Why We Call Our Blog the Miracle of More

The miracle is a beautiful image of Ephesians 3:20--more than I can ask or imagine. Every day is a miracle. Every moment is a miracle. Specifically for our family, the miracle of more is our family growing in ways I would never have imagined when we first committed to adoption 8 years ago. But, the greatest miracle is the change in ME!

If you have questions about adoption, our work in South Africa, or spina bifida, please email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Ellie!

Ellie will turn 4 years old next Wednesday. We celebrated today with a Chinese theme. Josie-Tatum had more fun than Ellie decorating the house with Chinese New Year things. At the party, we had Ni-Hao Kai Lan puppets, foam dragons, and lanterns. There were 10 kids, all 6 years and younger. They seemed to have a great time.

Grandma Bennett made the birthday cake, of course. Since there is no merchandise yet available for Kai Lan, Grandma found a Soyna Lee that she put on the cake. Grandma is so talented, she made flower designs on the cake that matched the napkins I found at Windy City.

In Other News
Ellie took several steps tonight, without her walker!! The steps were slow and uneasy, but they were also unassisted. Her legs are still weak, but we're seeing progress. I hope it won't be long before I can post a video of her walking across the room. Here she is standing unassisted.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ellie Update....Standing!

I know you've all been waiting on pins and needles. ;)

You see Ellie standing in her new brace! Her legs are not yet strong enough to walk independently....they haven't been used for walking in 5 months. But, she is sooooooooooooo happy to have the freedom and independence her walker brings. She has used to it get all around the house since they came home just 2 hours ago.

We will go back to Shriner's in 3 weeks. This time we will be seeing a new orthapedist. (Dr. Kim, who did the surgery, has moved.) I look forward to meeting him, and going through Ellie's medical history, to hearing his thoughts. We'll see another x-ray of her hip, then, too.

God has created her with that tenacity that never ceases to amaze me. While I was afraid she would be upset that she is not walking completely independently, she is enthusiastic about her renewed ability to move around with her walker. She has been all smiles since she came home.

Your prayers are a blessing I can never put into words. Like the apostle Paul, I do thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prayers for Ellie and a Mother's Spiritual Struggle

Ellie will be leaving very soon to go to Tampa. She is going with her daddy and grandparents. I need prayers, because I won't be with her. I only have 8 sick days left, and I need to sure I have some left in case one of us gets sick. She will get her new brace tomorrow. Please pray that she will be able to walk!!!!!!!!!!!

And, I'm struggling....on the inside...with an issue that really concerns me. I'm not sure how to verbalize it, how to really share what's going on in my heart and soul.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year Fun

We've just begun the "decorating" for Chinese New Year. The above picture is our first completed craft project. Josie-Tatum said, "I think this is more fun for me and Ellie than Christmas." I'm not sure she really means that. It is fun, though, especially since I get so sad each year when taking down the Christmas decorations.

When we adopted Josie-Tatum, I knew I would want to teach her about Chinese customs. It amazes me how much she enjoys Chinese New Year. We are doing more decorating this year than ever before, and she is having a blast. I decided, too, that we will have a Chinese theme for Ellie's birthday party this weekend. That way we're decorating for both occasions at once!

I'll post more pictures later, but tonight the girls and I were making Chinese lanterns, with this idea compliments of Kim. Click here to see her post.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Funny Ellie Moment

Leave it to Ellie, never to dwell on the negative, and never allowing me to either.

This week, she was in "doggy" mode, pretending much of one morning to be a puppy. She climbed in my lap and began sniffing. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. She sniffed around my neck and face.

Then she said, ummmm barked, "Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff?" Amazingly, I heard to tone of a question if her bark, so I replifed, "Ruff, ruff."

Then, Ellie said, "NO. I asked, 'What's that smell?'"

I lost it.......

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's REALLY Not About Me

When we were praying about adopting Ellie, I wondered how I would handle some of her medical issues. I wondered if I could handle her medical issues. I was focused a lot on ME.

Yesterday, my focus TOTALLY changed. While it has changed in small steps each day, yesterday I had a new focus. I have learned to love Ellie more than I ever imagined. She embraces life with such joy, you can't help but smile in her presence. Often, I don't even think about her "disability."

But, yesterday, my heart sank, as I really, truly, for the first time faced seeing Ellie's limitations through Ellie's eyes. Ellie said, "I wish I was Josie."

And, I tried desperately to keep my composure as I asked her why. She told me, "So I could wear panties."

The truth is...Ellie may never wear panties. She may never develop full bladder continence. She's not yet 4 years old, and I have to explain that reality to her. I tried not to over react. I tried hard, and found the strength, not to cry. I realized that my reaction at that moment could impact her feelings about continence.

