We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reality Hurts

We were standing in the kitchen this evening, talking about our day, Christmas shopping, things to do tomorrow... and I started talking about Ethiopia.  I'm thinking about going with a friend on a mission trip in June.  She is going to help train nurses there... I'd just be going to love on the little ones in the orphanage.  I'm thinking about taking Sara with me.  Anna was standing there eating ice cream, and I asked her if she wanted to go with me.  She said 'Yeah, sure".  I asked her what she would do while she was there.  She didn't know.  I asked her if she would want to play with the kids in the orphanage - and she said yeah.  

I want my kids to understand that what they have,  is not what most people have.  I told her how the kids in the orphanage might not look that cute, or be too clean.  Their clothes might not match and they might not smell the best.....but they are kids and they just want people to play with them.

Then it happened - my eight year old daughter said "kids in the orphanage are like that".  I stopped listening at the word "orphanage".  My stomach hurt and I instantly wanted to puke. Hearing that word come out of her mouth - I think for the very first time - nearly killed me.  My eyes teared up instantly.  She was there... she was one of them.

She wore mismatched clothes.  She didn't smell good.  Her hair - well... there wasn't much of it... they had given her a buzz cut. She was an orphan.  It's strange how you forget that.  It's strange how you can't imagine your child starting her life in that environment.  You reject the thought.  Every molecule of me knows that she did start there - but every molecule of me forgets it as well.  

She is not an orphan....

She is my daughter.....

She was one piece of paper away from not being mine.  She was one decision away from not having a family.  I guess she could have gone to another family - except that God had her planned for mine.  What if I had not gone?  What if I had decided on another country?  What if.....

I'm not sure why it hit me so hard today.  I guess because she said that word.  She shouldn't have to say that word "orphan".  She shouldn't have to understand what it means.  She should not have to think about the fact that she was there.  She should not have to wonder - as I'm sure she someday will - what if.....?

What if my mom didn't come? 

What if I was older and no one wanted me?

What if I was still there?

It's a part of adoption that you don't really think about in the beginning.  In the beginning you think about the great need for children to have a family.  You think about the child you will be adding to your home.  You even think about your fears as to whether or not this child will fit into your family - then all your fears are removed when that child is placed into your arms.... but you don't think about 7 years down the road - when your daughter is eating ice cream in the kitchen and she says that word.  You don't think about how it will make you feel - sick to your stomach.  You can't even begin to imagine how she must feel - starting to understand what it all means.  

I wanted to take my children with me to Ethiopia to get a better understanding of what they have here at home.  I wanted them to appreciate more, become more compassionate for those who have less - much less.... 

But do I really want Anna to see the truth of what was?  Part of me wants to shield her from it.  She was so young when she was adopted - she doesn't remember her life in China.  While the orphanages in Ethiopia are not the same, there are things about an orphanage that are always similar - and the desperate need of each child is certainly similar....Do I want her to see that?  I'm conflicted.

I wish I never had to hear that word come out of her mouth.  It's an easier word to say, when you are not staring an orphan in the face.  Orphans are far away.  You can't touch them - not from here anyway.  You don't have to see their faces - not in real life anyway.... it's easier that way.

I know that my Anna is not an orphan.  Neither is my Sara.  But she WAS.  They both were.  And that is hard to swallow when you are their mom.  When you forget that, even though they couldn't look less like you, you didn't give birth to them.  And seriously, sometimes I forget.  I don't look at my children and think "rescued orphan"... I look at my children and think - they are my children... and sometimes when reality sets in, when I'm reminded of their past - it hurts.  Reality hurts.  Not for me.  Their past does not hurt me.... but I hurt for them... for what I know they will some day feel...for the questions they will someday have that I, unfortunately, won't be able to answer...And knowing that a hug won't fix it.  All I can pray for them, is that God heals their broken hearts.  That God miraculously fills that empty space for them....

I can't bring home every orphan.  I wish I could - but I can't.  So, what can I do?  Will going back over there, and loving on some kids, playing with the older ones, taking them clothes, toothbrushes, toys... will any of it make a difference?  Will they remember that someone cared - or will they just see me as another person that came and went... someone who brought them something, but who didn't rescue them.... once again left behind... forgotten.

Their eyes are so desperate.  They LONG for attention.  Some climb all over you and entertain you just so you will interact with them... others seem to have given up... they have seen enough people come and go that they have learned that all of their entertaining and smiles don't matter - I'm just  going to leave anyway - and leave them there - where they are.....

I wish everyone could, just once, see the faces of these children, not on TV, but in real life - close enough to touch- see how little they live with, and see how little they complain. Their clothes don't match.  Their shoes don't fit.  They eat the same thing day after day.  They don't get a bath.  They don't get their teeth brushed.  They share a bed.  Nothing is their own.  No mom.  No dad.  No bedtime story....

And yet they don't complain.

They smile.

I can only attribute it to God watching over them.  God being in that place with them.  Nothing else makes any sense.

Tonight, I'm praying for the orphan.  Each and every one of them - wherever they might be.  May God bring a family to them.  Keep them safe until their family comes.  They are all beautiful treasures - children of God.

In Christ,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jealousy and Pride

I'm working through my daily bible study with my friend... it's always good to do a bible study with a friend, because some days you will have good, thought provoking days and the other person won't, and vice versa.  Well, my bible study partner carries the load most of the time, and I'm very thankful every day for her insight.  I've been working harder at trying to get more out of my bible studies and sharing my thoughts with her though... because I think God has different things to share from His Word with both of us, and when we share it with each other, it's like double the blessing.  

