Saturday, May 2, 2015

Been a Long, Crazy Time!

I was recently going through our Lithuania pictures of John-Patrik and I couldn’t believe the transformation.  I’ve been wanting to do a side by side for a while.  He went from.... a blah, little lump of boy, to this spunky little firecracker today.  The picture on the left he looks depressed, the one on the right he looks content.  Not only has he grown tremendously on a developmental level, but also physically.  When we met him on Nov. 25, 2014 he was 25 lbs and 32 inches tall.  Now he is 34lbs and 35.5 inches tall!  And we’ve only been home for just over 4 months!

As a few of you know, in Feb. he had surgery; he had tubes put in his ears, a tonsillectomy, and a circumcision, as well as a hearing test.  After they cleaned out the foul gunk out of his ear canals (that made even the seasoned surgeon gag) they found that he has perfect hearing!  A huge praise!  Unfortunately, immediately following the surgery he was hospitalized for pneumonia.  That was an awful, very long, week.  We realized that he had to have had the pneumonia before the surgery based on his oxygen saturation before surgery and after he was healthy. 

   Since then we have started him in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy.  He is making great strides in all three areas!  Now that he can hear clearly he is making new sounds literally everyday.  Both consonant and vowel sounds, sometimes together, making word sounds and in context!  “Alga”... all gone.  “Dadad”... clear as a bell when Rich walks in the room. (of course, no “mama” yet)  “Getgetget”... when the dogs are playing or when he’s wrestling with his brother, Dax.  And, I could swear he said something resembling “stinky” when I asked if he was stinky. He chatters all day and always finds his [loud] voice every time we go to Sam’s Club.  He is also signing several words that make understanding his needs a lot easier.  If he doesn’t do the sign himself he pushes and pulls my hands to make me do the sign, which cracks me up.  He follows one-step directions fairly well if it’s basic, “Put it in.” or “On top” for putting toys away or stacking blocks. He adores his speech therapist, Alix!

  As far as walking, he isn’t as driven to try as much as he is with the other therapies.  He gets around fine crawling, so he thinks, and when he’s not crawling I’m holding him.  I’m sure your first thought is stop holding him so much and he’d probably learn to walk sooner, right?  Well, in the adoption scenario it’s not that simple.  Right now, attachment is everything; it trumps all other things.  He’ll learn to walk eventually (because I do work with him everyday on top of Wednesdays at 2pm for PT) but right now, just after arrival to his new home, it’s pivotal for attachment and being held is one of the best ways to connect and instill security.  He is gaining muscle mass and core strength... just ask any nurse who has tried to give him a shot!  His fine motor skills are also developing very well.

  In his Occupational Therapy we are working on his sensory development more so than his everyday self-tending areas like feeding or dressing himself.  Again, attachment trumps everything and like being held instills safety & confidence, the activity of being fed creates trust.  Especially making eye contact while sharing food, which I do with him every day, always making sure to give him the last bite to reinforce trust and a sense of priority & importance.  Given his orphanage life he will probably always have food issues in one form or another, one of which is waiting for a meal.  In the orphanage the food was brought to their room where they were already at a table, bibbed and ready to eat as soon as he smelled it.  But, in our home, like most homes, the food starts smelling like food very early in the cooking process.  So, when he starts smelling it he thinks it’s time to eat.  The total bummer is that when he keeps smelling it and he’s still not sitting at the table eating it, (because it’s not ready yet) he thinks he’s missed the meal and he gets very sad.  Like, his whole body sags and he gets the most pathetic look on his face.  It kills me!

   His little personality is coming out more and more!  Recently he started copying me in my morning routine, which is eating graham crackers with my morning coffee. (Alternately)  He would normally have graham crackers with me but he was getting his bottle of milk after.  But he would watch me take a drink of coffee after each bite; studying me.  Just a few days ago he started wanting his milk with his crackers so that he could drink it at the same time too.  It’s very cute… and messy.  There are dozens of little experiences like this that just warm my heart. 

