Our Journey

This blog is a small peek inside our family's first adventure into the world of adoption. We welcome your encouragement & financial support, but most importantly we appreciate your prayer covering as we climb the mountains & wander the valleys of this incredibly crazy, yet exciting journey God is leading our family on. We also ask for your prayer covering over our new children, wherever & whoever they are, that they will sense God's loving presence as He snuggles them for us, & for protection from satan's evil schemes toward each of us. Though we may be on opposite sides of the globe, or just a few miles apart, we trust God has already been preparing all of us for each other as our family grows again. May all the Glory in this journey go to our Heavenly Father, who adopted each of us as His own beloved sons & daughters.

About Us

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obedience

As I was sorting through a box of paper in preparation for repacking it properly for our move, I came across a paper we used to have hanging in our kitchen at the last house for our children, but I hadn't found again since living here. I want to share what's on this paper for two reasons: 1) In case it goes missing again before we get to our new home, and 2) because, darn it, it stinks to be convicted alone! LOL

CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATING 
THE QUALITY OF YOUR OBEDIENCE 
Obedience + Delay = Disobedience
___ Do I have to be reminded several times before I do a job?
___ Do I say "I will" then take my time before I finally get around to doing it?
___ Do I answer, "I will, but not right now" or "Later"?
___ Do I fail to meet deadlines?

Obedience + Murmuring/Complaining = Disobedience
___ Do I do what I am told, but pout as I do it?
___ Do I complain about the things expected of me?
___ Do I make sure others feel sorry for me as I do the work I've been asked or instructed to do?

Obedience + My Methods = Disobedience
___ Do I do what I am told, but not in the way I am told?
___ If i cannot do the job my own way, do I leave it undone or do it halfheartedly?
___ Am I sneaky about the shortcuts I take because my parents would not approve of them?
___ Do I insist that my parents explain why they want something done in the manner they've specified before I will complete he task?

Obedience + The Desire To Have People Praise Me = Disobedience___ Do I do the things my parents have asked of me just so people will praise me?
___ If no one praises me for what I've done, do I stop doing it or do it halfheartedly?

Obedience + Letter of the Law - Spirit of the Law = Disobedience
___ Do I obey my parents, yet continually look for how close I can come to disobedience without actually being accused of it?
___ Do I tell only a portion of the story so the complete situation is not fully understood by my parents?

"LISTEN to your father's instruction & do not forsake your mother's teaching." (Proverbs 1:8)
 
"Children, OBEY your parents in the Lord, for this is right." (Ephesians 6:1)
 
"For even a child is KNOWN by his actions, whether his conduct be pure & right." (Proverbs 20:11)
 
"But GOD BE THANKED that... YOU OBEYED FROM THE HEART." (Romans 6:17)
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
OUCH!!! This is not just applicable to young children under a parent's authority. This applies to us big children under our Heavenly Father's authority.

Reading through this paper when I found it yesterday really convicted me of my "obedience + murmuring/complaining" in moving to the land of tumbleweeds and Texas stars. As obedient as I thought I was, it was still DISOBEDIENCE in God's eyes. 
 
I think I need to hang this paper up in the new home, not just on the fridge for the sake of the children, but somewhere where I will see it frequently too.

It's all too easy to fall into disobedience when the action and the attitude are not united. I don't want to be found "obeying on the outside, but disobeying on the inside". I want to be in complete obedience.

After that good swift swat on the rear yesterday (and a full night of sleep after too many brief winks), I'm finding myself today beginning to look forward to our new life in Texas.

~ Michelle
 


 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'd Marry Him Again...

Twenty-three yrs ago today
I walked into a youth group meeting
for homeschooled high schoolers
that I attended every Friday night, 
expecting the same ol' worship and fellowship.

And I went home wondering
if I'd met the young man
who would eventually ask my dad
for my hand in marriage.


He stole my heart that night 
with his blue eyes, his smile, his Coke Cake,
and easy comfortable conversation.


 Over the years, 
he's continued to steal my heart.

He's never given it back.

Nearly four years later,
I became his bride.

Before our 7th Anniversary,
we were blessed with 
6 incredibly beautiful children.

After 19 years of marriage,
even if we had to go through
the same ups and downs of life,
the same disappointments and struggles,
the same celebrations and accomplishments,
the same broken dreams
and the same uncountable blessings...

I'd marry him again.

Rick, thank you for blessing my life
with your smile, your easy conversation,
and your tender unconditional love.
(And so much more!)


And thank you for being my journey's companion.
It's been an unforgettable experience
walking through life by your side,
and I expect this adventure is only going to get
more exciting with each passing year!

I just wanted everyone to know
how blessed I am...
because of you!

I love you!!


Friday, December 2, 2011

What Am I Agreeing To?

As anybody who has ever adopted a child can attest, it is an emotional roller coaster ride. And we're really just getting started. Yikes! Before we can really move forward with the adoption process, we have to complete the move to Texas (another long story but thought the movers were not going to get there before we have to be out of our current house), finish transferring from the temp-to-hire position I am currently in to permanent hire with benefits, (told that is supposed to happen today or Monday. Yay!) and we still need to find a permanent residence to rent or purchase in Texas. Oh, did I mention the movers are coming in 3 days? 

All because my darling wife had the audacity to pray, "God, I'm bored. We need more adventure in our lives." 

Are you happy now, dear? We have adventure in spades!!!

