Thursday, December 30, 2010

Midweek Meditation - Fountain View Revisited

In honor of the Fountain View students we have staying with us during Winter Break, I have posted a clip of their music again. They gave us this DVD as a gift. It truly is beautiful! The work they are doing at Fountain View is life changing.

Dear AT&T!

Dear AT&T,

I'd just like to thank you for your service this last week. Your promise to upgrade our DSL service in a day's time filled us with joy. When that time lapsed into two days, we understood the holiday rush and took it all in stride. When we still had no internet after three days, my husband called you. You very kindly informed him that you had just about completed connecting our dial-up service and wished him happy holidays. When he insisted that dial-up was NOT what we had ordered, you promised you would fix the problem and make everything right ... in just a few more days. We smiled and went back to waiting. True to your word, we received an automated phone call the day before Christmas informing us that we could check our internet status by visiting your website at www...

But, the problem was, we still had NO internet service and we could NOT check your website. However, we could still make phone calls and call you we did. No problem, you assured us. We would have our internet, our beautiful, shiny new, upgraded DSL, before the day was through. We smiled! We cheered! We rejoiced over our good fortune that at last our five days in solitary were coming to an end. But, alas, our cheer was short lived.

As the hours ticked away, your workers slipped out the door smiling holiday wishes to each other and shoving gingerbread cookies in their pockets, while our DSL order served as a coaster to a forgotten plastic cup of leftover holiday punch. Christmas arrived right on schedule, but our internet connection was nowhere to be found. Then ...

Sunday morning dawned brightly. My husband, filled with righteous indignation, called your office one. more. time. You sounded surprised! No problem, you assured us. And within a few miraculous minutes, we had internet!

And now, dear AT&T, I have a week's worth of my friend's blog entries to catch up on. Thank you again for your service. It has been memorable!

Sincerely,

Margie

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Anniversary of My Second Chance at Life

Speeding along some back country roads, my mind replayed the events of that morning. The previous day I had been given a proposal. Confused about what I should do, I sought advice from the Lord during my morning Bible reading and prayer time. As my devotions progressed I felt a pressing need to get as close to the Lord as possible. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I desperately wanted to walk through those pearly gates, run down those streets of gold described in Revelation 21, and see Jesus face to face. I didn’t want to be on the outside looking in! I knew I had unconfessed sin in my life and a real struggle ensued. I felt as though there were a deep, black chasm separating me from my Lord and it frightened me. Finally, I prayed, “Lord, whatever it takes to get me into your kingdom, let it be done. To be with You is the only thing I really want.” After several hours the struggle was over and I had peace.

My mind changed gears a little as I thought of all the work I needed to do at the school where I was employed. It was Winter Break. The kids were on vacation and I needed to go prepare for their return.

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The road gently wove its way between pastures of grazing cows as I sped towards the school. I loved driving this road. The scenery always had a calming effect on me. Today it seemed especially beautiful as the afternoon sunlight spilled across the rain-drenched fields. With peace in my heart, I happily hummed a little tune as I slowed to cross the railroad tracks. I reached down to adjust the temperature, glancing up just in time to see my car heading towards the edge of the road. Panicked, I yanked the steering wheel in the opposite direction. My car careened towards the other side of the road as I slammed on the brakes and made a desperate, but futile, attempt to gain control of my car.

Helplessly, my car skidded along the muddy shoulder until it crashed broadside into an embankment. The sudden impact catapulted my car into a roll and, since my car was equipped with only a shoulder harness, I was tossed about inside like a rag doll on a roller-coaster. Sounds of screaming metal and breaking glass filled my ears as I was flung repeatedly between steering wheel and roof, door and seat. The shoulder harness, designed to be my protection, now became a noose--hanging me and snapping my neck.

Icy fear flooded through me as I twisted and tumbled out of control. The peace I had experienced only moments before vanished with my screams. I was going to die and all the demons of hell seemed to be mocking my fate. “Oh, God!” I cried, “Help me!”

Through the chaos came peace and the reassurance of my Heavenly Father’s care. I heard no audible sound, no rolling thunder in the skies, just that still, small voice, I had learned to recognize, delivering assurance to His battered child. "I will take care of you! In just a moment, you are going to come out of this car. The car will roll away without you. Be still. Everything is going to be okay."

I relaxed and in a few moments a mouthful of dirt and rock confirmed the silent message. Somehow, while my car somersaulted across the gravel, I was neatly deposited onto the ground. I can only imagine how the angels must have orchestrated such a tidy departure from such an erratic vehicle without loss of life or limb on my part.

Free from the car, I continued to roll along the gravel, finally coming to a stop on my left side. Suddenly, everything was completely still. The cacophony of the crash was replaced by the chirruping of birds and the gentle sighing of the wind. I slowly opened my eyes and gazed at the battered automobile, now motionless, just a few yards away. On its wheels again, it had a shattered windshield and dented roof. From my position on the ground, I could see nothing else.

Lying on the cold ground, my body trembled slightly and it seemed I could not move. For a split second, I felt trapped inside myself. “But, Lord,” I prayed, “I don’t think paralysis is in your plan for me.” I had always felt called to work with children. I couldn’t understand how paralysis would fit in. Then I remembered my prayer from that morning. Lord, whatever it takes to get me into your kingdom, let it be done. To be with You is the only thing I really want.“ Alright, Lord, if this is Your will for me…”

I wanted to get up off the cold, damp gravel! It was December and I was not wearing a jacket! But I could not move.

I decided to check what parts of me I could. I moved both eyes, wiggled my nose, ran my tongue over my teeth to see if they were all there, and continued to spit out gravel. I tried to move my fingers. First one finger and then another. Finally, all ten fingers were waving in the air. Everything seemed fine, but what about the lower parts of me? Was I bleeding anywhere? Did I have any broken bones? Why did my left hip hurt so badly? I just had to look. “On the count of three,” I thought, “I’ll survey the damage.” Using every ounce of strength I could muster, I lifted my head and shoulders and glanced downward towards where the rest of my body lay. Did that tangle of legs and torn clothing really belong to me? The sharp pain in my neck quickly forced me back to the prone position.

I tried to move my toes. Although a little numb, they did move. I breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t God’s plan for me to be paralyzed after all. But why couldn’t I get up? I needed to get up!! I was cold and I was hurting and I needed help. The lonely road held no promise of any passing cars in the near-distant future nor did I know if anyone passing would even see me and stop. “Lord?” I prayed, “You’re going to have to help me now, because I can’t help myself!”

Minutes ticked silently by. Above me, grey clouds gathered. Below me, the ground gave off a steady chill. I shivered and strained my ears for sounds of anything other than bird songs. I waited and I prayed, comforted by the knowledge that my God was only a whisper away.

