Friday, April 30, 2010

Soccer Saturday

Cute players...

Adoring Fans...

And oh the talent....
Score!!!
This is how we spend all day Saturday. :0)


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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who needs toys....

When you have big brothers and sisters!!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just because they are only kids once

I love my kids. I love how they can take a plain 'ol dinner and turn it into something special. Last night for dinner we added some of this fun and creativity and had "Pancakes and Pretend" night. We ate a mound full of pancakes, laughed ourselves silly and everyone (including mom and dad) dressed up and pretended they were something they were not. It was my pleasure to dine with the cutest cowboy (on a horse no less) a strong army man, a beautiful dancer, a sweet princess, and an adorable cheerleader. (Along with their handsome daddy and awesome big brothers and sisters).
Miss Havyn- sporting her cheerleader Build a Bear outfit and her "bling" pacifier-( hand crafted by her big sister Addisyn).
And I think she might just be trying to do the splits?
My handsome cowboy...
Our delicious pancakes...
My cute boys enjoying their pancakes...with their pink tea cups no less.

Sweet sisters... the inspiration behind it all.
Thank you sweet babies for always making my life so much fun. I adore you all.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On my knees...

I haven’t felt much like writing lately, which isn’t like me. Writing is usually my form of processing and working through things. I know part of the reason is because we have been extremely busy with life. Travis is moving son back from college for the summer (yeah!!) Carson is turning 3 years old this Saturday (he is so excited!) 6 kids involved in soccer, a new baby (who has had some medical issues we are dealing with) raising 9 kids... and just life in general.


Most days are wonderful, other days are not.


Actually, to be honest, some days are just downright hard.


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)


This past week my heart has been so heavy. As I look around me I have a lot of close friends who are facing some tough stuff. We have spent a lot of time in prayer lately,even often times in the middle of the night, for our precious friends, The Patterson's. Sweet princess Chrissie , who was adopted from Serbia 6 months ago-has been fighting for her life after having open heart surgery. For those of you who don’t know them- you are missing out. This family has taught me so much about truly living for Christ. They have taught me so much about giving- no matter what the cost. It has been a privilege to know them and I am so thankful for their example. And yet my heart is hurting for them as they walk through this valley. I want a happy ending for them more than anything. I feel so helpless and to be honest I am questioning God like never before.



And all I can do is remain on my knees.


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5


And then there is The Riggs family. The family we are trying and trying to raise the money for through the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund. Their lives have been completely turned upside down over the past year with Abby (who was adopted from Guatemala) being diagnosed with leukemia. Michelle and I have laughed together, cried together, and prayed together- all the while knowing that God is in control and that we just have to trust. But as you spend day after day watching your little girl suffer and wondering what the future holds- there is only so much you can take. My heart breaks for them.


Then I look over to the chip in button on my blog and I question myself. And I question God. I know He told me to do it. Raising the money was HIS idea. But I am at a loss for how. We are a little more than half way to $20,000 and even though the Riggs are walking this tough road- they choose to continue to welcome more children in their home. They know how fragile life is and more than anything they want to use the time they have to make a child’s life better.

I cannot help but notice how much The Pattersons and The Riggs have in common. Both having children who are fighting for their lives- yet regardless of the unknowns- both families continue to love and welcome new children into their home.


I am in awe.


I am inspired...


and yet I feel so helpless.


I want so much to do something. I want so much to do more. I know God has a plan. But I cannot seem to hear him. I am at a loss as to how to raise the rest of the money.


And all I can do is remain on my knees.


He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6


I also have a few friends who are struggling with their adopted children. I am passionate about adoption. I love adoption. But it is hard. Real hard. I admit that often times I am guilty of concentrating on the awesomeness of adoption. The wow moments- the ones that take your breath away. The happy endings. But the truth is, adoption isn’t always easy. Life isn’t always easy. There are often struggles. Big struggles. Ones that make you question where God is in all of this? Often times our adopted kiddo’s come to us with baggage and scars. The thick kind of scars that never seem to fade. And there is baggage- the kind that you have to sort through, work on weeding out, and getting rid of some of the things that are wearing you down. And it takes work. Lots and lots of work. Sometimes you try things that don’t work. So you try something else. And sometimes even that doesn’t work. So, you try again. Over and over- never giving up- even though a lot of the times want to.


