Wednesday, November 28, 2012

6 Things

1.  Thanksgiving was a fabulous road trip of the ginormous variety.  We drove to visit Jed's side of the fam and to deliver a small U-haul of his parents' stuff and a few totes of our keepsakes to store.  I think we ended up driving 35ish hours over the course of about 5.5 days.  We are gluttons for punishment. Hehe.  But, it was so fantastic to see the family that I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

Cracker Barrel stop!
2.  While we were with the family for the holiday we got to see someone very special...ALBAN!!!!  I don't know if I've shared here before that Jed's parents are missionaries in Kosova...have I?  Well, they are, and they rock.  Anway, Alban is one of our dear friends from Kosova that works with Jed's parents.  It's been 5 years since we've been to Kosova, so it was high time we saw our Alban again.  He just happens to be in the States doing an internship for the school year and we got to spend the weekend with him at Jed's sister's house. YAY for family reunions!!!! 

Alban and Addy.  I love this picture.  It pretty much sums up their relationship :)

3.  We thought we had lost our camera in our move.  Then we thought we found it, only to discover it really is lost.  Boohooooooo.  Now we're saving up for a new one.  Anyone have any suggestions on a great camera?  

In the meantime I'll have to keep using my semi-lame phone pictures to spruce up the old blog.  Forgive me?

4.  MAJOR NEWS!!!!!!!!  Sasha, one of the Lost Boys we love so deeply is found!  A family committed to adopt Sasha.  I am blown away.  The kids and I were FREAKING OUT when we saw the news.  Havalah has prayed for Sasha faithfully every night since he became a Lost Boy.  We are so thankful that he is lost no more.  WAHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  Now if we can convince his lucky family to scoop up an extra kiddo while they're in the neighborhood we'll be in business. ;) Hopefully they'll blog so I can introduce you to them at some point.


5.  Thank you , thank you , thank you to each and every one of you who has shared Samuel and Sara's story.  Hundreds of people have seen their faces this week!  We know that we know God's plans for them our good.  Now we get to see those plans unfold.  Aren't we lucky?  Front row seats!


6.  I know I owe everyone a Ukraine-Move update.  Well, the update is that there's nothing to update!  Ha!  We are waiting on the Lord for our next steps.  We are working our tails off at paying off student debt and trusting God that He will show us what to do next.  We know that we need to start working on support-raising, so that will kick in to high gear after the holidays.  Your prayers are so appreciated on how to tackle that beast.  We aren't interested in our own good ideas, we are only interested in God's strategy.  So, until He tells us how to move we wait on Him.

That's all I got folks! God is good, He is faithful, I just want to fall more in love with Him every day.  I'm confident the rest of the pesky details like where we're going to live, and how He plans to make all this happen will fall into place in His perfect timing.  :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

May I Introduce You?

April 27, 2012 was one of the most important days of our lives. That was the day we had been waiting for for months. It was the day we wanted so badly we were almost embarrassed to ask God for it because at the time it seemed utterly and completely impossible that it would come to pass. 

I still remember sitting in an Abby out in the boonies for a weekend prayer retreat a month before our trip and God saying "Just ask me. Tell me what you want. Ask." So on my knees, all alone in that room I asked for the impossible dream of our hearts. I asked that God would make a way for us to meet The Lost boys when we visited Eastern Europe in April. Those were the Boys God used to draw our hearts to that side of the world.  They were the ones He used to get us off the couch and on an airplane.  I wept as I asked because I was afraid of being disappointed. I have learned so much about our Father God since that day (and still have much more to learn!). He is faithful, He is good, and He will move mountains for those He loves. He's got an awfully big soft spot for the Fatherless too. :)

God made a way for us to visit the Boys on
April 27th. It was a spectacular day that I'm not sure I'll ever stop talking about. Because of His goodness we were able to meet someone very special.

May I introduce you to "Samuel".


Beautiful, amazing baby boy, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Before we visited the boys we had seen at least one picture of Samuel. We heard rumor that he was one of the few boys available for adoption at that institution. He was not listed on Reece's Rainbow though, so no one was able to advocate for his adoption.  Well, we kept our eyes peeled in hopes that he would one day be listed and we could share something tangible about him.  That day has come my friends! Samuel is available on Reece's Rainbow and is in desperate need of a family.

