Sunday, August 29, 2010

overheard at our house today...

with everything that's been going on lately, i've kind of gotten away from some of the staples of our blog.  "wordless wednesday" and the "overheard" posts have been particularly hard-hit, so this is me committing to get back into the swing of things. 

with that said, here are a few of my favorites that were overheard at our house today...

jack:  "if you ate a whole twee, it would go down in your tummy, and it would pwobably make you thwoh up."

abby (in response to my early-morning singing as i was cooking breakfast):  "mommy, you sound a lot better than you look."

izzy (while making a pitiful sad face):  "i willwee miss judah." 
me (touched by our two-year-old's precious heart):  "i do, too, baby."
izzy:  "i willwee miss nala, too."  (there went the moment.  nala is our cat that made a move to the humane society a few months ago when she brought the 87th chipmunk up onto our deck -- in pieces.)

jack:  "where do toots come from?"

me (in response to crying from the next room):  "guys, what's going on in there?"
jack:  "izzy's stuhwing up stwife." 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

somebody to bunk with

we had been in the bicycle aisle for about twenty minutes already letting jack try out a "big-boy bike" that he has no idea he's getting for his birthday next month.  we talked, we laughed, and we apologized profusely to the lady he almost took out because of his total lack of understanding when it comes to brakes.

but i had more important things to do. 

as i was laying in bed reading late last night, something caught my eye.  i looked up and saw a roach walking precariously along the crown molding -- right. above. my. head.  based on my reaction, it might as well have been a rabid pit bull because in one swift frenzy of a move, i threw the covers back, flew out of bed, shook josh awake, and whisper-yelled something to the effect of, "A ROACH IS ABOUT TO FALL ON YOUR FACE!!"

he was up.

i don't do roaches.  so i had made it my mission to hit wal-mart first thing this morning to get some concoction of spray/bait/house/bomb that would get rid of any and all friends our late-night invader might have had.  so as we made our way from the bike aisle to the annihilate roaches aisle, we passed by a furniture section.  as we've recently been looking at houses and talking about new sleeping arrangements for all the little people, we've mentioned the possibility of getting bunk beds.

so when we approached an adorable bunk bed set with blue bedding on it, i excitedly said, "look jack!  you and judah could sleep on beds like that one day!  you could sleep on the top one, and he could sleep on the bottom one."

i looked at him expecting a big "wow!" reaction of some sort, but he was just staring at me with this weird kind of look on his face.

and then it hit me.

i moved my eyes over to josh and said quietly, "i'm sorry.  i don't know why i just said that."

it's weird how much a part of our family judah still feels.  how do i miss somebody i never met?  and how does his absence feel so strong when he was never really present?  i loved that little boy so very much, and i don't suppose that's ever going to change.

sad night.  sad mommy.

but because i'm trying to get better about getting back to the picture part of this blog, here's one that always makes me happy and thankful...

one day jack will have somebody to bunk with, too.

holiday mini-sessions

i don't usually do much cross-over from my photography blog, but i wanted to make sure that you knew about holiday mini-sessions coming up on saturday, october 30.  check it out HERE.

Friday, August 27, 2010

the artiste's grand-mére

it had been planned for weeks.  family from five states across the southeast were descending upon atlanta one weekend in august to celebrate a few birthdays in the family, not the least of which was josh's mom's 60th, er, i mean, 40th birthday.  what made it even more special is that we were arriving in town on josh's sister's exact birthday, august 13, and we were so pumped to visit with our extended family.

the morning started out like any other.  the kids and i popped downstairs to josh's office to tell him good morning, i got breakfast going and then caught up on a little housework before we were leaving that afternoon. 

but then the phone rang.  judah was gone.

josh and i sank to depths we had never known before.  everything around us kind of disappeared, and we spent the rest of the morning crying, talking, and praying together as a family.  but the trip!!  we knew there was no way we could miss out on the celebrations, but the idea of laughing and eating massive amounts of cake in a house with twenty other people felt like an impossible, and almost painful, goal. 

