Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm a terrible blogger...

So, I promised not to be one of those bloggers, who disappears after "Gotcha Day." Here I am, 5 days later, just blogging for the second time. It's been a super fun, busy week of getting to know you with the boys. I can't imagine life without them, now.

Samuel is the busiest boy, I've ever known. He is testing his boundaries, already. Let's see, so far, he's thrown things out the 5th story window at our hotel, he threw his ball in the toilet, and he's let himself out of the hotel room, more than once. We're making progress though. Today, he opened the door and I told him, "Stoy!" Stoy means stop in Bulgarian. He looked at me and gestured down the hall like he wanted to leave. I said, "No, wait for Mommy and close the door." He pointed down the hall, again and then, closed the door. This is HUGE! He understood and obeyed!

He is funny, too. He thinks he's the star in his very own show and we're all his adoring fans. He waves at passing buses and blows kisses to ladies in the street. Seriously, he's a little full of himself and it's so fun to watch. He's been well loved and he knows he's "extra" special. Here's a few of my favorite pictures of him from this week...

Chowing down on his first "Happy Meal."

Hanging out in the hotel room window taking in the cars below.

Signing "Mommy" while getting some love. (one of the 10-15 signs he's learned already)

Waving "Hi" to all of my adoring fans!


Then, there's Joseph, who is like a different kid from when we visited 5 months ago. Obviously, he's still very delayed for a seven year old, but we're getting so much more emotion from him than we did on first trip. He's giggling and it's the sweetest sound, I've ever heard. He has the best smile and he gives it freely whenever you do something nice for him. Change his diaper, feed him, pick him up, he just lights up. I have no idea how they overlooked all that my boy is. He is precious and sweet and I love him so. 

New things he's learned this week: he's making more eye contact, today, he started kissing me when I had him in the carrier, he's crawling all over the room and twice, today, he let me hold his hands while he walked a few steps. He's wonderful. I just can't wait to see what God has for him in the years to come. Here are some of my favorites...

Reading my book.

Smiling for the camera (this is Mom's favorite!).

Getting some Mommy love...

Giving Mommy some love...

This trip has been amazing. The journey here, to this moment, has been amazing. You have all been so good to our family. Your prayers are working. Our transition is happening and the boys are adjusting well. It's hard work, but as you can see above...the pay is fabulous. So thankful God chose us to walk this path. Thankful that Marty listened when God called and boldly led our family here. I'm excited to see what life looks like once we're home. 

I couldn't have managed this week without my friend, Daniell. She came along to help with the boys and has been so good to us. She loves them and they love her...
I pray that every adopting family has the wonderful support that we do. Daniell has done laundry, grocery shopped, made sure I got a shower, run for breakfast every morning, changed diapers, loved babies and never once complained. This is the kind of friend we all need to be. 

I am one blessed Mom. I miss my Eli and Julie, but know they are have FUN with Daddy. We've Skyped and they're so ready to have these boys home to love on. Tomorrow is a long day for us, so if you think of us, please say a prayer. We have Medicals and Embassy appointments, so we can bring these boys HOME!

I'll leave you with one of the boys and I...

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something...It's totally worth the effort!

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Tale of Two Boys...

Today was "Gotcha Day" for Joseph and Samuel. We left the hotel around 7 am and headed for Joseph's orphanage. His was furthest away and so, we picked him up first. It is a Bulgarian Holiday, today. The Bulgarians have a lot of Holidays, just ask anyone who's trying to adopt from here and they'll tell you. So, first up Joseph.

We arrived at Joseph's orphanage around 11:30 and no one was there to greet us. We did some hunting and our translator, Dani, went and found a worker. Then, we all went to Joseph's building. I handed over his clothes to a worker and she sent us back to wait in the little waiting room while she dressed him. A few minutes later, she brings Joseph in and hands him over. We signed a paper, took some photos of another child for a listing and that was that. No one came to say goodbye, no one was sad to see him go. 7 years he'd lived there. 7 years and on his last day, no one came...

(I think, he was worth showing up for)

Two hours later, we pulled into Samuel's orphanage and saw a lady in the distance carrying a little boy. I said, "That's my boy." I hopped out and took him as she headed toward me. She was clearly upset and had been saying her goodbyes to my sweet boy. She was his favorite teacher. She loved him and cared for him, in a way that made today easier for him.

