Sunday, June 24, 2012

What is Your "Something"?

This post is kind of heavy.  BUT believe it or not, it was not written from a place of hopelessness, but rather with a hope-filled-to-overflowing heart.  I know with all my heart that God is on the move.  I know with all my heart that nothing, no one is beyond His reach.  I know with all my heart that He is opening eyes, turning hearts, moving mountains.  
So, with that in are free to read on.  :)

Friday I saw this face for the first time.  My heart broke and now I have to act.

Meet "Porter":

Porter is a 6 year-old little boy that has been listed on Reece's Rainbow since February 2011.  It's strange, but I had never noticed his face until Friday when I found out the news.  Porter has recently been transferred from his baby house to The Lost Boys institution.  My heart is broken.

Here's what his profile on Reece's Rainbow says:
BOY, Born August 10, 2005
Don’t mind this pink shirt, Porter is a BOY.    He is HIV+, stage 3.   He is mildly cognitively delayed as well.
From his medical records:   HIV stage 3, without immunosuppression, delay of psychomotor and speech development, bacillosis
For more info and parent support on adopting and raising a child with HIV, please visit http://www.
Someone who met Porter in February said:

 "...he is an absolute doll who uses his hands, stands, walks, plays, and feeds himself without difficulty.  I don't know any more than that, but he certainly didn't "act" delayed. "

If you know Jed and I personally, or if you have read our blog for long, you know that the Lost Boys are extremely special to us.  We LOVE them.  God is up to something.  Ever since I first read about the boys here I have loved them.  Most of you probably remember the highlight of our trip in April when we got to see the Boys.  Oh my word!!!  God had to move mountains to get us in those gates.  All of you prayed and prayed...and we got a few precious moments to touch the Boys, to look in their eyes, to pray silent prayers.  It was a day I will never forget.  How incredible it was to stand there face to face with the ones who God first used to prick our hearts for the least of these.  I could go on and on about that day...but I won't.  :)  You can read about it here.
All that to say, the Lost Boys and their village hold a special place deep in our hearts.  When I found out on Friday that there was a new sweet soul added to their numbers I wept.  No child, no person should have to live in that mental institution.  Yes the Boys are kept basically clean, they are fed, but they don't truly LIVE.  They have nothing to look forward to, nothing to play with, nothing to hope for.  Their days run in to each other, each one the same.  Boredom, rocking, vacant expressions, childhoods wasting away.  It is a place without hope.  It is a sad place that feels desolate- physically and spiritually.  This is Porter's new home.  He is 6 years old and will remain there until he is at least 18 years old when he will be transferred to an adult mental institution.

Without a voice he is lost. 

My Ezra is 6.  I can not fathom it.  

Well, guess what Porter?  You are no longer without a voice.  I'm going to scream my guts out about you until your Mommy and Daddy see your face and get on a plane to rescue you.

Look at that sweet baby!  He is such a love.  Please, please share Porter.  We simply cannot let him waste away.  We can not let his spirit be broken.  He needs a Mommy and Daddy NOW.

(Porter is the one in the gray shirt)

Are you the one God is calling to rescue Porter?

What if??

If you are not  his Mommy or Daddy you can still give him a voice.  You can share his picture. You can donate to his fund at Reece's Rainbow so that when his parents do find him they can get to him as quickly as possible.

You can pray.

We can all do SOMETHING. 
 I watch that happy, carefree baby laughing and think of where he is now is almost too much to bear.  Please don't think "someone else will do it".  What would God have YOU do?
Many of us doing our "something" will add up to a lot!  That's how the Body of Christ works and it's beautiful.

And while you're at it, can you please remember Heath and Hanson?  They are Lost Boys who are available for adoption as well.  Hanson probably lives in a crib.  He most likely never feels the sunshine on his face.  Heath sits in boredom in a wheelchair and has waited far too long for his rescue.  

These kiddos are real.
We have been to their home.
Donate.  Pray.  Go.

If not us, who?
If not now, when?

Check out other advocates who are also sharing about the Boys today.  Sometimes it helps to have another perspective.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday- Brett!


Today I joined with some other peeps in the Reece's Rainbow community to share one special boy with you.  The idea is if enough people start talking about the same child, eventually his Mommy and Daddy will see him.  Kind of like the Kevin Bacon game.  Did you ever hear about that?  There's a theory that every Hollywood actor can be connected to Kevin Bacon in 6 steps or less.  Hmmmmm....
 (I always wondered why Kevin Bacon was chosen as the example of 6 degrees of separation...I have no idea....not my fave...a little creepy...anyway)

So, I may not know this little guy's fam, but maybe I'm 6 people away from someone who does! 

