Monday, December 30, 2013

Gratituesday December 31,2013





Today is our very last Gratituesday of the year. When I look back over at 2013 I am thrilled with blessings that were poured out on our family. Here is just a glimpse of this past year in pictures.

 Below is the midwifery practice that I work with Wendy and Courtney have become dear friends.

 God's word continues to be my compass for life.

Rich and grandson Noah
Our family down in the Plain Community. It's a bummer I can't show pictures of my grand babies down there



Grand daughter Jordyn and Michael at his graduation from high school.









Below is Serenity and Sarah, a sweet little grand girl!




I got Rich an electric key board and Serenity and Lucas got him an adult piano book. It's something new he can do with his time while sitting




Our grand son Noah is just a little love. He is in a season of life where he just loves his Grammy. I love it when he kisses me.









There is a theme in all of these pictures, relationships. I am so blessed to have people in my life who love me and enrich my life. "Stuff" is not important, people are. Thanks for sharing a look back at 2013. What are you thankful for this last Tuesday of 2013?
In Christ Alone,



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Closing Out 2013




What a beautiful winter wonderland it has been this year. I love how the white snow gently clings to each and every branch. I love looking out and seeing virgin fields. It reminds me that each day is brand new with no mistakes in it. I chose every day the steps my feet will take me into that glistening field. Each year I am so ready to start over on January 1st. A dear kindred spirit of mine says that she wants a do over from this year since it has had one challenge after another. I totally understand that feeling. However, the year is filled with lots and lots of lessons, whether the end of the year brings a smile to your face or you wipe your worried brow thankful to just scraped by.

My own life this year has been filled with lots of firsts. The baby of our family graduated from high school and started college. The empty nest officially started which is pretty funny since the nest had almost no time being empty! We had our 12th grand baby born this year. This was my first full year in midwifery. I was blessed to serve in Haiti and deliver 57 babies. I started back to college after over 36 years so that I will be a well educated in midwifery.  Lots of new things this year to shape and mold me.

So it is fitting to look back and see what I learned. Taking bucket showers in Haiti was a great learning experience. Did you know that you can shower with under two gallons of water? Who would have ever thought! I was reminded again why "stuff" is not important now or ever. I learned that there is JOY, indescribable joy in serving others.

I also had some time this year to really look inside myself and do an inventory. I am not a huge fan of what I affectionately call navel gazing but when you are in a foreign country, without electricity, television or radio, you have some extra time to evaluate. What I saw was not always pleasant. At times I have felt sorry for myself in the situation we find ourselves in. I continue to grieve what we have lost. It's been almost five years since my hubby got sick. It is hard to count it all joy when you are faced with various trials.

I have decided in this coming year I am going to find creative ways to express the joy I have. I'm going to get back to my quilting. I find that I am happy when I create. I read a book once by a gal with 13 children. She said that she sewed just 15 minutes a day. That is all the time she had to devote to it so 15 minutes is all she could do. I was astounded at the list she wrote out of everything she made that year just sewing 15 minutes a day. So, I have gotten the current quilt that has been sitting for close to a year and sew just a bit every day.

I also discovered that you can read the books of Psalms and Proverbs in their totality in only one month. All you have to do is read five chapters in the book of Psalms each day and by the end of the month you will have finished the entire book. You can also read just one chapter a day in the book of Proverbs and be done in one month. Combine the two and you have just read them both in one month's time. I started while I was in Haiti and feel so good about it.

The next thing I am going to better at this year is working out at the YMCA. I love working out but the time is difficult to squeeze in each day. I want to swim laps twice a week and do weight training and the treadmill at least one other day a week. I feel so much better when I work out and going just once a week is not giving me optimal traction in my health.

School is the last area I really need to improve on. I am taking a long distance course since there is no midwifery school locally. It is hard to stay focused so that area needs more discipline from me. On the days that I don't go to the gym and swim I want to study for at least an hour a day. That will be tough since I am in the office seeing patients three days a week at least but I want to be finished by the end of 2014.

What does this coming year hold for me and my family? I have no clue but I do know that if I don't have a target to work towards I won't accomplish what I need to get done. I won't even get close. I am not a fan of New Years's resolutions because we tend to break them pretty quickly but all the things I am shooting for are already in my daily routine. I just need to be more consistent.

What do you hope to accomplish in the new year? I would love to know what you have learned about yourself this year and what you hope to get done in the next year. Let me know.

Till then.
In Christ Alone,
Jill


Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gratituesday Thankful for Baby Number 89



Meet Levi, the first birth I attended since coming back from Mama Baby in Haiti. It was such a joy to get back into what I love doing.

Levi's parents contacted me many months ago about wanting a doula to support them during their third birth. They were really looking for a doula that would feel free to share God's word with them and pray over them as they labored. We spent several hours talking about their past births and what challenged they foresaw for this birth. We prayed and planned the upcoming day, and then I left for almost 2 months serving in Haiti.

I had promised Mama that I would call her the minute I landed in the United States. She was due three weeks after I got home so we wanted to touch base as soon as I came back into Michigan. Thankfully like the other two births, her baby did not come early.

