Coach Chapman's Blog

Okay. Big sigh. Even though Fahlin’s heart cath looms next week, she actually started back to school today. Yesterday, Yolanda took her by to take her books back and to get reacquainted with her teachers and class and, yes, as you may have surmised, that did not go well. Prior to going, huuuuuge meltdown. So much so that Yo (my pet name for my wonderful wife with the outstanding parenting skills) actually lifted her and carried her out to the car. When she arrived, head was down, no eye contact, fought back both tears and smiles. Thankfully, her first-grade teacher saw her, hugged her and loved on her. That made all the difference.

Fast forward to today. Here is a direct quote from my wife’s text this morning, “…has been dropped off. No tears, smiling a little.” Later in the day, we got a text from her teacher. Fahlin was playing with friends and smiling. Yes, smiling. Kinda what we thought, once she got there she would be okay. When she got off the bus, more smiles. When she got home, a bit grumpy for a few minutes, but a popsicle cured that.

So, between surgery being moved three times eight weeks ago, finally HAVING surgery, recovery, heart cath being rescheduled three times, school starting back, Mom starting back to work, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, sleeping between two parents every night because someone is all of a sudden afraid of the dark and a general feeling of uncertainty, Fahlin is finally easing back into a life of routine.

You know, as I think about this I realize that it is no wonder I’m exhausted. It doesn’t seem like I am until I stop. STOP. This happens about every three weeks for me. Once I sit down, it’s like a wave of tired-ness hits me. I want to take a nap…I NEVER take naps. They make me feel yucky.

I was reading a devotional about how God places a ‘Mantel’ on us, like Abraham, Peter, even Jesus. Scholars tell us the Mantel was always too big because the Mantel is not designed to fit the person we are, but rather, the person we are to become. I have been chewing on that ever since I read it. I do know this. In our chaotic and uncertain life, God is in control. I know that is somewhat of a Christian cliché, but if there is one thing I have learned in this life is that, cliché or not, God truly is in control. Of the scheduling? Yes. Of surgical outcomes? Yes. Of those ‘God moments? Yes. Of miracles? Yes. Absolutely. Of circumstance? Yes. Of our Mantel? Yes.

Read More about October 10, 2018

A lot has happened since the last blog. I’ve kind of been waiting to see how it plays out. Don’t worry. Fahlin has been doing great. Her recovery could not be going better. What was once a little purple five-year-old whose oxygen levels were 60 on a good day, is now a pink, thriving 4’4” little girl whose oxygen levels now hover around 99. 

Her heart cath was originally scheduled for last Tuesday, Oct., 2nd. They called, “we need to move it to Thursday. Okay. We show up Thursday, “Oh no, we meant next Thursday.” My wife was livid. Next Thursday won’t work, her FMLA runs out. That poor, poor scheduling nurse. They called. “Tuesday, Oct 9th, 8:30 AM.” We arrived. We checked in. So far so good. Our Doctor walks out. We were expecting him to tell us what was going to happen today. “We can’t do the procedure today. The Chicken broth you gave her had fat in it and that counts as a meal, so the anesthesiologists do not feel comfortable.” Wait? What? Oh no, this may actually push my wife over the edge. Apparently, chicken broth strained from chicken noodle soup with fat is not okay. Chicken broth from a bouillon cube IS okay. Our mistake.

I have lost count of how many re-schedules we’ve had. Our daughter is already traumatized enough and this just compounds it. Fahlin doesn’t mind. It’s become our tradition that when a procedure is cancelled, we go to Cracker Barrell and she gets a pancake. She loves pancakes. My wife on the other hand is standing on a ledge of a tall building and I am reaching my hand to her to drag her away from the edge. Our brains are scrambled. Life is a whirlwind. Everything seems uncertain, but as people often remind us, God’s timing is best and He knows why things keep getting moved and rearranged. We on the other hand may never know. So, for now, we breathe deeply and exhale. We take one step at a time. One day at a time. So cliché, yet, so very, very true.

We can’t be mad. Our doctor is so cool and gentle. He told us a story of God’s timing. A couple weeks ago he and his wife were traveling to see their daughters at college. Their flights kept getting delayed, and delayed, and delayed until they could not make their connecting flight in Dallas. So, they were put up in nearby hotel where thy ran into an elderly gentleman who asked them if they were the “praying sort.” He told the man they were. The man held up a picture of a little girl who had obviously had heart surgery. She looked familiar. The night before, the little girl’s heart had stopped and a team of doctors rushed to help save the little girl’s life. Our doctor was part of that team and the little girl was this man’s great-granddaughter. Because of the delay, a God ordained moment in time occurred and reminded us all through that story that God’s timing is always best, whether we know why or not.

