Update on Miles

Kevin and his mom picked up Miles this morning (Ethiopia time) and today happens to be my 30th birthday!  I texted with them throughout the night as I was up feeding Madden and poor Miles had a rough transition leaving the orphanage.  I can’t imagine the fear and shock our little guy is going through right now, so please continue to pray that God would comfort him and ease his fears. 

I’m hoping we can Skype them later today and I can see Kevin finally holding the last (at least for a while!) addition to our family.  I just have to say again how thankful I am for so many of you who constantly lift us up in prayer…we praise God continually for your love for our family and your faithfulness to pray.

Would You Pray?

I debated whether or not to share this information, but my heart is full of so much anxiety and fear right now, that my need for prayer is greater than maintaining any type of image that we are rolling along smoothly.  On Friday afternoon, I received a call from our pediatrician’s office that Madden’s newborn screen had come back with an abnormal reading.  Basically, the screen tests for 38 diseases that can be better treated if caught early and Madden’s test for cystic fibrosis showed a higher than normal reading.  The enzyme number for normal is 58 or below and Madden’s was 74.  The nurse practioner told me that they typically aren’t alarmed unless the number is over 100, but we would still need to re-do his blood screen (which we had done today) and we would know the results in the next 7-10 days.  Both parents have to be a carrier of the gene for cystic fibrosis in order for a child to inherit the disease and to our knowledge, Kevin and I aren’t carriers.  But then I read that 10 million Americans are carriers of the silent gene and never know it.

Needless to say, its hard not to worry.  Even though his chances of having the disease seem slim, I know that God could very well ordain this for our family and our sweet son and truthfully, I’m scared.  Of course, it doesn’t help that my hormones are all wacky from delivery and my husband is out of the country!  Nevertheless, I would really love for you to pray for me as we wait for the blood test to come back.  Pray that I wouldn’t allow the possibility of this reality to steal joy from the sweet blessing God has given me in Madden and the blessing to come when Miles comes home.  Pray that I would lean into the Lord in a deep, peace-filled, fearless trust that His will is perfect and good and loving.  Pray that God would give me the strength to care well for my children during this next week…its been much harder having Kevin away than I had anticipated and I’m seeing just how much I depend on my husband for extra strength and assurance when the trials come.  And most importantly, please pray that God would be pleased for Madden to live a life free of such a difficult sickness.

On His Way

My awesome hubby headed out the door this morning for Ethiopia to finally bring Miles-Wubi home!  Thankfully, Gramma is accompanying him…I kmow she’ll be a huge help to Kevin and they’ll enjoy this time together.  As you think of us, please pray for sweet Miles…he’s been in the custody of our agency since 6 months old so this will be a major and I’m sure difficult transition for him.  And always feel free to pray for me…God has been so faithful to me through your intercession!!

I know I’m emotional, but…

I just can’t help but brag on my little people.  I can’t believe how well they’ve handled the transition to having a baby in the house.  Of course Molly Kate is having a bit of hard time not getting so much of Mommy’s attention or lap time, but overall, their attitudes and dispositions have been so encouraging to witness.  Molly Kate adores Madden and would be quite happy to sit and hold him all day.  Every time she gets the opportunity to hold him, she sits absolutely still and just gazes at him.  It then takes forever before she’s ready to get up or go play…she just wants to love on baby Madden.  Mikias seems to have even crossed some more hurdles since Madden arrived…I think in part he enjoys just feeling like a normal part of our family. He’s no longer the “newbie” and I think he likes not being in the limelight anymore.  I also think he feels like more a part of the family since he got to be on the welcoming end this time.  He has been incredibly helpful around the house, picking up toys and throwing away dirty diapers…and does so with a willing and joyful spirit.  He’s also begun requesting kisses from Kevin and I and wanting to give kisses in return…all you parents of adopted older children know that this is a HUGE deal!  And I love that every time I turn around, he’s showering kisses on Madden.