We met one more time going over the birth plan before the big day arrived. We prayed over the birth that it would go smoothly and there would be no complications. Their other two babies had some complications right after birth with the placenta and hemorrhage so we wanted to be proactive this time around.

The big day arrived with a phone call early on Tuesday morning. Hubby decided to stay home for the day since she was pretty sure she was in the early stages of labor. She was frantically trying to finish up some craft projects for Christmas. She kept me posted through out the day as to the progress. She knew I would be ready to drop everything when she felt I was needed. The sewing machine was frantically going while the contractions were coming on stronger. She did manage to take a nap for an hour or two. Then the sun went down, the children were sent to Grandma's house and the call came around 9 p.m. to go ahead and drive over. They are about an hour away and half way there I encountered all most white out conditions of snow. It would not be the first time or the last that I will help bring babies into the world in snow and ice storms!

I got there are Mama was cool, calm and collected but definitely in active labor. The contractions were between two and three minutes a part. Some beautiful music was put on and for about four hours we focused on one contraction after another. When they were about two minutes apart Mama was ready to pack up and get to the hospital. My job was to encourage both Mama and Dad to stay focused on the task at hand.

We got to the hospital and she was checked in. This was the first time I had worked in this particular hospital. You never know what you are going to walk into. Some labor and delivery nurses are happy for labor support for their Mama's and some feel like you are intruding on their space. Thankfully the nursing staff was fabulous. They were so respectful of the choices Mama was making about her birth.

We settled into the room by starting off with prayer, and got back into a comfortable rhythm. I had taught Dad some comfort measures like the hip squeeze (which is fabulous) and the head squeeze. We would each take her head or her hips and help during the contractions. Mama would signal when the next contraction would be building. "Do the head thing" is what she usually said. She was rocking each contraction, working in tandem with them and not fighting against them which is our natural instinct. I would share encouraging words from God's word. We changed positions often.

One of the hardest positions but also the most effective is sitting in the bathroom. This helps open up the pelvis. Most laboring women who are willing to try and do several contractions in the bathroom actually find it very helpful. It can be more intense then walking around so some women avoid the bathroom. My Mama was determined to do whatever it took to get this baby out so she was all for it. Around three thirty Mama was getting tired. I encouraged her to lay back down and try and sleep between contractions. She was surprised that it was even possible. All three of us took little naps between. In fact, at one point I was sitting on the birth ball with my head resting on the bed and Dad was on the other side of the bed sitting with his head on the bed. I had to chuckle at myself because I usually have adrenalin just coursing through my veins and never sleep but I sure am glad I did.

Around five o'clock in the morning we all seemed to get our energy back so we started walking the halls again. Mama was staying well hydrated which is so important in labor. The contractions were getting closer together and longer. Sometimes I sang quietly, sometimes I shared encouraging words and sometimes I was just quiet while doing the head squeeze.

There is the notion that every Mama will just know when the sensation to push happens. That is not true. One of the fears going into the birth was not knowing when to help when the time came to bring the baby out. In fact, the labor nurse came in at one point and said, "all Mama's know when the time comes to push so have no worries." I had to be the bearer of bad news that this Mama didn't have the urge to push with her other babies. I have found that it is not that unusual for that sensation to occur. I continued to pray that things would be different this time silently.

At shift change at seven my Mama's favorite nurse midwife came into the room. She couldn't have been happier to see her. Then in walked  her other favorite nurse midwife. It really lifted her spirits to have them nearby. Mama had chosen a practice with about ten nurse midwives and so you never know who you will get for the actual delivery. In fact the midwife told me it's great on the one hand to have so many midwives in the practice but it is also sad to them that they may not be the one who gets to be there for the birth. In the home settings it is extremely rare for us as midwives to miss a birth of any of our clients.

We knew things were really picking up and when her midwife checked her she was about 7 centimeters. The adrenalin kicked in for all of us and so we labored on. We changed positions often. By this point I really wanted Dad to have the energy left when it was time for the birth so we encouraged him to find the cafeteria and eat breakfast. Around nine o'clock Mama was starting to get worn out. She was afraid she wouldn't know when to push and she was afraid like the other births she would stall out at nine centimeters. We wanted to break that pattern of the other births and continue to move forward. I was greatly encouraged because in my practice I see women get toward the end and are sure they will not be able to finish. That is the signal to us that we are about to have a baby!

Back to the bathroom we went for several more contractions. Mama was so strong. She hung in there and refused to give up. She conquered her fears and pushed through the pain. All of the sudden her eyes got real big and said, "the baby is coming". She had no doubt that this time around she just felt the urge to push. The three of us were so excited. A towel had been placed between the seat and the stool so that the baby would not fall into the toilet so we had no worries. She stayed for another contraction and knew the baby was about to be born. Dad and I helped her to walk from the bathroom to the bed which is no easy feat when you have a babies head sticking out! The two of us got her onto the bed and I looked down and there was baby's head out down to the ears. Of course I had no gloves on but was not going to go get the midwife and leave her there with the head emerging. I called for the midwife by saying the head was almost out. The midwife rushed in and grabbed gloves while I kept my hands ready to catch if necessary. The midwife brought her gloves over to the bed and looked down and said, "you're not kidding the baby is coming!" She encouraged Mom to finish pushing the head out which she did in one push. I quickly moved to the other side of the bed to be out of the way. Dad was up by Mama's head on her right and I was on her right by her belly. I asked Dad if he wanted to change places so he could get a better look at the birth but he said he was more help to his wife right next to her.

