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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Taking the plunge

I am doing it.....I am blogging.  I tend to lag about 10 years behind on technology, kind of seeing if it's really going to stick around.  I have had a yahoo group called "Jenny's updates" that started when we did our first adoption of 5 children from Liberia in 2005.  Now it's 2012 and we are adopting our 9th child (one is already in heaven) and I am in Uganda co-drooling with a little girl named Esther.  She drools sometimes because of seizure-related activity, I am drooling over the goodness of God.  He continues to be the great I AM for every "I am not...." and just when I think, THIS is the coolest thing He could ever do....He outdoes Himself again!

My hesitancy to blog in the past has been drama-related.  We have enough really amazing God-Authored drama in our lives that I never felt the need to add more.  I love the freedom of my little yahoo group to barf out whatever I want to say, whenever I want to say it, with little editing!  I don't really know the rules of blogging, but I do know the human heart's desire to want to idolize or demonize people and I am so not interested in a fan club or a freak show.  I remember our pastor once saying he was baptized in the criticism of man so he could be immune from their praise.  Maybe this blog thing will be good for me because I will have to learn to say more with less words?!

I don't know how long I will do this.  I am jealous about my peace and rest.  Homeschooling the children, all the medical needs, and being true to my core values of spending time alone with God, celebrating life, and enjoying relationships makes me say NO to a lot of things.  Blogging may be one of them if it takes away from my biggies.  Why I am going to start this is because deep in my spiritual DNA I am an advocate, and my voice can be a little louder with a broader audience.

I also want to encourage mothers.  I don't want to forget what it was like to have, say, a 4 year old, 2 year old, and newborn and look at a family like mine and think.....WHAT?!  I am a testimony to God being able to do FAR greater than we could think to ask for.  I spent a lot of time depressed and discouraged as a young mother so it is hilarious and redemptive that God would use me now to shout out:  motherhood is a really, really JOYFUL thing.  Not a picnic, but leading to a banquet.  You CAN be a joyful mother of children.  Traumatized children, sick children, goof-ball children, less-than-perfect-but-each-delightful children.  Children need mothers, strong and joyful mothers who know who their God is.  I am not much of a "how to" girl but more of a "Who to."  Follow the Lamb wherever He goes versus "How to fix everything in your life in 100 easy lessons."

Wow!  I did it.  I blogged my first post!!!  I am not going to stop my yahoo group but I will try this blogging thing out.  For those who are wondering what my husband and I are doing in Uganda here is a heads up:

We are your typical family of 16, with half of our children adopted from Africa! We are a dancing, silly, somewhat loud, Jesus-loving family. We homeschool, live in Iowa, and love to celebrate the goodness of God and His great love to us! We had 5 sons and then adopted 5 daughters in 2005 from Liberia West, Africa. One of our girls died the day before we flew home from Liberia and the others were quite sick. In 2008 we adopted 3 more Liberian children, this time from a disruption. Some of these children had very intense medical needs, had life-threatening complications and surgeries. We have seen miracles and the children are thriving today. A child that couldn’t talk for years now verbal! A child with a very damaged liver..... an anti-viral that has stopped the damage. A child that couldn’t swallow or eat for years.... now having oral intake! Broken hearts mended, diseases goes on!

So here’s what led up to Esther. Last December we updated our homestudy, thinking we would do an easy special need like HIV. Well then we were contacted by a girl who used to live with us when she ran away and came to Iowa from a residential treatment center in South Chicago. She found out she was pregnant and HIV positive and needed help. I know a fabulous QUEEN OF HIV adoptions (Carolyn Twietmeyer of Project Hopeful in Chicago who took her under her wing and helped her out......and told me about a little girl named Esther in Uganda who really needed a family and introduced me to an adoptive mama who had been advocating for Esther for a long time, her name was Love.

Now a couple years ago one of our biological sons started having tonic-clonic seizures out of no where. Perfectly healthy kid and at age 7...seizures became a huge part of our life. For 2 years much of his life revolved around seizures...and then God healed him. He has been seizure free and medication free for a year and a half. Not so much as a headache. Hallelujah! So I have this drawer full of rescue medication to stop status seizures and I wondered what I was going to do with all that?! When I heard about Esther and her seizures I thought, “Hey, we know seizures!” and she was non-verbal and I thought, “We’ve done non-verbal!” and I heard a few other possible labels kicked around and I thought, “We know hypothetical labels!” and then I saw the photos and a video link that some amazing mamas had made to advocate for her and I knew. This is our daughter!

I had a dream that she was in a crib banging her head (either from a seizure or from self-soothing) I and went in and she stood up in the crib and reached her arms out to me and I picked her up. When we told our other children about Esther they were quite concerned she didn’t have hair. Hair braiding and weaving is one of our main crafts/hobbies and because one of our daughters always stayed on the pediatric oncology ward at our children’s hospital when she was there, they were concerned Esther must have cancer! We assured them they just shaved their heads at the orphanage, but soon she too would be introduced to the wonders of beads, braids, and all things fabulous for her hair!