Samuel was one of ones chosen to participate in the program Alyona did with the boys that wonderful day. Only the few most capable were chosen. I remember when he was rolled over to the group in his chair. Jed and I, our hearts leaped, our eyes met, both realizing who this precious one was. I remember exactly where he sat. I remember the shy smile he gave as we greeted him. I remember the curiosity in his eyes as he listened intently to Alyona sharing the story of Easter. I remember his eyes dancing as Alyona sang songs with little motions. I tried to get him to do the motions with his hands, but he shook his head with a shy smile.  What a beauty.  What a treasure.  As we sat there together, his small hand in mine, I prayed.  I prayed for God to guard him and protect him- mind, body, and spirit.  I prayed that nothing would keep him from the destiny he was created for.  I prayed that he would not be left as an orphan, but that he would be rescued.  This is what I wrote about Samuel that day:

"We greeted the boys and then sang a song with some motions.  Most of the boys participated, some watched, some tried to get their hands to move in the right way but couldn't quite manage it.  Oh, but they tried!  One sweet little boy looked to be about 5 or 6 years old and was in a wheelchair.  You could see he was paying very close attention.  The wheels were definitely turning.  He is a beautiful little boy."

When we met Samuel that day there was a vital piece of information we were missing.  
We had no idea that Samuel  has a sister.  Meet "Sara".  

Sara- "Princess"

Oh darling princessHow can you love someone you've only just learned about?  
It happened to me.  I'm a goner.

You see, Samuel and Sara haven't always been orphans.  They once had a family.  Then there was a horrible car accident that took the lives of their parents and took the use of Samuel's legs.  Samuel and Sara were orphaned that day- and then separated.  Sara was sent to an internat for typically developing children, and Samuel became a Lost Boy.  Such great loss for such young children. Sara and Samuel are almost exactly the same ages as my Addy and Ezra. My Addy and Ez are the best of friends.  The thought of them being suddenly orphaned, then separated, and Ez being sent to the place where Samuel breaks my heart in two.  

By law, Sara and Samuel must be adopted together, and that is how it should be.  Sara has HIV, a very manageable disease.  Samuel is not able to  walk.  Yes, it is a tall order, but not too tall for God.  We have been praying, others who knew of Samuel have been praying, for months that this day would come.  We prayed for the day to come when we could share his picture and his story. Sara is the added blessing we didn't see coming.  By golly, it's Samuel and Sara's turn now.  :)

Will you please, please share their faces?  Will you please share their story?  These are real children.  I have seen Samuel.  I held his small hand.  I looked in his eyes- and when I did, I saw life in those eyes.  He is not just a number- he is a sweet treasure that I have held in my arms. 

There are millions of orphans in the world.  
I know that.  But this time it's personal.

If you would like to know more about how to adopt Samuel and Sara, or would like to donate to their adoption grant please visit their Reece's Rainbow profile here.


Monday, November 19, 2012

End of an Era

Along this journey to Ukraine there are many things we have had to let go, or will have to let go.   This month we are letting go of something very important, and along with that comes the end of an era.  We are letting go of our foster care license.  Of course we know we can't still be state-certified foster parents while living in Ukraine, and we haven't been open to taking any kiddos since we made the decision to move our family to Ukraine, but...we still held on to our certification.  We were still foster parents. 

We ran into our certifier (our fabulous assigned "go-to" person at DHS) at the store a week or so ago.  She mentioned that she has been following our story through our blog and is excited about what God is doing in and through our fam.  Hi Judi! :)  She asked if she should just go ahead and close out our file, and we had to tell her yes.  If we were to stay certified we would have to have DHS come out and check out Luke's house, Luke would have to be fingerprinted and all that jazz.  That would all be okay, except for a promise we made to ourselves when we first started fostering.  

Back in 2006, when our foster parenting journey began, we promised ourselves if we took a child into our home we would keep them in our home, no matter what, unless someone else decided they should move.  We wouldn't give up on a child when the going got tough.  That was tested a time or two, but with God's help we kept our word.  If we were to take a child at this time I'm not sure we would be able to keep our word.  When you receive a child from DHS you never know how long they will stay with you.  Seth was supposed to be a "short placement", and here he is, 2 1/2 years later, our son for life.  :)  We plan to move in a year, so we just know we can't take any more foster kiddos at this time.  

