Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Towel Dilemna

Living in our little log home with seven kids can present its problems...one of them is the towel situation. Am I the only woman out there who has wanted to solve the towel dilemna? Ya' know,
everyone takes a new towel each day because no one remembers exactly which towel they used yesterday. ugh.


So I was praying about how to fix this and finally the Lord gave me this idea. It's working just grand so far!!! And if anyone gets caught with someone elses towel they lose one finger. Amazingly, all fingers are present and accounted for. =) j/k

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memorial Box Monday (On Tuesday)


Since bringing home my precious little treasures I am finding that "Memorial Box Monday (On Tuesday)" just has a really nice ring to it. =)
It wasn't that I didn't think about Memorial Box Monday yesterday, it was just that most of the items in our box have a really long story connected to them....or at least longer than I had time to type yesterday.
Then as I lay awake last night in the middle of the night the Lord gave me the wording to share for one of the items ......you see, there is a little item in our box that represents something in our family for one of our grown kids. It was placed in the box recently.


But because we pastor there are some things about our kids that we just will not share publicly but suffice it to say that this thing we were praying for weighed heavy on our hearts. Our child didn't know that we were praying for it, but will one day. =) It was one of those secret prayers that parents pray over and over. Actually, I would be more accurate to say we were begging the Lord for, pleading over and over throughout the day. We fasted. We agonized. We fasted some more. We asked a couple of close friends to pray for this situation with us.


Then around my 50th birthday things took a turn. The circumstances got even worse. They looked significantly MORE hopeless. Yet we know that we serve a mighty big God and He is bigger and mightier than what any circumstance might appear. I love to call Him our Mountain-Moving, Awe-Inspiring, Gasp-Giving God. And when we found that the circumstances were even worse we continued to pray; tearfilled prayers - oh yes - we prayed!
And around my birthday, when the situation looked the most bleak was a very good time to look into our Memorial Box and remind ourselves of all the other things that God has been faithful in. Remind ourselves of all the things that He has moved mountains for. Remind ourselves just how much He loves to work in the impossible and remind ourselves of just how completely trustworthy He really is. And then to pray some more!
As I lay awake last night the Lord told me to tell this vague story to remind you my bloggy friends that God is Almighty!! He is Faithful! Even when your circumstance looks bleak - keep praying! Even when your situation looks hopeless - keep pleading! Even when your circumstance looks like it is beyond repair - keep trusting! Even when your need looks too big - keep fasting! He is Jehovah!! And He is working the night shift on your behalf, He is moving mountains and He is orchestrating things behind the scenes that you are not even aware of.
Why is He moving? Because He loves you that much! Because He delights in you! Because He desperately longs to show Himself strong on your behalf. Because He is 100% faithful.

Let me just assure you, this situation was such that Dw and I were crying out in desperation! And little did we know that God, even when it looked like there was no hope, was STILL working!!
Then in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, laying in our bed at our daughter Abigail's home I awoke and looked at my cell to see the time and there it was. A text message. Hmmm. Weird. How had I slept through the ring of it coming in? Who was it from? I checked. It was from one of our kids.
And then I read the message. Oh my gracious! There in a text message was our miracle answer. I read it. I read it again. I blinked and read it again!! I gasped!! Did it really say what I thought it said? YES! Yes indeed! Yes, My Mountain-Moving, Awe-Inspiring, Gasp-Giving God had moved!! I could not wait for Dw to stir so I could tell him this monumental news.

The situation had looked so bleak, so hopeless, so desperate and yet, as bleak and as hopeless and desperate as it had looked - Almighty God had been working the night shift on our child's behalf.
So whatever you are praying for, begging for, pleading for - keep on! Fast! Watch and see "the salvation of our Lord." Yippee Jesus!
PS And one day, years from now, I will most likely share exactly what it was....but for now....please forgive, but it must remain a mystery. =)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Little African Snow White



