Friday, December 21, 2012

It could have been me.

I just don't know what to say. Last Friday the World changed. Schools are no strangers to terror and violence, but last Friday was different. It was my day off, Charlie was at school, Jack was taking a nap, Chad went out to run some errands and I watched in horror as the whole thing unfolded. By the time Chad came home with lunch, I sat in the chair in front of the T.V. weeping. He practically dropped the lunch on the floor when he came through the door. He yelled "WHAT HAPPENED?!!" I could barely choke out the words. He said I scared him, when he saw me he thought something happened to Charlie or one of our parents. The thing that scared me was that it could have been Charlie. It could have been my baby.

Next, the news that once again Russia is threatening to stop all adoptions to Americans. The bill has already passed on the first level and is on its way to the second level. After that Mr. Putin will sign off or veto the bill. In no uncertain terms he has said he would approve the bill if it came across his desk. Now I see our story rehashed. My wounds that have not quite healed opened up once again. Moms that have met their babies and now are being told their court dates are being "postponed". Families waiting have been told to start looking elsewhere. Our worst nightmare is in the news again. This time, my boy is sleeping in the next room. Not in an orphanage across the sea. But once again, it could have been me, two years ago- it was me. In this situation I guess it would be easy to become complacent and say "It's not me. My boy is home" But then I see their faces. The ones we left behind. The ones that will never know a mothers touch or a fathers gentle reassurance. The ones that will die in an institution or age out of a flawed system. The ones that will fall to prostitution, crime and suicide. All because of stubborn pride.

I am asking you, as a friend, to please do what you can to end this. Even if it's not you. It could have been you. It could have been us. Charlie. So many others that are loving life and thriving with their families. Please take just a moment to go HERE and email your Congress people and Representatives. Here is my letter:

"Hello Mr. ______. My husband and I adopted our 4 year old son, Charlie from Russia in 2011. It took us nearly two years to complete the process due to an adoption freeze in our region following Tori Hansen's actions. Now, it seems relations between our countries are on the brink of disaster again, with political threats of a permanent ban on adoptions to Americans. Voting has passed the first level (in the Duma) and is now headed to another vote before presented to Mr. Putin. I believe the second round of voting will happen as soon as 12/26 to be approved by the New Year. This is heartbreaking. Children, especially orphans, should never be used as political leverage or vengeance. I think of our son and how, most likely, he would have spent his life in an institution without adoption. There are 750,000 orphans in Russia, many of which "age out" and become statistics of prostitution, crime, and suicide. Adoption saves lives. I am begging you to be our voice of reason to Russia, to be Charlie's voice, in your position. Thank you for taking an interest in this matter, it truly is a matter or life and death for so many precious children."

You can also go HERE and sign the Petition to keep adoptions open to Americans.  

Just for a moment, pretend that it is you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sending the Sunshine

I am asking for your help! We have a darling college senior at our church named Cameron. She was part of our youth group when we first moved here and she is one of those teens that just radiate sunshine. The "sonshine" of her father God, the sunshine of life and love and joy. To know Cameron is to be sunburned. You can't be around her without being illuminated. I LOVE this girl. She was a prayer warrior in bringing our boys home. She provided encouragement to Chad and I on our darkest days. The sun has a way of doing that :)
This year, while many college seniors are only seeking an "Mrs. Degree" Cameron has decided to take a HUGE leap of faith. She applied for and was chosen to take part in the World Race. You can check it out HERE. Make sure you watch the video at the bottom. Basically, it's this amazing humanitarian effort that puts together teams to travel to 11 THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES IN 11 MONTHS.
We're not talking Switzerland and the French Riviera, I'm talking about the poorest of the poor places. India, Africa....Orphanages, slums, and gypsy villages. Ms. Cameron will not be vacationing poolside. She will be bringing her Sunshine to the most destitute and hopeless places on the planet.
Of course this comes with a huge price tag. A sum that she is responsible for raising all on her own. Sunday night, lying in bed I started thinking about the money and how daunting it can be to look at a mountain of money you don't have, don't know how to even begin to have....I know a little about that :)
And my prayer was simple "Lord, how can I help Cameron?" Help her be at peace that the right people will give the right amount and exactly the right time. This sweet, precious girl is trying to do your will and your will alone. How can I help (obviously whipping out my checkbook is NOT an option for us...) But I can DO SOMETHING!!!
So....God spoke. "Sending the Sunshine" An online Auction. I have purchased numerous things from online auctions helping adoptive parents bring their kids home. Why not bring this venue to Cameron's situation? Maybe I'll raise $500. That's $500 I could have never just given on my own, but folks, I speak from experience- that's the way God works. A donation here, a yard sale there. We can all do a little. Mountains are moved rock by rock.
So, I'm asking begging you to do this. If you craft, make me something fabulous. Take a picture of it and send the picture to me. If as my friend said "No one in their right mind would buy anything I would make" BUY something- a gift card to donate. We all have something fabulous lying in our closet or jewelry box that hasn't seen the light of day in months. Donate it. Take a picture of it and email it. Share with other people that may want to contribute. I will compile everything and put it on a Facebook auction page. Then bid, spread the word. Lets help Cameron move this mountain!
Please let me know ASAP by commenting on this post, Facebook messaging me, text, pony express, whatever if you would like to help. I would really like to kick this baby off in mid January, so I would need photos or a description of your goods by JANUARY  6th.
I'll leave you with this, it's from Cameron's blog "Small girl BIG God"
"I know that this will be challenging and I know that I am going to be changed forever and for good but I also know and believe that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And the Lord has always had a plan for me and will always have a plan for me Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I'm excited to embark on this new journey and I know I won't be able to do it without God and without your prayers and maybe even financial support ."
Will you join me in helping send some sunshine?

