For day 23, we donated to Lifesong for Orphans to feed the boys in a boys home in Bolivia for one week!
For day 24, we invited someone who is lonely this Christmas to a Christmas Eve service with us and over to our house to make dumplings on Christmas afternoon! She is from China and only working over here for four months, so she doesn’t have any family or friends nearby. We’re really glad she took us up on our offers! She’s going to teach me to make dumplings tomorrow! So this is a win-win situation! :-)
My children have done such an awesome job of GIVING this Christmas season so tomorrow is their turn to receive and they are super excited!
For day 20, we left a Chick-Fil-A gift card and note in our mailbox for our mailman. We got to peek out the window and watch him get it, which was so fun for the children to do!
For day 21, we donated to Project Hopeful by purchasing things like mattresses for orphans, goats, a chicken, etc for people in Uganda and Ethiopia. Everyone really enjoyed picking out what they thought would be a neat thing to give!
For day 22, we went to Wal-Mart and bought two gift cards. Alex gave them to a sweet family friend and said, “One is for you to keep, and one to give away. Because it is more blessed to give than to receive.” :-) So cute to watch Alex do that!
What else have we been up to lately?
We did this Christmas tree/ Bible activity and it was so meaningful. We looked up this list of Bible verses (there are only 14 and they go in order! 15-20 minutes max). We drew a little Christmas tree beside each verse in their Bible to remind them of WHY Jesus came. Each verse tells a REASON for Jesus’ coming. So so precious and blew me away pondering on it. Plus the child will see these little Christmas trees in their Bible for years to come, what a treasured memory of looking those up… http://familymanweb.com/reason-christmas-family-activity/
Our theme this month… “BE the gift.” We went caroling just on our street and it was so precious. The children WERE the gift! Hubby played the guitar softly and we all sang, I think most our neighbors enjoyed it as we heard all the “awww’s” and “how cute!” Perfect weather for it, no complaints of being too cold! And who doesn’t like to hear little voices sing “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night.” I enjoyed the peacefulness of walking up and down our street in the dark with the guitar softly playing in between houses.
For day 14, we took 4 big sub sandwiches to our local firestation. We thought it would be a big hit with the firemen but God love their hearts, they were more concerned about giving us hats and stickers and letting the children climb in their firetruck and ring their bell. I think they gave us more than we gave them! But maybe it’s a guy thing, you don’t act too excited till it’s chow time after the guests leave!
For day 16, we donated to New Day Foster Home! We visited New Day when we were in China in August 2013 (Two pictures below). The staff was wonderful and they work very hard to take care of orphans that would otherwise have no hope. We love supporting New Day! Caring for the least of these and finding them forever families. Click here to check them out or donate!… http://www.newdaycreations.com/foster/help/howto.htm
For day 17, we went to our local park and used sidewalk chalk to write messages of hope to all that will see… kids idea! It didn’t sound all that fun to me… to load up five children and go to the park in chilly weather, but you gotta be that fun mom when your children need you to be, right?! We wrote things like “Joy to the World,” “Do you know that God loves you so crazy much?” “Jesus saves,” etc!
For day 18, we left quarters on two toy machines along with “You’ve Been Rack’ed” notes at a local toy store, hopefully it made some child’s day to find those!
For day 19, each of the four older children picked something from Compassion International’s Gift Catalog. We ended up buying two chickens and two mosquito nets for someone in a third-world country! LOVED doing this, so neat for children to get to pick out what they want to donate!. http://www.compassion.com/catalog/catalog-view-all-gifts.htm
Would love to hear of any giving things you’re doing this month!! Let’s spur each other on and give God ALL the glory!
Day 9 & 10. For day 9 we mailed a card and Wal-Mart gift card to a widow, a very special widow! For day 10 we mailed a card and gas gift card to a single mom, a very sweet single mom. We hope they both feel the love this Christmas and are reminded of God’s amazing love for them. And look at what my children left on my computer for me… “You’ve been racked” (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness) and a pan of toy cookies. So sweet!
