Category: Family

The Big Move- an Update

I’ve been chattin’ it up about Heath so much I figured I better give an update about where we are on our journey to Ukraine.  I haven’t written much about our move in this space recently just because there is so much still up in the air.  I’m coming to realize that is pretty much our new reality though, so I better document it anyway. 

This past weekend we had a massive garage sale.  It was great!  We sold a ton of stuff.  Remember we’d already had one garage sale earlier in the summer, and now we had another massive one.  I look around my house and I still feel like we have too much stuff.  Seriously!!  Anyway, we made great headway in whittling away at all our things.  Like now the girls are sharing a dresser and Jed and I are sharing a dresser, so we sold the other 2 dressers.  We sold non”essential” kitchen items, more books, book shelves, paired down our stuffed animal collection a bit, tools…it felt good.  

The next step is to get out of our house so we can put our mortgage payment toward paying off student loans.  Good riddance Sallie Mae!!  We’d love to sell our house, but we’re upside down in our loan, so we have to rent it out.  We’re planning on moving out of our house in October and then getting it rental-ready.  We’ve had a very generous offer from a friend concerning our living situation that I can share when it’s all finalized.  Let’s just say, God is doing just what He said He’d do!  As we take steps forward He opens up the path before us.  It’s been nothing short of miraculous.  

Right now the main focus is our living situation.  Once we get out of our house, get it rented and start putting money away we’ll shift our focus to how God wants to finance this dream.  There’s talk of mission support raising, non-profit starting, grant writing, business plan making…all stuff that is much more Jed’s area of expertise!

We’ve contacted a few different organizations in Ukraine that do work similar to what God has put in our hearts to do and asked about partnering.  These are mostly people and organizations we visited while in Ukraine.  We aren’t sure exactly how it will all look, but we just step forward in obedience and I’m confident God will work it out.  

To people who don’t know the Lord this all sounds CRAZY.  Believe me, sometimes it feels crazy to be living it!  But, in the midst of the craziness we have peace.  We have peace that we are exactly where God wants us in this moment.  We have peace that He is paving the way and making paths straight. 

So that’s a brief update about where we’re at.  Thank you for your prayers and support!!

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My Kids are Posers

This morning we started back to school.  We were supposed to start yesterday, but then our friends invited us to an amusement park, so obviously we pushed our school plans out a day.   
Livin’ up that last day of summer!
 Today, as I fought back the lingering nausea of the Tilt-A-Whirl and the lingering effects of Seth on little-to-no-nap, school officially resumed.  
Highlights of the first day…
1.  Cookies for breakfast. Yep.  It’s true.  But, in my defense, they have the word “healthy” in the title.  That’s got to qualify them as a breakfast food!…right?
2.  Desks to the rescue.  We just sold our dining room tableUhhh where are we going to do school?  Nice.  I guess I should have thought of that last week.  Luckily I remembered we had 4 little school desks in our garage that my aunt had given us.  I had planned on selling them since they won’t really fit in our carry-ons, but I guess I’ll keep 2 of them around just for good measure.  Sweet!
3.  Latte delivery.  My mom and dad love to occasionally surprise the kids with hot chocolate on school mornings.  Today it was Grams with Starbucks delivered to my door.  Cue Hallelujah Chorus.  Thanks Grams!
4.  Ezra rocks at math.  How is it that Ezra seems to have improved at math over the summer with no practice?  He is definitely his father’s son.  Math is my nemesis; always has been, always will be.
5.  Addy the tutor.  Addy insisted Havalah should start preschool this year, so we picked up a little preschool workbook at Target for Hava to “study”.  Addy could.not.wait. to help Havalah with her book.  It was hilarious!  
Addy: “Havalah, if you don’t like the way I teach you, just tell me and I’ll teach you differently.  Just make sure you don’t scream at me.”
6.  Seth the destroyer.  Seth took a 3 hour nap after thoroughly destroying the house while my attention was diverted to the big kids.  I’m choosing to think positive and call that a highlight.  πŸ™‚
7.  My kids are posers.  We walked to the park after lunch and I told the kids I wanted to take a couple pictures of their first day of school.  OMG.  Hands on hips, heads tilted.  I’ve never seen my children like this.  It was as if they were channeling Olan Mills.  Immediately the poses broke out.  Unbelievable.
Here’s the proof: 
Look at the foot back on the tree!  The hands! HA!
The hips!  The bowed legs!  The constipated smile?  Hilarious.
Again with the foot on the tree!  Pointed toe.  Seriously!
This one just kills me.  We never ever get smiles like this for pictures from our Seth.  LOVE.
8.  The biggest highlight of my day was seeing my kids excited to learn.  Havalah and Seth were so proud of their scribbles.  “This one’s for you Mommy.”  Seth put his on the fridge all by himself!  The Bigs and I snuggled on the couch and read while the Babies napped.  I was deliberately with my children.  Sigh.  It’s great to be back in session.  
 Aren’t they beautiful?  πŸ™‚

