12.09.2011

gotcha day - judah fuxue!

Hard to believe we celebrated Judah's 1-year Gotch Day this week!! 
What a year!  Boy, has God blessed this little boy!

Gotcha Day (actually, night) - December 2010


Lip Surgery - March 2011

Judah's Dedication - May 2011 (courtesy Ben Vanoy)

Summer - June 2011

Palate Surgery - June 2011

Fall - September 2011

I'm TWO - October 2011

London, Millenium Bridge...where we received Judah's referral call July 2010 -
October 2011


12.06.2011

a chinese legend

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
Rom 1: 19-20

Once upon a time, in the heart of the Western Kingdom, lay a beautiful garden. And there in the cool of the day was the Master of the Garden wont to walk. Of all the denizens of the garden, the most beautiful and most beloved was a gracious and noble bamboo. Year after year, Bamboo grew yet more noble and gracious, conscious of his Master's love and watchful delight, but modest, and gentle withal. And often, when Wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would cast aside his grave stateliness, to dance and play right merrily, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great Dance of the Garden which most delighted the Master's heart.

Now upon a day, the Master himself drew near to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy. And Bamboo, in a passion of adoration, bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting. The Master spoke:

"Bamboo, Bamboo, I would use thee."

Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days had come, the day for which he had been made, the day to which he had been growing hour by hour, the day in which he would find his completion and his destiny. His voice came low:

"Master, I am ready. Use me as thou wilt."

"Bamboo" — the Master 's voice was grave — "l would fain take thee and — cut thee down."

A trembling of a great horror shook Bamboo. "Cut . . . me . . . down! Me . . . whom thou, Master, hast made the most beautiful in all thy garden . . . to cut me down! Ah, not that, not that. Use me for thy joy, O Master, but cut me not down."

"Beloved Bamboo" — the Master's voice grew graver still — "if I cut thee not down, I cannot use thee."

The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head. There came a whisper:

"Master, if thou canst not use me but thou cut me down . . . then . . . do thy will and cut."

"Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would . . . cut thy leaves and branches from thee also."

"Master, Master, spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust; but wouldst thou take from me my leaves and branches also?"

"Bamboo, alas, if I cut them not away, I cannot use thee." The sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away.

And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low.

"Master, cut away."

"Bamboo, Bamboo, I would yet . . . cleave thee in twain and cut out thine heart, for if I cut not so, I cannot use thee."

Then was Bamboo bowed to the ground.

"Master, Master . . . then cut and cleave."

So did the Master of the Garden take Bamboo and cut him down and hack off his branches and strip off his leaves and cleave him in twin and cut out his heart. And lifting him gently, carried him to where was a spring of fresh, sparkling water in the midst of his dry fields. Then pulling one end of broken Bamboo in the spring and the other end into the water channel in his field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo. And the spring sang welcome and the clear sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of Bamboo's torn body into the wailing fields. Then the rice was planted, and the days went by, and the shoots grew and the harvest came.

In that day was Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant, but in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master's world.

—Author Unknown (shared via an AWAA family)

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
Psalm 19:1-4


10.26.2011

london recap 1

Our family just returned from an 8-day trip to London -- we traveled with a group of dear friends from our church family -- and I'm hoping over the next few days to share a little about out trip.

And, yes, we did take the boys.  And , no, we are not crazy.

Vince and I took our first trip to London last summer, and we took Micah with us.  And I think people thought we were crazy then, as well.

So why do we take our two toddlers trekking around the world??  I thought I'd go ahead and settle that question before sharing about the trip itself.  (Ha! Then you can decide for yourself, whether we're crazy...or not.)

God's Word says...Deut 11:16-21
Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

More and more Vince and I encounter parents whose children have turned away from the Lord.  And these moms and dads seems to be well-meaning and God-fearing, yet their children are disinterested in following Christ for themselves.  (And I'm not talking about casual church attendance--these teens/young adults attend church--but only in body, not in spirit.)  And everyone, from parents to church leadership, is wondering why the disconnect??  I could speculate, but I honestly don't have an holistic answer.  But I can assume that one disconnect has lead to another disconnect.

