Catching up

Or maybe it should be, “Catching my Breath”.

Three cast changes so far.  Yellow and Green.  Yellow and Orange.  Pink and Red. Isaiah has been very specific.  He’s extremely terrified of the saw and he not only screams in terror but shakes and trembles the entire time they are removing his three casts.  He continues to tremble for many minutes afterwards.  During the actual casting process he cries and begs me to stop them.  He uses a very clear and direct voice to tell me.  Not hysterical, just direct.  Steve hold his trunk down and I hold his limb.  There is the doctor casting and assuring the correct angles are achieved, while the physician’s assistant or sometime several prep and cast, as well.  Usually the care coordinator is there to oversee the whole thing and keep us talking, trying to distract Isaiah, with minimal success.  It’s essentially one big, exhausting gong show.

Why do we do it?  Results.  So much progress has been made in the past 3 changes.  The doctors are encouraging and keep us focused.  We are being affirmed to continue massaging him and stretching his limbs out as much as we can in both the passive and active stretches. And to top it all off both doctors have been unwavering in their hope for him.  His upper extremities doctor just exclaims over the ability he has to activate and trigger is left forearm muscles (this is really, really big!).  His lower extremities doctor talks like he fully hopes for Isaiah to stand and walk.  We try and temper the comments in our heads with (yeah, with a walker. or right, but that’s only one set of muscles.), but the hope is contagious, especially in the face of such experience and surety.  We are totally in this for results.  And we can measure them with our eyes already.

We also began sessions with the attachment therapist. Without betraying confidences, I can describe it in two words: focused and exhausting.  (Catch that word again? Exhausting?  Yeah.  We are so tired.)

Stephen has been driving us 1.5-2, sometimes 3, hours each way for every single day we have had an appointment or time out.  With the outings we did last weekend it was 5 days last week and then the other two days involved groceries and errands.  His arms are sore.  I’m trying to fit in hours of homeschooling around the appointments and while I am totally thrilled with the progress the kids are making, it makes for little to no down time.  The days end involves putting the kids to bed while carving a bit of one on one time with each child.  Then comes homeschool prep and Stephen’s work hours.  We go to bed late and get up a few time in the night for Isaiah’s medication, before doing it all again the next morning.

Sound whiny? It’s not meant to be.  I just needed to write this all down so I can remember what it was like in this season.

Beauty around us? Endless pumpkin patches.  Yellow corn fields.  High stepping Amish horses passing our front door.  Chick-Fil-A (who knew they were right about it – so yummy!).  Scented candles.  Figuring out details of our time here (the best grocer, how to get a US mailbox).  And the kids at mealtime. They are so funny.  I keep taking mental pictures at that meal.  I don’t want to forget them at these ages.

So, if I’ve promised you something, dropped the ball and not responded in a timely fashion, out and out forgotten something, please offer me some grace.  I’m doing the best I can.  We are surviving and at times still thriving. We are in it to win it.  We just may need to catch a nap sometime soon.

From Paradise…


Coal Miner’s Daughter

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(Don’t mind the upside down photos, I’ll fix them later.)

Peoria, Illinois to Steubenville, Ohio

So technically we have been driving through a lot of urban sprawl but for some reason all day long I’ve had “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in my head. (Wasn’t Loretta Lynn from Kentucky??)  Anyway, in the irony that is my life, what did we pass on our way here tonight?  A HUGE coal refinery. It was awe inspiring to drive past it’s huge lights and towering smelter (?).  Actuallseasy a little frightening because on first appearance it seemed to appear out of no where.  Kind of freaky cool.

Lots of hours in the van again. We met some really interesting people at each of our pit stops. Real characters.

I like chatting with people in settings totally foreign to me (odd but true). This trip has proven that most people just want to share a bit about themselves and hear a bit in return.  We’re all pretty curious and when you get right down to it most people are more than willing to share a smile or share a moment. I think it’s one of my favourite things about travelling.  Now when I think of South Dakota or Illinois I have that cast of characters to hang memories on.

