Friday, December 18, 2009

A Slower Pace

Sometimes you make an intentional choice to slow down the pace of life and sometimes the choice is made for you. Today the latter is true, a sick child is keeping us home. Although I hope she feels better soon, today we are going to take advantage of the circumstances. We are going to snuggle on the sofa, read more of the adventures of Stuart Little, share a video or two, or three..., get lost in the Christmas tree lights and take pleasure in the slower pace.

AND, so you don't get too idealistic of a picture, I will also be doing lots of laundry, wiping the house down with Lysol, and cleaning up... (some things are better left unsaid if you know what I mean!)

So its not all warm and cozies today, BUT in between all the other stuff I do plan on taking pleasure in the slower pace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Building Anticipation

Lately I've been dreaming about a little girl named Suhn.

At least I think that is her name (is it wrong to give a Chinese baby a Korean name?). We won't know for sure that it is actually her name until we see her, but right now our family is praying for Baby Suhn. Wondering who she is, what she will look like, and when she will come home.

She has been in my prayers for a long time, but I honestly have not been anticipating her arrival. By that I mean, I haven't been wishing the wait for her would move faster. She is never far from my thoughts and prayers, but the four kids currently living in our house have been keeping me busy.

I am coming through a period of fear concerning Suhn. Fear mainly of the unknowns. The fear has been hampering the anticipation, but that is starting to change. I think the change is due to the following factors:
  • I have been reading the blog of a friend who is in China right now with her new daughter. The reading has made our journey to Suhn more real and given a better frame of reference.
  • The wait is getting shorter. We think we could get a referral as early as February.
  • Mainly, people are praying for me and Prayer is Powerful.
Basically what I'm trying to say is... I am starting to anticipate Suhn. The butterflies are beginning to congregate in my stomach when I think about the moment we see who she is.

And even though that moment is coming up fast, with the building anticipation, the wait is starting to feel long...

But as I wait, I find myself dreaming about a little girl named Suhn.

Friday, December 11, 2009


And the winner of Embracing Your Freedom is...


Looking forward to handing the book to you in person dear friend. :)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Embracing Your Freedom

Freedom. It can be taken for granted, but if it was taken away...

Did you know that 27 million people are held as slaves today? In fact, more slaves exist now than during the 300 plus years of the transatlantic slave trade. Does that startle you?

If we expand that to include those who are being held captive in a spiritual sense, the number would grow exponentially. The enemy is crafty and desires to hold us in bondage. BUT, we serve a God who loves freedom.

In her newest release Embracing Your Freedom, author Susie Larson, tackles the subject of freedom. She encourages women to take back the land the enemy has stolen, to take back their freedom so that they can be used by God in big, world-changing ways. She also shares stories of the difference International Justice Mission (IJM) is making to restore freedom to people all over the world (In fact, 50% of all profits from this book will be donated to IJM). At the end of every chapter is a prayer, a prayer for personal freedom and a prayer for the freedom of the millions in our world who are held in bondage. The prayers blessed me in a big way.

In the last chapter of the book, Susie writes, "God does not want us to live in fear, hoard what we have, or hide who we are. It's time to step up and step out."

This book is a challenge to step up and step out, to use your life to make a difference, to join in the kingdom work God has assigned you, to be a world-changer. It is a book I highly recommend and pray that it will inspire many to fight for freedom, freedom in Christ and freedom for the millions around the world who are literally enslaved and held in bondage.

And, because I believe so strongly in the message of this book, I want to give one away!
To enter for a chance to win, please leave a comment. I will draw a winner on Friday.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Merry Christmas from Hearts at Home!

Everyone loves a good sale, Right? We'll let me tell you about a great one:

It’s a Hearts at Home
Black Friday after Black Friday Sale Dec. 7-11

Did you sleep in on Black Friday? Did you drag yourself out of bed, but still miss out on some awesome deals because you were standing in line too long at one store? Do you still have shopping to do, but dread the crowds, traffic, and cost? Let Hearts at Home help!

Their Black Friday sale has been extended to the week of December 7-11. Shop in the convenience of your own home and receive an unprecedented 25% off all of Hearts books and merchandise. They have great gifts for everyone in your family.

