Monday, October 31, 2011

You Happy?

You happy, Mama?  You happy?

Papa?  You happy?

All day.  5, 10, 15, 20 times a day Aaron asks us this question. 

Are we happy. 

Precious little boy.  Precious little worried boy.  Worried about our happiness.  Happiness that is tied directly to his happiness.  Always checking, always wondering.  Hoping against hope that we answer that yes, we are happy.  Then he can say with joy, 5, 10, 15, 20 times a day that Aaron is happy too.

The deep oceans of feelings and fears lying beneath his simple question. 

Our happiness means comfort and safety.  Our happiness means we will not leave or abandon.  Our happiness means peace for another day.  Our happiness means he gets to stay. 

The deep cries of a little boy's heart.  Though he has been with us for a year now, the terror of rejection is always stirring below the surface. 

So he checks.  5, 10, 15, 20 times a day. 

You happy? Mama, you happy?  Papa?

Dear sweet little boy....

How we long for the day when you not only understand how deep is our love but you will also come to know and love the One whose love is beyond measure.

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:14-19

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Missed Pictures

Do you ever find pictures that you took but never even saw???

Goodness.  I missed these.

Church Family Fun...

Roasting marshmallows is SERIOUS business!!

ENOUGH with the camera, Mom!!

COUSINS!! Don't they look alike!!

"How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."
Psalm 133

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How Refreshing

I'm home.  After three days away from my dear "men" I am grateful to be home.

But I didn't sleep in this morning even though it is rainy, dreary and cold here.

Honestly, I never sleep in.  Muscle aches and pains drive me out of bed early each morning but that is NOT why I was up early this morning.

I was a woman on a mission.  A yard sale.

Not just any yard sale though.... this was an ADOPTION YARDSALE.

I did not know personally the people who were adopting but had heard about them through some friends.  So I grabbed my morning coffee coke and hit the road.  I'll stand in support of anyone who chooses to cliff jump and if they are in my neck of the woods, I'm a woman on a mission.

I arrived at the church, walked inside, stood in the middle of the sanctuary that was filled to the BRIM with donated items and came close to losing it right there.

Stunned awe.

How refreshing, Church, how refreshing.

A building filled with donated items from 50 DIFFERENT FAMILIES.  A ton of volunteers, all wearing red shirts, who gave up their Saturday morning sleep-in to stand beside a couple in their decision to adopt.


So many in the adoption world cliff jump without anyone standing on the side cheering them on.  So many in the adoption world scrimp and save and go into enormous debt to bring home their treasures without anyone in their immediate world donating to help relieve their financial burden.  So many in the adoption world sit quietly in church Sunday after Sunday with no one willing to rally around them, pray for them, support them. So many are alone in the adoption world.  So many.

How refreshing to stand in the midst of a building and feel God's Presence in that place.  How sweet to walk among the different volunteers and see the light of Christ shining around them as they gave of their time and energy.

How refreshing.

I get so dismayed and discouraged at times when I receive e-mails from different families who have felt cut-off and unsupported by their church body after they announce their intentions to adopt.   I get deeply saddened to hear the stories of families who feel so utterly alone and misunderstood. 

But today - this morning - I was refreshed.  I was encouraged.  I called Rob while I stood in the middle of that floor and I shared with him my awe and utter joy at seeing the support this couple is receiving. 

I was able to meet them, encourage them and let them know I am praying.

I drove away and cried.  Tears of joy and tears of gratefulness.  Glad that I was able, in a very tiny way, to let them know that I care and that I too am standing and cheering them on as they jump off the cliff.


On another entirely different note but one that also brings the tears of joy and gratefulness....

Though Aaron wasn't in the orphanage when we adopted him - He was the FIRST RR child to be listed on Reece's Rainbow from his orphanage.  After he was listed a whole host of other children were also listed and at least 18 families have crossed the ocean to bring home a whole lot of precious treasures from that orphanage.

19 families with ONE thing in common - our children were raised in the same building. 