   It not all sunshine and roses though.  There are days that are very hard.  These usually involve him pinching and scratching himself.  We are starting to gain some ground on this.  The more we identify his sensory needs the more we are meeting them through the therapy swing in OT, deep pressure, massaging his palms, and using essential oils.  The palms thing works instantly for anyone out there that is looking for a quick calming strategy for your worked-up kiddo.  These tools have saved my sanity on several occasions.
   This has been an amazing journey so far and we’ve really only just begun.  Our reliance on Jesus and the peace that can only be found in Him is the only reason we’re functional.  We see Him working all the time in and through our family… 
Always refining, always developing, and always, always loving.

(That picture always cracks me up!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


    Let’s talk about “Expectations”.  Since I’m not right there with you I’m going to pretend you said, “Ok Meg, I’d love to!”  
    I heard once that “Expectations are offenses waiting to happen”.  I remember thinking at the time how profound that was and so I logged it away.  I have considered the saying often when I’ve found myself putting my expectations on others; essentially making other people responsible for something I have, more or less, made up in my head.  Expectations often go un-verbalized as well.  Ugh, I have no idea why we do this.  We set people and ourselves up for a no-win situation, don’t we?
     Now that we’re all thinking back on the last several awkward conflicts with friends and/or loved ones, let’s take it a step further…     What happens when we put our expectations on God?  We have the nerve to be offended, upset, or even angry… right?  He didn’t perform as expected, or give us what we wanted and prayed for.  As if we knew better or something?  Ouch.  
    It makes me think of Job.  Job chapter 38 and following to be exact… 
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm.  He said: ‘Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me.  Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.’” Job 38:1-4
      I think we forget, in the midst of enjoying God as our friend and that He has our back and all that happy fluffy stuff,…. that our GOD, the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… is Holier than we can possibly comprehend, more powerful than we can imagine, and perfectly sovereign over all.  Who are we to question, even for a second, the plans or thoughts of Him who created us?  Who are we to think we have His omniscient plan figured out?
    I’m saying this to myself mostly.  I have recently put my expectations on God and tried to make Him responsible for filling them.  I didn’t realize I was doing it… it kind of crept in.  Regardless, He is the only One who has the right to be offended in this situation.  I was convicted of it the second the question was finally answered… “When do we travel?” 
   Yep, we have a travel date! YAY!  And do you think I was happy when I very first read the date?  No, I am ashamed to say, I wasn’t.  Immediately I cried out of disappointment and frustration.  Our court date is Dec. 4th.  We will travel by Nov. 25th ; 2 months and 2 days from today.  …I robbed myself of my own initial joy because I put my expectations on God’s plan! This was His plan the whole time, I was the one who kept wanting something sooner.  Yet I have the nerve to be upset when “sooner” didn’t happen.  I DO NOT know better than the Omniscient One!  UGH!  Learn from my mistake please!  Log this away for yourself… consider it often as you find yourself beginning to do the same.
    I’m good with the date now; now that the Holy Spirit and I had a little one on One time.  Still a bit disappointed that it’s 2 months away, but the disappointment is from wanting to hold our Little-Bit so much, not from disappointment in God.
 BUT... This means everything can happen now!  WOO HOO!!  We can book our flight & lodging, we can start making and freezing meals for when we’re gone, we get to PACK!, clean carpets, make doctors appts., etc.  It’s REALLY happening! 
I can finally let the breath out that I didn’t realize I’d been holding until now…

Praise God for His faithfulness and mercy!
We’ll see you SOON John-Patrik!