Find gifts for friends, teachers, bible study leaders, bus drivers, and everyone else on your list. You may even find something for yourself. This is a great time to stock up on all those Hearts at Home books you’ve been wanting to read.

Let your family know how much you would love a Hearts at Home gift certificate so you can use it for your Hearts at Home conference registration and/or Mom’s Night Out tickets.

Go to, choose your gifts, and enter code “HEARTGIFT” upon checkout. You will receive 25% off your total purchase (before tax and shipping).

I also want to fill you in on a couple of other great opportunities!
Be sure to check out Jill Savage's blog this month (she is the founder and CEO of Hearts at Home). She is doing one giveaway A DAY through Christmas.

And, if you stop by the Hearts at Home blog December 8 - 11, you will have an opportunity to win a Heart's at Home prayer journal. The prayer journal is a brand new resource from Hearts at Home.

Merry Christmas from Hearts at Home!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The First Noel

The church choir was singing "The First Noel" when the director stopped and reminded us how beautiful the song was. I was glad for the interruption, because even though I was singing the song, I was missing the beauty.

I wasn't noticing the intricacies of the harmonies. I wasn't even paying attention to the lyrics and the message of joy they were sharing. I was concentrating on singing the notes of a song I have sung since childhood and was missing the point.

It is easy to stop paying attention to the familiar because we know what is coming. Christmas is full of the familiar, from the songs we sing to the story we celebrate.

As we move into December, begin to be bombarded by carols and are reminded once again of the first Christmas, don't forget to pay attention. Stop yourself, look around and listen to the beauty of the familiar that infiltrates this extraordinary and holy season.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This fall has been an unusual one for me in more ways than our local weather. I have been invited to travel more than I am used to. The final destinations have been varied, my purposes in going have been diverse, the people I've traveled with have changed from trip to trip. Its all been good, and I have been thankful for the opportunities.

Yesterday I returned from the last trip in the foreseeable future (at least the last trip in which I leave my kids behind). It ended with a sigh of relief and a prayer of thanksgiving for safe travels.

Relief that I am home again.

And while I acknowledge that my earthly home is fleeting and can change in a heartbeat, today I am giving thanks for the home God has blessed me with. Not just the physicality of it, although I am thankful for that, but mainly for the relationships that make it up and the joy of falling to sleep at night knowing we are once again together under the same roof.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dear Reader:

Just finished a delightful little book with a long title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. The entire book took the form of letters. I didn't think I would like it. A book made of letters sounded hard to read. I was wrong. In fact I enjoyed it so much, it has left me with a compulsion to write letters, or at least write in letter form. There is something romantic about a letter, don't you think?

Have you noticed the general lack of activity on this blog (is that presumptuous of me to ask?)? I know it is silly of me to assume you would take notice of something so small. I ask only because it is something I have noticed. I can't say it is because I have had nothing to say or because I have been too busy. I think it is more that I'm not sure how to say what I want to say and so I say nothing at all.

I am going to try to change that. Hopefully you will be hearing from me again soon.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Listening In

Twin: Mom, I want a snack!

Mommy: Okay, how about some pretzels?

Twin: No, I don't want pretzels. I want something that starts with an S.

Mommy: An S?

Twin: Yes, something that starts with an S, or an I, or an M, or an O, or an N.... can I have some cheese?

Once he learns to spell, snack time should be really interesting!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Recap

For family, and anyone else who might be interested, allow me to present a Halloween recap:

On Friday we attended the Halloween party in Mya's classroom. The boys were thrilled to be there. Really.

Just as Sean was ready to loose it, it was time to go home. I had the privilege of carrying a thrashing little boy (who wanted to walk by himself through a crowded parking lot), encouraging two big boys to stay close, and talking a little girl out of crying because she was being asked to walk through grass in the rain. It was wonderful mommy/kid bonding time. Did I mention it was raining? Really.

For Halloween this year we had three puppies and one kitty. A huge thanks goes out to Aunt Leslie for helping put the costumes together. I think they turned out rather good. Really!

After bringing home way too much candy, Mya waited patiently in front of the door just waiting for trick or treaters to come so she could fill their bags with candy. I think this is her favorite part of trick or treating. Really.

Now comes the job of monitoring their candy in-take until the monster stash is gone. Including the more difficult job of monitoring my candy in-take. Sigh. Really.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Free Event you don't want to miss!

