Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Night Shift

Recently I was having a discussion with one of our kids.  They were deeply troubled {as was I} about a very serious situation happening to someone we all deeply love.  We actually both were crying.  In the midst of our talking, I tried to reassure them that the Lord was faithful.  He could be trusted with this situation.

Through tears they questioned, "But look what happened to you mom when you were young.  How was the Lord faithful then mom?"

The words pierced my heart.

They stung my soul.

And, no doubt, they caught me off-guard.

It caused me to go to prayer.  To adequately answer this difficult question.  A trite response would not do my faithful God justice.

And so I thought, that if it's coming up in our home these days, it is probably coming up in some of your homes or hearts too, "Where is God when life is beyond painful?"

Please remember, I am not an expert, but can only speak out of my personal experience.

The discussion with my treasure the other day was not easy.  The current situation that we were talking about, well, it grieves our hearts deeply.  We have cried many tears.  Personally, I have to push it out of my mind at times or I become overwhelmed with emotion.



And all around us there are tragedies.  Innocent lives lost or changed forever.

So where is God in it all?

Personally speaking, it is true.  Life for me as a child was filled with painful circumstances.  Abuse abounded.  Unspeakable things happened.  Fear of the night overwhelmed.

And the question lurks in the back of our very human minds:

"Where was God when all that was going on?"

And as I responded to my precious child the other day, "He was right there with me."

Yet the questioning persisted, "But mom!  Look what happened!  Why didn't He stop it?"

 Hard questions.  Answers that are hard for our human minds to wrap around.

For me personally, this is what it all boils down to:

God is an abundantly faithful God.

He hates pain.

He hates sin.

He hates to see us hurt.

But we live in a fallen world.  Human beings make painful choices that inflict pain on other human beings.  Tragically, bad things do happen to innocent people.

Yes, it's true, Almighty God has the power to stop anything that comes our way.  But most of the time, He doesn't.  He does not interfere with man's choices.

Why?

He created us each with our own free will.  Some people use their free will to bless others, others use it to wreak havoc in the life of those around them.  

Just as it is with the gift of salvation, He does not 'make' anyone do anything.

All of us were created in the image of God.  We each have a choice every.single.day. how we will use each day we are given.   Will we bless others?  Will we hurt others?  And will we spend our day doing what the Lord created us to do?

So back to the original question:

In the midst of painful circumstances where was/is He?

From personal experience here's where He was for me:

He was comforting me by reminding me of the scriptures I had in my memory.  {I memorized hundreds of verses as a child.}

He was bringing to mind songs from the church I attended, which ministered to my heart.

He continually whispered to me that He loved me and to never give up.

He does indeed, work the night shift!!  

Not a moment in my life lapsed where He was not there.

In His abundant grace the Lord placed people around me who would bring hope to me:  my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Miller, my 5th grade teacher Miss Christ, my 7th and 8th grade English teacher Mr. Robinson, my Sunday School teacher Miss Andrews, my youth group leaders Mr and Mrs. Hetrick, my choir leader Mr. Larson, my friend's mom and dad Mr and Mrs. Geis,  my first ever beau S and my friend D from church.

Although none of those eleven people I just listed above had even a slight clue what was going on in my home yet He used each of them to regularly minister to my soul by just being kind to me.  Painfully shy, they each reached out to me and just treated me with respect and grace.

I have no doubt that some of them saw something and prayed for me.

They were His hands and feet.

And today, we, too, are His hands and feet.  We must constantly be looking about for those who need us to be His hands and feet.  They are everywhere!  

God does work the night shift on our behalf and He uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways to be His hands and feet, if we are willing.

God sees every single tear.  He will one day wipe away all tears.  But as we walk through life, He promises to use the pain in our lives to minister to others, if we let Him.

"I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the Lord has done for us"
Isaiah 63:7

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Poem "Headin' Home"

We were supposed to leave a few days ago,
But every one of us shouted, "NO! NO! NO!"

