Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Builder

I don't know what he is building...
But whatever it is... he is working hard.

Stopping only long enough to give me a cheesy smile..
And then back to work!
Littlest is LOVING the coming of spring.
Last year at this time he was covered with casts and his misery index was off the charts.  This year he is cast free with NO surgeries in the wings and totally enjoying being outside every single chance he can get. 
Next week we  travel to Shriners for a follow-up and new braces.  We were actually supposed to follow up and get the braces all the way back in November but sickness forced us to postpone that trip. Then we were scheduled for February but a snow storm prevented that trip.  So we are trying again!  I'm hoping he hasn't outgrown the braces before he even gets them! 
Spring break is next week and Aaron is TOTALLY BUMMED.  He LOVES school.  He loves his friends and he loves learning.  He is now reading simple CHAPTER BOOKS which blows us totally away.  His reading is progressing fast although he struggles to understand/retain what he is reading.  Being locked away for six years from any and all experience is a definite setback.  But he is progressing.  I don't know if/when he will 'catch up'. Most days I try not to care.  He's nine and is in first grade and has the sweetness and vocabulary of a pre-schooler.  He thinks mechanically beyond his years and understands way more than he can say.  He's happy.  He's funny.  He's the messiest child I've ever met!
I love him more than words can say!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Waste?

Several years ago I was given a huge gift. 
Not a gift I was to keep but one I was to give away.
A donor offered me a $10,000 matching grant and told me I could choose the child or family.
I was given the matching grant at the end of March. 
I was absolutely overwhelmed with the offer and was terrified at the same time.  How in the world was I going to pick a child or family and how in the world was I  going to get $10,000 matched???? 
This was at a time when matching grants were rare.  
I had no idea what to do with it.  Rob and I went around and around praying and considering.  Weeks went by. Then a month.  Then two.  I went back to the donor and begged off.  I wanted them to do the picking.  Find someone else.  I could NOT raise $10,000.00.  My life was crazy.  I had too much on my plate.  I couldn't choose.  Etc. Etc. They pushed the money back into my lap.  Pray some more.  God will lead.
So we prayed.  We considered.  We had no idea.
Until I heard the story of a little girl named Taylor who wanted a family.
And a family who wanted her.
They were in desperate need as their dossier was already in country and they needed over $20,000 in less than 2 weeks.
I sent the link and the story to Rob.  I went out for the afternoon to do some shopping and while I was gone I felt that familiar pounding.  This family. This is the one. When I came home Rob came up to me and said we should use the matching grant for this family.  I love my husband and I love his heart.
We didn't know the family.
They weren't even on our radar.
But it was clear to both of us almost immediately that the matching grant was for this family.
We had 10 days to raise the money.
I was terrified.  I contacted the family and they were so blown away they thought it was a scam.  It took a lot of convincing to prove to them that it was truly for real.
We laid out the matching grant and the need and within 2 days the money was raised.
You can read the story HERE and HERE.
It was the first time in my life that I had ever been part of anything that crazy and amazing.
And what made it sweeter was that in the end there was enough raised so that not just one child... but two were adopted..
When the family was in country they saw this sweet little treasure and just had to go back and get him too.
Though I had e-mail and Facebook contact with the family - it was not until this past December when I was across the ocean that I met in person the Mama of those two babes.
Nicole was in country to adopt an older boy who begged for a family. 
I was helping Carla bring her three treasures home.
I was so excited for Nicole over her adoption.  I met her boy, David, and I loved him.  They had tried months before to adopt three older boys but in the end all three stayed.  This trip was a total leap of faith.  She was so excited to be adopting David and I had no doubt at all that he wanted her to be his Mama.
But after Nicole flew back home - his family who had abandoned him since he was six - moved into the picture.  He had to make a choice and he chose his family.  There are parts of this story that are not mine to share except to say that Nicole was absolutely heartbroken. 
She's a stubborn woman though.  I found that out about her when I met her in person.  Stubborn and determined.   And she's a bit crazy. 
She's willing to give chances to older boys when everyone else would run out of the room as fast as their legs would carry them.