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If Everyone Jumped off a Cliff…

— 1 —
If everyone jumped off a cliff, would I follow?  Well, apparently I would follow Becki.  I saw Becki’s “7 Quick Takes”, thought it looked fun, and promptly jumped on the bandwagon.  I’m a fan of Becki.  I’m a fan of fun…so…why not?
— 2 —
Tuesday was quite the adventure!  We dropped Addy off at the theater camp she’s at this week and Ezra had spent the night at a friend’s house, so it was the babes and me for the morning.  I decided to take the babies out on the town. (Havalah is 3 and Seth is 2.  Yes, I know they aren’t truly babies anymore, but that’s how we clump our kids together: the big kids and the babies.  Thinking in twos makes it seem more manageable to me…somehow) I had a voucher for a free drink at Starbucks, so I headed downtown to get a free slice of bread and to get my drink.  The sun was shining, the children were behaving, it was blissful…that is until Seth decided to make a break for it and dart into the middle of the street downtown with oncoming traffic!  Holy cow.   If you heard frantic screams in your part of the world at approximately 9:54 on Tuesday morning, it was just me, having a coronary.  OMG.  He got all the way out into the middle lane before I caught him.  Not my best Mommy moment.  I hope my over-the-top freak out scared him into never doing that again.  One can hope…right?  πŸ™‚
On a brighter note, the guy in front of me in the line at Starbucks bought my drink!  I was positively giddy!  Thank you stranger.  You brightened my day with your thoughtfulness.
— 3 —
 Another thing that made my day on Tuesday was the generosity of a friend.  My super lame, super old cell phone kicked the bucket.  Poor red flip phone had served me so faithfully for so long, I couldn’t blame her for finally giving up the fight.  I mentioned to my super amazing friend that my phone had died and she proceeded to have her husband bring me an extra Iphone they weren’t using!  I’ll miss you old flip phone….er, well, who am I kidding?  I haven’t given old red a spare thought.  Now I can do cool things like…Instagram!  Thanks my generous, thoughtful friend.  You rock.

Proof of my mad Instagram skills
— 4 —
Wednesday was my birthday.  This past year of life was superb.  I can’t even wait to find out what’s in store for us this year!  While I was 32 we adopted Seth, we explored Ukraine, we made new friends, we decided to move our family across the world.  We had a busy year, full of wonderfulness.  Some sad things happened, for sure, even those moments were filled with love and grace.  God has had his hand on us in a big way this past year.  Because of His faithfulness and goodness I look forward to another year being led by Him.  Yay for 33!
— 5 —
Yesterday something really awesome happened in a place we love dearly.  I can’t share about it yet, but I just had to put that teaser out there.  Muwahahahahahahaha!!!!!
(I hate it when people do that, but since I so rarely have a secret I thought I’d give it a try.  I like it so far!)  πŸ™‚
— 6 —
My friend Sarah introduced me to Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt this week.  I can’t decide if I should thank her or disown her.  This new-found knowledge could be the death of me.  Dark chocolate with sea salt combined with the SUPER skinny SUPER bright red jeans Jed got me for my birthday are not shaping up to be a very good combo.  Somehow I’ll manage…somehow…

Old Navy jeans
(Not me…definitely not me if I continue with my chocolate spree!)


