Son of man, can these bones live?

April 21, 2014 at 5:47 AM by Susanna


Amy Carmichael once received a letter from a zealous young lady who thought God might be calling her to be a missionary. “What is missionary life like?” she asked Amy.

To which Amy replied, “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”




Throughout the past seven months, as I have chronicled our family’s struggles here on this blog, an unspoken question has hung in the air, intensifying as our predicament also intensified.

“Now that you’re experiencing post-adoption distress, surely you’ll tone down your advocacy for these children.  You couldn’t ask other people to make those kinds of sacrifices, could you?”

Hanging in the air I say, thick enough to choke on.

*cough, cough*




Growing up in my parents’ home, a rich store of books about extraordinary Christians of the past filled my mother’s bookshelves.  I read them all, some more than once.

Now, many of the same titles are lined up along our bookshelves, titles like, “The Man Who Believed God,” “Nothing Daunted,” “To a Different Drum,” “The Triumph of John and Betty Stam,” “Through Gates of Splendor,” “Dauntless Women,” “No Time for Tombstones,” along with collections bearing more generic titles, such as “Missionary Stories for Young People.”

I grew up closely familiar with the stories of missionaries in dangerous lands, martyrs of the faith, heroes of the persecuted church, sometimes in their own words.

These books brought alive the stories of William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Mary Slessor, John G. Paton, Isobel Kuhn, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth, the ten Boom family, Watchman Nee, Georgi Vins, Richard Wurmbrand, Jim Elliot, and the list goes on and on and on, both the well-known and the obscure.

Then there were the missionaries our church helped to support, all household names, some of whom we met personally when they visited us on furlough.  I just looked online for the five missionaries I could remember after more than thirty years and found that they’re all still actively serving in the foreign countries where God placed them.

All of them were teachers and examples to me of what it looked like for imperfect humans to know Jesus intimately and follow Him wholeheartedly into difficult places.  Often they were called to work hard for many long years without seeing much fruit from their labor.

When I turned sixteen, my parents gave me what I most wanted for my birthday, my own hardcover copy of Elisabeth Elliot’s “A Chance to Die,” the life story of Amy Carmichael.

These childhood heroes have come to mind so often during these past months, and I’ve closely identified with them like I never have before.

The lives of these obviously flawed, ordinary people bear startling witness to an unseen reality.

We always carry about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies.

We are called to die, so the life of Jesus can shine through us.

At the same time, we humans can be so drawn to the comfortable, the known, the easy, the familiar, the safe.  And that’s not innately a bad thing.

It only becomes problematic for us when God sends us in the opposite direction and we don’t want to go.

Will we as Christ’s people shrink back in fear from His path of sacrifice?  And call it ”counting the cost?”

Will we set our hearts on our own visions and ideals for our lives and families more than we set our hearts on following after Him?  And call it ”the abundant life?” 

Will we preserve for ourselves treasure on earth rather than giving Him our last mite with abandon?   And call it ”being a good steward?”

Of course we will and of course we do.  I feel the pull toward ease and comfort every time my alarm rings early in the morning, doing what I always said I could never do!

I need life infused into my dry, dead bones every bit as much as Katie and Tommy do.

We had a vision for what we wanted our family to be.  It was a good vision, friends, not a bad one!

But it wasn’t God’s vision for our family.  His goals for us are so much greater than our goals for ourselves.  He’s so much more interested in making us better than He is in making our lives better.

Our family is so privileged that He has sent us these two children, at the same time using us to transform them into the people He intends them to be and using them to transform us into the people He intends us to be.









So, friends, if you’ve questioned whether I’ll be so bold as to ask others to freely give their lives away and bring Owen or Tiya or Brandon or Mikah home…

You’re absolutely right.  I couldn’t ask people to make that level of sacrifice.

But not because I want to spare others from making hard sacrifices.

It’s because calling people is not my job, it’s His!

Bringing life out of death?  Breathing life into dead, dry bones, both ours and our children’s?  That’s the specialty of our God!

Across the ocean are children without parents, who have been rejected by their societies because they have disabilities, who are being warehoused in institutions, who are legally available to be adopted.