With one more push the whole baby was born. I looked at the clock and just by pure instinct said, "birth 10:18" Which was good because the nurse and nursery nurses didn't make it for the actual birth. It happened so fast. In my training I was taught to ask everyone in the room to just pause and take a deep breath. Some call it the holy pause. The miracle of birth had just taken place and it's hard to process it if you don't take a moment to pause. It is easy to miss which I am sure sounds strange but that's the truth. I prayed aloud over Mama, Dad and baby, for God's infinite mercy. Just a short prayer of thanksgiving, time for this family to soak in the moment.

Baby was bigger than I thought he would be. Mama's other babies were between six and seven pounds. I knew that this baby was bigger than that. His little head had been in the birth canal for such a short period of time that his head was perfectly round. He was beautiful. I stepped back and just witnessed the earth side welcome of this little bundle of joy.

The other two births for this Mama had challenges after the birth and we all wanted to avoid having to rush her into emergency surgery for a stubborn placenta. The had kept a hep-lock in so that as soon as the baby was born they could flood her system with pitocin. I used it at every birth in Haiti with a shot. The hospital here used thirty units in 500 ml. through an I.V.

I had told my clients about an herbal tincture that we use at home called Placenta Out. She had gotten permission before labor ever started to bring it with her and use it if the midwife approved. Sometime well before the birth that morning I showed the bottle to the midwife and read off the ingredients. She was fine with what I am wanted to give Mama right after birth. So both the tincture and the I.V. flooded her system. For the first time, this Mama was able to birth that placenta without going into surgery. It came just 13 minutes after the birth. No tearing and no problems. She also got to hold him and nurse him for an entire hour undisturbed.

 When he was finally weighed and was OVER eight pounds Mama was shocked beyond belief. His head was 14 1/2 inches. She couldn't believe she had just pushed out an eight pound baby.  Mama got the perfect birth she wanted. She and her husband along with their two daughters welcomed baby Levi into their family.

I felt so blessed to be able to witness the birth of another baby. Each baby born reminds me that God has not given up on us. There is still hope and that hope is founded in another birth, a baby born in a manager. He came to save the world. For that I am truly grateful for.

What are you thankful for today? I would love to know.
In Christ Alone,




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reactive Attachment Disorder



This is the last post in the series, "When Love Is NOT Enough". This has not been a fun series for me. I think though that it is vital to understand how children can turn out to be so destructive. So first lets go back to the first day of birth.

Babies have three needs at birth, oxygen to breath, food for nutrition and physical touch with someone. A baby recognizes the Mama's voice from the second he comes earth side. Countless studies have been done over the years to verify what I am saying. These three things are critical to the well being of a baby human. As the hours turn to days, days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months a baby needs all three to not only survive but thrive.

Picture a circle around the baby. As the baby cries for food the need is met for nutrition. As the baby cries to be held and the baby is held that need for touch is met. As long as they receive oxygen and the other things all the needs are met. When this cycle continues day after day, week after week the baby learns to trust that his needs will be met. Food and touch are just as important as the oxygen.

Now what happens when the circle is broken and the baby cries and cries and his needs for touch and nutrition are not met? A brick is figuratively placed in a circle around the baby. Each time the babies needs are not met another brick is laid around the circumference of the baby. Eventually there is a wall around the baby. The baby is slowly learning that there is no one in his life who is trust worthy. Remember, the need for physical food and touch is just as important as oxygen.

The baby starts arching their backs and looking away when there is no one to connect with. They no longer want to be held. They would rather have a bottle propped up on a pillow than be held by their caregiver. They decide in their brains that no one is looking at for them so they are on their own. I know this might sound crazy to some of you and you dismiss out of turn but I have seen this over and over again.

Medically fragile babies who spend weeks and sometimes months in the hospital are at risk for being unattached. I was asked to be speak to a room full of pediatric doctors at St. Louis Children's Hospital to give them training on what to look for, this is real. Now throw in drugs, alcohol and abuse and you have a recipe for disaster.

The baby comes to realize that his world is not a safe place where his needs are met so he turns inward. If food and touch is just as important as oxygen and the first two are not met than oxygen is all he has left.  Since no one provides the essentials the wall becomes higher than he is. He is closed in so to speak. Closed to love, closed to nurturing and closed to learning.  This little guy has decided no one but himself is in charge of him so he takes his own destiny into his hands. Sounds bleak, doesn't it.

