Sunday, March 13, 2016

Health and Jonathan's Story

Some of you have asked how everyone's doing.  I'm so sorry I haven't texted back or messaged/emailed.  The recovery process from Thomas' hospitalization and (on a more minor note) all of us catching the flu, has left us tired.  

I'm not sure today how much is just exhaustion and how much is the sadness that will always remain lingering on this day.  Most of our family has health yuck going on right now, so I'm going to give you a rundown (since I've been asked about several of our kids).

Here's the rundown.
Thomas: He's got no reserves.  The bacterial and viral pneumonia, the flu.... took everything out of him.  He's coughing and tired with an occasional very low grade fever.  He's on industrial antibiotics and Tamiflu (still) .  He looked at me today after coughing up yuck and said, "This is such a blood."  We never realized the extent of what we have to be thankful for.  I don't think we ever will.

Me: I'm over the worst of the flu.  I have a pretty bad cough and occasionally cough up lifeforms.   I'm just a bit weak and tired.

Tom/21: He hasn't caught this (the running joke is it's because he's Batman), but had a tooth pulled the day this started (that was highly infected).  They scratched the top of his mouth pretty badly and it looks to be infected (going in tomorrow).  He and his fiance Elizabeth/20 (who was fighting a sinus infection) helped keep our family afloat during this.  They were wonderful.

Sarah/19 (and Ivan/21 her husband):  They came and helped.  Once we realized it was the flu and banned them, they ran errands and such.  They both felt pretty lousy toward the end of the week, but are bouncing back a bit today.

Anna/15: She didn't feel great all week, but only slightly got sick.  She, and all the kids were such a help.  Last night was her first real fever.

Max/13: He got the flu FULL ON.  High fevers, entire body hurting, you name it.  He hasn't had a fever now for 24 hours and is just really wiped out with a few aches and pains.

Benjamin/12: He has the immune system of Mount Everest. (Really, I'm not sure that phrase really makes a lot of  He hasn't got sick.  He's was REALLY bothered by daddy being gone and is testing some limits though.

Bekah/10:  She only got sick mildly, but is struggling with side pain right now (we appreciate prayer there).  We suspected an infection, but nope.  We took her in today and may take her into her regular doctor tomorrow.

Jael/7:  She only slightly showed signs of illness too.  She's been remarkably well.

Rachel/6:  She got the flu full on...103 fever...pure awfulness.  She seems to be fever free now and trying to recover.

Gabriel/6:  He got the sickest with a 104 fever and vomiting.  Thankful the doctor gave him stronger meds just today and he can keep liquids down now.  He's still having a low grade fever off and on.

Now if you could bare with the above, I don't want to let this day pass without sharing Jonathan's story...with a new thought....Jonathan's Legacy.

We found, once we sat down and talked with some of the kids today, that everyone seems to be dealing with this anniversary differently.  One blessing was hyper fearful of loss while their dad was in the hospital and I was sick....because we have lost before.  Another blessing was filled with anxiety.  Another blessing was filled with sadness and hollowness.  

I realized this morning that the trauma of losing Jonathan and just the loss itself played out in different ways.  My longing so extreme for Timothy, not wanting to let go....was a result of knowing we had to three years ago.  Knowing these things DO happen. These things don't just happen to other people.  Yesterday the sadness wouldn't let go.

You see, Jonathan has forever changed our lives and perspectives. He taught us that NOW is the time, tomorrow is no guarantee.  He showed us that EVERY.SINGLE.LIFE.  has value.   If the life is on the earth a day or almost nine years, they are gifts from God.  Parenting them is a privilege and honor. 

God was not surprise by what happened.  He knew before we said yes, that we would.  He knew the toll it would take on our hearts.  He knew we'd also say yes all over again.  His plan for Jonathan's life would open our eyes and hearts forever.  He is and was our son.

Tomorrow is no guarantee.

So, below is Jonathan's Story.  If you are part of our new family, you may never have read it before.  If you walked this road with us, I know that some of this may be painful.  We never want to forget our Jonathan's story though....forever eight.

Jonathan's Story, Jonathan's Legacy

In the Fall of 2012, not a year after Jael joined our family, we were advocating for parents to step forward for a little boy named Sasha on a popular advocating sight.  I had done this for two children before him, but this little boy's need seemed desperate.  He was wasted.  He was beautiful.