The time at the old Saunders farm home
Did nothing to make any of us want to roam

For we love this place more than any other one
It's memories are many, all filled with super fantastic fun

We've played Spoons, Scattegories and even Scrabble,
We all think Ruby's sayin', "Let's stay here, babble, babble, babble"

But Alas, the time to travel to Phoenix has arrived
In truth, saying 'good-bye' to the old home was barely survived

Sure loved the creaking of the floors,
and the constant banging of the old wooden screen doors,

The red cupboards in the kitchen always made my heart glad,
Years ago custom made and lovingly painted by Dw's dad,

For 12 days, the walls echoing again with giggles, laughter and joy
In the farmhouse that once raised a boy and a boy and a boy and a boy,

A different route to Arizona this time we will take
And maybe a few blog-turned for real friendships we will make

New York is in the rear view mirror
Winding down route 15, Williamsport is quite near,

Where we'll pause for a coffee and hug Uncle Dan
Dw's next oldest brother, he's the musical man,

Playing the piano or conducting famous operas
For real, we've always been Uncle Dan's biggest fan...

Sadly his commitments wouldn't allow him to vacation with us,
He adores the kids, they love him so - always make such a fuss!

Maryland will be next, and then on to Newport News, too
Liberty's birth mom is expecting us to have dinner and visit for a few,

Playing at Virginia Beach if the weather will permit
On to hugging IVO/Blog friends in Raleigh/Durham we do commit,

Overnight near Asheville, NC in the home of a dear, dear friend,
Lori, sweet Lori, through thick and thin, true friend to the end,

Memphis then south to Etheridge - the Amish we hope to see,
Shoofly pie is a must, as sure as we're ever gonna be

From there we'll travel to Little Rock for the night
Some think all this driving?  They'd rather take a flight,

Oklahoma is next, then on to the city of Albuquerque
Graham and the boys keep eating all the beef jerky,

Phoenix will then be on the horizon,
Sure thankful for our phone wired by Verizon

Oh how we're lovin' the precious time we are together
Wishin', quite honestly, the trip would actually last forever.

PS Rhyming all of that was kind of hard
But I tried and now my brain is seriously charred.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Power of Healing

For those who have been hanging around our Place Called Simplicity for
 any length of time you will understand the importance of this post.

Yesterday the kids, Dw and I drove to Buffalo to show the younger
 ones my old stomping grounds.  We stopped and visited old friends 
we had not seen in a dozen years.  

We drove by my elementary school and found the doors wide open.

I asked Dw to stop the car and ventured in....I walked the halls, remembering.

As I walked toward one hall a woman down the hall called to me, 
"Can I help you?"  

I told her that I had attended this school from K-6th grade and had not been
 back for probably almost 45 years.  
The tears brimmed and fell as I told 
how painful those years at home had been and how the school
 held such powerful memories. 

It turns out she was the principal.
I told her how painful home had been and how I could not believe all 
the strong memories that were spilling out as I walked the halls.

After we talked awhile, I mentioned how powerful her role was in
 ministering to the hurting kids who now walk the halls.  
She was so very kind and tenderhearted.

My tears just would not stop.

She welcomed me to come back any time I wanted and walk the halls.

So powerful.

A little later I called my dad.  

I asked if he was available if we could stop over.
The last time I had gone to see him, I wrote about it here.
Some of you may remember how that went.
This time though he was eager for us to come and told me to bring ice cream 
{which he would pay me back for} 
so the kids could enjoy some while there.

When we arrived, it was clear from the moment he opened his door
 that he was tickled we were visiting.

Over and over he mentioned how pretty Ruby was.
Ruby enjoyed Grandpa as well.



It did our hearts such good!

I am thankful for the love and power of God which heals,
brings restoration and reconciliation
{if we allow it}.
Almighty God is always so faithful.


"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
 just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
 Ephesians 4:32

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ruby Loved It All

 The Ruby-girlfriend love, love, loved celebrating Emmy's birthday....



She loved when Elizabeth and Liberty were rockin' the jumps off the cement tables...














Ruby loved the sound of the waterfalls ...and eating our breakfast we had made in the
exact spot we have done our annual breakfast in Letchworth State park for 36 years now...

{Different kids present, mom & dad now gone...but same tables...same BBQ pit...
same waterfall cascading nosily in the background...
same train tressel going over the falls}

She loved it all!







She loved when we were all laughing and playing tree tag...
and she really loved when Mommy carried her and together they were a team!








She loved listening to the giggles as Daddy kept pouring the water in the kids mouths from afar....


Ruby especially loved when we sang Happy Birthday to Emmy later in the day....

Ruby loved it all..

and it's time to celebrate her birthday next....


Monday, July 23, 2012

Emma Joy

Yesterday was a really special day for our family
as we celebrated Emma's 19th birthday.

