Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's Isaiah's Turn

Yup, it's true.

Elijah, Isaiah and Graham all have birthdays in just a little over two weeks.

Today we celebrate Isaiah's birthday.

This little guy is the one who stole our hearts when we first saw his picture on the internet.   In fact I remember gasping when I saw his expression which seemed to say:  "Would you be willing to overlook my special need and just love me?"

We were in love!   He came home at almost 4 years old.

Breakfast in bed


Isaiah's story is a miracle...and as I've mentioned before, if you were to ask Isaiah, "What can God do?"  Without hesitation, he will reply:  He can move the mountains!

Yes, indeed.

Almighty God moved a ginormous bureaucratic mountain to bring our dimpled treasure home!

We cannot ever praise His name enough.

And for the record, don't let those adorable dimples and innocent smile trick you.

This little guy is up for fun!

While Dw was in Africa the boys, whose room is right above the kitchen, supposedly getting into bed for the night.  Before I could get upstairs to tuck them in, I heard the ruckus start up.  And the peels of laughter ensuing.  Then I began to hear a rhythmic, very loud 'boom, boom, boom'.   It sounded like the house was going to fall down!   I snuck upstairs to see exactly what was going on.

The noises only grew louder.

I threw open their door and found Nehemiah and Elijah jumping from bed to bed and Isaiah on his top bunk, jump roping with his sheet as a rolled up rope.

I began to laugh and laugh.

My boys!!

They are so much fun together.

{Graham has actually said on occasion how bummed he is that he didn't have a couple of brothers the same age as him.}

To be perfectly honest though, the ring leaders for anything rowdy are usually Elizabeth and Isaiah, working in tandem.  They are a total hoot together and their antics make me giggle almost daily.  There is a connection between those two that makes me wonder if they aren't twins separated by continents.

Anyway, no doubt, Isaiah would be totally bummed if Momma didn't honor him on his birthday and allow our bloggy friends to wish him a happy day.

Lastly, at this moment, Isaiah hopes to grow up to be a forensic scientist.   So very cool. and well, ummm, maybe he could start by helping me by solving the mystery of who ate the hidden stash of candy in my closet?

Of course, there is always a chance that if he dusted for finger prints, he and Elizabeth just might have some 'splainin' to do.  


Happy 9th Birthday Isaiah Samuel 
{now he and Nehemiah are both 9, how amazingly cool is that??}

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our Littlest Man

My man is home.  
He walked in the door and helped
tuck the kids in and zonked out on the family room floor.
Made me giggle.
The guy is whipped.  
Undoubtedly, it was an extremely awesome trip!

While Daddy was gone, we postponed some of our little ones
birthdays until daddy returned home.

So today we celebrate our littlest man's birthday!

The little guy who Jesus healed in a mighty way as he waited in the orphanage....

The little guy who God started whispering months before we ever met him that He was
"bringing an Elijah home to us".... 

The little guy who loves to pray {even in public!}....

The little guy who we named an arm of International Voice of the Orphan after:

Elijah's Hope

{Which we are about to kick up a few notches... 
Super exciting news on that front coming soon!!!!}

Yup, our #11 - that little guy!!

Well today we are celebrating his 6th birthday:

Our

Elijah Mueller

Would someone grab a rock for me to place on his sweet noggin?
He is growing up way, way, way too fast.
UGH.
I want him to be two again.
Do you remember all the little antics he was forever up to?
Such a precious little treasure!





Breakfast in bed...
{Chocolate chip pancakes}




Lunch out with Mommy and Daddy...

We love you Elijah Mueller!!




If you were up to wishin' our little miracle man
 a Happy Birthday,
he would definitely giggle hearing me read each to him!
{thank you}


Sunday, January 27, 2013

From a Daddy's Heart

Today is the day that we have long dreamed {albeit at times with a knot in our stomach} of:  the day when Emma officially was left in Uganda as a full-time permanent missionary to the orphans.

