Monday, June 29, 2015

All I Need is A Little Bit of Art and a Whole Lot of Jesus

If you don't already know, you might guess it: raising 8 children is hard. Compound things with special needs kids, adoptive issues and then summer sports and therapies and hospital are bound to go nutsy.

And I have.

And hey if you didn't know...I'm an extreme extrovert. Meaning, I get recharged by being with people. ENFJ. (Myers/Briggs) Hey, I'm in company with people like Mark Twain, Meg Ryan. Dr. Suess and Walt Disney. :) That gives you an idea of how I operate when I'm not overly stressed!

That being said, I want to run and HIDE FROM PEOPLE. It's so overwhelming to be needed so intensely ALL. THE. TIME.

Tears come easily. I doubt myself. I mess up and blow it all out of proportion. I wonder if God has left me. (I know deep down He has not, but His idea of ME doing THIS leaves me to think HE is out of His MIND.)

We recently had a bout with a stomach bug. It lasted for the longest ELEVEN days. Kids were up each and every night, screaming in pain from stomach cramps, I was cleaning up vomit on every surface imaginable and even got a bonus peed on by Gable who was diaperless. (Why again!?) Yeah. 

Not fun.

I had two things help bring me back to "normal." 

Yeah, whatever that is.

One: a fabulous night out with 14 other women where we all at sushi and laughed for 4 hours. I doubt they knew they were my therapy, and it really didn't matter. 

My Bestie was taking the picture. It smacks that she's not in it!

Afterwards, I felt SOOOOO much more like me! Yay!

But oh how quickly the overwhelming feelings return. Mr. Amazing (aka my husband) took the kids to the zoo yesterday thereby giving me THE ENTIRE HOUSE so I could do some art.

Just before he left, he cut a board in two for me, then edged it with his router. (God bless the router.) He has clarified it to me: he used a Roman ogee. Ah, yah, okay. It looks awesome so whatever!

Then I glued tissue paper to give some texture. That's my friend, Mod Podge.

Then using my palette knife, I randomly placed a variety of colors. I had no idea what I was making at this point. That was the FUN PART!!

More color.

Then I had the idea to use a pattern over the entire background. Cue the large stencil.

Here's the results. I lifted the stencil up from the second panel and it was crooked! But that's what was so awesome about this: IT DIDN'T MATTER!

At this point, I decided I would do a pair of vases with flowers. I knew the colors I wanted to use and where I wanted to hang them.  I cut out the general idea of a vases from old sheet music.

Then I used a fan brush and feathered in some brown paint over the music.

Then I cut random circle-ish shapes out of an old reader from the early 1900's. Also a few leaf shapes. I played with placement for a wee bit. At this point, an hour and a half had passed. I was speeding through with use of my handy-dandy hair dryer! ;)

Then, I decided to glue some tissue paper on top of the flowers. I had no idea if this was a winner idea or not...but there were no rules and that's part of what was so wonderful!

Then I started adding colors over the text circles. I had some stamps out and decided to add "REJOICE" to the corner of each. It's subtle, but there. You can't see it too well here.

I experimented with using the knife to add color...

And I realized it was quicker, messier and way more fun to just use my fingers! :) And I just love a good swirl of color!

Then I layered some color on the leaves. I stenciled a bit on the vases too.

Composition needed work so a few more flowers went in...

I changed that bizarre flower. So cool to be able to paint over stuff and just have fun without worry of "ruining" anything! I cut out some more leaves.

Getting close to done! Added some depth to the flowers...and more leaves.

Final thing I did was to add some bling to the flower centers!

A peek at the dimension they have:

I then painted the sides white, sealed it and Mr. Amazing helped me hang them. They are that pop of color we need!

And now...I am restored to my former, sane self. For now.

So, other crazy busy moms...what do YOU do to restore sanity?

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Mothering 8: Learning as I Go

Well, I'm doing it. I'm being a mom to eight children.

And they've just come home for the summer.

I thought this image was perfect! (No, I don't really know why either.)
Perhaps this is how I see myself. Shiny, happy pink piggy. :)

I'm learning a lot these days...

I'm learning to not be as annoyed with the extra weight I'm carrying around from the stress of 4 rapid fire adoptions. I'm working on it, but I now know it has no impact on my value. I'm working on eating healthy and getting exercise in. The weight can take care of itself and I don't have to internally punish myself for it. (Yes, this is huge for me!)