Last year on July 22nd Karl lay in a coma and we did not know what the outcome would be.
It was a very difficult day to celebrate her 18th birthday.
{Picture taken in Uganda when Emma and I were there bringing Ruby home.}


But this year we made up for it - big time - 
we celebrated the girl whose life has already impacted so many....

We also knew in the corner of our hearts, that as Emma prepares to move to Uganda in 3 months, 
this would be our last guaranteed birthday of Emma's at home.

We made sure to make every second count...

Tomorrow
 I will show you all the things we did to give Emma memories that would last,
but for now, 

I want to honor our precious daughter,
and thank the Lord publicly for the privilege of being her mom.
Her life is known by her tenderness for others, her gentle speech, her gracious kindness,
 her spunky upbeat joy, her prankster personality,
her love for all she meets, her peaceful spirit. 

Emma hears the Lord speak very clearly.
He has spoken some powerful things.  Some of which are tucked away...
to watch and see as God unfolds it all. 
Emma knew from the time she was only about 7 years old that God
 had called her to Africa to serve the orphan and she has been
 on a mission since then.  Steadily preparing for the future that God 
would unfold bit-by-bit over the last 12 years.

{Here's a link to her blog, in case you haven't ever checked it out.}


Having traveled to Uganda 11 times now, Emma is no stranger to the land God has called her to. 
In fact when she arrives at one village the people gather shouting 
and chanting, "Emma!  Emma!  Emma!"  They know she loves them so! 

Many years ago on her ipod, she had engraved, 
"Ugandan at Heart.  Isaiah 6:8"

The Lord has some amazing things in store for her and all she ministers to. 

I know many of you have been blessed, as well, by our Emma Joy's life.

Would you please be willing to join me in wishing our treasure-girl
 a very, very Happy 19th Birthday?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Still Hanging

Many years ago, when our Tyler first depl*yed, we had traveled for a visit with my in-loves.  I will never forget my mom-in-love saying to me, "I found some yellow ribbon, I want to get it up outside - I want to be sure everyone knows we want our Tyler coming home.  Can you help me get it up?"

Slowly and lovingly we put the yellow ribbons up.  My mom-in-love's hands showing the signs of years of arthritis taking it's toll.  It was a tedious project.

And then....

They never took the ribbons down.

My father-in-love went home to be with Jesus.

The yellow ribbons remained.

Maybe no one noticed it.

But I prefer to believe the yellow ribbons remained as their way of saying, "We are so proud of you Tyler.  And precious grandson, we need you to always, always, always come back."

A couple of years passed and Dw's sweet mom went into a nursing home.

The yellow ribbons remained intact.

And then in March my mom-in-love joined my sweet dad-in-love in heaven.  They had been married 70+ years when he passed away.

When we arrived Wednesday night and saw the old, tired yellow ribbons still hanging, knowing how she had tenderly made sure the ribbons hung, and now with our Tyler currently on his 6th depl*yment, our eyes welled with tears.  

Lovingly hung many years before, for their grandson, our son.

So grateful for my in-loves love for us and their grandson.

So thankful for our military and their spouses.

Always proud to be an American.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Loss of Words

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
Psalms 34:18 niv


The senseless loss of innocent life is unexplainable.  There are no words.  Our hearts grieve with the victims, their families, the theatre employees, the rescue workers, hospital staffs and the community of Denver/Aurora at large.   We also pray for the law enforcement as they continue to work at sifting through the pieces to this tragedy.

There is no vacation from the reality of our wicked world.   How sickened we are and oh how we are praying.   {Aurora is where the Children's Hospital of Denver is located.}

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Huggin' Necks

While passing through Indiana, we had the privilege of hugging necks
 with a sweet bloggy turned talk-on-the-phone and now real life friend.

We have much in common:  
a love for the orphan, adoption, Jubilee and her son Philip 
were at the same baby home while in Ch*na and if that's not enough - 
while most of our peers are empty nesters, those of us 
who graduated in the 70's friends have to stick together.   
{I mean, not that I graduated in the 70's, but Dw and 
Kevin and Janet most definitely did. haha}

What a joy to hang with our friends for a bit at their beautiful home...

