Hebrews 10:23- "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The plan.......

Well, its scheduled......
Olivia will have her long awaited surgery on February 18th. 
 I have been greatly anticipating this, with the hope that this will be truly life changing for her.  
But with all honesty, I am suddenly scared to death.  So many "what ifs" running through my mind. Being a nurse. I always go to worse case scenario, it's just been wired in me in all my years of school and nursing.  
So, 
I am asking for prayers.....
Prayers for the obvious, health and safety, 
but also that this will give Olivia more mobility and comfort.  
Yes, she is walking in braces unassisted, however, the braces are pretty uncomfortable and quite annoying......
She lasts maybe 2 hours in them before she's complaining about how bad they are hurting and wants to take them off,
 and I won't even begin to explain what taking her to the bathroom is like. 
Olivia is a fighter, anyone who has met her knows this.  
I know that she wants them off for comfort, not laziness.  
So please pray that after her surgery she is able to walk with better braces.  
The other night we were at a Christmas Light show and we went ice skating, Olivia wanted to ice skate SO badly, my heart was in pieces as I told her she couldn't go with us......
How do you tell a child, no, you can't go because you can't do it.......
so, I slowly skated around the rink, 
holding her.......
and I can't ice skate......
it was a little scary to say the least!  
But we made it around without falling!  

The rest of the plan is more castings, her feet have regressed A LOT......
We will start castings on Jan 9 and hope to get 6 in before surgery.  
She will then be in long leg cast for 5-6 weeks after surgery until her new braces are made.  
More prayers needed please!  
Going to Philadelphia every once in a while is not bad, but every other week, gets a little hard.  
I will do whatever is needed, but I can't lie and say that being gone that much doesn't weigh heavy on my heart.  It's hard on everyone, especially the kids, Olivia included.  
Yet another reason to be SO very thankful that I am part time now and don't have to run home to work every day I'm not in Philly.
 
Many people have asked, what they will do to straighten her legs.....
Well, it's really quite interesting.....
The dr will put 8 metal plates over the front part of the growth plate at the end of the femur, causing it to not grow while the back of the bone continues to grow.  
 Olivia has never really had to use her legs and muscles, she can not stand on them alone.  
Another prayer would be that she is able to strengthen these muscles and eventually put weight on them.

So many prayer requests for us......
health, safety, comfort, peace, healing, strength and whatever else you feel led to pray!!! ;-)

I must add how thankful I am for this doctor and his staff.  We travel to Philly because of him and his expertise and I am thankful God led us to him and all the people we have met there.
In all things be thankful!

Homeschool......

This year we have started a new endeavor.......homeschool.  Last spring was just pure craziness in the White house with me working full time day shift, going to Philadelphia, and all the kids extracurricular stuff, so Mike and I decided to make a big change in our lifestyle and me go part time.  Our family needed to simplify.  Then God stirred my heart to homeschool.  Decreasing an income, requires decreasing the outgoing money as well (simple math).  So we took Ella and Taylor out of school, and left Chase in school.  I did't think homeschooling an eighth grader for the first time was very smart..... We are using a Classical curriculum which is what they are use to.  The school they have been at is a classical school. Classical education is not a new idea, it has been around for many years, in fact it was the public-school way of teaching until sometime in the 1960s.  Classical education has a very simple but brilliant idea to education......
Classical Christian schools use the children’s God-given strengths at each stage of growth to help them learn; young children enjoy memorizing, singing, and rhymes, so a solid foundation is laid in each subject of study at this age; junior-high students are inquisitive, so we develop their ability to reason and discern truth; and high-school students want to talk, so we teach them how to present their ideas persuasively. The result is a graduate who knows what they believe and why and can positively impact the community around them. 
(Taken from the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, www.accsedu.org .)

