Friday, August 30, 2013

A Drummin' Future

Everyone needs a hero. Someone to inspire them. 

Toby has AMC. He's a hero in his own right--no complaining, just hard work and diligence to complete whatever task he's gotten into his head. 

No tears of frustration.

Just a focus and plodding to DO IT.

One thing he really enjoys is a drumstick. Or a chopstick. Or a dart. Anything he can use to drum with on any surface he can find: coffee table, chair, open drawer.

"Mommy wook!" and then he drums like a madman.

No bending elbows? No problem.

My little man's got a beat!

This is from a meal out with some awesome AMC friends in Chinatown, Philadelphia. Tobster grabbed a chopstick and was going crazy. You can see that chopstick moving!! 

We started having a family worship time where we all grab an instrument and play and sing songs together. 

You guessed it: Toby grabs something to drum with.

...and he's good!

I recently saw this cool ditty on a man named Dean Zimmer who also has Arthrogyposis and is a drummer. Next to Toby, I think he's got some real potential! ;)

Love rhythm and AMC! Great combo!!

Toby, I think you can take this far!

Toby drumming during a porch band concert.
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

What Will It Take??

I am burdened to the point of tears.

My heart is so, so heavy within its cavity.
Named Connor James, by his hopeful adoptive family, he went to Jesus last night.
Another orphan has died in the orphanage.

This precious one HAD A FAMILY. (This is their family blog. PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM!!!) 

Oh the many that do not have families.

They who die unnoticed.


Some known only by a number, never having a name!


Do we not simply understand?

There is a GLOBAL ORPHAN CRISIS going on!!!!!!!

Do people simply turn away? Do they scroll past the posts I share on Facebook? {yes, i know certain ones have actually unfriended me to avoid it.}

"If I do not know, then I do not hurt over them."

Is that what we think?

How can we???

A very uncomfortable verse lies in Proverbs:

"Don't excuse yourself by saying, 
"Look, we didn't know."
For God understands all hearts, and He sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve." (Prov 24:12, NLT)

I shared this post from a blog yesterday. The title is "It's Easier Not to Know."  It's not a happy comparison of what is happening to children in Russian orphanages.

This is a boy BEFORE he was transferred to a mental institution because no family came for him. And AFTER he had been in the Russian institution longer.

It got shared many, many times over.

So we are AWARE. We SEE.

What are we doing????

Are we stopping in our tracks and asking ourselves: WHAT CAN I DO????

What CAN you do, anyway? 

Can you sell your boat? Can you go on a mission trip? Can you support a family who is adopting a child from an institution? Can you take a meal to a family who is involved in foster care? 

Can you avail yourself and your resources to the Lord to do WHATEVER HE MIGHT in your life because YOU CANNOT STAND WHAT YOU SEE?????

Yes, you can.

You do not need to have a big house. You do not need to have other children (experience). You do not need to have a double income, a rich savings, or a big minivan.

You do not need to have off the charts patience or Pinterest mommy crafts.

You just have to have your heart BROKEN.

You have to make yourself AVAILABLE.

You have to turn your life over to your Creator and ask, "How do you want to involve me in help alleviate the suffering of the fatherless ALL.OVER.THE.WORLD????"

He will give the patience.

He will take care of your finances.

He will take care of giving you ALL YOU NEED to raise up His treasures.

This orphan crisis is SO GREAT that if you were able to gather up all of them together, they would form the 10th largest country in the world. 163 Million of them worldwide. That should knock you off your chair.

Are they all adoptable? No.

Are they all real people? Yes.

Are they all in desperate need? Yes.
Will it matter to the one you parent? Oh my YES! YES! YES!

Can you alone need to solve the orphan crisis? No.