So, another friend of mine, (who I'm not doing the bible study with), felt compelled to get me a new bible.  A NIV application bible.  I'm a KJV person - I guess just because that's what I was reading when I became a Christian.... I've always though I should try something different, but never left the KJV because I almost felt like I was "betraying" something or someone by moving to another version.  Well, I'm LOVING my NIV bible and the application part is really helpful in getting you to think deeper about what you have read.  I still have my KJV and will probably always use it, side by side, with my NIV.  

Anyway, my friend and I had gotten through the three "little Johns" and she asked me where I would like to go next... well, since it's that time of the year, I decided, we should stick with the new testament and cover the Christmas story.  We decided on Luke.  So, we are in Luke 1 right now.  We break it up into small segments - share our thoughts each morning and continue this throughout the week.

The past couple of days we have been reading about Mary and Elizabeth... Elizabeth expecting a child after being barren for so many years, and beyond normal child bearing age.  How the angel Gabriel came to her husband and told him she would bear a child.  And Mary - unwed, virgin mother.  Two unlikely candidates to be expecting....

 Do you realize how much more you can get out of the Christmas story, than the magnificent story that it is in and of itself???  There is so much more to be told.  Today, I learned about Jealousy and Pride.

Jealousy -  Look at the situation from the standpoint of Elizabeth.... Elizabeth was expecting a child, and was further along than Mary.  The Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary would be carrying the Messiah, the Son of God... and not only that, but people would called her Blessed!  Then, Mary saunters into Elizabeth's house (ok, Mary probably didn't "saunter", but I'm telling the story how I might have seen it from Elizabeth's perspective).  Elizabeth's baby (which turns out to be a son), jumps for joy in her womb at the presence of Mary and the Son of God....  So, you are Elizabeth... FINALLY expecting a child - a son nonetheless, and in walks Mary.  You are upstaged by Mary.  Oh how wonderful Mary is with her "special" child... the Son of God.... Mary... how Blessed she is.  If you were Elizabeth, you might think "What makes her kid so much more special than mine - I mean, mine's a miracle too, right?"  "God sent an ANGEL down to tell my hubby about my baby".  "And then along comes Mary - stealing my thunder".  Elizabeth COULD have though that - but Elizabeth was much smarter!

Instead Elizabeth responded with Joy - rather than Jealousy at what God had done in Mary's life.. responded with elation about the baby that was to be the Messiah - the baby that IS the Messiah, the Son of God.  She called Mary blessed - because Mary was blessed.  The fact that Mary was blessed did not take away from the wonderful news of the upcoming birth of Elizabeth's child.  Elizabeth was smart enough to know this.  Elizabeth did not display jealousy at the circumstances in Mary's life - that may seemingly overshadow hers - she was simply happy for what God was doing in Mary's life.  How God was using Mary for such a wonderful purpose.  When I look upon the circumstances that God has purposed in my life, I need to respond more like an "Elizabeth".  The plan for my life is the one God gave me for MY life... it's different than the plan He has for someone else's life and it's important for me to understand that, accept that, and yes, even celebrate that.  I need to find Joy in what God is doing in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ - rather than being Jealous about what God is doing in their life.  

Pride - Mary said "People will call me blessed".  Was she being prideful?  Was she taking the glory of what God was doing in her life and turning it onto herself?  No.  She was not being prideful - she was simply accepting what God was doing in her life.  She was excited and sharing what God was doing, with others.  When God works in your life, and blesses you though, it can easily turn to pride... Mary could have said "I must be special".  "I must be so much better than you, because LOOK at how God is using me".  "God must have HUGE plans for me".  When God gives us a blessing, we can accept it, or turn it into something about ourselves, which then becomes pride.  

I am at a place in my life right now, where God has blessed me. It's not because I'm special, or more worthy than others... it's simply because it's what God had planned for my life.  My blessings come with heartache to me - as I'm sure Mary's did.  Look at the HUGE blessing Mary had - but she could have turned it away because of all of the negative that came with it - the ridicule, the criticizing looks (for those who didn't believe she was carrying the Messiah, she was just a pregnant, unwed mother).  I'm sure it was a hardship on her whole family... her husband-to-be included.

I've seen God work some things out for me as of late, that in my opinion are really only a God thing... God has taken care of things that I could not have taken care of on my own - and through the process, is working some things out in me.  To better me, to make my walk with Him closer.  It's not because I'm "special" that God has blessed me, it's because I'm HIS.  My blessings do come with some heartache - but when I stop and think about it, I would have had the heartache with or without the blessings.  Some things we just have to work our way through.... but I am VERY thankful that I'm able to work through those things with the blessings God has provided during this time of my life.  I think with accepting the blessings God has provided, there comes a responsibility.  A responsibility to be thankful to the one who provided them for me - remembering to give thanks.  Also, to share those blessings with others.... maybe not the exact blessings that God has provided, but share the story with others and to somehow make a difference in the lives of others, maybe as a result of the blessings I've been given.  

I guess it's appropriate that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I have so very much to be thankful for.  Maybe I will share that in tomorrow's post though....

On another note - the Christmas decorations made their debut yesterday... have to finish that up today and get the house in order for family coming over tomorrow for Thanksgiving.  Then Friday a friend and I have decided to venture out for some Black Friday shopping!!!  I'm actually looking forward to it.  Normally I would stay away from the stores at this time, but I have nothing particular that I HAVE to get, and neither really does she.  We just get some nice time together and if it gets too crowded - we'll leave and go get a cup of coffee or lunch together!  I'm just happy to be spending time with a great friend....and maybe find some bargains along the way :)

In Christ,

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Hospitality....it's something that we really don't think much about anymore.  I mean, what really is hospitality?  I have my family over to my home and I really enjoy having them over.  I prepare the house, make a special dinner, make sure the kids' rooms are clean, bathrooms freshly cleaned, floors cleaned and things like that.... but that really has nothing to do with hospitality.

