Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Must Read

Friends . . . you definitely need to read this book!

I know that HIV/AIDS is personal to us now, which is why I read this book in the first place . . . it was part of our education to be approved to adopt a child with HIV.

But other than knowing us and our journey to Easton, HIV might not actually be personal to you.  This might be a book that you would NEVER pull off the shelf.

But you should.  Because it will change you.

The brilliant author uncovers the AIDS crisis in Africa with a wealth of history and information, but at the same time with a vivid picture of the cultures and the people that contribute to and are effected by this epidemic.

She deals with issues of injustice, poverty, love, orphans, culture, government, drug companies, activists, prostitutes . . . all through 28 stories of real individuals in the fight against the disease that threatens the very fabric of society in Africa.

I learned so much that I didn't know.  Things I now can't believe that I wasn't taught or haven't been told.  I cried often, became furious, got overwhelmed, but ended with a resolve to join the fight.

I checked this out from the library (notice all my sticky notes since I couldn't underline!), but after reading it I knew I wanted my own copy.  I ordered it from Amazon and got a perfect condition used copy for just $1.50 plus tax!  You won't regret getting this book!

Here are a few stand out quotes to get you ready to read . . .

"Some make for painful reading.  Many of the people I meet wage a daily struggle to stay alive.  All of them have suffered a level of loss of which I can barely conceive.  They have been betrayed by their lovers and their families and their neighbors and their governments.  AIDS has robbed them of much more than health." pg. 17

"Inevitably, serial orphans became something else:  little "families" of children living on their own because there was no one left to take them in.  In the bland language of AIDS, they are called child-head households, a term that does nothing to convey the surreal quality of a nine-year-old gathering firewood, cooking, washing and telling bedtime stories to the seven-, five-, three- and one-year-old left, by default, in her charge. . . . An estimated fourteen million children across Africa have been left without parents because of AIDS."  pg. 35

"He thought about his most recent speaking tour in the United States, where he was told about a cat with kidney problems on dialysis, saw a massive sport utility vehicle with built-in DVD players, heard that the leading epidemic in the country was obesity.  "And here I am stuck with Jennifer and Joyce in my office as they wish they had the most serious and fatal disease to have hit the world so they can get 80 cents every week (from a support group for those with AIDS)."  pg. 222

A quote from Nelson Mandela and his wife, "We live in a world where the AIDS pandemic threatens the very fabric of our life, yet we spend more money on weapons than for the support for the millions infected by HIV.  It is a world of great promise and hope.  It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger.  Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity; it is an act of justice."  . . . 'I find it very difficult to understand how those who have the power to make resources available to save the lives of people can hesitate - they can't afford to hesitate." pg. 328

And that just skims the surface . . . a must read!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Florida Vacation

I'm going to let a whole bunch of pictures do the talking about our vacation . . . they will be able to express what an amazing time we had much better than I could with words!  ( I haven't figured out yet how to make pictures into those cool little collages to condense them so you'll have to just keep scrolling!  It'll be worth it though, there are some great ones of my cuties at the end!)

For family vacation/celebrating my brother's college graduation, my parents used their time-share to take all of us (my parents, us, my bro, and his girlfriend) to Panama City, Florida.  Glo,Ri.Ous.

We had an incredible week full of relaxation, time to meditate on the Word, lots of pool time, 1 hour on the beach (the littles hated it!), golf, good food, game nights (including a 3 hour round of Catchphrase), naps, beautiful weather, time to read (all 3 Hunger Games books), and so much laughter!

At least we got one good picture from our minutes at the beach!

Even the blanket didn't help with his hatred for the sand!

Ava girl loved the water with Daddy, but had no patience with the sand getting all over her!

Okay . . . how cute is he?!  Slap a fanny pack on and he's the cutest tourist you'll ever see!

I know I'm biased, but her beauty takes my breath away at times.  What a precious gift!

Uncle Clay shaved and Grayson couldn't quite figure it out. :)

Pool Time!!

 Grayson had NO fear!  He just jumped in and I guess was banking on someone being there to catch him.  Stressed me out, but he loved every minute!

They had a little putting green and it looks like I have two golfers on my hands!

Ava got to paint a frame for her room . . . it ended up very "glitterific"!

Eating lunch in a boat at Margaritaville!

Grayson play so hard, but when he sees a blankie and that finger goes in, he is a snuggly bug!

We went to Pier Park to ride "Thomas" and to do the other carnival rides.  The kids loved it!

The office at the resort had "orange water" out all the time.  Ava enjoyed this treat several times a day and asked about making some as soon as we got home.  :)

Amazing trip, amazing family, and such a great great God!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Funny Boy

I have a thousand things that I need to be doing right now . . . packing for our Florida trip, final touches on my Sunday School lesson, and the list goes on . . . but I didn't want to leave town before posting a few cute pictures and a video of my boy!