We wanted to give back.  We wanted to give the 115 children left behind a Christmas to remember.

So we decided to fill shoe boxes that the director promised would go directly to the children.

None of us are rich.  None of us have a ton of money.  But all of us left our hearts across the ocean and all of us worry over and pray for the precious treasures we left behind.  This was one small way that we could give to them. 

19 Mamas.  Could we fill 115 boxes?

Get ready to cry.....

At last count, 189 boxes have arrived at Michelle Enskat's house.


And more are still arriving.

All the children in Aaron's baby house orphanage will receive a Christmas box.  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!!!

PLUS all the children in one, possibly two OTHER orphanages in that area will ALSO receive a Christmas box.

Around 200 children across the ocean are going to get a Christmas box.

200 children.


How refreshing, Church, how refreshing. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fatherless Friday

Sadly, I am not smart enough to figure out how I can put pictures on my posts with the iPad. Ugh!!! And one finger typing is a bit of a challenge... so I am being forced to keep my message short on this Fatherless Friday....


Thanks to ALL of you, my sweet boy has 11,380.00 in his grant account. The Giveaway for Artem is still going on. It will end at the end of October. So if you have not donated.... Join in.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I am in Raleigh at a Christian school convention for BIBLIOPLAN. My typing skills on an iPad are non existent!!! I have much to say but......

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Rainy Days They Stayed Inside

On rainy days, they stayed inside.

They stayed inside when it rained.  Or when it snowed.  Or when it was too cold to go outside.

It has taken me a year to grasp the horror of those words.  It has taken me a year to understand the depths of Aaron's agony whenever the dark clouds roll in.  It wasn't that I didn't know what happened when it rained: I was aware that they stayed inside.  But I refused to consider the reality of those words.  The truth was too hard for me to face.  I didn't connect the dots.

Aaron tried to tell us.

From the beginning, even before he knew any English, he tried to tell us.

Our little weatherman.  Always watching.  Forever vigilant. Constantly pointing, worrying, waiting with his haunted eyes.  Concerned each time the dark clouds formed in the distance.

I used to think that his anxiety over storm clouds was cultural.  I believed that his culture had passed its overpowering fear of germs, sickness and cold on to my son.  I thought that he didn't like getting wet because his caretakers had taught him that rain would make him sick. 

I thought that he watched the clouds with such intensity because he had learned to do so from his caretakers.  I didn't understand his fear, his obsession, with rain and cold.

I didn't see why rain should send a small boy into such sorrow.  I didn't grasp why he woke up each morning worrying over what the weather would be that day.

But on rainy days, they stayed inside.


We always focused on the outdoor sheds where we saw the boys so often. We thought that the boredom of life in the sheds was the worst thing about living at Aaron's institution.

But on rainy days, they stayed inside.

Inside, where the smells were strong and the walls were bare and the halls were empty.  Inside, where the boys' bedrooms were off-limits except during sleeping hours.  Inside, where the 20-plus boys who lived on Aaron's floor were all crammed into one room.

One room.

20-plus troubled, challenged boys, ranging in age between 5-18, all crammed into one room.

A room that was entirely empty except for the benches that lined the walls. A room with no shelves, no books, no toys.

A room with closed windows that were set too high for little boys to reach.

A room where a bench blocked the doorway to keep little boys inside.

A room in which there was absolutely nothing to do.  All day.  Every rainy day.

One room.

That room was where the Lost Boys lived when it rained.  Or snowed.  Or when the bitter cold prevented them from sitting in the shed.

It was a room completely devoid of color, of toys, of books, of television, of radio. One room for a huge mass of unhappy, noisy boys.  One room full of chaos and foul smells. One room with nothing to see but the other boys sitting, standing, rocking; one room with nothing to hear but the other boys' moans, their shouts.

Nothing to do.

Can you imagine it?

Boys banging their heads against the walls.  Boys biting themselves, tearing at their own skin.  Forever scratching the sores on their bodies. Hitting, smacking each other out of boredom.

Do you see?