And all you can do is remain on your knees.


On your knees seeking Him.


Trusting the one who knows.


The one who has all the answers.


Because you know without a doubt that you don’t.


I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. Psalm 32:8

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Somebody else's problem...


Aleigha was our first adopted child and because it was our first adoption experience I admit I was taken back and not quite prepared for the 'comments' that would come our way.

Some, more than others, were down right rude.

Some, more than others, cut us to the core.

Some, more than others, kept us lying awake at night- as much as we tried to ignore them.

We got every question and comment from "Were we completely crazy?' to “How dark will she be?” to "Don't you know that this is going to hurt your 'real' children"… to "Don't you already have enough children" to "Aren't you scared because you don't know any of her family history?" to “You are just taking on someone else’s problem".

Ouch.

As we dealt with and worked through the painful comments one by one-a funny thing happened. Our faith and our confidence grew and we became even stronger. While no one expect this (even us) we became more certain than ever before that adoption was indeed for us. We developed friendships with other adoptive families that were priceless and we learned more than we ever thought possible.

We learned the truth.

These questions and comments ended up actually being good for us...

They made us dig deeper, they made us think harder.

They made us turn to God and see what He had to say about adoption.

They made us see that these ridiculously rude personal questions were exactly why so many children continue to wait...

Because people let fear keep them from taking that first step... and they miss out on so very, very much because of it.

Satan loves that.

I am so thankful that we didn't let the lies hold us back. I am so thankful that we didn't let the fears keep us from moving forth. I am so thankful that we didn't let other peoples comments and opinions paralyze us.

I am so thankful that we said yes.

So today I would like to take a moment to introduce you to our "problem child" Aleigha. :0)

Aleigha (pronounced A-Lee-a) is 6 years old and was adopted from Guatemala.

Tomorrow night Aleigha will be standing in front of the school board and be presented with an award for being the Outstanding Kindergarten student this 9 weeks- out of 6 kindergarten classes.

Her teacher reported that Aleigha is a leader in her class, a wonderful example to her classmates and is kind and accepting to all kinds of children. She was asked to test for the gifted and talented program this year and is involved in church and soccer. She is a wonderful little sister and big sister. She has tons of friends, is happy, outgoing, kind, caring, loving, and continuously makes our life all the more sweeter.

But you want to know something?

While all of that is great-none of that effects how much we love her.

We didn't go into her adoption expecting a 'perfect' child- because we sure aren't.

We chose not to put conditions on our love for her from the very beginning.

We chose to love her the way Christ loves us- unconditionally.

We chose to love her just the way God made her.

Love her just the way she is.

Our love for her is not determined by the color of her skin, the grades on her report card, on her looks, her popularity, her talents- or on any problems she may face.

We simple love her because she is our daughter.

Because being her parents is one of the most precious, amazing, perfect gift we have been given.

She will make mistakes, she will fail, and she will fall. We all do.

But you know what?

We will be there to pick her up and it won't be a problem.

It will be a privilege.

Through the good and the bad, through the highs and the lows- she is a gift- and it is our privilege to be her mom and dad.

Period.




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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To our Adoption Donor

Because of you -today I was able to hear this baby girl’s laughter.

Because of you -today I was able to sing to her, rock her and tell her how loved she is.

Because of you- one day I will watch her take her first step.

Because of you- one day I will kneel beside her bed and listen to her bedtime prayers.

Because of you- one day I will take her hand and walk her into her kindergarten class.

Because of you- one day I watch her discoverer her strengths and her weaknesses.

Because of you- one day I will watch her drive a car for the very first time.

Because of you- one day I will watch her walk across the stage and receive her diploma.

