Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hightime for an Update! Big News!!!

Well my friends, it has been a long time since I dusted off the keyboard to type an update on our family and its happenings.

Raising 8 children and serving as the Adoption Coordinator at Children's Lantern really does keep one busy! We help out with our church youth as well. Between that and all the sports they are all involved in and then medical needs and therapies...well, there's little time left for me to sit and write about how life is actually going.

I apologize. There ARE mommas with more kids than me who keep up with blogging. I'll have to make a note to ask them HOW THEY DO THAT!?!? ;)

I've been working on some personal things to keep myself sane, namely art. I took a 10 week watercolor class at the local museum of art. I took another class in soft pastels (LOVED THAT!) I also began doing Bible journaling...but it's pretty hit or miss when I can actually sit down for an extended time to play with art supplies in my Bible. I will say that it is a VERY rewarding activity though!

And for our big news...
Our family has a new little treasure waiting for us on the other side of the planet!!!!!

We couldn't be more thrilled! Sweet Windsor Grace. We felt a strong call to her and turned in our yes just moments before another family did. We nearly lost her. But God was gracious and allowed us to know this other family, we have become sweet friends. It has been a great blessing in the midst of all of it!

Windsor Grace is 3 and waiting in central China. She has a diagnosis of right hemiplegia and schizencephaly. She is totally adorable!!! We know that she is non-verbal and that her right side is weaker than her left. Her diagnoses fall under the umbrella of cerebral palsy. She is fearfully and wonderfully made and we cannot WAIT to make her our daughter on paper as she is in our hearts!

Our second big news is...

Windsor Grace has a little sister in another province! Sweet Summerlin Praise is waiting for us in the next province over. And no, they are not biologically related at all...but there's going to be more about that in a follow up post! Stay tuned! 

This sweet little girl is just a year and a half old...waiting for a family in another orphanage. We have quite an AMAZING story about how she came to be ours, but most of it must stay private. KNOW that God places children in the perfect families for them...and we could not be more OVERJOYED that He has chosen us! She has the same diagnosis that our Toby does...Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. She is affected in both her upper and lower extremities making her a more complicated case than Toby. Currently she is not able to use her hands but does things with those adorable little ballerina toes! We even have pictures of her eating a lollipop with her toes! We swoon!

I have 2 children home today with strep throat and another about to come home from Preschool and a 4th is wiggling on my lap. Alas, my time is up for today. 

If you want to jump in and help us bring these girls home from their orphanages you can hop on over to our page at Children's Lantern. We have a mountain of a money we need: $52,000. Already it's shrunk to $34,500 because of amazing people like YOU! BLESS YOU!!! We love to see God show off through your hands and feet!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Mantra: Who You Are (repeat daily)

What? I'm posting again?

Yes. (Finally.)

I have so much to say...but for now, I want to share with you a tool to help you live in victory.

This is a sweet little handout my Bible study leader gave our group last night. I worked through it today and decided I simply MUST share it!

Credit for this is: "by Jon Byler. This material was adapted from written by Zig Ziglar and Neil Anderson."

Ok, ready? Your instructions are to print this off, post it by your mirror and read it aloud about yourself EVERY DAY. In fact, it comes with a little place to check off each day once you've completed it!

I, _______________, am uniquely created by God as an incredible person. I am created to bring God glory and I know that God delights in me.

My sins are forgiven and I am a new creation in Christ, the old has gone and the new has come. I am completely forgiven of my past and made righteous. I am free from all condemnation of sin. I have a good self-image and I respect myself as a creation of God.

My life has eternal purpose. I am chosen by Jesus Himself and am a child of God. I have been created with enormous potential to do great things for His Kingdom and God has wonderful plans for my life. I am one of a kind person and no one else can take my place.

I am daily developing to become all that God created me to be. Nothing is impossible with God and with Christ I can do all things. I do not have the spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. I have been richly blessed with every spiritual blessing in God. My God has supplied all my needs.

I discipline my mind to take every ungodly thought captive. I have a good, positive attitude towards myself and others. I choose to see the best in life. I choose to only read, see or think about things that are positive and godly. I know and obey the voice of God. I love to read the Word of God and it is alive to me. The Spirit of God is in me, guiding me and teaching me at all times. 

My body is a temple of Christ and His Spirit lives in me. I treat my body with respect, eating an exercising well to keep it fit for life. I am energetic and healthy.

I respect others around me and love every person with the love God has for them.

I recognize the power of my tongue to bring life or to destroy and I will not let unhelpful talk come out of my mouth. I speak the truth always and use my tongue to build others up. I find the good in others and compliment them genuinely. I choose to forgive those who wrong me and I extend God's grace to those who are weak.

I am a focused person with clear goals for my life. I am willing to work hard to reach my goals and to overcome every obstacle in my way. I am a leader and will positively influence everyone I meet. 

I use my time well and discipline myself to be prompt. I recognize that my days are numbered and that this day is a preparation for eternity. Therefore, I will use every moment to the fullest to fulfill my God given destiny.

Morning: These are the qualities of the man/woman God created me to be. Today is the first day of the rest of my life, and it is wonderful!

Evening: Tonight I'm going to sleep wonderfully well. I will dream peaceful, positive dreams. I will awaken energized and refreshed, and tomorrow is going to be magnificent!

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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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