Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Emma Claire!!

A year ago today, I walked into labor and delivery and a very kind nurse handed me this amazing 6 lb, 5 oz miracle baby:

Today, Emma Claire is one year old.  Wow.  A LOT can happen in a year!

Now, if you have been following me or know much about us, you know that our plan to bring Emma home from that hospital did not happen. 

But God is faithful.  We also know that Emma Claire DID come home to us, 7 1/2 months later, despite plans formed against us, to God be the Glory!

But you know what?  If Emma was not here with us, our forever child, God is still faithful.  Did you hear me??  Yes, we had what you might call a "fairy tale ending", but what if it hadn't turned out this way?  And for 7 1/2 months, I had no idea it would turn out like it did, but I did know that my God would be faithful.

My family has endured a lot of heartache in the past couple of years.  But we have also experienced immense joy.  It kind of reminds me of the Cross.  God allowed His Son to go through was terrifying...the pain, the agony for BOTH of them, not only Jesus, but His own Father who had to allow it all to happen.  But what joy there was on the third day when He rose again and with that brought the promise of salvation!  Sorrow and joy, sorrow and joy.  It's almost like you can't have one without the other.  And yet, God is faithful. 

In my "perfect" description of my life, I would have nine children here...Jacob would be a 4 year old big brother now, causing all sorts of trouble with his 4 year old cohort, Josiah.  "X" and Emma would be learning all of their tricks.  We wouldn't know sorrow like we know it now.  I would probably not be sitting here at noon in my pj's typing on a blog when I should be getting ready to leave my house!  But God is faithful.

I've said this before, that I cannot share all the miracles that are taking place with "X" right now, but did you know that if Emma had come home from the hospital when TRACY thought she should, "X" would not be a part of our family.  It's easy to trust when you can look back and see the full picture of  what God was doing, but not as easy when you are in the middle of it.  "X" happens to be a miracle, also and I know I keep teasing you with the story, but I promise to share when I can!  What joy I would have missed in "X" had the story gone the way I wanted it to. 

A couple of weeks ago, my 9 year old Noah said to me, "Mom, when Jacob died, God took one of our blessings, but then He gave us two more blessings!"  Indeed He did. 

I woke up this morning with this song running through my head, it's one we sang back in my "ensemble" days, back before I probably knew just how faithful God is to me.

In my moments of fear

Through every pain every tear

There's a God whose been faithful to me

When my strength was all gone

When my heart had no song still in love

He's proved faithful to me

Every word he's promised, is true

What I thought was impossible

I see my God do


He's been faithful, faithful to me

Looking back his love and mercy I see

In my heart I have questioned even failed to believe

When my heart looked away

The many times I could not pray

Still my God, He was faithful to me

The days I spent so selfishly reaching out for what pleased me

Even then God was faithful to me

Ev'ry time I come back to him

He is waiting with open arms and I see once again

Every night, I rock Emma Claire to sleep.  I look at her as she stares at me with her big, dark, brown eyes and am still in awe of our journey.  Sometimes she looks at me with the same awe I look at her with.  I pray that her story, our story of God's faithfulness, will be something that others will see and know that God did this!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...

Emma Claire
Josiah posing
Two moms, 11 swimming children, 4 babies
Justin showing off his "moves"
Serious dork...
Not sure what the prayer was about!
More sweet moves by Justin
Emma and her bff...her thumb!
"It wasn't me, mom!"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...almost!

Sister didn't make it through lunch after being at church all morning!
"Give me what I want and nobody gets hurt....much!"
"Spider-Buzz" is our highly sophisticated security system here at the Phillips' house!
Sometimes I like 4 year olds....
Fresh from the bath...she smells so good!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Voice of Truth...repost from 2009

As I was looking through my old blog the other day, I found this post and thought it was worthy of a repost.  A year ago today, this is what I wrote:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Voice of Truth

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story

the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"

and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.

