Monday, March 15, 2010

Jade's surgery

And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.  Numbers 12:13

I apologize to all of you who have followed our story.  I long to be able to sit and share everything we are doing more often but I am not juggling the daily things really well lately.  Blogging unfortunately is getting put on the back burner.  This will be a very overdue post.

On March 2nd, Jade was scheduled for surgery on her ears. We have been battling what we thought was impacted wax since we got home.  When I took her to an ENT, he diagnosed her with having keratomas in both her ears as well as wax.  Keratomas in the ear are typically caused by an untreated ear infection that has caused the tympanic membrane (ear drum) to rupture.  He couldn't tell if this was the cause or not because the ear canal was filled by the cyst and wax so he couldn't see the tympanic membrane.

Sometimes, these cysts will grow in the middle ear and wrap themselves around the bones that are used for hearing.  If that was the case, they would have to be removed.  My prayer for my baby girl was that He just keep her hearing intact.  With vision challenges, she so heavily relies on her hearing.  She doesn't look at me to see what I am feeling.  She does it by the slightest change in my tone of voice.  Because of her need to keep her hearing, I took her to our church for prayer one Saturday night.  I just wanted the surgery to be successful.

The doctor who diagnosed her was the same one who performed her surgery.  Right before he went in, he spoke to me about the fact that he may have to do a graft on her tympanic membrane.  If it had ruptured, this would be expected.  I had full peace as they took her in that God was in control.  I never expected the doctor to come out so quickly though.

When he came back out, he informed me and my parents that the cysts were not there!  NOT THERE!  They were gone!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  All he had to remove was impacted wax!  The tympanic membrane was intact and there was no fluid in her ears.  God, you are soooooo good!

This story has been one that I have loved to tell!  I NEVER asked for the miracle of healing but He gave it.  Many have heard the story and said "so the cysts were never in there in the first place."  NOPE!  They were there.  "So how does that work?"  GOD!  He has the healing power to touch someone and remove cysts that were as hard as a wall from two small ear canals and leave only the wax.  Had the doctor who had done the surgery been a different doctor than who had diagnosed it, we would never have been sure.  HE made sure it was the same one.  There is NO DOUBT that GOD'S HAND did this mighty work!  No man...just GOD!

My prayer for her all along is that He use her in mighty ways for His kingdom.  This is just one more testimony of his work in her life.  The sad thing is, I never even thought to ask for healing.  I didn't pray for that.  One friend of mine said to me that I needed to be praying bigger than I was.  He was right.  Someone was praying for that healing and it was in God's plan.  He doesn't always heal.  Sometimes our journeys through the pain without healing is our testimony.  He knows how He plans on using us in this life so He allows in the things that will prepare us as we each need.  I am just so blessed that Jesus intercedes for us and asks for what we need from God the Father.  Thank you Jesus for all you do in my life and in my daughter's. 

Friday, February 19, 2010


Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.  Mark 10:15 

Over the past few months, I have been writing down some of the funny and precious little things Jade has said and/or done.  I thought you might to hear some of them.


*  She loves green beans.  One night she took one in each hand decided to have a GREEN BEAN RACE and see which one could make it to her mouth first.  "Ready.  Set.  Go!"  I just want you to know it was a tie!

*  One day she tripped over her blanket and landed with a belly flop on the floor.  She thought it was hysterical.  She now does it just for fun!

*   As we were washing hands, I asked her "Who loves you?"  I expected the answer of "Mama" or "Jesus".  Jade said "Nancy!" who is a very good friend of mine and yes, she does love Jade.

*  She likes to check things out and make sure they are what she expects they are going to be.  "Mama drive car?"  Yes Mama drive car.  "Congcong drive car."  Nooooo, Congcong tai xiao le! (Congcong's too little!) Then she laughs.

*  While in the tub, Jade says to me "Poop?"  No baobei, you have to wait until I am done with the shampoo before you can go poop.  "Shampoop?"  No baobei...shamPOO.


*  Started greeting all her favorite things as she enters into a room.  Hi shui (her drink)!  Hi car!  Hi bebe (her blanket)!  Hi red lights (on the car)!  Hi turtle!

*  Jade are you being patient?  "No...all done patient?"  She has recently added  "All done wait?" and "All done listen?".