Day 11: For today, we donated to Women at Risk International to fight human trafficking. We often don’t think about it here in America but all around the world women and children are sold, used, and abused. The stories are horrific. As much as I wish it didn’t exist, I can’t pretend that it doesn’t. These precious lives need our prayer and our resources at the least. There are many areas you can choose to donate to within WAR int’l and we chose P4WB...
“Pray for WAR Babies (P4WB) is the heart-torn war cry from WAR, Int’l in response to an unimaginable horror: baby trafficking. Around the world, the faces of trafficking are children, beginning in the cradle with babies sold for as little as $25. WAR, Int’l is passionate about being a mother to the motherless and protecting babies from those who would harm them. When you join us, you spare these little ones from a life of horror. They can be tucked into cradles of safety and hear the stories of Jesus sung to them. They can grow up to be the beautiful, loving human beings God intended them to be. While P4WB is a part of our Emergency 911 fund, all money donated to P4WB goes towards prevention, rescue, and healing programs intended specifically for children. By collecting coins to fill a baby bottle, you and your children help rescue children around the world.”http://warinternational.org/get-involved/
Day 12 & 13: We’ve done several fun things this weekend! First we snuck over to a friends house and put a yard sign in her yard (I think we picked someone that wouldn’t mind and would actually like it). Then we spent 3 hours making 70 homemade egg rolls. Whew, what a chore! Everyone helped so it went quick… ahem maybe not! We took some of these and some other snacks to a Mom that just had a new baby! We also divided up our stack of Christmas cards and prayed for each person we had a card for, so precious to hear my children pray for friends and family. We also stopped at a laundr-o-mat and left some quarters in some slots of washing machines along with notes! One more stop last night to Wal-Mart and we were able to talk with a cashier and leave her with a little book I had in my purse, Caden was brave for handing it to her and speaking up to tell her Merry Christmas. (If you’re wondering why my sweet little girl is in a boy’s sweater vest… I told everyone to dress a little warm for the parade we were going to. Biggest brother Alex wanted to help Emily get dressed and decided that all 4 of them should match by wearing sweater vests. They were so excited and happy about it, I just let her wear it. Didn’t want to squish their excitement and how they bonded over that). Merry Christmas!
Also just thought I’d share a family thing we did… Thanks to Todd Wilson (The FamilyMan), our family had a special evening the other night! We played his board game “To Bethlehem” where you have to find your way to baby Jesus. Along the way there are family discussion cards (like, what is your favorite Christmas tree ornament and why, what’s the best gift you’ve ever received, sing your favorite Christmas carol, and more!) One of our favorite things on the board was putting a towel on your head to be a shepherd! Here is a picture of Dada with a kitchen towel on his head! Afterwards, thanks to the Familyman Ministry idea in the “You ‘Da Dad” 2014 calendar, Dada camped out under the Christmas tree with the kids. Oh, the excitement! They had so much fun! Both the “To Bethlehem” game and the 2015 calendar are for sale on their website! http://store.familymanweb.com/products-p…/featured-products/
Day 5 was a flop. We attempted to bake cookies to deliver but they turned out hard and over-baked. Oops. So we tried again this morning and made cinnamon rolls right from the tube (Thank you Immaculate Baking Company!) We snuck down the street and left them at a friend’s door who lost her sweet 17 year old son last year. She has become such a sweet family friend, my children just love her! They enjoyed ringing the door bell and then taking off running! So much fun!
For day six, we made homemade cards for a prisoner!
Day 7 & 8: Dad took the children to Wal-Mart yesterday so that they could buy a beverage for a Salvation Army bell ringer, but no one was there ringing. So we went back today and a lady was there! She was super thankful for her drink and let us take a picture.
It was so sunny I couldn’t get anyone but Cole to look up in any of these pictures though!
The older boys kept talking about how fun it was to leave $5 Chick-Fil-A gift cards on people’s cars so we also did that again, this time in the Wal-Mart parking lot! They all had fun picking out which car they wanted to RACK (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness). Caden was especially excited to RACK the ambulance. We were still driving around when the firemen came out to their vehicle, but they didn’t see our paper and gift card!! I hope it stayed attached until they got back to the station, otherwise it may have flew off somewhere, yikes!
