Saturday, November 2, 2013


October was a blur. 

Oh my soul!

Life has been busy, busy. 

Pumpkins, Halloween, Fall fun, Cookies, Field trips, Sickness (BOO!), Red Ribbon week, Storybook Character day...what am I missing? 

My sanity. 

That darn cup song and game. I'm banning this from my home. 

Nights at the fire pit making smores.
Carving pumpkins

Yet another crazy hair day at school. Good grief. SJ has a dog bone in her hair. Leah the pug kept following her all morning. Smart dog.

Candy overload

Tiny toes on a tiny girl.

Beautiful Luda sending us pictures from far away.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The W word.

I'll be honest. I'm impatient. 

I don't enjoy the "W" word. 


And for the past year 1/2 I've been waiting. 

On God.

For direction. Clarity. Vision. 

During the Winter of 2012 God allowed me to see the picture of a little boy. He was with a group of kids my friend had met while doing a mission trip. Her children and a group of kids sat on a couch grinning for the camera. On the end was a little boy.

A little boy named Danil. What was it about this little boy, the one holding onto a lotion bottle with a yearning look in his eyes, I wondered?  

I began to pray for him. Was he our child? No. God was very clear. 

So I waited. And prayed. And prayed. For his future family. 

Danil's name was common in our home. 

For months, we stared at the wall atlas in the kitchen where one of the kids had written across the country of Ukraine, "Danil needs a family."  

And we prayed.

Some days I would wonder WHY is he still there Lord??? 

Months turned into a year. 

This summer Danil's family found him. They are home now, with Danil, tucking him into bed at night. 

For so long I wondered if I should keep praying for this child who I had never met, only seen a picture of...or just give up. 

Never Give Up. 

While we are waiting, God is working.

I need to remind myself of ^ sentence often. 

I need to stamp it on my forehead and scrawl it across every mirror in the house.

This summer we hosted a beautiful young lady. We know God brought her to our home for a reason but know in our hearts she is not meant to be our child. God is weaving a beautiful story of her redemption. We can't wait to see His work come to life!

She is not ours, we know.

And so we wait. Again. 

Eyes wide open, deep in the trenches of waiting. 

On God.

To give us absolute blessed reassurance on what we feel He has pierced our hearts over.

Another child God brought into our life this summer. She is in our prayers as we try to make a decision. 

Waiting on God. 

Direction. Clarity. Calm and Absolute Knowing.

Did I mention I am impatient? 

Endurance. Steadfastness. Patience. 

Waiting. For endurance, holding steadfast to His promise that what he began in our heart, he will complete, and patience in His timing, to do thorough work in our hearts. 

Trusting in His plan.

Waiting on Him.

"But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing."

Friday, August 30, 2013

You is kind. You is smart. You is important. - Aibileen Clark

All children need an Aibileen Clark in their life. Speaking words of love, kindness and truth. I watched The Help shortly after we came home from Ukraine with SJ. For the past two years I have been able to put her little face in my hands and whisper similar words to her. Every single day. 

She knows she is kind, smart, important. Loved. She is safe. She knows her Daddy in Heaven loves her and her Daddy on earth adores her. She knows her mommy loves her beyond measure. She is home. But so many children are without an Aibileen Clark, they live with no voice of truth, no comfort and no love. 

This past summer we hosted a beautiful 15 year old girl. Her story is hers to tell. I know as she grows older she will impact the Kingdom of God. The past three weeks we have gone from a home with four children to a home with three again. It has been an emotional adjustment and a time of reflection. 

Driving home from the airport three weeks ago I listened to my nine year old sob for three hours, missing Luda. Grieving. I cried also as I thought about our time with Luda. I realized that even though we are not perfect - we are loud, life is messy & so is the house sometimes...Luda experienced great love here.

We were her safe place to fall. The arms that wrapped around her when no words would come. The comfort when tears overcame her. The voices that told her she is loved, precious, smart, important, kind, compassionate, talented, beautiful, adored...even when she doesn't think so. Even when she makes mistakes, even when we do. She knows it is okay to make mistakes. She is loved. We were the voices that told her how much her Daddy in heaven loves her.

