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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chinese Paleontologists Unearth Dinosaur Fossil in North Florida

After joining their forever families in America, this group of young paleontologists stumbled across an amazing specimen of dinosaur fossils. After their discovery the scientists remained diligent in their work.the photograph above was captured just minutes before the discovery was made as they posed with an American tourist from Georgia. (It appears that Dang Qing Zhuang wishes to maintain his anonymity; however his identity was confirmed by his mother.)

The exploration team observed exposed sections of a tyrannosaurus rex in an area of north Florida frequented by tourists and locals alike. They have given their specimen the name Tiny.

Tiny is quite a spectacular discovery with so many of its bones perfectly preserved in soft sand. It is not known at this time how the fossilized material had yet been undiscovered by American scientists or curious passersby. After studying each of the fossilized bones, the team of scientists plan to donate the material to the
Jacksonville Science of Museum and History.

Team leader Gao Jie Lun was eager to share her discoveries.

Other members of the team, however, would not be distracted by the press or photographers as they continued their diligent work.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mama's Monster's Medical Update

Too bad...I couldn't come with with an "M" word for update.

Yes, I still call Drew my little monster. And, there is almost nothing sweeter than our mornings when I saw, "Hello, Monster." And, his sweet little voice whispers softly with a Chinese accent, "Hall-o Ma-ma."

He did visit with the doctor and staff at Shriner's last week along with Ellie. We were quite the sight, all four Chinese children with their parents, when another staff member would open the door. Pretty soon, I think, everyone had heard about us. We would be sent to another department, and someone would say, "Oh, it's the Mattox family," or "Well, here come the Mattox children." One even said, "I heard there's a party going on in here."

Back to Monster's medical update:

First, a spina bifida explanation.

There are different forms of spina bifida. I won't go into all of that now, but just explain that each of our three youngest children were born with a lypomeningocele. They each had fatty tissue (lypoma) formed along the spinal column. Each of them had surgery in China to remove the lypoma and release the spinal cord, which is usually tethered in children with spina bifida.

As with each other forms of spina bifida, each case of spina bifida presents itself differently. They are various effects, depending on the location of the meningocele and the amount of nerve involvement.

Ellie's lypoma was very large and covered parts of her back from her buttocks to the middle of the spine. There was significant nerve involvement and damage.

Drew's lypoma was smaller. It was also much lower on his back. We were SURPRISED to see the x-ray of his spine-especially after having seen Ellie's.

His spine looks as straight as mine.

We knew he had some difficulty walking, as well as weakness of his left leg in particular. His left foot will turn inward and over when he walks, and he sometimes walks on the top of his foot. His right foot also turns a little when he walks; however, most of his weight bears down on the ball of his foot. He has developed a sore on to top of his right foot where the bone is pressed up....for lack of better words. We really thought he might need surgery on that foot.

We were pleasantly surprised and pleased to learn...while we watched the doctor...that his feet can be helped with bracing. The doctor showed how he was able to manipulate the right foot into the right position, that muscles are causing the bone to stick up. So...bracing alone is all our Little Monster needs to improve his walking. He will have weakness, but, if you've met him, you know it doesn't stop him from running anywhere he wants to run. (He just acts like a 4-year-old and  sits down if we need him to walk longer distances.)

See why we call him Little Monster....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sometimes It Hurts

Not knowing where to begin or how to convey my thoughts.

I'll dive in.

Sometimes it hurts.

I read this on Katie's blog as she nurtures 13 adopted daughters while serving in Uganda, " I do not like the idea of a child having to endure trauma so that one day she may learn from it, or teach another about it. But I still believe He has purpose, even when I can’t see it."

When we started the adoption process again in 2006, we did not list spina bifida as one of the needs we felt comfortable in parenting. That would NEVER have been my idea.

But, it was God's plan.

When I saw her face, I was drawn.....

And I have been in love since.

Many of you have emailed or sent texts as you prayed about our visit to Shriner's. We received news we expected and some we did not. We knew that the doctor was recommending that the hardware in her hip be removed. We have scheduled that surgery for August 29th. The surgery itself is simple and hospital time is likely to only be one overnight stay, would possibly be outpatient.

When the hardware is out though, there will be holes in her bones, leaving them easy to break until they heal. Ellie will then wear a brace for 3 months. The brace will extend from her hip to her foot, and keep her leg from twisting, thus causing force that could fracture her femur. When the spinal defects care nurse asked if we had a wheel chair, I was able to say, "No, but we will tomorrow."

Thanks to our friends Vicki and JP, we are now the owners of an awesome chair Ellie can use when she must travel longer distances, both after surgery and later when needed. JP is also adopted from China. He, too, can walk but has had many surgeries and some still to go. He also uses the chair when it is necessary to walk long distances. But, he has outgrown this one. And, his Mama knew just the family who might could use it.
 The news we were not prepared for came next.

