Friday, May 31, 2013

Jubilee's First...

Who doesn't love Miss Jubilee Promise?

Her name is a clear reflection of her joyful spirit.

We are so blessed by this precious daughter Promised by God
many years before we knew of her.

Miss Jubilee's eyes are healing beautifully and the surgeon is
very hopeful that this time it's 
perfect!

Thank you Jesus!


Aware that many have wondered about opening their home to
 treasures with special needs, we have humbly prayed
 that the Lord would use our family's journey to not 
only reflect God's heart for all orphans but maybe particularly,
 those deemed "Special Needs".

We have long contended that the only true 
"Special Need" 
any treasure has is "for a family". 

And so it is with joy that I share the seemingly itty-bitty
accomplishments along with the gigantic ones...
because every treasure's life must be celebrated...

On top of Jubilee's eyes healing so beautifully, 
Miss Jubilee had a most extraordinary
 accomplishment the other day...

A couple of years ago, when the geneticist discovered Jubilee's
profoundly rare syndrome {only a few hundred 
people in the entire world are known to have it. 
 In fact it's so rare there isn't even a name for it.}linked 
with Chromosome number 22 said this:

"Jubilee will write her own story." 

which meant:  

Jubilee's prognosis is up in the air.  

The doctor knew she would be a "lifer" 
{as did we when we pursued her} 
but that's about it.

Well, Miss Jubilee is such an innocent joy...

We simply love her and cheer 
on each itty-bitty accomplishment...
and being truthful, 
if she never made another itty-bitty 
 accomplishment in her life,
she is absolutely perfect just the way she is.

So the other day...

I was in the kitchen when Jubilee appeared on the stairs
and overlooking the stair bannister she called to 
Elizabeth and said,

"Hey Lizzie, could you come up stairs and help me?"

My mouth dropped open.
I had not really thought about it before....
Up until that moment Jubilee had only spoken in little fragments. 
Her cognitive ability 
and likely trauma from her past
 make her not very verbal. 
And it was okay.
We communicate beautifully.  

 But suddenly, 
 Jubilee asked a question in
 complete sentence form
{without any help} 
for the first time ever
since coming home 3.5 years ago.

I still shake my head as I write.

This milestone has left our hearts rejoicing.

The Lord continues His healing work.

"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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In the Pile

Last night I decided to tackle the "pile". 

Or more appropriately, the "piles".

The piles were choking me and I couldn't stand it anymore.

{I despise piles.}

So the big kids, Dw and I popped in a Jeanette Oke movie {oh, it was sooo good!} I went to all the places I stash papers and brought them one at a time and dumped them on the family room floor.  The pile was enormous.

Then while we watched, I tackled the gigantic mess. 

It looked stinkin' overwhelming to be quite honest.  



As I worked  away tossing and organizing, I realized that the pile hadn't been sorted through thoroughly since we moved to this home in early December 2012.  

Then I realized that because of the quick move, while in the midst of settling Nehemiah,  I really hadn't organized in the last house either.  

Suddenly it hit me:  Even in the rental Ruby had had four brain surgeries and a couple of hospitalizations.   No organizing there.

Before that I had been in Africa for 7.5 weeks.  Prior to Africa, we had had the big trip to San Francisco because of the serious issue with Jubilee's ears.  And before that we had driven across the country to hug our hero good-bye before his previous depl*yment.

Just before that Karl had been in the horrible accident  - whew!

It had probably been about 2 years since I really went through the piles and truly organized.  

Yikes!!

No wonder the pile was enormous and overtaking our home.

Such a scary thought.

SO last night I vowed I would not stop until I had finished.

At 2:15am I crawled into bed, the pile now mostly in the garbage and the rest filed neatly.  

But just before crawling into bed, I had found a padded envelope 
that had come in the mail on Saturday.  
It was from someone I had not ever met before, only through the blog world.   

Earlier in the day I had whispered a secret to the Lord.  
It was just a whisper.  
I whispered a need I had.  No one knew what it was.  

Little did I know, that as I was whispering the prayer, 
the answer was sitting in our home waiting for me to organize and open that envelope. 

As I read the card neatly tucked inside the padded envelope I sat in the quiet of our home and just shook my head in disbelief.   I couldn't even cry.  I was too dumbfounded. 


The Lord knew what I needed.  He sent it via a faraway friend whom I've never really met.  Her loving gift in the form of a card she wrote upon and a book ministered more to my inner soul than anything has in a really, really long time.   The book was about a subject rarely discussed, but so needed to my soul. 

And this precious friend?  She will probably never realize what her kind gesture meant to me.  It spoke volumes to my aching heart. 

The Lord knew what I needed.  