*  A friend of ours has been dealing with some challenges.  I found myself praying for them in the kitchen, not out loud though.  Jade came in from the other room and says to me "Mama, pray _____?"  It is as if she knew.  She continues to do this for this person periodically and seems to fall when they are in need of prayer.  Sometimes even in the middle of the night, she will wake up enough to say "Mama, pray ____?"  We pray and then she is back to sleep. 

*  She wants to know what everything is called.  She will walk around rooms or places and just touch things and say "What's that?  What's that?" as fast as I will answer.  The most fun I have is when I hold off on answering her when I think she knows what it is called.  She will then say to me "Mama! _____"  and name the object she wanted me to name for her.

*  Laying in bed when she should be sleeping yet singing "Jesus loves me" to herself.

*  Singing along to "How Great is our God" while playing in the kitchen.


*  One night, we were doing devotions in Luke 12:16-21.  It is the story of the rich farmer.  I told her in Chinese that he didn't love God (Ta bu ai shen).  She told me "Bu hao" which means bad.  She gets it!

*  Someone had asked me if she wants everything she sees since she was used to so little.  She HAD not.  Just last week, she had been practicing "I want ____" at home.  NOW, in the store it is "Congcong want this."  Oh well, she can ask...doesn't mean I will buy it all.

*  Disney has a new princess.  Her name is Snow Wipes!

*  Other creative words:  oatmilk (aka oatmeal)

*  She added to the Congcong drive car.  Now she asks if the dvd player can drive the car or the bebe or the shui or anything else she can think of.  When she is all done with her list, she laughs and says "Nooooo, only ren (people) drive car!"

*  Every child tries to push back going to sleep.  For Jade, she asks for one more kiss or tai duo le kisses (too many kisses).  Tonight, we spent the evening dancing and singing in the kitchen.  She just kept asking "One more song Mama?  Sing?"  How do you say no to that?

I know there are many more.  I need to write ALL of them down.  If you want to keep up with the funny little things she does, check me out of Facebook.  She is often in my status.

Can you give it all?

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.  So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all;  for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had."   Luke 21:1-4

As I write this, I want you to know these are my thoughts and my feelings.  I'm using this to work through some things.  Why I do it publicly, I'm not sure.  All I know is it helps.

This started the other day as I read through one of my favorite blogs.  I don't read alot of them...being a mom I don't have a lot of time but try to catch up on some of them once a month.  This one always has spoke to my heart though.  As I read all that she has done in Uganda, I ask myself "Could I give all the way she has if God asked me to?"

On a trip to Fushun, China in June 2008, I watched the orphans giving all to show us for people who they only spent a few days with.  I kept wondering then how people do that...just freely give all.  The widow who gave all kept coming to mind during that trip.  When I returned home from that trip, God then asked me if I was willing to give all.  I was offered a chance to return to China and work a year in a foreign run orphanage (Shepherd's Field Children's Village).  Also in front of me was something I had always longed for...a man who wanted to marry me.  God asked though...was I willing to give it all?  I sit here crying though I know with every ounce of my being I did what I was supposed to do.  I gave him up and went to China.  (I now know he was not the man that was designed for me nor was it my time.)  As I read Katie's blog telling of all she has given and knowing that she is where she is supposed to be, it just made me start to think.  Am I still giving it all for HIM?

I know that as much as God called me to go to SFCV for a year, He also called me to be home.  On the day that I got the news that I was not to go, He spoke one thing to my heart to comfort me on why I was to be here.  That has yet to happen so time will only tell if that was Him or just my head.  No matter what, I know He has had me home so I could have the support I have needed to raise Jade, for my father's cancer and now one more thing has been added to the plate.  I will share that at a later time but I know that My Father in heaven has known each of us before we have taken our first breath and He knows what is going to happen in our lives.  There is NOTHING He can't handle and I will get through this one too.

While I have been home, I have found myself living more like the world.  I'm not liking this at all.  I had so little in China and it felt so good.  Here, I have so much.  I have this huge house.  Unless God is going to fill it with a family, I feel selfish having it.  I lived without my favorite foods due to the insane cost of them.  I was unwilling to justify purchasing them.  Now that I'm home, I don't seem to stop indulging on things that are not necessary but desired.  I want to live a simplier life yet I am not making those choices.  This bothers me.  This is just one way I don't feel like I am giving "all."