Little Miss Elizabeth Mercy is girl through and through. We gave her a Snow White dress and she has worn it all day long. She stands and shakes it like a bell...just so sweet.
She and Elijah made some HUGE progress in the dog arena these past two days. Rett (thank you so much Rett!) had posted a comment when I mentioned them freaking out about our two dogs...Rett said to just hold the kids on the couch and let the dogs walk around as normal....awesome advice!!
BUT they stil would absolutely freak out, screaming basically hysterically (even in our arms)....I finally, over their screams yelled, "Elizabeth! Elizabeth! Is the dog trying to hurt you at all?" Now call me crazy, but I would have thought she would have whimpered her response...But no! Instead she instantly stopped screaming and with no emotion said, "No." I have to admit it made me laugh. All that hysteria and when asked a simple question the response was so bland.
Before Rett helped me with this dog hysteria we had been making the dogs stay in the kids rooms....which of course, was only prolonging the agony.
Anyway, yesterday Elizabeth was actually letting Polly Pocket (Autumn's dog) lick her hand....that was huge! Then today Elizabeth called to me to let me see that she was gently petting Nelly. Such a relief!
And last night both slept through the entire night from about 7:30 pm to 7:30am. That also, is huge, huge progress. Thank you for all your prayers! We are so thankful for them as they continue to adjust to life in their forever family!

The Streets of Kampala

Plaintains - eaten at almost all meals each day....this is normal
to see up and down the roadside..... Can you see the chickens in the cages? Dinner anyone?


A Home we passed....just like zillions of other homes
we passed...and what was it we were
complaining about regarding our own home - it was too
small or the landscape needing to be replaced or
we didn't like it for one reason or another??
Lord, please help me remember the homes
most of the world lives in when I want
to belly-ache about my beautiful home!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Adoption From Uganda (thru our eyes and experience)


About a bazillion of you have written and asked about adoption from Uganda....FINALLY! - here's the skinny, from our personal experience.


Uganda does not "do" adoption....at least not the way that China or other countries do it...


Infact if you go back and read early posts (Julyish) when Dw was in Uganda, I had googled Ugandan Adoption and found that they require a person to live in Uganda for three years prior. BUT there is a loophole and that is where we fit in. What Uganda DOES allow is for you to be granted guardianship (by the High Court of Uganda) so the child(ren) can come to the United States (probably other countries too) with the understanding that your intent is to adopt them once they are here. I know, doesn't make alot of sense really, but that's how they do it, and so it works!


Our attorney in Uganda is a member of Parliament and very experienced and definitely a Christian...infact he kept telling me the day that I was at his office and he had the signed, court order from the Judge, "This is a true miracle. Look at all these other files, they are all waiting for her to write her decision, but she has not yet done that. With you - she has already done that and why you found such favor with her, I do not know - but this is a true miracle from God! To then get the passports already - that is also a true miracle from God!!"


Peter told me each time I was in his office exactly what we needed to be praying for also! He would say, "This is what you need to pray for...." That was pretty sweet in my opinion.


I feel like I need to do a disclaimer....I hate, hate, hate hearing people say, "How much did they cost you?" (referring to any of our kids adoptions) While "cost" is supposedly a factor, how can we ever put a cost on a human being? We prefer to call it a 'ransom'....Our kids are of infinite value to us and our heavenly father...and so although there was money involved, lets just humor me and call it their "ransom"....K?
The start of the adoption has to be that you find a child you want to adopt. Peter, our lawyer, said that there are lots of baby homes in Uganda, but only a few that have such a good reputation. There have been problems with other homes of child selling, etc., but the baby home we found Elizabeth and Elijah at is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) baby home in Kampala. It is run by the Anglican Church of England and has a splendid reputation. The court recognizes their excellent reputation and that was definitely in our favor.


To find a child one must go to Uganda and look at places like Sanyu Babies Home (where Elizabeth and Elijah were.) And there are plenty of kids there to go around - trust me!! There is another home that Peter mentioned, but I will have to ask him again what the name was....it also has a very good reputation.


Anyway, back in July Dw found Elijah and decided to go see an attorney about him. ((If you are unfamiliar with the story, please read it under Important Posts on the Right Column. It will probably take about 20 minutes to read it. Starting with Our Wild Adventure Part 1.)) Anyway, he chose Peter because he was a Christian, was well-respected and had a good reputation, as well as being a member of Parliament.