She doesn't fall apart when one says no.  She's willing to fight for another. And then another. 
I love her.
We are kindred, crazy spirits.  My time with her in December running around the city was a time of laughter and joy.  She's passionate and driven and despite losing one boy after another... she's not quitting.
How do I know???
Because she happens to be adopting two boys who were on my desktop for weeks as I prayed over them.
Murray (2) 30728131651
Murray and Anthony.
I love these two boys.
And I am believing and hoping and praying that they recognize what they are being offered and grab hold of it with all of their being. 
Nicole and Joe Dewberry have been bashed by many over these boys.  I get it. Each time a boy says no it is a loss of funds.  A waste. Some would have them stop.  Give up. 
Yes.  It is a loss of funds and a number of boys did say no.  But what you can't measure on this side of heaven is that they were given a choice.  Those boys can never say that they weren't offered a family.  They can never say that they were not loved.  They can never say they are not loved. 
Emir ran away.  The Rowes spent thousands to cross the ocean only for him to run away.  A waste?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  This side of heaven we may never know the seeds planted in his heart.  And that's the hard mystery.  Does it matter?  Was it a waste?  I don't believe so.  Each boy, for the rest of their lives, carries forever the memory of the extended hand of love.  Someone crossed the ocean for them.  That can't be erased from their minds and their hearts.  They carry forever the whispered prayers of the parents they rejected.  Each boy will go through his life with a prayer covering that was not there.  That covering cost thousands, yes.  But not wasted.  Not wasted.  Love is patient.  Love waits.  Love is.
Murray and Anthony both have the power and the ability to say no too.  Adoption is a risk. 
Do the Dewberry's walk away because other boys have turned away?
I would not be so brave. 
They are.
I stand up and applaud their courage.  They are walking through fire right now.  Nicole leaves in 17 days.  They need to raise $8,550.00. 
I'll be honest. I'm sad beyond words that David is not one of the boys she is bringing home.  I was as much in shock as Nicole when he changed his mind.  I couldn't think about it for a long time without wanting to punch someone.  My heart deeply hurts for him.  But I am beyond overjoyed that Murray and Anthony will be part of their family.  Anthony is in a terrible place.  He is abused on a regular basis and desperately needs out.  Murray is a bright boy who wants a family more than anything in his life.  Neither boy has a future in that country.  To know that they will be part of the Dewberry family makes me leap for joy.  As soon as I heard the news I laughed out loud.  I have not one bit of doubt that this is a good and right decision. Not one.  Neither does Rob.  Like I said.  I love his heart.
True.  One or both of the boys may say no but they are worth the attempt.
I don't have a $10,000 matching grant although Nicole does have a $500.00 matching grant. 
I don't have prizes.
I just have a story and a family I have come to love over the last few years.
It is a risk. 
Adoption is a risk.
 I promise. It won't be a waste!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I am home.
So so glad to be home.
Gaylord Opryland
Did you know that the Gaylord Opryland Resort is the 2nd largest in the country?  I didn't either until I walked in the building.  Goodness gracious that place was not your typical Motel 6.  I confess I was so lost at one point trying to find my room that I was walking around with my key card begging ANYONE to help me find my room.  Thankfully a nice lady at the Irish Pub took me in hand and walked me to where I needed to go.
It was a wonderful convention despite the fact that my booth was located in the very last row and was the very last one. 
We were BUSY.  Swamped at times.  I am exhausted.  A good kind of exhausted. The kind where we worked hard and did well and I came home safe and sound to a loving husband who held me in his arms for a very long time, and a son who whispered in my ear that my cooking is better than daddy's and a littlest who went hiding so I could come find him.  That kind of good exhausted.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Writing this is hard.
I'll be honest.  I'm in the middle of packing and preparing for my trip and it would be so easy to just not type out these words. 
Rob saw the news first early this morning and told me as I was getting dress.  I cried out to him and went downstairs with the heaviest of hearts.
Safely out of Crim*ea.  Finally in a family.  Days from touching down on U.S. soil. 
He ran away.
I'm going to share Janice's words because this is her story to share:
From Janice this morning:
"In a very unfortunate turn of events I am sad to report that we will not be bringing Emir/Nathaniel home with us. He has made the decision to stay here in Ukra*ne instead. We always knew that him changing his mind was a big possibility, it always is with older children, but especially with him because of his uncertainty from the beginning and saying no to adoption the first time. It is a huge decision for these children to be given the responsibility of making, especially when they have always been told what to do and have no experience in choosing anything, certainly not their life's future.

In the end, he was unwilling to leave all that was familiar to him- his friends, his language, his sister- to venture into the unknown in America. He was very torn, he wanted a future badly and had plans, but he was too scared to leave Ukra*ne behind. I understand this, and we empathize with him, but at the same time we are very disappointed and angry with him that he didn't make this decision sooner. He was confident through court, and even up until last Saturday night as we discussed his future in the US, talking about the college he hoped to attend, musical instruments he wanted to learn to play, etc. Then Sunday it seems the fear crept in.

