Another day, another video. This time for #blackfriday.
Because one just wasn’t enough.
It’s almost Thanksgiving so here’s a little holiday gift for you. Enjoy.
So, three weeks after Kieran’s surgery…. how are we doing? Well, it is hard, to say the least. The therapy and walking on his leg is very painful. And when we tell him that both are what it will take to get better, and that the more he pushes himself, the faster he will get better and out of this contraption…. well, this all goes against everything he has learned to believe. Why would he choose pain? Why in the world would pain actually be good for you?? It wasn’t good when he first broke his leg—several times—why would it be good now?
Kieran really didn’t choose to have all these things happen to him and to have such pain. However, I’m praying on the other side of this that Kieran will understand Jesus’ love to a much greater degree, knowing that He chose to undergo all that pain on the Cross, for us! And to a much lesser degree, Mom and Dad chose to take his pain and troubles upon ourselves. We chose to help bear his burden, even though it may seem to him right now that we want him to experience pain on purpose.
I’ve heard this song “Blessings” by Laura Story hundreds of times, but now it has taken on new meaning for our family:
“We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
But all the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”
Two things I trust to be true about suffering:
1) Suffering isn’t always bad, though of course we believe it is when we are in the middle of it. In fact, when we put our trust in God, suffering actually makes us stronger.
“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom 5:3-4)
“Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:10-11)
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pet 4:12-13)
I know that God wants to grow Kieran because He wants to be glorified through him. But we all can attest to the fact that true growth never happens easily, and we rarely welcome it.
2) God promises that He is always right beside us to walk with us in our sufferings.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [ ____ ], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut 31:6)
I believe with all my heart that God is walking right beside all of us in this trial. I do admit I doubt, some days, whether we will come out smiling, but I never doubt that our Father constantly stands faithfully beside His children.
We’re grateful for the many friends and family members who’ve supported us in the last three years as we’ve grown our family by adoption. There are tons of challenges in adoption, and we’ve learned and continue to learn new lessons about parenting and raising kids in our crazy family.
If you’ve ever wanted to help an adoptive family and wondered how best to do it, here’s a great article on Ashlee Andrews’ blog. Like us, the Andrews family has children both in the “traditional manner” as well as by adoption. Our experiences–and those of other adoptive families we know–are very similar to those described by Ashlee.
Thanks to Ashlee for her insightful post.
Kieran’s surgery went well today. It took 6 hours, an hour longer than anticipated, and then another hour before he was awake enough for me to come into the recovery room with him. For a while, he was a pitiful sight—low moaning and talking about the pain when he would come in and out of his doze. But now, 5 hours later, he is more lucid, and the pain is a little more controlled. His eyes are not fully working yet, so he keeps asking if his leg is longer and trying to see it.
Remarkably, it is!
Today as I read my Bible, listened to my ipod, and perused Facebook and email, several Words of encouragement stuck out to me about Kieran’s surgery and our lives together. I am recording them here for my own sake, but feel free to reflect on the Word with me.
“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy…. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (Jn 16:20, 22)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9)
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:2-3)
Satan tried to keep this boy down even before he was born. There are so many ways he tried to stop Kieran from glorifying God in his life, but it’s not working. Just the opposite!
TAKE THAT, SATAN.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6)
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand…. Here in the power of Christ I stand! (worship song “In Christ Alone” sung by Keith & Kristyn Getty)
“You’re restoring every heartache and failure, every broken dream, you’re the God who sees, the God who rescued me, this is my story…. You’ve been walking with me all this time. (song “All This Time” by Britt Nicole)
Your glory speaks in every language across the sky to every nation. You are beauty unimagined…. Lift it up, endless praises to our God! Full of grace, full of love, that is reigning over us! You are faithful! You are worthy, God! This is who you are… You hear the cry of every broken heart… You hold the orphan in your loving arms. This is who you are! (worship song “Who You Are” sung by Kristian Stanfill)
This is just the beginning. Though it will be painful, for the first time in six years tomorrow he will walk on two legs. I have always believed God has special plans for this boy.
I wonder where his legs will take him….
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:11)
People ask me all the time, “How do you do it? How do you get everything done with six kids?!?” The answer: I don’t. All KINDS of things don’t get done. But my kids are still alive, so I guess we are ok. I think. (Actually, I haven’t seen Erin in a while….)