I yelled from my figurative mountain top.  

My oldest daughter, at Church camp, cried as they asked for prayers for Sasha.  She knew his situation was dire.  He looked as if he was a child from the concentration camps...emaciated.

No one stepped forward.  Everything was silent and all we heard were crickets.

Have you ever heard that phrase, "If you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you."  (Usually they say "four", but my thumb is...well...a thumb and if it pointed back at me when I'm pointing my'd be VERY awkward.)

We didn't see the fingers pointing back at us.  Wondering started though.  Questioning had begun, "Is this OUR son God?"

It was a big step after we had just added to our family three times in two years.  So Thomas and I prayed, talked, and wept....

...and God gave me a name...Jonathan.  

This little boy we were advocating for...his name wasn't Sasha...but Jonathan.  That had never before happened while advocating.

During this intense time of petitioning, Thomas and I had an opportunity, our first night away...just us...IN YEARS.   

The quiet of the hotel room was deafening.  No, I mean really...we had eight children and were in a hotel alone.  It was DEAFENING.  Nothing profound there...

We were going to a local adoption conference.  

At this point our hearts were broken for Jonathan, but there was a war going on inside us.  I'm not going to start being dishonest here.  It was rough.

The quiet woke me up in the wee hours that night...or maybe I should (in retrospect) say, "The Holy Spirit woke me."  

There were no meowing from a cat stuck in the closet, no "MOMMY!", no checking on kids and watching to make sure they were breathing.  I picked up my phone, in the silence of the night, and saw (through blurry eyes) the verse of the day.  

Jesus was talking to Thomas.

"Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” John 20:29

My heart sighed, but I could barely stay awake.  I snuggled back into bed with my husband.  (My husband who happens to be named Thomas.)  

I then proceeded to forget completely what my verse of the day was.  My husband doesn't get the same one on his phone, so this one was just for me.

We dragged our bodies out of bed in the morning, our eyes still crusty (now THAT is a beautiful picture) from sleep.  

Free breakfast though, we had to get up.  I mean it's FREE! Really?!!!

At breakfast we talked more about Jonathan.  He was heavy on our hearts and thoughts.  God had been talking to me and I knew.  I knew Jonathan was our son.  He was silent to Thomas though, so I waited.

Silent until this morning....

It was through pancakes my husband looked at me and said, "Honey, it's like that verse where Jesus told Thomas, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' " 

Do you remember my verse of the day?

Wait...WHAT?  I had tears fill my eyes (my husband probably thinking I was nuts) and my phone flew out of my purse.  Instant recall...

When I showed him my verse of the day I felt like we were both on holy ground.  I know that might sound odd. =  Yet, this verse we hadn't talked about in as long as I could remember,  God used to show us HIS Will.   

My husband's eyes filled (though I'm sure he would say it was "allergies").  

THAT is the millisecond in time that we both knew Jonathan was our son.

As we shared privately with friends and family, we had never had so much resistance.  A field day was being had by the master of lies.  I don't think there was an instance in our lives we had ever felt more alone.  It was necessary though.  We learned more through this time of following God, than years could teach us.  Following God is not always easy or pain free, but it's ALWAYS right.

I don't share this to guilt anyone.  Our friends and family surround us with love.  It was a hard (and blessed) knowledge that took US a couple of months to get to.  This was big.

It was during this time I wrote this post.

"The Alternative" 

We knew the announcement may be met with adversity and we prayerfully hoped.

On December 10th, 2012 we announced our adoption of Jonathan.

"The Big News~Our Christmas Blessing"  

We learned Jonathan was in an adult mental institution in a rural village.  The phrase "Lost Boys" was coined for these children/men.  Only two had exited the green gates of the institution before him.  Yet, Jonathan was in a laying room, neglected, hungry, abused.  Few survived....

Though our kids celebrated, the prayer for his survival was on the lips of even our youngest child.  We begged.  We pleaded.   For the first time, our family knew Jonathan might not make it.  We knew even the trip home might be dangerous.

We had met with a conference room full of doctors, who were setting a plan in motion to care for our son upon stepping foot in the United States.