— 7 —

Havalah got her new glasses yesterday.  She scratched her old bifocals with her teeth.  HA!  What in the world?  Oh well, it was time for insurance to pay for a new pair anyway.  This time she chose purple frames.  I love her to pieces!  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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The Family Blind Date-Love at First Sight

Have you ever been on a blind date?
I never had- until this past weekend.
On Friday we met our friends Ben and Melanie for the first time and let’s just say, it was love at first sight.  πŸ™‚
Let me back up.
When our adoption plans did not turn out how we had hoped and we were praying and waiting for God’s direction and leading, our hearts kept coming back to one place, one specific group of people:  “The Lost Boys”.  We knew that we knew God had placed these boys deeply in our hearts for a reason.  We had no clue, and still aren’t certain what His plans are for us and those boys, but honestly, the main reason that drew us to eventually visit Eastern Europe in April, and the main thing that is drawing us to move our family overseas is those boys.  So, we contacted the people had been there before.  That was quick, because there are only 2 families that have adopted from there: Rob and Julia, who adopted Aaron, and Ben and Melanie who adopted Judd.  We contacted those families and I don’t even remember all what we said, but it was along the lines of “God has put your son’s former home deeply in our hearts…can we be friends?”  (I’m sure it was more detailed than that, since I’m a talker, but you get the idea)
Out of that developed very special friendships (after they all  figured out we aren’t weirdos).  We became co-laborers for the Kingdom; united for a group of boys that most people don’t even know exist. 
 Go team go!!!
All along our journey so far Ben and Melanie have been our encouragers extraordinaire.  Although we only knew each other over emails and blogs, it was apparent that God was doing something.  He was knitting our hearts together in a very special way.  When we finally got to Eastern Europe in April Ben and Melanie’s emails were like huge spots of sunshine.  They prayed, they encouraged.  When we thought we weren’t going to be able to see The Boys Melanie actually gave us directions to just head to the institution ourselves.
 (HA!  You go girl!) That is how passionate they are about what God is doing in that place.
Ben and Melanie live only a few hours from us, so we had decided that when we got back to the US we would meet.  The long-awaited meeting happened this weekend and it was all we hoped it would be.
 Ben joked to Melanie on their way to our town that it was like a “Family Blind Date”- kind of like our own version of + 7 kids ages 8 and under.  Jed texted me Friday afternoon before they arrived and asked if I was excited.  My reply “Yep!  I hope they’re not weird.”  I was joking…sort of.  πŸ™‚
It was amazing.
When God knits hearts together He goes all out.
They arrived at our house Friday evening and when they pulled up I may have cried a little bit.  Then when Judd got out of the car and I saw his sweet face in front of me I know I cried a little bit.  We hugged, we laughed, kids ran a muck.  It was fabulous.  Judd, Ruger and Abraham are as cute as can be.  In Addy’s words “I love Abraham, his eyes are so shiny!” 
We had a great evening together, chatting, laughing, watching the kids jump on the trampoline.  Unfortunately the SD card to our camera was stuck in our Wii, so we don’t have any pictures of that night. 
The next morning we met at a park for the fun to continue.  We also got to meet up with a very special family who has a very special connection to all of us.  It’s a BIG FAT secret that I’ll be able to tell you about soon enough.  For now let’s just say that there are no accidents with God and He is too stinkin’ good to us.  He loves His kids and He loves the orphan more than we realize.
Sweet Judd
The littles playing together, pre-drama  πŸ™‚
A good time was had by all, minus the little spat between Ruger and Havalah.  Typical boy/girl drama that ended with Havalah wanting to talk it out, Ruger responding “I’m done with this nonsense”, and Havalah running off to pout.  Oh the drama…  πŸ™‚  They are so cute.
After the park we said good bye to the very special secret surprise family and headed off to lunch downtown (where my camera died…so no pics of lunch) then home for little rests before resuming the fun.
Pool time!
Proof that Addy and Ez were there!
Oh my word, Judd is such a water baby!  I think he drank about a gallon of pool water.  He would just face plant into the water with his mouth wide open and laugh and laugh.  He and Havalah were our fearless ones.  I think both of them were convinced they could just jump in and swim on their own and were slightly annoyed at our attempts to keep them safe.  Ha!
Judd jumping to Mommy!!!
Next up was pizza at our house.  I think I loved this time the best.  The kids played happily and we got to just sit around the table and chat, encouraging each other, understanding each other.  It was sweet.  We told Ben and Melanie then, and I’ll say it again, their encouragement to us on our journey has meant the world to us.  They have seen the children, they have touched them, they have loved on them.  Their hearts ache like ours.  To hear them say “What can we do?  How can we help you?” were the most precious words they could say.  Any and all encouragement along this journey has been meaningful and amazing (keep it coming dear friends!!)  :), but there is something extra special about it when it comes from ones who have seen and know the huge mountains we are facing.  But- more than once Ben and Melanie reminded us that NOTHING is impossible with God.  Amen and amen.
Abraham and his “shiny” eyes
This weekend brought so much hope to my heart.  Hope that God has His big plan in place and it is better than we could ever imagine.  He brought us friends who instantly felt like family.  I can not wait to see what He wants to do with our relationship in the years to come.  Woohooo!!   This weekend brought hope in what God is able to do.  He is a miracle-worker.  When I watched Judd jumping on the trampoline, swimming in the pool, giggling in the kitchen, kissing on his Mommy it made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.  What a miracle!  God has redeemed Judd’s life.  When I think about where Judd was and where he would still be had he not been rescued it’s almost too much.  God has taken a boy who was invisible to the world, lost in a village, abandoned by earthly parents and given him abundant life.  
Judd signing “happy”.  Melt my heart!!
He is loved.
He is cherished.
He is learning.
He is happy.
He is thriving. 
He is Ben and Melanie’s sweet baby boy and we got the privilege of celebrating with them.
To God be ALL the glory for the great things HE has done!!!!
Love you Ben and Melanie.  Thank you for coming all that way to love on us.  You rock!!!!
Judd loved Havalah!
Lucky Jed πŸ™‚
Seth jumps high!!!
Judd lovin on Hazel