The kids played a number of rounds of Bingo. Faith avoids all games like the plague and Isaiah is content to hold a card. The other four duke it out pretty fiercely. So far the wins are:

James – 11

Garnet – 8

Grace – 5

Samuel – 3

Prizes are received at stops along the way. Mostly junk food which Faith does not generally care for and Isaiah begs for until some passing sibling shares a piece of their winnings. Truth. It passes the time nicely.

We are getting close to our temporary residence now. Stephen and I are becoming more snappish and feeling more ages and pains. The reality of the next week has hit. The treatment plan or the decision to not treat Isaiah will be worked out by Monday evening.

It’s always such a mixed bag when you are raising kids with complex physical, emotional or cognitive needs. First and foremost they are your child. You cheer them, correct them, lead them and basically do life in the same way as every other family you know. But, when you are faced with a new medical procedure, a new treatment or therapy, that’s when it hits you that something big is looming.  Be it for good or bad, it looms. And I takes it’s toll on each of us in the family herd.

No matter what the outcome of the hospital visit on Monday, we’ll all be okay. We’ve done hard before and each of us has found ways to not only survive but thrive.  I guess at the bottom of it all we just wish in these moments that it wasn’t our kid facing it too. But I’d say that probably that makes us fairly normal. Average even.

So, onward we go!

As an aside, we are staying at a hotel within the grounds of a Franciscan University. It is really quite nice but between the style of the hotel and the goosebumps the coal plant gave me, I couldn’t help but think of a character out of the classic Scooby Doo characters when we met one of the staff here down the long subterranean hallway. Okay, maybe not entirely subterranean, but definitely out of the way. Stephen just shakes his head at me. Remember what I said about a cast of characters though?  It looks like I have a new one for Ohio!  😉







Okay now I’m

Having a tough time. Wah, I know. The kids are still ticking along. The kilometres are falling behind us. I even spent crazy long hours laughing my self silly with my husband. I think I’m just tired. Anyway, back to reality.

Isaiah seems to have fallen into a routine. He even gets to watch his Praise Baby DVD during the afternoon. He is still stuffing his cheeks full at mealtime but not every meal. And he wields his Chinglish well. He seems outwardly secure.

Samuel is having a tough time and a great time. It depends on the moment. He can be so pesky, nothing new, but the little things make him so happy.

Garnet is our little tour enthusiast. Whether looking for animals, begging Dad to be the first out to help at the motel or just having an overall cheerful attitude, he’s our man.

Grace is absolutely delighted by screens. This trip affords her plenty of ample device time. Therefore, Grace = happy! She was pretty tearfully overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the trip in the beginning. That seems to have waned. I thought she’d be begrudgingly accepting but we seem to have skipped straight to acceptance. I won’t argue with that!

Faith is an avid reader and this trip has been ideal for her. Plus, with James back with us, she’s so happy to have her buddy, she’s pretty silly, fun and cheerful. She’s also quick to want to play with Isaiah, something he has appreciated greatly!

James is happy, helpful, funny, cheerful and downright gleeful over a strong wifi connection. Honestly, we couldn’t have a better young guy to join us. We weren’t sure if he’d resent this trip. Did we delay it too long? But he’s been so fun to have along. Great enthusiasm.

Stephen drives and finds us great picnic spots, not to mention accommodation for eight on a nightly basis. He’s quick to share in all the tasks that need doing every single stop and very supportive of whatever I ask of him. He’s such a fun travel companion for me!

I have taken pictures of beautiful scenery, oddities and our motley crew, all of which have remained on my camera. Let me leave you with my view from Thunder Bay. Not bad, eh?



Followed by My 2 Cents

I decided to post Stephen’s post from No Greater Joy Dad right here, along with a response I made to someone who questioned how I have responded to Stephen’s “Reluctant Husband” status.

I will follow his post with my comments in purple and then finish off with more from Stephen in response to my words.

Just a little bit of what has gone on behind the scenes in the growing of our family.


I’m a recovering, yet stubborn reluctant husband and father. I’ve told my wife that we have had enough kids from before we even had kids to today – five kids later. Two bio and 3 Chinese adoptions later, I’m still a reluctant father! For all those men out there that don’t think they can do it, I’m a great example of getting it done, and still maintaining my fantastic reluctant husband status.


