Sunday, January 31, 2010

Urgent Referral Request

My friend Susan has an incredible heart for orphans and asked me to post this urgent referral request for this sweet boy.  His story will break your heart.  Please pray for him to find a family SOON! 

Perhaps that family is yours???

JD came to the orphanage in four years ago when he was 9 years old, crawling on his knees because his feet were deformed. Up to that point, he had survived by dragging himself along the side of the road selling newspapers and hiding his earnings in the bushes. At the orphanage, JD's feet were amputated and he was fitted with prosthetics. Today, he proudly stands and walks quite normally. But a profound piece of his life is still missing.



When we met with him, JD was so nervous he was shaking. His caretakers told us he'd had blinding headaches for days because he was so worried about meeting us. When I asked him why he was nervous, he said simply: "Because you're my last chance for a family."

JD is a 13-year old boy with a very sad history, whose time is running out. If he's not adopted before he is 14 he will be ineligible for international adoption, and never have the family he so desperately wants. He can't remember ever living with a family but does remember years of living on his own on the streets. He remembers surviving by crawling along the road selling newspapers and hiding his earnings in the bushes.
His hands appear somewhat different but he can do everything he needs to with them. He is able to write, feed himself and take care of his bodily needs.

Because he began school so late and has been hospitalized for surgeries, he attends classes in the orphanage where he is said to be good learner who works very hard at his studies. As he left, he looked at us pleadingly saying, "I wish I could have a family." We want his wishes to come true his id is JD.1096.16763.01 and we will be happy to share his information with you.

There is a $4000 Promise Child grant for eligible families for this adoption and a possible additional fee reduction. Please contact us at FamilyFinders@wacap.org or 206-575-4550 WACAP(www.wacap.org) is a non-profit adoption agency.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Insanity Can Be Peaceful

I love coming home to these bricks which greet me from my front porch.



They were a gift from my friend Debbie, given to us at the airport, on the day Vu came home from Vietnam.

Starting Monday, I will especially love coming home.  I just accepted a part-time position in a job I feel Called to--one that serves at-risk children and their families. 

I know I should feel panicked.  I should feel like I am going to be overwhelmed with everything I have going on right now (like a 16 hour load in college).  But I don't.  I don't, because I know God led me to this position and even though it is going to take a balancing act requiring more work than an elephant on a rubber ball, I know God intends for me to be doing this.  Right now.  Even in the midst of chaos.  I know, because I feel peace in my decision.

So often, I think we try to plan our lives out perfectly.  Evenly.  In an organized, sensible fashion.

Sometimes, God has other plans. 

Today, my header quote is especially meaningful. 

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it!

Let the insanity begin continue.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feel Like God Isn't Answering Your Prayers?

I will be the first to admit that when my life gets super busy, so does the phone signal between myself and God.  God is left holding the phone, waiting for the elevator music to click over to a real person--me.  I get lax in spending time in the Word; time with Him. 

But, there have also been times where I have spent more time on my knees than ever before, usually praying about a specific issue, and sometimes, I am the one feeling like I am on hold.  Sometimes I don't even hear elevator music.  Just silence.




I love reading my daily inspiration from Joel Osteen which arrives via e-mail.  Here was the message today:

TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives"

(John 12:24, NLT)
It's good to be passionate about your dreams, but did you know a dream can become an idol? If that's all you think about and you're not going to be happy unless it happens your way, that's out of balance. The fact is, sometimes you have to put that dream on the altar.

Are you frustrated because you're trying to force things to happen on your timetable? Sometimes we hold on to things so tightly, but actually, when we let them go, that's when God can bring them to pass. If you'll release that frustration and not let it become the center of your attention, but instead use that same time and energy to thank God that He's directing your steps, you open the door for God to give you the desires of your heart.

We have to remember, God already knows what we want and what we are in need of. He's the One who put those desires in us. We shouldn't be consumed by trying to make things happen. Instead, a greater act of faith is to be happy right where you are; to stay open and trust God because He has good plans in store for your future!