      We are part of a homeschool classical group, called Classical Conversations.  This program gives the kids a social day at "school" where we attend class together and work on memory work together. The memory work includes history, science, latin, english, and skip counting.  Ella is also doing a very intense grammar program.  I was always a math lover and never enjoyed grammar.  I'm really not sure I ever understood it, so trying to teach it is a little daunting.  Ok, a lot daunting.......And I, myself, have learned a lot in the class.
I had to add a math program for each of them and grammar and spelling for Taylor.
It is so nice being home more and having this time with them.  I am Very thankful for that.  They grow up so fast, I really wish I had had more time with Chase as well.
In all honesty, the beginning was not easy...... Ella was pretty upset that she didn't go back to her school and friends, so it took a little time for her to get over it and understand this is the way it is..... Taylor has been Taylor, happy, go with the flow, as always.  Yes, he misses his friends, but he has enjoyed being home and both of them have now made new friends at our CC group. 
Olivia has been home with us as well, she's not quite ready for school.  We're trying to catch her up on basics, like counting, ABC's, and colors.....

We have just wrapped up our first semester and I have loved it!  I sometimes get a little nostalgic and miss their old school, but I have to say how thankful I am to have this time with them. I trully enjoy my kids, and am loving every minute of this time we have together.  Before I know it they will be grown and gone, so I am going to savor this time I have with them.



Monday, June 30, 2014

No more casts!

Last week, my mom and I took all the kids, yes all......to Philly for Olivia's last casting appointment and to get her braces.  When I go to Philladelphia, especially the longer trips, I really miss the other kids and want them there. I won't lie, it's not easy traveling 750 miles with 4 kids......
it's a little stressful.....
But I was very thankful they were there and we had a great week together. 
Olivia got her new braces and had 2 PT appointments. I really wanted her to get crutches but when she used them she really wasn't using them and the therapist was concerned that she might get caught up in them and really hurt herself.  So we went back to the front walker that doesn't give quite as much support as the back walker.  Again, she barely uses it......she just needs the security of it, knowing it's there.....  She stood alone for minutes, which was amazing, since she hasn't stood or used her legs to stand in over 3 months and the therapist thinks she won't need anything to assist her with walking before too long. 

We stopped by Mt Vernon on the way up and met up with friends that live 15 minutes away from us, but we haven't seen in over a year....


Olivia was happy yo stay in the firehouse room again at the Ronald McDonald House.
They love her SO much!
We went to the Jersey shore, it was cold! Taylor was there, being buried by his brother and sister!
We ate Maryland crab....in New Jersey....it was YUMMY!!!!
Olivia standing!!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Advocacy...

I have decided to do more with this blog......Advocate.

My heart constantly hurts for these kids, so I will try to help them,

hoping their families can find them. 

And ask all of you that read my blog to pray. 
 
Pray for orphans in general (always)

but specifically for the faces you see.
 
I will list the
 
children under the advocacy heading you see to the right. 


I pray this will bring more children home. 
Don't get me wrong, I know that this blog is not read by many people who are wanting to adopt, but prayer is SO powerful.  If I can get more people praying for these children, then I know that God will do the rest.  Their families may not find them on here but God will make it so they find them some how.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cobblestones.......

A dear friend gave me a great analogy the other day......
She said she felt like God had layed cobblestones,
one at a time,
at her (and her hubby's) feet through out the last few years, directing them to where they are now........
I think this is such a great way to look at what God does in our lives. 
God gives us stones to take a step,
we may see a big step and worry
or
maybe we go for it,

many times we look at the little steps and wonder what they have to do with anything....
not knowing at the time, that they are the necessary step we must take for what's yet to come, the fillers.
Sometimes we chose not to take the step and it leaves us stuck where we are,
because we have such little faith,
we don't take the step God is giving us. 

 
 
I received a text a couple of weeks ago that, if I hadn't been in a room of a hundred strangers, would have had me on my knees. 
 
A friend that lives in a different state and I have not talked to in quite a while, sent me a message that was nothing but from God Himself. 
The other night I was driving home from work thinking about that message and how God does speak to us,
in different ways,
we just have to be listening. 
He took someone who had no idea what was on my
 heart and mind,
but knew that because of her faithfulness, I would listen,
and spoke to me through her......
AMAZING!!
How awesome is that......
He had something to tell me and made it so I would hear Him. 
Honestly,
she had NO IDEA what I had been 
praying,
thinking,
and stressing about,
but she heard God telling her to reach out to me and tell me something specific.......
she followed......
and I heard Him! 
 
