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Yesterday evening we decided to take a little outing to one of our favorite local haunts.  It was a little difficult with taking my walker, but we did it and it was enjoyable for all of us.  The more normal things we can do as a family the better we all feel.


Sweet Things

I'm thinking back over the past week.  It's easy for me to feel somewhat discouraged as I'm still bed/sofa-bound much of the time.

Let me tell you about the sweet happenings of this past week:

My mom was here from Tuesday-Friday.  Watching the children enjoy her was so much fun!  She took them to the creek a couple of times, she helped them get their bedrooms nicely cleaned up, she sat outside and watched them play... And many other things that I can't do right now.  I so enjoyed listening to them all laugh together over different things!

And my friends, Pat Marcus and April Uduhiri, sent the girls a very sweet gift.  We let them open it yesterday morning and they have already spent hours playing with it!  Thank you so much, ladies!

There was much good news all around on the adoption advocacy front this week, which I can't share yet, but which I am so, so thankful for!

There is something about difficult times that can have a strengthening affect on a marriage.  I am so thankful that God blessed me with a husband who so tenderly cares for me and the rest of the family when I am weak and unable to do so.

And... (((drum-roll please))) I am gaining enough strength in my left leg that I now move about the house without a walker!  My lower leg, ankle, and foot are still basically numb, so I am very careful and often hold on to walls, etc. for support, but I am ever so thankful to not need it all of the time anymore!

I am also thankful that God is faithful in hard times as well as easy times.  He is always there, tenderly holding me through the pain and through the grief that goes along with uncertainty and loss of functionality.  He is always faithful!


Blow By Blow

I know how it goes, you think you will never forget, and then you do.  So I'm going to recount the past week in detail for my sake.  Because I want to remember.

For anyone who doesn't know, the previous couple of weeks I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my back and what we should be doing about it.  On Saturday of last week we got the MRI results showing that I had a very large ruptured disc.

Monday morning I woke up and was unable to put any weight on my left leg.  This posed a huge problem for me since it was nearly impossible to get comfortable in any position except for standing.  But I did the best I could with getting comfortable on the sofa for the day.  Keith called the doctor's office as soon as they opened to tell them about the new symptoms.  Late in the day we heard that I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon on Wednesday.  I thought surely I could hang in there until Wednesday!  That evening my doctor called and said he was looking over notes from the day since he hadn't been in the office.  He was pretty on the fence about whether we should go to the Emergency Room or wait for the Wednesday appointment.  We went to bed having pretty much decided we would head for the Emergency Room the next morning.

And that's what we did.  We took the girls along and headed off.  I felt pretty sure I wouldn't be home again until after back surgery.  We got there and they took all of my symptoms very seriously.  The amazing feeling of pain relief going through an IV is not one I'll forget soon!  Dr. Thurmond was the neurosurgeon on call, he very quickly decided to admit me to the hospital and operate as soon as he could.  He scheduled surgery for the next morning but said if there was a cancellation that afternoon they would operate sooner.  It was such a huge relief to have a plan and to be where I needed to be!  Even with the pain relief available in the hospital I was still in terrible pain most of that night.  By morning I couldn't wait to be put out completely!

Keith, Casper, Annika, and Eliana came and waited with me on Wednesday morning until it was surgery time.  They took me back and the next thing I knew it was over.  And the throbbing pain was gone.  That is the most amazing feeling ever.  To wake up to an absence of pain that has been constant for weeks.

Thursday and Friday were spent in the hospital.  Unfortunately I have a lot of nerve damage and have lost the use of my left leg as well as various other functions.  So I could not go home until I was safe walking with a walker.  By Friday I had accomplished this goal and was cleared to go home.

Now it's Sunday and every day is getting better and easier.  Recovering from back surgery is no picnic, but it's a whole lot easier than living with a ruptured disc!

Once the swelling goes down completely we should have a better idea how badly the nerves were actually damaged.  Nerves can heal, but they heal very slowly, so we are probably looking at weeks and possibly months before my leg is back to normal.  At this point I need a walker to get around.  With time I hope to be able to use a cane and then nothing.  But only time will tell if there is permanent damage or not.

