Sunday, April 29, 2012

Llama Drama

Yesterday was the first annual Ridgeway Springfest, and it turned out great! Our sleepy knocked out on Ambien town got a very nice boost yesterday. By our very rough estimate, over 400 people turned out for our first festival. We had crafts, a local author signing his books (if you like VA history check out Tom Perry's website, super nice guy and a great author), several inflatable things for the kids for play on, a mini train ride for the kids, our local alpaca farm brought out several of their animals, some great food (I had the cuban sandwich, out of this world!!). It was chilly and cloudy all day, but everyone had fun anyway. We stayed so busy, we didn't get much time to take pics, but here's a few I grabbed with my phone.

Baby goats from Infinity Acres

This is Mambo the llama. He's a sweetheart, most of the time! He loves to nuzzle your face, giving you kisses. The 4-H kids love to hang out with him. At Springfest, the girls from 4-H, including my youngest, took turns leading him around, introducing him to people, many of whom had never seen a llama up close and personal. He was very well-behaved most of the day. At one point, though, something spooked him and he took off, getting away from the young girl who had been leading him. We all panicked and took off after him. R, the little girl, was just in tears. Not because she had gotten hurt, but because she was so afraid of getting in trouble. These kids learn very quickly in 4-H that your greatest responsibility is keeping the animals safe. She did everything she could, but if a 150 lb animal decides he's going to run, a 40 lb child can't really change his mind. He was caught quickly, by bribing him with food, no harm done at all, except to poor little R. She felt terrible about letting him get away, even though it wasn't her fault at all. She soon calmed down, after seeing that the adults were NOT mad at her.

I got to thinking about this later. When it happened, R was so upset thinking she had let someone down. They had given her a responsibility, and in her eyes, she failed. It was just an accident, and no one blamed her, but she didn't see it that way. Do we do that with God? When we screw up, do we really acknowledge the fact that we let God down? Do we stop to think that He is disappointed in us when we fail to do what He has commanded? This sweet girl took her responsibility very seriously. We need to take our Christian walk seriously. I think we get complacent, thinking that because we go to church, we say we love God, that everything's fine. God expects a lot from us, because He has given us a lot! (Luke 12:48). If you're reading this, you're probably sitting in front of a computer, in a house powered, heated and cooled with electricity, maybe with a snack beside you. Or you're on your internet capable phone. You and I have been given a lot, there's no doubt about it. What we are doing with what we have? I'm not talking about adoption here. I'm talking about living our lives for Christ, every aspect of our lives. I know I fail every single day. I don't study my Bible like I should, I don't help my brothers and sisters in Christ like I should. We were created in Christ for good works (Ephesian 2:10). Not to earn our way to heaven, don't get me wrong, but to do God's will. It's what He created us for! Do we even think about how He feels when we don't do what He has commanded? I'm not fussing at anyone except myself. I know how badly I fail at this every day. But maybe as you read this, it will help you too in your walk. Let's all be like R, and take our responsibilities seriously.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Celebrating spring and new beginnings

Warning: This post is very random and disjointed. Sometimes I'm not so good with the talking and putting the words together good thing (to quote Alex the Lion from Madagascar)

Spring is here in southern VA! At least, today it is. Three days ago I was busy keeping the fire going in the woodstove, freezing to death. Flowers and trees are blooming, birds are singing (both the ones outside and inside my house), people are sneezing and snotting from the allergies. Yep, it's spring! Tomorrow is the First Annual Springfest in Ridgeway VA. (should be said in a loud radio announcer voice to get the full effect). I live in a town that has one stop light, a library, a Dollar General, a local grocery store where they still carry your groceries out to your car, and it's also home to Ridgeway Drive-In, where you can get the best hot dogs around.
What more do we need? Well, we needed a community festival, a time to be proud of living in Ridgeway. We are home to NASCAR's Martinsville Speedway (I've yet to have anyone adequately explain why it's not the Ridgeway Speedway, as it has a Ridgeway address!). So me and a couple of my partners in crime have organized Springfest. One of them, Ethel (not her real name, she was dubbed Ethel when she and her daughter joined our GS troop for reasons that don't even make sense to anyone but us), is scheduled for a C-section on Tuesday. That's 4 days from now! She's already having contractions! We're supposed to go mark off the spots this afternoon for everyone's booths, and she's crazy enough to think she's still going. We're trying to bribe her with sesame chicken (and threatening with duct tape) to make her stay home in the bed. We want baby Harper (yes, we're allowing her to keep her real name, at least for now) to arrive safe and sound! I'm not birthing no babies in the middle of the hayfield this afternoon!