Philip and Jubilee


Jubilee and Eli


Philip, Sophia and Elizabeth


Janet, Ruby and I

Seriously, are they not some of the most precious treasures together? 
{who wouldn't be together it wasn't for the spectacular beauty of adoption}
{Sophia not pictured because she wasn't 
feeling well by the end of our visit}

Please Would You Help? {NOW!}

If you have a child with disabilities, plan to adopt a child with disabilities, or even if you think that disabilities is not on your radar - please, listen up!

Mike Farris is the man who began Home School Legal Defense Association {which is a group of lawyers whose families also home school} that has been defending the rights of home schoolers around the world since 1983.  Over 85,000 families belong to HSLDA.

Mike Farris a Godly man, with deep conviction.  HSLDA and Mike Farris do not send letters like this unless things are extremely serious.  Mike Farris is not given to be an alarmist - not ever!  So the urgency with which he writes is not to be underestimated!  

Now if you don't home school and your kids are grown - please don't stop reading!

If your children are grown, please don't stop reading!

If you don't have children with disabilities, please don't stop reading!

I have met more people who have said, "I never thought we would adopt a child with disabilities" or "I never thought I would home school, but here we are..."

Either way, there are families who need your support at this moment whether this affects you or not....and this clearly is an extremely serious matter which for our family will directly affect Ruby, Isaiah and Jubilee....would you help?  Please?

Here is Mike Farris' letter in its entirety:


July 13, 2012


Update on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Senator John Kerry announced yesterday that he plans to pass the UN
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities before July
26--just 13 days from today. He has scheduled a formal committee vote
next Thursday--July 19. This is an unprecedented attempt to jam a
binding international treaty through the Senate without proper time
for debate or consideration.

Yesterday's "hearing" was a carefully orchestrated attempt to get this
treaty ratified without any serious consideration. There were nine
total witnesses. Only two people opposed to the treaty were allowed to
testify--Steven Groves from Heritage Foundation and me.

The administration seeks to promote two ideas that are simply
inaccurate: 1. Disabled Americans who travel overseas will directly
benefit by U.S. ratification of this treaty; 2. Ratifying a treaty
does not require us to comply with international law.

They are arguing that a treaty is an empty promise with no actual
substance. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes it clear
that the administration is wrong. Treaties form a part of the Supreme
Law of the Land once ratified.

And no one even attempted a serious answer to our core parental rights
concern.

Article 7 of the UNCRPD gives government the ability to override every
decision of a parent of disabled children if the government thinks
that its views are in "the best interest of the child."

This is a radical attempt to take away parental rights. Make no
mistake--if they succeed at ratifying this treaty, the Convention on
the Rights of the Child is next. This is not a battle just for parents
with disabled and special needs children. This is a battle for every
parent.

We absolutely must flood the U.S. Senate with phone calls. Senator
Durbin mentioned that they were hearing from homeschoolers (and he was
annoyed at us for voicing our opinion of his side's planned assault on
parental rights.) But, we need to do even more.

This is the most important issue that we will face this year. By July
26--up or down--we will either take another step toward becoming the
subjects of a world government OR we will preserve our rights as
American citizens.
I urge you all in the strongest possible terms-- CALL BOTH OF YOUR U.S.
senators today. If you have called them in their Washington, D.C.
office--call them again in their in-state district offices which you
can find online.

The Capitol Switchboard's phone number is 202-224-3121, or use HSLDA's
Legislative Toolbox.

Get everyone you know to call their senators as well.

Network.

Facebook.

Phone lists.

Every place you can network--please do it.

And pray like mad.

Taking away our parental rights won't build wheelchair ramps for
disabled Americans who travel to other countries. The promise being
made that this treaty will result in new accessibility options in
foreign countries is an illusion.

The demise of our parental rights is a certainty.

Call.  Call. Pray. And Call.

Michael P. Farris, J.D., LL.M.
Chairman, HSLDA



Please spread the word!!  As Mike suggests:  Tell your FB friends, Twitter it, call friends to call...PRAY!


Please do not wait until tomorrow!  Do it today!


Thank you so much.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Road Trip Fun

Love makin' memories with the kids....serious discussions, giggly talks, Graham playing the guitar as we sing worship songs crossing the country....and there's the crazy stuff too.  Familiness.  Love it all.

We are the family made for road trips...no doubt...and we feel sad for those who think car rides are boring - clearly they need to ride a day or two with us!

Everyone is doing fantastic...Ruby loves the closeness of all of us and is thriving....she's actually making some strides and we couldn't be more tickled....hopefully we can catch it on video so we can post it to You Tube....

