Today, it's my birthday :). I've sent the weekend with my mom and ladies from her church at a Women's Confence in Leesburg and had a nice time!
Today we head back home and I'm glad for that as well, though. I'm sure there's a little Kristopher that has been counting down the days for two weeks until Mommy is 30. Who would want to disappoint a 7 year old by not showing your face on your birthday?
I did, however, make it difficult on my Facebook friends... I posted this last night:
What? You can't write on my wall?? :). Maybe... I did it on purpose :). You see, every day that I sign on to Facebook I look to the column that has birthdays and if I have a minute, I send of a Happy Birthday shout out to friends. But then, when I go to check in and see how a friend is going three days after their birthday, and I haven't seen or heard from them in a week, I have to search through 50,000 birthday greetings back page after page to find out what they are up to and not just read the many (often wonderful and inspiring!) birthday posts. So, yes, I intentionally blocked my wall this weekend because yes, it's my birthday. And yes, I'm THIRTY! :). And no, I don't even mind :). But I'm not so fond of the 50 million individual birthday posts, so I took it in to my own hands. So mean of me :). Thank you to those who have already wished me a private happy birthday :) Sorry you felt left out that you couldn't post it on my wall :). I promise... It's not just you :)
As one of the conference leaders so aptly put it yesterday, "God's done quite a bit in your life already, can't wait to see what the next 30 nd more years hold!". I tend to agree. The last 6 years, especially, have been one blessing and trial after another, but what a wonderful road God has us on!
Here's what God has done in my life the last 30 years...
I was raised in a Christian home, and accepted Christ and made a life change to live for him just before my 15th birthday. Just less than a year later I began dating the kid that always bugged and picked on me through school. I thought it was so he'd leave me alone, but Gods plans were different. In August 2000, just weeks after our high school graduation, Michael proposed and we were married in July 2001. We had a plan for the next few years... Finish college, have a baby, buy a house, and start in our career fields, him working in the church and me taking care of our baby and working part time as life allowed. Then we wanted a second child, about 2 years apart. We knew we wanted more than that, but we stopped our life planning there.
Amazingly, we had heard God right on and our wedding, schooling, pregnancy that led to Kristopher's birth just 2 months after my own college graduation, and the birth of Brianna just 6 weeks shy of 2 years later were all right in line with our plans for life. We owned our house a car and mini van and Michael had also graduated just after Kristopher was born and worked at Park Avenue church.
Our planning must have stopped there for a reason, because God took it from there and made the magic that our family is today...
Brianna was diagnosed with Down syndrome at 8 weeks old. Then two days later we learned she had a major heart defect and needed open heart surgery. That same day a child that is like a courtesy nephew to us was dropped off on our door step for the next 5 weeks because his mother had nothing and no one, lived over and hour away, and was about to have another baby. He'd was 14 months old. We then struggled big time dealing with the diagnosis and fear for our newborn, a wild and undisciplined 14 month old that also liked to embed his jaws in to Kristopher's arms, and a happy little 25 month old Kristopherr whose world had now been rocked then rocked, then rocked in the last 2 months.
Brianna had open heart surgery then ended up with a g-tube all at 5 months old. She was in the hospital 3 hours away for 19 days and again our family was separated. Thank God for grandparents that kept Kristopher...
Through all the difficulties that her diagnosis brought, getting through the heart surgery was really the biggie. We loved Brianna for exactly who she was and is, and her diagnosis took some adjusting, but didn't scare us. When she was 18 months old we decided to adopt...
We traveled just after her second birthday and my sister filled in as mommy for a month while Michael and I went to Ukraine. We tried to adopt 5 year old Aleksa only to be told no because she was in a mental institution that couldn't understand our true intentions of wanting to parent her. Then we instead brought home Emma and Micah, two very different children than we had prepared our hearts and homes for.
At 6 weeks home Emma was diagnosed through heart catheterization as being terminal. She was given about 6 months and we were told to take her home and enjoy her. The roller coaster continued when the very next day after returning home Micah was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. His 5 day stay continued to shake our family and our world.
Much ensued during the mean time, but Emma had surgery for her tonsils and adenoids to have them removed in June of 2008, the hope and prayer that it would in some way help her to be able to have the heart surgery she desperately needed. 8 days later she came home in bad shape, and her heart surgery was scheduled, though it was explained to us that the likelihood of a successful heart repair was very very low and still would have many complications.
August 4th we said goodbye to our baby girl, just 5 1/2 years old and barely over 20 pounds who we had only just begun getting to know. On August 8th we took her home, happy, healed, and with a wonderful life outlook!!!
Since that day Emma's lungs have done what is medically not possible... They've begun to heal themselves from the years of damage that was caused by her major heart defect...
Just a few months later we learned that another baby would be entering our lives and in September 2009, Lynae was born. Michael went to Kenya for a mission trip over New Year's that year and while he was gone I discovered a little boy with Down syndrome on the Florida adoption website. With Michael's permission to inquire, we began the process of another private home study, 11 weeks of MAPP parenting classes through the state, and James' placement in our home in May 2010. That July God called Michael specifically to the face of another little boy in Ukraine, and we prepared to bring Wesley, a quadriplegic with unknown past and future, in to our family.
I traveled on a mission trip to Ukraine with a friend and was contacted in that time by a missionary. She didn't know it at the time, but she was the angel we had hoped and prayed for, but we didn't know the extent we would be blessed by it. We never knew what had happened
to little Aleksa, the girl we couldn't adopt 3 years earlier. Alla knew her and not only gave us news about her, but advocated to the director for us to be able to adopt her now. Thinking it was impossible because we hadn't filled out all the paperwork for two children, we quickly learned that God had prepared the way for us, with all of our paperwork including an application to US immigration where we had asked for approval for one child... Approving for two.
On September 17th we first heard from Alla and knew that Aleksa was still alive and well. Exactly three months later, on December 17th, I took Aleksa out of the institution gates for the very last time!!! Wesley joined us as well and came to me just 2 days later. We spent our first Christmas using Skype to see our family and came home on December 29th.
It's been one year since God added #7 and 8 to our family, and now we are expecting baby #9, planned to arrive on July 31st. Michael still works at Park Avenue, I still have worked part time as needed, but am home with our children. Our mini van is still around, but that little car turned in to a 15 passenger van and those plans we didn't make have been radically taken over by a living God that has blessed us more abundantly than we could have known to ask for!
Michael and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage, and I couldn't have dreamed up a better husband, lover, and friend. Who knew in junior high that the kid kicking my crutches out from under me would be the same gentleman that led me through 39 hours of labor; who cuddled our smelly, angry, 5 year old in a foreign country and brought her home to tenderly hold her hand, kiss her face, and stand together with me as we faced what we thought would be her death; who said "yes" as God called us to a full and busy house of children born to us and children gifted to us from God; who would still smile and share his excitement when I told him that baby #9 was on the way... Just a few hours after I returned from being overseas for 9 days; who loves me unconditionally, fathers our children with God's tender grace, and makes each day a new adventure that I love to embrace alongside him...
So I don't mind saying that I am thirty years old today, and I am not afraid of the idea of getting older :). I consider it a great joy to be able to share the testimony of what God has done in Michael and my life in the last 30 years and as was said to me yesterday... I can't wait to see what God has planned for the next 30 and more years! I won't be making any plans! As good as mine may be, God's are always so much better, even when it brings us through trials unimaginable to get there...