Then I heard it! The distant, blessed roar of a car engine! I held my breath as the rumble drew closer. Oh, joy! Someone was coming to help me! Through the corner of my eye, I watched the road in anticipation. A burgundy SUV whizzed into view and passed without slowing. My heart just sank. “God?!” I cried. “They didn’t see me!” But my prayer was interrupted by the sounds of squealing brakes, slamming doors, and footsteps running towards me.

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“She’s alive!” a lady knelt beside me and breathlessly asked if there was anything she could do to help while a man dialed 9-1-1 on his cell phone. By now, the burning in my hip was unbearable and I asked that she roll me over onto my back to help ease the pain. “Honey,” she responded sweetly, “I know you hurt, but I’m not going to touch you right now.” She retrieved a blanket from the car and tenderly covered me with it. A second car pulled over and a volunteer fire-fighter bent over me. Soon, sirens were blaring, lights were flashing and I was surrounded by first-aid personnel.

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At the hospital, x-rays revealed a broken odontoid process (second vertebra) in my neck and a dislocated left hip. It was too much for the little, country hospital to handle. I would be sent to a trauma center an hour-and-a-half’s drive away. A helicopter was called while they secured my head to the backboard I was lying on. As I was being wheeled out to the helipad a nurse began dialing my parents’ number. “Please, God, be with Mom and Dad. Let them know I’m going to be alright. Don’t let them worry.”

We rose gently into the night sky. The rocking of the chopper made me feel as though I were being rocked in the arms of my Heavenly Father Himself. I was at peace. Looking out into the starry splendor I identified a few familiar constellations. Then I closed my eyes as Bible verses flooded my mind. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me…” (Psalm 23:4). “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thought of peace, and not of evil…” (Jeremiah 29:11). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28). "I know, Lord," I prayed, "and I trust You."

Bright lights glared down at me in the trauma center’s emergency room. A nurse took a blood sample. Someone else began taking my blood pressure. My eyes darted back and forth trying to follow all the activity.
“Hello, I’m your neurosurgeon and what we have here is…”
“Hi! I’m your orthopedic surgeon and I’m going to be…”
“Margaret, are you allergic to…”
“Hi there, my name is Doctor…”
“You’ll only feel a slight prick and…”

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Through all the commotion I noticed a clock on the wall across the room. It was 7:45 pm. Prayer Meeting had just started at my church back home. I knew that at that very moment people were praying for me. I was going to be just fine! A smile stretched across my face from ear to ear. “Hey,” one of the doctors looked at me, “what are you so happy about?” I laughed. “I’m just thankful!”

The next few hours are a blur in my memory bank, thanks to the drugs I was given. Two or three people held my upper body as still as possible while the orthopedic surgeon yanked, pulled, and finally popped my dislocated hip back into place – without further damaging my cervical fracture. Not an easy task. During the process, some pieces of my pelvic bone broke off and lodged in my hip joint requiring surgical removal.

At last the drama was over, and I was wheeled into the recovery room. I knew I was not alone. God was there. He had held my hand throughout the ordeal, constantly reassuring me of His presence. The angels had worked silently, behind the scenes, making sure everything went as it was supposed to. I was surrounded by unseen beings and I was at peace. Quietly, though, I began to realize that I was becoming surrounded by very visible beings as well.

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“Margie?” Mom and Dad reached out to me. Friends and family slowly filled the room, coming to my bedside to tell me they loved me and squeeze my shoulder or pat my head. They had driven long distances to be there for me when I needed them most. God had carried me through and now He gave me the icing on the cake – the human touch! At last, I wept. What an awesome Heavenly Father I have!

Today is my sixteenth anniversary of my second chance at LIFE! Thank You, Father, for this amazing gift.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Belle of the Ball

Christmas cheer hung heavy in the air. Like snowflakes frozen in flight, tiny white lights outlined rooftops and fence lines while festive wreaths decorated many a front door. A heavy fog blanketed the dark air giving the night a magical glow. I turned my car into the parking lot of a small church, conscious that my date was awaiting me. A quick check in the mirror and I was out the door, heading towards the strains of Christmas music coming from within.

The bedlam inside was a sharp contrast to the peaceful scenes I had just witnessed. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” a jolly Santa chuckled as several small boys clambered onto his lap at once. My eyes scanned the bustling room. Where was he? Suddenly, blue eyes met mine as a shy smile brightened his face. In a flash he was at my side, nervously leading me to a table decorated in red. “Do you want something to drink?” he asked. At my nod, he dashed off to the punch bowl. My gaze followed, but my thoughts were quickly interrupted.

“Do you want some cookies?” a stranger’s voice asked quietly. Again I nodded and another suitor dashed off to the dessert table. “Can I show you the decorations?” asked another. “You’re pretty,” a fourth voice piped up. By the time my punch and cookies had arrived, I was holding court with at least half-a-dozen delightful and handsome, albeit awkward, young men. Very quickly, and somewhat unexpectedly, I had become the belle of the ball.

My words held their rapt attention. My every wish was granted. The young men doted on me. They pampered me. They wooed me with their sweet smiles and infectious laughter. They broke my heart.

For this was no ordinary ball I was attending and these were no ordinary suitors. I had been invited to the Christmas party for a boys’ group home. My soon-to-be son was living there with several other hard-to-place foster children. I was a potential adoptive mother in a room full of broken boys with no family to call their own. Maybe, if they were sweet enough… Maybe, if they were solicitous enough… Maybe, if they were kind enough… Maybe, just maybe, I would take them home too? Their eyes held my gaze with a quiet, unspoken desperation. Maybe? They outdid themselves vying for my smiles of approval.

There was a time in my life where I would have loved to have been the center of attention. But on this night, the underlying pain that permeated the room squashed any residue of self I still had. “Lord,” I cried, “How do I help them? Their needs are so huge! I can’t touch them all. I’m overwhelmed!” Sweetly and simply the answer came, “Touch them for Me … just for tonight.” I had been crushed by the enormity of ALL their needs, but God hadn’t asked me to shoulder that burden. He asked only that I show His love to them for one short evening. That I could do.

I poured love on those boys all that night. We laughed at silly knock-knock jokes, ran circles around old Santa, shared stories, and reveled in the joy of being a part of God’s extended family. For one glorious moment in time, God allowed me to be His arms, His voice, and His smile to a roomful of love-starved boys. It was a privilege I will never forget—especially since that blue-eyed boy I went to visit is now my 22-year-old son.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Midweek Meditation - Absolutely Must See This!!!

Please, please, please watch this!!! It will change the way you look at life forever!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Uh-oh! Mommy, Come He-e-e-re!

Sitting in my bedroom, I absent-mindedly noticed a small child streak past me and enter our bathroom. No big deal. It happens all the time - especially since we only have two bathrooms in the house and six bodies in need.

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There was a pause, followed by some familiar sounds. Then I heard it, "Uh-oh! Mommy, come he-e-e-re!" Jumping up, I rushed in. There was my daughter standing in front of the toilet. Her pants were bunched around her ankles as she pointed accusingly towards the tiniest black ant crawling the curve of porcelain. "There's an ant on the seat," she explained matter-of-factly, "so I peed on the floor." Her pointing finger now directed my wide-eyed gaze to a puddle smack-dab in front of my stockinged feet.

