"Who's going to love Maria"

I know a lot of folks make fun of me and my whatever-you-want-to-call-it "following" of Steven Curtis Chapman and while it's silly at times, it's important to remember that he's just a man. A person, a human being just like you and me and, today, it's important to remember he's just a Dad. This is the story as I've read/heard it told: Many years ago, he penned a song called "Maria" (you can find it on "The Great Adventure") about one of his daughter Emily's then young classmates who was in a difficult family situation. About 5 years ago or so, he's in China and meets this lovely family who have this adorable little baby girl in their arms who tell him that they are her foster parents because she had been diagnosed with a heart condition at birth. This (American, I believe?) couple was praying for a family to adopt her because their time as her foster parents was about up. That baby's name was Maria. Immediately, he says the words he wrote more than a decade before came flooding back to him. Who, who's going to love Maria? With Emily and 2 teenage boys, Shaohannah and Stevey (recently adopted from China) at home, no one was exactly on board at first but it didn't take long for the Champans to add Maria to their family. Thankfully, once at home in Tenneesee, no doctor was able to find any heart problem and she was given a clean bill of health.

Why am I sharing this story that isn't even mine to share? Because the Chapmans are in the midst of unbelievable trial, of unimaginable grief. While still celebrating oldest daughter Emily's engagement from this past weekend, the Chapmans were, no doubt, taken by shock when little Maria, now 4 1/2 or 5 years old, was hit by a car in their driveway last night. She was Lifeflighted to the hospital but, for reasons no human can understand, her life on earth could not be saved. Maria Sue Chapman is gone. They may be celebrity, a celebrity family, but I'm sure we all know that that doesn't mean they grieve any easier than we would. Today, they're likely not caring about Steven's 17-or-so recording projects or the fact that their 2 teenage boys are also now recording artists. Today, they're just a family and today, they're grieving in ways that I pray I never have to know.
This is not at all
How we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place by God's grace
There's a place where we'll see your face again
"With Hope" by Steven Curtis Chapman
Written several years ago while helping another family cope with the loss of a child

The Chapman Family

L to R: Will Franklin, Steven with Maria, Shaohannah, Mary Beth with Stevey, Caleb, and Emily



Her birthday was Sunday. She's 4 years old now. Mom & I took her to get her ear's pierced for her birthday on Saturday which is what she said she wanted. She did very well up until the poked the earrings in and then she cried. But, as soon as they brought out the suckers, all tears went away! She's doing very well with them. I was so afraid she'd pull them out but she hasn't and doesn't even really mess with them. And she stands still while I clean and turn them. So, I don't think it could have went much better! Now if we could just get her potty trained....

Elizabeth at birth (I wore that dress as a baby, too!)

Elizabeth at 1 year Elizabeth at 2 Elizabeth at 3

Elizabeth a few weeks ago (that was my dress when I was a little girl, too!)

I'll post ear piercing pictues as soon as I can figure out what's going on with my camera....

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!


We're home

God is faithful! Timothy had a pretty good evening. He finally started coming out of anesthesia around 7 and they gave him Pedialyte to see how he would do. He's barely had juice (only since Thursday night!) and didn't take to that too well but he wolfed down the Pedialyte. We gave him an hour's break and he then polished off 8 ounces of formula without a hitch! He was pretty fussy, though, but seemed to do a lot better once we got some Tylenol in him. He slept until midnight and then took another 8 ounces. Slept mostly peacefully until 7 this morning. He was so much like his normal, happy self this morning! His breathing is great (we think he even sounds a little better, if that's possible) and he doesn't seem as bothered by the circ today as he was yesterday. They discharged us around 8:30 this morning and I didn't even have to beg. :) I was a little concerned because his blood pressure was high overnight a few times but they didn't even mention it. I have to call for follow-up appointments with both dr's in 3-6 weeks. According the the dr last night, depending on the results of his CAT scan, he'll repeat the bronchoscopy in 4 to 6 months. According to the intern this morning, the CAT scan didn't show anything we didn't already know -- GREAT news! Praise be to God! A few prayer requests -- pray for the circ to continue healing, pray that he doesn't spike any fevers (he's susceptible to pneumonia after the breathing tube and to an infection on the circ site), and pray that things go well with the monitor. The ENT wants to put him on a monitor for his breathing when he sleeps which I am not looking forward to. #1, I hate to be that paranoid when he seems completely fine and has no apnea spells since the RSV; #2, the monitor I think he's referring to could wake the dead when it goes off and I'm concerned about how I'm going to keep 4 sleeping kids asleep if it goes off; and #3, we don't feel comfortable leaving him in a room with John in case it goes off so that means Jonathan & I will have a new roommate (and we're not too thrilled about that!). They were unable to get a monitor on a weekend so he's not on one now and I'm quite frankly hoping he forgets to put the order in! :) So maybe you should pray for my attitude(j/k....I'll follow the dr's requests as best as possible, even if it is with gritted teeeth!) Now if I can get some rest....


