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Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Round Up

Lullabies whisper from an iPod across the dark room. A soft glow from the screen in front of me blocks the view of the toddler who is fighting sleep in the bed on the other side of the room. I sit here quietly, as a motivation for him to stay in bed in a strange location (grandma's house), but also because in the last few months, sitting with Levi as he falls asleep is one of my favorite quiet meditative times. So how fitting for me to use this time tonight to look through my blogging from 2012. I'm feeling sappy and grateful in so many ways.

I'm overwhelmed at the graciousness God has shown me in the last 12 months. When I renamed this blog My Hope Fulfilled, I was mostly talking about our recent adoption, but in my heart, it's evolved to so much more than that. My hopes are constantly being fulfilled, tiny or large, because this girl has a big, faithful God who answers prayers. And having a blog has been a really good way to acknowledge those blessings, answered prayers..hopes fulfilled.

That being said, I think I will use my last blog post of the year to recap my (yes) 12 favorite posts of 2012.

 Beach Baby: this post recaps one of the most special days and sweet realizations of the year

 Beautiful Things: My self proclaimed song of the year. I heard it at a wedding in April, used it in Levi's birthday video in August, and even got to help perform it at Girlfriend Getaway in the fall

 Chosen: the greatest yet most obvious biblical parallel I've seen between adoption and God

 The Civil Wars my favorite new-to-me band of the year

 I Missed Out and I'm Over It: 2012 was the year I got my first nephew! Meeting him also gave me a boat load of closure in the adoption department

  Return of the Bangs: six months later and the jury is still out on my bangs, but some days it's been a really fun addition to my face

 Round Two: to expand our family, or not, that is the question

 SettlingGod brought me to a place of contentment in our housing situation, and then a month later provided us with a new place to live

 This Is Why We Party: my justification for throwing a big party for someone who won't remember or notice the details gleaned from hours of pinteresting

  We Have No Explaining to Do : open adoption is really awesome, and the comments we get from people are entertaining, too

 When Both Shoes Drop You Put Them Back On: May was a tough month for us financially, but things worked out pretty well in the end

 WhenHabits Become Desires: this post has many things I have loved about 2012- Levi's incoming personality, lessons in obedience, and kissing toddlers

I also enjoyed doing my 12 Series, I think it stretched me as a writer to talk about some things I maybe wouldn't have otherwise.

I'm not sure what 2013 hold for me as far as blogging goes, but I'm hoping for more toddler antics, awesome God moments, and thoughts on a very loving and open adoption. Won't you join mr for the ride?

Now your turn - any favorite moments from your life or posts from this blog that you loved in 2012? Anything in particular you'd like me to write about in 2013?

Happy new year!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!


I hope you all are having an amazing, merry, and joyful Christmas!  I can't wait to blog about how exciting the last few days have been, especially from the eyes of a very happy two year old.  

Merry Christmas, friends!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Levi Lingo

Two year olds are a laugh a minute.  These are just the kinds of things that would be better with a video, but that would require a child who is not camera or speaks on demand. That being said, here are some of the funnier things we've heard out of Levi's mouth lately.


L: "I want the kale."
M: "Levi, you can have more kale when you finish your grilled cheese."

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L: "I want it, the fire truck." 
L: "I see it, the cow."

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Daddy: "What does mommy say?"
L: "Hi Eeeeby!" in a very high voice
D: "What does daddy say?"
L: "Hi Eeeeby." in a very low voice


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Levi, counting: one, two, three, four, nine, sebin, eight

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Levi, shouting and pointing to nothing in the living room: He's here!
And then a whisper: Santa's coming...
I start laughing hysterically, Levi starts chanting in a whisper: Santa, Santa, Santa!

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Levi, pointing to my keyboard amp: Mommy, where this come from?
Me: It's for my piano.
Levi, picking up a quarter inch cable, shoving it in the amp ( in the correct jack, no less), and saying with confidence: THAT'S for Clair Brothers.

(Clair Brothers is the sound company Herb works for, although I don't  remember ever telling Levi that's what his dad does at work.)