Once the news got out that we were there, it was like the floodgates opened...workers came pouring out for one last hug and a very tearful goodbye. They loved him. Really and truly loved him. They were sad to see him leave, but so thankful he has a family. You cannot imagine the gratitude I have in my heart for these precious women. Women, who are looking beyond what their society believes and choosing to love anyway.

What could life have been like for another little boy had he known such love? God did a miraculous thing, today. He allowed us to see, for just a few short minutes, what just one of these women could have meant in Joseph's life. I had to go inside and sign paperwork, get pictures and videos of Samuel, plus his bag of gifts from the workers. While I was inside. Samuel's favorite teacher decided to love on his brother for a few minutes. Here's what happened...

Today, I saw what was for one son and what could have been for another. I have learned so many lessons on this journey, but today, a Bulgarian Teacher taught me a lesson about living every minute in the moment. She was hurting, but she saw Joseph. She saw him and she set aside her own pain and loved him. She chose to be Jesus to my sweet, hurting boy. For just a moment, we caught a glimpse of Heaven as she chose to put on LOVE.

It was a remarkable day, full of firsts, but mostly full of grace. I'm forever changed by being chosen to parent these boys. These boys, who had two very different starts to life, but who have a loving God, who is writing their story to the end.

Today was harvest time and we're so blessed by the harvest. Please, if God is leading you down this path, don't hesitate. Jump in. The reward is amazing. I get to be their MOM forever! It doesn't get much better than this.

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

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

We are HERE!!

We have made it safely to Bulgaria. Everything is unpacked and ready to go for "Gotcha Day," tomorrow! So excited! Tomorrow, we begin to reap the harvest we've spent 15 months sowing and praying over. Tomorrow a new season of sowing begins and a lifetime of reaping will be the reward. So thankful, God allowed us to walk this path to our boys. I can't wait to share it with each of you, who has so faithfully supported and encouraged us.

Keep Watching!

Hidden in Christ,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"What to Expect?"

We covered some bonding/adjustment issues that we're expecting to face with the boys in this post, already. I'm doing my best to help educate our friends and family about what to expect when Samuel and Joseph first arrive home. Honestly, it's all just a guess...we've never done this before. We did take a LOT of classes and have done some reading on the subject and want to pass along some of what we've learned.

Next up is Indiscriminate Affection. Sounds scary and it is. A child who has lived their entire life in an orphanage setting with multiple caregivers is likely to seek and give affection to ANYONE who will open their arms. We already know this is going to be a concern with Samuel. He came to me very quickly on the first day and was content to love on me. It was lovely in the moment, but scary to think that he would go with ANYONE! We'll be establishing firm, strong boundaries regarding affection with the boys. The only people who can hug and kiss them are immediate family (and the grandparents may sneak in a love or two) as in Marty, myself, Eli and Julie. Everyone else may give high-fives, fist bumps, handshakes, etc. This will allow the boys to recognize that family is different from the rest of the world. We can let family in and let our guard down with family. Family is for closeness.

Another reason, I want to establish these boundaries is one that a friend pointed out and I agree with 100%. One of the things that makes people uncomfortable around people with down syndrome is they tend to be touchy-feely. I know, this is true with my Uncle Roy. We don't mind it, but it can make others uncomfortable. You may think it's cute for Samuel to hug you every time he sees you, but when would that change? When he's 10 or 17 or 29? Eventually, it's no longer cute, but rather strange. So, let's just all play by the rules and keep our personal space, personal.

Both of our boys are over the age of 4, so think about a "typical" 4 year old and respond appropriately. You wouldn't force yourself into their space, nor would you expect them to be excited about hugging you. Please, help us, help our boys by maintaining these boundaries.

I hope this seems reasonable to everyone and that I did a decent job of explaining why this is necessary. If you have questions, please ask! Is there something you've been wondering how we'll handle when the boys come home? ASK! You'll keep me thinking and I'd love to answer your questions.

I want to say, again, "We've never done this before." We really don't know what to expect, but are trying to be as prepared as possible. Please keep praying. Pray that God will give us wisdom to handle each situation as it arises. Pray that our boys hearts are being prepared for transition into our family. Pray that peace will reign in our home and that we will lean into Jesus on the hard days ahead. There will be hard days. You don't add two new members to a family, without some bumps in the road. Please, pray!

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

Hidden in Christ,

Rogers Family Giveaway Winners!!