Timothy's surgery update

Surgery was today at 1. I was so scared and worried about going a whole morning without feeding him but the Lord answered my prayer and the morning went very smoothly. His circumcision went well, no complications. Pray for healing. His tube surgery also went well. The dr said his left ear was so full of fluid that it was bulging and his right ear also had a little fluid and some scarring as a result of infection(s). This should help, if not correct, his hearing but we will have to have him tested in the near future. His airway was what we expected -- areas of calcifcation which is causing the growth of his airway to be slower than normal which means a narrower airway than normal. This is something we will have to follow very carefully as he grows. He will have to have a bronchoscopy "surgery" each time they check him. Pray that his breathing returns to normal as much as possible so that we can take him home tomorrow. The dr said it's a good possibility that his airway will swell too much and he'll be here another night. We'll send updates as we get them!


Baby on the way!!

(ha ha -- made you look!) Okay, so it's not my baby on the way....

Although we don't know them personally, I've been struck by this family since the first time we saw them on tv. I'll never forget Jonathan and I flipping the channels one night (after John was born, I believe) and saw the beginning of a special called "14 Children and Pregnant Again". My jaw dropped. The tv special was phenomenal but left me cringing. I don't personally have a "goal" as to how many children I'd like to have but I don't hope for more than 6 (and I'd like a few years before/if we get that one), much less any double digits! HOWEVER, I must say -- as the Duggar family believes -- God is sovereign and children truly are a blessing. If it's His will for us to be a so-called "mega" family, than that's up to Him. He'll have to (as I'm sure He will) bring more and more grace with each one 'cause some days, my grace to the kids and Jonathan is in short supply. But, that's not the point of this post. I just saw the Duggar family on the Today show where they just announced to their children (and to nat'l tv obviously) that #18 is on the way. We've watched all the tv specials that we can find about them, from the "14 Children" one to "Raising 16 Kids" and "On The Road With 16 Children" (can you imagine that family vacation?!?!) and each time, I'm amazed at her calm presence, at how respectfully and gracefully she speaks to her children and husband, and how every one of those kids are soooooo well behaved (yes, they homeschool). I'd be doing good to be half the woman/wife/mom she is! So, a hearty congratulations to the Duggar family and their 18th blessing! Looking forward to the new tv series on Discovery Health Channel this fall! If you get the DHC on cable, you might want to check out the rerun of "On The Road..." tonight, I believe at 8 or 9.

Oh, and did I mention all their children's names begin with a J? I can't imagine....I already call my kids by the wrong name and none of their names even rhyme, much less start with the same letter!


Happy 3rd Birthday, John!