On our side of the ocean are parents like the missionary heroes I read about while I was growing up.

Ordinary, imperfect human parents who don’t shrink back from whatever sacrifices He might ask of them in order to follow where He leads them.

Parents who are willing to loosen their death grip on their own cherished visions for their families in exchange for His vision for them.

Parents with a sturdy faith who know that their God can be trusted because He is good, and who are willing to have their faith tested, grown, and refined by Him.

Parents who consider children, all children, to be a gift from the hand of God.

We have watched in awe as God has called many parents like this to bring home older children from the Pleven orphanage, children who would never be considered by the overwhelming majority of potential adoptive parents.

And we are fully confident that He can bring parents like this for five-and-a-half-year-old Owen, who did not grow up on the top floor of Pleven but needs to be in a family to reach his potential~



Eight-year-old Tiya~



Ten-year-old Brandon~



And twelve-year-old Mikah~



I can hardly wait until I start hearing about the parents God sends to these special little ones!  It’s a wondrous thing to walk alongside the other Pleven families and witness the transformation wrought in their children!

Please pray with us that God would send parents to Owen, Tiya, Brandon, and Mikah!

Please feel free to share their names and photos with others!

If you think God may have one of these children for your family, please email Shelley Bedford at and she will be happy to tell you more!







The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones:

I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.   I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.

Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”




URGENT: Pray for Adam

April 20, 2014 at 11:54 PM by Susanna

Do you remember this tiny little five-year-old Adam?  Some of you helped bring him home by participating in his Awesome Adam Hidden Treasures auction in December of 2012, and I had the amazing privilege of holding him in my arms the very next month!



He came home from Pleven last year and has been thriving with all the love his new family showers on him!  He is such a happy little guy!



Tonight I’m coming to plead with you to pray for little Adam.  He is in a desperate fight for his life.

Yesterday morning, his mom, Jaclyn, wrote a very clear explanation of his condition and gave me permission to copy it here for you.


Adam has hydrocephalus. Everybody has cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) surrounding their brain to protect it from hitting into the skull. People with hydrocephalus have too much fluid on their brains.

Adam’s hydrocephalus is between his two ventricles (basically in the center of his brain between the two halves).

His shunt from Bulgaria got infected, so he got a new shunt in November. Apparently the shunt over-drained which caused his brain to literally collapse to the center of his skull. Your brain should be up against the skull.

This caused his brain to bleed a LOT. The external subdural drains (SDD) are supposed to be draining the blood. There is so much blood and it is so thick that the drains keep clotting off. We have even had to have an additional surgery to replace one of them.

They removed his shunt and let the fluid in the middle of his brain build to help push the blood out, but the pressure built too fast. When they placed the new drain, they put a drain in the center as well so we could try to control the pressure by draining off some of that fluid.

So he currently has a drain on each side of his brain on the outside and one in the center. If the outside ones stop working it means we are not able to drain the blood which has to happen or it could be life threatening. Adam has so little brain matter and it is soooo thin that it is a very hard balance, and we do not know how much permanent damage has been done.


Just now, Jaclyn wrote to me again,

He is still not great. He is not able to eat his full feed amount. Both of the drains to drain the blood are not working. His pressures are super high. We are doing another CT in the morning. He is NPO (nothing by mouth) at midnight in anticipation of another surgery tomorrow. We should know more then.


Friends, please pray for Adam!






Eight notes, and I hope you read them all.

April 7, 2014 at 12:05 AM by Susanna

One)  We received the most astounding email from a young woman who has a heart to serve families who follow Jesus into difficult places.  She has offered to come help our family for up to two years without pay.  We know enough about her to have no hesitations.

The only problem is that we don’t have a suitable place for her to sleep, but we’re waiting on God to fill this need if it’s His plan for her to come.  I emailed her, “We’re confident that if this is something God intends to have happen, it will happen, and if not, it won’t.”

If you live in our local area and you would be happy to host a quiet, modest, unassuming, low-maintenance young woman in your home to enable her to serve our family, could you please email us?