The doctors have been monitoring Ellie's scoliosis. As soon as we saw the x-rays, we knew there was progression without hearing any numbers. The PA put up two pictures on the screen, the first x-ray taken of Ellie's spine in 2008, and the one they took on Tuesday. It was heart-wrenching really.

Her curvature has increased from 20 degrees...

to 40 degrees.

I was standing up...looking carefully at the screen when the PA began to discuss treatment. I was prepared for her to discuss bracing, knowing I hated for Ellie to go through that.

But, she didn't begin with bracing.

She began discussing surgery.

A very long, complicated surgery.

As she explained: Scoliosis in spina bifida patients does not respond to bracing, so surgery is the only option for improving scoliosis. It is such a complicated surgery it is not even recommended for most children with spina bifida. As the scoliosis continues to progress, however, it will interfere with Ellie's ability to walk. Since she is mobile, it will likely be recommended for her.

Ellie is currently under the care of Dr. M at Shriner's, but he does not do this type of surgery. There is another doctor who visits Shriner's twice each month, and we had the option of seeing him, or seeing a doctor closer to home.

Stan asked that we see the doctor at Shriner's to keep some consistency with her orthopedic care.

As we scheduled the hardware removal surgery, we learned that this doctor will be at Shriner's the day before her pre-op. (I felt in my spirit the LORD was sending affirmation.) So, Ellie will see the new doctor on Monday, August 27, her pre-op on August 28th, and her surgery on August 29th.

Usually, hearing such news I didn't expect sends me into a depression of sorts, but not this time. I have peace.

But, what hurts is....

knowing how much it will hurt her.

I have likely mentioned this before, but I think it bears mentioning again.

When we were considering Ellie's adoption, I often wondered if "I" could handle her needs. How would I deal with surgery? How would I deal with cathing? How would I cope if she did not have bowel continence? How would I manage if she never learned to walk?

A long time ago, I learned it wasn't about me at all.

It is about her.

I hear her voice just now as I type. The pitch of her voice is higher than most 7-year-olds. She is such a BIG personality in a tiny body.

I hope that those who follow our journey through life will know that she is a joy.

She loves with her whole being.

And she is loved by so many!!!!!

She enjoys life everyday.

 Every moment offers a reason to smile.

 And, I don't want to see the sparkle dulled as she recovers from an excruciating surgery.

I hate to think of the pain that she will endure, the moments she will miss doing the things she loves.

 That's why it hurts.

But, the message I truly want to convey is this:

I wouldn't trade our life with Ellie for anything.

I know God can and will fulfill His purposes in her life. I know she will continue to bless others more than we could ever bless her. I know that I have never regretted adopting a child with spina bifida. (And, yes we have now adopted two more.)  I know it is not about me.

If you have not already done so, I invite you to click on the spina bifida tab at the top of the blog page. Here I am working to link various posts about Ellie...and about our boys...to encourage other parents of children with spina bifida.

But, more than that...to encourage other would-be parents.

If you have ever considered adopting a child with special needs or know someone who is, send them over. Introduce them to our Ellie. May her spirit encourage others to reach out and do more than they can do.

Because our God can do more than we can ask or imagine. He is an Ephesians 3:20 God. He can do more in a parent's heart than we can ask or image.

He is

The Miracle of More.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Prayers and More Prayers

We're off to Tampa in a few minutes. Ellie and Drew have appointments at Shriner's tomorrow. Please pray for our safety, wisdom for the doctor as we make the best care plan for our special blessings, and peave for the mama.

I was hopig to upload a video for you enjoyment, but it's taking a long time. I'll try later.

And, one last prayer reuest, for a heavy burden  I keep piking back up. Pray that I can leave it at the feet of Jesus.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Kind of Summer Day

That's what today was. My favorite kind of summer day.

No stress.

Just fun.


 No stress could be a bit of an exaggeration.
 Since there were 14 children here:
Two of whom were infants. Look at that sweet Gabriel! (I forgot to snap a photo of Haddie Ruth. Bring her back today Sabrina!)

Not to repeat myself, but in this photo

are three girls dear to my heart. The one in the middle...I taught her mama in 2nd grade. Who would have dreamed we would one day be parenting daughter the same age? I used to hold onto Katie when she was a baby and dream of the day when I would hold our sweet Josie-Tatum. And, the one to the left. Her Mama and I waited on our first adopted daughters together. We met when we were both waiting.

And, this is a photo we never dreamed of. We both felt adoption was likely in our future AGAIN, but I know I never dreamed it would be boys...and not TWO boys.

And then there's our miracle boy:

Your heart would flutter if you knew what doctors told his mama when he was born. I taught his mama in Sunday school when she was a teenager. I taught Kati's mama in the same Sunday School class. Sabrina and Theresa use to come over to my house before there was a house...just a trailer....when there was just a Whitney...and then when my handsome Navy son was born. They visited many times when he ran out the door without his clothes on.

I certainly never imagined we'd all be around the pool watching our children swim and play as friends.

So, it was my kind of day.

The children played and had such fun together.

The mamas talked and were able to "relax" a little because the children were enjoying themselves so.