All for Him,
Meg (and Rich)

Monday, September 1, 2014

One of Our Missions

    I don’t know if we’ve mentioned this in our blog before but one of our missions in this adoption is to be proof to others that adoption is doable.  I know what our reasons were for not going forward with an adoption and I don’t think we’re that different from other people. Our desire is to show is that it’s not far-fetched, unattainable, too hard, too complicated, and most importantly… it’s not too scary.   We’ve prayed over this particular point extensively.      
     Since I’m on the subject in this post (by design) I feel I should clarify something…  We totally appreciate Todd asking for prayer on our family’s behalf! We truly appreciated him acknowledging our adoption process to the congregation!  However, there may have been a misunderstanding about questions… We genuinely appreciate it when people ask us about the adoption.  Adoption is a total mystery to most people and are happy to help explain it!  What Todd meant was that maybe the questions could be “How can we pray?” rather than “When do you leave?”  We wanted to let you know that we appreciate either. Your questions are welcomed!
       (Back to the post…)  We’re not saying everyone should adopt… although if we all did there would no longer be an orphan crisis.  The point is… don’t do nothing; there’s still plenty of need out there in many different areas!  Our enemy would love nothing more than for us to be frozen and ineffective because of fear.  …Fear of the unknown, fear of messing up, fear of rejection, fear of opinions, fear of our past resurfacing, fear of being inadequate… All Jesus wants is a willing, obedient heart; leave the rest to Him.  Seriously, it’s that simple!  We humans try to over complicate things, but really all that complicated over-thinking is just a hindrance to whatever it is Jesus wants for you. 
    Hebrews 12:1 tells us “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”   It goes on to point out in v.2 that Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith… He knows the most effective way to grow YOU.  Your life’s story is being written by Him!  Throw off what holds you back! This verse requires an energetic reaction; a response. I could site many scriptures that support how when we’re walking in obedience that God is behind us; the Creator of heaven and earth has our back!  (Ex. 33:13-14, Jer. 29:11-14, John 14:21, Rom. 8:28, Heb. 11… to name a few) That fact should inspire and empower us! THIS is where our confidence and faith comes from… not from ourselves.  Words cannot describe the fullness of joy the Holy Spirit has given us knowing we are exactly where God wants us to be; it dwarfs any fears we may still have…
    SO… since we’re obeying what Jesus has asked us to do, does that mean it stops being scary?  …Uh, no.  It’s still scary AND we’re going forward in faith.  Both can co-exist.  We just choose not give the scariness too much attention.  Acknowledge it, fine, but don’t dwell on it because that would please the enemy and he’s not the One we’ve set out to please in this.
          Our adoption is well within an average adoption time frame for Lithuania. (Each country is different so if you’re thinking of adopting internationally study up and pray for God’s direction!)  We’ve had a relatively bumpless road thus far, nothing uncommon to Inter. adoption. (And we definitely appreciate it!) Our bumps will come though, you can’t do God’s will without opposition; it’s inevitable. Given how many health issues our little one has there are several potential bumps right off the bat, not to mention all of the unknowns!  But I can say even now, it will all be worth it because I “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Rom. 8:28)   …And we do love Him.  We need to remember though that “for the good” does not usually mean easy or fast or fun.  It means that this is what is required to help transform us into who Jesus wants us to be. (Rom. 12:1-2) 
     The Holy Spirit empowers us to accomplish God’s will; with Him all things are possible!!  My personal theme verse for this whole thing starting way back in Oct 2013 is Jer. 33:3 “Call unto Me, and I will show you great things!”  So that’s what we’re doing.  It’s been an incredible experience; He has shown us great things already!  I can’t wait for what is still to come… 

A progress update…  We got our I-800 immigration application approval!!!  This means that, God willing, we will be getting our travel date this week!  That would mean we could be leaving for Lithuania by the end of THIS MONTH!  WOO HOO!!  (*insert happy dance*)  Also, last week John-Patrik got the package we sent with the doll I made, a photo album with all of our pictures, and some clothes.  The ladies there were so thoughtful and took pictures of him opening it and playing with his new doll.  They say he hasn’t put it down since that day. (Need a Kleenex?  Yeah, me too!)  This month he was moved to a room for slightly older children and hasn’t been able to play with the original doll he loved so much and what I modeled this one after so he was very happy. The house mothers there call it his little girlfriend.   (The blur is the doll that he keeps swinging around.)

All for Him,
            Meg and Rich