The good news is  you can tear down the walls that are building up if you catch it in time. They don't have to lead a life of destruction if you know what is going on and reverse it. I babysat for a young couple who were both in the military years ago. The mother was wracked with guilt that she was in the military. She was a brand new mom who didn't know the importance of touch. Soon after birth she went right back to work. Daycare was hard to find on an Airman's salary so this little guy went to several different caregivers before I got him. Mom was certain her month old baby didn't like her. He cried, he squirmed in her arms so she figured he didn't want her. The rejection and the guilt overwhelmed her. It became a vicious cycle. She quickly decided to just prop him up with a bottle. As you can well imagine this was a disaster just waiting to happen.

I hadn't been watching him for long when all this came out. I shared with her my understanding of bonding. She poured out her feelings of inadequacy and guilt. I assured her that her baby just needed lots of loving touch, eye to eye contact while feeding him his bottle etc. It took about a month before things turned around about around they did. Mama and baby finally bonded.

Children who have been in orphanages overseas are at high risk of being unattached. The older they get the harder it is to break down the wall if you don't recognize the symptoms and know how to fix it. As the baby turns into a toddler and that toddler turns into a preschooler it get harder and harder to break down the wall.

When you have a 5 year old who is unattached you have a terror on your hands. The wall is so high that training them to know right from wrong gets bounced off their brick wall. They end up being their own moral compass. In other words, they have to be in charge at all cost. Being in charge is the oxygen for them. If the child is not in charge, to them it is like strangling them to death. Without oxygen no one lives, without control they will fight to the death, sometimes literally.

That is how a mass murderer like Ted Bundy is made. He had no conscience. He could kill without emotion because life outside of himself held no value to him. For our sons who we tried to bring in at an older age and bond with you can see how tough it would be. They were unwilling to crush the brick wall that had been built so high and so wide that nothing would convince them to break it down. Oh, there were little breaches in the wall now and then but for the most part that wall stood.

Is it hopeless then? Absolutely not. Nothing is wasted when you pour love and care into a person no matter how old. Did we make a difference in the two lives of our sons? On good days I am positive that someday they will get it. On the bad days I am not hopeful. Does that change what we did? No, our love is not dependent on the outcome. Being obedient to the call of God does NOT depend on the outcome at all. Those things are not in our power. We are just asked to obey and the rest is out of our hands.

I am thankful for my two wayward sons. Although, the path of destruction they left is long and wide. Financially they will impact us the rest of our lives. The emotional scars for the rest of the family will probably never heal. In order to try and help two we alienated several of our other children for a while. I am so thankful for the grace and mercy shown to us by our other children after it was all over. For that reason though I would not encourage others to take older children. Michael Orr from Blind Side is a rare young man indeed. For every Michael Orr I can show you 100 other boys and some girls who chose to never break down that wall.

If you have gotten this far I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me. My prayer is that if series helps just one family then it is worth it. If you have any questions for me about RAD  you can privately email me at  jill@avitd.com

In Christ ALONE




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Friday, December 20, 2013

Part 3 When Love Is Not Enough




There is a song that aptly fits the above picture and my heart. Ray Boltz is one of my favorite singers. You can see the song called The Anchor Holds here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyIEhoY90WQ  The lyrics to the chorus is;
Though the ship is battered
The Anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I am fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging storms
But the anchor holds in spite of the storm.

I remember listening to that song over and over again as I drove around trying to collect my wits, or in reality, just trying to hold onto any wits I had left! The most powerful lesson I learned during our journey with our last two sons was that when God lays on our hearts a need all we have to do is be faithful. The outcome is not our responsibility.

Yesterday I left you with our newest 10 year old son moving in with us. His birthday was just around the corner so we bought him boy toys. He had never watched kid movies, Freddie Kruger does not count as a kid movie. He played Legos with the other boys. He loved to draw so we got him art supplies and he joined in while I read to the family each day. It took the entire first year of homeschooling to teach him to sit down and concentrate on school work.

He and Michael became buddies. Michael is such an easygoing guy that he just rolled with the punches. The temper tantrums were legend. One day not long after he moved in he got angry with me and punched the wall and ran to his room. WHen I got there he was up on top of the dresser curled into a ball. I just sat quietly on one of the beds and waited. When he did speak he told me, "just kill me now, I know  you want to. My mom tried to kill me so you might as well just get it over with and kill me." My heart was broken for this little guy. In that one sentence I learned more about him than months of therapy would have gotten out of him.

After about a year things settled down. We got into a rhythm and his temper tantrums got less and less. He was such a little guy back then. He and Michael went to church camp out in Colorado the next year and they both came back so pumped up. J. let me know that he was going to be a preacher just like his new Dad. He had pages filled with notes on the devotionals. He was ready to be washed by the blood of the Lamb. He wanted to commit his life to the LORD, so he did.

We were so excited that our newest son seemed so happy and content. Maybe, just maybe the nurturing and love he was receiving would help him put in perspective his horrible upbringing. I am passionate about using our past as a learning tool for the future. I was no stranger back then to grief, loss and abuse myself. I chose to use it for good. We can chose to be victims to our past and allow it to define us. I remember watching the movie Blind Side, the Michael Orr story. It worked for Michael why couldn't it work for our son.