I know that there is more to all of this and I need to sort it out in my head and in my heart.  While I spent time with my best friend in Buffalo this past week, her oldest daughter asked her a question.  "Why is Dawn always frustrated?"  It made me cry.  I'm not hiding it as much as I hoped I had been.  I think I have it all in check so no one can see but something keeps eating at me.  I can't put my finger on just one thing but it is effecting me so I am on edge and getting frustrated over little things.  My head just keeps running things over and over.  My doubts.  My fears.  My failures.  Other people's opinions.  I just want it all to stop.

This blog wasn't written in one sitting.  As this day has progressed, I have come to realize something.  For now, there is only one thing I need to give it all in...that is being a mom.  I think that is where the enemy is hitting me.  I have so many doubts, fears, areas I think I have already failed her in and worries over how other's are judging my abilities/inabilities as a mother.  There is only one who matters.  That is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  As I tell Jade, He loves her more than I ever could.  He also loves me more than anyone else ever could.  Because of that, God the Father is going to continue to shape and mold me to be more like Jesus.  He never said that being molded was easy.  Being pinched.  Being poked.  Being put under heat.  He never said that anyone would like it.  Becoming the woman that He desires me to be involves challenges in my life.  I have always said that I love the fact that He loves me so much that He wants to make me more like Jesus.  I tell my friends that it is such an honor to know He loves us that much that He would do that for us and not leave us the way we are.  May I come to a place that I can rest in knowing that this will all be so He can shine more through me.  May I be able to freely give all to be the woman and mother He wants me to be for the child He has given me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Five Months as a family

For God has not given us a spirit of fear: but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7

It is hard to believe but five months ago today, Jade was placed in my arms.  I guess the picture of that day is very fresh in my mind as a friend of mine is running Project Chosen this month on her blog.  Each day is a new family's adoption story.  Our story is on there too.  As I showed the pictures to Jade, she knew it was me but didn't recognize herself in the picture from the day I got her.  She has seen herself in those glasses and the hat but didn't put the two together.  Maybe it is because she is so different from the child she was on that day. 

Jade came to me very anxious.  In three short years, this little one was abandoned at 7 days old, lived at an orphanage with different caretakers caring for her daily and spent 6 months or so living with a foster family.  Just as she would get comfortable and things were "stable" or predictable, things would change on her.  That is life for most children who live in an orphanage setting.  She had started to bond with a foster family only to be moved again.  I guess I started thinking about whether SHE thinks about that or not after the dream she had on Friday.

I went to go get her up from her nap when I heard her stirring.  It was different though.  Usually, she will call out my name.  Not this time.  All she kept saying was "here".  She just kept repeating it, slowly yet sounding very sad.  I wasn't sure if she was asleep or awake so I stood outside her door for awhile.  I called out her name a few times very quietly but no response.  She was sleeping.  She does talk in her sleep so this didn't surprise me.  It was her tone that did surprise me.  When she finally called out "mama", I went in to get her.  As soon as I picked her up, she started listing things and in chinglish, she told me those things were "bu here" or not here.  I continued to reassure her that each and every item was still here and that mama would always be here for her.

My heart broke for her and for other older orphans that can remember life before adoption.  How many of them go through this?  How many fear losing things that they have come to know...come to rely on...come to trust?  I can't imagine what some of them have gone through before they had a family much less what goes on in their heads afterwards.  As we drove to my friends house that evening, she asked me again  "Mama here?".  I frequently tell her "mama loves you...always."   This time I told her that and I will always be here for you.  I also told her that Jesus would always love her and also always be there for her.  Though she may not truly understand what that means for her life yet, it gave me comfort knowing that He is watching over her.  He is keeping watch and He never sleeps.  No matter what her fears are or my fears are, He does give us a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind when we call on Him during those times. Thank you Lord for doing that.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How do I love you?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Loving someone isn't always easy to do.  Fortunately, I didn't have to learn how to love my daughter.  I am amazed that even before they brought her to me and she was placed in my arms, I loved her.  I loved her even before I knew who she was...before I knew she was born.  That is how God was with each one of us.


God knew each one of us before we were born.  He knows the beginning from the end so He knew all that would happen in each of our lives before we took our first breath.  He knew how we would feel about Him and the choices we would make and yet He still loved us.