Can we together? That just might be a yes.*

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*I am aware that the Global Orphan Crisis is incredibly complex. Adoption is not THE answer by any stretch. But I am an adoptive parent who has seen the lives of 2 orphans radically change. Their futures are marked with hope because God has chosen to not allow them to remain in orphanages. We did not do the choosing, God did. We couldn't sit back any longer and not act. Join us. Be a family for an orphan. They are waiting. And dying as they wait. And that's NOT OKAY WITH ME.
**Addendum: are you from Canada? Would you be willing to stand in the gap for some of the pipeline children caught in the Russian ban against Americans adopting orphans? YOU might be the very person I've been praying for. Read THIS ARTICLE to get started!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And They're Off! {1st day of school}

Today is the first day of one of our school systems! 

Three begin their new school year today!! 

Our eldest is a whopping 8th grader!! So proud of all she has become!!

Sweet Anneli is a 6th grader and queen bee in the elementary hallway this year!

Olly is a big 2nd grader with high hopes for a fun year!

I have homeschooled in the past, but for where we are as a family at this time, being able to send these three off to a fabulous school where they will learn and be challenged is a GREAT GIFT.  

Cheers for a wonderful '13-'14 school year!!!

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

What is Good? New shirts for Esty!!

We are so excited to offer a new shirt to sell for fundraising purposes to bring Esty home from her orphanage in China!!
My friend, Kelly over at Minus1Project has offered to let us sell these super cool tees to fundraise!!
Check them out!
These tees are a cute play on the Life is Good shirt by asking "what is good?" on the front and answering on the back with Micah 6:8:
"O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and what He requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
This sale will work a little bit differently than our Love with Abandon tees...we will collect orders and when we get a minimum of 20...we will order and get them out to you. Please place your orders through our SHOP link and use the Paypal link. 

Your new awesome "what is good?" shirt will ship as soon as possible!!! :)

These will be priced at $20 a piece. We can order YOUTH XS, S, M, L and Adult Unisex S, M, L, XL, XXL and XXXL in both colors!! :)


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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Look What Love Does!!!

When we went to Uganda to bring our Zeb home, we met many other children. There were 50 orphans in his orphanage alone. Many babies, many toddlers.

I had the privilege of holding, singing, praying for and giving bottles to a very special orphan.

She was only 6 pounds at ONE YEAR old.

Yes, you read that right.

She was kept in a crib in the far corner. She had to fully depend on the mercy of the mamas in the orphanage. 

A sweet precious life that was valued by my precious friends, Dwight and Linny Saunders. They said YES when the director of the orphanage skyped them and asked if they really meant they would to ANYTHING for this child. Would they adopt her into their family for life?

The Saunders said YES.

They named her Ruby Grace. A precious jewel. 

Not forgotten.

Not discarded.




Spoken for.

The Saunders went back to Africa and scooped up Ruby and brought her home. They relocated their family so they could be near medical facilities to treat Ruby.

And how they have been abundantly blessed by their YES to care for this treasured orphan!!

Just look at the picture she posted of Ruby now---


Are you amazed???

Yes! This really is the very same child.

Look what love does!! 

Look what God can do through a willing family!

God has performed AMAZING miracles in Ruby's life! In fact, they are so numerous I cannot begin to recount them! 

But her mama can! And SHE DOES!!!

Hop over to A Place Called Simplicity to read about the miracles upon miracles they've been blessed to watch God perform in Ruby's treasured life.

What a joy it is to watch!!

*Sidenote: Want to witness such miracles in YOUR life? Do you feel God calling you to adopt? Don't want to wait forever on a match? PLEASE consider the special needs waiting orphans around the world. They are depending on someone like YOU to take a huge leap of faith (into the amazing CAPABLE arms of Jesus) and save them from the corners of orphanages.

There are waiting lists of children available on the internet. Wonderful Waiting Kids is a site where you register and see pictures, stories and videos of waiting children. Adoptable Waiting Child is another site. These are children who have been passed over and forgotten by most. Please consider them. They have no voice to call your attention to them. Please, be open. God will empower you to do the unimaginable. ...and when He does, it is miraculous!!!