One caretaker, or sometimes two, trying to maintain order inside a room that is crammed with 20-plus troubled, Lost Boys.

And our own little Lost Boy-- our five-year-old Aaron-- stuck in that room. Struggling with the shock of the transition from his beloved baby house to this institution, which is more like a concentration camp than an orphanage.  The agony.  The despair for him.  Jostled, poked, pushed around by the other boys.  Looking out the window-- hour after hour, day after day, month after month. Watching the clouds.  Looking for the sun.  Rocking back and forth, back and forth on his toes.  Looking for the sun.   Praying for the sun.  Willing the dark clouds to go away.  Trying to tune out the chaos around him.  Unhappy.  Fearful.  Worried.  Rocking.  Praying.  Rocking some more.

Longing for the shed.

Longing for the blessed shed.

At least there, he can see the birds.  At least there, he can hear the cars.  At least there, he can watch the planes fly over. At least there, the boys are calmer.  Still moaning, still groaning, still hitting-- but calmer.

In the shed, the air is easier to breathe.  In the shed, the cacophony of sounds is muted by the open space. 

And if he is good and if the caretaker is nice, then maybe, maybe he can sit outside the shed on a bench and draw in the dirt with a stick held between his toes.


And sometimes, sometimes when things are really going well, they may bring out a ball or two for the higher functioning boys to kick.  Sometimes.

But only when it isn't raining.

When the sun is shining in the sky.

When the dark clouds are far off in the distance.

"Mama, do you see?  Do you see?  Do you see that sun? Look, Mama!  No rain today. The sun is good, Mama.  It is good. The sun makes Aaron happy.  Aaron is so happy, Mama.  Aaron doesn't like clouds.  Clouds are bad.  Rain is bad. Rain is stinky.  Stinky. Do you see, Mama? Do you see?"  

On rainy days, we stayed inside.  Mama, we stayed inside.

Aaron doesn't like the rain.


Monday, October 24, 2011

I Wrote a Post

I wrote a blog post that I honestly don't want to share.  It is a post that I have written and re-written again and again.  I doubt I will ever truly get it right.  Aaron gave it to me.  Sitting in the car one afternoon with Elijah and me.  He started yelling for us to 'Look and See'.  It wasn't the first time he had called my attention to what was bringing him such joy but it was the first time that I realized the story behind his delight.  And I began to cry.  And the post came.  But I have yet to get it right.  Because of that and because of the content of the post, I want to set it aside.  I want to share the OTHER story - the one I alluded to last week - the one that will delight and encourage.  The one that shows God moving and working. 

But this morning, I realized that in order for you to fully grasp the OTHER post, I need to share Aaron's post first.  It is HIS post.  His story.  A part of his life living for a year in a special needs mental institute.  The harsh reality.  The agony he experienced.  Though the words stumble - though I can't refine it to my liking - I need you to read his story.  Then I will share the other one.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Meditation

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.

Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 

 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things

—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 

so that no one may boast before him.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,

who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

All the sweet children on this page can be found HERE.  They all have arthrogryposis.  They all need families.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another Marathon Day

2:00 am until 10:00 pm.  20 long exhausting hours.

And the littlest.... He slept for a total of about an hour.  40 minutes going up.  20 minutes coming back.

If he wasn't so dang cute I'd wring his little neck!!

We knew that the highlight of our time while we were there, was going to include seeing cute little Robyn Nielson...

(oops - no pictures but trust me - she is PRECIOUS)

and one of the Reece's Rainbow cuties - Sophie Enberg.  Sophie just had major surgery on her hips (actually she ended up having two surgeries - the first surgery was a bit traumatic so they did one hip and stopped.  A week later they did the 2nd hip.  Poor Sophie and Mom are very ready to go home!!)

Yep - seeing Robyn and Sophie were going to be the highlight of our LONG and GRUELING day....

We figured the rest of the day would be running here and there and everywhere.

We arrived early and went straight to Orthotics to pick up Aaron's new braces. 