He knows what you need as well.  

Whisper to Him.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ruby's Miracle Continues



You're right, over at our home we cannot ever get enough of The Miracle of Ruby....

This morning she had therapy with her physical therapist.  And we invite you to peek in on a few moments with our Ruby Grace.

Every day with Ruby is a miracle and every accomplishment is no doubt recorded in the annals of history under the tab, "Miracles", because we can say with certainty that every single, itsy-bitsy thing Ruby does is only by the power of Almighty God.

Frankly speaking, some said she "would never do anything, give up on her, don't even attempt brain surgery"  and "She'll just be propped in a corner forever, unable to interact."

But clearly, those who said those things didn't understand the power of God{and we forgive their silly words}...and they also didn't understand how He works miracles today.

Enjoy the miracle of Ruby, who is accomplishing something new almost every.single.day.

Rejoice with us at our giggly learning-to-sit-up-alone and attempting-to-hold-her-own-head-up and being a "no-I-don't-want-to-two-year-old" treasure-girl.

We're having a blast!

Monday, May 27, 2013

We Wait...

We can't forget.

Ever.

The numbers are staggering:

2.7+ million either killed in combat or wounded.

And so it is why the tone in our home is a bit sober today.

We know the sacrifices closer than most.

We know the feeling of having a precious one so far away, 
daily in harms way.

We know of the loss he has experienced.

We know what it's like to have the days turn into weeks that turn into months
 with no communication from him.

We know it well.

And we know the constant threat of danger 
that he and his men endure.

For us.

For our friends.

For you and your family.

We are emotional as we read our son's favorite quote:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who 
points out how the strong man stumbles, 
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, 
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; 
who strives valiantly; who errs, 
who comes short again and again, 
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
 but who does actually strive to do the deeds; 
who knows great enthusiasms, 
the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; 
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, 
and who at the worst, if he fails, 
at least fails while daring greatly, 
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls 
who neither know victory nor defeat."



And at every turn, 
we want our neighborhood to remember.

We want them to stop and think.


We want our neighbors to know that the family
with the bazillion passenger van in the driveway 
is not just another family in the neighborhood,
but we are a waiting family.

With yellow ribbons all over our home: 
 tied around our palms, 
on our car 
and 
on our front door.


We wait, rather impatiently.

For our personal hero to come home.


Son, we are so very proud of you.

We love you so very much.

We pray for you without ceasing.

We always, always, always miss you.

And we wait. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

They're In Labor



Ever wonder what the world would be like if a man had to experience pregnancy, labor and childbirth?
{Me too.  Who hasn't, right?}

Well the other day Graham showed me a video.
and I could not stop giggling.

Imagine:
Two men being hooked up to electrodes that would simulate 
labor so they could get a 'feel' 
for what true labor is like.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

{PS Notice the wives at the 2:25 minute mark.
They're adorable.}

And for everyone who ever thought labor was an exaggeration,
here's a genuine look at that notion,
from two doubting men's perspective.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No One Can Fathom

Can you sense it?

The sweet aroma of precious bloggy friends gathered together through the power
 of Almighty God knelt for one purpose?  

To see God move.



No doubt there are tragedies, heartaches and struggles around the globe.

Many of you, too, are hurting.

Some have experienced great loss.

Others have been struggling financially for what seems like forever. 

A number of you are in the midst of broken relationships. 

A vast number are longing for a change.

Most need a miracle.

Today, let's pray together for God's presence to overflow our lives.

Thank you for trusting us with your requests.  Many, around the world, will be praying for your needs as the day progresses.

Please pray for others as you read through the requests.  It is miraculous how when we pray for others, God moves on our hearts in ways that are unexplainable and together we will see God move mountains...

as we share our burdens with one another....

May God bless you all....

Please share your requests in the comment section below.

After praying for some of the needs you see already listed, please leave your request in the comment section.


**************

Now together, let's praise Him 
{at every breath}
 for what He has done, 
is doing and will do. 


* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Great is the LORD 
and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness 
no one can fathom."
Psalm 145:3 

Celebrating

Many of you who've followed our journey have regularly 
heard me mention Savannah.

She's a sweet treasure who has lived off and on with us
over the last few years.
We feel like she's one of "ours"
and she definitely knows we love her.

Recently a circumstance presented itself
for Savannah to move to Phoenix.

We welcomed her with open arms.

God has been working behind the scenes 
and His faithfulness has been evident.

Savannah moved to Phoenix and
is currently living with us.

This fall she will, Lord willing, begin nursing school.

Anyway, I just was kinda' feeling that it was time to 
celebrate Savannah.
Since I mentioned it to her I have seen tears brim in her
eyes more than once.