A PRAYER FOR TODAY

Father God, today I release my dreams, my desires, my "wants" like a seed falling to the ground. I know that You have a good plan for my future, and I trust You to bring it to pass in my life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dance,Love, Sing, Live

When I wake up in the morning I always have coffee.  ALWAYS.

My favorite cups:




You can see the quote by Gandhi.  The white mug says,
"dance as though no one is watching you,
love as though you have never been hurt before,
sing as though no one can hear you,
live as though heaven is on earth.--Souza

Today I am dancing.  I finished my application for the MSW program.  It was a labor of love.  It is SO hard to write that "go-me-why-I-am-so-wonderful" three-page personal statement on how I am going to change the world.

Sent with a kiss!  I pray God will use me to help children in need. 




WOO-HOO!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Blues

I keep trying to blog but words fail me.




I just keep thinking about those in Haiti.  Still unimaginable. 

I've been reading this blog.  We've given money and prayed, but it seems so insignificant.  I wish I could go there, be there, comfort a grieving mother, wrap my arms around a bewildered child, give out food and water and HOPE. 

Instead, I sit here in the comfort and warmth and safety of my home, feeling helpless.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everyone Can Come!


So often in our world today we are divided by our ages.  Adults go one way and kids another.  In school and even Sunday school, our kids are divided up and taking a child into the workplace is usually frowned upon--unless it's just for a lunch visit.

It makes me sad our society is so segregated because we all have so much to learn from each other--whatever age and stage we are at! 

Last term I had this awesome professor who LOVED to have kids come along on our field work.  I took various kids to various events.  It was funny to see students reactions when I just kept bringing a new batch of kids!  My lab partner, who wasn't especially fond of kids on field trips, said it was helping remind her of the wonders of abstinance.  Whatever!  (I am CERTAIN she is going to have a VERY boring, kid-free life!)  Anyhoo, most students were very cool about having the little peeps around. 

Here are pictures from the overnight trip to the experimental forest in which we were collecting macroinvertebrates (bugs) from the stream:


Patrick and Vu replenishing energy after lots of bug catching:



You can't be in snow without making snow angels!



Big and little students working together to capture and count bugs:


Many of my classmates using nets to catch the insects.

We were comparing old growth forest streams to streams that had construction nearby. 

Events like this make me wish our society mixed up ages more often. 

It almost makes me want to homeschool! 

Almost.


Thanks!

Thanks for all the comments and e-mails on my previous post.  You guys rock!  Someday we're gonna have a gigantic blog party and everyone is invited!

Unless of course you didn't like the post.  Then you are not invited.

But then, I would feel bad.  So, I guess you are invited too.

Just be sure to bring lots of food.  And drinks.  And money.   

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Sleeping Bag of Grief

Lisa, over at A Bushel and a Peck, has encouraged and inspired countless adoptive parents--including me.  If you have never visited her blog then I am sorry to inform you that you are definitely not hanging out with the cool kids! 

I am honored that she asked me to fill in for her today with a discussion on helping our kids walk through their grief.

Edited to post the story here:

Before we pursued our last adoption I blissfully knew little about the realities of grief. During our adoption process, our 21 yo son, Joe, had a recurrence of cancer. He was expected to live. He did not. My heart still clutches just writing those words

I learned more about grief than I thought humanly possible.

Joe passed away just weeks before we traveled to adopt Vu--our light during our darkest hour. Vu had experienced trauma and neglect after spending six years in an orphanage, and he also lost everyone and everything he had ever loved—his nannies, his friends, his surroundings.

For my guest post, I will share the story of how one little boy transformed his grief into life.

The Sleeping Bag of Grief

When we first brought Vu home, his “sleeping bag of grief” seemed nearly invisible. He was excited to have a family and ecstatic to begin a new journey in life. But I quickly realized that, in fact, his grief was all unzipped and unrolled—making it very hard for him to carry.

Imagine the frustration of a tiny little boy trying to wrap his little arms around the bulk of an unzipped, unrolled sleeping bag! He wasn’t able to walk two steps without tripping over it!

I wanted desperately to help him! But I couldn’t! I didn’t know how and it simply wasn’t possible to carry the weight of his bag!

