Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Internet Was Out All Week!

We live on a beautiful farm in the North Georgia Mountains.   It is peaceful.  It is lovely.  The grassy hills and animals grazing peacefully all day long on them.  The pond at the end of the field ripples with the occasional fish jumping.  There is often wild geese, ducks or a blue heron on it.  The whole place is very picturesque.   The property is a little valley.  We have hills, woods and trees all around us and there in lays our trouble with technology.  To get a signal on our phones we have to stand in a certain area of our home or a certain area on the property to be able to speak to anyone and if it is raining...you  might as well forget it.  For internet...We are to far from the road to get any kind of wired in internet.   We are surrounded by hills and trees so can not get a signal from a satellite dish.  The only way we can get internet, is to run a wire hundreds of feet up our back hill to the edge of our neighbors field and then 30 feet up a tree. Hoping the receiver will pick up a signal from the tower near by.  Even then our signal is ify.  Our internet goes out constantly.

Before last week, if you asked me if we could go without internet for a week, I would have said, sure, no problem.

I now know we rely on it far more than I previously thought.  :)

The tower that serves us went down last weekend.  After going over it the crew decided that they were going to just replace all the electronics on the whole thing.  UG!  That our tower had been struck by lighting so many times, and been patched up so many times, that they felt they needed to just order all the parts and redo it.  Sigh!   And so my eye opening experience began.   

The first reality that hit was that my routine was now thrown off.  I get up in the morning before the children and read the Word of God and then all the blogs I follow.  I read notes from people and answer them.  I research things I am interested in and trying to learn about.  I write blog posts and post them.   I thought...well this is inconvenient but I can just go down to my dads every other day or so and catch up on my stuff.

Then Monday morning hit.  Monday morning means a school day.  The kids get up, do their chores, eat breakfast and  go to their desks and start their schooling at their computers.  Hmmmm.

I have a lot of educational things here in our "home school" closet.  Enough to home school all grades and kids straight thru 12th grade if I had to.  So I got out some curriculum and got them all going on their schooling.  We do have to do this occasionally when the internet is out so no biggie.  I had to be their actual hands on teacher for the day.  Teaching, answering questions, grading things and such.  It is a lot more work for me and major time consuming but part of our normal life if the internet goes down.  Sometimes if the internet is out I call a work day.  We all go outside to gets some things done...but it rained the whole week!  We had no option but to go ahead and get some schooling in.  Then Tuesday hit.   Same thing.  Then Wednesday.  Ok...by then I was getting tired and behind on house work and such.

The added work load, stress and pressure of hands on teaching every day, plus house work and another private stressful situation going on in our home, just really started making me have some of my health issues surface.  So Thursday it was over cast but did not rain..I called a day off from schooling.  Whew!  Praise God for home schooling year round!  Ok..we did not just call a day off.  We all needed out of the house.  So ran away for the day.  We left the house and went to a park that is close by and just let the kids play and burn off pent up energy.  God is so very good to us all!
We stopped to see Tim for lunch and ran some errands.
That is just what we needed.
As Friday went so much better and how can you mess up Friday anyways?
It is "Fun Friday" here and "Friday night movie night".  So a big deal and much looked forward to, day of the week, in our home.

So we made it thru the week.  Praise God for the weekend and a commanded day of rest!  I am in bed recuperating and resting up for the day.

Praise God the internet is back up and running once again.  Whew!  I never thought I would be grateful for the internet.  But praise God for it and the help it offers me daily, in not only running our home but educating our children and giving me an avenue of fellowship with others.

Can we go a week with out internet, you ask???  Not very easily!  :)

Psalm 9:9-10  The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

 

 No matter what you go thru in life.  No matter how hard your week.  No matter what state of health you are in...May the Lord God be with you and carry you thru it all.  Teaching, leading, guiding and comforting you.

blessings,
susan


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Things God Has Done!