Do you know what I mean?

Just a time of loving on her and 
telling her how special she is to us and to the Lord.

So today's her day.

We're calling it her "Un-birthday Birthday Celebration".
{Her birthday is in the fall.}

Anyway, yesterday she was almost giddy
anticipating today, it was so cute.

She chose everything about today...
Cinnamon rolls for breakfast in bed
Lunch date with Dw and I 
{Graham and Ruby came too!}
Beef stroganoff for dinner
Mississippi mud for dessert
{and yes, she's getting presents, too,
after all it's her un-birthday birthday celebration!}

Emma Skyped in as we sang and she blew out the candles...


Happy Un-birthday Birthday Savannah Grace,
We are so thankful that you are here with us -
because we love you oh-so-much!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stressed?

What do you do when you are feeling stressed?

Or how about when you are feeling anxious or unsettled?

Or when you are waiting for something?

Like waiting for the results of a medical test?

Or perhaps a biopsy?

The wait can be agonizing, can't it?


So what is the best way to respond to waiting and stress and anxiousness?


Personally speaking, prayer and fasting is the 

speediest way for me to get to a place of peace.

Today I was sensing that many of you, 
my bloggy friends, 
may be struggling with things that are causing 
you to be stressed, anxious and unsettled...
or things you are waiting for
or things that appear to be spinning out of your control...
and you are lacking peace...


So I am asking each of you to join me in a day of 



Prayer and Fasting {if possible}


Friday
May 24th, 2013


We have had powerful answers in previous days of Prayer and Fasting...

Why?

Because He's a faithful God and He loves when we ban together for a specific purpose.

I pray that you will be willing to join, whether you pray, fast a meal or fast the entire day.


"Do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests 
be made known to God."  
Phil. 4:6 

***Friday morning {in the wee hours} 
I will put up a post where you call 
can share your prayer requests in the
comments...
and we will pray through them and 
watch and see God move.***  


"He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." 
 Deut 32:4

Will you join with friends around the world?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Riveted

Today our family is riveted to the Tornado stories that we are hearing out of Moore, Oklahoma.

The tragedies are breaking our hearts.

The miracle stories are making us cry as well.

Tears and prayers all day long.

All of it so sobering.

Our family knows well the trauma of a tornado, and it was horrible,
but it was nothing like this one in Moore.

Tornadoes all around our nation - so much devastation.

Tornadoes are terrifying.

Knowing there are still potential tornadoes across our nation, who can imagine?

The station we are watching just said that there is an average of 1270+ tornadoes across the United States each year.

 Have you ever experienced a tornado?

If you have, it might be good to talk about it.   Sometimes it's just good to talk.

And if you feel like, go ahead.  I'm all 'ears'.

Either way, have you been watching the news today or is our family one of the few?


Pray with us for the state of Oklahoma and the others still recovering across our land.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Can't Help Myself

Yes, yes, I know, it's not the first of the month.  I just can't help myself.

But I just feel the need to share a story today.

It's a simple story, but so pertinent to every day life for every one of us.

Because I'm convinced that many people today feel that they can only come to God with big things.

Almost like He just doesn't have time for anything but big stuff.

This could not be further from the truth.

His word says this:

"Cast all your anxiety on Him 
because 
He cares for you."
I Peter 5:7 niv

When His word says the word "ALL", which last we all knew "all" means "all".

Think about it.

If you told your children to empty all the stuff out of their suitcase after a trip,
you would not mean take one sweatshirt out and consider it done.

Nope.

When you mentioned the word "all" you were meaning, "all".

The same goes for God.

When He says "ALL", He means "ALL".

He and that includes every itty-bitty need, as well as the great big stuff.

So it was on the Saturday before Mother's Day.   I had purchased some things for Liberty's birthday, but did not have any gift bags to put her presents in.

Truly, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but to this mama, I just really wanted some gift bags for fun.  Yes, grocery bags would have worked, but it's just not as pretty as fun.

Autumn and Karl were visiting and Liberty, who could choose whatever she wanted to do for her birthday had plotted with Autumn that some of us would go to a few yard sales.

I whispered to the Lord, "It would be really sweet of you to provide some gift bags while we are at yard sales."

So those up for it, Dw, Ruby, Savannah, Karl, Autumn, Liberty, Elizabeth and I, loaded into the car.  We went to one yard sale and it turned out it was a fundraiser for two girls going to minister this summer in Africa.  Pretty cool.

We went to a couple of others and were heading home.  There was a sign right near our home.  It was close to noon.  We thought, "Awwww, why not?"  We pulled up and jumped out.   We inquired about a few things and as we turned to leave, what was on a blanket kind of near the van?