I do a "virtual" bible study with a friend of mine.  We read the same verses, and then share via e-mail our thoughts on the verses that we have read.  Today was 3 John - all of it.  It's not that long...

So, as I was reading today, one of the things I got out of the reading was "hospitality".... it's something we all need to be aware of.  Hospitality isn't planned.  It's not the Thanksgiving dinner that you host at your home - although that is a form of hospitality, it's more "hosting"... hospitality is different.... it's spontaneous and unexpected.  It's opening the doors to your  home when your floors are not polished, your bathrooms are not perfectly cleaned, the toys are not picked up and the kids' beds aren't made.  There may be dishes in the sink and the garbage maybe needs to be taken out..... but you open your door anyway.  You don't have a dinner bought and made, ready to serve your guests... instead you look in the fridge, see what you can offer them to drink, if anything.  Then you pull things together out of the cupboards / freezer and offer something that resembles a dinner.  You don't use your fancy china, because it's not dusted off.  You don't have the nice silverware or serving dishes because those are stored away... instead you offer the everyday existence of your home.

The thing about hospitality is it's WELCOMING these impromptu visits and making the person feel like they are genuinely welcome in your home at ANY time - planned or unplanned - and that they are not an inconvenience. It's not about stressing over their presence, worry about not putting on a good show... hospitality is not about a "show".  Hospitality is about a warm welcome.  It's about making someone feel like they are not an inconvenience.  It's about opening the door without having a formal invitation.  It's more about the other person than it is about you and your home.  

So what if the floors are not at their best?  So there are a few crumbs on the table or the floor, and there's a basket of laundry on the couch.... Hospitality is the relationship that is established between  you and the person who stopped by unexpectedly.  Hospitality is BEING READY for the unexpected, by not fretting over when the unexpected shows up at your door step! Hospitality CAN mean a planned event, but without welcoming the spontaneous, impromptu visitor, the planned event is just that - a planned event.

I'm not a spontaneous person... but I've somehow surrounded myself with friends who are VERY spontaneous.  Maybe it's a God-thing... in fact, I'm SURE it's a God thing... God challenging me to live outside of my comfort zone, to welcome the unplanned, let go of my habitual planning, throw caution to the wind, and just ENJOY my friends.   God doesn't care if I'm "always prepared"... He wants me to be prepared for what He needs me to do.... and what He needs me to do, may just be to move the laundry basket to the bedroom, push the toys onto the floor, and offer my impromptu visitor a place on the couch for a chat and a warm welcome.

So, if you read 3 John and DON'T get that out of the verses... that's fine.  God has something special to tell all of us.  Today, that is what He had to tell me... maybe because it's something I've been struggling with.  I've read it many times and get different things out of it every time.  I've always felt that I was an hospitable person.... I learned today that it was always  more about me though... did I present myself, my house and my family well, did I offer the right food and drink, was it good enough?  Today I learned that the real hospitable person, moves the junk and makes people feel welcome, even if it's not the most convenient time.  I'm going to make a real effort to sharpen my "hospitality skills".  

My friends don't care about my house, my appearance, what I have or what I can offer - my friends care about me.  God cares about the relationship I establish with my friends and family and that I offer them what He has blessed me with.  

Loved my bible study today!

In Christ,

Friday, November 4, 2011

Some Good News...

Had to share some good news that I received today... I was sharing a wonderful day with a friend today.  We were eating donuts, drinking coffee (we were SUPPOSED to walk 7.5 miles before all of this, but it was COLD and RAINING - darn), making baklava, drinking diet cokes (needed after donuts and lattes :) and just having some plain old fun "girl time".  As we were in the middle of one of our bazillion layers of Philyo dough (yes, there were actually that many layers... I counted them all) the phone rang.  I didn't recognize the number and almost didn't pick it up - then I recognized the area code - it was from Michigan, so I grabbed it.  It was the Leader Dog school.

They called to inform me that I am scheduled for a class, and it is February 4th.  I will train from the 4th through the 17th.  I thought - well, it's about the same time that I went when I went to get Pearl, so I should expect cold.... BUT... then she said these words 


Seriously?  I didn't understand.  The school is in Rochester, Michigan.  Well, last year they started a program for students coming from "warm weather" states.  They bring the school to a warm weather state and train us there.  How cool is that?  It's also an accelerated program.  I'll get there on a Saturday and receive my dog that same day!  That's so exciting.  Typically you work with the staff for awhile before getting the dog, and there's always a bit of anxiety / excitement waiting the three days until you get your dog.  

They bring the program to a hotel in West Palm Beach and the training takes place around the West Palm Beach area.  We may have opportunities to go out and do some training on the beach and things like that.  They also do some promotional work while we are there that we will be able to attend.  So, that will be nice - to have an opportunity to get out to some functions with the dogs and help support Leader Dogs for the Blind.  It is such a wonderful organization!  I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in this new program too!  This way, I only have to be away from my family for 13 days!  Much easier than the month I was up in Michigan last time.  I'd do what I needed to do, but it's hard to be gone that long with small children.

So - the date is set and we'll just see how it all unfolds with the dog.  My heart ACHES that I don't have my Pearl, and in the back of my mind I wonder what dog will live up to the standard that Pearl has set in my head.  BUT, I do have to realize that Pearl had her faults too - and every dog will be different.  Remember Pearl, who would not go to the bathroom if there was dew on the grass because she hated water - for goodness sake, she was a RETRIEVER!  She was stubborn as a MULE - but she was MY dog and she worked with me beautifully!

