Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chock Full of October

Laurel's 7th Birthday Party

This is what too much partying will do for you.

Noah's 8th Birthday Party

Bobbing for Apples!

No Party is Complete without a Pinata

Noah & Hayden; Best Buds


October was wild! Both of the babies birthday's are in that month so they got to choose what they wanted to do. Laurel chose a small family party at the Bowling alley complete with bowling, cake, presents and the arcade games. Noah chose a larger party with friends and family at Uncle John & Aunt Rachael's house for a hayride and pinata and a bonfire. What a wonderful blessed woman I am to have these babies!
Fall is finally here and the leaves are beautiful. We have taken a few field trips this month and enjoyed the outdoors. Halloween was wild this year as well. We started off by doing our local downtown walk and then went to our cousins house to trick or treat with them in their neighborhood. We had an absolute blast!We did however see about 1000 Elsa's! :)
October was busy but I say go big or go home! We are so blessed beyond what we deserve.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"A Rose for Janie" AKA "Rose"

Laurel is the proud owner of a brand new filly!! Yes, we are crazy, but a bit of backstory.
My sister bought a mare in the spring. She rode this mare right up until a few months ago when she got off of her one day and said "Hmmm..... her stomach looks lopsided". Lo and behold, the mare was not only pregnant but within a month of giving birth. She had been told specifically that "there was no way this mare was pregnant" so she had not been watching for the signs and she was underweight when she bought her. So...... out popped a bright white little filly.  Rachael's husband said No Way Jose' to keeping it and Laurel fell in love.
 Years ago when I was young, my mother had someone tell her that if she bought her girls a horse, it would keep them away from boys. Worked well for us and Laurel needed a hobby that would not require an immense amount of listening (because of her hearing impairment) so she could relax and enjoy it. This little filly is so sweet and we are hoping it will turn into a pretty nice show horse for Laurel.

Now for the name. Less than 2 years ago, my Aunt Janie went to heaven from cancer. We named this little filly "A Rose for Janie" and will call her "Rose". Aunt Janie was so supportive of our horse shows and us riding horses and she had a bunch herself. Laurel loved the name. So there we have it. Rose will come live at our house after she is weaned. Hoping to build her a nice little shelter and pasture. Noah and myself will be scarce because we are both highly allergic to horses :( but Laurel's little take charge attitude will serve her well. Exciting times!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A hard post to write...

Last night in USA. Steak & Lobster! 

     I don't know why we think when we obey God's call that things will be easy but we are guilty of it.  We think just because it is right, things will go smoothly. Experiences has shown me it usually is the opposite. Things get HARDER, more out of my control. That is where the beauty of Christ comes in. When we are weak, HE is strong. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. It is then that people can see these "good" things, done for Christ were not done in our power at all. He started and finished the good work.
     V was with us for 10 weeks. Sometimes these weeks were extremely long and sometimes we went along just great. Mike remembers where he was standing in the woods when he heard the Lord say "This is the child you are to host". We went kicking and screaming at first. We had specifically told God "no older boys". Ha!
V is a very sweet, shy and sensitive child. He is also very scared, insecure, untrusting and broken. Living where he lives has made him this way. He has to be this way to survive in his world. We saw behaviors that to most would cause your hair to curl. We had prepared for the worst and were still shocked. God continually took us back to his command to Mike "He is the child". We needed the directness. He made huge strides the last 2 weeks he was here!
    While he was here, we had to call the translator several times to try to calm V down when he would get upset. We look back and see he really had a rough time with transitions of any sort as well as anticipation of events (even good ones). He truly did not know what to expect. During one of these calls, the translator had to call the orphanage and get them involved. V told us they told him he would get in trouble got back. He was scared. This was the sole reason he did not want to go back.
       We took V to Atlanta to meet the plane. The night before we had a blast playing in the pool and eating steak and lobster. He didn't want to leave but he said because he was afraid of what would happen. He was brave at the airport. He and Mike talked and he had a good long cry and then looked up and said "OK, I am brave now." He truly is. He told us he was going to work hard in school, get a job, save money and come back to America to work. We told him if he did we would pick him up from the airport :) 
      V left here with HOPE of a better life. He has Jesus in his heart. He knows what a family is and that there is life outside of his orphanage walls. This is the reason that hosting programs exist. Not every child is adoptable either due to parental rights not being revoked, paperwork issues, age, or even the child's own preferences to not leave their birth country. Hosting programs (like cultural exchange programs) gives a child, who would otherwise never leave their hometown, a chance to see the world. V has HOPE. He knows he is loved. We and our family made that very clear.

Now for the rest of the story................
      A young lady at a shoe store who is from V's country offered to translate for us. So, we called his missionary friend, A. A told us that she has not been allowed to see him and his phone is lost. He also has a broken bone in his arm from "messing around". Hopefully in 2 weeks she will take him a phone so we can call him. We hung up heartbroken. We do not want to believe he was mistreated but we know what goes on inside the walls. BUT GOD. That night, I was googling his orphanage and found a young woman who had been to an orphanage in his city. Lo and behold, right there on her blog, is his picture!! She is with Little Lambs, a ministry who ministers to orphanages. V was in her Bible study group. She was able to fill us in on the challenges of the orphanage life. She has written a wonderful blog post to V. Please hop over and watch the video she has of him! Her group has a wonderful ministry that helps the kids aging out of the orphanage get in a home instead of the streets! That is EXACTLY what we have been praying for him.

