Friday, December 27, 2013

2013- The Year in Review

1.a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.

This one word accurately portrays our year. Trials. Love poured out. We have felt so loved by family and friends this year. Sharing life with others has made our journey more joyful and genuine, even in the hard times.

I'm not going to lie. The last 5 years have been difficult for our family in numerous ways: financially, physically, educationally, etc. Each year the intensity has multiplied. Nonetheless, we are thankful. We are thankful for the time and resources God has given us. God never leaves us or forsakes us. We have been saddened to see friends and family go through unthinkable hardships and yet remain hopeful and steadfast. We have witnessed beauty for ashes.

Some of our 2013 highlights and lowlights:

January- Luke began attending the Hearing Impaired Preschool program at Diggs-Latham Elementary. I traveled to London and had a fabulous time with one of my closest and dearest friends.

February-Scott started a new job at Wake Forest Baptist Health as director of the Cancer Center Pharmacy. Scott was a victim of an automobile accident but only sustained minor injuries. Due to multiple ear infections, Luke had surgery to insert ear tubes for drainage.

March-Luke's genetics appointment revealed 2 DNA variants associated with Usher Syndrome (deaf/blindness syndrome). Thankfully, no visual symptoms are present yet, which means no diagnosis is necessary at this time.

April, May-Scott attended Summit9- a national adoption conference in Nashville, TN. We celebrated Luke and Jansen being home one year.

June, July-Jo Anna and kids traveled to PA twice to visit family. We made a stop in OH to visit the Robinson family. We visited Louisville, KY. Our family celebrated Rachael's 13th birthday week at Myrtle Beach. She also had a party with 11 of her closest friends which included a limo ride, pizza at Mellow Mushroom, and dessert at Midtown Café.

August, September-Jansen started kindergarten at Diggs-Latham Elementary School.

October, November-This was the 5th year that Scott volunteered at the Together for Adoption Conference. This year, the event took place in Louisville, KY. Luke had surgery, once again, to insert ear tubes.

December- Scott got a concussion at work, tore a ligament in his foot, and suffered from an awful GI bug that required a hospital visit.

We are looking forward to see what God has in store for us in 2014.

Jo Anna

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Luke's First Hearing Birthday 10/16/13

Dear Luke,

Happy 1st Hearing Birthday! As we think back to your first day of hearing, we are reminded how scared you were. Sweetheart, were scared too. You were in a silent world all of your young life. You had only been in our family a short time. We wondered if this was what was best for you. We wondered what the outcome would be. We knew communication was the key, whether it was sign language or oral language. We believe giving you this medical miracle, the gift of hearing, would allow you to access to sound and speech. When you are old enough to decide for yourself, we will support you in whatever communication choice you choose.

During those early days of hearing, you would often remove your cochlear implants. Getting used to sound was a challenge and you were slow to acknowledge sound. Weekly speech therapy appointments, attending a special hearing impaired preschool class, audiologist appointments, and daily "learning to listen" activities at home became the "new normal".

As your brain began to make new connections and mapping of sound took place, we saw a metamorphosis take place in your life. Eye contact improved. Your confidence and personality bloomed. Contagious joy flowed out of you and so did the mischieviousness! Interaction with others, affection, and pursuit for knowledge grew exponentially. What a privilege we have to witness the daily miracles occuring in your life! Praise be to God.

When we call your name and you turn your head to look at us, we are overjoyed and thankful. Every.Time. You are now able to identify some nursery rhyme songs. You are making daily progress in your receptive and expressive language. We long for the day that you will call us "mama" and "dada". We believe it is just around the corner.

God's plan is always better than ours. Never forget that. Our difficulties, trials and past can be used for good and for God's glory. You are an orphan no more. You are our beloved son, Luke Isaac Crawford. Your birthday, gotcha day, and hearing birthday are celebrations of your life and God's goodness, even in this fallen world. You are our one of a kind original, our superman, and we love you more than ice cream and cake :)

Forever yours,

Mama and Dada

And keep me responsible, be it a light or heavy load
Keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise
And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

Caedmons Call - Faith My Eyes Lyrics

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One year ago today!!!