After seeing him the first time, Peter told him to come back with Barbara (the Baby Home director). Dw had already asked if Elijah was available for adoption. There are a few children who are not available. For instance...Sharon's mother is in prison and so when she gets out she is supposed to come get her. There were brand new newborn twins there when I was there. Their mom had died in childbirth and their father, a very educated man, was unable to care for them as newborns, but came regularly to see them and hopes to bring them home one day. So there are some exceptions, but there are many, many children available. I will post more pictures soon!


Since it is only a baby home they only stay there until about age 3. At that point they are moved to a big orphanage and are never allowed to be adopted. My prayer is that many of you will feel called to Africa to adopt and that we have "Orphan Planes" bringing little ones home....Yippee Jesus!!


After that meeting with both Peter and Barbara, we wired money to Peter to get the adoption (ransom) started. For the record, prices in Uganda, although their "dollar" is shillings, they are not cheap. Nothing that I came across would I say was "cheap"....


When we were in China, souvenirs were 'cheap'....food, etc., all stuff was very reasonable....but Uganda, although not outrageously expensive, was not cheap either. Which, I was surprised...I thought things would be "cheap".


Anyway, since we are figuring up adoption costs here, there is also the airfare that it took to get Dw to Africa in the first place.


BOTH parents to did NOT need to be present at any point. Dw only came to Africa while I was there because of the paperwork - but you can learn from our ignorance and save one of you the trip. =)


Once Dw was back in the States we prayed lots about what to do. When it was apparent that the Lord was directing us to move forward we did our homestudy. Actually, since we had just (literally) finished Jubilee's homestudy we were able to just do an updated one. But the cost of the homestudy ($400 to update) has to be figured in to the big ransom picture. We also had to file our I-600 and get fingerprinted.
The airfare for me and Emma and Graham needsto then be added in. Obviously, add in whatever amount depending on how many will go. Our roundtrip airfare was somewhere around $2,400 each. We had the return flight for Elizabeth and a minimal fee for Elijah because he was under two and was considered a "lap baby".
When I went to see Peter the morning after I got there I had to give him his additional attorney fees and court costs. I carryed this all in cash in my little front pouch that hung around my neck. I also carried our three passports there.

On a humorous note: the little pouch was bulging and I wore it low because I didn't want it scratching my upper anatomy =) so it was more upper belly bulge really. On one of the fights someone who stopped to talk to me said, "Can I just ask you - are you pregnant?" I am laughing as I type this....I dressed up with a group of ladies a couple of months ago to pretend I was pregnant...if you missed that you can see it - complete with pictures here. But when this passenger asked me "are you pregnant?" I gasped (can you believe her guts when I had never seen her before) and laughed and said, "NO! Well I am adopting three kids - so maybe that counts!!!??!!" Hey, if I was pregnant and adopting three I probably would be declared certifiably insane!! And it probably could make the cover of the National Enquirer or something. But really...didn't it take guts to ask me that when that woman didn't even know me?? WOW!! Actually I should have said, "Oh my gosh?! Can you tell? Please don't tell my husband - please don't! It's going to be a surprise!" *giggle*

Ransom:

Attorney Fees: Between $4,000 - $5,000/child

Homestudy: Whatever your local agency charges you...

Room/Board: $80/night (breakfast & dinner were included) We stayed at Sanyu Babies home in a guest house.

Court costs & filing cost in Kampala: $1500.00

Physicals: $75/child


VISA Application: $500.00/child (approx)

Airfare: $2400. - to meet child

Airfare: $2400 - to go do paperwork and bring child home

Airfare: for child

Drivers: $500.00 ($25/day for small car)

Miscellaneous: $500.

Internet: $5/day - a MUST! =)

Ugandan Guide: $30/day

Cup of Coffee on Regular Basis w/chocolate cookies from Aroma: comparable to US

Attorney Fees: United States to process adoption (have no clue, we haven't called one yet)
Look in your child's eyes when they are safe with a mommy/daddy: Priceless!!


I will post this and please feel free to link back to my post from your blog. I may think of something I have forgotten and will update the ransom total if need be.