Sorry for the wait on the winners! Thanks to everyone who's given and shared! All total, I believe about $500 was raised during this giveaway!

Our winners will be receive a message from me this evening, with directions on how to claim their prizes!

Prize #1 Kindle: Debbie G
Prize #2 Vera Bradley Purse: Christina S.
Prize #3 Lala loopsy doll: Debbie G
Prize #4 $50 Visa Gift Card: Brooke K.
Prize #5 Outlet Covers: Christine S. (different winner than prize #2)
Prize #6 Pink Mobile: Kimberly B
Prize #7 Body Marinade Gift Set: Tonya B.
Prize #8 Thirty-one Purse: Maureen G
Prize #9 Longberger basket and Mary Kay Gift set: Debbie G
Prize #10 5 bottle cap necklaces: Virginia W
Prize #11 Scentsy Warmer: Rebecca H
Prize #12 Afghan: Michael R

Congratulations to our winners! You should have an message from me tonight!

Thank you to each one who gave, shared, and prayed for the success of this Giveaway!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

"What to Expect?"

If you're a Mom, you're probably familiar with the book, "What to Expect in Baby's First Year." For many first time (and second, third, fourth time parents) this book is a life-saver. Full of information about baby's growth and development. A real must have. Followed up by "What to Expect in the Toddler Years." The list just keeps growing and there really is a resource for nearly every question concerning the raising of your child.

I haven't been able to locate the book entitled, "What to Expect during your Internationally, Adopted Child's First Year At Home..." They'd need a catchier title than that anyway. I'd need the Special Addition that covers children who also have special needs. Well, you get the point. The resources are limited, so in this community of Special Needs Adoption, we lean on each other for support. One Mom's experience becomes the next Mom's saving grace. We also lean into Jesus, as He strengthens, equips and sustains us.

I have a lot of questions being asked about what life will be like when the boys come home. I simply assume people know what I have learned throughout this journey about adopting and children with special needs. The fact is you don't and why would you, unless you're preparing for your own journey. I'm going to attempt to cover some of the most asked questions I receive. I'm hoping that in the busy days that come after we bring the boys home, that these posts will help you understand some of the why in how we're parenting.

Question 1: (This is currently the most asked) Will you be bringing Samuel and Joseph here to gymnastics or soccer (or whatever event we're currently attending)?

Answer: I love this question, because it reminds me that our friends love our boys already and are so anxious to see them and interact with them. Of course, our boys will attend these events sometime in the future. We're not going to put them in hiding when they come home. However, we do expect that it will be quite sometime before you see our boys out and about unnecessarily. We must do what is best for them and that means forming a secure bond, before we take them out.

Children coming from an institutional setting have no concept of family. Our boys don't understand Mom and Dad. They like us. They know we're kind to them, but they don't understand that we are their's FOREVER. We took classes on this very subject and we've been told the following things in regards to bonding.

1. For the first 6 months, the only people who feed our boys should be Marty and I. Am I going to feel like a failure if Eli or Julie shares a snack with their brothers. Certainly not. Are we going to do our best to follow this guideline? Absolutely. Wouldn't you? If it meant a strong bond between you and your child.

Maybe, you're not sure why they'd (the experts) recommend this? It's because children associate the source of their food as highly important. Think about how quickly an infant attaches the idea of eating with his MOM! Our boys have been fed by many hands and we want them to be dependent on us for their food, so they'll come to us to meet this need.

2. For at least the first six weeks (possibly longer) we should keep our boys world as small as possible. This means, as few outings as possible, so we'll be avoiding trips to gymnastics, soccer, church, the grocery store, etc. Why? It's simple, our boys have not been exposed to much in their short lives and they can be very easily over-stimulated. Which will cause regression and delay bonding. You need to feel safe, before you can feel loved.

We'll also be asking that friends limit their visits to our home during these first six weeks. We love you, but we love our boys more. I think, you'll all understand. We have a need to find a "new normal" as a family. We need to learn each other and find a routine that works for everyone.

I hope these are a good start to answering your questions. I'm going to cover Indiscriminate Affection and physical contact tomorrow. If you have a question, you'd like me to answer regarding what we expect when the boys come home. Please, ask. I'd love to hear from you and answer your questions. You may help me think of something new.

