Thursday, December 20, 2012

He's All Boy

Elton is all boy. Today he chewed up a nugget of dog food, ran around the house with his underwear on his head (clean, thankfully), and belched as loudly as he could as often as he could. With an audience of seven girls watching his every move, his antics earned him exactly the reaction he was looking for. "Eeeeeew, Elton!" Gotta love having a boy around the house! Can't wait to see what he'll do tomorrow!


Day 4 of hosting!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"I am Glad"

The kids were racing through the house tonight. ("Tag" needs no translation.) Giggles, squeals of delight, and peals of laughter reverberated from room to room.

In the middle of it all sat little Liga. Totally oblivious to the chaos around her, she was intently poring over her list of Latvian/English phrases. She wanted to tell me something.

Finally, she found it, placed her finger on the sentence, looked at me, and said in English, "I am glad." Then she quickly scanned the list again. There was more she wanted to share. "I am okay," she added with a smile, "I like."

With that she skipped off to go play with her dollies.

Leaving me to quietly brush away the tears and send up a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God for loaning me these precious children.

Day 2 of hosting.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Love Sure Makes You Feel Good

She doesn't speak my language...


... but she knows that I love her.

And love really does make a person feel good inside.

Day 1 of hosting!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Today Our World Changes Forever

I awoke today praying for Valerija, Samanta, Liga, and Eltons. Today, these four precious children are leaving the confines of their orphanage in Latvia. Perhaps for the first time ever, they will get on an airplane and fly. The chaperones will hand them the welcome letter we have written and had translated into Latvian. They will see pictures of our house and our family. Maybe little Eltons will have his letter read to him by one of his big sisters?


Our kids are somewhere in that picture above. How I wish I knew what was going through their minds and hearts. This mama already has her heart wrapped around these kids. My arms are ready to hold them. My hands are ready to care for them in whatever way is needed.

In short, I am ready for them to arrive. I am praying for their flight, imagining their wide-eyed wonder as they wing their way over Europe and the Atlantic, finally touching down in New York. I imagine their exhaustion and resiliency as they catch their connecting flight to Atlanta.



Today our world changes forever. Today we meet the kids we have worked so hard to bring over. Today, Valerija, Samanta, Liga, and Eltons become part of our family for a month.

We're praying it'll be forever.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cute, Little Critters


Got these cute, little critters today in the mail. Some kind person donated 200 of these to the orphans coming over from Latvia and Ukraine for the New Horizon's Winter Hosting program.

Not only are they adorable and super soft and cuddly, they have a solar-powered digital card in a tummy pocket that tells the story of Jesus in the Latvian language. So wonderful! Ally and Maya enjoyed listening to it and cuddling with the tigers, even though they couldn't understand a word of the story.

'Can't wait to see our Latvian kids' faces when they get these. I think I might have to order some English-speaking ones for my girls.

Check out this video clip about WILDLIFE STORY TELLERS:


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Playing Adoption

Children imitate what they see and mine are no exception. This morning Maya ran upstairs to grab an armful of dollies. "We're playing adoption," she informed me as she headed back down the stairs while plastic doll heads peered back at me over her retreating shoulder.

This is not the first time my girls have played this game. It's actually a recurring theme in our house--especially with preparations underway for our Latvian sweeties to arrive.

Dolls and stuffed animals are collected from around the house, then promptly scattered. My girls wander aimlessly around, only to suddenly "find" these "homeless" waifs (with loud exclamations), scoop them up in loving arms, and rush them to an orphanage (nearest bedroom) to be clothed and nursed back to health. They cluck like worried hens over each and every "orphan" as they are lovingly tucked into warm beds or rocked to sleep in loving arms.

Do I wonder whether what we are doing for the orphan is impacting my kids? Not in the least.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Inspection!

It was our word of the day yesterday.

And the day before.

And the day prior to that.

It was the reason why I drove the entire family crazy for at least a week.

And when my husband pointed out that I was drinking a bottle of expired orange smoothie, I knew I had gone a bit crazy too.

But when it came down to it.

It was no big deal.

Answer a few questions.

Tour the house.

Pray the kids didn't say anything like, "Wow, Mom! It's so clean in here!"

Smile.

Shake hands.

Wave goodbye.

Collapse into the nearest chair in relief.

Take the kids out to celebrate with frozen yogurt.


Today, I wander aimlessly throughout my immaculate house wondering what to do with myself.

Not!

Our Latvian kids come in NINE days.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why We Need to Adopt - Interview with an Orphan

What is it really like to be an orphan?

This interview is one we watched at the New Horizon's Orphan Hosting Training yesterday. Taylor eloquently tells the heartbreaking story of his life as an orphan and what it was like to be adopted as a teen.

Part I

Part II

Update: Taylor graduated valedictorian from his high school. Accepted an academic scholarship to a college where he has now graduated with honors.

How different his life story would be if he had never been adopted!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Emotional!!!

Just got an email from New Horizons for Children with "our" kids' flight information on it. And next to their names, flight numbers, and ID numbers, were the words ... Seely Family.

Yup! That got the waterworks going.

This dream...

This plan ...

This goal that has so consumed me for that last thirty-plus days...

is.

actually.

happening!

Somebody pinch me!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Falling in Love With a Picture and Reality Check

Four faces.

One picture.

Big, puffy heart love.

How can this happen?

How can I begin to love four children I never even knew existed two months ago?

I shop for clothes and wonder if it will fit Samanta.

I look at toy trucks and think of Eltons.

Suddenly I'm making plans for activities that might interest Valerija.

And I imagine myself putting little Liga's hair up in pigtails.

With pregnant women they call this "nesting."

I'm big time nesting right now.

And dreaming.

And praying.

It's going to be fun.

It's going to be hard.

It's going to be worth it!

That's what happens when you give your heart away.

Sigh.

But first things first...

I still have to raise that last chunk of money.

Arrgh!

Reality check!



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bending the Knee

This month I have fundraised month more than I have ever fundraised in my entire life. While I worked, I kept in constant prayer, knowing that it was God's blessing that would bring the funds in.

I'm running out of time.

Today, I am not doing any fundraising. Instead, I am spending the day fasting and praying that God will take the little I've been able to do and multiply it for His honor and glory.

Because that is really what it is all about anyway.

Anyone willing to bend the knee for these kids with me today?



Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Thankfulness


Yesterday was a double celebration for our family.

The regular bounty of Thanksgiving Dinner spent with friends.


It was also Shawn's birthday.

To celebrate, Andie decided to bake a cake and cut it into the shape of a guitar, since that is one of Shawn's favorite instruments to play. She enlisted the help of her younger sisters to keep Shawn distracted and OUT of the kitchen.

They were quite a team. All morning we could hear, "Hey, Dad! Come with me to ...!" Then they would turn, wink, and give us the thumbs up as Shawn tromped off on another planned diversion. It was all such fun.

Finally, at Thanksgiving Dinner, we gave him the big reveal -- the cake and the TRUTH behind all the mysterious escapades we had him running on all day.





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

6 Pounds 5 Ounces of Joy

Little Hayden arrived yesterday! He's 6 pounds, 5 ounces of bouncing baby boy -- with curls!

Mommy is enamored.

Daddy is ecstatic.

