Saturday, May 16, 2015

Josie and the Answered Prayer




 My dear ones, I am conflicted with many emotions and have much to share.


Here is our Josie...now on a ventilator.

Her diagnosis has gotten worse.  She now has a severe infection in her central nervous system that is caused by "severe purulent meningitis" and the infection is all throughout her blood. In spite of being on the most powerful antibiotics, the infection cannot be controlled. They are unable to stop her seizures. Doctors agree, she now has permanent brain damage.

Being in the PICU is incredibly expensive. Even with the fundraising we did, the ABUNDANT generosity of Love Without Boundaries the funds have run out. This is MORE than heartbreaking to her family and us. And probably to you as well.

The doctors feel she will not survive once she is removed from the the ventilator, however this is what is planned for tomorrow.

Only a miracle will save her now.

And I do not want to miss that...PERHAPS God will choose to miraculously heal her and she will survive out of the hospital. PERHAPS He will heal her brain damage and she will be a whole person, fully functioning. It would be an incredible thing...and HE CAN DO IT.

So please, ask for this miraculous healing. We are in a place where we all feel a sense of peace if this is NOT how God chooses to answer our prayers.

How can that be?!???

Let me tell you...

I told you that I had MANY emotions, many of them conflicting. So if those are the sad and devastating feelings, then you know they are not all sad!! 

Today, Josie's parents BOTH OF THEM have become Christians! They have understood the massive love of God for them and put their faith in Jesus Christ!

This is SUCH an answer to years and years and years of prayers! Prayers of so many! And you, you joined us in this effort and our collective storming of heaven has produced the movement of the Spirit in their hearts! 

Hallelujah...they have been born again!

They will be the first ever believers to actually live full time in this village. Pray for their growth. Pray for their strength as they are the only lights in this dark place. Pray as they are possibly going to be grieving the death of their daughter with the village watching how their new faith impacts this process. Pray for them to be like dominoes...more and more falling into the loving arms of our Jesus!

Baby Josie has ushered her parents into the Kingdom...the very same place she will most likely run to herself tomorrow.

What a life purpose!! Oh precious baby Josie, how we LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!

Prayers are needed for everyone involved as they remove her from the antibiotics, all the monitors and the ventilator and then bundle her up and head for home.

Oh, I simply cannot write this without waves of my emotion sweeping over me. These things are so difficult.

Please hold them tenderly in your prayers.


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Josie's Village


First things first: I still have no news about Josie's status. I'm assuming no news is GOOD NEWS and that she's still hanging out in the PICU getting antibiotics and getting better. I am to get an update at 4 am our time. I promise to share as soon as I can!

PLEASE KEEP PRAYING FOR HER.

Her diagnosis came in: bacterial meningitis due to severe pneumonia, she is in a constant state of seizures and has blood sepsis.
Seriously? How intense is that?!?!?

ANYWAY...
I thought you might like to learn a little bit about the village where Josie is from...and why it is SO DEAR to my heart.

Josie hails from an ethnic minority that lives high in the mountains. Long ago it was said that they were afraid of the demons that lived in the valleys, and so they took to building their log homes way up high.

I had the amazing privilege of becoming the first ever non-Chinese person to visit their village. This was more than 10 years ago now. I know my husband and his parents went on a subsequent trip...and I'm thinking more have gone. However, it's still not too high on the vacation spot lists of the world.

Her village is FAR AWAY. So far that when J took me there, we had to travel for 2 solid days. The first required two long bus trips. Then a taxi to the end of the road. Then, we hiked the rest of the way. It took us 9 hours. We climbed 4,000 feet in that time. 

Yes, it was amazing. These pictures are from back then.


Everyone gave me the MOST AMAZING welcome. I was so strange to them with my pale skin and blonde hair. They had never seen anyone like me.

But once we laughed, all of that melted away.

There is much I cannot share with you about her village here, in this venue. But suffice it to say, they live in spiritual darkness. They need the Light.

Desperately.


What are they bowing down to? 


This fire. Built to honor their ancestors.