One year ago today, Luke had bilateral cochlear implant surgery. We weren't exactly sure how things would ultimately turn out. With joy we can say that we have seen our child come out of his shell, embrace life and interact with others. It is remarkable to even recognize the same boy from one year ago.

I would like to highlight some of Luke's accomplishments since May 2012 (when he joined our family) and September 18, 2012 (CI surgery):

*Luke has gone from size 12-18 months clothing to now wearing 3T clothes.

*He has gone from having little to no eye contact to full engagement most of the time.

*Luke now tries new foods and has added many new foods to his diet (except vegetables--still refuses them all).

*He has grown physically strong and mastered many large motor activities such as running and alternating feet going up/down the stairs.

*Luke recognizes his name and turns when called.

*He cooperates in speech therapy and preschool activities.

*Luke gives hugs and grabs a hand to hold.

*He understands many basic phrases and words.

*Luke is beginning to mimic sounds on demand.

*He makes sounds and babbles like a baby of 9-12 months.

*He understands that we are his family and that he is loved.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

-Jo Anna

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy 5th Birthday, Jansen!

You are full of energy and affection, especially in love with your sisters and Pap Pap Crewford. You love anything "Super Hero" and enjoy sports of any kind. You love movies, especially Toy Story, Madagascar, and Monsters Inc.

The picture above was when we first met you, a little over a year ago. My, how you have grown!

This referral picture was taken 2 years ago--the first one we saw of you and Luke!!!!

Our lives have been blessed and forever changed when you joined our family.

Happy birthday, Jansen!


Mom and Dad

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jansen's upcoming medical appointments

This is a big week for Jansen. He often gets very nervous at MD appointments. He will see our wonderful ENT specialist on Wednesday about a mass on his tongue that is growing larger. His neurologist has also scheduled a brain MRI for Friday.

Prayers appreciated!

Jo Anna

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When you know that you know that you know...

Alternate title: God Wants To Ruin Your Life

As we are quickly approaching our one year mark of having the boys in our family, I feel compelled to tell our story of how the Lord led us specifically to these little boys. God works in big ways and small ways, in loud booms and in quiet whispers. Each family's journey is unique. L and J's referral picture was taken in July 2011.

When we have our "hard days" with our kids from "hard places", it helps us to know that God has directed our path to these boys. It is His Story. That gives us confidence and comfort in knowing that He knows the outcome and He is with us each step of the way. We pray that this story encourages you as much as it does us. This was written in August 2011, just a few days after receiving our boys' information.

For our 10 year wedding anniversary (May 2007), Scott gave me the option of a piece of jewelry or for us to go on the Christian MusicBoat Cruise from Miami to Jamaica. I chose the cruise. That spring, I began to be interested in researching foster care and adoption. I really didn't know why I was so intrigued by it. But God kept putting people and situations in my path that involved those 2 topics. The topper was on the cruise when David Nasser preached from Isaiah 6. The title of his sermon was "God wants to ruin your life." Well, it was there that God told me (not in an audible voice) "I want you to adopt." I "saw" a vision of two little boys of latino or filipino heritage? In my spoiled, sinful state, I didn't like that proclamation very much. In fact, I wrestled with God the rest of that trip. I was MISERABLE. Scott didn't know why. I wouldn't tell him. Our trip pretty much sucked thanks to me. I just prayed that if this was in fact from the Lord, that Scott would also come to that same conclusion. I wouldn't push him. In fact, I prayed privately about this for about 6 months before I even mentioned the subject of adoption to Scott. At first, he thought I was crazy. But I asked if he would pray about it. He said yes. We began praying about it as a family as well. Of course, the girls were onboard from the get-go.