Dw is heading toward home as I type, but prior to leaving Uganda he wrote a heartfelt post.

In it he shares his feelings and thoughts....honestly, from a daddy's perspective.

I invite you to hear his thoughts.  

He titled it:  Emma and Daddy:  I Remember

Friday, January 25, 2013

Graham's Prayer

Almost daily we need reminders.

Think about it.

That's why we have alarm clocks and calendars.

We have day timers and cell phones with alarms.

Sticky notes in any color of the rainbow!



If you need to be reminded, there are literally, bunches of possibilities at your fingertips.

And let's be honest.

So it is with God.

Even though He has been faithful in the past, it is so stinkin' easy to "go there."

If you have blood flowing through your veins you know what I mean.

We can see God's hand one day and the very next wonder, "Will He do this as well?"

Sunday was a rough day.  I was so weepy {more than usual since Emma left}.

My heart was just feeling so discouraged.

The kids and I did not go to church because I had been really sick with a staph infection.

Anyway, Graham was up and getting ready for church.  We talked for a few minutes.  I shared something that was so heavy on my heart.

Later he told me that he prayed some pretty specific prayers for me.

One of them was that a friend would come and encourage me on Sunday.

Now living in a not-so-familiar city, he said he thought, "I wonder how you are going to do that Lord."

But he prayed it and felt that God was going to do it.

After church he had hung out with some of his friends and then went to the Young Adult service at night.  As he drove home he found an unfamiliar car in the driveway. He thought, "Who could be here?"

He walked in and found me laughing and talking with a dear old friend.   This precious friend had FB messaged me that she and her husband and kids were passing through Phoenix.   She wondered, "Would I be up for a visit?"

Oh me.

The Lord had indeed heard Graham's prayer {which I didn't know Graham had prayed}.  And the Lord had sent a friend from a distant city who "happened" to be passing through.  This sweet friend is one I've known for years now.  Both of us adoptive moms.  She's a senior pastors wife.  We can just be ourselves any time we are together.  Our husbands are friends.  The kind of friend that you can just  pick up right where we left off.

Her visit ministered to my soul like only the Lord could do.  Such a sweet time together.

I told my friend of a situation that was deeply troubling to me.   I actually mentioned how I was feeling led to fast on a particular day over this yuky situation.   Later, as she left, she hugged me and said, "I will fast with you on that day."

Yes, she's that kind of friend.  

Dear bloggy friends, use this story as your reminder today.

He hears your prayers.  

He loves you immeasurably.  

He is capable of anything. 

He is not slack concerning His promises.  

Nothing is too difficult for Him.

If He needs to orchestrate someone to come from another city
 to minister to your soul - 
He not only is capable, but He will.

He loves you and I so much!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Short Notice

Today I have been unable to stop the tears from welling in my eyes.

All day long.

Of course, I am missing my Emmy and tomorrow Dw will be heading home with the team.  Reality sets in.  This is truly happening.  I'm used to Emma and Dw leading teams for 3 weeks at a time, a couple of times a year.  But this time it's different.  He comes home.  Alone.

At the same time, I am weepy about the Adoption/Orphan situation in Russia.
We prayed and fasted a couple of weeks ago.

Remember?

There is joyful news from Russia.  Anne was allowed to get her son {as were a few others}!

Anne with her new son Chance Michael


Faithful God.


Anne wanted to thank all of you who prayed {and fasted!} and let you know that she is actually calling for a press conference to address President Put*n on behalf of the orphans.

But friends, there are so many others.  Waiting.


A few families have been there and retrieved their cherubs.  Others are there waiting.  Others are in the states waiting.  Some are early in the process and have no idea what will come.  They are all waiting at one juncture or another.  Waiting on a word.  A move.  Something that says, "We will allow these kids to come home."

Remember how we talked about "Not on Our Watch?"

Remember?