I tease because my wife was right - we had become plump, happy, and dumb Christians, and our faith was stale. Faith is kind of like working out - the more you use it, the stronger it gets. We had become
comfortable. Our faith work out was at a maintenance level; a comfortable plateau. We didn't have a lot of extra but I rarely had to worry about how to pay our regular living expenses anymore, the cars are paid for, we live in a comfortable house in a nice neighborhood with great landlords - what more could we really want? 

And then my wife suggests adoption.

"Hmmm. Adoption. Really? Let me think about it." (Universal husband speak for "I'll give it some time and she'll get over it. She probably just had some bad pizza at lunch.")

And then she shows me some pictures.

"That's nice," I think, "So what?"

But funny thing - I can't get those darn pictures out of my head. And I find myself day dreaming about having two more daughters, and even thinking about the logistics of how to accommodate a wheel chair. "Well, if we widen this doorway and put a ramp at the front steps...." That kind of thing.

And next thing I know I realize, I'm agreeing to this idea and I don't remember making a conscious decision. (Just remember wives, you are the neck that turns the head.)

"So, okay, this is kind of a cool idea. Over the next year or two, we'll save up the money, do the homestudy, etc. It will be a breeze, right?"

Wrong!!!! And now all hell breaks loose, like the Hoover dam breaking and flooding everything beyond it!

First, new job to help provide the additional income and benefits needed to pay for the extra medical costs associated with two children who have special needs.

God - "Oh yeah, by the way, that new job's in Texas, Rick."

Me - "What!?!? Texas?!? You're kidding, right? I gotta lotta friends there, but it's a nice place to visit and then go home."

God - "Nope. Not kidding. Texas it is. Uhhh, West Texas specifically."

Me - "Really?!? There's nothing there, and all my friends are in East Texas! It's a dessert, only no oasis, palm trees, etc. Surely you meant somewhere with some green, right?"

God - "Nope. Texas."

Me - "Oh, Okay." (Can you hear the underwhelming enthusiasm in my voice?)

And now Satan rubs his hands together gleefully and cackles "Let the games begin! This will be fun!"


And the games did begin - delay after delay, wondering what in the world we are doing.

First, we decided to delay the home study since it would have to be done all over again once we got settled in a new state. I bought a car (hadn't needed a second vehicle in about 5 years with me driving truck.) and headed for my new job in Texas. Got here and was promptly moved 4 different times as the company battled with the housing market here to provide us with a place to stay for 3 months. I fulfilled my requirements to move to full time, permanent employ, but because my new company had just been purchased by a larger company, it delayed the process of moving to the list of permanent employees as they sorted through all the new processes and procedures to accomplish this.

I was really digging the new and improved (aka, larger) paychecks and we were actually saving money for a change, thinking about buying a house here in Texas since it is considerably less expensive than renting, and then one by one, every car we own decides it needs some TLC to the tune of almost a thousand dollars or more, each.

"So much for savings, God! Now what? How are we gonna afford a place to live? Where am I gonna put my family?"

God - "Patience, my son. Didn't I tell you I will provide all of your needs according to my riches in glory...? I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Me - "But God, time is running out and I don't see a solution yet! I'm scared!" And though I didn't say it, angry too.


And this is where agreement comes into play. Those little thoughts; seeds planted by the father of lies...

"You're running out of time. There's no way you'll be able to make enough money in time to house your family before they get there." And circumstances seem to agree.

This is about the time that we are told that Aliza is getting ready to be transferred to the "laying rooms" that Michelle described in an earlier post. (I won't describe it here because it makes me want to cry every time I think about it.)

Pressure's on, and time is of the essence. Looming deadlines and no respite in sight. And I began to agree with these whispered ideas, the same way many of us do. "This is taking too long. We'll never make it in time. There's not enough money." Etc., etc., etc.

For any Christian who has ever tried to accomplish a God-breathed vision on their own, they will know exactly what I'm talking about. Because the reality is, God does not give us visions we can accomplish on our own. If He did, we wouldn't really need Him, right?

And the purpose of His visions are to show Himself strong on our behalf, to demonstrate to a lost world that He loves us and desires that
ALL people come to know Him and experience His love. Yet how many times do we find ourselves doubting Him and agreeing with those little lies whispered in our ears by the enemy, who by the way, wants to see us fail!

So last night I was reading a book (completely unrelated to adoption) by a couple of my favorite authors, called "Love and War - Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed of" by John and Stasi Eldredge. In one of the chapters, they talked about this very issue of agreement, and how we essentially exercise negative faith by coming into agreement with lies spoken by the enemy who we frequently ignore or forget even exists. This is not just a physical world with a physical life - it is a spiritual world too, and we are a spiritual people. Do we even recognize the war that rages around us every day in the spiritual dimension?

If you're anything like me, sadly the answer is too often "no". I was really challenged by what they wrote in that chapter ("How to Have a Good Fight"). It made me stop and think about what thoughts I was meditating on and coming into agreement with.

"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7a.

Wow! I mean, that's powerful stuff. What I think is what I become, so what am I thinking? Am I down on myself? "I'm not good enough. I'll never measure up." Ever had these kinds of thoughts go through your head? I know I have. And what's even scarier is that they are sort of true, which makes them easier to agree with, after all, which one of us really
does measure up; really is good enough, apart from Christ?

But the problem is, it's only half the truth. Yet so often we let these thoughts take root and grow until they produce a whole field full of weeds like doubt, shame, and inadequacy. Oh how many times have I said, "I feel so inadequate."?