So, I said, "You may wear special panties when you're bigger, because God made you special."

Please help me pray for wisdom.

Again, this morning, she came to my room after waking up and said, "I was laying in my bed, and I thought I was Josie, but I was Ellie." She began to talk about being able to walk and run.

Before you get too upset, Ellie didn't dwell on either of these issues long. But, I never dreamed she would become aware enough of these things so early, or that she would verbalize them by saying, "I wish I was Josie."

I know sibiling rivalry is normal, but the way she talked about it 2 days in a row, really has me concerned.

Please again, pray for wisdom for Stan and me. Pray for Ellie. Pray that she will know that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. Pray that God will manifest His glory!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pine needle memories

While near the end of my walk today, as I got closer to home, I pulled a pine needle of one of the pine trees near my parents' house. As I walked, I broke the tips of the 3 connecting needles. The beautiful scent of pine flooded my mind with memories.

As a young child, we were somewhat poor, though I never realized it. We lived in a small 10 ft by 50 ft mobile home. Every year, we cut down our own Christmas tree. These were not the lovely fir trees or cedar tress for Christmas cards, just a pine tree from the woods. We covered our tree, not with decorator ornaments for the department store, but ornaments we had made ourselves, ornaments of dough, cut, baked, and painted....ornaments of felt, glued together and glittered. My mama knew how to make her children feel special.

Those memories are precious to me, my family of four, mama, daddy, my sister Bobbie and me walking through the woods, Daddy holding the ax. I never knew other people paid big bucks for their trees, and I think if I had known, I still would have opted to go out in the woods with my family to find what Bobbie and I thought was the perfect tree.

I am reminded of my blessings, the blessings of parents who love me, parents who love Jesus. I am blessed with a husband who has allowed my love of family to change our family. I am blessed to be the mom to 5 beautiful children. I am blessed with a sister who calls me often and prays for me. Tonight, our house is warm, and we've had lots of laughs today.

I wonder, though, what will I do with my blessings? What should I do with my blessings? How will I bless others?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another Mommy Award

(Check out the video of our walk today at the end of this post!)

Just now, on my way upstairs, Ellie said, "Here's your sticker, Mama." I said, "For me? Am I special." She said, "Yes, because you're the mama, and you do all the things for the baby."

Please be in prayer for us. Josie-Tatum has such a desire to help orphans. She has been asking me if we can go somewhere to help orphans this summer. A recent visit with Mrs. Donna who leaves for a mission trip next week, prompted Josie-Tatum to ask again if we could take a trip to help orphans this summer. Of course, we are broke, still recovering from our last trip to China. But, I know God can provide! I am praying for affirmation from the LORD. Help me pray, and pray that I can find the path the LORD would have us take, to foster Josie-Tatum's compassion.

We went on our 2 mile walk again today. I had to force the girls to slow down so I could take some video. Everytime I almost caught up with them, they would run ahead. I was trying to get in front of them so you could see their beautiful faces. Finally! Watch out. You might get a little dizzy. The camera operator is not a professional.

We Belong Together

That's what Ellie said yesterday. We were at Mrs. Donna's (our wonderful, godly hairdresser), and she pointed to Josie-Tatum and said, "We belong together." Are there any sweeter words? I told her, "And, God knew that before either one of you were born. He made the plan for the two of you to be sisters in our family!"

Then, after our hair appointments, we went for a walk. Why didn't I have the camera?

I was pushing Ellie down my favorite dirt road path past my grandmother's old house where my sister lives. Josie-Tatum was walking, too, when Ellie asked Jt to push her. Then, they decided to race me. They were laughing, and I was falling behind. Everytime I would come close to catching up, Ellie would say, "Go, go, go!" and Josie-Tatum would start running again.

I was behind two of the most beautiful girls in the world. And, because one can't walk yet, and so wants to run, her big sister ran most of 2 miles so Ellie could go fast. I heard more laughter and squeals in that 30 minutes that I could ever have imagined when we felt it was time for Josie-Tatum to have a sister. I watched a love that surpasses the human imagination. God is so good!

If we can bear the cold, we're going out again today, and this time I hope to capture some images to share!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Family, Shriners, and Other Blessings From Tampa

We have been so blessed by Shriners Hospital, I feel it is time to devote a post to the topic.

I had such peace on our first visit to Shriners, peace that we had found the right place for Ellie's orthapedic care, peace that the staff at Shriners would look after our Ellie. It's not just medical care they give, they treat the whole child, support the family, support the child emotionally.