Yup, that's exactly how I wanted to start MY day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Midweek Meditation - Simple Gifts - Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving in America. (My Canadian friends celebrated theirs already, so happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you!) Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgiving is not the day to stuff yourself, but, rather a day to remember and give thanks for the things GOd has blessed you with.

With that in mind, I've chosen the Shaker hymn, "Simple Gifts," for today's Midweek Meditation. I hope you will be blessed by the simple truth this song offers, both in melody and in lyrics.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Isn't it Hard?

My husband spent some time in Georgia this summer with my sister and brother-in-law. While there, he visited some of their church friends. During one conversation, the inevitable topic of adoption arose.

"Isn't it harder to raise an adopted child?" the friend asked. My husband smiled. I'm sure his mind must have raced with all the memories that flooded over him. Mine would have, because there are so many.

Two to three hour rages from a five-year-old, chronic lying from a teen, the twelve-foot flames from our son's unauthorized fire that quickly got out of control, cussing, countless broken items, and the list goes on. But that's not why Shawn smiled. He smiled because he could compare those incidents with the results. Those are not the same things we deal with today.

"Yes, it can be pretty rough at the beginning," Shawn said, "But the kids change..." A light went on in the man's eyes. He understood. As well he should. He is a pastor. He deals with changing lives all the time. But, somehow, it's easy to forget that children can change too.

Media reports the sensational. This includes adoption stories as well. The little boy who got a one-way ticket back to Russia because he was "too difficult" to handle. The young man who murdered his adoptive parents. The girls adopted from an orphanage who terrorized their parents. Yes, these stories are true and, yes, there are risks, but...

Don't we take a risk with everything we do? When we travel, there's the risk we may crash. When we conceive, there's a risk that something could go wrong during the pregnancy. When we eat there's a risk we might choke. When we marry, there's the risk we may divorce or be widowed. Life is full of risks. And that's where faith comes in. Is my God stronger than the risk He is asking me to take?

If God is calling you to adopt, He is also telling you He will be there to walk you down that road completely. He will hold your hand through every crisis and carry you over every chasm. He will not leave you alone. Ever. (See Hebrews 13:5). It will not be perfect. It will not always be easy. It will simply be worth it.

On that sunny day in Georgia, Shawn smiled because he remembered all the tough times we had gone through and could see the changes that have occurred. Our children are not the same troubled, broken kids they were when we got them. It has taken time, energy, some tears, and many, many prayers, but they are different kids today and they know it. Not only do we smile about the changes, most importantly, they smile too.

"I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

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Monday, November 22, 2010

What Does an Orphan Look Like?

Three years ago today we brought home our youngest three daughters. They had already been in foster care for a little more than a year by the time we got them. At 18-months of age, the only family Maya had ever known was her foster family. Then one day, social workers came, took her from of her foster mother's arms, and her world changed forever.

Her older sisters (aged 3 and 5 at the time) understood things a little better, but the change was hard on all of them. They were uprooted. Their little worlds were turned upside down ... again. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had visited them a grand total of three times before they moved in with us. To them, we were nothing more than strangers with familiar faces.

After spending the Thanksgiving holiday together as a family, it was time to get back into our routine. But the girls didn't know what "our" routine was. It was all new for them. The Monday after Thanksgiving, as my husband left for work, Maya toddled after him. From the window beside the door, she gazed out, wondering, perhaps if he would return. Shawn noticed her watching him and the look on her face really tugged at his heart. He went back to the window, waved to her, and captured this precious moment in time on his iphone.

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When I think of what an orphan looks like, this is the picture that comes to mind - quiet, questioning eyes filled with overwhelming loss and confusion, not knowing what the future will hold. But, through the healing power of a loving God, the questioning face of a lonely orphan can be changed into the joyful face of a much-loved daughter! This is Maya three years later.

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"No, I will not abandon you as orphans-I will come to you." John 14:18

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blog Hop

This is a fun way to learn more about adoption and adoptive families.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Midweek (or thereabouts) Meditation - Sweet Sharon

I just had to post this. I have known Sharon since she was born. Her parents were such a positive influence in Shawn's and my Christian walk and we suffered with them when Sharon chose to walk in darkness. But we learned much from watching them parent her during that time when her lifestyle directly and defiantly (she was never the quiet rebel) opposed every fiber of their beings. Although their hearts were breaking over her, they loved her still.



"There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents." Luke 15:10.

By the way, the book she references, "The Desire of Ages," is an incredibly powerful book about the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Forced to Blog

I taught Chris for two years. He's bright. He's funny. He's sweet. And if he didn't already have such a wonderful family, I'd adopt him into ours in a heartbeat.

Chris no longer attends my school, but, lucky for me, he still pops up now and then. Today he popped up on my Facebook account explaining a school assignment he is obviously less than thrilled about. He is required to *gasp* blog!!! And he needs followers.

So ...

what I'm asking from you is this ...

Please hop on over to weimar-chris-lamb.blogspot.com and follow his blog. I would appreciate it.

Maybe then he'll forgive me for all those nasty pop quizzes I gave him in Chemistry! :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

God Said No

He was alone.

I wanted to help.

He needed a family.

Should it be ours?

Too big a decision to make alone.

We asked God.

And waited.

And waited some more ...

Our hearts were open to any answer.

But none came.

Until ...

The answer was, "No."

Bittersweet feelings.

A trusting heart mixed with

A tear.

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"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
I Thessalonians 5:18

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nick Vujicic and the Fatherless

This Sunday we were privileged to listen to Nick Vujicic speak. I just love the work he is doing! And if I ever get the privilege of meeting his parents, I want to give them the biggest hug possible. They were gifted with a difficult situation and, with God's help, rose to the challenge to help Nick become a leader.

Nick's presentation was as wonderful as I expected it to be. But I really teared up when he took some time out of the service to talk directly to the 10-15 prisoners sitting in the congregation. He spoke words of hope and encouragement to them and he instructed them to look to their Heavenly Father for guidance. He then turned and spoke to the pastor, directing him to follow up with them.

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Boys in khaki are prisoners from the local prison, accepting Christ at Nick's altar call.


As I looked at those boys, some statistics I had read began to churn through my head. Approximately 80% of prisoners have been in the foster care system! In all likelihood, these boys were fatherless, broken, and forgotten. How might their lives be different today, if someone had adopted them or been a mentor to them? What if they had had a family to come around them and love on them? I don't know what crimes they have committed, but I know God's pledge to be a father to them is true. If they choose, they can become sons of the king.

I pray that they will never forget what they heard today. I pray that they will stay close to their Heavenly Father. Whether they get out here on earth or not, they can experience freedom through Jesus Christ. I pray that we will obey God's command to care for the orphan. Who knows what lasting results will come from one small act of obedience!