Now that we’ve met Esther and held Esther and prayed over Esther we are even more in love than ever. She is a delight, a treasure, and we thank God over and over we get to be her parents! Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who never gave up praying for her, advocating for her, being her voice, and being a channel of God’s grace to our family!!! We are all in awe and wonder at how the Author and Finisher of our faith can write such a page-turner! His love and favor are all over little Miss Esther and the next chapters of her life will be full of divine reversals and new victories! How great is our GOD!


Rikki said...

I loved reading your blog post. Your motherhood testimony does give me some hope right where I need it and I know it's all God, not all Jenny. :) Praying for your trip and your new daughter.

Debi said...

I am beyond excited that you are blogging!!! Ever since our meeting in CR when you came up to me at WFM and said 'hello' as I held our 3 month old foster daughter...I have wanted to know you more and know your story. I am always inspired by other Moms who are either foster or adoptive and who are REAL with their lives...the good, the bad, the ugly....and yet point to Jesus. Love seeing pics of precious Esther and can't wait to hear more of what Jesus does with all of this! :)

Lorraine, AKA Forever Blessed said...

Soooooo proud of you, Jenny! Brad did an amazing job putting the blog together, too!!! Thank you for taking the plunge into bloggy land, which can be a risky place! God has used your "Jenny's Updates" yahoo group mightily, so I'm excited to see how He uses your strong and wise voice for His glory here on your brand spankin' new blog. Congrats on Esther and praying for God to raise her ransom quickly in only a way He alone is able to do. Love ya!

LivingFree said...

Yay! I'm so excited to see you blogging. You have such an amazing, God inspired life and a gift with words. Love you sweet friend.


Debbie said...


His Hands His Feet Today said...

"I remember our pastor once saying he was baptized in the criticism of man so he could be immune from their praise."


Jo's Corner said...

Oh, Jenny, I am so excited that He led you to bloggy-land! But, I'm MORE excited that you get to be Esther's Mama! I love that sweet girl and have prayed many a prayer for her. I always knew that the timing was His and He knew who could parent her with all that she needs. Kiss her soft cheek for me! Love from a "Neighbor" in Southern Mn. ~ Jo

Cailey said...

Jenny, I found your blog (and facebook page) via a friend, Elyssa McDowell and couldn't help but cry tears of joy. I wanted to let you know that what you and your family are doing inspires me! I don't know you, but I know that you are a beautiful woman of God and that He is using you in powerful and beautiful ways. God bless!

Patty said...

Thanks for your encouragement! I appreciate that. I have three little boys (2 adopted from Africa) & I LOVE being a Mom but struggle with my health. We are heading to another adoption anyway (Yay!) but I love to hear how God has given you more strength than you had ever thought possible. No wonder we love Him eh?! He is so, so cool & kind!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny. I am taking a moment from packing up my house to read your new blog... woohoo! So happy for you, Brad and the family about your adding Esther to the dancing brood. I can't wait until you can bring her home!

Jean Stanford

Natasha said...

Thank you for sharing your life! I am a young mother, and we are actually preparing to move to East Africa. Girl, I need all the encouragement that I can get! :) We will be lifting your family up in prayers. Be Blessed!

Jamie said...

You may find blogging peaceful. I blog as a way to "journal" and "scrap book". We do foster care, so we keep our blog private and mainly use it as a way to share with family and as an actual scrap book. I have been throwing around the idea of starting a public blog, being more discreet about our bio kiddos and not sharing names, because when the Lord was working in our hearts about becoming foster parents, I looked at a lot of blogs and found their honesty encouraging. I'm sure the Lord will use your blog in that same way to others who are feeling the call to adopt.
God bless you and your family!

Anonymous said...

I am really glad you are blogging. I've been a part of your yahoo group for years BUT I'd love to peek in on more of your daily life stuff and how you went from that easily discouraged mama of a few to the lady now who delights in her doing because of what Jesus has DONE. How do you manage all the doing (housework,meals,school,quality time) and stay near to Christ in the chaos? Please share your insights! They are valuable to us who are learning with littles and fighting for joy :) ... Praying for your sweet Esther girl!!

LisaE. said...

Wow! I don't even know where to start. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face because I'm so happy for Esther. I'm also so moved by a God that allows people to be moved and touched by others lives. We have 8 children - 7 still living. We recently got back from China with 2 children with medical needs. As soon as we were home, I felt in my heart that God was saying to do it again. People think I've lost my mind. I have 7 kids - 5 with major health problems. I was just beginning to think maybe they might be right and then I see another Iowan family that has gone so far beyond what I have done. Listening to God and His calling again...thanks to you! God's glory shines through your stories. That is a very, very good thing! God bless you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

1. I've been reading about/thinking about Esther since things fell thru with the last family. It makes my heart happy to read this blog tonight (via the farmers wife tells all). God is such an amazing author.

2. I'm a young mon of 3 little girls who is often depressed and discouraged, but I KNOW adoption is in our future, so your words greatly encourage me. Thank you and I really hope you are able to keep blogging.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny and family! I can hardly wait for you to have Esther back in your arms! Our God's Glory can't even be fathomed.

p.s. Esther has my Ilove's birthday. She was adopted into our fold when she was 11!!! I'm looking forward to watching your love story flourish!