We're so thankful for each of you, who has come alongside and supported us on this journey. We're so close to beginning the best part. We'd not be here without you and we'll be forever grateful.  Thank you for loving us and loving our children.

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

Hidden in Christ,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

This is my first year celebrating Mother's Day as a Mom of 4! It's also my first Mother's Day without all of my children present. Today is bittersweet, as I have these two precious children here to enjoy the day with me...
Eli and Julianna

These two will be with me in 12 short or long days depending on how you look at it or when you ask me. That's right, I leave in ten days to fly to Bulgaria! We'll pick up Joseph, first...

Then, it's a couple of hours down the road, to get Samuel...

So, I'm a Mom of four this year and half my heart is still on the other side of the ocean, but our time is coming! Today, I will choose to celebrate with the two beautiful children I have present. I will rejoice in the beautiful people they are becoming. We'll continue to look eagerly toward the goal of having everyone in the same house. Soon, boys, soon, your Mama is coming.

Please, continue to pray for us. Our plane tickets ended up costing more than we anticipated and we're believing God for provision. He's already started to send it our way and we've no doubt He'll complete the work. I, also, need you to pray for Eli and Julie. I can sense their anxiety growing about the upcoming separation. Yes, they'll have their Dad here with them, but I guess, since it's Mother's Day, I can get away with saying, "It's not the same thing." I am with them 95% of the time and have been since the moment they came screaming into the world. The separation is difficult for them and for me. Pray that Joseph and Samuel's hearts are being prepared to be a part of our family, that they wouldn't be fearful or anxious. Last, but not least, pray for Marty and I as we are about to navigate our way through uncharted territory. We've never been parents to 4 children before. I will say, "There's no one I'd rather take this journey with."

Happy Mother's Day!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Finishers

Guess what? That's right, it's that time, again! Time to help a family finish strong. I have watched for a couple of weeks as this family has waited for court dates. They've already been and met their girls and they're missing them desperately during this wait. This is the hardest part, because as an adopting family, they've done all they can do. All the t's have been crossed and all the i's have been dotted. Now, they wait. So, how about we do something amazing for them while they wait.

The Clark family is a little under $3000 from being fully funded for their pick-up trip. They have a plan to cover about $1300 of that, so we're looking at a $1700 need to finish them. The Finishers have come up with an $800 matching grant. Now, through tomorrow night (Friday, May 11th) at midnight, every dollar you give to the Clark Family will be matched up to and including $800! Who are we helping to bring home?



Here's the link to the Family's Sponsorship Page where you can make a tax-deductible donation! Right now, the Clark family has $2232 in their grant, so when it reaches $3032, they'll have met the matching challenge! When the number reaches $3,132 they'll be FULLY FUNDED! This family is such an encouragement. I hope that we can all pull together and show them that they are not alone in the waiting. Here's a small glimpse from their blog into what the waiting has been like for them.

This road less traveled is not an easy one to walk. It's even more difficult if you feel like you're walking it alone. Let's not leave the Clark Family alone on the road. For the King and His Glory, let's help rescue these precious girls. Let's be a part of the miracle that God has whispered into this family's heart. Each of us CAN do something to help!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...I'll be back with updates, keep watching!

Hidden in Christ,

Throwing Stones

From time to time, God and I wrestle our way through a topic. I think, I know how and what I believe and God says come up here, a little higher, a little closer and let me really show you. This is totally and completely off-topic, but as we've covered before it's my blog and I'm allowed (I make the rules, here). My heart has been grieved as I watch friends and family respond to current events. I have been seeking God for what His heart is and what His response would be and here is where He led me this morning.

Sunday School 101: John 8:3-11

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you." Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Was the woman sinning? Without a doubt! Who's job was it to offer wisdom and life to the sinner? JESUS! Who's job is it, today, to offer wisdom and life to the sinner? JESUS!

The "church" has jumped on a slippery slope of picking out certain sins and holding them up as the dirtiest, filthiest, most detestable sin. I want to tell you that all SIN stinks! Let's quit picking on specks when we have planks in our own eyes. Let's stop hammering sinners for sinning, when there is so much sin inside the "church" that it's a miracle God doesn't just destroy the whole lot of us.

There is only one judge and He doesn't want to share His job with you!