I wasn’t going to post the closed-eyes, not-going-to-look-up pics, but then thought, hey, let’s keep it real, pictures don’t always turn out like we moms want them too, right? Life’s not perfect. Merry Christmas!
Alex had been dressing up and pretending to be a farmer at home and didn’t want to take these overalls off today!
I’ve been chronicling our December activities but hadn’t yet shared here. Let me get you caught up on what we’ve been up to the past few days!
I’m so excited it’s December 1st! Eeek! Today begins our family tradition of our Giving Calendar! We’re beyond excited!! For our Advent every year, we do 25 days of giving. We called an official meeting the other night and wrote down all of our ideas and how to execute them. We scale back our structured homeschooling for December so that we have time to do this. We explain that God gave us the greatest gift there ever was by giving us Jesus. So we want to give Him gifts for Christmas by blessing others in His name and for His glory, not for our own. (So don’t tell me how great we are in the comments below, okay? It’s ALL about Christ!) I’m going to try and post our giving things every few days in hopes that it inspires others to get out and go give too! We started this tradition young enough that my children are more excited about all their giving things than they are presents for themselves. When people ask them if they’re excited about what Santa will bring them, they kind of look at them with a blank stare. They know that Dada and Mama give them presents on the 25th, not Santa. They get to give for 24 days and then we give to them on day 25 because they are so loved by us. It is more blessed to give than to receive! Let the giving begin!
24 Days of Giving, Day One: Donated to Reece’s Rainbow Angel Tree. My children picked out the orphan they wanted to sponsor and they’ll get an ornament in the mail as a keepsake for doing so. So sad to see all those children waiting for a family that are living in such sad conditions. Click on over to find an orphan to pray for this Christmas! We also added their picture and name to our prayer wall to remember to pray for them throughout the next year.
We did another thing also today since that one didn’t require too much time. The other one for today was “Do one nice thing for each family member.” The kids loved this! It was so sweet to see them think how they could bless each individual person in the family. Here are some of my favorite things they did…
Mama- gave out piggy back rides around the house and tickle times. I also read everyone “Ronnie Wilson’s Gift,” such a sweet book to read any time of the year, but I wanted to especially read it to kick off our Giving Calendar! A great lesson about giving to Jesus by giving to others!
Alex- played Uno with little sister and let her win, built a blanket/ cushions fort for Cole, watched younger siblings so Mama can have quiet time
Caden- gave one of his toys to his big brother, colored a picture for a sibling
Cole- served everyone a snack for snacktime
Emily- gave out massages and kisses and stickers
When Dada got home from work, he gave piggy back rides and wrestling matches and dishes for Mama. :-)
24 Days of Giving, Day Two: For today we made a trip to the Dollar Store! First we drove around the parking lot looking for four special vehicles that we could RACK (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness). We put a “You’ve Been Rack’ed” flyer along with a handwritten message and a $5 Chick-Fil-A gift card on each car! We got to see one lady get in her car, then get back out to check her windshield! We couldn’t see her reaction though, we didn’t want her to know it was us so we got away quick! Then we went into the Dollar Store and left four “You’ve Been Rack’ed” flyers with a handwritten message and a $1 bill to buy something. It was sweet to see my four children pick out which vehicle they wanted and then which item in the Dollar Store they wanted to put their $1 and note beside. SO. MUCH. FUN! Oh, and got to RACK a friend with some chocolate too! (Forgot to get Dollar Store pics). If you want to print out your own “You’ve been Rack’ed” cards, I got them here.
24 Days of Giving, Day Three: For today we did “doorbell and ditch” to two neighbors and left their children Family Life’s “Interactive Nativity For Children.” It’s a neat thing we enjoy doing every year where you read a book and open up one box (present) at a time that tells the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus. My children love opening up the little boxes to find trinkets inside, so I hope they’ll enjoy this! We also left cookies at another sweet neighbor’s door!
