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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The best Valentine's gift EVER!!!



Gwen and I have said since day 1 that when Josie Love's HIV was undetectable, we were going to have a BIG party! We racked our brains on what to do....Chuck E Cheese, MacDonald's playground, etc....and then it HIT us! Let's do something that EVERYBODY that follows our blogs can do with us!!! SOOOOO, 147 Million Orphans has launched a new "LOVE 1" baseball tee for Josie "Love"!! Because it says LOVE, it makes the PERFECT Valentines Day present...tell your hubby!!! in purchasing this tee, you are helping us celebrate Josie's life, bring awareness to HIV/AIDS, AND feed children worldwide/help give medical care to HIV orphans! Wouldn't it be AWESOME, if half of the US was rockin' a "love 1" tee on valentine's Day? Help us spread the word! Facebook it! Blog it! It also comes with a tag explaining all about HIV?AIDS! We have GOT to help other children JUST LIKE MY SWEET JOSIE LOVE get the help that they need/deserve!! Go here to purchase one!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will you help me spread the truth?






Thursday, January 13, 2011

Living life with a child that is HIV+

The past year and a half has been filled with excitement, sadness, despair, hope, encouragement, discouragement, love, mischief, anger, miracles, healing, and more HOPE. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time, I am going to take you on a stroll down memory lane.....

After much prayer and a complete peace that Josie belonged to us, Mike and I made our way to Uganda to bring her home:

Day 1: I made my way to find little Josephine. As I entered her room, they had stripped all of them down to just their nappies,ready for breakast! She did not want much to do with me until her tummy was full and THEN she sat in my lap and didn't leave for the while day! As I sat beside her on the floor while she ate I looked into each of those babies eyes and tears spilled out of my eyes. It was very evident that she was very ill and was in need of medical care...little did we know how much....


The next few days were full of paperwork and a preliminary doctors visit before court. After going to the doctor, I had nothing left, so Mike posted:

"The reward for considering the helpless is not just the end result, but the pain, the heart pain, that accompanies it. It is cleansing to hurt when God Himself hurts; it is a good thing."

A good friend of mine gave me that quote 4 years ago when I was struggling with some tough issues surrounding our first adoption. I keep a copy of it in my office so that i am often reminded of its truth. Today it is more real than ever. I really dont even want to write this because I just dont have a lot of words to describe how we are feeling. I just have a pit in my stomach as I write this.

Josie is sick. During a routine exam yesterday, she tested positive for HIV. She had tested negative before so this was a shock to everyone. At this point we have more questions than answers, so we just ask that you pray for us, for Suzanne whose mother's heart is ripped to shreds right now, for Josie that all the diagnoses and treatments would begin asap and that her little body would begin to heal, for our children at home who are also hurting over this news, for wisdom and clarity for our family as we try to process what this means, and that someday we will see the good part of the pain we are feeling. Thank you all for praying. Thats all Ive got right now.

I'll never forget just sitting in the grass at the baby's home, after we heard her diagnosis, holding her small, weak frame on my shoulder and just weeping.
The next few weeks were filled with hurt, anger, desperation and determination to get this little angel home and feeling better. Mike came home to the US, while I stayed in Uganda and finished all of the paperwork/medical care that needed to be in order before we were able to bring her home. Thankfully, the Lord blessed me with Dana Keck and Renee Manuel to be there with me so I was not alone. I would crawl into bed with my sweet friend/sister Katie and and we would cry together. When it came time to leave and come back to the US without Josie, I pulled her out of the baby's home and left her with Katie and Auntie Kristene who cared for her. They fed her, loved her, and gave her the medical care that she needed.
Aunti Kristene..my angel on earth
Auntie Renee...prayer warrier
Autie Kate...who Josie loves more than ANYTHING or ANYBODY on earth
Auntie Dana letting Asher call home and talk to his daddy and brothers and sister...the adoption process was a difficult one that will FOREVER bond our mothers hearts together!