This was when the gospel was first ever explained to them. We were sitting around shucking corn. This is in the house's courtyard. You can see the people house straight ahead with the door to the left. The animal stalls are straight ahead to the right. No cell phones, no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms. (Seriously, you just would go out and find and different tree each time!) Time stood still. Relationships, real.

Sadly, they wanted nothing to do with this Jesus. A Creator God? No, they were fine with what they've been doing: worshiping their ancestors and praying to the Buddhas in their homes. Sacrificing the first foods of each meal to this primitive shrine built above their cooking fires.


And yes, this is their "kitchen." I'm telling you for reals: Josie is from a VERY PRIMITIVE village! This would be a common breakfast: potatoes laid around the base of the fire. You squat around the fire and drink yak butter tea and gnaw on a whole potato. The little tray of walnuts, apples and sunflower seeds are typical snack foods.



This is actually Josie's daddy. 10 years ago...long before he was even married. I LOVE this dear man. What a smiley guy. He's nearest to J's age and is here emptying the bowls that are set out in worship. This red piece of furniture is a shrine. You can see the walls are all built of logs and the air is so very smoky from the fire.

Allow the urgency of this matter to penetrate your heart. Carry the ache of lostness of these beloved people in your souls and get it out often and talk to Jesus about them.  Remember to pray for Josie's full recovery and for these precious people to see that God is our Healer and He loves them so very much!!!



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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

AMAZING Provision and Josie Update!!


My dear friends, you are AMAZING.

AMAZING!!!!

More than 2,200 views on the first post about baby Josie! I have had people asking me how they can help keep baby Josie at the new hospital...so I've set up a "Gofundme" account.You can give here:  I had to take it down. READ ON for WHY!!! And friends, I'm so blessed to say that there is over $1,600 waiting for her already. This is a fabulous start!!! 

What is more amazing is that Love Without Boundaries has a special program where they help impoverished families receive the medical care that is so desperately needed...and they have accounts at six hospitals in all of China. ONE OF THESE HOSPITALS IS IN THE CITY THEY ARE CURRENTLY TRAVELING TO!!!!

So...what we need to pray for now is that baby Josie will make it safely to the hospital from the train. I just heard that Josie is running a fever and vomiting. STAND IN THE GAP FOR HER!! Then, that all the contacts that need to be made in order for them to be taken into the hospital not under the normal "pay as you go" way but that they can go in under the LWB account.

So the great news is that I can close the gofundme account and you can give STRAIGHT to Love Without Boundaries in baby Josie's name. 100% of the funds will go straight to the family, no charges taken out!!! And it's a non-profit organization so your donations will be tax deductible!! PRAISE GOD!!!
You can give here: Love Without Boundaries as she was just made a child who needs sponsorship for a surgery. All your funds will be given straight to her medical needs!!! And the CEO just told me that if more is given than is needed for her current care they can receive funds to reimburse the family for the $10,000 already spent!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM COVERED IN GOOSEBUMPS!!!! ONLY OUR GOD!!!!

So keep praying church, amazing AMAZING things are happening!!!

We need to get Josie to them and get some basic tests run to know what the actual diagnosis is. Then we can proceed with the family, helping them to make the best medical decisions possible with the benefit of having the LWB team behind them!!!

HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!?!?!??!?

Praise our amazing God!!!!

(...and keep praying! She is still so fragile!)

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Emergency Prayers for Josie!



It's late and there is a fire in my bones. Burning on behalf of a precious little life. She needs our prayers, and this is something you don't want to miss out on.



This is sweet precious baby Josie. She is not even 6 months old yet. She is the precious child of some villagers that we love out in a very rural area of China.

Josie is the 2nd born child to my friends. They are permitted to have more than one child because they are an ethnic minority. However, soon after Josie was born, it was discovered she was sick. Desperately sick. 

Her mother and father have nothing. Zero money. They are subsistence farmers. A sick child has no hope in their midst. Their plan was breaking their hearts in half: they had to just wait for her to die.

