Thursday, April 30, 2009

One month old and almost at my due date!!

Emma is one month old (yesterday)! We haven't quite reached her due date, but she is doing well. She is up to 6lbs 7oz and has already outgrown many of her preemie outfits. She is having more "awake" times and is already on her way to being completely rotten, thanks to the whole Phillips clan! There is a LOT of fighting going on in our family right now...and not just the kids...grandma and aunt are to blame, also. Everyone wants their hands on this baby!

And just so you know...there must be a BUNCH of crazy people out there! Well, yeah, there are, but seriously??? I cannot tell you how many people have asked me if I was carrying a baby doll. And they are serious! (Did you see that story on Dateline about those Baby Reborn dolls and the people who treat them like they are real??) Well...I am NOT one of those!! Emma is REAL! LOL!! Still, it doesn't even compete with the lady at Wally World who asked me if I had a little dog in my Beco carrier! WHAT???? I can't make this stuff up!

This weekend is the Oklahoma Home School Convention. We spent most of today setting up and will be at the Cox Convention Center all day Friday and Saturday. I love convention. I am responsible for all of the speakers for the convention. I think this is my sixth year to do this. Anyway, our registration is up 10%, as it has been in the past few years, which means more people are choosing to homeschool!

This year has also been hard. Every year, we get to see and catch up with the vendors/speakers that come annually. Last year, they were all so excited for us as we were preparing for Jacob's adoption finalization. Today, I have had to share with those same people that Jacob is gone. Emma is a numbing sav to the gaping wound in my heart, but, it doesn't change the fact that he is gone.

That being said, how fortunate I am to belong to the family of God? Only God's people can encourage, pray, and support us the way that you have. As I read somewhere recently...probably on another blog...this WAS God's plan "A". And all along the way He was placing me in the paths of people He knew would be a comfort. He wasn't surprised and as I watch all of the details...from Jacob's arrival into our home until this very minute, I am in AWE of the God who orchestrates my life. Pure AWE!

I have to keep this short...need to sleep, but I wanted to check in and let you know how things are going! Talk with you soon!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

If they kept quiet....

"If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!" (Luke 19:40)

This is how I feel. One of what I will call the "if-then" promises that I have received from God regarding Emma was "If I grant you this, then you will tell the people of the wondrous deeds I have done for you." (That was a paraphrase in case you couldn't find it in your Bible!) I want to tell every person I come into contact with what a miracle this baby is. I don't think that "Oh, I prayed for this baby and now I have her" does Him justice. I told God back when I very first started praying about foster care, adoption, etc, that I would proclaim His glory to whomever He would allow me to. I believe this is my prayer at this point. That God would show me when to gush all the details and when to be still and quiet. In all honesty, I am still reeling from all that has happened. I know God is preparing the story to be shared...

Let me go back and catch you up a bit. Last Sunday, as I had posted, we were to have a private room to spend the day with Emma. It was all arranged. Ashlee and I would go first to get settled, then call the family up when we knew the details. (I am anal like that if you don't know me's a control issue and I am not ashamed to admit it!) We got to the hospital and were moved to the room. I started to feed Emma when the nurse came in and we were talking about going home the next day. The nurse, out of the blue (and you know when I write that phrase that I do not believe ANYTHING is truly "out of the blue") said, "you know, we are just babysitting her...I am going to call the worker and see why you can't take her home today." WHAT?? And within an hour, we were on our way home, Easter Sunday, with our Emma Claire. And this is how my children have spent most of the last week:

For those of you who are into "details", when we left the hospital a week ago, Emma weighed 5lbs, 1oz, and was 18 1/2 inches long. Today, a week later, she weighs 5lbs, 14oz and I don't know how long she is, but she has started to grow out of a few of her preemie outfits! We no longer have to count how many ml's of formula she is drinking, we just feed her and she finishes most bottles.
I am at a loss at how to explain to you what a miracle this really is. You see, God had to change the hearts of many people at DHS for us to have this baby. I know I have said it before, but unless you have worked with my county, and the people in charge, you would just have no idea what an incredible thing God has done. And just in case I needed some confirmation, just this past week, a very good foster parent friend of mine had a conversation with just these people and it is as if we were talking to two different organizations! I kid you not! What she experienced with them this past week is what we have all become accustomed to. It's as if God does not want me to forget what a glorious thing He has done.

Oh...and then Emma's worker came to my home. Let me first say that I believe there are only a handful of practicing Christians within DHS. Jacob's worker was one of them and he is now Samara and Josiah's worker. Emma's worker happens to be another one of them. Before we started foster care, I prayed that God would protect us and hand pick our workers. That we would find favor with those we worked with and God has truly answered that prayer! Okay...back to Emma's worker. I LOVE HER!!! As we spoke and got to know each other a little, I mentioned how we happened to get Emma. She looked at me and said, "Wow...God wanted that baby in your home, didn't He?" She was impressed with us and loved my "Jesus" walls! She is truly one of those workers whose whole heart is in helping the children. We are going to work well together. Now...lest we forget...this is not a done deal. There are still many details to be taken care of if Emma is to stay with us. But I am not worried. I am sitting here in awe of what my God is doing. I have a peace that I cannot explain to you other than it is the perfect peace of God.