And I ... I couldn't be happier.

Paul (the dad) is my son's brother. (Open adoption gives a family a variety of extended family relations.) I was not allowed to adopt both brothers (not my decision) so I have had to watch Paul grow up from a distance and pray him into adulthood. God has been faithful to His promise of being a Father to the fatherless for Paul. He has provided for Paul in many, many ways. I am so proud of the man Paul has become and look forward to seeing the Daddy he will be. At long last, Paul has the family he'd always dreamed of having.

Thank You, Father, for watching over Paul! Thank You for carrying Him when all earthly support was ripped away. Thank You for holding him close on those dark nights when he felt so alone. Thank you for giving him the desires of his heart and blessing him with a wife and a beautiful son. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Amen!


A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Psalm 68:5.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Announcement! Baby On the Way!!!

Yes, I have two posts today. After I did my other one, I got the following exciting news and I just had to share.

Quick background: I adopted my son Quinn in 1999. Quinn has an older brother, Paul, whom I was not able to adopt (you can read the post about that here). Paul is currently a sergeant in the Army and stationed in Germany. (He has already served three tours of duty in the Middle East.)

Announcement: Today his wife, Casey, is delivering their first child. I'm so excited for them!!!

Present Status: Unfortunately, Paul is pacing the floors in Germany while sweet Casey labors without him here in the U.S.

Thanks to modern technology, they are still able to keep in touch. These pictures both touch me and break my heart.

Here's the anxious daddy-to-be keeping tabs on his little family:


Here's the wonderful mama-in-waiting labor updating Paul:


Please keep them in prayer today. I can't wait to see their little one!!!

Okay, maybe, I'm pacing the floors a little too!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Girl vs. Dog

Lucky appeared at our school one morning; hungry, tired, and in need of a family. Nikki had been hoping for a dog and we had promised her one for her birthday. Lucky was the perfect gift and made Nikki one very happy girl.

However, Lucky was in need of some medical attention. Bald patches were plainly visible over different parts of his body and he scratched incessantly. An appointment was made with a local vet and, after much effort on Shawn’s part, a reticent Lucky was successfully loaded into the car. Nikki sat beside him to comfort him during the short ride.

Once the car parked, Lucky happily followed Nikki out onto the asphalt only to come to an abrupt standstill. Exhaust fumes wafted off the road. Antibiotic smells blended with the thousands of animal odors emanating from the vet’s clinic filled Lucky’s nose with uncertainty. Nearby traffic noises compounded his sense of confusion. Instantaneously, Lucky was transformed. Sixty-five pounds of muscle flew into flight mode and proved to be no match for the ten-year-old girl clinging helplessly to his leash. Lucky was determined not to enter that clinic.

While I closed up the car, Nikki tried to muscle him towards the door. He stood firm. She heaved against his rear end, attempting to push him forward. Lucky held his ground. In this tug-of-war between girl and beast, Nikki was fighting a losing battle.

I quickly joined Nikki and together we half-dragged, half-carried a reluctant Lucky across the parking lot. Nikki threw her weight behind his haunches as I hauled him up the stairs. We progressed two steps up. Lucky scored a step back down. We struggled to gain another step’s advantage and Lucky pulled us back down by two. For several minutes we wrangled up and down the stairs, with Nikki pushing, me pulling, and Lucky resisting in both directions.

In a final burst of strength, we propelled Lucky up the stairs and quickly wedged him through the clinic door. With inertia finally on our side, we slid him, toes splayed in resistance, across the smooth linoleum towards the receptionist’s desk. “Well, hello Lucky!” she smiled and welcomed him with a treat. Just like that, all was well again in Lucky’s world. His demeanor immediately reverted back to his happy-go-lucky, compliant self. As Nikki and I wiped the sweat from our foreheads, Lucky flopped down comfortably at our feet, his eyes fixed on our faces, as if to say, “See, it’s not so bad in here. Relax!”


By the way, the only problem they could find was a bad case of fleas.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Isn't Hosting a Waste of Money?

"Isn't hosting a waste of money?" someone asked me recently. "I mean, if you were going to adopt, that would be one thing ... you know ... like a life-time investment or something. But hosting is ... well ... temporary."

Questions like these always cause me to react in two ways...

1) white-hot rage

2) complete understanding

Usually my inner being flips the fury switch before the question is even completely out of the asker's mouth and I want to yell, "Waste?! When has rescuing a human life ever been a waste of money?"

Investing thousands of dollars into a one month opportunity may seem completely ludicrous. But, in reality, it's almost as ludicrous as, say, saving thousands of dollars and then spending it all on a cruise or a vacation -- something just as temporary, right?

Think about it. If I were to spend $11,000 on a vacation, many people would congratulate me, tell me to have a great time, and expect a souvenir when I returned. End of story.

But, should I spend $11,000 on hosting a sib-set of orphans for a one month stay so I can tell them about Jesus and show them the love of a family, it is considered a waste. of. money.

And, should I go a step further, and actually invite others to contribute towards this endeavor, I am accused of being completely unrealistic.

Truthfully, they're right.

And this is where I switch to completely understanding where they are coming from.

I really do understand where their shock and confusion. I work hard for my money, like they do. I have a family to support and bills to pay. I have a budget to stay within.

But, I believe, that sometimes God asks us to step outside of what WE can do so we can see what HE can do.

This sib-set of four was not my first choice. I knew our budget and they didn't fit within it. Period. I was looking at the single kids, with no siblings, and with scholarships already attached. But, God didn't give me peace on any of them. He did, however, give me peace when I finally began praying about this set.

But I am not a faith giant by any stretch of the word.

I get scared when I think about the enormity of what we're getting ourselves into. I tremble when I see how much money we still need to raise. I feel discouraged when I view the rapidly approaching fundraising deadline and hear the incessant ticking of the clock. I toss and turn at night with thoughts of failure dancing like demons around my head. I am human.

It is at those times that I have to fall on my knees and pour out my heart to God and ask Him for strength and courage. Because, by myself I can't do this. I can't. I just can't.

So for those who think I'm wasting money by hosting, I really do understand where you're coming from. I live with that battle in my head everyday.

But, I also am trying to look at it from a different perspective outside of my own -- God's perspective. These are His children. For some reason, He has laid it upon my heart to do something for these four. Why? Because maybe, just maybe, God wants to save them and give them a hope and a future. And, just maybe, He's allowing me to be their voice ... at least for this short moment in their lives.

Because when I look at their picture, I don't think about them being a waste of money, I think about the privilege I have of loving them for this brief moment.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

50 Pages of Do's and Don'ts


On Friday I got the handbook ... as in the handbook of what we should and shouldn't do when our four Latvian sweeties arrive. I must say, I was impressed with the loads of experience packed into it.

Now if only I can just remember to...
*bring a Ziploc to the airport in case of car sickness
*discretely check for lice on four little heads (yes, that is a common orphanage issue)
*keep their name tags on whenever we leave the house (definitely a security measure)
*never, never, NEVER talk about adoption in front of them
*and a host of other things...
I'll do okay!