I'm learning that not everyone has to be smiling in a picture. That's just too hard. Actually, they don't even have to be facing the camera. Just proof that they were there.

Yes, if you count, this is more than 8...these are our virtual cousins we hang with almost daily!
I'm learning that sit down meals are NOT over-rated and we will fight to keep a family dinner time. 
This is the extra large picnic table my AWESOME husband made in one Saturday. HE ROCKS!
I'm learning that I don't really need to worry about injuries. It used to be, "are you bleeding?" now it's "are you bleeding profusely?" ;) Haha, kidding...sort of!

I'm learning that I absolutely MUST continue to do art. It restores my sense of self and joy. Currently, all I'm getting in is watering my porch flowers. That's a crazy lame definition of art, I know. But it actually really helps.

Routine things that need done can meet this art need cutting hair and decorating cakes.

I'm learning that my hardwiring of dealing with things EXTERNALLY is actually a blessing. I am not one of those people who you don't know what I'm thinking. I process aloud. I have to journal to even get to the bottom of what I'm feeling. Honestly, it's annoying. I wish I could sit inside my head and work through stuff, but for some reason I need to speak it out loud to have any clue what's going on. I've been bothered that I'm dependent upon others to help me through this...until recently I learned (as I listened to myself talk!) that it's TRULY A BLESSING the way God has wired me. For if I could mentally hold all in my state of awareness that's is weighing on my heart I would go belly up. The burdens I'm carrying during the month of June are so many and so heavy that I cried my eyes out silly when I realized it all. 

Wow, what a blessing I live in the moment and can't remember it all at once!!

I am learning that planning is the path to peace. With this many people home during the summer days, we cannot let things just go to chance. We had our first of many family team meetings this morning. (Today is day 1 of the summer!) We brainstormed a list of lunches and who will be responsible for making the meal, serving it and cleaning up. It helps with groceries and I actually got some of my volunteer work for Children's Lantern done while the whole lunch thing was going down!! WHAT!?!?!? Yes! How awesome is THAT? BooYah! (Tomorrow we will assign these chores. Today I said, "pick something and surprise me when I get home with what you did! Yes, it worked! And why am I gone you ask? We had therapy appointments, grocery and library run and baseball practice. Thank God for babysitting teenagers!)

Special Order Friday: because nobody wants to be a short order cook every day!
I am learning to relax. Not the kind of relax that you may think of...I don't mean sit on the couch and let the world go by...but more like the kind where I don't have to get all uptight that there are wet towels on the bathroom floor (well that's what washing machines are for) and toys are strewn everywhere (that's why we [will] have tidy hour each day). When I'm less tense as I'm going through the day, EVERYONE is more relaxed. Truly, my attitude spreads around like cold germs in November. No pressure, but really? Let's choose to be happy.

I'm KEENLY aware how fast childhood flies. My oldest is now a sophomore in high school. Fortunate for me, I also have a 2 year old. I am learning to just sit and snuggle more. What precious days these are.
And I celebrate his thumb sucking. 
I'm learning to laugh at what comes out of my mouth. Lately I've said things like, "take the bacon out of my neck!" (wearing Gable on my back while cooking and handing him samples) and "Don't poop in the living room" when he takes off his diaper and feels free to potty anywhere. My children love to savor the time I had to instruct them, "Don't throw cheese in the van!" because they were sharing a package of American cheese slices and were "delivering" them to everyone.

Now I have to straighten them to look sane.
I'm learning that sometimes my impromptu things may turn around to bite me. This is my face the day after I reached for the hair cutting scissors 10 seconds after I decided to cut my bangs. (We were going out the door...and I noticed they were long! Who needs more planning than that?!?!) I didn't factor in the fact that I had straightened my hair that morning. So when I took a shower the next day and they dried naturally...and shrunk half way up my forehead to Canada...I realized maybe I should at least take a breath's worth of time to ask myself: "Am I SURE I want to do this right now?"

And I'm also remembering that "Hair does grow!" (famous words after my BFF highlighted my hair for the first time back in 1997. She got it a bit light!) And really, who cares!

I think that if I can major in the things that matter: teaching my kids to love one another, be kind
("absorb the unkindness and be an example of love," is my current mantra with all of them) and to pray about their problems and love Jesus... then we can show up places without our hair combed and even missing shoes. 

'Cuz the OTHER thing I learned: those rules about "no shirt, no shoes, no service" only apply if you are alone. If you are in a big group, they don't even notice! Bahahahahaha! TRUE STORY!
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Josie Update & Village Prayer

I cannot thank you enough for interceding for the healing of baby Josie! She is alive! And continually getting BETTER.

