With so many new readers, I've been asked questions about our story....the whole story is within my blog but I thought it would be nice to have the main gist of it all together so you could read it.
Jon and I are both native Floridians! i was born in north Florida and grew up in Perry. My great aunt and uncle raised me. Jon was born and raised in Lakeland Fl. He had a more 'normal" upbringing. We met briefly in a class at Southeastern University but really got to know each other when I went to apply for a job at the Talbot House where he was the director! We eloped in a month:) That was over 28 years ago so it worked for us!!!!
After we got married, Jon finished his last year of college and I worked at a juvenile probation officer. Our dream was to move to NYC and work in inner city ministry. We did just that for a few years. Our oldest son Steve was born there. The next year we found out we were having TWINS! But they died at about 21 weeks. That was such a heartache to me and I walked through a deep valley for several years. By God's grace, I recovered from the loss and a few years later we finally got pregnant again....I was on bed rest most of the pregnancy....then Sam was born. the day after he was born, I was holding him and he opened his eyes....in that moment our lives turned upside down. Somehow no one had noticed but our child was blind....it was very obvious. During that time, I committed to trust God no matter what happened. Fast forward a year and we see a picture of a little blind boy in China, we realize we could offer him a family, 9 months and 6 days later, I'm picking Shad up from a cold Chinese orphanage!
The years roll by, my husband is the pastor of Grace Church and the chaplain at Zephyrhills Correctional and we are a happy family of 5....until I see a little blind girl's picture. She looks just like our son Sam and her picture keeps me up all night. She is only 4 years old and in an Ukraine mental institution....we decide we have to adopt this little girl, Sarah. One little girl, turns into two as we find out about another little girl there at the institution. Selah also joined our family.... both have extreme delays and are malnourished.
Our life was perfect! Five great kids that we adored!! The girls just fit into our family perfectly. We had a wonderful summer last year, every day was a celebration. We enjoyed so many "firsts" for the girls....they were blossoming and changing, learning LOVE and family.
Then we left home August 10, 2012 for Sam's annual eye exam in NY. At three years old, he had been given some sight through a corneal implant. He had had great success and we hoped that the surgery might offer some help for our daughter Sarah who also had Peter's Anomaly the same rare eye condition our son had.
On August 15, my husband were walking Sam and Selah in a jogging stroller along the banks of the Erie Canal. We have walked that area for years, it is behind the Ronald McDonald House where we stay. Jon looked away for approximately 4 seconds (per the police report) to check the time on his cell phone, as we were dropping off another family at the airport. In those 4 seconds, one of the children must have caused the stroller to move, and it rolled into the Canal. Jon jumped in and fought the current and somehow got to a tree with branches that went into the water and was able to pull the stroller and children up as he was screaming for help. Thankfully help came and they got the children out. Both were not breathing, Sam was revived there but Selah was without a heartbeat for 30-45 minutes.
Selah suffered brain damage and is in the recovery stage. We don't know how far she will come. At this point, she is alert, has a normal sleep/wake rhythm and is responsive but in a persisiant vegetative coma. We started her on in a Fish Oil Study that has shown great promise in reducing inflammation in the brain and allowing for healing. We've done 80 sessions of HBOT so far.
She was moved from NY to Jacksonville Fl in December for Rehab and we brought her home on January 28, 2013. She is now home with nursing. We are learning our new "normal"
Since I wrote this page- Our Story- 6 years have passed and we have continued to trust God. Selah is still home with us (in a brand new house) our other four kids have grown and thrived. Jon continues as the pastor of Grace Church and he is still the Senior Chaplain at Zephyrhills Correctional. Jon has faced some health issues the last few years too but we've made it through!
My life has been a challenging journey but learning to trust God has brought and will bring me through!