Friday, December 14, 2012

We Miss You!

We really want you to come follow along on our new blog. Pretty please...

It's here: www.findingourlittleone.com

We miss you!

Love,
Us


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Post

Many of you have not joined us over on our new blog: Our (Planned) Trip to Holland. We miss you! I posted this morning and I need you not to miss it. Zoey needs you not to miss it.


Please, come on over and read Zoey's story.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Blog!

Our new blog is up and running and there's a giveaway happening! Head on over and check it out! Follow us and you'll be entered to win a Keurig Vue. I may cross post some updates for awhile, but most of our new posts will be over on Our (Planned) Trip to Holland.

We're so thankful for each of you, who has faithfully followed and supported us on this journey. We're hoping you'll all continue with us on this next big adventure.

There's also a new video of our family on the sidebar of the new blog.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We met our match!

Just a quick update, that we met our $300 matching grant and once the matching funds are deposited we'll be able to write our home study agency a check for $1400. They will, in return, release the documents I need for our dossier. Praise God!

Our USCIS paperwork has been mailed, just waiting to hear about a fingerprint appointment date. I'll keep you all posted. Thank you to everyone who gave and prayed us over this mountain. Now, we can move forward, toward our girl!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Changes...

I'm kind of sad to do this, but changes are coming. In just a few days, we'll be moving over to a new blog. I'm not blog-savvy and I have been completely unable to remove the background from this blog. I feel like K deserves to have a less boyish background. I, also, feel like our family is in a new season that is going to last long beyond our adoption. Instead of starting another adoption blog, I'm going to blog about life in our "new" land. I hope you'll join us and continue our journey to K with us. This blog will remain open and simply have a post that directs to our new blog. I may occasionally post an update on the boys here, but everything else will be happening on our new blog.

Keep an eye out. I'm hoping to have everything up and running by the weekend. By the way, we've almost met our $2,000 goal. We have a matching grant of $300 available, right now. $270 is still available in matching funds for any donation to the chip-in on the right hand side of the blog. This money is covering the last of our up-front costs. If you can help or have already helped, thank you so much. We couldn't do this without you.

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Samuel!

This is his first birthday with our family, his 5th birthday. The first of many birthdays, celebrations, milestones that we will celebrate on this journey through life with Samuel. We are blessed and I want to do a post with pictures from his birthday party and all the fun he'll have, but it will have to wait til next weekend. His party is happening a week from today. This evening will do our traditional birthday celebration here at home. Our family will have cupcakes, balloons, gifts and sing "Happy Birthday" to our Samuel. Just us. A Mom, a Dad, a sister, three brothers, we'll celebrate life, together. It won't seem significant in the grand scheme of things, but our hearts will be full and Sam will know that he is loved, cherished and chosen.

This morning, though, I'm torn. I had no idea I would feel this heavy weight, today, but I do. For you see, my joy is her sorrow. My blessing is her burden. My load is sweetly light and hers must feel enormously heavy, especially today. Who is this other person that my heart grieves for today? It is his first mother. She carried him in her belly. She knew the weight of him, the feel of him, more than that, she had longed for him for years. She was infertile and after years of no babies, she finally carried a precious gift inside her. He was her long awaited, often hoped for, silent prayer answered and then, he was the child she couldn't keep.

He was still a gift. A gift she didn't realize she was giving. She was a reluctant giver in this story and, today, especially today, I am thankful for the gift. The sacrifice she made. She gave him life, but was too afraid of who or what he might become to remain his Mother. My heart is overwhelmed with the knowing of all she missed, with the sadness of what could have been for my sweet boy and his other Mommy.

If I could tell her anything, today, it would be that he is loved. He is loved for who he is, just the way God created him. He is part of a family, a cherished son, brother, and friend. He will be celebrated in the little victories and the big ones. That extra chromosome that she must have thought ruined his life is the very reason he, now, has a family. God knew. God heard what must have been the agonizing cry of her Mother's heart. He moved obstacles and used people and prompted hearts to bring her son home. He heard. I want her to know that Samuel is loved and that God heard.

I wish that she could know this precious child. How he loves power tools, cars, animals, helping his Daddy on the farm. He loves his sister and his "baby" (what he calls Vaylo). He wants to be like Eli. He needs kisses and hugs the way most of us need air to survive. God knew. He protected him from the very moment he was conceived. He orchestrated a better hope and future for our boy. Her's and mine. Always. Hers and mine.

I promise a happier post, next week, full of fun and celebration, but, today, I would be remiss, if I did not acknowledge this pressing from the Holy Spirit to pray for Sam's first Mom. Will you pray for her comfort and strength as she faces the rest of today?

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, October 18, 2012

So Encouraged!

Today, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the faithfulness of friends to allow Him to use you. Check out the ticker at the top of the page. We're about $100 away from having the funds we need to submit our USCIS paperwork. Then, we just have to knock out the $1400 for the home study agency, so they'll release our dossier documents.

You all did an amazing thing, yesterday. The money is awesome, but even more than that, you shared our need, again and again. You encouraged us with messages and comments and phone calls. You prayed for us! We're so blessed not to be alone on this journey. We're blessed that you choose to link arms with our family and continue to walk this path with us.

There's a little girl on the other side of the ocean, who must feel so alone and abandoned. She got left behind. Her very best friend in all the world was chosen and she was left to wait. What must her world feel like, right now? I know, that it grieves my heart to think about it. What a wonderful day is coming, when we get to cross  the ocean and tell her that not only has she been chosen, but God has worked out the details for her to come home to her brother. It's a miracle in the making and I'm humbled that God is allowing us to be a part of it. I'm thankful, too, that you're choosing to be a part of K's miracle, too.

Thankful that we serve an on-time God! He has an appointment with K's circumstance and He continues to show-up and show-off for her. She is not forgotten. God knows her name!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Very Discouraged

Here it comes. Run away, now, if you dislike the posts where I'm brutally honest about how I feel.

I'm just gonna jump right in. We paid to expedite our home study. We were told that would take 6-8 weeks at the most pending our backgrounds coming back in a timely fashion. They did. We finally have our home study in hand today, almost 12 weeks after the contract was signed. We won't be getting a refund of our expedited fees ($500). We did, however, receive an additional bill, today. A post-placement agreement (for our follow-up visits after K's adoption is complete) that says we'll pay $1400 for our 4 post-placement visits. Here's the kicker and yes, it feels like a kick in the gut, they want their $1400, now! As in, they are holding 2 pieces of paperwork that we need for our dossier hostage until we pay the $1400.

My anxiety level is through the roof and I'm looking at our account and realized that we're still $600 short of what we need to send our USCIS application in. Now, we do have a golf tournament that's happening on Saturday, but most of those checks are going straight to Reece's Rainbow to our grant. In other words, we can't access it until we have a travel date. Are you following me? We can't take the next step in this process without another $600, rapidly followed by $1400 donated to our personal account.