Ok, so back to Springfest! We will have crafts, food, music in the park, a flag retiring ceremony by the boy scouts, lots of bouncy stuff for the kids to play on. I want to tell you about one booth in particular. It's for CDH awareness. What is CDH? It's Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. There are about 1500 babies born with it every year, as many as are born with things like spina bifida and cystic fibrosis, but most people have never heard of it and there is very little research funding for it. About half of all babies born with this do not survive. What happens is that in the womb, the baby's diaphragm develops a hernia, or hole, and their organs wind up pushing through that hole, leaving little room for their lungs to grow. They are hooked up to machines as soon as they are born to help them breathe, have surgery after surgery, all in hopes that it will be enough to save them. Their parents don't even get to hold them, for fear of infection and complications. It's a terrible, awful thing to happen to babies and their parents. There's no known cause or cure yet. I know all this because I know a family who went through this last spring. Baby Penelope lived 33 days. She was my son in law's cousin. Parents should be bringing their babies home from the hospital, not having to take down their crib and make funeral arrangements. Please, take a few minutes and read more about CDH at the Cherubs website. We have to get this thing out in the public eye so more can be done to save these babies. You can donate to help fund research, donate items to be included in tote bags for the parents to have during their stay, and of course pray for these families. Hopefully soon everyone will know CDH as a condition that USED to happen to babies.

Hope, renewal, beginnings. Spring symbolizes all of this. It's a time to look ahead. Make it a new beginning for you. This spring has felt like a turning point for me, and I'm ready to begin the next season of my life. Just like the weather, I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I trust in the One who brings it!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

So many to help!

First, non adoption related gripe. I hate this new look to blogger! I don't deal well with technology change, so this stinks!

Ok, got that out of the way. I want to use my blog to help other families. There are so many that need help fundraising, need prayers, need prizes to give away. A quick note about that to those who are unfamiliar. You might wonder how families who need to fundraise can give away such cool stuff. Most of the time, these prizes are donated by other families who want to help. Some families will fundraise with a particular prize in  mind, and then buy the prize out of the money raised. This is ok, but it cuts into their money raised of course. So families REALLY appreciate items donated to them. You have no idea how much! Do you have a rebate gift card coming from upgrading your cell phone? How about donating it to a family? Get a safety award from work that you really don't need? Families can use almost anything new. Gift certificates/cards to national brands, you name it, we can find a use for it!

The first family is the one closest to my heart, the Pickett family. I met Chandres through Girl Scouts about a year ago, and she is very special to me! They are adopting Cullen and Katrin from Eastern Europe. I can't wait to have Katrin join our GS troop, she will be a blessing to all of her sister girl scouts. They have a HUGE giveaway going on right now at their blog Upcycled Purpose. Their immediate need is close to $3000. Chandres has been such a great Christian example to me, and you just need to go read her blog!

Another one dear to me is the Quinn family. They are adopting Autumn (Donna on RR), and will be traveling in a few short months. They are short about $10,000! A sweet friend of theirs has helped organize a giveaway for them, you can find it here: Quinn giveaway.

I've just read on another blog about the Reed family. They are adopting two boys, will be traveling soon, and still need about $2000. But the cool thing is, they have a matching grant for $800 that starts this afternoon and runs for just 24 hours. Let's all pull together and get them funded. If $800 gets donated, it will be doubled to $1600, which will still leave $400. We can make that happen easily though, right? Go check them out here Reed matching grant and also read about their amazing and large, 15 kids!!! family! If they can step out in faith, why can't we??

How about winning a Kindle Fire? Who wants to do that, besides me?? Find out how at Our Journey to Eli.

The Sheffield family is hosting a giveaway to help bring their Vinnie home by giving away a Miche bag. This goes through May 7th, and has very few entries so far.

Oh, and one more: The Cooper family is bringing home beautiful little Harper. She needs medical attention as she gets home, so let's help get them funded! Harper deserves every chance at a happy and healthy life, to be a girl scout and do all the fun things girls her ago do. They need to go soon to get her, and still have a mountain to move with funding. Please please please help them!

I could go on and on, but I don't want any of them to get lost in the crowd. I'll list others very often, and if you know of a family that needs a spotlight on them, let me know and I'll do all I can to help!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tulle and boots and sleeping giants

Last night my middle daughter C went to her first prom. For something as auspicious as that, she was pretty low-key about it. Came home from her friend's house about an hour before she needed to be ready (yes, giving mama a heart attack, knowing her hair still needed to be done and everything!). I curled her hair, helped her lace up her big poofy dress (that she paid for with her part time job), and we made it just in time. My friend K took some pics of her for me. Of course I'm going to show you pics, what kind of mother would I be otherwise??
Gorgeous, right? And this is what I love about her. She wore her boots with her dress! Her only splurge for the evening was the dress. No fancy hairdo to pay for, no fake nails, she didn't even go out to eat before. She's a unique young lady, always has been.