I've brought kids home from overseas, foster care, and one group home, but never from an orphanage before. This is going to be a challenge adventure.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Some Give All


I write this with a heavy heart. Today I read that one of my bloggy friends, Jen, lost her son-in-law in the fighting in Afghanistan. He was only 26. He married Jen's daughter in 2009. Now Brooke is a widow at the tender age of 22. Life will never be the same for any of them.

Please pray for them. Please also take a moment to write a word/words of encouragement for Jen and her family on her blog here. Having lost my dad last year, I know just how much those sweet words mean to a grieving family.

You can watch the news report here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back on Track!

I spent a glum weekend wondering if I had indeed messed up this hosting opportunity for four beautiful Latvian children. I imagined their faces falling as they were told they couldn't come to America. Little Eltons wouldn't be able to see the horse he'd always wanted to. Precious Liga wouldn't get to play dolls with my girls. Samanta and Valerija wouldn't get to be a part of a family. Yes, I was pretty down this weekend.

I did a lot of praying.

I did some research on Latvia as well.

The funny thing is, I know LOTS about Estonia, Latvia's northern neighbor. In fact, I just returned from Estonia a few weeks ago. My roots are Estonian. Interestingly enough, my Estonian grandfather worked as a missionary in Latvia before World War II brought his work and his life to an abrupt and bloody end. After my father immigrated to America, he sponsored a Latvian family to come here. We are still friends with them to this day. But I really know very little about Latvia.

What I discovered this weekend shocked me, particularly in regards to orphans.

Since the fall of Communism (around 1991), drug use has sky-rocketed by 600%. Communism stripped Latvia of its religious heritage and replaced it with a spiritual vacuum. After Latvia's liberation, it became a ship adrift in a fast changing world with no moral compass. As expected, the children suffer.

A staggering 50% of girls who age out of orphanages in Latvia will become a prostitute within two years. The statistics aren't much better for Latvian boys. For those boys who age out of orphanages, 40% will commit suicide within their first two years out. Which of these four will either become a prostitute or die by suicide?


Their future is bleak.

But ... a bright spot just opened up.

I got an email a little while ago saying that all was okay with our application and we are BACK ON TRACK!

Plus, thanks to some very generous donors, we have already raised 11% of our needed funds towards bringing these kids home.

Maybe we'll get to show Eltons that horse after all.

Thank you, Jesus!

Oh, and about that giveaway...

Our winner is ... DAVID MORENO! Congratulations, David!

Want to be a part of bringing Valerija, Samanta, Liga, and Eltons home for the holidays? You can donate (and be eligible for our next giveaway) at: http://www.active.com/donate/winter2012/valerijasamantaligaeltons



Friday, November 9, 2012

Is It Over?


I sit here not really knowing if we will be able to host those four Latvian children who smile at me from my screen. In the hustle and bustle of juggling all the things I do, I dropped a few balls. One of them might have been the hosting program.

I tried really hard to make up for it. But in my rush, I made some mistakes on the paperwork. They can't find the application I submitted earlier this week (only parts). And everything is due today.

Please, God! Don't let me mess this up!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

This Week's Giveaway!

Okay, let the fundraising fun officially begin!!!

Here are the rules for this week's giveaway.

1) Every $5 donation (either on our ChipIn or fundraising website) equals one entry. Therefore, if you choose to bless us with a $20 donation, you will receive a total of four entries. You may enter as often as you wish.

2) This giveaway will end on Friday, November 9. We will rest on Saturday and I will be gone on Sunday. The winner will be announced on Monday, November 12.

3) The prize for this week's giveaway will be your choice of one of the tee-shirts my friend Kelly has on her Minus One Project website. Kelly has just adopted a precious little boy from Korea and she knows all about fundraising! I love the stuff she sells there.

Are you ready? On you mark. Get set. GO!

Good luck!


Friday, November 2, 2012

My Biggest Fear about Hosting (HINT: It's NOT the Kids!)


Almost two years ago, I read a blog about a hosting opportunity for orphans from the Ukraine and Latvia. Curious, I clicked on the link and read all about New Horizons for Children. It grabbed my heart!

Last summer we picked out two boys from Ukraine to host, but my dad became very ill and all thoughts of hosting vanished. In August, my dad passed away. In October we moved across country -- from California to Georgia. Winter hosting was right around the corner, but we were in no shape to open our homes to anyone. Summer 2012 arrived and I came down with whooping cough and was in bed for six weeks. Again, not a great time for hosting. Now it's time for Winter hosting ... and ... well, things are different.

I began praying about hosting before the photolistings even came up. I asked God to show us 1) if He wants us to host, and 2) which children we should choose. All the children are so cute and, when I read their bios, I fell in love with each and every one. So I began to systematically pray for specific children. Each day I would pray about a certain child or sibling set. I told God that I would pray for 24-hours, if they were still available the next day, I would know that that was the child/children for us.

A funny thing happened. I began praying for the first child, a fifteen-year-old boy. The next day, he had a family to host him. Then I started praying for a brother/sister sibling set. The following day, they too had a family. A set of three sisters were next on my prayer list, but, by morning, they too had a family. I was happy and frustrated all at the same time. I was thrilled that all these kids I was praying for were getting hosted. I began to think that was what God was asking me to do -- just pray for kids to find families.

But, then there was the set of four kids from Latvia that I was a little nervous about praying for. I was nervous, because I knew that it would require a lot more faith than I had to host a sibling set of four. Hosting them would be waaaay outside my comfort zone. I know my heart, at least part of it, so I began to pray that my lack of faith would not stand in the way of anything God was trying to do but that I would trust Him in everything.

On Monday, I began to pray for these precious children -- three sisters and one little brother. Tuesday morning, my stomach was in knots as I cautiously opened the photolisting.

They were still there!

I decided to give it a little more time. I would check again when work was over. Maybe I hadn't waited long enough.

After work, I checked the website again. There they were! Four smiling little faces peering out at me from the computer screen. I gulped. Really, God?! Four?!

I needed confirmation. Often younger children, aged five and under, are not allowed to travel to the United States. Little Eltons is five. I asked God to show me definitely if this was the set for us. I prayed that if Eltons would be traveling with his sisters, that would be our cue to say yes and trust that God would provide the funds necessary. If Eltons would not be coming, then we would know that God was closing the door. Oh me of little faith!!!

I sent an email off to the regional coordinator to ask about Eltons' status.

And I prayed. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. the following morning and prayed until 4:30 when I decided sleep was futile and I might as well get out of bed. By now, I was also feeling pretty strongly that God was moving us forward with these kids.

By the time work was over at the end of that long and tiring day, I was ready to submit to whatever God's will was. I still had not heard back from the regional coordinator about Eltons, but in my heart I knew. These kids were for us. I emailed the coordinator and told her so.

A couple hours later I got the response I knew was coming -- Eltons would be traveling with his sisters after all. I smiled as I realized God was writing the introductory lines of a new chapter in our lives. These children, half-a-world away, were now connected to us for some reason and for some purpose.

But, we are just in the beginning sentences of this new chapter. There is a chance this chapter will never be written. God will work miracles, but I must do my part as well. Approximately $7000 stands between us and hosting these kids. Our $2200 deposit is due Monday. Our last payment is due December 1. We have a little less than one month to raise that money! My husband and I are taking on extra work in order to earn extra cash. Yesterday, we opened a fundraising website. All donations are tax deductible and go straight to New Horizons for Children to fund the kids' trip.

