Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My thoughts on fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, 1 John 4:18

It's been a while since I've written a blog post that wasn't just an update about our family.

It's been a quite a while since I've reached down into my heart and pulled out words that strip me of my safety and make me vulnerable and open to disagreement and criticism.

Actually I really try to stay away from posts like this because I don't like blurting out which side of the fence I fall on when it comes to controversial topics. I feel like usually it doesn't matter and just creates disunity.

BUT I'm stuck in a hospital room with my sweetie who is still sleeping off surgery, pain, and meds, which leaves me with a lot of time to just do nothing. As a busy mama of 4 I dream of being bored most days, but now all I want is the comfort of the craziness of my home and family.

Yet here I am, finding myself in the unfamiliar territory of boredom which is leading me to check my facebook way more than usual.

What I am seeing/reading is just absolutely making me sick.

We are living in scary times there is no denying that, but I am seeing people on my friends list eating people alive with their words.

I hear the panic and the fear.

and I get it, believe me I get it. Every time I watch the news I vow that my children will never again leave the four walls of our house...

 but then I remember that I don't have to live in fear because I know the God who created the entire universe and holds it in His hand.

I remember that I say, I believe God is in control of my life and all of my days are in His hands.

My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. Psalm 31:15

I remind myself what God has to say about fear...

There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear

It goes on to say... listen closely and let these truths crowd out the fear that's fighting to take root in your heart.

In the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor. The wicked will see and be vexed, they will gnash their teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to NOTHING. Psalm 110:6-10

and I remember what the Bible has to say about evil...

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans:12:21

And when I'm overcome with the weight of the brokenness and neediness of this world, I recall that Jesus broke down all of my responsibilities into two things...

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:34-37

Both of those commands have something in common, did you catch it?


If you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ then you are called to LOVE.

Radical LOVE

LOVE that reaches beyond our borders.

LOVE that is HARD.

What kind of lunatic would say we should love our... ENEMY??

But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

That would be my Jesus...

My heart wants to scream. No Lord, that doesn't make any sense!!

 I need to fight my enemy.

 I need to do everything in my power to keep my enemy away.

And almost as soon as I think those things I'm reminded that I was once an enemy of the cross.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

When I was but an outcast with no way to reach the safety of God's holiness, Jesus risked it all and came to my rescue. By dying on the cross Jesus broke down every barrier of evil and on that day LOVE won forever.

This Jesus...

He just keeps wrecking the safe little world I keep trying to make for myself... my family.

When He calls us to radical love, He doesn't accept the excuse that we have enough on our plates already.

Because we have to believe that HE is ENOUGH.


Yes, we are American's and I do feel a responsibility to protect this great nation that I love, but first and foremost I am a follower of Christ and that should mean that I choose to LOVE every opportunity I get.

The purpose of terrorism is to instill terror in people.

And from what I'm seeing in my newsfeed, it's working right now.

My dear brothers and sisters...  If you call yourself a Christian, don't forget that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 We don't have to panic and we don't have to fear bad news. We don't have to fear for our children's futures. If you're scared, cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

The world needs the hope we carry more now than every before and they are looking to us to see how we are responding. It saddens my heart so much that what they are seeing is fear, anger, and retaliation. Instead of love they are seeing panic and the outcry for walls of protection.

I get that we want to protect our country... our home... but even that goes against what we're called to as believers. 

 Our citizenship is in Heaven.

I am sorry, but I haven't seen anywhere in scripture where Jesus calls us to strive for safe lives. 

He calls us to lay down our lives in love for others...

Even when it's scary, even when it hurts, even when it may seem like it puts our family at risk...

but He promises that HE will be our REFUGE.

Not our country... HIMSELF. 

I know it's scary to look outside and see so much darkness, but take heart...

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

This is not the time to fight those who think differently than you. It's not the time to argue. 

This is not the time to live IN FEAR.

Now is the time to live OUT LOVE.

Now is the time to cling to hope and be ready to give an answer to everyone who see's that we have hope in the face of this great time of fear.
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

Gentleness and respect... also something I'm not seeing a lot of on social media right now.

I'm going to end this long post with one more thing that I just can't get around.

I keep hearing the argument from Christians that we shouldn't let refugees into our country because we can't even take care of the people/homeless we have right now.

I get this... it makes sense. 

There are great needs in our country right now... but my issue with this is... it conflicts with my personal experience with God's calling on my life.

When we first announced that we were going to travel across the ocean, adopt Ivan, and bring him home to America, we got some feedback that really surprised me.

Why do you need to go all the way over there to adopt, don't you know we have kids here in the states that need families.

Why do you need to fund raise for your adoption. If you don't have the money to adopt then you shouldn't be doing it. 