Two)  Is any blog reader out there planning to attend the upcoming Northeast Adoption Summit?  The post-permanency support service available to us through our home study agency is paying our registration fees and reimbursing Daniel for providing care for his younger siblings during that time–what an enormous blessing.  We’d love to meet up with any of you who are also planning to be there!


Three)  One of the greatest joys of my life over the past couple of years has been getting to know a small group of other moms who have adopted kids with special needs from institutionalization.  One mom drives up from West Virginia, another comes from New Jersey, others from outside our immediate area.  We talk and listen and cry and laugh and relate and understand and encourage and share information and it is just wonderful. If you are a mom like us and you live within driving distance, we’d love to have you join us!

More information drawn from a recent email:

Hello dear moms!

This is just to let you know that we’re planning our next get-together for 2 pm on Sunday [date named] at [location named]. I so appreciate all the hero dads who take over for us so we can have these wonderful hours to connect and encourage each other!

For those of you who are newly added to this list, we hang out together in their semi-private back room and don’t leave until we have to. They’re really great about letting us have this time and space as long as we need it. Sometimes the last two of us are still to be found chatting there almost as late as closing time.

As always, if you know another mom in our general region who is adopting or has adopted a child or children with special needs from institutionalization, please invite her! Joe and I talked it over and have decided to make January, March, June, August, and October the months we regularly get together–always [the time, date, and location named] unless something needs to change for some reason.

We’re skipping May because of the Big Families and Friends picnic our family is involved in every Memorial Day weekend and skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas months as well because we want this to be a support and not a source of stress for each other.

So looking forward to seeing all of you who can come this month!

Love you all!


Four)  The above-mentioned Big Families and Friends picnic is on our calendar again this year for the eighth year in a row!  If you are a big family of any kind and/or love to hang out with big families, you are invited and very welcome!  Please email us for more information at


Five)  Coming soon, Deo volente: a family update that includes Katie’s birthday, Tommy’s first week of school, a few fun videos, and lots and lots of photos, all tossed together in one big mixture just as our family is in real life.  God brought us through the latest deep waters with victory, my friends, and I’m eager to tell you about it.  His goals for us are very high indeed; much greater than our goals for ourselves.  He’s training us in more than simply how to survive as a family with very disabled kids without “re-homing” Tommy, Ben, John Michael, Joshua, Joe or me.  “Nobody’s been voted off the island in the Musser reality tv show,” says my husband…

We love our sweet treasure from Pleven~IMG_4081


Six)  But that won’t be my next post.

My next post is far more urgent.

There are now FOUR more older children with special needs available to be adopted from the PLEVEN BABY HOUSE. 

God has answered the faithful prayers of many people and continued to open the doors of Pleven for more older children with special needs to be available for adoption.  Praise Him!  Now we need to pray for God to open the hearts of their families.

Please understand!  The Pleven orphanage has improved from a -50 to maybe a -10.  It is far, far, far from being a great place for little children, with or without special needs!

These four precious children are in great need of loving, committed families to value them, accept them, and care for them as tenderly and patiently as they would care for Jesus if He went to live at their house.

Email Shelley Bedford at with serious inquiries about adopting Tiya, upper left, 8 years old, Brandon, upper right, 10 years old, Mikah, lower left, 12 years old, and Owen, lower right, 5 1/2 years old~



Seven)  There’s another little boy waiting in a different orphanage in Bulgaria who desperately needs to come home, as he is deteriorating quickly without the love and care he would get from a family who loves him.  Tiny Samson is only two years old, and you can read more about him here on his Reece’s Rainbow profile.  Please share his need for a family!

If you think you may be this precious boy’s family, please email Shelley Bedford at



Eight)  What?  I’m still going to advocate for very needy, very disabled little ones waiting in institutions?  I’m still going to plead with other families to go and bring them home?  Even after all the struggles and difficulties we have been through since Tommy came home?  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

YES, as long as God gives me opportunity and strength with which to cry out, YES, I will cry out for these precious thrown-away fatherless children!  YES, we still consider ourselves privileged that He has called us to this ministry!  YES, we would do it all over again if we knew then what we know now!  YES, we now have even more reason to say to other families, “Do not fear to put your lives into Jesus’ hands and follow where He leads!”