The reality is I am inadequate, but that's only half the truth, because as Paul said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." That is the whole truth - that in myself, I am inadequate, but in God, I can accomplish great and marvelous things because He has invited me to participate with Him in what He's doing, and has granted me His authority to do it in. How awesome is that?!?

So the question becomes, are we taking those thoughts captive and bringing them into submission to the truth of His Word and His will?

Are we standing on the promises or sitting on the doubts and fears?

Are we looking at the outward circumstances and believing what our eyes tell us, or reminding ourselves of the truth of God's Word?

I pray that my Father would help me to stand against the schemes of the devil, to take every thought captive and bring it into submission to the will of God. May I stand on His promise in John 16:33 "
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

~ Rick 

Update: Because both "Olivia" and "Aliza" are no longer available for adoption, we felt it was best to remove the photos we had posted of them from our blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mini-Artwork Giveaway!

You all have been so generous the past few days, in your encouraging support, your prayers, and your contributions!! Wow!! Our adoption fund jumped from $200 to $643 in less than 48 hours!! God is so good!!

One of our readers invited us over to their blog, Treasured Pearls, to participate in their 2nd Annual 24 Days of Giving! They are featuring at least adoptive family each day between now and Christmas on their blog. As part of their special Christmas Eve family festivities, they will draw the name of one of those families to receive a very special fund contribution. What a blessing this will be to which ever family's name is drawn from their proverbial hat!!

Then I get an email...

And I cried...

The generosity of "sisters", strangers, and stalkers alike just continues to humble us!! 

Many of you are already familiar with Jane George from Flight Platform Living and know how much she yearns for each and every orphan to receive a family as quickly as possible! Jane heard about our pursuit to bring Olivia and Aliza into our family, and she wanted to be a part in that. She has graciously offered SIX pieces of mini-artwork from her Etsy shop, Art For Hearts, as a fundraiser for our adoption fund!! 

These are from her "Tilly's Treasures Series" and they are simply beautiful.

To enter this giveaway, you can do any of the following, then leave a comment below with a link: 

1) Share about this giveaway on Facebook, then leave a comment below with that link. (1 entry)
2) Share on your blog, then leave a comment below with that link. (1 entry)
3) Click on the Chip In or Paypal Donate Button in the upper right column, and increase the balance in our adoption fund by $10 or more. (Every $10 donation is another entry. - $10 = 1 entry, $20 = 2, $30 = 3, etc. Any donation over $100 will receive an extra entry!!!) And, as always... leave a comment below. (Comments are moderated, and we have chosen not to publish the comments that mention the amount of a contribution, but those names will be included in the final drawing.)

Due to our move from one state to another this month, we will allow this fundraiser to continue indefinitely and will announce an ending date once we know where we will be living and we have web access again. So you have at least until Christmas to enter this giveaway.

When the giveaway ends, we will put all the names (of those who commented below about how they entered) into whatever handy dandy container we can find at the time, and we will have one of our children draw one name at a time. 

The names drawn will be posted on this blog. The first name drawn will have first choice of the 6 mini-artwork pieces, and 2nd name drawn will have their choice of the 5 pieces that remain, and so on. We will give each winner 1 week to respond before we move the other names up the list, and draw another 6th place name.

We want to thank Jane once again for her generous fundraising contribution for Olivia and Aliza !! After you enter this giveaway, please go check out her blog and Etsy Store!!

~ Michelle
Update: Because both "Olivia" and "Aliza" are no longer available for adoption, we felt it was best to remove the photos we had posted of them from our blog.

Book Giveaway Winners!!!

We want to announce the winners to our first giveaway which ran for the whole month of November!!

Both winners will receive a copy of the book

"Adopt Without Debt: 
Creative Ways to Cover The Cost Of Adoption" 
(Revised & Expanded 2nd Edition) 
by Julie Gumm 


So without further delay...


Drumroll please...



And the winners are...
 

Andrea G. and Abbey H., 
please send us an email with your mailing address so I can get these in the mail to you... before the movers try to pack them in a box instead!! 

Congratulations ladies! We hope these books will help you with your own fundraising efforts. And thanks to everyone who participated in this fundraiser! 

Stay tuned...
There are more fundraisers and giveaways to come!!





 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Newer News

I awoke early this morning to an email update on our youngest daughter, Aliza, and her pending transfer to the mental institution that we blogged about yesterday. Rather than sorting through the information in her email, I'll just repeat what Natalie has posted as an update in her blog at this point.

 

Update on Molly/Aliza

Life in this country is like playing a giant game of telephone... only you don't know who started the game. I have heard three different things from three different people. I do know this much: Aliza is loved and cherished at this orphanage. This orphanage does NOT want her transferred. I am almost certain that the only way she will be transferred is if they are required by the government to transfer her. We must pray, pray, pray that this will not occur. I feel so much happier, and so much more hopeful today. I am SO thankful for all the prayers, spreading the word, and the support for her family, who are in a race against time to protect her from the horrors of a laying room. I am so happy to see people rallying around them and showing them how loved their little angel is from around the world!
So there you have it. It appears that prayers are already being answered for favor on Aliza's behalf. The focus of our prayer request yesterday was for Aliza, but Olivia is not out of her own risk of transfer. Because she is older than Aliza, her risk of transfer to another facility also increases with each passing month, although she is not likely to be sent to a "laying room" because she is physically mobile on her own. It's still a race against time for both girls. But God... Please continue to pray that transfer will be delayed for both girls until we arrive to bring Aliza and Olivia home. Our desire is that their only transfer is from their respective orphanages to our home. And God can make a way even when it seems impossible. He specializes in the impossible. I think it puts a smile on His face to say "See what I just did!"