God's Word also says...Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

It seems that more and more people are in agreement that parents cannot wait until their children enter their teens before beginning discipleship.  Nor should families rely on the church for their children's spiritual training.  One to two hours of Bible teaching per week just isn't enough.  Not for our children, and not for us as parents.

We don't want to miss the "window" with our boys.  We want them to look back over their lives, and say, "You know, I can't remember a time when our family wasn't worshipping or serving the Lord together." 

Jesus said...Matt 12:43-45:
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

And we especially don't want to our children to flounder...to be worse off...as they get older because mom and dad haven't been disciplined in preaching and teaching the Gospel to them...in season and out of season...which, taking two toddlers to London may appear to be out of season.

There's just too much at stake. Satan is crouching outside our doors, waiting to destroy our children.  And we're kidding ourselves if we think education, technology and SEC football are reliable guardians.  There is no guardian for the souls of our children, other than the full counsel of the Word of God.

Jesus said...Matt 28:18-20:
{btw- I hate when people leave verse 18 out the Great Commission}
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So, before you say that we're crazy, I hope you hear our hearts.

God's Word has been fixed upon our hearts, and we are attempting (by God's grace) to teach and train our children...even as we go along the road...that all authority has been given to Jesus for salvation...shutting out false teaching, and worthless idols...and that he has called us to obey all that he has commanded.  To the glory of God.

9.26.2011

love orphans? plant churches.

Well.  I intended to be back before now.  But life has been consumed with raising children and soul searching.  A healthy break, and a poignant reminder that my thoughts are essential to no one.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesian church:
3:8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Our church will be observing Orphan Sunday on Nov. 6 (hope yours will be as well).  I play a very limited part in what the observation will look like, but it's caused we to wonder (again) nonetheless...exactly what does it mean to care for orphans??  Now that Vince and I have completed two adoptions I ask myself this question even more deeply.  So many people are doing so many wonderful things for the cause of the orphan, yet still in my own heart I had not landed upon what it should look like--until recently.

I won't take you on that journey, but here's the conclusion that God has settled in my heart: plant churches.  New Testament, Gospel-driven, God-glorifying churches.  And plant them in communities where sin is robbing children of their families.  This is enduring, life-giving care to the orphan.  As a matter of fact, plant them everywhere!  Sin is claiming more than families. There possibly are organizations (and more hopefully, churches) that are doing this--I've not researched enough to know.

Paul also said:
1 Cor 15:3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...

...of first importance... is not that orphans are cared for--but that Christ is preached.  And it is through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known...when God's wisdom is received and embraced, orphans will be cared for.  And even greater than that, more children will remain with their birth families.  I know that God is sovereign and allows all kinds of things for all sorts of reasons (ultimately for His glory)--but that doesn't mean that we just accept man's depravity, which destroys families.

Rom 6: 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We either live in approval of sin, or, oppose it in power with the truth of the Gospel.

And as I think about planting churches, my heart fills with sadness because so many are willing to go...and have been called to go...but there aren't enough senders.  This is because we're not willing to embrace, as John Piper calls it, a war-time lifestyle.  God has promised to supply the resources to accomplish His work, so it's not for lack of resources that orphans aren't cared for and that sin is reigning.  The only explanation is that we are disobedient...or disbelieving.  Am I crazy?  (which is quite possible)

Rom 10:11For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
 14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

So. This is where I am.  Taking baby-steps to embrace my war-time lifestyle...because I believe that the darkness is fading and sin is losing its power to put to shame -- and, by the grace of God, may our family proclaim the Lord of all (bestowing his riches on all who call on him).

2 Cor 10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ...

8.15.2011

summer...

oh, summer...where have you gone???

