having now no worry of losing her to heart and lung failure because of her collapsing spine, and the risk of paralysis now being next to zero, we have planned a fall of amusement parks!

We started yesterday with Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City.

Here are some pictures. We were all there except for Evan. He was sick. :(

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Blessings!

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