Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One year Post Surgery

Exactly one year ago, we kissed our sweet baby girl and told her see her soon and watched the doctors push her into the operating room. It was hard, but it made me so grateful to know that the one who guided the surgeons hands had held my baby girl's heart since before she was born. We sat in the waiting room not sure about what to do with ourselves. My amazing coworkers from India had written me cards that were to be read on Abby Grace's surgery day. I knew the surgery should take 5-8 hours so I planned out how many cards I could open per hour so I scheduled them for encouragement throughout the day. We had several people stop by to pray with us and help us not worry. It really was a day that I can look back and see how truly God is in control and in our moments of greatest need, He gives us more. As I opened the note from my sweet friend, the first tears of that day streamed down my face, I was amazed at how her words, written over a month before, thousands of miles away could touch my heart in such a deep way. It was a reminder that we are not in this life alone, but as believers, we are family. We support each other in joys and in trials. I love that sometimes, ignorance is bliss... A surgical nurse would come give an update every few hours and when they came back and said, "She is off bypass and doing great. She will coming to ICU soon" we figured that the worst was over and we thanked the Lord for his work in her heart. We waited and waited. We had no idea how long of a time frame it would be from closing up to wheeling her in to where we could see her. Finally, the nurse came back again and said that after the surgeon took her off bypass, he thought he should put a bigger patch on the VSD and so he put her back on bypass and put a bigger patch on it. When the surgeon was finally done, he came to see us and tell us how it went. He said it was the biggest hole he had ever patched. He said something had just made him want to go back in and add a bigger patch even though it was not easy. I told him that we had so many people that had been praying that he would be guided and would know just what to do and that God had used his hands to go back in and patch up that hole and Abby Grace's life would forever be better because of his wisdom and use of skill.
Our God is so great, and so amazing to give us such good gifts, and even on what could have been one of the worst days, we found hope and joy and did not need to dwell in fear or sadness. Then I thought about how life was going to change for this little girl. I am so humbled to be THIS special girl's momma. All of a sudden the closets were full of dresses, pink bows, baby dolls, as well as medical supplies. The first weeks of carrying her around with an oxygen tank were hard but it became normal. I joked that since I already had carried around twins for years, it was no big deal to have a baby on one arm and a oxygen tank hanging on the other. And she got better so quickly. Before, when we were in the hospital, all the dr.'s and medical students would come listen to her heart to hear such a unique heart beat. It was called the "absence of silence" because so much blood was going the wrong way, whooshing through the large hole in her heart into the lungs with every heartbeat. Now she has a normal heartbeat. Its just amazing. Pretty much anything that has happened with this girl is nothing short of a miracle. When I see her running, jumping, swimming, laughing, and even screaming, I think about where she was before, unable to walk or cry for very long because it took so much out of her to get upset. Our first weeks in China, she would point to her bed and imply she wanted a nap or to go to bed because living life was extra exhausting for her. Now she is like a energizer bunny that keeps going and going and would be fine skipping naps and gets sad when its bedtime.
I am so grateful for the lessons learned in this last year, and for the life altering choice to bring Abby Grace in our family. I would not have it any other way! One look at her little smile and I melt, even more in love with her and the one who saw fit to create her, and who has made her heart whole again. God deserves all the praise for His work in her life, and also in mine. He has made me realize my own dependence on Him and my smallness in light of all He is. He is sovereign over us, giving us strength within our sorrow and brings beauty from our tears. I am so thankful for the lessons learned in the valley, and I would not wish them away for a million mountain top experiences.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

one week in the desert!

Its been one week since we arrive at the beautiful urban desert. We have been blessed to have a nice two bedroom furnished apartment to sort of settle into as we wait for a permanent visa. The kids were amazing flyers and we had no issues coming over. We arrived at 11:30 at night and took a taxi to our place and slept until morning. Black out curtains are amazing and have helped the kids sleep until 8 most mornings. To help avoid jet lag, I keep the kids busy, lots of sunshine and playing, and no nap for the most part. It has really worked and our nights are full of sleep, but now I am afraid Abby Grace thinks this no nap in the day thing is great... one step at a time.

We have a small kitchen in our place so I have been learning where to get the things I need to cook. Thankfully, there are several grocery stores within walking distance and even one so close I can run down get the one thing I need and back up in 5 minutes. Fruits and vegetables are pretty cheap here so we have lots of fresh items for snacks and I love giving them real fruit instead of fruit snacks! We have a stove but not an oven, which is not a big deal, until I start cooking and realize my recipe calls for 350 for 30 minutes... but its amazing what you can improvise on the stove top! We have taken the metro, gone to the highest tower in the world, and explored several malls. There is so much more of this city to discover. Ryan figured out how to rent a car, (taxi's were so expensive, and we will learn the city quicker driving ourselves) so we have a cute little sedan. Traffic here is so different than what I am used to (its a far cry from small town Arkansas and lots more rules than the Indian roads) but we are learning our way around. I even drove us to IKEA which is only about 15 minutes, but I felt so accomplished.

One thing that really excited me was seeing people from all over the world living here. The neighborhood we are staying in has mostly South Asians, and as I pass people, I understand the conversations (and they have no idea I know Hindi) and the grocery stores sell the familiar brands from India. There are also people from Africa, other parts of Asia and lots from Europe and Australia as well. We have visited a church that has people from all over the world. I realized as I was talking with a sweet family from China that as we live and work here, my children that have come from different parts of the globe will have the unique opportunity to have mirrors of people that look like them. I love them deeply and can teach them about living right, following the Lord, all the things they need academically... but I have never been an African man, or a Chinese woman... And here are people worshiping the lord alongside us that could be a mirror for our kids. This is a huge gift and I thank the Lord for giving us this opportunity to live here in this season and to pour into the lives of the people we come in contact with. There were three African men who high fived the children, and their class seemed to have light skinned kids as the minority. The Chinese family we met home schools and has a son my boys age and she really wants to meet up and talk through how to help the kids learn well even with short attention spans. I told her I am in the same boat, but we can learn to paddle together and find ways to learn through play and let the kindergarten year be a year we teach them to love to learn.

We hope to find a more permanent place hopefully by July, but for now, we will enjoy this cute little space. We head to India in a few weeks to get out stuff from there and see our friends again! So excited to see them!