To help offset the expenses of providing medical, dental, and eye examinations I have set up a ChipIn widget on the side of my blog. Unfortunately, these donations are not tax deductible, but they do come with a bona fide blessing from their Heavenly Father -- which may just benefit you more than a tax deduction ever could.

Most importantly, I solicit your prayers. My biggest fear is failing God. I know He can do all things. I just want to be faithful to my part. I don't want December 1 to roll around and feel like I haven't done what I should have or could have done. So for now I'm trying all options. If God closes the door for some reason, I'm okay with that. I just want to make sure it's not because I wasn't faithful to His calling. Please, I beg you, pray with me and for me. Please pray that God's will will be done in the lives of His precious children.

Any advice you can give me is appreciated as well.

Thank you so much!

And now...

Allow me introduce Valerija (12), Samanta (10), Liga (7), and Eltons (5)


Thursday, November 1, 2012

We're HOSTING!!! Four Orphans from Latvia!


He did it!

God chose for us!

Oh, boy, did He choose!!!

After much prayer, some sleepless nights, and several closed doors, God guided us to a set of kids much larger than I, in my frail humanness, would ever have chosen.

A sibling set of FOUR KIDS!!!

Three girls and one little boy!

And they are adorable.

Ohmygoodness!!! They are cute!!!

And...

they are expensive!!!

But, the strangest thing happened. When we finally knew that these were the ones God had chosen for us, the biggest sense of calm washed over me. Like $11,000 to host four orphans was no. big. deal.

And I guess, to God, it really isn't.

Now Shawn and I are going to do everything we can to raise the funds we need. (We are both signing up to work extra hours and fundraising like crazy. We only have one month, after all.) But, God is in control.

These are His kids and He has a special plan for them.

We are only a small part of that plan.

But, oh, so happy to do our part.

Please check out our fundraiser website today when you get a chance to learn more about our fundraising needs and to see their picture. I'll write more specifically about the fundraising side in a later post. For today, I rejoice!

Thank you, Jesus!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Letting God Decide

Photo listings!

Page after page of precious faces complete with character descriptions highlighting qualities and sharing areas in need of attention.

Like a catalog.

Each photo silently screaming...

"Choose ME!"

So hard for me to look into their eyes without feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.

During our last adoption, we "chose" several kids. None of them worked out. Finally, in exasperation, I prayed, "Lord, YOU choose for us! We can't!"

And that's when...

God moved.


Today, as I browse through the photo listings at New Horizons' hosting website, I breathe the same prayer. "Father, choose for us. Send us the one(s) You know we can help. Don't let my limitations stand in the way of what You can do. Amen."

I'll keep you posted as to how God directs.

Until then,

I wait...

and pray...

and let God choose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Whom Do I Choose?

I keep going over the photos in the orphan listing at New Horizons.

It's so overwhelming!!!

They are all so precious and beautiful -- single kids, sibling sets (some as large as 5)

My heart breaks and I want to grab them and tell them all how special they are!

But...

I look at my pocket-book and think, "Oh, we can't host anyone!"

Then...

I look at Jesus and remember that He can do ALL things.

Oh...

I wish my faith weren't so shaky.



November 1 is the deadline for applications. I really want to know God's will for us. I am praying almost constantly about this. Please pray with me that we won't be limited by our lack of faith or our insecurity, but that we will allow God to lead.

Thank you!




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Somebody Else Got Him!!!

I could feel down in the dumps.

I could be upset.

I could be jealous.

After all, the boy I had my heart set on was taken.

TAKEN!

Right out from under my nose!

But I am SO happy!!!

He's going to be hosted this winter. How wonderful is that!!!

We'd been praying about whether this was the one God wanted us to host, but didn't quite feel like God had given us the green light. We waited and prayed and waited some more. And prayed a lot. But no nod came from above.

Then, yesterday, when I checked the website again, his photo had been moved to the HOLD section. Which means someone is planning to host him. I am so happy for him!! I pray that this will ultimately turn into an adoption for him, since he will be turning that dreaded fifteen soon. God please work it out!

And now, we happily go back to our knees, asking God to open our eyes to the child/children He wants us to host.


Monday, October 22, 2012

116 Faces - Can You Help?

I'm borrowing today's blog post from New Horizons for Children's website. You can visit it here. Please read it and pray.

116.

One hundred sixteen.

Just think about that number for a minute. Think about ‘Hundreds Day’ when elementary school students need to collect 100 of one item to bring to school that day. To celebrate the 100th day of school… and to teach them how big 100 really is. To us, it kind of sounds like a little, but when you have to sit and count out that many items, it starts to seem like a lot, like you will never reach that point when you finally get to say “…98, 99, 100!!!”

When I say 116, I’m not thinking of counting buttons, Legos, or Teddy Grahams… I’m thinking about souls. One hundred sixteen souls, children, orphans. 116 children without parents. Each with their own stories, hardships, losses. 116 names, faces, and special spirits that need love.

116 is the number of host families NHFC still needs for this Christmas. We have 116 awesome kids who are still waiting to be chosen by a family who will love them, bless them, build them up this Christmas.

On the other side of that 116 is another number 88. 88 families who have joined our cause. Together they have committed to love and cherish a total of 118 orphans. They have said they are going to give what they have been given and share it with these children this Christmas.

Would you consider joining our cause, the cause to fight for these orphans? Will you do it for just 1 out of the 116 who are still waiting?

I wish I had enough time and space to tell you about all the awesome children who are still waiting to be chosen.

Andrey is the same age as many boys who are leaving the orphanage, but he has decided to stay because he is committed to his education.

Beautiful Anastasija who deals with a poor self-image because of scars from her past.

Sasha who is not afraid to stand up for the younger orphans who are bullied.

Nikolajs who speaks with a strong stutter, but it disappears when he shares his incredible singing voice.

Deniss and Lena, brother & sister, who are talented ballroom dancers.

Markuss, who is a kind and gentle boy who gets bullied often.

Viktor who would love a new Bible after his old one was stolen.

Sweet Irina who dreams of a good family with a mom and a dad.

…and that is only 8 of them. There are 108 more out there who are just as loveable and in need of someone to love them!

What can you do to help?
*Pray for the waiting children.
*Share their photos from our Facebook album.
*Share the Christmas 2012 hosting video.
*Contribute a scholarship to a waiting child.
*Shop on Amazon.com to help Markuss’s scholarship fund.
*Sign up to see the full list of available children and see if they are the host child for you.

116 waiting children.

Each one with a name, a face, arms to be hugged, a heart to be loved, a soul to be fed.

Each one matters.



God places the lonely in families
Psalm 68:6a (NLT)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Urgent Post! Please Read!!!! What are You Doing this Holiday Season?


With the holiday season descending upon us at lightening speed, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of festive preparations. However, I propose taking a moment to scoot all those preparations to the back burner and focus on the orphans sitting in front of you. What? You don't see any orphans at your feet? Read on!

New Horizons for Children, Inc. is a fantabulous organization. I just can't say enough good things about the work they do for the older orphans. They actually travel to the easily forgotten orphanages of Latvia, Ukraine, and now China to search out, interview, and select orphans to be hosted by Christian families in the United States for a 4 - 6 weeks period. This herculean effort allows children who would otherwise be only a statistic to become a real, live, flesh-and-blood CHILD to an entire community of people.