Today in Sunday School, we studied about when Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac. If you remember, the servant sent out a fleece of sorts and God answered his prayer. God smoothed the road for that servant. If you think about it, what Abraham was asking him to do was HUGE! But as we go through the story, all the servant had to do was commune with God and praise Him when prayers were answered. Remember the first prayer?? God answered it BEFORE he had finished praying. Beth Moore says this:

God hears the prayers of His children. Note something important. In the scene between Abraham's servant and Rebekah, not only did the answer come, but the action fulfilling the answer also came. I believe that far more often than not God answers our prayers immediately though we may not see the fulfillment with our own eyes until much later. We sometimes ask, "God, why won't You answer me?" Often He has, but the fulfillment is still on His "items yet to be completed according to His sovereign and wise plan" list. If we could only find peace and security in knowing that God is good for His word! Though the action tarries, it shall come.

This is one of my favorite Bible stories because from the beginning to the end, you can see God's hand all over it. (Just like our Jacob, our Emma, and each one of YOUR stories!) There are the what-ifs...what if Rebekah had decided to stay the 10 days that her family requested? What if she had been too tired to water 10 camels that day?? But because God is THE great orchestrator, the story just had to unfold. Does that give you some comfort? It does me. All that is required of me is to watch God's plan for me unfold. Do I do it every day with a smile?? Not even! But I believe the more faith we have, the more promises we see, the more faith we receive. Does that make sense?? It's like it builds. I have seen God answer a specific prayer in my life. Why would I ever doubt Him again? I can't.

I am reminded of a song we sang in choir many years ago...

"If we keep our voices silent, all creation will sing and shout!
If we keep our voices silent, then will the mighty rocks cry out!!"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Still in the NICU...

UPDATE: When I went to the NICU this morning, there was NO Emma in her bed. The nurses had her down the hall...are you ready? WITH NO FEEDING TUBE!!! WOOHOO!!! No more tube...only bottle feeds! We could take her home tomorrow, but since it's Easter, there will not be anyone to discharge her. (Remember...we are still working with DHS.) So, because the nurses are SO great, they have reserved us a room for the day! We get to stay and spend the day, the kids and family get to come up, etc. We are SO excited. Then, we will bring her home on Monday as long as everything goes as planned!

But we are very close to bringing Emma home. She is eating a little better every day. When she doesn't finish and entire bottle, she comes close. If we could get her to burp better, it would help. Also, if she get the hiccups, well, it's over. Emma does NOT multi-task! We are hoping to bring her home the first of the week.

As I have pondered this week over how long it seems to be taking to get Emma to come home, God reminded me that this is STILL all in HIS timing. I realized that when His work in the NICU is finished for us, then it will be time to come home. So my prayer has been that we would be a witness to whomever we come in contact while in the NICU.

Jacob and his story has come up many times in the past two weeks. The nurses are very interested in knowing how many children we have, how many we have fostered, etc. I don't make it a habit of going around and telling strangers about Jacob, but it has come up on a daily basis lately. Even now, Jacob is touching lives in the NICU. Amazing.

I met a nurse who experienced something similar to us with the loss of her baby. It was such a blessing to hear from her and get to visit. She is the first person I have talked to who lost a child to a "freak accident" like us. It's different than losing a baby from illness or at birth. Don't get me wrong...the LOSS is NO different. It's the pictures you can't get out of your head that are different. I have no doubt that God put her in my life that day. We spoke for a long time and hopefully, she walked away, as I did, feeling better.

I am going to post a picture of Emma so that you can get an idea of how "big" she is. Please forgive the picture of me...I am exhausted!


This past week I received an update on the baby we were going to adopt from Texas. "T" was captured by police and is in the witness protection program. We have been told that she lost the baby. Now, we do not know if that means the baby died or just that she lost it to DHS, but God closed the door on that situation for us and I am grateful. God's timing is perfect and precious. I did not ask for that confirmation, but it sure did feel good to get it!

I have also realized something else about our Savior. It's all in the details. God promised to give me the desires of my heart. I trusted Him to do just that. What I did not realize was that God wanted to give me DETAILED desires. The little thoughts that you have like "you know, I would love a tiny chocolate baby girl, but I will take whatever you want me to have." God hears those thoughts. Would I have been disappointed with a vanilla baby?? Of course not! God loves me SO much, He worked out every little detail. Not only has He provided the desire of my heart, but it's like He added His own personal touches knowing how much I would love them. He loves me, He knows me, He hears me.