Seriously!  This summer has blown by -- I suppose because our family was so focused on Judah's palate repair/recovery.  We are now almost 8-weeks post Judah's palate surgery, and his healing thus far has been remarkable!  At Judah's post-op visit several weeks ago, Dr Grant told me to let him run with scissors.  Ha!  Obviously he was being facetious, but I guess it was his way of assuring me that Judah was officially post-recovery!  Judah's palate looks beautiful -- better than I could have imagined!  Thank you, God!!  You would never know that his palate had been cleft!!  And widely cleft at that!  Although, at some point his uvula did fall off--not sure when because obviously Judah swallowed it.  I know...gross!  But I've been told it's not a critical appendage so we're not sweating it.

Although Judah's palate is beautiful, his teeth, well, are a bit crazy!  The two teeth on either side of his front teeth (incisors, canines??) are growing in through his palate--kind of behind his front teeth.  Not sure how that will pan out, but we'll see his dentist in the next few weeks for some insight.  I'm expecting that the misplacement of these teeth will affect Judah's speech development to some degree, but I praying not by much.

And speech...Judah is starting to make a lot of different sounds, as well attempting many new words.  Although his words are hard to understand because he talks like a ventrilaquist.  Not much mouth movements.  I'm sure it's probably sensory due to all the changes his mouth (inside and out) has undergone, but I feel like he'll over-come all that in short order!

Judah is also on a pretty normal diet.  He technically is allowed to eat anything, but we're taking it slow with crunchier foods.  Because he was on soft foods for the first 22 months of his life, he never really had to chew -- so he tends to gag on crunchier/tougher things like crackers and meat.  Even still, he is progressing in this area too!

And, he took his first steps this week-end!!  He has totally mastered crawling, cruising and even climbing, but he's now decided he's ready to walk.  And, oh, is that his personality!  He will decide when it's time for a new milestone...period!  He will not be rushed, when other skills are not yet mastered!!  Such a funny little fella!

And our sweet Micah is doing great!  Growing so fast!  Vince is convinced that Micah's feet will be a big as his in the next few years!  We also celebrated his 3rd birthday a few weeks ago!  And he was all about his birthday this year - so it turned into a week-long celebration!!  He still is consumed with all-things-music, but we have enrolled him in soccer this fall.  We'll see how that goes!  I think he'll enjoy it!  We've been practicing making goals in the back yard, and he's very excited about the concept of playing on a team!  Oh, and how could I forget...he's about 90% potty-trained.  Whoot!!

We'll...I'm sure I'm leaving a ton out, but I plan to be a little more regular with our blog...so I hope you'll visit again soon!!

6.26.2011

update: post-palate surgery

Most of you know that Judah had his palate surgery this past Wednesday.  After a few long days in the hospital, we came home Friday afternoon.  Recovery has gone slow -- poor Judah is absolutely miserable!  His surgeon told us that Judah's repair was pretty extensive (more than most), but that's because his cleft was bilateral and very wide!  (BTW- we love Judah's surgeon, Dr. John Grant, and the cleft team at Children's Hospital of AL!)  We'll see Dr. Grant in about three weeks, and at that point he should see good indication of Judah's healing, or foreseeable complications.  Of course, you know what we're praying for!  For now, it's a soft food diet and arm restraints.

Judah's nasal cavity, palate and top of his throat were all reworked (for lack of a better term), which I'm sure is extremely painful -- but he also has a low-grade fever and what appears to be a sinus infection.  Not only is he learning to breathe with a reduced air-way, his air-way is full of snot!  I think the most difficult part for him is sleep, simply because he cannot breathe and therefore constantly wakes himself up.

I've also wasted more juice, milk, pediasure, pedialyte, sorbet....he just is not in the mood to eat or drink...nothing feels right in his mouth.

All that said, he's been a trooper!  I really am proud of him!  He sure has been through a lot in the first 20-months of his life!  Gracious thanks to you who have been praying for him -- you're prayers are felt every day!!

6.18.2011

all about judah!

It's been a really, really long time since I've posted an update about Judah...sorry!!!  It's not that there isn't anything to tell...because there is!  But life with two toddlers is simply busy.  And blogging just doesn't make it to the top-few things I try to accomplish during my 1-2 hours of daily peace-and-quite.

So, Judah...