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When one of us coughs, Levi: You kay?

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L: "Hey, where's the sun?" 
M: "I don't know, what do you think?"
L: "It's asleep."
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And finally, some lessons in Levi-ese

Mommy dudin?
Translation: What's Mommy doing?

Cenent Minner
Translation: Cement Mixer

Beaschruck
Translation: Fire Truck

Eee-by
Translation: Levi

Gielle
Translation: Joelle

Jon-na-nin
Translation: Jocelyn

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Love the Numer 12: December

Ah! I made it!  I set a goal to blog on the 12th day of every month of the 12th year of this millenium. Why?  Because it's my favorite number!


It started with being born on June 12, becoming part of an "us" on January 12, and becoming a mom on October 12.  I've celebrated special people in my life with birthdays or anniversaries that fall on the 12th (July 12, November 12), and remembered a special friend who is running with Jesus now, who also happened to have a February 12 birthday.  I've used the twelfth of the month to write about my meaningful Mother's Day, which fell very close to that date.  I pointed out the irony in all our former addresses (312).  I've discussed things I love, like music, eggs, and donuts. I've shared my favorite Bible verse (Proverbs 13:12).

To be honest, it's a little bittersweet to write my last installment in this Series 'O Twelve. Any guesses what today's topic will be?

 Here's what I'm not going to write about, which receive an honorable mention:


The Last Repeating Date of My Lifetime
1-2-1-2-1-2 : Sound Check Day
The 12 Days of Christmas


The Grand Finale of the 12 Series, is ... my neice, Joelle.  



Ah! I love this kid!! Today, on 12/12/12, Joelle turns 2! When Joelle was born, I wrote this:
"...I pray that she finds a friend some day like her mom has been to me."
God has already started to answer that prayer.  Joelle is such a beautiful, loveable, friendly little girl.  She's got a pretty big fan club for being a two year old.


And yes, she's already got her momma's friend skills - she is Levi's all-time bestie.  I hoped they would be close some day, but I never expected these two year olds to talk about each other the way the do.



Every day when I ask Levi what he wants to do today, he says, "See Gielle! Play toys!"  (That's how he pronounces Joelle.)  At night he asks to pray for "Uncle Josh, Jon-a-nin (Jocelyn), and Gielle."


Joelle and Levi have brought an incredible dynamic into the life of our family, as I'm sure that most grandchildren do.  I know this is normal, but it is amazing to watch these relationships unfold and blossom first hand.  If our family had only Levi or Joelle, I'm sure it would have still been incredibly special, but the fact that God chose to bless my brother and I with children just four months apart in age is icing on the cake.  In fact, I think I'd place that in my top five favorite things God has ever done in my life.


Dear Joelle,

You are truly a joy.  I hope you and Levi continue to be the best of friends, getting each other in trouble for the next couple years while it's still cute, but keeping each other out of trouble and accountable when you're older.  For your second birthday, I'm praying that you understand what a fulfillment of hope YOU were and continue to be!  I can't wait to see what a beautiful, intelligent, and caring person you grow into. Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Love,
Chelle

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Push, Part Two

So, despite the whole "push" scenario, vising the new baby Sunday was just fine.  I could feel genuinely happy for my friend.  Bitterness was not invited to the party, and by the grace of God, she did not show up.

But there they were, as I walked out to my car - sharp tears stinging my eyes.

"You'll never be here."

"You'll never be pregnant."

"You're probably done with babies."

"You have no control of your family planning."

And really, the infertility issues for me stem primarily from the control issues.  Would I like to carry a baby safe inside me for nine months?  Eh, sure. Breastfeeding?  Yeah, I wouldn't have minded giving it a go.  But adopting was so awesome.  And so physically pain free.

What I am really mourning is the lack of control.  The missing conversation that goes like this,

"Hey, do you want to have another baby?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Cool, let's pull the goalie."

Instead our conversation goes like this,

"Hey, I want to have another baby."
Long pause.
"But how?"
Then a long conversation about options, all of which seem too expensive or unattainable.