24 Days of Giving, Day Four: Okay, well my husband took over today, guess he thought my idea was measly. And well, just wow. I was going to have the children all pick a number for the number of bottles of clean water they wanted to buy for orphans through A Child’s Hope Int’l. But Jason had other ideas. I don’t really want to say but let’s just say he went big. Bigger than what I was thinking. We’re all doing the happy dance here, SO much more blessed to give than to receive! We did still buy clean water, just more than I had planned. So exciting!! Feel free to get in on the fun! If you donate $8, it provides 120 GALLONS of clean water for orphans!
Let me know if you do any fun giving things!!
A close, dear friend of mine and her husband are adopting a little girl from China. Eeek! We have been real-life friends for years and they followed our adoption journey last year. This sweet, sweet family could use our help!
To help raise money for their adoption, they are selling some neat T-shirts. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all show them the love and buy a t-shirt from them!?! Can we rally around them and show our support?
Maybe you could afford more than one shirt and could buy some for family and friends for Christmas! (Not to early to think about Christmas gifts, you know?!)
To order a t-shirt you can paypal them the money or mail them a check. Or you can pay me and I can get it to them for you. Check out their neat design!
To sweeten the deal, I’m going to offer a giveaway on this blog!! If you order a t-shirt(s), leave me a comment below and you’ll be entered to win this prize pack for each shirt you buy!…
-An additional shirt that you can keep or give away!
-A copy of “Journey to the Fatherless” by Lawrence Bergeron (an excellent book!!)
-A $10 gift card to Chick-Fil-A
So after you place your t-shirt order, come back here and let me know in the comments!! Let me know how many shirts you purchased and you’ll get one entry for each shirt you purchased! One random winner will be picked on October 16th.
Can you do me one more favor? Can you share this giveaway with your friends and family? Not only can you have an entry for EACH t-shirt you buy, but you can also have another entry for each place that you share this giveaway (facebook, your blog, via email, etc). Let me know in the comments how you shared and you’ll get an entry for each method of sharing!
From Their Blog:
We have a custom designed t-shirt available for purchase to help fund our adoption! If you would like to place an order, please complete our “Contact Us” form and include your quantities, sizes and shipment information, if needed.
The shirts are 100% pre-shrunk cotton, so they should fit true to size.
The cost: $20 per shirt (S, M, L, XL) (XXL and XXXL are $2 more)
Shipping: $4 for one shirt or you can pick them up in person for FREE. If you are ordering more than one shirt, please contact us for shipping costs.
The Impact: PRICELESS!
Deadline: October 15th (Please have all orders and payment in by this day)
You can pay using the PayPal “Donate” button on the right side of our blog or in person by cash/check. If you would like to mail us a check and need our address, please fill out our “Contact Us” form and we’ll send it to you.
Please note that this is a pre-order and it will be a few weeks before the order is processed. Payment is needed before we place our order. Also, the more t-shirts we sell…the more funds will be going directly toward the adoption. Please help us reach 75+ t-shirt sales by sharing this post with others you think might be interested in purchasing a shirt to help bring this precious little girl home to her “forever family.”
Thanks in advance!
Here is a link to their blog with more information.
Here is a Powerful video that will mess with your heart and complacency…
Some quotes from the video…
“It’s not that we don’t care about this little starving child in Liberia. We care. But we can go home and sleep tonight just fine. How is that? It’s because there’s an indifference to that life. It’s not affecting us. It’s not in our backyard. We’re not related to it. We say, “It’s someone else’s issue.” We quote Scripture even, “God’s a Father to the fatherless.” But we are His body. Our hands, they are Christ’s hands. Our feet, they are His feet. God says “I work through you. I’m a Father to the fatherless through YOU. I rescue the weak and vulnerable through YOU. And if you’re not doing it, no one is.” There is a solution to dying children. It’s Jesus changing us. We cannot stay in suburbia USA and do nothing if Christ is in us. Heroes are moved in their heart. Do we care at the level that God cares? When we go home tonight, do we grieve over the fact that those children are God’s children and He’s longing for an advocate to stand up and say “I’m willing to fight for what is Yours.” For our King and His glory, we must rescue these little ones. What if that was your child? You would claw through a concrete wall with your bare hands to go and rescue them.”