V has an army of people praying for him. Even though it was challenging, it is no mistake he was chosen. We love him and are committed to helping him make a life for himself. Please join us in praying for him. Hopefully sometime soon we will have more concrete ways we can support him.  
Thank you for following our journey! I know not everyone agrees with hosting or even adoption. However, please know we are doing what the Lord has called us to do. I challenge you to find and do what God has called YOU to. There is such peace in obedience, even in the hard times.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Never too old to learn....

We are halfway through our hosting commitment to V. What have we learned? Well, for one, that we are NEVER to old to learn :) Parenting two totally different kids we mistakenly thought we had all the tools we needed to parent a third for the summer. However, this special boy comes with some very unique challenges. He comes from a world with no "I'm sorry's". Humility and weakness are the WORST things you can display in an orphanage. You will be a huge target. So, thousands and thousands of children grow up not knowing how to resolve conflicts (even small ones). They only know how to escalate situations. These kids only know how to withdraw, fight and distance themselves from the one thing they want the most, LOVE!! We have been struggling, for the past 4 weeks with V with conflict resolution. The slightest disappointment would set him off and he would sulk, pout, refuse to eat, hide in the bushes etc..... for HOURS. He is a pretty dedicated pouter :) Now my inner parent knows just how to take care of such things from my typically raised younguns' but alas some things are not allowed for host kids. So, we sought God like never before. We were exhausted from his meltdowns, he was exhausted and so were our kids. God is so good and faithful! My heart was tapped out. I was ready to be done. BUT GOD. He put a new song in our hearts and set our feet on solid ground. God showed us that emotionally V is like a 2 yr. old. Once we started addressing the behavior like you would a 2 yr. old things started to change. He had no word for "I'm sorry". So, we practiced, he did it and he was amazed the incidents were over and didn't end in hiding under the bed for hours or midnight calls to his translators. We are practicing breathing techniques to calm down. We talk about what the roles of men and women are (NO CLUE). He is very teachable which helps. Amazingly, God brought me the "feelings" I wanted to have to get through the next 4 weeks. I know we will have setbacks, but he has gone 6 days with no major instances and that is huge. Our prayer is that he will take these lessons back with him and grow in the Lord. He has a hunger for God's word and we know God will not leave his children.

One last thing, yesterday, V asked me for a baby doll. He has never asked me to buy him anything at the store but cherries but he wanted a baby doll. He is 12, and a boy. But, it further proved to us just how emotionally stunted these kids are. He has loved on, fed, kissed and rocked that baby. He named it after his father who passed away last year. He has learned that when it cries, you don't just walk out of the room and shut the door but rock it and give it a bottle. Things he would have never learned in his orphanage, we have the privilege to teach him, hopefully helping to end the cycle of orphans having orphans. We are so thankful for a God who answers a prayer for wisdom and gives us stamina to do what is right when we are empty. We are so glad we didn't give up when it got bad. We appreciate your prayers for the rest of the hosting. We can't wait to see how much more he will grow and learn and how much more we will grow and learn.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hosting V.

Hosting has been an extremely emotional experience for me. We prepared a lot physically for this little visitor who would be in our home for 11 weeks but probably not as much emotionally. Or maybe there is no preparing for seeing a child recoil in horror as you try to touch them or cry because they are so overwhelmed, even with good things. "V" has come so far in just 2 weeks. When we picked him up from the airport it was one of those stories you read about.....and I do NOT mean the good kind. He was airsick, completely exhausted (to the point of almost collapsing), overwhelmed and overstimulated. He did not want to come with us but he obediently did. He did not want to eat or drink even though he had been traveling nonstop for 2 days but fell into a 12 hr. sleep. The next morning was much better. I am actually thankful this was our experience so we can use it to help others. 
From what we have seen and understand, "V" has a wonderful missionary friend who takes him to church and visits him. WHAT AN AMAZING BLESSING!! He really takes his beliefs in God seriously, never missing an opportunity to pray or talk about the Lord. However, this does not erase the hard things he sees and lives everyday that weigh on him. They are his story so I will not share them here but living in an orphanage is not a cheery life.

One week here we saw the typical reaction a hurting child displays when they are feeling too comfortable, lashing out, anger and fear. While we wanted to handle these behaviors like we would our other kids we could not. They have to be navigated with the understanding of what is going on inside the child that is making them do this. I am telling you, my head wanted to call it quits but my heart, the part we knew God had called us to this particular boy for the summer, screamed keep loving and pushing through. PRAISE GOD he answered in a big way. We have seen no more of the behaviour, even though we aren't expecting a kid to be perfect ;)

"V" loves the trampoline, swimming, playing soccer and eating. Did I mention he LOVES to eat!! Oh and 30 min. showers are the norm but who's counting :) We are so blessed to have seen him go from a quiet, stoic boy to a funny, silly, little boy who is enjoying a safe place. Healing is a process, but one that the end result is so worth it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Magic of Childhood


MORE COUSINS!! Cousins are the best!

Eliza's Birthday Party

It's times like this that I truly believe the camera is one of the most genius inventions of man ever.
Life can go by in such a blur....especially with young children. Each day can lapse into the next and one can slip into the feeling of monotony, but for the invention of the camera. I have to remind myself that these little people entrusted to me will not be little for long. Whoever said "The days are so long but the years are so short" knew what it was like raising children. So, I have made a conscious effort to grab my camera during these sweet moments sandwiched in between feedings, laundry, schoolwork, housecleaning, time outs etc... These pictures show the Magic of Childhood. Why do we adults forget what it is like? When does that happen? I am so thankful for these snapshots that help us remember.