Absolutely love the farm fields of Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania....seriously, there is something that calls to me from those big white farm houses along the road...I imagine the stories they would tell if they could talk...{and yes, I have seen the show "If Walls Could Talk"and that is a pretty amazing thought!}. And although I love Phoenix, there is something about the mid-west and north east that just can't be beat {don't worry, you'll hear me say the same thing about the southern route}...our America is stinkin' gorgeous, am I right or what?

We have stopped to grab a bite at Chick-fil-A in Erie, PA...logged {so far} just over 2,200 miles on the car odometer and have about 150 miles till 'home'.

We've decided to take the southern route home...not sure what that looks like or when exactly, but you in the southern states may see our van zipping along one of these days...

Lovin'.every.minute.of.it.all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Happens When...

two great big orphan-lovin' families gather together?

Precisely this:


Yesterday as we were driving through Oklahoma we had the privilege of having lunch with some precious friends...Greg and Sara and their children.  Greg and Sara are pastors as well.   Greg and their son Louis also went to Africa on the February 2012 GO team with Dw and Emma.   They fell in love with Uganda as well!

We sat together over pizza and watermelon and laughed and talked and shared hearts and laughed some more.  Such precious friends brought together by Almighty God!



Although sometimes the adoption/orphan-lovin' road can feel lonely, the Lord has graciously used blogs and other modes to join hearts across the world.   Thankfully, we had the privilege of one such beautiful connection yesterday.

I know most of you know just what I'm talking about and, personally speaking, if I could I would love to stop and spend time with each of you - what a blast we would have - no doubt!!

Miracles and Milestones - Because of HIM

The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17


picture taken yesterday 7/16/12

One year ago today our lives changed forever.  As many of you know, today marks the one anniversary that Karl was on his way to pick up our Autumn for church.

The Mercy Flight had just arrived as we arrived at the hospital.  In the moments that followed, as my hands trembled, I typed a broken, misspelled and disjointed blog post asking you all to pray.  And many, many, many of you around the world began to feverishly intercede for Karl's life.  The trauma doctor gave Karl no hope.


I keep starting to cry while typing and thinking of the Facebook photos and comments that began to arrive from so many of you, including Karl's name written on your fingers or hand.   Hundreds of you began to sign up on the round-the-clock prayer sheet that Karl's life would not only be spared, but to wake up out of the coma and to be healed completely.   The days and nights were covered and most places had many, many people signed at each position.  You, my precious bloggy friends, are amazing.  We couldn't have done it without you - thank you again a thousand times over - we love you each so very much!




Yesterday as we were leaving Amarillo, we found the other side of the highway closed....our side was almost at a standstill for miles and miles.  After a long while of inching along we found that the other side had been closed for probably the most horrific accident scene we have {personally} ever seen.  Too disturbing to even type about.  We began to cry.  Though there were dozens of workers tending to the situation, there was not a sound coming from any of it.  Death was everywhere.

It was all very real as we knew that the very next day would be the anniversary of our Holy Ground days.

If you are a doubter whether miracles exist today or you have a desire to share the miracles that God still does with your kids, please read the story of Karl - where all honor and glory goes to Christ and Him alone.

I have linked the story here:

Our Holy Ground Part 1

Our Holy Ground Part 2

Our Holy Ground Part 3

And to think, that one month from tomorrow Autumn and Karl will be married - we stand in awe of the miracles of Almighty God.

As this anniversary day approached, Vicki texted and asked if she could also write an update.  Below is her thoughts as we humbly and gratefully celebrate all that God has done since July 17, 2011.

We will praise you, mighty God, for all you have done.  You are, indeed, mighty to save...and we gratefully bless you Lord for saving Karl that day.  You alone are worthy of praise!

Vicki's thoughts one year later:

MIRACLES AND MILESTONES

One year ago, on July 17th, 2011, the call came in. Karl was in a serious motorcycle accident. He had struck a car that turned unexpectedly in front of him. He was on a highway going 55 to 60 miles per hour. The skid mark showed that he tried to avoid the collision, but everything must have happened too fast. Eye witnesses tell that he hit the car, went over the hood, hit the ground and went 55 more feet across the highway. Somewhere in all that ,he lost his helmet, boots and socks. How could he ever survive?

Only by the grace of God.

