My Sweet Boy...

My Dear Sweet Liam,

Well, we have finally reached the day I have been thinking about since the day you were born. Tomorrow afternoon we will be at one of the best children's hospitals in the country, working with one of the very best doctors to give you a smile that you will love someday. You see, to us you are perfect, beautiful in every way. If your daddy and I had it our way, we would never change anything about the way you look. You smile more than anyone we have ever known, so it seems a little silly to change one of the things we love most about you! It doesn't feel right to say that we are "fixing" or "repairing" your lip because to us, it's not broken. Your smile works perfectly, and you are truly one of the happiest little guys in the world. However, we know we can't be selfish right now. We need to think about what's best for you and how you will feel as you grow older. We imagine that you will want to have a smile like all of your friends. This is the reason why we are having your surgery tomorrow. I am thankful that you will be too young to remember and that you can grow up feeling proud of the way you look.

For the past six months, we have taken as many pictures as we can and have proudly hung pictures of you and your beautiful smile all over our house. I will cherish those pictures and these moments we've shared as long as I live. The moment I held you in my arms when you were born, I was in love. It is a mother's instinct to do everything she can to protect her child from harm, so I know tomorrow will bring its own set of challenges for me. Please know that I am praying with all of my heart and that so many others are doing the same.

I've wondered so many times why God decided to give you this special smile. Years before I had you and your brother, I always was drawn to the pictures of children from other countries who have cleft lips/palates. I think it was God's way of preparing my heart for your arrival. I know someday we will understand why, and I am excited to see where this journey leads us together as a family, as well as individually. Your daddy and I have already bought three other children smiles in your honor, and it is our hope that we can do this for at least 100 children. We are so lucky to live in a country with access to such great doctors and hospitals and that we can afford this surgery for you, so we felt led to give others the same opportunity you will have - the chance to feel proud of their smile. Will we reach our goal of 100 smiles together as a family? Will we go on mission trips to help other families across the world? Will you or Noah help children in your same situation someday? God has a reason for this, and I am so excited to find out His purpose. Your birth was a catalyst for something, possibly many things, and I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

I love you with all of my heart, and I only wish I could take the place of any fear and pain you might experience. Earlier this week, as I was preparing my mind and my heart for tomorrow, I found myself getting very sad at the thought of the nurse taking you from me to go to surgery. Then, I heard a still small voice say, "Amy, he will not be alone. I will be with him, caring for him, while he is away from you." And you know what followed? Peace. I know God will be with you the whole time because as difficult as it is for me to imagine, He actually loves you even more than I do, and I love you in a way that is impossible to describe with words. So tomorrow, when they take you, rest peacefully knowing that God is holding you and have the sweetest dreams. When you open your eyes, I will be right there, smiling at you and ready to help you in everyway possible. Be strong and know that your daddy and I love you with our whole hearts, my beautiful, beautiful son.



Oh November...

I knew it would hit me today. I've been anticipating November since soon after Liam was born, knowing that reality would really set in once the Halloween festivities ended. Up until this point, I've stayed busy focusing on the present rather than thinking about the future or reflecting on the past. Maybe that's why I stopped blogging for awhile.

We are only a couple weeks away from Liam's surgery now, and our family is officially on lockdown. The only time our family will be out and about are the days I have to work. We just don't want to risk Liam getting sick and having his surgery postponed and rescheduled. As much as I don't want to go through this, I am ready for it to be over.

As it is with most of us these days, I have never had more to do at work, and I'm trying my hardest to compartmentalize in order to keep balance in my life. Work stays at work and home stays at home. Today is the first day I'm finding it harder to do that - I think because my workload is so overwhelming and because of this impending surgery. I found myself thinking about Liam at work and thinking about work at home.

In some ways, I do feel silly getting worked up about this. I mean, in my head when keep things simple, I say things to myself like, "It's only his lip...just cosmetic. He's just having a little plastic surgery. It's not like it's heart surgery." Then, in the next second, I think to myself, "...but he's my baby. I've never had a baby whose needed surgery. He's going to be on a ventilator. I hope he isn't in too much pain." I can feel satan attacking me, too, trying to put fear and doubt in my heart like, "What if he doesn't wake up? What if when the nurse takes him from me it's the last time I see him?" It's horrible to think thoughts like that, and the only way I've been able to find peace is by praying and trusting that God loves Liam even more than I do, and he has both of our best interests at heart.