This is important, because many people who have never in their wildest dreams considered adopting, suddenly meet an orphan and that experience rocks their world. When you host a child, you get the privilege of changing a statistic into a reality. My older sister once said, "It's so easy to forget about the orphans of the world when you don't actually see them. But when you see that one face in front of you ... wow!"

This December, New Horizons for Children will be bringing another group of orphans to the United States. Not everyone can host, but EVERYONE can help! To do so, we have to hurry!

In less than a week, the Winter 2012 hosting opportunity will close. There are still a BUNCH of beautiful children who have not been selected. Some have scholarships. Some do not. I am asking all my regular readers, and even those who just drop in every so often, to do at least one of the five options listed below:

1) Host a child: Go to the New Horizon's for Children, Inc. website and fill out a pre-application, browse through their photo listing and CHOOSE!

2) Donate towards the hosting cost of a child: All donations (and hosting expenses, for that matter, are tax deductible). If you can't decide on which child to donate towards, you can donate towards the child our family is praying about hosting -- U205 Oleksiy.

3) Shop through Amazon.com: Go through the link listed on this page and a percentage of your purchases will go towards hosting scholarships.

4) Repost this: I don't care who gets credit for this blog entry. I just want children hosted. The more people who simply copy and past or post links back to here, the more potential families are reached. That is my goal!

5) Pray: Every child on earth is a gift from God. Please pray that these precious children will learn just how special they are. Pray for host families. Pray for donors. Pray every day.

Thank you!



Monday, October 8, 2012

Pieces to the Puzzle

Adoptive parents want to give the world to their children. We try so hard, but, are, unfortunately, limited. Oftentimes we are unable to give them their past. We don't share all their memories. We don't know their complete history. And, many times, our photo albums don't begin with their birth pictures. Like an incomplete puzzle, the gaps in their history stand out, rendering an incomplete picture.

Recently, through Facebook, I received some priceless treasures. My son's brother posted some pictures of the two of them as small boys. I am beyond thrilled! Not only that, both boys (ahem! young men) are getting closer to their biological cousins, aunts, and uncles, who knew them as little boys and are able to share stories and family history with them.

I am beyond happy. All those questions I couldn't answer while Quinn was growing up are finally being answered.

Wanna see my boys when they were little boys? Thought you might. :)


Quinn and Paul are the blonde boys in front.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Three Hours Forty-five Minutes for Twenty

Parkour! Some of you may have heard of it. It's a sport where kids leap from rooftop to rooftop with ease simply for the challenge and the thrill. They spin and flip and somersault through the air. Metropolitan areas are their playground. It's exhilarating. It's dangerous. It's Billy's passion.

When we lived in California, it was not at all unusual for us to hear footsteps racing across the roof, followed by a moment of silence, and a thud as Billy ran, jumped, and often flipped off the roof onto a previously selected landing spot. Often I would hear him call me to come watch a new flip or move he'd learned. He was always careful and deliberate in his movements and I didn't worry. Much.

I enrolled him in a gymnastics class so he could learn basic techniques. A friend of ours paid for Billy to take a bona fide Parkour course. Billy never missed a class.

And then...

Last September, Billy was at a park with some of his cousins. They were practicing together and demonstrating for each other. "Watch this!" was the phrase of the day. Towards evening, Billy and his cousins decided they should head home. One last jump off the side of a building was planned. Billy was tired. He pushed off, but instantly knew by the feel of his body that he had done something wrong. He had.

He was off-balance and in the wrong position for a proper landing. When he did touch down, the force of his impact at the angle he hit snapped his right tibia down by the ankle. He was in excruciating pain and in need of emergency surgery to screw his bone back together, followed by a leg cast, physical therapy, NO more Parkour, and a very unhappy young man.

Fast forward one year.

One of Billy's screws had worked its way loose and begun to wobble around in his bone. The doctor was concerned that the screw might break and leave pieces for him to try to dig out. The wiggly screw might eventually weaken Billy's bone as it gradually wore the hole bigger. Bottom line: the screw had to come out.

Friday, Billy and I headed to the hospital. We were told to be there at 9:00 a.m. sharp, but when we arrived, they said, "Oh, we're not ready for you yet." And they weren't for another three hours and forty-five minutes! When they finally did get Billy to into surgery, he was done in twenty short minutes - small incision, unscrew the screw, two stitches, brief consultation, done. Only there was another two hours to wait while Billy was in recovery. Then ... finally ... a groggy Billy and an elated me were released from the hospital.

Today, Billy is doing well. He has very little pain and is able to walk with only a minor limp. But, he still cannot do Parkour for quite awhile. This is going to be a hard time for him. But, I believe, by the promise of Romans 8:28, it will also turn into something good for him. I'm praying he will trust God enough see the good in this time as well.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Some Days...

Some days just aren't as good as other days.

Some days my smile is upside down.

Some days everything takes great effort to accomplish.

Some days I wonder why I'd ever even think about adopting again.

Some days I feel very overwhelmed and discouraged.

Today was one of those days.


But tomorrow will be better...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I've Been Watching You...

It's been nearly a year since we've moved across this great expanse of a country and settled into a new life in the south. In fact, we've experienced a lot of newness in these last eleven months--with a new house, new school, new friends, and a new church family. But we aren't the only ones experiencing something new. Those around get to experience US for the first time -- a real, live, in-the-flesh, adoptive family.

Sometimes I forget just how different we are...

Until I hear comments like the one I got the other day.

Our church secretary is an amazing lady--sweet, kind, extremely capable, uber-talented, and intelligent. I've never seen her make a mistake. She's also very quiet and observant. And she has no children.

So when she said to me, "I've been noticing something about your children for a while...," my stomach immediately tightened and, inadvertently, I leaped into defense mode. "Whatever it is, I can explain!" I thought to myself.

Ours is not a perfect family. We have shortcomings. We have faults. We have problems we deal with on a weekly, if not daily (or hourly), basis. I am painfully aware of what we are NOT. And sometimes that also makes me painfully insecure. Especially at times like these...

Our secretary continued...

"It seems that no matter how rough the background your children come from, they all seem to end up so secure and confident. I am amazed at your parenting and I just wanted you to know that."

That was her comment. All of it. Nothing negative at all. No foibles mentioned. No critiques offered. No questions asked. Suddenly I realized I had been holding my breath. I exhaled slowly and a relieved smile spread across my face, as I responded with the truth.

"It's not us," I explained. "It's God! Only He can change these kids." The multitude of frantic, frustrated prayers I have sent heavenward flashed before my mind. Raising kids, adopting kids, fostering kids -- it's not easy. Only God can turn a shattered life around. Only God can heal life-long wounds. In fact, only God can use an imperfect set of parents to raise damaged children and have any sort of positive thing come out of it.

Only God!

Only God can show an honest, outside observer, what we, an imperfect family, are trying our best to do -- honor Him through obedience to His will for our lives.

And I...

I need to remember that ...

and throw my insecurities

to the wind.

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

He's a Working Man!!!

It's true! Billy is an officially employed member of society. First real job ever. And we are EXCITED!

His interview was yesterday and I don't know who was more nervous about it -- Billy or I. As he walked off with his interviewer, Billy looked incredibly handsome -- dress shirt, nice jeans, freshly cut hair. Left behind, I meandered mindlessly up and down the aisles oblivious to the wares for sale. Instead, I pleaded with God to let Billy have this job. I knew how much it would mean to him and I wanted it to happen so, so badly.

The time ticked by and with each stroke of the minute hand, my heart-rate increased. How long do these interviews take anyway? It wasn't like he was applying to be the CEO or something!!! At last, after thirty very looooong minutes, Billy reappeared...

with a smile...

and a spring in his step...

and I KNEW...

and all but lost it as the girls and I engulfed him in hugs. (Keep it together, Margie! Don't embarrass the boy!)

So today I'm baking him his favorite cake and we will celebrate this milestone. Because Billy is officially a working man!!! Yippee!

Thank you, God, for answered prayer and a new chapter in Billy's life.



Passing the Baton

I like relay races. They require teamwork, impeccable timing, and trust. The first racer carries the baton for a distance and then hands it off to the next racer who carries it a ways further. This continues until, at some point, the race is finished.

It's a little like parenting. The parent carries the responsibility for the beginning part of a child's life and then there's a handing-off period, usually during the teen years, when the weight of that baton of responsibility is gradually eased into the hands of your child until finally, he/she runs off with it alone.

I'm watching it happen now with Andie. She's months away from eighteen and reminds of this often. But she doesn't really have to. I see it. I feel it. It's kind of bittersweet. I inhale relief and exhale anxiety. Grateful for the young woman she's becoming, yet worrying that she's still not ready for adulthood.

A few weeks ago our church had its annual VBS program focused on the life of Daniel and his friends while they were in Babylon. Andie and I worked on decorations. We, mostly she, built the Ishtar Gate in the multipurpose room. As I held the legs of the ladder and watched, Andie scaled that ladder, made measurements, calculated, adjusted, recalculated, and finally executed -- with very little advice from me. From my vantage point on the ground, I couldn't help remembering a time, not very long ago it seems, when I was the one perched atop a ladder while Andie held the legs and prattled happily, "I heppin', Mama! I heppin'."

And I realize that it won't be long before Andie and I are no longer running side-by-side carrying the baton together. She will take it and run with it and I will gaze proudly after her retreating figure and smile and whisper, "God, run with her for me now!"


Thursday, August 9, 2012

P-u-s-h!

It's a common word heard in delivery rooms everywhere.

P-U-S-H!

It's the act of being born.

P-U-S-H!

It's how to get a child sky-high on a swing.

P-U-S-H!

It's what we mothers do to get our children out the door in the mornings.

P-U-S-H!

Sometimes it's what we do to help our kids try new situations, change behaviors, grow up.

The tricky part is...

how hard do you push?

Because pushing isn't just a brute physical act.

It's an art.

When done correctly, it can challenge a child to reach for new horizons.

When done wrong, it can knock a child flat.

I must confess...

I've done a bit of both.

The secret is to do it in such a way that your child has no idea you're even doing it.

The secret is to let them think they've done all on their own.

Because that way...

the next push won't have to come from you...

it will come from within themselves.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today Was a Billy Day

Yes, it was!

And I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Sometimes we need those days,

One on one time with our kids.

Today, it was just Billy and me.

As the oldest child in our home Billy hardly gets as much time with me as the younger ones do. As a quiet young man, he doesn't clamor for my attention as much as the younger ones do. As a patient person, he won't demand my time. But that doesn't mean he doesn't need it or appreciate it.

This morning Billy had some early doctor's
appointments to go to. After visiting several different offices, filling out forms, and sitting in waiting rooms can take up an entire morning! Since it was just the two of us, we splurged and (gasp) ate in a real restaurant for lunch. Okay, it was just Subway. (But, hey, it's not cheap taking seven people out to eat!)

After lunch we visited a couple colleges he's interested in attending, spent some time shopping, and finally, made a leisurely return trip home.

It was nice.

I got to see him smile.

And hear him talk.

I think we should have a Billy Day again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Laughed Until I Cried

This is so wonderfully innocent and cute! I just have to share it! Enjoy and let me know if you laughed as much as I did.

Type A Mom vs. God

I confess...

I am a Type A mom.

I can sort, catalog, itemize, clean, color code, label, file, schedule, and make charts with the best of them.

I can cook, clean, garden, wash the dog, fold laundry, paint, mend, correct papers, and pay bills at lightning speed.

I will even volunteer to scrub toilets, mop up vomit, or clean a poopy diaper in a heartbeat.

The one thing I struggle with ...

The one thing I wrestle with ...

The one area I absolutely fail in ...

Is just.

being.

still.

Seat me on a plane and my carry-on is packed with planning projects for the next six months.

Send me on a car trip and I will either be driving or have a bag tucked at my feet with things to catch up on.

Have me listen to a child read and I will occupy my hands with needlework or a sorting project.

Put me on summer vacation and I launch myself into activity and instantaneously transform into a whirling dervish.

Confine me to bed with an illness and I ... I ... I seriously struggle to maintain my sanity.

And yet, there's a Bible verse that keeps creeping into the back of my mind. I flip to Psalm 46:10 and the counsel there absolutely befuddles me. "Be still, and know that I am God..." Oh, that verse is so hard for me!

I'm a mover. A shaker. An activity maker.

A doer. A planner. A multi-task handler.

I am not one to just be still.

But, that verse is not a quiet suggestion. It is a firm command. And whenever we choose to ignore firm commands we usually end up running headfirst into a consequence.

For me it's been Whooping Cough.

From the end of June up to now I have been coughing, wheezing, gasping for air, and ... I must confess ... spending a whole lotta time being still. I don't have a choice. My body has the energy of a slug on sleeping pills!

I've found myself doing bizarre things like laying on the ground with my girls while gazing up at the clouds.

Or squatting beside our fish pond trying to see how many frogs we can spot.

Or lounging on the couch while one daughter reads a story and the others massage my feet and shoulders.

And the weirdest part of all, is that I'm completely in the moment with them.

Not looking around at all that needs to be done.

Not reaching for the phone to make another business call.

Not stressing over planning out a schedule or menu.

Simply. in. the. moment.

Experts say it takes three weeks to form a new habit.

I've been sick for five.

Think God's trying to teach me something?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How a Story Changed a School

Shaylei was a spunky child. Reeling from the trauma of loss and being bounced from foster home to foster home, she had somehow retained her smile and an incessant sparkle in her eye. Sometimes that sparkle belied the intense pain her little heart still carried and that infections smile masked a wounded soul.

Her adoptive parents enrolled her in our school -- Small Cloud Christian School.
The children accepted her ... at first. As time went on, however, her inner turmoil spilled out into difficult behaviors. The other students pulled back and finally shunned her. This resulted in increased behavior problems, which precipitated further ostracizing by her classmates. It quickly became a vicious cycle.

Her mother, a writer, asked us if it might help the students understand Shaylei better if they heard a story explaining Shaylei's background. Her hope was that once they understood, then instead of shunning Shaylei, they would understand her and help her. We agreed and the following story was penned. Called, "Johnny's Heart," it is used here by permission of Lyn Divoky, Shaylei's dedicated and talented mother.

Not very far away and not very long ago, a tiny little baby was born. His mother named him Johnny and wrapped him in a tiny blanket because he was very, very small. She put him in his crib and then went away to do fun things that she enjoyed. Johnny became hungry and cried, but his mother didn't hear him because she was having too much fun playing her games. Many days went by and little Johnny became smaller because he had eaten no food. And his tiny, little mind began to understand a lesson about the world. He began to understand that no one cared about him, and he must not be very special. No matter how much he cried, no one came to help him. No one held him and cuddled him like other babies are held and cuddled.

It wasn't long before Johnny became very sick. His mother stopped playing her games long enough to notice that Johnny wasn't crying anymore. He was too weak and sick to cry. So Johnny's mother took him to the hospital. The doctor noticed that Johnny was very small and sick. He knew right away that Johnny's mother had been playing her games instead of taking care of him. The doctor also knew that Johnny would die if he stayed with his mother. So Johnny was sent to a new home.

Poor Johnny didn't understand why he was living with people he didn't know. But it wasn't long before Johnny started to grow. These new people fed Johnny and held him, at least a little bit. Johnny began to learn a new lesson about the world. he learned that some people are nice. Johnny lived with this new family until he learned to smile and giggle like most healthy babies. He loved to look into the face of his new mother, and he felt happy and content.

Then a horrible thing happened!

Johnny was taken away from his new mother and moved to another home with people that he didn't know!

Johnny's little heart was about to break! He didn't understand why he had to move. Why didn't his new mother want to keep him? So Johnny learned another lesson about the world. Johnny learned that people may act nice, but soon they will hurt him. So he must not be special after all.

Johnny had many birthdays, but he never had a birthday party. Every year when his birthday came around, he was living with a different family. Most of the families that he lived with had children of their own, and they didn't have the time to do anything special for Johnny. He would live with one family for a little while, then someone would come to the house and take him away. It wasn't long before Johnny learned his most important lesson about the world. No one loved him and everyone would hurt him eventually.

By the time Johnny was almost four years old, he became a very smart little boy. He had learned a lot about the world and he had figured out how to keep himself from getting hurt. You see, he realized that he had been making a big mistake each time he moved into a new home. Whenever he moved, he let himself dream that this would be the LAST time he'd ever have to move again. He imagined that THIS family would REALLY love him and would keep him FOREVER. He began to believe that he was special enough for someone to love. He now knew that it was wrong to dream.

So Johnny decided he would never make that mistake again! He figured out that if he acted mean and nasty, his new family wouldn't pretend like they loved him. Instead, they would yell at him and tell him the truth about how bad he was. He wouldn't have to listen to any more lies about love. And his new plan worked. He acted just as badly as he knew how! He taught himself how to be mean and cruel even though he didn't feel that way on the inside. But he was determined to protect himself from ever getting hurt by people again! No one would ever pretend to love him and then send him away again. In fact, he was so smart that he figured out that if he were REALLY bad, they would yell at him so much that he would NEVER have to worry about loving them. So when it came time to be taken away from them, he wouldn't even care! He knew that loving people only caused pain and a broken heart.

One day Johnny was taken away from his home again. This had been his 11th home in only 5 1/2 years! Poor Johnny had been tossed around like an old ball all of his life. Inside his heart was a tiny little room where love was pushed away, but he had learned not to let it show. When he was alone, he would allow that tiny little room in his heart to open, and he would fee so sad and fear that he would never find anyone to share his love. He didn't even know how to show his love. He had been mean and nasty for so long. That was all he knew how to do. He still believed that he wasn't special enough for anyone to love.

Then Johnny's life turned completely upside down! He was given to a family that acted differently than all of the others. He tried all the tricks he had learned, but none of them worked! He tried to be as mean and nasty as he could be, but instead of yelling at him and telling him how bad he was, they pretended to love him! But Johnny had learned that no one in this world could really, truly love him, so he tried extra hard to be very bad. But this new family kept pretending to love him, no matter how badly he acted. He was so confused!

Very slowly, Johnny began to open the little room in his heart to his new family. At first, he'd open it just a tiny bit and then close it again. Then he'd open it a little more. Each time he allowed his new family to see the love in his heart, they showed him all the love they had in their hearts. Little by little, he began to see that they weren't pretending to love him. They really did love him! They even took him to see a judge and signed some papers that made him a real member of their family. These special papers were like a promise that no one could ever take him away from his family again. This was HIS forever family.

So it seems like Johnny's story has a very happy ending, doesn't it? Sadly, endings this happy mostly happen in fairy tales. But this is a TRUE story, and it happened in the REAL world. So even though Johnny learned that his new family really, truly loved him, his heart still didn't believe that OTHER people would love him also. When it came time for Johnny to go to school, he wanted the other kids to like him and be his friend. But he didn't believe this could ever happen. And he didn't even know how to act like a friend to anyone. He had never had even one real friend in all his life. All he knew was how to act mean and nasty. No matter how hard he tried, that mean "Old Johnny" kept sneaking out of his heart. Before long, the other kids at school decided that they didn't like Johnny. He was too mean! They started being mean right back. So Johnny was learning another lesson about the world. Even though his family really, truly loved him, no one else ever would.

His teachers became worried about him and so did his parents. They knew about the little room in Johnny's heart where his love was kept. They also knew that Johnny wanted to open that room up to the other kids at school, but he was too afraid that they would reject him. So Johnny's mom decided to write a story for the children in the class. This story was all about Johnny's life and about that little room filled with love, tucked deep in his heart.

So the teacher read the story to Johnny's class. Then she told them a very important secret! She explained to them that if they showed love whenever Johnny acted mean and nasty, he would start opening up that little room in his heart, just like he did at home. At first, he might think they were just pretending, but if they would keep trying, little by little, the door to his heart would open wide and the mean and nasty Johnny would go away!

You see, Johnny hasn't been with his new family for very long, and he's still not sure if he is special enough to love. It will take awhile for him to really, truly believe it. But if his family keeps trying, and his teachers keep trying, and his classmates keep trying ... well, if everyone keeps trying, Johnny will eventually learn a new lesson about the world.

He will see that he IS very special, and he won't be afraid to show love ever again! Now THAT would be a fairy tale ending!


As for the rest of the story?

The class sat riveted as the story was read. It was a total "ah-hah" moment as an understanding swept over them like I've never seen before. Of course, they wanted to know who Johnny was and when the reveal was made, Shaylei's classmates were fully on board as her official peer support team. Yes, there were still fights and, yes, there were still problems. But once the kids understood her story and once Shaylei understood their love for her, things really did began to improve.

Fast forward eight years...

Shaylei's family had long since moved away, when one day, my teaching partner plopped a letter on my desk and said, "Read it!" A multitude of memories swirled through my mind as I scanned the invitation to Shaylei's eighth grade graduation at her church. Would we come? She'd understand if we couldn't, since it was far away (six hours drive round trip). But -- and this line really jumped out at me -- Small Cloud Christian School was where she had learned how to be a friend. She'd really like it if we could come. Could we?

Could we?!

You'd better believe it!!!

Shaylei today -- happy, healthy, and a social butterfly! Look what a little loving teamwork can do!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Addressing the "Savior Complex" and Why I'm Not the Mother of the Groom

Recently, I've read several blogs where the writer was criticized for using the words "rescued" or "saved" when referring to orphans being adopted. At first I didn't react much. But then Paul got married and I began to rethink what adoption really is. Confused? I don't blame you. Let me explain...

First, let's rewind fifteen years...

In 1997, I was a 26-year-old, single, foster mom with three foster children aged 2, 6, and 7 (the older two were special needs kids). I had been visiting Quinn, aged 9, at his group home for four years before they finally allowed me to bring him home. And that was only after another couple had backed out of adopting Quinn, the Indian-tribe claiming him had changed their minds, and many other obstacles had been tackled. But Quinn had an older brother...

When I inquired about Paul, the social worker was adamant. Absolutely NOT! Both of the brothers had many behavioral issues. As a young, single mother they would let me have one, but not both. And so, these two brothers, who had been raised in the foster-care system together, were separated. Quinn got a family - complete with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Paul never did.

A couple weeks ago, Paul got married.
He sent me pictures and, although happy for him, I wanted to cry. This little voice in my head kept yelling, "I should be standing next to him! I should be the mother of the groom! I should be welcoming his wife as my daughter-in-law!" Instead, I send a gift and a prayer and stagger for a moment under the guilt I carry for those precious children, like Paul, who I could not adopt.

When people (usually those who have never adopted) accuse adoptive parents of having a "savior complex," they have no idea of what it is really like for us. We don't walk around patting ourselves on the back for saving orphaned children. Instead, we weep for the ones who will never be adopted. (And, yes, I do believe adoption is rescuing a child.) Ask any Paramedic or First Responder how they feel after being able to only rescue some of the victims of a disaster while the others perished. Do they feel like heroes? No!!! They are grateful for those they were able to help, but they are filled with remorse for the ones they couldn't save. Forever after, they will carry the haunting memory of those last cries for help, those last anguished looks, those last failed attempts of those who didn't survive.

Adoptive parents are no different. We are filled to overflowing with gratefulness for the handful of children we have the privilege of providing a family for. But the children we leave behind--in the orphanages, in the group homes, in foster care--scar our hearts terribly.


(For additional information about how the kids who are left behind feel, you may be interested in reading "Belle of the Ball.")

Friday, July 13, 2012

What Kind of Desperation?

"Can I come stay with you? I'm getting kicked out of the place I'm staying and have nowhere to go? Please?"

The email jumped out at me from off the screen as I sat stunned, trying to imagine the desperation it took to send that message to a near stranger.

I met A at a group home several months ago. She was bouncy and friendly. We became F*B* friends and I've tried to encourage her in the struggles she's shared. In the time-being she has turned 18 and emancipated. I have kept her in prayer as she has tried to make her way in this world.

And then today's message came.

I responded immediately, of course she's welcome, but, I wonder, at age 18, on the cusp of independence and freedom, does she really want the constraints of a home and family?

Then I think of her message,

"I...have nowhere to go..."

That desperation...

Something I cannot understand, nor ignore...

I await her response...

and pray.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Shhh! Don't Let Daddy See You!

I love it when my children obey. But, sometimes, and I try VERY hard NOT let them know this, I have to giggle when they disobey too!

Shawn has a rule--well, several to be exact, but only one that is important for now--and that is, "no running in the house." The reasons behind it are simple. People crash into other people. Things get knocked down. We have five acres outside where they can run freely. And so on ... and so on ...

The kids know the rule, have it memorized, and can recite it verbatim when called upon to do so OR when trying to get another sibling in trouble. Just, sometimes, they choose not to obey the rule. This was the case this afternoon.

Shawn was working on his resume (please pray he'll find work) on the computer in our bedroom upstairs. Down below, our three youngest girls were playing quietly. Maya, growing tired of their game, decided on a change of pace. "Let's play chase!" she announced. Then her voice dropped a notch as she added a word of caution, "But when you see Daddy, stop!"

I couldn't help but laugh silently, but then I wondered, "Do I try that with God?" Do I pretend to obey outwardly, while inwardly I rebel? Sometimes kids can provide a mirror to our own hearts.

I Understand a Little Better Now

I thought I understood.

I really did!

I thought I understood something of what orphans and foster children face.

The disruption,

having to start over again in a new environment,

feelings of loss...

I really thought I could understand

and empathize.

Until...


Last June, we packed up our house and temporarily put our belongings into storage.

Last July, we camped out in our school while we waited for our new house to become ready.


Last August, we buried my dad.



Last October, our housing plans fell through, we unpacked our storage unit, got rid of a bunch of things, repacked it into a POD and moved across the country.

We camped out in a 100-year-old rental home (owned by my sister and her husband) while it was being renovated. Three days after arriving I began teaching at a new school. (After 16 years of teaching in my own school, this was a bit challenging.)

This January, our POD arrived and we began the process of settling into our new home. Yaay!

This February, my uncle suddenly passed away.

This March, Billy moved in, bringing our at-home kid count to five and causing us to rearrange the bedroom situation.

I don't things started to feel "normal" for any of us until around May or June -- although, my girls still ask when we are going "home."

Through all of this--as each change occurred and I struggled to adapt--the thought kept occurring to me, "This is what life must be like for foster kids and orphans. Now I understand a little more."

But the difference is ...

I am 41!

I have a stable, long-term support group.

I am secure, knowing that I am loved by many.

I know this time of change is temporary and things will settle into routine again.

I have the tools to cope.

I have, to a large extent, control over my situation.

And so, even though I understand a little better now, I will never really know completely. My life story is so completely different from that lived by the orphan. My life has been sheltered and secure. I know who my parents are and was cared for by them. I never experienced abuse, abandonment, or neglect. I am blessed!

The very least I can do is share some of my blessings with a child who was not blessed in the same way.

I pray that God gives me many opportunities to do just that!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To All the Moms

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers I am honored to know and learn from... ...the wise grandmothers, who have learned to let go...
...the moms who are in the frenzied middle of raising their broods...
...the single moms, who carry twice the burden, but smile anyway...
...the new moms, who are basking in the glow of a new life...
...the expectant moms, who are giddy with anticipation...
...the moms who have lost a child, but will never forget...
...the foster moms, who bravely stand in the gap when a birth mother can't...
...the adoptive moms, who completely forget they didn't give birth to every child (even those of another race) in their home...
...the struggling moms who feel they have failed, but keep trying anyway out of love for their children...
...the moms who, out of supreme love, have given up a child for adoption, instead of aborting it...
...the moms of disabled kids, who push past the diagnoses because they want what's best for their child...
...the moms of kidnapped children, who wonder and wait and never give up hope...
...the moms of estranged kids, who pray tirelessly to bring their prodigal back home...
...the moms who are at rest but whose legacy lives on in the lives of the children they have raised...
God bless you all on this special day. Don't ever forget how important you are.
A well-known author once penned the following, "When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened; when the "well done" of the great Judge is pronounced, and the crown of immortal glory is placed upon the brow of the victor, many will raise their crowns in sight of the assembled universe and, pointing to their mother, say, 'She made me all I am through the grace of God.'" Child Guidance, page 564.