Sunday, August 27, 2017

in the presence of Peace

The past month has tested me; it has tested my persistence, my patience, my intelligence, my abilities, my stamina, and my faith. It's months like these that produce cliche quotes such as, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", and embodies the meaning behind James' words, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (James 1:2-3).

Throughout our son's medical journey, I have had peace that can only be described as supernatural. It has kept me radically calm and steadfast in circumstances, diagnoses, and unknowns that left people unsure of my truthfulness when I told them I was doing well. I have never been lying. I have been sustained; been given every thing I have needed in every moment, through the supernatural peace of The Living God and that peace has allowed for me to be calm, collected, certain. I have not been blanketed with worry and God has been faithful in His promise that I do not need to be.

God provided everything I needed to walk the road we were on.

It did not mean I was never left with questions or that I wasn't concerned for our son's health and wellbeing--of course I was, anything less than that would be neglect and disregard.  In the last year, Hezekiah has endured three surgeries during which 8 different operations have been done and even I have been shocked at the degree of calm I have felt and expressed.

But in the last month... something changed. 

For the first time in Hezekiah's medical journey I felt completely at a loss and entirely overwhelmed. I welcomed his new feeding tube with hope and excitement. I saw it as the much needed help to this crisis of weight gain and growth. I still believe that it is, but I did not anticipate the mounting challenges, difficulties and unknowns. I did not anticipate how it would affect his already complex med management. To top it off, his surgery took place just days before resident assistants moved onto campus to begin RA Training with my husband (a Resident Educator). 

The few weeks following his surgery are my husband's busiest weeks of the year, so when the new class of freshmen moved in on August 18, I was hiding in our campus apartment, sitting on the floor crying so hard I couldn't go anywhere. 

Mostly, I felt alone. Not just physically alone, but alone in my thoughts, my concerns, my calculations, and my decisions. I was completely overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. Something was not right with Hezekiah and I needed help getting answers and resolutions. If I laid out all the details of his pain and the challenges with feedings it would just take too long--you'd stop reading--and the point of what I'm sharing is not to rehash those sucky details of why I was sitting on the floor ugly crying, the point is: I was sitting on the floor ugly crying. Read: desperate low point.

I felt like my insides were imploding. Where was this coming from? Why was I breaking down? I was confused, because I was the all-around healthiest I have been in a long time. I've been exercising almost every day (almost, because I mean, real life here, people), eating well, and making time to be with The Lord and for genuine sabbath in my life. But the reality was, I actually could not stop weeping. How as any of this more difficult than anything we had yet endured? It didn't make sense.

A mentor gently reminded me via text to practice being in God's presence and, to be frank, a part of my insides felt offended as if he had told me to stop my crying! But that isn't what he had said at all, now is it? I began to reflect on the idea of being in God's presence and I chaotically and instantaneously laid out the past year in my mind and compared it to this moment--why now? what about this in particular has me so broken? where did that peace go? what am I doing wrong? I was at a loss on what to do and how to best care for our son and it was hard and uncomfortable.

I was also feeling the tension of the co-existing paradox of my internal being and my external behavior. In my spirit, I had peace. I had already gone through my truth list and I was certain of God's sovereignty and goodness. Yet my external behavior was a circus of all signs pointing to, "No peace here!" 

And then somehow... sort of like that moment when a blurry image comes into full focus... I recognized being in God's presence exactly how I was

The enemy had been whispering lies to me that I couldn't actually be in God's presence and still be a wreck. Being in God's presence promised to bring peace so I obviously didn't know how to draw near to Him since my flesh was anything but 'peaceful'

But I was there. I was right there at the foot of the throne of a High Priest who can empathize with my weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). I was sitting in the presence of the Prince of Peace and He was leaning in closer to me just as I was.

Recognizing God's presence didn't make me stop crying; it didn't take away my responsible concern for my son and it didn't make me feel like it needed to. God's presence in my struggle allowed me to be weak, to express everything that was inside without any guilt or shame as if feeling anything but peace is somehow a lack of faith. 

