Friday, February 27, 2015

Picture Overload

I haven't written many updates since last summer (if any) because the blog was inactive and private for quite a while, due to an issue we had to report to federal authorities. 

Hopefully we are past that and I can share a little more.

Since last May, Little One turned 7. She had her party at Pump It Up. Perfect place for 20 something kids to get all their energy out, and no clean up for parents. This was her third birthday home and the first time we had it at an outside place (not at home). She had a blast with her friends. She is already making plans for her 8th birthday party. As in, "can I have a sleepover with 20 friends and go to the roller rink?" Ummm...yeah, not yet little one. 

No picture can really do this experience justice...a high velocity wind tunnel which caused them to squeal, laugh and beg to go over and over. The kids loved this more than the inflatables!

Spending time with family during the summer:

Watching these precious cousins grow up together makes me so happy. I never would have imagined that my brother and I would have so many little girls between our two families. 

Paige started 5th grade and Sveta 1st grade.

Sveta got glasses to help her when reading. She loves them! But we have to remind her not to wear them to the cafeteria and lose them there. To later be found by a neighbor friend and returned onto our front porch. At 7am.

She still has those huge blue eyes. Such a beautiful, sweet hearted little girl. With amazing tanning abilities, even when slathered with sunscreen. 

More time with family at Thanksgiving

Trying to get a family picture never works. We look like a band of squinty eyed vagrants. Wind. Sun. My dad as the photographer. Eh.

Paige had her  11th birthday. There were a LOT of little girls at this one and I think it will be the last sleepover hurrah. We had to call in adult reinforcements. In case you didn't know this, 14 little girls feet smell as bad as a teen boy's hockey gym bag. This was after "blind makeover" , some of them got a little carried away. Some were just over it and washed it all off.

Did a photo shoot with Paige to figure out how to use my camera in manual mode. I need more practice. Obviously.

Pey turned 15. And got his drivers permit. We need helmets and medication to prevent anxiety when riding with him. Paige prays in the car regularly now. She crosses herself as if she were Catholic.
I just try not to hyperventilate. I feel the need to apologize to my parents for my teen years, often.

Can't even get a serious picture. 

It snowed in the south. Our dog looks like he is singing "I believe I can fly" 

Another example of what happens when I try to take their picture together.


Looking forward to spring, warm weather and the adventures summer may bring.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spirit Lead Me

I want to share with you the story of someone very special. 

This is Jordyn with "Y" in December 2013. 

God connected Jordyn to Y in a way that surpassed language barriers, culture and background.

Jordyn has the heart of a missionary and is raising funds for an upcoming mission trip to Haiti. She is trying to sell 100 shirts in the next 27 days. Let's help her be hands and feet on earth in Haiti, no matter how big or small she thinks her impact is reaching :) I can promise Jordyn this, when you say Yes to God and your eyes have been opened, there are no small impacts. 

Little ripples cause tidal waves for the kingdom of God.

This is the shirt:

Go to Jordyn's booster page to grab a shirt HERE.

But before you do, read Jordyn's testimony:

Rewind to Le Caye, Haiti, February 2014. The For Life Ministries team pulled into Ebenezer’s Children’s Home for the first time. As all of the kids hugged and kissed cheeks I caught sight of one little girl standing back, arms crossed with no smile. My mom has always taught us to reach out to the outcast, to love even when love isn’t given in return. So… that’s what I did.  I spent the next 6 days with that sweet girl on my hip; loving her, kissing her cheeks and smiling at her. I found out later that she had only arrived 3 days before us. On the last day as we said our goodbyes, not a smile was cracked, nor was a hug given. So just as my mom had taught me, I picked her up, squeezed her tight and told her that I loved her. Vans were loaded and the little girl just stared as the vans pulled out without a trace of feeling noticeable on her face. Fast forward just a little bit to August 2014. God provided BIG TIME. With a $1,000 donation and my renewed passport coming in just days before the trip. I knew God was going to do something huge in and through me on this trip. Day two came faster than I could blink and it was time to visit the children’s home. When I stepped off the van I was attacked with hugs and kisses from the sweet girl I had met just months before. She was happy, loving, giggly and everything else a 4 year old should be. God had done such work in her in just 5 short months. She was a new kid. We spent the week together laughing, hugging, kissing, playing and just enjoying our time together. Night 5 came and I sat across from a sweet friend, Ali, explaining to her that the trip was almost over and God hadn’t used me in huge way like I just knew that he would. Day six passed, day seven and then it was time to go. On the plane ride home, I found myself discouraged, asking God why he didn’t do something big through me that week.  I felt His presence in such a surreal way and I heard Him speak clearly to my heart… “I didn’t send you to Haiti to move mountains, I sent you to love and be loved by that little girl.” I was stunned.  Wozy was the very reason I was there, the reason my funds were provided, and the reason I was called to be a part of that team. He wanted her to know how very special she was. Please help me by purchasing a tshirt or just making a donation to help me hold this precious baby in my arms in May! 