Today I finally began to feel somewhat normal…my milk came in, so Madden slept beautifully last night and though broken up into small increments, I got a total of 6 hours of sleep!  Amazing how renewed one can feel after several nights of no sleep!  My aches and pains are also starting to lessen (praise for the Motrin prescription they give you!!).  After lunch today, I sat with the kids at our kitchen table to do a little project and some pages in some pre-school workbooks we’re working through right now.  They were so happy to finally have Mommy’s undivided attention and I also delighted in being able to focus on them.  They had a million things to talk to me about and as I listened, my eyes just filled with tears as I thought about how deeply precious they are to me.  Pregnancy was once again such a bear on my body and they have endured months of Mommy not being quite herself…which translates to a Mommy who is often tired, sick and low on energy.  Yet through it all, by God’s sweet grace, they have bonded more to each other, grown in their obedience and remain amazingly resilient.  Sure, we still have our share of ups and downs on any given day…but when I step back and look at the big picture, I can’t help but praise the Lord for the work He is doing in our family and especially in two little hearts.  I can only continue to pray that He would use me to draw them to Christ.

And while I’m on this children soap box, let me just give praise to God for the sweet life He has given us in Madden Manley Cuthbertson.  Most of you know Madden was a surprise…not because of any fertility issues on our end, but simply because we weren’t trying or planning to have another baby for several years.  I could not be more delighted in this little man God has blessed us with and every time I look at him, I see in flesh God’s goodness and care for me.  The reality is, had we waited to have another baby, I’m not sure I would have ever talked myself into enduring pregnancy again, especially with three children already in my care.  But I also love and adore babies and everything about having a newborn and really wanted to have at least one more biological child.  I’m so very thankful God saw fit to surprise us with Madden, to allow us the joy of seeing our genes come together now in a girl and a boy and that during the roughest parts of this pregnancy, I only had one child instead of three!  While I know the timing seems nuts to everyone watching our journey, when I look at our lives through what God has promised to be true in His Word, I see clearly that He works all things out for my good and that His way is perfect.  And even seeing our lives unfold these last few days…Molly Kate and Mikias’ attitudes, Madden’s good night of sleep when I desperately needed it, my ability to be patient with the children while my body recovers from childbirth…all of these things are God’s provision for us and they reassure me that He will give me everything I need to not only endure the days ahead, but to also do all of the good works He has prepared for me.

The Kindness of God-Madden is Here!

Yesterday I left my OB office a little down…we set an induction date for Tuesday, which would mean get home Thursday and Kevin leave for ET Saturday. Certainly not the most ideal timing.  But as my loving God would have it, I began having regular contractions this morning, labored at the movie theater and then home until about 5:30 and Madden Manley Cuthbertson arrived at 9:59 pm!  He weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and measured 20 inches long.  He is an absolute doll and I’m so thankful to the Lord for His kindness in the timing.  Kevin will get to enjoy the weekend with us without missing anymore work and we’ll have a week at home before he leaves for Ethiopia.  Here’s a few pics…more to come tomorrow!  Thank you to all have prayed fervently for our family…we are eternally grateful!