He's doing amazing!!  I like to call him my sweetness.  He's so laid back, and loves to cuddle and giggle -- and he is totally a mommy's boy! He is still playing catch-up -- but he makes progress every day!  We like to joke that he's a marathoner, NOT a sprinter (like his older brother)!  When he came to us in December, he knew nothing!  Literally!  Could not sit up, hold his bottle, feed himself...you name it!  He was a 14-month old new born.  But he's now doing all those things!  He started crawling in April, and he should be walking by the end of the summer. 

They (the professionals) say that for every month that a child is institutionalized, it will take as many subsequent months for them to catch up.  So we're looking at Feb 2012 as our goal for Judah to have mastered his age-appropriate skills (well, minus speech).

His cleft lip repair has healed nicely -- though it will be several more months before the scar tissue is gone.  We are now totally used to his new mouth!  It's hard to remember his precious, super-wide pre-repair mouth, so I'm glad we took tons of pics before his first surgery.

His palate surgery is scheduled for this Wednesday (Lord willing).  Our surgeon, Dr. John Grant (who is AMAZING) said there is a 90% chance that this will be the only palate repair Judah will need!  DEAR FRIENDS- will you please pray with us that this is the case -- that God will heal Judah with this surgery!  We don't ask for healing for selfish reasons, but that God would be glorified!  Judah will still need a gum line bone graft when his adult teeth come in, but that's several years down the road.

Once Judah recovers from his palate surgery, we'll start to hit speech therapy pretty hard!  He's so ready ready to talk (and sing)!  And he already tries to repeat much of what we say!  Some of his words -- mama, amen, I love you -- are actually a little intelligible.

sweetest little face! his little heart is open-wide!

first game of chase with big brother!
video

5.20.2011

family happenings

Adoption fellowship group with B'ham families!

Resurrection Sunday!



Mother's Day - Judah's dedication!
Off to last day of Mother's Day Out!

4.28.2011

help alabama

Feeling led to assist recovery efforts in Alabama?  Here are two ways that you can help (no matter where you live):

Grace's Kitchen
You can either assemble food bags for Grace's Kitchen, or make a monetary donation!
www.graceskitchen.org

Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief
Make a monetary donation, or volunteer your skills!
http://www.alsbom.org/dr

4.25.2011

It matters to God. My mailbox told me so.

UPDATE!  As of 4/28 Mother's Day cards have raised $2440 for Trees of Glory in Ethiopia!!

I hate to admit that this is very much a season in my life where my time in the Word and deliberate prayer often wanes.  That's just the way it is.  Yet this afternoon, I captured a moment while the boys were napping to read a few chapters in Romans and talk with my God.  A few thoughts surfaced--thoughts that have been heavy on my heart...

...is our concern for the least of these driven by impure motives...are we taking Scripture out of context, in order to prop-up do-good-deeds, because we're really just looking for an ego-trip...

So I simply asked God to examine my heart. To affirm our steps.  Or to redirect our paths.  We are passionate about serving the destitute and the marginalized.  We're always looking for ways to do more.  Not because we feel obligated, but because every need that is met is an open door for the Gospel.  For physical relief and spiritual healing.  Even still, the best of intentions always need to be examined before God, in the light of His Word.

After a few quite moments with the Lord, I closed my Bible.  And I walked outside to check the mail.  There were three envelopes inside.  One about our renters insurance.  Another, a thank-you note from a new mom that I had never met before, but several Believers wanted to bless her with a shower because she's not connected to a church (and I got to be apart).  The third piece of mail was from HopeChest.  It was a hand-written, translated letter from a child that we sponsor in Ethiopia.  He told us that he is doing well, and added 'praise God.'  He also wanted to know if we're coming to Ethiopia, and he asked that we pray for his school.

We've sponsored this child for over a year, and this is the first hand-written letter that we've received from him.

Can I just tell you that I was in awe.  I broke down in tears as I told Vince about what just happened.  I asked God to show me His heart, and test mine -- and with in a matter of minutes I found T's letter in our mail box.  Coincidence?  Absolutely not!  Affirmation?  Absolutely!

