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Coach Chapman's Blog

I have wanted to write this blog for a while now and now is finally the time. Fahlin is “s l o w.” A slowpoke. Piddler. Dawdler. Dilly-dallier. Snail. Straggler. You get the picture? It never fails, if she is getting ready for school, she is the last one ready. If it’s church, she is the last one. If it’s just to go anywhere, she is the last one.

But there is one thing you never want to do and that’s use the words, “Hurry up!” Oh my. If you say those two words, then get ready for the storm. She panics. She immediately shuts down. She is incapable of “hurrying up.” If fact, she does just the opposite. She goes slower. She sulks. She is totally flustered when she tries to hurry. She cannot function. If she’s trying her shoes, she suddenly forgets how. If she is looking for a jacket, suddenly she cannot find one. She gets upset. She huffs and puffs and snorts and stomps and mumbles under her breath.

It’s quit comical, but she doesn’t see the humor in “hurrying.” Of course, as you all well know by now, me being the great Dad that I am will fan the flames by adding to her stress. I will pick on her and her attitude by mocking her (in a fun Dad way of course, not in a mean spirited way). My wife will say something like, “Jim Chapman, stop agitating her!” or I’ll pick her up and kiss on her when she doesn’t want to be picked up and kissed on. Always makes things worse, according to my wife (with whom I often disagree on this point).

Eventually, she gets her act together, but not until we’ve exhausted every word of encouragement we can think of. Rare is the occasion she is first. It happens, but not often. I think we have finally realized that this is who she is. Fahlin the slow poke. Better a slow Fahlin than not having a Fahlin at all. We’ll take it!

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First of all, it is Good Friday as write this, the first day of Easter weekend, which is without question the greatest series of events ever to have happened in the history of the world…PERIOD. I do not want to forget that as we celebrate our risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

I love fixing breakfast for the girls. I love eating breakfast. In fact, I recently told my family (not to be morbid as they often accuse me) that if I should happen to pass away (I’m not planning on it anytime soon, mind you), I want breakfast foods at my funeral. But, I digress.

Fahlin just made me laugh by something she said. As we were talking, I was asking her if she ever ‘thinks’ in Chinese, because the other day, I could have sworn she was speaking Chinese to Jayne.

She said, “Dad, we were pretending to be Chinese!”

What?!?!? They were PRETENDING to be Chinese. Hmmmmm. I think they ARE Chinese. Well, we have come to the realization that while our girls may appear to be Chinese on the outside, they are far from it. They are as Anglo-Saxon as it gets, I think. I’m not even so sure they realize it even when they look into a mirror.

Fahlin is the best dinner (breakfast) conversationalist we have. You never really know what she will say next. So when she finished her breakfast, she put her stuff away, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I remarked that she had the softest skin of anybody on the world.

“You’ve told me that before, Dad!” she said in her Fahlin tone.

“Well, you do,” I said. “Why do you think that is, sweetie?”

She looked at me and softly replied, “Because of my special heart?” It was more a question that a response, but wow, what a thought.

“You know,” I said, “I bet that does have something to do with it. How ’bout I ask the doctor about next time I see him?”

She nodded and ran off. I guess I will ask him if that has anything to do with her soft skin. But that was our Good Friday breakfast conversation.

The rest of the day will be rather somber. A teacher friend and colleague at school passed away this week rather suddenly. The service is today, Good Friday. I know now, however that Coach Campbell is truly experiencing what the resurrection of Jesus made possible all those years ago, and seeing first hand, that for which we long…

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The cardiac team of Vandy doctors have convened. They present cases and information on Thursdays. We had been waiting for news, and now we have it. First of all, Fahlin is doing great. Much to the surprise of the team, she continues to defy all odds up to this point. She is a miracle child and we never lose sight of that fact.

It appears we now have somewhat of a plan for the next six to twelve months for Fahlin. The heart cath revealed a lot of helpful information. Her new pulmonary artery is growing, though not as significantly as they had hoped, but by the same token, nothing to be alarmed about as well. In order increase the blood supply they put two new stents in that area. Her left lung however, has continued to amaze everyone with increased growth in all her ancillary vessels. They are five times bigger than a year ago. This is very good. They also informed us that she has two smaller holes in her heart that they must not have previously seen, but do not seem to be too concerned about.

Anyway, all of this is good news. The plan is to be in NO hurry. She will have a cath in six to twelve months, depending on how she’s doing. At that time, pressures in the heart’s chambers will be taken, measurements of blood vessels and arteries will also be taken, all in preparation for the next step, reconstruction and re-plumbing of her heart. The fact that she continues to grow is HUGE. They say they are in no immediate hurry, no reason to hurry. They want to get it right.

We want them to get it right as well. I cried. The thought of having our daughter go through major open-heart surgery (even more major than the first) is quite daunting. Our eight year old. Serious. Very serious. Scary, so scary. But, deep breath here, we have time to wait, pray, prepare and nurture Fahlin as we endeavor to provide her the best quality of life we can give. The best love we can give. The best family she could have. What the future holds, we do not know. Life is precious. Life is short. We know she is in good hands. We have all the confidence in the world in out cardiac team. But ultimately, she is in the only hands that truly matter, God’s. There are no better hands.

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Last night, after grilling burgers and watching Wall E, which Fahlin had never seen, and after eating said burgers, the ‘littles’ stayed out at the table to draw and write. Jayne drew a picture of a large footed girl, who I called the ‘Large Footed Girl’ and Fahlin wrote a story on her white board. For some reason, she loves that little white board, well, any white board for that matter. She draws and writes on them all the time.

I know the impact these girls have had on my life to this very day, ever since our 16 year old was placed in our arms, but I have often wondered what is going through their minds? Especially now that they are getting older and are now understanding more of how their lives have been changed. And especially Jayne and Fahlin, who actually spent years in China before being adopted, I’m sure there are memories in those brains of theirs. So often, they keep those thoughts to themselves, but no so much last night. Fahlin started writing a story on her white board. I usually don’t pay much attention until they are about finished and even then when I read them aloud, I change them and the girls get all riled up that I am not reading their story correctly. They hate it when I do that (I however, love messing with them).

But, last night Fahlin’s story started out with, “Once upon a time there was a little baby from China…” ok, brace yourselves and be ready to cry. I am going to share the entire with you. It’s not very long, but wow, so poignant.

"Once upon a time there was a little baby from China named Xue (Fahlin's given name), who had no parents and was very sad. But when she was about to cry a mother was walking in. She knew that the mother would be hers. The end."

It wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

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