Dw and I feel that it could be that Dw will go and talk to Peter, as well as another attorney to see if the process can be streamlined. We also believe that if you are interested in going with him in June to Uganda (he is leading a team) you can meet the children and have an idea of what it is all like. First spots are being offered to our church and then we will update on how many spots remain.
If you have more questions, please feel free to write me at email on sidebar: APlaceCalledSimplicty@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Elijah Muller's FIRST Kiss

I don't know any mama who wants their kids to look less than adorable when picture taking. Somehow Elijah has been giving us the "deer in the headlights" look each time we are photo taking so I finally decided, since Dw is at the office, to work extra hard to get some pictures so everyone can see just how absolutely adorable he is.

Since both Elijah and Elizabeth have spent their entire lives in an orphanage every single experience is new. They are definitely behind developmentally, just like expected. It is said that for every three months a little one spends in an orphanage they are behind one month. Elijah is 23 months old and that would put him somewhere around a 14 month old probably. I would say that is a fair estimation. He is still "floppy" in muscle tone (heard commonly from many adoptive moms) and walks with a floppy toddle more than a firm little walk....his belly sticks out as he toddles - so sweet!!


He seems to be adjusting quickly, maybe a bit more quickly than Elizabeth. She is doing well, but still has grieving times, usually in the morning. He seems just to be going with the flow.


Of course, we have been showering them with kisses and Elizabeth has given us a few kisses on her own and will say, "I love you mama" all by herself. BUT the other day I thought, "Hey, I should see if Elijah would give me a kiss?" Having spent 2 weeks in the orphanage with them I knew that he probably had not ever been asked for a kiss. Elijah was just one of about 2 dozen kids his age and he was just another face in the little crowd. Not too likely to have ever had any real individual attention - at least for any extended period of time. So I asked him for a kiss and he leaned over and opened his little mouth and kissed my lips. I was so tickled!! What a precious little first kiss - and for his mommy - what a treasure!!


I am standing at our kitchen counter typing this and he is repeatedly running toward me from the opposite side of the kitchen giggling and squealing and banging his little head into the backs of my legs....I just hope he doesn't bite my bee-hind!! =/

Anyway, these pics are fresh from just a few minutes ago!!





Our Flights to Uganda & A Treat From the Lord

I thought I will tell the stories of Uganda, starting at the beginning...
our flights to Africa....
This look from my kids says, "We are already tired of your camera mom!" BUT just think how they will love looking back on the pictures someday when they are grown....just ask the bigger kids!! Food on international flights can leave something to be desired....but this one had OREOS!

We met this sweet lady on our flight from Amsterdam to Uganda....She had asked if Emma would hold her little girl as she used the ladies room. She grew up in Kampala, went to University in Germany, married a German and now had two children. She was returning home for Christmas, after being gone from Uganda for many years. She was a pleasure to talk to and gave me all her phone information so that if I should need anything, at all, while in Kampala, just call her!!

As we were walking down the airplane hallway thingy in Amsterdam to get on our flight to Uganda I happened to glance out the window....look at this spectacular treat from the Lord....Yes He is the ULTIMATE PROMISE KEEPER!!! And my promises were awaiting me in Africa! Yippee Jesus!!




Friday, December 26, 2008

An Oversight - Gotta Be Sleep Deprivation





Here it is the day after Christmas. We are completely snowed in and await our turn for the plowman to show up so we can be dug out. We were supposed to go to a Barn Party, complete with Square Dance, but that just isn't possible. The drifts are about 3 feet high and the lane leading to our home is llllloooooonnnnnngggg. It looks mighty pretty out there and Isaiah and Liberty have been outside almost all day digging a snow fort.
I decided to do some clean-up from all the Christmas festivities, inbetween the 3 (yes 3) Hallmark movies Dw and I have been snuggled watching....(total slugs, but what the heck, we are totally snowed in...speaking of which we were dumb enough to watch a movie about a family who loses their oldest Special Forces son in the war - ya' I know - what were we thinking?? Cleaned our tear ducts real good...)
Anyway while tidying up I came across one of the pieces of paper I used to tally up the comments for my little Christmas Eve give-a-way. I noticed two names on it. I thought, "that's weird, I don't remember typing them in..." So I dug and found the other sheet and sure enough, I somehow missed these names.
Ladies, please, please, please forgive!! I listed the names in order of the number of comments and so these are squished right after Lori and before Holly: Kathie (who happens to be leaving for China 2 weeks from yesterday to get her sweet baby girl Sierra) and Susan (whose blog always just causes me to sigh - such a peaceful place).....
So Kathie and Susan please do forgive me and thank you both for your faithful friendship and sweet comments while I was in Africa - I thank the Lord for you both!! xoxo
I guess we could chaulk it up to sleep deprivation or something, but I do pray you can forgive my oversight. Just email your street address to APlaceCalledSimplicity@yahoo.com and your little thank you gift from Africa will be heading to your home soon, along with all the rest of you sweet friends.