I NEED this!  I'm so thrilled at the thought of having some of my independence back!  Some of my security!  I have to take this new dog for what it is, and learn to love it for what IT can do for me.  My guess is that this one will like the water!  It will have issues as well - kinda like people, we are all different - and it will NEVER replace what Pearl was to me, but I have confidence that the school will give me a dog that will definitely benefit me and be a positive addition to my life!

Looking forward to my time in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Thank you to Leader Dog for this opportunity!  Never expected that news when I picked up the phone today....

In Christ,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Maybe I'll write.....

I've been kind of in a rough spot lately...you all know the story....times are changing for me, and I'm just having a hard time adjusting.  It's a huge adjustment.  I'm trying to make the best of it, but first I really need to get my head around the whole idea.  I need to change my way of thinking and accept and move on.  I've been focusing on this change that is needed in me for awhile.

I went out shopping with my mom this week.  She came and took me to an eye appointment, and since I needed some time away, I went back with her for a couple of days and we did some shopping - just her and me.  We had fun - we enjoyed some coffee together, scoured the racks for deals, took some time out for lunch and had plenty of time to talk.  My grandmother passed away last week, and that has brought about a lot of discussion around family.  I got in contact with one of my cousins that I have not been in contact with since he was very young - he is now 27... so we were talking about things like that, and enjoying our shopping time together.

As we were shopping, there were times when I started to think.... I HATE when that happens lately.  It's not good.  Thinking about my situation changes nothing, and thinking about it, is scary.  Anyway, there were times when it came to mind.  

I'm scared.

I cover it up well, most of the time, but truth be told, I'm scared.  It you know me well enough, you will see it in me.  There were things that happened while I was spending time with my mom that just kept slapping me in the face - almost forcing me to think.  For example, when we were in the Dr. office for my eye appointment, I was called back for my exam and the lady who called me back did not wait on me - she called me back and started walking.  I saw her up ahead of me and she had gone up some stairs... the problem was, I didn't know how many stairs and where they were.  I actually had to ask her where the steps were.  My mom didn't want to come back, because she didn't want me to feel like she was minding my business.  Well, when I had to change rooms because an instrument was not working, I asked her to please go out and get my mom, that I got around better with her back there with me.  

I did the color test - you know, the one where there are circles that have colored tiles in them that make a number and if you have color vision, you can see the number.  Well, the doctor showed me about 12 different circles - I got ONE right.  I guessed on some of them, and he kind of just chuckled, some I just couldn't even make a guess.  At one point I said - 93, and he just kind of moved on.  I said "Was it 93?"  He looked at me kind of crazy and said "No, it wasn't 93".  How stupid did I feel then.... I actually thought I saw something that looked something like 93.  Oh well - I got ONE right :)

While we were shopping, I decided to pick out a couple of shirts for Tim if I found a good deal.  I found one shirt where I liked the pattern, but didn't think Tim would like the color, because it was pink.  I showed it to my mom and she said it was a nice shirt.  I said yes, but I don't think Tim will like the color.  My mom asked me why not... I told her because Tim is really not a "pink" person.  My mom just said - well then, the shirt will be fine because it's orange....

As we navigated the stores, I find it increasingly difficult to maneuver through the aisles and feel confident.  I always feel like I am too close to something and I'm going to run into it, or I'll run into a person.  There were several times when I was in an aisle looking at things and someone was waiting on me to look in the area that I was, and I just stood there, taking my time, seeming so rude.  But, I didn't see them waiting.  Then I finally see them, panic, and apologize like 100 times and then get out of the way.  I swear, shopping is no longer relaxing for me.  

And, I don't know if this is actually the case or not, but it seems as though they pack the stores full of more stuff than they used to when I was a kid.  The aisles are smaller and the own store's shopping carts won't fit through their aisles.  Especially in clothing stores - where there aren't really aisles to begin with.  It KILLS me.  They put the racks right on top of each other and you couldn't get a cart through it you wanted to.

So, as we were walking out of one store after a near panic attack on my part, I asked my mom, through somewhat misty eyes - What am I going to do when this gets worse???  I asked without expecting an answer, because who can really give me one?  But I asked anyway, because I'm scared.  I don't talk one on one with many people about my eye condition and how it makes me feel - because I'm not the kind of person who will let it define me - let it stop me from doing something.  And if it does, I certainly don't want to share it with people.  And, I really don't like for people to see me cry... and this has brought me to tears lately - because really... I'm scared.

What AM I going to do?  I mean, it's getting worse.  I told that to my mom and she said "I know, I can see that".  Seriously?  That's pretty bad.  What I wanted her to say is... I think you are just under stress, I don't think it's actually gotten worse.  But she can't say that, because she can see the differences.  She can see me hesitate when the texture of floor surfaces change, because I don't know if it's just a change in a pattern, or if there is a step associated with it.  I trip on curbs, I run into the little parking markers, I bump into my mom while we are shopping, I call things the wrong color, I have to pick a table by a window when we go to lunch so I can see, we PICK a restaurant based on the lighting (seriously, not the food, but the lighting).  And, it's only getting worse.... the list goes on and on.  I can't see sizes on clothing - sometimes even with reading glasses I can't see them....sometimes, I'll be walking along, look at something and then be paralyzed, not wanting to continue walking because I've lost track of where I am, because I was stupid enough not to concentrate on what was right in front of me, looked at something else, and now can't determine where I need to go.  My field of vision is SO small, I don't see the whole picture - it's extremely difficult.

Having my dog will help - but it's not going to fix everything.  It's not going to change some things.  It will give me some confidence back, but other things, it won't change.