I am amazed at the friendliness of the staff at Shriners. Everyone offers a smile, a kind word, or gives directions--if you're looking around as if you're lost. They take the time to answer questions or find someone to answer them for you. You may wait a long time in the waiting room, but, when you are with the medical professionals, you will never feel rushed. In the waiting room are video games, toys, a play kitchen area, crayons, and sometimes a volunteer with an activity.

I don't ever remember specifically giving money to Shriners, but I can now say it is money well used. I learned, too, of international clinics. There were several children in the hospital when Ellie was who was not from the United States. A sponsor had paid their airfare, while Shriners took care of their medical needs. One parent is allowed to stay in the hosptial with the child and receive meals along with the child.

The Fish Bowl
In the Fish Bowl, there is a library and other activities area. Here children go to have meals, so they're not always in their room. They may watch movies, have craft time, listen to music, or meet the pets for pet therapy.

The hospital has an outdoor play area, with adaptive equipment. Children in wheelchairs can use the ramps to "climb" higher. Children with braces or other orthotics can use the adaptive swings.

The hospital sits on a lake. There is a shaded sidewalk, grass, and a gazebo on the lake. These are nice places for parents to relax during a child's long surgery, or a lovely place to walk with your child when you just want to go outside.

When Ellie had her surgery in Tampa, we were blessed with the company of my parents, our pastor, and associate pastor. While there my dad called his cousin Betty who lives in Tampa. She came and sat with us, too. During our hospital stay, Betty's daughter Kelly came to see us. I had not seen Kelly in 17 years. She used to come spend summers with my grandmother.

Not only was our visit with Kelly that day a blessing, Kelly has continued to bless us. We now have a place to stay the night when Ellie has appointments in Tampa. I get to visit with a cousin I probably wouldn't have made contact with, and we have a homey place to stay.

And, the day before Ellie's "cast away," Betty and Kelly had a birthday cake for me when we arrived in Tampa.

Kelly even has a guest house behind her lovely little bungalo. So, we get some privacy along with some company.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Not the News We Had Hoped For

You have probably determined by now that Ellie did not get to "ditch" the brace, since yesterday's news was NOT what we had hoped for. Here's the long story:

After our x-rays sometime after 9:30 a.m, we met with the doctor. He pointed out a concern...oh, no.....There is a gap showing up between the femoral head and Ellie's hip socket. When questioned about what that means, he stood in thought for some length of time and said he would like to get a CT scan. When further questioned about the possibilities and the ramifications, he said, "It probably means she'll be in the brace longer. It may mean that's just the way it's going to be."

We left Shriner's to go to down the street for a CT scan. Thank goodness, they worked with us to make all of that happen on the same day. Then we came back and waiting on everyone to get back from lunch and meet with the doctor again.

The good news, he said, was that her leg was "in" the socket, but, still a gap there to be concerned about. So, we devleoped a NEW plan.

Ellie was fitted for a new brace, an SRO. In 3 weeks, we go back to Tampa to pick up the new brace. She will wear the SRO brace during the day time hours. And, she will be able to start trying to walk in the SRO brace. So, while not the news we'd hoped for, at least some good news for Ellie.

She will continue to wear the brace she's been in at night when she goes to bed.

She may need to wear these braces up to a year to try to force the femor to stay in the correct place.

Once again, we ask for your prayers. I'll admit I was discouraged and a little overwhelmed again yesterday. (It brought back the emotions I had last year when we were gathering all the information about Ellie's physical condition.) As we sat in the doctor's office, waiting again after the CT scan, I began to pray, and ask God to do what he says in His word He is able to do...more than we can ask or even think.

I am still some discouraged today. I ask for your prayers for Stan and me as we hope to encourage Ellie. I know God's grace is sufficient. I know that He loves her far more than I do, and I know His ways are not my ways. But, I also know every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. He is still there, holding our precious Ellie in His hand.

He will manifest His glory!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

In Him

In Him we live, and move, and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

This is what I want Ellie to know. There is nothing she can’t accomplish, in Him. There is no greater joy found, than in Him. There is no peace found, except in Him. She is a child of the King.

I have read many adoption stories. I am somehow drawn to read them, in books, in magazines, and on the internet. The philosophies of adoptive parents are as varied as those around the world. The motives are equally varied.

I recently completed reading another adoption story, the generalizations are so similar to ours while the details are so different. The most significant difference was the parents’ view of God, a view of an uninvolved God who may be there or may not be; who, if He exists is only interested in the BIG issues of the world, issues like famine and war.