For the first time in her 15 years we were her Aibileen Clark. The comfort and love every child needs. 

We took her back to the airport three weeks ago and watched as she and 11 other children slowly slipped out of sight. Not knowing what their future would become. Sobbing children and families. We watched young children as they put on their brave faces and began the journey back to a place so very far away. Children who have had so much pain in their lives. I wondered, as I watched them waving and calling many goodbyes have they had in their short lives?

We watched heartache come to life. 

In the midst of pain we give the glory to God and know He has orchestrated every step.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Where Did It Go?


How have nearly three months passed since the kids flew out of the school, SJ with cookie cake remnants left on her face from the summer birthday celebration on the last day of school, Paige with her backpack trailing behind her as she talked non stop about the beach, Texas and a special visitor's arrival.

It has been a summer filled with family, friends and mixed emotions!

Last day of kindergarten and 3rd grade

Spending time with precious family in Texas...I leave a piece of my heart there every time we have to come back home.

Texas heat/extreme humidity calls for desperate measures. Solution = giant slip n slide. 

And home made ice cream

Little One turned six this summer!! This summer we celebrated two years of having this little firecracker in our family! 

Beach fun with friends

Thankful for the time the Lord has given us this summer, the bonds we have made with those God has brought into our lives the past few months and looking forward to school starting back.

Did I just say that? The "s" word? One going back to public school, homework, after school activities and so much more. 

Definitely looking forward to a new season, cooler weather and all the fun Fall brings. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


 "My lips will SHOUT for JOY, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed."

Little One filled with JOY


JOY she brings.

          "Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Evening of Bountiful Blessings

This Thursday, May 9th, is the first annual Evening of Bountiful Blessings event for our non profit, Circle of Hope. 

If you are in the area we would love for you to join us!
Between 5-7pm we will be having a silent auction, praise music from area musicians  speakers sharing their hearts for the fatherless, custom jewelry for sale, Thirty One gifts for sale, and hors' d oeuvres. 

From 7-9pm there will be a presentation by The Moneywise Shopper, Kristan Stanton on how to coupon and be savvy with your grocery budget. (I can't wait for this!!!)

$10 donation at the door.

The Cooper House in historic downtown Huntsville:
406 Randolph Avenue, 35801

I am so excited about ALL of the exciting things going on that night! 

Proceeds benefit our program to support families adopting children with special needs, older children in danger of aging out and sibling groups. 

More info on our facebook event page HERE

Plus...there will be a special little person there (well, a lot of special little kiddos...)

However, I can't promise she will be still long enough to actually be SEEN. Most likely, she will be shoving pop corn into her mouth and watching movies with the other kids :)

A few of the items which will be at the event:

Unique & Custom jewelry

Haul Couture, LLC is donating one of their bags for the silent auction! (picture below is example, not exact item which will be at event) Haul Couture cargo bags have been featured in the Oprah Magazine, Kathie Lee & Hoda's favorite things and The Next Iron Chef!

I love, love Thirty One merchandise! Come and shop with Susan Towery who will be donating 40% to Circle of Hope! If you can't make it Thursday night, you can shop online also!
1/2 off every thermal with every $31 you spend in May!

The silent auction will also include many local vendors and companies, including restaurants, the Westin, landscaping, personal fitness & training, Camp Maranatha, children's rentals and so much more. 

Hope to see our area friends there!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I have no idea what kind of summer is coming.

There will be a lot of kids involved.

I am ready.

Yesterday I got a phone call from the mom of the family I have been writing about...the family God has been yelling at me about.

Don't you love it when God yells?

They are so thankful, humbled and in AWE at what God has done, through help bring Julia here.

Yesterday sweet friend called me with more news.


A complete stranger to my family, covered my family's remaining hosting fee.

This doesn't happen to us.

I couldn't speak. Or breathe. 

So....I cried.

A. Lot.

Because you see....

I never wanted to ask for help or donations for our own hosting.