Hallelujah, what a Savior! Praying you have a blessed Easter weekend praising the Father for loving us SO much that He sent His precious Son into our world so that we might have life.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How Great Is Our God!!

“The Lord replied, ‘Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’” (Habakkuk 1:5)

And with that, my jaw is still on the floor as I have watched and am astounded! This was a verse that God gave me some time ago. Almost 4 years ago, I started praying for my heart’s desire: A baby girl…not only that, but a TINY baby girl. I don’t know why, I just wanted a tiny one. As I prayed for about 6 months, God gave me the promise, and also the name. As God led us to foster care, I knew that He would answer this prayer, but also knew that it would not be right away.

Five different foster babies have lived with us; three of them are our forever children. Not one of them was a tiny baby girl. Not one of them was our “Emma Claire”. But that was okay because I knew she would come.

Emma Claire is here. She was born on March 29, 2009 at 35 weeks, weighing 4lbs 14oz, 18 ½ inches long and was addicted to cocaine at birth. She is chocolate and has the chubbiest cheeks to be so small!

To put this all in perspective and so you will know as I do that this entire event was TOTALLY orchestrated by God, let me tell you the events of the past 3 weeks.

Remember, according to DHS, our home is full and they would not ever place any more children with us.

On March 11, I called my licensing worker to ask her something about our adoption stuff. Somehow the topic of us leaving our home open came up…I honestly don’t remember. On March 18, I get an email from the supervisor telling me they would like us to stay open to do emergency care. (This would be keeping babies from 1-30 days only.) We agreed and received a call the next day. It did not work out, but at least I knew we were on the list!

By March 26, I have not had any calls, or heard from anybody. My worker was coming to reassess our home on the 27th (since our adoption has not been completed) and happened to call to change the time. She asked how the baby was doing and I told her we did not have one. Well, evidently, nobody notified her that we had not been placed with. When she came to my home on the 27th, one of the first things she said was “We are going to open your home to OK county.” WHAT??? We are not in OK county and our county is VERY stingy with their homes. It happens, but NEVER this easily and only after a week and a half. I finally (still in shock) ask her why the change of heart and she said, “Because we want you to have a baby.” WOW!!!

I cannot even stress to you what a miracle this was. Only if you have been involved in foster care in my county would you really understand, so just trust me. THIS IS A MIRACLE! God totally changed the hearts of these people.

Monday, March 30, our home is opened to OK county. (Even they were in complete shock!) I was told that they would give me an emergency placement first because they didn’t want to “rock the boat” with a long term placement. No babies that day.

Tuesday, March 31, at 9:36am, I get a call. 35 week cocaine baby (which happens to be my drug baby of choice), etc, with all the details. I ask, “How long do you think she will need our home?” I was told “Oh…this one is heading for termination…you will have her a LONG time and she will be adoptable.” WHAT???

Now…with that being said, let me assure you that this is not a done deal. We are VERY early in the game (she isn’t even home yet) and nobody from DHS has promised us this baby, but God is a faithful God and I am believing in Him that this is our Emma Claire. God promised me a tiny baby girl and I could not have asked for the details to be any more perfect!

God has answered my prayer. I have been contemplating and praying about what to call this baby girl. Her birth name is almost unpronounceable so at first we thought “nickname”. But today, God reminded me that I have been praying for “Emma Claire” and He gave me “Emma Claire”. God promised me Emma, there were no other guarantees, so I am just going to trust in His goodness and His mercy and watch this miracle continue to unfold.

Please pray for Emma as she is one week old today and still in the NICU. She is perfectly healthy, but she is not eating like she should. She is making progress daily, but she needs to be taking 40 ml at each feed. She is only up to 15 ml today. As soon as she feeds 40 ml for 24 hours, we can bring her home. Right now I am trying to make it up there at least twice a day. It’s much harder to do than it sounded like.

I had to go to a “discharge” class on Friday. It’s a class on how to care for preemies. We had to watch a video on CPR. Okay…I can do this. In the first scene, a grandmother goes in to find her baby, CHOCOLATE BABY, not breathing. SERIOUSLY???? And then they proceed to do CPR on this chocolate baby. Can you say “way too close to home”? Fortunately she didn’t make a big deal out of it when I declined to “try it out” on the “fake” chocolate baby she had for us. It was really hard, but I made it through.

How great is our God?? That’s all for now…off to bed so I can be rested for the NICU tomorrow!! Thanks for all the prayers!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just a teaser....

I don't have the time or energy to post all the details, but here is a peek at our newest addition! God has His hand all over this and I am so eager to share everything, but the 2-4 trips a day to the NICU have me a little tired...I will ask that you pray for baby girl to start eating...that's the only thing keeping our 4lb 10oz chocolate foster baby in the hospital!!!