Now, this post isn't just to brag on C. While I could spend hours talking about her, she actually isn't the focus of the post. As we were out taking pictures, I couldn't help but think about all the girls close to her age in orphanages and institutions around the world. What they wouldn't give for a fraction of the freedom and love that C has every day. I hope next year we get to see pics of Laurel at her high school prom, showing off her new dress. Erin in a few years, all dolled up. There are so many that won't get the chance to be a happy teenage girl. Or even a hormonal my-parents-don't-understand-me teenage girl. Because that would mean they HAD parents. Look again at C's picture. Now look at this one:


Her face is blocked out for her privacy. How old do you think she is? Hard to tell in the crib, but maybe 2, 3? Try 15 years old. 2 years younger than my daughter. P weighed about 18 lbs in this picture. 34 inches long. Colleen was 5'6" at the same age. This is the reality of many orphans across the globe. Please tell me it breaks your heart like it does mine. There is a wonderful woman drawing all the attention she can to this one particular orphanage where P is. Her blog is here. We can help these kids. I read something the other day, and if I could remember where it was, I would link to it, but I can't, so I hope the author will forgive me borrowing and mangling their original quote. We can look at things like this, and say "where's God? Why is He letting this happen?" But maybe God is looking at us and asking the same question. "Where are you? Why are you letting this happen?"

The other night at church my friend was giving the devotional and he made the comparison that the church is like a sleeping giant. And he is absolutely right. God has COMMANDED us to take care of the orphans of the world. There are Christians in every country on earth. Imagine if we all truly took to heart James 1:27. Say it with me: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world".  We could make a real difference to these kids! Why isn't more being done? If we call ourselves Christians, and yet turn our backs when we see something like this, what are we really? We should be ashamed of ourselves, for one thing. I know a few months ago I was oblivious to how drastic the problem was. I didn't know. But now I do. And if you are reading this, you do too. It's horrible! In Psalms 68, it says "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."   
But guess what? God doesn't do it by Himself. He can set the lonely in families, but there have to be families willing to step up and accept these orphans. Maybe you aren't in a position to adopt. But you can do SOMETHING! Tell others, help these families financially. Just please, don't turn your back. I know I can't.

I wish I could bring home so many kids. I have seen so many that touched my heart. Right now God has that door shut for me. But that doesn't mean my responsibility, or my zeal for it, is gone. I want to help these kids. However I can. Telling others about the need, advocating for particular orphans, donating financially where I can, and anything else I can think of. I'm at a crossroads employment-wise right now, with the possibility of going back to school full time soon. This is an opportunity I'm not going to waste. How can I put this need into a job that will make a difference? I'm trying to find out where God can best use me. Where can He use you?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Great news about Laurel

Very happy to report that Laurel is on MFFM! (My family found me) She was running out of time, just like Sam and Duncan, but just like it says, HER.FAMILY.FOUND.HER! There are so many people that have been praying for her and advocating for her, and we are all rejoicing for her and her family tonight. The joy we have has to be like the joy the angels have when someone comes to the Lord. She was lost, but now she's found! (yeah, I'm not so great with the analogies, but you get the picture!) Can't wait to "meet" her family on the FSP page. With her aging out so soon, there's not much time to fundraise. I have no idea if they will need to or not, but let's all make sure they get a boost as soon as their FSP is up. Whether it's needed for fees, or if we can just leave them with more money for her some new clothes, things for her very own room, and all the other things a sweet sixteen year old girl needs, let's shower them with love! What a wonderful birthday this will be for her!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A carrot, an egg, or coffee - what these past few months have taught me

My mom reminded me this week of the story of the carrot, the egg, and the coffee. If you're not familiar with it, a young woman was talking to her mother about a hardship she was enduring. Her mother took 3 pots, filled them with water, and put them on to boil. In one she dropped a raw carrot, another a raw egg, and in the third a spoonful of coffee grounds. After a little while, she pulled them out and placed them before her daughter. She asked her what had changed about each of them while in hot water. The daughter replied, well, the carrot was hard before, but now it's all soft and easy to break apart. The egg was fragile before, but now it's hard on the inside. And the coffee grounds, it turned the water into coffee. The mother said, you have the choice of how you react to hardship and trials. You can fall apart like the carrot, become bitter and hardened like the egg, or you can change the water around you into something better than before.

This past week, I've felt a lot like the carrot, and I'll admit, I've even had some moments like the egg, being bitter and angry. But I've chosen to be like the coffee. I can still make a difference around me, even if it's not how I expected to. So what have I learned? A lot, and here's a few things for starters.