Friends, there is a tendency today to say, "Well I prayed about that and I'm good."  But surprisingly that's not how it works in the supernatural.

Actually in Luke 18:1-7 there is an interesting story about prayer.

Jesus was speaking to his disciples and said, "This is how you are to pray..."


Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 Isn't it interesting that Jesus actually tells us that we should always pray 
and 
NOT give up?

Jesus could have said, "You prayed about this once. 
You're good. 
 I heard ya'.  
Go relax.  
 I've got this covered." 

But He didn't!!!!

He told us to continue to petition.  
He actually told us to keep crying out day and night.
He told us to NOT GIVE UP!!!

So, on that note, I'm joining with our ministry, IVO, asking you, my bloggy friends, on behalf of the orphans in Russia:

 45,000 of whom are considered "Special Needs"
 {although in our home, we believe the only true special need any orphan has is for a family}, 
   and
the 500 - 1000 specifically in process {whether just beginning or nearing bringing them home}
and all the treasures who are not considered "special needs"...

On behalf of International Voice of the Orphan and myself:

Would you please pray {and fast} 
part of the day, or all day, if possible 
with me?

Tomorrow
Thursday
January 24, 2013

We are contending that the God of the Universe 
will move on behalf of all the orphans in Russia - 
opening the doors and restoring good will between
the United States and Russia, once again.

Lord willing, one day, we will look back and say, 
"We didn't stop pleading on the orphans behalf! 
We weren't about to let it happen on Our Watch!
Not as long as we have breath!  
Together we will be their voice!!"

Sooo...anybody out there willing to pray 
{and fast} tomorrow with me?  
Thank you so very much! 
You guys are the best! 



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Take a Walk From the Park With Us

So thankful for the ability to capture our treasures in motion.

And this girl of ours - well she definitely has groove.

And yes, this is her 'normal' self,
unaware that I was videoing as my camera was well hidden
{and I'm whispering because I'm on the cell with Autumn}



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tucked In

Someone made a comment the other day about enjoying hearing good news.

The comment made me stop in my tracks.  It's true.

In an age where troubles about, we all need some good news.

Over here in our home we have been rejoicing in some super good things...and all of a sudden I realized that probably only a few of you had heard and seen it.

And how in the world could I not share?    


The January GO Team 2013 has been made up of two groups.  One group left today and the other group was arriving at the same time as they were flying out.  

For the record, now that International Voice of the Orphan has missionaries in Uganda full-time, we will be leading more teams to help our missionaries serve.  And yes, sweet friends, this is so exciting to our souls!

So far, trips are scheduled for April 10-20th and the one in June will, again, be comprised of two teams.  We will be announcing the trip dates for June soon.

Here's the link to How Do We Spell L.O.V.E.?


And actually, if you take a peek, you will see a couple of pictures of someone extra, extra special to our hearts tucked in the post.  {Thank you to all who still pray with us, it means the world.}  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Did Ya' Ever?

Did ya' ever ponder going to Africa to serve the orphans?

Did you ever hear of others going and long to go as well?

Did you ever wonder when it was going to be your turn to go?

Did you ever dream of meeting up with some like-minded folks to snuggle and care for little treasures?



Did you ever read about International Voice of the Orphan GO Team trips and pray that one day you, too, could GO?

Did you ever try to imagine what it would be like to feed street orphans?


Did you ever wish that you could find a trip that was a speck shorter because of obligations at home?

Did you ever feel that tugging from the Lord to "GO"?

Did you ever know it was time to get out of your comfort zone?


Did you ever long to make a difference?



Then this just might be the trip for you....


April 2013 GO Team Uganda
***********
April 10 - April 20, 2013
***********
Total Trip Cost:  $3100 - $3400 
{depending on city of departure}

To begin the application process GO here.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monumental Events

As I get back into gear, there are so many things that I wanted to mention.

Today, January 14, 2013 we are taking time to thank the Lord for His sovereign protection over us just four years ago on this date.