On the contrary--God's peace is God's presence and sovereignty in the struggle. Recognizing it, embracing it, hoping in it, believing it is there and that it is big enough to console you in your struggle and carry you through, that is faith.

Two days after that long afternoon and evening of doctor appointments and questions, I was the sole party responsible for accidentally yanking Hezekiah's g-tube straight from his tiny tender stomach with the balloon still inflated. 

Friends, saying I was a hot mess is an understatement.

And you know who was right there with me? Well besides my panicked husband, my slightly traumatized 7-year-old, and my oblivious 3-year-old...   the Prince of Peace.

And you know what I didn't hear The Prince speaking over me, "You need to calm down. Stop crying. Think about this logically. Everything is fine. Don't you have my peace? Relax." (all those things worked up women LOVE to hear 😉) No, Peace was just there. Like that loyal friend who sits close to you in your darkest hour and just feels with you instead of offering up a gamut of solutions. Like a parent who scoops up their wounded child and rocks them back and forth offering only a "shh shh shh, I'm right here. I'm right here."

For whatever reason, this whole feeding tube bit and all its challenges had me crazy weak, baffled, and unsure how to proceed, but I am practicing being in the presence of the Prince of Peace just as I am--no facades, no getting fixed-up first, no in-front-of-guests' behavior--and it's crazy amazing. I'm learning more about God's love, God's goodness, and this mind-boggling peace that transcends our understanding and our flesh. I'm seeing it at new depths and through a new lens.

I'm not done crying. 
I'm not done pouring over numbers, calculating feedings and medications, or asking lots of questions.
I'm not done carrying the appropriate weight of responsibility as my son's advocate and care-taker. 
I'm not done making mistakes and feeling terrible about them.
I'm not done being a hot mess on any given day of the week.

So I'm going to keep leaning into the Prince of Peace just as I am, because He loves me and that's enough to transform who I am for the better and sustain me for whatever lies ahead.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

the return is always worth the investment

Truth: I started this blog SIX MONTHS AGO, and just now came back to finish it. So here it is!

I don't know how long ago it was now, probably eight months, but someone asked us a question that really got me thinking (read: feeling insecure and uncertain). He asked why we had fundraised for our adoption when it was apparent that my parents are so wealthy. He wanted to know why they hadn't provided the $40k for us and why we asked others to help us.

I'll tell you how I responded in just a moment, but first take a walk with me in the fragility of my insecure mind of the flesh. I started wondering, "How many people are wondering that!? How many people are thinking that?! What were we thinking asking people for MONEY?!"

It really nagged at me and I had to dig in deep to understand why I was wrestling with feelings of embarrassment, but I quickly recognized that the insecurity was rooted in my fear of people not trusting us. After my detour into shame and insecurity, I came back to the Truth I already knew and it was the Truth with which I answered his question.

"My parents would have helped us if they could. For many reasons that aren't mine to share they could have only come up with that money for us quickly if they had taken it from their retirement--which they were willing to do--but we did not believe that was how God was going to provide for us. And if they had just covered the cost for us easy-peasy then God wouldn't have received near the glory that He has received in this process. So that's why."

I want to unpack what I mean by God being glorified in this process.

So...nearly 15 months ago we stepped out in faith; we counted the cost--quite literally (about $40k)--and plunged forward with an opportunity to adopt. We had a whole $8k in our savings and had been approved for a $10k Consumer Credit Line from our bank.  We were still $22k short of what we needed.

Here's a pic from an actual page in my journal the week we were matched. I wrote it during a staff meeting devotional about counting the cost to follow Jesus (I work at a church):

We prayed... and prayed... and prayed.. and listened... and listened... and listened some more.

And without any shame we sent an email out to family and friends telling them our amazing news and inviting them to pray with us for the funds to come in and telling them how they could contribute if The Lord led them. We were trying to obey Jesus and we were going to need some help to do that, so we asked for help.

But that isn't always how the world views it--Why would we adopt if we didn't already have the money? If we didn't have the money to adopt why did we think we had the money to take care of a child with special needs?