1. First and foremost, I've learned I have control over nothing. I said from the beginning, when I first saw Sam's pic, that God's hand was on all of this. For whatever reason, He changed up our plans. He is still in control, and I have to believe that, even if I don't understand.
2. God doesn't owe me an explanation. He is under no obligation to help me understand it. As He has said, He is the Potter, and I am the clay. I have to do what He wants, even if I don't have a clue as to why.
3. I have learned how important patience is. I'm not saying I've completely learned it yet, far from that! But through this He's teaching me patience.
4. I have learned love. Sure, I've always loved my family and friends. But I have seen such selfless love over the last several weeks. From the ones who gave out of the little they had, the ones who took time to offer encouragement to a stranger, to meeting those who are sacrificing so much to make the world a better place.   When I say sacrificing, I mean material possessions and money to get these children home.  Two of my good friends have been working diligently to pay the ransom for their children, a new friend, still working on paying for one adoption, is sacrificing again for their two new children.
5. Sacrificing material goods - yeah, I've learned about that, and so has my whole family. From the minute we decided to commit, I have saved every single penny. Nothing was bought that wasn't absolutely essential. We ate from our couponing stockpile so grocery money could go to the adoption fund. (My girl scout troop even brought me groceries!) I felt guilty for even buying a $1 tea from Hardee's! Wanting to help so many other families, even after our commitment ended, has made me so conscious of wasteful spending. That value meal for lunch, that's a donation to a family who desperately needs it.
6. I've also learned that support can come from unexpectedly places. There are people in my life that I expected encouragement from, and never heard a kind word spoken by them. But there are others that showed overwhelming support, let me know they were praying for me. Some were total strangers before this.
7. Saving the best for last, as far as God's commandment for caring for orphans... I can now say, I get it. I didn't before. Sure, the Bible says pure and undefiled religion is this, to care for widows and orphans in their distress. But in my little corner of the world, orphans were well taken care of in foster homes. I didn't personally know any orphans. All was good, right? WRONG. This has opened my eyes to what the orphans of our world are going through. I know some will never get it. The ones who say, oh too bad you didn't get to adopt, but maybe next time you can adopt from here. Or, why are you so emotional over this? You never even met these boys, how can you act so heartbroken? Aren't you overreacting just a little? No, they don't get it. I pray they will some day. I feel terrible that it's taken me this long to "get it", but I am so glad I do now.

I guess I could go on and on, but this gives you the basic idea. Sure, it still hurts when I see "Sam's room" and realize he won't see how hard Dave worked to make it just right for him, or when I think about Duncan and how he and Kacey won't get to sit together and share their birthday over cake. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. I hope I'm a better person now than I was at the end of February, and I hope I can be like those coffee grounds and turn a boiling pot of water into a rich cup of coffee. If I can help someone else, or make my little corner of the world just a tiny bit better, that's priceless. The woman in that story was a smart one, and so is my mom.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Playing Them Home (1st Annual!)

Today was our Playing Them Home soccer fundraising event! We were blessed with beautiful weather, a great turnout, and just an overall great day! Where to even start to tell you about this incredible day??

 First, I guess, is to thank everyone who came out to help and support. The Rogers family came all the way from the other end of the state to support us, even though they are in the middle of something huge themselves! Berndadette/Jessica and Mason will soon be forever members of the Rogers family! It was sooo great to meet them! If you aren't familiar with them, you need to be - here's how! Meet the Rogers family. And we were also blessed with a special member of Team Sam, Tara Sartain! They are also in the process of adopting, and you really need to check out their site at They are doing a very unique fundraiser and getting in great shape at the same time! Enjoyed meeting both of these special ladies so much!

We had lots of things going on, including the kids and adults soccer games, a fun run for the kids, a 5k for the adults, some fun games for the kids (sack race, beanbag toss, hula hoop contest, etc), a bake sale, and we had t-shirts and other goodies for sale! Like I said, a LOT going on. One special thing we did was to set up a donation jar, and everyone who made at least a $5 donation was entered to win a $50 gift card. What we DIDN'T tell everyone was that the money in that jar would be going to the Rogers family! We surprised them with that before they left. It gets better though, and even Erika doesn't know this yet... She won! They had no idea it was for them, and they made a donation to it. So, surprise, Erika! I'll be putting that in the mail to you this week.

I was so happy to be a part of this event, and we hope to make it an annual event, to help various adopting families. We pulled this one together in about a month, so with 11 extra months to plan, we should be able to really do a great one next year. Will it be for YOUR family?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sam's new family

Just a quick blog post to let you all know that Sam's new family is listed on RR! You can check out their blog here. I know everyone will give them the showering of prayers and encouragements that we have received. We are so happy to know that he will soon be in his new family. Please keep them in your prayers, as we will, that everything goes smoothly and quickly for them.