Michael Orr's story is not typical. Love is not enough to conquer the past trauma for many children. You hear all the wonderful stories of adopting older children. I know countless families that are just trying to pick up the pieces from the destruction left behind.

J. was on a good path until he hit puberty. Thankfully since he was so tiny puberty didn't hit till he was 14. That is when the bottom fell out of our family. No longer was he happy to be homeschooled. He wanted to be at the public school. We wanted to encourage him to excel so we sent him to the public school. It was a disaster. He got into the drug crowd. He began to steal Rich's medicines. He got in fights and finally pulled a knife. That will get you expelled faster than saying Jesus loves you.

Things went downhill from there. He ran away almost a dozen times. Once he was found up on the highway without a coat in the wintry snow just walking on the road. He was on a path of self-destruction with us helplessly on the sidelines praying for a miracle. It didn't matter what we did nothing seemed to help. In the end we went into debt over $40K to put him in a treatment center for a year. He ran from there. At first the people running the treatment center thought all this was a result of our poor parenting. One of the couples who worked at the center fell in love with him and wanted him to live with them. We flew the three of them out here to meet and come up with a plan for success.

This couple was so sure they had the right mixture to help our son. He lasted six weeks before he started getting drugs, alcohol and duster. They were sure he had never lied to them and that they could handle it. He was then sent to a wilderness training program for two months. That cost about $1K a day. He then went back to the couple who worked at the treatment center. The second time he lasted less than two weeks. He ran and never looked back. He headed back to his biological family, back where things all started.

It didn't last long. He threatened to kill people, got arrested multiple times, in and out of the juvenile system, all the while we are still responsible for him. He has left a path of destruction in his wake. He has now fathered several children and is no longer a juvenile which means he is now doing time in an adult system. We begged him to look at the path he was going down, the judges who presided over his multiple cases warned him that soon he would be an adult with adult consequences. He would rather walk the streets, hungry and stoned than be in a family. He told the judge a month before his 18th birthday that he never wanted to see us or hear from us again.

People thought we were crazy. He looked like such a sweet kid who just needed a family. I am telling you that we are never given a promise that our lives are going to be easy or comfortable. My heart has been broken over our two sons that rejected what we had to offer. I can only imagine what our LORD feels every time we reject him. I will love those two sons like I love my other children. That love will never change. I pray that someday they can look back and see reality for what it really is. I pray that they will allow others to love them as we did.

Next time I will share with you one more story on the topic. What our two boys have is called Reactive Attachment Disorder, RAD for short. What it turns into if not corrected is how Ted Bundy the infamous killer became who he was. Till next time.

In Christ ALONE



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Part 2 When Love Is NOT Enough



I so appreciate all the notes after my last post, whether they were public or private. It has made me realize that perhaps my main message was lost in the writing. Before I get to that let me tell you the rest of the story.

Yesterday I told you about our son who we adopted at age 14. Six months after he came into our home there was another boy in the same treatment center that needed a permanent home. His life story is tragic even before he was born.

J came out of his mother's womb over two months early already beaten physically. Bio-Mom was a serious alcoholic. Like a lot of seriously premies it was touch and go. He developed serious lung problems. He spent over two months in the NICU with only nurses to love on him. When it was time to be released from the hospital he went home with his Mom who continued to drink. Over the next eight years DHS would be in and out of the home. There were four other children. There was severe neglect due to the alcohol addiction.

Food was scarce. Most of the kids spent very little time in school. J was the only boy and he took the brunt of the physical abuse. There were multiple men in and out of the home. Pornography was introduced along with sexual abuse. J roamed the streets at all hours with no supervision. DHS continued to come in and out of their lives. His last Thanksgiving, a time for families to gather around a table filled with turkey and stuffing was beaten for stealing dog food to just find some relief from the hunger.

All the children were finally removed after a car accident where Mom was drunk as a skunk. DHS finally had what they needed to remove all the children. They were all put in a brand new licensed foster home. As you might imagine J was a very angry nine year old. When he didn't get what he wanted he threw horrible temper tantrums. Less than a week later he threatened to run out in the road to kill himself. The police were called and J was put in a mental hospital till another suitable placement was found. He wound up in the treatment center that Rich served.

Our son was about the angriest kid I have ever seen. He could throw furniture at lightening speed. His swearing would make a Navy seal blush. He could  put holes in the walls faster than a sledge hammer. In other words he was a train wreck. I spent several weeks at the treatment center where he was at volunteering to cook for the kids and staff. They weren't allowed to wear their pants down like a bunch of thugs but everyone including most of the staff were afraid of him so they looked the other way on some things. One day I said to him as he was walking through the food line that his britches were falling down. He cussed me out and told him he didn't have to listen to anyone because he had just found out he was going to get out of the treatment center and be adopted by a family so just leave him alone. I chuckle now because he had no idea that was his new Mama telling him his britches were falling down!