Let me introduce you to "Brett".  
Brett isn't his real name, but a name chosen by Reece's Rainbow to protect his identity.

Look at that sweet, sweet face!!!  Brett will be 11 years old this August and lives in Eastern Europe.  Yep, you read that right, 11 years old.  He has waited far too long for his Mommy and Daddy.  Here's what his file at Reece's Rainbow has to say:

Diagnosis: Down Syndrome, Severe lagging behind in his development, Alopetio areata (hair loss).  The photo was taken in May 2009.   This child had a rough start in his life.   Immediately after giving birth to him in the open country she abandoned him on the field.  He was found and taken to the hospital.   His condition was poor but the doctors saved his life.
Did you read that?  ABANDONED!!!  Yes that is devastating, it doesn't make sense to my Mommy brain, but I'm choosing to look beyond that.  He was abandoned in a field, but not left there.  He was found!  He was taken to doctors!  In a country where people with disabilities are generally not looked upon as valuable, where disabled children are cast aside and forgotten, Brett was saved.  God not only remembered Brett when he was a baby, left behind and alone, but God has remembered him now.  He does not sit in an orphanage in Eastern Europe forgotten, WE remember him.  We fight for him when he has no voice.  
"Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy."
Psalm 82:3

Are you Brett's Daddy?  Are you his Mommy?  Don't dismiss this child.  If you aren't his parents, do 6 degrees or less separate you from them?  Maybe!  Share his picture, share his story, help give him a voice.  

Brett, sweet boy, you are not forgotten.  
You are not beyond God's reach.  Today we give you a voice. 

If Reece's Rainbow is new to you and you have questions about how all this works please leave a comment!  I'd be happy to talk your ear off share about it  :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Baby Steps to Ukraine

How do you move your family to Ukraine?  

One baby step at a time.

I'm not much of a baby-stepper.  I'm more of a huge-ginormous-leap-off-of-a-cliff-into-the-great-unknown-stepper.  Thank the Lord Jed is somewhat of a baby-stepper.

This weekend we had our first garage sale of what I'm sure will be many more.  This garage sale was affectionately known as "Phase 1 of the House Purge".  A whopping 4 days after we returned from Ukraine I started rounding up stuff for this garage sale.  I went through every room and found items that didn't have a home.  If it didn't have a home, it didn't deserve to stay at our house.  It was awesome!!!  I LOVE getting rid of stuff.  It's so freeing.  Less stuff in the house = less stuff for Mommy to pick up.  SWEET.

The garage sale went pretty well.  It rained most of the day Friday, but that was nothing some coffee couldn't fix.  The nice thing about garage sales is it kind of gives you an excuse to do nothing all day.  Sure it's a lot of work to set up, but then you basically get to sit around and chat the rest of the time.  I decided I like holding garage sales.  Our friends Eric and Hannah did the sale with us, and except for the 2 hours when it was down-pouring rain and Eric and I were huddled under the front porch cursing the clouds, we had a pretty great time.  Many items that I once had to pick up, I now do not.  Success! 

Another baby step we're taking (that feels more like the splits) is Russian lessons.  We found a great Russian woman who is coming to our house every Tuesday night to teach us.  We've had 3 lessons so far and my brain feels like jello.  Why can't they speak Spanish in Ukraine?  Don't they know that would make things so much easier for us?  Ah well.  Apparently Jed has a better tongue for Russian than I do.  Bleh.  Whatev.  I work WAY harder than him and our Russian teacher goes on and on praising Jed's great accent.  She keeps telling me I need to "train my tongue".  I'm a wee bit competitive, so this does not go over well.  :)
 I MUST beat Jed at Russian- and I will.  Just you wait and see.

So, here's to baby steps, tongue-training, and people buying our junk!  
Each step moves us closer to Ukraine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We Had No Idea

Two years ago today we had no idea what we were in for.
It was a Sunday, I headed to the hospital to pick up a newborn foster baby. I remember the day clearly.  It's strange because there are many foster babe pick-up days I don't really remember, but I remember a lot of the details about this particular day.  I think that's a gift from the Lord.  He knew I would want to look back at that day and remember the great things HE has done.

