Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jeffrey Matthew- HOPE

This is an amazing story of how God works BEHIND the scenes, creating beautiful pictures that in time take our breath away.  A story that's been in the working for years . . . the colors began to reveal themselves a year ago and yesterday bloomed into the most beautiful painting ever.  Ready to be amazed?  Read on . . . This is a combination of journal entries I wrote and Instagram posts.

January 10, 2016
Journal Entry

"M is heavy on my mind, in such a heavy way.  It just keeps echoing in my mind that he needs a mom to be his advocate.  He needs a family who will welcome and love him, hold him close- teach him to be a storng and loving man.  A man of God.  And who will do it?  . . . Will God answer this time with a family?  Please bring him a family, a loving and caring and strong family to love and hold this little boy."

February 10, 2016
Journal Entry

"M - feels hopeless- like he will just end up back in his horrid situation for his whole life.  Is there any hope of a real family for him? . . . Please do a miracle and find a mom for M, who will love and cherish him."

February 11, 2016
Instagram Post

I've been feeling hopeless lately about several "big things" (my parents' girls ever coming home from Ethiopia, my little guy who needs a loving home, etc.). I found this bracelet I got a number of years ago and it's going to stay on my arm until Easter. A visual reminder to pray and not give up hope. To storm the gates until the answers come! #dontlosehope #stormthegates#praypraypray

**Insert . . . my friend Hannah sees this Instagram post and texts me- do I really have a little guy who could use a family?  We begin a conversation where she tells me about a dear friend of hers who she thinks would love to step into this role- help out this little guy by being a sort of adopted family once a week.  A few days later she connects her friend Shelby and I.

February 16, 2016
Journal Entry

Prayers for Lent.  never lose HOPE.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12
M calls me mom.  I think he lives in a fantasy world where if he believes it enough, he will get to live with us.  He told someone the other day he has two sisters and a brother and a dad and mom and then they realized he was describing Jer and I.  Breaks my heart to NOT be able to do this.

Journal Entry
February 17, 2016
"HOPE- Shelby is falling in love with M and hasn't even met him.  HOPE- she prays for him and worries about him.  HOPE- a mom to advocate for him and love him.  JOYFUL in hope."

(I sent Shelby these pictures while we were texting back and forth about him one evening.)


Journal Entry
March 11, 2016

"M's mom refused to sign papers for the summer, so now what?  And won't give answer about spring break.  So now?  Back to home and hell?  What about next year?  Joyful in HOPE, patient in prayer, faithful in affliction."

Journal Entry
March 14, 2016
"May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit."  

March 14
Instagram Post

My hope has been battered and tarnished this Lent. Not what I expected when committing to pray for three precious things this season. Each feels farther away from being answered than back on Ash Wednesday. Pushing hard into what it means to be "joyful in hope" and waiting in anticipation to see how prayers will be answered.

August 28, 2016
Instagram Post

"God did this so that . . . We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us, may be greatly encouraged. But we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." New bracelets to wear as a constant reminder not to lose hope as I pray for three specific things, including homes for three precious children. #puravida #hopeasananchor#nomoreorphans #orphancare


So back in February and March, specifically, I was storming heaven's gates. Begging God to bring a family for M.  And he did . . . Mike and Shelby stepped up, willing to take this hurting, broken child and make him theirs.  And then it fell apart.  We grieved for what could have been.  Meanwhile God touched the deepest parts of their heart and they stepped forward to pursue adoption.  He didn't allow them to lose hope, become guarded or bitter.  But to keep their hearts soft.  Knowing that the hurt of losing a child is LESS than the pain that child feels in his great loss.  


In the late summer (? timing is fuzzy to me), they were matched with a birth mom and began their anxious wait.  Found out it was a little boy, due at Christmas (September).  He was born early, in November.  They received information, pictures and so forth, but BM decided not to sign papers until he was released.  And then they found out over a month later, she had taken him home weeks ago and lied  Heartbreaking. Senseless pain- changing her mind is fine, but lying and leading people on?  Horrific.  

In the midst of this, I begged God over and over to keep their hearts soft, don't let them give up!!!!! He has a little child out there for them to be parents to.

January 3rd, around 2 pm we are texting back and forth . . . and I saved some screen shots for you of this conversation.

And then she goes silent.  I figure she's at work and life is busy, not a big deal.  A few minutes later my friend Hannah calls (the one who connected Shelby and I).  In the midst of our text conversation she received a phone call from their agency, a baby boy was born December 2016 (remember the expecting photo?  Due in December 2016?  God was right!!!!!).  He is three days old and all theirs.

(Them waiting anxiously for the baby to arrive!)