For those new to our Place Called Simplicity, on this date, four years ago, with Dw out of town, I woke up to our smoke alarm {that had, by God's grace, been fixed the day before} alarming.  Six of our kids sound asleep {including Elijah and Elizabeth who had only been home from Uganda for less than 4 weeks}, I groggily plodded my way through our beloved log home wondering in that not-so-alert state what in the world was going on.

Before long I discovered that our treasured ol' log home was on fire.  The rest is history, but there is no doubt that it was a defining moment in all of our lives.  Yes, God allows pain.  He allows heartache.  He allows loss.  Losing our home and it's contents to a fire will always remain a place that we refer to as Our Holy Ground for many reasons...first and foremost though, as that is the day that we saw a scripture come to life in a very real way like never before:

"The angel of the Lord encamps round about 
those who fear Him."  
Psalm 34:7

There will never be a doubt in our minds that the true angel of the Lord was present that day four years ago, keeping the wood wet until I was awake enough to wake the older children who helped get the little ones out in to the 15 degree temperatures...or there is no doubt that we would have all perished.  I was just too sleepy when the smoke alarm first started sounding.

A couple of years ago a kind bloggy friend sent me a wall cut-out decal of Psalm 34:7 and I had never gotten around to actually putting it up {the Lord knew that we would be moving several times before we would permanently be in our home - yippee Jesus!} and this home we now live in has the perfect place for it, right above the front door.  I am certain that when the builder built this home several years ago he did so under the guidance of the Lord, because the spot is truly perfect for the words, {which I will be putting up before long}.

Another date that stands out for our family is Friday the 10th of January as this is the anniversary of Almighty God's healing touch on my arm from the Multiple Sclerosis.  I shared my miracle story here.   
My body had become quite a chore until January 10th, 2006. Faithful God - seven years ago - already!

Graham and I were talking about my healing on Friday as he remembers so clearly how bad I trembled and shook.  We were mentioning that one does not often hear of true miracles in our modern society very often - but our family has seen so many, and huge ones at that!  We are humbled at God's daily work in our lives, in both seemingly little and ginormous, humongous ways!

And no, I will never apologize or feel bad about telling our stories over and over and over...because it is in these miracle stories that joy is found, hope is encouraged, and true faith is built.

The most beautiful part of it all is that the Lord is not just faithful for us.  He is faithful, no matter who you are or your station in life.  He keeps His promises - always.  His word never changes.  And you can take that promise to the bank.


"For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. 
And I will hope in your name,
 for your name is good."
Psalm 52:9



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reflecting

Thank you, sweet friends, for all the prayers, kind words and sweet love you have shown to me this past week.

I can honestly say that God's grace is sufficient.  In fact it's times like these that we learn, again, just how faithful He is.

Although this past week has been a time of grieving, the Lord has tenderly whispered things that minister perfectly to my soul.  He knew what I needed.  He has moved in ways that I am left completely dumbfounded - oh, the faithfulness of God!  It knows no limit!

Then today, at church, Ruby was completely jazzed up and was making such a racquet that I had to spend the entire service in the hallway listening to the speaker {Ruby loves Pastor Luke so much that she squeals and carries on like none other}.

Anyway, a man, whom I don't remember ever seeing before, came by the little bench that Liberty and I were sitting on while holding Ruby.  He stopped and pointing at me, said, "The Lord has given me a word for you...." and went on to tell me something that was, no doubt, directly from the Lord.  Exactly what I needed to hear.

Two days before Emma left we had a very small gathering of a few close friends to honor her and pray over her.   It was an intimate time together.  After we shared some clips of some home movies from when Emma was little, we had a time of prayer over Emma, laying hands on her and many prayed powerful prophetic prayers over her.  Such a precious historical moment in our lives!

After it had finished, one of Emma and Graham's friends came to me.  He said, "I feel like the Lord has given me a word for you," and proceeded to share what that word was.  It could not have been anymore accurate for me, personally.  It was unbelievable!

