Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making Time for Merry

As you know, the past week has taken my life in a direction I wasn't expecting, down a path I've never gone down before. A week ago is when we found Shea, opened our hearts to his heartbreaking story, and started our mission to save him. When something big like this happens, it's hard to think about anything else. It's like when you have an important doctors appointment, or a big career opportunity that would bring about a lot of change, or when you first find out your baby is going to be born with spina bifida. That knowledge that something big is looming in front of you. Something that may be good, or scary, or sad. It invades even the most mundane of activities.
You think about it when you fold the laundry, go to the grocery store, clean the kitchen.
You think about it as you make your son chocolate milk for the 3rd time that day. :)
You think about it when you snuggle up to read a book with him.
You think about it when you tie his shoes.
And of course, perhaps the hardest time to think about it but most unavoidable - at night when you lay in bed.
And you pray about it alone. Every day. And you pray about it with your husband. Every night.
And you talk about it with family and you chat about it with friends and you write messages on facebook back in forth with those who are thinking about it with you.
And somewhere in all of that... you are living your life.
Life doesn't stop because your anxious, or worried, or even planning for the future. We learned this when we were pregnant with Jet. Just because we were worried about him and what the future held, it didn't mean we didn't have to go to work and interact with people. And I'm so thankful it also didn't keep us from enjoying things like going to get coffee, watching a funny movie, or delicious family dinners.
We still laughed, we still loved, we still lived.
We never stopped thinking about our unborn baby.
We never stopped loving him or wishing we could do more for him.
We never stopped praying that God would protect him and strengthen him.
But neither did we stop thanking God for being with us and trusting Him in everything.
And that is what I am reminding myself to do now.
To let God be in control - because as soon as I think I am in control that's when things truly fall apart.
To believe that God will grant me what I'm praying for when I pray for patience and guidance.
To enjoy the blessings we have - even while we're praying for someone who doesn't.
To play with our silly boy and holiday shop and mail Christmas cards!
To live each day with a happy heart.
To remember to drink hot cocoa...
...and gaze at the tree and all the holiday decorations.
To smile at the ornaments- as they only come out of the box for about 30 days of the year...
old and new....
his and hers :)...
I will be remember to be blissful in the knowledge of who these sweet little ornaments belong to...
...and how much joy he brings to our lives.
And I will not forget the comfort that an evergreen wreath and a hallway full of family photos can bring...
And I will make time for "merry" no matter what.
So Happy Holidays from our family!
And a very, heartfelt thank you to all who have donated, initiated fundraisers, and otherwise supported Shea so far. He deserves to be merry too - and we are working on that...with your help. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sessions for Shea

Please read the newest post on Shea's blog (click on the red link) for our first local fundraiser idea! It's happening this Saturday and we are so excited so check it out now!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saving Shea: The Rainbow

You know those moments in your life when you feel time stop.
Whether it be that split-second when you thought that car was going to hit you.
Or the minutes you hold your breath before the doctor says "everything looks fine."
The moment that follows when you first see the ring in his hand.
And that first glimpse that you get of your newborn baby's face.
We all have them.
They can be terrifying or exciting.
The scariest or most beautiful thing you've ever experienced.
But whatever the emotion - you're shaken.
Whatever the outcome - you're changed.
And you know it was important.
And however long the moment actually lasted - you can remember how you felt at that exact moment...forever.
This is one of those moments for me.
The past 3 days all combined together in one, big, all-encompassing moment that just keeps going on and on.
And it all started when I saw his face.
This is Shea.
Shea - isn't that a beautiful name?
A beautiful name to match his soulful eyes and cropped, blonde hair.
I'm not sure how I found him. Just one of those series of events where you're reading a familiar blog, that leads you to another new and exciting blog, that tells you a story, that leads you to a rainbow, and at the end of that rainbow ...is something very special.
And 3 days ago, at the end of a beautiful rainbow - I found Shea.
And once I found him - I realized it wasn't just some series of events.
I was brought there.
My family was brought there.
And though I'm am still asking and praying and waiting to know exactly why we were brought there -
But there is one thing I am sure of.
Shea needs us.
And we are going to save him.
You may ask..why does Shea need saving?
Well, when I found Shea, I didn't just find a picture - I found a few sentences underneath the picture.