Fighting Misery

Let me just be brutally honest…I am miserable.  I love babies and I am so thankful for Madden’s life and God’s protection over his life…but I hate pregnancy and everything about it.  My body aches from sun up to sun down and throughout the night.  I’m nauseated every minute that I’m awake and after 34 weeks of that feeling, you just get plain sick of it.  And, the worst lately, is the fact that our heat index has been around 100 degrees everyday.  I can literally walk outside and feel sweat begin pouring out of my skin.  Yes, I’m pretty miserable and weary and begging God to let Madden be born soon.  We have somewhere between 3 and 6 days left before we’ll induce so that Kevin is able to be there for the birth and we can have a few days at home before he has to leave for Ethiopia to pick up Miles.  Its humorous to me the way God has allowed both of my babies to come into this world.  With Molly Kate I was dead set on a natural delivery.  I did all the homework, Kevin and I had regular practice sessions from the Bradley Method, I had not even contemplated anything else.  Well, as God would have it, Molly Kate was 11 days late and I finally gave in to being induced.  My doctors weren’t going to let me go past day 14, but again, I was so hot and so sick and God used all of those things to protect her.  She had swallowed quite a bit of meconium and could have been in intensive care had I waited any longer.  Three years later and without much of a choice but to induce (unless I was so nutty as to let my hubby miss the birth of our son), I’m thankful God let me experience it once that I might not worry or be concerned this time around.  I learned a most valuable lesson with Molly Kate…that God created her and had control over every detail of her life, from conception to her birth story to this day.  And the same is true of Madden…I would love nothing more than to go into labor on my own in the next few days, but I trust my God who loves me and who ultimately has control over my son’s life, including the way he enters the world.  (BTW…I experienced a lot of guilt after having Molly Kate for not making it through the induction without an epidural…told you I was dead set on it!  But Wendy at Practical Theology has a great post on natural childbirth and how we should think of such things in light of God’s word…it was very helpful to me, even 2 years later!).

So, after all that blubbering, if you are still reading and would like to pray for me this week, here’s a couple of ways that I could desperately use your intercession:

  • My endurance and strength these last few days, but mostly that I would be characterized by patience as I wait (I love this quote from the Practical Theology blog: “God’s call to patience is an invitation to dependency on Him. With each temporary frustration, we are tempted to choose self-pity instead of leaning into God’s grace. Patience is an invitation to grace; an invitation to avail ourselves of His grace and mercy to equip us to endure for the long haul until He makes everything right.”
  • My patience and gentleness with the children when I feel so physically terrible (I hate the monster I’ve been to them the last few days and pray that God would help me to fight my sin)
  • That God might allow my body to go into labor in the next few days apart from having to be induced
  • Either way, that the Lord would protect and sustain Madden and allow his birth to be free of complications
  • For time and energy to get Kevin ready for Ethiopia and a clear-headed mind so that I don’t forget to pack something important!
  • That God would equip Kevin and I both for the enormous task of shepherding these four little souls and that we would not be overwhelmed but excited about the opportunity He has given us and the blessing these precious lives are to us

Chipotle Bean Burritos

I love how easy and quick this recipe is…great for weeknights when we are a little more on the busy side.  This also helps the monthly budget by being a “meatless” entree for our menu rotation.  Oh, and our kids love them…that’s always a bonus as well!!  The recipe was taken from Cooking Light, so I’m a little more generous with the sour cream and shredded cheese. 🙂  Click here for the nutritional information.

Ingredients

1  tablespoon  canola oil

1  garlic clove, minced

1/2  teaspoon  chipotle chile powder

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1/3  cup  water

1  (15-ounce) can organic black beans, drained

1  (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained

3  tablespoons  refrigerated fresh salsa

6  (10-inch) reduced-fat flour tortillas (such as Mission)

1  cup  (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese

1 1/2  cups  chopped plum tomato (about 3)

1 1/2  cups  shredded romaine lettuce

6  tablespoons  thinly sliced green onions

6  tablespoons  light sour cream

Preparation

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in chile powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork.

2. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon onions, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; roll up.

A Sweet Reflection

Six years ago this very Sunday afternoon (June 6, 2004), I was busy packing boxes with the help of my parents, sister and then boyfriend, Kevin Cuthbertson, ready to head out the next day for Louisville, Kentucky.  It had been a busy weekend as one of my dearest friends, Catherine Leech had married another good friend, Brannon Kahlstorf and all of Friday and Saturday were spent enjoying their wedding festivities.  So by Sunday, though all very tired, we got busy with all the last-minute details of such a big move.  I remember the feeling of being so excited to see what God had in store for me during this next chapter of my life but also so very sad to close the current chapter.  My sister and best friend, Amy, lived right next door to me in Oxford, Mississippi and I knew I was going to miss her terribly.  My job as a campus staff minister with Campus Crusade had brought so much joy to my life and I wondered what in the world I would do for work while attending seminary at Southern Seminary.  I had spent all 23 years of my life in the great state of Mississippi and I couldn’t even start to believe that Kentucky would one day feel like home.