~ Michelle
Update: Because both "Olivia" and "Aliza" are no longer available for adoption, we felt it was best to remove the photos we had posted of them from our blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Urgently We Plead...

I know I'm up posting this in the middle of the night, but this is URGENT!! I was going to load several pictures as well. But it didn't want to upload right, so I'm not waiting for my computer to make up it's mind. Maybe I'll edit later and add photos for you. But for now, let me move on to what's important.

I just received an email a few minutes ago from a missionary who spends time in Aliza's orphanage telling us that the doctors there have just finished their medical evaluation of her, and she is literally hours (or in a best case scenarios, few short days) away from being transferred to a "laying room" location. To the reader uneducated in adoption "lingo", this sounds like a quiet little church nursery room where you can let your sleeping baby rest peacefully, away from the commotion of all the other children with the noisy toys and demands for snacks. 

In the case of any orphan with physical or mental limitations, this is certainly NOT the type of situation we are speaking about. This is a matter of life and death to a child like Aliza. This means she goes from her life as she knows it now... with semi-frequent stimulation outside her crib,

 watching other children play around her,
 
laughing and smiling,

having the privilege of going outside
for stroller rides,

blowing bubbles with caregivers,

being held in someone's arms, 

and scooting around in a walker...

to a life I cannot fathom...


BEING CONFINED TO HER CRIB 
24 HOURS A DAY, 
7 DAYS A WEEK, 
365 DAYS A YEAR, 
IF SHE SURVIVES THAT LONG, 
WITH ABSOLUTELY ZERO STIMULATION!! 

Not all orphanages treat their children without affection and love, please don't misunderstand me, but from everything we've heard, if our precious Aliza is sent to any of the less-than-best "laying room" locations, or what we'd call in America, a "mental institution" (which is what she faces any hour now), she will likely be sedated, strapped by her limbs to her bed rails, laying in her own waste, suffering from bedsores, without any toys or books, or physical human contact with anyone. By no means to we want to make her country's people sound like heartless, inhumane folks. They are simply operating on extremely limited resources, and do not always have the means to give the children with physical and/or mental limitations the same kind of family type care that we think of for children waiting in our American foster system. Without a miracle, which we are praying for, Aliza is already scheduled to begin lying there alone, yet in the midst of a sea of dozens of bedridden orphans, all waiting to die, yet hoping desperately within their souls to be rescued. I have read in many blogs how statistics consistently indicate that most children sent to these living conditions will not survive their first full year there. I believe that breaks God's heart! Not one ounce of me believes that is the purpose in which He gave these children breath in their lungs. Yes, this is part of their story, and He wants to use the best and worst of each of our stories for His glory, but His purpose for them was not to be born into an orphanage and end up dying there too. He gave them life, and He gave it abundantly. He does not intend for these children to be strapped to a bed so they can wither away and die because His other children have a hundred and one excuses why we couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't be able to play a part in their rescue.

Can you imagine spending the remainder of your life like that? I cannot. It's hard enough to be isolated away from the love of my family and confined to my bed with the flu for a few days. I cannot even begin to identify with or comprehend the sheer boredom and loneliness followed by the mental, emotional, and physical regression Aliza will experience wasting away in these conditions she faces in the coming hours.

I am in tears. I cannot sleep. My heart is grieved that any child should have to face that possibility. Especially OUR child. Rick and I fully believe God has destined both Aliza and Olivia to be a part of our family, and although we have not met them face to face yet, we love them wholeheartedly. 

We are doing all we can behind the scenes to request an informal delay in Aliza's transfer until we can get to her country to bring both girls home with us, but we desperately need both your prayers and your financial help!!! Every single dollar is more helpful than you'd think! Please don't assume that you have to give thousands upon thousands of dollars to make a difference. (Although that would be awesome too!) Look how God provided miraculously for the widow who gave Him her last two mites. We can never out-give God!


Ask anyone who knows me... I am not one to ask for help usually, even in desperate times. I rarely ask. And when I do, I'm not very direct about it. But this time, I am beyond just hinting at the need, or sheepishly asking for your help.

I am on my knees pleading with our readers to help us with the ransom expenses wrapped up in "red tape" to bring these girls home to our family as quickly as possible. This adoption is NOT about us. It's not about us wanting more children, although we would gladly welcome them. It's not about being a "hero" to a child, or gaining recognition for rescuing an orphan from their plight. If I could do it without the fanfare and publicity of the bloggy world, I would. I do not like center stage at all!! Give me the job without the lights and cameras shining on me!

This is also not about "we couldn't get pregnant again, so we'll adopt instead". This is about giving a child who faces certain death a chance to live. And not just live physically, but to have a life. A life with love, and touch, and stimulation, and interaction. A life with purpose and meaning. A life most orphans will never know. It's about giving orphans the opportunity to see God with skin on. It's about giving them a chance to know who Jesus Christ is, to accept Him as their personal Savior and Rescuer, the ultimate Redeemer, the only One who can ransom their soul from eternity in hell. This is not about us my friends! It's about HIM! It's about fulfilling God's commands to bring justice into the life of the fatherless. 