I'm asking you to pray. Pray and believe with us that God is going to meet this need. That God is going to give us grace to continue to walk with integrity this path that He's placed us on. Pray that we will represent Christ well to the people who look this way. Even, when our flesh cries out, "That's not FAIR!" It's not fair. Not even a little bit, but God...

I think, God is looking for a chance to show-off. We're in that place, right now, of complete dependency. We have nothing left to give. We can only humbly ask that you help us. There's a chip-in on the right hand side that goes directly to our paypal account. We're just going to drag the mountain into the presence of the Lord and pray that it will melt like wax.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Do Something!

From time to time, we get some backlash regarding our adoption. People get really angry and up in arms over the fact that we're adopting internationally, when there are children in the USA that need a home. I've addressed it here before. My simple answer is this: Our family is walking where God has called us to walk.

I read a verse today, that made me think of this. In Proverbs 29:27 (from the Message version) the Word says, "Good people can't stand the sight of deliberate evil; the wicked can't stand the sight of well-chosen goodness." I have often asked God why does it bother people, so much, that we went overseas to get our boys and now, our girl? Honestly, it's usually the people who aren't doing anything, at all to help children here at home or overseas, but that's a whole different conversation. Then, I read this verse and it began to make sense.

Well-chosen goodness offends people who aren't doing anything.

Did I really just say that? Yes, I did. I think, we need a wake-up call. If someone is doing something that offends you (especially when it directly lines up with the Word of God) it's time for some serious self-evaluation.

When God opened our family's eyes to the orphan crisis, He showed us children with special needs in Eastern Europe. I wanted to go to Africa and Marty wanted to go to Haiti, but God sent us to Eastern Europe. We don't get to choose, God chooses for us. We saw deliberate evil happening in orphanages and institutions across the ocean and we couldn't stand the sight of it. God said, "Go" and we went. We're continuing to go.

Whatever it is, wherever God is calling you, wherever He has shown you deliberate evil, simply DO SOMETHING! Have no doubt that once He has opened your eyes to truth, you are accountable to that truth. If He is calling you to foster care, then foster. If He is calling you to adopt, then adopt. If He is calling you to pray, then pray. If He is calling you to support an adoptive family (whether through fundraising, giving or advocacy), then support them. Whatever He's calling you to do, do it to HIS Glory and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.

It matters to the children who are waiting for a home. It matters to the boy with the story no one would believe. It matters and God is watching how we respond.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homestudy is Coming!

I have reviewed and approved the final draft of our homestudy and am currently waiting to receive my notarized copies from our homestudy agency. Hoping for Monday! Next step is USCIS for their approval for us to adopt "K." Last adoption this process took us over 70 days, so please, begin to pray for favor, now! We have seen families in and out in 30 days, recently. We'd love to be one of them.

Please, don't forget about our Golf Tournament and all the ways that you can be involved. Make sure to check out our wall of kids. 3 have been chosen, so far. Pray that their families will see them. I am believing that God is writing a beautiful story for each of them. I hope, we all get to witness their miracles.

I also hope that we all get to see Ian find a home. I look at him and I see a treasure. I know, that God has good in mind for him, as He does for each of us. There's just something special about this boy. Please, share his picture and help us find his Mom and Dad.


I found out recently that Ian doesn't have a grant on Reece's Rainbow, because they only have his file for a limited amount of time. That means he needs a family, now. Please, don't let his file go back. Let's don't reaffirm what other's think about Ian. He is worthy of love and a family. Someone, please, choose Ian to be your son. You'll be choosing well.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Monday, October 1, 2012

Three Handsome BOYS!

I'm so thrilled that the first two children added to our signs for the Golf Tournament are boys. I love little boys. Last year, I wrote a post about the number 1 reason a child stays an orphan. You might be surprised to know that it's simply being born a boy. So, my heart sang as it realized that the first two chosen to be represented for our golf tournament were boys. I would love to see a wall full of boys! Don't hesitate to add the girl of your heart, either, though.

While we're talking boys and special needs, I want to show you someone who's been heavy on my heart for a couple of weeks. My dear friend shared him on her facebook wall and my heart skipped a beat. If I'm quite honest, so did Marty's and we knew we needed to find this boy a family, fast.


Isn't he wonderful? This is Ian. Ian is 7 years old and such a handsome guy. His special needs are such a non-issue, that I have to believe he waits simply because he's a boy. Where are the families who want to raise the next generation of warriors for our faith? I believe there is no greater calling or privilege on earth than to raise a Godly man. Our world is sadly lacking men of honor. Ian could be one! Ian could change the world, if given a chance.

Ian spent the first 19 months of life living with his biological family. Then, he went to a baby orphanage, until he was 3 years old. Finally, he was transferred to an orphanage for older children. He had a rough time, but has settled in. He's going to school and learning new things. He's a good helper and loves to watch cartoons. Sounds like a lot of seven year old boys, I know. The only thing Ian's missing is a family. Even the very best orphanage will send you away one day, with no where to call home and no arms waiting to catch you when you fall. Ian deserves better than that. The Church CAN do better than this for Ian.

Are you Ian's family? Will you share his story? He needs the Church to do what she is called to do, to care for the widows and orphans in their distress.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Golf Tournament Update!

Our Golf Tournament is coming up, quickly. If you've never been to a golf tournament (I haven't), then, you may not have any idea how one works. Let me fill you in and tell you about how you can be involved, even from the other side of the country. How does a golf tournament raise funds? I'm so glad you asked. There are two ways.

First, (and most obvious way) golfers pay to participate. We're signing up 4 man teams and the cost to register a team is $160. We do have to give some of that registration fee to the golf course, but you get the idea. There's a registration form linked on the tab above. Or you can just click here and it will take you directly to the form. If you're local and want to play, all the details are there. Simply print the form and mail it to me or bring it the day of the event.

Second, businesses can sponsor a hole for $100. A hole sponsorship gets a business (or church) a sign placed at the hole. I'll also have a list of sponsors on the blog, shortly. I may even get crazy and add them to the facebook event. Some businesses sponsor one hole, some sponsor more. We keep the entire $100, minus the cost to print the sign, for our adoption. How's this sounding so far?

Well, you know, I couldn't leave it alone. This seemed like a great opportunity to advocate and help bring "K" home. This is the part where you come in, the part where God inspired an idea for a third way to make our event successful. For $50 you can sponsor a hole! What will your sign say? I'm hoping that you'll hop on over to Reece's Rainbow and choose a child or family whose name you'd like to have on your sign. Not only will the child or family of your choice go on the sign, but I'll add a picture and the web address to their grants. Oh, and did I mention that $20 from each $50 given will go to the child or family grant, you choose. Everyone wins.