I'm tired of people saying, "I'm not judging. Sin is sin and we have to call it what it is." Okay, but what about gluttony? Haven't seen anyone picketing the buffet line lately. No laws being passed about who can and can't eat at the buffet. In fact, we get quite riled up, when we hear a new's story that someone has been asked to leave the "all-you-can-eat" buffet, because they paid to indulge in all the gluttony they wanted to and by-golly it's their "right."

Come on, church! The only thing that will draw people into the family of God is LOVE! No, we should not tolerate sin among the believers, but we should expect sin from unbelievers.

I'll not be casting any stones this week. I have too much junk in my own life to think that God needs my help. I will do what I can to love the people around me, regardless of what I perceive the condition of their heart to be. Only God knows the heart. I'm especially thankful today for grace.

Lay down your stones and run to Jesus, ask Him to show you how to love someone into the Kingdom. Allow Jesus to stretch you in ways that make you totally uncomfortable. Be a bright light in a dark world, our high calling is to love God and love each other well. Think before you speak or type, "How will my words make someone else feel? Loved or Condemned?"

Hidden in Christ,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Phone Call

If you missed the first part of the story, it's here: Cinco de Mayo.

There I am, a beautiful sunny day in southern California. Enjoying life with my kids playing in the yard. My phone rings and it's the ER doctor. How strange? Why is the doctor from the ER calling me at home to ask how I'm feeling? Did they give me the wrong medicine or mess something up? No, wait...what did he just say? A tumor? How is that possible?

The ER doc was nice and explained to me that the radiologist remembered me when he was looking at my films from my chest x-ray (don't miss God in this story. The Naval Medical Center in San Diego is HUGE and the radiologist remembered me?). The radiologist thought it was strange for a 26 year old, otherwise healthy woman, to have pneumonia twice in one year, so he pulled my x-rays from earlier in the year. He then laid them one over the other and realized that we were not just dealing with pneumonia, but with a growth in the right, lower lobe of my lung. I believe with everything in me, that the radiologist was hearing the still, small voice of God that prompted him to pull both scans and do a comparison. This was above and beyond the call of duty. Another serviceman doing his job, saving lives...

ER Doctor goes on to explain that there are 5 possible things the growth could be, 4 of the 5 options were going to result in major surgery. The last two we discussed were lung cancer or a carcinoid tumor (still cancer, just an extremely rare, slow-growing form). There it is...that word...the one we're taught to fear. Who teaches us to fear cancer? Life, some things in life (most of the really important things) are caught not taught.

I hung up the phone and looked out my kitchen window at my precious children playing in the yard. I cried out to Jesus, because I knew this was going to be a huge loss in their childhood, one that would shape who they became and if they could trust Him. My first thought, in that moment, was for my children. Uncertainty and doubt began to creep in. I picked up the phone and made one of the most difficult phone calls of my life. I called the man, who loves me more than life itself, and told him of our now uncertain future. I struggled as I formed the words to share the need for further testing that would involve invasive procedures to diagnose the tumor. Marty was my rock that day. He is the rock of our family. Quietly serving the Lord and never swaying in his conviction of God's goodness and mercy.

A series of phone calls and a trip to the yard to tell my Dad the news. Man, you cannot begin to imagine what this day was like. My family members and friends fell apart and I was encouraging them. Jesus would walk through this with me. I knew it. I understood for the first time in my life what the "peace that passes understanding" truly is. It's looking death in the face and knowing that your future is secure. It's resting fully in the provision of salvation that Jesus made on the cross. The knowledge that in death or in life, I belong to Jesus and my sweet Jesus belongs to me. If you don't know this peace, please, message me. I would consider an honor to introduce you to my friend, Jesus.

Testing began and for all who have negative things to say about military medicine, let me say, that I received top-notch care. I became priority number one, for many doctors. The bronchiscopy that was done (this is where they run a small camera and some instruments down through your nasal passage and into your lung) was inconclusive. So, a tumor board convened. The top doctors at Naval Medical Center San Diego held a conference about little old me. They decided it must be a carcinoid tumor from the images that were taken and scheduled surgery.

Meanwhile, my church family and friends were praying for healing. God clearly spoke to me and I knew, there would be no "sudden-healing." I was going to walk through this storm with my eyes fixed on Jesus. It was a long and painful six weeks from diagnosis to surgery, but I had that perfect peace from beginning to end. My surgery was successful. It took longer than planned. I had the lower lobe of my right lung removed by lobectomy. I was told to expect a 24 hour stay in ICU and then 7-10 days in the hospital. I bypassed ICU went straight to a regular room. Had surgery on Monday, May 5th and left the hospital on Friday, May 9th. God is faithful! My six week recovery took about 3 weeks. God is faithful. Sometimes, He brings sudden-healing, sometimes He asks us to trust Him to walk through the fire with us. Those 2-3 months were some of  the most defining moments of my faith. God is faithful!