In that moment, I felt the weight of God's heart.  The marginalized, destitute and fatherless do matter to Him!  And He ordained in eternity-past that T's letter would be in our mailbox, to affirm our family.  Wow!  It's so easy to get discouraged by the noise of ridicule when it comes to Gospel social justice.  Thank you, Lord, that your voice rings truer and clearer!

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor...
For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.

Now switching-gears.  Kind-of.  (I feel this also falls in the it-matters-to-God category)   As of this afternoon, we're raise over $1200 for the Trees of Glory clean water well project.  Just $300-shy of last year's total for Kind Hearts play ground equipment.  What an honor is has been for me to make my simplistic cards.  If you haven't joined the fundraiser, there's still time to order cards!!  I will take orders through Sat, Apr 30.  For all the details, see my previous post below.

our sweet T at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia...he matters

4.04.2011

this mother's day: give her honor...and give THEM water!!

UPDATE!  As of 4/23, we've raised over $1000 together!!  $500 more to beat last year's total!!  $2000 more to double it!!
Thank you!!

You may remember, last year for Mother's Day, I teamed-up with Karen Wistrom & Kind Hearts care-point in Ethiopia (Children's HopeChest) to raise funding toward play ground equipment at the care point.  We raised over $1500.00 toward the equipment!  Other families also raised money via their own fundraisers, and the full balance required for the equipment was met (and even exceeded!!)!  And, as in any developing country, progress can be slow--but I'm excited to share that ground has been cleared and equipment is on order for the new play ground at Kind Hearts!!

This year I'm again working with Karen to raise money toward a clean water well project at another care-point in Ethiopia, Trees of Glory.  This is also a HopeChest program.  I asked Karen for the nuts-and-bolts of this care point, and she shared the following:

Trees of Glory is located 2 hours north of Addis near the village of Duber. It is very rural (beautiful countryside) and the residents in this area rarely have contact with Addis.
There are currently 99 kids attending TOG - with no running water. The staff walks a mile or more to a river and to a spigot to get water and they carry it back to the care-point on the backs of donkeys. It takes a ton of time everyday and it is very labor-intensive. And they teach the kids good hygiene - to wash before meals and after the toilet - so they go through a lot of water in addition to what they drink.
Every child at TOG is sponsored - but we will need more sponsor families as more children begin to enroll. Once we have a well - TOG expects that they can care for 200-300 kids!!

WOW!!  I have tears in my eyes to think that 200-300 could be ministered at Trees of Glory!! 
...could...
But without access to clean water, hundreds of children are missing meals, education, and (most importantly) the opportunity to hear the Gospel!

Clean water is a tender subject for our family, especially since both our boys were born in parts of the world where clean water often is nothing more than an empty water bottle tossed along a road-side...a reminder that it's available, but not accessible.  It's easy, in the comfort of America, to forget the health (and even life) that dirty water claims every day!!  Not to mention the care-givers at Trees of Glory--people with a passion for the children in their community...people that God has set apart to serve the children in their community...yet, often, most of their precious daylight hours are required to fetch water.  I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to want so much more for these children!!

We raised $1500 last year....wouldn't be amazing if we could double that??  I know we can!  As always, 100% of your donation will go to TOG-- I'm donating the stamps, supplies, and paypal fees!

Below are the two Mother's Day cards that are available.  The card will be similar to last year's --

card A

card B


THREE WAYS  to participate:
#1)  I mail the card(s) for you!
Make a donation by using the PayPal donation button on the right column. While making your donation, there is a place for special instructions so you can provide me the name and address of the woman you are honoring. I will print and mail your card the week before Mother's Day.
#2)  I mail the card(s) to you!
For a minimum donation of $20 I will mail you 5 cards -- this is for those who'd prefer to hand-deliver, personalize or include card(s) with a gift.  Make your donation using the PayPal button.  Under 'special instructions' tell me how many of which design you'd like (feel free to mix/match).  I will mail the cards to your address within 24 hrs of your request.
#3) Just want to make a donation, but don't need any cards? 
Contact Karen, Trees of Glory & Kind Hearts Sponsor Coordinator at kjwistrom@yahoo.com
Still have questions??
Don't hesitate to contact me at alisafmartin at yahoo dot com

Follow this link to check-out the progess on Kind Hearts water well!!!!
http://www.hopechest.org/how-kind-hearts-carepoint-spend-world-water-day/

3.18.2011

ways to help japan

Many of you are already involved, and know who's doing what, but just in case not...this is from Desiring God:  Help Japan—At Least Five Options

Click here to read more posts from John Piper regarding Japan.