where to go from here

Now that I've had a little time to get over the initial shock and heartbreak, I wanted to say a little more. First, I want to clear up a few questions. Not sure if it was a legitimate question  misunderstanding what I had posted, or it was an ignorant troll twisting what I wrote, just trying to make me feel worse, but I want to address it anyway. 1. We never would have backed off if there was NOT another family waiting for both of the boys. I have talked extensively with Andrea at Reece's Rainbow, and from day one she had a back up plan in place, just because time has been so short with this. She knows what she is doing, and as do all of the RR families, I have complete faith in their process. 2. The document that caused the snag is not one that we have ANY control over. It comes, or rather, has NOT come back yet, from a government agency. Yay for government beauracracy screwing things up. 3. Finances - Our expenses so far have been around $5200. We have donations of around $1100 from supporters, and $1000 from a personal friend. This means over $3000 has come out of our pocket. I ONLY bring this up so everyone will understand that we are not trying to keep any money for ourselves. That would be unthinkable. I have already sent back through paypal various donations we had received, and the $1000 or so left in our adoption account will be sent to Reece's Rainbow to be split between the boys. The $2000 for the promise trust fund will be moved to the boys' personal grants, along with all the money sent to the FSP account at RR. This means that approximately $2400 will go into each of the boys's accounts. I hope Reece's Rainbow, and the new families, do not mind me spelling out finances, but I want everyone to fully understand where their donations have gone. If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to answer them. Not from anonymous trolls, but real people. (And I don't mind at all anyone posting anonymously, but if you make an accusation, give me a way to respond please.)

I have been fortunate in that we have had very few trolls commenting on our blog, I guess I put them to sleep too. lol. The ones we have had have tried to leave inaccurate, false accusations, that clearly show they have no idea what they are talking about. If you're gonna be a troll and want to hurt someone, get your facts straight first. Adds a lot more credibility to you. Geez, giving advice to trolls, what am I doing?

So, where do we go from here? I'm honestly not sure, to tell the truth. Right now we are hurting too much to immediately think about it again. I know there are lots of other ways to help, whether it's through mission trips,  hosting orphans in the summer, advocating and fundraising for other families, there are tons of ways we can still help. There are easy ways that EVERYONE can help, even if you don't feel led to actually adopt. God commands us to help orphans, James 1:27. I think as Americans, we have gotten complacent in this with the transition to foster care in the U.S. Foster care is great, and I think it's much better than the orphanage system. But, it doesn't put orphans in the public eye to highlight the need. Orphans in the U.S, for the most part, can be a part of a family while they wait on their forever family. This is wonderful. Other countries, though, do not use the foster system as much as we do. Children lay in cribs in orphanages, without a lot of contact with anyone, just due to the fact there aren't enough caretakers to help each one. Older children, with special needs, get transferred to mental institutions. They don't have nice group homes like we do, so that young adults can feel independent while still getting the supervision they require. We NEED to help these orphans. In whatever capacity we can. And we can ALL do something.

I would love to go to Eastern Europe, to the country that Sam and Duncan are from, and be a part of some of the wonderful groups making a difference. I've been doing a lot of research on the country, trying to learn the language, and would love to put this to good use. I will still be very strongly advocating for RR, and all the orphans that need families. I will continue to do research on how I can best serve. I do wonder why we were led this far, only to have been stopped. But I don't regret it for a second. As K, my oldest daughter put it "maybe God used us to help melt the mountains for Sam and Duncan. Even though we thought He was melting the mountain for us, maybe we were the fire he used to melt the mountain for someone else". She's a smart woman! All of us have seen God in action, to the point sometimes it was downright scary, and I think it's built our faith even more. It's worth every bit of heartache if it brings us closer to God.

 I feel very blessed to have been some part of the boys' journey. I'm sure their new families will be blessed with overwhelming support, just as we have. Maybe we can still meet the boys one day, tell them how much they are loved by the Mortons, and by so many people all over the world.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tears and prayers

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. So, like a bandaid, I need to make it quick and get it over with. We have to drop out of the adoption process for the boys. We hit a snag with the homestudy, a document hasn't come back that we need, and with the deadline as close as it is for Sam, we can't risk waiting. It breaks our hearts so bad to do this, but it's the only right thing we can do for the boys. We're not playing around with their futures by waiting to see and hoping things get done in time. There are other families that can step in and file immediately for them, so Sam and Duncan will soon be here with families, where they belong. Loving them like we do, and we truly feel they are sons of our hearts, means doing what is best for them, even if that isn't what is happy for us. All of the monies paid out to RR, our fees and all the money from the FSP, will still go to the boys. As far as our chip in, we have had donations of approximately $1100, and our expenses to date have been roughly $5000. I wish I could send back every donation that has been made to our chip in. I will be sending everything I can to RR for their grants, so please know that if you donated to our chip in, we are doing everything we can to make sure that money still goes to help the boys.

Please keep our families in your prayers as we grieve over this loss, because that is truly what it is to us. We had two more sons, and now they are lost to us. We are just so grateful that the boys still have a chance, because we couldn't live with ourselves otherwise.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ogres are like onions...

