Friday, September 5, 2014

Regarding San Francisco Globe, Donations, and Such;)

Sometimes, Abba God amazes us in the ways He continues to use Adam and his precious life around this world of ours.

The San Francisco Globe recently ran the story of Adam that was done by CBN last year. The link to the SFG article, run yesterday, can be found here

Adam's life astounds us daily...this picture of God restoring broken things again and again.

Thanks for your support and encouragement on this journey.

I would like to give an update on the Medical Foundation of North Carolina's Baby Adam Fund, which has been the main way to give towards Adam's medical needs in the past.

The Baby Adam Fund, thru the Medical Foundation of North Carolina, is changing to receive donations to be given to children from around the world with craniofacial needs.

As this change in the Fund occurs, donations to the Medical Foundation's Baby Adam Fund will not continue to go towards Adam's specific medical needs. 

We love you all and are so grateful for all the support you have given Adam thus far!

Please email us at adampaulraj@gmail.com if you are interested in knowing more about how to give to Adam specifically;)





Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In Which I Remember I am a Pilgrim

June 2006 marked the advent of my life in India.
What began as simply a 3 month trip to volunteer has stretched into years of a life wrecked, rebuilt, and
ultimately transformed. 
The years have rendered beauty, divinity, and redemption in the last ways I dreamed to see such things.
These days stretched into months and ultimately years that were spent ridding heads of lice and filling my heart with love for 32 children on a Delhi rooftop, riding on trains back and forth across this Mother India, and moving into my first home as a wife, in a bungalow surrounded by tea plantations in the infamously humid state of Assam.  Then our God, He brought to life those words of the prophet Isaiah, 


And that tent was enlarged ... in the numbers of people, not the size of the dwelling
The tent curtains were certainly stretched, in degrees of faith and in the number of beating hearts. 
They were stretched when God brought a little boy to join us in that Assam bungalow, just a month before we moved cross country.


 He filled us with courage and faith and He gave us eyes to see what is unseen 
(because, I tell you what, if we could have seen the road ahead we would have pulled up those tent stakes and peaced the heck out of dodge...if you get my drift; ) ). 
And once we got a taste of the Redemption story He was writing, we wanted nothing less than to "not hold back". 
We kept those cords lengthening and we hammered those stakes in, praying all along that He would strengthen our feeble knees and faint hearts each moment of every day.



Adam joined us and we soon moved from that bungalow to the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. 
That tent, it kept enlarging, and we welcomed Elliot Justice in. 
Father God continued to show us displays of splendor only capable by pierced hands, evidence of the pain that was taken in order to create such beauty out of chaos. 
We saw Adam grow and thrive and love. 
We saw Elliot chuckle and learn to teeter then walk and become the wild man he is. 
We traveled back and forth to the US for surgeries and we saw mountains moved as thousands came alongside our journey with Adam's medical care.

Raja continued working tirelessly for us, his family, and for the field of Mental Health in India. We saw the Heavenly Kingdom come down as hundreds came together to commit to labor together to care for those suffering mental illness. 
We saw dreams Raja hadn't even fathomed dreaming come true and it was glorious.

Then we moved out of the foothills and into the majesty of the Himalayas. 
We were a bit nomadic and took up residence in temporary homes as our tent enlarged a bit more, this time to welcome a 3rd little man, Rohan Jude, into the family.
                                      

He has kept us all laughing and watching these 3 boys learn to live and love alongside each other has been nothing short of divine.
                                     
                                        
                                     

From Delhi rooftops to Assam tea plantations; from Himalayan foothills to Himalayan mountain towns...with trips across the sea scattered in between...this has been a full 8 years.

I once dreamed that I would come and be a part of rescuing girls and raising them as my own. Obviously, the story has gone down a bit differently;) I never fathomed having a babe with special needs.  To be honest, I was scared to death of having a child with a disability or any sort of "label". I did not think I could manage it. Now that I have been grafted into that community of families, and I have seen the glory that it holds, I don't want out.

But, to be honest, all along, I was afraid of Adam's needs requiring more care in these critical years of development than could be provided in Himalayan foothills.