Obviously, the people participating in the Golf Tournament have a heart for orphans. What better group to have the child or family you're advocating for in front of? How do you give your $50? I'm asking you to use the chipin on the right hand side of the blog. Make sure you leave me a note with the name of the child/family you are sponsoring a sign for. The chipin is not tax-deductible and goes directly to our paypal. I'll need to pay for the signs and pictures, so need access to the funds.

Thanks for helping bring our girl home and for helping advocate for waiting children.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Back to Reality

Vacation was wonderful, refreshing, restful. Yes, restful, even with 4 children, along. We're so blessed to have great kids. I know, you all are here for the pictures, so I'll let you enjoy them. Then, it's back to reality. Waiting children, fundraising, advocating...that's where I'm heading. I hope you're coming with me!

A family picture, not because it's great, but because we're family!

The parade is magical and they love it!

Vaylo loved Eric and Julie loved Ariel! They were great with the kids and even asked to hold Vaylo.

The rides were great!

Vaylo riding Dumbo with Daddy.

Disney was great. We ended up only doing two days in the parks, because we really loved our resort. Swimming was everyone's favorite part of the week...

Samuel loves to be thrown in!

I love this boy!

His two favorite things, Daddy and Water. What more could a boy want?

We are so blessed to have this time and these memories. We're anxiously awaiting the day when our family of 6, becomes a family of 7. It's hard to explain, but at random times, during our vacation, we'd look at each other and say that we missed "K." I know, she's never been here, but we love her and we're sad that she's missing this time. I know, God has a plan and His timing is always right, trying to rest in that, as we wait for our girl. 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our whole family, but mostly of our boys. This is redemption. Not only are they not orphans anymore, but they are sons with all the rights and privileges that come along with that title. No longer just existing, but living life to the fullest! So thankful for the wide open spaces of grace that God allows us.

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friends

It has been brought to my attention (not that I don't notice on my own) a couple of times this week, that I have amazing friends. Seriously, our life is full of really good people. Our social worker was asking if we had anyone willing to watch our boys and I began to list the people who would line up for the opportunity. She said, "What a blessing. A lot of families with children with special needs have a difficult time with child care." My friends and family love our boys (and Eli and Julie)! I think, they'd like me to plan long trips, so they could pass my kids around.

I am able to call, text or message my friends at the drop of a hat and they show up. They're willing to do the mundane things, like run to the post office, so that the winners in our auction will get their items sometime this year. They're willing to take Eli and Julie, for a day of running errands and grocery shopping, so they don't have to make the long drive to the doctor's office. They'll drive a couple hours on a Sunday to hang out. They drag themselves out of bed after working 3rd shift to come and tickle little toes in the van for just a few minutes. They come to Eli's soccer games and cheer him on. They fundraise and advocate and encourage and pray. They don't need to be in the spotlight, they just want to help. They love us, plain and simple.

We are blessed. Not every family has the awesome support system that we do. In fact, I'm guessing from what I've heard that we are the exception and not the rule. Why has God blessed us with good friends? Probably because He knows my limitations. I'm pitiful and couldn't do half the things we do, without our friends. Today, I wanted to take a few minutes and say, "Thank you" to my friends, life is sweeter, because of you.

If you know a family, who may be struggling, who may feel alone or abandoned, the sweetest thing you can do for them is just show up. Speak encouraging words to them. Let them know, you're praying for them and that you're willing to help. Even if they never take you up on the offer, sometimes, it's just nice to know that someone cares enough to offer.

We chose this world of special needs, some arrived here, unexpectedly. They need us. They need friends. They need to know they're not alone and that they still have a place where they belong. Who can you love, today? Who can you encourage? Who can you be a friend to?

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Waves of Grace

Marty and I recently dealt with someone, who we love, saying very ugly things about our boys and our reasons for adopting them. I've had some time to distance myself from the comments and pray about where they came from. I believe that in order to truly understand adoption, we must understand our own salvation. The error that this person made was too assume that we "maybe" wouldn't be offended by their comments? I mean, these aren't "really" our children. We only "adopted" them. Waves of grace...

Marty was able to share that Vaylo and Samuel are as much our children, as Eli and Julie. Yes, you will bring out the fight in us, if you attack our children. We have made many sacrifices for our boys, including crossing an ocean, one that we would cross again a thousand times, to bring them home. We have spent more on their medical bills, since their arrival 3 months ago, then, we've spent in the entirety of Eli and Julie's lives. This is not said to make much of us, but much of the love of Christ in us. A love that spends itself on behalf of the weak. Waves of grace...

This is how God feels about me and you. He made the ultimate sacrifice of sending Jesus to die for us(his adopted children), to pay the highest price imaginable. He would do it, again. I promise you, that we belong to Him. To say that we are any less his children, disregards and devalues the sacrifice of the cross. Waves of grace...

Vaylo and Samuel are our sons. To think or speak about them in a way that indicates you think differently, disregards the love we have for them and the great lengths we will go to for them. All of it inspired by the love of Christ and his provision for us. It is an awesome responsibility to walk in this calling, to love all of our children well. Hopefully, when people see our family, they witness first hand the love of Christ. We're not perfect, but we love each other fiercely. There are no second class citizens in our home. We are all the same because of the amazing grace that has been extended to us. Waves of grace...

It is our continued prayer that when people look this way they see the waves of grace that our boys are. Their little lives testify to grace, to love, to mercy. They are like fresh water over dry land. They bring JOY and love and fun everywhere they go. What once was lost, now is found. What once was broken is being restored. It is our greatest privilege to have a front row view of these waves of grace...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Our Sunshine Girl

Nights like tonight are the reason why we do what we do. The reason why we holler so loudly, even when it feels like no one is listening. Tonight, we were invited to the Rogers' Family Farm to meet Caleb and Jessa (Bernadette) for the first time. I wanted to greet them at the airport, when their feet hit American soil, but Marty's Grandfather passed away this week and we were busy with family.

After months of praying for and advocating for Jessa and Caleb to come home, here they were. Not on the other side of the country or 3 hours away, but just a short drive down the highway. I was greeted by a smile as bright as the sun and treated to many kisses, hugs and invites to sit on the couch beside our sunshine girl.


My heart is so full and as I talked to Marty on the drive home, we were amazed, again, at God's provision. His care for the orphan. This little girl was so very close to life in an adult mental institution. She will be 16 this year and would have been transferred shortly after. But God...

God began to whisper into Erika and Mel's hearts about crossing the ocean, again. They looked and saw potential and a child worthy of love. They saw beauty where others had failed to recognize it.


Then, because my friends are such amazing Christ-followers, they thought why not save more than one child. Again, they allowed God to fill their hearts with hope for the ones forgotten. God had another precious gift waiting for them. He reminds us of our Vaylo, just waiting for a chance to try on love and see how it fits. I think, the fit will be good and Caleb will blossom in this home. 


