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!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Men Needed

Not such a good blogger these days, eh?  All in seasons of life I suppose.

But life is well and moving right along!  Today my heart is heavy with thoughts of "my boys."  We've had an interesting year so far, as I suppose they all are, in their own ways.  So here's what our 2 1/2 months have been like!  A few words here and at the end, and a whole lotta pictures thrown in!

First night back- alligator spotting!

We started the year with three returning boys.  And gained two new little ones- one just turned 10 and one who celebrated his 9th birthday with us.  By far our youngest {and youngest in maturity} cottage ever.  Those of you who have or had 10 year old boys, this is similar except subtract 2-3 years of maturity from them.  In the course of August-October, one of those boys was moved out of the cottage, so we were down to four.

(One of our little guys wants to learn to whip because he saw Jeremiah doing it.  I won't tell you how hard I laughed when he kept whipping himself because he wouldn't follow directions!)

THEN Our boys (and our) beloved teacher had to take a two-month leave to take care of her elderly father.  We have a delightful substitute but it's not the same.  This is also a lot of transition for little guys who come from very unstable homes.  The boys are doing well, all things considered.

 Celebrating Heidi's birthday!

Some work detail!

Celebrating this little guy's 9th birthday!!

He quickly became Heidi's best friend- maybe because he is so close to her size? 

More work detail- learning how to install a floor (Forest's room) like a man!

Finally getting some consistency in his room inspection!  Stickers!  Yah!

More random spapshots of my day!!!

Then this week.  New little guy arrived . . . He is very young in actions and size.  Very much in need of the love and stability we offer, more so than most.  He climbed on my lap on Tuesday night, to see the choir singing during chapel.  I had Forest on one half of my lap and him on the other.  And today we lost one of our other boys, due to his mother unexpectedly pulling him out.  Nothing hurts as much as a little 9 year old breaking down sobbing when Jeremiah wrapped his arms around him, because he doesn't want to leave.

Sweet Jesus, our world is full of broken and hurting boys, in need of MEN to love and care for them.

I sure am thankful for all these years (14) working alongside Jeremiah.  He is the dad that 90% of my boys have never had, and usually the first positive relationship they've ever had with a man.  That's a high calling and a huge responsibility.  And he bears it and wears it well.  He feels each loss painfully.  He shoulders the pain of "why can't they make good decisions?" personally.  As frustrating as some of them are (and you have NO IDEA unless you've been here), it hurts him physically to lose any of them from our house.  Even when it means his life is easier.  It's pretty amazing to see someone love so deeply, little boys who aren't his own flesh and blood.

But we need more men!  More men willing to stand up and teach these BOYS to be MEN while they are still BOYS!  Boys will be foolish and sinful boys.  But that's not what we want them to stay!  In order to be MEN they need someone to teach them to be MEN!  Show them what integrity looks like.  What honesty looks like.  What it means to look a woman in the eye and give her respect and a hug, a kiss and honor her!  A man to show them how to cradle a baby and kiss a toddler's booboo's and set limits for that same little one.  

Sometimes the need is so overwhelming- we help so few boys.  And some days, it's just overwhelming how honored I am to be a part of reaching little boys with love.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Coming back . . .

Four months!  Can you believe it's been so long??  I didn't have time to write.  Then I had too much to write.  Then I couldn't figure out where to start!  So I'm skipping the past four months . . . my "end of school" recap.  My end of Ranch Year.  A miscarriage.  An amazing summer vacation.  The new start to a school year.  Fast-forwarding so to speak to today.

We have five boys with us now, ages 8-12.  We started school on Monday.  My own kids started home school on Monday, as well.  Home school "lite" really.  We are easing and teasing our way back into routine, but none of us could wait another day really.  I'm learning to jump in and not wait until things are "perfectly planned," whether that be new chore routines or cooking lessons for Shannon or school days.  Heidi is growing up too fast and has entered a very intense season of parenting.  I keep telling her she is too young for some of this behavior nonsense but she doesn't listen!

So all in all- life is full and I love it.  Is it crazy?  Totally!  Trying to train a wild 8 year old to fold clothes and make a bed, to be quiet when it's time to be quiet.  To be respectful.  That life here is safe.  It takes a lot of talking and teaching.  And he is just one.  Days can be like a marathon from 6 am to 8 pm (when all are in bed), filled with many sprint moments (7-8 am and 7-8 pm are my crazy hours, pray for me then!).  But at the end of the day, I wouldn't trade it for the world!

I HOPE to get back here more regularly, but for now . . . a photo recap of the last months!  Because pictures do tell the story!

Waaaaaaaaaay back to April- we rented an amazing condo with friends and explored Saint Augustine!  Early mornings at the beach and old city!  Love this place!

 The fort is an amazing historical and interesting place to visit!

And not much beats an early morning at an empty beach!

As we moved from April and into May . . . lots of tree and rope climbing!

Pushing through with school!  We finished an amazingly hard "read aloud," and both kids surprised me with their desire to listen and enjoy a hard book ("The Wheel on the School").  We pushed through with very routine mornings, which worked very well.

Little glimpses of goodness (as my friend Janet would say) delighted me, in a hard emotional time (which I now know was because I was in those early weeks of pregnancy, ugh!).

Heidi continued to enjoy her "best friends."

And be everyone's favorite entertainer!

We watched Shannon prepare for her ballet recital (at this crazy colored studio!!).

And then we did some hair and makeup and got to watch an amazing worship-dance recital!!

Forest and I had a great time at Shannon's recital! It was at the Holy Land Experience, decorated by the TBN . . . so for example, toilet stalls with MIRRORS!  I mean, who doesn't want to watch themselves use the loo?  Ew!

We finished FIRST GRADE!!!!!

We had some amazing rain storms and some awesome puddles! 

We celebrated a few last birthdays (cupcakes in a cone!).

I printed 100 pictures from the school year and we enjoyed the memories during our last few weeks as a cottage.  

Someone got her hair cut!

I cranked up the exercise in preparation for a summer hiking trip and because I couldn't figure out why I was gaining weight (again, now I know it was pregnancy!).

Lots more pool time! 

Good-byes to the boys.

Summer sunshine!

A whole lot of packing . . . 

And then off to the airport and summer vacation we went!  Not only were we ready for a break because goodness, it was a long year . . .but four days before our boys left, we unexpectedly lost a baby.  Unexpected because I hadn't known I was pregnant.  Unexpected because once I realized I was having a miscarriage, I didn't realize I was between 15 and 16 weeks along.  Unexpected because we didn't expect to lose a baby.  So I was MORE than ready to get on that airplane and go on vacation!

Post-it notes buy some great time on an airplane!  If one happens to be travelling with a wiggly and non-sleeping almost 2 year old!

Taking random pictures of ourselves bought some time too! 

And then we made it!  NY!  I truly was refreshed in all ways through exercise and nature. So amazing!

And with that, I pause for today . . . .