josh talked with his mom back and forth throughout the day, and she shared with him that they had decided if we could still come, they would like to keep the kids and send us to a hotel for the weekend to give us some much needed time to rest and mourn.  josh asked me about it, and i told him from behind bloodshot, swollen, marshmallowish puffy eyes that i didn't think i could make even the simplest of decisions that day, that i would do whatever he said to do.

a few hours later, we were in the car on our way to georgia. 

we're so thankful for the gift pam and jim gave us in time away.  our little ones were sad about judah, but it was preschooler sad.  like can't-find-a-favorite-toy-sad.  it was so good for them to have around-the-clock playmates while we could pop in and out as our emotions needed.  like i told pam and jim, we had no idea what we needed, but they nailed it for us!

while we certainly had some sad time (like when i buried my head in our waitresses' chest that night and cried about our baby dying -- no, i didn't know her in the least), but we also had some precious time with family. 

one of the highlights of the weekend was the trip to the park to get photos with the little cousins.  grandma lewis had bought them converse sneakers just for the pictures...

pretty cute, huh?  oh, it was nothing, really.  the kids all just kind of fell into place like that.

hee-hee.  all was fine and good until this happened.  i'll let you fill in the gap between pictures one and two...

not only did izzy fly off the merry-go-round, but she flew into the mud puddle beside the merry-go-round.  thanks to rebekah for these next shots (oh, and please note the discovery we made on izzy's belly when i took off her soaking wet shirt)...

little did we know that the artiste had turned the markers on herself when she was done with her nursery creation that afternoon during naptime.  thankfully, her grand-mére(*) thought it was a riot, and she reminded us not to sweat the small stuff. 

got it.  although i don't know that i would consider this "small stuff".  ;-)

* grand-mére is french for "grandmother".  yeah, i'm cultured like that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

at which point i ugly-cried

over the past week, we've really been in a good place.  it's not that we don't hurt.  as a matter of fact, i can hardly look at judah's pictures without needing to wipe the tears that begin to creep down my cheeks.  but we're grieving with hope, and that kind of grieving is actually a really beautiful thing.

when i got home from the wedding i shot this past weekend, there was a box sitting on the kitchen countertop.  i asked josh if he knew what it was, and he said, "yes, your mom asked me to give it to you but she said you probably shouldn't open it tonight.  i think she knew you'd be tired from shooting the whole day and she didn't want you to get upset." 

the wheels immediately began whirling in my mind trying to figure out what could be tucked inside that brown box, but as my mom had predicted, the nonstop action of the day was catching up with me and the wheels began slowing to a crawl, eventually stopping as i finally hit the hay.  the next morning, i got up early to get the kids and me ready for church.  my plan was working perfectly...i was showered, blown dry, and putting my mascara on when the first little foot came pit-pattering into my room.  we all came downstairs, i got the kids' breakfast going, and then i set my sights on the box.  josh serves in a homeless ministry downtown on sunday mornings so he wasn't home yet, but i couldn't wait any longer so i grabbed the box, pulled off the tape, and lifted out one of the most precious gifts i've ever received...

here's what you're looking at:  my mom cross-stitched every single part of this gorgeous pillow using colors, animals, and scenery that she thought would mean something special to judah.  and the second i saw her gift, it started.  it wasn't a gradual build-up of tears or an easy entrance into weeping.  no, it was a complete, immediate, and total come-apart that only got worse as my fingers gently moved across the beautiful stitches that she worked months to complete. 

i ran to the phone, dialed her number as quickly as i could, and tried to tell her through my sobs how much her gift of love meant to me.  unfortunately, she got going as well and told me with a pitiful, cracking voice that she had originally begun the pillow with the thought that he could snuggle with it on the plane on his way home, but when he passed away, she redesigned the plan for the middle section and sent it to me as a gift of remembrance for our son. 

mom, there are no words to describe how much i love this precious gift.  it means the world to know that you invested so much of your time and heart into creating something so perfect (both for judah's life and for his death).  i love you dearly, and i'm so thankful for an amazing mom like you.

even if you did make me ugly-cry just after i finished my makeup.   ;-)

"the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away.
blessed be the name of the LORD."
job 1:21