When he was finally told the day he was leaving just who was taking him he was thrilled. Rich had an excellent relationship with him and took him out for ice cream. The two of them talked about what an adoption would look like. J was so far behind in school. He could barely read and didn't know such simple things as a town is part of a state and a state was part of the country. Such simple things were lost to him. We had gotten permission to homeschool him to get him back up to speed. We also wanted time to help him emotionally. Rich shared that day that one stipulation might be very hard for him to swallow but it was important. When Rich told him he would be home schooled he said, "does that mean I don't have to be a thug anymore and I could just be a kid?" That showed us that deep down he really wanted to shed the tough guy exterior and be a kid for the first time.

I will close for now but will tell you the rest of the story tomorrow and why I now say that love is NOT enough. Till then.
In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When Love Is NOT Enough


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Life is never like we imagine when we are young. I remember so well standing at the front of the church and pledging my life to Rich. I said in sickness and health till death do us part. Of course I had no idea just what that meant at the time but my commitment was solid. I remember all the conversations before we were married that talked about our hopes and dreams. I wanted to be a stay at home Mama and so did Rich. We wanted to birth some children and adopt some children. Of that we were certain. We also said that everyone wants to adopt white healthy babies and we could pop those out on our own so we wanted to make a difference in the world. We wanted to show all the love that was inside of us to children that didn't get that opportunity.

Life sure turns out like nothing that we imagined. Sometimes there are wonderful surprises along the way. I am so thankful that God doesn't allow us to see into the future. Maybe it's because I would probably be a coward and not want to take the road less traveled when that road is filled with heartache and grief.

Life seemed so simple back "in the day". Rich served in the military, we added to our family the organic way. Then it was time to think about adopting. At first we were turned down by every agency, we were either too young or too old, too poor, didn't have enough children or had too many children. No one including the state we were at allowed us to adopt anything but a white baby even though there were black babies just waiting for a home.

In total we adopted six different times. All very different scenarios. The last two were the hardest. Before those two we had always adopted babies that ranged in age from 72 hours old to five months. We knew all about the attachment issues that come with adopting and we were ready. We had great joy with the first four.

Then, and that's where the story gets jumbled, there was a young man in a treatment center that God laid on my husbands heart to bring into our home. His past was a tragic story. Bio-parents were drug manufacturers and drug dealers. They wanted to experiment with how different drugs would react so of course they chose their baby boy as the guinea pig. They both used drugs and alcohol during pregnancy so as you might guess he had residuals from both. He grew to become a toddler and still was being used to see the effects of certain drugs together. Did I mention that this little boy became a very angry little boy? As with most drug dealers and users their families are not what you and I strive for. Mom ended up running off and leaving the little boy before he was five. Dad had multiple girlfriends from that point on. The list goes on and on. You get the picture. The biological parents had neglected both physically and emotionally this little guy. But, he was a survivor, right? Well I can tell you right now that a little guy without the love and nurturing of parents along with good nutrition is a perfect plan for a train wreck.

We were advised by one of the elders in the church to not bother taking him. He said there was no use, he would never change. At this point he had just turned 14. He was a kind and generous young man, even though he might just steal to be generous. But God called my husband to take him into our home. When he first mentioned it I told Rich he was crazy. I had met this young man and there was no way on God's green earth I would take him into my home. THat's when my husband suggested I pray over him. So I prayed, and I prayed and I prayed some more. I asked God that if he wanted us to take this young man into our home that he would give me a Mama's heart. Day after day, week after week. God gave me a Mama's heart and we brought him into our home.

At first all went well. He got along great with our other sons. He was smart and funny and full of adventure. He loved to feel the breeze in his face going mach 3. He was helpful to a fault and could work harder than two teenagers put together. All was well as long as he was on board with the program. Even though we knew better intellectually, we felt that just pouring love into his soul would be enough. Hasn't God showed us that love can conquer all?

Love is not enough my precious friends. You may disagree but I am here to tell you that love is not always enough. There are some children that have been so deeply scared that nothing short of a divine intervention will rebuild the trust that is necessary to build bonds with others.  God gave me a Mama's heart for this boy so he will always be my son. No matter what choices he makes in life, and he has made some terrible choices, I will always call him son. There is an empty place in my heart that grieves for him.

He left on his own free will the minute he turned 17. He was so sure that his way was the right one. He said he would never ask for money. We told him that we would always love him and hoped someday he would chose to become a law abiding citizen. He walked out that day with a spring in his step and left behind a Mama that grieves for his life. He had so much potential. He would have been a wonderful young man. Instead he chose life on the streets, drugs, alcohol, sex and breaking the law. Eventually the law caught up with him in a big way. He will now be paying the price for a very long time and still this Mama grieves.

So now here is the question. Was that elder right all those years ago, should we have not taken him into our homes and our hearts and gave him a family? I wrestled with that question for several years. Here is my conclusion. God calls us to be faithful no matter what the outcome. He called and we obeyed. We shared the love of Jesus with our boy. He became our son. In the end though like all of us, he had a choice. He could take the chance that he was given and soak up all the love and benefits or he could throw it away. It was always his choice. Do I grieve, yes I do. Especially right now knowing that he is not free. He will never be free until he learns some hard lessons.