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My girls, Andie and Nikki, and my friend's son get to meet Nick after the service.


Visit here for more information about Nick's ministry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Kids I Couldn't Adopt

I have a secret hurt in my heart. Every time I read certain posts on Facebook or get phone calls or text messages from certain people, an old, familiar pain rears its ugly head and I am once again aware of its dark presence. It's the memories of the children I could not adopt that continue to haunt me.

One is now serving in Afghanistan on his third tour of duty. Another is studying psychology and still struggling with the demons of her past. Two more are mommies with little boys of their own. A couple are confused about which way to turn in life and which path to take. Some of the others I have no contact with at all. I shared the love of Jesus with them. I loved them with all my heart. I poured my entire heart into them. If they call for me, I am there still.

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I know all the logic and facts and reasons and arguments, but the pain just will not go away. As I struggle through this, I am learning to trust that God is their Father, and that that is much more important than me being their mother. My head knows that there will always be more kids that I can't adopt than the few I actually can. That thought is frustrating for a "problem-fixer" personality such as mine. Then again, maybe, God will use that pain in my heart to spur me on to speak to more people on behalf of the fatherless.

On second thought, may that beautiful, glorious pain remain in my heart until the day Jesus calls us all to our forever home!

Friday, November 5, 2010

She'll Never Be Normal

She was labeled "developmentally delayed." Her file was thick with test results, psychological evaluations, specialist's recommendations, observations, and more. Her foster mother told us not to expect much so we wouldn't be disappointed. "She'll never be normal," she warned. Those words will forever ring through my ears.

We took her home anyway. We loved her. We set boundaries and expected her to obey them. We limited TV and videos, reading to her by the hour instead. We discovered she had a love for music and encouraged it to grow. We invested in hands-on, creative toys. We let her cook with us in the kitchen and garden with us in the yard.

Today, she made Honor Roll and we found out "they" were right. She'll never be normal. She'll always be a cut above!

Way to go, Ally!!!


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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest blogging at livelaughlove5.blogspot.com! Woohoo!

I am honored! I was asked to guest blog for Jami at livelaughlove5.blogspot.com for her "everyone has a story" series that she has started on Thursdays. My blog is entitled "Belle of the Ball," and it is about ... well, I really don't want to spoil it for you. Just go on over there and read it.

By the way, I've really been blessed by Jami and her heart for foster kids and orphans. What an inspirational lady! I'm sure you'll be as blessed as I have been.

Go on! Scoot! Hop on over to Jami's blog now! You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Midweek Meditation - A Father's Love Letter

Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can ever imagine. This is a love letter from Him to you! Be blessed!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kicking My Drums!

Conversation in the car on the way home today...

Nikki: Could you turn the music up?

Maya: Could you turn the music down?

Nikki: Don't turn it down! It's not even loud!

Maya: Yes, it is! It's kicking my drums! (eardrums)


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Solution? Because the girls were kicking MY "drums," I turned the music off until both girls stopped arguing. When all was peaceful again, the music came back on and we continued on our merry way.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Midweek Meditation - Andie's Project

For Open House a few years back, Andie chose to make a video presentation about the week of Creation. I may be a bit biased, but I think she did alright!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What Does a Family Look Like?

When people think of a family, this is probably what initially comes to mind...

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Or this...
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Or this...
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A family might also look like this...
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Or this...
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But what if sisters look like this...?
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Or brothers like this...?
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What if siblings looked like this...?
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The truth is, a family can look like any and all of the above. A family can be built by birth or adoption, or both. Either way a family unit is God's gift to us that we may experience a little of what His love is.

"God sets the lonely in families." Psalms 68:6

Friday, October 15, 2010

Out of the blue...

Alyssa: "I can't wait to grow up!"
Mommy: "Why?"
Alyssa: "Because I want to get married."
Mommy: "Well, there's a lot to learn before you get married."
Alyssa: "Yeah, I know--like how to not eat like a pig."

Ummmm ... that's a start!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Midweek Meditation -- Fountainview Academy

If you have never heard of Fountainview Academy, you're missing out! This boarding school in British Columbia, Canada, is really dedicated to serving God and helping young people develop their talents to serve Him. Along with their excellent academic program, they run an organic carrot farm (yummy), and, of course, their incredible music program.

One-and-a-half years ago, my husband and I took in two foreign exchange students from South Korea. We helped them learn to speak English and now, they are attending Fountainview. We are blessed to see them whenever their tour bus comes our way.

This is one of the musical videos produced by Fountainview Academy. What a blessing these kids are!




Visit the Fountainview website at fountainviewacademy.ca

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Hubby's Music

I never wanted to have music playing on my blog. I sometimes find it distracting on other sites or I'm not crazy about the music they have chosen. Whatever. But I have finally added a player to my site. The reason? It's my hubby's music.

Shawn is a musician. It is his heart. It is his love. And he's pretty darn good at it too--at least that's one wife's opinion.

And now, he is finally working on recording his music and selling it. Woohoo! He's joined up with...

www.reverbnation.com

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Go there, click on the "search" tab, and type in "Shawn Seely - solo piano". He has some sample songs available now, and one actual song to sell. (More will be coming soon!) Songs are $1 each and all proceeds go to support a worthwhile cause -- our growing family!!! (By the way, his song Last Goodbye was the one he wrote for me and performed at our wedding. So romantic, I know!)

As you can see, I'm pretty excited about this. I'll let you know when the songs are available for sale. Stay tuned! (No pun intended.)

Missing Daddy

Daddy left for two weeks. In a little over eight years of marriage, it's been his first trip away from home. I can't say I like it much.

Coming home from the airport, even the noise of the children didn't cover the deafening silence of his absence. The house felt strangely empty. Alone.

There's a cold spot in bed next to me. There's too much quiet in the evening after the kids go to sleep. There's no one to toss the little ones up in the air. And I'm really hoping I don't kill his fish that he so trustingly left in my care.

I began motherhood as a single mom, adopting two children before marrying him (see My Birthday Letter to Andie). It's just been a while since I've been alone for this much time. And phone calls do not replace having him here! Physically, I can manage everything I usually do at home. But, my heart feels like it's pumping at half the power.

It'll be good to have him back again.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Passing Notes

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I had not had a good day with one of my daughters. When I said, "Don't," she did it. When I said, "Do it," she refused. When I smiled, she frowned. When I frowned, she smiled. By day's end, I was pretty frustrated and let her know it.

While cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, I noticed her slip quietly into my bedroom. "What are you doing?" I asked. Without looking at me, she muttered, "I left something for you."

Next to my computer lay a note. "I don't want to live here anymore," she had scrawled angrily. Still a little steamed by the way the day had progressed, I hastily wrote, "Some days I don't want to live here either." I carried it back to her room and dropped it just inside her doorway, then continued getting the other kids ready for bed.

A little while later I again found a note next to my computer. I responded. So did she. Back and forth the letters went from her room to mine and back again. And then we passed each other in the hall. She simply handed the note to me. I wrote out a response and handed it back.

