Friday, February 25, 2011

Loving What I Once Hated

I have a confession. There is one part of being a mom that I really do not enjoy. In fact, I very strongly dislike it. I would much rather change a dozen dirty diapers, clean bathrooms all day, or pull an acre of weeds than perform this one task so strongly equated with a mother's love. I dodge it, I try to avoid it, and I rejoice when I don't have to do it. Sometimes I even feel a little guilty about my feelings for it. To make matters even worse, all four of my daughters enjoy it immensely and want to do it with me.

On the day Andie came into my life, I was a nervous wreck. She was nearly two. I was a newly-graduated, single, twenty-five-year-old who had wanted to do foster care since I was at least twelve. I had finally completed all the paperwork, training, and requirements necessary to receive my first placement and Andie was it. That afternoon, as I looked into her dark brown eyes, so filled with confusion and fear, a thought of terror washed over my soul. I HAVE TO FEED HER!

That night, I nervously prepared a little dinner for the two of us. Andie took one look at it and promptly tossed it over the side of her high chair, thus reinforcing my negative thoughts about my inept cooking abilities. I sighed. Meal one, and I was a failure.

The next day, we ran some errands and happened to pass a McDonald's. Andie, who could not yet speak, became very animated. She pointed towards those golden arches and squealed with delight and anticipation. "Over my dead body," I thought. Suddenly a new feeling of determination crept into my soul. A new resolve developed in my heart. I was going to COOK for my daughter. I was going to learn to prepare healthy food for her. And she was going to like it--even more than the junk offered at Mickey D's and other greasy fast food joints! I rolled up my sleeves, invested in a few healthy vegetarian cookbooks, and finally began fighting my dread of all things culinary.

It's been fourteen years now and I. can. cook! I'm still not particularly fond of the task, but I know how to do it quickly, efficiently, and healthfully. What I do love, indeed what I have developed a passion for, is having healthy children. (Even our doctor and dentist have commented on our kids overall health.) Because, along with learning to cook, I have adopted five basic dietary rules that have helped our family immensely. They are:

1) Eat foods that are as unprocessed and as close to nature as possible. Be sure to have something fresh (raw) at every meal.

2) Limit sugar. Sugar is a treat only and should not be a regular part of daily meals. My kids rarely (like only 2-3 times per year) get candy.

3) Read labels. If I have to look things up in a chemist's dictionary, it's not going into my kids' bodies. "Artificial" is not part of our dietary vocabulary.

4) Drink water. When our kids are thirsty they get natural spring water to drink - unchlorinated and unfluoridated. Sodas are grouped into the treat category and are something they get on airplanes or at birthday parties. Juice is also a treat. Plain water is their main beverage.

5) Eat only at regular mealtimes. This is hard, but really beneficial. We have three set mealtimes and, once past the age of three, our kids don't snack--even on healthy foods.

Andie is sixteen now. She no longer throws my food on the floor, thank goodness, nor does she whine when we pass McDonald's. She has learned to create quite a few healthful dishes of her own. Even better, I overheard her telling one of her friends, "You need to eat healthier food." Ah, a mother's dream come true!


"Then God said, 'Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.'" Genesis 1:29.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Midweek Meditation: The Story of Jonah

Little Mary Margaret tells the story of Jonah at a children's program at a church they were visiting. Absolutely precious!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Out of the Dark Ages at Last

After several hours of reading, on a rare lazy day yesterday, I have finally emerged out of the two-week old blog entries into the one-week old entries. Aaaaaah! I can see the light! :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Living History

Somehow I slipped behind. I follow, and I do mean really follow (like read every post and pray over every need), around 45 blogs. I also have a family, run my own business, am responsible for various church responsibilities, have a family, run a busy household, teach, have a family...

You get the point. I don't always have time to read what everyone writes. Unfortunately, I find it all fascinating. I follow some great bloggers! And they're writing good stuff all the time.

