Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Two Years Together

Two years ago today, our lives changed forever. Two years ago today, we held our son and heard his high-pitched little voice for the first time. Two years ago today, I was scared to death, and I had no idea how quickly I would fall head-over-heels, irrevocably in love with Mr. Y.

Here's a video from that morning - the two of us were negotiating trades of his hated raisins for my fruit snacks. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what he was saying - today, I understand most of it.

Today, I am praising God for His good and perfect gifts. I can never thank Him enough for leading us down a completely unexpected path into the world of adoption and parenthood. Through His plans for me I have discovered more of who He is, and I have had needs fulfilled that I never knew had existed before. I love this child more than I could ever possibly express through the weakness of language, and today I am rejoicing in his presence in our lives!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Praising God This Morning!!

Just a quick post to let everyone know that we have two new nephews on the way...Chris and Erica received a referral yesterday of twin boys - 2 1/2 years old. They are precious, darling cute, and apparently on target for their age. The story of the referral is amazing, but I will be letting Erica share that once she's done with piles of paperwork, so keep an eye open for her blog posts at:!

Also, please pray for these little guys and for their birth family. There is so much sadness mixed with the joy in an adoption, and yet my God is the great Healer. We are praising Him for His goodness, and trusting Him to work out the details.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


In January of 1967, a small-town boy from flyover country shipped out for Vietnam with a company of soldiers comprised wholly of southern California surfers. Flyover country. A term for that part of the United States that falls between the coasts -- between NY and LA. No doubt the surfers from SoCal have many names for those of us backward enough to be born and raised in flyover country. But, in this particular case, in 1967, one of those names was "Doc" .

The differences between the members of this newly commissioned unit went well beyond geography: they expanded to include opposite worldviews and each man's perspective on bearing arms. You see, Doc was a non-combatant and was committed to doing everything in his power to preserve life. Others in the company had no such qualms and, in fact, had a highly skeptical attitude toward a comrade who didn't 'have their back' as they saw it.

Now Doc wasn't really a physician; at least not by any of the typical standards that can be applied. He had only the skills that a few weeks of medic training can provide. No more. No less. Yet what Doc lacked in medical knowledge he made up for with love and concern for those who relied upon him for help. In this sense, he truly was a physician.

Through the first six months of their deployment in Vietnam these young men slept together, patrolled together, fought together, bled together, and forged a bond that those of us who have never served can never understand. They learned to trust each other and, in Doc's case, they learned that whether or not a medic carried a weapon had no bearing on his ability to perform his duty and contribute to the unit. Through these shared experiences they became not just a group of men, not just any company, but they became Charlie Company.

That's what made June 19, 1967 so hard.

As part of Operation Concordia I, Charlie Company was ordered into battle on June the 19th. By noon, Charlie Company and the rest of their Battalion were involved in a fierce fire-fight with enemy forces that were not only superior in number but which also held better positions and the element of surprise. Through the day, over forty American soldiers were killed and over 150 wounded and, in the middle of it all, was Doc.

Early in the fighting several of the other medics were either killed or wounded. Further, Alpha Company had walked into a trap and many of their casualties were in the open and still under fire. I do not have a clear understanding of the details of this day. I know that many bronze and silver stars were awarded for the efforts made to rescue those who were ambushed. I know that many died trying to save their comrades. I know that Doc and several other men were able to rescue a handful of wounded soldiers and load them onto a helicopter -- only to have that helicopter shot down, killing some on board and nearly crashing onto the rescuers (see details). What I know is that there was a small part of Doc that died that day too, and left him wondering what he could have done better; what he could have done more.

And I also know that over 35 years later, an officer who was on the field that day looked me in the eyes and said "I do not know a braver man than your father."