We knew our girls were in danger of being transferred out of their baby orphanages soon, but we hoped it wouldn't be until next summer when their next birthdays rolled around again. If we could have finalized these adoptions before our move south, we most certainly would have. But God made it pretty clear that we were to be in Texas during this crazy adventure. There are certain portions of our adoption process that we cannot move forward with until our move to Texas is complete next month, but we still face the hurdle of financial provision for each step of the journey. If the financial hurdle is already out of the way when our homestudy in TX is finalized, we can eliminate a significant portion of the waiting time that most families spend working on their fundraising efforts. Having the funding already in place allows us to travel to meet our girls almost immediately after receiving approval from their government to come pick them up. We simply cannot express how urgent this situation is. Unless you've been there and seen a "laying room" for yourself, or like us, you've read blog after blog describing what Aliza likely faces in the coming hours, you'll just have to take our word for it. It's not for the faint of heart. Your generous contribution to the legal expenses ahead of us is so critical right now! PLEASE help us get to our daughters as quickly as possible. I know God is able to provide exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all that we could possibly ask, pray, dream of, or hope for.

I'm sorry if I come across like I'm begging. I lack the experience of asking for help in a politically correct way without offending anyone! All I know is that God says repeatedly in His Word to "Give justice to the orphan, uphold the rights of the oppressed and destitute, defend the orphan, plead for the cause of the fatherless and widows..." That's all I'm doing now... Pleading for the lives of two little orphan girls that have stolen our hearts right out from under our chins. We refuse to sit idly by and watch either of them die alone in a crib without a mother or father's loving touch because we didn't plead for their precious lives to be spared. Maybe you've said in the past that you were never called to adopt an orphan. Maybe not. But God called all of us to pursue justice for these little ones without parents. And that calling looks different for each person. That doesn't always mean adoption is in God's plan for each family. For some families, pleading for justice in the life of an orphan is just as easily accomplished with those wads of green paper thrown on the dresser when you empty your pockets at night. That's why we urgently plead for your financial support right now in addition to your prayer support. Our family was "called" to adopt. That's our part in defending the fatherless. What part can you play in bringing justice to the life of an orphan?


As a wealthy American nation, we think nothing of plunking hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars down every December to give gifts to those around us. I am no different than the rest of you at Christmas time when the funds are there to spend. I cannot trade places with our girls in a "laying room", but I would trade a lifetime of Christmas gifts to give these girls a place in our home and in our lives this very minute. There is so much more I'd be willing to "lay down" for them to prevent them from spending a single day in a "laying room". What could you "lay down" for them? All it takes is clicking on that "Chip In" or "Donate" button at the top of the right side column on this page. You can be a part of rescuing these children from a lonely death in a "laying room". They need each and everyone of us to pray for them, first and foremost, but also to plead for justice for them. Please pray for protection over our girls, favor with the orphanage staff, and ask God to show you if there is any other way you can help Olivia and Aliza.

You'll never regret it.
 
Do not withhold good 
from those to whom it is due 
when it is within the power
of your hand to do so. 
Proverbs 3:27

Update: Because both "Olivia" and "Aliza" are no longer available for adoption, we felt it was best to remove the photos we had posted of them from our blog.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

1st Giveaway Recipient & Extension

Right about now, you've probably just finished licking the last smudge off your fork after chowing down on turkey, stuffing, cranberry, and pumpkin pie!! And now you need something to kick back with and enjoy while you wait for your Thanksgiving feast to digest, so you can get up and move around again!

How does a good book sound?
which began on November 1st 
and was scheduled to end today, 
we had offered 2 (two) copies of
 

"Adopt Without Debt: 
Creative Ways to Cover The Cost Of Adoption" 
(Revised & Expanded 2nd Edition) 
by Julie Gumm 
for two of our supporters who either 
1) shared about our giveaway on your own blog or Facebook page, 
and/or 
2) contributed $5.00 (or more) to our 
adoption fund, 
followed by 
3) leaving a comment on this post stating that you contributed, and/or noting the link to where you shared about our blog. 
EXCEPT... 
We only had one comment left on our blog!!!
SOOOOO...
One copy of this book will go to the one person who left a comment, Andrea G..
(Andrea, please send an email to us with a mailing address where I can ship the book to you asap!!)
and the other copy of the book will be left available for one more week, as an extension of our first giveaway. We will draw a recipient from the names of those who comment below between right now and November 30, 2011 at midnight, using the same giveaway guidelines as described in the original giveaway post.

Who wants a copy of this very informative book??
~ Michelle

 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Introducing Our Girls!!

Well, you've been waiting long enough to see photos and hear a few details of the precious girls we are pursuing from Ukraine! We had to wait for a few minor details (that I can't elaborate on) to be settled before we could write this post, but the time has come at long last!!

The very first child to grab our hearts while browsing an organization's orphan photolisting was "The Girl With The Cookie Crumb On Her Lip". Unfortunately, I do not have permission at this time to share that specific photo with you here publicly, although many of you who are fully submerged in the adoption "world" have already figured out who she is, and have asked us privately if she was the child you thought she was. She is. She was added just a couple of weeks before we browsed that photolisting.

After "loving a few, and losing a few" but finding peace in knowing the other children we had been interested in had been given a home, we "stumbled upon" the child we have referred to in previous posts as "Girl Number 2" on the official Ukrainian government photolisting (while looking for info on "Cookie Crumb Girl"). The official photolisting gives no detailed info beyond their birth names, ages, regions, etc., except in the case of "Girl Number 2" it listed that she was considered to have special needs (but didn't give any indication of what that might be). She caught our attention immediately though with her ear to ear grin and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. It didn't matter to us what their situations might be if God was knitting our hearts to theirs from across the world, even though they don't know it yet. We later learned both girls were on the same organization's orphan photolisting, but "Girl Number 2" wasn't listed at the time we first browsed it
. She was added just HOURS after we found the girl with the cookie crumb on her lip.