You might have noticed a pattern here, but God speaks to me many time through music. I have always loved music and have been considered very "musical". I believe God gifted me musically so that He could use it to speak to me. So, this Casting Crowns song is the one I have clung to this past week.

God has also been speaking to me about choices. We all make choices. Every single event that takes place in our lives has to do with choices. You may disagree, as there are events that happen that we have absolutely no control over, for instance, Jacob's death. I did not choose for him to die, but choices were made in how we responded to that death and how we chose to live our lives after the tragedy. Every single day I choose to get up and go on with my life. I choose to allow Christ to guide me and hold me in His hand. I choose to allow joy in the sorrow. (As someone said to me this week, we allow sorrow to interrupt our joy, why don't we allow joy to interrupt our sorrow?) I choose not to hide in my room from the rest of my family. I choose not to place blame on how Jacob died. I choose to plan and hope for our future, even though it no longer includes Jacob.

AND IT'S HARD!!!! Some days, like today, I just want to give up. I want to say "forget you all, I'll be in my room"! I am tired. I want my life back. I am fed up with people. I want some peace in my life! ("the voice of truth says this is for my glory")

But what I want to do is not really Biblical and I choose to follow Christ as closely as possible. Which is why, through leaning on Him explicitly, when you come to my home, I'm not locked in the closet. (Well, normally, unless I am trying to get away from a 3 year old!) I am hoping for the future because I know without a doubt that when God allows something like losing your 2 year old baby you worked SO hard to save from the life he was born into, that God is also planning on using you in a mighty way, someday, somehow, somewhere. And somewhere, in the grief, the pain, the memories, the unexpected pictures in your head, there is excitement and anticipation about what God has in store.

With that being said, let me fill you in on a little bit of what has been going on with me this week that has God speaking to me in such a way. Her name is "E" and we were introduced to one another almost 8 weeks ago. In those 8 weeks, a very strange friendship has emerged. She is carrying our baby, Emma Claire. She has a mental illness and is a drug addict. She has choices to make every day, just like the rest of us. Right now, she is NOT choosing to live her life in such a way that is safe for her, or Emma Claire.

Today, because "E" has made some very bad choices, she checked herself into the mental health hospital. She will be there for at least a week, I am praying they will keep her longer (like until she goes into labor). I have been praying for the past week that God would protect Emma Claire and "E" and once again, He has answered my prayer, just when I couldn't figure out in my feeble mind how He could possibly protect my baby while in "E's" womb! Since "E" is pregnant, and high risk (mental illness, Type A diabetes, addict) she has been assigned to a high risk doctor and I was told they would be monitoring the baby closely. Hallelujah! She is also just around the corner from the maternity ward in case she should go into labor. I love "E" when she is just a mental patient...I do NOT love "E" when the drugs are involved. I will also receive a little break as "E" can only use the phone and have visitors certain times of the day, so I will not have to "rescue" her for the next week.

Please pray...she is a Christian. She KNOWS what she is doing is wrong. Please pray that she would choose to give her life back over to Christ. HE is her only hope, just as he is OUR only hope.

We are due in 4 1/2 weeks. I came home today after sitting with "E" for about 3 hours and was weary. The thoughts were going through my head, "Why can't this be easier, God??" "Let's just be done with it!" And then I realized, that once again, this is not about me. This is for HIS glory, and HIS alone. It's not about what a good person I am for taking in these drug babies. It's about my willingness and obedience to do the hard things that are going to lead more people to Him in the end. So, my 3 hours "wasted" today was a small sacrifice for the giant things that could end up glorifying Him.

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story

the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"

and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The prayer never prayed...

A few days ago, my mother asked me a question.  It always makes me a little nervous when she says, "I want to ask you a question, but I don't want you to get mad."  WHAT??  She does this to me occasionally...fortunately, I don't get mad easily.

She said something like, "You talk about Jacob and Emma being answers to prayer, but how do you feel about Samara and Josiah?"

Here's my answer:  First of all, I talk about Jacob.  This blog started to keep our friends and family up to date in regards to his death, the investigation, etc.  Then it took a turn to Emma. 