So, I simply came alongside Vu and picked him up and held him. I allowed his hot tears of anger and frustration. Once he was spent, I began to show him how to zip the sleeping bag up. I told him I loved him, over and over, in Vietnamese. We read books, and sang lullabies, and ate ice cream every . single . night.

As we were zipping, we talked about positive ways for him to express his grief (hitting the sleeping bag, jumping up and down, looking at pictures of those he missed). We also discussed actions that weren’t so positive (hitting people, banging his head, biting himself). I shared how getting the zipper around the corner is often the most difficult part. Learning to trust is hard work.

And then we folded the sleeping bag in half and I showed him how to roll it up, pushing out the air that wasn’t needed and pulling the straps around it. We practiced over and over again, finding consistency in our days and the best way for him to leverage his weight and small hands. In the end, he learned to roll it up all by himself! He looked at me and smiled--how great this new package was!

We began our trek again and even tho the weight of his sleeping bag was the same, the bulk was manageable so it seemed lighter. As we walked I told him over and over that we would always be there to love him--forever. We would walk right beside him and help him—forever. He would always be in our family, always be sleeping in our camp—forever.

Vu began smiling and laughing a lot more.

But soon, even with the bag rolled up, Vu’s arms began to ache. Just when I thought we had a solution, I realized we had to readjust. I read books on making sleeping bags easier to carry and talked to other parents who had traveled the same course. I kept Vu near me most of the time and even slept with him. We wrote letters and sent pictures to his nannies. We traveled by plane to visit a special orphanage friend. I soon discovered that sewing straps onto Vu’s rolled up sleeping bag made it lighter to carry—like a backpack!

Vu began to relax more and found the journey much easier. He started school and made new friends and stayed the night with Grandma.

Then, months later, out of the blue, Vu showed me some blisters that had developed on his shoulders. Memories, bad memories, came tumbling back from Vietnam. He was so insistent on getting the sleeping bag off his back he yanked it hard, unrolled it, and we seemed to be back where we had been at the beginning of our journey! Again, we spent time rocking, holding, talking through the bad memories. I assured him that he should have had a Mommy to protect him. He was just a little boy and the bigger boys shouldn’t have bullied him. More tears. More anger. More reminders of good (and not so good) ways to deal with anger and grief.

Side by side, we rolled up the sleeping bag again. This time I was able to sew on thick, soft, padded straps.

When Vu put it on this time, it looked smaller than in the past. Vu was able to roll it up tighter and quicker. Vu was growing bigger while his grief was growing smaller.

Again, we were back on our journey. Vu was now a happy-go-lucky boy, smiling, confident, and full of life. He was excelling in school and handling transitions well. There were longer and longer intervals between straps breaking and the need to readjust.

Most days, Vu completely forgot that he even had a sleeping bag on his back.

I knew that he would always have to carry the sleeping bag, but my Mommy-heart soared, knowing it would get lighter as his body, and spirit, grew stronger.

And it did.

And so did mine.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Birthday At Pump It Up--Redneck Style

I often think of Vu as my youngest, even tho he is actually 2 months older than Patrick.

I can't believe he's EIGHT!



I thought we should have a gigantic birthday party at the pool and invite his entire 1st grade class and all our friends!

He thought we should just invite a couple of friends over for a Bakugan party. 

Proof that I'm not the smartest mom on the block--I actually tried to talk him into the bigger party because he has never had a really BIG birthday party.

About three sentences paragraphs in I finally came to my senses and realized that if he wanted a small party WHY would I argue???

A small party it was--but memorable.

Special privileges--like being allowed to drink out of the milk carton!  This kid is prepared for college!!!








Patrick decorated the house for him:



Lizzy made him a crown:




He was a very excited boy:



Guests arrived (our previous neighbors--like cousins) and a Bakugan Brawl ensued.  This is some weird game where Bakugan balls are thrown around on the floor along with "gate cards" and people jump up and down and make a lot of noise:





Then, the ultimate and Vu's #1 birthday request--MATTRESS SLIDING!!!