Practicing Contentment

Is it possible to "find" contentment in every situation? Through the years there have been many, many times I have prayed for God to allow peace to invade my heart, a yearning to live in contentment despite the circumstances.

There is one life event I have absolute, steadfast contentment. A peace I can only describe as supernatural because it defies human comprehension. In 2005 our daughter Emma died from pneumonia, secondary to Cockayne syndrome, a rare, recessive genetic disorder. The limits that horrid syndrome put on her life never defined who she was and what she meant to us. After she passed away I stumbled through the darkness of grief, fully absorbing all the ripping side affects generated from living in that state of circumstances.

Then came peace. And with it contentment living in the knowledge my daughter was not with me, that I would never watch her grow up, never have another photo, dress her, hug her, pray over her, hear her laughter again or her unique Emma sounds.

I began living out Philippians 4:7. "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I gave every moment of the grief, pain, suffering and gut wrenching heartache back to God. I chose to live, to ask God what to do with the experience and the pain instead of focusing on why had it happened. God showed me to honor him, and Emma by helping others.Through that, contentment came.

That same contentment has evaded so many aspects of the rest of my life. I have prayed for the same peace I experienced after Emma died to spread to other areas of my life. What I have realized is that I've been getting it wrong. Instead of asking for peace I need to be practicing contentment by choosing to do the things which came so naturally after Emma passed away.

Choosing to give my troubled heart to God,choosing to pray specifically over certain areas of my life, choosing to find the good in all circumstances.

All circumstances?

That's going to take practice. Intently looking at each situation and finding something positive. Or at least not focusing on all the negative. Giving every fiber of worry to God -when we can't see the end in sight, when the burden seems so heavy we can't possibly continue on the same path. When we are at the end of our figurative ropes. In the middle of illness, financial burdens, whining and complaining, wild children...

Choosing to practice contentment. Today I choose to be content in the midst of sick children (focusing on the fact I am blessed to have them), dreary weather (at least I don't live "up North"), slow adoption process (it will happen eventually), financial burdens (spring is on the way and we have some awesome fundraisers planned), weight gain of 30lbs over the past year (ok tying hard on this one, ummm....). Obviously I need to keep practicing contentment.

Have a blessed day, and what ever circumstances you are walking in I hope you can find contentment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Her First Four Years

This is where Sveta spent the first four years of her life. The baby orphanage in Nikolaev Ukraine.

Seeing the orphanage again is surreal. 
There will always be that four year gap of time in which we know very, very little about her history, her life. There are glimpses though of why certain things may be difficult for her. Babies crying make her cringe and cover her ears. Falling asleep at night is hard, and it took a long time for her to wake us if she was scared, sick or to even use the bathroom, always wondering what will happen the next day, and the next.

She is still learning to feel safe, loved and secure.

Near the end of the video is a shot of the playground and these swings. 

Sveta doesn't remember a whole lot of her early years. She does recall a few things and asks why weren't we there for her through some difficult times. And no toilet. Just little buckets to sit on. She giggles about that.

 As Sveta asks questions about her past, its as if she were just waiting for us all those years.
After we came home we found out from orphanage workers she used to ask "where is my mama and papa?" when another child was being adopted.
Knowing her personality I can absolutely believe she asked this question. 
 She still recalls the day she walked through the door and saw us.
She explains it this way "I never knew I had a family, and one day you came!" She says other things along with it but the point is, she was indeed, waiting.
For someone to walk through the door.
Someone she belonged to.
Her family.
I don't know why God chose us. Why this one little girl. 
I look at her and my heart overflows.
We would have gone anywhere he led us.
But God carried us across an ocean to our daughter.
People say she is lucky.
No, we are the lucky ones.

The organization which provides support to Sveta's old orphanage is called 
They help with medical supplies, diapers, renovations and physical therapy equipment.
It is good to see that this group has taken on helping the orphanage in a very practical way.
When we were there in 2011 we saw diapers (disposable) washed out and hanging to dry. 
Disposable diapers. 
I don't even know how that was possible.
There is one video by this organization which shows children sitting on the little toilet bucket things every three hours because the orphanage workers had run out of diapers. Abundance International said they were just ONE day late bringing diapers. 
That is how very real the need is. 
And most likely why Sveta learned to go to the bathroom on a schedule as well as hold it for infinite lengths of time!