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.