Grayson is growing up so fast and is just plain hilarious.

He has seen Chad and Ava pretend to sing into a microphone so now he grabs anything, holds it to his mouth, and runs around the house yelling singing beautifully at the top of his lungs.  This new trick is actually only funny for about 10 seconds and then we start losing our minds because we can't even hear ourselves think, much less have a conversation!

Grayson also LOVES to clean.  Okay, not so much clean, but he loves to push around a mop or broom. :)  Recently I walked away from the vacuum and came back to find him hard at work.  Not sure why the oven mitt was needed, but he wouldn't take it off!

He's gotten really into books lately, especially ones with trucks or tractors.  How are boys automatically into that kind of stuff?!  Anyway, I found him chillin in his carseat the other day with a few good books!

My little man is also starting to talk more and more and it is SO. STINKIN. CUTE.

I captured a few of his new words on video during one of the rare moments of relative calm, but something is out of whack and I can't upload a video on here.  I'll post it on facebook if you want to here him talk!

We're off to Panama City tomorrow after church for a week of relaxation with my family.  I had intended to post another part of my HIV series before leaving, but it just didn't happen and I sure won't be on the computer this week!

I'll start the series again when I get back AND I have an awesome raffle coming up the first week of June!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From Little Bro to Mr. Lambert

My little brother, Clay, graduated from Emporia State University this weekend . . . such a huge milestone for him that I didn't want to miss!  We are 7 years apart and have lived hundreds of miles apart for half of his life, but we are still close and huge supporters of each other . . . Clay has been encouraging from Day 1 as we've pursued our adoption.  I'm so proud of all he has accomplished and the man he has become!

Emporia is in Kansas, which is a LONG way from New Orleans!  Our 6 day trip included 4 days of driving.  Bleh.  But it was all worth it to surprise Clay and be able to celebrate with him!

Clay has a degree in Elementary Education and will seriously be the BEST teacher!  His professors, mentor, and the teacher he has worked under all had great things to say about him and have high hopes for Clay!

Our time was short, but we had a blast hanging out with my parents, Clay, Kylee (Clay's girlfriend whom we LOVE!), and lots of friends and family!  And Ava loved the extra attention (shocker)!

Pray with me that God will provide the perfect job for Clay . . . I can't wait for him to have his own classroom so he can hang up the prize I made him for Christmas. :)

My parents have a time-share so we're all heading to Florida this weekend for a vacation together to celebrate Clay's accomplishment!  We are SO ready for some fun in the sun and relaxation together! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Truth about HIV: How HIV Works

I've certainly learned more about HIV that I ever expected.  Before 2 months ago, I wouldn't even say that I knew the basics . . . I'd long since forgotten what we are taught in middle school health class!

I've studied the science of HIV/AIDS and read too many words that I can't begin to pronounce!  So for this post, I'll just be sticking with the basics of how the virus works. 

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and it belongs to the group of viruses called retroviruses, who have their genetic material on a single strand of RNA instead of a double-stranded DNA.

Like other viruses, HIV can't replicate on its own, but needs a host cell.  It's host cell of choice is a certain white blood cell, called a T-helper or CD4, which normally works in the body to fight off infection.

When the virus finds one of these cells, it attaches to it, forces its way inside, and takes over.  It begins to make copies of the virus until these copies destroy the CD4 cell and spread out in the body to continue this process.

The immune system is weakened as CD4 cells are destroyed.  Initially, the body responds to this attack, which is why people usually have flu-like symptoms a few weeks after being infected.  The virus is driven back, but can't be completely eliminated.  HIV essentially hides out, even for as long as 10-12 years depending on certain factors, producing little to no symptoms. 

But at some point, the immune system becomes so weakened that the person is vulnerable to infections that someone without the virus might easily fight off.  This is usually when a person discovers they have HIV in the case that they didn't already know.

With treatment, HIV can be managed effectively.  However, without treatment, HIV will eventually result in AIDS.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and occurs when the immune system is so weakened by HIV that it can no longer fight off illness and infections.  These are referred to as opportunistic infections.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), AIDS is diagnosed when an HIV positive person meets one or both of these conditions:

- The presence of one or more AIDS related infections or illnesses
- A CD4 count that has reached or fallen below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.  (A CD4 count ranges from 450 to 1200 in a healthy person.)

HIV Testing 

The most common initial HIV test actual looks for antibodies that are fighting the virus instead of the virus itself.  If this test is positive, another test will be done to confirm the positive result.

For babies, the antibody test can be deceiving.  An infant can have antibodies from the positive birthmother in their system, but actually be HIV negative.  For this reason, another test must be done after enough time has passed for the mother's antibodies to go away.

In our case, Easton will be given a different HIV test (PCR test) that looks for the virus itself instead of just the antibodies so there will be no confusion on his HIV status.