One thing that doesn’t get done, especially in the summer when everyone is home, is blogging. But you need an update on Kieran and we need to share it!
Kieran is having surgery on Oct 30!!!
Just a little over a year after arriving here, he is going to have an extensive leg-lengthening surgery at Shriners in St. Louis that will eliminate his need for the crutches!
I remember singing in worship at the Orphan Summit in California last May 2012—weeks before we were able to even see Kieran’s file and accept his referral—about Jesus who “makes the lame to walk” and wondering, hoping, EXPECTING that I was going to get to see that kind of miracle in MY day, in MY son. Well, believers, we are going to witness this miracle together!
To tell you the truth, I so believed that this miracle was going to happen, that when we met with our elders to pray over Kieran and anoint him with oil (following the directives of James 5:14-15), I truly thought I was going to feel his legs grow right under my hands as I prayed on my knees in front of him. It could happen! God COULD do that if He wanted. I truly believe that. But I see more clearly now that part of the miracle for Kieran needs to be sought in the journey of learning to be patient and trust in a God he can’t see and in a new family that he can see.
For 6 years, since Kieran broke his femur, he has been told regularly by doctors in Ethiopia to “come back next week,” “come back next month,” “come back tomorrow,” and “Why are you here? Do you think you are going to run or something?” So when he got here and doctors were telling him to “come back later,” he was disappointed in the miracle-working America that he had dreamed up in his head. Even though, here in America, the waits (for test results, for medications to take effect, etc) were legitimate, he lost hope. He told the doctor at Shriners back in February when we went to see if anything could be done, “I glad to do what you say, and for research to help other kids, but I know I not going to change.”
However, the doctor looked at us surprised and said, “Well we are not miracle workers, but I’d like to think we can do some things that will help you walk again like other kids.” The tears rolled down my face. Hope. Restoration. Redemption. Mercy.
I think there is still a bit of Kieran that is thinking, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” and who could blame him? But I know his future is about to change radically!
For those of you who like the gory nitty-gritty details, the amazing doctors at Shriners will be breaking his majorly arched left femur bone and then putting a rod down the middle of it so it can form more straight and longer. In the same surgery, they will break the two lower bones (tibia and fibula) and put an external fixator device on the outside of his leg connected with pins through the bones. Everyday we will turn some knobs very slightly which will pull the disconnected bones further apart. Our bones like to grow together, so that is how his lower leg will also be lengthened.
Kieran and I will spend a week in the hospital and then for about 6 weeks return once a week to St Louis for physical therapy and a checkup. We will also have rehab at a local hospital (hopefully in Lincoln) twice a week, as well as 30-60 minutes of therapy at home twice a day. We will live, eat, and breath physical therapy. I’ll bet by the end of it, even Eva will be able to coach Kieran through it!
We have a long road ahead of us. Kieran will likely be out of school for 4-6 weeks while his leg strengthens and he learns to walk again. He will have that device on his leg for about 6 months. The therapy will be very painful, but if he doesn’t push through (with my help and others), his leg and muscles will not heal correctly and it will hurt even worse. Once his entire left leg is healed and strong enough to support all his weight, then the doctors will likely go in and break his other femur and put a rod in it to even out the two legs more exactly.
This is going to take a while. But he will walk again! And God, in His infinite and intimate wisdom, knows it is best for my son to walk through this miracle one day at a time.
Our adoptive Father is writing this story. To God be the glory!
As an update, Kieran’s treatments have gone well. We finished the first round in March and will do another in July. Late July we will head back to Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in St. Louis to see how the IV infusions have been affecting him. They will then determine if he is ready for leg surgery or will need more treatments first, and then check again later.
Thank you so much for your prayers and please continue to pray for healing for Kieran and wisdom for the doctors as they determine the best course of action for him.
Now for more behind our adoption story….
When I first announced our referral for Kieran last May 2012, I promised to share with you more about how God led us specifically to him, but I was unable to do so then because we had not yet passed court. Last February, I shared one part of that story (starting in the 6th paragraph of this post), and now I would like fill in a few more details of what God showed me in that month preceding Easter 2012, the month in which I vowed not to ask or speak about adoption until we finished our Lenten fast. (Funny how God is able to speak to us better when we are silent!)