Traffic stopped and 5 people responded to God's prompting. Liz, ER nurse and close friend.  Denise, former EMT. Mike, an anesthesiologist, and his wife Sarah, {who encouraged Mike to help}. Monty, a prayer warrior. Why were these people brought together at this moment ?.....To help save Karl's life. How?

Only by the grace of God.

Through 3 1/2 weeks in ICU and 9 weeks of Rehab we saw our son go from extremely critical...minute by minute....to a walking, talking miracle on his way home. Granted there have been many hard times through this last year but every miracle we saw led to a milestone in his recovery. Karl is working at his previous job, living in his own place and planning his upcoming wedding to Autumn.   How could a guy who was not expected to survive, let alone recover from such a trauma be living the life that he is?

Only by the grace of God.

Once again, we thank all of you who have prayed...some unceasingly...for Karl and our family. Thank you for your love, support and help through ALL of this. Family and friends have been incredible. Having Linny's blog to pass all this info around has been amazing.

But mostly, thanks and praise to our gracious God for giving us our Karl back. We have been so blessed. We celebrate this day of Karl's "rebirth" and look forward to all the miracles and milestones that God has yet to grace us with.

Love and Blessings,
Bob, Vicki, Karl, Autumn, Ryan and Derek

Monday, July 16, 2012

Texas, Oklahoma & Missouri

The hotel in Amarillo was wonderful.  Kind of funny that after leaving I got a message from a bloggy friend who said that she had gotten a text message from a friend traveling who had sat next to a family at breakfast at the hotel she was staying at.  She said that the family had many children of different ethnic backgrounds, although she had not spoken to the family.  Turns out, I guess, that it was us.  As the old saying goes, "It is a small world after all."

We were planning on meeting friends for lunch in Oklahoma and Dw had wondered what time we would leave the hotel in the morning.   The girls and I were in one room and the boys and Dw down the hall in another room.I told Dw that we would meet them at 7:30am.  The girls asked if I was going to set an alarm.  Naaaah.  No need to.  Ruby wakes up for a bottle in the night and never, ever, ever goes back to sleep, so I knew I would be awake, no matter what.


Since the van is the closest thing we will ever get to an RV or camper, 
I decided that we ought to call it the "cabin".  
It works for me and don't go saying, "it ain't no cabin, Linny."
If I say it's our cabin, then it's our cabin.


Well at 7:30 am there was a knock on our door and I woke with a jolt.  For the second time since coming home to us, Miss Ruby had slept through the entire night!  I could not believe it and am still shaking my head.  No doubt, traveling agrees with this precious little chica of ours.




We are settled in for the night in Springfield, Missouri.  Kids are playing in the pool and Ruby just had a bath...all is well.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rattlers, Rattles and Riding....

We're heading down the road and will soon be in Amarillo, Texas.  The kids were so excited last night that I doubted that anyone would even sleep.

I actually fell asleep while giving Ruby her bottle in our bed but was jumped to a start with a bunch of commotion....as it turns out the neighbor had had the kids feeding their dogs while they were away.  Late last night Graham and Liberty were walking to their home to feed their dogs.

They had just begun the walk over and were just beyond our next door neighbors, where there happens to be a desert wash when Graham noticed what he thought was a stick as they were heading down the sidewalk...suddenly he heard the stick start to rattle - LOUDLY!

He screamed, "RUN!" and turned on his heels and took off for home....Liberty was not far behind and being a natural runner, she managed to catch up...but as they turned on their heels, it lunged at them, only about 3 feet from Liberty!



They both said it was one of the scariest things they've ever had happen.  Dw drove them back to the neighbors and they passed the rattler still laying where they had seen it.  It was about 4 feet long!

That was more excitement than any of us were really up for....kind of crazy, some people have lived in Phoenix their entire lives and never seen a rattler in their neighborhood.   No doubt, we will be rattler proofing our yard when we return home.

Lastly, little Miss Ruby loves to get in her car seat and go anywhere.  I started telling her a few days ago that we were doing a road trip and this morning, the very second she woke up she started squealing...and she hasn't stopped.  She is lovin' riding down the road shaking her rattle...rock it sister, rock it!

We are doing America together!

We've googled all different kinds of routes....some showing over 80 hours of car time {round trip}....which makes us laugh since that doesn't include potty breaks....so we're not exactly sure which route we are taking when we head out of Amarillo...but this is gonna' be an adventure...and we appreciate all the invites....promise we will let ya' know as the trip progresses...cause hugging some necks sure sounds like fun to this silver-haired mama {and makes for some even funner blog posts!}.