Lastly, I thought many of you would enjoy seeing something that I found last week.

Not long before Emma left, I suddenly remembered something from just about 20 years ago.  I had not thought about it in a long time.

So I want to share a little story....

Back when I was pregnant with our missionary girl, I was dialating and having so many contractions that I was required to go on complete bedrest when I was just 34 weeks pregnant with Emma.  {They let me up at 37 weeks and she was born the next day.}

As I was laying there for the three weeks, I thought, "It would be really fun to have an unusual birth announcement to send to friends - announcing this little miracle treasure."

So I prayed and prayed....asking the Lord to give me a creative idea...we were pastoring outside Richmond, Virginia at the time and there was no money to speak of....so it had to be an economical idea as well.

Then last week, just before Emma left, I remembered the birth announcement that I had made almost 20 years earlier.  I had completely forgotten that announcement, but since remembering it, I was one determined silver-haired mama to find it!  I just had to!

Now, the thing is...if you saw our garage and the piled high boxes that are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. you would know that this is a little miracle in its own right.  I prayed and asked the Lord to help me find that invitation...no matter what....

Heading out into the abyss of boxes, my eyes zoomed in on a box immediately.  I really didn't think it could possibly be there.  But, the Lord knew!

I slowly began sifting through piece by piece...think about it, it's only a folded piece of paper - I started to squeal - faithful God....

And I joyfully share it with you..."The Baby Behind the Belly"

So I took a picture of my 8 month pregnant self...with Autumn, Abi, Dw and Tyler on our front porch...Then I gently glued it to a card stock piece of paper, and ever so carefully sliced the edge of my dress so that one could easily lift up the piece of my big ol' belly.....


revealing the face {behind the belly} of our little miracle baby girl...



and then opening up the card to 'meet' our 
sweet baby EmmaLee Joy



Somehow the Lord knew that finding Emma's announcement would bring me such tender pleasure...

Oh the faithfulness of God.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Okay....

And so it was that yesterday was the official 'send-off' for our family -

Emma
moving to Africa
{permanently}.

I've heard it said that Americans {and probably most of the world} don't really like to allow time to properly grieve.

No doubt, grieving, in any form, can often make people quite uncomfortable.

There's a loss, a drastic change, a death, a move, a relationship vastly altered and friends and family just want everyone to feel all better - quick!   Sometimes friends and family ignore the person who is grieving or they pretend that everything is okay, as though talking about "it" will make the person grieving think about "it" - silly us - they are thinking about 'it' - no matter what!

Most want to ignore pain, loss of any type, drastic changes or deep heartache...after all, it's work to properly grieve.

I know, as a counselor for all those years, that many sat in my office completely unable to be honest about their feelings.  Rather they had stuffed all the God-given emotions and feelings from years of heartache, loss and pain -  thinking it was not fun to be honest {or perhaps there had not been anywhere safe to be honest} about how they had felt over the years - and actually that is precisely why they had ended up sitting in my office.

Personally speaking, I remember, all too well, standing watching our home burn while firefighters, fully suited and wearing oxygen tanks, rushed back and forth, alleviating each other of the difficult task of attempting to stop the flames that were ravishing through our precious log home.  In the midst of all the chaos a very kind friend from church stood next to me and cheerfully quipped, "Hey, you're going to get new furniture out of this!"

I stared in disbelief, thinking, "Tell me, you did not just say that - Really?"  

I actually wanted to respond, "I don't want new furniture {we had saved and saved for about 20 years and had finally about a year prior purchased a new sofa} and that I didn't want the fire, and no thanks, I don't want anything different!"

No doubt, this friend {who really did mean well} was undoubtedly uncomfortable with sadness and grief and was not able to grasp that I needed the opportunity to grieve for a season.

And so it is in my soul right now.

I know it was only God who gave us our precious daughter.

I know God called Emma to serve in Africa many, many years ago.