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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.  πŸ™‚ 
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.  πŸ™‚  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.  πŸ™‚  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.  πŸ™‚


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


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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)  πŸ™‚  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 well….it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  πŸ™‚
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 πŸ™‚
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 πŸ™‚

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Where Do We Go From Here? (AKA Now What?)

We’ve been home a little more than a week now.  That was fast!  I’m elbow deep into diapers, homeschooling, and “happy heart” chairing (our main method of dealing with meltdowns around here.  “Oh, go sit in the happy heart chair until you can change your attitude and have a happy heart.”  Seth and Havalah have spent an unfortunate amount of time in that chair this past week.  Gotta love resetting the boundaries….), and Jed has been back to work since the morning after we landed.  The question everyone is asking us is fresh in the front of our brains: 
“Now what?”  
Gooooood question!  Here’s what I can tell you for now:
1.  We know God wants our family in Ukraine.
2.  We don’t know exactly when we will get there.  We have a couple pesky things like a mortgage and jobs that need to be dealt with.  πŸ™‚
3.  We don’t know how long He will want us in Ukraine.  We are open to 2 years or 20 years.  We won’t try to figure that one out on our own.  I know for me personally, I will have to go with the mindset that I am there for good no matter how long we actually stay.  I will have to root my hear there in order to be focused, otherwise I’m a grass is greener type of gal.  
So, for now we wait on the Lord for His next steps for us and prepare however we can in the meantime.  I’ve been like a crazy person this week purging my house.  If we know we will eventually be leaving, we know we’ll have to get rid of a bunch of our junk.  Why not start today?  I mean really, do I need an entire tote full of nursing school care plans and assignments?  Heck no.  Do I really need doubles of every single picture taken in college?  Probably not.  My hair was really bad then anyway.  I don’t need double the reminders.  I also had chipmunk cheeks.  Really!  I showed Jed a picture and he said it looked like I was storing food for winter in my cheeks.  Gee thanks…but it’s true…I’ll be the first to admit those were not my cutest days.  What else would you expect after 4 years of living in the dorms and a really severe allergy/aversion to exercise? (I hate pain) 
Oh my, the things we have saved over the years kill me.  Have you ever gone back and read old journals from junior high and high school?  If you need a good laugh or encouragement about how far you’ve come, read a few old journals.  Oh the humiliation!!!!  As I was sitting alone in my room reading old journals I actually found myself looking around in embarrassment as if someone would walk in at any moment and discover all the never-gonna-happen crushes I had back in the day.   I think I better burn those suckers before Jed finds them.  He’d never let me live it down.
Another step we’ve taken towards preparing for Ukraine is finding a Russian tutor!  We haven’t met her face to face yet, but we found a woman who is a believer who agreed to teach us.  She was a teacher in Russia and has lived in the States for 7 years.  Before moving here she taught English to Russians, and Russian to Russians, but she’s never taught Russian as a second language before.  This should be fun!  We are very motivated to learn and know it is essential that we learn as much as we can in the time we have.  We will meet her next week and get that ball rollin’.
Emotionally it’s been a hard week for me.  I’m happier than happy to be with my kids.  I’m so happy to see family and friends.  All that is wonderful and amazing.  There’s just one problem.  I left a ginormous piece of my heart in Ukraine.  I know Jed did too.  It’s just really difficult to have seen a part of the need and to know it’s still happening today, right this second, and we aren’t there to help.  I’m not saying we are the saviors, or we can fly in and  fix everything there with our magic fairy dust, by no means am I saying that.  We just know God called us to that work and we want to help, hands on, right now.  But, at the same time we want to continue waiting on the Lord and letting Him guide this thing.  His timing is everything.  His plan is at work and we want to stay right in the middle of it and not make our own way.  It’s emotionally tiring though.  I want to just stick a For Sale sign in my yard tomorrow and be done with it.  Good thing I’ve got Jed to reign me in.
So, that’s where we’re goin’ from here.  We’ll keep you posted as things continue to unfold.  In the meantime I’ll just keep weeding through embarrassing reminders of 1994-2001.  If you were my friend at any point during that time, shame on you for not telling me my hair was so bad.  On the other hand, maybe I should thank you for looking past my wings, perms, bandanas, Patty Duke flip, and HUGE bangs and loving the real me hiding behind the fluff.  πŸ™‚
Good night!

