Monday, August 31, 2009

Ukraine part 4 - The Kids

Another post I found while "organizing my blog labels" that was never published. I think this might be what you call perfect timing! Let me introduce you to some of the great kids I get to see this week! Please keep them (and me) in your prayers.

The kids at Loubetine (like all orphans) have had hard lives. Somehow, when I am with them it is easy to forget this. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of the camp, enjoying fun interactions with the kids, laughing and smiling with them and forget about what brought them to Loubetine in the first place. Denis (head of Life International Ukraine) shared a few stories with us.

Tonya lives with Denis and Tonya right now. She is one of three kids they are fostering over the summer. Denis told us that she was forced to get her meals from garbage cans until she was found at the age of 12 and taken to Loubetine. Today she is a Christian (and was recently baptized). She lives with Denis and Tonya over the summer and holiday breaks (during the school year she still lives at Loubetine). Once she is out of Loubetine she will probably move in to the Transition Home (more on that tomorrow). She has a hope!

Vanya (pictured with Kory) has grown up in the orphanage. He never knew his father or mother. His last name is the name of the town where he was born. He actually grew up in an orphanage in Saknoshinah, but they only teach the kids through the 9th grade making it impossible for them to go on to college. Because of Life International (LI), Vanya and two other boys, were transferred to Loubetine so they could finish high school and move on to college. Vanya speaks very good English. He and Kory would go around camp singing American pop songs to each other! He goes to church, but is not committed to Christ at this point. Keep him in your prayers.

Andrei (pictured below with Kory) was one of the most friendly guys I have ever met. Every morning he would make it a point to personally welcome all of us back to Loubetine. He would come up, shake our hands and say hello. He was transferred to Loubetine with Vanya. He is a Christian. The day we left camp, he came up to me at least twice and said "You are a good sister". He is a special kid!

Pictured with me is little Tonya (there were about 20 Tonya's!). Kory wanted to take her home with us. Her dad brought her a bag of candy while we were at Loubetine. But, he doesn't want to be involved with her beyond that. There was a family who wanted her to come and stay with them on weekends, but her dad wouldn't let her. He doesn't want to be involved in her life and he doesn't want anyone else to be either.

Alla (pictured with Mom) is a girl my parents have kept in touch with ever since our first trip to Loubetine. Many of her friends have made the decision to follow Christ, but she has held back. She knows the truth. And sometimes, she will go to church. She seemed so sad at camp. So unhappy. Denis said she had just spent a month with her sister who is a prostitute.

So many of the kids have relatives who have made bad choices. So many of them seem destined to make the same choices. It can seem hopeless. That is why LI's work is so important. God is using the LI staff in huge ways in the lives of these kids. They are being taught of God's love and given the tools needed to break the cylce of hopelessness. They are given hope. But, it still comes down to their individual choices. It is not easy. Keep them in your prayers. Natasha (LI Staff who works at Loubetine) told me as we left to pray for the older girls specifically. "They are broken" she said. I am asking you to pray for them as well. Pray that God would heal them and put them back together again. Also, pray for the LI Staff, that God would give them wisdome as they interact and work with these special, broken kids.

Before I go today, I thought I would share about the two girls I asked you to pray for. I didn't get to see either of them (probaly the biggest disappointment of the trip for me), but I did get to talk to Varya on the phone. At one point, she apologized to me for hanging out with unbelievers. Keep her in your prayers. She, like Alla, knows the truth. They have so much baggage to overcome, but with Christ all things are possible! There is hope!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty,
suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it."
"Well, why don't you ask Him?"
"Because I am afraid He would ask me the same question."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Giving Thanks for Friendships

I sat and looked at their faces as they shared stories about their summers and the start of school. Stories of sibling rivalries, moody nine-year olds, and tween girls trying to figure life out.

A group of moms sharing life, learning from each other and finding comfort in the fact that they were not alone and their kids were normal, at least somewhat.

I realized I was sitting in the middle of a gold mine. One of the youngest moms there, I was hearing stories of things to come. I was being given a peek at what life could look like down the road, an advanced reader copy of older kids issues.

It made me extremely thankful for the friendship of other moms. Moms who are ahead of me in the journey, those who are walking beside me, and those who are following behind.

This mommy thing can be a hard road to navigate. Scratch that, this life thing can be a hard road to navigate. Don't try to do it alone.