I want Ellie to know that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ fashioned her in her mother’s womb, and orchestrated her arrival in our family. The same God that created the universe created her. The same God who painted the colors of the rainbow painted her eyes the deepest of brown. The same God who gave the sparrow his song gave Ellie a voice which rings in laughter. The same God who led the Israelites out of Egypt led her to me.

He has protected her since her birth. She was abundantly blessed to find a home at Amazing Hands, where the nannies love Jesus and love the children in China who are sometimes considered outcasts. Her medical care there was the best to be found in China. He moved mountains and several other families out of our way to be certain she made her way here, to the family He had chosen for her.

He is there. He is always there. In Him, she can move, anywhere she wants to move. Her gait may appear unnatural to others, or perhaps she’ll need assistance to get where she’s going, but in him she can move. She can move hearts. She can move mountains. She can move people to greater faith.

In Him, she can live. He gives life, and life more abundantly. He has given her incredible joy, a personality that enjoys life, and I pray she will bask in it. He has offered her the gift of eternal life. I pray she will accept it and share that indescribable gift with others.

And, in Him, is her being. He has made her who she is. He has loved her from the beginning. There is no greater love than the love the Father has for her. He has allowed me the privilege of watching her grow, and allowed me to be the channel for his love of her. She may struggle with her identity as she walks through the awkward teenage years, but her identity is settled with Him. She is a child of the King.

A Dream Worth Waiting For
I bought these shirts 2 years ago. Josie Tatum's reads, "Jie Jie," which means big sister, and Ellie's reads, "Mei Mei," which means little sister. When I bought these shirts, I never knew our wait for Ellie to join our family would be so long. I was not prepared for how difficult our first months would be. But, I truly never dreamed how sweet our days would become.

A Sister's Love
I wonder if Ellie will ever know just how much Josie-Tatum cares for her. They argue, of course, like any siblings do. But, just look at these pictures. Josie-Tatum took it upon herself to grab the ropes to Ellie's swing, so they could swing together. Ellie can "pump" her legs, but she can't go as high or as fast as she wants.

Just Hanging Around

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Ellie's Wii Bowling technique is pictured above~

No time like New Year's to reflect on the blessings of a year. God has been so good to our family. I'm eternally grateful for my family, and I thank God that we've had the past 2 days to enjoy one another's company. Josie-Tatum has treasured these moements when we are all at home. She was even asked to go to the movies with a friend, but she didn't want to go. She wanted to stay with her family.

Mother of the Year..I am not!
Caleb and I spent the ENTIRE morning yesterday at the eye doctor's office. It was the last day to use our $200 allowance for contacts, and with a change in insurance, we won't have the allowance next year. I procrastinated until our only option was to show up on Walk-In Day. The office accepts the first 26 people in line when the doors open. We arrived 30 minutes early, and after opening, learned we were 25 and 26 in line. So, we spent the next 3 1/2 hours waiting for our turn. I did save over $300!

Another Kind of Gotcha
We've recently passed the day one year ago, when a judge granted us full guardianship of Brandon. A couple of weeks ago he said, "Mrs. Robbie, you know how the girls get to choose where we eat on their Gotcha Days. Well, since mine is coming, I've been craving Outback."
So, yesterday, after an entire morning at the doctor's office, we loaded up and went to St. Simon's for Brandon's "Gotcha Day" celebration. I might would call it Forever Family Day for him, since he had been with us before, but he seems to like the idea of having a Gotcha Day like the girls.

Both of the girls cracked me up while we were driving.
Ellie said, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a teacher, and a cooker, and a firplace."
Josie-Tatum later asked, "Does anybody know how old Santa Clause is? I surely don't. I'm only 6 years old, and I'm not as smart as Mama thinks I am."

After our dinner at Outback, we drove back home and went to church. Our challenge from our pastor was to remember our purpose...to know HIM! My primary goal in life should be to know Jesus, more closely, more deeply. May I continue to walk worthy of that goal.

We spent New Year's Eve in a Wii Bowling Tournament, just our family, my sister's family, and a few friends. Of course, we watched the ball drop in Time's Square at midnight. (BTW, Stan bowled from his chair, and Ellie even got a strike once!)

We've spent most of this lovely New Year's Day doing nothing important. Whitney and I've done some good reading. We highly recommend Silent Tears and China Ghosts. I'll post more about Silent Tears another day. We've watched Barbie's Christmas Carol, (the photo of Stan, Brandon, and JT) and college football. I've worked on the blog makeover...still working, and the girls made messes with glitter paint. We played in the sand box and on the swingset.

In about an hour, we're going next door to my parents' house, where we'll eat a traditional southerner's New Year's Day meal. We must have black eyed peas, hog jaw, and greens. And, we'll just enjoy the company of family.
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