Adopting three “special needs” kids in 3.5 years is not what everyone should do, but it HAS changed my life, my heart, and my perspective about God’s provision and strength in significant and fundamental ways.

I used to be the busy-at-church husband: doing, doing, doing until everyone thought I was a super-Christian with a few vices! Little did I know that playing the part of a christian man, and living the part (REALLY living the part) of a Christian Man look very different. If men had feelings, the two roles would have FELT different too!

These days, I don’t sit on the deck dreaming of what I’ll do with my life, my pastor doesn’t see much of me, I’m not on this board, or that committee. In fact, I’m extremely surprised if I arrive to church before the greeters have left to enjoy the service! My “Christian walk” is more of a hunched over waddle with a few dives to the ground for cover and a split-second recharge on bended knee before the next event.

But I’ll tell you what… I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change the fact that I’m in another country to receive medical treatment for newest Child 5 and that he walked upright for the first time today! I wouldn’t change the fact that Child 2 told me this afternoon, that seeing people without all their bits was uncomfortable until Child 5 came along without his legs and now she thinks / feels that this is normal! They both get it: just do what you can with what God gave you and move on – no stigma, no regrets, just a life worth living… an adventure worth enjoying!

If I had to change anything at all, it would be that I didn’t enjoy more of the drama along the way. I’d change my attitude about trying to do everything perfectly, instead of appropriately for each of my kids. I’d change how clean the car was for the first 10 years of parenting. I’d change the look I give my wife every time she mentions another child. I’d change the power that fear has in my life and how I still allow myself to be a slave to it called on to act dangerously

– to make messes and take chances!

Yet, I’m still a reluctant husband! I still hold on to my fear (terror really) of being a poor father, or failing to provide for my family, or failing to be there emotionally or physically when child 1 through 5 may need me. I still worry and worry some more about some things in my life that I can’t change and should give over to God.

I still argue with my wife about Child 6 through ???? whenever it’s brought up. I still worry about being the best parent / husband in the world, and know that I can’t be because of all the mistakes I’ve made along the way…

…Then I have a moment where someone asks for my testimony and I think – what is REALLY going on in my life? I take a moment to pause the game of life and realize that I’ve never been more challenged, yet rewarded. I’ve never been so busy, yet effective. I’ve never had so many hugs when I return from a business trip, or just doing errands in town.

I am beginning to realize that life is not about being the best father in the world, it’s about shutting up and doing what God asks of you and knowing that He made you to be enough to fulfill his plans for your life. I’m not perfect,but I’m not MEANT to be, or even created to be. I’m the person God needed; to Do what God needed; When God needed; and How God needed. I am the best father I can be; and I’m the best father for each of my kids (1 through ???) and husband to my wife (just 1).

I hope that I’ve made at least one man out there 2 cents richer for their trouble. Enjoy the adventure!


I’m glad you asked for my input!

We have been very much of like mind in most major areas of our life (not to say  that we don’t disagree sometimes) and so when we found that we didn’t agree at all about whether or not we should add a child (by birth or adoption), I really was quite dumbfounded! I remember thinking that it couldn’t possibly be real! Perhaps he was making a bad joke? Seriously. I was that shocked.

Really I hadn’t come to the conclusion to adopt (or add our 2nd bio child) on my own. It felt like a strong push from the Holy Spirit to get moving. When Stephen let me know that he would not even consider my request, I prayed. And I tried to be quiet about it. If there was an opportunity to bring up the new family member I took it, but I tried hard not to rub it in or act “holier than thou” either. Really tough when on the other hand God seemed to be increasing my desire, not decreasing it!

Finally in each case, there was a moment or a day when I knew without a doubt that I needed to lay it down before Stephen and tell him that it truly was something of God and that I needed Him to treat it as such. I needed Stephen to go before God on His own and ask God what he thought. I let him know that I would wait to hear from him and that I wouldn’t say anything else about it.

I hope that helps to clarify it a bit.