Jacob was NOT an answer to prayer.  Neither were Samara and Josiah or "X".  See, I prayed about what direction we were supposed to go before we started doing foster care, but Emma was the only PROMISE I asked for and was given.  We had not planned on adopting...not that we weren't open to the idea, but that wasn't OUR plan when going into foster care.  In all of my own infinite wisdom, I figured that I would probably get pregnant with a baby girl and that is how He would give us our Emma that was promised. 

So, how do I feel about Samara and Josiah, and Jacob and "X" when it comes to God, promises, and answered prayers??

I believe that God answered a prayer that I never knew to pray with these 4 children.  Each one of them has brought his/her own blessings with them.  Each one of them has grown us in different ways and filled needs within our family that ONLY God could have known were there. 

Do I feel more for one of these children than the others??  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  Each one of my adopted children has come with their own amazing story.  What has happened, is God has used Emma's story in a mighty just so happened that I was able to share the story and you were able to watch it unfold.  But I don't love her more, or feel like God did "better" with this one than He did with my others.  Samara and Josiah have been touched by God in the same amazing way that Jacob and Emma were/are.  And when I am able to share the story of "X" and how it has been miraculously intertwined with Emma and her story, you will be amazed at how our God works.

I believe that God has brought me to a place that I can share more about the rest of our family and our lives.  Jacob and his death is no longer on the forefront of my mind, guiding every minute of my day.  Emma and the unknown with regards to her are no longer an issue.  We are finally able to move on with our lives so to speak.  We are at a calm, peaceful time of rest within our family.  But I believe that there are those of you following this blog that can benefit from some of the experiences we have had.

So, Emma was the promise fulfilled, Jacob, Samara, Josiah, and "X" are the answers to my prayers never spoken. 

"And now, O Lord, do as you have promised concerning me and my family.  May it be a promise that will last forever.  And may your name be established and honored forever so that all the world will say, 'The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!'"  1 Chronicles 17:23-24

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Promises, promises, promises....

God's word is full of them.  Because I believe it when the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart", I believe that God is still in the business of promises. 

Patrick and I were married ALMOST 17 years ago...anniversary coming up soon.  We drove to Colorado Springs for our week long honeymoon.  As we were driving along, we would come across the occasional rain shower.  I remember one particular shower that produced a rainbow.  We both noticed it's beauty and commented on how it seemed God was giving us our own little promise that He would never leave us as we walked this new marriage journey together. 

I wish I knew where that picture was, but it's late and I'm not willing to go look for it in the dark closet after the spider incident last night.  (Okay, since you asked...I got up for my "last time to the potty before I'm really asleep" and as I was walking back to bed, I stepped on a HUGE spider!!  UGH!!  And no husband here for me to wake up to take care of it!!!  So, needless to say, I'm keeping my feet up off the floor this evening!)

This afternoon, as I was listening to the radio in my truck (no Christian stations in least where we were) the dj was talking about Eagles.  She said that when a baby eagle, or "eaglet" is ready to hatch, he has to literally peck his way out of the eggshell.  This can take up to 2-3 days.  It takes consistency and determination.  Can you imagine how tired he must get?  Peck, peck, peck.  He must do this all on his own.  If any help is offered, he will die.  See, during this difficult process of finding his way out of his shell and into this world, he is learning many things that will benefit him for survival.  He MUST endure the process, the work, the suffering, or HE WILL DIE.

As I listened to the dj talk about this, my first thought was about our Creator and the details that He orchestrates in order for these little birds to survive.  Being a lover of details and organization, I am always amazed when God reveals Himself in the details.  And how He created all of these little survival details for EACH species that He made.  And each species has different survival details dependent upon where they live and what their environment will be.  Are you amazed with me??  To be honest, I am not a bird lover.  (Actually, I try to avoid them at all cost after an incident I had with a bird when Justin was a baby.)  But really?  All of these details and concern over a bird?  The Bible says that God knows when a sparrow falls...but that His love for me is MUCH greater than that. 