Finally, she was quietly standing at my doorway. "Would you like to talk?" I asked. "Okay," she shrugged. We sat down on my bed and shared our hearts. Tears flowed. The wall between us was torn down and a bridge built up again in its place.

Passing notes isn't my usual method of solving differences, but it worked for her. Thank You, Lord, for yet another victory today!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Least of These...

"On the street I saw a small girl, cold and shivering in a thin dress, with little hope of a decent meal. I became angry and said to God, 'Why did you permit this? Why don't you do something about it?' For a while God said nothing.

"That night God replied... 'I certainly did something about it...I made YOU.'" -- Adapted from Latin America's Casa Alianza, which cares for homeless children

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"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Midweek Meditation - Creation Calls

All of Creation points to one Master Artist. His hand hung the world in space and His words have filled it with life. His breath gave us life. And His life gives us hope. Be blessed!

My Birthday Letter to Andie

Andie,

You are my first child, but the second oldest in the family. (Adoption can make a family funny that way.) You are my dream-come-true, but I was so nervous when the call came asking if I would take a two-year-old who bit and threw tantrums. I was a basket-case by the time they knocked on my door. What had I gotten myself into?

You were so tiny and vulnerable. The social worker put you down on my floor. Two plastic grocery bags contained all your earthly possessions -- diapers, a doll, and some clothes. After signing some papers, the social worker left. Just another day on the job for her. But for you and me, it was the first day of being a family.

You stood still beside the couch, quietly looking me over. My stomach was in knots. Did I know what I was doing raising a child by myself? I had signed up for foster care classes so confidently--all smiles. And now? Here you finally were in my house and I was at a complete loss. "What am I going to do with you?" I whispered as I sank to my knees in front of you. Your dark brown eyes looked intently into mine. Then, slowly, you walked over to me, put your arm around my neck, and hugged me. "Yes, that's right!" I smiled, holding you tight. "I'm going to love you!"

Suddenly everything was clear again. We would take one day at a time. God would lead and we would follow. You and me. That's how this family started. And that's how this family has grown.

One year later, Quinn joined us and became your nine-year-old big brother. You called him "Tin," and adored him. And then you fought with him. And then you adored him. And then ... well... you remember. :)

And then one day, you realized our happy little family was missing something very important. We had no daddy! So you took it upon yourself to pray a daddy into our family. For three years you prayed. Every morning and evening, at every meal, at every church function, during prayer request time at school, at every opportunity you asked God to give you a daddy. It became a little embarrassing for Quinn and me, but you were relentless!

And God answered your prayer. Eight years ago, Daddy and I got married. You were the flower girl and a happier flower girl there never was. When Daddy and I got into the car to head off for our honeymoon, you pranced out towards us wearing your dress and my veil. You told me you loved me and gave me a single white flower. You were no longer my little princess, you had become our little princess.

The years have flown by. Quinn is grown and on his own. We have three new girls in our family and who knows how many more to come. Today you turned sixteen. You are my helper, my friend, my daughter. You are an incredibly caring and loving young woman and I am so proud to be a part of your life. I'm looking forward to seeing what God will do in the next sixteen years of your life and beyond!

Hugs and kisses,

Mom

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

What Did You Hear?! What Did You Say?!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we attended the wedding of a former student of mine last Sunday. During the ceremony, the minister addressed the bride and groom several times using their first and last names. The bride's name, Rebecca Jordache, is Romanian and not pronounced as Americans would do it. Phonetically, it is pronounced YOR-A-DOCK-EE. Alyssa listened quietly as the minister continued preaching to the couple. Later, she asked me, "Why did the minister keep telling Rebecca she's a ducky?"

Her question threw me for a minute. I could not recall one instance in the entire ceremony when the minister had told the bride she was a "ducky." But, Alyssa was emphatic. She explained, "He kept saying 'Rebecca, you're a ducky! Rebecca, you're a ducky! And it wasn't nice. She looked so pretty!"

A week later, Maya gave us this gem.

My children and some of my nieces and nephews attend the same small school where I teach. The other day Maya asked me why her cousins had not yet arrived at school. I explained that they had a dentist appointment to go to and would be at school later. I went on to tell her that she and her sisters would soon be having dentist appointments as well. Armed with that information, she went running off to find her sisters. I overheard her saying, "The Petroviches (cousins) aren't here because they have a disappointment this morning. We're all going to have a disappointment soon too!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Midweek Meditation - God's Chisel

So many times we try to live our lives the way we think we should. We don't let God work in our lives, because we don't trust Him. This clip addresses this issue in a wonderful way. God bless you today!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I am a Teacher. I am a Mother.

I am a mother. I am a teacher. I was a teacher before I became a mother, but there are times when the teacher in me is silent and I must love as only a mother can.

This weekend I attended the wedding of a former student. It was a joyous occasion and one more reminder (not that I need any) of the fact that I am getting older! When, I had to ask myself, did that cute little boy change into the handsome, young man awaiting his bride at the altar? Not while I was watching, I can assure you! Was he really old enough to do this? Legally?! The grey hairs upon my head confirmed the bittersweet truth.

Other former students were also there. We've never really lost contact, but walk different paths that seldom cross, except for times like these. We chatted and laughed, catching up on each other's lives, and reminiscing. Oh, how the memories came rolling in!

But, for two of these students the memories don't always bring a smile to their faces. I was their teacher during the darkest period of their young lives, when their mother lost her battle with cancer.

Although we don't mention it at social gatherings such as these, I have to wonder, have they truly healed? I remember the talks and the tears we shared. I remember the funeral and the empty, lost looks in their eyes. Their whole world had collapsed. Barely in their teens, they still needed a mother's love and guidance. And she had been such a wonderful mother.

Each child grieved so differently. The boy simply shut down, not wanting to discuss her or anything about her, except for the one day when he asked me to take him to her grave. Even then, he changed his mind at the last minute. The girl wanted to talk, wanted to share her thoughts and feelings. She needed to be around people so she wouldn't be alone with her thoughts. She showed up at school the day after her mother's death. When we expressed our surprise, she said simply, "I want to be here. It's like a second home for me."

The years passed. Their father remarried. They accepted their step-mother, but she would never replace their mother. She couldn't. The shoes left behind were way too big for anyone to fill. They moved out on their own. Worked. Traveled. Partied. Socialized. Smiled. Drifted.

This weekend, I wasn't satisfied with the simple "How-are-yous" and "I'm-okays." This weekend I felt I needed to reconnect with them. I needed to know how they were really doing deep down inside. I invited them to lunch, just the two of them, so we could talk and catch up. They quickly agreed. "I'm probably going to cry," he said quietly and looked down. She squeezed my hand.

I am their teacher, but it is my mother's heart that loves them so deeply.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waiting ...

I am a doer. From the minute my feet hit the floor in the morning until the last hour of the day, my brain and hands are in constant motion. It is when I am required to wait for something, that I struggle the most.