Yesterday I was really stressed out (nothing new there), and Dave talked me into going golfing with him. If you know Dave, you know how obsessed he is about golf. He really has a passion for it, plays every chance he gets. And he's good! Me, on the other hand, I suck at golf. I'm happy if I can hit it 10 yards. Obviously I slow him down if we play together, my 8-12 strokes per hole compared to his 3-4. And when A goes with us... yikes! So I never understand how he has the patience to take us with him.

But anyway, we go out there to walk a few holes. He takes his first shot, and then A and I take our 4-5 shots to catch up with him. We walk about 6 holes, and he never gets impatient with us. He shows me pointers, how to hold the club better, puts A's bag on his pushcart when she gets tired of carrying it, and acts like he has all the time in the world. As we were walking, I was thinking about patient he is out there with us, no matter how badly we play. He's like this anytime we go play. It's a side of him (one of his layers, as Shrek says), that I just love. Now, don't get me wrong. He doesn't coddle people, doesn't believe in it, but when it comes down to it, he is always there, being the strong and steady rock for our family. He has been, for almost 24 years now. And through this, he's been so amazing. Working on redoing the bedrooms when he gets home at night, keeping up with everything on the financial side, calming me down when I start freaking out.  He's my anchor, the one who keeps me from floating away with a crazy idea. He's the perfect balance for me.

Isn't that the way God is with us? He doesn't pave a golden path for us every day, making every day a fairy tale. But He won't give us more than we can bear. Now, our version of what we can bear isn't always His version, and we may think He's given up on us. A verse that I love is Psalms 37:24. "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His Hand". This verse reminds me of a little child first learning to walk. They hold their parent's hand, toddling along on their unstable legs. Then they stumble and trip. But they don't fall completely down, because that strong hand in their little one holds them up. God won't let us live in a protected bubble, but He won't abandon us either. Not as long as we hold His hand tightly. We will stumble, and wonder why He doesn't hold us closer. But He's building us up with every stumble, helping us to see that we can make it with His help. 

Everyone has been posting about Easter, celebrating His resurrection. His death on the cross, and the miracle of Him rising from the tomb, is something we should never take for granted. We need to remember this every day of our lives! We can't make it through this life without Him, and we can't take for granted what He did for us. So hold on tight to His hand, and don't let go. Every day.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Quick - help the Rhodes family!

The Rhodes family (click here) has received a matching grant, but it must be done by midnight tomorrow night (Friday the 6th!) They are so close to being fully funded, and if we can all help them out with a few bucks, we can get the last of their fundraising efforts knocked out tonight! If you aren't familiar with them, you can check out Mandy's blog right here and get to know them.

I just met Mandy about a month ago, when we first were trying to commit to Sam. We have several mutual friends, and I had been keeping up with their adoption progress, in the way that most people do. As in "oh that's great that they want to do this, I wish I had extra money to help out", while not really comprehending just what they were doing. Once God smacked me in the head with Sam, (well, that's what it felt like, really!!) I totally got it. They weren't just doing something kind and generous, opening their hearts and home to two orphans, they were living and breathing God's word every single day, and being great examples. Mandy and I first talked on the phone, for a long time, and I liked her immediately. Once we committed to Sam, she was a huge help to me! We just finally met in person last weekend. She is one of those truly unique people that lives her conviction to Christ, it just shines around her. She calmed me down and kept me from going off the deep end several times. I don't think she knows just how much she has helped me. I have four friends who I call my "Team Sam". Kristin, the one I can be completely honest with and puts up with my whining, Chandres, who answers my 100 stupid questions a day and gives me great ideas, Tonya, my cheerleader (ever perky, I told her one time I didn't trust people who were as perky as she is all the time! lol), and then there's Mandy. Mandy keeps me on the straight and narrow, doesn't let me lose focus of the true purpose of what we should all be doing.

Joseph and Samuel, and her homegrown kids, are truly blessed to be called her children. Please help them out, keep them in your prayers, and check out her blog and let her know how much she is loved!

Cookbooks and necklaces!

I need another project like I need a hole in the head, but here goes! We are going to do a cookbook - an e-book and a paper copy. We'll take submissions through the end of April. If you'd like to send a recipe, any category, email it to If you'd like it to be included, we'd love to have your name and city (first name and last initial is ok, if you don't want the whole thing posted, whatever you are comfortable with), and if you are an adoptive parent, we'd love to have the country you adopted from. I'll work out the price soon, but TENTATIVELY the e-book will be $5, and the paper copy will be $12.00. The paper copy price will depend on how many we need to order, so that's just a rough estimate for now. You don't have to put the recipe in Word or anything, unless you just want to, just type it out in the email and that's fine. Included in the book will be some facts about international adoption, possibly an overview of how different countries vary, why international adoption is so needed, and our own story of how we came to adopt.