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

wordless wednesday (the artiste)

i suppose i'm blowing the whole concept of "wordless wednesday", but there are several things to note about this event:
  • izzy has NEVER done anything like this.  i walked into the room and literally just stared at her and the decorated wall (and sheet and hands and crib and...) with a look of horror and complete disbelief.
  • jack was napping in the same room, and we quickly learned that he provided izzy with the markers for her, um, artwork (which led to a bit of training and discussion on the "good deeds" part of hebrews 10:24). 
  • but perhaps most importantly, THIS WASN'T EVEN OUR HOUSE!!!!  (more on that later)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

it's live!

the day that judah died, one of my oldest and dearest friends called to chat.  the second i answered the phone, she knew something was seriously wrong.  i don't even remember what all we said that day other than this:  we agreed that nothing happens outside of the LORD's sovereign hand and that he could and would use even the death of a very sick, very defenseless six-week-old to bring about great good.

what was that good going to be??  oh, so much more than i could have imagined!!

we've gotten emails, calls, and notes from people we live life with everyday, people we're just getting to know, and others we've never even met before letting us know that because of judah's story, the reality of issues like poverty and orphan care have become real and tangible for the very first time in their lives.  more than just a story you read or a quick blurp you see on the television, judah's life and death are having deep impact and are driving people to seek the LORD, to know the LORD, and to take action.  GOD has been so gracious to our family in letting us take part in this process and to see the fruits begin to flourish from what seemed to be a hopeless situation.

yes, the good news is in, my friends -- compassion international has the addis ababa, ethiopia CSP up and running online now, and we all have the blessing and the opportunity to have a direct impact on the lives of mothers and babies who live in the very place where our son died.

judah was so underweight and small when he was born.  the child survival program teaches mothers proper prenatal care to enable them to deliver healthy babies.

within a couple of weeks of his birth, it was clear that judah wasn't growing or gaining weight well.   the child survival program teaches families about good nutrition and helps get them to a place of healthier living through the provision of vitamins and nutrients in conjunction with eating well and eating enough.

at five weeks old, judah began fighting for his life due to relatively simple conditions and illnesses (by U.S. standards) such as diarrhea and pneumonia.  the child survival program provides regular home visits, checkups, vaccinations, education, and access to further needed medical care. 

these are just a few of the gifts that the addis child survival program is able to give, through our donations, to mothers and babies in that area.  in addition (and certainly vital), mothers in the CSP learn and grow spiritually through bible studies and prayer meetings, and many of them attend literacy classes as well as learn vocational and income-generating skills.

and the sponsorship program is only $20 per month!!!!  (one time gifts are welcome as well)

please consider joining with our family to give with awareness and love for these tiny ones a continent away.  our family is living proof that there is a dire need and a real face behind the terrible sting of poverty.

click HERE to learn more and to give.  THANK YOU and make sure you tweet this, like this, post this, and pass it along!!!!

(and come back tomorrow to see how izzy's been doing her part to keep things, um, interesting around here.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

quick update...

this weekend is packed with festivities for a wedding i'm shooting, but before i jet out for the day, i wanted to write a quick update on where we are with compassion in terms of getting things set up for donations in judah's name.  we got an email on thursday that their internet team is in the process of getting a CSP established online that all donations will go to.

but here's what we're the most excited about...the child survival program that they're setting us up with is in addis ababa, ethiopia!!!!  addis is the capital of ethiopia, it's where we'll travel to to pick up a little guy when that time comes, but most importantly, it's where judah died and is now buried.  i can't think of a better place in this whole world for our gifts to go!

we're praying that because of judah's death and the loving donations from friends, family, and those we haven't even met yet, countless other infants and children will run, laugh,  and play in addis rather than die there.

while we're waiting for the specific link to be available, you can still click HERE to donate in judah's name.  it looks like you're giving to a program in another country (which is wonderful, too!), but there is a reference code embedded in the hyperlink that connects your giving to judah.  please go ahead and mention "judah lewis" in the special instructions section at the bottom of the page as well.

thank you so much for loving us, for loving judah, and for loving ALL the mothers and babies that the addis ababa child survival program will serve!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

they're still all smiles

a car accident that totaled our car two weeks ago.  the death of a baby brother they couldn't wait to meet last week.