Many have rejected Him.  Many are presently rejecting Him.  Many will come to reject Him.  Wow!  I don't know if I would want to love someone if I knew ahead of time that they were going to reject me.  It says though..."For God so loved the world...".  There is not one out there that He has not loved or is not presently loving even though He knows what they are feeling in their heart towards him and his Son.  Could you do that?  Could you love someone if you knew ahead of time that they were going to reject you?

Loving someone makes you vulnerable.  Loving someone does mean they could reject you.  Loving someone does mean you will get hurt at times.  I know that when my daughter started one of her newest "jokes", it hurt.  I would say to her lovingly, "Give mama a kiss" and she, with a smile on her face, turns her face from mine.  She thinks she is funny.  She even tells me "Congcong funny" and laughs when she does it.  Does she know that each time she does it, I feel rejected?  No.  Nor will I ever tell her that.  Do I know that is not what she is trying to say to me?  Yes.  I know her heart.  I know she loves me.  Loving someone does make you very vulnerable to be rejected.  Loving someone can also bring you the greatest blessings. 

Mark 12:30-31 has Jesus telling us 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.  If he commands us to do this, there must be a good reason for it.  He never commands us to do something that is going to harm us.  For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11  He has promised us that. 

If he has called us to love others, are we not to make ourselves vulnerable and do so?  There are many out there who need you to love them.  They often make it difficult to love them.  They often push us away.  There are many out there who are hurting and need to feel loved.  There are many who have been rejected and afraid to open up their heart and love someone.  I ask you to make yourself vulnerable and love someone.  God did it for you.  He gave us the gift of his Son because of his love for us.  Who are we then to not turn around and love someone else?  May you be blessed beyond measure because you did.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Update on my father

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

I have meant to blog about my father's progress since surgery for several days now.  Now that the holiday has past, I am finding a moment to breathe and want to update all of you.

Dad is home now and has been for over a week.  I have been amazed at how well he is healing and see the hand of God all over it!  Those faithful prayers have been heard and I thank you for that.  I think what is even more amazing is my father ALSO believes that it is those prayers being heard and answered on why he is healing so well. 

Paul and his granddaughter, Jade resting after all the presents were opened

When dad came out of surgery and we were able to see him in the recovery room, I was already amazed there.  He was coherent and already joking around less than one hour after surgery.  I remember I wasn't doing that well after my own surgery and this was BRAIN SURGERY!  Thank you Lord that you placed your angels around him and are continuing to KEEP WATCH over him. 

Less than 24 hours after the surgery, he was being moved out of the ICU into a room.  Another huge wow!  Daddy at that time said he had really good drs and surgeons watching over him and that is why he was healing so well.  Leave it to me but I couldn't let that moment go.  "No daddy, this is the Lord!  He did this."  He is the great physician.  He is the great healer.  I told daddy that day how many people I had sent emails out to and how many of them had shared his need for prayer with their prayer warriors/lists/circles/churches/etc.  I figured in my own little head that there was easily over a thousand people who at least prayed once for my daddy.  This has obviously made a difference to him.  People that didn't even know him and people that he didn't know had faith were praying for him.  Thank you Lord that you put the needs of others on our hearts and we are given the opportunity to be able to come to you with our requests.  No matter how big or small, you listen to the ones you call yours and hear our prayers.  Thank you for that gift and the one you are giving our family as we watch my daddy heal.

The road ahead is not yet clear though.  He has gotten his prognosis.  The cancer that was found in his lung 3 years ago has metastasized and moved to his brain.  The original cancer is called small cell cancer.  It is known as an agressive cancer. The scan in August of the body, not the brain, had shown no new signs of the cancer.  His oncologist had been hopeful since my father had almost made it to the 3 year mark with nothing showing up.  For now, he will have to undergo radiation treatments.  They are not going to start until he has healed from the surgery.  He will start with 2 weeks worth of radiation (5 days each week) and then assess if he needs more.  At this time, they are not planning on doing radiation on the entire brain, just where the tumor was located.  Praise the Lord!  Due to the fact that this is in his brain, they will not treat him with chemo. 

One of the things the doctor has prepared my father with is the fact that though no cancer is showing up anywhere else, since it has metastasized, there are "seeds" of it in his body.  Though they have not grown, we need to expect that those seeds could grow at any time. 