Did you know that through Hands Against Hunger you can buy clean water for orphans?! Each $1 bottle of water that you pay for will make 15 gallons of clean water for orphans!! When my children saw this, they quickly went to their “Give Jars” to see how many gallons of water they could pay for! (They each have a Give, a Save, and a Spend jar of their own).
They did have a few bucks to buy some but I knew we could do more. So I made them “Work Out for Water.” :-) They did exercises to earn more water for orphans. It was so fun! The whole time we were all cheering, “Come on, do a few more, this gives orphans clean water! They need you, don’t give up! Dirty water is making them sick, do as many as you can!” It was all in fun and a total blast! It makes them beam to be able to give, especially when they feel like they ‘worked’ for it. So precious.
So here are our totals…
Alex’s “Give Jar” Money- $3
Caden, Cole, and Emily’s “Give Jar” Money- $1 (that’s all they had combined!)
Total Amount of Seconds Doing Mountain Climbing Exercise: 43 + 59 + 20 + 21= 143 Seconds!
Total Number of Push-Ups: 22 + 30 + 17 + 7 = 76 Push-Ups!
So enough to buy 223 bottles of water! That will purify/ clean 3, 345 gallons of water!!
I share only because I’d love for others to get in on the fun too!…
How many gallons can you and/or your children pay for this month?? Even just $8 will purify 120 gallons of water!
(Hands Against Hunger is one of the only non-profits that has an overhead cost of less than 10%. They spend 91% of all donations on getting food and water directly to impoverished children around the world. They feed 10,000 children Every. Single. Day. And you can help them make a difference!)
One year ago today we were in China and met our son Cole for the first time. In the past 12 months Cole has had his First Thanksgiving, First Christmas, First Celebrated Birthday, First Baseball Games, First Splash Pads, First Church, First Pony Ride, First Tricycle… lots and lots of Firsts.
Although it’s been hard, I do wish every orphan could have fun times with family like Cole has gotten. Orphanage life is awful… not being cared for, no one to tuck you in at night, no one to laugh and play with you, lack of food, lack of nutrition, total lack of love, no parents to call your own, abuse and neglect often. Utter helplessness and despair, no child deserves that.
Different families celebrate Gotcha Day in different ways. For us, we wanted the focus to be on those still left behind. So we all went shopping and each of our children got to pick out an outfit for a boy/ girl their age.
Oh the excitement! They had so much fun picking out things they liked, carrying them around for days, and then packing it all up together today. The package is now on its way to Cole’s former orphanage in China! We also sent pictures of Cole from the last year so that they can see how he’s grown and things he’s done, along with some Bibles (2 in Mandarin, 2 in English), and some vitamins.
Last week we were playing outside with other neighbor children and I told two of the mom’s what we were doing. They were so sweet and wanted to get in on the giving also. Thank you to Michelle and Melanie for giving a 5th outfit for a girl and to Julie for giving teddy bears!
Here are pictures of their goodies and them at the post office today. Shipping cost was about as much as all the gifts, yikes! But when I told my 7-year-old how much it was, he said “Oh well, it’s worth it, this is for the orphans.” He’s so right!
Great news… we’re adding to our family!
God adds to families in different ways. Adoption is an amazingly beautiful picture of an orphaned child having a HOME, a FAMILY. Breathtakingly amazing stories of the lives of these children being changed forever.
He also adds to families by the miracle of birth. Also amazingly beautiful and precious.
And that’s how He’s chosen to add to ours this time, by birth.
We are BEYOND excited and thrilled to welcome a new little life into our home!
We are obviously still very passionate about orphan care and do many things to support orphans around the world. We LOVE children and want to see them all have families and be loved and cared for. (And I would love to hear how God is using you in our world’s orphan care crisis, so many of you have shared amazing stories with me of how God has gripped your heart, even using our adoption story to do so. We are so touched!!)
To answer all the questions I know you’ll ask…
We’re due near the first week in October!
No, we don’t know the gender, we choose not to find out until the birth. Makes for an exciting birth-day!
Yes, I’m feeling great, been complication-free thus far!