And this month, September 2014, marks a transition for our family. 
Sometimes, God not only enlarges your tent.
Sometimes, He straight up uproots it and moves it across oceans and continents.
And, for this mama, the enlarging is easy.
But talk about moving my tent and changing my dreams?
Now that is a tough pill to swallow.
Enlarging may require exhaustion and it may not always be convenient. But, to be honest, the courage that God fused me with...well sometimes feeling courageous is not a hard thing.
Adventurers like me... enjoy needing courage.
I like being given nearly impossible missions that leave me exhausted and spent.
Not only does it feel good, but it fulfills dreams and desires.



But when it comes to God uprooting my stretched out tent, changing my radar, and rewriting my dreams?
That is a different story.

So, all that to say, we are relocating to the US for approximately 5 years. In these years, Adam will gain US citizenship and will finish up major surgeries needed. He will also be able to access therapies and resources that have never been available for us.
We anticipate amazing growth for Adam in so many ways.
Raja will also be able to study further in the field of Psychiatry and Christian Counseling. He will be studying for a Masters of Divinity in Counseling. We cannot wait to see how this bridges divisions currently present in these fields in India. 
We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so it feels vain to talk of all the tomorrows ahead. But of this we know, we move to the US in early October.
We pack up this tent we have been entrusted with and march in a direction we never imagined, on this earth.
We are ecstatic to be near family and friends who have been so far for many years.
But we still ache as we march.

But isn't that the life of a pilgrim?
Let's be honest, it is often easy to feel like a pilgrim when it means leaving the comfort of 1st world and setting up home in exotic 3rd world where the needs throb from the dusty streets.
But a pilgrim is a pilgrim until He reaches home.
And this world is not our home.
So who am I to negate the significance of the pilgrimage, according to the nation I reside in, these temporary dwelling places on earth?
For "the pilgrim of love has no map or chart. I know my road it leadeth to His heart"


We had people warn us, before Adam's adoption, 
"do not adopt Adam..it will take you away from 'the field' "..
Ultimately, they were saying that it would take us away from the way in which we were currently serving. 
But what is "serving", but to look after orphans and widows, despite how it may paint a different picture of your life than before? 
So perhaps those people now want to say "I told you so"...as we are entering this new season. 
But I believe that thru our Adam's life, we have served in deeper and truer ways than we were ever doing before Adam. 
We were dreaming feasibly before. We were working for tangible results that could be predicted and insured. 
When God brought us Adam, we started walking blindly in many ways. Not much made sense and nothing seemed predictable. 
We were robbed of easy, sleep filled nights in the blink of an eye. 
We received looks and glances of shame and questioning that stopped me in my tracks. It felt too hard sometimes. 
But oh how it has been redemptive. 
And oh! How it has turned my gaze to receive praise from God and not from man! 
And oh how it redirected my goals to be for Heaven and not for earth.

So as we march onwards and leave India...
We keep our gaze heavenwards.
We cry a bit, but mostly we dance...because He has done great things for us, and we are FILLED with joy!
We will love, laugh, and grow alongside family and friends, both old and new, in our new home.
We will awkwardly stumble as we learn our way in a new city.
We figure out buying cars and renting houses as a family of 5 in the US of A.
We try to balance the wife working/husband in seminary life...
And though the streets will be clean and the grocery aisles always stocked, we will not be blind.
We will not say that only India is aching.
We will pray for eyes to see eternally and we will love like crazy right where we are.
We will praise Jesus for a nation that values children with disabilities and we will thank each therapist along the way that helps us know how to help Adam.
We will celebrate life with dear relatives and friends.
And we will watch these 3 little men love and learn along the way.



We hope you will continue to be a part of our journey;)

*Amy Carmichael quote picture is from Pintrest, not me;) I hope that is an ok citation/reference;)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Finally that Birthing Story


So let's be honest. I thought I would have written this weeks ago. But, alas, these past 6 weeks seem like a fog in this ever shrinking galaxy that I like to call my mind.


Last pregnant picture...at a little bday party friends threw for me here.


I'd like to say that I am in some cute trendy, organic leggings, a turquoise fitted sweater, with big, dangling earrings and my hair braided into that cool, wispy hairdo that looks all majestic and princess like.