For all you locals, I wanted to make you aware of a great opportunity to hear an amazing God-story! I have had the privilege of hearing Lysa speak before and trust me, you want to go! Details are as follows...

National Orphan Sunday Community Wide Gathering

Pontiac Township High School - Pontiac, IL

November 15, 2009 at 2pm

Our prayer is that this event will raise awareness for orphan care and adoption within the community and allow the Lord to stir in the hearts of believers all over this state.

Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries will be sharing her incredible testimony and adoption journey.

Admission is free of charge, tickets are by reservation only. For tickets contact Christi at 309-747-3558 or by email at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: What Difference do it Make?

Before I start my review of What Difference Do it Make? I have to ask a question.

Have you read Same Kind of Different as Me?

If the answer is no, go find a copy and read it.

It is a book that tells the true story of an art dealer, a homeless man and the amazing woman who brings them together. It tells life stories. Real people trying to figure things out. Making mistakes along the way, but ultimately making a difference in a big way. I think you will discover it is worth your time to pick it up and read.

You don't have to read Same Kind of Different as Me first, but I would. Once you have I think you will want to pick up What Difference Do it Make? In this book you will find a continuation of the story of Ron Hall and Denver Moore. You will read a story of reconciliation (between Ron and his father). You will read nuggets of wisdom from Denver and you will hear stories of how every day people are making a difference.

We all want our lives to count for something. We all want to make a difference. But sometimes we get too caught up in "our" lives. We stop looking for opportunities. Or those kind of opportunities (the "difference making ones") seem too far out of reach.

Both books offer a reminder that "normal" people can make a difference, but it takes action.

They also offer an interesting look, as well as great insight, into the plight of the homeless.

And if none of these reasons to read pique your interest, how about this, the books tell a good story (especially Same Kind of Different as Me).

If you have read Same Kind of Different as Me, I'd love to know... what did you think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In All Things

They say there is a silver lining to every cloud.

I know, I know that is so cliche, but you gotta admit looking for the silver lining makes the cloud so much more enjoyable.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "Give thanks in all circumstances." Sometimes easier said than done, but giving thanks does help one focus on the good rather than the bad. There is always something to be thankful for isn't there? Even in the direst of circumstances?

My circumstances last week were not dire, but they did give me cause to practice thankfulness in all things. The flu bug hit my little buddy. We had to cancel plans, including a visit to dear friends who (because of distance) we see far too little as it is.

I felt sorry for myself for a little bit, but then gave thanks. Thanks for the extra cuddles I received from my sick baby boy. Thanks because we were forced to slow down and stay home (during an especially busy season). Thanks for recovery and health.

My little buddy is doing much better. Although now that he is feeling better, he has decided to become a little more grouchy and demanding giving me a whole new set of circumstances to be thankful in!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Follow the Bread Crumbs

If you read my blog you know I have a heart for the orphan. It is a journey God has taken me on, enlarging my heart as I go, giving me the desire to do more.

The exciting thing is, I am not alone on this journey. I know for a fact that many of you who read this blog are on similar journeys. The ministries may differ. Your heart may want to make a difference in the lives of teens, or pursue justice through groups like IJM, or reach out to those in poverty, or... you get the idea.

God places different pieces of his heart within ours and the result is people becoming his hands and feet, making a difference in the world, impacting others for His kingdom.

Isn't it exciting!!!

I'm reading a book called Embracing Your Freedom: A Personal Experience of God's Heart for Justice by Susie Larson (one I would highly recommend by the way!). In it Susie shares a quote by Sara Groves that I love and want to share with you. I think it sums this up perfectly!

Sara says: My journey is going to be different than yours. I'm just following the bread crumbs God gives me and I follow where He leads. One step at a time, a little at a time, as God leads, I take on more responsibility to be God's hands and feet for the sake of justice. You can do the same. Just do what He says and follow where He leads.

I wish you blessings from above as you follow the trail of bread crumbs He leaves for you and thank God that even though our journey's may be different we can still encourage each other along the way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Celebrating Brown Bear

Up, down and around he goes. Climbing on laps and under legs. Pushing books out of the way. Interrupting the story. Forcing me to read louder in order to be heard over the cry.

Reading books to the olders when the baby is close is always a challenge.

But today.