Aren't you scared for Landon? Ivan could have all sorts of issues. I know this one family that adopted a child who ended up being really violent.

 The words themselves were not surprising. I was mainly surprised by who said them...

People who claimed to be followers of Christ.

I thought about everything they said and to be honest, we were terrified to begin the adoption journey God called us to, but God was bigger than all those fears. We didn't have all the answers, but we knew if we met every unknown question with unconditional, radical love... the rest was in God's hands.

I feel like the answer to all the questions and concerns about welcoming refugees can be answered with unconditional, radical love.

Yes, our country has great needs already, but God is bigger than every need. We as Christians, need to open our hearts to hearing His voice about how we can meet the needs outside the walls of our homes, whatever they may be. 

Is there a chance that we could welcome a terrorist in with the refugees? 

Of course. 

There's always been a chance that a terrorist could be hiding next door, but we can't live in fear and we can't let fear drive our decisions and hold us back from being a refuge for those who are being persecuted. 

Just like how we couldn't let the fear that Ivan could grow up to be a serial killer keep us from making him a part of our family and saving his life.

Just like how I can't let the fear of someone bringing a gun to my child's elementary school keep me from putting him on the bus each morning.

Just like how I can't let my fear of passing semis on the interstate keep me from ever traveling anywhere.

Just like how we couldn't let our fear of losing our daughter drive us to refuse her heart the healing it needed.

This life is scary... God knows that and that is why He promises to walk with us through every fear, every trial, every tragedy, every moment of bad news that takes your breath away... He is our God and He is the God of the Fatherless, the widow, the brokenhearted, the poor, the homeless, the outcasts, the slave, and He is the God of the refugee.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Deuteronomy 10:17-18

The need will always be great.

Darkness will always be present.

God's LOVE will always be ENOUGH.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


It has been 4 whole days post surgery and what a whirlwind those 4 days have been.

The first day after surgery was just horrible. Baby girl was restless, angry, and scared out of her mind. It was so hard to watch her go through the pain and confusion.

The next day was SO much better. She was so exhausted from the day before that she just had no more energy left to fight. She was able to rest and just seemed much more calm. She kept us on our toes though. When I got back to her ICU room after getting lunch, we realized she was beginning to pull out her central line in her neck. This is a big deal since she was getting the majority of her meds through that line and it could cause some major complications if the line was pulled out completely. Within seconds 7 doctors were in her tiny little room rapidly putting their masks, gowns, and hats on, and spewing out medical jargon that quickly made me very nervous. They had to give Emma sedatives that knocked her out almost immediately.

Thankfully, she hadn't pulled her line out completely so they were able to just rewire it. The whole thing took about 45 min. and by the end of it I felt like I was ready to pass out. I don't think pregnant women are supposed to wear those masks because I felt like I couldn't breathe, but I couldn't bring myself to leave the room.

Once everything was fixed and it was clear that EmarieJoy was fine again, I walked back to the Ronald McDonald house, collapsed into my bed and tears just started flowing.

The incident with the central line reminded me how quickly everything can change. It is so hard to just stand at a distance and trust strangers to keep your baby safe and stable.

It was also a tough day because EmarieJoy just wasn't responding to things the way the doctors thought she should be. In the words of her surgeon, "she just isn't following the rules." She was fighting a fever since coming out of the OR so they were trying to figure out why and it seemed whenever they gave her meds to help her in one area her body would react in a way that it shouldn't. They just couldn't get her fever and her blood pressure under control.

She was kind of leaving the doctors scratching their heads so they started to think outside the box and looking into the possibility that Emma could have something else going on that we weren't aware of, making her body react in the way it was. So they called in an endocrinologist and an infectious disease specialist.

So the first two days after surgery were pretty tough for my little munchkin and maybe even harder on this mama.

Praise the Lord all the tests came back normal the next day, along with a good echo which confirmed that her heart wasn't having any complications from surgery.

Slowly all the things we were most concerned about started getting better. On Friday night her fever broke and all of a sudden her blood pressure started to stay where it should be on its own so they began weaning her off of the many blood pressure meds she was on.

Yesterday and today were full of PROGRESS!!

Before I left the hospital tonight they had just turned off the LAST med Emma was on. Today they were also able to remove the IV in her arm, her catheter, AND her oxygen!!!

All of the prayers for our sweet girl are definitely being answered! Her body did not react well to all the changes after surgery, but slowly it is adjusting and her little body is healing.

Her spunky joyful personality is also returning and it's the best thing ever to hear her laugh and see her smile again.

On Friday I tried holding her, but she was still kind of restless and upset.
She really perked up when she saw her great auntie and big cousins.
Today she FINALLY started to get her appetite back. She ate a little for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!!