This is a medical amazement, isn't it? Who could heal someone with non-stop seizures, who had a total body central nervous system infection, severe purulent bacterial meningitis, blood sepsis, severe pneumonia and liver infection????

And ONLY Him. Not Buddha. Not Ancestors. Not the medicine man.

Only Jesus Christ, son of the Most High God can!!!

And that's what I want you [to continue] to pray for: the hearts of those in the village to be OPEN to the Truth.

Just last Friday, they all felt STRONGLY that Josie was about to die. Every villager left what they were doing and came and stood with Josh and Penny (Josie's parents.) And they waited.

And waited.

But Josie did NOT die.

She began to eat a little again from the bottle. Not just mama's milk, but also congee!

Amazement rippled around the village!!

The next report I heard was that Josie was now nursing directly from her mama! (And the other miracle is that Penny still has milk after so long!!)

So today, (May 26, 2105) my friends are going into the village to deliver medicines. And they will check up on how new believers Josh and Penny are doing and call the others to faith in Christ!

This will be done in their heart language. How much better could it be? Evangelism done by their own people. 

God knew.

Please join with us in holding this special time up in the village: that God will show off and that they will SEE clearly the emptiness of their sacrifices to stone and mere pictures and realize the vibrant truth of a faith in the Almighty Creator God who can HEAL!!!

All of these circumstances are truly incredible. There are precious people who have worked for decades trying to bring Truth to them...and couldn't do it. The time was not right. The barriers are thick. The villagers need to see God in action. That God is for them. And here, in this amazing display of God's glory...they are! 

Keep praying for faith in this village!

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Josie and the Answered Prayer

 My dear ones, I am conflicted with many emotions and have much to share.

Here is our on a ventilator.

Her diagnosis has gotten worse.  She now has a severe infection in her central nervous system that is caused by "severe purulent meningitis" and the infection is all throughout her blood. In spite of being on the most powerful antibiotics, the infection cannot be controlled. They are unable to stop her seizures. Doctors agree, she now has permanent brain damage.

Being in the PICU is incredibly expensive. Even with the fundraising we did, the ABUNDANT generosity of Love Without Boundaries the funds have run out. This is MORE than heartbreaking to her family and us. And probably to you as well.

The doctors feel she will not survive once she is removed from the the ventilator, however this is what is planned for tomorrow.

Only a miracle will save her now.

And I do not want to miss that...PERHAPS God will choose to miraculously heal her and she will survive out of the hospital. PERHAPS He will heal her brain damage and she will be a whole person, fully functioning. It would be an incredible thing...and HE CAN DO IT.

So please, ask for this miraculous healing. We are in a place where we all feel a sense of peace if this is NOT how God chooses to answer our prayers.

How can that be?!???

Let me tell you...

I told you that I had MANY emotions, many of them conflicting. So if those are the sad and devastating feelings, then you know they are not all sad!! 

Today, Josie's parents BOTH OF THEM have become Christians! They have understood the massive love of God for them and put their faith in Jesus Christ!

This is SUCH an answer to years and years and years of prayers! Prayers of so many! And you, you joined us in this effort and our collective storming of heaven has produced the movement of the Spirit in their hearts! 

Hallelujah...they have been born again!

They will be the first ever believers to actually live full time in this village. Pray for their growth. Pray for their strength as they are the only lights in this dark place. Pray as they are possibly going to be grieving the death of their daughter with the village watching how their new faith impacts this process. Pray for them to be like dominoes...more and more falling into the loving arms of our Jesus!

Baby Josie has ushered her parents into the Kingdom...the very same place she will most likely run to herself tomorrow.

What a life purpose!! Oh precious baby Josie, how we LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!

Prayers are needed for everyone involved as they remove her from the antibiotics, all the monitors and the ventilator and then bundle her up and head for home.

Oh, I simply cannot write this without waves of my emotion sweeping over me. These things are so difficult.

Please hold them tenderly in your prayers.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Josie's Village

First things first: I still have no news about Josie's status. I'm assuming no news is GOOD NEWS and that she's still hanging out in the PICU getting antibiotics and getting better. I am to get an update at 4 am our time. I promise to share as soon as I can!


Her diagnosis came in: bacterial meningitis due to severe pneumonia, she is in a constant state of seizures and has blood sepsis.
Seriously? How intense is that?!?!?