But my BFF in China, J and her husband R, said NO! They knew that God was calling them to use this desperate situation to shine the love of Jesus to the village. They personally took on the health costs of little Josie. They took her to two cities, two expensive hospitals and paid for all the expenses: travel, food, surgeries, doctors. It was more expense than they had ever seen in their own lives. They took out debt against their home, borrowed from people they work with and are STILL in the hole paying for baby Josie's healthcare. She told me through tears: "this is the hardest thing I have ever been through."

But this did not stop them. They loved ENDLESSLY. They saw opportunity for the light of Jesus to SHINE in that dark village through the life of this child. They had more than 10 people staying in their apartment while it was going on. It was a massive effort to feed and keep everyone emotionally going. The extended family has a faith, but it is not in the Almighty Living God. They bow down to wooden statues and feel deep anguish in their mindless routines.

Josie was mid treatment when I met her last month. (This was a few days before we went to Gable's orphanage and adopted him.) She had come "out of the woods" as we like to say and was looking amazingly good. Her surgery to put a shunt into her brain was successful. (You can see where they did that on the side of her head.)



You can see how Josie connected with me as I held her. She locked eyes with me. I KNEW she was a special gift of God. I prayed over her that the darkness of the village would be broken by the power of Christ's light because of this baby. 

After we left, the family returned to the hospital for a check up. Josie was doing great! The deeply grateful family returned to their mountain village with her. Life went back to normal. Her parents strapped her to their back and headed back out to the fields to work. 

But something went very wrong.

After only 8 days of hearing that she was all better, Josie became violently ill. Her fever soared. She could no longer eat/drink. (She is exclusively nursing still.) Everyone in the village was crestfallen. They knew there was no hope. 

Surely not now.

Everything had already been given. The debt incurred on my beloved J and husband R is still enormous. How could her parents ask for help again?

They didn't.

They simply sent word that they were going to let her die.

(I'm sorry...can YOU IMAGINE!?!??! We are soooooooooo blessed in our culture to have healthcare insurance! What if WE had to look at our critically ill daughter and merely resign to watch her die? This shakes me to my core.)

J and R said they would not stand by while their niece died. They insisted she be brought out of the village. They took her once again to the local hospital for treatment. In 3 days, they spent a massive amount of money. 

And she's getting worse.

Liver infection. Pulmonary infection. Baby Josie is dying before their eyes.

Church, we need to RISE UP AND PRAY.

This is a picture of Josie taken a few days ago in the smaller hospital. You can see she is losing weight and the sparkle of life in her eyes is dimming.

Even now as I am posting, she is on her way to the larger city for the best possible treatment available to her. J is begging for prayers on Josie's behalf. Prayers that she will survive the long journey.

Pray for Josie that she would not only arrive safely to the larger hospital in the big city but that GOD WOULD HEAL HER COMPLETELY.

We need a miracle, friends.

We want this village to come to the joy of knowing Christ, and we believe with J and R that Josie is going to usher in this faith.

I wanted to ask for people to fast and pray for Josie, and even while writing this a friend messaged me and said she had already planned a 3 day fast and would focus her prayers on Josie. She doesn't even know ANYTHING about this situation yet! How I rejoice! 

God is calling prayer warriors to join in this story. Join in and fight for Josie's life. Pray for total healing. Pray that no more debt is incurred. Pray that the family will receive their beloved daughter back, whole. Pray that the village will see once and for all that JESUS IS ABLE. 

Shine the light by praying for Josie.

(It would be most encouraging to my friends J & R if you commented here or on my Facebook or Instagram that you are joining in the prayer battle! She cannot access any social media, so I will merely tell her numbers. I told her I would gather hundreds to pray. DO NOT LET ME DOWN!! If you choose to share this, let's use the hashtag #prayforjosie!)


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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our Beloved Gable!

Oh what a joy it is to share with you about our wonderful son, Gable Philip YiJun!