For nine years, he waited to be chosen. God has already begun the healing and restoring work in Caleb's life. He is going to shine, just wait and see.


We did what friends do. We had dinner and cake and let our kids run wild and play. All the while my heart was full of the goodness of God. As I looked around at each of our blessings and we have a few between us, my breath was taken, by the faithfulness of God. His word is true and every promise is Yes and Amen. 


I'm so thankful that Erika and Mel responded to the voice of God and chose to "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter." Proverbs 24:11

Jessa, Caleb, the Rogers' and Rhodes' family will never be the same, because we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! We know that His mercy endures forever!


Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Last Day

Today's the last day of our Facebook Auction to bring "K" home! It's going so well and I can't wait to update the ticker as the donations start to come in. Don't miss your chance to be a part of this really fun, fundraiser!

We're having a blast on the facebook page. There's a q-tip selling for $30, plus a monthly donation of $15. We have backpacks, selling for $100. Plus, Barbie's, Scentsy, Jewelry and more. Some items don't have bids and bidding starts at $1, so you may find a great deal! There are over 100 items up for grabs, so don't miss out!

Here's a reminder of why we're doing all of this!


She's waiting and she's worth it! Our sweet, little girl...

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two Gifts.

We've been a little busy with jumping into K's adoption, but I have a little something I want to share with you. When we started our adoption journey to bring Samuel and Joseph home, we anticipated Samuel, we received Vaylo. 

What do I mean by that? We chose Samuel. We knew (in our tiny, little human minds) that he would fit nicely into our active, busy lifestyle. He would surely have a blast at soccer practices and tournaments, he would enjoy Sunday School and all the playmates he'd have there. If God was asking us to take this journey and bring home a little boy with a little something "extra," then, Samuel filled the bill for our family. We knew we could handle him and he'd be a nice "fit" for us. We were right. He is and does fit well into our active lifestyle, exactly as we anticipated.

Vaylo was a gift from God to our family. We weren't looking on the "older" child page. We weren't looking for a 7 year old, who is non-verbal, doesn't walk, shows signs of autism, and lights up our whole entire world. We received Vaylo, because that's how you get a gift. We were willing to go where God said to go. I've shared with you before how I wanted to hit the door running when they first handed me Vaylo. I'm so thankful that God calmed my fears. He knew. 

We couldn't see it. This child wouldn't "fit" as easily, would he? Was it possible that he was just what we needed? The reminder to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. The very child who would keep our hearts soft to the call of God. Eli recently commented on how when Vaylo smiles you HAVE to smile back. You really don't have a choice. What I think he understands in his 9 year old mind is that if Vaylo can smile through all life has handed him, then, really what does he have to be sad about. Our boy really does light up our world. 

So, what does life look like at three months home with our two newest sons? Surprisingly, it looks a lot the same as it did before. We're still doing most of the same things, we've always done. Our one exception is church. We've not quite figured out how to navigate church, but other than that, we're trucking along as usual. We've also added in quite a few doctors' visits, but it's not as bad as I expected. Honestly, we're almost finished with those and then, the boys will just be seen as needed, like Eli and Julie. Yes, things are harder to do with four kids than with two, but there is more JOY and laughter in our house than ever before, from the gift we anticipated and from the gift we received. 

Are your hands open to receive whatever gift God wants to send your way? Will you let Him delight your heart and light up your world with a gift fitly given? He knows the desires of your heart and how to fill the secret places. There are children who are waiting to stretch you, to broaden your horizons. Are they worth it? Well, we're heading back for another, so I'd say that speaks volumes on where we stand.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy


Monday, August 27, 2012

Halfway There!

Tonight, we received a very generous gift. Did you see the ticker? I had to squeeze in a 1 in front of the $105! That's right! $1,000 closer to our goal. Always from the most unexpected of places, a single Dad, doing what he CAN to make a difference for our girl. He gets it. He understands that our daughter is waiting on the other side of the ocean. He believes that she's important and that no matter what the world says, she has value.

I know, it was a sacrifice. We're humbled by the gift, by the choice to help our family. His gift didn't go unnoticed. We are so very thankful for this gift and for every gift that is given. They humble us and they reaffirm our mission. God has called us to this task. Where He guides, He provides. We're resting in the knowing that He is weaving new, brilliant threads into the tapestry of our daughter's life and ours.

If you're here, it's not by accident. God is probably asking you to do something! Whether it's to pray, advocate, support or adopt your own treasure from the other side of the ocean. Will you yield to His will for your life? It takes each of us saying, "Yes" to whatever He asks to accomplish His purposes. They're waiting for us to DO SOMETHING!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reflections

My view of the world, life and our plans for the future have changed so much in the past few years. Remembering where we've come from and how we arrived at this moment in time is important. The Bible is full of stories of remembrance that build our faith. So looking back over our own lives and seeing the hand of God at work encourages our faith.

My own love for orphans began many years ago, as a teenager on the mission field. I started going on summer missions at around 15 years old. At 17 years old, I found myself in a South African Hospital, holding a baby whose Mother had abandoned him at the hospital. He was very sick, but I could tell by the weight of him, that before becoming sick, he was a treasured child. Clearly, his family had been able to provide for him. However, once he became sick, they had no choice but to leave him there. If he survived, the workers said the family still might not come back for him, because they wouldn't be able to pay his medical bills. So, he lay sick and possibly dying in hospital bed, alone. Not because no one loved him, but because real people were making life and death decisions about caring for their entire family versus one child. It wrecked my heart and from then on I was never the same.

The orphan crisis had come to live in my heart. I did what I could. I prayed. A month after I had my encounter with that precious baby boy. Marty was on the mission field in Central America, experiencing first hand what it was like to be born into a place where you may never have enough. God was uniting our hearts for a mission. Marty and I gave, we taught our children, we sponsored a child through Compassion. We dreamed about "one day" becoming adoptive parents. The seed had been planted and was taking root in our lives. God was preparing us to say, "Yes" when the time came. We didn't see it, then, but like all of life reflecting back, it was the clear hand of God.

We had grown complacent and while we were doing all the "right" things, according to the people around us. We had left our first love. Did you hear me? We were attending church, tithing, serving, teaching our children the Word, but we were not living our faith out in a meaningful, purposeful way. We began to struggle and to search. We had an urgency in our Spirits to find our way back. We knew something was off and that something needed to change, we just weren't sure. We began to search the Scriptures and realized we had bought "lock, stock and barrel" into the lie of prosperity teaching. We had looked away from the bloody cross of Christ and the scripture that tells us to share in His glory, we must first share in His suffering. If that's what the word says, then how did we decide that God wanted to "bless and prosper" us while others around the world (people we had met and ministered to, served alongside, people who so passionately loved Jesus) were not prospering. Man, God really began to shake away the sandy foundation.