You see, Doc is my dad. And on this Fathers Day -- June the 19th -- 44 years after Operation Concordia, I cannot be with him. But I know about June the 19th, and I know about my dad, and I know that many of you who read this blog will see him in church. And I know that Doc wouldn't want a big fuss made over him, so don't make a big fuss. But if you get the chance, just tell him "Thanks, Doc." (see Doc)

I cannot write this post without also mentioning dad's cousin, Denny Nieman. Denny was part of Alpha Company and was wounded on May 15th. As a result of his injury he was shipped home. On June the 19th many -- over half I think -- of the men Denny served with were either killed or wounded. Both Denny and Doc need your prayers this Fathers Day as they remember things that nobody should have to remember and grieve for losses that no one should have to suffer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Do I Say?

I just finished one of the most difficult things that I do in a year's time: writing a letter to Yikealo's birthmom. What can I possibly say to her that can really let her know how wonderfully he is doing? Do the tidbits that we share of his life in America actually have any meaning for her? Will she understand what it means when I tell her that he is very gifted athletically or that he is learning to read? Am I rubbing salt into an open wound when I tell her the little ways that he blesses our lives every day, or is it somehow healing to know that he is cared for beyond measure? What would I want to know if I were in her shoes? What will she think of the picture that Yikealo drew for her: three colorful, smiling stick figures standing beside a crudely drawn house, surrounded by sunshine and flowers? The littlest stick figure is holding a lizard on his shoulders - not that she'll have any idea what those particular purple scribbles mean. Will someone tell her that the strange markings sloping down the middle of the page are the English letters of Yikealo's name - scrawled by his little hand?  What about all of the photos that I send? Is it too painful to look at all of the beautiful pictures of his little beaming face, or do her hungry eyes stare at them for long minutes - trying to catalog all of the changes since she last saw him?

Then there are just the logistics of the whole situation. Do the letters and photos actually ever reach her hands? Are they translated into her language, and if so, how many meanings were lost in the translation? Does she know anyone who can read it to her? So many hard questions...and I find myself in tears once again: so grateful to her for giving Yikealo life, so changed by her pain and her loss, so prayerful that God will comfort her as only He can.

"Your pain has changed me, your dream inspires, your face a memory, your hope a fire. Your courage asks me what I am made of and what I know of love."   (Sara Groves - I Saw What I Saw)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Guess Who's Five?!

Well, my little guy turned 5 today. He has been so excited to have another birthday, and he informed several girls in church today that they were allowed to give him birthday kisses. I think we're going to have to work on the flirting situation, don't you?

We actually had our own little celebration last weekend when the three of us spent Sunday and Monday at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky. Yikealo doesn't need more "stuff", so we thought it would be a great opportunity to spend some quality time together with him. He LOVES to play in the water, so we figured a water park was a good choice of venues. We had told him about it several weeks ago, and he was looking so forward to our time at "Big Fat Wolf" as he called it! We did have a fabulous time, although I will say there's nothing like constantly chasing around a VERY active, VERY fearless, FULL of energy little boy for two days to make you feel OLD!! Climbing over and over to the very top of the building to ride the big slides was definitely more tiring for the parents than for the boy, (pant, pant, pant, gasp, gasp) although it was definitely worth it to hear his squeals of delight while flying around corners in the double tube on the way back down!
This afternoon after church, we had a little birthday party at Jim and Karen's, where we sort of horned in on  Uncle Jim's 50th birthday celebration. (Thanks for sharing, Jim!) Here's a picture of the two birthday boys together:

And finally, a couple of Yikealo quotes from the last week:
  • "Mom, this crayon needs a haircut!" (handing me a crayon that needed some paper torn from the end.)
  • (while brandishing a foam sword at me) "I am a bad guy, for heaven's sake! Give me your computer and all of your money!"
  • the "lyrics" to a lovely new song that he sang for David and me: "You are my lunchbox, and you are a cookie. If I eat you, then you will be in my stomach. If you are in my stomach, then your dreams will not come true!" (Isn't that truly beautiful? Now imagine it being sung to an extremely random, meandering "tune.")
  • I happened to be....ummm....a bit cranky yesterday morning. Yikealo stage whispered in David's ear, "Don't talk to Mama right now. She is getting very nervous, and she might start to yell at you." Nothing like having your bad attitude called out by the little one!