Then we went to sit in one of the exam rooms so Aaron could see Dr. Z (the uppers Dr.).

So I'm sitting there minding my own business (not) with Aaron happily rolling around on the stool in the room... when another family is ushered back and goes into the room across from ours.

I am of course staring intently trying to see who they are.... Or..... trying to see if their child has arthro like Aaron.  Connecting with other families is a HUGE part of the Shriners event.

So I'm 'discreetly' looking across the hall trying to see who they were. When one of the little guys turns towards me, I recognized him immediately... but from where... from where?????

I'm wracking my brain when I hear the mom tell the nurse that 5 of her children were ADOPTED.  All from Aaron's country!!!  Okay... I was no longer acting like I was minding my own business.  I ran across the hall to find out WHO was in that room.

When the Mom looked up she jumped and said, "Julia - Last time I saw you we were in Ki*v together!"

It was Sherry White!!

The little guy I recognized was Peyton from Reece's Rainbow.

Precious moments, people.  Precious moments!!

Sherry White was the FIRST Reece's Rainbow person we met across that ocean.  She was adopting three little ones - including Peyton. 

This year she went back and brought back two more.

The sweet little guy in my arms is Gavin.  One of her newest babes.  Another Reece's Rainbow child.

I just can't tell you what it does to me to share in such amazing stories.  To see Sherry in an exam room in Philadelphia with two of her 5 treasures is just priceless. 

I cry just thinking about it. 

Sophie - Gavin - Peyton - Aaron.

All four children from the same country.

All four abandoned.

All four are now part of families where they are cherished and loved.

Precious moments.

Though the rest of our day was not quite so 'happy' - the joy of seeing all the kids helped ease the rest of our day at Shriners.

On the medical side,  Aaron's feet are doing well, his elbow - not so much.  Rob and I have realized over the last few weeks that the surgery did not give Aaron all that we wished for in terms of him being able to use that arm to reach his face.  The elbow is turned correctly but it is not bending enough for him to be able to passively touch his own face. 

For the next month we are going to be manually stretching his arm and using a special brace to try to increase his range of motion.  If that doesn't work we may need to do several rounds of serial casting of his elbow.  For many reasons, we would rather not go the serial casting route so we are praying that we can reach the goal manually.

Aaron showed off his new 'standing up by himself' trick to all the doctors and nurses and therapists at Shriners.

Dr Z was stunned and immediately put in an order for Aaron to be videotaped doing it.  He wants to use the video tape in his next AMC presentation. 

Dr VanBosse was speechless.  He didn't know what Aaron was going to do when he plopped down on the floor.  When Aaron stood up on his own, off the hard uncarpeted floor without a prop or pillow, Dr. V. dropped down on his knees and pulled Aaron into his arms and just held him.  It was a priceless moment.

We have a lot to think about in regards to Aaron's arms and hands.  Dr. Z was amazingly patient with me yesterday.  I asked a million questions and he answered every one with utmost care.  Aaron longs for his 'hands to be fixed' so we spent much time discussing options for increasing function in his hands and fingers.  For now we are going to concentrate on increasing the range of motion in his one elbow.  Down the road we will address his other issues.

Before we left yesterday we spent several hours with the Physical Therapist working on braces and trying to find a device that Aaron can use to feed himself.  Since his surgery, he has been unable to use what worked before surgery.

After an hour of trying every spoon in the OT closet, we think we have a solution..... As soon as we refine our newest invention, I will share pictures and information!!

It was a LONG day.   I can't thank enough the two men who drove us yesterday.  They were so uncomplaining - even when we sat for hours in DC traffic.  Since they have to come get us from Richmond, their Marathon day lasted over 24 hours.  Fortunately, while we were having our appointments, they sacked out in the Shriner lounge and so I didn't have to worry about them falling asleep at the wheel!!

If I could just figure out a way to get this little stinker to sleep in that van..... Sigh!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Boy Do I Have Something to Share....


Oh My Goodness.  I have something SPECIAL to show you guys.  Yes I do.  Quite special indeed.