But instead, I am in these maternity pants that are torn in 3 places, stained with the curry I ate yesterday(?).  Nothing fits quite right because my body is just not quite right. My hair is anything but majestic and I am flushed and sweating. Why sweating?  Well it is surely not due to the heat that I often moan and groan about here. No, because it is probably only 70 degrees outside, with a cool breeze floating up the mountain (because we basically live in the clouds here in the Himalayas). No, I am sweating because, well I just do not know. I guess that is hormones for you?


Rohan at 6 weeks old being loved on;)
 With a past as a labor and delivery nurse, I laugh at thinking what I used to say to women in labor. Goodness, pushing out the babe is a piece of cake compared to the first month afterwards. And that fully swollen pregnant body is GLAWrious compared to the saggy, loose, confusing body suit you find yourself in afterwards. And the ache of walking around for a few weeks afterwards?
Yes. It is normal and it hurts.
I would rather push out another baby than endure that constant ache threatening to debilitate me completely. And the stuff we sit in to make the ache ok and to redue the swelling? Sitz baths, we call it.

Well, the stuff they use here dyed the bottom half of my body purple after sitting in it 3x/day for 15 minutes.

 It did the job of helping the pain and reducing the swelling... but it did leave half of my body like that of Violet Beauregarde .


I remember the time I was maybe into my L&D job (in Tallahassee, Florida) only 3 months when this sweet mama comes into the hospital in full on labor. I think she delivered an hour after I admitted her. It was my first delivery without my preceptor nurse alongside me. And there I was, a 21 yr old nurse, asking her as I had my trembling hand on the computer mouse "what is your pain right now on a scale from (insert groaning pain from my patient in the background) 1 to 10?". She looked at me with a glare that could have frozen that hot, sticky Tallahassee summer day into Arendelle . I have to admit, I think I asked a second time before I got the picture. Pain could not be rated and I best get my trembling hands off of that computer mouse and get the delivery kit set up and call the doctor. Poor mama...I understand now. I really do;)


So let me get to the point.

Rohan Jude is here and he is just scrumptious. He is 6 weeks old and he weighs now what Elliot weighed at 4 months old. My dad called it after a skype call when Rohan was just 1 week old. "He's gonna be a big boy, Jess" he said. I do believe he was right. He latched on to nurse AS SOON as he was born and doesn't seem to have detached yet (I kid. I kid. But really, he is a ferocious eater).

Labor was much different than Elliot's was.

If you remember, we went on a (necessary) motorbike ride when I was 39 weeks pregnant with Elliot. We had to get cabinets for our new house and waiting just was not an option. Alas, the motorbike ride along that unpaved village road induced labor like nobody's business. I started feeling contractions at 3 am, went to the hospital at 10am, and pushed him out 30 minutes later.

Needless to say, I was pretty hopeful for a similar labor with Rohan. However, he had other plans;) Motorcycle rides and spicy foods would not budge this little one. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable for the last 2 weeks as his head was engaged and pretty low for a while. But I went in for a check up the day after his due date and Dr Roopa (Amazing OB, by the way) heard some decelerations in Rohan's heart rate.

I was only 1 cm dilated and though I was feeling some cramping, it was not indicating oncoming labor. Dr. Roopa monitored for a good 20 minutes and saw another decel that we just did not feel good about. She brought up the word "induce" and I flinched.

I did NOT want to be induced.

Elliot came on his own and I was pretty adamant that Rohan should to. But I also knew that the 3 decels that we saw/heard were not good and were not reassuring for him to get the oxygen he needed if we waited much longer.

So Raja and I agreed with Dr. Roopa and decided induction would be best.

Meanwhile, our AMAZING friend Lindy was at home with our older boys while I went for a "checkup".  She called after we were gone for 4 hours and we updated her. So, she, being the amazing/servant hearted woman that she is, welcomed the oncoming job of watching both boys thru the night (and following week).

lindy and her sweet kiddos;)


So they got my IV started and the Pitocin started to flow into my arm sending that cool, intravenous, fluid reminder that a new life was en route.

It was 530 pm.