Boy, Born October 17, 2006

Shea only became cleared for adoption very recently, so we are so hopeful he will find a family quickly. He is facing the institution very soon because of his age.

From his medical records: primary hydrocephaly, shunt dependent (has one in now), disorder of function of pelvic organs, paralytic clubfoot of both feet, spina bifida. Very good and smart boy. He can speak very well, he can only sit - he is in plaster cast so he cannot stand and walk.

Shea will remain bedridden the rest of his life once he is transferred.

That's right.

Shea is an orphan.

An orphan who is 4 years old.

An orphan facing an institution in Ukraine.

An orphan born with Spina Bifida.

Do you see now why Shea needs saving? I'm sure it's not hard to guess why this little angel has grabbed a hold of my heart and won't let go -so closely connected to the story of my own sweet little angel. It's probably not a mystery as to why David and I have stayed up late for 3 days talking about what to do...what this means to our family...how we can save him. And like I said, I don't have all the answers right now - but I did contact the people at Reece's Rainbow and we signed up to be Prayer Warriors for Shea as well as volunteered to help raise money for his adoption grant. There is no obligation from Reece's Rainbow - they don't call you up or keep tabs on your efforts. It is all up to the individual. It was up to me to contact them - and it is up to us how much we help. On the right margin of the blog you will see a "chipin" link allowing anyone and everyone to donate toward Shea in his journey finding his family. As you can see on the "chipin" link - Shea's funds are nothing. He has nothing. And adoption in Shea's country is 25,000 dollars on average. This is where we need your help.


You can help us save him.

The woman who inadvertently led me to Shea, is hosting a fundraiser for another little baby named Cliff. In her plead for help she expressed perfectly what I would say to you about Shea.

Please read it here.

It is exactly what I want to say.

Hopefully soon I will have a blog button to display our mission for Shea and link back to this post. When I do, I would be so grateful if my fellow bloggers would add it to their as well.

If you don't blog, please copy and paste the link to this post (in the web address bar above) on facebook or copy the post itself to an email. We need as many helpers as we can get to raise enough funds to make it possible for Shea to be adopted as soon as possible. He needs money. Any amount you can give is enough. It will make a difference. We can't be sure how long he has before he will be forced to leave the orphanage and be committed to an institution and far from any help.

And please, pray for us.

Pray that God will continue to guide us and use our family for His glory.

Pray that His will for will be done for Shea and that He will keep Shea safe until he is able to be adopted.

Pray that Shea will be given healing and strength and peace every day, and feel God's love upon him.

Thank you so much, and may God bless you.

- David, Joanna and Jet

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Belated-Birthday Rocco!