We were talking about kids and parenting, and I asked her what my kids will think of me and my abilities.  Cameron will remember a time when I worked.  He understands what my profession was and why I had to stop.  Anna knows, but not as much.  Sara... she will never know what her mom did - she will only ever know me as the way I am now.  Not that the way I am now is bad - it just doesn't feel like "me" right now.  She will never know that at one time, I made a different - more than just within the walls of our home.  I did something that changed lives.  It's not that changing lives at home is bad, or insignificant, but I DID do something else, and I was proud of what I had accomplished and what I was doing to help others.  She won't know about that.  It will just be something that I tell her about.

My mom has always said that if I end up having to leave my job, that I need to find something that I can do that will allow me to contribute.  I'm not sure what that is.  Many people have told me that I need to write.  I love to write.  I always have, even since I was a kid.  I pulled out my senior year book the other day and one of my close friends said that she hoped that I would always continue to write.  I haven't done that.  Several of my friends here in SC, when they found out that I was going out of work for a bit, said that it would give me the time I needed to start writing.  Then, yesterday, as we were out shopping, my mom said it.  I don't think that my mom has ever mentioned anything about writing to me.  I found it strange that she would say that.  It hit me somehow though.  I guess because I heard it all along, but now I was hearing it from my mom.  Tim has said it as well.  Maybe I will.  But what do I write about?

I don't write stories... when I write the best is when I'm emotionally attached to something.  I think things through and I share my thoughts.  I explain things, the way I see things, it's emotional, it's colorful (funny that it's colorful, seeing as how I can no longer see color :)  I relate complicated things to life.... real life.  I've always said that I have a story to tell... maybe it's time to tell that story.  It's about life, love, rejection, adoption, salvation, success, defeat and everything in between.  It's just my story.  It probably wouldn't interest anyone but my family - but it would tell my story to my family.  I think it would eventually offer hope to someone in a similar situation as mine - because let me tell you, in the beginning, the doctors give you no hope.  And if you are hit with it unexpectedly, like I was, and don't know anyone who has been successful despite this condition - you really feel hopeless.  I've ignored Dr's recommendations (not on medical care, but on planning for my future) and have achieved great things, when they have set their mind on minor things for me to achieve.  Someone, some day, may need to hear my story..... to give them hope of what can be achieved, even with certain circumstances.

Maybe I'll write.... 

In Christ,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One answered prayer....

Received a call from admissions at Leader Dog this evening and they approved my application to receive another dog!  Thank goodness!  I have prayed about this as it is becoming more and more of a necessity.

No dog wil replace my Pearl, but I'm so thankful for the opportunity to get another Leader Dog.  

It's looking like January or February to go up to Michigan for the training.  Nothing like training in the Michigan winter weather - but very worth it for the opportunity to get another dog!  They have also agreed that I will be able to have a shortened training period - which will mean less time away from my family!  Very happy about that as well!

Sure do miss my Pearl!

In Christ,

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's my blog, I can whine if I want to...

Ok, so I've been kind of reserved here on my blog, not sharing a whole lot of what is going on in my life....I'm not sure why.  I don't know who I think might read this, and no matter who they are, what do I have to hide anyway?  NOTHING.  So, it's MY blog, I can WHINE if I want to (whine if I want to, whine if I want to - you would whine too if it happened to you... :)

So, today I was making dinner and unloading the dishwasher and keeping an eye on Sara when I realized something.....I'll likely never, ever, the rest of my life, get a raise.  It's looking as though I will be out on short term disability, and will then transition over to long term disability.  Unless a miracle happens, or there are some accommodations that will allow me to see detailed work / documents, something that will restore my color vision, remove the blind spots that I have in my central vision (and if you know about any of those - please feel free to let me know...), it's unlikely that I will be returning to work.

My mom (I know you read this mom) probably just had a heart attack because I actually said that on a blog.  It's ok mom - breathe deeply - it'll be fine.  My mom just wants to protect me.  I know that.  I want the same thing - but I want to be able to express my feelings as well.  

So, as I was beginning to feel sorry for myself, one thought led to another... I went from - I'm never going to get a raise again, to I'll never move into another position, to I'll never have another performance review, I'll never see my friends at work again, I'll never go through another audit (oh wait... I think that should be on the pro side, not the con side :).  Truthfully, I loved my job.  I really enjoyed the people I worked with (most of them anyway :)  I was doing something good.  I was helping people - indirectly, but still, I was helping them!  We made life-saving drugs....I was part of that.  

I started trying to convince myself that if I'm no longer part of the working force, that I'm still contributing to society.  I'm still valuable to our family.  My kids will still think I'm something.  When someone asks where do your parents work - what will they say? - well, Tim works at Roche; but my mom... she doesn't do anything.  She doesn't work.  Or will they say, she USED to work at Roche - maybe implying to some that I got fired?  Or will they say that their mom is a "stay at home mom"?  

No offense to any mom who is a stay at home mom.  We all make the choices that are best for our family when we decide to have a family.  The problem for me is that I won't be a stay at home mom by CHOICE... I'll be a stay at home mom by necessity.  The decision will have been made for me.  

I think what bothers me the most is that someone else is doing MY job.  You feel so "un-needed".  I always said that no one is irreplaceable - including myself - unfortunately it still stings when that truth becomes a reality.

There was a time in my life when I was SO thankful that I was NOT a stay at home mom.  When Cameron was born, I had a BS degree in Chemistry and was very proud of that fact.  Shortly after Cameron was born, his dad and I separated.  From that point, until the time Cameron was seven, I supported him, and eventually Anna on my own.  Tim came into the picture when Cameron was 6 1/2. and Anna was 2 1/2.  I would not have been able to raise my son on my own, add Anna to our family and support her as well, if I had decided in the beginning to forego my education and be a stay at home mom.  Or if I had gotten out of the workforce to be a stay at home mom... it's difficult to get back into it after being out for some time.  Especially in my field.  Things change quickly and you need to be involved in the changes, and change with them, in order to really make things work.  