First, a little backstory into mattress sliding.  It was invented by Joe who was the world's best babysitter (at least, according to the children).  The kids were always excited when mom and dad were leaving because it meant Joe would make "Orange Julius" milkshakes and let them watch lots of mom-disapproved-cartoons. 

I didn't know for the LONGEST time that he also let them do his new invention of mattress sliding.

Yes, the name describes the activity.  Mattresses are taken off the beds for sliding--down the stairs. 

IMHO this is not the safest way to allow children to play!  I put the stops on it once I found out HOWEVER, it remains the ultimate family adventure on certain occasions and since Joe invented it . . . it's hard to argue against.

Two twin mattresses line the stairs while a crib mattress and plenty of comforters pad the landing--hopefully keeping arms and legs from breaking! 

It is fun!  It is wild! 









It's the redneck form of a Pump-It-Up Party!!! 

It did make for a nice sleepover in that it tired the crew out:



Breakfast the next morning was also Vu's choice--TOP RAMEN!!! 



MORE proof this kid is prepared for college life!

Happy Birthday to my Poky Little Puppy!  My sweet boy who came so willingly, so bravely--full of spirit and love.  God has a very special plan for you!  I love you to the moon and back into infinity and beyond!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prayers Lifted for Haiti

I just keep thinking of the people in Haiti . . . especially the children. 

No words.  Just tears.

http://holtinternational.org/blog/

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Giveaway? A Craft Genius in the Making?

I once read that a blog is not a blog unless there are give-aways. 

I've never done a give away.  Maybe it's time?  Part of the problem is, I'm not crafty.  I also don't have any commercial connections to computer companies that want me to give away a laptop. 

So, I'm trying to think of a great give-away. 

I could knit a scarf.  As long as the recipient is willing to wait a VERY long time.  It would also be a VERY long scarf because I don't remember how to cast off.

I could make cookies--but is that really a give-away?  And I DETEST going to the post office to mail things so by the time I actually mailed them they would probably be hard and moldy.

I do have a fake dogpoop gag gift that we have used so many times nobody falls for it anymore.  It's still like new.  Any takers? 

Photobucket

That is actually not a picture of our fake dog poop.  It is a picture of REAL BEAR POOP!!!  My older sister found it near her house. 

Photobucket

How cool is that?  I guess I could give away a picture of real bear poop.  But then, if people really wanted my picture they could just copy it off of here. 

Okay, so while I think about it, I will at least connect you to some crafty people.

Number one is my baby sister who is the craft/makeover queen.  Check out her blog.  You have to go back and look at the Halloween costumes she made too.  Amazing! 

My friend at ordinary time is also quite crafty.  I LOVE the mats and playfood she made.  She has more kids than I do so I cannot say I do not have time for crafts!

And check out this necklace my dear friend April made for her giveaway.  I didn't win it but she is now considering making them so maybe she can teach me?

I'm sure I can come up with something for a giveaway.  There have even been days I could come up with someone!  (Only temporarily!  Sheesh!  Can't you take a joke???) 

It might take some time--but a give-away is coming!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I'm Buying Stock in Party City

I just got back from the store.  I bought birthday candles.  Lots. 

THREE PACKS.  There are 24 in a pack so I now have 72 birthday candles. 

I just realized--I did not buy enough. 

Six of our children have birthdays within a three month period.

That's one celebration, every two weeks--for three months.

What's even more amazing is that ALL BUT ONE of my sisters' children also celebrate birthdays.  Yes, my parents have 17 grandchildren and 14 were born between Dec 30 and April 6.  And yes, we celebrate each one.

There are even more birthdays on my husband's side--we won't even get into those.

Prepare for some parties people!  Vu's is next--we're heading to the party store this afternoon for Bakugan plates.

One of my children who does not fall within the partyville months is Will.  His was two months ago and since I never blogged about it I will at least post some pictures.

Will helping make his cake on his first birthday.  Isn't he adorable?  He was a real snuggler too--a mama's boy through and through!





Will on his fourth birthday.  He was a cowboy nut and my cattle rancher grandad would have loved him!




Will making cookies when he is 13.  He has Patrick on his back.  Will has ALWAYS been an AWESOME big brother!




