Monday, January 28, 2013

Since I've had surgery...

So what's been going on since I've had surgery 7ish weeks ago?!  Well, I can tell you that this has been quite the journey!  I have missed over 5 (going on 6) weeks of work this year which is SO unlike me.  Before this year, I may have missed 5 days of work TOTAL in the 7 years I have been teaching.  It is literally eating me up inside that I am missing so many things in my classroom right now, BUT I know that my health comes WAY before my job (I've only been told this about 1000 times by everyone around me, ha!)

So, why can't I go back to work yet?!  Short answer:  Because the Doctor says so :)!  Even though I'm feeling great MOST days, the doctor says that it is completely average to take 12 weeks off of work after brain surgery.  Since I'm a teacher there are a few things that go into consideration... the amount of time spent on my feet, noise level, the physical and mental stress, etc.  So, I have to wait until my follow-up MRI in March until I can return to work.  This was a pretty hard pill for me to swallow, but I completely understand and have come to terms with it.  And here's why...

I normally have about 5 days a week where I don't even feel like I've had surgery, so I'll start doing more around the house.  Last week I went BIG TIME grocery shopping which resulted in a pretty sore/swollen head.  If you rub your hand from my eye back to behind my ear, you can totally feel the swelling when I've overdone it.  So, if I can hardly clean the house or purchase groceries, then I have a hard time grasping working for 8-10 hours a day!  Here's a little visual of where I get swelling:

Since I feel so comfortable with you ;) I thought I would FINALLY share pictures of MY actual brain.  These were taken during my surgery, and I've been holding off on sharing because I think they are totally disgusting.  But, they are pretty interesting.  On the top left-hand side, you can see the blood from when I had my "bleed" in September and my "re-bleed" in November.  YUCK!  Then right below that, you can see the cavernous malformation that had to be taken out.  And, there has been arguments about the picture on the right.  Some family members remember the doc saying this was after the malformation was removed and some say it's a picture of the malformation.  I have ZERO clue because I was asleep during that conversation back in December!  I've tried to research it, but I've gotten nowhere with it :)

 Since that picture was less than desirable, I'll leave you with some things that make me extra happy during this crazy time in my life!

I have become the crazy dog lady that pretty much talks to my dogs all day everyday!  I get super sad when I have to leave them for a few hours!  I mean, I have spent 7 weeks with them!!!

 Our pool is getting REAL close to being finished.  Last week they poured the deck.  We are just waiting on clean-up, plumbing, electricity, and the stuff that they put on the inside of the pool :)  It's been fun watching the progress (in spite of this crazy Texas weather)!

If you walked in my classroom around 7:30, you would normally see me downing a breakfast bar while trying to teach my class.  I've thoroughly enjoyed being able to sit down and have an actual meal every morning!  And, sometimes I even use fancy glasses for my milk :)

I started cooking again about 2 weeks ago.  But, last Thursday it was Jared's turn.  He made this YUMMY dessert that just melts in your mouth.  Can you tell how healthy I've been throughout my recovery?!  I haven't worked out in 6 months and I eat like a pig.... not a good combination!

So, that's where I'm at.  Still can't drive or do too much.  But, I feel better everyday and can take on a little more each week.  I'm still looking forward to that day when I have a 3 year old to run after instead of being bored all day!  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nothing New is Nothing New

We kind of hoped to be writing this blog post with a 3 yr old little girl sitting at our side in West Africa. Needless to say, if we had traveled to Africa already most of you would have already known.  So we are stuck here in the Metroplex playing the waiting game for now.  If you've followed our adoption journey over the past year, you'll know that this is really nothing new.

The latest things to happen have been exciting and gut wrenching all at the same time.  We have been waiting for J's biological father to get to Bukavu so we can fly him in to his interview with the Embassy.  The GREAT news is he arrived in Bukavu and is ready to go.  The gut wrenching news is the airline has decided to not fly out until Saturday.  We feel as if we are looking at J through the glass at the zoo right now....we are so close to experiencing life with her and holding her, but she's just out of reach.  So our world is literally dangling by a thread right now.  We are waiting on one phone call....seriously....one phone call.
Now, for those of you who have adopted, or know much about the process, you 'get it.'  For those of you who have gone through pregnancy and have waited for that moment to finally come....you 'get it.'  For us....this is all pretty new.  I'll just jump out on the ledge and let you know I'm not the most patient man to ever walk this great planet.  In fact, I'm about to jump out of my skin from anxiety, excitement, and frustration.  But I've kind of learned a little something over these past few weeks....it doesn't really matter what I do or how I feel....this thing is going to happen when the Lord is ready for it to.