Okay... all SUPER LOGICAL questions... I get that. But our God is so much bigger than our logic and God's wisdom is foolishness to the world.

So we threw off those questions and doubts and fears and trusted that where God led us He would make it possible for us to go.

And God did.

I could tell you so many stories of how God miraculously provided for us through the generosity of others. I am humbled by the gifts and the hard work of so many people. It is humbling and inspiring, but it is not embarrassing. The enemy wants me to believe that I should be embarrassed, but I refuse to agree with this lie.

The day we found out Hezekiah's birthmother wanted us to be his forever family is the day we sent that email to all of our family and friends explaining the situation and the need; the email asking for help. That night I got home late from a church meeting and a couple about 20 years our senior came to our home and sat across from us in our living room. They had received the email and honestly, in my fear and insecurity, I thought they might be there to advise us on all of the things we maybe had not considered with special needs. Instead, they reached out and handed us a $1,000 check.
I almost ugly cried y'all.
The best way I can describe what it felt like is this: God had called us to this mountain and we were standing at the foot of it. We trusted and knew that He would show us the way over it and we were so eager to climb to the top, but we honestly didn’t know how to get there and we certainly knew we couldn’t do it on our own. 
This first gift–this couple sitting in our living room–became the extension of God’s majestic arm reaching down to offer us a hand.
We took hold of Him and his faithfulness with grateful and expectant hearts; and somehow, miraculously, more hands reached out; more extensions of God’s love and provision for us, and when we made it to the top we knew exactly who had placed us there.
God loves for us to be desperate for Him, because we get to see more of who He is and how He loves us when we are; only through our weakness and inabilities do we experience the fullness of God's power and grace. Grace is not only the free pardon we receive through Jesus; Grace is also a supernatural force that sustains us and makes it possible for us to follow Jesus wherever He leads.
God provided for us through the generosity of others and by giving us the personal self-discipline to pay off debt. When Hezekiah was just under 6 months old we didn't owe a single penny for an adoption that cost well over $40k. That is only possible because of The Lord--He gets ALL the credit. And that's why I am glad we had to ask for help, glad we had to lean on other believers, glad we didn't have enough on our own--because I want to stay in this humble and desperate place where I get to see more and more of Jesus, where he gets more and more of the praise and glory, and where I get to be a part of the Bride of Christ that holds one another up and meets their needs just like in Acts 2:44-45, just like how God designed it to be.
"All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need."
Go follow Jesus, no matter the cost--the return is always worth the investment. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Grace is the how

She hugged me close and whispered in my ear, “I don’t know how you guys are doing what you’re doing.” It’s a statement I have heard variations of quite often, but one that always sort of surprises me. In some ways I can relate. I have wondered the same thing about my friends and loved ones who have packed up their families and chosen to live in countries oceans away from everything they know. I’ve hugged them, prayed for them, cried with them, and quietly in my heart wondered how they have the faith to answer such a tremendous call on their lives. Maybe it is natural to wonder this about callings which have not yet been asked of us personally. I wonder how I could pack my family up, leave our extended families, and live in another country, but my hope is that if The Lord asked it of us we would just do it, no matter the how.

So when people say this sort of thing to me, maybe they just can’t wrap their minds around it being their calling, which it probably isn’t.

Still, I can’t help but feel a little strange or uncertain with how to respond. We don’t feel like we have done anything extraordinary or that what we are doing is somehow impossible; obviously it isn’t impossible or we wouldn’t be doing it. But the consistent feedback has me questioning just how we do do it. The reality is, I look at the past four months and I’m slightly amazed at how strengthened we have been. So, I think I might just have an idea how we do it, and I’ll let you in on our secret. ;)

So first, let’s re-cap what exactly it is that people are wondering about:
As a family, we have gone through a number of significant transitions in the past five months.  The two biggest transitions have been adding a child with special needs to our family (with about two weeks notice) and moving into the Men’s Quad Resident Director apartment at Tabor College. Don’t get all impressed now and assume we have superhuman magical qualities; when we started out on each of these journeys, those first steps were filled with a massive amount of fear and uncertaintyas most first steps usually are.

