Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

The Lord is risen! Happy Easter, friends!

This weekend, Beacon News did a great article about Therese and our family. It focuses on new life- the new life Therese is experiencing, the new life we have in our family and the new life we experience in Christ alone. Enjoy it here:

To read about how you can share new life with those in need and about the boy who has captured our hearts, read From the Storyteller here:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Everyone was in high spirits as we waited for surgery to begin. Evelea and Therese graced us with a beautiful rendition of the books of the bible song, sung while pinching their noses.
Things got a little more serious as we went over final details with the anesthesiologist. We prayed together as a family and then sent her off with the surgical team. Saying that final goodbye and placing the final kiss on my daughter before she was wheeled out of sight is hard stuff. But I thanked God for the privelege of being in that time and place.
Our girl a few hours after surgery. Her blood pressure was so high, we weren't allowed to talk to her or touch her because the stimulation would be too dangerous.
I think Therese's face here shows you exactly how she was feeling! This was the day after the surgery and the nurses made her sit up for an hour. Plus, she had to blow bubbles in order to re-inflate her left lung which partially collapsed during surgery. Therese felt pretty crummy all day.

I can't say enough good things about the Child Life staff at the hospital. Therese watched cooking shows non-stop on the tv in her room. When I told the Child Life people that Therese like to cook, they brought in a convection oven and we baked cookies! They knew her favorite color is orange, so they brought an orange pillow case and an orange blanket. A young man even brought her a djembe she could play.

We are so grateful for so many things! First of all, the Lord led us to make the right decision regarding which kind of surgery she needed. We almost tried fixing this with a catheter, but the surgeon said her artery was almost 100% closed and there was no way a balloon would have fit through. We are so grateful for our surgical team!

We are grateful that God brought Therese to America when He did! Someday I'd like to write a post about all the steps it took to get her here. I just learned today that someone had even contacted Oprah to see if she could get her to America for surgery! No doubt Therese was the most popular orphan in Burkina Faso- so many around the world love this girl! It astounds me to hear the stories of so many people who have met Therese through the years before we even had a clue she'd be our daughter. We are so grateful and humbled by your love for this girl.

We are so grateful to our friends and family for the meals, phone calls, prayer support, school transportation, etc. We could not do this without you!

You might remember at Christmas time our newspaper did a report on our family's adoption story. Well, this Easter weekend, we'll be featured again. Our Beacon News photographer shot us every step of this journey- even inside the operating room! He kindly offered to show me those pictures, I declined. Tomorrow the editor of the paper is coming to interview me- yikes! As I tend to get a little nervous for any type of public speaking and I don't particually love being photographed after days of not showering at the hospital, part of me wants to decline doing this story. But, as the photographer pointed out to me, I do want to share our story. So, I'll do my part and trust God with the outcome, just like always.

Home Sweet Home

Therese is home and doing well!

I am so sorry I haven't been able post- but I couldn't get access to my blog at the hospital. I will post more later about our experience and post a few pictures.

For now, we are happy to be home and very tired. We are figuring out how to use the blood pressure monitor and the new medications and making jillions of follow-up appointments.

Thank you all for your love and prayers!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Therese's "New" Heart

(hey's me, Casey, filling in for Erika tonight. Disappointing, I know. I'm sure you'll still get the gist of today's events--just without all the gooey, motherly details. Sorry for the letdown.)

As I sit down to write this, I find myself feeling satisfied. It might be because I've just scraped the bottom of a bowl of delicious beef stew that was provided by a dear friend. Or it might just be that I've had the privilege of seeing a miracle occur today.

Today, I saw a beautiful little girl with deep brown skin sleep contentedly on crisp white linens. Today, a beautiful little girl with a broken heart, who came into my home from halfway around the world, is resting whole-heartedly by the side of her mother, feeling blood surge through her entire body--from her full, smiling lips to her little-piggy toes--for the first time in her life.

The Lord blessed us with his presence today. Despite a late Tuesday night (during which, I must add, little-big-sister Evelea won 2nd place for the fourth grade in the district-wide math bowl), the children scrambled out of bed with smiles. Okay, no one will believe they actually "scrambled" (after all, it's a weekday...and we all know that kids only "scramble" out of bed one time each week: Saturday mornings), but they did ooze out of bed, into their clothes, to and from the breakfast table, then into their car seats with SMILES on their faces.