When Tim came into the picture, I went through a period where I thought... I wish I could be a stay at home mom.  I could do this, do that, be there with the kids - but we would have to sacrifice some things.  The kids might not be able to go to private school, money would be tight.  In all honesty, at that point in time, it wouldn't work, but it was a decision WE could make.  No one could make it for us.  

Here we are now - almost five years later.  Now, God made the call for me.  You know how many times I have prayed for God to heal my eyes?  Somewhere at or near a million times.  Lord, PLEASE just let me wake up and by some miracle, let me see again.  Please!  Let me continue to do my job.  Let me continue to contribute.  God had other plans....It never happened.  In fact, just the opposite.  Lately things have just gotten increasingly worse.  

One day I was out shopping with my mom - we were looking for a birthday gift for Anna.  As I wrote in my last post, Anna is suddenly into pink.  She went from hating it to loving it.  So I saw this pink stripped shirt.  It was adorable.  It had a little hood on it - it was kinda like a "hoodie" but it was not a sweatshirt.  Anyway, I told my mom - look at this cute pink shirt - Anna would LOVE it.  My mom looked at me kind of strange, realized what was going on, and just gently said to me - it's not pink, it's lemon yellow.  Oh...  Well, it would have looked good on Anna to me :)  (just a side note, Anna looks TERRIBLE in yellow - probably because of her skin tone, but it's the one color that does not look good on her - and here I was trying to put it on her!!!).  

I lose things - if I put something down, it could take me forever to find it.  I'm good about doing that with my reading glasses.  I set them down all over the house, and they could be right in front of me, but I won't see them.  

I can't see anything even if it is a little bit dim - restaurants are difficult - that ambiance you all love....it makes my dinner experience HORRIBLE!!!  We find the most light possible in a restaurant!

I trip on curbs, I miss steps, I run into people..... ugghhh!

I came home from a dinner with friends the other night, and Tim had not left the exterior house lights on (I'm not blaming him, it's really my fault - he just usually remembers for me).  I couldn't find the sidewalk... thankfully the ladies that I was with, understood the fact that I could not see, and got me to the sidewalk, where I needed to be (this is the point where I really need my dog back - Pearl would have gotten me where I needed to go, without hesitation).  I miss my Pearl.  I hope I can get another dog soon.

It's all just changing so quickly!

Why am I so tied to this THING called my job????   There are so many more important things in my life!!!!

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately.  So much in my life has changed since he passed away.  Cameron grew up - by 11 years!   I moved to South Carolina.  I added Anna to my family. I met and married Tim.  My career grew.  We added Sara to our family.  I wonder if he would be proud.  I wish I could just talk to him for a day and ask him.  Sometimes I think I worked so hard in my job, because I wanted to impress him.  I wanted him to think I was doing well.  I wanted him to be proud of me.  We were so much alike.  My older sister, she seemed to have it all together from day one.  She got married, had kids, was able to stay home with them from the very beginning.  She contributed to the household first by making and selling crafts, starting her own business out of it, then starting a second business for herself.  She is athletic, her kids are doing great.  She seemed to have it all.  

I went straight from high school to college.  I started seriously working my sophomore year of college.  I got married out of college.  My job was going well.  I was diagnosed with my eye condition.  I had to quit driving.  Everyone worried about me.  I got a divorce.  People worried about me more.  My job was going great.  I moved to South Carolina for a substantial promotion.  People worried less.  I adopted Anna - so I must be doing well.  EVERYTHING that kept people from worrying about me, or what defined me as successful, had to do with my job.  At that point, besides my job - my life was a mess.  Nothing to be proud of (with the exception of my children of-course).

And now here I am.... back where I started at the beginning of this post - (I know, it's a long one) - likely never to get a promotion again.  Likely never to get a raise again.  Never be involved in the expansion of a facility.  No more business trips overseas.  No more International visitors.  No more equipment qualifications, process validation, change control meetings, phone calls in the middle of the night, Quality emergencies, critical decisions....  None of it.  I need to learn that NONE OF THIS MAKES UP ME!!!!

So, sitting there in the kitchen, feeling sorry for myself, and I looked up.  I had perched Sara up on the butcher block - she was helping me put together dinner.  But, I perched her up there because I needed her out from underfoot while I was unloading the dishwasher.  I didn't want to trip over her while I was moving around the kitchen, so I perched her up there and we chatted while I was unloading dishes.  We counted plates as I took them out.  When I saw her though, I thought... this is going to be OK.  Not only is it going to be OK - it's going to be GOOD!  This is not my choice - but just because it is not my choice, that does not make it bad.  I have a little girl who loves me who I will get to spend more time with.  I have another daughter who was playing legos quietly up in her room - who I will get to be home with every afternoon to help her with her homework.  I have a son, who was out helping wash the truck, who I will be able to spend more time with.  He is already growing up too quickly and sooner than I know it, he will be gone - out of the house - onto adventures all his own.  God has taken away my sight, my job - but has given me something sweeter.... TIME.  

Isn't it just like God to do that?  Take away what you think you can not live without, only to show you that not only will you not miss it - but you will like what HE has in store for you, so much more than what He asked you to leave behind?

So, no more raises.  No more business dinners.  No more promotions.  I've been told to trade it in for -  time with my kids!