I will catch up, I know. But for now, I'll just have to be patient reading historical blogs from two weeks ago. So, be forewarned, if you get a random comment on a post you've completely forgotten about, it's me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unequally Blessed

Let's just say that the blessings of hair are not shared equally around here...


But the love is ...


Friday, February 18, 2011

Veronica Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Every family has their own thoughts/beliefs regarding whether or not they will change their child's name upon adoption. Some do. Some don't. Everyone has their reasons. They're all good.

Our kids came to us through foster care and foster care rules specify that foster families cannot change a child's name during the time they are in foster care. That only makes sense. It's hard enough having to bounce from foster home to foster home, let alone having to learn to answer to a new name at each home. We also learned that even children who are in an adoptive placement can't have their names changed UNTIL the adoption is final. Since we were in adoptive placement for two years, we didn't change our girls' names ... very much.

Veronica was the oldest of the sibling set of three we adopted last year. She was nearly six when we got her and eight by the time the adoption finalized. "Veronica" has never been on my top list of names I would choose for a child of mine, and I asked her if I could call her "Nikki." She agreed.

It's been three years since the girls moved in with us -- three years of changing, adjusting, and growing. And Nikki has, without a doubt, blossomed. She came to us as a tantrum-throwing jekyll-and-hyde. Her cute face belied an angry spirit. When things went her way, her eyes sparkled and her smile lit up the room. She was an absolute joy.

Should we dare ask her to complete a chore or deny a request, her angelic demeanor immediately morphed into white-hot rage. She threw herself to the floor, kicking and screaming and striking out at anything or anyone who was in the near vicinity. Blessed with vocal chords that surpass normal volume capabilities, her tirades could be heard by neighbors across the street and down the road.

Usually, her tantrums lasted until she would finally collapse hoarse and exhausted, physically unable to continue. She would literally wear herself out. Minimum tantrum time was two hours. Daily.

Once she slipped into tantrum mode, reasoning with her was impossible. All we could do was let her fight it out on her own, make sure she didn't harm herself or anyone else, and endure. When it was all over we'd pick up the pieces with her, go over what had led up to the tantrum, reassure her of our continuing love for her, pray with her, and move on.


Over time (a lot of time, actually!), as she began using the managing tools we were teaching her, the tantrums waned. We weren't so aware of it at first, but those outside our family began commenting. "She's so sweet!" someone said. "She's a new girl!" my mom exclaimed. "She looks happier." a friend observed.

Most importantly, Nikki noticed. The other day, she sat down next to me and said, "Mom, remember how I used to be called Veronica?" I nodded. "I'm glad I'm not called that anymore." Curious, I asked her to explain. "Well," she began, "Veronica used to be really bad. She threw tantrums and got in lots of trouble. That's the old me and she doesn't live here anymore. Now, I'm Nikki!" I understood perfectly. She associated her old self with her old name. She wanted a new start and a new identity.

Our conversation made me think of a verse in Revelation 2. Here Jesus promises to give all who overcome a new name. What a wonderful hope we have! Someday, when Jesus takes us home, we will also be able to say, "That old, sinful me doesn't live here anymore. I am a new person!"

"I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it." Revelation 2:17

"Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence." 2 Corinthians 5:17


Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Flibbity-Jibbit, A Song

This is what happens when Mom leaves her laptop (with built in video camera) unattended.

Presenting ...

Nikki singing "Maria" from "The Sound of Music."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Paralyzed No More

For me, the month of January can be characterized by two basic emotions - elation and fear. When we finally arrived at the decision to adopt from Estonia, my heart was filled to the brim with inexpressible joy. I floated around on my little cloud of serendipity for a few days until the bottom scraped the rock of reality. As I started calculating expenses and comparing those figures to the ones in our bank account, my happy feelings evaporated and I dropped with a thud into the valley of despair.

For the rest of the month I wallowed around in doubt. The word "can't" loomed above my head like a dark and menacing threat. Several times I picked up the phone to begin our home study, only to put it down again with a shake of my head. Ugly, black thoughts swirled through my head. CAN'T became my mantra. We CAN'T afford it. We CAN'T see it through. We CAN'T. We CAN'T. WE CAN'T!