You guessed it, a bag of awfully pretty gift bags.



I was giddy.

Yes, giddy.

I said, "Hey, how much is the bag of gift bags?"

The kind man of the house said,

"Awww, those?  You can have them for free!"

What?

For free?

I exclaimed,
"I was praying this morning for some gift bags, this is awesome! Thank you!"

He went over to the garage and got a little bunch of tissue paper and brought it to me,
"Here take this with it."  Do you see that bunch of pretty tissue paper?

Now, some might say, "What a coincidence!"

And I answer,

"Ummm, not a stinkin' chance!  
God hears.  
He answers.  
He gets all the credit!"

So what's the bottom line?

God wants to be involved in our lives every.single.day 
about every.single.thing....whether itty-bitty or huge.

He wants us to bring every concern to Him.

The gift bags?

They were just a itty-bitty bit of a 'concern' to me, yet I whispered it to Him.

Ya' know why?

Because He said to
Cast All Our Cares on Him, Because He Cares for Us.

And when I mentioned it to Him.....
He was on it.

Why?

Just Cause He loves.

He loves you and He loves me.

And ya' know what the amazingly cool thing is?

He not only will do the same for you, but He wants to!

Whatever the need.

Whatever the concern.

Whatever the problem.

There is nothing too small for Him to want to hear from you, or me.

Promise.









Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's Not "Routine" and Never Will Be

For those who have been stopping by our Place Called Simplicity
you know "the routine". 

Only it's not routine to our hearts.

Nor is it routine to their hearts.

Someone once said that as
 the years and number of depl*yment go by,
 it gets easier.

They were lying.

This is the 7th and it doesn't get any easier.

The familiar ache in our hearts is ever present.

Our tears always right at the brim of our eyes




Precious son, words are inadequate....
at times like these...

But prayer is my strength...
Because God is all powerful, and He is awake when I am not,
He is watching over you, 
when we don't even know where you are,
He has always been faithful.
He loves you far more than all of us who know you combined.

May Almighty God be your shield and your defender.

May He be your rear guard.

May His wisdom be your wisdom.

May His peace comfort your soul.

May His ministering angels tend to your every need.

and may His protective hand bring you safely home.

You are so desperately loved

and

no matter how old you are, 
or where your journey takes you in the world,
prayers are whispered non-stop on your behalf,
tears well continually,
so I shut my eyes and think of your amazing smile,
your contagious laugh,
your hysterical sense of humor
and then I picture God's magnificent arm 
sheltering,
shielding,
defending, 
advocating,
on your behalf.


Bring 'em home Lord, bring them all home,
safe, sound and whole

Your gorgeous wife, 
and children are waiting your safe return.
 


"A Psalm of David. 
Blessed be the LORD, 
my rock, 
who trains my hands for war, 
and my fingers for battle..." 
Psalm 144:1 {nas}

Please pray with me for those stationed 
around the world and their families.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Well Behaved {or Maybe Not}

A couple of months ago I received an email from
What to Expect.com. 


What to Expect was wondering if I would be willing 
to be a guest blogger for them?

The subject was up to me, it just had to be about paraenting
and it had to be something fresh. 
Immediately I knew what I would write about,
a subject near and dear to my heart.


The article was published yesterday and 
for those interested, they've titled it:



Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Many Was That Exactly?


Our sweet friends came to visit for a few days...
{they are pastors and moving to the
Chicago area}..
They love the orphan, love large families,
love Uganda and love God...
{not in that order}

And between us we have quite a few treasures


So let's see...

There's 

{our} 
Elizabeth Mercy 
and {their}
  Hope Jubilee



Laughter abounds...


{their}
Anna Noel



who happens to be able to do a nice back flip...


and 

{our} 
Nehemiah Judson


and 

{their} 

Levi Ryan



{our}
Isaiah Samuel


{our} 
Elijah Mueller



 {their} 
Caleb August






Ruby Grace 
wants to know...
"How many kids is that anyway???"

Did we miss anyone?


 "Oh wait!  
Someone short like me."
said Ruby.
 
{their}
 Isaiah James

and then there's 

 {their}
Elijah Thomas



and
{our} 
Jubilee Promise


and
{our}
 Liberty Anna


{their} 
Louis Isaac

and

{our} 
Graham Josiah


and

{our}
Savannah Grace







So how many treasures exactly does that make?

SIXTEEN

and that means a lot of food 
a lot of fun
a lot of swimming
a lot of trampoline jumping
 a lot of games
a lot of bodies sleeping all over the place
 a lot of giggles
a lot of ice cream
a lot of party
and a whole lot of memories

and we wouldn't trade it all for anything...

Anybody out there want to join the commotion?