One of the other amazing things I have watched is my father's attitude.  Though this man has every right to feel many emotions right now, he appears to be fully at peace with everything.  He is calm.  He is not appearing stressed.  He is worried though about my mother and I.  My mother is trying to be strong for him and that worries him.  My brother is worried about her too. 

God was so gracious.  He shut the door in China for me knowing this was going to happen.  I can't imagine how I would have felt dealing with this over there.  He has also given me Jade.  This forces me to keep my emotions in check and keep giving them over to God so they don't impact her.  I can tell you that one of my most precious memories of her and a sign of her heart was the day before my father's surgery.  I stood in the kitchen crying and trying to hide it.  Jade was sitting across the room and said "Mama crying?"  I said "yes baobei".  She said "Shall we pray?"..."Yes, baobei."  She is already knowing that when things are difficult, we pray.  May she always know that this is what we do as He listens and He answers prayers.

Thank you again to all the prayer warriors out there.  It is because of your faithfulness in bringing our needs to the Father that my father is healing and emotionally handling this so well.  On behalf of the entire Rittenhouse family, thank you.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


When you pass thorugh the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2

On Friday, December 4th, my father went in for an MRI.  They found a tumor the size of a golf ball in his right frontal lobe.  It is large enough that it has pushed his brain over 7mm.  He has been suffering from the side effects of this for a while now.  I noticed changes in him almost immediately when I returned from China.  It doesn't matter how long it has been there.  What matters now is the future.

My father, Paul, and Jade

Today, we head to the hospital for his brain surgery. They are going to be able to remove it. Praise the Lord!  The surgery should last only 2 hours.  My father is very pleased with the surgeon he has and has great faith in his ability.  They will do a biopsy on the mass.  It could take up to 10 days to receive the results.  After reviewing the MRI and looking at my father's history with cancer, 3 out of the 4 possibilities could cancer.  I serve a MIGHTY God.  He is NOT a God of probabilities.  He is BIGGER than all the scenarios we can put together in our heads. I am praying for another miracle.  Two and a half years ago, he cured his previous cancer.  I know He is still in the MIRACLE BUSINESS and can do it again.  For that matter, he can make it so there is NO cancer.

One of the challenges Dad faces in recovery is his ability to fight off infection.  He has diabetes.  The doctors have had him on a steroid to reduce the swelling prior to surgery.  This will also hopefully help in his ability to fight off any infection. 

Whatever He allows into our family's lives, I know it will be for a purpose.  I can't explain why these things happen to people.  I just have watched God walk people through these things.  They may be dark, nasty, horrible things but He loves each of us enough that He promises not to leave us in the middle of them.  He takes us THROUGH them.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:11-13.  I know in my own life, He took me through some very dark and horrible things that I would not wish upon my enemy but THROUGH it, I eventually came to know Jesus as my Savior. 

I had always known about Jesus.  I knew He was born of a virgin, came to save us from our sins, died on a cross, rose again 3 days later and will come again but I NEVER KNEW HIM!  I knew OF Him but didnt' have a personal relationship with Him.  That is the difference.  I had to go through some really awful things before I was ready to humble myself and realize I needed a Savior.  Only then did I call upon Him and sought Him with ALL my heart.  I came to know that Jesus was there as my best friend.  He was there when I couldn't get someone on the phone.  He was there when I was crying in my car on the way to work.  He was there when I was suffering anxiety attacks and nothing before ever stopped them.  He was there as I went off meds for depression and felt like I was in a deep dark pit and there was no way out.  I can now look back on times in my life before I knew Him that I know He was there.  Those really dark things that could have had far worse endings, He was there then too.  He protected me then even though I wasn't trusting in Him but only in myself to take care of me.  My prayer is that through this brain tumor, my family will come to know Him and trust in Him alone. 

When times are rough, there is nothing greater than the peace you receive from Jesus.  He carries you when you don't think you can go on.  He gives you strength to endure.  If you don't know Him as your best friend, ask Him into your life.  Admit to Him that you are a sinner and you no longer want to do it on your own.  Ask Him to be your Savior.  He is standing right beside you with His hand stretched out to you.  He just wants you to reach for Him.  He will never make you take His hand.  You will never regret it if you do.