We were saving. A dear family who knows L had given us a grant of $500.

We are having a yard sale to raise money.

Doing whatever we can to save and in the process help others.

The reality that someone donated the remaining fee makes me dizzy. 

I want to thank this person - someone I don't even know. 

See this precious girl..she made these cards for our family today...this is the part you have played...this is the soul you have impacted...

We don't know who you are but want you to know we are so thankful for your willingness to be hands and feet here on earth.

I am in awe. Steadfast in His hope. I am rooted in by faith. Even when I know I am so very flawed. Thank you...thank you....thank you...
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Simple Things

Counting down the days (literally) until the end of school (25) and making plans for L to come end of June. While she is here we are planning a fun time and can't wait to watch her get to experience new things for the first time. 
One of the most humbling things for us with Sveta was watching her experience things she never had before.

Simple things like:

The grass.
Being able to have her own room.
Being allowed to have a cup with her meals (they were always given drink after their food)
Eating cold things. Like Ice Cream.
Waiting for the ice cream truck to drive through the neighborhood.

Fireworks on July 4th.
Shoes that fit.
Bubble baths.
Warm water for her bath. Instead of cold water. Recently, I asked her why she would scream when we first tried giving her a bath. She said "mommy, the water was always cold at my "old house" and I was scared"
A flushing toilet. (instead of a little bucket/seat)
Underwear she didn't have to share.
Bedtime stories.
Swimming in a pool.
Having her hair brushed. Gently. Instead of quick/rapid tugging.

Being allowed to get her own water from the refrigerator...whenever she wanted. Even if it was a well used cup. She didn't care. 

She would find plastic cups in the pantry. Fill them with water and sit in that little chair. Each time, with a different pair of shoes that were beautiful to her. This one brings tears to my eyes. Oh, the things we take for granted.

Having a closet with clothes that fit. Not a cubby with a number. (She was #6)

Her first time watching brother play hockey.

Falling asleep, content, in a big comfortable chair, after playing outside with her sister.

People say Sveta is lucky to have us.
But the truth is, we are so much luckier to have her.

So many simple things we take for granted. 

Looking forward to having L here and all the fun times ahead.

Planning a yard sale for May 11th. For area friends it will be held in Athens. We are going to welcome donations of yard sale items and hopefully have a big success. 

We are so thankful for any donation amount.

All proceeds over what we need for hosting expenses will go into Circle of Hope's Eyes Wide Open program which provides adoption support to eligible families.

For more information on Circle of Hope please leave a comment in the comment section with your email and I will reply to you via email.

Thank you for your continued prayers for L.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guess Who's......

Coming to visit us for the summer?!

Meet...Beautiful L!

Last week, after weeks months of prayer and thinking insanity had taken a permanent seat in my mind because its been a mind boggling three months.....waiting on clear direction from the only voice we should ever listen to, our Father in Heaven, we made the decision to host L.


In the midst of chaos and our limited understanding of His plan-

He has given us peace.



L is living in Eastern Europe and is chosen to be one of the kids coming to the U.S. under a hosting organization called Children's Cultural Connection

Many of you know us personally, walked with us during our adoption, and know how adopting Sveta completely, amazingly, in a humbling & altering way, changed our lives and opened our eyes to the fatherless. 

Sveta made us open to WHATEVER God chooses to lay on our hearts.

Whatever, God! We are here waiting. Ready for you to yell GO.

Right now, He has asked us to host L. 

We said yes!

We are excited about L spending the summer with us and know we will be beyond blessed by having her spend six weeks in our family. 
This will be completely new to us - hosting. 
For about a year we have read about hosting and thought about it but the timing was just never on track. 

Until now. 

From Children's Cultural Connection website: Hosting is a wonderful opportunity to bring hope and show unconditional love to an orphaned child. The child experiences the love of a family, many for the first time. They learn about functional families and functional relationships. Whether or not they are able to be adopted, it's our hope that the children are blessed by a relationship with the families for years to come.  They learn English, get eye and dental care, and experience the simple childhood pleasures that they have never been able to experience before.