We met him on Monday, April 20, 2015. We traveled to Chengdu, Sichuan (where the yummiest food of all China is...and the spiciest!) and went with some special friends to his orphanage. We were signing some paperwork when we heard them say, "Here he is!" And in came JunJun, carried in the arms of a woman who has spent her past two years loving and caring for him.

We took our time. I had been prepared that he might pitch a big nasty fit because he was so attached to his caregiver, and she him. We spent time just talking with him as she stayed in her arms. We put our foreheads together. I handed him a teddy bear Toby and I had chosen for him at Chocolate World the week before. He pointed to my picture and then at me, "Mama," he told me.

After about 6-7 minutes, we began the handoff. He came timidly, but without tears. He whispered "mama" after I would say it. I then pulled out a few goodies from the "bag of tricks" we adoptive families take to meet our kids. It was the bubbles that we played with out on the porch that coaxed the first teethy grins and began the bonding between the two of us.

One amazing blessing that I never saw coming was the presence of a gentle, kind woman named Christine Keegan. She is a photographer living in Chengdu and had been dreaming of capturing these first moments for an adoptive family...but had not yet had the opportunity. We were beyond belief blessed to be that first family! She has posted a stream of her work on her blog. You can see those pictures here: http://homemadeinchina.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-gotcha-day-story-beginnings.html


We were doubly blessed by being able to stay with some other friends, the Holloways, while we were in Chengdu. They work during the week at a school, so we had their apartment during the day and were absolutely delighted to share time together in the evenings. What a JOY JOY JOY they are! Brandi and I had originally met at Shriner's hospital in Philadelphia when both of our sons (adopted from China) with arthrogryposis were being treated. Each member of their family is a joy and her husband made us laugh so much with his stories of music in China! We would love to come back and see them again!

In the subsequent days, we have just deeply enjoyed getting to know Gable. He is an incredibly SMART little boy and after one time of me teaching him the sign language for "more" he began asking for food that way. His soft sweet little voice saying ,"mo'" looking at me for another bite melts me each and every time.

He took his time learning to eat...he batted most things away before trying them. He's got a serious sweet tooth that may be the reason for his adorable chubby cheeks! I asked the orphanage caregivers what his favorite food was and was a bit shocked when they told me, "candy!" I can see now that they were 100% on!

He is the perfect mix of compliant child and energetic giggles. He can be a challenge to change his clothes as he thinks its the perfect time for a game of "run-from-mommy" complete with giggles that will melt your heart. But in general he is an easy going, happy boy. 
 

He is also super snuggly, a great sleeper and has decided that he MUST have his mommy almost all the time!

(This was taken during the medical exam required for getting an American visa. He was more frightened by the doctors than anyone I've ever seen.)

Evidence of his cancer is found on his multiple scars around his body from the ports and 7" incision across his belly where they went in to remove the malignant tumor. We were given a picture of him with his surgeon that the orphanage wanted us to have. I think that our Gable was really special to them. They requested a special goodbye before we left that day.

Healthwise, he appears to be completely normal. We have an appointment scheduled for the end of this week back home with a pediatric oncology team. Typically in a case like his, they would do monthly follow ups after the surgery and chemotherapy. That has not happened. We will be so anxious to hear how he is doing from a medical standpoint.

His adoption process could not have gone smoother in country and we will receive his visa today. We fly home tomorrow and are so so anxious to be together again as an entire family! Here you can see him interacting with some of our other kids using FaceTime! 


What a joyful journey it has been to return to China for this son of ours!

 



Monday, April 13, 2015

It's GO Time!!!


My dear bloggy friends,

How awesome it is to be writing again! I deeply apologize for my long hiatus! It has been unbelievably busy around here. (I can barely keep up with it all myself!)

TODAY we leave to bring home our little "caboose" Gable Philip YiJun!! 

We will be calling him "Jun Jun" as he is currently known as we first meet and then transition over to using his American name. (Just so you know who we are talking about...and that we didn't get a different child!)

We have been able to successfully expedite his adoption case due to his medical condition. We will be able to get him home and immediately to the oncologist for beginning assessments of his condition. We will just roll with it from there.