People have done a lot of ‘gasping’ at these steps in our journey and they have a lot of questions. My guess is that people can’t quite make sense of it from their perspective, but to us it feels like the most natural thing in the world. I can’t summarize our adoption journey or our decision to transition into college Resident Life in a neat, easy sentence. I can, however, summarize our lives in general: We are trying our best to obey Jesus’ call on a daily basis and years of daily acts of obedience result in lives lived for Jesus.

Some people commend us for the sacrifices we have made, but that sounds so silly to me. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve made some huge sacrifice to take in our son and make him our own and I would hate for him to think we feel that way. He has never, not once, felt like a burden; He feels like a blessing, like a natural part of us. And as for the apartment in the guys’ quad, sure it has its sub-par moments, but over-all we are excited to follow Jesus into this calling. We feel like very fortunate people, not martyrs! We actually feel pretty amazed that God would choose us for this work.

Paul’s words in Phil. 3:7-9 have never had more meaning to me than they do now.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

Maybe you look at our life and see tons of sacrifice—and, of course, there has been some because there is always sacrifice when following Jesus—but when I look at our lives all I see is GAIN, GAIN, GAIN. We have gained a son that is just as much ours as if we had birthed him. Through the challenges of medical care and wading through unknowns, we have gained a deeper understanding of God’s love and compassion. We have also gained empathy and compassion for others. Through foregoing our ‘rights’ to our own space and time, we have gained a greater dependency on our Father and better eyesight for His work set before us.  We have gained tremendous daily opportunity to interact with souls desperately in need of God’s touch.

Allowing God to radically alter the course of our lives, family, and careers will demonstrate to our children how rich the fruit is from following Jesus wherever and whenever He leads. We are certain God will use all of these journeys to transform us more into Christ’s likeness and if I try to reflect on what we ‘lost’ in the process, well, to be totally honest, it’s hard to see it. 
I’m not just saying this. On most days it doesn’t feel like sacrifice or loss, it feels like abundant life; and that’s exactly what Jesus said He came to give us.

So how do we do it?

The answer is simple: Grace.
God’s grace has been, is, and will always be sufficient for us. In His grace, He has transformed our hearts. In His grace, he has given us clear vision. In His grace, He has blessed our lives with the richness of knowing Him more deeply and giving us the courage to take first steps of obedience no matter how much uncertainty or fear we feel. In His grace, He has equipped us to live the lives He has called us to live. In His grace, He has given us abundant life & the perspective to see it as what it is.

His grace is how I laugh about the fact that it sounds like a party outside of our apartment every night.
His grace is when I feel confident as I’m figuring out how to manage my various roles.
His grace is when we figure out how to manage our money when the medical bills pile up.
His grace is when we’re able to accept that the privacy we had living off campus is currently a thing of the past.
His grace is when I don’t freak out when our 6-year-old repeats a bad word she heard one of our ‘neighbors’ say. 
His grace is sufficient when we can all see the comedy in how much we run into one another in our apartment.
His grace is sufficient when we have peace taking on a $40,000 adoption at the same time my husband is taking a huge pay-cut—both being results of following Jesus.
His grace is when we feel assurance even though following Him looks like foolishness to the world.
His grace is when I feel strength even though I am tired and weak and afraid.
His grace is when we find ourselves sitting next to a hospital crib holding our 12-pound baby boy whimpering in pain and confusion as he recovers from surgery and somehow we aren’t piles of sobbing messes of hopelessness on the floor, but rather, by His miraculous grace, we stand upright, certain of The Spirit’s nearness and goodness and comfort.
That is grace. 100%. Every time. Not our own strength or will, but grace.
Grace. Grace. Grace.

Any time you look at us and see something that makes you say, ‘Wow, how do they do it?’, you’re not seeing our greatness, you're seeing God’s grace.

So, yeah, that’s how we do it. We lean into grace.