Friday, July 13, 2012

If You See Our Van...

This family of 14, well, actually just eleven

Cross country will surely soon be a-headin'

Oh, and the dogs, there will be two

Couldn't leave them behind or they'd be blue.

Not exactly sure of the proposed route,

But if you should see our big ol' crazy van,  

please don't hesitate to give us a toot!

Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma,

Old pizza in the car has such a pleasant aroma,

Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana too,

More potty breaks than most, this is probably true.

Ohio, Pennsylvania and finally New York,

Provided we take the right road at the fork,

As always, Mom will read a missionary book as we push past the miles

And we'll cry at the difficulty of that hero's trials...

We'll play, we'll giggle and we'll talk way too late

Yes indeed...

Emmy, Liberty, Savannah, Jubilee, Ruby and Lizzie Lou know the date

Graham, Isaiah, Elijah, a silver-haired mom and dad, as well

We're on a mission - to rest {haha} for a tiny, little all-too-short spell

At Dw's childhood home before it is sold

Cause memories have been plenteous there whether young or old.

We'll be visitin' cherished friends, swimming and climbin' around the old dusty attic,  

If we didn't make the trip, no doubt, it would be kind of tragic.

Because the very best memories of our whole tribe,

Were the road trips in the car with nary a bribe

"Remember the time so-n-so had to sit on their hands for an entire trip?"

"Remember when we mentioned 'sneakin' out' and made this mama's heart flip?"

Yes, indeed, we'll laugh till our sides hurt, 

And always pray that no one will blurt,

All the things that happened as we drove the entire way

Striving to make the most of each and every day....

The Saunders spending 5,000+ miles riding the roads in their car

Cherished {and, no doubt, a few not-for-public} memories 

etched forever in our hearts -  

that will never, ever, ever be very far.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taking Away or Really Giving More?

How many times over the years have we heard someone say, 
"I don't want to have more kids because I don't want to
 'take away' from the ones I have."

Clearly implying that to bring another home 
would be a negative
 thing in their existing children's lives, 
rather than a positive thing.

This Mom of Many thought it was time to offer some thoughts 
on the whole 'taking' away....
and maybe shed some truth into it all
from our perspective.

First let me say though,
that if you recently or long ago decided that you didn't want a large family,
this post is not for you.

This is written for those wondering about adding more
or those who are in the midst of adding more...

It is not intended to make anyone defensive....
rather offer my thoughts on having a large family
and encourage others that it really is okay to long for a large family,
pursue a large family and live in a large family.

No doubt, over the years, we have heard people say that they didn't want 
more than one or two or at the very most three because they didn't want 
to 'take away' from the kids they have.

In our early years, every now and then, we ourselves wondered, 
"would we be taking away" to have a large family?

Now, with 11 treasures gathered from all over the world
{not to mention the extra one who lives with us most of the time,
the one still waiting 
and of course, our grown kids in Africa}...
we have a very large family by every standard...

And here's what we've come to understand over the years...

Each treasure brought home adds a component to all our lives
 that cannot be replicated, duplicated or learned
 by any other means than growing and living together as family.

I look back over the years and the treasures...

If we had stopped with the 'boy and girl' that has long been 
popular we would have stopped with our Abigail and Tyler. 

And granted our two oldest are beautiful treasures who continue to bring us an
abundance of joy!

BUT

boy-oh-boy would 
we would have missed out on our: 
crazy-fun Autumn, 
orphan-driven Emma, 
worship-lovin' Graham, 
wise beyond her years Liberty,
my little shadow Jubilee, 
miracle-believing Isaiah, 
joyful Elizabeth,
our little Elijah {who is becoming quite the prayer warrior},
and the miracle of Ruby.

And that thought is what would be more properly termed 'taking away'!! 

Abi and Elizabeth - 23 years apart in age yet buddies at heart



I dare propose that at this moment
I am 'taking back' the term 'taking away' 
and re-gifting it to it's intended purpose....
and asking 
"Why would anyone want to take away from their child's life by
 limiting their life long learning to one other sibling
and why would they not want to give more to their existing children by adding
more treasures to your home?" 



Those who have the joy of living in a large family are really being given so much more!

There is nothing, absolutely nothing being taken away!

Those who have a large family know what I'm talking about!