Every single time I see it I start crying again. 

I can't wait to share...

But not today.  Not today.

Sorry.  You are just going to have to wait.

We are running ragged right now. 

Aaron goes to Shriner's tomorrow for FOUR different appointments.... Two of them at 10:00.  Hmmmm.... Not sure how we are going to manage having him in OT at 10:00 and also having him in Orthotics at the same time.... It was a bit of a crack up to "PUSH ONE" to confirm his appointments after hearing that he has 2 appointments at the same time.  Thankfully Shriner's is a SPECIAL HOSPITAL and they tend to adjust easily to double appointments at the same time. 

Plus.... Next week I am off to Raleigh, North Carolina for a Christian School Convention.  We are going crazy right now trying to get ready for that event. I'll be setting up our little BiblioPlan booth by myself because our wonderful partner, Rusty, shattered her foot a few weeks ago.  Please pray for her.  She's really suffering right now.  She can't bear weight on her foot for 6-8 weeks.  She is not only our partner but she is a homeschooling mom who teaches at our Co-op.  She is definitely feeling very overwhelmed right now.  I'd appreciate prayers for next week too.  Doing a Convention alone is not something I am looking forward to AT ALL.  Rob considered going with me but dragging Aaron to the Convention and making him sit for 2 solid days in a small booth makes us both a bit uncomfortable.  Aaron loves being around people but he does not like being out of routine.  Changes in his routine tend to cause him to meltdown.  Small booths and Aaron meltdowns.... not a good mix.  So Rob is going to stay home and I am off to Raleigh alone.  Sigh.  Anyone in Raleigh want to come keep me company???

So as far as what I have to share with all of you wonderful people.....

I'm sorry but you all are just going to have to wait....

But trust me...

It is precious and beautiful and GOD IS MOVING.  Oh I can't wait share!!


Thank you, thank you to all who have so sacrificially given to Artem.  I've seen so many of your names and I am touched beyond measure. So many of you are struggling to make ends meet yourselves.  Others are adopting your own sweet treasures.  Others are people who give over and over and over again.  And you have given again.  "Thank you" just doesn't quite cover how I feel.

Oh What A Day!!

God is Good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A New Day

On Monday Patti announced a Giveaway on HER BLOG to put Artem's grant account over 10,000.00. 

THREE SIGNED COPIES OF THE BOOK:  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Yesterday we thought we had reached the goal of getting Artem's account over the 10,000 mark, only to discover that we were jumping for joy for nothing. 

Ouch and Ouch.

But today is a new day and we are NOT giving up.  Artem needs a family. 


So we are adding to Patti's Giveaway.

Anyone who donates and lets Patti know on her blog that they donated will not only be entered to win a SIGNED COPY of  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp BUT they will also be entered to win a 50 DOLLAR TARGET CARD and a 50 DOLLAR AMAZON CARD. 


Just in time for Christmas!!

So donate 5.00, 10.00, 20.00 - Whatever you desire.  Then click HERE and let Patti know that you donated. 

If you have already donated - THANK YOU.... You qualify for all five prizes - just go let Patti know that you donated (even if it was weeks ago) and she will add your name into the mix.  If you WANT to add another 5.00 into the pot..... well.... No one will be upset!

I LOVE comments so you are welcome to let me know you donated but telling me doesn't get your name into the pot.  You HAVE to go tell Patti.  Otherwise we will have a bit of a mess trying to sort through all the names!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


LOOK AT ARTEM'S GRANT ACCOUNT!!!  Look and rejoice!!  Our goal was to reach 10,000.00 and we are 565.00 OVER our goal!! 



Woo Hoo!!

Now someone PLEASE adopt that boy!!

Please don't stop sharing about Artem.  Keep giving if the Lord leads.  I'd love to see Artem's grant fund KEEP ON RISING...


Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby Pictures

This past week Rob hung a few pictures of Aaron up on the wall alongside the baby pictures of the boys.  I know.  We are a bit late in doing this but better late than never!!  He was so excited to see his pictures hanging with his brothers. 

