One year with Josie

May 1st, 2016

One year ago, a girl with a wheelchair and a beaming, crinkly-eyed smile entered our lives and hearts to stay.  Oh, we didn’t know that then!

After months of prayer and deliberation, we had concluded, “Let’s give it a try one weekend.  We think we will love having her here and she will love being here.”

From my first emotion-filled glimpse of her sweet face as she rolled out of her wheelchair van that Friday afternoon, through a weekend filled with laughter, to my inner pain at having to say goodbye on Sunday evening, it was obvious to all that Josie fits in our family like hand in glove.

How did we get from there to here?  We can’t really say for sure.  One thing sort of led to another and here we are!

How slowly time crept along as we awaited her arrival at Christmastime.  How time has dashed along since she joined our family!

It seems to me so ironic that He chose us, out of all His possible choices, to be her family.

How grateful we are that God disregarded the “No” signs with which I had desperately blanketed my life, moving past them as if they weren’t there.  “No more children of any kind, from anywhere, ever again…”  How skillfully He turned my “No” into a “Yes.”  The very idea of adoption brought me crushing, suffocating soul-pain, but Josie wasn’t the idea of adoption, she was just Josie.  

And we love her so dearly.

Maybe God had to give me an overwhelming love for her because nothing else would be stronger than my overwhelming fear.  But if I had insisted on protecting myself from further risk of pain, how much love and life and beauty we would have missed!    Incidentally, we learned that very same Friday morning that He had sent another little one to us in a different way.

How thankful we can be that His vision for us is greater than our vision for ourselves.

We have grown, she has grown, inside and out.


First visit~








Second visit~



Big Families and Friends picnic, 2015~



A friend watched me make sure Josie had a good time although there was no adaptive playground equipment and asked, “Having fun yet?”  I said the first thing that came to my mind, “I feel like I’m doing exactly what God created me to do.”  And then I realized that it was true.



It has been delightful to watch the special bond of friendship form between Laura and Josie.



This was Memorial Day Monday.  The night before, we’d had a campfire in the woods up behind our house, and the kids all slept out in tents and stayed up late telling stories and laughing so uproariously Joe and I could hear it from our bedroom as we went off to sleep.  We were bummed later to discover that none of the three of us with cameras had taken any photos!

IMG_1733 - Copy


Messy Mussers doin’ their thing.  Remember, “That Family”s have more fun, heh heh!

IMG_1746 - Copy


Third visit~









Our pastor’s wife is also from China.



Josie was lonely, bored, and hurting in the hospital after her bilateral foot surgery in mid-June before we brought balloons and a barrel of Musser monkeys to cheer her up, haha!  But hurray for new feet!



Six weeks later, we visited her in rehab two hours away, and gave her photos of all her visits with us.



What color will you want your new room to be, girls?





The eleven of us who visited her this time took Josie and her two best friends at rehab out for a walk.  The sheer number of us may or may not have influenced the staff to give their enthusiastic consent to going outdoors for a while, ahem!



Some of the kids explored the nearby woods and found a turtle.



Building more bonds on our second visit to rehab, we talked non-stop for several hours.



Again, bringing her photos of our prior visit with her.







The fall fest!  We were celebrating our first day as Josie’s legal guardians!



I love these people and they love Josie.  Lindsay told her, “I guess you’re my new little sister!”



“I love adventures!” says Josie the sport.  Eight hours on the road were worth it, both for the connecting time and the fall fest fun with friends!



One more trip to bring Josie out of rehab for some family fun, this time for our annual gingerbread house decorating!



This is how Josie got around our place before it was handicapped-accessible.  <grin>



What do you think of your new room so far, my dear?



One more reading of her favorite “new feet” story before we said one more goodbye.



All those photos represent the joining of Josie’s story with ours, all taken before she moved here permanently, all now part of our shared history.

As we walk through the journey of life [I explain to Josie], sometimes we stop and turn around and look back at where we were.  That’s a good and healthy thing to do sometimes.  But not to get stuck there.  We look and remember, and then we turn around again to face forward and keep walking in the direction God is taking us.