We had received a call from DHS on the Friday before that a baby boy had been born who needed a foster family.  The mother was a meth addict and used every day during pregnancy.  Their had been no prenatal care and the baby was born addicted, so they were looking for a medical home.  I remember calling Jed to ask him about taking the baby and us both not being so sure.  We were technically "on a break" from fostering since we had just finished fostering a very sick, high needs baby and were pretty exhausted.  We were also planning to leave in just 5 days to meet Jed's family in Idaho for his grandpa's birthday and a family reunion.  Drug-addicted newborn on a road trip anyone?  All signs pointed towards us turning this baby down, but somehow we didn't.  I can't recall how we came around to a "yes" decision; that clearly was the Lord's gift to us as well.  :) 

Sunday came along and it was time to pick up the babe.  He was born at our local hospital, and interestingly enough, he was the only foster babe we've received from our local hospital.  We usually do our pick-ups in Portland.  I headed over to the hospital while Jed stayed home with the napping kiddos.  I got there a little early, called the charge nurse phone and she let me know birth mom hadn't left yet, so I needed to wait a few.  I had a coffee, my heart was beating fast.  I always get a little nervous and a lot excited before meeting a new baby.  If only I had known the journey we were about to embark on!  I think I would have been a lot more nervous, but a million times more excited!  
After a bit the charge nurse called and said mom had left so I was free to come up and meet the baby.  The sweet little bundle was in a bassinet behind the nurses station where he could be watched closely.  The first thing I noticed was his color.  YIKES!!!!  The nurses all quickly reassured me "He's bruised!"  Good gracious his face was purple!  Holy bruising batman!  Still, it was clear to everyone in the room that he was a beauty.  He had striking white blond hair that looked even more blonde next to his purple face.  I asked if his mother had named him.  "His name is Seth."  I remember being relieved.  I like the name Seth!  It's always fun to have a foster babe with a name you like.  It's like a special little bonus.  :)  The nurse that discharged Seth to me was Mary, a dear family friend who was a key figure in 2 of our biological kiddos hospital stays.  Mary was the nurse to check over Ezra right after he was born, and she was the nurse to discharge us from the hospital on Christmas day when Havalah was born.  I should have guessed right then that with Mary present, God had something special in store for us.  (Shout out to Mary Musick, RN extraordinaire!!  You rock!)  Seth was discharged to me, and home we went, kids eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Seth, on the day we met
I remember walking in our house and setting Seth's car seat down, Jed looking at him, commenting on his color.  :)  We had no idea I was introducing Jed to his son.  What would have been different in that moment if we had known?  It's funny to think back...we just had no idea.

Seth was a difficult newborn.  He was SUCH a poor feeder.  Ugh.  Meth babies are often poor feeders and Seth was the worst I've ever met.  He would suck and suck on the bottle and less than an ounce would be gone.  He simply had no coordination in his suck.  He had the shakes so he needed to be swaddled all the time.  He also reeked to high heavens. OH MY WORD.  He smelled so bad!!!  I can't even describe it.  It's like he was detoxing through his pores.  You know that lovely, fresh new baby smell?  Seth didn't have anything close to that.  He smelled nasty.  Poor little guy.  Baths didn't help.  Lotion didn't help.  It just took time, and eventually he smelled fresh.  I'd never experienced that intense of a smell with a drug-affected baby before.  Poor stinky Seffers.  :)


We didn't take Seth in with the intention of adopting him.  In fact, when we took Seth everyone involved thought it would be a short placement because there was family involved who wanted him.  Nothing materialized with the family members and it wasn't long into our time with Seth that we realized something was different.  Maybe it was because we didn't have any visits with his bio-parents.  They were both out of the picture from the get go, by their choice, so that felt very different from any of our other foster experiences.  We had no contact with any family at all, so from the very beginning we were Seth's whole world.  I remember when we first met one of his family members when Seth was about 5 months old.  It was at a court hearing and at that point we found out that the family member intended to adopt Seth.  It was a real shocker to us, and I think that helped us to realize how much we loved our boy.  The months that followed were full of ups and downs, triumphs and heartache.   It was some of the hardest times of our lives.  I wish I could go back in time and reassure my aching Mama Bear heart that everything would be okay, God had it all under control.  I remember several times when people in authority said it was impossible for Seth to stay with us and our friends prayed their guts out.  They prayed and they had faith when I didn't.  They held up our arms, they cried with us, they loved with us.  It was the roller coaster of a lifetime.  A roller coaster with the best ending ever.