 I'm also taking suggestions for names of the cookbook. Send me your suggestion, and the one we decide on will win a free copy of the book, either version you prefer.

The e-version will be available mid-May, and the paper version will be around the end of May. (again, will depend on all kind of variables, so don't hold me to anything concrete yet.)

Thanks to Jessica E of Ridgeway, VA who gave us the idea. She's getting a free copy of the cookbook!

Oh, and the necklace! I almost forgot that. A wonderful and talented friend has offered to help us with something else for our fundraising. She came up with a beautiful design for a necklace (how gorgeous is this!!)

We are selling these for $20, and contact me for shipping if you are out of town. The disk is actually made from a stainless steel guitar pick, and comes on a 24" chain. Check her out on Facebook at The Charmed Way for lots of other designs. She's super talented, also creates really cool knitted items. C has a sock monkey hat she knitted for her!

Also, check out and the beautiful bracelets they are selling. Also enter for a chance to win a super cute doll!

Ok, have I left out anything? Oh yeah, huge thanks to all who contributed to our FSP during the matching grant period. We made it to $1749, which will be turned into $3498! What a blessing! Lots of love to everyone who helped, I wish I could meet every one of you and thank you in person!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

but wait, there's more...

As if we don't have enough going on, I'm thinking about doing a cookbook as a fundraiser. A friend had given me the idea, and if we have enough interest, I'd love to do one. We would need recipes from everyone, so if you are interested in submitting a recipe or might want to buy a cookbook, please comment and let me know. (Gonna try to take that irritating word verification thingy off, those things annoy me and I'm sure they do you too!) Cookbooks would probably be $15 each. Comments???

iPod Winner, and matching grant ends tonight!!

Congratulations to Alex A, the winner of the iPod Touch drawing! Altogether, we had over 600 entries into the drawing! There has been over $700 donated to our chip in during the drawing, and we can't begin to express our gratitude.

I have always loved to enter contests and giveaways. For a long time, I wondered if people really won those things. My friend P and I entered every day at work, we had it down to a science, and we both won several things! So I became a believer, and would get so excited when I got an email saying I had won.

Well, that was fun, but I've found something even more fun; being the one to send out that email telling someone they are a winner! I loved doing that! We are working on putting together more prizes to give away, so if you have suggestions, please comment and let me know!

Huge thanks to our donor who offered the iPod Touch to use for a giveaway. That was so incredibly generous, and we feel so blessed. And speaking of donors, tonight is the very last night for our matching grant on Reece's Rainbow! Right now we are $446 away from meeting the maximum amount that will be matched, which is $2000. I am really hoping we can meet that goal by the time I check in the morning! And remember, that is tax deductible (and if you will comment and let me know you contributed there, I'll still put your name in the drawing for the Kindle!)

Again, we appreciate so much all the prayers, emails, comments and encouragement we are receiving from every direction. None of it is taken for granted, and I always seem to get an encouraging email just when I need it. I love hearing from everyone, and I am saving each and every email to show the boys when they get home so they can see just how much they are cared about.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Leaping lizards Batman!

I did it! Figured out how to put additional pages on my blog, check them out! ^. Figured we needed an easy way to see the giveaways, and also wanted to list the items (and pics soon) of items we have available for purchase. I used to be quite a bit more computer literate than I am now, so this was a pretty cool accomplishment for me.

No big words of wisdom tonight (not that there are that many coming from me anyway!) My youngest, A, performed with her class at the 58th Annual Rotary concert thingy. I guess it's pretty bad I've lived here for 39 years and have never heard of it until now, huh? Anyway, several of the county's elementary classes performed. I'll be honest, since A doesn't read my blog... I despise the school functions like this. PTA programs, concerts, all that stuff. I know that's bad. Some of you are thinking, what a horrible mother! Who doesn't like to go watch their child perform in public? I love watching A, don't get me wrong. I loved listening to C's concerts when she was in choir. I love hearing high school concert bands play. I think it's just the thought of having to sit there and just watch. I'm slightly ADD, and very fidgety. I can't stand to just sit and do nothing. My friend P used to get so irritated with me at work, I was constantly clicking an ink pen, ruffling papers, anything to MOVE. Church doesn't do this to me, as I can follow along with the verses and be participating. So, as I was unsuccessfully trying to concentrate tonight at the concert, I kept thinking that there should be some way I could find something inspirational about it and work it into the blog for a really moving post. Nope, nothing. So when A's group wasn't singing, me and K were playing "Draw Something" on our phones.