Today over at No Greater Joy Mom, Adeye is highlighting blogs from anyone that has adopted or fostered a child. There has been a lot of people that have come against and attacked families that foster and adopt children.   I know this might come as a shock to some of you but truly, it is the raw truth.  Trust me… I have seen how precious, adoption and fostering is to God’s heart first hand, how He does miracles on behalf of these children and families.  Our own included... and how much satan hates it.  I have seen time and time again peoples closest family, friends and “anonymous” strangers attack and discourage.  It hurts deeply but is just a sad truth that many families, that are called to this life, as a ministry, face.  I hear it over and over again and have lived it myself.  We have had countless family members and friends say the worst things and shun us because of the children taken into our home.  Even worse, to shun one particular child, thru no fault of his own, that we adopted, because his mom was HIV positive.   But on the other side, we have had some family members and friends rally around us in support no matter who we take in.  They love and hug each child no matter what their past, present or prognosis.  They kiss and hug their happy faces even if they drool!    We have had total strangers pray for us fervently and love us as if they were our family and they have become cherished friends.   Now that is the love of God here on the earth!  Adeye would like to have blog owners share today, as an encouragement…What Great Things God has Done! For He Has Done Great Things!

I will gladly and whole heartedly join her today, in sharing that God is an awesome God and has truly done great things in our family and life, by granting us the privilege of raising these children in our home!

God has taken this selfish woman, (myself) :)  who used to live for her own gain and desires and transformed her and her life into something that has eternal value.  He took the mess I made of my life, before serving Him, and opened my eyes to His plan for my life.  A plan that would make an eternal difference for many, by living my life for Him, just as He gave His very life for me.  To daily sacrifice my wants and what I selfishly think I need by doing daily for others.  In Gods Word it says that if we do something for the least of these my brethren, its as if you are doing it for Christ Himself.   Wow!  I don’t want my life to be for nothing.  I want to have lived and made as much of a difference for the Lord as I can.  I want to serve Christ Himself and for me that is by serving the children He has asked Tim and I too adopt. 

I am still learning.  I am still growing.  I still fall and fail.  I am so human.  I make so many mistakes.  I feel weak at times, frail, broken and humbled to the core.  I feel inadequate.  I get DISCOURAGED, a lot and need someone, anyone to give me a word of encouragement.  If no person does.,..God always does and that is all I need to pick myself up off the ground and take it one day at a time once again. I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me!

Tim and I are a team put together by God.  I believe that with my whole heart.  His love for the children that need homes in this world runs deep.  He is a wonderful dad and is totally hands on.  Tim does not cry easily but I have seen him cry more times over hurting children than I can count, or crying in prayer over our children before surgery and when sick.  When God brought Tim and I into the service of fostering and adopting, it changed our lives forever for the better because it changed us.  The things we saw and went thru shaped us into more godly people.  It stripped away frivolous and made us see how serious life is for so many and what is most important.   
We got a front row seat to miracles daily.  When I say daily I mean it.  We saw hurt children heal.  We saw scared children learn to trust.  We saw many come to salvation.  We saw doctors prognosis shot down time and time again.  We saw broken bodies healed or miracle recovery times from surgeries. 
The more children we took in and wondered how to pay the bills the more God provided.  The more the kids grew the more clothing was donated or we found at thrift stores in their sizes.   We might not have every new gadget on the market or go on fancy vacations but we have always had a roof over our heads, a comfortable home and good food on the table.  We have always had nice clothing to wear and a vehicle to get our large family around in.  God IS Faithful!
The things we have went thru.  And YES there has been many tears cried.  Many hard times and many hard days.  Our days are fuller and more challenging than the average family.  So daily life is just harder and many things are more time consuming…those times made us pray more, we studied Gods Word more for comfort and direction.  We learned to stay in constant communication with God just to get thru each moment at times.  We grew closer and closer to God.  He answered and directed always.
Many of our blogs seem always showing the good because life is so good!  I can only speak for my own but I try to show honesty in all things and be open about health issues and daily life.   To show how serious our life is and how serious the kids health issues are…but to show we live and are blessed in spite of it all, by the grace of God.  I mean I could dwell on all the hard stuff because to be honest, life raising so many children with special needs can be very hard.  Very hard.  But the part that is hard is the physical/emotional part.  The lifting a 120 pound son to change his diaper.  The unexpected run to the ER in the middle of the night for breathing troubles.  The balancing what to do with the other kids while running to the ER with above said child.  The unexpected surgery, the tantrums the bad behavior.  The melt downs the days that all the above happens on the same day or even in the same evening.  That is the hard part.  Those are the hardest times we need peoples prayers and encouragement.  Those are the storms of fostering and adoption.  But they are not every moment of every day and equally, if not more often, are the hugs and love and games and being silly and doing fun home schooling together.  The first steps that we never thought we’d see.  The first word when we were told they would never speak.  The eye contact from one with autism and first joke they ever told and laughed at hysterically.   We choose to focus on the wonderful part of the children and let the hard part go.  Only God can carry that part.  I know I can’t.  With out Him helping me thru all that worldly hard stuff I would be a mess.  With out all the prayers of those who truly love us it would be so much harder.  Just knowing people out there love and support what God has called you to do brings more strength than you know!
God has done so many wonderful things over the years.  We have seen a child who should not be able to walk, now walking, running and dancing.  A child who should never talk, now talking with paralyzed vocal cords!  A child that is supposed to be having seizures because of so many brain bleeds, seizure free.  A child that should have HIV, HIV free!  A child that should be on daily meds for emotions and behavior, med free.    A child that we told might not make it, alive and well.  So many times that several of our children were so very ill and recovered beautifully by the grace of God.  I could go on and on. 
These are the benefits and blessings of living this life.  
These children and their clean, happy, fed smiling faces, that call me mommy and Tim daddy, are the reason to do what Tim and I do.   
Our children love us and we cherish them every day.   
They have a forever family.   
They know the love of the Lord at our hands and God asked us to and we said yes.

