Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sweet Victory!

"May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God." Psalm 20:5
We now shout for joy that the Lord has given our 'baby Bear' sweet victory over this great challenge in his life. He wears his 'new eye' for a week at a time now without hesitation or strife. When he looks in the mirror, he excitedly proclaims, "My eye is open!!" This seems a small victory for a 3 year old boy, but even at this young age, he notices and finds great joy in seeing himself this way. It is one of those privileges we cannot help but praise the Lord for as we think of where our children have come from.
Just to revisit the power of the Lord, and give Him glory for the miracles He chooses to perform and the delight He takes in answering the prayers of His people, notice how perfectly the eye sits in Bear's eye. Amidst the great trials of his 'prosthetic fitting appointments', the prosthetist warned us that the Shell would likely not sit perfectly in his eye, that it may spin around in his eye socket, that the color may not match, the pupil height may be off, etc. since he was not able to get the necessary measurements to form the prosthesis perfectly. We, and many other faithful prayer warriors, lifted up our Baby Bear to the Lord and petitioned Him to do the 'unlikely'. We prayed very specifically that He would guide and direct the skilled hands of the prosthetist to make a Shell that would indeed fit perfectly the first time. Once Bear began to open his eye, I had several phone conversations about how things were going with the prosthetist, a man of great compassion, who did not want to subject Bear to the trauma of an office visit. Imagine his surprise when he asked how it was positioned in his eye, color match, pupil height, rotation in the socket, etc. "Greg, it is perfect...." "Really? No issues, nothing...?" " is perfect. We prayed that the Lord would work a miracle through your skillful hands, and He was faithful to use you to answer our prayers." Not only is the Lord in the business of answering prayers, He is faithful to provide us an avenue to share of His goodness with others.
As his comfort level with the Shell increases, we have noticed a few minor adjustments that can be made to the prosthesis to make it 'more perfect'. We are beyond grateful for the incredible ways the Lord worked through this trial on behalf of our sweet Baby Bear. We began in the valley of darkness, where we held him in our arms and provided hours and hours of the nurture that he craved from birth. And now, we bask in God's glorious light as we watch Bear's face light up in a way that only 2 open eyes can express.
As part of our family Advent devotional time tonight, the question was asked, "what are the gifts that we receive that we cannot put in a box under the tree?" and "which are of greater value in your life?" We discussed the gifts that cannot be placed under the tree of family, love, worship, freedom of religion, freedom as Americans, health, happiness, time, joy, friends, salvation through Jesus Christ... and we all decided that although the gifts under the tree are nice, the true gifts of Christmas cannot be wrapped and placed under the tree.
Thank you Lord for the gift of joy and victory in Bear's life over the past few months, I will "treasure up all these things and ponder them in my heart..."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Darkness into Light

"You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light."
The Journey Continues:
Each day when we put Bear's 'new eye' in, we would pray with him that he would have strength to do the "hard work" of wearing his eye and that God would give him courage to open his eyes and be in the light.
After several days of total darkness when his 'new eye' was in, Bereket sat down on the floor with big brother Ethan (who had been carrying him around the house upon his every request & letting him sit on his lap while he did his school work) to play with some toys. Ethan poured the love of a big brother into his heart for about 45 minutes - handing him toys and telling him what they were and suddenly Bereket decided that he wanted to be in the light and opened his eyes. Thank you Jesus! Every one of the kids in the house were shouting, "Mom! Bear has his eyes open! Good job Bear!! (as they joyfully crowded around him)" As a homeschooling family, our kids have the privilege of sharing a lot of life moments with their siblings each day. As a mom, it is a precious gift to witness them nurture and encourage one another. Bear has been the recipient of many gifts from his siblings through this trial. His siblings daily lifted him up in prayer, agonized over his discomfort and rejoiced in his victory.
The next few weeks brought a mix of victory and defeat each day with his 'new eye' and we learned to praise through the victories and pray through the trials.