After several weeks of being home, WAITING for the paperwork to approve Josie's homecoming, I traveled back to Uganda alone to bring her home. Once my feet hit American soil, the next few months were full of chicken pox, doctors visits, chest x-rays, a LOT of blood drawn, a TB nurse coming to my house everyday for a year to get rid of the TB, eye doctors visits, and eye surgery. Looking back it is really all a blur....it was a COMPLETE whirlwind of medical events!
(haha)


Once little sister started having energy and feeling better...the mischief started! AND I AM TALKING 3 YEARS OF PINNED UP MISCHIEF!!!!
I grew so weary of cleaning up toilet water from the floor, that I finally handed a mop to each child and let them clean it up.....GALLONS of water!
these mischievous pics could go on and on, but I have to keep this post somewhat short!

While all of the above was difficult in a physical way. The hardest part of this journey has been the emotional part. If we had known about Josie's diagnosis, Mike and I would probably not have traveled to get her out of fear. TB AND HIV...are you kidding? We have 6 other children! While her sickness surprised us, it was NO surprise to our MIGHTY God. Because of that, we hold tight to the fact that he gave her to us for many reasons. One of which, is to share her story and educate people on HIV/AIDS. We received many emails asking us if we thought it was a good decision to share her diagnosis. So, one by one, I wrote back explaining that the best case scenario would be to ask Josie what she wanted us to do. Since that is not an option, the other option is for her AND our whole family to carry a secret every day of their life. For our family, we felt that shame would come with that. Who wants to hide something (that you had no control over) for the rest of your life? SO, we are teaching our children that Josie is a child of God. She is perfectly and wonderfully made, and while the HIV is a part of her life, it does not define who she is. We have used HER story to bring my sweet Savior glory over and over again!! It is a redemption story...a story of beauty from ashes....a story of miracles. But people did not want to hear truth. People stopped coming to our home. People were nice to us and talked behind our backs. All of a sudden...we were really "radical."
The balance of keeping her life normal and not a bubble (i.e. school, church nursery, every time she falls... friends/family asking "is she bleeding? is she bleeding?") versus my mothers heart that aches because I want everyone else to see her for the joy that she brings, not the harm that she might cause. My heart desires every one to view her like Christ does...perfectly and wonderfully made. Because she IS. This side of heaven....probably not gonna happen. My heart holds on to the fact that He gave her to us as a gift, and she has changed our lives for the better... forever. If everyone could receive a gift such as this, our world would be a changed place.

So, the infectious disease doctor called yesterday and I heard the word that our family has been waiting for...UNDETECTABLE. THEY TOOK HER BLOOD AND COULDN'T FIND ANY HIV IN IT!! the meds are working. Her immuity (cd4 count) is exactly where it needs to be. She will always take the meds...for the rest of her life. But she is well. They can't find the HIV anymore! HE is using her for his glory. There have been at least 15-20 adoptions of HIV+ children because of her story. Her vision is cleared now, she has three sisters and three brothers, a mommy, a daddy and a Savior that is going to bring glory to himself OVER and OVER again throughout her life!
My God is a MIGHTY God of miracles. seeing is believing and I have watched miracles unfold more than EVER in my whole life the past year. I have clung to HIS promises in the depths of despair. He is the I AM. He IS all that we need, and I am so thankful to be apart of HIS story.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

none of me, ALL of HIM

Annabelle and Patrick Maddux (just a few weeks home from Uganda)
Nicholas Maddux (also just home from Uganda) and Josie use to sleep in the same room in the orphanage! Now he is driving her around in the snow and she is SO excited!!
Joshua
My sweet Grace and a few of her friends
my den during a snow break..hungry tummies and cold hands and feet!
Drew Maddux taking Patrick, Annabelle, Emma, and Nicholas for a ride

during the photo op, one of Grace's buddies decided to bust them with a snowball! boys will be boys!!
Michael (who is very secure in himself to wear a hot pink girls hat) and his buddies
Thomas making a snow angel and boy is it gonna be a tall, muscular angel! haha
the culprits for my pantry being depleted!
My sweet friend Tara, who is transitioning FABULOUSLY from three to FIVE! children!!
Annabelle and Emma
Mallory and Patrick riding in the "Motacar"

My cell phone just buzzed...a text from my husband: "I think your account is empty" which is his sweet way of saying that I have bounced a few checks. This isn't the first time that this has happened, thankfully, I have an overdraft protection on my checking account.