Today the baby brought a book to read. And sat still as I shared what the brown bear saw. And then when it was over, he climbed down, disappeared behind the sofa and brought me another book.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

An Invasion of Fun!

"Stay green! Stay green! Stay green!" came the chant from my back seat drivers as we passed one stoplight after the other on the main drag of our Midwestern town. Each stoplight that cooperated with our demands was rewarded with heartfelt cheers as our minivan whizzed by.

It is a new game we play with the chant alternating between "stay green" and "turn green" as we approach each light.

It is just one example of the fun that invades my life because of my children. The fun takes many forms. Giggles wafting upstairs from the basement as they play, teaching a new-to-them game that I played as a kid (this month it has been the board game Sorry!), the ornery glance from my almost-two year old as his little legs run by, sharing stories, laughing at what makes them laugh...

The fun that comes so naturally to them has a way of rubbing off on me. Invading my day with a merriment than Mary Poppins herself would have trouble matching because it is REAL. It is a gift that I often overlook, but today I am remembering to give thanks for the fun moments my children give me every day.

Monday, October 05, 2009


We have a winner!

I asked one of the boys to pick a number (you know to decide the winner). He picked 1,000,000. It is his favorite number, but it did not help me pick a winner. So I asked him to pick again.

The number was 10 and the winner is Jessica!

Thanks for your comments everyone. Happy Monday! :)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Visiting Ukraine - An Update to a Previous Post

Not too long ago I put up a post I had written 2 years ago about some of the kids I have met in Ukraine. Let me give you a few updates!

Tonya is living in Transition home #2. She has a contagious smile and is going to school to be a fashion designer. Denis and Tonya have unofficially adopted her into their home.

Vanya is a Christian. He lives in Transition home #1 and he hopes someone will sponsor him so he can come to the United States for school. It is extremely tough being a black man in Ukraine. He is an amazing young man with a gentle spirit.

Andrea is living in Transition home #2. He is still one of the most friendly people I know with a huge smile. He likes to practice his English when Americans are around. He wants to be a contractor.

Little Tonya is still at Loubetein. Her dad still refuses to let her be fostered or adopted. She was away at a camp when I was visiting so I didn't get to see her this trip.

Alla came to visit us on Sunday night. She has not made a decision for Christ. I don't know what her life is like. She looked hard to me, BUT she came to see us and that says something.

Please keep these amazing kids and the ones coming behind them in your prayers. Pray that God will continue to work through Lifesong, that people in Ukraine will step up and join in the work and that people in America will step up and provide funds that make the work possible.

And, please pray that more and more orphans will break free from the cycle of hopelessness that ensnares so many.

I believe prayer is a powerful tool. Thank you for caring enough to lift these special kids up to our Heavenly Father - your prayers make a difference and that is an exciting thing!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Slow Burn

It has been a while since I've done a giveaway...

I think today is a good day to change that!

This month I have immersed myself in some first-rate fiction. I have read the first two books in the Defiance trilogy by Mary DeMuth. Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn. Redemptive fiction that tackles the hard parts of life. I could hardly put them down and once I did, I found my thoughts drifting back to the characters. For me, that is the sign of a worthy read.

Today I am going to give you, my dear readers, the chance to win a copy of A Slow Burn!

But first, enjoy an interview with the author, Mary DeMuth.

Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.

You can read my testimony on my website ( I came from a difficult upbringing, but Jesus saw fit to find me at fifteen. He has utterly changed my life.

I’ve been married 18 years to my husband Patrick (who’s been told he looks like George Clooney on more than one occasion). Interesting side note: I’ve been told I look like Laura Dern, and we share the EXACT same birthday. Twins separated at birth? Possibly. If you’re reading this and you’re chums with Laura, could you probe a bit?

George (er, Patrick) and I have three kids: Sophie, Aidan and Julia. Sophie’s learning to drive—and what’s interesting is that I’m not worried about it. She’s a careful driver. My son Aidan is thirteen. He’s passionate about finding water for a small village in Ghana. We got to go on the trip of a lifetime to meet the village of Sankpem last summer. Our daughter Julia is ten and is deeply kindhearted, beautiful inside and out. We also have an overly needy (farting) dog and a fat & fuzzy (sometimes cranky) cat.

What has God been teaching you lately?