On Monday, Jan 12, 2009 Scott called me right before I went into my BSF leadership meeting. He told me he believed God has called us to adopt, he was onboard, and let's started! I was so happy. Deep down, I never even thought we would get to this point. I knew it was God. Just a few days earlier, I had learned about an adoption information expo that was going to happen at a local church. I asked Scott if we wanted to go to the "Hands of Hope" Adoption expo that weekend. He said yes. It was there that we began our process together.

When we received the initial info on Samuel (SHF listing) in Jan 2010, everything looked good. Even though I believed the Lord had called us to brothers, I really thought "Samuel was the one". It was only after we asked additional questions and received the email (through ICAB) from the foster mother in February 2010 that the Lord made it very clear in several ways of confirmation that Samuel was NOT the one.

Ever since then, we have prayed for clear confirmation from the Lord. Some sort of connection or something to confirm to us who our children are. Here's what I believe is the connection: The date of the adoption expo was January 17, 2009. The date of the social worker's first visit to Jansen's home was January 17, 2009. Luke of course wouldn't even be born for another year. When I read through their cases again the other night, the Lord reminded me of that date. I went through our adoption paperwork and found a bulletin from that expo. Although I may be crazy, I believe the Lord showed me that as confirmation that he planned for Jansen and Luke to be in our family. To me, that is no coincidence.

I know that God's plans are not our plans. I truly hope that I am not going to be disappointed again by unfulfilled expectations. I pray that we are in the center of God's will and that the Lord continues to confirm. Isaiah 30 says 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Jo Anna

Friday, March 29, 2013

Surprise developments in Luke's journey

Yesterday, Luke had his genetics appointment at Brenner's Children's Hospital.

We were surprised to learn he has 4 DNA variants. One of them (CDH23) is associated with Usher syndrome and nonsyndromic hearing loss.
This means there is a possibility Luke may develop this syndrome in the future. With this syndrome, children develop vision loss called retinitis pigmentosa. RP causes night-blindness and a loss of peripheral vision (side vision) through the progressive degeneration of the retina. The interesting part is that his history fits the description. The orphanage reported balance issues with Luke as a baby and delayed age of walking (over 18 months). The physician also mentioned patients having difficulty acquiring language/communication--which also fits with Luke's slower than normal speech progress.

They took blood from Jansen today, which they hope will shed some additional light on the subject.

We were also told to have yearly ophthalmology exams for Luke (although vision changes don't often occur until after age 10).

We covet your prayers as we walk with God on this journey.

Jo Anna and Scott

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Self Reflection-Am I REALLY listening?

Ask my good friends. Even better, ask my family. They will all admit that I am a really bad listener. I tune people out. I start doing something else. Sometimes I think I already know what is going to be said. I have a self-admitted problem. I may hear you, but often, I don't really listen. Now that we all know the deep, dark secret---the question is, what do I do about it? How does one really listen? Specifically, I am speaking about listening to God, but this can also cross over to listening to others as well.

Regressing back for a minute, every year I pray and search Scripture to see what ONE WORD I believe God wants to show/teach me as the underlying theme of the year. In 2010, it was WAIT. In 2011, it was ABIDE. In 2012, it was HEAR. Each year, there was true meaning in what the Lord was teaching me through that single word and Bible verses surrounding it.

So over the last 2 weeks, I have been seaching Scripture and praying asking the Lord what He wants to teach me. I keep coming back to the word LISTEN.

Gen 27:8 Now my son listen carefully and do what I tell you.

Deut 30:20 Love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.

Isaiah 28:23 Listen and hear my voice, pay attention and hear what I say.

Proverbs 8:32-33 Now then my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

Luke 8:18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

So in 2013, I commit to really trying to LISTEN to what God has to tell me. And then doing it like James 1:22 says. And also trying to truly LISTEN to others. Especially when they know more than me and are speaking truth into my life.

So, please forgive me if in the past I haven't given you my undivided attention. With God's help, I will be a better listener in 2013.

-Jo Anna