Over the next couple of months, we fell in full on love.  Not "falling in love" with a child we did not know, but God gave us something beyond that.  He gave us a son firmly planted in our heart.  

Whatever happened at that point, NOTHING would change that.

God prepared our hearts for more though...learning more...stretching more.  As we look back, we could see the mercy of God granting both Thomas and I what we needed to survive what was to come.

Within weeks God had given me a dream (more than that really).  Have you ever had a dream where the air was crisp like a clear Fall day?  Where you could feel your breath and you had the absolute knowledge it was a "God dream"?

"I held him in my arms.  I could feel the feather weight of his body.  I could feel the sharp angles of his bones through his skin.  His body was all sharp angles...starving...but he is our son. I can almost feel his heart beat beating with mine.  I can still feel the weight laying on my chest.  I wasn't just holding him in a dream."

I don't say this lightly either, but God granted my husband  had a vision...a vision of our son.  

In the middle of the day everything else faded and this is what he saw. 

It lasted mere seconds.
"An adult Jonathan, facing away from me, turned...smiled...and said, 'Thanks Dad...'"
God prepared us for where our hearts did not want to go.

On March 13th, 2013...three years ago...this was an excerpt of our post.

"Our Jonathan is in the Arms of God" 



Our Jonathan is in the Arms of God

This morning, our early riser ran to me telling me that the phone was ringing and it was Reece's Rainbow.

It was a call that no parent ever wants to receive.  I barely remember what was said.

Jonathan is gone from this earth.

It's a knowledge that no one wants to share with their husband...a sobbing no one wants to hear... as their children break down when they realize their brother is gone. 

It's a statement no one wants to hear when they tell their toddlers that Jonathan is with Jesus. "But mommy...I want him here!"

It's a embrace no one wants to and your husband clinging to each other afraid to let go.

My heart feels like it's bleeding.  It is shattered.  I don't remember such pain.

We remember though....GOD IS SOVEREIGN.  GOD IS ON HIS THRONE.

This morning we joined hands and thanked God for taking our Jonathan.  We want him here.  We very selfishly want to be the ones holding him.  My arms physically ache...a piece of me is missing.  We cling to God though...with a tenacity we didn't know we had.

We had a memorial service for Jonathan.   "Jonathan's Candlelight Memorial"
Life since that day three years ago has continued. There is still pain, there always will be. Today marks three years since the day we found out Jonathan was with Jesus.  We all cope in our own way, yet he is where we all want to be.  We thank God for the opportunity to love Jonathan into Heaven.  
These words I wrote for Jonathan's Memorial Service still hold true.
"His body’s whole, he stands with honor. 
Jonathan is not just our child, but first and foremost God’s child.
A body bent on this earth
Now bows at the feet of our Savior.
 He runs and never gets tired
through meadows and streets of gold.
He feels a love we could only give at a distance...
So distinctly, in such realness as we could never imagine.
I’m a little jealous.  I’m jealous of my son who gets to stand with my Savior.  I’m jealous of my Savior who holds our son.  I’m so thankful that Jesus loves him more than we can wrap our human brains around.  Heaven…with God…is where Jonathan is supposed to be. 

Because he joined God, he may not lay in our arms, but he doesn’t have to go for years and years of often painful therapy and hospital stays, no frail bones, or pain in moving.  He doesn’t have to fear or struggle to make himself understood.  He is not trapped inside a body that doesn’t have the perfection of Heaven. 
He is free.  Free to walk with our Savior…free to laugh (oh how I long to hear him laugh)…free to love with abandon, knowing he’s forever protected by God….
Jonathan, sweetheart, your mommy and daddy love you.  Your family here adores you.  Help Jesus prepare a place for us, son.  We’re slow, but we’re coming….."


For those of you who are new to our blog.  Know God continues and continued to bless us.  
Benjamin's Story ("Our Newest Son~Announcement")....Jonathan's brother... starts at this point.  You can find all the posts leading to Jonathan under the label "Journey to Jonathan".

We now have eleven children, including one son waiting in Heaven and Timothy across the world waiting for us to travel to him.

Thank you for traveling this beautiful...and sometimes painful...journey with us.

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In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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