Waiting, for me, is discouraging. If I can push, grunt, and struggle towards a goal, I am content. But to wait, to stand still and watch life pass by, is sheer misery. It is when I begin to fall apart. I question myself. I question God. I whine. I complain. I doubt.

I've read the Bible verses. I've even quoted them to others trying to encourage them as they wait. But, I am ashamed to say, I still have not yet learned how to wait well. And so, God is giving me another chance to learn this lesson. I am waiting again.

We want to adopt again. It started as a small flicker of a desire in our hearts about a month ago and has slowly begun to burn with greater intensity. We have not yet contacted an adoption agency, because we are still stuck in the questions. Where do we adopt from? How many? Boys? Girls? Ages? How will our girls respond to another child or two at home? How will we raise the money? And, suddenly I am overwhelmed.

I've come to realize something about waiting. Waiting periods are the time when the foundation of a dream is being laid. It is the time when God prepares us -- physically, mentally, and spiritually -- for our next adventure in faith.

And so I wait for God's answers to come. I don't know yet the path we will walk, but I do know that God is preparing us for the journey. In faith, I reach up my hand to grasp His and hear His promise, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Midweek Meditation

Osiyo! Thought I'd post this song in the Cherokee language for my Midweek Meditation in honor of my daughters' Cherokee heritage. The Cherokee National Holiday is held over Labor Day weekend at their headquarters in Oklahoma, and, although, we live far from there, we celebrate too by spending the day learning about Cherokee history, language, culture, and cuisine (only the vegetarian part though).

It is believed that this song originated somewhere along the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee Nation was uprooted from their tribal lands and forced westward. Called "Orphan Child," it is a simple reminder that we are all orphans in need of adoption by our Heavenly Father, whose love encompasses all nations, tribes, and people.

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands." Revelation 7:9.




This is performed by the Cherokee National Youth Choir. You can hear more of their work here:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tears of the Orphan

143,000,000 orphans worldwide and counting ...




"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27.

Unexpected Joy

We didn't need another cat. I didn't want another cat. We now have another cat. His name is Milo and he has taken us all by storm. He is an unexpected burst of sunlight in our lives.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Long Trip Home

The trip home from Georgia was long and filled with delays. We left my sister's house at 10 a.m. Eastern time and arrived home at 2 a.m. Pacific time (5:00 a.m. Eastern time). A total of 19 hours of travel time is hard on anyone, but even more difficult when you are only four. Or maybe it's the other way around!

The first leg of our journey was relatively uneventful. A pleasant stop at American Girl Doll store in Atlanta preceded our arrival at the airport. Maya picked out her souvenir and I chose for the other girls left home with dad. At the airport I decided to check in curbside. Plans changed when Maya told me she needed to use the restroom ... now!

No problem. It wasn't too hard to hurry with two suitcases, two carry-ons, a purse, and a booster seat OR even to pack them all into the stall with us. A near-miss, but we made it and emerged from the stall all smiles. Off we sailed to check-in at the counter.

One-and-a-half pounds overweight on checked-in luggage would cost me an extra $50. I had to quickly reshuffle. I would now carry that one-and-a-half pounds onto the plane myself. After lugging my baggage over to a cart (they wouldn't take it at the counter) we were off to security.

Oops! The security officer noticed I had no boarding slip. Back to the check-in counter Maya and I walked with our two carry-ons, including the extra one-and-a-half pounds of stuff in them. Waited politely for the person in front to finish, requested the boarding slip which the ticket agent insisted she'd already given me. Back to the security line at a slightly quicker pace. In the interim, the line had grown from one single line to three. Waited again. Smiled politely at the fellow cattle, ahem, passengers, shuffling along beside me. And then...

Broke into a sweat getting off shoes, sweaters, opening the laptop, and sliding everything through the x-ray machine under the scrutinizing eye of security agents and with the collective breath of the masses behind me hot on my neck. Took a deep breath as I padded barefoot and undignified through the metal detector. Then repeated the above process trying to re-collect my belongings, plus that extra one-and-a-half pounds which had begun to feel a lot heavier, off the conveyor belt. Then to find our gate...

Maya informed me she was hungry as we jogged towards our gate. I made her all kinds of promises IF we could just make it to the plane on time. I was beginning to worry a little. Engaged in a delightful conversation with a missionary's widow on the shuttle towards our gate. Maya attempted to stand without holding onto the safety rails. Not a good idea.

We arrived at the gate just as they were summoning the last two boarding zones. We'd made it! I was feeling a little wobbly in the knees. Maya promptly began a conversation with the man sitting next to us. I wasn't really in the mood to meet anyone at the moment. But Maya was insistent.

Santiago turned out to be pleasant enough. He and his wife are trying for children. The subject of adoption came up and suddenly, I was all ears. The quick flight to Charlotte was uneventful. I shared some information with Santiago, which he jotted down, and we were off.

Charlotte at last. A leisurely lay-over awaited us and we browsed through various shops. Maya was fascinated by all the people who rushed past us. Those waiting for our plane seemed especially friendly. I had no idea they were angels in disguise.

A big man introduced himself as "Big Bird" when Maya asked. A mother traveling with her two teen-age sons, Kendal and Riley, sat across the aisle from us in the plane. We smiled politely to each other as the plane backed out from the gate. And then ...

The pilot's voice informed us a repair was needed. It wouldn't take long, he assured us. Not more than an hour ... or so. We were free to leave the plane and walk around the airport while the repair was completed. Noooooo! I thought. Maya simply bounced on the seat next to me waving her miniature Disney princess figurines to Kendal and Riley.

For the next two hours we wandered aimlessly through gift shops. Maya waved at every fellow passenger she recognized from our plane. (I had never talked to so many people on one airplane in my life!) She informed "Big Bird" that our plane was "sick" and needed to be fixed. Riley and Kendal entertained her for much of the time. They seemed to have more energy than I did at the moment.

Mercifully, they transferred us to a new plane. After a bit more across-the-aisle banter between Kendal, Riley, and Maya, everyone settled down for the flight home. Home! What a sweet thought, I mused, as I drifted off to sleep with Maya snuggled on my lap.

And somewhere during our flight, while we slumbered peacefully up in that starry sky, Maya peed on me.

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P.S. A big thank you to Kendal, Riley, and "Big Bird," for being so helpful and kind! May we be blessed to meet more like you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Midweek Meditation - Amazing Grace

Timeless hymn. Be sure to listen until the end. John Newton would be honored. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Praying With the President

"Why not do it?" I thought as I scanned the website calendar. I was only three-and-one-half hours away. When would I ever get an opportunity to actually meet a president in my lifetime? It was a once-in-a-lifetime-experience I decided to grab. So, at 6:30 a.m., while the Georgia sky was still dark, I rolled out of my sister's garage and headed south to Plains, home of Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States of America. In the backseat, Maya, still in her jammies, drifted back to sleep.