these little people have been through a lot recently.  but despite the trauma of a wreck, treks around town to a bajillion car dealerships, countless phone calls and visits from the insurance companies, more calls to and from the adoption agency, plus a weepy momma, these sweet babies just keep on smiling.

we're blessed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

when the bandaid gets ripped off

i'm weary, i'm sad, and i'm in need of a good cry (another one, that is).  so i'm going to make this quick.  we had to have some very difficult conversations with our agency this afternoon that have led us to make some even more difficult decisions tonight.  the past two days have been full of healing, but after today, the wound is feeling kind of raw again. 

no less hope, just more hurt. 

do you not know?  have you not heard?
the LORD is the everlasting GOD, the creator of the ends of the earth. 
he will not grow tired or weary, 
and his understanding no one can fathom.
he gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, 
they will walk and not be faint.
isaiah 40:28-31

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

now that's what i call an answered prayer

UPDATE: compassion has the direct link to the addis ababa, ethiopia CSP up and running now.  click the link above to go directly there.

on friday when we got the phone call that judah had died that morning, the forceful weight of grief came crushing down on us.  and i didn't just do the weeping thing.  i did the lay-on-the-floor-in-a-fetal-position-sobbing-so-hard-that-i-could-barely-breathe thing.

it wasn't pretty.

but as i mentioned in this post, i just couldn't escape that still, quiet voice that kept reminding me of the very purpose for which we had named our precious baby.  judah - "to praise".  i suppose it's one of the mysteries of the LORD, but josh and i felt that judah's death could wreck our hearts while simultaneously provide us with a beautiful opportunity to praise GOD for his goodness, mercy, and love.  through the pain, we clung desperately to isaiah 55:8-11:

"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.  "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what i desire and achieve the purpose for which i sent it."

we knew that GOD had a larger purpose in what was happening -- we just didn't know what it was, and we surely didn't know how to get there.  so we prayed...

we prayed for the LORD to extend judah's influence far beyond the six weeks he lived on earth.  we asked him to give us clear direction on how we should move ahead.  but most importantly, we prayed that through his grace, we could affect significant change in judah's name -- for GOD's glory. 

now fast-forward to monday night.  i sat down at my computer knowing i wanted to write something in regards to the realities of poverty and its effect on the world's tiniest people, but i was kind of clueluess as to where to start.  so again, i prayed and asked GOD to make my post all about his message.  and it kind of flowed freely from there.  but as i pushed the "publish" button, i made one more request. 

"please multiply the reach and the effect of this message."

well, my friends, i'm enormously thrilled and humbled to share with you that since last night, the hope of judah's life and death has reached more people than i could have ever imagined by way of almost 1,400 hits on this blog.  WHAT?!?  i've gotten facebook messages, calls, and emails from people throughout the united states today, many of whom shared that this is the first time that the terrible sting of poverty has been a reality in their lives.

people are hurting for these babies -- and they're taking action.

but the good news doesn't stop there!!  a representative from compassion international contacted us this afternoon with this incredible message:

"we're working right now to see if we can choose one CSP center and provide a direct weblink for you to put on your blog. in the meantime, we’ve also alerted sponsor donor services to flag any CSP donations that have special comments with your family’s name/reference."

ok, that just gives me chills.  god is so faithful and good.  thank you so very much for helping to spread the word up to this point -- but don't stop now!!  please keep linking, posting, and tweeting about judah -- and learn more about how your one-time or monthly donation can change the lives of mothers and babies by clicking HERE to visit compassion international's child survival program website.  and if you give, make sure to add judah's name to the special instructions section at the bottom of the donation page.

i can't wait to see what the short life of a six-week-old infant --combined with the magnificent power of an eternal LORD -- can achieve.