I can't believe we missed it!
The last day of November just slipped by unnoticed.
November 30th came and went without fanfare or festivities - but that doesn't change the fact that this November 30th we had great cause for celebration.
For as of yesterday -
November 30th, 2010 -
Rocco is one year old.
Now hold on a minute (you're thinking) who in world is Rocco?!
Why are we celebrating his birthday?!
Why have we not heard of him before?!
All valid questions.
And I will answer all of them.
Rocco joined our family a year ago yesterday. We knew it was possible he would be coming to live with us - we just didn't know for sure if or when. When we first heard the news that Rocco was indeed going to be joining our family - we felt heart-sick, scared, and worried. We had hoped we wouldn't ever need to meet him. We weren't sure what this addition to our family would mean. How he would change our lives. I cried. We prayed.
We hadn't wanted him.
But we knew in our hearts, that Rocco coming would be a good thing thing.
The best thing.
Because as much as we didn't want Rocco -
Rocco was coming to save Jet's life.
Our Jet needed Rocco - and Rocco would be there to help him.
Now Rocco comes from a large family. And we had heard stories of some of his family members who had also gone to live with different friends of ours. Sometimes the stories were good - successful stories that encouraged us that everything was going to be okay.
But sometimes the stories were full of frustration, difficult transitions, and disfunction.
We hoped Rocco would be an answered prayer - not an unwelcome nightmare.
The day we got Rocco is a bit of a blur.
We were up early and on our way to prepare to receive him. Family met up with us to offer support. We waited for the time when Jet would have to leave us to go get Rocco - only Jet could go - Rocco was for Jet.
When we were alone we prayed that Jet and Rocco would have a successful meeting - that Jet would accept Rocco and that Rocco would be able to help Jet the way he was supposed to.
God heard our prayers.
The meeting was successful.
We stayed overnight so we could be sure that Rocco was doing his job and Jet was okay.
The next day we went home - and Rocco went with us.
He is still with us.
He has been with Jet every minute and has done his job perfectly every day.
Every day - for one year.
We have never had a problem.
We have never had to separate them.
He has been a Rock-Star - just like our little Jet.
They make the perfect team.
That's why we named him Rocco. He is strong - rock solid.
And I looked it up today -the name "Rocco" means "rest".
Very appropriate considering he did bring us peace of mind and rest this year.
So today we celebrate his (belated) birthday - by thanking Rocco for 1 year of successful service.
And thanking God for allowing Rocco to be an option to save our then 6 month old baby boy.
Because fluid on the brain - it's not okay.
The pressure and problems hydrocephalus can cause are innumerable - and often deadly.
Without the doctors and technology we have today - that allowed "Rocco-the-shunt" (did you guess it? :) yep - Rocco is Jet's shunt.) to be placed in our son's head to drain that fluid off -
we might not have our little miracle today.
So Happy Birthday Rocco!!
You are a life-saver and a blessing and we are so thankful for you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Year and Half of Heaven-Sent Happiness

Who knew 18 months could be so handsome?
Or curious..
Or thoughtful...
Or funny...
Or silly...
Or super wonderful!
18 months has brought the words "aptitude" and "attitude" to new levels. :) Jet is surprising us everyday with what he knows and can do - taking steps and getting so strong and independent. And with that independence has come a brand new feistiness that neither of us have ever seen before! lol. Jet is all about what Jet wants to do and when and how he wants to do it. He's still as sweet and cuddly as pie - but instead of a sweet peach pie he's more of an apple tart! He's learning what is okay and NOT okay to do though and we're staying on our toes trying to teach and guide this little elf into getting presents instead of coal in his stocking. ;) But he has never been more loved, adored and cherished as he is now and we are so grateful for this little boy.
Happy Half-Birthday little man!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So Thankful

You know you've been busy...
When your son takes his FIRST STEPS 4 days ago and you haven't sat down to blog about it!!!
I mean, what is going on here?! Can any of you believe it!? I am usually creating reasons to blog and now I have a HUGE one and I can't sit down at the computer!
Until now...
So yes.
Our little boy took 3 and 4 steps at a time several times this past Saturday!
Did we know it was coming? NO!
But did I have the camera ready? YES! lol.
Well technically this is a reenactment - but I did get video on my phone of the actually first stepping moments.
Sweet little miracle steps.
You know, we experience so many feelings as parents. Joy, anticipation, fear, love, sadness, gratitude - but all these are never so acute or ever-changing as those I've seen in those families who have special journeys - like ours - with SB. One day you're standing on top of mountains, the next you feel as if you'll never get out of the darkest valley you've ever been in. I suppose all life is that way at times - but those families who I'm speaking of (including my own) can especially relate. It's a miraculous, tumultuous journey and I can't witness a single milestone or give thanks for a single blessing without thinking of everyone else on this journey with us. Having these families with us - encouraging us - inspiring us - is possibly the greatest gift God could have given us to help us through. I feel it's how He tells me - "I've not left you alone. Here our some others - like you - who will help you. I will help them to help you. And you will help them as well."
You - all of you - you are God's gift to me.
And I am so thankful.
But along with the blessings we offer each other in the form of understanding and support - I have to admit there are times when I fight feelings of sadness or worry, when I compare my child with other children on this journey.
"Will my child ever do that?"
"Should my child already be doing that?"
I'm sure all of us have heard such questions echoing in our heads. Why do some families keep facing obstacles that others don't have to? Why is that little boy crawling while my older child can't sit up? Why is her child talking when my child is 5 months older? Don't they all have Spina Bifida? Wasn't her lesion in the same place as my daughter's? Why are they so different??