Our next 'dispensing visit' to the prosthetist took 5 hours once again. This visit left the prosthetist stating, "in 30 years of doing this, I have never had a child react this way." We managed to get the Shell into Bear's eye, but he refused to open either of his eyes. He screamed and cried for a while, but then fell into a silent heap on my lap. He was not sleeping, but refused to open his eyes. The prosthetist sent us away for 2 hours hoping that once we were out of the office, Bear would have less anxiety and open his eyes. For two hours, he sat limp on my lap in total darkness. We returned to the office and reported our lack of progress to a very surprised prosthetist. "This is very odd, in 30 years, I have never had a child respond this way" he stated. At this moment I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to share Bear's history and educate him on the deep wounds orphaned children can bear. He was very interested, understanding and appreciated the insight. I praised the Lord for the opportunity to 'bend an ear' for the orphan. I decided that we needed to leave the office with the Shell even though we didn't know if the fit was right and prayerfully press through this difficult process at home. Our sweet Bereket would spend 8, 10, 12 hours a day in total darkness (not opening either eye). If he was not on my lap, he would sleep for hours at a time on the couch. We were taking it out every day to monitor his natural eye for break down and he began to cry, "No! I don't want to go back in the darkness!" when it was time to put it back in. It was heart wrenching, but a process we had to proceed with. We prayed for wisdom and discernment in those weeks for the Lord to help us weigh Bear's physical needs with his emotional needs. During this most difficult time, a wise friend called to encourage us and confirmed a feeling I had on my heart. Perhaps the Lord was actually using this time of emotional trial for Bereket to heal his wounds of abandonment from being sick and alone in Ethiopia. Through this medical challenge, He was lavished with the love and nurture his soul craved from a mother...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sclero-Shell Journey

Bereket received his Sclero-Shell Eye Prosthesis just before Thanksgiving and it has been a road of great challenge, great joy & the peace of watching our Savior's hand at work in redeeming the hurts of our once orphaned son.
Background Information:
In Bereket's 10 short months of life in Ethiopia, he was relinquished for adoption and hospitalized 3 times: 2 times for eye surgeries and 1 time with bacterial meningitis. Two of these hospital stays were 7-10 days long. When our children are sick and in the hospital, time stands still - commitments get cancelled and we sit at their bedside. We do not leave them. We hold them, rock them, snuggle them and pray over them until they are well and then we take them home. An orphan does not have parents to care for them, so they go to the hospital, alone. And they stay there, alone. Sick and in need of nurture and love, but unable to have those needs met.
Adoption is a journey that begs parents to grieve their child's hurts, losses and emotions in order to create a window of insight into the life they have experienced before they were gifted to you. It is the cry of my heart that adoptive families learn to embrace the lives our children have experienced before they came to us in order to love and parent them well. I have spent a lot of time grieving for my sweet Bereket, who cried out for the love & nurture of a mother when he was sick, but was unable to receive it. Of the many promises the Lord makes to the orphan, "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you" John 14:18, is dear to my heart because He allowed us to 'come' with Him.
Fitting Appointments:
Bereket was sedated for his first Shell fitting when they measured his eye and made a mold for the Shell. The second fitting, however, had to be done awake and alert in order to measure eye lid height, monitor how it fit into his eye socket, measure pupil height to paint matching eye, etc. This appointment took 5 excruciating hours of a screaming and hysterical Bear, which put him out of his mind overloaded by the experience. We left the appointment with the kind and patient prosthetist stating, "This will be a process because I can't get the measurements I need and I will have to give it a professional guess and we will adjust it as we go." As our Bear screamed and cried through that appointment, the Lord begged my heart to grieve for his losses and lovingly endure this process with him, because this time - he was not alone.
We spent the next 3+ weeks praying that the Lord Himself, who created Bereket and knew the exact measurements for the perfect Shell would work through the skilled hands of the prosthetist to do the impossible and make a perfect Shell the first time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Perspective: "seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship"