This is why I am so passionate about being a midwife. I want each baby to have a great start. One where they can build the necessary bonds with their families. One where their every need is met whether it be physical or emotional or spiritual. Hold those babies tight my friends. In the blink of an eye they will be grown and gone. Start the day they are born.

Our story is not unique I am afraid. There are many Mama's and Dad's out there this year who have no clue where their children are. Or they know but can only stand back and watch the drama play out, with broken hearts. To those Mama's I want you to know that you are not alone. I understand the heartache and so does our perfect Father, God. Someday he will wipe every tear away. Your heart and my heart will be made new, with no holes in it.

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Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Gratituesday




 








A Proud Mama







I have written so little since coming back from Haiti. I confess that I am struggling coming back to the country and home I love. Your perspective sure changes when you stay for any length of time in a third world country. The experiences were profound on my soul. I seem to need time to process all that I saw and did over there.

Pictured above is our son Michael. Michael came to us when he was 9 weeks old. Even at such a young age he was a gentle giant. We use to laugh that he was like a puppy with extra big paws. He would need time to grow into them. His hands and his feet were huge. We knew he would be really big someday. Well that someday came during his high school years. He now stands at 6 feet 3 inches. He is still a gentle giant. Unless of course he is wrestling with his big brothers!

He was and is my baby. He was so ready to go off to college. He chose Rochester College. He signed up for 17 credit hours which I thought was a tad much but it was his choice. Today he got his grades and they were almost all A's with a couple of B's thrown in. I couldn't be more tickled. He rocked his first semester.

What I also just love about Michael is that he loves Jesus. He doesn't shout it from the roof tops but he lives a life that honors God. He is an encourager of younger boys by living a life that brings glory to God. We worried when he was younger that he wouldn't have friends as quiet as he was. Oh my, sure didn't need to worry about that one. He is loved by all.

God is so good. 19 years ago he gave us a son to love and for that we are truly thankful. What are you thankful for today? I would love to know.



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

AIMING HIGH



I quickly discovered in Haiti that there were great challenges to overcome in being a midwife in Haiti. There was the challenge of no electricity, limited water and very limited supplies. Then you had the heat factor. The heat and humidity was probably one of the hardest challenges I faced. Most days I felt like I was standing inside an oven. The sweat just poured off of me. The humidity was beyond oppressive. You stay wet to the skin 24/7. There is no break. You take off dirty wet clothes and put on clean wet clothes, everything is wet, including your sheets. The mosquitoes were unforgiving. I have been back a little over a week and I still have at last count over 50 mosquito bites on my legs that wont stop itching. I would spray several times a day with bug spray to no avail. The sweat would just rinse it right off. Trying to put on gloves to deliver a baby was greatly hampered by the sweat. I would twist and pull each of the fingers of the glove to get it on my dripping wet hand.

Then there are the supply issues. Volunteers coming to Haiti are asked to bring a list of supplies with them, from sterile gloves, gauze, amniotic hooks and to simple things like Tylenol and Motrin. If there aren't any volunteers coming on a regular basis you run out of supplies. You become resourceful in Haiti. When I ran out of gauze I used a bed sheet! Not ideal but it works. You quickly learn that you don't "need" all the "stuff" we regularly use at birth. Things are nice to have but not critical.

Early the first week I was there I delivered a baby that ended up spending the night due to the late hour of the birth. When I went to check on the baby early the next morning, Mama showed me the remnants of baby spitting up. At first I wasn't too alarmed because it wasn't a whole lot but over the next hour the baby started throwing up blood. At the birth the night before I noticed baby had popped blood vessels all over his face but I had no explanation.

It was obvious that all the throwing up was not in the realm of normal. We had a discussion about using Vitamin K which can help greatly with a serious clotting disorder in newborns. Unfortunately they had run out of the medicine so there was none. I offered to pay for the medicine and off the director went in search of Vitamin K. In less than two hours the correct medicine was purchased and given to the baby through a shot. Things we take for granted here in America! The first batch of the medicine was quite expensive but later a better deal was found and so we replenished the stock so that most babies could get the shot right after birth.

I have always been a firm believer in learning lessons well. Maybe I am just a knucklehead but I don't want to make the same mistake twice. There were so many lessons like that in Haiti. You need to learn to be resourceful and you quickly learn to be flexible. I read something in the Boundaries Book by Dr. Townsend and Cloud that said if you are not scared to death at least once a day you are not growing. In other words, we should not be content with the status quo. We need to learn new things and grow and challenge ourselves to get outside our comfortable little boxes and reach beyond ourselves.  Aim High!

I can think of someone else who aimed high, Jesus. In the garden he pleaded with the Father to take the suffering he was about to endure away. Ever obedient he stretched beyond himself and went way out of his comfort zone. What a great example he is to us. So today, reach beyond what you think you can do and AIM HIGH.