Foster Baby #1- always extra special to us

So, I guess this is so long to an era.  Our foster parenting era has been life-changing, to put it mildly.  I've said it before and and I'll say it again, foster parenting is one of the best and definitely the most difficult thing we've ever done in our lives. (Yet!)

 It shaped our family, it grew us as people, it taught us reliance on the Lord instead of our own strength (still learning that!), it built our faith, it gave us a son.

Yes, there are problems with the foster care system.  Yes, it is tiring.  Yes, it is putting yourself out there, knowing your heart will be broken.  Yes, it is infuriating.  Yes, it is worth it.  


Because if you can look past the broken system and see the broken lives that God has given us, the church, to care for, it's a no-brainer. 

The children are worth it.  They are worth fighting for.  
The parents are worth it.  They are worth loving and believing in.  


The system is broken and it fails people every day.  That is a problem.  But the bigger problem is that God has given the responsibility of caring for these lives to His Bride, the church, and we have passed them off to the state.  People will fail.  BUT God's love never fails, and no matter who they are and what they've done or have failed to do- no one is beyond hope.  No one is beyond His grasp.  The state can't fix these lives and these broken situations, but God can.  He can mend, heal, lift up, restore- and He asks us to be His hands and feet.  

We have come to the end of our fostering journey (for now!).  As we exit stage left, I would just ask you to prayerfully consider your part in caring for the orphans in your town.  How can you be His hands and feet to the broken lives around you?  

Could you foster?
Could you give respite for a weary foster parent in the thick of it?
Could you bring a meal to a foster family?
Could you donate clothes or gently used children's gear to your local Child Welfare office?
Could you pray?

Our torch is being set down, will you take it up?  
Trust me, if we can do it, broken and human as we are, you can do it too! 

Just be prepared to never be the same.  :)

You can read more about our story of foster care here:

Foster Care Ponderings: Part 1, Our Story

Foster Care Ponderings: Part 2, Our Story

Foster Care Ponderings: Part 3, Biological Parents

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On My Brain

Poor, neglected blog; sitting here alone and forlorn.  I realize I've been absent.  Today you'll have to settle for the random contents that have most recently been on my brain. 


Havalah got her first hair cut last week.  Our friends Eric and Hannah were in town, and in a moment of silliness, we decided Eric should chop off Hava's baby hair.  She is about to turn 4, after all. :)  With promises of leftover Halloween candy, Hava sat still like a pro for the whole 6 minutes it took Eric to snippety snip. 
I think the results are pretty stinkin' adorable. 

All dressed up in her "work clothes" to head to work with Daddy


Addy learned about acrostic poems today and this is what she came up with:


Moldy stuff is on it
Us, we are so different but the same
Mummies are quite gross
Mom is happy I don't have one
You are so lucky not to be one!


Seth learned how to use the microwave!  Without me noticing he managed to move a chair from the kitchen table to the counter, climb up on the chair, stick MY KEYS in the microwave, and set them to cook for 74 minutes.  I came in to the kitchen, noticed Seth, standing in front of the microwave, opened the door and in a moment of sheer stupidity- grabbed my burning hot keys out of the microwave with my bare hand. 
I don't recommend that reaction, if your 2 year old learns to use the microwave.  It didn't go well for me. :)  
Waahh waaaaaaaahhhhhh.

On another note, Seth is talking up a storm these days.  At this moment in his development he seems perfectly on target in all areas.  Praise God!!!  He is our little miracle boy and I thank God for him every day.  (That's a good reminder to myself in the midst of the 2-year old naughtiness)


Our friend that we live with is out of town for work so we get to take care of his awesome black lab.  The kids are in heaven.

Ezra loves cameras.  I never know what pictures I'll find when I pick up the camera or my phone.  This one made me smile.  Ez Pez Dominez took this pic of a doll's demise at the teeth of the dog.  