Back to the cobblestones.....


We have had many changes over the past few months,
 Mike's job change
me switching to dayshift.....
 
cobblestones......
 
prayers answered.......
 
I have struggled struggle with faith.....
I never lived a faith based life.....
until the last 2 years. 
I have grown so much in my relationship with God,
it's amazing how your outlook on everything changes.....
For example, coincidence and fate,
are no longer in my vocabulary.....
it's
all
God. 
 
I love how I can now see more clearly
all that God does for me.....
 
the prayers answered,
 
no matter how they're answered.
 
He does not always say yes,
many of times I have gotten a  definite
NO.....
but that's ok.
He knows what's best
 He loves me,
the cobblestones are going where they are meant to,
for Him.
and that is all that matters! 
 
As I drove home the other night praising God for His faithfulness and love for me,
it was overcast and kind of dreary,
I was almost in tears thinking about that text and Him speaking to me.....
 
ME.....
 
 As I turned the corner to go into our neighborhood,
there was a little piece of blue sky
showing in the midst of the gray clouds,
and I heard God say......
PROMISES......
FAITHFULNESS.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Livi update......

Last week, Mom and I took the kids to Philly to restart Olivia's castings.  
Her feet have regressed quite a bit.  Dr vanBosse said he usually recasts yearly, but I didn't want to wait til the middle of July to start castings again.  I wanted to get it over with before the summer so the kids could enjoy the pool and Olivia could swim and not be stuck on the side of the pool like last summer. 
Olivia did so well with her castings.  So much better than last year.  She was afraid and cried before they even started, but once they did start she wasn't screaming too badly.  It did help to have fer siblings consoling her too.
Also, they are putting some kind of blue fabric underneath the cast, on the side, so the saw doesn't bother them when they take the casts off, it really helps!!
 Dr vanBosse did seem a little discouraged on the regression of her feet.  He said she has very active muscles.......I guess that can be good or bad.....
The thing about AMC is that it is a "watch and see" process.  All the treatments, surgeries, castings.....is all dependant on how Olivia's feet and legs will do over time.  
Dr vanBosse said that sometimes kids feet will do better after the second casting and not regress so much, 
sometimes they need them yearly until their growing slows, and sometimes kids need muscle tranfers to help with the over active muscles.  
Again, we won't know if Olivia will need the transfers for quite a while, we will just wait and see how she does over the next few years.  
Olivia and I will go back next Friday and stay the weekend to have two castings done.  
Last year Olivia and I were going up weekly, she would be casted on Friday and we would come back so I could work the weekend.  Now that I'm not working weekends anymore, she will be casted on Friday and Monday.  Hopefully we will only have two more trips........again, 
it all depends on how her feet respond...... 
Here are some pics of our week.

On the way up we stopped in DC and went to the Air and Space Museum
One of the planes Amelia Earhart flew
 The Wright Brothers plane

On Saturday we went to the Philadelphia Zoo with a friend and her two daughters.  Connie and I met at Shriner's in January, we both noticed each others Chinese daughters and had to stop and talk ;-) ......she lives up here and had said to call whenever we're here and we could get the girls together.  
It was so nice of her to take us to the zoo, the kids had a blast! 

 
 The Hot air balloon we went on.
 Chase, not wanting to look down.....
Finally he stood up.....
 Photo bombed by the Crocodile.....
















The next day we drove west towards Reading, PA.  My mom has been doing a lot of research on her family ancestry and found that a great grandfather (x8) lived here and his son had built this house back in 1753.  It was really cool to see, there is a building (workshop) that is becoming a National Treasure on the property.  It is amazing to me that these buildings were built over 250 years ago and are still standing strong.  Our ancestors who lived here were German, so these buildings are of German design and architecture.


 This is the National Treasure building, I think he said it was used for wood carving.....

Look how big this fireplace is.....

This is a tile from the roof, he was explaining to the kids why it looked like this......
This is what was probably used as a parlor, the opening in the wall came from the fireplace in the previous picture, this is just the back side of it.   It would have had a wood burning stove attached to the hole to heat the room.