Christmas at Seth and Maria's

A New Family Picture - Just missin' Abigail, Ryan, Tyler and Jubilee....Seth and Maria - some of the dearest and sweetest friends we have ever had
(they are moving in the Spring to plant a church in the
San Francisco area - oh how we will miss them...
they have been with us since we pastored in Virginia....
they interviewed with us while on their honeymoon
and here it is six years later and
they have added little Ella and baby twins: Ian and Levi -
Seth and Maria - rare treasures that you only come across once in a lifetime)
Ella and Elizabeth......Friends Daniel, Ann and Ben joined the fun....
Ben And Emmy holding Ian and Levi

Isaiah and Ben....

Even Spiderman takes some time off from saving people
to play a bit on Christmas too...


Maria and Maria's brother Travis goofing off with Autumny...

Playing the Game: Left, Right, Center - lots of fun and lots and lots of laughs


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Morning in Our Little Log Cabin






















The little ones were up at 5:15 am for the day **yawn** As I got them up for breakfast I kept telling them that it was Jesus' birthday and today we would have lots of fun. They didn't get it, but not to worry - when everyone else got up 2 hours later they caught on quickly. =) I was able to get the cinnamon rolls mixed up so they could begin the rising process while most of the house was sound asleep.
We have a tradition on Christmas Eve that all the kids sleep in a fort they made...so once the bigger ones woke up I let Elijah and Elizabeth go upstairs and snuggle with them in their fort. Autumn had even come to spend the night in the fort so having 7 of our kids under our roof - too fun!
Traditionally, the way we do all the rest of the stuff is for the kids to wait upstairs until they get the cue to come down and open their stockings....they line up according to age to come down the stairs...
Then they open their stockings and then wait while Mom puts the rolls together to rise in the dish....then while Mom and Dad take showers and the rolls were able to rise in their pan....


Christmas story read by Daddy is next. Only this morning Tyler called while Daddy was reading the Christmas story to all of us....so we just let Tyler listen on the phone to Dad reading....well as Dad was reading and knowing Tyler was now listening in, Daddy started to cry and said, "Oh son, how I wish you were here." Tyler said, "That's not how the Bible story goes, are you adding to scripture? You know that is against God's laws...." We all laughed!!

The presents are slowly opened as we each watch one person at a time open each present. Elijah and Elizabeth were clueless about presentswhen they came home , but they had two presents from friends this past week and so today they were much more into them, even kind of eager to dig in.....
Abby and Ry skyped us while we were opening presents and had fun talking to Elizabeth and Elijah....Elizabeth kept kissing my computer to kiss A & R....a very special morning....filled with thankfulness that Elijah and Elizabeth are home forever...
Now it's nap time (for the babies and Dw) and then we are going to attempt to get to Seth and Maria's for dinner. It has been snowing steadily all day and there is a winter storm warning....3 feet of new snow expected on top of the probably 2+ feet we already have!! So we will see if we can get there and home.....Merry Christmas from our home to yours as we celebrate the birthday of THE KING of Kings and LORD of Lords.....xo

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Eve Surprise for YOU!!!


Dear sweet, sweet friends:


Do you love surprises as much as I do? Not just gifts - but TRUE surprises!! Like a surprise when someone comes to visit that you didn't expect. Like an unexpected phone call from someone you miss very, very much? Like an email from someone you haven't heard from in a very long time??