Around the same time, He began to show us the orphan crisis, again. As friends traveled to Africa, my heart was torn. Did He want us to go? Could we go? Marty said, "No." He really didn't feel like God was leading us in that direction. So, we waited and prayed and then, I read a blog post. No really, I read a blog post that would change our lives forever. I read the story of a girl who had Down Syndrome and was about to be transferred to a mental institution where she may or may not survive the year. Thankfully, God had prepped our hearts. The children and I spent hours pouring over the faces on Reece's Rainbow, reading blog posts and sharing with Marty what we were learning. It took Marty two weeks to go from "No way" to all in, because God was clearly saying, "Go!"

We have two beautiful sons, today, because God planted and grew a seed in our hearts. We had no hesitation in committing to bring our daughter home, because we are, now, firmly planted on the "Yes" side of life. Yes, God, we will go. Yes, God, we will love. Yes, God, we will walk through the open doors and have open hands to receive whatever blessing you have for us. The Word says that children are a blessing. How many of us are rejecting blessings, while we chase after the world?

They need us, Church! The orphan crisis is our greatest opportunity to be Jesus here on earth. To see God's Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. If you're not a part of ministering to the least of these in some way, you are missing out on a blessing.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fundraisers In Progress!


We have two fundraisers happening, right now, and it occurred to me that I didn't tell all of you. That's a fundraising FAIL. I'm going to try to make it right.

I hope you have facebook, because that's where both of these are happening. First, a wonderful friend and fellow adoptive Mom, offered to do an Origami Owl Fundraiser for us. If you're not familiar with Origami Owl and their Living Lockets, you are missing out! Here are some examples of Lockets that people have created from our party.



You choose the locket and then, fill it with charms from the website to tell your story. I love this! What a wonderful way to share our testimony. You know, people are going to ask about your beautiful necklace and if you fill it with your blessings, then, you're testifying to God's faithfulness every time you share your story!

Our other fundraiser, just started, yesterday and it's already over $400! I'd say that's a success, but really don't want you all to miss out on the fun! It's a Facebook Auction to Bring "K" Home. There are lots of fun items up for grabs and you'll be helping to bring our girl home. The Auction ends on Sept. 2nd, 2012, so be sure to keep watch. Feel free to invite your friends, too. Here are some items you'll find on the auction page


.Go ahead and have a look! I know, you don't need incentives to give and if you want to just make a donation, the chip-in is always open. (Still not tax-deductible) These are events are a lot of fun, too. It's nice to be able to help and pick-up something you need or a gift for a friend, at the same time. Thanks for looking and continuing to pray that God will bless our efforts to bring our girl home.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Refocusing

This week has been emotional for me. When we committed to bringing "K" home, there was a whirlwind of initial paperwork and fundraising that HAD to happen. Now, the dust has settled and the hard work of getting her home has begun. I've always attempted to be honest here, so here goes. My "flesh" does not want to be doing this. I want the end reward of having "K" home, but not the effort and sacrifice that comes along the way. How pathetic is that?

It is. I know, it is. I keep reminding myself and Marty as I whine about paperwork, phone calls and fundraising, that this is NOT about me. It is a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to serve as parents to our precious children, to answer the call to care for the orphans. I'm praying for my JOY to be restored and my focus to be renewed. When I'm having days or weeks like this, there's only one place I know to go for help.

I open up my Word to Hebrews 12:1-3 and I find these words...

Do you see what this means-all the pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running-and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sin. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God-he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls. 

So many have walked and are walking harder paths, than I am. God called our family to a simple task of loving children. Loving children is one of the easiest things God could ask of us. If the love of Christ is on the inside of us, then we love. Then, I turn my thoughts to the cross of Christ, to the ugly, dirty, blood-filled place where Jesus died for me and I am saddened by my lack of perseverance. I am unworthy, but I serve a God who has made me worthy. If I want to share in His resurrection power, I must, first and foremost, be willing to share in his suffering. Let's be real, the paperwork, fundraising, phone calls are really not a hardship, nothing compared to the cross. So, I press on with my eyes focused on Jesus, the perfecter of my faith.

If you hear me whine, please, correct me. My girl is worth the effort and I want to be joyful in my efforts to do this Kingdom work. I need only to reset my focus on the life and cross of Jesus and then, I can press onward toward my goal.

It is a privilege to serve!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Provision!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a video of Vaylo in his borrowed Gait Trainer. It's a therapy tool, used to help children, who need to learn how to walk.


Some friends, immediately asked how much it would cost for him to have his own Gait Trainer. I told them around $800, but after doing some more research realized it would cost more like $1500. We all began to pray for God's divine provision for our boy. Meanwhile, the therapy center has allowed him to continue to use theirs.

Marty hasn't wanted him to rock the pink Gait Trainer in public, so we've mostly used it around the house or at our family farm. We've been praying about the expense of purchasing one, for what we hope will be the brief amount of time he needs it. Anyway, you all know where this story is heading, we had our But God moment this weekend. I was at an event with some friends, promoting Reece's Rainbow and another Mom said, "Do you still need a Gait Trainer?" Why, yes, we do. She just happens to have one in her storage building from when her daughter was younger and needed it.

I'm thinking...YAY, God! It's probably pink, but who am I to complain when God barrels his way through a $1500 mountain. Well, it gets better. It's not pink, it's green and tan. The family that's giving it to us, used to call it their daughter's John Deere. How's that for Divine Provision? More than we could ever dream of asking for. Our little man will have his very own "tractor" to ride on at the farm.

This Gait Trainer has been a wonderful thing for our little man. He can get all over the house in it and he does! I can't wait to show you pictures of him in his new John Deere, but for now, I think, he CAN rock the pink!


We're humbled as always by the way that God meets each need. We're humbled by the friends who pray for us and for the ones who allow God to use them to be the hands and feet of Jesus, again and again.

We love you!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nastya's Day!

I've been sharing a lot of our story, lately. God showed me, today, what doing your part can look like. So often, people say, "I couldn't do what you're doing." Well, maybe you can and maybe you can't, that's between you and Jesus, but I stand firmly behind the belief that you CAN do something! Today, I watched as my beautiful friend, along with her equally beautiful Mama, sister and daughter hung out in the heat wearing t-shirts with a little orphan girl's face on the front. This little girl, Nastya, has stolen my friend, Sabrina's heart. She loves her and, so now, her whole family loves Nastya.



What could they do? Sabrina began months ago, organizing today. She submitted the forms to secure her spot at the festival. She contacted Reece's Rainbow about magnets and information to hand out. She found people to donate prizes to encourage our community to give to Nastya's grant. She blogged her heart out over on her blog God's Little Princess. She truly loves little Nastya. Can we honor that? Can we all go and give a little to her chip-in? You may win a prize, you may not, but you will bless my friend's efforts to help Nastya find a family. Sabrina longs to see Nastya be chosen and she knows a larger grant can help.