I cried and called my mom. I cried because I was frustrated that my plans were not working out.  She was on her way to go hiking with my brother, who is about to move to Germany, in a state park in Florida. She felt the distance and I could hear the ache in her voice. Oh sweet mama...what a brave and beautiful woman she is, managing 5 children in 5 different parts of the globe. Truly, her children rise and call her blessed;)

Anyways...I told her my frustration with having to be induced, how I was so frustrated and felt like a failure.  She (graciously and gently) put me in my place immediately. She told me that no labor is going to be the same and to swallow my pride and stop the bellyaching (of course, she used much more tender words than that). I felt empowered by my reality check from a woman who has birthed 5 babies...each with a very different labor story.

(*sidenote: needing induction by NO MEANS is a sign of failure. Me and my crazy perfectionist self wanted it to be a certain way and it wasn't. Root of my tears: PRIDE. I am so thankful for the medical advances like Antenatal care, Pitocin, Epidurals, C sections, and so much more.  Many times, these medical advances are helping women, the whole world over, to have safer delivery practices and for that...I cannot be more grateful.)

Raja returned to the house where Lindy and our boys were to get things settled for the night (bathe Adam, change ostomy bag, etc etc).

I ordered food. And by food...I mean a chickpea salad, hummus and pita bread, cookies, and a lemon bar. I ordered them from my favorite little cafe that employs vulnerable woman here in Musoorie. Two of my favorite ladies there walked the food over and came to wish me luck.

Then I devoured the food...and by God's mercy...nausea somehow was not an issue and I kept it all down. But I still don't know why on earth I ate so much. Nerves? Hormones? whatev. It helped;)

I then put the pedal to the metal.
I decided that I could lie in bed and rest and sleep as I was emotional and tired.
Or I could get out of bed, walk, and use that glorious thing called a labor ball.

I decided to get out of bed. I sat on that labor ball and even did squats around the room, getting back in the bed every time the nurse came in to monitor the baby.

I started to feel the contractions more but nothing too intense yet.

Raja got back about 2 hours later and he said he could tell I was going to have the baby soon. He saw a change in my demeanor and could see a new focus in my eyes. That pumped me up even more. I started doing more squats and sat on the ball with each contraction.

I was getting inspired and I was going to have this baby. I was ready to embrace induction and whatever else was needed to have my healthy babe.

The doctor came again about 10 pm. I was hoping to be ATLEAST halfway to 10 cm by then. But she checked and I was just 3-4 cm. So all that time, all that Pit, and still only 2 cm more?
Man. That was frustrating.

She also decided she needed to break my water. The head was low, I was having regular contractions, and she wanted to have the baby sooner rather than later with the decels we had seen earlier. Made sense, medically, but still took a few minutes for me to accept. (With Elliot, they broke the water when I was already 9 cm dilated. He delivered 15 minutes later...it was crazy fast).

It was a good thing she broke it because I had very little water left (and therefore not much to cushion little Rohan's body) and that could have been what was causing the decels.

Anyways...THAT sped things up FO REAL.

The contractions picked up in intensity really fast. I was now deep breathing and near tears with each contraction. I was on that labor ball, leaning against Raja, listening to him read any Scripture He could think of over me. And it was actually BEAUTIFUL. We didnt have that time with Elliot's birth and I was thankful for that time with Raja.

About an hour and a half later, I started feeling intense pressure.

I hollered (yes, hollered) for the nurses. They came in and I was 9 cm.

Dr Roopa arrived a few minutes later, I was at 10 cm, and we started the pushing. I pushed for a few more minutes than I did with Elliot and truly felt like it was MUCH harder this time. However, I think I kicked the OB last time while I was hollering "dont touch me!" and this time, the OB was spared from kicks and hollering. Bless them both;)

 I was near giving up towards the end but gave it all that I had and out he came.




7lbs 3 oz of Heaven's glory was birthed thru my pains and aches. And boy am I thankful.



Elliot meeting Rohan for the first time. Look at that tenderness on his face;)


Rohan Jude, you are spectacular and I adore you. I wrote this about you a day after you were born:

And just about 24 hours ago, Heaven met earth and the Creator God fused strength and force and endurance into this mama... And He breathed life into these little babe's lungs. And a little boy, beating with eternity, entered this world and joined our family on this pilgrimage;) 

I love you son of mine.

My husband and a few close friends have commented to me multiple times that when something really "sentimental" is happening to me...something that I love and cant quite express words to....they say that I stick out my bottom lip. And I noticed that is EXACTLY what I am doing here;)





sweet banner made by a sweet friend;)