Some people have gasped for air when they’ve found out I was expecting our 5th child (anyone who has seen me in person has easily guessed the news, I do have a growing belly!) I’ve had amazing friends who are super excited for us and then I’ve had the response of, “Oh my, was this an accident? Are you guys going to be okay? Can you handle this? You already have your hands so full, how in the world will you be able to do this?”
We love babies, we love family, we love life! We are THRILLED to welcome another little one into our family. Children ARE a blessing! Truly not a burden!
Will it be more ‘work’ for us? Sure, little ones require a lot of attention and care. But what better way to spend your days then to care for little lives being shaped and molded into what God has for them!
And for those of you adding to your family through adoption, we are also BEYOND excited for you and your family!! So many amazing stories of what God is doing around the world through people who are willing! Thank you for being willing, thank you for saying YES!
Below is an article from another website I found interesting…
I met you in the elevator on my way back from the pediatrician’s office. It was just me and Wren, and you looked at her fondly in her stroller. When the elevator doors opened, you very kindly held the doors open for me. As I clumsily maneuvered the stroller past you, I accidentally ran over your foot. “Don’t worry about it,” you assured me over my profuse apologies. “I have three children myself,” you revealed to me. My eyes traveled to your big belly. There was an awkward pause as I wondered if I could assume she was pregnant. “And I’m expecting my fourth,” you admitted. “Congratulations!,” I tell her. “That is wonderful!” I see the relief spread across her face. “Thank you!” she says, and I could tell she meant it. “You have no idea how many people offer their condolences when they find out this is my fourth. Or they ask me if this was planned.” “How rude of them,” I reply. “All children are a blessing.”
As we parted ways, I felt an immense sorrow for what our society has become. When did having a large family become equivalent to a tragic event? Why do people think that seeing a mother with lots of children automatically entitle them to make rude comments concerning her family planning? Countless strangers in grocery stores have seen me with my three little ones and impertinently asked me how many children I was planning on having. I don’t know, person I have never met before. Tell you what, how about next week I will bring my husband here and all three of us will discuss our family planning and come up with a number you find suitable. Or figure out which ones to eliminate if you feel I have too many already. But honestly, the only answer for the impertinent question of how many children I am going to have is: all of them.
And why are people so obsessed with whether a pregnancy is “planned” or not? Does the child from a “planned” pregnancy have more value than the child of an “unplanned” pregnancy? As to the answer to this other impertinent question, my only answer is: yes, God planned for this child from time immemorial, and I will do my best with this life that is entrusted to me.
There seems to be some unspoken rule that you are only allowed to have two children: one girl and one boy, about 2-5 years apart. If you mess up and fail to meet the gender quota of one of each, you are permitted to go out on a limb and have a third. However, you will risk endless ridicule from strangers if you really mess up and end up with (God forbid ) THREE of the same gender. I have never understood this stock portfolio approach to child bearing. If you are looking for variety, you get plenty of that within the same gender, trust me. Besides, I hate to point out the obvious, but no matter what you plan on having, you get what you get. As much as we want to, we can’t control everything. Especially when it comes to child bearing. I’m ok with that mostly because I’m religious, but I’m digressing from the point of this post.
I have three girls who are each about a year apart. This, for some reason, makes people feel uncomfortable. They are constantly trying to rationalize my unconscionable decision to have that many children so close in age with either: 1) that we kept unsuccessfully trying for a boy, or 2) we are “getting it out of the way quickly”. To be honest, I don’t even know what # 2 means. We’re having children, not going in for a root canal. I have stopped even trying to explain to people that no, we just like having children. That just doesn’t compute. Who would have three children close together ON PURPOSE? Because, I mean, isn’t it difficult? And so not worth it? Maybe if I told them I am a rebel who is swimming against the stream I will garner more support. Being rebellious is always cool, right?
Benjamin Franklin was one of ten children (UPDATE: a kind reader has informed me that he was actually the youngest of seventeen!) Beethoven was one of seven, and JFK was one of nine! Every child has the potential to do something great in the world. So please, give the mother of these children the support and encouragement she needs whether it is her first child or her ninth. Because your last child deserves just as much excitement as your first.