By 10:00 a.m. we entered the parking lot of Maranatha Baptist Church between the two squad cars posted on either side of the driveway. I changed Maya out of her jammies, did her hair, double-checked that my camera was in my purse and we were ready. Off we headed past the three secret-service agents on the lawn to the front entrance and security. Maya hung back a little, while the secret-service agent inspected my purse (no pocket was left unopened) and scanned me with a hand-held metal detector. She quickly scooted past him (he deftly scanned her on the scoot) to join me on the front step and into the church we went.

Plains is a dot-on-the-map town with a population that barely reaches the 700 mark. Boasting only a handful of shops and eateries, it is the place Jimmy Carter proudly calls home. It is also where he worships ... and invites others to do the same.

If you want to meet Jimmy Carter, you must first come to church. You must meet his God, before you meet the man. Although Jimmy Carter has carried many prestigious titles in his lifetime, (governor, president, humanitarian, Nobel prize winner, etc.) his most important title is simply "child of God." Flanked by secret service agents, he and his wife knelt humbly in prayer, lifted their voices in song, and participated in a church service with all the other ordinary folks in the congregation, including me. I was thrilled to see such a public figure live a life that is so REAL. Like Joseph, Daniel, and Esther of the Bible, he has reached the most public of offices, yet remained true to God.

Of course, once the church service was over, the line quickly formed for taking a picture with the president and his wife. Maya, who is generally fearful of strangers, walked right up to them as if they were her grandparents. Rosalynn smiled warmly, pulled Maya close, and said, "You'll have to come up and see us some time." President Carter wanted to know her name. We smiled for the camera and it was over.

Maya and I walked back to the car. Maya was ready for lunch, but I was busy sorting through the cloud of thoughts swirling through my head. Today, I had experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event. I had finally met someone who had achieved the highest honors this world could offer, but who had never lost focus on his Maker and King. I was truly honored. And someday, when Maya is older, I will show her the pictures and teach her the lessons I learned from praying with the president, President Jimmy Carter.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shared Hope International: "One Life at a Time"

I recently became aware of the work of "Shared Hope International" and felt I must share what they are doing. This video gives a brief summary.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Borrowed Blog

The following is from a blog I read recently. It is, I believe, an excellent answer for why we choose to adopt, especially the last paragraph. It is written by a young, single woman who has adopted 14 daughters from Uganda ... so far. She is also a teacher there. I hope you are as blessed by this as I was. For more information on her work in Uganda visit amazima.org or click the "Amazima" link on the left of this blog.

Teenagers and a Lesson from Jacob

I come to you humbly asking for prayer. Especially for my three oldest daughters, and for wisdom for me! All mommas know it: teenagers are hard. Three teenage girls are harder. Three teenage girls from different tribes and cultures and pasts trying to live together in one bedroom are harder still.

In an effort to be real, I want to tell you. Adoption is wonderful and beautiful and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced. Adoption is also HARD and painful. Adoption of older children is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the GOSPEL in my living room. And some times, it just stinks.

As a parent, it stinks to not know when your daughter took her first steps or what her first word was or what she looked like in Kindergarten. It stinks not to know where she slept and whose shoulder she cried on and what the scar on her eyebrow is from. It stinks to know that for ten years of her precious life you were NOT the shoulder she cried on or the Mommy she hugged.

As a child, it stinks to remember your biological parents’ death, no matter how much you love your new Mom. It stinks to have your mom be a different color than you because, inevitably, people are going to ask why. It stinks that your Mom wasn’t there for all the times you had no dinner and all the times you were sick and all the times you needed help with your homework. It stinks when you have to make up your birthday. It skinks when you can’t understand the concept of being a family forever because your first family wasn’t forever.

And every single day, it is worth it. Because ADOPTION IS GOD’S HEART. He sets the lonely in families. Adoption is the reason that I can come before God’s throne and beg Him for mercy, because He predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day, it is not what I am doing to “help these poor kids out.” I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. I adopt because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for HIS sake will find it.

Some days, my friends, it is not easy. Today, it is not easy. The HURT in my daughters’ hearts is big and real and as their mother, I want to fix it and know that I CAN’T. So I lay it at the feet of my Father and rejoice to know that if we are children, then we are heirs - of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings - in order that we may also share in His glory. And I call out to the Holy Spirit knowing that He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for us.

A sweet friend pointed me yesterday to Genesis Chapter 33. Esau and Jacob are meeting for the first time in a long time. As Jacob approaches Esau, with his many children following close behind, Esau asks,“And who are these with you?”

Jacob’s reply:“These are the children that the Lord saw fit to bless me with.”

We get all the questions. “Why do you do it?” “Why so many?” “How in the world…” “Why these specific girls?” “Why the number 14?” “Do you think its ok to adopt as a single Mother? Don’t they need a father too?” “Do you think they will have issues since you are not the same race?” We also get the compliments. “I don’t know how you do it!” “Good job!” “You must be so responsible!” “Your girls must be so well behaved.” We get crazy stares and huge smiles and every look in between.

Adoption is beautiful. Adoption is hard. Adoption is the Gospel of Christ and the promise of God’s love and redemption lived out in our lives. So I ask for your prayers. Prayers for understanding and peace and trust and the power of God that is more than all I can ask or imagine. And to the questions and the comments and the compliments, this is my reply: “These are the children that the Lord saw fit to bless me with.”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beautiful Adoption Story

I've spent way too long trying to figure out how to show videos on my blog (frustrating). So I'm going to just put this into this post. You need to see this story!

Bedtime Stories

I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Although hard, her life was busy and full of adventure. No one ever complained about being bored. Although these books are targeted for girls, there's enough adventure to pique a boy's interest as well!

A little while ago, a friend gave us some CDs from this series. Almost every night Alyssa and Nikki drift off to sleep listening to stories of Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and their good, old bulldog Jack. In the morning, they update me on the Ingalls' most recent developments.

I highly recommend this series either in the book or CD form! The CDs include fiddle music performed by Paul Woodiel. Cherry Jones does a fantastic job of dramatizing the reading so that even Shawn and I sneak a listen every so often. These are stories your children will never forget and are well worth remembering!

Cousin Worries

Last time we saw Shiloh, Maya pushed her down. That was a year ago, when Shiloh was two and Maya was three. In less than forty-eight hours we will see her again and Maya is feeling anxious.

"Shiloh won't want to play with me, Mama." Maya informed me earlier this week. "Why?" I queried. "Because I pushed her," she answered solemnly. Her brown eyes were serious and her little face long with the fear of rejection. Inside, I really doubted that Shiloh even remembered Maya pushing her, but it has really been bothering Maya. "You can apologize to her," I offered, smoothing back a stray curl. "Will she forgive me?" Maya looked up hopefully. "I'm sure she will," I hugged her. Relieved, Maya exclaimed, "I'm going to tell her sorry and then she'll like me again." With that, she hopped off the chair next to me and ran off to play with her sisters.