Josie after church this morning with her trusty secret service agent, ha~



Thank You, Father, for this first year with Josie.  You give the best gifts.











Share it!

15 Responses to “One year with Josie”

  1. J says:

    Beaming beautiful blossoming happy girl!! Josie Joy! She blesses me every time you post about her. I’m so happy to see her glowing and to know how richly she has blessed your family too. What a love story.

  2. Erika says:

    Love this post!! God bless

  3. Dana Sorrell says:

    Perfect love casts out fear. :-) I am happy for ya’ll.

  4. Deanna Rabe says:

    Her hair is so cute! We love getting to know Josie! She’s fun!

  5. Erin says:

    Her growing hair is so beautiful!

  6. Jabreman says:

    What a blessing of a post!

    On a silly but important note, please tell Josie her hair is growing out so beautifully and is looking FABULOUS!

  7. How special to see the past year with Josie unfold. You look like you have so much fun in your family and lots of love!!!

  8. Esther Paris says:

    I hope I am blessed to meet her in person one day. At the rate I’m going on completing baby N’s gift, I’ll deliver said gift in person right before he goes to College or gets married. I fully expect that even if it takes that long to arrange another visit, Josie will be just as delightful even then.

  9. Nelly says:

    What a lovely post! Thank you for the update.

    Susanna, do I remember correctly that your family uses Samaritan “healthcare”? If so, do you recommend it?

    We are getting so fed up with our current insurance information. Any advice would be appreciated.

  10. Susanna says:

    Nelly, YES, we are members of Samaritan Ministries International. It is not insurance, it is a way for brothers and sisters in Christ to share in one another’s burdensome medical costs. We appreciate the privilege of sending our monthly share amounts directly to other believers as they are assigned to us, and of sending them notes of encouragement and praying as a family for their needs.

    My husband Joe is on the board of SMI, as you can read about in SMI’s February 2016 newsletter in this archived list: (There were some minor mistakes included in these three articles, but we were happy for the opportunity to help spread the word about special needs adoption.) Joe would be happy to chat with you about any questions you may have about SMI, or you can feel free to go to SMI’s website for more information. You need to know that Samaritan does not share every medically-related need, so we also have back-up insurance for our kids. We had to add that when Tommy’s feeding supplies (pump, formula, other supplies) were costing $1000 each month. The arrangement is working well and we are grateful for it. The back-up insurance pays for large items such as adaptive potty, wheelchairs and walkers, for Josie’s home health aide, for dental and vision and other things Samaritan doesn’t share. Samaritan shares 100% of needs such as Daniel’s knee surgery last summer or Joe’s recent visit to the ER for a shoulder dislocation.

  11. Cassandra says:

    Josie has C.P, I assume, right?

    Anyway, honest to goodness – she actually looks more relaxed and less “tight.”

    Reminds me all over again that our bodies keep score, dont they? Sometimes our minds have not caught up with that which our body already knows…. Just my two cents

  12. Viviane says:

    Totally unrelated to beautiful Josie, but is the Pleven Project still active?

  13. Susanna says:

    Cassandra, you are so right! And yes, Josie has cp.

  14. Susanna says:

    Viviane, yes, it is. It’s my understanding that it’s taking a very long time to set up the non-profit in the two countries at once. Part of the delay is that Shelley Bedford is nearly a one-woman effort behind the PP, and has been paying the start-up fees herself. She’s a busy adoptive special needs mom herself. Meanwhile, Dr. Georgieva, the director of HFMSCC-Pleven, is not sitting idly by. She’s continued diligently pursuing other sources of funding and continued to make excellent progress toward several big dreams for the orphanage.

  15. Aunt Erma says:

    It was good to have the review and update of Josie. I’m sure she is enjoying her new bedroom and roommate. “We are blessed to have you in our family, Josie.” With love, Aunt Erma

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply