Wednesday, November 28, 2012


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...




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.


But first things first...

I still have to raise that last chunk of money.


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:

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!!!


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!