Slowly, as my eyes shifted their focus off of the power of Christ and onto our own pitiful situation, paralysis set in. I never made the call to begin our home study. I quit reading the adoption paperwork about Estonia. I quit talking about it with my friends and family. I quit.

Thankfully, God didn't.

Throughout this month I have been literally bombarded with stories of faith from other adoptive blogs that I read. For worship one evening (our family gathers every evening for song, scripture or spiritual reading, and prayer together before bedtime), my husband read from the book In Heavenly Places. Like a bolt of lightening these words jumped out at me, "God will more than fulfill the highest expectations of those who put their trust in Him." Our sermon in church yesterday spoke of the power of Christ to work miracles in us and through us. And then last night Small Cloud Christian School (the school I started with a friend) celebrated it's fifteenth anniversary.

Story after story, miracle after miracle, blessing after blessing was shared. Fifteen years worth of examples were lifted up in thanksgiving to the God who has carried us through. Suddenly the sunlight broke through and I stepped out of the muck I had been wading through onto the solid ground of FAITH. And back into the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.

I CAN'T, but God CAN!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This Super Bowl Sunday - Pray for the Girls!

Below is an article written by Angela K. Brown for the Associated Press. It will make you sick. I'm also hoping it will make you fighting mad!

Please join me in praying for the girls this coming Super Bowl Sunday. Pray for their protection. Pray that those intent on harming them will be stopped. Pray for strength, wisdom, and protection for the Texas police department who will be overwhelmed with the mobs converging there. Pray for those who see something "suspicious" to report it and take action, instead of just quietly turning away. Pray for the pimps who are prostituting them that they may see the horror of what they are doing. Pray for God to show YOU and ME what He wants us to DO.


ARLINGTON, Texas – As thousands of football fans descend on Texas for Sunday's Super Bowl, law enforcement agencies are keeping watch for a different kind of out-of-town visitor: pimps selling children for sex.

Cities that host the big game often attract a bustling sex trade. This year, Texas authorities and advocacy groups are stepping up their anti-prostitution efforts, especially where young girls are concerned.

"Most people don't know that our children are being brutalized this way, and we have to stop it," said Deena Graves, founder of Traffick911, a Texas organization that launched the "I'm Not Buying It" campaign for Super Bowl XLV. "We need to get mad. We need to get angry about what's happening to our kids right here."

For weeks, volunteers have been canvassing neighborhoods in Dallas and other cities, distributing door hangars and posters with information. Others have placed coasters in restaurants and bars. Traffick911 has also made public-service announcements, some featuring current and former NFL players.

"As a man and as a father of two beautiful girls, I'm not buying it — and neither should you," Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff says in one television ad. "If you're one of these men buying these young girls, I'm telling you that real men don't buy children. They don't buy sex."

Pimps hawking young girls see the thousands of men who travel to the Super Bowl each year as a gold mine of potential clients. Police in and around host cities have tried for years to crack down on prostitution by conducting stings or increasing patrols during Super Bowl week. Only in recent years have underage girls come to light in increasing numbers.

"This is a very large issue. We want people to know what human trafficking looks like," said Thomas Lawrence, an assistant Dallas police chief. Last year's Super Bowl in Miami drew as many as 10,000 prostitutes, including children and human trafficking victims, police said.

Before the big game in 2008, Phoenix police broke up a child prostitution ring involving several teenagers. The following year in Tampa, two men were arrested for advertising the services of a 14-year-old as a "Super Bowl special." They were sentenced to federal prison.
Last year, a Hawaii man was sentenced to more than 20 years in federal prison for taking a teenager with him to Miami and forcing her to work as a prostitute.

To deter men from the temptations of readily available prostitutes, Arlington police have put up an electronic billboard near Cowboys Stadium featuring four men's mug shots with the message, "Dear John, You Never Know! This could be you."