Two are better than one,because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Listening In

While organizing my blog labels on Saturday, I found this post that had never been published (By the way, if your google reader was filled with old posts from me let me apologize! It took me a few rounds to figure out the best way to clean up my labels.)

3 year old: I want a snack mom.

Mom: Okay, just let me finish this.

3 year old : That will take a while.

Mom: No it won't I'm almost done.

3 year old: I'm freezing mom

Mom: Do you want to wear a coat?

3 year old: No, snacks make me warm.

You gotta love the logic of a 3 year old and their relentless pursuit of snacks!

Monday, August 24, 2009


My friend Genny at MyCup2Yours is having a toy giveaway sponsored by All Children’s Furniture, who carries everything from kids chairs to toys. Stop by before midnight September 7th PST to enter to win!

An Audience of One

If I lived my life for an Audience of One.

I could speak the truth in love without worrying about what the other person thought of me, if I did it for an Audience of One.

I could write for for the sole pleasure of delighting Him and not think twice about how I might appear to others.

I could dance and look like a fool to those watching as long as the Audience of One smiled his approval.

Relationships would deepen, because I would be looking at others through the eyes of One instead of the eyes of many.

Criticism and displeasure from others wouldn't phase me as long as One was whispering his pleasure in my ear.

By living for One I could lose the shackles I place on myself; the worry of whether I measure up to those around me; the desire to be liked; the trap of comparison; the obsession of what others think.

I could lose these shackles that hold me back and keep me from taking risks the One asks of me.

If I lived my life for an Audience of One.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Little Pencil

"I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."

- Mother Theresa

I have been given the opportunity to travel to Ukraine later this week. I am excited to go... and nervous.

This trip is different from ones I have taken in the past for two reasons:
  • I am going without Kory (he is staying home with the kids).
  • I am not going with an obvious purpose.

In the past we have gone to run a summer camp at Loubetein orphanage.

This year, there will be no summer camp.

A small group of business men and women are going as part of a vision team with my parents. Some going on the trip are committed to becoming more involved in the Ukraine ministry. Others are going to see if they want to become more involved.

I am tagging along.

I'm not exactly sure what I will be doing. I hope to be that little pencil Mother Theresa was talking about to the kids I meet. Not that I can't be that little pencil here in the States. I can. I hope I am.

But when God drops a trip to Ukraine in your lap, out-of-the-blue, with the doors wide open, you step through them.

Even when it is hard to leave your family and you don't know exactly what you will be doing and you struggle with whether you bring enough value to the trip to justify the cost and it means leaving your comfort zone.

I hope to see my friend Varya. I also hope to see Valya (a miracle I am asking for).

My main purpose in writing this post is this: Please pray for this trip. Please pray for Varya and Valya because I love them and I don't think many people pray for them.

And selfishly, please pray for me, that I can be that little pencil who, by the grace of God, is not afraid to move out of my comfort zone and participate in God's love letter to the children he puts in my path.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Its Official

One day after I received the e-mail that our dossier had arrived at the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs), I received one saying we have our log-in date!

I was expecting to wait another 3 weeks or so for this e-mail and was very surprised that it came so quickly.

So its official. As of 8/11/09 we are officially waiting!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Crickets

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad, monotonous song. "Summer is over and gone," they sang. "Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying."

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year--the days when summer is changing into fall--the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.

Everybody heard the song of the crickets. Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road. They knew that school would soon begin again. The young geese heard it and knew that they would never be little goslings again. Charlotte heard it and knew that she hadn't much time left. Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. "Another summer gone," she sighed. Lurvy, at work building a crate for Wilbur, heard the song and knew it was time to dig potatoes.

"Summer is over and gone," repeated the crickets. "How many nights till frost?" sang the crickets. "Good-bye, summer, good-bye, good-bye!"

Taken from Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Friday, August 07, 2009

One Step Closer

An exciting announcement was delivered to my inbox today. Our dossier (as of yesterday afternoon) is on its way to China!

This means it passed the inspection of our agency and has been translated.

In 3 -5 days our agency's representative in China will hand deliver those precious documents to the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs).

Then we wait for the CCAA to "log-in" our dossier - typically within four weeks of receipt.

And then we wait again; only this wait has a picture at the end of it. We wait to see the precious face of our daughter for the first time!