The next weekend after God announced to me (while watching the “Hugo” movie) that now-named Kieran was to be our son, I flew off to an adoptive mom’s retreat in Atlanta, GA called Created for Care. The theme song during the retreat was “Beautiful Things” by Gungor—a new song at the time. It’s about how God makes beautiful things out of the dust. I was soaking in all the adoptive mommy encouragement I could get, so I didn’t think a lot about the song at the time until I got home. Click on the song title above to hear it or here is an excerpt:
All this pain,
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way?
I wonder if my life could really change… at all?
All this earth,
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come out from this ground… at all?
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
A few days after I returned from the retreat while having my quiet time, I felt God speak to me, as he did through Eli to Hannah, these words:
Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him. (1 Sam 1:17)
I had been praying for more than two years for Him to bring to us the boy He had promised. I had also known for almost two years that God had given me his Bible name: Solomon. (God had given me each of the other kids’ Bible middle names). Now I had been praying hard about this boy named “Sage” on the Waiting Child List, thinking this might be our boy. And like Hannah, after years of praying, I felt God was saying that now was the time He was going to grant that prayer and that I should go in “peace” (“Solomon” in Hebrew means “peace.”)
Really God?? Is it finally time!?
Then right there in my favorite spot on the couch, the Words on the pages of my Bible jumped out at me. In 1 Sam 2:8, Hannah prayed:
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
He seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
Did you know that was in Hannah’s prayer? I didn’t! In an instant, like a fast forward of clips in a movie, I saw all the promises and past pieces of the puzzle that God had shown me one by one, suddenly fall together. I wish I could describe that instant to you—I will do my best!
The song above about how God forms beautiful things out of the dust converged with these verses about raising the poor and needy from the dust and ashes which converged with all the memories I have of walking in Ethiopia where the poor and lame sit in the dust of the streets, day after day, waiting for someone to hand them a coin or a piece of bread. This is most likely where this crippled 15 year old boy “Sage” would end up if no one adopted him before he turned 16 because he would have no means of getting to school or doing manual labor to make a living for himself.
In this same instant, I looked up at my old 6-seat dining room table and instead pictured my family sitting at the table I had long dreamed of that seated 8 and was huge and round. In that same instant, I remembered the story of another son of King David’s that was crippled as a small child and adopted into David’s family: Mephibosheth.
In those days, a person who was lame would have no rights or land or dignity. Even after King David told Mephibosheth, “I will surely show you kindness… and restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table,” Mephibosheth himself bowed down and told King David, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (2 Sam 9:7-8)
King David adopted this son of his best friend Jonathan and promised that he would always sit at his table. In essence, Mephibosheth grew up right alongside Solomon, with the same rights and dignity as the boy Solomon who would eventually become the successor to the King!!
So in this same instant, I pictured “Sage/Solomon” filling the 8th seat at my new Round Table! Do you see it—round like a king’s Round Table?? In this vision, my Solomon and my Mephibosheth became one person, and though our family is not rich or kings by any stretch of the imagination, we know that we are rich through Christ with God’s grace! And we are rich with blessings of love and family stability that I never want to take for granted. Michael has always reminded our kids that they have “a charmed life.” Though far from perfect, our family has a richness that far outweighs any monetary richness we could ever accumulate.
Thus, God showed me that he was going to lift this boy that he loved and had not forgotten out of the dirty streets of Ethiopia where he would beg for food, and put him into our family where he would become an heir to our throne, as meager as it is, and would never want for food or medical help or school again. Our King Jesus would change him from Mephibosheth into King Solomon!
(Interesting aside: I never thought about the made up English name the agency gave him for anonymity on the Waiting Child List, Sage, until months later. I always thought of the color or the herb, but if you look up Sage in the dictionary, you will find “one who is wise.” Who do you think of when you think of the wisest man on earth? King Solomon??)
As confirmation, at the end of last January, in the very same moments when someone yelled upstairs to me that the truck had arrived to deliver our new round table, I was hearing the then new song “Kings and Queens” by Audio Adreniline on the radio. Here is an excerpt and the video—a must see!
Boys become kings, girls will become queens, wrapped in your majesty, when we love the least of these
If not us, then who will be like Jesus to the least of these?
Stretching a little more into movie making, this time with a short documentary-style project with Liam. If the movie doesn’t show above, you can hit this link.
My plan is to do more of these experiments and create one for each of the kids.
Took the kids to a family bingo night at the local school the other night. Will anyone win?