A family who knows L has generously offered a $500 grant toward hosting L and we are now working on the rest of the hosting expenses, $2200, which covers L's airfare, visa, passport and health insurance while here. 

We are saving up money as quickly as we can but any support we would be tremendously grateful for.

We are planning a few fundraisers to raise the money for hosting. 

It is very humbling to ask for help. 

We would rather help others.

I truly feel it does take a village of God's people saying "Whatever, God!" 

to accomplish any of His commands to care for the fatherless.

We are humbled and thankful for your help.

Our fundraisers have to be quick but we have a couple planned in the next few weeks. Working on details with a yard sale and hopefully a couple of other blessings.

 They will be local to our area. 

Thank you for keeping precious L in your prayers.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spirit of Adoption

Often, I go back to the time when my eyes were first opened to adoption, and more specifically, to the fatherless. God completely shattered my heart over children left behind. Children who had suffered abuse, both emotional and physical, who had been discarded by the ones who were supposed to be protecting them. I would crumble in a sobbing heap unable to process all that He was showing me.

Eyes wide open was something I was (and still am) thankful for and would never want to go back again to living in a realm of not knowing a reality so close to His heart. Early on though, it was often times too much. My mind was filled with swirling emotions, spiritual warfare through those closest to us, and an overwhelming feeling our lives were to be changed forever.

I begged for God to show us what it was we were supposed to be doing. Adoption seemed like a far out there idea that "other" people did. Then there were the little seeds of fear, doubt and worry...what ifs - what if it was a mistake, what if this messed up our entire family, what if, as someone we knew said "the child is all messed up?"

The final "what if" came - What if we said "no" to something God was telling us to do out of fear of the "what ifs?"

We are all "messed up" on some level, aren't we? I am not worthy to be in His family AT ALL. But that is the truly amazing thing about my Father in Heaven. He gives me what I DON'T deserve and doesn't give me what I DO deserve.

By Grace, He has adopted ME into His family. This is the Spirit of Adoption.

It was my great pleasure to plan your adoption as My sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5)

I love you my child, for you love My Son and know that He is from Me. (John 16:27)

God doesn't guarantee healthy biological children and all the "what ifs" faded away as fear was replaced by words like "provision", "prepare", "steadfast", and "heal".

During that time when all those questions were swirling in my head there was also the huge statement looming over, something people kept telling us - that we were being "called" to adopt.

We didn't really feel that way.

God showed us he wasn't "calling" us to adopt. Its much simpler - we obeyed and said yes to what he was telling us to do. It was more of a commandment. He said GO and we said YES.

Our adoption was no surprise to God. Because we live in a fallen world, Sveta wasn't able to stay with the mother God intended. I believe because God loves her so much, as he does all of his children, he placed adoption on our hearts and brought her into our home. She didn't grow in my heart...quite simply, she was always there.

I have a friend - she is on her own adoption journey which began suddenly in January, quite unexpectedly to her and her husband but to God it was no surprise. She tells me for over a year the Lord has woken her in the middle of the night and compelled her to pray for her child - for one not even in her family yet. She had no idea why this was happening but prayed obediently for a covering of safety over her child, not knowing at all what it meant. In January, through a series of events God very clearly showed her their child. He was always there, in her heart, purposed for their family. God makes no mistakes.

I suppose I look at it like this - regardless of how children come into our family they are wholly meant to be exactly where He has placed them. I am excited and honored that God gave us a child through adoption just as much as the three He gave me biologically.

Jesus, who makes people holy, and all those who are made holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus isn’t ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 2:11) 

I love to encourage others who are adopting and yes, am that person who will continue to yell for the fatherless because that is what He has pierced my heart with. I know there is no adoption without suffering. It would be a complete lie to say all adoptions end well. That all adoptions transition perfectly. Families need truth, support, and guidance from others who are speaking to them through the spirit of God and not fear based opinions.

From Russel Moore: "The hard questions about adoption, and the easy ones too, are only with us because there is something wrong with the world. We have adoptions because we live in a world groaning under the curse of sin and death."