This is where they stored their vegetables.......for 6-9 MONTHS!!!!! 
And we can't even get a week out of our vegetables these days........

 This is from the back side of the property looking up towards the road.


We then drove towards Lancaster to see the Amish country and have dinner, it was beautiful!

This is a graveyard that one of my great grandmothers (x8 or 9) was buried in.  She came over as part of the French Huguenots and was told by the Queen that she would have land here.  However, because she was a women (her husband had died) she was refused the land for years. 
Finally, she got her land and before she died chose this certain place to be buried at.
Yes, we walked around a graveyard in the dark, and no we didn't see any ghosts.




This is how awesome my kids are!!
They love their little sister SO much!!
I told them I was getting up early (6AM) to take Olivia to her appointment and then we would come back, pack up, and leave......
They all said they wanted to go with us.
 I was so surprised they didn't want to sleep....
Nope they all wanted to go and be there for Olivia, because they know how much she hates getting the casts.


 Ella and Taylor feeling the 6 AM wakeup.....




A God story.....

It's hard sometimes to remember that God is in every part of our lives.  
We get so caught up in "life" that we often forget who is ultimately in charge of our life. 
Well, let me tell you a little story to remind us.
I met this girl, her name was Kathy.  We were going to China together.  We talked multiple times through Facebook and were eagerly anticipating our trips to China, together, but separate.  We knew we would be on the same plane from Atlanta to Seoul, then to Beijing, but in Beijing we would say our goodbyes and be off to get our daughters.  She lived in Savannah at the time.  When Mike and I arrived at the airport Kathy and I got to talking about our daughters we were soon to have, I told her about Olivia and that she had Arthrogryposis.  Kathy said she had a friend who had adopted 2 boys from China, BOTH with Arthrogryposis.  Now Arthrogryposis (AMC) is not a common diagnosis here in the US, I had only spoken with one other adoptive mama about AMC prior to going to China, so of course when she said this I was praising God for such a blessing.  Since AMC is not common, there aren't many doctors that treat it, I knew about Dr vanBosse from the other mama I had spoken with, but I still had a hard time wrapping my mind around traveling to Philly.........Well once we were all safe and comfy in Beijing, Kathy hooked me up with her friend, Brandi (who just so happens be a nurse as well) via Facebook.  I immediatly contacted her and we conversed a few times while I was in China.  These commonalities of adoption, nursing, LOVE for orphans, and even more a LOVE for Christ, Brandi and I became great FB buddies.  About a month after we were home Brandi and I talked on the phone and all my fears of traveling to Philly were soon relieved by everything she had to say.  Last summer we finally met face to face, in Philly, of course.  I wish we lived closer because she is an amazing women that I would love to see more often.  (On a side note, she is moving to China......I'm SO JEALOUS!!  I guess I'll have to go visit her.....;-))
Fast forward to current day, I knew she was moving to China and I knew what province but I didn't know what city.  For my own reasoning and thoughts, I FB'd her one night to find out where she would be living.  She replied and that was that.  Then I got another message from her asking if I lived close to Snellville.  I replied, yeah only about 15 minutes, and I was thinking, oh I hope she's going to be up this way so we could get together.  
She replied that a friend of hers was leaving the next morning to come to the hospital there, where a baby had been born and was available for adoption.  I immediately replied with ABSOLUTELY, please give her my number and tell her I am here if she needs ANYTHING! 
With all my traveling to Philly, alone, not knowing if we would be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House or if we would have to find a hotel at the last minute.  And then staying in a hotel by myself in an unknown city, which I HATED, and not knowing the city well. I wanted to help her with whatever I could.  Brandi mentioned, maybe she could stay with me this weekend, her husband had to go back home for work.  
At first, I thought, that may be weird, she may not feel comfortable with it, but whatever, 
I truly wanted to help her out! 
The next night she called me and immediately we hit it off, we talked for a few minutes and decided she absolutely would stay with us.  On the next day I was having bible study at my house with my (amazing) friends, Ashley had asked if she could come by in the daylight so we could meet, then she would go back to the hospital and come back later that night to sleep.  I asked if she wanted to come for our bible study and she did.  
It was nothing but a "God thing"! 
 We had an amazing bible study, we all felt as if we had know her and she had known us, we were all so transparent and really felt God's presence as we discussed life.  I am so very thankful for that day and those 4 girls!  Ashley, eventually, went back to the hospital, and when she came home that night we stayed up til 3.A.M. talking!!  
I have gained an amazing friend and am so thankful God brought us together! So not only has God blessed me with a wonderful daughter through adoption, but He has also blessed me with some pretty awesome friends!
I have to mention one thing......this was in February (right after Valentine's Day) and I had the book, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" laying on my table.  
Ashley said she had the exact same book laying on her table.....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