So, we arrived to the hospital on time and the Lord (and a few friends--thanks for that) met us there. Therese was joyful and entertaining in the pre-op waiting room. She joked and smiled the entire hour-and-a-half wait. She was cracking up the nurses (and probably irritating not too few cranky old men) as she sang the books of the Bible through a pinched nose, gleefully popped bubbles with her little-big-sis, and cuddled into mommy's lap in a versed-induced stupor. She said "Amen" after we anointed her with oil and prayed for her safety and health. And then Therese blew us away with the firm look of resolve on her face as she was wheeled away, hand-in-hand with a nurse into whose hands we have placed the lives of children now multiple times.

And the surgery proceeded on schedule, without incident, and without complication. We thank God for the mercy he lavished on us today; we thank you for interceding on our behalf. We learned that the occlusion was almost complete (so severe, in fact, that the catheter procedure that we were considering would definitely not have worked--so, again, thank you to those of you who helped pray us through all that decision-making; God's sovereignty was all over this situation) and that the repair was done exactly the way they would have wanted it. And then we watched as her post-op blood pressure stabilized and she dozed peacefully under a bright orange blanket.

When I left the hospital tonight around 7, Therese was still profoundly tired; she awakens only momentarily, but she has been communicative (in English!). No one is concerned about this, and we're not surprised (she reacted similarly following her anesthetized MRI). It could be a long night for Erika, though, especially if Therese finally wakes up very early tomorrow morning. Pray for her--for both of them--in this regard. And pray, also, for Therese's physical endurance: she has been telling us that she is hungry, but she will not be allowed to eat until later in the day on Thursday.

Thank you, dear friends, for your love, support, and prayers. We couldn't be doing this without you or without our God who is, indeed!, MIGHTY TO SAVE.



Monday, April 11, 2011

Surgery Day Specifics

Today was Therese's pre-op visit to the hospital. She did a GREAT job enduring two blood tests, a chest x-ray, and visiting with the doctors and nurses. The Child Life staff were wonderful and gave her so many activities to do in the hospital that Therese said "it is like Christmas!".

We found out that her blood pressure is now significantly higher than our last appointment (explaining the worsening of her symptoms!). Her pressures were 210/107. In a normal child her weight and height, her blood pressure should be about 98/59. Yikes! And to think she is on two blood pressure medications already! It is time to fix this heart!

Surgery will begin at 10am on Wednesday. We will arrive at Lutheran General at 9am. They expect the surgery will last 2.5 hours. Most likely she will stay in the hospital for 3-5 days depending on her blood pressure.

Carter came down with a fever on Sunday and has been staying with Casey at my mom's house. Please pray that he feels better and that no one else gets sick, especially Therese.

We are feeling positive and looking forward to getting all this behind us.

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Does Love Look Like?

Tensions are beginning to mount in anticipation of Therese's upcoming surgery.

I had a gut-wrenching, yet precious, conversation with Evelea yesterday. She asked me what was the worst thing that could happen during surgery. Before I could answer, she choked out, "well, I guess I know the worst thing". My heart sank and we had a few tears. I reassured her of the expertise of the surgeon and of the need to do the surgery in the first place. Evelea told me that she really doesn't think Therese would die, because God has not prepared her for that, and she just knows He would prepare her for something like that.


Therese has been expressing a mixture of excitement and fear about the surgery. She notifies everyone we encounter of the surgery date- April 13! She is counting down the days- five more! She must have told me six times this evening that she is scared. She also wants the doctor to take a picture of her heart.

Now that surgery is upon us, I am faced with some intrusive thoughts like "why in the world are we doing this again?. Why would we willingly walk down this risky road? Why did we invite this stress into our lives and worse- our kid's lives? How could we do this to them?"

I think I know why.

Because this is what love looks like.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I Corinthians 13:7-8b

Because if the roles were reversed, and I couldn't care for my child anymore, and she was left alone, and was sick, I would want someone to help her.

Because we have been blessed so much in this life, how could we withhold a blessing from someone else?

When Casey and I got married, we picked a Bible verse as our mission statement for our marriage:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48b

Because we know we have been given so very much and we are compelled to share it.

Because I don't want to be the kind of person who sees pain and walks away.

Because I want my kids to be the kind of people who understand what is important in life and have seen what the body of Christ looks like. I want them to say yes to God and be used by God.

Because I don't want my kids to be afraid of pain. I want to them to go near, and persevere, and bring the comfort and love they have been given.

Because I want to see a miracle.

"When I am afraid,

I will trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;

I will not be afraid."

Psalm 56: 10

Friday, April 1, 2011

Change in Plans

Well, Therese's surgery date has been moved up to April 13th. Since we have been on Spring Break visiting Casey's family in OH, Therese has had a very difficult time going up and down the stairs and has an increase in the pain in her legs. Our cardiology team said we should not wait any longer, and got us the next available date.

Let the prayers begin!