Monday, August 16, 2010

more than a statistic

UPDATE:  compassion has graciously worked with us to get a child survival program in addis ababa, ethiopia (where judah died and is now buried) set up online for direct donations in his name.  click the link for more information.

there's a reality that's been slowly creeping up on me over these past few days.  i don't consider it a bad thing.  in fact, i pray that it's a reality that etches itself permanently in my heart and mind and that it serves as a launching pad for action in my life and the lives of those i come into contact with.

the reality is this:  judah's death was preventable.  his initial illness and symptoms were preventable.  his poor state of health that made him more susceptible to the effects of those symptoms was preventable. 

this whole thing was preventable.

before i type another word, i want you to understand that i'm not angry in the least.  i'm not angry with his orphanage or the doctors and nurses who cared for him, and i'm certainly not angry with GOD.

but i am determined.

since judah died on friday, several people have asked us if we're going to continue in the adoption process, if we're still going to pursue bringing another baby here from ethiopia to be a part of our family.  and without a single second of hesitation, the answer is a resounding YES.  a large part of our decision to adopt in the first place was the painful awareness of the life-threatening difficulties that many orphans enslaved to poverty face throughout the world and the prayerful desire to take a child out of that cycle. 

so now that we've felt the sting of poverty firsthand, how could we do anything other than forge ahead more passionately than we were before?

i don't want a word of this message to be spoken from atop the proverbial soapbox.  to be up on my soapbox would put me in a position to speak down to those around me, and this is a message and a call that we're praying through within our own family as well.  we certainly don't have this all figured out.  but the death of a baby that we loved passionately has brought us to a place of unimaginable pain and acute awareness of something that we can all take action to prevent.

with those things said, let me share a couple of statistics with you:
  • worldwide, 24,000 children under the age of 5 die every single day from preventable diseases.  most of those deaths occur in the earliest time of a child's life.  
  • several of these preventable diseases have been identified as the "big six baby killers", and they are malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS, diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition.  
if you're like me, those stats feel enormously overwhelming- but entirely abstract.  if that's the case, let me share something else with you.

meet our son, judah alexander lewis.

he was born on june 26, 2010 weighing only 4.4 pounds.  in his fifth week of life, he began suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhea.  within days he had developed pneumonia, but his already malnourished body wasn't strong enough to fight.

he died early in the morning on august 13, 2010. 

that's real.  that's painful.  and that was preventable.

a couple of people who have called or come by to check on us during the last few days have mentioned that they're angry with GOD for letting this happen.  they're angry that the LORD would allow a defenseless baby to suffer and die at the hands of poverty.  but i'd like to offer another view on that point.  scripture clearly addresses the christian's call to help those who are in need and to defend the cause of the weak time and time again.  i wonder what would happen if, as believers, we became uncomfortable in our excess and we took seriously the LORD's commands throughout his word.
  • "defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." psalm 82:3-4 
  • "he who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy." proverbs 14:21
  • "he who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors GOD." proverbs 14:31
  • "he who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done." proverbs 19:17   
  • "if a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." proverbs 21:13 
  • "a generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." proverbs 22:9
  • "the righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." proverbs 29:7 
  • "if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." isaiah 58:10 
  • "religion that GOD our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." james 1:27 
  • "if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of GOD be in him? dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 john 3:17-18 
as i mentioned before, josh and i are working through some of these issues in our own lives, and there are a couple of things i want to share about what we know up to this point.  first of all, handouts are not what this is about.  while i agree that meeting an immediate need that's staring you in the face can be a good thing, i think there's a better way to live out this type of love.  investing our time, money, and other resources into sustainable aid provides our giving the opportunity to extend beyond the immediate.  becoming involved in long-term projects doesn't just help people now, it changes lives today, tomorrow, and far beyond.

let me give you an example from an organization that we love and believe in.  compassion international is most known for their sponsorship program in which sponsors have a certain child that they sponsor each month with a set amount of money that goes toward the child's physical, educational, and spiritual development.  we love and participate in that program, but compassion has another mission that is particularly near and dear to our hearts.  their child survival program (CSP) is unique in that it focuses specifically on mother and child units, both prenatal and neonatal.  expectant mothers learn proper prenatal care in an effort to deliver healthy babies, but the local CSP doesn't stop there.  recognizing the dire effects of poverty on babies and young children, they work with the mothers to provide proper nutrition, education, and medical care -- as well as opportunities for the generation of income for the family. 

but most importantly, all of this is done through the local community under the umbrella of the local church.  it's a process that takes a family who is enslaved to the pains of poverty and methodically turns the tide of their fate toward that of health, education, and sustainable income.

enough of that and whole communities can turn around.

please consider joining with us(*) to sponsor a child survival program in judah's name.   i can't think of a better way to honor him than to commit $20 a month to help other babies like him live far beyond the short six weeks he was here on earth. 