Maybe God is weaving Nastya's story into the fabric of our community. Maybe she has a Mommy and Daddy, who saw her picture, today and had their breath taken-away. Maybe God has another plan for Nastya. Either way, I know, His heart was glad today, to see Sabrina answer the command to love the orphans.


We CAN all do something!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Friday, August 10, 2012

Video of Our Girl!


Swinging with her brother.



They really are two peas in a pod and we're so in love with both of them. Isn't she precious? Thank you for helping us get closer to our goal of reuniting them, everyday. Keep praying and sharing! We're so humbled to be watching as God melts the mountains like wax, again, for our family.

Enjoy!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Monday, August 6, 2012

Another Picture!

You all are amazing! Another $500+ has come in today, so that means another picture of our girl! Which picture to choose. They're all so beautiful and I think, each one shows a little more of how much Samuel and "K" love each other.

This one captures their personalities quite well. 

And, because I got to mail our home study fees, today, here's one more...


We're so blessed! Thank you all for giving and helping us bring "K" home!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Goal Met and a Picture!

In honor of meeting our first goal of $2400, it seemed fair to share a picture of our girl. So, here she is! 

"K" and Samuel

They were 3 years old in this picture and hadn't been at their new orphanage for long. You can tell they are well cared for and I love how their little hands are touching. So sweet.

Did you fall in love? We did! Help us bring her home. We still need to raise another $3500 this week to pay her commitment fees. They belong together.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy




A Promise Given

As I attempt to share this story, the thought occurs to me that I can't really go back to the beginning and tell it. Even as miraculous as it seems to me, I only see small glimpses into God's plan. He holds eternity in His hands and we see snapshots of our lives and the lives of those around us. This story has heartache and I want to honor that, while sharing our overwhelming joy at the same time. So, let me tell you what I know, what we have lived for the last 9 months or so and remember that God is in the very smallest details of our lives.

9 months ago, Marty and I flew across the ocean, after months of fundraising and paper-chasing. We were finally about to hold our boys. Upon arrival, we were handed detailed reports on both of our boys. As we read over the information, we were surprised to read that Samuel had a friend, whom he was extremely attached to. In fact, I believe that it's odd for her to have been included in his report, since they are not biologically related. We knew who this little girl was, in fact, we had a package to deliver to her, from the family who was committed to bringing her home. We were saddened by the thought that they would be split up, but happy to be able to tell the orphanage that she had a family coming.

When we arrived at the orphanage and met Samuel and then, met his little friend. We were smitten. It was a good thing we had the other family wanting pictures and videos of this precious little one, because I'm not sure how else I could have explained why Marty was following her around with a video camera. He even looked at me and said, "Why aren't we bringing her home, too?" She had a family coming...

We came home and finished our paper-chasing and I headed back over to pick our boys up. One of the saddest parts of the day, came when the director said, "Where is her family?" I said, "They are coming. They even sent another care package for her." The staff wanted me to promise that if the other family didn't come for her, that we would be back. It was a promise easily given, but never in our wildest dreams did we think it would become a reality.

This is where the telling gets more difficult. I love my friends, who were committed to our sweet girl. I don't know the details and even if I did, it's a personal and painful decision to have to walk away from an adoption. On July 26th, I received an email from my friend letting me know that with very heavy hearts they were releasing our girl. I text Marty at work and said, "K is available for adoption. Are we going?" His immediate response, "I guess so." I then, messaged Shelley, our agency worker and said, "We know K needs a family, don't re-list her. We want her." Her response was, "Are you serious?"

We were and are very serious. Our paperwork arrived in country on Monday, July 30th. After days of jumping through hoops and praying for God to change hearts. We were officially committed to K, today, August 3rd. We're rejoicing to know that God is once again, showing off. His love for our kids blows us away. These two little ones have done everything together since birth. Samuel and K have birthdates that are 3 weeks apart. Samuel arrived at the baby orphanage 2 days after K was born and she joined him there one month later. They were moved a little over a year ago, from their baby orphanage to an older child orphanage.

The workers there sent us home with pictures and videos of the two of them together. They told us how they did everything together and sought each other out for comfort. It was truly heartbreaking to think that we were leaving her behind and taking the only family she'd ever really had with us. I don't know what these last few months have been like for her, but we have watched as Samuel clearly grieved the loss of what was his family. We have seen the real tears and held him as he cries. We have seen him get excited when Julie comes from her room and he mistakenly thinks she's "K" and calls out to her. It has been a burden that we didn't know how to deal with, but God...

God found a way to bring our babies together, again. I am deeply sorrowful for our friends as they now grieve this loss, but I can so clearly see the hand of God, as well. He cares for the little orphan girl waiting on the other side of the ocean. He saw her hurt and her brother's hurt and found a way to make it better. Some would say that having a family should be enough, but our God is a God of more than enough.

So, we find ourselves two months home and heading back. We are tired and honestly, dreading the process and the paperwork, but God didn't call us to do easy things. We know that He is faithful and that He will meet us here, on the road less traveled. We are humbled by each of you, who has already joined our efforts to bring our girl home. We are humbled by each of you, who prays for us and encourages us and just simply loves us. We are more blessed, than we ever dreamed possible.

We do need your continued support and help. I've put a ticker at the top of the blog. We need that $3725 to come in this week. I need to mail our commitment fees and finish paying for our home study. I have pictures and videos of our girl, too, so for every $500 raised, I'll show you a new picture or video.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Friday, August 3, 2012

How do you tell a God story well?

I'm struggling to find the words to tell you all this story. I don't know when I'll stop being amazed by the hand of God at work in our lives and the lives of our children. I guess, I'll start at the beginning. For now, all I'm going to tell you is this...

IT'S A GIRL!!

That's right, Julie and the boys are getting a sister. Do you want to hear the whole story? I promise, you won't be disappointed. If so, we really need to see the chip-in hit $6,000! That's our home study cost ($2400) and our commitment fees ($3500). Once we reach the $2400, I'll begin to tell the story and when we reach $6,000, I'll share pictures and videos.

I know, it's not nice to hold the story hostage, but we need to get this process moving. Our girl is waiting!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Monday, July 30, 2012

You Heard Right!

You heard right! We're at it, again! We have another little one waiting on the other side of the ocean. Our newest JOY has come like an unexpected pregnancy. You know, the one you're totally unprepared for in every possible way, but as soon as you hear you're overcome with JOY! Yep, that's us! We're in the early stages of an unexpected paper pregnancy.

What does that mean? It means, we need funds fast! We need to commit to our new little one, quickly, for a number of reasons that I'll be able to share once we're committed. How's that for vague and uninformative? We also need a new home study. I'm hoping to mail the check for the home study, tomorrow. A check for $2400. Right now, the chipin is a little over $400, so we still need about $2000 to be able to pay for the home study.