I thought you might like to learn a little bit about the village where Josie is from...and why it is SO DEAR to my heart.

Josie hails from an ethnic minority that lives high in the mountains. Long ago it was said that they were afraid of the demons that lived in the valleys, and so they took to building their log homes way up high.

I had the amazing privilege of becoming the first ever non-Chinese person to visit their village. This was more than 10 years ago now. I know my husband and his parents went on a subsequent trip...and I'm thinking more have gone. However, it's still not too high on the vacation spot lists of the world.

Her village is FAR AWAY. So far that when J took me there, we had to travel for 2 solid days. The first required two long bus trips. Then a taxi to the end of the road. Then, we hiked the rest of the way. It took us 9 hours. We climbed 4,000 feet in that time. 

Yes, it was amazing. These pictures are from back then.

Everyone gave me the MOST AMAZING welcome. I was so strange to them with my pale skin and blonde hair. They had never seen anyone like me.

But once we laughed, all of that melted away.

There is much I cannot share with you about her village here, in this venue. But suffice it to say, they live in spiritual darkness. They need the Light.


What are they bowing down to? 

This fire. Built to honor their ancestors.

This was when the gospel was first ever explained to them. We were sitting around shucking corn. This is in the house's courtyard. You can see the people house straight ahead with the door to the left. The animal stalls are straight ahead to the right. No cell phones, no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms. (Seriously, you just would go out and find and different tree each time!) Time stood still. Relationships, real.

Sadly, they wanted nothing to do with this Jesus. A Creator God? No, they were fine with what they've been doing: worshiping their ancestors and praying to the Buddhas in their homes. Sacrificing the first foods of each meal to this primitive shrine built above their cooking fires.

And yes, this is their "kitchen." I'm telling you for reals: Josie is from a VERY PRIMITIVE village! This would be a common breakfast: potatoes laid around the base of the fire. You squat around the fire and drink yak butter tea and gnaw on a whole potato. The little tray of walnuts, apples and sunflower seeds are typical snack foods.

This is actually Josie's daddy. 10 years ago...long before he was even married. I LOVE this dear man. What a smiley guy. He's nearest to J's age and is here emptying the bowls that are set out in worship. This red piece of furniture is a shrine. You can see the walls are all built of logs and the air is so very smoky from the fire.

Allow the urgency of this matter to penetrate your heart. Carry the ache of lostness of these beloved people in your souls and get it out often and talk to Jesus about them.  Remember to pray for Josie's full recovery and for these precious people to see that God is our Healer and He loves them so very much!!!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

AMAZING Provision and Josie Update!!

My dear friends, you are AMAZING.


More than 2,200 views on the first post about baby Josie! I have had people asking me how they can help keep baby Josie at the new I've set up a "Gofundme" account.You can give here:  I had to take it down. READ ON for WHY!!! And friends, I'm so blessed to say that there is over $1,600 waiting for her already. This is a fabulous start!!! 

What is more amazing is that Love Without Boundaries has a special program where they help impoverished families receive the medical care that is so desperately needed...and they have accounts at six hospitals in all of China. ONE OF THESE HOSPITALS IS IN THE CITY THEY ARE CURRENTLY TRAVELING TO!!!!

So...what we need to pray for now is that baby Josie will make it safely to the hospital from the train. I just heard that Josie is running a fever and vomiting. STAND IN THE GAP FOR HER!! Then, that all the contacts that need to be made in order for them to be taken into the hospital not under the normal "pay as you go" way but that they can go in under the LWB account.

So the great news is that I can close the gofundme account and you can give STRAIGHT to Love Without Boundaries in baby Josie's name. 100% of the funds will go straight to the family, no charges taken out!!! And it's a non-profit organization so your donations will be tax deductible!! PRAISE GOD!!!
You can give here: Love Without Boundaries as she was just made a child who needs sponsorship for a surgery. All your funds will be given straight to her medical needs!!! And the CEO just told me that if more is given than is needed for her current care they can receive funds to reimburse the family for the $10,000 already spent!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM COVERED IN GOOSEBUMPS!!!! ONLY OUR GOD!!!!

So keep praying church, amazing AMAZING things are happening!!!

We need to get Josie to them and get some basic tests run to know what the actual diagnosis is. Then we can proceed with the family, helping them to make the best medical decisions possible with the benefit of having the LWB team behind them!!!


Praise our amazing God!!!!