I hope this story encourages you. I also hope you don't worry for me. I am followed by a team of specialists and just passed 4 years of clean tests. Due to the fact that my cancer is so slow growing, I will have 10 years of testing before I'm considered, "Cancer Free." I am not worried. I know, who holds tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after...

God has a plan for each of our lives. I'm thankful to be here, everyday, to watch my children grow in the Lord. I'm thankful to be following God obediently down this path to Joseph and Samuel. I thankful to belong to HIM!

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

I'm late, I know. On May 5th, I posted a status update on facebook about celebrating 4 years cancer free! Many of my friends and family have messaged me and said, "Tell us the story." A lot of people have said, "I didn't know that about you." It's not a conversation starter, ya'll. Hi, My name is Mandy, and once upon a time I had cancer. Everyone would run in the opposite direction. If you're around me long enough and the conversation comes up, I'm thrilled to share the faithfulness of Daddy-God with anyone who will listen.

Since you all are my captive-audience (and because you asked), I'm going to attempt to tell you this part of my testimony. A part that I can't share without being overwhelmed by the goodness of God. This may get long or it may become two posts, we'll see...

About 4 and 1/2 years ago, Marty and I were living in San Diego, CA. We were stationed there, while Marty served in the US Navy. My Dad was living with us, at the time. I got sick. Not just a little sick, like wretchedly ill, I just want God to take me NOW, kind of sick. I thought, I had a stomach virus, but a couple of days in and no one else in the house was sick. I had a fever, headache, chills, stomach "issues," etc. I literally laid on the couch for days (thank God my Dad was with us to take care of Eli and Julie). I was officially out of commission. There was a long series of events that led to me being seen at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. We had to fight with the insurance to get me in, because I was supposed to be seen by a civilian doctor, but couldn't get in anywhere. Turns out I had a severe case of pneumonia. Doctor's wanted to hospitalize me. I said, "No, just give me something strong and send me home." I had suffered at home for days, anyways. Went home got better, life moved on.

6 months later, I was at a park with the kids and a friend from church. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I told my friend, I need to go home, now. I know, God guided our car over the Coronado Bridge and took us safely home. I don't remember much about that drive, except for praying that God would keep us safe. My head hurt and I was exhausted. Got home, went to bed, got up with Marty the next morning and said, "You can drop me off at the hospital on your way to work, I have pneumonia, again." He didn't believe me. The nurse who checked me in didn't believe me. The doctor didn't believe me, but said, "Well, since you're here, we'll do the chest x-ray to give you peace of mind, but I don't hear anything in your lung." 20 minutes after the x-ray, the attending physician came into the room with my other doctor and said, "It is pneumonia and the lung is so full of fluid that we can't hear it anymore." He schooled the other doctor in what to listen for, wrote me a strong prescription and sent me home. I didn't feel nearly as bad as the last time. This was treated like walking pneumonia and 3 days later I was feeling a lot better.

I had been taking things easy and just hanging out around the house with Dad and the littles, while Marty worked. It was a Friday afternoon and my phone rang. On the other end was my ER doctor, with the news that everyone dreads...

That's all for now, I'll get the rest up later on this week. I'd be more motivated to finish the story, if I saw some significant movement in The Rogers' Family Giveaway...just saying :)

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, May 3, 2012


"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13:16

Sacrifices. Not a popular word in the American Culture. Not a popular word in the American Church. Absolutely necessary parts of a believer's life. It's not as hard as we make it sound...simply, do good and share with others. Open your hand! Ask God to give you His eyes, His heart, and His hands and feet. Look around you for people to bless. You may not have much, but little is much when God is in it!

The Message Bible says this in Hebrews 13:16 "Make sure you don't take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship-a different kind of 'sacrifice' -that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets."

Do you want to live a life pleasing to God? A very quiet kind of sacrifice is the one required to do so. Your gifts and service may go unnoticed here on earth, but I promise God sees. Are we living and serving an audience of ONE? At the end of life, we'll only stand before one judge. His name is God. My encouragement to you, today, is to live life in such a way that you bring God pleasure. Know that what you do in simple acts of service you do for your KING!