Is your heart heavy?  Mine too.  How can it not be after reading about how this virus does so much damage to an unsuspecting person?

After a couple of months of study, let's just say that I am so incredible thankful for the brilliant men and women who are giving their lives to study this complex disease.  So many scholars and scientists are dedicated and passionate, laboring hard to find a vaccine and cure for HIV. 

Please pray with us that this breakthrough would happen soon!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Interruption . . . For Good Reason

We interrupt the regularly scheduled programming to bring you . . .

pictures of my adorable kids!

I've gotten some good ones recently, which happens less and less these days, so I thought I'd better share them. :)

Grayson is in a major Daddy phase.  He cries when Chad leaves and spends from 4:45 pm until Chad gets home by the window anxiously waiting to see his daddy pull up.  He's fine when Chad is gone, but when he gets home Grayson is by his side or in his arms the rest of the night.  Seriously, I get the stiff arm if I even come close.  Hurts this mama's feelings a little bit, but I know it is just a stage and I still get lots of love during the day.  Plus I don't have a wild toddler in my arms for hours . . . not really jealous of that part!


Grayson loves playing in dirt.  And not just playing in it, but eating it.  If I let him loose in the backyard, he looks like this in about 30 seconds.  You would think that one taste would do it, but he just keeps going back for more!  He has the cutest "dirty" smile you'll ever see though. :)

And man is this boy cute!  He can say "shoe" now and loves to put on shoes, his or yours!   Here he hijacked Aliyah's crocs during Life Group.  So cute trying to walk them!

Speaking of Life Group . . . we have 13 kids in our group right now!  13 kids eating and running and laughing and playing ring around the rosie in our house each week!  Such a blessing to have these families coming together to worship, pray, challenge, and encourage each other!

 We went to the zoo last week with the Fernandez girls!  Jenny and I have been friends for years and our girls LOVE each other!  So fun!

Besties . . . Noelle and Ava!

We spent the last two days in Lafayette with Chad's family . . . eating all day (isn't that what everyone does with family?!) and most importantly, getting to playing with Penelope!  Chad's sister Leigh Ann had sweet Penny one month ago and we haven't gotten to see again her since her birth.

Ava did so good holding her and giving her sweet kisses on her head and toes.  

Grayson, of course, was crazy jealous!  He wasn't about to let his Daddy give his love to another . . . even if she is a cutie pie!

In other news, I've come to realize that I don't live a very self controlled life.  The problem is clear . . .  now what?  I want to meditate on the Word, knowing that I can't fix myself.  But my Creator and Savior can (and already have really, I just need to walk in that reality).

Anyway, right now I'm soaking in Galatians 5:17-24.  So good!

If you've struggled with self-control and have overcome, please let me know Scripture that helped you and practical things that led you to walk in self control.

Iron sharpens iron . . . let's do this!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Truth about HIV: Disclosure

Part 2 of my Truth about HIV series is all about Disclosure.  If you don't know the background of our story, read this post about how God is leading us to adopt a little boy who will be HIV positive.  You should also check out Part 1 of the series about Transmission if you haven't yet.

Disclosure refers to your decision to share or keep private your HIV status.  Some people choose to share only with family and close friends while others, like us, choose to share with the world through the modern marvels of a blog and facebook. :)

Legally, a person's privacy concerning their HIV status is protected by US law.  You don't have to tell anyone about your HIV status (except your doctor).  You don't have to tell a school, a coach, an employer, your church, friends, or family.  No one has to know because no one is at risk through casual contact with someone living with HIV.

However, we are choosing to set down our right to privacy and to share openly about adopting a child with HIV. 

Now this does not mean that we will be putting a bumper stick on our car that says "HIV On Board" or that we will feel the need to share Easton's status with every person we meet.  We are disclosing to our family and friends and people who read this blog.  Aside from that, we will be asking God for discernment in our daily interactions regarding disclosure.  


I have learned that disclosure is a very sensitive subject among families living with HIV and even among people who just have an opinion on the issue.  People feel very strongly on both sides.  (And by very strongly I mean that these conversations can get heated.)

I am sharing why our family is choosing to disclose.  Not what I think every family should do.  

I am not attacking families that don't disclose or trying to make it seem like they don't hope for all the things on my list below.  I know and appreciate that each family has to make the decision that is best for their family in their specific context . . . there is no right way.

So please don't send me hate mail if you think that we shouldn't disclose.  Refer to reason #1 below!

**End of Disclaimer**

10 Reasons Why We Are Disclosing

1.  We are seeking God in every step and have been led by the Spirit to disclose.  We did not make this decision quickly or lightly, but spent much time in prayer and seeking wisdom from others.  It feels right to us, but we didn't even want to make the decision based on feeling.  We asked God to speak clearly to our hearts so that we would know that this is the right choice for our family.  And He has!