We stand in the confidence that His grace will be unceasingly enough for following Him everywhere He leads; and we are confident this is true not just for us, but for you, too.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Puzzle Pieces

As I mentioned in the closing of my previous blog, Diamonds, we have been to quite a few doctor appointments in an effort to put together the puzzle pieces of what all is going on with Hezekiah's body. Last week was a Medical Marathon and I am pleased to report that we ran it like seasoned veterans. We head back to Children's Mercy in Kansas City this Tuesday for a couple more appointments and then I think we actually have a few days off.

Many have wondered what all is going on with our sweet babe (so have we!), and I want to take this opportunity to share some of what we do know. My hope is that you will use this information to pray specifically for wholeness and health for him, but not as a measure by which to limit him or set a lower bar of expectation. I fully anticipate seeing God glorified all throughout his life. Sometimes this will come in the form of medical miracles. Other times it will come in the form of the endurance and grace with which he runs the race set before him.

Hezekiah was born with several anomalies. This just means differences from what is normal, standard, or expected. There are the apparent physical anomalies that can be seen with the human eye:

Bi-lateral cleft lip
Complete cleft palate
Syndactyly of his left hand (three fingers fused together)
Ectrodactyly on both feet (missing toes, sort of 'pincher' feet)

The collection of these differences indicate that some other problems likely exist below the surface, so Hezekiah endured a battery of exams and tests while he was still in the NICU at birth. While there they discovered some problems with his heart and kidneys, but those have since cleared up/healed and appear normal. Yay, Lord!

They also drew blood for chromosome and DNA testing to check for possible syndromes. We have not ruled out all syndromes yet, but his chromosome test and micro array test both came back normal. We will meet with the genetics clinic at Children's Mercy in Kansas City on Tuesday and discuss what it looks like to begin testing specific genes and looking for a distinct genetic disorder that can account for all of the various differences. This would help give a road map for Hezekiah; we could watch for other problems that might arise due to an identified syndrome or genetic disorder, and qualify for special therapies and treatments as well as financial assistance to cover the cost of his medical needs. We will learn more about that on Tuesday.

An ultra sound led to some suspicion about the corpus collosum in Hezekiah's brain so they did an MRI (at this point, this is all still in the NICU). They discovered that he has agenesis of the corpus callosum, which means it only partially developed. There is no cure or treatment for this and it will not develop any further outside of the womb. The CC is the piece of the brain that communicates between the left and right side. How this will affect him specifically is unknown, but it most commonly affects coordination. Effects can range from subtle/mild to severe. Some who have ACC struggle a great deal to overcome its obstacles, while others live their whole lives only knowing it is there because they were told by a scan that it is. We are already doing some physical therapy to help teach his brain how to work around its deficiencies. God made the brain to be quite an amazing piece of biology and it can compensate for problems or injuries in ways science can't fully explain. We could curl up in fear while scouring google about all the potential worst-case-scenarios, but we won't. And we won't let anyone else do that for us. Woe to the person that attempts to limit what our little man can do or utters a single word of dismay about his life. I really mean that.
Woe.  to.  them.

Our endocrinologist has said to me more than once "Don't let doctors or anyone tell you what your son cannot do."
I couldn't agree with her more.

Doctors are not writing his story.
We are not writing his story.
The Author of Life is writing his story.

Since the NICU we have continued to uncover other underlying differences. Currently, Hezekiah has two other identified diagnoses:

Panhypopituitarism - he is lacking in more than one of the 8 hormones produced by the pituitary gland. (One of the things our recent MRI looked at was the pituitary gland, but again-no results until the 21st.) One of those hormones is cortisole. This is a very important hormone for him for several reasons, but especially for sedation. Thankfully, we can manage his hormone deficiencies with hormone replacements. It will take special attention throughout life to do through supplements what the body is meant to do naturally, but not impossible.