Seth's Adoption Day!

To all of our friends who stood so close beside us during that first year and a half, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for having faith when we had run out.  THANK YOU for praying, listening to our drama, and loving us.  THANK YOU for loving our Seth!!

Seth David

My Dear Sweet Baby Seth David,

Two years ago we met for the first time and I had no idea how my life was going to be changed forever.  I had no idea how much I would love you.  I had no idea how many mountains God would move to keep you in our family.  I had no idea how proud I would be to be your Mommy.

I hope you always know how much you are loved and cherished.  I could never have dreamed I would be blessed with such a treasure as you.  I love how you take out your pacifier to give me a kiss before bed.  I love how you hug Havalah when you see her crying.  I love how much you love chickens and the trampoline, trains and cars.  I love the "whoosh" sound you make when you find one of Ezra's light sabers.  I love your beautiful blue eyes and your stick-straight blonde hair.

Your name means "Chosen" and if I had to do it over I would choose you every time. 

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I have exciting news to share with you!!!  Through the wonderful Reece's Rainbow community I "met" an awesome dad named Brady.  Brady is the father of a son with Down Syndrome and has become an amazing advocate for the children of Reece's Rainbow.  Right now Brady has an opportunity to bring tons of awareness to the plight of these precious children and you can help!  

 I know many of you have told me before how your heart is burdened for the children and you have such a desire to help them, but you can't adopt.  Well, here's your chance to help and it's as easy as clicking a button (and if you're like me you'll hit refresh and click again, hit refresh and click again)  :)  Seriously folks, we can all help make a big difference.  Just read this post below from Brady's blog and get clicking!!!

From Brady's blog "One Step Closer to Home" :

Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome

My family and I have loved being able to work on behalf of the children on Reece's Rainbow since finding this great organization.  It's for this reason that I had a hard time sleeping because of the excitement after hearing about this announcement!

Two months ago, Ironman announced a contest called Kona Inspired.  How it works is they have given the general public an opportunity to submit a 90 second video based around the theme, "Anything is Possible".  Winners receive a spot to race in the Ironman World Championship in October, but most importantly, they will race as a media athlete and have the opportunity to share their story on NBC's nationally televised broadcast of the championship this year!  THIS COULD BE OUR OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE THESE PRECIOUS CHILDREN'S STORY WITH THE WORLD!!!

After reading Ironman's press release we immediately went to work.  This is an opportunity to help these children in a way that I never imagined possible!  The video came together with the help of many wonderful people and we submitted it.  105 videos were submitted.  After over a month long preliminary public voting, we just received word that we are one of the top 15 videos and will compete in the final round of voting June 4 - June 18!!!

Please take a moment to WATCH, VOTE, and SHARE our video as much as possible throughout the day from your home computer, work computer, laptop, phone, etc!  We need to be in the top 2 videos at the end of the day on June 18. 


Thank you for your time and willingness to make the dream of these orphans of finding their forever family a reality!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Grandma Betty and James 1:27

Betty Joe

My Grandma went to be with Jesus on May 22nd.  Today we will celebrate her life in a tiny country church where we celebrate the lives of all the family members that leave this earth.  It's a bittersweet little church to me.  In that church we've had family weddings and too many family memorials.  We had our family Christmas party there the year Havalah was born.  I remember bringing her there at a whopping 4 days old and oh my word, she was so jaundiced!  She looks like a little yellow bundle in all the pictures.  Ha!

We were just at the church in December celebrating the life of my Uncle Gary, and now we celebrate Grandma.  As cute as the church is, I'm ready to not visit there for a while.  

I made the slideshow for Grandma's service and it was so fun.  I loved looking through all the old pictures, seeing my Grandma in a different light.  I feel like there's so much I didn't know about Grandma.  She wasn't one to talk about herself much, or share her feelings and ideas.  When I think of her I think of a smiling onlooker, happy to just watch her family in action.  I'm sure much of the reason I think of her in that way was because she had some dementia in her later years.  Family get-togethers become more and more overwhelming to her and she was good just watching everyone run around, talking really loud (my mom's family is notorious for our loud-talking)  :)  As I made the slideshow I feel like I was able to catch some glimpses of what she was like as a young lady and a young mom.  I wish so much I would have talked to her about those days while she was still with us.  Ah well...we can chat it up someday in heaven, we'll have plenty of time together then.