Because of you- one day I will watch her take her groom by the arm and say I do.

Because of you- one day I will hold her babies and tell them their mommy's story...

Her story that YOU are a huge part of.

Her story that wouldn’t be the same with you.

Her story that became a part of who she is- because of who you chose to be.


Every day is a chance for us to be someone’s hero. Thank you for being ours.




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Monday, April 12, 2010

The good stuff

None of us like going through trails- but inevitably they are a part of life. No matter how far and fast we run to avoid pain, avoid the hard stuff- it somehow still seems to find us. It seems like we can just be going along with our day, doing the best we can- and wham- something happens that brings us to our knees.

The place where we need to be more often.

God is crazy cool like that.

Having our house broken into was one of those moments. Just minding our own business, doing the very best we could, moving along, working our hardest- then it happened.

But what I have discovered is that while I am on my knees, God is working in some amazing ways that could NOT have happened- would not have happened, if we hadn't gone through this trial.

We do have $1,000 deductible on our homeowners insurance- so yes, we have a loss that hurts. However, the blessings of seeing God's hand at work has been SUCH A GAIN.

Yesterday at church we had Carson and Havyn dedicated. The service was beautiful and just knowing we had so many people 'dedicated' in helping us raise these precious babies of ours on God's word was such a gift in itself. Our pastor even wrote a letter to both Carson and Havyn that was sealed in an envelope to be read on the day they are saved- when they ask Jesus to be their personal savior. I cannot tell you how much it meant to us to have that support and be able to feel that love from our church family. Having the blessing of teaching Carson and Havyn (as well as our other children, of course) about Jesus is the most precious gift in this entire world.

God allowed us that privilege.

Really, what more could we ask for in life?


But He didn't stop there...

The children in our church pulled together and surprised Kallan by having a bake sale at the end of the service to earn money to replace the $120 he had stolen from his piggy bank during the break in. Seeing the look on Kallans face when they announced what they had done put me in tears. Kallan has such a gentleness about him. He is one of those kind of kids who never complains and never asks for anything. Actually he never once said a word about loosing his money but was upset about the girls necklaces from Guatemala being gone. That is just the kind of kid he is. So for him to be able to see his friends pull together out of that same kind of love for him was so touching. A blessing and a lesson we would not have had if we hadn't gone through this trial.

God is just so good like that.

He always has the very best for us- even during the hard times.

And one more thing I wanted to share...

The day our house was broken into I had been downloading some pictures and I had left my lap top on the kitchen counter... just about a yard away from the pickle jar.

The pickle jar that was visibly full.

The pickle jar that had over $1,000 CASH in it.

The pickle jar that we had been putting money into for months for the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund.

The pickle jar that had more in it than my lap top was even worth.

The pickle jar that was God's idea.

The pickle jar that is still there- FULL- even after the break in. Untouched.

Because somehow the thieves missed it...?
or overlooked it...?
or ignored it?

But you and I know better than that don't we?

Proverbs 2:8
for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.


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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sweet Guatemalan sisters

Just wanted to share a couple of pictures I captured this weekend. I just love watching Aleigha and Mya together. The bond they share still to this day amazes me. Where you find one, you will find the other. I love how they cheer each other on and encourage the other to be the best they can be. Rarely do I ever see any jealousy between these two.
Sisters are such a gift, I should know, I had the best. :0)



Our roots say we're sisters,
Our hearts say we're friends.
~Author Unknown

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Security

People put a lot of time and energy into obtaining security.


They build walls, fences, weapons and alarms.


There is Homeland security and Social security.


They look for security in their finances and security in their own power.



But one thing I have discovered over and over again in my life is that the only security I can be sure of is that found in Jesus Christ


.

Yesterday our house was broken into. I was gone for a little under and hour to pick up our kids from school and came home to find our doors open and our house ransacked. They stole my lap top I had saved for months to buy. They took my son Kallans referee money he had worked so hard for. They took my jewelry and an Ipod- all of which were gifts. They also took 3 pairs of diamond earrings the girls aunt had bought for them and 2 jade necklaces I had purchased in Guatemala to give to the girls one day on their Gotcha Days when they were older.