Today's John's birthday, #3. 5-5-05 is his birthday -- isn't that a neat date to have? We didn't think it was meant to be....his due date wasn't until the end of June. I'll never forget waking up that morning. I was 32 weeks and was scheduled for a non-stress test since I had diabetes and was watching the Today show while waiting on time to take the kids to the sitter and when they mentioned the date, I remember thinking "Today would be a great day for a birthday. Too bad I'm not far enough along to have an early baby today.". Got to the hospital with no problems but once I was hooked up to the non-stress test, we started noticing contractions...and then we started noticing they were consistently every 5 minutes...and then we started noticing that I could feel them (they had been very mild up to that point). They decided to check me before letting me go home -- which turned out to be a very good thing -- and I'll never forget the look of disgust on the dr's face when he told me I was dilated to 4 cm. He told me I was going upstairs (labor and delivery) to get the contractions stopped and then we'd see how far I had dilated before deciding what to do. Around 11, I made my way upstairs and was put in a triage room with an IV of fluids, meds to try and stop the contractions, meds to try and get me to sleep or at least try and relax, meds to help mature his lungs, and a catheter (I know, gross) because they didn't want me to move at all. No getting out of the bed, period. I asked them how long I'd be like that and I remember getting an answer somewhere along the lines of "not until this kid is born". I'm thinking 8 weeks in the hospital and on all these meds -- that can't be cheap. It was a very bad moment. We tried the meds all afternoon while they starved me 'cause they don't let laboring women eat and we prayed for labor to stop. Contractions never did stop although they did slow down but that wasn't enough. Around 5, they told Jonathan (who was there by then) and me that we needed to decide whether to be admitted to the antepartum unit for an attempt to stop the labor overnight or go ahead and be admitted to a laboring room so we could stop the meds and go ahead and deliver. I don't remember the conversation but Jonathan and me were like "No way are we going to decide" but somehow we ended up in a delivery room. Meds were stopped at 6 because I was already at 7 cm and John was born just a little after 7, less than an hour later. That hour was not a lot of fun, either, 'cause we had to call a bazillion people to get the kids taken care of, to call my parents in Tennessee, and trying to reach Jonathan's Mom & Dad who were in Myrtle Beach (where they are today and every year at this time). He's calling people; I'm having a melt down in the bed. And in between phone calls, we're visited by a NICU nurse who was sent to give us the what-to-expect-with-a-32-weeker which was just terrifying. We were relieved when John came out crying and was breathing on his own at least long enough for us to hold him and marvel at his size (6#, 3 oz; diabetics have big babies when their diabetes is poorly controlled). He was taken to the NICU while we were settled in to a post-partum room. It was a little after midnight before we got an update and were able to see him. He was born on a Thursday and went home on a Thursday exactly 2 weeks later, 1 day after his "big" sister turned 1. He was never on a ventilator, thank God, but was on what they call a CPAP machine for about 36 hours or so. It's a big mask type thing so he was taken off of it just before I was discharged from the hospital so we could finally see his face almost wire free (still had a g-tube for feeding). He battled jaundice and then it was just a matter of him deciding he wanted to eat. They wouldn't send him home until he could "nipple all his feeds" which means eat with his mouth and not with his g-tube. He had to do that for 24 hours before we could go. During that 2 weeks, Jonathan would go to work and I would get up, get the other 3 dressed and taken them to a sitter and go spend an hour with John in the NICU. Then I'd come home, pick the kids up the sitter, go home, make lunch, Jonathan would come home for lunch and pick up Nathan to take him to kindergarten, then me, Caleb, and Elizabeth would nap. Then the 3 of us would go get Nathan from school, come home, fix dinner, take the kids back to the sitter (thank God for Kisha!) and Jonathan and I would go spend an hour together with John in the NICU before picking up the kids and taking them home for bed. Is it any wonder I came down with a bad kidney infection??? Seriously, we're so blessed that things didn't go as bad as they could have with John and with me.

John in the NICU, after the CPAP was removed; feeding tube in.

And here we are -- 3 years later, those 2 weeks just distant memories. It just seems so surreal sometimes, especially with a little (or not-so-little) one smiling up at me from his bouncy. We thank God for our babies -- whether Timothy is the last one or not -- and thank God for His provision and protection especially during these last 3 years.

John at 1

John at 2

John a few weeks ago

(haven't downloaded any pics of his new haircut off the camera yet)

Happy Birthday, John!