Friday, December 7, 2012


Life is but a vapor. We are but a vapor. James 14:4 "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
That seems to be a thread running through my mind today.
I've probably lost about half of my readers already. No one likes to think about how short life is. We build these illusions that we are going to be around forever. Sometimes days drag on and we think it will never end (IS IT BEDTIME YET?!?!) But in truth, we all catch a glimpse of it around the holidays. (WEREN'T WE JUST SITTING AROUND THE TREE IN 2011???) We blink and it's Christmas time again. Here it is again- what, 17 more days?
It all started with a wonderful quote I found on Facebook. It was spoken by Derek Loux. It said "My friends, Adoption is redemption. It is costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him."
Wow. Those are powerful words. After I read them, I thought, who is Derek Loux? So I facebooked him. Of course, right? In memory of Derek Loux. Oh no. But I was greeted with a banner of 12 beautiful children, obviously his children, from all different corners of the World. Most of which with special needs. Derek and his wife were are champions for adoption. He was a music minister, missionary, and musician. He died in a car accident two days before Christmas in 2009. He was coming home from a seminar about ending child sex trafficking. You can read about his Adoption Revolution Mission and Derek's life HERE. Last month his dream was realized through the opening of an orphanage in Thailand. His daughters are getting married. His kids are growing up. His life was not a vapor.
What are we doing that really matters? I worry about buying Christmas gifts. I worry about my dirty carpet. I worry about my clothes, my hair. Worry, worry, worry. And all about earthly things that are gone in a vapor. Stuff that just doesn't matter. Stuff that will ultimately end up in a landfill. 

What are we doing? What am I doing?

Adoption started out for me, as a way to fill a selfish need. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted a family. But now adoption has ignited a passion in my heart that is a glimpse of something eternal, something that isn't a vapor. Something that matters. I wish everyone I knew would consider adoption. Commit to praying for orphans. Donate even a few dollars to help a family trying to adopt.

Let's vow to take small steps and do something that matters. Support an adoption auction. If you type in "Adoption" into facebook search you'll find at least a hundred. Then you can still buy things that serve a duel purpose. Support Reece's Rainbow (orphans with down syndrome) support Project Hopeful (orphans with HIV) support CWA (our agency) support Show Hope (Chapman adoption grants) The list goes on and on. There is no end to the amount of need in our World.

I'll leave you with this image I saw while reading the Loux family blog. It's of an Iraqi war orphan. The child had drawn a picture of his deceased mother to cuddle up to and fall asleep on. If this doesn't move you to action, I don't know much else that could.There are people hurting everywhere. How are we using our vapor?

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I'm calling
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling
And you've told me who I am
I am yours- Casting Crowns

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

550! A history lesson. But not a boring one.

I consider 550 pages a perfect amount of pages for a book. Too many more and it's only purpose should be a doorstop. Too many less and the reader feels gypped. It's a fine line my friends, a fine line.
That being said, this blog From Russia With Love has hit perfection. 550 blog entries. Spanning close to four years. This my friends, is now an official epic novel. Holy cow. What a ride it has been. Charlie has been home almost 2 years. Jack for over a year. Where did all the time go?

For your reading pleasure here are the top 10 links to my favorite posts:

1- February 3, 2009 Our "Official Letter" Here is where it all began. Our letter announcing to the World that we were adopting. We had met with CWA a few weeks earlier and decided on Russia. We were so full of joy and hope!

2- March 3, 2010 "WE GOT THE CALL!!!!!" You really don't need to follow this link because the entire post consists of the following "IT'S A BOY!!! MORE INFO TO FOLLOW....I CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT RIGHT NOW!!!!" For the real scoop, you should read "Details"

3- March 28- April 9 And then the joy mixed with the pain. We got home from Russia "Welcome Home!" and then a brief two weeks later, utter devastation. She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named sends her son back to Russia and our World comes crumbling down around us. Prayer Request. Little did I know for the next year we would be in the battle of our lives to bring our boy home.

4- September 21, 2010. "If you think I'm a Saint DO NOT read this post" The low point in the wait, the red tape, the government stupidity. I guess we laughed to keep from crying.

5- December 7, 2010 "WE GOT THE CALL" Possibly the single greatest day of my life. After our region had been "frozen" for close to a year we finally got a court date. But with a disclaimer. We couldn't tell anyone. Kinda like the pastor that played hooky from church on Sunday to golf, scored a hole in one, and couldn't tell a soul. But when I thought about Charlie and he would be in my arms forever in another two grueling months it made all the secrecy worth it.