God is so good.  Run to what He has called you to do and you will never regret it.  He will make you able to do above and beyond what you ever thought you could do.  And because you know you could never have done it alone, all the glory is His and you see the beauty and miracle in it all.  Front row seat and all!

I want to thank all the families today who foster and adopt children.  I want to thank the people who come up along side these families and give support.  Whether it be financial, friendship, daily help or words of encouragement.  You will never know how much even the smallest gesture means to a busy family that is balancing so many things.   

I can’t tell you how many people I have met in the last six months worldwide, that I love dearly and receive encouragement from often.   That is what we need.   These are just a fraction of the great things God has done!


James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.


 May the Lord God Almighty equip you daily to do above and beyond all He asks you to do!  May He bring people alongside you in your life to encourage and uplift you!  May He abundantly bless you for being faithful to Him just as He is faithful to all of us!

Many blessings, 
susan

Sunday, September 22, 2013

6 More Months

Many of you know that Elizabeth was born with Truncus Arteriosus.  You can read about it here.  She was born with a three chamber heart that required open heart surgery when she was born to re-plumb it so she would live.

We knew when we took her into our home that she would need open heart surgeries every so many years for the rest of her life.  The reason being, that the only way they have found to save these children's lives is to use a homograph (piece of cadaver or pig artery) to re-plumb these children's hearts.  Dead tissue does not grow with a growing child.  Dead tissue is foreign tissue to these children's bodies so their bodies fight it.  These homographs can get pin-holes in them and tears or as happened to Elizabeth's last one, it calcified and crumbled in the hands of the doctors when they removed it.  Praise God for taking good care of Elizabeth and she was not harmed by any of it.  She lived.  Open heart surgery is serious.  When she was an infant she went into cardiac arrest back in her room after the surgery and they had to work on her a bit to get her stabilized.

The repair she had at birth held up until she was four (above photo).  At four years old we handed her over to God, the heart surgeons and Egleston Children's Hospital, to replace the worn out and to small homograph they had put in when she was born. The new repair has lasted all these years.  It has been a miraculously long time for one to hold up like it has. 

Elizabeth goes to her Cardiologist every six months to have an Echo-Cardiogram and EKG to check the state of her heart.  To check the presures in the chambers looking to see if the homograph needs repaired again because it is narrowing and to small for her heart to pump the amount of blood needed to her lungs to be oxygenated for her to live...  Or to check and see if it is deteriorating and getting pin-holes in it or tears.  In which case they would do a surgery to replace it as well.

A year ago when Elizabeth had her visit with Dr. D, her Cardeioligist...after him reading all the results, told us that it was getting closer to the time she would need a repair.  That her heart was becoming enlarged on the side that is pumping thru the homograph.  Showing that that chamber is working harder to pump thru the homograph and that it is narrowing and becoming to small.  The levels were still in the safe range but we needed to be prepared, that at one of the nexts visits we would be having to do a heart cath to go in and check presures and everything out.

Last visit little had changed so praise God we were told to see him in six  more months.