And, at the end of our hours and hours of fellowship, I had the opportunity to reflect. My very tired boys slept soundly in their very late nap. I got to reflect on the goodness of God. What a beautiful tapestry he weaves when connects our lives with one another. What blessings He has in store that we could never imagine.

 He is the GOD of Ephesians 3:20.

He is

The Miracle of More

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Day in the Light

After days and days of abundant rainfall, but trying not to complain since the south needs relief from the drought, we finally had a day of sunshine. I understand more every day why Jesus is called the Light of the World. Just realizing how much I enjoy sunshine and realizing how much the sun shining for miles along the coast lifts my spirits, helps me know why I need the LIGHT!

Our day at the beach was the light I needed!
 I have desperately wanted to take the boys for the first ever trip to the ocean. Alas, the sun was shining, but I had no one to help me keep an eye on FOUR little people in the ocean water. As I pondered on Sunday evening if I might could take them to the beach on Monday, a sweet young lady in our church said, "Mrs. Robbie, if you ever need a babysitter, please give me a call." Hoping she meant it, I asked, "What are you doing tomorrow?"

Brittany was wonderful with the kids! She played in the water, she dug in the sand.....

 and she even joined in a mud fight with Ellie!
 Speaking of Ellie, she does love to make a mess. So, of course she loves the beach! That's one place where she can get as messy as she wants and her mother doesn't complain.....well, until it's time to wash the hair.
 She did have ONE moment where she tried to be a "prissy" girl.
 But, of course, Josie-Tatum could strike that sort of pose any time.
 She has seen a every episode of H2O on Netflix. She enjoyed running and jumping to the water, H2O mermaid style.
 But the joy of the day was watching the boys!!!! Oh, how much they enjoyed the day. I thought we might be there for 2-3 hours. Boy, was I wrong! We were there for 5 hours, and I had to force the children to help me get ready to go home.

On Sunday night, I showed the boys photos of the ocean and beach at Jekyll Island where we were going. They grew excited, and Zeke surprised me when he walked away from the computer. But...
then he came back.

With a photo in hand.

He brought me a photo of Whitney, Caleb, Brandon, JT, and Ellie...

at the beach!  Yes, he was making connections.
 Now, for this little man, I really needed an extra pair of hands. He cannot swim, but I spent much time yelling at him to come back closer to me. But, he did have a grand time with his mother running FROM the waves as they came to shore.
 But, the most fun I had was watching Zeke. He had so few experiences outside of the SWI in China that he enjoys every experience we offer. As we got close to the beach, he thought we had arrived when he first saw the marsh. He kept asking if we were there yet....not like the usual child in a car...

Whine...."Are we there yet?"

He just could not fathom was a never ending body of water would look like. He thought the intercoastal waterway might be the ocean and beach.

But, when we really saw the beach, and saw the ocean....his smile lit up the partly cloudy sky. Now, I know why the clouds parted and the day ended bright and sunny. He smiled and smiled and smiled. He splashed and ran, swam and dug in the stand.
He played Power Rangers.


He told me.

He put on his warrior pose as each wave approached., and kicked it when it hit is feet.

 When he landed in the water, he came up with a smile!
Now, if you are as crazy as Brittany, and you'd like to offer your services, we are extending an open invitation to join us for a day at the beach. There are only two stipulations:

  • You must be willing to be a body guard for at least one precious Asian in the ocean water.
  • You must be willing to be covered in sand as you participate in sand sculpting.
  • Participation in mudfights is optional.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rabbits, Horses, and Ducks, Oh MY!

We weren't following the yellow brick road, we didn't meet any lions, tigers, and bears, but we did have a little adventure Friday.

If you live in south Georgia, I highly recommend General Coffee State Park, especially if you have young children to entertain.

We started off today at the pioneer farm. Stan and I would have enjoyed the buildings and artifacts more, but the children l-o-v-e-d the animals. Note that Zeke is not the subject of any of these first photos. He preferred to observe the animals from afar.

 Drew loved the animals up close...until feeding time. We happened to have a few apples in our home that weren't eaten while they were their freshest, so we took them along. Daddy happened to have a pocket knife for cutting them into slices. When it came time to feed the animals, though, Drew backed away. He would only hold his daddy's hand, while Daddy fed the animals.

 If you know me well, you know I have bird phobia, and especially chicken fears. I did my best to stay away from the chickens and roosters not in the coop. I was not close to these chickens, I zoomed in....the chicks were cute...even to me.
 But, these chicks following their daddy onto the boardwalk and dock were much cuter.

 Zeke finally took his turn feeding animals. Throwing cheerios into the water to feed the ducks from the dock was much less intimidating than holding an apple in your hand while an animal exposed its teeth to take it from you.
 Just so you know that Mama was really there.

We ended the day with hiking of the wooded trails and playing on the playground. It was well worth the 45 minute drive, and even the five whole dollars we had to pay to enter the park.

God gives us such bountiful blessings in his creation. The simple things to us are marvelous works to be enjoyed.
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