Right now I am just unbelievably grateful that I have access to medical care that many people in the world don't have.  I am now recovering very comfortably.  Every day there is less pain and movement becomes easier.  Every day I cry again with sheer overwhelming gratitude that this ordeal is behind me and I am moving forward and recovering.


My Baby Turns Six

Every mother says it, blink and the children are grown.  I have further evidence that this is a fact:

My baby girl just turned six. 

She has been with us for 2 1/2 years.  She has gone from being basically the size and maturity level of an 18 month old to being only slightly small and delayed for six.  She has gained fifteen pounds and grown 14 inches.  She has not only learned to communicate quite well in English, she has also learned how to function as part of a family unit.  She has learned to trust us.

Yesterday morning she told Keith, "The Chinese people don't know my name!"  So he was telling her how he gave her his name (Martin) because she is his girl.  He told her he gave his name to all of his girls.  Apparently she has been thinking about this because this morning she informed me, "I'm Eliana Keith Martin, Mommy, because Daddy gave me his name."  It was so adorable!

Anyway, our baby had a birthday and turned six.  She looked forward to it for weeks and relished every moment of the day as only a six year old can.  I relished it with her, but felt a little sad too. How can they all just keep growing up like this?


What Now!?

This is going to be another post about my health.  As most of you know I've had a rough year, but I've gotten steadily better and was miraculously well while I was in China.  I came home with a bit of a bacterial stomach issue which I got over fairly quickly and I felt really great...

Until about a week and a half ago.  My hip joints started giving me problems.  This is not that unusual, so I didn't worry about it.  That is until it seemed to move to my back and the pain increased greatly.  Sitting became impossible, there was no comfortable position to lie in, I was pretty much most comfortable standing, which gets a bit tiring.

After not sleeping much for a couple of nights I was at the end of my rope by Monday morning.  We headed to the Emergency Room where they gave me some blessed pain relief and stronger anti-inflammatory medicines and sent me home with the diagnosis of sciatica/possible lupus flair.

Which leaves me with some questions.  This really seems like a back issue.  I've had a ruptured disc, this seems so much like what I experienced then.  And, while the pain is better than it had been, I'm still really struggling.  And my left leg is numb from the knee down.  Bad feeling that!  So... what now?  The doctor in the ER told me to follow up with my rheumatologist,  but when I called in she said it would be better to follow up with my family doctor.  And really, I'm wondering if I should just go straight to a neurosurgeon, considering I've got a wooden-feeling foot.

Anyway, that is where I am right now.  It is not easy, but God is still here.  He is, once more, near and holding me close through the pain.


Cheering You On From Here

Six families are traveling to adopt children we just met while we were in China.

SIX.  Six of my babies (OK one is twelve years old, but you know what I mean!) coming home!

Several of these children we met last year, then advocated for them, spoke with their families, rejoiced when they were matched, and then delivered packages from their families when we met them this year.

And now we watch from here, reading each post from each family with great interest.  Right now they are traveling, sight-seeing, etc.  but some of the next posts will be of them meeting their children.

I hope they all know how we are cheering them on from here.  I am praying for each parent, each child, each sibling.  I know how wonderful and difficult those first days can be.  And I know that I have done what I can for these sweet babies, so now I cover them in prayer as they are handed to their families who will love them forever, knowing that they no longer need another advocate, and my heart is full.


Two Worlds

My world.  Their world.  Two different worlds.  I entered their world for a brief time then returned to my world.  And I cannot reconcile the two.

They are too different, these two worlds.  I return to the comfort of my home and family.  And it is good to return to these familiar comforts.  They do not know this comfort.  Can you wrap your mind around that?  They don't know what it is to have a family.

I go about my normal, everyday life.  Dishes, laundry, errands, children... all the normal stuff. Then something reminds me of one of them and I'm suddenly half a world away in thought.

I sort through the pictures I took.  Thousands of pictures in an attempt to capture their everyday life.  I smile, I cry, I work diligently at editing and uploading these pictures because it is the one way I can merge the two worlds.  My photos transport them here and take me back there in memory.  I hope and pray that these photos help to make the children "real" to people, that they show the precious value of each and every child.

Already some of our children's families are finding them.  It is exciting and rewarding, but always, always, there are more children, more needs.  It is why we do what we do.  Working in every way we can to bring these two worlds together for the good of our children.
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