Many people have asked if we have any Love endlessly notecards left...and although we were once sold out, we now have a LIMITED QUANTITY available once again!! YAY!!! We also have a few sets of "Gable's Oil" sets (a specially prepared dipping oil for breads using Sichuan peppercorns that are native to Gable's province and an "Upper Crust" dipping plate with a package of Love endlessly notecards!) There are a few Love endlessly necklaces waiting in the hands of Upper Crust too, if you are local and would like to pick up one. (And if I'm allowed to say it, these necklaces are MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!!) Any of these would make fabulous Mother's Day gifts AND you will help us bring Gable home!!

To reserve any of these aforementioned items, please send an email to: uppercrust@centurylink.net .

Please DO be praying for our safety, the children who are staying behind, their caregivers, and our little Gable. We have been told that he is especially connected with his "aiyi" (auntie/orphanage worker) there and that the day we meet him may be very difficult for all of us. There is simply no way to prepare a 2 year old for all that is about to sweep through his life. Pray that love is felt and that he feels safe with us. We will get him Monday April 20th at 2:30 pm local time. (That will be 2:30 am on Monday morning for Eastern coast people!)

We are so grateful for your encouragement, love and support as we follow God's lead in our lives!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Love Endlessly the Sterling Silver Necklace!




I couldn't be more excited!!!
I'm absolutely bursting with JOY to show you what we've been working on for several months behind the scenes!

If you remember, we were frantically working on fundraising for Esty's adoption...and I got this crazy, nutso idea to PAINT CANVASES to auction off as a fundraiser.

I was scared.

I'd never done that before.

But I stepped forward in fear and trembling and painted. The auction?  

It totally blew me away. We made more money than I could have ever imagined off 20 paintings.

If that didn't shock me, what happened next certainly did. 

One particular painting, Love endlessly, went crazy. As people bid on it, they asked for t shirts of it. Those went into a 3rd printing for Valentine's day last year. Then, at the prompting of a sweet friend, we had blank notecards created to fundraise for Gable.

And THAT has gone amazingly well...being for sale in a local floral shop as well as a bakery taking it and creating AWESOME bundles with her baked creations...all to help bring our Gable home. (And a fabulous local shipping company is donating their services to make shipping these bundles around the country possible too!) WOW!!! We are so stinking blessed. Thank You, sweet Lord.

And now, my dear friend who owns Mountain Girl Silver (we've never met in person, but when a woman has 10 baby name disks...you start to stand out as a customer! ;)) has done something else absolutely astonishing.

I asked her if she would be interested in using the wording "love endlessly" for a pendant that we could fundraise with. Her answer blew me completely away.

Listen to this: she requested vector art of the original painting and asked if she could take it to HER art department and to create a CUSTOM stamp from my design. She paid for this entirely. Otherwise, there would be no possible way to have that handwritten cursive "endlessly" stamped into silver. Then, she pitched an idea back to me...

Let's use these awesome necklaces not only to fundraise for Gable...but let's create a permanent part of Mountain Girl Silver where we use this design to help fundraise for OTHER adoptive families working to bring their children home. (More about this program to come!) *giggle*

I. Was. Speechless.

And then, I cried.

(I think often how MUCH I would have missed out on if I had shied away from that first painting auction!)

So as it stands tonight (launch day!) you can purchase these AWESOME necklaces of love endlessly directly from my blog.  Click here!! After the final page is ready over at MGS, you can purchase directly from there. 

Just a note about her products: they are TOP NOTCH. That's why I went to her. I have loved her work for years and years. All of her pieces are solid sterling silver. Her chains are incredibly strong and she is top quality. So these are individually hand stamped on her "La Vintage" pendant and if you buy BEFORE FRIDAY February 6, 2015 you will receive yours in time for Valentine's Day! :)

So, sweet ones, if you want to help Gable home (and dudes...we are MEDICALLY EXPEDITING HIM HOME SOON) then order yourself or your loved ones a necklace!!! You will be part of something BIG!!!

Love endlessly,

Amy



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