How can you help? Pray! We always need your prayers! Give, if you're able to. We had a donation of $1.30 earlier, today and I promise it meant as much as every other dollar given! There is no "right" amount, just whatever God asks. Share, tell people our story, share on Facebook. Maybe you can't give, but you have a friend who would love to. They won't know, if you don't share!

This really is unexpected and so, I've had no time to even think about planning a fundraiser. I'm simply relying on God's family to be a part of another miracle for ours. There's a chip-in on the right hand side (donations are not tax-deductible, right now), if you want to help.

Thank you all for continuing to share in our JOY and for joining us on the road less traveled. We look forward to another exciting adventure with you.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Friday, July 27, 2012

Something's Happening?!?

Do you see it? Over there? On the right hand side? Did you read it?

We're going BACK!

I can't tell you who we're going for yet. We have to pay for the Home Study and the commitment fees first.

I'm so excited to tell you. God is writing another beautiful story. Stay tuned...oh, and feel free to chip-in if you feel led. This chip-in is not tax deductible and goes directly to our personal accounts to help cover the initial fees.

I can't believe we're jumping back onto this crazy ride, but when God says, "Go!" We go. Thanks for supporting us and praying. We look forward to sharing another FAITH journey with you.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Monday, July 23, 2012

Forgive Me

I didn't forget you all or this blog. I just pushed it aside. I want to enjoy my kids and chase this crazy life with them. Then, I see posts from my friends, who are still on their journey to their own children. I see, the posts advocating for littles, who desperately need families, who desperately need out and I am convicted by my complacency. I care. I do. You can't see the things I've seen and not care, but sometimes it's a heavy burden and I long to look away, to just hold tightly to the ones that we got out, to love them well.

I do it and then I am convicted. I wake in the night to the same little faces that woke my nearly two years ago, when we started this journey. New faces have been added in, but can you imagine, waking and knowing that still they wait, while you have fallen into complacency. Forgive me.

Forgive me, Andrue.
They never get to take a break from their reality. 

Forgive me, Ulysess.
They can't turn off the fact that they don't have a family, 

Forgive me, Samuel.
or enough food, 

Forgive me, Kolya.
or medical care.

The only people who can change that for them is you and I and I have been taking a break. I know, when people look at this page of older boys, they are often afraid. I was one of them. I thought things like, "They've been there too long. They're too old. They won't be able to adapt to a family." Then, I saw our boy...

This picture stole my heart.

I heard God whisper, "He's yours." I knew, he wasn't in great condition, my fears never changed, but my FAITH did. My faith began to rise up and say, "He needs us and God said, 'Go!'" How could we look away? We couldn't and we're so thankful that we didn't. Please, don't be afraid to love one of these boys. They can find a place in a home, in a family. They will adapt and thrive as they're loved on and accepted. 

Our Vaylo (Joseph) is a different boy than he was two months ago, when I picked him up from the only home he'd known for the first 7+ years of life. He is seeking out affection, laughing more and more, growing and learning new things. I'm so thankful, we didn't give into the fear, but instead listened to the very clear prompting of God, to go and get our boy.

Is God prompting you to help one of these sweet boys? To add them to your family, to give or advocate and help find their family? Please, I'm begging you, don't look away, don't take a break from their reality. They can't, so we shouldn't. Please, forgive me for my absence. I'm back and I have some stories to share this week. Some families need our help, too and I know, you all are up to the challenge.

For now, I do have four littles wanting breakfast and love from Mommy. So, I'll leave you with this...

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our Newest Battle

This one may just do me in, ya'll! Our newest battle is trying to keep Samuel's new glasses on his face! So, I won't make you wait, I know, why you come here...


Yes, he is cute, but he's also very rotten and opinionated. Unfortunately, our opinions currently differ on whether he should wear these glasses. We've had them since Saturday evening. He takes them off and goes to time-out. Wash, rinse, repeat...ugh!


Yesterday, I made the grave mistake of combining the two things Samuel dislikes the most in all the world. His carseat and his glasses. 20 minutes into our ride home from gymnastics, I look back and see Samuel with something in his mouth. What could that be? Oh my, he's popped the lens out of his glasses and is biting on it. I hold my hand out and say, "Give it to me." No go. Not going to happen. He hides the lens behind his head. Well, this is no Rookie Mom you're dealing with Samuel, so I pull the car over, retrieve the lens, restore the glasses back to semi-working order (the lens is pretty scratched) and put them back on. Start back down the road and spend most of the next 10 minutes saying, "Don't touch your glasses." Ugh.

Get home and have to make the phone call of shame to the vision center. Yes, I know, we've only had them for 48 hours. Yes, I know, they're kid proof. Yes, they are scratched already, because I let my kid try to eat them. Yes, please do call me when his new lenses are in. Honestly, the lady on the phone thought it was quite funny. I think, they'll be seeing a lot of us. Thank God for nap time.

After nap, Samuel went downstairs to play in the playroom. After a few minutes, his sister says, "Mom, I can't find his glasses." Head downstairs, tear the playroom apart looking for the glasses. Repeatedly ask Samuel, "Where are your glasses?" He knew what I wanted and where he put them, but he was NOT telling me.

Finally, I gave up and said to my big kids, "If you can find his glasses, I'll give you a dollar." Sure enough, less than 2 minutes later, Eli had opened the seat of Samuel's ride-on (the only place I didn't look) and I'm a dollar poorer and still fighting the good fight. I'd like to say we're having a more successful day, today. However, it's only 8:00 am and Samuel has set two time-outs for taking his glasses off and throwing them in the floor. Fun times, ya'll, fun times.


Just so you know, I will win this battle, even if my boy is as rotten as he is cute.

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Struggle

I held him down as they inserted the needle. The needle that would draw blood to run tests to ultimately help him be healthier. He fought. He struggled with everything in him. He didn't make it seven years in an orphanage without a whole lot of fight in him. All through the struggle, I held him. I spoke softly to him and told him how proud I was of him and how much I loved him. Everything in me wanted to say, "Enough! Stop! You're hurting him." I didn't because I knew...

I knew that the struggle was not in vain. I knew that we were fighting together for a healthier tomorrow. I knew that what was being done to him was ultimately for his good. I knew, we all had good intentions and that the results were necessary...life giving, even.

As I made the long drive home, alone with my boys. I listened as Samuel struggled in the backseat. He didn't want to be strapped into his car seat. He's never been strapped in before. He was angry and hurt that I wouldn't let him out. Again, I knew the pain was necessary and ultimately for his good. I spoke kindly and reassured him that the seat was necessary...life giving, even.

I listened and I heard God say, "Do you see it? Do you hear it? Do you know?"

How often have I struggled through something? Fought against God's plan with everything in me. How often has He wanted to say, "Enough! Stop! You're hurting her." Why didn't He? He didn't because He knew. He knew the pain was not without purpose. He knew the end result would be worth the struggle. He knew...