And have you ever seen the blog awards? Who starts those anyway? Knowing there is no giant 'rule book' that says who can start a blog award or not....I decided to have my own little award thingy....It's a "Faithful Friendship Award"....and being as I love, love, love surprises, I decided let's have a little Christmas Eve surprise/Friendship Award from our home to yours....**drum roll please**


You really probably cannot grasp how much your prayers on our behalf meant to us while I was in Africa. We truly believe that the mountains were moved ONLY because of the power of prayer! How faithful God is and for whatever reason He just gets a big ol' kick out of the body praying earnestly, united for a common cause (the orphan!) and believing together for a miracle.


To know that some of you were awake at night praying on our behalf - how very humbling and how it brings tears to our eyes. To hear from others that you kept refreshing A Place Called Simplicity just to see if there was anymore news - WOW!


Many days I could not get internet service (as you know) and Dw would read me your comments and we both would bawl on the phone - to know so many, we have never personally met cared - Yippee Jesus, Yipppee Jesus, Yippee Jesus - You guys totally rock!!


It is a pretty weird feeling to be in a very foreign country, alone (except for my 13 and 15 year old - whom I am to protect!) and unable to make things happen!! We were completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from all of you.....Most of you I have never met, but I truly consider you all my dear friends and....If we could have a giant party and all of you could come and meet our sweet little miracles - that would be the best! BUT as you know that can't happen - we will have to have a giant party in heaven one day - Yippee Jesus!


So while in Africa, overwhelmed with all your kindnesses, I wanted to do something. I thought, "how can I thank at least some of you?" And how can I do that without offending anyone?? (We pastor's wives can pretty much breathe at times and offend someone!??!!?! - ugh)....


I searched the little market places, high and low and finally found something that I wanted to give to some of you....but who and how? I prayed about it. Finally, I came up with this...


Since coming home I have counted all the comments people made and tallied them up....unfortunately I had to draw the line somewhere..... I have a little surprise for those who made the very most comments (while I was in Africa). I will mail them a special little gift I brought back with me. All I need is for each of you to write me at: APlaceCalledSimplicity@yahoo.com and send me your street address and I will have the kids take these sweet little things and package them up and on their way to you.


So Surprise! Suprise! Surprise!! Would: Amie, Rachel (and Mr. Daddy), Lisa in Ohio, Chris and Sarah, Julie Hoagland, Tony and Rett, Waiting Faithfully (Tina), Lori (whose neck I have hugged), Holly, Jaime, Adeye, and Sharla COME ON DOWN!!! Mr. Daddy even gets something extra special cause he and Rach (who made the second most comments) are a package deal and he made some comments that made Dw and I laugh our heads off....thanks Mr. Daddy - your humor is so much appreciated!! =)
Now, please oh please oh please, no hate mail for those who were runners-up...remember your TRUE reward is in heaven!! =)


I pray that these gifts will regularly remind each of you of the continual faithfulness of our Mountain-Moving, Awe-Inspiring, Gasp-Giving God!!


PS I love giving stuff away - so keep the comments coming cause ya' just never know what the future holds!!! =) Much love to all of you from our home to yours!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Memorial Box Monday (On Tuesday) - An Africa Story


If my friends thought I was a tad behind before, well the world of two in diapers (again!) and little people who are discovering new things and afraid of many things...."behind" is all relative I guess.
Our little log home is completely buried in snow as it snowed and snowed all day yesterday. We are trusting that someone will come dig us out at some point today. The long lane leading to our home is filled with drifted snow that has come across the pastures.....trees loaded with snow......picture perfect gorgeous!

Dw did just say to me, "Well it's not a question of 'will we have a white Christmas?....it's a question of will there be any presents for Christmas?" We were going to head out to do some much needed Christmas present shopping....so we'll see....


But I am dying to tell the stories of Africa - God's mighty faithfulness and power and how He provided over and over and over for our needs!! He is worthy of praise!!


Anyway, before heading to Africa I had got to thinking.....I needed some way to keep track of time. Here at home I usually just rely on my cell phone, but Verizon is not a possibility in Africa.
I decided to buy an inexpensive watch to take with me. When JoJo came to visit she and I did some Africa shopping and I found a watch to take. I was relieved that that was all set.