She got to go on a couple wagon rides today. She was so happy to get out of her room for a while.
Playing with toys today

 We can't thank each of you enough for remembering our girl in your prayers. God's strength is carrying us through this emotional time and it's been so incredible to watch the healing take place these last couple days. We are really hoping to get EmarieJoy's chest tube out tomorrow and then it's just making sure her body can function on it's own. There's talk of us moving to the step down unit in the next couple days, but it sounds like they may just decide to keep Emma in the ICU so they can monitor her more and just discharge her from here.

My hope and prayer is that we can go home by the weekend. A couple days ago that didn't look possible, but our spunky girl has made so much progress these past couple days :)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Update on Emma

Yesterday was the first day after surgery and it was a tough one. Baby girl was very scared and restless. She didn't allow herself to sleep all day long.

I was so happy to come this morning and see a sleeping beauty.

She is much calmer today and dozing off and on just like she should be.

She has had a fever since coming out of surgery. They weren't too concerned yesterday, but since she still has one today they seem to be a little more concerned. During rounds this morning they discussed it and the possibility of infection or some kind of complication of the heart.

An echo was ordered to rule out any issue with her heart.

Thankfully, the echo looked "really good" so we were able to rule out any post surgery complication. Her temp is likely due to the little cold she had before surgery. It's nothing of major concern right now it will likely just keep us in the ICU a little longer as it's taking longer to wean her off all the meds and oxygen.

Thank you for all your prayers, support, and encouragement.

It is such a relief to see her resting today.

The plan for today is to try to lower her oxygen a little and maybe try to wean her off some meds, but it seems like they are wanting to just take things really slow so we'll see.

My sleeping beauty this morning

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Surgery Day

Well it's finally here... I've been dreading this day ever since we were told months ago that EmarieJoy would need open heart surgery to correct and repair her heart.

Even though we've been through this 3 times with Landon and we are familiar with how the routine goes, it never gets any easier.

I still feel numb and restless at the same time.

My baby isn't here with us right now and the next time I see her she will seem like an empty shell of the joyful spunky little girl we know and love... there's no getting around it... this is just hard, heartbreaking even.

There have been so many circumstances over the past year that have just seemed like too much to bear and this is definitely one of them.

We have no choice but to be brave and push through though.

We have three little boys that need us to be strong for them and a little girl who needs us to be brave for her now more than ever.

I am learning that so much of life is bitter sweet.

It's celebrations in the midst of suffering.

It's finding joy even in the middle of sorrowful, hard times.

It's finding out your daughter needs open heart surgery the same week you find out your holding another beautiful baby girl in your womb.

It's battling through hard financial times while at the same time experiencing eternal blessings on a daily basis.

I'm learning not to run from the trials we experience, but rather embrace them, knowing that they go hand in hand with the blessings and gifts God bestows on us. Maybe they even "are" the blessings and gifts at times.

Knowing this is true doesn't make the hard times any easier to bear though.

Trusting God with the outcome, doesn't shield my heart from the pain of the moment.

Thankfully God never tells us that faith is the absence of fear or that trust comes only when we aren't aware of the pain.

He knows this life is hard and unfair. He knows we are going to bleed from the pain of this world, it's going to hurt, and we're going to be left with scars.

He doesn't promise us a sedative to get through our time here, He promises us His presence.

His presence in the midst of the pain and heartbreak.

And that's the truth we cling to on days like today when the weight of this world's brokenness threatens to absolutely destroy our hearts and our joy.

These next 24 hours are going to be hard.

These next weeks are going to be hard.

We covet your prayers so much. Yes, prayers for healing. Yes, prayers for strength and bravery, but more than anything pray that we would be continually aware of God's presence in the midst of all this hard. We know He is the One holding our baby girl right now and we know she couldn't be in more capable hands.

Right before she was taken back to the OR

I know most of you are wondering what exactly Emma is having done today so I will try my best to explain it.

Today's surgery will hopefully accomplish 5 things.

They are patching a hole between her right and left ventricle and her right and left atrium

They are removing the pulmonary band she had placed when she had surgery in Ukraine and repairing the damage she has on her pulmonary artery

And they are sewing together a hole in her mitral valve.

If all goes as planned and there's no complications during or after surgery we were told that she shouldn't need anymore surgeries in the future.

This is a complex surgery and because of some of the repairs they are doing, they wont want to extubate her today like they normally would. They told us it will likely be two days before she's extubated which makes our recovery time longer as well. We were originally told she would be in the hospital 5 to 7 days for recovery and now it's 7 to 10 days.

Surgery began at 8:38a

I will try to keep updating the blog, but it's much easier to just update through facebook so I appologize for those of you who purely follow the blog.

We cannot thank you all enough for your support and love these last couple weeks. God's hand has been so evident this entire trip and even though we're scared and this is all hard to go through, we truly have a peace in knowing that God is in control.