Now 20, with his beautiful girlfriend C.--we love C!




And we love Will!  He is one of the sweetest, most sincere, hard-working, loving guys in the whole world!  He has beautiful eyes and a great personality.  We are so blessed to call him our son!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

(You will be hearing that phrase a lot over the next few weeks!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hope

I had this video once before but now I work face-to-face with kids in foster care.  So . . . Many . . . Wait . . . for an adoptive family.

Today I heard the story of a girl who just turned 18--the legal age in which she is an adult and taken off the adoption register.  "Hope" asked if she could please, please, stay on the listing one more year because she is still in high school and hasn't given up on finding a family to call her own.

They agency told her yes. 

And so she waits, and prays, still full of hope.  Still believing it can happen.

All she wants is a family.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Redundant

RE: Returning
  • Groceries Restocked
  • Laundry Redone
  • Sock Basket Refilled
  • Mending Repaired
  • Cars Refueled
  • Goals Renewed
  • Christmas Tree Recycled
  • Backpacks Reorganized
  • School Supplies Replenished
  • Homework Box Resupplied
  • Lunchboxes Reopened
  • Schedule Refurbished
  • Bedtime Reinstated
Return to school and work. 

Response?



I want a rewind and repeat of vacation relaxation, recreation and rejuvenation!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

40-Something

Birthday Celebration!  Enjoyed our last day of vacation with dinner out--a birthday gift from my parents:





Will had to work but James joined us for the second half:




Check out the bday card from my sister:




On the inside it says that some things are more frightening than having another birthday!  LOL!  True that!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: Rocks, Resolutions, Relationships and Religion

Remember the beginning of 2009?  My rocks?

Those beautiful stones have been a reminder on my counter ever since.  They were one of the first things I unpacked when we moved. 

But an interesting transformation has occurred--one that parallels the past year.

My rocks now overfloweth.




Throughout the year I would come upon an especially beautiful pebble and just KNOW I had to put it in my jar.  I even found more marbles from my grandmother.  If you look carefully at the picture above, you will see the rocks hold precariously to the edge--a tap sends them tumbling.

The past year was an especially crazy one with homeschooling, college, several internships, multiple trips, buying and selling a home--then moving.  It was definitely one of our busier years.  Even though every second seemed full, things seemed to be going smoothly enough.

Then one day in November I received an e-mail from one of my best friends.  It read something like this:

"Hi Ann! 

I just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and miss seeing you!  I was just listening to a speaker on the radio talk about the importance of friends, how we really have very few BEST friends in our lives, and how we need to keep our friendships strong.

It made me think of you.  I know you're super busy but I want to have coffee together sometime soon :-)  We never see each other anymore!

Hope you are well, C.

It was just a simple e-mail.  No finger-pointing.  Just a desire to connect.  On any other day I probably would have just smiled and cybered a quick reply. 

But that day?  That day it just really hit me that I hadn't been spending time with ANY of my friends.  And I realized I hadn't been connecting with my extended family very well either.  In my quest to keep things running smoothly with those at arm's reach, I had neglected others that I loved.  And I was neglecting myself in the process.  It was a wake-up call.  On that day, it all began to change.  I started picking up the phone more, sending quick e-mails, having friends over for dinner. 

What I realized was this: it doesn't have to be an all or nothing deal.  Stopping by the park with friends doesn't mean I have to block out an entire two hours.  I can stay for 30 minutes and still nurture our friendship.  A little is better than none at all.

Relationships are my priority for 2010.

Today I began the idea of THREE.  The Trinity--in honor of God and in honor of my three most important relationships--Family, Friends, and Faith.  When I don't think I have time for something (and in the process someone) I ask myself if it can be worked into a Trinity.  Can I strengthen a relationship in 30 minutes, like the example above?  Can I make a phone call in 9 (3 cubed)?  Perhaps a small connection in 3 minutes, like sending an e-mail?  At the very least, a 3 second prayer--which can ALWAYS be done.

It's not like I'm going to be leaning over a stop-watch.  I'm just going to remind myself to find a way to take time for those I love. 

Some of the rocks will have to be taken out of my jar--the important ones will remain.