To learn how to embrace subtlety. I’m a loud, in your face, writer. I’m learning to create nuance. This, of course, translates into my everyday life too.

Alas, the other thing is pretty convoluted and deep, but it has to do with learning to trust God’s love for me, even if some people in my life act in enemy-like ways. (I’m sure none of you have ever struggled with this.) In other words, what do you do when some voices say unkind and untrue things? Used to be I took those words like morsels into my heart and chewed on them until the poison saturated me. Now I’m learning to weigh the words briefly, then place them in Jesus’ hands. It’s a discipline to do that. The tricky part comes when I act as my enemy, hurling insults at myself. It’s all about giving every word to Jesus and choosing to believe His words about me. I am dearly loved. Wow.

How did you get involved in writing?

I’ve been writing since college when the bug hit me. I wrote my first short story about a missionary going to Russia (when it was firmly encased behind the iron curtain) and having to do all these clandestine things to share the gospel. I’m embarrassed to write this, but the piece started with these four words: Thump, thump, thump, thump (representing the protagonist’s heartbeat, of course).

I’ve been actively writing since 1992 when my daughter Sophie was born. I created a newsletter that helped moms manage their homes. I bought my first computer from the proceeds. I also designed and edited church newsletters, wrote homeschooling curriculum, and even wrote a script for an ultrasound training video. Soon after, short stories started flying out of me. When we moved from East Texas to Dallas for my husband to go to Dallas Seminary, I decided to get serious. I met my friend Sandra Glahn then, a professor at the seminary and a published writer. She shepherded me through the query-letter-writing process and has been an incredible cheerleader.

In 2002, I wrote my first novel. In 2003, I signed with an agent, then signed two nonfiction books. Since then, I’ve had five books published (those included), Daisy Chain being my sixth book. The first novel I wrote is yet to be published.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

I wrote the series of stories based on hearing friends of mine talk about their Christian homes that appeared great on the outside, only to hide abuse on the inside. This really bothered me. Daisy became the inciting incident to explore three people’s stories relating to authenticity and hiding. In book one, Daisy Chain, I explore a teenage boy’s perspective to a family in crisis. In book two, A Slow Burn, I examine what would it be like to have deep, deep mommy regrets enough to want to be free from them. In book three, Life in Defiance, I tell the conclusion of the story through a battered wife’s perspective.

I am not a teenage boy. Nor am I a neglectful mother. And I’m not a battered wife. But I’ve interacted with folks who are. It’s for them that I wrote these stories.

What are the major themes of the book?

You’re never too far from God’s grace and love and forgiveness. That God is a pursuing, redemptive, relentless God. He loves His children, even when they run far, far away. That Jesus comes to us in surprising packages, and sometimes we’re so bothered by appearances that we miss Him.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That God is bigger than our sin, our regret, our hopelessness. He takes delight in intersecting the darkest of circumstances. He is there, available.

Thank you Mary.

For a chance to win A Slow Burn, please leave me a comment.
I'll draw and announce the winner on Monday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Lovely View

Sometimes I forget to say thanks for the most basic of things. Like breath and sight, and the ability to move freely... without pain.

Today I am especially thankful for the ability to walk. freely. without pain. A small thing until it is taken away. Last Friday the picture above comprised my view for the first part of the day. The ceiling of my bedroom. Lovely isn't it.

My back decided to stage a protest. The strike was loud and painful and to be honest, I don't really know what caused it. I wasn't sure how to react at first and moved almost seamlessly from laughter to tears to laughter to the confusion of those around me.

My husband stepped up to the challenge and truly saved the day giving me a bright side which included an opportunity to read all of Ted Dekker's Green.

So today I am giving thanks for a small thing, that is really a big thing: pain-free mobility.

I'm also giving thanks for small things like frozen bags of vegetables that soothed my sore back, my new, darling heating pad, which faithfully emitted pain-lessening heat when I needed it most, and the creative writing of Mr. Dekker.

But most of all, I'm giving thanks for my Man who took care of all the things I couldn't, including me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Whole Face

It is far to easy to be swept away in the to-dos of living. The details that carry us downstream so fast we hardly take time to enjoy the view.