When I read his text, my mind automatically went to "well, so is my emotional account, my energy account, and my spiritual account!" hahahha. I don't know about you guys, but we had a FABULOUS Christmas. I LOVE being with family and eating! I took Josie back to the doctor, we had a few days back in school (just enough to get good and tired and cranky during the transition back into school bedtimes, tests, etc....) and BAM! the snow hit. So, four days straight of more eating and TONS of friends to play with. I have not seen my pantry as cleaned out in YEARS...down to the bare bones! My party is definitely pooped!

I woke up yesterday at 5:30am and took my computer into my laundry room so that I could listen to some worship music while folding laundry. I was dreading the task, so I thought "I'll just worship while I work...after all, who can be grumpy while worshipping?" As each child came down the stairs, I found myself turning my music up louder and louder. (My children do not wake up slowly, they wake up with a BURST of energy BOUNCING down the stairs...much to my dismay.) If they were calling, I sure didn't hear, I was singing "Our God" by Chris Tomlin, hanging on to EVERY word of it. In the back of my mind, I had decided that I am not REALLY called to this life that I am leading. And if I am called to it, then maybe I am making it more complicated that it has to be. So, I start thinking through my days, trying to "weed out" the parts that make it difficult. Slowly but surely I had weeded out everything that made life difficult, along with those difficult things were my happiness and joy.

As I continued to search my heart I realized all of these things that our culture views as a "calling" are actually DEMANDS that Christ has given us as followers of him. I was reminded that IF I am a true follower of Him, then I cannot pick and choose what scriptures I will apply to my life. I cannot love my neighbor (because thats easy to do ) then decide that I am not called to all nations. He has not called me to go to all nations; He has created us and commanded us to go to all nations. I cannot say that I am not called to care for orphans and widows when we KNOW that He commands that of us, and then apply Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" to my life because I am SO VERY TIRED.

David Platt (RADICAL) does a great job of explaining how we have drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all. His book talks about how when Jesus summarized his life here on earth, He didnt relive all of his great sermons,the miracles he performed, or feeding thousands of people with minimal food. Instead, he talks REPEATEDLY about the disciples that he spent most of his time with. The main people that he invested his life in here on earth. He LOVED these men! And they DID not always make it easy on him! Judas was lost for heaven's sake. Jesus poured so much time and energy into him and he FORSAKE him!! who DOES that?!! His last words to his disciples were to "go make disciples." Making disciples is NOT easy. It is yucky, slow and tedious..because it is relational. There is no formula to make life easy. Jesus has SIMPLY given us people and said "live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them. Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead others to follow me.

So, when I am defeated. When my life is cluttered and has MOUNDS of laundry in it....am I loving? am I serving? and am I leading? Keeping things in perspective. That is my goal for 2011...perspective.




Thursday, January 6, 2011

josie at the doctor

I cannot say enough about our infectious disease doctor. He has been a TOTAL God send to me. He is SO VERY calm and just a WEALTH of knowledge! Josie Love calls him "uncle" because in Uganda, ALL men are "uncles"...go figure?!? So, we refer to our doctor as "Uncle Wilson", which is QUITE comical when we are in the office. We only have to go once a quarter now, and I am so glad. Waiting for a doctor in a small little room is on my TOP TEN things that I HATE to do the MOST! (in the video you'll see why..mischievous/curious george)

I have promised you a video of Josie "in action" at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. I have actually tried multiple times to get videos loaded and it never happened much to my demise. I hope this one works for you. On a side note, The women behind the desk at the end of the video are just a few of our "friends" that we have made this past year. Typically, the welcome that she receives from these women happens about every 25 yards while trying to reach our destination!






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suzanne
I am a lover of Jesus. I have the most fabulous husband that anyone woman could ask for. The Lord has blessed us with 7 beautiful children. I started this blog so that friends and family could follow our trip to Uganda to visit Katie Davis. I have decided to keep blogging to help bring orphan awareness to the world around me.
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