I just wish we had known about his uncertainties sooner, not after so much time and money graciously donated by others, was spent. That pains me. That is where the anger comes in. All the favors given, the effort out forth for the sake of giving him the love of a family and a future. Because of that, it is hard not to feel deceived and used even while I have sympathy for him, at his young age, having to grapple with all these decisions. I really don't think he has any clue how much effort went into this whole process.

So to everyone who had the best of intentions and the kindest and most giving of hearts, I say thank you and I am sorry. We were all hoping that this adoption would have a good outcome, that he was being honest when he told us his greatest dream was to have a family and come to the US for a future. We hoped this desire would be enough to propel him forward. I apologize to all of you who so graciously donated your time, energy and funds so quickly and without a second thought, so that we could return to adopt him before his time was up.

I pray for him now, returning to Crim*a, where there is so much unrest and so little hope for him in the future. I pray in time that he does not come to regret his decision. I pray as well that he stays safe, not only in the midst of the upheaval there, but also because he is about to turn 16 on March 31st and soon thereafter will no longer have the protection of the orphanage. His time there will be up.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us so selflessly during this adoption. All I can say now is that we tried, and we tried hard. I am glad for that at least, that there are no lingering "what-ifs" in our minds. We did all that we could.

I am also glad to know that he said our family was not the reason he didn't want to go. It wasn't us or anything we did. That at least is reassuring. It was simply that he couldn't bear to leave it all behind.

So please pray for him and his heart, and his future. That is all we can do now. At some point I will write about the different events of the past few days and tell more of the story, but for now this is enough.

Thank you all for you love and support you have shown to our family and towards him. We are grateful."
He said no.
He ran.
It isn't the first older child we have advocated for who has said no.  Back in December Denis also said no.  Nicole was getting ready to board the plane for court when he told her not to come back. 
It knocked me off my feet because I met the boy.  I saw him with Nicole.  I know he wanted to be adopted.  But in the end - he too said no.
I am grieved today.
Grieved that Janice is sitting in a room across the ocean with one less son in her family.  Grieved that he turned down an amazing family and an amazing life. 
Grieved because I asked you to give and you gave.  So freely.  So generously.  For one boy who begged for a family and then changed his mind.  For another boy.  Same story.
Grieved at the loss for both of these families.  Grieved at the future that looms ahead for these boys.
But if I had to do it over again... would I?  Would I yell for them?  Would I tell you?  Would I give you the opportunity to give?  Would I lay down the need knowing that they could.. they might.. they just may say no... Would I do it again?
How could I not?  How could I just walk away when some do choose to say yes?  How could I not hope that the child would reach out and grab the Love that is being offered?  Recognizing that the gift they are being given is just a window - a tiny picture - into the gift we are offered through Christ.  The gift of adoption by the Lord of the Universe.  The opportunity to be called Sons and Daughters.  The rescue from a sin-scarred broken world into a hope and a future that is eternal.  Freely offered.  Freely given. So often denied. 
We look at Emir and we grieve.  Shake our heads.  Want to speak wisdom into his ears.  We want him to see - really see - what he is giving up.  He has no money.  No family except a sister who BEGGED him to go.  He has nothing.  He returned to a war zone and is now a child in no-man's land.  He ran back to his trash-heap world.  Believing that it is safer and better than what is freely being offered. He ran from the chance to be a son.  Forever a son.  Yes. I  grieve.  I grieve that he said no.  I grieve because I see too many turn from the Love of a Savior back to their trash heaps that look so pleasing and so safe. It's a window.  A window that causes me to look and ponder and wonder. 
Would I yell for him again? Yes. 
I would.
Because of the God who yelled for me.  Called me from my trash heap.  Because He doesn't give up when this one and then that one and then all those say no. Because He keeps extending Love and Grace to us.  Because He is a God who lavishes His love on us.  Forgiveness.  The right to be called His Son.  His daughter. 
Adoption.  God's adoption.
It's what drives me.
It's why I yell.  Adoption is messy and dirty and oh so very risky.  Adoption opens the way for rejection.  But when grasped.  Taken.  Accepted.  Received.  How beautiful.  How amazing.
Emir said no.
That breaks my heart.
But today Sergey is out and free and safe in his family's arms.
And because of him and so many many others I am just going to keep on yelling and praying.
I can't stop.
Even though the pain sears into my soul.
There is a risk.  A cost.  No guarantee that when I yell for a child or a family that the happily ever after will happen.  But to not yell ... to not cry out ... to not at least try with all my heart ... that would be even worse.
Because we would all miss out on the wonder and the joy and the thrill of seeing babes tucked safely in their Mama's arms.
Because I am a child of the King.  Safe in His grasp.
Because for so many - adoption is so much better than the alternative!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tennessee Bound

I'm heading for Nashville on Thursday for the  TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY Homeschool Convention...