(...and keep praying! She is still so fragile!)

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Emergency Prayers for Josie!

It's late and there is a fire in my bones. Burning on behalf of a precious little life. She needs our prayers, and this is something you don't want to miss out on.

This is sweet precious baby Josie. She is not even 6 months old yet. She is the precious child of some villagers that we love out in a very rural area of China.

Josie is the 2nd born child to my friends. They are permitted to have more than one child because they are an ethnic minority. However, soon after Josie was born, it was discovered she was sick. Desperately sick. 

Her mother and father have nothing. Zero money. They are subsistence farmers. A sick child has no hope in their midst. Their plan was breaking their hearts in half: they had to just wait for her to die.

But my BFF in China, J and her husband R, said NO! They knew that God was calling them to use this desperate situation to shine the love of Jesus to the village. They personally took on the health costs of little Josie. They took her to two cities, two expensive hospitals and paid for all the expenses: travel, food, surgeries, doctors. It was more expense than they had ever seen in their own lives. They took out debt against their home, borrowed from people they work with and are STILL in the hole paying for baby Josie's healthcare. She told me through tears: "this is the hardest thing I have ever been through."

But this did not stop them. They loved ENDLESSLY. They saw opportunity for the light of Jesus to SHINE in that dark village through the life of this child. They had more than 10 people staying in their apartment while it was going on. It was a massive effort to feed and keep everyone emotionally going. The extended family has a faith, but it is not in the Almighty Living God. They bow down to wooden statues and feel deep anguish in their mindless routines.

Josie was mid treatment when I met her last month. (This was a few days before we went to Gable's orphanage and adopted him.) She had come "out of the woods" as we like to say and was looking amazingly good. Her surgery to put a shunt into her brain was successful. (You can see where they did that on the side of her head.)

You can see how Josie connected with me as I held her. She locked eyes with me. I KNEW she was a special gift of God. I prayed over her that the darkness of the village would be broken by the power of Christ's light because of this baby. 

After we left, the family returned to the hospital for a check up. Josie was doing great! The deeply grateful family returned to their mountain village with her. Life went back to normal. Her parents strapped her to their back and headed back out to the fields to work. 

But something went very wrong.

After only 8 days of hearing that she was all better, Josie became violently ill. Her fever soared. She could no longer eat/drink. (She is exclusively nursing still.) Everyone in the village was crestfallen. They knew there was no hope. 

Surely not now.

Everything had already been given. The debt incurred on my beloved J and husband R is still enormous. How could her parents ask for help again?

They didn't.

They simply sent word that they were going to let her die.

(I'm sorry...can YOU IMAGINE!?!??! We are soooooooooo blessed in our culture to have healthcare insurance! What if WE had to look at our critically ill daughter and merely resign to watch her die? This shakes me to my core.)

J and R said they would not stand by while their niece died. They insisted she be brought out of the village. They took her once again to the local hospital for treatment. In 3 days, they spent a massive amount of money. 

And she's getting worse.

Liver infection. Pulmonary infection. Baby Josie is dying before their eyes.

Church, we need to RISE UP AND PRAY.

This is a picture of Josie taken a few days ago in the smaller hospital. You can see she is losing weight and the sparkle of life in her eyes is dimming.

Even now as I am posting, she is on her way to the larger city for the best possible treatment available to her. J is begging for prayers on Josie's behalf. Prayers that she will survive the long journey.

Pray for Josie that she would not only arrive safely to the larger hospital in the big city but that GOD WOULD HEAL HER COMPLETELY.

We need a miracle, friends.

We want this village to come to the joy of knowing Christ, and we believe with J and R that Josie is going to usher in this faith.

I wanted to ask for people to fast and pray for Josie, and even while writing this a friend messaged me and said she had already planned a 3 day fast and would focus her prayers on Josie. She doesn't even know ANYTHING about this situation yet! How I rejoice! 

God is calling prayer warriors to join in this story. Join in and fight for Josie's life. Pray for total healing. Pray that no more debt is incurred. Pray that the family will receive their beloved daughter back, whole. Pray that the village will see once and for all that JESUS IS ABLE. 

Shine the light by praying for Josie.

(It would be most encouraging to my friends J & R if you commented here or on my Facebook or Instagram that you are joining in the prayer battle! She cannot access any social media, so I will merely tell her numbers. I told her I would gather hundreds to pray. DO NOT LET ME DOWN!! If you choose to share this, let's use the hashtag #prayforjosie!)

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