Obviously, I'm scared.  This is something new for me and for our family.  I'm getting used to things though.  For right now, Sara continues to go to child care.  I need to keep her there because hopefully I will be going to get a dog soon, and she will need to have somewhere to go while I am gone.  Also, until this all gets fully settled, and I transition into long term disability, I need to know that she has somewhere to go.  Once things get settled though, I will keep her home with me.  It will be good for us.  I'm already enjoying being home with the kids after school.  It makes the evenings so much easier to have dinner ready and homework done before Tim comes home.  I'll teach her colors, and maybe even how to read....

It'll all be fine....so why this pit/knot in my stomach?  Probably just because it's change.  I don't prefer change.  For someone who can't see real well, change is difficult.  I know this is not a physical change, but I think that I've gotten into the routine of "no change", and that has spilled over into every aspect of my life.  Change has always been uncomfortable for me... it probably is for everyone.  I just need to move forward with it, accept it, and soon it will become the new normal, that I won't want changed.  

I just want to know WHY God.... Why would you take this from me.  My sight?  I want to see my kids graduate.  I want to see them get married.  I want to see my grandchildren.  I want to see color in real, actual color - instead of what I guess I imagine in my head (I wonder how that works - how I see pink when something is actually yellow.... that is kinda interesting.  Maybe I'll research it...).  I know things could be a lot worse - so many other things could be happening to me that could be much worse... but for right now, it's my life, it's my blog and I'm having a moment.  A moment to feel sorry for myself, ask a lot of questions that don't have answers, and share all of my fears.

My moment of pity will be over soon... I think truthfully it's more adjustment than self-pity.  Adjustment with Kleenex.  A new name for self-pity :)

And a final disclaimer - I'm looking forward to being home with my little ones.  Really I am.  I have a ton that I can do... things that I enjoy.  I just really enjoyed what I'm having to leave behind too....I worked at it for 20 years.  It's hard to say good-bye to 20 years.

Thanks for listening!

In Christ,

So much to say....

So much to say... just working on saying it the right way.  It's coming.  Lots to share....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Birthday Girl

Anna's 8th Birthday Cake - iCarly

I'm a bit late in writing this post, but I thought I would share some pictures from her birthday celebration while I was at it....and we didn't officially do that until Sunday.  So - while this post is a little late, I write it with much love for my Anna Clare! I even changed the font color to pink in honor of Anna and her new-found love for the color pink.  This time last year, she could not STAND the color pink - now it is her favorite!
My sweet 8 year old Anna Clare AiYi Roach - love you my doll baby!

I don't even know how to begin to describe just how much my Anna Clare means to me.  What a precious treasure she is in my life, and in our family.  My beautiful Asian princess!
The birthday girl and her sister - aren't they both just beautiful???

We had a small family get together this weekend in celebration on Anna's birthday.  We kinda carried her birthday out over three days, ending it with a party on Saturday with the grandparents.  First, on Friday, her actual birthday she took home made chocolate chip cookies (her favorite) to her class.  When she came home we had dinner and Tim took her to the high school football game.  They had a good time, even though it was chilly!  Saturday we picked up her cake for her party on Sunday, did some errands around the house and then let her pick out where we would go for dinner.  As per usual, she picked Olive Garden.  We had a nice time celebrating my little girl's birthday with her....and had a great dinner!
 More sisters - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these girls!
 Sara Joy on Anna's birthday - look at that face!!!  That is TROUBLE!!!
Sweet Sara Joy - happy to be celebrating her sister's birthday!

Sunday the grandparents came over.  It was so nice to have the family under one roof.  Mom had to come without Denis which was kind of sad, but we understood.  He was still feeling a bit under the weather, so he stayed home and my mom came on her own.  Tim's parents came as well.  We had a nice, easy dinner.  Tim did hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and we had baked beans, green bean casserole and a nice fruit salad.  It was all very good!
 Great picture of Tim and his dad!
Three generations - my mom (grandma), me, Sara Joy, Anna Clare, and Tim's mom (Mamaw)

Anna got some very nice gifts.  We got her an iPod for  her birthday and a couple of outfits.  Mamaw and Papaw got her a couple of outfits and an home.  Mom and Denis got her an outfit and an iTunes gift card.  She enjoyed all of her gifts very much and said it was her best birthday ever.  I guess the kids like it better when it is simple than when I do something all busy and complicated!
 The birthday girl - opening gifts
I am blessed to have such a sweet and beautiful daughter!

After everyone left we settled in and all watched a couple of movies together.  Mamaw had brought us some home made pepper jelly so we had a "snacky" type dinner of crackers, cream cheese and pepper jelly.  It was good!
This is the only evidence I have that Cameron was even present... he threatened me when I said I would put the picture up on Facebook.  Apparently he didn't like the picture.  Good thing he doesn't  read my blog - or maybe he should start.  Love you Cam!

My Anna Clare is such a blessing to me.  I really can't imagine my life without her.  She is such a special little girl.  I love her to death!  Happy Birthday Ms. Anna Clare!  So thankful God brought us together and that you are my daughter!

In Christ,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Embarking on a Journey

Have you ever found yourself on a journey... but you don't know where you are going, or even WHY you are going?  It's kinda where I'm at right now.  

I seem to be something along the lines of a fish out of water right now.  Not sure how I will survive, but for the love of God, I know I will.  (Maybe a fish out of water doesn't feel that way, but in my life right now, I feel like a fish out of water).  Ok, so for a long time - like a REALLY long time, my life was defined first by one thing.... my job.  I started working in my field (Chemistry) at the end of my sophomore year of college.  I was lucky enough to land a job where they let me work while I finished my education and then they hired me upon graduation.  I was pretty much the envy of all of my friends at the time.  So, since the ripe ole age of 19, I've worked in the Pharmaceutical industry.  I had many jobs along the way - Analytical Chemist, through QA and Validation to my final stop in Management.  Sadly, it did pretty much define me.  After I had my children, then two things defined me - my family and my job.  They sometimes fought for the front running position and depending on the circumstances, they jockeyed back and forth as to which was in front.  