Late that afternoon, Kevin told me he wanted us to go ride around Oxford one last time since it would be the last night in the town we both loved so much and the town where our courtship began.  I remember a tiny part of me wondering if we might be engaged by the end of the evening (as a girl, I had really hoped to move to Kentucky engaged and not just dating, longing for a sign of security but having to trust the Lord in His plan).  Well, our first stop on our drive was Super Wal-Mart because Kevin wanted to buy the new Shane and Shane cd, so I gave up any thought of us getting engaged that night.  I mean, who stops at Wal-Mart on their way to propose?!?!  Not to mention the fact, I was still wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt from my run earlier that afternoon.   We rode around town for a while and finally ended up at College Hill Presbyterian Church.  Kevin had attended here many times during his college days and while on Crusade staff, but more importantly, he had spent many evenings sitting in the sanctuary with his guitar and the Lord, enjoying the solitude and time of personal worship (the church always left the sanctuary unlocked).  Kevin asked if he could spend some time just playing music and I was happy to just sit and listen.  This was actually my first time to accompany him.  I don’t remember all of the songs we sang, but I do remember him playing “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” on the piano.  That night was my first time to hear it and I just absolutely loved it.  Eventually, Kevin stopped playing and he joined me on the sanctuary floor where I had been sitting, sometimes listening, sometimes joining him in singing praise to the Lord.  At this point, my stomach knotted up and I suddenly realized he might propose.  Oh, how I tried to pay close attention to all that he said next, but between the butterflies in my stomach and my heart pounding, all I ended up hearing was, “Laura, will you marry me?”

Most girls dream of their proposal for much of their childhood.  Ours was nothing like I had pictured and yet I wouldn’t change one detail.  There was something so sweet about the simplicity of the evening, and I love that the very beginning of our life together was in the surroundings of a local church, a preview of our life to come in ministry.   Of course I said “Yes!” and after a few more moments of prayer and praise, we drove back to my condo to celebrate with my family.  I was so excited to have both of my parents and my sister there to share in our joy.  I think I laid in bed that night until about 3 am, dreaming of wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses and getting to be with Kevin the rest of my life.  Suddenly, the move to Louisville, Kentucky had become even more exciting as I knew that the next chapter of my life now included marriage.

I can hardly believe how much has happened since that day…so much that it feels more like 20 years have passed than just a wee six!  Kevin and I married four months later, on October 2, 2004.  And now here we are…one and half seminary degrees later, 2 children home and 2 on the way, some of the sweetest friendships that I have ever known, a deeper and fuller understanding of the character of God, a much greater appreciation and humility regarding our own salvation in Christ and a more lovely and satisfying marriage than I could have ever imagined.  I knew the move to Louisville, Kentucky would be good for me…but the truth is that I really could not begin to conceive all of the ways God would purify and grow me by taking me away from all I had ever known.  I knew marrying Kevin Cuthbertson would be good for me….but the truth is, God has blessed me more through this man than I could ever deserve.  The last year has been especially sweet for our marriage.  Tough times can either grow you or drive you apart and praise be to God, that He has used our tough times to help us depend more heavily on one another for encouragement and hope.  I can think of countless ways Kevin has pointed me to God’s promises as we’ve endured miscarriage, job losses, a grueling adoption process and a second very difficult pregnancy.  And with each new circumstance the Lord brings our way (some wonderful, some considerably difficult), I am always amazed at the way Kevin continues to grow in his role as our family’s shepherd.

I simply cannot thank God enough that His plans cannot be thwarted and that in His kindness and goodness He has given me the beautiful gift of marriage.  Thank you for allowing me to walk down memory lane today and be reminded of God’s perfect way in my life.

Our Engagement - June 6, 2004