Our kids get hands-on experience every single day with:

sharing
serving
conflict resolution
team
working together
kindess
forgiveness
gentleness
loving one another
waiting

And they get it from all types of personalities to boot!

Living in a large family allows each child the opportunity to learn more often 
how to serve others, wait their turn, forgive, seek forgiveness, share with many, 
let many others go first, appreciate the little things,
laugh together, help others and love all.

I was unable to snap a picture quick enough yesterday...

but into the kitchen came Elijah and Elizabeth carrying Isaiah between them.
Isaiah had hurt his foot and for most of the afternoon these two Ugandan treasures
 carried their Chinese brother everywhere he needed to go....

Their love for one another is apparent, sacrificial and heart-warming. 

From our vantage point, large families are being given so much more in life experience
 that cannot be replicated, duplicated or learned from 
a ballet lesson, a music lesson or a craft class
{not that there is anything wrong in any of those and yes, over the years we have had someone take ballet, music and craft classes}....but that is not where real life is learned.


It is learned living, baking, cooking, forgiving, struggling, talking, 
sharing, snuggling, and even carrying each other - but always together.  
As a large family.  



Why would anyone want to take away from that?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Please Forgive My Error

A few days back I did a post rejoicing that Christine and Sol and their children were home.  I usually am so cautious and review all things carefully, but in the midst of the move and continual company, I hastily wrote the joyous report.

I then heard that they were actually not home.  I felt sick to my stomach.

I wrote to Christine and apologized.  Today I received a gracious letter from her.  I had told her I would do anything she wanted to make it right.

She asked that I do a post to correct my error and then to ask you bloggy friends to please, please, please keep praying.

Sol and Christine and their children are very appreciative of all of your prayers and they are indeed still needing them.

Would you please continue to pray them home?

Thank you sweet friends....and thank you for graciously forgiving my error.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Memorial Box Monday: Our Pots and Pans

Our family has a Memorial Box which holds special trinkets.  Each of these trinkets represent a story from our lives that resonate something God has done for us.   Some represent a story of His healing in our lives, others His provision in our lives, still others His protection in our lives, even a few represent His rescue in our lives......but, no matter what, all represent His ever-present faithfulness.

Some of our stories are long and involved.  Others are short and sweet.  Today's story is a short one.  It is a recent testimony to His active involvement in our lives.  

People have told me that they don't think they would have anything to put in their own Memorial Box if they had one because our stories seem so miraculous.  I have assured them that God is always at work in all of our lives and so there is no doubt He has done things - they just either can't remember them or don't realize it's Him.

Today's story just happened the other day.  

After moving, we could not find the box with the pots and pans.  It actually seemed ridiculous.  I mean, come on, pots and pans are hardly something that would get tucked in a box and never found again!

They are heavy.

They are big.

Yet they were no where.

We searched and searched and searched some more.  All of us searched.  We prayed, "Lord help us find the box of pots and pans!"

Days passed.  

I know it sounds silly, but I was growing a bit concerned.  Pots and pans are not cheap to replace.  And I have several cast iron skillets which are my favorite to cook with - I would think they would be hard to replace!

To top it off - we have lost different things in other moves.  Once, Dw's guitar disappeared years ago, never to be seen again {and that's not exactly something that could accidentally be thrown away.}

But we kept praying, "Lord help us find that box of pots and pans!"

Then the other day I stopped dead in my tracks.  I said, "Wait!  I keep asking you to help us find the pots and pans.  I am changing my prayer to this:  'Lord, please tell me exactly where the box of pots and pans are.'"

And the instant I changed my prayer to "tell me where it is..." I heard His soft whisper..."Check the back of the little black car."

I went to Dw and said, "Send someone to the back end of the black car, the Lord just told me that's where the box of pots and pans are."

Not even two minutes later, Graham came in carrying the great big, heavy box of pots and pans.  I started to laugh.  Seriously!  We had not remembered putting anything in the back of the little car, nor had we even thought to look there.

I learned a very important lesson that day.  He had been waiting all along for me just to stop, ask and then to listen.  When I asked the right question and stopped to listen He had answered immediately.

No doubt, there have been a zillion times where He has shown me where things are without asking, but I am continuing to learn to be very specific when I pray.



I have a tiny cast iron pot which when I find it in the boxes {haha} we will put in our Memorial Box to remind us of this story.   {Actually I think I will ask Him now to show me exactly where the little cast iron pot is now.}