God never makes mistakes. If He has placed the fatherless on your heart he will complete the work he has begun. "Let's be the people of Christ, and , like him, let's teach ourselves to welcome children into our homes, even those our culture tells us we're not supposed to want." Russell Moore, Adopted for Life.

I am so thankful He welcomed me into his family through my spiritual adoption, with all the baggage that came with my life. That He chose me to be a part of his family.

It overcomes me how He places children into adoptive homes and knows the precise moment hearts will be moved to say yes. Knows the exact timing of when those children will first lay eyes on their mothers and fathers. He knows exactly who is meant to be in the lives of the families to offer support, love and guidance and who are meant to exit. He brings everything full circle.

In our own family he has brought people in through a series of incredible events, and we now see a glimpse of where we are headed, where he is leading our family and what He is equipping us each to do . It's truly an amazing time. I can't wait to share more!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

time flies...

What a whirlwind of a year. A  year ago, I began homeschooling our oldest. This has been such a blessing. Quickly summer came and we spent time with friends, hung out at the pool, visited family and friends in Texas for a month, went to the beach and made it back home in time for the kids to start school. SJ started Kindergarten and is doing amazing. Learning and progressing so much. We are incredibly blessed to live in a community in which the school is so willing to go above and beyond to help her catch up and excel.She is a spunky little girl and apparently has a fan club. We hear all about her walking down the hall and children of all grades calling out to her "Sveta! Sveta!"

The girls hanging out at Papa Dale and Mama Lou's house in Texas last summer. Fun times with family. The miles between us are difficult but we are so thankful for the extended time we were able to spend with them.

No summer is complete without a trip to the beach and...a zoo!

Hot. Tired. Three kids waiting on lunch.

And of course...while at the beach we have to take an excursion to the alligator farm. WOW.

Fourth of July

Too much fun with one of my best friends from childhood and her kiddos. We both a little teary watching them all together. I think we were realizing just how OLD we both are!

Friends since we were ten years old!

The Texas cousins hanging out, racing cars. In about 104 degree weather. Add the sticky humidity and you get hair that never comes out of a pony tail. I don't miss that about SE all!

Precious cousins!

Little One learning to jump off the diving board. No fear in this one! Big brother there to catch her.

First day of third grade for Miss P, and Kindergarten for SJ!

Annual trip to the pumpkin farm. More excited about the slide than anything!

In December, our hearts were changed...once again. We have been so overwhelmed with emotion through becoming involved with an organization here in our state which brings groups of  older Ukrainian orphans over for a month to spend time at a camp close to our home. This is P with "L", a teenage girl who P bonded with. Oh my soul. I can't even fully express the emotion that was wrapped up in the night this photo was taken. P had written L a letter in Russian...telling her how much she loved her, how special L is, and how she will never forget her. When L read the letter, tears welled up in her eyes and she looked at my little girl with such sadness, and HOPE. 
Beautiful L......she is cherished, loved, important and we are thrilled beyond measure that she and her older sister are being adopted by a wonderful family. We know we will get to see her again. We know she will spend the rest of her life in a family, feeling love and learning about her Father in Heaven and how great His love is for her. Someday...we pray the sadness in her eyes will be filled with joy.

At some point in the whirlwind of the past year my friend Jaymie and I took our kids to a wolf refuge. 
What an experience.  How many people can say they have been face to face with a wolf?! We sat in their dens, got to pet them...but mostly I sat completely freaked out praying one didn't bare its teeth at me or try to eat my child. Do we get "fun" mom of the year award for this one, Jaymie?

SJ's second Christmas home. What a terrible picture...with shadows on the edge..but believe me it was better than the others. And they were all three sort of smiling. And not fighting.

Another trip to Texas and time with family.

                                       2013 began with celebrating 100 days of school

Sweet sisters. We are blessed beyond comprehension. And excited about what 2013 has in store. 
Praying for the Lord to continue to show us how we are to do his work for the fatherless.

Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1