And to the lady in the elevator, a thousand times congrats. You are truly blessed.
A Post From Adeye at No Greater Joy Mom…
Exactly four years ago, Anthony and I were in an apartment in Ukraine with our two newly adopted daughters. We had recently made the grueling train ride from the place of their birth to Kiev with our precious girls who both have Down syndrome. We were more than ready to head home!
Harper was so young and just loving all of the attention she was receiving. At two years of age, her little heart had found a home and she was lapping up the cuddles.
Hailee, on the other hand, was desperately struggling!
We sat on the floor that day with our just-turned five-year-old who was disoriented, afraid, manic, and completely out of sorts, and I wrote THIS POST.
Weighing in at just 14 pounds, our tiny Hailee was battling terribly to adjust. She knew no other life but that of a crib and was suffering from the horrendous side effects of being given an adult tranquilizing drug for five years! She had slept most of her life away thanks to that awful medication (after all, a sleeping child is an easy child). Touch was torturous! Being outdoors was frightening. Having SPACE was terrifying (after being confined to four sides of a tiny crib). She was so drugged that she was hardly able to sit alone. The backs of her ears were raw and horribly infected from being constantly scratched and pulled on. Her sweet little head bore the scars of the self-harming, self-soothing behavior of being banged up against crib bars. She was so agitated and literally unable to cope with life outside of those tiny walls.
She cried and wailed. Endlessly!
The emotional trauma of being taken out of the only (tiny) environment that she had ever known was just too much for our fragile darling.
Anthony and I dealt with every emotion in the book in those days. Beyond exhausted and in survival mode, we wondered what the future would look like with this little girl who we felt God call us to go and bring home.
We knew that life would never be the same again.
But what we didn’t know four years ago was that the journey would turn out so very differently to what we ever imagined it could.
Because when God calls us to lay our lives down for the sake of one of His precious children, not only is it for the good of the child who needs us…
…but it’s also for OUR good.
As I tried to bond with my little girl in those weeks in Ukraine, I confess that there were many days when I looked at her and asked of the Lord, “Why this one, Lord?”
“How can I parent a child whom I have NO idea how to care for?”
“How can I fall in love with a fragile little girl who wants absolutely nothing to do with me?”
“How can I be a good mother to a child who is so very broken, so desperately needy?”
I cried so many tears in those weeks. In all my humanness and with my miniscule mustard seed of faith, I had no idea how this adoption was going to work out. I was beyond intimidated at the mere thought of navigating a road that I knew nothing about.
I had previously been that mother—the one who begged the Lord for healthy babies. I had been the mom who scrutinized every ultrasound making sure that there were no abnormalities.
And here I was. My very comfortable life as I once knew it up on the altar.
Was I really willing to learn sacrificial love?
Fear rose up in my heart too many times to count.
But in the quietness of the night, after spending long days with the two children who we were about to commit to adopting, when I dug so deep in my faith, I knew this one thing with absolute certainty:
When God calls us and we say yes…our yes must be yes! I knew that by putting my life, my heart, my family, my dreams and desires, and my obedience on the table…
…I could simply never go back!
Fear could never make me walk away from what God had called us to do.
Because I knew a truth so deep down in my own heart.
When God calls His people, He equips us with everything that we need to do the job with excellence. He never promises us that it will be easy, but He does promise us that He will lead and guide us every step of the way—holding our hands through the trials and giving us peace in the valley.
He never abandons us on the mission field!
I learned what it means to CLING in those days!
To CLING with everything that I had!
It’s blurry, but it’s our first picture together. Tiny Hailee at nearly five years of age.
God has taught me so much through this child. I cringe when I recall how many times I wanted an easier road four years ago. I’m ashamed at how little faith I had to trust my God in heaven…knowing that He was exceedingly, abundantly able to do immeasurably more than what I could ever hope or dream of. Now, I weep at the thought of this precious little angel not being here with us.
The Father has used Hailee to grow my faith…
…to stretch my heart’s capacity to love unconditionally.
…to crucify my selfish, fleshly desires.
And to show me that every single child—no matter how broken, how needy, how unlovely, how sick, how abused, how discarded, how abandoned, how painfully neglected—every child has infinite worth and value.