In forty-eight hours hours two little cousins will be happily making new memories together. The past will be forgotten. The future will be bright. I think there's a lesson for us here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Upside of a Down Day

Most mornings I roll out of bed and hit the ground running. Walking just isn't an option when you're trying to juggle eight plus kids (adopted and foster), one full-time job, one budding side-business, church work, volunteer work, a husband's budding business, housework, and the ever-growing network of extended family and friends. I plan speeches while brushing my teeth and practice them while folding laundry. I draft letters while cooking meals. I make mental to-do lists while driving. I start my day like a racehorse at the gates--fidgety, pumped, and ready to fly.

However, every once in awhile there are mornings when the gun fires, the starting gates swing back, the racers bolt forward, and I can do nothing more than gaze after them. I hang my head like a tired old mare while the dust hits my face and an irritated jockey hurls insults down on me. Feeling like a total and complete failure, I seek out the blessed solitude of my stall for the remainder of the day.

Over the years of up day/down day cycles, God has taught me how to better deal with them and yes, even be blessed by them. For one thing, I've learned how to predict when they're coming. I know I'm headed for a down day after dealing with several physically or emotionally taxing events within quick succession of each other. Following a difficult situation a down day is sure to appear. Sometimes new situations will also trigger a down day. As long as I am human, down days are inevitable.

But there is an upside. While I won't score major points for accomplishments done on a down day, I do get a much needed opportunity to simply stop and smell the roses. On down days, I move more slowly so I see things I don't normally see when my feet are pounding the track at 40 mph while I strain towards the finish line. The flowers look prettier. The clouds look puffier. My children look sweeter. My list of goals on a down day are also downsized. They consist of snuggling with my kids, petting the cats, reading a book, making a friendly phone call, playing the piano, or praying for no particular purpose. It's a day to put my responsibilities aside and just be. It's a day for counting my blessings.

Today is a down day, but, I'm not at all depressed about it. I'm thankful for this opportunity to rest and recharge my batteries. Tomorrow will be a new day. The alarm will ring. I'll roll out of bed fidgety, pumped, and ready to fly. Eat my dust!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Mother Eve...

Last night, after dropping off Andie and Billy at their gymnastics class, Maya and I headed out on a short  shopping trip. We never made it. Instead, I ended up having conversations with two homeless men. I did what I could to meet their immediate needs (bus money and dinner at Taco Bell), but their faces haunt me. How did they end up in this condition? Where are their families? What went wrong? My thoughts swirled back through time and I had to ask the age old question. However, I was surprised at the conclusion at which my musings arrived.

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Dear Mother Eve,

I am one of the many daughters you have never known. I am one of the many children you could not see on that fateful day in paradise. I am one of the countless descendants damned by your decision. And my voice swells with the dusty cry of generations gone by asking, "Why? Why did you do it?"

When you wandered from Adam's side, did you not know that thousands of your children would someday be wandering throughout the ages to come? Homeless sons and daughters looking for shelter in the most the most despicable of places. Selling their bodies in order to gain a morsel of bread, they are but living skeletons longing for the warmth of a real home.

Flattering words drew you to a forbidden tree. When you followed that enticing voice, did you not hear the cry of millions of your children who would soon be betrayed by that same voice? Empty promises and whispered lies uttered by that shameless silvery tongue continue to break the hearts and wound the souls of your descendants.

You gazed at a fruit and longed to touch it. You savored the momentary sweetness of disobedience and for that moment you were satisfied. But, oh, Mother Eve, could you not see your future children with distended bellies, sunken eyes, and listless bodies welcoming the cold embrace of Death?

But, alas, all my questionings fall on deaf ears. Your own body has fallen victim to the consequences of your transgression and been reclaimed by the dust from which you were once created. You have seen some of the bitter fruits of your sin and with all the strength of a mother's love tried to turn the tide of evil. But you could not.

Today, I can only point the accusing finger inward. I must probe the darkest recesses of my own heart and ask myself, "Is there some sin I now enjoy which will someday cause my children and grandchildren to suffer?" The decisions I make today outline the paths upon which my children will later walk. God give me wisdom to make those paths as smooth as possible.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Separation Anxiety

Next week Maya and I leave for Georgia. Andie and Billy will head to Oregon. Shawn, Ally, and Nikki will remain at home. Next week I will be a wreck.

Statistics show that the majority of accidents occur rather near the premises of your own home. In spite of that comforting knowledge, I tend to fall apart a little at the thought of my family being separated. I begin to worry. Will the kids be okay? Will some terrible accident end their lives or injure them horribly? Andie and Billy are teenagers now. Nikki and Ally will be with Daddy. They should all be fine. "But," my mind agonizes, "there are big, bad people in this world and big, bad catastrophes that destroy hundreds of lives daily."

Strangely enough, the one person I'm not worried about is Maya. Why? She'll be with me. And with that thought, I have to suddenly rethink this whole separation anxiety thing. What is so special about being with me?! What can I do to save or protect Maya from harm's way that God cannot do for the rest of my family? Is He not capable of watching over my loved ones? Does He not ask me to trust Him in ALL things -- especially those closest to my heart?

When the dust settles after my battle with choosing to trust, I make the very conscious decision to gather up my worries and deposit them into the omnipotent hands of my Heavenly Father. He will take care of us all just fine ... without my help.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Blind Side

I'm not a football fan. I'm not a Sandra Bullock fan. I'm not even a Tim McGraw fan. But after watching this, I am a big Tuohy fan.

The Tuohy's were a rather ordinary Christian family until the day God asked them to do something very out of the ordinary. He asked them to care for one of His bigger kids who needed a family. (By bigger I mean 6-foot, 4-inches, and 310 pounds!)  When the Tuohy's opened their home and hearts to Michael Oher, they had no idea of the journey they were embarking upon. They did, however, know Who would be directing it. Placing their complete trust in their Heavenly Father, they started out on the road less traveled and graciously left a path for others to follow.

Cautions:
1) A couple scenes where cussing is used, some with a bit of violence. (He did grow up on the wrong side of the tracks.)
2) One very modest bedroom scene, but I still won't let my younger kids watch it.
3) Why couldn't they dress Sandra Bullock more modestly?!


Handprints on My Heart

Everyone has a passion -- something that drives and gives them purpose in life. Some enjoy nothing more than curling up with a good book and slipping away into another life spelled out upon the pages before them. Others thrill to the adrenaline rush and heart-pounding excitement of excelling at an athletic competition. And still others seek to better the world by bravely exposing evil and changing things for the better.

My passion is kids. Over the years I have worked with hundreds of children -- either through teaching, volunteering, foster care, or as is the case for five very special kids, adoption. Seeing the world through their eyes, watching their lives unfold day by day, and guiding their development is my highest privilege. It is my joy. It is my heart.

Each child who has walked with me in my life's journey, either for a moment or a life time, has left something behind -- a little handprint on my heart.