*i changed our blog back to be publicly read because i want as many people as possible to hear this message.  please help me reach farther by linking back here or by posting this message on facebook or twitter.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"to praise"

"day and night they never stop saying:
'holy, holy, holy is the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,
who was, and is, and is to come."
-revelation 4:8

this verse utterly and totally captivates my soul.  it's one of those verses that no matter where i am in life, it makes me long for there

one of my very favorite things to do while we're singing at church is to stand in the center of the room, close my eyes, and sing along with a couple thousand of the other voices surrounding me, all singing praise to the LORD.  without fail, i find myself getting swept away with just a glimpse of what my eternity will be like.  

i heard a quote at church a few weeks ago that has stuck with me powerfully since that day:  "every glimpse of heaven that we have in scripture suggests that worship will be our eternal occupation."  the thought of standing before the throne of holy GOD forever and ever singing praises to his name is almost too powerful and too wonderful to comprehend.  it's unfathomable to imagine that i'll be participating in a corporate worship service like none other with men and women from ages past who have spent the last thousands of years doing what my heart longs to do now.

i really wanted to be at church today.  actually, i think it's safe to say that i needed to be there.  as the congregation began to sing "amazing grace", the instruments grew louder and the voices grew more powerful.  i closed my eyes and i could almost see throngs of saints lifting their hands in worship and adoration of the LORD.  and you know what thought overwhelmed me at that moment?

judah is already doing this.  i love GOD and long for his eternal presence from here on earth.  but judah is praising and worshiping GOD at his feet right now.

a couple of people have asked if i think i'll meet judah in the form of a man or will he still be a tiny five-pound baby that i'll one day finally be able to hold.  in all honesty, i have no clue what i think will happen in that regard.  i'm not even sure we'll have bodies in the way we think of them now, but i do know this:  if psalm 148 tells me that the sun, moon, stars, oceans, animals, plants, and storms "praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted", then there's not a shadow of doubt in my mind that a child who was formed in GOD's image and fashioned by his very hands can do the same.

after's what he was named to do.

"then i heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
'to him who sits on the throne and to the lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!'"
revelation 5:13

Friday, August 13, 2010

working through the pain

i'm here in a dark, quiet hotel room with josh.  i'm not even sure exactly where we are -- somewhere near atlanta.  how did we get here?  not to atlanta, but to this day.  to this pain.

judah spent this last week in a losing battle to illness and to poverty.  he breathed his last shallow breath this morning and just hours later, he was placed into a small box and buried beneath the earth.  we weren't at our own son's funeral.  that thought has consumed me all day today along with a barrage of questions that i imagine will forever go unanswered.

who was at judah's funeral?  did they sing songs?  did they weep with the pain we've wept with today?  did a nurse or doctor hold him close as his life was slipping away?  when was the last time he cried?  or was he to weak to cry at all?  does he know how much he was loved and how much he is now missed by a mommy who never even held him?

i won't lie, there have been many times today that i've cried out in deep grief and unimaginable pain.  but our sweet baby's name keeps coming back to me.

judah.  "to praise."

the world seems to be crashing down around me and my heart aches at the deepest core, but all i know to do is to cling to the name we prayerfully chose for our son and to humbly act on its meaning.  i feel empty tonight, but my song of prayer and praise is this:

"the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  
blessed be the name of the LORD."  
job 1:21


our phone rang at 8:43 this morning.  my heart skipped a beat as i saw who it was on caller ID, and i grabbed the phone up and answered it quickly.

and for a brief time, the conversation went exactly like it had just two weeks earlier when our son was born into our lives...

"hello?" i answered.

"allison?" the kind voice on the other end asked.

i responded, "yes, this is allison."

but the tone was completely different.  the quiet excitement in patricia's voice was gone and in its place was sorrow and pain.

"allison, i'm so sorry to have to tell you this, but the baby didn't make it."

i heard everything she said after that but it's like i was just overhearing a conversation between other people.  i wasn't there.

"...the baby didn't make it."

our hearts feel like they're ripping apart this morning, aching in one of those hidden places that you forget is even there until you're tossed into a deep sea of sorrow and pain.  how did we love him so much when we never met him?  how do my arms feel so empty when i never held him?

i don't know the answers to those questions, but i do know this is a depth of pain i've never known before.  i keep looking at that precious face on our refrigerator and falling apart all over again.  his tiny arms and legs, his long fingers, his big brown eyes looking straight out of the picture at me...they've all disappeared from our lives in the matter of a single phone call.  LORD, we can't carry this burden alone.

and i heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "now the dwelling of GOD is with men, and he will live with them.  they will be his people, and GOD himself will be with them and be their GOD.  he will wipe every tear from their eyes.  there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  
revelation 21:3-4

Thursday, August 12, 2010

izzy's prayer tonight

"dear god, thank you for this happy day.  pwease take care of my wittle brother, judah.  amen."

immediate prayers needed

my brain is officially mush so bear with me if i'm repeating myself.  here's the brief background to a very serious prayer request:
friday, july 30 - we received judah's referral.  we learned that he weighed 4.4 lbs at birth and was 5.5 lbs at referral (at almost five weeks old).
friday, august 6 - we got an email from our case worker letting us know that judah had been in the hospital briefly that week but that he was back in his orphanage now.
monday, august 9 - we heard from our case worker again that judah had been readmitted to a private hospital for severe vomiting and diarrhea related to his formula.  that's when we started to get nervous.  serious dehydration can be serious for the plumpest of can be quickly fatal when you only weigh five pounds.
tuesday, august 10 - the promised update never came.
wednesday, august 11 - we learned that judah was not only on IV fluids but that he was also on IV antibiotics.  the pieces didn't seem to be adding up.  antibiotics for a formula intolerance?  jack had to see the pediatrician for belly pain stemming from our car accident (everything's fine) so i ran judah's case by our doctor while we were there.  he agreed that there was obviously a secondary issue going on to necessitate antibiotics, and his normally perky attitude turned serious when he told me that to be so young and so small with such poor conditions (related to both judah's physical concerns and third world healthcare) could easily lead to a very grave end result.
thursday, august 12 - our case worker emailed to tell us that judah was moved to a government hospital yesterday and is still on IV antibiotics.  i pushed for more detailed information and questioned the antibiotic issue.  within 30 minutes my cell phone rang.  it was our agency letting us know that they had gotten more information from the orphanage director and that judah has pneumonia.  he was moved to ICU at the government hospital because they have more advanced capabilities than the smaller, private hospital does.  he is very, very sick and very, very weak.

the tears are flowing heavily today.  i know that the lord loves baby judah even more than we do.  i know that god knit every precious part of him together in his birth mother's womb (psalm 139:13) and that even the hairs of his head are numbered (matt. 10:30).  the lord determined the number of judah's days before the beginning of time and nothing outside of the lord's will can add to them (job 14:5) -- including my worry and anxiety (matt. 6:27). 

but there's still pain in the wait and the distance. 

as in the words of our sweet realtor who just prayed with me over the phone, we are asking the lord -- who is the great physician and healer -- to breathe his breath of life into judah's tiny, sick lungs.  please pray for wisdom for the doctor and nurses as they treat him as well as strength for judah to fight hard, to get well quickly, and to come home to us soon.

more as i hear it...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

wordless wednesday (referral day)

this was the first time we had gotten to see judah's picture.  (jack was yelling something to the effect of "that's my brother!")  so sweet!!!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

t.g.i.N.f. (thank goodness it's NOT friday)

i've always loved fridays.  the wrapping up of a long week at school or work, the anticipation of a weekend with family and friends -- fridays are fun days.

but i'm praying to never again have a friday like this last one.