3.13.2011

adoption isn't enough

I am so sick of heart about the unfolding changes in Ethiopian's adoption process.  You can read more about that here.  I'm not intending to jump the gun on the situation, and I am still hopeful that orphaned children will be united with their forever families, but...

what if...
could this be...

A wake-up call for the Christian community.  Around 2500 children were adopted from Ethiopia into US families in 2010.  2500 out of 5 million.  Please don't get me wrong -- every single one of those successful adoptions was nothing less than an act of God.  I know this first-hand, because our Micah Yoseph coming home in 2009 was an undeniable act of God.  But hear my heart...

Is it easy for us, when our adoptions are rolling along smoothing, to have tunnel-vision.  To some how think that that because (in our case) I am bringing one child home, I don't really have to think long and hard about all the millions of other children who will never come home??

When adoptions are rolling smoothly, do those millions of children lose their voice?

The reality is, adoption isn't enough.  We cannot put all our eggs in that basket.  Americans bring home 2500 Ethiopian per year (PRAISE GOD) -- but 30,000 children DIE PER DAY in Africa!  Our family ministers to the fatherless (outside of adoption), but oh, do the bread crumbs we throw under our table make our God look so small.

Not sure where I'm intending to go with all this.  But what I do know for certain is that God is sovereign...even over MOWA.  And I am also certain that God cares for the fatherless.  ALL of them.  His Word says so.

Lord, give us your eyes.  Show us what you see when you look at Ethiopia.  At Africa.  Father, use this situation to give millions of children a voice...and quicken us, Your Children, to be listening.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing- Deut 10:17-18

3.07.2011

update #6

Judah is doing well! I think his post-op pain has paled greatly in
comparison to his not getting to suck his thumb! Which has made for
some long, long nights! Thankfully, he's pretty content during the day!
And I still cannot get over how different he looks! I know he'll be
swollen for a while, but I just didn't realize that his lip surgery
would affect the shape of his entire face. And his face still has no
expression...not sure when he'll be able to smile again. It will
probably take a few months before his muscles heal completely...at
that point we'll have a better idea of what he really looks like.

Day 5 Post-Op


Day 1 Post-Op


Day of Surgery

3.03.2011

update #5

We're home!
Poor Judah is so swollen! It's hard to imagine that he'll ever look normal, but I'm trusting that he will.
On another note, our surgeon warned me that because the cleft in his palate is so wide, surgery may be somewhat unpredictable. Oh dear...but can't worry about that now...

Sent from my iPhone

update #4

Good morning! We had a great night! J slept with me on the couch--
yes! He actually slept! He's eating well and playful! The Drs
already came by to discharge him, but we'll still be here til about
10am.

Deepest gratitude to all our prayer warriors who've been covering us!
Praising El Rachum...our great God of compassion!

Sent from my iPhone

3.02.2011

update #3

We've got our baby! And we're in our room! Poor little man is out of
it! And his heart rate is really elevated, which has me concerned.
Please continue to pray for his recovery! The goal for tonight is to
get him awake and eating. Vince has gone home to check on M. If
all goes well, we'll be discharged first thing in the morning.

update #2

Surgery is over! Both J's surgeon and ENT came to give us a report.
The surgeon seems pleased with the lip repair, but I'm expecting J to
look like he got pounded in the face with a baseball bat. He also
said Judah did great before surgery...no tears!! Proud of him!
The ENT said J's ears were a mess -- which may explain his
restlessness at night.
J will be in recovery for about 1-2hrs, then we'll be assigned our
room. Can't wait to see him! Praying he doesn't totally freak out
once he wakes!!