Although I don't have permission to share their fake photolisting names, interestingly enough, both girls' aliases rhymed, like "Pete & Repete" type of twinny sounding names. Maybe it's not so interesting to you, but as a mother of identical twins already, I thought it was amusing anyway. We were relieved to find out those were not their real names as we very much disliked both aliases! LOL Again, we do not have permission at this time to share those photos with you... BUT we do have permission from varying other sources apart from that organization to share photos they have personally taken of our girls while spending time in Ukraine. (And I will share those in a bit!)

Although we do know what names both girls are called in their orphanages, we're choosing not to reveal their birth names publicly at this time so as to not put them in any legal situation that could possibly hinder the process of them joining our family in the coming months. Instead, from this point out, we will refer to both girls by the first names we intend to call them upon bringing them home with us. We want you to get to know them as they will be called and reduce the confusion for those who can't keep straight which name is which. (As that would be 6 different names for only 2 little girls!)

So, without further delay...  


We have chosen the name Olivia
for our "Cookie Crumb Girl".
We chose this name for her because it means "Peaceful One", 
which seems to match her personality,
as observed by someone who spent time
with her recently.
Olivia has been described as "...a doll, 
...always wants to play with us, 
and asks to wear my glasses all the time, ...gentle, quiet, a helper." 
"...loves to run her hands through my hair, 
..a girly girl at heart, 
but gets along with all the boys well." 
(I guess it's a good thing I wear glasses 
and have long hair!)

~~~~~~~
Next, we want to introduce you to
"Girl Number 2"... 

 We've (mostly) settled on the name Aliza,
(pronounced "uh-lee-zuh", 
with a long e sound followed by a z sound),
which means "Joyful One".

Aliza has been described as 
"... a very motivated little girl, 
...understands everything that is said to her, 
... has a keen sense of awareness as to
what's going on around her, 
 ...a very smart little girl who knows
what she wants"
"...has a great little sense of humour,
...infectious laugh, 
..a gentle, loving girl who loves people, especially other children, 
...will do best surrounded by siblings,

(That's a good things since she'll be surrounded by half a dozen of them!)
 "...pure, unconditional joy in spite of 
the numerous injustices she has faced,  
 ...She inspired me every day 
as I looked in her eyes 
and saw a joy that could only come
through Christ."


So there you have it! These are the precious, beautiful girls we believe God has destined to be grafted into our family. Olivia and Aliza. We talk about them so much in our family, they almost feel "here" sometimes. But they aren't. Yet.
We have a long to-do list ahead of us (that seemingly endless stack of paperwork, preparing a room for them, and tens of thousands of dollars of fundraising) as we prepare for their journey home in the coming months, and our family appreciates all your prayers and support.
We especially continue to ask for your prayers for God's protection over Olivia and Aliza while they await our arrival there in Ukraine. Both girls are at imminent risk of being transferred to mental institutions where conditions are horrible, where they would likely be treated no better than caged animals. We are doing everything we can, within God's timeline, to make sure our girls do not have to spend a single hour longer in their orphanages than they have to.
We can't wait to be able to share the news that they are finally home with us!! Just seeing photos of our girls makes me smile, but that will be the day I think I will smile the most!
~ Michelle


Update: Because both "Olivia" and "Aliza" are no longer available for adoption, we felt it was best to remove the photos we had posted of them from our blog.

 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Someday We'll Look Back...

Well. . . we have an answer. Finally.


After a LOT of details I haven't bothered you with, and 5 (or more) of Rick's supervisor's and liaisons in the company finagling over whether Rick was staying in Texas or if they were indeed going to follow through with their transfer approval to Oklahoma, and all the varying reasons why they would or would not approve a transfer at this time after all. . . we finally have a real answer.


And for those who know me well, you already know the answer because you probably noticed I didn't use a bunch of exclamation points after the first line of this post.


No, we are back to not being approved to transfer to Oklahoma at this time. They want to keep Rick in the Texas desert for a minimum of one year before they will reconsider a transfer north to OK. And they will only reconsider the transfer in a year IF the "powers that be" in the Oklahoma office specifically request his transfer. (Guess who's phone number got slipped to Rick as he left the Texas office this morning?) Do they even have a clue how much work it is on a mom to repeatedly move a crew our size?


I'm sure you can't tell, but I'm not having a real good attitude about this final answer yet this morning. I was praying and believing for Oklahoma. After the first supervisor said Rick was transferring, I had lined up so many of the "details" and contacts for the area in OK we had been told we'd be transferred to. I really haven't lined up all those things for TX yet. So my search begins again, just days before we head south. My biggest stress right now is helping Rick find a home for us. The housing market in the part of Texas we're going to is practically non-existent for 3 bdrms or larger. Rick has been out almost every weekend looking for a home there, just in case. More weekends than not, there are not even a total of 3 new homes to view, and that's even with being willing to look at homes that are half the size we're in now, and close enough to the neighbors to loan them toilet paper through the window when they run out. (Okay, I'm exaggerating, but only by a few feet! You'd have to toss them the roll instead of handing it to them!) Many weekends there have been zero homes to look at (like yesterday). Rick has even looked in the towns in each direction (by an hour's drive). Still nothing. A few average homes to buy, IF we wanted to go several hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, which we don't, especially knowing we could be transferred in a year. At this point, we don't know if we'll end up cramming our family of 8 into an apartment or duplex for the next year. I'm feeling discouraged. (You couldn't tell that, right?) Please pray that Rick finds something that is a blessing to our family instead of a drudgery, both financially and practically. Some place we can look forward to living in. Without having to leave our life long pets behind. And will pass inspection for the adoption homestudy. And a landlord as wonderful as our current landlords have been to us. And a window over my kitchen sink.