Life is so often a matter of is my prayer that the Holy Spirit helps me to refine my perspective from relationship with self to relationship with my Maker. I know the Lord to be a sovereign Lord (having supreme authority over everything) and yet I often allow myself to question details. It is not often the large picture that I question, but in the smaller details, I harbor a weakness in which Satan creeps in and hangs out.
Our sweet Bereket obtained a new specialist for his eye yesterday - a plastics & prosthetics physician at Kellogg Eye Center, Dr. Gregg Doots (a wonderfully patient & kind man with 31 years of experience in his field of expertise who sat & talked to me for 60 minutes as if he were an old friend). Our son Bereket came from Ethiopia to be part of our family with an eye that would require continuing specialized medical treatment for a lifetime - we live 45 minutes from one of the best pediatric eye care centers in the country (Kellogg Eye Center) & 50 minutes from of the most sought after pediatric retina specialists in the nation (Dr. Trese - Beaumont). God's perspective is in the details.
Bereket did not receive medical attention for his eye in Ethiopia until he was about 6 months old and by this time, his eye was bulging from the socket due to excessive pressure in the eye. He had a surgery around 6 months of unknown procedure and the pressure was slightly reduced until he came home. Watching his eye protrude from the socket in pictures left me wondering at times, 'Why can't we get him home sooner - he needs treatment...please Lord speed this up!' This is a result of internal perspective versus sovereign perspective.
Bereket's left eye only opens at 50% of the capacity of his right eye and is 20% smaller. He is blind in that eye, but it is also showing that it is incapable of growth. If it is left untreated, his eye musculature and bone structure will not progress and he will have a sunken eye socket and immature bone growth affecting the shape of his cheekbone and facial structure. He is being fitted for a prosthesis - sclero shell - that he wear over his natural eye that will help to hold his eye open and potentially stimulate muscle and bone growth. He will wear this prosthesis (only removing to clean) for as long as he is able to keep his natural eye (prayerfully a lifetime).
As I sat in the office yesterday and listened to the specialist reveal his findings from the evaluation, I was instantly convicted by the Holy Spirit that God is in the details - He is always in the details! It was a moment in time where I could hear everything, but at the same time I was in instant communion with the Lord, who created my Bereket and is not at all surprised by the findings and plan for today, because God is always in the details. It was a precious moment for me and left me feeling so humbled by His love, provision and protection of the son He created for us to love.
Bereket has the perfect eye for this prosthesis because his eye socket was stretched so far while not receiving treatment in Ethiopia. God was in the details...
The sclero shell that will be made for him needs to be thin and children with dreamy dark chocolate eyes are the perfect candidate for matching color from one eye to the other (the darker the better:0). God is in the details...
It is no surprise to God, the sovereign Lord, the Creator of Life that Bereket would be born with a birth defect that would leave him blind in his left eye. He could have created him with 2 perfect eyes, but He has a plan for Bereket's life that includes his treatment and limited vision. I praise the Lord for the details He leaves us to trust Him to and I peacefully wait to see how those details will affect other people for the Kingdom of God.

'Lord Jesus - thank for that we have communion with a God that is always in the details - that is the Maker of details and that is never surprised. Lord, help me to be less surprised and more humbled by your provision and perfection.'

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Our oldest son from Ethiopia is pretty good at articulating his feelings to us. It took me a little time to notice the pattern, but after a family vacation or fun-filled family day or even a small moment of joy, he will say, "I feel like I'm dreaming..." It reminds me that he is still processing this 'new life' as a member of our family in America.
The greatest conversations with my children do not occur when they are planned out and prompted - they come sitting on the back deck on a sunny Michigan afternoon after lunch at the picnic table...

Muaz: "Mom, sometimes when I am playing in the yard with everyone, I feel like I am dreaming".
Me: "Why do you feel like that?"
Muaz: "I don't know, I feel like I might wake up and be in Ethiopia again."
Me: "Is it a good feeling to be here?"
Muaz: "Yes, I just sometimes feel like I am dreaming".
Me: "Do you ever wish you were still there?"
Muaz: "Sometimes - but only for Mama Medina and Meme, but I would miss you guys."
Me: (Misty eyed) "I'm so glad you are here, but I am sad you had to leave them, too."

Our son has been home for 2 years and experienced the joy of clean water, food in abundance, the love & of a mom & dad and the gift of time together, the bond of siblings, his own bed to sleep in at night, clothes and shoes of his own that fit (& he picked them out), a safe place to worship & grow in knowledge and love of the Lord, the joy of organized sports, safety & shelter. None of these items were available to him in Ethiopia and yet his heart continues to yearn for the one thing he left behind of value - his mother & sister, whom he loves. We cannot remove the hurt of being separated from them with our love, or the things or opportunities we provide him and my soul aches from a depth that I cannot describe for the way he wrestles with that. The very thing that allows him to love me as his mommy had to be taken from him to get here. After 2 years, it would be easy at times to just keep on moving forward, but I am reminded that in the depths of his soul, a grief that should not be ignored continues to dwell in his precious heart. He needs to be reminded that it is good to love Mama Medina and that we want to share his grief as much as we do his joy. It is an amazing priviledge to witness the work of God through adoption and the redemptive power of Jesus that dwells in the hearts of His once-fatherless & now found children.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Well, it's been almost 1 year since we posted on this blog - life got busy, we began facebook & the blog got left behind. I miss my bloggin' people and the opportunity to connect and share - so stay tuned, the Asperger 8 are back to the blog. It's been a great year, filled with God's grace, provision, challenge & joy. I will be working on updating the blog with new pictures and links - excited to get started again...