I have noticed Elizabeth tiring more easily and she has turned blue on us this summer while playing once.  She is choosing to sit and play a lot more and do quite things.  She also had her O2 levels drop lower than normal during a recent respiratory virus.  They went down to around 91 and stayed there for the hardest part of her illness.  I fought the urge to put her on oxygen.  We have it in the home and usually put her on it if she goes below 91.  So we gave a lot of breathing treatments and kept a very close eye on her. 

Last week was Elizabeths long awaited heart appointment with her Cardiologist.  After her Echo and EKG, doctor D., came in to speak with us and told us that Elizabeths heart was just about to the point to go in and do a heart cath to check presures and decide what to do.  He thought we were safe to go another six months but to monitor her carefully and if we think she is getting any worse we will schedule it right away.

So now is the hard part.  Watching her for signs of tiring more easily, sleeping more, becoming winded at things she used to not get winded doing.  Also keeping a closer eye on her O2 levels.  She wears a machine at night called a Pulse-Oxometer.  It tells me at all times her heart rate and O2 level.
Most healthy people stay at 100 all the time.  She lives daily with her O2 levels around 94-96 when awake and around 97 while laying still and sleeping.

So we now have an appointment to go back in six months, get her normal EKG and Echo-Cardiogram done and then after seeing those results, most likely get a heart cath done.

At that time they will discuss either going in and stinting open the homograph.  They did this last time and it bought us six more months before having to have the surgery.  Or to just go ahead and do the surgery.  So next year might be the year she will need the dreaded open heart surgery done. This is the part of having children with special needs that is hardest.

These are the things I can not think about with my children.  The things I can not allow myself to fixate on and let consume me.  I have in the past and it can be just to overwhelming.  If you think on all the future "ifs" it can make you nervous all the time and physically sick.  I have learned that I have no control over any of it anyways.  That these children have been loaned to me by God to raise and for that I am grateful.  That God loves them even more than I do and will take care of them.  That He is faithful and knows what is best and even has a plan for each of them, for their lives.  This is why I just give it all to God and live one day at a time with them all and enjoy them all.  It is why I am over protective of them and stingy with them.  I don't let them go many places without me there.  I home school them because I don't want to miss a moment of their lives.  God is so good.  We truly do live such a blessed and happy life.

Jeremiah 29:11-13  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.



May the Lord God in heaven hold each of us in the palm of His mighty hand.  Leading and guiding us in all His ways every day.

blessings,
susan

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good-Bye, For Now, Little Friend



Appointments are just a normal part of our life.  We have spent and do spend a great deal of time in doctors offices and at therapy appointments.  Now, you know if you have any type of appointment, that if you are 15 minutes late, they cancel your appointment!  But if you get there early or on time, you get to sit in the waiting room for up to an hour before they call you back.  I have trouble sitting still but try to be a good example for our children and try to keep myself busy thru the long wait. 

Though the years we have met some interesting people, had some really great conversations and made some good friends sitting in waiting rooms.  I must say that at our therapy place they don’t make you wait long at all to be called back.  But I often stay out in the lobby and wait while the children get their therapy.  At our therapy place we often see the same people waiting week after week for their appointments.   

Years ago we met a little boy in a wheel chair who was born with a muscle disease, at our therapy place.  He was…let me see…how do I describe him… charming!!!  With chubby cheek sweetness and as cute as a button.  A conversationalist of conversationalist.  He had such a spark about him.  This amazingly smart little guy, in this little body that he could not move at all.  Bless his heart.  We got to know him quite well and I also enjoyed talking to his mom.  He was her only child.  She was a single mother and she would often share what an overwhelming job it was to care for him.  Every part of her life was a struggle.  Over time I had talked with her, listened to her and prayed with her. 

About two years ago I was doing my rounds at our local hospital where I am the Sunday Volunteer Chaplain.  I opened the door to go into see my next patient and there he was.  I said “B”  what are you doing here!  Are you ok??!!  (I was just so shocked to see him there.  As children with his degree of care would never be admitted to our hospital.  They would be sent down to a children’s hospital in Atlanta or to Chattanooga)  I asked him if he was sick and he said no.  I looked up at the adult man in the room.  I didn’t recognize him.  The man in the room motioned me out to the hallway and told me that his mom had been arrested for drunk driving, with him in the vehicle.  He was so medically fragile the state could find  no foster home or place to send him till she got out.  He was now in state custody.   He was only 7 years old.