Grandpa and Grandma
I love the above picture!  How cute is that?  I don't remember my Grandpa much at all.  He went to heaven when I was 5.  I have one vague memory of sitting on the edge of his hospital bed...but that's all.  My mom tells me He loved his grandkids.  This picture really makes me wish I had been able to grow up knowing him.  I wonder how things would have been different with him around?  I wonder how Grandma was different with him in her life?  All I know is I inherited his crossed eyes and then passed it on to my kids.  Thanks a lot Grandpa!!!!  Aw's the gift that keeps on giving.  :)

Grandma and her babes
The above picture might be my most favorite of all.  Grandma as a young mom, surrounded by her kidlets, now that- that I can relate to.  The week before Grandma died the kids and I went to go visit her at the nursing home she lived in.  She was up and around in her chair, but a little confused at times during the visit.  When it was time to leave I was rounding up the kids, calling each of their names and Grandma said "Boy, do you need name tags for all of them?  How do you keep them all straight?"  Ha!  My Aunt Jane, who was visiting with us, reminded Grandma "You had 5 of your own kids mom!"  Grandma shook her head in disbelief like she couldn't believe she managed 5 kids at once.  But, she sure did!  At one time she was a young mom, doing housework, diapers, discipline, grocery shopping...I wish I could have caught a glimpse of her then.  I wonder how she felt about Motherhood?  I wonder what she enjoyed about each of her little ones?  I wonder if she ever felt lonely or isolated in her mothering, or did she have friends and family surrounding her and supporting her?  I wonder if she felt successful as a mother or if she always wished she would have done things differently?  I wish I knew...but again, we'll have all of eternity to talk about Mommyhood. 

Grandpa, Grandma, and Uncle Gary
This picture makes me smile.  I loved my Uncle Gary a ton.  He left us too early and I still miss him very much. 

Like I said before, we visited Grandma the week before she died.  She had been pretty sick with pneumonia and had just come back to the nursing home after being hospitalized.  The kids and I went, I prepared them that Grandma might not know them, that she might just be sleeping.  Boy were we surprised to see her up out of bed in her chair!  It was a sweet visit.  I didn't know at the moment that it would be our last time to chat.  The day after our visit Grandma declined and didn't really talk with anyone else again.  I am so blessed that we were able to see her that day.  It was truly a gift from the Lord.  And, we took pictures!!!  Yay!

Addy and Grandma Betty

Ezra and Grandma Betty

Havalah, Mommy, and Grandma.  Seth was being a stinker and wouldn't come in the picture :)
Some time last year I felt burdened to start visiting Grandma more regularly.  If you know me well, you know that I LOVE James 1:27.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 

I love that verse because it shows the Father's heart for the orphan, the vulnerable.  I'm ashamed to say that for many years I neglected to heed the second vulnerable group addressed in this verse: the widow.  Last fall God really got me in the guts on that.  "If you want to truly follow Me, don't just heed the commands that are convenient for you."  Oh, oops.  He got me there.  I hadn't been visiting Grandma regularly and I felt a nudging (or a shoving) to make that more of a priority.  I want to teach my kids that the elderly are important and are to be honored.  I wanted them to see me take time out of my schedule to drive down and see Grandma.  No more using the excuse that it's hard to visit a nursing home with 4 little ones.  Well, it is hard, but I bet it's a lot harder to sit in a nursing home day after day and not have your babies visit you.  So, we started visiting more often.  I made it a goal to see Grandma once a month and I am SO glad I did.  We made some sweet memories and my kids got to know Grandma Betty in their own way.  I wish so badly I had starting visiting her earlier, but I don't get a do-over.  I wish I had talked with her more about her earlier life and her dreams.  I wish I had known her better as her own person.  I know she loved me and I know she knew that I loved her, but I wish I would have put that love into action more often.

I guess what I want to say is, if you have a loved one who is growing old, go visit.  Make the time.  We all have time to give, we just have to choose to give it.  I treasure those visits with Grandma and I know she treasured them just as much, probably even more.  When we visited it made her day.

I love you Grandma.  I'll miss your face and your birthday songs on the phone.  You've got two of your babies and Grandpa and Neil to love on now.  I can see you now dancing with Jesus- no more wheelchair, no more arthritis, no more lost memories.  You are well, you are whole.  Can't wait to see you again :)