All gone- just like that.



After the police left we spent the evening processing through all of our emotions. Feelings of violation, fear, shock, anger, sadness, loss, thankfulness ( that no one was hurt) and appreciation (for the friends who called to check on us and for our precious pastor who prayed for us over the phone).



But the thing that meant the most was the verse the Lord brought to my mind over and over again :

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19



All of those things they took were just that- things. We have all that we really need. We have each other, we have friends, we have our church but most of all- we have Jesus.


And that is something no robber could ever take.



Aleigha and Mya had a hard time falling asleep last night because as they lay in the dark waiting for sleep the fears kept creeping in. At one point Mya walked into the living room, leaped into my arms and said “Mommy, will you pray with me? I am scared.”



And I knew we were going to be okay.



I knew without a doubt that because we know where our REAL security lies- in Jesus, everything was going to be alright.



This world is full of evil. No matter how many walls we build or security systems we put in- nothing can change that. But understanding that security is not found between 4 walls, in our checkbook, or in our things gives me REAL peace. Knowing it's in you Jesus- and that is all we truly need.



Lord I thank you for your protection over us. I praise you Lord for the reminder that as long as we have you- we have it all. I pray Lord for the individuals who broke into our home Lord. They need you. They need the hope that only you can give. Lord and I pray that they truly listen to the words to those Christian songs on the Ipod they took. I pray Lord that you use the sermons I downloaded into my laptop to reach them. I pray Lord for the other families whos homes in our area’s were robbed also and I thank you God for these reminders that you are more than enough.


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Monday, April 5, 2010

YOU can help be the change

Out of all of the places we visited while in Ethiopia there was one place touched my heart more than any of the others...

There was just something about this place that makes you see life a whole lot differently.

Something about this place that I cannot get out of my mind.

Something about this place that I don't ever want to forget.

That I can't forget.

Because it's too important to them.
This place is Adami Tulu Nursery School- and before I went to Ethioipia, I had no idea it even existed. It's funny how God works because several months ago the Lord paved a path for me to meet a couple of people who work for Lifesong for Orphans. I know many of you have heard of Lifesong, most likely while you were frantically searching for adoption grants and loans :0) They have been such an amazing resource for helping families be able to bring their adopted children home. But what many of you might not know is the heart and soul that is goes into the work Lifesong does. I had no idea- until I had the privilege of meeting Andy Lehman and getting to know him and Christi Ucherek. Over the months I have learned about the heart that beats behind this ministry and have been blown away by how authentic and how passionate both Andy and Christi truly are about orphans and about the Lord.

And then, God took me to Adami Tulu Nursery School while in Ethiopia and I fell completely in love with this little preschool and all it represents. I wish you could have been there and I wish you could have seen. Then you would know exactly what I am talking about and you too would be doing all you could to make things different for them.
Often times we want to do something. We want to do more- but we just don't know how. Well, here is your chance- and, it's SO EASY. If you have a blog would you be willing to help spread the word? Would you be willing to put a Lifesong badge on your blog or else blog about what Lifesong is doing there? If you don't have a blog- start one! :0) We need to get the word out. $3.00 feeds a child in Ethiopia for one month. $3.00!!!! That is it to change a life.
I saw it guys. I saw it with my own eyes. We hugged the kids. We talked to them. We played with them. We looked them right in the eyes and I promise you I saw Jesus in each and every one of them. They need a chance. We cannot forget them. They need YOU to help spread the word. They are there- and they need our help and our support. They need this education. They need nutrition. They need hope and you and I can help give it to them.

If you would be willing (and I'm begging you here) to help get the word out on some projects Lifesong is doing on a quarterly basis you can email Christi at christi@lifesongfororphans.org and she will get the information to you. Thanks for making a difference.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010