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Introducing….Our Son!

Seth David 
Last Wednesday, March 21st at 4:00 we went to court and Seth was legally declared our son.  Words cannot describe all the feelings that come along with that.  We have loved Seth since we first laid eyes on him.  It wasn’t long before we knew we wanted to keep him forever.  There were so many tears, so many ups and downs along the process.  Many people- people with power, said it was impossible.  Evidently God has a bit more power than they.  πŸ™‚

Seth at 2 days old, the first day we met

Seth, 2 months old
No longer is Seth’s heritage one of addiction, abuse, and neglect.  No longer is he cast aside, unwanted.  No longer is he a ward of the state.  He is our son.  He is loved and wanted more than he will ever realize.  He now has full access to the God-fearing, Jesus-serving heritage that Jed and I have been blessed with.  That all belongs to Seth now!  We have no idea what effect his past abuses will have on him as he grows, but it doesn’t matter one stinkin’ bit.  He is our son and we will always love him.  We will always choose him.

Seth and Daddy, Christmas 2010

Seth and Mommy, March 2011
Christmas 2011
Spring 2012
The day they announced Seth was our son I felt different.  I told Jed that I felt like I loved him more.  Jed said “You don’t love him more, you just love him without fear”.  That is total truth.  As much as I loved Seth before, I know there was a bit of me that I was holding back.  I was afraid he would be taken away again, and I guess it was like a subconscious self-protection.  I didn’t want to hold back, and I honestly didn’t think I was, but now I know different.  I love him fully and completely now and it feels different.  It feels AMAZING.  He is my son and nothing will ever change that.  Ever.
Thank you Jesus for the gift of our boy.  He was plucked out, chosen, for a reason.  I can’t wait to see what You have in store for him.  πŸ™‚
Our Family on Seth’s Adoption Day

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Birthday Wishes for My Girl

Eight years ago today I became a mommy!  It seems like a lifetime ago.  I remember heading to the hospital, freaking out that the time had really come.  I was about to meet my baby for the first time.  “It” was going to be either Samuel David or Adelina Mae.  I secretly hoped to have a girl.  πŸ™‚  I knew I would be happy either way, but I longed for a girl.  When they announced “It’s a girl!”  My life was changed forever.  
I love all my kids deeply.  Of course I do!  But I’m telling you, there is just something special about my firstborn.  She’s my treasure, my guinea pig (so sorry Addie!), my little sidekick, my mini-me.  She’s the most like me of all my kiddos.  Sometimes that works against us, but most of the time it’s wonderful.  We “get” each other. 
So, today my Adelina Mae turns 8 years old!!  
Cheerios- special birthday breakfast request.  Why yes, she is very easy to please!!
For her birthday Addie has 3 wishes.