My heart sank.  I went back into the room and had a wonderful visit with “B”.  I tried to cheer him up and then went on to see the rest of my patient load.  But I could not get him off my mind.  He had already been in the hospital for almost a week and the only reason was because they could not find a placement.  A home for him. 

After my rounds I went back by and gave my phone number to the sitter.  I told him to please tell the director of DFCS that if they found a placement for him, that we had a handicap van to get him and his power chair to the placement.

Tim and I did get a call.  Tim and I didn’t know what to do.  We knew this placement worker from working with DFCS.  They could find no placement for this child.  He was to medically fragile.  The hospital wanted him moved as soon as possible.  Oh my heart ached for him.  He had different sitters with him around the clock.  He should be in school with his peers and friends and was lying in a hospital bed eating, watching TV and missing his mom so much you could just see it in his little face.  His fragile body was being exposed daily to the threat of sickness just by being in there.  It all made my heart ache.

Tim and I prayed about it and told them to send him out to our home.  BUT…only if they provided some nursing for him.   As he was such a liability to have in our home and at that time my health was not very good.  I was struggling just to make it thru every day. 
 
My children loved having him around.  He could not move his body at all except to rock his head back and forth to drive his power chair, that had the controls in the head set.  He could also pinch two fingers together on his right hand a little.  I went to the store and bough these little cars in the toy section.  You put a key in the back of them and pushed it in hard to cock it.  Then if you pinched the key, the very small car would shoot off the key and go across the floor.  My kids would set up buckets on the floor in front of “B” and put the cocked car in his little pincher fingers and he would try to shoot it off his lap into the buckets.  He was thrilled.

Also William would play video games with him.  One day William asked  “B” to play.  “B” sadly said he could not play.  William said oh yes you can!  So he wheeled “B” over in front of the TV and put in Mario.  William said…I will be your hand you tell me where to go and what to do.   “B” loved it.  He had a ball.  He would tell William JUMP!! JUMP!! If something was coming to get him.  He would say go left, go right. Go down that tunnel.  Jump and get those coins… It became a special time between them.  We don’t normally allow much video game time in our home.  But allowed it daily for a short while just because it brought him such joy.  

He pined for his mother.  It was hard for me to get him to eat enough.  I would even try to tempt him with takeout food, we don’t normally eat, just to get him to eat something.  Anything. 

His care was intense.  It quickly took its toll on our family and energy even with nursing here some.  Antonio was already a lot of work but “B” was 24/7.  In the night he would cry out that his leg or arm was asleep and hurting and he could not move it.  So he had to be repositioned all night long.  His heavy head would fall into awkward positions and make breathing hard for him.  So we had to constantly be repositioning his head.  He did not have enough muscles to cough.  So he had to be suctioned a lot.  We had to help him to the bathroom or change a diaper.  With no muscle tone, his body was like a huge sack of rice that was slowly crumpling up and sinking down.  We had to constantly reposition him all the time.   He was heavy.  Bless his moms heart.  I can see why she had the issues she had, being his only caregiver all those years alone.  

Those days he was with us were wonderfully fun days for the children and we made some wonderful memories.  But having two very large children as involved and in wheel chairs as Antonio and “B” pushed our physical strength to its limits.  Everything in Antonio’s care is very time consuming.  It was double with “B” in our home.  We fell into bed exhausted at night and had to take turns getting up in the night if nursing didn’t show up.  God was so good to carry us thru as always.  He lived with us till his mom got out of jail and she did her case plan.  He then went back home.

It wasn’t many months and I heard thru the grapevine that he was back in care again and placed in a medically fragile foster home in another county.   I felt badly for his mother as I know how hard life was for her.  I felt badly for him as I remembered how close he was bonded to his mom and how he suffered the last time he was away from her.   Since he was placed in another county we never saw him again but he was always in our prayers and the children mentioned him often. 
Last Wednesday I got a call that he passed away.  He was still in care and was having a surgery to lengthen his arm.  As they put in the last stitch he went into cardiac arrest.  He was 9 years old. 

We went to the reception and funeral.  There are no words.  People think that if you’ve lost a child you know what to say when someone looses theirs.  That is not so.  There are just no words.  No comfort.  Nothing to be said that can help anyone feel better when going thru that.  The only thing that brought us comfort at that time in our life was God.  Was the knowledge that we would see them again in heaven soon.  Our bodies were never created to feel such pain... 