How will I serve Him, today? Who will I love intentionally? What kind of sacrifice will I make for someone God loves dearly? I fail often. I think, that these are good questions to start our day with though. We must be intentional in our love and our expression of our faith. I want to share one more verse with you, one that has proven true in my life, over and over, again.

From the Message, Matthew 5:7 "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for."

Do you know how that happens? That giving and receiving of care among believers? It happens when we're each obedient to make the sacrifices God is asking of us. Whether they be in the kitchen, in the workplace, in the streets, when we each do our part the whole body of Christ will find itself cared for and loved.

If you're looking for a place to start to turn on the LIGHT in your life...look here. The Rogers' Family needs our help and so do many others. Let's be intentional in our acts of worship, today.

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

Hidden in Christ,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rogers' Family Giveaway!

I'm a little nervous to be coming to you all, again, and asking for help. I have learned to ask myself one very important question before I do anything like this giveaway. I asked myself that question last night, what is my motivation for doing this? There is only one acceptable answer to this question. My motivation is LOVE. Whenever, we endeavor to do something for the Kingdom, our motivation can have nothing to do with us and everything to do with LOVE.

Asking you to help, to give, to do more, it makes me uncomfortable, but I'm willing to do it, because love is my motivator. Love, my friends, is a verb! When God calls us to love our neighbor, that love involves action. When I look at these two sweet faces, I am overwhelmed by love.
Mason is nine years old and the size of a kindergartner. 

Bernadette, our Sunshine Girl, is nearly 16 and she was running out of time to be adopted. Thank God for the Rogers' Family's willingness to step up and move quickly to bring these two precious children home.

I look at these two and I am amazed by the seed of love that has grown in my heart for them. I have also grown to love their soon to be family. It's not often that I come to you and I'm able to tell you about a family from personal experience. The Rogers' family is full of laughter, fun and JOY! I can't wait to see Bernadette and Mason at home with them and a part of that. These are my friends and God has tied our lives together in an effort to help the orphans. 

I have met amazing people on this journey to bring our sons home and I'd say the Rogers' family tops the list. They need our help and some wonderful friends have rallied and offered prizes for our giveaway. So now that I've gushed all over the place and you understand my love for these amazing people and their precious children. Let's jump in!



Ways to enter:
Donations can be made through the chipin on the right hand side of the blog and all donations are tax-deductible. You will receive a receipt from Reece's Rainbow.

Donate any amount = 1 entry
Donate $10 = 3 entries
Donate $50 = 20 entries
Donate $100 = 50 entries

You can also earn one entry per day by sharing on facebook, twitter or your blog. You will need to leave me a comment, letting me know you've shared in order to earn your free entry.

(People have been so generous and this is by far the most prizes I've ever been able to offer in a giveaway)

1. Kindle, valued at $79

2. Vera Bradley Purse

3. LalaLoopsy Doll (like new) 
This was given by 2 of the sweetest little girls I know. They wanted to help and so, they donated their newest toy (Thank you, Audrey and Emma)!

4. $50 Visa Gift Card (I know, ya'll like to win money)

5. The Cutest Custom Made Outlet Covers EVER! 
(Made and donated by Bernadette and Mason's soon to be Grandma)

6. Another custom made piece by Grandma, a beautiful pink mobile

7. A Body Marinade Gift set valued at $40, including Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Body Mist, Body Milk and Lotion (photo of the set is coming)

8. Thirty-one Purse

9. Longberger basket and let's fill it with a Mary Kay Exotic Passionfruit Set!

10. 5 custom made bottle-cap necklaces (these would make great party favors)!

If you love these and want to purchase some to help my friend, Brooke, go on a missions trip this summer, go over here to Brooke's blog and order.

11. Midsize Scentsy Warmer and 2 Scentsy bars
(I love my Scentsy!)

12. A beautiful, handmade Afgan

I have more prizes to add, so check back, I'm waiting on photos and descriptions.

Ways to enter:
Donations can be made through the chipin on the right hand side of the blog and all donations are tax-deductible. You will receive a receipt from Reece's Rainbow.