I decided to just leave the watch on the counter till actual day of departure. That morning of December 1st we had to be at the airport at 4:30am so I hurriedly went to clip the little plasticky thingys but just as I was doing that I noticed that my brand new little watch had lost time. Not a couple of minutes, but actually about 8 hours. UGH! Stupid watch!


No point in taking that dumb watch!! I said, "Lord what am I going to do about a watch? You have to provide some way for me to know the time while there. After all I will have meetings at the attorney's office, court appointments, etc." We grabbed all 11 of our suitcases and carry-ons and were off.


The flight to Denver was bumpy, going over those mountains. We had a couple of hours in Denver and headed to the gate for our next flight to Detroit. Each leg of the journey to Africa our tickets showed that the kids and I were separted in seats. I was rather troubled by that. Long flights with the kids in other rows, just not so much fun to this mama.


When I went to sit in the seat for the Denver to Detroit flight I sat between two older ladies. I thought at first they knew each other, but it turns out that they didn't. The lady on my left immediately said, "hi". I know there are people out there who just don't want to chat on their flights, but I am not one of them. I love getting to know people, hearing their stories and where life has taken them. I also love to tell people about the how faithful the Lord has been in my life, even they will pause even for a moment, I am waiting to tell them about the Lord.


So this sweet lady, who I eventually found out was soon to turn 85 and I struck up a conversation. And truly, we had a great time chatting. We talked about all kinds of things: her kids, her grandkids, her husband's death, and eventually I told her why I was on the flight - heading to Africa to bring home my sweet babies.


We showed each other pictures of our loved ones. We chatted freely about all kinds of things, she was just so fun to talk to! I felt like I had known her for years and it made the flight pass quickly. In the midst of our conversation I said, "Do you have the time? I had a watch I had bought to bring, but when I went to put it on this morning it had not kept time at all. It must be almost time to land." She checked her watch and told me the time. She went on to tell me that her son (whom she had just been visiting in the Denver area) had just bought the watch for her. I told her how much her son must love her!


We went on talking and she asked me all kinds of questions about the adoptions, about ministry, about my other kids.


Before long they told us that we were descending toward Detroit and we needed to buckle up and prepare for landing. This sweet lady then said, "Ummm, I really want to give you something." I'm sure my eyes popped out! I turned to her and said, "What?" She said, "I am so happy for what you are doing for these children, I would like you to have my watch to take to Africa with you." I about fell over!! I told her that there was no way I could take her watch. I reminded her that her son had just given her the watch. She said her son would want me to have it too. I told her over and over that I could not take her watch - BUT she was completely insistant.


Of course, when I had mentioned my watch problem, there was no ulterior motive or desire for manipulation in my heart. I was merely chatting with my new friend and not once in a bazillion years would I have thought that my comment would prompt her to give me her watch.


We argued back and forth. Those who know me closest know that I don't even ask my close friends to borrow things, it's just not in my DNA. Eventually though, this sweet lady would not hear of a 'no'. She got out her camera and took a picture of me. When we landed and were taxing to the gate she phoned her daughter from her cell. She said, "I have just met the nicest lady who is going to Africa to adopt TWO children, we have had the best visit."

I hugged her and promised I would write her when I returned from Africa and that I would also send her a picture of my Elizabeth and Elijah.
I rejoiced with the Lord's provision and each time I used my new watch I was reminded of God's provision, His blessings and His complete faithfulness.
Now there is an old watch of mine sitting in our Memorial Box which symbolizes this whole watch story!! How God longs to remind us of His faithfulness and in turn have us tell these stories to our children and our children's children.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pausing to Pray....

These last few weeks my heart has had a heavy place in it. This past year two very precious people we know went to be with Jesus.


Many of you remember me mentioning, Brian, a tender-hearted man of God - lover of the orphan and widow. Along with his wife, Cecelia, they were one of the most generous couples Dw and I have ever met in our entire life. Their story is one of compassionate generousity. Not something that can be said about most today. In February of this year Brian went to be with his sweet Savior after a horribly long battle with a very rare and painful cancer. His loss is so hard on Cecelia and their three young kids: Jessica, Brett and Cody - and everyone that knew him!! Dw and I still choke up each time we talk of Brian. Such a precious saint - truly!