Every child has HOPE.
Yes, it’s true. Hailee has astounded us in how far she has come. She has blossomed in every way! Of course there are still challenges. But today Hailee is the happiest, most amazing, sweetest, full-of-joy, energetic, loving, koala-bear-cuddling, 31-pound little girl you will ever meet. God sure has done such a redeeming miracle in her life. She is a new creation in every sense of the word.
But, the greatest change?
That definitely would be in me!
I am no longer the same person I was four years ago. God has used this one child on the planet to change me from the inside out. I see things differently because God knew that I needed this tiny girl. Truth be told, I needed Hailee so much more than she needed me.
I have learned that God never calls His people to easy. No, He calls us to dig deep in His promises when we’re holding on for dear life.
I have learned that there is so much joy indescribable in pressing in and embracing difficult.
I have learned that when we are faithful…so is He!
I have learned that obedience is absolutely, 100% worth every fear, every tear, every doubt, and every moment when I felt like life as I knew it was about to end (because it sure did, thank goodness!).
And I have learned that there is no sweeter place to be than completely surrendered to the will of God.
I look back today and I am weepy with emotion. To think how easy it would have been to walk away from one of the greatest blessings that the Father could ever have given us is more than my heart can stand.
I just cannot imagine life without my spunky Hailee in it.
Happy 9th Birthday, my darling Hailee. What a joy and a delight you are to us!
Thank you, sweet girl, for showing me time and time again that even when I feel like I can’t, Jesus CAN.
Would you join me this morning to pray for the children who are suffering today?
Children who have no one to call for help.
Children that have given up because their cries are not answered.
Children that are bedridden because no one feels they are worthy.
Children who are suffering from neglect and hunger.
Christians – this is a DAILY occurrence in many countries around the world. Languages and cultures may be different but children need love and they need us to act when we see this injustice.
I am beside myself this morning with grief as I see lavish vacations, cars that cost more than an annual salary, and houses that have the best of everything. People who have so much yet don’t “feel called” to help those who don’t.
Jesus has called us to pick up our cross and follow him. The cross is heavy and we don’t want to sacrifice —
But we need to be convicted today. Convicted enough that we will DO SOMETHING to help.
Money – time – prayer – mission trips– PRAY about it and don’t turn your back on children who are languishing in foster care or orphanages or homes that are less than suitable. God is bigger than any of these and He will challenge you to move for Him.
Does God want us to seek material things of no eternal value?
These children have NO ONE else to count on but those of us who know what a Savior can do when there is no hope in anything else.”
This is a quote by William Booth about seeking the lost to be saved, but can also be applied well to helping the helpless…
“‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.” William Booth
Nine months ago today, our family of 5 became a family of 6 by flying to China to pick up a little boy we had never met.
Psalm 68:6, “God setteth the solitary in families.”
Cole had spent the first 2 1/2 years of his life in an orphanage where food was lacking, and love was lacking even more. He looked frail and very malnourished and was scared. He exhibited orphanage behaviors that were hard to watch.
My three biological children have went from having a no-stress kind of life to having to watch us work through many hard issues. There have been some difficult times over the last 9 months.
Grafting in a newly adopted child has been a challenge and I have failed miserably more times than I can count. But with my eyes on the cross, I can crawl my way to Jesus and ask for strength and wisdom and help. God has been faithful! We are making more and more progress every day!
And we know that God wouldn’t have had it any other way. Just like every child all around the world, children just want to be loved and tickled and nurtured. All children are the same in this regard. A child’s life is infinitely more valuable than things, comforts for ourselves, or ease of living. A child’s life IS truly worth the sacrifice.
Cole has grown leaps and bounds. If you saw him playing outside, you’d never know he spent 2 1/2 years in a poor orphanage in China. He’s a typical American child. He runs and laughs and plays. He sings and jumps and kicks balls. In the beginning he ate MASSIVE amounts of food, and can still eat more than any of my other children. But he’s learned that he can quit when he’s full and that there will be more later.
Some days, this is what I need to remind me why I”m doing what I’m doing…