I agree with what she has said and agree that in 99% of our marriage we have agreed on the bigger picture for our family. Sure, we disagree on which way to put the toilet paper up in the bathroom and other equally serious issues, but the size of our family was a big issue that took a long time to resolve (for each kid!). It finally came down to her letting me know that she respected me as her spouse and would provide me with the freedom to decide on my own without interference or “nagging.” I am very good at resisting nagging, but when my best friend, life partner, and the person I love more than anything on this earth gives me the freedom to love her in my own way, when I’m ready – I know it is serious and I need to pay attention.

In this environment, I didn’t have to ignore her voice, I only had my own conscience and my sensitivity to God’s calling to listen to. These are voices that I keep hearing when I’m at work, commuting, sleeping, or trying to relax with the kids. It is this voice that I can’t ignore when I’ve worked through all the excuses and make the “fatal mistake” ;o) of actually listening to God. Then the questions really come on strong – no longer am I asking WHY?, I start to ask WHY NOT?. When I ask WHY NOT? The answers appear pathetic and weak. The truth of the situation becomes more clear, and I can’t ignore that I have a decision to make. A decision that every man has to make at some point… Do I want to be perfect at doing very little, or am I ready to take on more and allow God to show me what is good enough – what perfection in His eye really looks like.

I don’t believe that adopting children into their home is the right decision for every family, but I do believe that God wants the first and best of our fruits, our gifts. He doesn’t want the left overs. This manifests itself in tithing on the gross income we bring in, not what’s left over. This means that worshiping Him comes before the football game, the camping trip, the parties in Vegas, etc. (Fill in your private time passions here…) It means that the 10 scrapbooks we did for our first child turns into a digital picture frame on the kitchen counter of all our kids and our adventures.

As a man, I would be challenged most from my wife if she left it in my hands after asking two key questions:

1. WHY NOT Adoption?

2. If not Adoption, how are we going to practically express our Faith in this world? (Missions, food for homeless, support of people adopting, etc)

I wish you all the best in your adventure and would love to hear how it turns out in the years to come.




Currently on my Desktop

In honour of Father’s Day (yes, it was yesterday & yes, we had a wonderful time with family, & yes, Stephen even managed a little sleeping in), here’s my honey!

I don’t talk a whole lot about him on the blog.  As in my real life, it is so easy to be caught up with all that goes with raising 5 kids and growing a fledgling business.

But he’s amazing.  And I am forever thankful to be his wife. 

My favourite thing about him today?

The way he kisses me when the kids are watching.

It never fails to get them shouting, “Ewwwwww!”

And never stops me from breaking into a big grin.

I love you my co-conspirator!


Catching up on an Amazing Day

Here’s my effort to catch up on a very full day as quickly as possible…

  • Woke up and saw a pile of photos in my inbox.  Samuel received our package.  He’s such a little guy.  To think it is only the beginning of his long life with us absolutely overwhelms me.  I’m so thankful.
  • Our facilitator called China to see if our LID was issued, and they have not received our dossier as of yet.  In response, they asked for and received our extension (1 month).  Sweet relief.
  • Met with our friend who hosted the Healing Prayer training.  Told her about Garnet’s healing.  Much rejoicing.  My faith was strengthened.
  • Stephen & I met with our kids’ pediatrician.  We’
  • We discussed a variety of concerns we have had with Garnet.  We’ve been waiting for this appointment for many, many months.  We are trying to get help for our busy, optimistic, tender hearted little man.  He heard us out, spoke back to us his own sense, and offered a life line.  We feel so affirmed. 
  • Faith’s birthday is next week.  Stephen & I managed to get out and do a bit of shopping.  We even threw in dinner (Burgers) & a movie (Red).  I remember love & laughter.

(The candy is not  for Samuel!  Just in case you Mamas are concerned.  Haha)


An amazing milestone just around the corner

It will be 15 years next month that Stephen and I were married.  Here is a beautiful song that we could’ve written (had either of us been at all musically inclined).  It’s called Dancing in the Minefields by Andrew Peterson. 

Dedicated to this family’s Mr. and Mrs.!