I'm going to be in booth 831 so PLEASE come by and say hello!! 

We have been writing around the clock trying to get our EARLY AMERICAN AND THE WORLD year finished.

Last week Ben was home for spring break.  His break consisted of working on our Early Modern Timeline book. 

Poor guy was glad to go back to school by the time Friday rolled around!! If anyone thinks creating a Timeline Book is easy.... talk to Ben...


Every single time he thought he had a good working draft I would burst his bubble.

I'm grateful he still loves me!!

 It was kind of fun putting all the pieces together into the timeline.  A bit like building a puzzle.  We now have the timeline hanging out all over our living room.  It will take a few weeks to get it completely finalized.  Pieces are missing and rearranging will still need to take place.  When the boys were young we didn't have a timeline like this to do when we did BiblioPlan. 
Kate Kessler wrote in her Old Schoolhouse review about our Ancient Timeline: 
"Underneath each yellow timeline you will find events and people written out in the correct place. You affix the appropriate photo, graphic, or drawing created for that person or event right where it is supposed to be. There is no guesswork with this product and that is my favorite part of the timeline! You are not going to glue something down in the wrong spot and regret using glue (the very thing I have done with other products!) There is a wide variety of graphics, photos, and drawings and all are great choices. Someone spent a lot of time finding these things for our use and this is a real treasure if you want to do a timeline with your children while using BiblioPlan."

She is absolutely correct....  A lot of time goes in to making these!! Just ask Ben! I would have absolutely enjoyed doing them with the boys.  If/when I ever homeschool Aaron - we are most definitely going to be doing history together and we will most definitely create timelines!



Monday, March 17, 2014

Was That a Vote?

First of all...
Brian and Natalie (daughter) have officially slipped past the guards and are in Sergey's region.  They are hoping/praying that tomorrow they can get paperwork signed/finished and that they can slip back out with the sweetest boy in their arms.
Please please pray, dear friends, for this family.
One little boy matters very very much to them.

Pray too that they will get a court day for the other little boy who also matters very very much to them.
About the vote....
I'm reading the Washington Post and other news articles, and I'm reading all kinds stuff that seems to indicate that 95% of the people in that diamond shaped region are jumping up and down to be back under Rus*ia's umbrella.   
What they are failing to say is that the people who did vote - and from what I've seen - if you go with THEIR numbers than more than 100% of the voting population voted (????) and if you go with more realistic numbers you are in the 30-40% range.. Of those who DID vote...

 The ballet had TWO CHOICES...

1. Join Rus*ia
2. Become an independent Republic

There was NO OPTION on the ballet to STAY with Ukra*ne.

It was a no-brainer vote.  No one was going to vote for #2.  Becoming an independent Republic with Rus*ian troops pouring into your borders was NOT going to happen.

So basically the ballot should have read..

1. Join Rus*ia
2. Join Rus*ia

Rus*ia wins.

That's MY take on this. I could be wrong. There may be a HUGE majority of people in that little region by the Black Sea who are jumping up and down that they are back under Put*n's  umbrella. The newspapers would have us believe that is so... I just have serious doubts.
It isn't looking good across the ocean.

It would be easy to despair....

But then I see these pictures...

From different parts of the country...

And I am encouraged.

"If my people, who are called by my name,

will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Join with them.


It's the one thing and the BEST thing we can do for them!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Despite the Evil

Two handsome young men hanging out together in the capital....
Just an ordinary picture until you consider the extraordinary story....
Emir is out. Safe from harm.  He's left the war zone and by the end of this week will be on this side of the ocean.