Tekla Roberts, who was a prostitute for nearly 10 years after starting as a teenager, said she raked in the most cash during major golf tournaments, NASCAR races and some pro playoff games in North Texas. She said she met "johns" after advertising her services in publications and online and hanging out in hotels near the venues.

During those sporting events, she remembers seeing an influx of underage girls from out of town being sold for sex by their pimps. "I would have so many more customers, but I would see pimps with their young girls, too," said Roberts, 32, who gave up the sex trade about six years ago. "My self-esteem was so low, and I remember telling myself it was temporary . and then I would make so much money around these events."

Advocacy groups and the North Texas Trafficking Task Force are focused on underage victims coming to Dallas ahead of Sunday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. They say pimps who engage in human trafficking place ads for escorts with out-of-town contact numbers and rent houses or buses for parties featuring underage girls.

Advocates say many Americans do not realize child sex trafficking happens in the United States, not just overseas. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that at least 100,000 children in the U.S. are victims of prostitution each year.

For years, some Texas cities have been trying to stop the cycle of runaways who become child prostitutes. Dallas police have taken a new approach by treating them as victims. Many are too afraid to seek help or too brainwashed to turn in their pimps.


"We've had to change the way we talk to kids," said Sgt. Byron Fassett, who leads the Dallas department's high-risk victims unit. "Just because a child has made some bad decisions doesn't mean someone has the right to take advantage of that."

Roberts, the former prostitute, hopes the awareness campaign tied to this year's Super Bowl will help change society's perceptions of underage girls in the sex trade. "I believed that I was making a choice. You have to tell yourself that to survive," she said. "I want people to see these girls as victims. They're not criminals, not bad kids. They are lost and broken."

Fore more information about Traffick911 go here.

Riker Needs a Family


Could this handsome boy be your son?

This is 13-year-old Riker. He was adopted from Ukraine in 2003 by a family living in Illinois. Riker's adoptive mom recently found out that her triple negative breast cancer (a rare and aggressive form of cancer) has recurred and spread and the situation is critical. Riker's family does not have the energy to walk through more chemo and cancer treatments and help Riker with his RAD (reactive attachment disorder) issues.

Riker's adoptive family is desperately seeking a new family for him.
Riker is currently in respite care in Illinois. The family is not interested in finding a different respite situation; they know Riker needs a permanent home, a forever family, ASAP. The family will need to be experienced with RAD issues (see Riker's profile below).

If you believe God may be calling your family to adopt Riker, please contact

Please broadcast Riker's story on your blogs and Facebook and any other way you can get the message out that this precious boy needs a family immediately! And please keep Riker's adoptive mom in your prayers as well. Thank you!

Here is the info that was posted about Riker last summer on the CHASK website:

We are looking for a family to adopt our son Riker. Riker was adopted from Ukraine 6 ½ years ago and is now 13. He is in the 7th grade.

Riker is very bright and does well in school mostly A’s with little work involved. Unfortunately he has not attached to our family. Riker loves to read, draw, play sports and video games. Riker is very athletic, football and basketball are is specialty. Riker is very healthy.

Riker craves positive attention but does not like to be called on area of weaknesses. Riker would benefit from a very structured environment, our house is very chaotic and is not a good fit for someone who needs a routine. He does great when school is in session and benefits from the routine. He is a little lost on weekends when that routine goes away. Unfortunately my wife has been battling breast cancer for the last 2 years and the additional stress of caring for Riker has taken a toll on our family.

Riker has a problem with stealing and then lies to cover up being caught. He realizes stealing is wrong but cannot seem to stop. He has never been arrested as most of the stealing involved money from us. He also shows no remorse. He can be impulsive but has shown improvement in this area.

He plays well with other children and is very personable but does not seem to follow through on making friends of his own. Riker has been diagnosed with RAD and needs a fresh start. If you feel Riker would be a fit for your family please contact us at