Poor baby.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Take a Second Look

Just about every night when we tuck the kids in, or during our Bible time in the afternoon, the kids and I pray for some of the kids we love who are listed on Reece's Rainbow.  We all have our "favorites" and the kids won't let me forget if we haven't prayed for our boys that day.  The long running faves are (in no particular order..):

Heath (duh),

(almost definitely spends all of his days in a crib),


(Sasha was recently transferred to the Lost Boys, so he's an automatic "in"),

and last, but certainly not least,

(the Reece's Rainbow baby of my heart).


Aiden is so beautiful.  If we could adopt right now Jed would be hard-pressed to keep me away from Aiden.  My heart aches with love for him.  If you are interested in adopting Aiden please know that you have a huge fan and cheerleader in me!  Heath, Hanson, and Sasha all live at The Lost Boys institution that Jed and I visited in April.  That place, and the boys that live there have been firmly rooted in our hearts.  They are the ones God used to tug at our hearts, and now look how far we've been tugged!  :)

Although my kids love to pray for their boys, I didn't really know how much they truly understood about it all.  "All" being the orphan crisis, Reece's Rainbow, mental institutions, disabled children, abandoned babies...I mean, it's a lot to handle.  It's a lot to grasp and I have always wondered if the praying was something they did because it is truly important to them, or if they just know it is what our family does.  We do orphans.  We do Reece's Rainbow.  We do Lost Boys.  We do abandoned babies.  I want them to get it as much as they are developmentally able, because we are changing everything about our lives for that call. 

Well, I don't need to wonder any longer.  This week they got it.

Remember we visited our friends Ben and Melanie last weekend?  They have 5 awesome kids and one of them just happens to mean just a little something extra special to us.  Their son Judd was adopted from "The Lost Boys" institution that we visited in April.  That is the very place where Heath, Hanson, and Sasha currently live. When Ben and Melanie visited us in July we told the kids all about Judd and where he came from.  But I see now that they didn't really understand.

A couple nights ago we were tucking in for bed and praying for our boys.  We prayed for Heath and I mentioned to the kids how awesome it will be when Heath has a family just like Judd does now.  "Remember that Judd used to be a Lost Boy like Heath?" I reminded the kids.

Wide eyes all around.  "Judd used to be a Lost Boy?  What do you mean Mommy?"
"Judd lived where Heath, Hanson, and Sasha live until Ben and Melanie adopted him."
"Was Judd on Reece's Rainbow???"
"Yes, he was on Reece's Rainbow and his name was Brady."

First thing the next morning we were on Reece's Rainbow looking up Judd's old picture.

Judd, aka "Brady"

  The kids were in shock.  I could see the light bulbs going off like crazy.  That little sweetie staring back at the camera was Judd.  Judd who they had just played with and hugged.  Judd who they had just argued with and tattled on (haha, let's be real here), :) Judd who is now a brother, son, friend. 

Judd in the Lost Boys institution during the adoption process

 In that moment I knew that my kids understood what many people fail to understand, or don't want to understand.

These are real children.  These are real lives.  These are children created with a purpose and a destiny.  God has plans for them, and His plans are good.

Judd and Daddy at the Institution

Heath is not just the little boy in the pink chair.  Hanson is not just the little boy in the hideous pink and purple outfit.  They are little boys with purpose and destiny- created in the image of God.

Judd and Mama, at the institution

Just like Judd.

This September, first day of school!

Today on Orphan Sunday I ask you to take another look at our boys.  Look past the clothes, look past the disability, look past the "orphan" label.  Look at the child.  Look at the life and the potential just waiting to bust out.  Look with eyes of hope.

At our house getting some cuddles from Mama

As you look, pray.  Be quiet.  Be still and simply ask the Lord how He would like you to respond.  It is true that not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to respond to the orphan and the widow in some way. (James 1:27)

We can all do something.  We can pray, we can give financially, we can give support through friendship, we can foster, we can adopt, we can love on the widow who spends her days sitting alone in the nursing home...

We can all be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. 

Judd and Mama, 3 weeks ago

It may be uncomfortable and it will most definitely be stretching. 

But I promise it will be worth it.

Just ask Judd.

For more information on any of the boys listed in this post click on their names and you will be directed to their Reece's Rainbow profile.  Feel free to email or leave a comment with any questions.  I'd be happy to talk your ear off about any of this!  :)