If you think of it this week or in the weeks to come.  Please pray for all the people that were involved in “B”’s life.  God knows his name.  It was a great sadness all the way around.  I pray for his mother.  Who was so worn down and broken in life and had not had him in her arms and home for so long... and now he is gone.  I pray for his doctors who knew him all his life and did the surgery and he slipped from this life in their care.  How hard for them to live with.  For DFCs workers and case workers that knew him so well and worked with him and loved him too.  He was such a personality.  He just drew in anyone who spent even a moment of time with him.  His therapist who loved him and worked with him for years, so hard, to keep him mobile and progressing.  For his current foster family.  He lived with them over a year.  We had him a short time and feel the loss of him deeply.  For them….How hard. 

Life is so precious.  I appreciate everyone of you, that take the time to invest your time in our family.  Whether it be in reading my blog, thinking of us in passing, writing to me, being a part of our family or just leaving comments to encourage me.   I appreciate you all and thank you all.  But the things I covet the most.  The thing that changes circumstances and is so powerful are your prayers.   Thank you for your prayers and for praying for this family.   As they will never be the same again. 

 

Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.


1 Corinthians 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

In His service,
susan

Monday, September 16, 2013

18 Years!

I can not even begin to explain or rather… there are no words to paint the picture and do it justice…the relationship that Tim and I have.  It is a blessing beyond blessings.   The full life we have had together in those 18 years.  The love that grows deeper and stronger every day. 

We met while I was attending his dads church.  We became very good friends.  I was divorced with a young son.  
As we got to know each other, he went out of his way to not only be my friend but Stephens friend as well.  He was so tender and kind to my son, who was hurting from a terrible divorce.  It deeply touched my heart.  Tim’s naturally kind and gentle ways. His tender heart.  The way he wants to be helpful to all who he knows.  Tim really does live the Word of God in all he does.  What you see is what you get with him.  He is the kindest and best of men. 

After two years of friendship our relationship became romantic.  We courted.

We got married.
He didn’t know what he was in for!!! I was head strong and independent.  He was patient, gentle and kind.  Over time I softened to his gentle leadership and followed his lead, as he is biblically the head of our household. 

He accepted and embraced Stephen as his son.  We got pregnant with William on or soon after our honeymoon.  So Tim went from having no children to two sons in less than a year.
Tim took it all in stride and was patient, gentle and kind.  He dotes on me and I on him.  We make a good team.  We are one. 

Going into our second year of marriage we started foster care and adopting children.  Tim loved them all, like his own.  He never showed favoritism.  He was always so patient, gentle and kind. 

We almost lost Tim in 1999.  It is a miracle story that I wrote about in my book I hope to publish soon.  I know the below picture is not a very good picture but I took very few pictures around the time Tim was sick.  I was just trying to hold things together.  He does not tan.  He is very fair complected.  His orange color there is from jaundice.  He became skeletally thin by the time they put him on life support. 
His health declined till he was on life support.  I was told there was no hope and to make arrangements for his passing.  God, did an absolute miracle in the midnight hour and glory to God, Tim is here today!  Going thru that drew us even closer.  For better or worse, in sickness and in health…

Because of the huge amount of doctor bills and trying to survive thru that long drawn out health crisis, we sold almost all we had trying to pay them all and stay afloat.  We ended up loosing our home and having a vehicle repossessed. (For richer or poorer... We still are making a payment from that time in our life.)  That is how we ended up on my dads farm.  My mom and dad were very supportive thru that hard time.  God is so good.  He has always taken care of us.   

In February of 1998 we took in a very special needs baby.  An eight month old baby that had been starved and neglected.  She was 8 pounds when we got her after the hospital stay to stabilize her and bring her weight up some.  So she was much smaller when taken into care.  I have shared pictures of when she first came into care with very few people.  As they are just heart wrenching.  She had many genetic double ups and was mentally profound.  She never learned to talk, chew, stand or crawl.  She self abused all her waking hours.
She was a high maintenance little one.  But oh so beautiful and such a blessing.  She was truly so needy of care and love.  When DFCS terminated rights we adopted her. 
She was the child that God used to open our eyes and hearts to taking in all the other children with special needs we have ever taken.  God used her to call us to adopt, any and all, the children with special needs He would ask us to.
She was precious to us all.
In 2001, just 4 months shy of her 4th birthday, we lost our daughter Faith Anne.  Those were very dark and hard days for us both.  God was our rock and we clung to each other to get thru every moment.  The pain indescribable. Tim was fully there for us all every day and continued to get up and go to work daily, when I could not even make myself get out of bed.  There are no words.