it started like any fun friday should.  the kids and i drove to bethany's house to play, swim, and eat lunch.  they were running so hard and having such a fantastic time that i told bethany, "today is going to be a super nap day for them".  around 1:15, i decided that if i was going to cash in on long-nap-time, i should probably head for home.  i gathered our gear, strapped everybody into the car, and we took off toward home.  as we were leaving bethany's house, izzy yelled, "look mommy -- i did it!!"  i turned around to see that she had unbuckled her car seat all by herself, so i immediately stopped and very sternly told her that she was never, ever, ever allowed to unbuckle her seat when we were driving.  i explained that we could have a wreck and that if she wasn't buckled snugly in her seat, she could get really hurt.

twenty-five minutes later, my car looked like this:
the cause: 
a guy pulled out in front of me on hwy. 280 which caused me to t-bone his truck right on his driver's side door.  he drove his car away from the accident scene.  i obviously didn't.
the medical report: 
other driver - totally fine.  huge blessing!
abby - screamed for the first five minutes but has NO physical injuries.  she has been glued to my hip ever since the accident and has done everything she can think of to be a little servant (including laying my jammies out on my bed - that she made up - so they would be ready for me when i hit the hay last night).
jack - screamed for the first five minutes but only has a couple of tiny scratches around his neck where his car seat straps burned his neck.  he's been acting out a little since friday but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that we've been locked up in the house talking to insurance agents all weekend.
izzy - screamed for what seemed like four hours but has NO physical injuries.  it kind of makes me sick to think what could have happened if she hadn't told me she had unbuckled her seat belt.  humongous blessing!!!!!!!!  i can't count high enough to tell you how many times i've thanked the lord for protecting all of our little people.
me - i have a concussion and possibly a very small nasal fracture from where the "air mattress" (as the kids call it) deployed when we wrecked.  but today has been soooooo much better than the weekend and i should be 100% in the next few days.  again, i'm thankful, thankful, thankful.

by the time we got home that evening, we were content to call it a day, but there was more difficult news on the horizon.  we got an email from our case worker that judah had been sent to the hospital.  he was back at the orphanage by the time she wrote us, but she had no information other than the fact that he had been in the hospital "briefly" that week.

you know that old saying about the straw that broke the camel's back?  yeah...

josh immediately called a family meeting in the living room to pray.  we thanked god for the fact that we were all sitting together, relatively unharmed, in our own home, and we prayed for tiny judah.  when we were done, sweet innocent abby leaned over to me and whispered, "i really hope judah doesn't die."

breaking, breaking...

it was too much.  the emotional trauma of such an accident, the physical pain, the thankfulness for our lives, and the fear for judah's.  i whispered back, "me too, baby.  me too."  and then i turned away and let the tears flow.  i would have been worried regardless, but our agency had recently told us about a family whose baby girl died at the orphanage from malnutrition before they could get her home.

but as josh reminded me, judah was back at the orphanage so that had to be a good sign, right??

fast forward to today.  in terms of the accident, this has been a very eventful, very good day.  the insurance company has already cut us a check to get another car, and we got the information we needed to have all four of the car seats that were in the van replaced under our policy.  (allstate has been fantastic!)

but then i got the update email i had been waiting for from our adoption case worker.  she told us that judah had been admitted into the hospital again today for severe vomiting and diarrhea and that they didn't know when he would be released.  "they" (whoever that is) think that it's his formula that's making him sick so once he's stable again, they're going to start him on a different kind to see if that will help him.  i'm trying to take my cues from our case worker, but while she was very calm and reassuring, i'm a lot more concerned.  how do we know that this is as simple as the wrong formula?  how adequate is his medical care?  how long can a five-pound baby live with severe vomiting and diarrhea? 

i don't want to be overly dramatic, but there's a little guy in ethiopia who could be fighting for his life tonight.  please, please pray for judah's health.  pray that his doctors and nurses will have adequate knowledge and resources to help heal him and that his caretakers will be able to care for him once he's back at the orphanage. 

i made our blog private several weeks ago but feel free to copy this post and send it to others to have them praying as well.  (and i'm always happy to add readers if they have someone i know and trust to vouch for their good intentions and sanity.  learned that one the hard way.)  we would love to have a tremendous gathering of prayers going up on baby judah's behalf.

more tomorrow...