Next time, birthing with the chickens.
In Christ Alone,



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gratituesday




I feel like such a blessed woman today. I have so missed sharing Gratituesday with you all while serving in Haiti. I have so many things to be thankful for. Running water, electricity, no sweat running into my eyes, food and most importantly the love of my friends and family.

Today though I am thankful for rest, simple sweet rest. When I got back from Haiti I had pure adrenalin coursing through my veins at a high speed. I was just so happy to be back in America, both feet firmly planted in the soil. I was thrilled to see my family, thrilled to be able to communicate again to anyone I wanted and just happy to be in my own bed.

I was ready to go back to work right away. My precious husband said to me, I want you to take the entire first week off and rest. Like I little child I pouted inside. There was SO much to do, so many grandbabies to see, so many hugs around the neck and so many babies to catch again. In his wisdom though my husband was right. I did need to stop and catch my breath.

So what did I do all week? Not a whole lot, I was a bum! I forced my body to stop producing so much adrenalin and just was still. It about killed me! We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my dear friend Rayetta's house with her and her family. She wouldn't even let me cook anything. We visited with grand babies but for the most part I was home, sitting next to my husband. I even watched for the first time 19 and Counting!

So today I am thankful for rest. Sweet rest. What are you thankful for today? I would love to know. Till tomorrow.
In Christ Alone





Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blue Skies in Haiti


I have been wondering where I go from here telling my story of Haiti. I did journal almost every day at least a page about the births and things that were going around me. I have spent the past week off from any birth work and mainly stayed home and became a bum. I felt great coming back but everyone seem to think I should just take it easy. So I have had time to reflect on the situation in Haiti.

Probably one of the most important lesson I was reminded of again and again over there was just how spoiled rotten we are as a nation. We have at our fingertips the ability to buy whatever we want, even things we can't afford. We don't even have to leave the comfort of our homes to get what we want. We can go on the Internet and purchase things and have them delivered the very next day!

The past five years I have been on a "live life simpler crusade." My philosophy was shaped by two factors. One, we were a military family for 22 years. We moved 14 times in those 22 years. We were minimalist even back then. I remember inviting a woman over from church once to show me how to make those little homemade mints  you see at weddings. She kept asking me for this tool or that tool and she got miffed that I didn't have the proper tools. I tended not to buy anything for the kitchen that only had one purpose.

The second factor was my daughter Serenity. When we bought our last home out in the country I had great plans. I was sick and tired of moving and wanted to settle down. I had told Serenity that the next move was feet first out the door. Of course, you know what God says about the plans of man, right? Serenity then informed me that since she was the one who would be responsible for cleaning out my house after I died I better keep it simple! What a wise woman she is.

So what does any of this have to do with Haiti? When I walked into the Miami airport there were huge Christmas trees all decked out with fake presents underneath. I had left for Haiti the beginning of October so my brain was still in October. Seeing the tree made me realize once again that we are so focused on "stuff"

Haitians typically don't have a lot of "stuff". The average Haitian makes under $500 a year! Their floors tend to be dirt and the roof tends to be metal. They are so poor that they tend to eat one meal a day. The weather is harsh. The normal temperature this time of year is in the 90's and the humidity is in the high 90%. For me, I was drenched to my skin 24/7. It didn't matter if I was just getting on fresh clothes I was continually wet. I took to carrying around a piece of cloth to wipe my face or use my sleeve if that wasn't available.

The water situation wasn't reliable. To help there were 5 buckets in the bathroom that held five gallons. The generator would be turned on long enough to fill the buckets. They were set aside for bucket showers. There was a heart shaped ladle of sorts to take water out. You would pour it over you. You did not use the entire bucket, you shared with others. I learned how to shower using just a gallon or two of water. My hair is so long that it was a pain to keep up so I asked one of the Haitian midwives if she would consider braiding my hair. At the end of the second week she did up my hair. SHe had never even touched what she called "white hair" and was sure it would not stay in. It took her almost five hours to get my whole head braided but once it was up I didn't have to deal with it for an entire month. It stayed put the whole time.

The electricity was another challenge I faced. With the humidity and temperature being in the mid 90's all day and all night it was tough to deliver babies with sweat pouring off your body. With no electricity there were no fans to run to try and cool off. More importantly though there was no electricity to run lights. Lights are important when you are trying to put in an I.V. line, or deliver a baby or even stitch a woman up who tore. We used a head lamp  strapped around our heads but it is not great light. They would try and run the generator that did give us some lights but there were times when the generator was either broken or out of fuel.

We take for granted every day the lights in our homes and the heating and cooling and even the water that comes out of the tap when you turn the handle. Not so in Haiti. The Haitians are a group that doesn't spend time complaining. Their situation is all they know. I think we can learn a lesson or two from this group of people.

Next time I will write about the birth that showed me just how important it is to have the right equipment and supplies. Till next time.
In Christ Alone,
Jill
P.S. Coming home to grey clouds in Michigan was bearable since the sky in Haiti is a brilliant blue. I never tired of looking at it and the sun.









Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".






















Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".