Wish #1- for her and Havalah (3 yr old little sis) to go together to get their ears pierced.  Granted!  We’re off to the mall as soon as it opens.  Wish me luck!!! 

Wish #2- a sleepover. Granted.  Little friends heading over this evening for giggles and pillow fights.  
Wish #3- Now this is where it gets tricky.  In order for this wish to be granted I’ll need a little help from my friends.  YOU!  Addie would love love love to see this little one’s grant grow! 
This sweet little baby is “Kelsey”.  Her real name is confidential to protect her privacy.  Kelsey lives in Eastern Europe and is available for adoption.  Here is what Reeces Rainbow has to say about her: 
Girl, born October 2011
“Kelsey is a sweet baby girl with Down syndrome.  She does have a heart condition but her medical records indicate she should not need surgery.  Kelsey knows her caregivers, smiles at them and plays with toys.
Married couples only, older parent and large families welcome, travel required.”
Isn’t she beautiful?  Addie scrolled through all the pictures and this is the little one she chose, “because she’s so cute!”  
Today Addie is being celebrated by family and friends.  Would you join with our celebration by giving to Kelsey’s grant today?  Any money you donate will go directly to a fund that will help get Kelsey home once she is chosen by an adoptive family.  Adoption is a HUGE expense, so if these kiddos have money in their grant it takes some of the burden off of the family that goes to rescue them.  
If you would like to donate to Kelsey’s fund go here.
 No amount is too small!  Every drop helps fill the bucket. 
Even if you can’t give money, you can still help.  Share this with your friends!  What if someone you share this with is meant to be Kelsey’s mommy or daddy??  What if? 
Now that would be the ultimate birthday wish come true! 
Happy Birthday my sweet Adelina.  I love you more than pickle-berry pie.

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One Step Closer!

Yesterday we got some adoption news!  We hadn’t heard any news in months.  I was starting to imagine our paperwork was actually lost in the abyss of the state offices.  We got word that we have an Adoption Coordinator assigned to our case now.  I have no idea what an Adoption Coordinator does, but hey, it’s more news than I had last week…so I’ll take it!  Supposedly once they process those forms everything moves really quickly.  I really really hope so!  
Here’s a sneak peek of the cuteness.  He loves all things chicken.  The Little Red Hen, the real hens in our backyard, toy chickens, and yes- chicken as food. πŸ™‚
 He decided his toys needed to take a swim…
We also have good news about our April trip!  We were finally able to make contact with a couple that we most wanted to meet with in country.  This is the couple who’s work initially drew us to wanting to save up all our pennies to fly across the world.  From what I know about them it seems they are doing exactly the type of work that we are passionate about.  Even if we couldn’t make contact with them we were still making plans to go and meet with others, and we were happy about that, but the blessing of being able to meet with these specific people just about triples our excitement about this trip.  WAHOOOOOOO!! 
I’m slowly, and steadily making a bit of progress on language learning.  OH MY WORD.  Why can’t they speak Spanish where we’re going????  My brain feels a bit foggy with doing Spanish studies with the kids in the morning for their class, then doing my language study in the afternoon…I just know when we get there I’m going to be thinking in Spanish…or Albanian.  Ha!  My in-laws live in Kosova, so they speak Albanian there.  It’s not like I’m fabulous at Albanian (not even semi-fab), but you know how international travel goes,  your brain reverts to the last non-English language you learned.  But, it’s not like we have a translator meeting us at the airport, so I better get my rear in gear!!  I’ve been pretty faithful in my studies since the new year started, so Lord, please bless my efforts….HELP!!!!   
On a less scary note, here’s some cuteness to sum up January. 
Ez and Mommy had a date night
Our most awesome bunny was accidentally locked outside for the night.  Oh the drama!!  
We found him the next day, alive and well.  Now that was a miracle!
Mommy put the kids to work.
Ezra took this picture of Havalah.  She’s going to love this one when she’s older!!

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