Sadly, two of the pictures are two of his 'available for adoption' pictures.  The first one is a small grainy picture of him when he was around a year old.  That picture is so tiny that we couldn't blow it up large enough for the wall.  It sits in our den. 

The second was taken so he could be listed on the Reece's Rainbow website.  The orphanage director had heard about RR through some missionaries and desperately wanted Aaron to find a home before he was transferred. 

The third picture that we have yet to hang up is his transfer picture.  We received that one when we had our SDA referral in country.  We haven't hung that one up yet because in many ways it breaks my heart to see it.  He's all dressed up in that picture.  Wearing a brand new outfit complete with shoes.  Looking unbelievably handsome.

Three 'official' pictures of our son.

The sorrow behind those pictures is fading for him.  He is home and now his pictures are part of our gallery of pictures.  He is part of us.  Brothers hanging side by side on the wall.  Our son.

See this picture?

This is Artem.

Most likely it is his first official 'available for adoption' orphanage picture.

A year or so later they needed to update his file and so this picture was taken:

A year later they took this one.

This past year this one was taken:

A gallery of 'available for adoption' pictures.

The depth of sorrow behind those words screams out as we scan his pictures.

The next picture they take - the next official picture of Artem...

It will most likely be his transfer picture.

The one where they seriously clean him up - dress him in new clothes. 

Then send him away.


Share Artem's pictures.  His story.

For three years his pictures have sat on the Reece's Rainbow website.

For three years he has been hanging on the Christmas Angel Tree.

For three years he has been ignored - looked over - written off. 


Patti - my sweet blogging friend who is going crazy for Artem on her blog - has just announced a WONDERFUL GIVEAWAY for Artem.

If you have ALREADY donated to Artem - You are automatically entered into the drawing.  Just go to Patti's blog and leave a comment!!  If you haven't donated or if you want to donate more ... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE donate 5.00, 10.00, 20.00, 50.00 to Artem's grant account and then let Patti know so she can put your name into the drawing. 


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Aaron's Challenge

Aaron never ceases to amaze us.

Our little fugitive from across the ocean.

He's a tough, tough kid who has so many strikes against him.  The list of things he "can't" do is long and depressing at times.  We sometimes wonder how in the world he will ever overcome that list.

Last weekend, I was so sad to see my son sitting on the floor with all of his little Cub Scout buddies. When they all jumped up and ran away, he was left sitting there, waiting for someone to have mercy and lift him to his feet.  His knees don't bend far enough for him to get up by himself easily, and his arms provide him with absolutely no lift whatsoever.  So for all of his life, he has only been able to stand up by himself when he's had a nearby chair or wall to use for leverage. When neither of those is nearby, he's had to beg for assistance. 

Until this week, no one had figured out a way for him to stand up without help. Neither we nor any teacher or therapist could figure out a way for him to do it.  We all thought he would probably be stuck begging for help forever.

But this Mama wasn't convinced of that, because I know MY BOY is TOUGH and he is STRONG and he is SMART. And so, together, we decided to figure out how Aaron could get up off of the floor by himself. On Thursday night while Papa, Ben and Elijah were away at play practice, Aaron and I got to work.

We had figured out earlier that the ONLY way Aaron would be able to stand up from a sitting position on the ground was if he used his head in the place of his hands. He would have to become a human tripod.  But without strong, flexible knees, the boy was going to have to do some serious maneuvering to get himself anywhere near a position to stand. Then he would need INCREDIBLY strong stomach muscles in order to pull himself up. 

This is what we came up with:




He can stand up all by himself.

I weep to type those words.  My boy is a SUPER HERO!

Think this is no big deal???  You try it! 

Aaron's Challenge.....

Ben can't do it.  Elijah can't do it.  Rob can't do it.  I can't do it.

Try it.

No hands.  No knee bending.  No cheating.  Just head and legs and stomach muscles allowed.

Try it!!  Have fun!!

Let us know how you did!!