I don't even bat an eye at a dead bird...unless it's the one that knocked me into the garage and then I would have considered that a victory!!  But God knows.  He knows the number of hairs on my head, which has always amazed me because every hair stylist I've ever gone to has said I have more hair than anyone they've ever seen.  Maybe He loves me more than you!  KIDDING!!! 

God created those silly little eaglets.  He gave them the rules and the struggles.  If they go against the rules and the lessons they need to learn, they will die.  And He is with them always. 

God created silly little me.  He gave me rules and struggles.  If I go against the rules and the lessons that I need to learn, I will die.  He is with me always.

This past week as I joined my husband in Canada, I was able to capture this:

I was really unaware as I was taking this picture of the beauty and symbolism it would have for me until later as I was looking back on the day.  Our lives are full of beauty, such as the falls here at Niagara.  Our lives are also full of crashing waves, such as the boat is experiencing here at the bottom of the beautiful falls.  In our lives, we are just trying to hang onto the boat and not get too wet, or worse, fall off.  And then, just when we think we can't hold on any longer, we look up and there's the promise. 

"I will never leave you or forsake you

You are mine and you're My child

You can lay your head upon My shoulder

Let your tears fall down on Me

I love you more than you could ever know

It's true

And that's the way it will always be

So don't you worry anymore"  ("Lullaby" by Go Fish)

For the past (almost) two years, I feel like I've been hanging onto that boat in the bottom of that basin while the waves came crashing down and the power of the falls creating those waves never ends!!  But the promise remained...God was with me.  God is with me.  God WILL be with me. 

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:9

I stand before you today (well, actually I'm sort of reclining back on my pillows on my bed) testifying that these promises are true.  And I also know that God cannot break His promises...they are forever true!!
I guess I just needed a reminder (the rainbow) that God is still with me...just like He promised.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh, Canada!!!

Well, here I sit, on my last full day in Canada.  Patrick is finishing up at work so we can go out one more time before I leave.  He is here in Toronto, working for two weeks.  I was fortunate to be able to come and join him for a week!  We have never done anything like this, nor have I ever left my kids for more than 4 days...and I can count on 3 fingers how many times we've done that! 

Patrick and I have not been away since before Jacob died.  It was time.  I was really looking forward to spending some time in the hotel room by myself, while Patrick worked.  Fortunately for us, July 1 was Canada Day, so Patrick was off more than we had planned while I am here.  It has been an amazing trip, but now I am ready to be home with my kids.  

While sharing some of my experiences and thoughts about Canada, I will attempt to entertain you with some pictures of our trip.  Hopefully they won't bore you, although I can't make any promises. 

This was only my third time on an airplane and my first time on an airplane by myself.  It was quite an experience, but if you aren't afraid to ask for directions, it's all good. 

Here, I look like your typical tourist.  Nice.  We were in downtown Toronto, heading toward the CN Tower.  There are MANY people here and they are walking all over the place.  They have a very impressive bus/train system, along with a subway system.  It's not scary downtown...we didn't really see any homeless or drug addicted people.  I found that to be odd.  We walked and walked and walked.  I noticed that there was food everywhere...I mean EVERYWHERE!  Anything you wanted to eat.  What I also noticed was the lack of obese people?  I am assuming that the walking everywhere would account for that.  Don't ask me why I noticed this...I was probably thinking about how there is no way I could walk all the time while on the other hand, if I walked all the time maybe I could lose this 10 year old baby belly??  Random thoughts of a tourist...just sayin.