All the while, I fight Him, knowing that if I stopped, I'd hear Him. I'd feel Him. He's holding me close and whispering life giving words, foundational words, words of love and kindness. He's holding me tenderly and if I'd stop fighting long enough, I may even be able to look Him in the eyes and know that He is there. He is there! He is there on the road less traveled. He is there on the waves of a stormy sea. He is there in the midst of every struggle. He doesn't stop the struggle. He allows us to fight and be angry and look at him with eyes full of misunderstanding. Eyes that don't see...the pain is not without purpose...the discipline is necessary...life giving, even.

If you're fighting with everything in you, today, please know it's not without a purpose. His plans for us are good. His intentions are that our faith would be complete, not lacking anything. We must go through the fire with Him. I believe, if we'll just be still and know...we will find Jesus is right there with us.

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Monday, July 2, 2012

Joseph AKA "Vaylo" AKA "Biggie Boo?"

We had every intention of calling him Joseph, but his Bulgarian name is stuck. It's pronounced Vi (long i) low. It's just who he is and that's okay. He is also amazing. He's amazing his doctors, with how much he's grown. He's amazing us with how much he's seeking out interaction, playing with toys, trying to walk. He's just quite simply amazing.


 He's a cheeseball and his expressions crack us all up!

He can not believe it's still 30 minutes to food time.

This one makes me laugh. I caught him standing up and playing with his puzzle.

He's always worried someone is going to take his stuff.

His newest form of showing off has us all thrilled!
He's pulling up (mostly to check the table for food).

He's standing for longer and longer, all the time.

He's even very happy to take a "walk" with just one hand these days.

Each of our kids has nickname. Eli is pumpkin. Julie is Peanut. Samuel is crazy bird undecided still. Vaylo has become our Biggie Boo. 

Can't imagine life without our "Biggie Boo." 

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Friday, June 29, 2012

Doctor Visits

The fun has really started, now. We've spent Wednesday and Thursday at the pediatrician's office. We took both boys on Thursday and also, did x-rays of their spines along with the first of four rounds of lab work. The blood work has to be drawn 10ml's at a time, because of the boys' weights, the combined amount of blood needed for the testing we're doing is 45ml per boy. That's a lot of sticks for this Mama, who has a needle phobia. We'll go every 3 to 4 days until all the blood is collected and all the tests are run.

Joseph weighs 26 lbs and the pediatrician said, "Keep doing what you're doing. He looks great!" That was exactly what this Mama needed to hear. Then, he issued us about 8 referrals to different specialists and therapists that we'll need to see over the next few weeks. Samuel also got a clean bill of health and weighs 29 lbs. We think, he's lost a pound or two from the parasite, we're fairly sure we have. He didn't receive quite as many referrals and that's a blessing, all by itself.

Speaking of parasites. One of the things, "they" don't tell you when venturing into this adoption world is that the poop is awful! Even worse, if it contains a parasite that infects the rest of the family, leaving you all tired and sick. That's why you haven't been getting many updates. I'm exhausted. I go to bed most nights around 8:30, if not sooner. We are currently collecting stool samples to find out which parasite we have, so treatment can commence and everyone can get healthy. We're calling the kit we received from the doctor the "Poopy Party Pack." My friend, Jess informed me that we must have the deluxe edition, because she didn't have to do as many "collections" as we're doing. Fun times, ya'll, fun times.

So, there are a couple of ways you can pray. One other is for my heart. I had no idea how difficult it would be to take Joseph to the doctors' offices and repeatedly tell people (nurses, technicians, doctors) that yes, he is 7 years old, yes, that is his real birthdate, yes, we are sure. One nurse asked Eli (my 9 year old) to hop on the scale thinking he must be Joseph. There have been tears and it's just hard. Hopefully, our boy will open some eyes and some hearts to the truth, to the needs of children around the world. Hopefully, watching him grow and blossom will be life changing for some of these people, too. It has already been life changing for us.

They are worth it. They are worth the smelly diapers, the long drives to the "good" doctors, the needle sticks, the tantrums, the training, the 5 am wake-up calls. They are our sons and we would do anything for them. They are worth it.

We're currently helping another family bring home their blessings and they are worth it, too. Please, consider helping them. You can read all about them on The Finishers' Blog.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Friday, June 22, 2012

He's a BIG star!

Samuel went to see the Pediatric Ophthalmologist, yesterday. I haven't been feeling great, but really wanted to be the one to take him. So, after our visit with the social worker, she wanted to come out and meet the boys and make sure we were all doing well. Samuel and I loaded up in the van and drove 45 minutes to the doctor.

If you've followed along on facebook, you're aware of how much fun Samuel is, especially in social settings. We joke and say that he is the star in his own reality TV show and the rest of us are just unaware of the cameras. I'll try to do a post covering all of his in country fiascoes, one day soon. Another thing about Samuel is we think he's a little (okay a lot) OCD. Everything needs to be in it's place and if you leave something out, he will shake his Bulgarian finger at you and throw you some serious Bulgarian attitude.


Imagine my embarrassment delight, yesterday, as we're sitting in a waiting room full of people and Samuel decides to chastise another adult. She was reading a magazine and the little postcard insert (to order more magazines) had fallen out and onto the floor. Now, I don't know if she didn't realize or if she was just planning to pick it up before she left. Well, it bugged Samuel. We were sitting in the floor playing cars and he saw it out of the corner of his eye and off he went.   Before, I even knew what was happening, he picked that card up, began to wave it in the lady's face and tell her some things that I'm grateful neither one of us could understand. Then, he marched it over to the shelf placed it where it "belonged" and looked back at the lady with a few more choice words and hand gestures to match. She was very gracious and explained that she was going to put it back when she was done reading. I just apologized and dragged my kid away. 


He also, reorganized the toys and cleaned up some trash. As we were heading back to see the doctor, he turned and waved to the room full of people and blew them all kisses. The doctor said, "Oh, he's made friends already." Sure, he has...they were all happy to see me take my special kind of "crazy" and leave the room, but don't tell Samuel. I'm sure those reality TV producers loved the footage they got, yesterday. All of this was before we went to shop for glasses next door. Samuel did great until he was done and then he threw all the glasses in the floor and we had a battle of the wills about who was going to pick them up. I won. 


As Marty and I laid down for bed last night, I recounted these events and more. He said, "Can you imagine? We almost missed this." No, I can't imagine and life will never be the same. It will be more entertaining and a lot more fun. His comment did make me wonder...how many blessings have we turned our backs on over the years, because they were too hard, too inconvenient, or just too strange. How many things has God asked us to do that we simply refused and missed the harvest? From here on out, we're YES people. Whatever, God asks...


Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!


Hidden in Christ,
Mandy