Donate any amount = 1 entry
Donate $10 = 3 entries
Donate $50 = 20 entries
Donate $100 = 50 entries

You can also earn one entry per day by sharing on facebook, twitter or your blog. You will need to leave me a comment, letting me know you've shared in order to earn your free entry.
Let's do this for the Rogers' Family! They need at least another $12,000 to be fully funded and they could travel in the next 4-6 weeks!

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

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another God Story

This post is going to be long, because I have a lot on my heart. I'm so thankful for each of you and how you rallied for precious Bernadette during our Sunshine Girl Giveaway back in February and March. We watched in awe of God's provision for one sweet orphan girl as a little over $10,000 came in for Bernadette's grant. She really does light up a room and so many of us fell in love with this girl.

I couldn't know then, that God was, once again, weaving another beautiful strand into the tapestry of my own life. Last year, while we were fundraising and paper-chasing, the Rogers family committed to bringing home two beautiful babies from the Ukraine. Erika and I began messaging each other, because they are in Virginia, same as us. We made plans for our family to visit them once we had our boys home, too. The process to adopt from the Ukraine is super fast and so, Erika's babies, Clare and Malachi, have been home for about 6 months.God began to unite our hearts and friendship blossomed.

Erika had been quiet on facebook for awhile, busy helping Malachi and Clare adjust to life with 5 siblings. I want to give you a look behind the scenes as God astonished Erika and I. Our hearts fell in love with the same girl and when I began to holler and pray for Bernadette a family, I had no idea God was going to call my friend to step forward. On March 13th, Erika sent me the first message about Bernadette and Mason, not because I was advocating for Bernadette (she didn't know that I was) but because she wanted to share with her friend and ask me to pray. Here's how the conversation progressed over the next few hours...

From Erika to me:  Can you please pray for us. We are in the process of committing to Bernadette and Mason at 39, we just can't say anything yet. We have only been home 4 months so the finances are not where we would like them to be for the adoption. A little scary, but know God is calling us to do it.

My response:  Erika! You're going to commit to my Bernadette? I'm seriously crying here. We'll help you! Have you seen our Praying Them Home blog? We're committed to helping the kids in 39 come home. I cannot believe it! I'm so thrilled for you! When will you be able to make it official?

Erika:  Hopefully in the next 2 weeks they will be moved to the MFFM page!

Then, we exchanged a couple of messages about home study agencies and the cost of this adoption. Went on about our days and that evening I received this message from Erika...

OK, so now I'm the one in tears. I have been such a slacker lately with reading blogs, etc. ( my children have no idea why I don't have time). Beautiful tapestry, that's what you are friend. I had no idea what you have been doing for our Bernadette. Sobbing like a baby now. Just cannot wait until we are all face to face with our children.

God, friends, that's all I know to say about that. God! Don't ever doubt that God is in every little detail of our lives. He loves us so much more than we can ever know! If all of this weren't enough, a few weeks later Erika is messaging me asking for a hotel recommendation in our area, because they want to come down and support some other adopting families in their fundraising efforts. I immediately said, "Call me, I know a place." It was a great JOY to open our home to our friends for a weekend and love on them. I hope we were an encouragement to them, as they certainly were to us. You can see the pictures of their beautiful kids here: Rogers' Family Visit.

I hope you're all hanging with me still. I hope you're encouraged by the mountains God has already moved for Bernadette and for Mason. I promised this family that we would not abandon them. They never reached fully funded on their first adoption journey to bring Clare and Malachi home. They made great financial sacrifices (I know, they'd rather I not share that, but it's true). They knew the money would eventually come back in the form of a tax refund, but it was still a sacrifice. The thing is the tax refund won't happen for Bernadette and Mason's adoptions. This family absolutely must be Fully Funded! I can't think of anything braver than stepping out only 4 months after arriving home to go back again. What amazing "YES" people my friends are.

The financial mountain alone is huge. I'm working on a giveaway to help tear down the mountain. This post is getting long, so I'll share the giveaway this evening. In the meantime, if you have something you'd like to donate to the giveaway, please contact me and let me know. You can email me at

Or you can just head over to the Rogers' Family Sponsorship Page and make a donation. Every dollar helps. There are no small or big gifts in God's Kingdom. He's excellent at multiplying the seed. He just needs us to begin to plant and water. Will you help my friends? Will you rally for our Sunshine Girl and precious Mason?

They are worth it! Let's lay up some treasure in Heaven, where moth and rust can't destroy it. Love an orphan, it will change your life.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,