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Double birthdays--Toby's FIRST in a Family!!

Crazy happy to have him HOME for our birthday!!!
What a joy it was to celebrate this year TOGETHER with Toby!! 
As you probably know, we have the very same birthday, August 13th! That was one of the "God winks" that helped confirm that he was indeed our son.
Last year, we did a effort to find 42 people who might consider giving $42 in honor of my 40th and Toby's 2nd birthday. But guess what?!?!?! Instead of raising the hoped-for $1,764 that is 42 X $42...YOU AMAZING FRIENDS AND FAMILY gave over $8,000 for our birthdays!!!! 
You guys are truly amazing. We even had gifts for our birthday from as far away as SINGAPORE!!! 
And now, that precious orphan is now home. And he's our son. And it was his birthday. His first ever to be celebrated in a family. His first ever in a home. His first ever with cake and ice cream. His first ever presents. 
And my my did he like it!!!

This is the cake I made him...with his beloved "Bu Ow" (pronounced BOO-ow) that he got from his very first emergency room trip. Yah, that IS kinda funny huh? 

With the actual stuffed dog toy that inspired the cake.

Opening gifts was especially fun!

This is the moment he realized what it was--AIRPLANE!!

Anneli steals a kiss with kitten Mitzi Moo.

Just being a teenager. ;)

With his new guitar!!! Happy boy!

 I ADORE the wonderful way that Zeb held back...not stealing his brother's new toys away and actually handed some of the pieces for him to play with...what a FABULOUS brother!!

Afterwards we were invited outside to watch the BIKE SHOW!!! :)

Lovely announcer Jensi presented each bike rider...

The amazing Darrah Kate!! (Note her standing UP riding trick!!)

Here comes....Zareb the maestro!

This trick is called, "Super high wheelie!"

AND NOW....the STAR of our show:


Look at that balance, folks!! 
(Anneli's role was to cue kids for their parts from the garage)

Seriously?!? I never knew he could do this!!! (and i love his tongue out!)

Not to be outdone by her older brother, DQ is riding with her left hand OFF the handle!!!

It was a really wonderful celebration!!! And if all this wasn't enough...Brian got a picture of the kids with me!! (...and the miracle was that only ONE shot was snapped!! They actually ALL SMILED IN ONE FRAME!!!)
Thanks for sharing my birthday, Toby. You absolutely bless my life so much. Rock on!!
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Two Years Ago Today!!!

August 11, 2011.
Do you remember what YOU were doing? 

I do.


We were sitting in the director's office having a little chat about international adoption when a nanny came in with a quiet little boy...dressed in a crazy outfit.

Ready to meet his parents.

Suddenly we were ushered into HOLY.

Angels wings fluttered.

"It's NOW!" they must have announced in hushed tones. 

After years of hurt and anguish, our little frightened boy was meeting his adoptive parents for the very first time.

"This is your Mummy and Daddy. Say hello." said the director of the orphanage.

"Hullo Mummy. Hullo Daddy," came the tiny voice.

No eye contact was made.

He clung to our necks though. 

And we walked out the door and into the taxi to go take his passport pictures.

How terrified he must have been!!!

Over the next 3 1/2 weeks we went from strangers to legal guardians...leaving for America to forge a new life.

 We got to pull him away from the other children on August birthday for a quick private visit!

Here we were about to leave for our court date! Poor little guy...he had no CLUE what was happening!!

I love these pictures! Quintessential Africa!! Oh that water jug!!

What an incredible experience this was for our Zeb. It was the first meal he had WITH A DRINK at the same time as his food. He clung to that drink for dear life. That's not how they serve 50 kids in an orphanage!

Going away party at the orphanage! Sweet mamas loving on us!!

 Having fun with fellow Ugandans being adopted by Americans as we waited for visas to process.

 Leaving beautiful Uganda.

I will always LOVE this image!!!


Happy 2 year Anniversary of meeting you, Zeb. You are my little love forever!!!

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