Things like housekeeping, cooking, writing, and schooling fill the time, occupy thoughts, and distract from the LIFE that is streaming by. Not that we can't LIVE while doing these things, its just sometimes we don't. We methodically get things done, paying little attention to the people around us. Suddenly another month is gone in a blur leaving behind the lingering questions of where did it go and what actually happened?

Lately I've found myself carried away in the to-dos.

Lucky for me, I have two 4-year olds who call me out and force me to focus on, well, them.

It sounds something like this: "Listen to me with your whole face mom."

So I look up, observe, listen, take in the scenery and unwrap the moment.

I participate in the lives around me, if only for a minute.

And even though the current doesn't slow down and the to-dos still need to be done, the ride becomes more enjoyable because two little boys take turns reminding me to relish the view.

Visiting Ukraine - Transition Homes

In Ukraine, kids age out of the orphanage around 16 or 17 years old. The government will typically provide the opportunity to go to school (depending on grades) and a place to live in state-run dorms.
On the surface this sounds good, but in reality...
  • The dorms are not nice places to live and

  • The kids are released into the world with little if nothing to catch them when they fall.

So Lifesong started building transition homes (to see pictures and learn more go here).

The transition homes provide a wonderful environment along with CCP staff who live in the homes with the kids. To grab a hold of this opportunity, the kids need to be serious about their lives. They need to commit to staying away from drugs, alcohol and prostitution. They need to commit to going to school and becoming productive members of society.

And the kids who live there are absolutely AMAZING!

You could see the pride in their eyes as they showed us their rooms. We got to hear about their goals and what they are becoming: gardeners, mechanics, contractors, teachers.

They are breaking the cycle of hopelessness. The cycle in which orphans create orphans.

Instead they are becoming orphans who mentor orphans.

Take Ruslana. Ruslana grew up in orphanage #4 (one of the tougher ones in the area). Today she is a Christian who is on Lifesong's staff. She lives in Transition Home #1 as a mentor and she works at Loubetein coaching the kids in various sporting activities with the ultimate goal of winning them for Christ.

The afternoon we spent at Loubetein was special. We did a craft project with the kids and then got to play basketball and volleyball with them. While we were playing in the gym Kolya showed up. Kolya stays in Transition home #2, he came to volunteer his time, to mentor those who were coming behind him.

I am telling you, these kids blew me away. Their amazing smiles and gentle spirits. I so wish you could have been there, to see them. They are the fruit of this ministry. A wonderful, fragrant site to behold!

Don't let this little girls face fool you. She was a sweetie with a mischevious grin. She will most likely be adopted by a family in Ukraine. Her brother lives at Loubetein with her. You could tell right away he was also her protector. Pray that the family who wants to adopt her will want to adopt him as well.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Friday, September 18, 2009

Haggai's Story

Ukraine is not the only place Lifesong is making a difference.

Please watch the following video. It touched my heart and I hope it touches yours as well. It is the body of Christ in action.

If you'd like to find out more about Lifesong Zambia, go here.

You can make a difference too. Lifesong has created a catalog of needed items at the school in Zambia. Items range in price from $21 - $2,000.

It doesn't take much to make a difference in the world around us, but we need to be looking and more importantly acting on the opportunities as they come our way. The opportunities come in many different shapes, they don't have to be monetary (read this great post on Lysa's blog for an example!), but if you look for them, take advantage of them, and act you will be blessed!

My faith demands--this is not optional--my faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.

--Jimmy Carter

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Listening In

Scene: Everyone is sleeping soundly... including me!

3:30 am Mommy is awaken to the pitter patter of little feet. Twin A appears at her bedside.

Mommy: What do you need buddy?

Twin A: Mommy, I love you.

Mommy: Okay, thanks I love you too, now go to bed!!

Sleep overtakes the household again until...

5:30 am Mommy is awaken to the pitter patter of little feet AGAIN. This time Twin B appears.

Mommy: Buddy, what do you want?

Twin B: Have a good quiet time mommy!

Oh the irony and joys of motherhood!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Because it Makes Me Laugh

This post deserves just a few words. We were walking around Vienna and I looked back to see this: my dad, on a street corner, in the rain, texting - it makes me laugh. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Visiting Ukraine - part 1

We were given a tour of an orphanage near the city of Zap. An orphanage administrator took us around the building to see where the kids sleep and where they go to school.