Then there is a young man, Joshua. The youngest son of friends of ours and a friend of our Grahams. He was 13 and went to be with Jesus after a horrific and very tragic accident. Josh's mom, dad and only brother were sitting in the row behind me this past Sunday morning. All through the service, although we have so much to rejoice about I could think of little else except their pain and I kept starting to cry.


Then, of course, there is Stephen and MaryBeth Chapman and their little tiny Maria.


All of these folks are about to celebrate their first Christmas without their precious treasure. My heart cannot even comprehend what that must be feeling.

So in the midst of all your Christmas festivities I am asking each of you to remember those who have lost someone this past year. Pray for them. Bear their burden. Minister to them. Love on them. If you don't know what to say, tell them you are praying for them. And always be sensitive to their deep pain.

Settling In....

Several people have asked how things are going and how Elizabeth and Elijah are settling in.


All things considered they are doing well, and yes, today is the third day and it was so much better than the first day or two.

There are several things that have been noteworthy (for lack of a better word). They are absolutely terrified of our two dogs. Not just a bit scared, but terrified. We have two dogs, Lucy (black lab) and Nelly (Schnauzer)...when they "met" them both Elijah and Elizabeth literally scrambled almost to my shoulders. If it wasn't so sad to see them so terrified it would have made anyone laugh. They scrambled in almost one second flat. The cats we have are barn cats, but they do come and look in our back door several times a day. They are also terrified of them.

Actually I love stuffed animals....especially Boyd Bears -all dressed up cute and lookin' like little people. Well I took two of the sweetest little (and I do mean little) bears to Africa to give to my new babies. I could just picture them snuggling with them and loving on them. After all, I love, love, love bears - who wouldn't. So imagine my shock when I gave them to them and they cried in anguish and turned away - literally quivering. Okay, maybe not everyone loves Boyd's bears. I had to quick put them away. You have to understand these were not dogs that I shook at them, but little Boyd bears with over-alls on and a dress and hat on the other - and all I did was reach them toward them. I ended up giving them to Jess and asking her to take them to the slums and give them to someone.

So I should have had a bit of warning from the stuffed animals that our dogs and cats would not be hit. And then there is the picture book with the little patches of dog "fur" and horse "hair" and sheep "wool" and duck "feathers". I love that little book. But they cower and refuse to touch the little patch of fake whatever. I guess you could say we have a way to go before they are begging for a dog of their own for Christmas.
Yesterday we saw many more smiles. Church went well. Each service Dw had me come forward and we stood and introduced them both to all our sweet family. Both services Elizabeth waved to everyone....which of course brought an instant "Awwww" from the crowd.
After we went to precious friends, Laura and Dane's for dinner after church. The kind of friends where we just hang out and laugh and eat way too much. Elijah and Elizabeth did awesome. They played and smiled and even ran around a bit.


Laura had a present for each of them. Which reminds me that we gave them a present a friend, Kim, had brought over the other day. They looked at it. Our guess is that they had never seen a present before. We showed them how to open it. Still nothing. It wasn't just being polite, they had absolutely no clue what to do with it. Here's Elijah wearing one of the hats Kim made for my kids....(they are so stinkin' cute)...




Yesterday at Laura's, again, they just stared at their wrapped gift. We finally started opening it for them and they got curious and eventually helped with opening it a bit. (Pictures to follow)
We are also guessing that they have never seen a mirror before and Elizabeth loved looking in it. She kept saying, "Mama - look and see! Look and see, Mama!" Sweet baby girl!
They love Cheerios! Woo-hoo!! They have eaten almost anything we put in front of them. They are willingly drinking lots of water. Living at 7400' we have to continually drink lots of water, as altitude sickness is for real. At the orphanage, honest to goodness, we never, ever saw them drink any water. Liquidy "porridge" is part of breakfast and dinner (seems to be made with milk mostly, very thick) and they drink that. Twice while there we saw them each get a little glass of some sort of juice. They had glasses of milk in their little pre-school class they went to, in the 'classroom' behind the orphanage's main building.

Not sure what to do with the box????