So now on to next Tuesday, the 16th.

Read More about October 9, 2018

“When you look upon the face of human suffering, you have two choices. You can turn around and walk away or you can stay, reach out and try to ease that suffering. If you choose to stay, be prepared for the breaking of your heart, for tears of sorrow, for the loss of every earthly thing you own, enduring your own suffering and feelings of inadequacy. Be prepared for a time that you feel that you have not an ounce of strength left to carry on. But somehow, you find that strength when you hold on to His hand until the day you hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”” Dr. M. Joyce Hill, MBBS, FRACGP, AM (Excerpt from the forward of her book, Children of Hope, 29 Inspiring Adoption Stories

Wow. I had just read that and thought, wow. Dr. Joyce Hill has been a friend of ours for many years. She and her husband Robin have played a major role in the lives of two of our daughters, Jayne and Fahlin. Their stories, our story have been included in the book. Jayne actually grew up in Hope Foster Home for the first 4 ½ years of her life before we adopted her. Fahlin is from Maria’s Big House, which Robin and Joyce help oversee. How was I to know that obeying a calling on our lives would end up with us walking through exactly what Dr. Joyce talks about in her book’s forward?

I truly just think of myself as a Dad to these two little girls. Looking back, I guess we did have some hard times with both of the girls. Jaynes issues are too numerous to get into right now, in fact, her story would also require a book of its own, I suppose. And Fahlin, well Fahlin’s story is well, pretty overwhelming itself. It too, I suppose should be a book. I guess I should write a bunch of books, but I digress. If a took the time to reflect I’m pretty sure I would be overwhelmed by the events of our lives with these girls the past three or four years. There’s no time for that. The girls need cared for, taken places, fed, driven to school, picked up from school…etc. Who has time to reflect?

Anyway, in reading the stories included in Dr. Joyce’s book, and in re-reading our own story, who are these people who adopted such children in dire need? Were they crazy or obedient? Sane or not? I stopped trying to wrap my head around these things a while ago. I just live. Just pray. Just trust. What else can we do?

Maybe in the next few blogs I will try to reflect a bit…maybe I’ll forget because I’m busy taking care of the girls. Either way, I’ll be interested to hear what I’m thinking because I’m sure I know myself. Just read the first paragraph again and ponder…

Read More about September 27, 2018

As we continue on this journey known as Fahlin’s story, we can’t help being continually reminded that everything that has happened in Fahlin’s life is simply one miracle after another. Our friend, Dr. Joyce Hill, who, along with her husband Robin Hill, founded Hope Foster Home in Beijing and later partnered with the Show Hope Foundation to open five more care centers for serious special needs orphans, has compiled a book, Children of Hope (available on Amazon), which chronicles the stories of nearly 30 children who were born with no hope of survival, no hope of a family, no hope of ever being loved and most importantly, no hope of ever knowing Jesus. These heart-rending stories tell of child after child finding the necessary medical care while in China and eventually finding a forever family, or rather, a forever family finding them, and their stories.

As you know, two of our daughters come from these care centers. Jayne from Beijing, Fahlin from Luoyang (Maria’s Big House of Hope). I mention all of this not just because Joyce and Robin are friends of ours and our girls’ stories happen to be a part of the book, but because Joyce included a picture of Fahlin we had never seen before. We did not know this picture existed. Fahlin was about four months old. The picture got to me. She looked terrible (maybe awful is a better word). I was saddened when I saw it. My heart hurt. We have always known she was one very, very sick little girl, but this image has been seared into my brain. She literally looked like the palliative care baby she was, being made as comfortable as possible until God took her home.

But as mentioned earlier, God was not ready for Fahlin then. He obviously needed her here on Earth so her story of one miracle after another could unfold for the world to see. I guess I am somewhat grateful (I don’t know if that’s the word I’m looking for or not) that I did not know exactly how bad Fahlin’s heart was or in fact, how sick she really was. Yes, we knew death was an imminent possibility, but I guess I didn’t really know that death really was an imminent possibility. Death. She defied the odds while in China and she continues even now to defy them.

I seriously just don’t know what to think. I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief. I find myself staring at her, wondering what she is thinking about. I wonder if even she knows how wonderfully miraculous she really is. We try to explain things, but after all, she is only nine. I watch her, and after being a month removed now from the surgery, I ask myself, what is she feeling? How does she feel, really? She can’t really put in into words, but my guess is ‘different?’ Will she ever truly know how awesome she really is? And what about the people God has put in her life? The nurses? The doctors? The surgeon? The pastors? Our friends? Our family? Her teachers?

Mind continually blown…

Read More about September 22, 2018