So there are a few things you can pray with us for.  First of all, in Africa no one really predicts tomorrow because there's really no telling what tomorrow might bring.  We could wake up tomorrow morning to learn that a new flight is taking off and the bio dad is on his way to the Embassy.  That would be a miracle, and we believe it's not too far fetched for our good God!  So you can pray a flight will open up.  The second thing we are asking God to do is to process this all quickly once it happens.  We need an appointment at the Embassy and then we need a stamp.  Sounds simple, but, if you've ever tried to get an immigrant VISA, you know it's not.

As of right now, we still believe traveling in the next week is a real possibility.  We are praying hard for this, and something tells me it may just happen.  I feel like I've said that before.....maybe 10 or 20 times!  But we are getting very close.  And in those moments when we get knocked down....in those moments we don't see a lot of hope, I have been reminding myself of a few things:  a successful craniotomy on my 27 yr old wife that went a smooth as possible....Amy's clearance to travel and experience the biggest moment of our marriage yet.....my baby girl is in a malaria infested area of Congo and God has protected her so faithfully.....every picture we see of J seems to show more of her personality and bigger smiles.....and most of all, in the days when my life was most hopeless and helpless, God reached down for me, the way we're trying to do for J, to adopt me and give me new life.  So frustrations come and frustrations go....but God's faithfulness has been the theme of our life this past year.  Reminds me of a guy's words a few thousand years ago.... 'The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord-Job 1:21'
(Graphic Made By Amy)

We're not incredibly faithful people.  We just serve an incredibly faithful God.  So if we meet J next week or next year, we believe it's all in God's perfect timing.  Have you stopped to think about that today?  What is God doing in your life right now?  Are there things you are trying to force that He just won't seem to give into?  We're on a journey of trusting Him....I hope you'll consider doing the same!

Can I finish up by thanking a very special lady?  There's a lady in our agency by the name of Julia.  I won't give you all of the details or her info, but she has worked so hard to bring our child home!  She wakes up about 1-2am each day to talk to those in Africa working on our case....then spends the rest of her day answering questions from all 9 families who are in the same boat we are in!  She's been so patient, and has loved on our little girl when we haven't had the chance to do so.  So Julia, if you're reading this, we are so much indebted to you!  You've been a blessing to us and we are so grateful for all you've done and are doing.  Just think...in a few weeks you won't have to worry about my name coming up on your phone every half hour!!

-Jared


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Being still

Reflecting on this verse today...

As adoptive parents who are anxiously awaiting to bring our sweet daughter home, so many times we find ourselves fighting, advocating, and pleading our case.  After I read this verse from another adoptive mommy, I decided I needed to create something to remind myself of this daily.  It's time we stop fighting, and we rest in the fact that God is in control!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's not just 'nothing'

It seems like we've posted a lot of blogs lately that have been about no new news, small updates here and there, and nothing much to brag about other than how amazing the Lord has been to us.  Well, the Lord has come through in a BIG way for us this past week.  We are still pretty unsure of a lot of the details, but here's what we have to share.

First off, Amy goes back to the neurosurgeon tomorrow morning.  We'd appreciate the prayers!  God has been so amazing to us through her recovery.  As I was driving to work this morning I literally teared up thinking about how amazing this story has been.  I know that there are some of you who may not have faith in the Lord, and still others of you that are fairly distant from Him.  I can honestly say, I don't know how you do it.  These past few months have been filled with moment after moment of 'Elijah moments' where God has moved when we literally couldn't.  Do you remember, in 1 Kings 19, when God set Elijah up on the mountain and said cover your face, I'm going to reveal myself to you?  The wind came through that tore through the mountain.  An earthquake came and shook the ground.  Then fire blazed like crazy, and in all of these things, Scripture says God was not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire.