My friend Kerri sent me this verse yesterday, and I love it: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24).

People have been asking us a lot lately what we need and how they can help us as the big day gets closer. Honestly, we would appreciate all of your prayers when it's time for his surgery. I know everyone's prayer list is so long as it is. There are so many people in need, so many sick family members, children hurting, etc. I know it's hard to remember all of the people who need your prayers, but if you don't mind praying for our son, I would be forever grateful. We believe that "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16), so if you find it in your hearts and can remember during your own very busy lives, here are the things I am praying for as his surgery gets closer and closer.

1. Liam stays healthy between now and his surgery date.
2. Liam will make it through surgery without any complications.
3. That we feel God's presence and peace as we wait for the big day and during the surgery itself.
4. For God to guide Dr. Havlik's hands as he reconstructs Liam's lip with perfection and precision.
5. For this to be the only surgery Liam will need to give him a smile that he will love someday.

It's funny to me how Liam is well-known for always smiling, all of the time, at everyone he sees. In fact, I was having a rough day day last week, and when Liam shot me one of his famous grins, I said, "Liam, you are always good for a smile!" Ryan agreed that was the perfect way to describe our baby boy. What are the chances that a baby born with what others would consider an imperfect lip has a smile that will truly melt your heart and bring you more joy than you could ever imagine? To us, he is perfect. To us, he is beautiful. To us, we never want him to change. If it was up to us, we would never have this surgery because we love him just the way he is, but we know someday he will be so glad that we had this procedure done. Today Noah said, "Mommy, can't we just keep it (Liam's lip) like this? I like it like this." Me, too, buddy. Me, too.

A Dry Spell

I don't know if that's the right way to describe my lack of blogging, but I just couldn't bring myself to write about anything, partly because we have two children under 3 and were remodeling the kitchen. The other part was due to just not feeling like writing about much of anything. Poor Liam and Noah - they won't have any details from August 22nd to now.

Well boys, I can sum up the past couple of months in a 2 words: blissfully busy! We have never been so busy in our lives as we have this past month, but at the same time, I have never felt happier. I find myself hurrying from one activity to the next - driving too fast most of the time. I slow down only for those perfect moments with Ryan, Noah, and Liam - the ones where you stand back and ask yourself, "Could I really be this lucky?" Here is a photo montage of the past two months:

Plow Days in South Whitley to help raise money for a friend's daughter. Please add sweet Rylie, who is fighting Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, to your prayer list.

Noah riding his first pony. It was awesome to see so many people come together for this great event to help Rylie!

One of my best friends, Jess, and my God Daughter, Kendall, came for a visit! We went to Apple Works one day and had a wonderful time.

I couldn't decide which to post...

...so I thought I would just add them both. Posing for beautiful pictures kept us busy.

Noah went hiking twice in Brown County with Ryan. I'm not sure if Noah has ever had more fun!

Oh wait, except when he's riding his bike. He spent HOURS riding bikes the past two months.

And while Noah rode his bike, Liam and I just watched, laughed, and snuggled.

We made it to the Franklin Fall Festival again this year and had a great time! This is the three of us at the courthouse.

Here's Noah riding his first-ever carnival ride. He tried an obstacle course/house thing but got a little scared and had to turn around.

We took lots of goofy pictures!

...because that's an easy way to entertain my husband the kids.

We took our first family trip to Evansville with Ryan for work and got to visit my cousin, Angie, and her kids, Bradyn, Jude, Grace, and Lila (not pictured). When Ryan asked Noah if he wanted to go to Evansville, Noah said, "Oh Daddy, thank you so much for inviting me to Evansville!" You would've thought we were taking him to Disney World.

Gluttony: The only word to describe the amount of food we consumed from Biaggi's, my favorite Italian restaurant.

Noah taking his typical "I'm-not-going-to-smile-for-you" picture. I promise, he was having a good time!

Liam tried rice cereal for the first time. The much anticipated event was met by pure dislike by my baby boy. Let's hope he likes fruits and veggies better because I have made a bunch, and we're just waiting for Sunday to start giving them to him.
That was a quick run down of the major events and some of my favorite pictures from the past two months. The only thing I left out was our big kitchen remodel, and I'm saving that for the big reveal. We get our countertops November 19th, so I'll post pictures then.

I love my life, as busy and hurried as it may seem most of the time, I am enjoying the moments when we can slow down and just laugh together. We live for those moments and cherish them with all that we have.
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