While we rejoice with the Rowes...
We need to STORM HEAVEN for this little guy and his family.
His Papa and sister left last night - racing across the ocean to get him OUT even as a referendum is taking place to split his region from the main country.
If the referendum passes..... which it will because corruption is happening at its highest level.... then Sergey becomes part of a country that is CLOSED to adoptions.
This is what they wrote about him after meeting him the first time:
Sergei was a beautiful site! He is 6 years old and might weigh 25 pounds. His muscles are very tight and he really needs therapy and good nutrition! This little guy smiles like an angel even though he has never had anything to smile about! At this time he cannot sit up or talk but he will respond to sound and touch. He has one shunt in his head. He never gets to go outside and has only ever had a bottle. He is a fighter though! Sergei has never lived out side an institution. He was born weighing 2 pounds and was born at home and then discarded in the trash in a rural area so it is by the grace of God that he is here today. When Brian rubs his tight, sore muscles he smiles and giggles...what a little miracle! I cry daily for him to get home.
He is one tiny little boy in the midst of a HUGE storm.  But he matters.  This tiny little insignificant mental institute bound babe matters to his family, he matters to us and he matters most of all to the Lord on High.
Please pray that despite the evil that swirls around him - He will be able to be carried out safe in the arms of his Papa and sister!
And please also sow into this adoption financially.  THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS GIVEN.  Please don't stop.  This family was NOT FUNDED when they started and they are still short by thousands.  The terror of what they are going through is made so much worse by the financial strain that weighs heavy on their hearts.  Please give if you can.  They are adopting TWO children and they have not even had court for Crosby yet which is a crisis all on its own.  They really need so much right now in terms of prayers and support.
And please add another family onto your prayer list...
My friend Erin Johnson shared that her friends are also on their way to the same region to begin the process of adopting a child they hosted.  Shalon and Adam Roberson.  Oh my heart aches for this family as they head for a region that is closing its doors even as I type these very words.  Again.  One child in the midst of a huge storm.  But that child matters.  More than words can convey. So despite the evil they are rushing across the ocean to bring their sweet one home.
Please pray today for both families.  Harlins.  Robersons.
And pray for Ukra*ne.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Into the War Zone

Two families.

This week.

Desperate for your prayers.

Both have passed court.
Both had to come home and wait out the 10 days.

Both are in the process of going back. Entering a part of the land where soldiers watch with accusing eyes.

Going back to rescue two children.

An older boy and a wee one.
                                               Emir                                                   Sergey
                                            (Rowes)                                               (Harlin)
Two families.
The Rowes and the Harlins
Into the war zone.
The Rowes are there now (Janice and oldest son Evan).  Emir is officially out of the internat and as I write is on his way to meet them.  They have paperwork to get through before they can leave that area.  Please pray God's protection around them. Stories that include soldiers and German Shepherd dogs and guns make my skin crawl.  PLEASE PRAY!!
And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Pray for the Harlins!
I feel badly because I have been asking you to pray and support the Rowes but I missed the Harlin's story.  You need to KNOW this story too!  Brian Harlin (PAPA) went over to adopt two little boys in two different regions about a month ago.  Sergey is in the peninsula war zone region where they are voting on a referendum this weekend about splitting off and becoming part of Rus*ia. THAT WAR ZONE. (Same place as the Rowes).  Crosby is in a nearby region.  Despite the craziness in the peninsula region, they did have court for Sergey (who is medically fragile and needs to get out YESTERDAY).  
They were supposed to have court for Crosby but each time they received a court date it was canceled.  So they still HAVE NOT HAD COURT for him. 
He's just a wee little lad with Down Syndrome with the whitest hair and the cutest little smile.
It's a HARD situation.
One medically fragile little boy in a BAD area and one sweet little guy who learned to sit up after three days of loving from his Papa.  Love transforms, people.  It transforms. He is going to blossom once he gets home but he still needs court and then most likely another 10 day wait.
The Harlins are trying to take it one step at time.  Brian and Natalie (daughter) fly in THIS WEEKEND to get Sergey out which is going to be a challenge all on its own.  Oh please pray that they can get in and out of that area safely and that NOTHING stands in their way.  The referendum is MARCH 16.  This weekend.  With soldiers everywhere and guns and dogs and angry looking men.  Pray protection around them and around Sergey.  He is six and weighs 25 lbs. 
Then pray for court for Crosby.  They need court NEXT WEEK!!  PLEASE PRAY!
It is crazy hard!
We need to strap on our knee pads for them.
For both families!
For the Rowes.  For the Harlins.
And between your prayers for both families... Will you consider helping the Harlins financially? They were not fully funded before this started.  They are short by thousands of dollars.  They have had to take out a MASSIVE loan for these adoptions.  I know that every single donation would be greatly appreciated by them.  It saddens me greatly to read on their blog that they have had a hard time getting support.  Even from their church!  Please help me change that.  Dimes, quarters, dollars and hundreds are all being gladly accept!!
And rejoice....
And.... for those who missed the news...
Murray and Anthony are going to be brothers!!
Murray (2) 30728131651

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Secret Garden

For all of you who live too far away to come see this amazing show...
Here is a tiny taste of what you are missing..




 For those who live in the Charlottesville area..
Three more shows... Friday night. Saturday night.  Sunday matinee (6.00 tickets until they sell out).
For those who live far away... You are missing a GREAT SHOW!
All pictures used with permission by AFT Photography!