Diabetes Insipidus - this is NOT the sugar/insulin diabetes we are most familiar with. DI is a disorder that causes an imbalance of water in the body. This was discovered because of high levels of sodium in his blood and through urine analysis. Without medication people with DI experience intense thirst (even after drinking water) and large amounts of urine. It can easily lead to dehydration. There is no cure, but there are treatments to help minimize the symptoms. Thankfully we are only doing a very, very tiny dose of medication right now and he doesn't appear to have developed noticeable symptoms. We have to be careful with the medication. Because people with DI are used to high levels of sodium a sudden drop in those levels can result in seizures.

Both of these conditions are manageable with medicine, but will always be something we monitor closely and have to advocate for whenever he receives medical care. Thankfully we have an absolutely AMAZING Endocrinologist. She is phenomenal and cares a great deal about our son.

We expect a typical life for Hezekiah.
We hope the very best for him.
We will speak love and life over him.
We will help when things are more difficult, but always empower him.
We will cheer with him when he reaches milestones-no matter when he does.
We will sit and cry with him-or for him-when the challenges or medical treatments feel too much to bear.
We will help him rise up from the floor and press on.
We will teach him to rely on Jesus.
We will praise God. Every moment.
We will let God use Hezekiah's beautiful life to change and shape us and others around us.
We will tell our stories so that God's glory is revealed.
We will protect Hezekiah-like fierce mother bears-and we will silence the ugly that comes out of people's mouths or shows up on their faces. We will not let people speak down to him or curse his bright beautiful future.
We will continue to be certain of the fact that God created Hezekiah with purpose and meaning-just as much as anyone else.

His future has lots of unknowns for us, but not to His creator. This brings us incredible peace. There is not a day His Maker has not seen, and He will never leave Hezekiah. Not for a moment.

On Tuesday we will get a few more answers, but most likely just more questions. We will first meet with genetics clinic and then with neurology. We know for sure that we will learn about what they saw with his pituitary gland and with his optic nerves. There can be some potential problems with the optic nerve since he has midline defects, but no sense in explaining those until we know.

Meanwhile we are looking forward to finalizing his adoption. There are a few things that have to happen for this to occur:

-Two post placement visits with a social worker (approximately $400)
-Sending two medical reports to the agency
-$7,500 payment to agency
-$2,000 in finalization fees

God has been so faithful in his provision!
In the last two weeks we got approved for a $2,500 grant from Perfect Graft, Inc. and a $5,000 matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans.

This means:

A Perfect Graft will make a $2,500 payment to the agency on our behalf.

Life Song will collect tax deductible donations on our behalf and an organization called Aim5 will match those donations up to $10,000. So someone gives $50 and it instantly becomes $100 towards our expenses. Woah!

This is a HUGE blessing, because not only will that help with what we still owe, but we can use it to pay off the $9,500 of debt we have incurred so far.

We also got started with 35kcampaign one month earlier than expected!

For all these things we Praise God!

If you feel led to help us click here to learn about how to make a donation to our matching grant.

We continually feel the reassurance of our Father and His goodness. There may be many missing puzzle pieces and several moving parts, but God's timing is perfect and He IS sovereign. One of the most incredible parts of this journey has been the many real-life "trust fall" exercises, because God has called so many different people to step out of the wood work in our lives and catch us. Sometimes people we could have expected and many we would have never guessed. I will forever be grateful for all of these people who have, quite literally, carried us forward in this journey. I know some of those people who have helped or will help will be reading this blog and I hope you know-YOU are a treasured piece in God's story for our lives and we pray God's richest blessings on you.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Instructions for making a donation towards our matching grant

All donations made to Lifesong on our behalf will be matched by Aim5

  Give by check

Make checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans.

In the memo please note your gift preference with our Family Account Number and Family Name: 
Like this: Preference 6113 Waldron

Mail checks to:

Lifesong for Orphans PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744 

   Give online

1. Go to
2. Select Give to an Adoptive Family
3. Complete online form and fill in Family Account Number 6113 & Family Name Waldron. 

 *Please note that PayPal will charge an administrative fee (2.2% + $.30 USD per transaction). Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee.

o   NOTE: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization.  This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.
o   Individual donations $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.  Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.  Lifesong is a 501©3 tax exempt organization.