I really am trying to see the good in this, but I guess I haven't gotten there yet. I cannot see God's purpose in this location yet, but I'm trying my best this morning to turn it over to Him and just trust that He knows best. I promise I'll work on my attitude about it all, because I don't want to have to wander in the Texas desert for the next 40 yrs because of a bad attitude. I just pray that in a year, we'll be able to look back and understand why God sent us to Texas first, instead of Oklahoma. And hopefully by then, our girls will be home with us. It is for them that I am willing to live in the desert, if that's what it takes to proceed with our adoption. God must know the right home study worker, therapists, etc for the adoption of these girls will be in Texas instead of Oklahoma. I don't know. I do know I just want to be in God's will, fulfilling His purposes, and in my husband's arms, soaking in his warm embrace again. It's been a VERY long 9 weeks without him now.


I can't see it now, but I rest in the confidence that God doesn't ever do anything without a purpose, and a plan, one that is for our good, not to hurt us.


Someday, we'll look back. . . and we'll see His good in this.


I'm off to pack more boxes...


~ Michelle

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Adoption Awareness Month - First Giveaway!!!

"Adoption is not just about couples who want children - or who want more children. Adoption is about an entire culture within our churches, a culture that sees adoption as part of our Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself... I want to ask what it would mean if our churches and families were known as the people who adopt babies - and toddlers, and children, and teenagers. What if we as Christians were known, once again, as the people who take in orphans and make of them beloved sons and daughters? 
"No one wants parents who adopt children out of the same sense of duty with which they may give to the building fund for the new church gymnasium. But all of us have a stake in the adoption issue, because Jesus does. He is the one who tells us His Father is also "Father of the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5). And, He is the one who insists on calling "the least of these" His "brothers" (Matthew 25:40) and who tells us that the first time we hear His voice, He will be asking us if we did the same." ~ Russell D. Moore
Wow, what an awesome privilege we have in sharing in God's love for "the least of these" through adoption!! It is humbling that He wants to include us in this mission of love!

In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month (November), we want to announce our very first give away to honor all families whose lives have been positively impacted by adoption, and to begin the fundraising efforts for our pending adoption of two precious little girls from Ukraine! (Okay, we'd be lying if we said it wasn't for the fundraising too!)


For our very first fundraising giveaway, we have 2 (two) copies of 
"Adopt Without Debt" 
(Revised & Expanded 2nd Edition) 
by Julie Gumm

to share with two of our supporters. Entering our giveaway is very simple, and there are two easy ways to enter:

1) Click on the 'donate' button (upper right) to contribute to our adoption fund, and leave a comment below letting us know you contributed.  For every $5 donation, your name will go into the infamous hat. 
($5 = Your name goes in the hat once, 
$10 = Your name goes in the hat twice, 
$15 = Your name goes in the hat 3 times, etc.)

AND/OR 

2) Share about this giveaway with your friends on your own blog or Facebook page (include a link to our blog), and leave a comment below with a link to where you shared about this giveaway. Your name will go in the hat one time for each location link you posted at.

Because National Adoption Awareness Month lasts the whole month of November, this giveaway is going to be active for most of the month as well. On Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24, 2011) we will draw two names out of the hat (or bowl, or stock pot, or whatever else we may have that isn't already packed in a box for our upcoming move) and we will post the names of our winners. We will need our winners to respond with a mailing address ASAP so we can ship the books before we move though! 

Are you ready?

On your mark, 

Get set, 

GO!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Man In The Mirror, Pt. 2

Day 2 - Man in the Mirror - continued


So tonight, I went to a church that in the short time I have been here, I have already grown to love. When I first went to check it out, it was with the intent of "crossing it off my list". I wasn't really interested in attending another "mega-church" as I had in the past. (So big, they have 4 services per Sunday!) Instead, what I experienced was a worship team that led me into the presence of God, and a pastoral team that unashamedly teaches the truth from scripture, and illustrates it from personal experience. Wow! 


So why do I bring this up? Because the current theme has been the book of James. We've been studying it for three weeks, and haven't even left the first eight verses of the first chapter! Ok, for those of you who are unfamiliar or may not remember, it goes "Count it all joy, brothers, when you encounter various trials..." (Notice he doesn't say if? Darn!) And then it goes on to talk about how trials produce patience/endurance and that it should have its perfect work in us, etc, etc. Ooookkkkaaayyy....so how? Well, that's the funny part. You'd think that it would be by somehow magically conjuring up more faith, right? At least, that's what I thought. But no. James goes on to say that "He who lacks wisdom, let him ask and it will be given abundantly..." 