So really, it's about the lack of control.

I called another friend on the way home from the Baby Taj Mahal, "I thought I dealt with this already," I said.  "Why am I here again?"

And she, ever so gently, reminded me of Paul.

A lump swells in my throat as I recount the conversation.

Our infertility is not going away, but it is something that God has used in my life to draw me closer to Him.  It is the proverbial thorn in my side.  It is a process of sanctification.  It has caused me to rely fully on Him in this area of our lives (and honestly in so many other areas, too).  And for that reliance, I am grateful.

Because I promise you, the brief moments of disappointment I felt Sunday as I left the Baby Taj Mahal were nothing in comparison to where I was three or four years ago.  Nothing.

I am stronger now.

I know that God's plan for my life, for my family, is so much bigger than what I could plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I know what hope fulfilled feels like. (Proverbs 13:12)
I know that with God, nothing is impossible. (Luke 1:37)

And because ultimately, what I want in my life is relationship and closeness with Jesus.  If this is the sacrifice (fertility) that gets me there, I accept it.  What I really want is more of Him.

And I think that was the whole point of my mini-meltdown.  I needed to be reminded of these truths.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Push

Over the weekend, my friend had a baby!  She is one of the friends I mentioned here - the kind the you reconnect with in an awesome way when you become moms.  Her son is a few months younger than Levi, and now she has a baby girl to add to the mix!

Yesterday, while Levi and Herb napped, I ducked out of the house to go give this new baby a squeeze.  Momma and baby were still in the hospital - the Taj Mahal of birth hospitals around here, from what I understand.  My lady doctor is in part of this building, but this was only the second time I'd ever been to this place to visit a new baby.

Security is pretty tight at the Baby Taj Mahal.  You have to sign in with first and last name and then you get a time stamped badge with a bar code which is programmed to only open the door to the corridor where you are visiting.

I waited in line and received my badge.  I walked down the long hallway towards a locked door.  I scanned my bar code, nothing.  I scanned again.  Beep beep beep.  Still, no door popping open.

I walked all the way back down the hall and told the lady that my bar code didn't work, she said, "I'll open the door for you."  When I approached the door, again, I stood there, waiting for it to automatically open.

"YOU HAVE TO PUSH!" the desk lady shouted for the whole lobby to hear.

As I pushed the door and walked down the hall to meet the new baby, I couldn't help but laugh and cry at the irony of being told to "push" at the Baby Taj Mahal.  That's a first.  And a last.

Yeah, it was kind of sad.

But I'm really glad I could go meet the new baby and visit my friend during this special time.  It was a privilege to get to see her in the hospital in those intimate very new moments.

(I think there's a part two of this coming.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Levi's First Movie & Adoption Month

November was National Adoption Month.  For me it's one of those things where I always mean to celebrate it (somehow) but time and intention never intersect.  Luckily, this year Herb was on the ball!

The Adoption Coalition of Lancaster County hosted a free movie night at a local movie theater to celebrate National Adoption Month.  Being that it was, well free, we thought it would be a good opportunity to go to Levi's first big screen movie.


We arrived late, as usual, but the movie hadn't begun.  We got the last two seats in the packed theater. There were two adoption related movies to choose from that night - The Blind Side and Meet The Robinsons.  We chose the Disney cartoon (which we had never seen, and knew nothing about).


It was awesome.


If you've never seen Meet The Robinsons, I definitely recommend it.  It was adorable and there were tears invovled (on my part and Herb's).  In fact, even as we walked out to the car, I felt like I was one deep breath away from the ugly cry.


My only complaint about the movie, and I don't want to give anything away, was the way the main character's birth mom was written off.  He searched for her for the whole movie, but eventually realized that he didn't need her anyway.  While I can appreciate the healing that took place in his life, I wish they would have found a better way to bring closure to that situation.  I guess I need to realize how blessed we are to be involved in an open adoption, and know that everyone is not so lucky.  Either way, that's the only issue I found with the movie.