Yes, I'm one of those. The kind other mothers look at and wonder how my children survive their childhood. I forget to sign the daily planners, I lose permission forms, A shows up to school on picture day looking like she slept UNDER the bed. (I hate to see this year's spring pictures, she had them made a few weeks ago. We remembered 5 minutes before the bus that it was picture day.) She looked really cute tonight though, if that helps any! We tamed the wild hair and actually found a white dress to wear so she matched the others. I hate doing homework. Someone seriously accused me once of not loving my child enough because I posted on FB how I hate doing homework with her. Really? I didn't know that was a requirement to being a great mom, getting ecstatic over math problems. She gets frustrated, I get frustrated trying to explain, we're both ready to pull our hair out. But I love sitting and coloring with her, watching her draw her fashion designs, playing jokes on each other, listening to her talk about her day. Does that redeem me any? lol. Oh, and we A made an awesome science fair project. She made her own bouncy ball! And turned it on time, even!

Don't get me wrong. I admire moms who always have their kids perfectly groomed and prepared for the day. Bedtimes on a schedule, playdates and birthday parties planned out. It's great. It's just not me. Apologies to my elementary school teachers, who always marked my report cards with things like " unorganized", "uses time wisely", etc. I never got any better. But my kids are happy, so I think that counts for something. They act like they love me. (Or maybe it's really called "don't upset the crazy lady of the house"). Our way wouldn't work for lots of people. But it works for us. And it's gonna get a lot crazier. I can't wait.

Matching donor

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the last day for the matching grant. If you're new here, we had a very generous donor to contact us and offer to match all donations made to our FSP on Reece's Rainbow, up to $2000 by April 4th. Well, that's tomorrow and we are short $811, YIKES!! We are really hoping to make it to $2000, so that can be doubled into $4000. Something like this is a dream come true for anyone fundraising, and it was a double blessing since we are going to be so rushed on fundraising, due to the time constrictions. I don't ever like to ask for anything for myself, and my husband even more so, but this isn't for us, this is for SAM and DUNCAN! They have touched so many people, and been in the hearts and prayers of so many, and this is a perfect way to help bring them home. If you contribute to our FSP here, and want to be entered into either the iPod Touch or Kindle giveaway, then just send me a comment or email letting me know that you contributed, and we'll get you entered!

Tomorrow is also the last day for the iPod Touch giveaway, and you can enter that by donating or sharing my blog on your Facebook page. Just let me know if you shared for a free entry!

Thank you so much to all who have helped us out so far. It is appreciated more than you can possibly know. <3

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Time's up

That's a scary phrase. Whether you're in school and taking a test, or visiting someone in the hospital, or finally spending time with your child in the orphanage before you go to court. That one I don't know from experience yet, but it has to be hard. After the months and months of struggle to get there, you get to spend time with them, but then have to walk out until the next day. The pics I've seen of "gotcha day" on so many blogs always make me cry. Just knowing that this child is no longer an orphan, but is finally safe in the arms of his or her family. I know I'll be a blubbering mess when we leave with Sam and Duncan. They are old enough to fully understand what is going on, which I'm sure will be scary. The only home they have known, their safety net, is about to change completely, new language, new country, us (scary in itself!! lol). 

This morning at church our preacher gave us a very sobering lesson on time's up. He brought a digital clock with an alarm and set it on the front of the pulpit where everyone could see. He started off the lesson with the invitation (normally given right at the end), and told us that when the alarm went off, the lesson was done. And  that's what he did. He talked about the importance of keeping our focus, our aim on God, not letting life get in the way. After about 15-20 minutes, the alarm went off, making all of us jump! He stopped right in the middle of his sentence, and the lesson was over. It was an excellent reminder of how we don't know when life will end for us. We've all seen seemingly healthy people pass away suddenly, so we know we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. The Lord could return for us right now. What are we doing to be prepared? 

I'll be completely honest. Right now, all of my time and energy is focused on Sam and Duncan. No thought, no action, nothing happens in my day without it revolving around the boys. I've let God slip in my priority list. I  see the things He's doing, things that can only be coming from Him, and still I've been neglecting Him. I probably pray more than I ever have, but my bible study (never my strongest habit) has dropped to nothing. I don't make time for my church family, knowing things I could be doing for them. I knew this was happening, but this morning the lesson really slapped me in the face with the reality of it. It's a contradiction, my faith is being strengthened but my actions are denying it. James 2:18 - 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a]works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works.

My actions aren't showing my faith. Yes, we're busy with the adoption, but everyone else's life doesn't revolve around it. (Shocking isn't it!) First, I need to spend some time away from the computer and in God's Word. Second, I need to be there for my church family and friends. I can't expect them to be here for me and me not do the same for them. And my own family needs me to be the best Christian I can. Sam had expressly said he wanted a Christian family, a family he would worship God with. To be the best mom I can be, for him, Duncan, and my four kids here, I need to be the best Christian I can be first. So please keep me in my prayers that I will regain the focus and keep my priorities in the right place.