With each milestone the fact that we are working towards bringing a little girl, our little girl home, becomes a little more real. Most days I am excited about this prospect. I dream about and pray for our little one.

But there are some days when the fear and insecurities creep in and I start to question everything. I wonder if she will really feel like she is ours. I wonder if we are doing the right thing. I question my motives. I worry that our life will get too hard. I get scared.

In the midst of those moments I feel paralyzed.

Deep down, I don't think the fear and the unknowns ever leave. But even deeper down, the assurance that we are on the path God has placed us doesn't leave either.

I know God has a heart for the orphan. I know that he desires for every child to have a home. I want to be a part of that.

Yes the fear is there. Yes it will be hard.

But, He will be there with us. And as much as that sounds like "the right thing to say", it is the truth and I'm clinging to it.

So we keep moving forward on this adoption journey he has placed us on and I'm excited (and a little fearful) to say we are one step closer.

Paperback Swap

Has anyone heard about Paperback Swap?

I had, but never tried it, until a recent conversation with a friend.

The result, I decided to give it a go!

If you haven't heard about Paperback Swap, this is how it works. You sign up for a free account on their website and then start listing books you would like to pass on. If any one of their millions of members wants your book, you get an e-mail.

Then for about $3 per book (the cost of postage) you send off your book (you can print postage on their site, wrap your book in Saran wrap and computer paper and never have to enter a post office!). In exchange you get one credit for every book you send. If someone has a book you want, you request it and get it mailed at no cost to you.

They give you two credits to start with. Two credits equal two books or one audio book.

Its a great way to exchange books you don't want anymore for ones you do at very little cost!

I listed 11 books and got requests for five books right off the bat!

That means I have seven new-to-me books coming my way. The problem is, of the 11 books I have on my wish list, none are available.

Anyone have any book suggestions for me? What are some of your favorite must-reads from the summer?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Ray of Beauty

I didn't really mean to yell.

But when she gave the bowl of cereal to the baby who immediately turned it upside down sending the lucky charms scattering, the harsh words came out of my mouth.

Condemning words wondering why she didn't know any better.

I felt remorseful immediately.

After getting the baby settled in his high chair with breakfast, I sought out my little girl who was picking up the spilled cereal.

"I shouldn't have yelled at you. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?"

She gave me a teary nod and returned my hug.

And then she finished picking up the cereal and told me a story.

All was right with her world. She forgave me that quick.

In the midst of my "ugly," forgiveness sent a ray of beauty.

It was a wonderful gift to unwrap.

For more Tuesdays Unwrapped, visit my friend Emily at Chatting at the Sky.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Year of the Zucchini

People with the "green thumb" ability impress me. Flowers and plants and such are something I appreciate and admire. They are something I would like to learn to grow but the process of getting there completely overwhelms me. I typically admire flower and vegetable gardens from afar, slightly in awe of the people who put them together.

This year we decided to try something new because, well, all the pieces were there.

We had a little box of dirt behind our house. My in-laws gave us some leftover seeds. The sun was shining. The kids wanted a garden. We had nothing to lose and vegetables to gain. So we gave it a whirl.

We planted zucchini, pea pods, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.

The tomato plant I put in a pot on our back porch. We actually have a few tomatoes growing on it, but the plant itself is starting to turn yellow. I'm not a gardener, so I don't know what that means, but I'm not counting on tomatoes.

As for the other vegetables, they might be growing. I can't tell for sure because the zucchini has taken over our garden!

I probably should have paid closer attention to the directions on the seed packet but all I could read was blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I have since learned that zucchini plants grow very large and (if left unchecked by novice gardeners) can completely cover up a garden. Especially if you plant a lot of them (which we did)!

Even though our plants were huge, I did not think we would get any produce. Call me a garden skeptic, or a green-thumb realist if you want; I just don't trust my garden "skills." But to my surprise, we picked our first two zucchini last week.

They were huge.

Note to self: Garden needs to be checked more often than once every two weeks or the produce may grow too big. Not a bad problem to have, but maybe not the ideal.

Which brings me to another problem... I almost never cook with zucchini.
Therefore, I'm not sure what to do with it.

If you have a favorite zucchini recipe or zucchini art projects, please send them my way. I may even send you a zucchini thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Its looking like we will have oodles of those wonderful green vegetables to practice on.