From the heart.......

I have had this on my mind so much lately and of course I keep reading other blog posts about the exact same thing I have been feeling.  
Funny how God does that, huh.......
Anyway, I wanted to express my heart, 
where it is and has been, 
and will forever be.......

The orphan crisis (yes again...), 

is exactly that a crisis. 
 And it breaks my heart.  
I am constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY,
 thinking about it.  
I wish I didn't because it consumes me and leaves me some what depressed.  
I have prayed many prayers..... 
"take this pain in my heart away", 
"don't take it away".  
I have many groups that I'm a part of and some days I think "I'm just going to hide all these groups and stop looking at these pictures of these adorable....but sad....faces."  
Then I think to myself,
 No!  If I stop seeing these faces, I'll forget.  
I'll forget that these kids exist, all alone in this terrible world.  I must advocate and continue to annoy everyone with my 'orphan crisis' and 'every child deserves love' soap boxes.  That's the problem,
we forget, 
or we tuck it back in the back of our mind and continue on in our daily lavish, wonderful, lives.  
While they are stuck.  
Stuck in an orphanage or a foster home, 
or living on the street.
ALONE. 

When  I was young, 
I would get this split second feeling of complete loneliness.  I could be at school, in a classroom with 20 other students, at a busy mall, in the car, or at home with my mom or dad.  But it was real, a real feeling of compete loneliness, like no on else was on this earth except me.  
It would come and go quickly, not lasting long (thank God) but it was not a nice feeling and would leave me a little uneasy for many minutes later.  
I have my own personal theories as to why I felt these feelings. I think it was when I met Mike that they finally went away.  
Anyway, the reason I'm telling y'all something so personal, is because I feel that this is why I can't give up on these children.  And why I'm constantly asking you to not give up on them either.  
I look back and think maybe God was trying to help me understand something.  
Understand that these kids feel this loneliness 
ALL. THE. TIME.  
What I felt for seconds, they never stop feeling......
until(if) their forever families find them and bring them home.  

Lately Olivia has been doing a daily role call........
EVERY day she claims us......
She'll say 
"My Mommy", "My Daddy" 
and then sometimes she'll call her brothers and sister as hers, or sometimes she'll say 
"Chase's mommy", "Chase's Daddy",
 "Ella's mommy", "Ella's Daddy",
 "Taylor's Mommy", "Taylor's Daddy".  
Sometimes I wonder if she's verbally proclaiming it because she's never had it before, 
or if it's because she's still unsure that she actually has it.......
a family. 