2.  The timing of our disclosure is purposeful as well.  We wanted to go ahead and disclose now, even before we know who our sweet Easton is.  This allows our family and friends to begin now to learn correct information about HIV, to let go of misconceptions, and to process their fears.  Our hope is that the fear, stress, and anxiety that disclosure can bring will be greatly reduced by the time Easton comes home.

This will also put the focus on our precious son instead of HIV when we are able to joyfully share that we have been referred a child.  HIV doesn't define him and we want it to be that way from the moment we can share about him!  We'll get to focus more on his cute little cheeks and handsome smile instead of at the same time shocking everyone with news that he is HIV positive. 

Sadly, disclosing now also gives people the opportunity to back away from our family if they won't be able to handle being around our son.  We would rather this happen before he gets home.  As one mom said, "If you can't handle the heat, then don't even come in our kitchen!"  We pray that this doesn't happen, but it would be easier to handle rejection now than when I'm holding my sweet boy.

3.  We I can't keep a secret!  If you know me or read my blog, you know that I don't hold too much back.  At times I can over-share, especially when God is at work!  So it seriously stresses me out to even think about having to keep this a secret.  I would be overwhelmed at trying to keep such a big part of our life hidden from those around us.  Not to mention trying to figure out how to explain all the doctor visits and daily medication.  Bottom line . . . I just don't know that not disclosing would have been possible for our family (and with my big mouth!). :)

4.  There is NO SHAME in living with HIV!  Let me repeat that . . . NO SHAME!

In our situation, Easton will have most likely gotten HIV from his birthmother during childbirth or breastfeeding.  This is through no fault of his own.  And before you look at birthmothers as villians, know that they often have no choice in how they contract HIV, some don't know they are infected, and most have no access or money to get the treatment that could stop HIV from being transmitted to their child.  They are victims too.

We will not for one moment be ashamed to have a son living with HIV!  He is precious, valuable, worthy of love and respect, and a child created in the image of God!

HIV is a manageable chronic illness, but it is often treated as modern day leprosy.  People living with HIV should not be shamed into hiding or treated as untouchable.

Again, just to be clear, no one should be ashamed of HIV, but it still might be the best decision for some families to not disclose.  I'm not saying that families who don't disclose do so because they are ashamed. 

5.  We want to be a voice for those who aren't able to speak for themselves. There are millions of orphans who are infected with HIV and have no hope unless someone speaks to the world on their behalf.

I also know that families who choose not to disclose do it because it is the best decision for their family, but they would no doubt LOVE to scream the truth about HIV from the rooftops!  We will be their voice and will scream it loud! 

6.  We want to share TRUTH and FACTS about HIV with anyone who will listen!  Awareness and correct information is key to ending the stigma and fear associated with HIV.  We feel blessed to be advocates for those who are wanting desperately to not be made to live in shame, or discriminated against, or ridiculed.  We hope that you'll join with us in sharing the truth about HIV!

7.  God has surrounded us with people who are supportive.  I can't think of a better scenario in which to disclose.  Our families are incredibly encouraging and so ready to love sweet Easton.  We have a faith family at Edgewater that truly desires to make disciples of all nations and to display God's heart  for "the least of these."  We have no doubt that our church and friends in New Orleans will embrace Easton and walk with our family.  We also have tons of friends and even strangers who are encouraging us through facebook, the blog, email, and most importantly through prayer.

We don't take this support lightly.  I've heard of families that have had to leave churches and even move because of the rejection received after disclosing.  We are blessed!

8.  We don't want to walk this journey alone.  The road of adoption is already a tough one and adding HIV into the mix will likely increase the stress emotionally, spiritually, socially, physically and financially.  We will need prayer, support and encouragement.  We will need people to cry with us when Easton is sick or when someone is rude.  We will need people to rejoice with us when the virus becomes "undetectable" in his blood.  We will need people to walk with us through the good and the bad.  Jesus is enough for us, but people being His hands and feet can sure make a difference in our lives!

9.  We desire God to use this road not only to refine us, but to refine others as well.  We pray that by sharing all that God is doing in our family, the Gospel will be made clear to those who do not know Christ.  We pray that by being transparent with our lives, God will challenge and encourage His Church to live as biblical disciples of Christ and show His heart to a needy and lost world.

10.  The purpose of Easton and our family living with HIV is so the works of God might be displayed.  We've held tight to John 9:1-3 since God spoke to us about HIV.  We trust God's sovereignty and truly desire for His name to be made know through Easton's life and our journey.  Because of this, we want to share openly how God is at work in our family.  We want to lift high the name of Christ and declare His works to any who will listen.  To Him be the glory!

Again, we realize that there are some who disagree with us on the issue of disclosure.  But we are thankful to be able to share why our family is choosing to disclose about this road God is calling us to walk!