I find it part of my routine explanation of SB to say to others "well, every child with SB is different, just like every child without SB is different, no matter how similar they may seem" - but do I believe my own definition? Apparently not. I compare and question along with everyone else in the world. Why do we do this?? It just puts pressure and strain on an area of our life that in so many ways we can't control. It blinds us from seeing the little blessings before us when we have our sights set on the "next big milestone"! We can't celebrate the little victories when we keep trying to take on the next battle.
I'm sure many of my fellow SB mommies look at Jet and think "Wow. He is doing so well! I wish mine were doing "_____." (fill in the blank). And I agree! He is doing amazing! :) But I wanted to share that I don't always see things that way - I see other SB kids walking at 16 and 17 months and mine's 18 months and just starting. I hear them talking and counting and sounding so adorable! And I can count Jet's words on 2 fingers (although I have to say I think "mama" and "dada" are the best words anyone could ever say. :) But this comparing - though natural- isn't healthy. It makes me feel like we're not doing good enough. It brings us down. It distracts us.
"You're crazy! Jet is doing so GREAT!" you'd probably say. And yes - I am! We are all crazy! Because every time we take these things for granted - every time we wish our children were doing something better then what they've just accomplished - it's like we are throwing these blessings in God's face and saying "this isn't good enough - I want him to crawl/stand/walk BETTER, SOONER, FASTER!" We don't mean to - but we stop being thankful and start being demanding. It makes me shudder to think how many times I've done that.
But God is so GOOD!
He doesn't take the blessing away or send a lightening bolt to strike me where I stand.
He gives me time.
He gives me you.
He gives me perspective.
My bracelet from Kari came today - I was so excited as I was unwrapping the tissue paper - couldn't wait to put it on! I didn't remember what I had asked to be embossed on the little ring charm until I turned it around and read with great familiarity - PERSPECTIVE.
Beautiful, Wise Perspective, herself, had arrived once again and now joins me on my wrist to follow me wherever I go. And as I type she reminds me once again to Thank God for the blessings we've been given. For the gifts our children have - the different talents and ways they excel. They don't all do things the same, or at the same time, or in the same way - but they all do one amazingly, beautiful thing - they give perspective. To us. To our families and friends. To the SB community. To total strangers.
The give perspective every day to everyone they touch with their lives.
And what a precious gift that is.
I, for one, can never have enough.
And I am so thankful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Fun offer for fellow Bloggers!

Attention Blogger Buddies!

You can get 50 FREE Holiday cards from Shutterfly with a promo code that they, themselves will send to you! All you have to do is write a 150+ word post on what card you like the best!! You can't beat free! ;-)

I saw this offer on another friends blog and had to do it myself! Christmas cards can be time consuming but I love getting them and Shutterfly has so many cute designs this year! Last year was our first year doing Christmas cards (had to show off the little guy of course!) and I loved how they turned out. This year we are using Shutterfly and I can't wait to get started! There are so many beautiful cards to choose from! One that instantly caught my eye is this one:

I love the contrasting colors and the simple design. The message is short and sweet and matches the youthful look of the card. The fact that the photo is the focal point made this design an instant favorite (you know I love pictures! lol) and it keeps it from looking too busy. I can picture my own little guy on the front which of course would be just precious. :) Right?!

I also love this card:

It has the option of using multiple photos (if I can't make up my mind!) and I like the contrast of the black with the faded green and red. Of course it will depend on the picture we choose and I haven't quite narrowed that down yet but I can't wait to decide on the perfect picture for our Christmas card!
So don't wait! Check it out for yourself!

· photo Christmas cards to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery

· wall calendar to http://www.shutterfly.com/calendars/wall-calendars

· gift tags to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-gift-tags

***Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly… learn more: http://bit.ly/sfly2010

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