Sent from my iPhone

update #1

Judah finally went back for surgery about 10:40am. He was such a
trooper this morning, despite missing his oatmeal and bananas! He
played and giggled, and even napped for a little bit. Then a Chinese
guy (quite fitting) from the OR came to get him. It was a bit weird
handing him over to some stranger in a hallway! The mommy-in-me
wanted to demand that I go with him and monitor the entire process!
Mommies know better than surgeons...right?!
Dr. Grant's staff just called the waiting room to let us know he is
beginning Judah's procedure, and the anesthesia is successful. We're
expecting the lip repair to last a few hours (did I mention he's
getting ear tubes as well?). I'll update after surgery is complete.
We feel so honored to be Judah's mommy and daddy, and to care for all
his needs! Is the Lord calling you to minister to the fatherless?
You will never regret being Christ's hands and feet to the least of
these!

Sent from my iPhone

3.01.2011

surgery-1 eve

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps 147:3

Judah will have his first surgery tomorrow - the plastic surgeon will repair his lip.  The surgery will last a few hours, and I will stay the night with Judah at the hospital.  However, I'm not as anxious about his surgery as I suppose that I should be.  One reason is because I am anxious about his palate surgery, which will be more invasive and require longer recovery.  A second reason that my heart is at peace is simply because of a knowledge of God's sovereignty.  When I think about how God protected and delivered our children long before we became their parents...well...I am reminded that God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.



2.20.2011

f o u r

We've been a family of four-for just over two months now.  I had high aspirations that when we returned from China I'd be able to whip out a Christmas card, or at least a New Year's Card.  Nope.  Didn't happen.  I haven't even sent out adoption announcements either.  What a slacker, I am!
Nonetheless, it was way past time for a new family portrait!  Especially since Judah's lip surgery is fast approaching!  I cannot imagine not having a few family shots with his sweet heaven-sent smile!!
Our dear friend, and adoptive mommy, took some precious pictures of the boys -- here's a peek!  You can check her out at here: S. allums photography







2.13.2011

a few firsts

First Christmas at home!


First hair cut.


First picnic.


 First time to meet Aunt Caroline...and first bridal shower, at that :)


First Chinese New Year celebration in the US.

2.04.2011

just a ramble

Sometimes thoughts do somersaults in my mind...round, and round, and round...

Ever since Egypt's revolution hit the media last week, my thoughts have been consumed with the situation.  Not sure why this story is different to me...the world has been a mess for a long, long time.  Still, I'm just disturbed.
Maybe I'm not so disturbed with what is happening, as much as I am with what started it all.  Obviously the protesters are dissatisfied with their country's leadership.  But one component of their frustration stems from their flailing economy.

And this is the truth that makes my stomach turn.
Our own government is flailing (at best), as well.  Yet, we have access to a band-aide called credit.  And we (our gov) continues to dump borrowed money into the US market, all the while, driving up inflation world-wide.  We, as Americans, feel only a tinge of the inflation so it's easy to not be concerned.  In America, we spend 10% of our income to eat three meals per day.  But in developing countries, families are spending 50% of their income to eat 1-2 meals per day.  The poor stay marginalized.  The hungry get hungrier.  Starving for food.  Isolated from Truth.

I guess I'm struggling because things seem so hopeless -- yet, I am a Believer, therefore hope should be mine.  I struggle with the injustices I see...I feel guilty.  Not so much because I have, and they don't.  But because I believe the lie that it's all hopeless...I do nothing.

Here's another struggle.  What can I do?  What should I do?  What should the North American church be doing?  Are we asking ourselves...asking God...these questions?  For the small percentage who are asking, are you asking believing there is an answer?

Sorry to unload here.  But I rarely find anyone who wants to talk about these things...much less pray about them.  Most don't want to know...don't care.

????

And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.

2.02.2011

are you involved?

Vince and I participate in Compassions' Child Survival Program in Ethiopia -- maybe you would like to help keep families together in impoverished countries through the CSP, or by sponsoring an individual child...in Jesus' name.

Child Survival Program
Tragically, nearly 21,000 children under age 5 die every day, mostly from preventable diseases. Compassion's Child Survival Program (CSP) is battling for the lives of vulnerable mothers and babies by providing:
Prenatal care
Access to assisted births
Health screening
Nutritious food and supplements
The loving embrace of a Christ-centered church


1.26.2011

spring fever-ish

So...I don't know about you, but we seriously have spring fever here at the Martin home!  Seems it's either too cold or too wet to go outside -- and besides, I'm trying to keep Judah healthy for his lip surgery.

Being bored-silly has really got me thinking about what I'd like to do this spring/summer with the boys!

1st on the agenda is to plant a garden!  I personally never have had my own garden.  Vince and I have always enjoyed landscaping and working in the yard together, but I never really had a burning-desire to plant a garden.  (Isn't funny how children change everything!)  I can remember while growing-up, my step-dad planted a few veggie gardens -- but I was never really involved in the process. 

I think Micah is at the perfect age to peak his interest in gardening!  He loves digging in dirt, and, he's starting to show an interest in learning the what, how & why about things!  Time to capitalize!  Since we're leasing our home (and...um...I probably shouldn't dig-up the yard), I'll only be able to have a container garden.  But I think that will work perfectly for our needs!  I think we'll start with tomatoes, peppers and maybe onions, since I cook with those veggies several times a week.

I found a great site to help me get going, called My First Garden!  We're going to start with seeds indoors, then move our plants to the containers when it's time.

I'm kind of excited!!

1.24.2011

with special needs

Now that we've been home with Judah for just over 5 weeks, I've had some time to realize a thing, or two...

When we switched our China application from a healthy adoption to the waiting children list, some minor anxieties accompanied that switch.  However because we were open to a variety of special needs, we really had no idea what to expect, so the anxieties were initially minimal. 

Our agency, from the beginning, seemed fairly certain that we would be matched with an infant boy with cleft lip/cleft palate -- simply because that is one of the more common needs.  So I researched cl/cp, but much of the info I found seemed so vague.  I guess that's because cl/cp varies dramatically from one child to the next.  It's not a this-is-what's-wrong-and-this-is-how-you-fix-it birth defect.  Yes - some children's clefts are that straight-forward, but, most are not!

Anyway...

When we were matched with Judah in July...and I saw his sweet face...and his sweet cleft...I began to wonder what this would mean for our family.  What would it be like?  Parenting a child that looks different...talks different  -- a child that needs multiple surgeries, and possibly years of speech therapy.  Would his needs affect my love toward him?  Would his needs be an inconvenience?  Would his birth defects be embarrassing?

Yes.  Let's be real. Those questions crossed my mind.  No. I wasn't expecting the answers to be yes -- but I still couldn't help but wonder what would it be like.

I'm sure most families contemplating a special needs adoption ask themselves those same questions.

Yet, five weeks post- Judah's placement I can answer those questions with a resounding NO!  From the first moment Judah was in our arms, both his cleft lip and palate faded into the background.  It's not that we didn't see his clefts -- we did!  We even did a little poking around to examine to extent of his clefts.  But his clefts were not, and still are not, a distraction. We have no aversion to his sweet little mouth, or to the oatmeal that he sneezes out of his nose every morning!

The way he was born has actually endeared him to me! 
Wow!  Who expected that! ?

And with his lip surgery approaching in March, I now have a new anxiety!  My sweet boy won't look the same -- oh, how I love his little mouth just the way it is!  I love when he tries to give me a kiss, and only his bottom lip puckers out (because his top lip doesn't work quite right).  I love the oatmeal out the nose!!  Never embarrassed by it!!  Love his two crazy front teeth -- the hope of hiding them behind a new and improved lip never crosses my mind!! 

Everything about him couldn't feel more normal, or more perfect, to me!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures- James 1:17-18

1.10.2011

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