They took us to see the little kids (I'm guessing ages 3 - 5) who were playing together in a small room.

One little girl (pictured right) caught my eye. I tried to get her name, but every time I asked she would bring me a toy car with missing wheels to play with.

I wanted to play with her, but before I knew it the orphanage administrator was hurrying us along to see another part of the building.

She took us through the bedrooms where we saw 15-20 beds crammed together.

The older kids are a little more spread out, with an average of 6 staying in one room.

As we were walking through the halls of that building, being stared at by teenage kids with hard faces, I tried not to think about what we were seeing. I tried not to think about what it would be like for my little friend as she grew up, day in and day out, in a place like this.

But when you are staring reality in the face, it is hard not to think about it.

It was hard to leave. When you see kids, interact with them, hug them, they become more than a picture or an idea. It is one thing to hear about kids in an orphanage, it is another thing to see them face to face. It is heartbreaking.

But, there is hope. God is using volunteers and the staff of Lifesong for Orphans to reach these kids. They can't change their living conditions, but they can love on them and teach them about Jesus. They can mentor them and pray for them.

And they are making a difference. I saw that more on this trip than ever before.

Visiting the orphanage near Zap (where Lifesong has been involved for a little over one year) and then visiting Loubetein (where Lifesong has been for over 6 years) I could see a difference in the kids and how they interacted with us and each other.

In case you are curious, here is how Lifesong is making a difference. The goal of Lifesong in Ukraine is to bring CCP (constant Christian presence) into the orphanages who are willing to work with them. The CCP work at the orphanages on a daily basis, teaching classes, hosting after-school activities, running camps in the summer, and basically just being there. They also raise money to help renovate and improve the orphanages. A few projects include playgrounds, computer labs and refurbished gym floors.

If you want to hear more or watch a few short videos about this program, go here.

The second part of Lifesong's work in Ukraine are the transition homes, but that will be a blog post for another day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Thousand Words

I'm not sure how to begin telling you about my trip to Ukraine. I've been thinking about it all week, processing...

There is so much I want to share. I feel compelled to write about the special kids I met in the hopes that maybe your heart will be pricked and you will get involved.

But it is so hard to know where to start.

Thank you for your prayers is probably the place to begin. I felt them and God answered them.

To start with, the day we arrived I was reunited with Varya AND Valya. I truly believe our meeting was a miracle, orchestrated by God. I will tell you more about that later. Like I said, I'm still processing.

For now I am not going to write much, just show you pictures (with captions). As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so hopefully these pictures will make up for my current lack of words!

Me and my girls, Valya and Varya!

Dad interacting with the kids at an orphanage near Zap. His favorite phrase that day: Yabba Dabba Do. If you ever hear a young Ukrainian child repeating that phrase, you'll know where they learned it!

Me and Corinna - One of the kids I was drawn to immediately.

Misha - our driver for the week. An amazing man who knows first hand what it is like to be persecuted for your faith.

Sept 1 is the first day of school in Ukraine and involves a big celebration. All the children dress in black and white. Programs with "important people" are held at schools across the country. We saw a very abbreviated program at the orphanage in Zap. Abbreviated because of rain. They asked my dad to say a few words.

He said, "Thank you for inviting us. I will talk long while you get rained on," just as it started to pour. They laughed nervously and were glad when he ended his speech one line later.

I stayed at one of the transition homes. These are homes Lifesong for Orphans has built for kids once they graduate out of the orphanage. To live there, they must commit to certain rules of conduct. The alternative is state-run dorms which are nasty places.

The kids I stayed with are amazing. More on them later too! Here I am with Galya and Natasha.

Playing Phase 10 in Transition Home #2

Denis (president of Lifesong for Orphans, Ukraine) has a vision of creating a camp for kids from the surrounding orphanages to visit. The site is beautiful. You can see the house in the background of the picture below.

An older couple will live there. The ideas is giving the kids a chance to visit "Grandpa and Grandma's house." To give the kids a chance to experience a piece of family.

Our last day in Ukraine we took a tour of a botanical garden with some of the kids from Loubetein.

And then we went to spend a day in Vienna Austria.

Talk about culture shock!

We went on a tour of the Schoenberg Palace. You can tell how excited everyone was from the picture below!

That's all for now.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but these pictures seem inadequate leaving so much to tell!