I think, well, really I know - God was trying to get my attention. Sorry God, no time... I'm busy.  Do you not remember the time-consuming job you gave me and the children and husband that you blessed me with?  Did you forget all the effort I need to put into them.... I HAVE NO TIME RIGHT NOW.  You want BALANCE in my life???  I'm balancing the best I know how!!!  I've wondered many a time why God "blessed" me with the unique (not unique to everyone, I guess a better word would be rare) eye condition that I have.  Along the way, I have seen God use it to better my life and I think - ok, this is it!!!  I have learned why God allows this to remain in my life.  I've learned a lesson.  But then, it doesn't go away.... It becomes an annoyance.  "Ok God, I learned what you needed me to learn, so stop with the robbing me of my sight".  Remember???  I learned my lesson.  God always has more for me though.

I call my condition a "blessing" because most days... it really is.  Looking back on life, I see how God has used this condition to better me, to keep me needing Him - I think without it, I'd be too dependent on myself and I'd wander quickly.  I'm an independent person by nature.  I take pride in doing things on my own.... but I've learned that nothing it done truly on my own - only though the power of Christ.  

So, God must have something big and interesting in store for me.  My eyes are getting much worse.  Everyone sees it.  My husband sees it, my children see it, my family sees it, and my friends see it.  Others who don't know me, and don't know my condition, probably think I'm rude as I walk in front of them without knowing, or I run into them because I don't see them.  It's becoming more and more apparent.  As I said before, I'm currently not working because of it.

How could God take away one of the things that DEFINED me???  Well, I thought about that quite a bit lately - as I have had a little more time on my hands.... God does not see me as being DEFINED by my job.  He defined my role on this earth a LONG time ago, and it had nothing to do with my job.  Now, He gave me my job for a reason, and if I truly believe that - which I do - He has taken it from me right now for a reason.  Maybe to re-examine what truly defines me.  It shouldn't be my job.  Truthfully, it should not be my family either.  Not my husband, not my kids.... I need to learn to let God define me.   It's a difficult task for this independent, education minded, workaholic person I have become.  Imagine my life without the blackberry????  Never.... yet here I sit, on the brink of no work blackberry - and yet I survive!!!

God is Good!!!  Yes, ALL. THE. TIME.  Even when the situations of life really stink... God is still good.  Of the two things that I've ever thought really defined me, I'm thankful He has chosen to teach me a lesson by, at least for right now, taking me from my JOB and not taking me from my family!  He is not only GOOD, but He is MERCIFUL!!!

So, while I'm figuring out this new chapter of my life, I've decided to utilize some of my time to get into better shape.  There isn't a whole lot for me to choose from... I had a road bike - not a good idea for someone who can't see.  It's hanging in the garage.... anyone need a good road bike?  I tried running - well, STARTED to try running and ended up with a fractured leg, and after it healed, I vowed to never run again!  So, lately, I have been walking.  I find it to be a good use of my time.  I get up with Tim and the kids, and get everyone out the door for work/school.  As they are climbing in the car, I'm putting my ear buds in and heading out on my walking journey.  I watch the sun rise over the rail trail and listen to my music... sometimes I walk with Selah, sometimes Casting Crowns, other times SCC, sometimes a variety shuffle - no matter what, I find that on the trail I absorb a lot from the songs that happen into my ears on my journey.  It sets my mind in the right place for the day, and along the way I get to take in the beauty God has provided all around me.  So, I started walking about three miles a day.  I'm now up to between 7 and 8.5 miles a day.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my walking time.  Last week I walked 42 miles.  I'm hoping to walk 50 this week.  We'll see how it goes.  If nothing else, it's doing wonders for my health!

I don't know what God is setting me up for - but I know it will be an interesting journey.  Why do I have this desire to walk seemingly endless miles???  Not sure - maybe it's because one day I will have enough courage to stop the couple that walk by me every day, introduce myself and maybe develop a relationship with them... Maybe they are Christians, maybe they are not, but maybe one day when I stop and ask them their names, they will see the love of Christ in me.  I look forward to passing them every day... and yet I don't know their names!  Maybe it's to say hello to the older man who walks alone on the track every day.... he seems sad / alone.  Maybe it's talking to the man who walks his two dogs.  He always seems happy when I say hello or compliment his dogs.  Or maybe it's to talk to the man who walks his dog.... it's a friendly dog that he walks off lead.  Sometimes I look down and I have my music so loud I don't hear the dog's pitter-patter feet walking next to me.  He will walk with me for awhile then turn around and go back to his owner - never bothering me, just walking.  I stopped and said hello to him the other day and we talked about his dog.  I saw him again today.  I believe God puts us places for a reason - and I think He has given me the desire to get out on that trail at the same time everyday, to see some of the same people every day for a reason.  Not sure what it is yet, but I'm bound and determined to find out.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying my time with God and my music!

As much as I hate change, especially dramatic change... change isn't always bad.  It's simply CHANGE.  Something new to get used to.   The new normal.

Please pray for me and for my family as I find my new normal and adjust to it.  I'm sure whatever God has in store for me and my family, it is something good...

Romans 8:28 - For all things work together for GOOD for those who love God, for those who are called according to HIS purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you saith the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a HOPE!

PS - I'm working on getting Anna's birthday pictures up... I have some really good ones of the family.  I'm having trouble viewing them with my new computer though, so it may take some time... I have not forgotten nor neglected my Anna Clare's birthday!

In Christ,