And Levi?  He sat catatonically for the entire film and loved it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Prune Belly Syndrome

I can't believe in all my years of blogging and even talking about Herb's illness, I've only typed the words "Prune Belly Syndrome" one other time.

Have you heard of it?

PBS is the disease my husband was born with - you know, the one that gave him a life expectancy of 1 year?  It's incredibly rare - something like 1 in 40,000 live births.  You can read more about symptoms and such HERE.  In our lives, Prune Belly Syndrome is the reason behind the kidney transplants and the infertility, as well as high blood pressure and a few other not-so-major things.

In his lifetime, Herb has known about three other people with the disease - some healthier and some sicker than he.  But they were mostly from his childhood, and before the rules of HIPPA kept people with similar diagnosis from connecting.  Herb's been generally healthy for almost seven years (transplantiversary this month!!) and with the onslaught of social media, had never really considered connecting with other people who have PBS.

About a month ago, soon after we moved, Herb was at our storage unit closing out our account.  On the counter sat a jar with a sign that said, "Noah's Fund:  Noah will need a kidney transplant when he turns two."  He asked the cashier if she knew any information about "Noah," and she told him to look on facebook.  Soon he found Noah's facebook page, and before the night was over, Herb was connected with Noah's family and found out that not only does Noah need a kidney transplant, but he also has prune belly syndrome.

Herb and Noah: Prune Belly Brothers
After several emails, we got to meet Noah (who is around Levi's age) this past weekend.  We met in the lobby and chatted in the cafeteria of Herb's childhood home away from home: Hershey Medical Center. In addition to discussing medical procedures and common doctors (Noah has several of the same ones that treated Herb as a child), we had fun playing "who do you know in York" game, and realized that they live less than a mile away from our house in York.

You can follow Noah's journey on his Facebook Fan Page: Noah's Fund.

If This is Baby Fever, Please Pass The Tylenol

She crept in so sneakily, I didn't even  notice she had arrived.  She found little crevices and cracks, open and unattended.  As round two announcements came, she grew, little by little.

I don't even know that I want what she pines for.  Why does she even have a place in my life?

She is unwelcome.  Her name is Bitterness.

I thought she was banished away for good when the aching arms were filled and the childless woman became a mother.

Everything about my family is just right for now.  Dare I say parenting a single child teeters on the border of being "easy?"  Who would want to change that?  And if I admitted I wanted to, I feel like that makes me fifty shades of ungrateful for the miracle that has already happened in our lives once before.

But tonight I noticed she had arrived.  Still  just a spark, not yet a flame, but present just the same.  When I should have been saying, "Congratulations," I found myself backing into a corner and putting up my walls.  Don't say a word, don't acknowledge the pain of having no control.

So now I grab her and say, Leave, you have no place here.  I replace her lies of comparison, jealousy and incompleteness with truth.


Rex

"Cling to each other," she said with tears threatening to breech the barrier of the eyelids which held them in.  "In can all be gone so fast, but you know that already."

"Yeah, we try to keep it real," was all I could say.  But she already knew all that we had endured , much before we became man and wife.

Two weeks ago we lost a friend.  Technically, he was the father of our good friend Brandon (B-Rex), but Rex (his dad) was our friend, too.  He was the kind of guy that dominated a room with his laugh.  Gave a great hug or a word of good advice.  We camped with B-Rex and his family a few years at Creation, and I am so grateful for the time that we got to know Rex and Jan. A few years later, Rex was the Emcee at our wedding.

His funeral was touching.  The span of lives that he had touched was evident at the standing-room-only funeral.  The legacy he lived was described in his well delivered eulogy, touching on the promises he made and committed to as a man of God.

I can't imagine there are many words that are comfort when you lose your husband or father or brother or son so suddenly, so unexpectedly, but I do know of the hope.  I know there is relief and anticipation of meeting Rex again.  There is promise of eternity for this man who loved Jesus with everything that he had.

In the meantime I will take the advice of Jan, Rex's wife - I will treasure the now and the time I have with the man I love.