As the years went by we went thru many hard, long, drawn out cases with DFCS.  We lost count after having fostered 41 children that came thru our home.   Many children that came from hard places and needed us to be strong for them, by the grace of God.  Many children that had life threatening situations and surgeries.  Tim was always a hardworking, participating, helpful husband, dad and foster dad to them all every day.  God was our rock we stood upon thru it all. 

Tim always was the same wonderful, godly man.  I have never heard him raise his voice at one of the children or at me.  He is patient beyond patient. 

Life marched on and Stephen grew up and moved out on his own.  :(  Tim was so gentle and loving to me thru that time.  Knowing me so well and just very tender to this mama's heart.

We went thru having a "trouble teen" nephew come to live with us for three years. We saw God do a miracle in that young man right before our eyes, as Tim and I just offered Gods love, bible teaching, support, a home, guidance and acceptance. All the glory to God!

Tim has held me and comforted me through ridicule and loss of family and friends from doing what God has called us to do.  He loved me unconditionally when I have acted unlovable.  He treated me exactly the same no matter if I weighted 130 or 350 pounds.  He never said a word about it.  We have prayed hard and cried hard together when the children have went thru hard things and have suffered.  We have laughed hard and enjoyed together, the joys and blessings God has given us daily in raising our children.
  
We have been thru many health crisis for both him and myself.  Tim has laid hands on me and prayed for me more times than I can count.  He has taken care of me when I could not take care of myself and I him.  He has wiped my tears and held me tight when I needed comfort.  As I sleep in the wee morning hours, I never remember him missing a day of kissing me good bye when leaving for work and saying "I love you" in my ear... or kissing me first thing when he comes in the door after a long day.  He texts me several times a day telling me he loves me and checking to see how I am.  He calls nightly on his way home from work asking if I need anything from town.  He works very hard to support his large family and God provides. 

I go out of my way to make sure dinner is on the table and the house is in order when he gets home from work.  I make sure there is nothing that he has to do around our home at all.  Just go to work, come home, eat and enjoy the kids.  The kids and I do all the farming, house work, home schooling, gardening, yard work...all of it.  The "fix it" "honey do list" is mine.  Tim gets up at 2:30 a.m. every morning and goes in to work and doesn't usually get home till 3:30 or 4:00 p.m.  He is in bed between 7-8 p.m.  He works long hours and I am grateful for the privileged to stay home.  So in appreciation I try to make life as easy on him as possible.

In turn, he looks for ways to help me around the house.  He helps put Antonio to bed at night.  Which is a lot of work.  Any babies or foster children we have had he also participated in bedtime.  When I am having a hard time in my health, energy or have had a very busy week of appointments...if he sees something I am behind on...he just steps in and does it.  On days I am gone all day with appointments he often offers to do dinner for me or bring something home.  I love him dearly for all this. 

These 18 years have been so full and have taught us so much.  But the biggest thing that we have learned is that God is who HE says He is.  That He is always faithful.  His Word is true.  That even through the hardest of times.  The times that we felt like we would not live thru it, He did as He said He would and used it all for good.  Praise be to God!  

Glory to God, Tim and I have the precious life the bible speaks of.  
Have we had ruff patches in our marriage?  Of course.  Do I ever get upset with him?  We are human.  Yes.  Do we have to work at it?  Yes, we sure do.  But we have learned to never neglect each other no matter how busy or hard things get.  We always spend quality time together at least a few days a week.  Even if it is just a date night in bed with a movie and treat to eat. 

God is so good to me.  Beyond what I could ever ask. Beyond what I could ever deserve.  Thank you God for Tim in my life.  For these 18 years of marriage.  

May I be as much of a blessing to him as he is to me.

Genesis 2:22-24  And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.



Happy Anniversary Tim!  You are, aside from God, my deepest love, my best friend, a wonderful provider, the best husband, most wonderful dad...one of my greatest blessings. Love you always and forever!

Your loving wife, 
susan