I read a friend's post the other day about a movie she had watched....."Schindler's List"
If you haven't seen it or haven't seen it recently, it's about a man who saves thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.
Here's a scene from the movie......
  1. Oskar Schindler: I could have got more. I could have got more, I don't know. If I just...I could have got more.
  2. Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are 1,100 people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
  3. Oskar Schindler: If I had made more money. I threw away so much money. [laughs, then gets teary-eyed] You have no idea. If I just...
  4. Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of you.
  5. Oskar Schindler: I didn't do enough.
  6. Itzhak Stern: You did so much.
  7. Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people. This pin...two people. This is gold. Two people. He would have given me two more, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern, for this. [starts crying] I could have got one more person, and I didn't! I -- I -- I -- I didn't!
  8.  
  9.  Now, of course he couldn't save them all,
  10.  just as I can't adopt all 147 million orphans.  
  11. But I will always feel we CAN do more and we MUST do more.  
  12. ALL OF US.  
  13. We are a selfish generation and society.  
  14. Always worried about what we have, 
  15. the house we live in, 
  16. the car we drive,
  17.  the clothes we wear,
  18.  the shoes we wear, 
  19. the bags we carry....
  20. But yet we make excuses not to help others.
  21. Well I will say in the last 2 years, I have met more people who have adopted that DON'T have $30K in their bank account, than those that do.  
  22.  God doesn't lay something on our hearts and then say, "you're right, you can't do this".  
  23. "You can't afford it".  
  24. "You can't handle another child".  
  25.  
  26. NO, 
  27. God says
  28.  "TRUST ME!!!!! 
  29. You can do this!!!! 
  30. I will make sure that you have the money and the means!!!!" 
  31.  
  32. Have you ever read the book "Radcal" By David Platt?
    An AMAZING book that I suggest anyone and everyone read.  There are SO many great points in it but this is one of my favorites.....
  33. '......We take Jesus' command in Matthew 28 to make desciples of all nations, and we say, "That means other people."  But we look at Jesus' command in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," and we say "Now that means me."  We take Jesus' promise in Acts 1:8 that the spirit will lead us to the ends of the earth, and we say, "That means some people."  But we take Jesus' promise in John 10:10 that we will have abundant life, and we say, "That means me." ' (Page 73)
  34.  So then think about James 1:27
  35. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
  36.  
  37. It doesn't say, only certain people, 
  38. it is speaking to us all.
  39.  
  40. Psalm 82:3 say....
  41. Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
  42.  
  43. Now I know not everyone can adopt, but everyone can advocate, support, and help those of us that can.  
  44. Everyone can support an orphan in prayer.  
  45. And everyone can pray that those of us called to adoption will listen to God's words and do as He asks us to do.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Olivia turns 4......

On Saturday Olivia turned 4! 
We had an awesome birthday party at KidsUp with lots of friends.  
This was her first birthday party she has ever had. 
Last year, we had just gotten home (with her from China) and were limiting her to crowds and loud places so we had a quiet dinner at home.  
She exhausted herself playing, it was a great day, by cake time she was asleep with her eyes open, and fell asleep in the car, soon after we left to go home.












I must admit that I have thought a lot about Olivia's past and her birth mom over the past few days.  Seeing her so happy and talking non stop about her birthday is sobering.  
She has come so far and done so well and we are all so in love, but she does have a hard past that will most likely haunt her for years to come.  
I know most people don't have many memories before the age of three, but I truly believe that our subconscious does have memories and they can creep up on us when we're least expecting it. 
I have heard many stories of kids not having any problems with their past until years later.  I was talking to one adoptive mama about her last trip to China to adopt their daughter.  They took they're first adoptive daughter (from China) with them, she was about 5 (I think) when they went and had been adopted when she was about 2.  Since the trip the older daughter has been struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The counselor said it could have been just a smell that triggered a memory or a feeling to cause her stress.  I say this because it's easy to forget that she has only been with us 1 year, but for three years she was an orphan without anyone to truly love her and meet all her emotional needs.  I pray that God will continue to comfort her through out her life as she deals with all that's yet to come, and that He can work through us to be the parents that she needs us to be.
I said earlier that I have thought a lot about her Birth mom these past few days.  Many of you know that we don't know her actual birthdate it was an educated guess when they found her.  As we will never know the truth about her abandonment I do hope that it was because her birth parents felt they couldn't help her and thought someone else could.  The one thing I know is that no woman can ever forget giving birth, so there must be some thought around this time of February that she thinks about that day (or night) when she gave birth to a beautiful little girl.  
Those first few days of looking at your child and comparing her nose to your own, or her eyes to her father's, or her beautiful lips and ears to her siblings or grandparents. 
 I wish I could tell her how wonderful her baby girl is, how loved and adored she is.  
To thank HER for giving Olivia life and giving us the chance to love her and call her our own.