After all of those moments, came a quiet whisper, and in that whisper, God spoke to Elijah.  I say all of that to say, it doesn't take adoption or God's healing power to understand who He is.  Sometimes He just speaks in the whisper moments of life that seem insignificant.  And this morning, He did that.  He reminded me of just how good He is during a silent drive to work.  He reminded me that He's been in control of all of this since the very beginning.  So what's the big news?

Well, Amy still hasn't been released to work.  We are hoping for good news tomorrow, but her stamina still hasn't come back yet.  She works hard, but it really eats away at her energy.  I can honestly say, there's no possible way she'd make it through a work day right now.  She thinks she can, and she is tough, but there's no way.  Brain surgery is a BEAST and she's still walking the road of recovery.  However, we decided on Monday to mail off for her visa in hopes she may be able travel.  We don't know if she'll be released to travel tomorrow so PRAY!  This is such a huge moment for us.  This is our first child....this trip is so big, that we've decided to pray that God would allow Amy to travel.  We are searching out the risks and trying to be wise, but it seems as if God just hasn't given Amy confirmation that she should stay back....so we're pushing through to see what can be done.  If God wants to close this door, we are fine with it, but we don't think He has yet.

The Congolese Embassy is closed Wednesday of this week through next Monday, so we had about a 12 hr window to get her passport there, have them approve it, and mail it back out.  For those of you who have ever tried to work with the government to get a visa, you know, 12 hrs is a joke!  The mail didn't deliver it on time, the Embassy said they couldn't do it and wouldn't go pick up her passport from the post office...Amy cried on the phone with USPS for about an hour, and they said there's nothing we can do but deliver it next Tuesday and hope for the best.  Some how, today in our mailbox was Amy's passport, stamped with a Congolese visa!  I don't have time to write about the craziness that happened trying to get this visa done, but I can tell you it is a miracle it got done.  If they didn't do it yesterday, it would've been late next week most likely.

And that wouldn't work, because we got word yesterday that J's biological dad has been found and he's coming to the Embassy next week for his interview!  That's the REALLY BIG news.  This is what we've been waiting on for over a month now.  What does that mean?  It means that we expect to travel sometime in the next week to meet our daughter for the very first time.  It means that there is a possibility that this time next week we could be holding our first child...I mean it's not like we have our hopes set high now or anything!  It means that God's timing is perfect and He is good!

We don't have travel dates yet.  There are still things that have to happen....like a man in a very remote part of the 2nd poorest country in the entire world getting on an airplane.  That's going to be a pretty big deal for him.  It means the interview has to take place, and the Embassy has to hold up to their end of the bargain.  So there are still some steps here....but did you hear me say her biological dad has been found and is willing to come testify for her entry to the United States?!?

So that's where we are.  Today, it came in a whisper....a simple e-mail with simple words that wouldn't mean much to most people.  "J's dad was found, and he's coming to the interview next week." That sentence is life changing for us.  So we hope you'll join us in praying that he'll be able to get in for his interview early next week.  Pray for his travel, because Congo airlines are very dangerous.  And pray that the Embassy would work quickly to process her visa next week.  We are SO very close.  And the closer we get, the more we realize, God has used the drama, delays, heartbreak, and time to remind us that He's in control, and He is inherently good all the time....and maybe, just maybe, He's used this time for Amy to heal so she can be a part of all of this in person!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Children of the World

Oh boy, we were so blessed to spend some time with the Children of the World Choir this weekend!  Jared and I have been super excited about the choir coming to our church for the past several months, and the day FINALLY came!

Jared especially loved spending time with Praise from Uganda.  We *may* have a special place in our hearts for children from Africa :)

She was so much fun to talk to, AND she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.  Melt.my.heart. 
These sweeties did so much more than sing for us.  They sang, danced their little hearts out, moved all around the stage, had speaking parts, played the drums, and so much more.  It was truly a blessing.  These kiddos spend 10 months in the United States sharing the love of Christ with thousands of people.  Their time and dedication does so much for orphans all over the world.  After they spend 10 months on tour, they return back to their countries (Uganda, Nepal, and the Philippines) where they live in foster homes, children's homes, or orphanages.  THEN, they help train the next group of kids who will take their place on the tour.  The hope is that they will take what they have learned/experienced and help better their community and culture.
We had a lot of fun spending time with them while they ate lunch today.  They shared lots about their culture and the things they have enjoyed while in the United States on tour.  They were amazed at how you could mix in Koolaid singles with water bottles!  Their colored tongues were fascinating :)
I don't care how busy you are right now, you have to watch this video.  These kids have such joy and it is contagious!  If this doesn't put a smile on your face, then I don't know what will!  
To learn more about the kids, their cultures, or the tour you can visit their website.  I promise, if they come anywhere near where you live it is worth the time.  I might have cried from the second they started singing until they left the stage.  