I know God is going to do mighty things through our treasure-girl.

I know that lives have already been changed {forever} because of Emma's unwavering devotion to the orphan and serving the God she so desperately loves.

And I also know that thousands and thousands of more lives will be forever changed in the days ahead because of Emma's selfless life.

I know all that.

But right now, our hearts ache for the very real loss of not having Emma live at home ever again but rather on the other side of the world.

And it's okay that I say that.

It's okay for each of us to cry {alot}.

It's okay that our hearts literally ache.

It's okay that we feel that.

It's okay that we are honest.

It's okay not to pretend.

And right now, as tears are truly ever-present, I'm going to just regroup and spend some time grieving.

Although I'm rejoicing in my soul that God has called Emma, I'm also grieving that things will never, ever be the same again.

I'm grieving that our beautiful brown-eyed, tender-hearted, hysterical sense of humor, easy-going daughter is not sitting at the kitchen counter smiling back at me as I type this.

And it's okay to say that. 

Thank you to all who have left messages on Facebook that we are on your heart and you are praying for us.  With each comment, text, message, email, I have dripped tears - no doubt, each are much-needed, gentle love taps from the Lord.

Thank you for caring -
and showing it. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far,,,,

I know I have been harassed for the sick pleasure I get from sharing some of the extra special things in our lives in crazy {and perhaps annoying} ways...

I can't help myself.  Honest, I can't.

On that note...

is there anyone out there who is a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables like our family is?

Ya' know...

We're the kind of family that has watched it over and over....

Clean, entertaining, teaching great moral principles, etc.

We know most of the lines by heart...many in our home call it their favorite movie of all time.

So there is a line in the movie where Gilbert Blythe's father turns to Marilla and says,

"Well Marilla, I guess the apple doesn't fall from the tree, does it?"

Well apparently, 
in our family, 
the apple doesn't fall from the tree...

Just before Christmas Abi, Ryan and Finn came to stay on their way to Christmas in Colorado...

We had not seen them since Autumn's wedding.

We all cheered and were running outside into the dark of night when we saw the lights from their car....

Hugs

Giggles

Shouts of joy...

Abi was the first in the house as we all headed toward the door...

Once inside our well lit home...

Abi whirled around and stood with her arms at her side....

I was right behind Abi, carrying Ruby....and I stopped in my tracks.

As my eyes adjusted from the darkness to the bright foyer lights I stared....

Was I seeing her right?


O.my.gracious.

They had kept their 'lil' secret...because they wanted to tell us in person...

They are in the midst of adopting another little African/American treasure...
and will continue and raise these two as twins...

She's due in March {and is just about SEVEN months pregnant!}..
~ due the day after Dw's birthday ~

How stinkin' fun is that?

Grand-treasure number 3 and 4 are soon to arrive
and this Mimi and Jaja couldn't be more tickled...

and no doubt, the apple truly doesn't fall far from the tree...









Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Little Video Peek into Our Morning...

It's been a busy time here.

I know it has been for all of you as well.

We are so grateful that in the midst of the special days together as family....we get to celebrate another birthday...

Last night Elizabeth Mercy appeared after she had been tucked in.

She was holding one of her front teeth....

And today, we celebrate her 7th birthday...our New Years baby girl....

Forever grateful that we said, "yes" to bringing this treasure girl home....





Nehemiah thinks this whole birthday thing is a pretty cool deal at our home...


Autumn and Aunt Kiki skyped in with us as we celebrated 
breakfast in bed with Miss Elizabeth....


Homemade donuts compliments of Emma
{oh me.  they were delicious and could easily be addicting..}


And lastly, as we were celebrating our morning birthday tradition 
of breakfast in bed, the chaos, joy and noisey laughter
I thought just maybe some of you might want a little
impromptu peek into living in our large family...


And if you should feel like wishing our spunky birthday girl 
a very happy one, I'm sure she would totally enjoy it..