6- February 7, 2011 "No More Goodbyes" The only blog entry written by my husband. The day we finally liberated our little man and drove away from the orphanage in a big yellow bus into the frozen tundra. No longer an orphan. What a joyous day!

7- August 31, 2011 Out of the blue (we've been home from Russia about 7 months) we receive an "SOS", the opportunity to adopt an unborn baby. Still recovering from the great Russia disaster (the process, not the baby...) Our heads were spinning under the circumstances.

8- September 13, 2011 And the answer is..... Now we have two months to do a home study, hire an attorney, scrape together some more money, prepare our hearts and our home for a baby.

9- November 11, 2011. And introducing the world's cutest bear... "Baby Bear" I can't believe we have a baby. At our house. A baby. I didn't see that one coming.

10- March 19, 2011 "Brothers!" And everyday I still pinch myself. Two wonderful, beautiful boys. Our boys. Life is so sweet. God is so good. I am so blessed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Note from the Trench

So, recently my dear, sweet cousin found this article and sent it out into the world via Facebook. But I really secretly think it was just for me. She was just placing it on her timeline as not to single me out. Now, said cousin has four children and is currently preggo with number five. She home-schools. Enough said? She is supermom. I think it might have been for her more than it was for me. Whoever it was for, I think you might enjoy this as much as I did.

It's from a blogging mama named Chris Jordan who might just be the funniest person who ever lived. She has seven children and writes "Notes from the Trenches" The article is called "23Tips for maintaining your sanity while living with children" and it might just be the funniest thing I have ever read. And the thing about the pee pee bathroom and the top sheet. Truth my friends. Pure Truth.

23 Tips For Maintaining your Sanity while Living with Children
Recently I had the mother of one of my son’s friends ask if I ever get mad or yell.  You seem so calm and peaceful all the time, she had said. I laughed.  My children laughed even harder. It was a great illustration of how we all think everyone else has it more together than we do.  I yell.  We are a loud family.  We talk loudly.  We make grand gestures with our hands, occasionally smacking someone by mistake, which results in more yelling.  My kids run and bounce through the house like balls in a pinball machine.  Yet somehow, I have managed not to run screaming from the house dressed only in my birthday suit.  At least, not yet.
Here are my tips:
1. Lower your standards for cleanliness and order.
2. Did that? Lower them even more.
3. Your house will never look like a magazine spread, period. Embrace that.
4. No matter how many baskets you buy to contain toys, they will always be visible.  Embrace the Toys ‘R Us/ frat house-chic decor.
5. You can never have too many popsicles in the freezer. How many bad moods have been fixed by a simple popsicle?
6. If you can’t change them, change your perspective. For example I read recently– probably on Satan’s website Pinterest– that toothpaste is great for cleaning things like faucets. So now when I go into the bathroom every day and see toothpaste splatter all over the bathroom faucet I think about how my children have done half the chore of cleaning for me. How considerate of them! Then I wipe it off while cursing.
7. Those chores that no one ever wants to do. Decide if you would rather do it yourself, badger your child to it, or let it go. If you are confused about what to do, see Number 1 on this list.
8. No one cares what is stuffed under your child’s bed, why should you. Unless it is old food.  In that case, you should get a dog.
9. If you have boys, your bathroom will always faintly stink like pee.  Invest in some Febreeze and count down the days until they move out and you can go visit them and pee on their bathroom floor.
10. Don’t buy white furniture. Unless you enjoy screaming at your children every time they go near it.
11. However bad a situation might seem, one day it will be funny. I have a few for which I am eagerly awaiting for the funny to kick in. Any time now….
12. When your child is a young teen there will be nothing more embarrassing than your very existence. Use this to your advantage. Start planning early.
13. Do not paint any walls in your house with flat paint.
14. Be okay with letting your kids stumble sometimes. Whether that is turning in an assignment late because they didn’t do it or wearing an outfit so hideous you have trouble looking at them without laughing.
15. Noise cancelling headphones are great for blocking out whining, bickering and the endless episodes of Sponge Bob.
16. Socks do not have to match. Every day is Crazy Sock Day at my house, which is infinitely better than Crazy Mom Day.
17. The crayons will break and it is okay to throw them away rather then save them to make some sort of craft that involves the hair dryer. In fact, I give you permission to not feel guilty about all the crafts you know you will never do.
18. Your children will not die from eating the occasional hot dog or frozen pizza. And by occasional I mean more than you are really willing to admit.
19. If your children are driving you crazy arguing with each other, start an argument with them. Then your children will bond over their mutual hatred of you and be quiet.
20. Children do not appreciate top sheets or high thread counts. Buy neither.
21. Homework time is the worst time of the day.  Help your kids and yourself by having a designated time and a quiet place to do homework. Preferably in a neighbor’s home.
22. Just say No to ironing.
23. Last, but not least, a glass of wine and some really bad TV makes everything seem a little better.