Okay, hold on just a cotton-pickin' minute! Did he just switch subjects or what, 'cause I'm lost. What does wisdom have to do with enduring trials? I'm glad you asked so I don't have to feel like the only dumb one. ;-) Well, interesting thing. Pastor pointed out that the AMOUNT of our faith has very little to do with anything. After all, the Word says that "faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to move mountains..." and I don't know if you've looked at one lately, but a mustard seed is pretty darn small. So if that's the case, why is faith such an issue for most people, including yours truly? Because the issue isn't the amount of our faith, its the object of our faith. What do I mean? Simply that God and His will are what we are putting our faith in, right? So if we know Him, understand His character and His will for us, its easy to trust Him, right? I mean, why does a young boy jump off the top step and yell half way down "Catch me daddy!"? Because there is not a doubt in that little boy's mind that he will! He knows his daddy loves him, does not want to see him hurt, and loves to play with him. In his mind, that's all he needs to know. Case closed. Daddy will catch me. So why do we struggle so much with trusting our heavenly Father to "catch us"? Because the reality is, we get caught up playing religion and we do not really KNOW Him; His character; His love for us. Ouch! 


Okay, so where does the whole "asking for wisdom thing" fit in? Simple. We are asking for Him to reveal His will to us and His character. Contrary to popular belief, knowing the will of God is not that hard. In fact, He promises that if we ask for it, (wisdom) that He WILL give it to us. The bigger question is, are we listening? Do we know Him well enough to recognize His voice when He speaks to us? Oh, ouch again! His is the still, small voice so easily drowned out by the cares and distractions of the world. 


So Father, I ask your forgiveness. Forgive me for doubting; for trusting what my eyes see instead of seeking your Truth and trusting what your Spirit tells me. Please forgive me for complaining. Thank you for your patience with me. Please help me remember all the ways in which you have cared and provided for me in the past, and teach me to trust in you and your divine will for my/our future. Please continue to reveal your character to me as I learn to walk in the paths you've already established for me. I thank you that our children rest safely in your arms tonight. I thank you that you already know what needs to happen to reunite our existing family as well as the bridges that must be crossed to join with these two beautiful daughters who eagerly await a father and mother to demonstrate your love to them. Please protect them and watch over them, fulfilling not only their physical needs, but their emotional needs too. Please equip us physically, mentally, and spiritually to be everything you have called us to be to these two beautiful girls. Teach us to love them unselfishly, the way you've loved us, and knit all of our hearts together with yours. I love you, Father, and my heart safely trusts in you. Amen.

~ Rick

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Man In The Mirror, Pt. 1

I'm sure I'm not the first man (or woman, for that matter) who has questioned their own motives or whether they are hearing God accurately as opposed to "putting words in His mouth". Nevertheless, it is never a comfortable feeling to be in that place of introspection, at least in my opinion. Tonight I looked at "the man in the mirror", and I did not like what I saw. I saw a man who had once again become so caught up in "making things happen" and being "the go-to guy", that I temporarily lost sight of the reason for doing them. And of course, in the process, began to doubt my Father. 


I'm told this is a pretty typical male character flaw, but I hate indecision and I hate waiting, especially when I'm having to wait because I'm unsure of something. "God, just tell me what's up and I'm sure WE can make it happen." How my Father must laugh sometimes at my feeble human efforts to fill His shoes. Isaiah tells us "They that WAIT upon the Lord shall renew their strength..." Why is it that we men struggle so much with that simple concept? Is it because we are used to being in charge or having others dependent upon our decisions? Maybe its because at work, time is money and to wait on anything feels like we are wasting time. Whatever the reason, I know this has been one of my biggest struggles. I find myself constantly questioning if there is something more I should be doing, and yes, I have a hard time relinquishing control.


Okay, there, I said it. And thus the battle with the man in the mirror. Because the reality is, this is the oldest struggle in the book. Man questioning and thinking he knows better than God. And the reality is simple. God is not an arrogant know-it-all like that guy you can't stand at work. He is omniscient. He truly knows everything. He has the advantage of an eternal perspective that in our limited human bodies, we can't even begin to grasp the scope of. Yet, time and again, we will question God because we forget that His ways are higher than our ways. We can't even see around the next corner or over the next hill, yet He sees the entire journey at a glance. He created us, designed us, knows our every detail of how we are designed to work, yet we still struggle to trust that He truly knows what's best for us and the people we effect.


So, how do we overcome this defect in character? Well, one way is to "count our blessings." That's essentially what pulled me out of my self-inflicted funk. I began reading the various posts my beautiful bride had made to our blog, and I felt ashamed. I realized all the ways in which God had blessed us already; how He'd paved the way for us in so many ways, and here I was like the Israelites of old, looking over my shoulder at the land of Egypt and thinking "Oh, if I could just go back to my comfort zone (aka - slavery)!"
(Stay tuned for Pt. 2)

~ Rick

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Help Us Win!!!

One of our very close friends is holding a contest on the Facebook page of her business, Heart Captions Custom Signs. Who ever refers the most friends to her FB page before November 1st will win a $20 credit to her store. 

***Here's where we need your help...***

If WE win, we intend to use the prize as a fundraiser giveaway here on our blog to help raise money toward our adoption expenses!! 

We would greatly appreciate it if you would so kindly go to https://www.facebook.com/heartcaptions , then "like" her business page, and simply leave a comment saying "Rick and Michelle sent me" or something similar (you must use our names though). 

Thank you so much for helping us win her contest, so we can make the prize multiply itself, allowing our children to come home sooner!

Hurry over to her page and let her know you heard about Heart Captions Custom Signs from us, Rick and Michelle! 

The contest at Heart Captions ends on November 1st!!!