Here is a picture of my foot, as I fake step onto a glass bottom floor about a million feet above the ground.  I'm not really afraid of heights.  I mean, if you say "Hey, let's climb up to the top of that building", I would say, "okay, let's go".  It doesn't scare me to think about being up high...BUT...once I get to a certain point, my body turns on me and I find myself hanging on the the side of the wall, or crawling on my knees...something attractive and non-embarassing like that.  SO, I was really looking forward to going up the CN Tower.  We were told we HAD to see it and I really wanted to.  But once I got up there, my body stopped cooperating.  It's the weirdest thing ever because my brain is saying "Hey...step onto the glass and take a cool picture" and my body is saying "Hey brain, are you smokin crack??  There's no way in Canada that I'm steppin onto that piece of glass there."  So, I gave Patrick the camera and enjoyed what I could. 

After the tower, we had dinner downtown.  Something else I noticed very quickly was even though there were a ton of people, and many families, we did not see any the first day with more than two children.  I found that very interesting.  Although I can see where maneuvering around town would be very tough with 8 children, I still thought it was odd. 

Another thing was the way the parents treated the children...and vice versa.  The children are running things here in Canada.  (Okay...let me stop here...these are just my observations stemming from the limited time I have been here.  I am no expert and think there must be different areas of Canada where things might be different?)  Anyway, we were eating dinner and there were two couples sitting next to us with 3 children.  The little girl was probably 2 1/2 and the boys were probably 4 and 10.  The little girl started running in circles around the table, squealing as she went.  (My kids aren't allowed to get out of their seat at a restaurant, much less run around the tables.)  The waiters and waitresses were having trouble delivering food and drinks due to this little girl.  Finally, the dad hollered at her to stop screaming and as he did, he was removing his big expensive camera out of her stroller.  My thought?  "Oh good...he's gonna strap her in."  NOPE!!!  The man started taking a massive amount of pictures of this little girl running around the restaurant screaming!  PICTURES!!!!  OH. MY. PEPSI!!!!  I was in shock.  Something else I noticed is that the parents rarely yell at these kids....mostly because they just give in.  It was amazing.  I found myself wanting to spank a bunch of kids AND parents!!!  UGH!

This is what I dreamed of doing...absolutely nothing!!  Actually, my plan was to do some digital scrapbooking, which I did, but Patrick kept me pretty busy, so I didn't have as much time by myself as I had planned.  Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my man and wouldn't have it any other way.

This is my front of our castle...ummm...Canada's Casa Loma.  (A girl can dream, right??)  We toured this magnificent castle built a very long time ago. (notice how I can't remember any details??  If you are interested in knowing more about this castle, may I suggest google?)  It was really cool.  As we were driving to get to the castle, our GPS took us through some neighborhoods and I am fascinated with the way people live in other places.  (Maybe it's the builder's daughter in me...)  The houses were so close together.  The majority of the homes are 10+ story apartment/condos.  It was very strange coming from Oklahoma.  I remember when they built a 3 story apartment building on the southside and I thought that was so cool!  LOL!  I guess because of the number of people here, they have to build UP.  The prices for housing here are insane, also.  Again, I understand I was born and bred in Oklahoma and after being here for a week, I truly believe God puts us exactly where He wants us!  When Patrick and I got married, our first apartment was about 700 square feet and we paid about $400 a month for that one bedroom thing.  Here (and yes, I know it's almost 17 years later) for that same size apartment, you will pay around $1500.  A house half the size of mine, built on a 5500 sq ft lot will cost you about half a million dollars.  It just amazes me.  i wonder what they would think if they came to west OKC and looked around. 

Oh...another interesting thing we noticed...compact cars everywhere.  I can count on one hand how many pick up trucks we have seen and not ONE large SUV.  Well, we did see one on the way to Niagara Falls, but when it passed us, it was from Pennsylvania.  Mini vans are the largest vehicle you will see.  Is it a rule or something???  It just seemed so weird.  My big truck would never fit into the parking spots here.

This picture is from the castle, also, but I couldn't get it to move up to the castle portion of my post.

The pictures above are from Niagara Falls.  There were a TON of people there, but that didn't keep us from enjoying the awesomeness of God's creation!

So, for now, I will wrap this up as I need to get my stuff packed for my trip home tomorrow.  So long, Toronto!!