Thursday, January 10, 2013

A little bit of everything

I really wish I was posting in here to tell you that we had BIG adoption news, but I'm not.  So sad!  I will tell you that the Embassy has officially decided that they need to have a phone interview with all of the children's parents before issuing visas.  So, that's what we are waiting on.  

While we are *patiently* waiting on the little one to get here, I will show you what's been going on post-surgery here at the house.

I wanted to share the progression of my incision/scar.  I know it's gross... trust me, I have to look at it every.single.day.  But, I am happy with the way things are looking and feeling at this point in my recovery.  Today, before my shower, I finally peeled off the dried scab.  I thought it would hurt, but PTL I couldn't even feel it.  Turns out... your head is pretty tough, FYI!  It's still a little red and swollen, but the hair is growing back and it bugs me less and less everyday!  Definitely a blessing :)

As if my head didn't look bad enough, look at my backyard.  The backyard that is supposed to be my "dreams become reality" backyard.  Apparently when you want a heated pool, and you don't have a gas-line near the pool this is what happens.  You might want to put that info into your backpocket in case you ever decide to do the same.  Just sayin'... it's a MESS!
 Since it's been raining and the dogs can't even step into the backyard, we've become a little bored around the house.  When you walk into our house you are likely to see...

A.  Me cuddling with the pups
 B.  The pups anxiously waiting for Jared to get home.  I'm pretty sure the dogs are tired of me being home all the time, ha!

So, that's what is going on!  Tomorrow I go get blood-work and an EEG done to make sure the brain is still functioning :).  Then, I'll go back to visit Dr. Barnett next week.  As of right now, I have not been released to go back to work, so the boredom continues!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What I've been up to

Want to know what I've been up to lately?  Well, I can honestly say NOT MUCH.  I've actually moved to the couch from the bed today, but that's only because I desperately needed to wash our sheets.  Otherwise, if you came over at any given moment I would be laying in my bed either watching Netflix or working on my computer.

But, ever since we started our pool the dogs have been tracking mud ALL around my house and in my bed.  Hence, the reason I needed to wash the sheets!  So, here I am laying on the couch :)

Well, let me back up a little bit.  WE ARE PUTTING IN A POOL!  That's right, folks... I've been asking for a pool for years and Jared finally committed to it!  I am, by nature, a home-body, so I can't wait to stay home ALL summer relaxing by MY pool with my little girl!  We have a neighborhood pool, which is really nice and never all that crowded.  But, when you teach in the same neighborhood where you live... going to the community pool becomes a problem.  Kids stare at me the whole time I'm there.  No joke.  And, it's really awkward laying out in a bikini next to my students and their families.  Therefore, a pool became a necessity.

So, a few weeks ago my dream pool started to become a reality.
 But, do you see all that mud?1  And, have you noticed all the rain lately?1  That makes for one messy backyard.  Which makes for 2 messy dogs and dirty sheets!
They have poured the concrete and started the tile since I took this last picture.  The rain and nasty weather have delayed the progress quite a bit.  Really though, I don't plan on swimming in the 40 degree weather, so it's okay with me if they take all winter to make my dreams become a reality!

Now, back to what I've been doing lately... besides washing the sheets.  Jared and I have really gotten into watching Lost on Netflix.  We never watched it while it was on TV, but decided that we should give it a go... probably one of the best decisions we have ever made because ohmiword we are OBSESSED now.  I can't wait until he is home from work so that we can watch the next episode.  Is that sad or what?!

And, that's pretty much it.  I've been watching a whole lot of TV and just really trying to relax/let my scar heal as much as possible.  Life has been pretty boring, but I know the word boring won't even exist when the little one gets here so I'm trying to enjoy it as much as possible.  I'm looking forward to the days when my scar isn't swollen and I can actually get around and be productive again!  Until then, I will stay here (either on the couch or in the bed) and be as nonproductive as possible!

Here's to getting completely healthy SOON!