Three hours later they are home, with their sweet Jeffrey Matthew in their arms!!!

If you've stuck with me this long, great.  Isn't God amazing?  Sometimes it's easy to forget or push it to the back of our minds in the midst of busy, stressed, discouraging and challenging days.  But this week was an amazing, wonderful reminder of just how God is putting pieces together behind the scenes, in ways we COULD NOT imagine.  Most often it seems that we don't get to see everything come together, but sometimes we are privileged to see how the picture really looks.  And I'm so thankful I got to be a part of seeing it!!

Welcome Home Jeffrey Matthew!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Almost May Day!

Reading . . . Life-Giving Home by Sally Clarkson.  Amazing inspiration, she says what I think deep in my mind but could never put into words.

Playing . . . a fun game called "organize the house in my spare time."

Watching . . . Whatever Jer happens to have on- The Office most recently.

Trying . . . to plan homeschool for next year.

Cooking . . . night off tradition- blackened fish, kale, (new recipe) cornbread.

Drinking . . . not enough water.

Calling . . . no one.  I never have quiet time to talk on the phone.

Texting . . . some special friends who have been keeping me supported during these months of uncertainty, with daily encouragement.

Pinning . . . home decoration ideas and lots of yummy things I want to eat.

Crafting . . . a beautiful broom closet to make my days of cleaning happy!

Doing . . . Lots of praying and talking about the future.

Going . . . to swim lessons for Forest every day.  And he is ready to swim so they are so fun!

Loving . . . some new routines and how they change our days.  Load of laundry done start to finish each day.  Taking extra time and effort to dress nicely each day.

Hating . . . the 90 degree temps that are back to stay.  And humidity. But it means berry picking and new sunglasses.  Volleyball tournament and swimming pool!

Discovering . . . a newly rediscovered enjoyment for John Grisham novels.

Enjoying . . . more music in our school days.  Classical.  Raffi and folk kids music for fun.

Thinking . . . A lot about next year and all the details surrounding it.

Feeling . . . ready for decisions to be made and the course to be clear.

Hoping for . . . clear answers this next week.

Listening . . . to little people quietly playing in bed.

Celebrating . . . little days and little things.

Spelling . . . lots of words to Forest, who has caught the reading bug!  YAH!

Thanking . . . a former co-worker for affordable swim lessons for Forest.  Friends for endless support during these last couple months.  Co-workers for sharing their snuggly little babies!

Finishing . . . school in four weeks.  YAH YAH YAH!  And there is no way the kids are more excited than the teacher.  No way.

AND!  Shannon and Forest ran their first 5k!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hello There!

Thanks to my friend Melissa for a fun reminder that I don't have to wait until I have piles to write or time to be thoughtful. . . so a fun update time.  In randomness.

WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK- Pantry clean-up creativeness this week since grocery day is Friday.  Chicken curry with rice or noodles is a family favorite.  And lots of veggies- trying to get our numbers up there.  Kids love chopped up cucumbers (Aldi has some really good tasting small "English" ones), bell peppers and carrots.  Naval oranges are on sale this time of year, so lots of them too!

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT- Hmm.  Heidi as a baby I suppose.  Some really cute pictures of her popped up on my Facebook "timehop" and that combined with new Ranch babies makes me nostalgic.  I'm glad to be out of baby stage (so weird to say that and realize it's true . . . ) but if I could push a button and hold my baby for an hour or two?  I'd do it in a heartbeat.

WHAT I'M LOVING- Wearing my boots every day!  Warm temps will be here soon and time to pack away the scarfs and boots.  Enjoying them a lot now.  Coconut oil for dry and chapped hands.  Carrot juice to quench thirst and make me feel healthy.

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO- Normal school days.  Working on diligence and discipline.  Lots of indoors time with cooler temperatures.

WHAT I'M DREADING- Can't really think of anything though there must be something!

WHAT I'M WORKING ON- Cleaning out and purging our house. For the last month, I've just felt this huge push or need (but no idea why) to downsize and clean out and simplify.  More than I normally do!  So I've been using the tiny blocks of time here and there to empty drawers, shelves, baskets, etc.  Cleaned out our side yard and the "boys toys" - threw out piles of plastic junk, nerf guns that were broken, etc.  Feels so good and makes me want to get to more!

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT- Two new babies here at the Ranch this week and I get to do baby pictures!!!!  And then practice my lightroom skills!  Summer vacation!!!!  Okay, that's many months away but we all look forward to it so much!

WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING- Not a tv or movie person, but often Jer watches before bed and I half pay attention.  We are watching The Office.  Again.  Reading goes in spurts for me, depending on tiredness.  But I've been keeping up with my Bible reading and really being diligent with that.  Loving Sally Clarkson's newest book "The Lifegiving Home" and working slowly through her "Own Your Life" book.  Also slowly reading "The Fringe Hours."

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO- Not much.  I find the older I get, the more I need a break from the constant noise.  So instead of turning on music, I turn it off and let my ears ring in silence.  3 kids plus 6 boys does not equal much quiet.

WHAT I'M WEARING- Jeans and a comfy purple shirt.  3/4 sleeves because after a month of "winter," I'm feeling claustrophobic in all those clothes!  Yes, I'm turning into a Florida wimp!

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND- Working!  48 hour stretch with the boys.  Groups for lunch and dinner.  Hopefully it will feel warm enough to enjoy being outside rather than being miserable outside!


WHAT ELSE IS NEW- Not much.  Feeling very heavy burdened for my parents and their girls who need a family.  For my little guy who needs a mom to advocate for him and love him and teach him.  Things that are starting to feel hopeless.  I have a bracelet that says "never lose HOPE" and I'm wearing it for this month of lent, as a reminder to pray for those two things and one other big prayer request I have.  Praying to not lose hope and for visible answers!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Forever Homes

Hello Friends!  I was going to do a catch-up post with random pictures and this still may turn into that.  But on my mind so much lately is the need for kids to have families.  How sad is a world filled with kids who just want someone to lovingly tuck them into bed at night?  I know I'm preaching to the choir- I know most of my dearest friends have hearts for the orphans too.  I just need to get it off my chest.

My parent's process of adoption continues . . . .the US Embassy in Ethiopia has things at a standstill at this point. They need to finish "verifying" the kids' orphan status (Despite having already done so for the other three kids in the family) and nothing has been done about it in over a month. Once this is done (seriously, should take someone having a meeting and be done in an hour), they receive the final paperwork they need and can get a court date!  And go get their little girls!!  Pray pray pray!

This is Cindy, the mom adopting the other three, with Musteryia, age 5.

Musteryia and Flower (9)

The girls have three siblings who have been adopted by another family at the same church.  They are Restem (15 boy), Emane (11 girl) and Anthonia (7 boy).  Joyfully, they are home today!  I can't imagine what shock these kids must be in.  They've been getting to know their adoptive parents for the past three weeks, while they've been in Ethiopia with them, but now they have flown to Central NY (in winter no less) and suddenly have a whole new world to learn.  Many prayers needed for them.  Here they are with their new brother (also an adopted kid!).

Welcome to America!

My heart just hurts for all the ones left behind.  For all the ones in our own country needing families.  For the one IN MY OWN HOUSE who needs a family.  A mom to be his advocate and defender, his comforter and one who showers him with kisses.  Who disciplines in a stern yet loving way.  

I've done an awful lot of begging and appealing to God lately.  Trying to patiently and yet filled with faith, wait for him to answer in powerful ways.  

In the mean time- life is full and good here! I've been fighting a chest cold for a week.  We've been trying to be very diligent and disciplined with school work.  Boys have been a challenge this month, just some hard things to work through and to know how to deal with.  But January is at an end and February is here!  Bring on the love!

New year!  Goals have to do with Bible reading (and copying verses) and learning Lightroom.

This was dropped off at the Ranch and both my kids and Ranchers are enjoying!

Enjoying some pre-lunch hiking into our back yard wilds!

Some "school" work from Forest.

Trying to stay warm on some cold Florida days.  BRRRR!

We have an extra family member on Sunday afternoons!

Thanks Uncle Dean for really cool gifts from Africa!

One of my boys requested a minecraft cake.  

Sweet Sisters!

Working on a read-aloud challenge and got some new books.

This one lost a first tooth!

Another Sunday adventure- introducing him to things like FIVE GUYS!  

This one wore this dress for over a week straight. 

A peek into my life . . . "make sure you check your bed and put the pillow on it."  "Yes Ma'me."  
Does it look like he listened and obeyed?

Suddenly it was in the mid 60's and we burst outside!

"We are starting a pet store.  And we won't ever give up."

I was paid for one of my photo-shoots with a Target card . . . and so I splurged on new things for the kitchen.  New dishtowels, new drying mat, new drying rack.  Things that look nice but weren't "necessities" and I'm too stingy to ordinarily buy.

Secret Agent Shannon turned 8!

And a little sass going on here :)  In a good way!  (Note:  still in princess dress)

So if you made it this far . . . all in all, moving on!  I have a lot on my heart- praying about it and waiting to see where God moves with things.  Love!