Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fun Date

I apologize for the lack of Christmas pictures but we spent Christmas this year in Winston Salem and I left my camera at Brian's grandmother's house the day we left. So until we see the Hineses again the Christmas pictures will have to wait and we will be once again borrowing Mom's camera. Thanks, Mom! :-)

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who called, emailed, sent cards, and prayed for us through this month. There were some times that were very hard, but as always we felt the prayers of friends and family and made it through with God's grace.

Yesterday Brian and I had a really fun date day. Brian took me to Morrow Mountain to go hiking. The temperature was so nice for December and we had a great time. I now have more respect for my hiking friends! The first trail was definitely my speed. It was an "easy" trail and gave me a nice little work out. About halfway through the second trail (which was marked "moderate) I stopped and asked Brian if we were going to have to make it back up this hill. He responded "what goes down must come back up!" and smiled. I gave this some thought and figured it might be in our best interest to turn back at this point. Whew! I'm not even going to touch the "advanced!" :-)

Then we ate dinner at the new Zaxby's in Monroe (if you haven't tried it, you should! There are some healthy options and it's pretty cheap!) and watched the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks with a gift certificate we found cleaning out the junk drawer earlier this week. (Thanks Bruce and Lore!) Did you know how expensive it is to see a movie?!? We always go to the $2.00 (previously $1.50) movies in Matthews--I had no idea how much it cost at the regular priced theater! Anyway, we had a great day. I genuinely enjoy spending time with my husband.

Still no new adoption news. My friend Dana got new pictures of her little girl the day after Christmas. She is SO beautiful! I can't wait to get pictures of Molly! Referrals have trickled in this month but I know at one point our agency said there would be a good-sized group coming in January so hopefully we'll be in that group! Of course we will keep you posted! :-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

"About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told! "

Luke 2:1-20 (The Message)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

From the Mouths of Babes

North Carolina Standard Course of Study Competency Goal 4: The learner will explain celebrated holidays and special days in communities.

Mrs. Hines: Boys and girls, can any of you tell me why we celebrate Christmas?

Student 1: To get presents!!

Student 2: No. Christmas is NOT about presents. Christmas is about a little baby born in a manger and that baby was Jesus who died on the cross for our sins.

Goal accomplished.

"..and a little child shall lead them." --Isaiah 11:6

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy 2nd Birthday in Heaven

"Every lament is a love song." --Nicholas Wolterstorff

Two years ago today Zeke was born. I had always said I didn't really care when my kids were born but I didn't want them born around Christmas. My friends with birthdays around Christmas always got cheated out of gifts and the lime light on their birthday as kids. Nevertheless, Zeke's due date was Christmas day. When I found this out, I joked that God had a sense of humor. Never at that moment so early in my pregnancy, so early in my marriage, so early in my adult life would I have guessed the significance of that date. About halfway through my pregnancy, I found out the baby (the gender unknown at this point) would be born with special needs. That night I went home and I cried and I prayed and God put Psalm 139:13-16 on my heart. As I prayed and read I begin to feel that the baby would be a boy and his name would be Ezekiel. I found out that day that Ezekiel means "God will strengthen."

I never felt as close to God as I did on the day Zeke was born. I thought often during that Christmas season of visiting Zeke in the NICU of Mary. Although I knew Zeke did not come to save the world, I did know he had a very special purpose and I knew he would touch lives. I thought of Mary holding Jesus in the manger as I held Zeke in the NICU and she became so real to me. I emphathized with her and wondered if she felt as I felt when she looked into her baby's face and wondered about uncertainties. Knowing He was Chosen, knowing He was Special, knowing He was God's own Son, but still having the protective feelings of a mother over her child. I knew Zeke was special, I knew Zeke was chosen for a special purpose, I knew Zeke was a child of God--but I wanted to hold on to him forever.

Zeke touched so many lives in his short year. People I didn't know knew me as Zeke's mommy. His smile was contagious--maybe because we weren't sure we'd ever see his smile. Maybe because his smile offered people hope. I think when people saw Zeke smile they saw Jesus.

Parents in the special needs community have a term that we call children without special needs--"typically developing." There were so many times I'd wished Zeke was typically developing. I was tired. Tired of hospitals. Tired of feeding tubes. Tired of medications. Tired of seeing him suffer. If he were only "typically developing" then he wouldn't have to go through all of this! But God convicted me. Typically developing. Typical. Normal. Ordinary. Those weren't words that described Zeke and those weren't words that God had ever had planned for Zeke's life. His life wasn't ordinary--it was extraordinary.

One year ago today we had Zeke's memorial service. I feel like God carried me through those days. This year I feel like I'm a little more awake and able to feel it a little more. This is both a blessing and a curse. It hurts a little more...I miss him a little more. But I am able to truly sit back and reflect on his life. I feel so honored to have been chosen as Zeke's mommy--if even for such a short time.

Friday was our school's faculty and staff Christmas party. It was sandwiched between the anniversary of Zeke's death and his birthday but all in all I was feeling pretty fair and these people I work with are like family to me. They were there when Zeke was born, there when he went back to Jesus, and they are there now to take over my class if I'm having a hard day. I feel safe with them and decided to go and be with my friends. It was time for the Chinese gift exchange. My number was a low number so I had a whole stage full of gits to chose from. I randomly selected a gift and opened it in front of everyone. When I pulled it out I just stopped. It was a plaque that read:

Footprints in the Sand

Lord, You said that once I decided to follow You, we would walk side by side through life. But when I needed You most, I saw only one set of footprints in the sand.

The Lord replied, "I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trail and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints...

it was then that I carried you.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tis the season, ya'll!

We got December started with Brian's company Christmas party this weekend. The theme was western so we put on our hats and our boots (okay so we really didn't have boots) and did some country line dancing. It was fun meeting some of the people that Brian spends his days with.

Brian has been enjoying his new job and feels like he's able to use a lot of his gifts. He's excited about getting to learn and do more.

Not much new news on the adoption front. People all around our DTV date have been recieving referrals so we could get the call any day now. We're very excited!!

Of course there is a sadness that has kind of been hanging over our heads as we begin this Christmas season. We miss Zeke very much and think and talk about him everyday. I cannot begin to express how blessed we feel to have such an amazing support group around us to talk to us and pray for us during this difficult time. While we miss Zeke we try to be happy that he is going to be spending his second Christmas with Jesus and celebrating in a way we can only imagine.