Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years

Christmas is over, as far as the frenzied gifts, parties and visitors goes. I am hoping the Spirit of the season lives on throughout the year ahead.

So many blessings surrounded us this year. We were able to wake up to the joy of our 7 kids on Christmas morning, along with the three added blessings, our grandsons, Kaid, Keegan and Keane. It's hard to describe the massive amounts of paper, packages and noise when there are 10 children in one livingroom. Awesome!! It was a wonderful feeling having our oldest son, Scott, his wife Britt and their boys home. We missed having Jenni home, and kept the cell phone clicking all day sending pictures back and forth to her, and she to us. Ash and Andy were able to be here for the festivities too, so it was a full day of fun. Many memories,for sure.

Now we are in the middle of the holidays week, planning our family get together for New Years eve, and cramming in just as much as we can before Scott leaves on Monday. Britt and the boys are able to stay until the 11th, so there will be a little more time to enjoy watching the boys play.

I have been very aware of the two little boys missing from our holidays this year. Last year, Gborlee was a new hope in our family, and by March, Mohammed (Isaiah) was also added to our "joy" list. It's been a long, hard year, working toward bringing both boys home from Liberia, and as much as we tried to get all the ends tied up this year, we still came short of finalizing their adoption and bringing them home to our family. We have been discouraged, frustrated,and angered, all the while longing for the day we can begin their healing in America. I realize that once my eyes were opened to the plight of the children in Liberia, and the basic needs they are lacking, the harder it is to live out my typical day in such a blessed country. When we have excess food, I am sorry for their struggle day to day to eat. When I snuggle into my warm bed, I remember the harsh surroundings my boys are living in. When I close my eyes at night, I can't help but wonder how they are sleeping and what activities their days held far across the world from me.

It just was obvious someone was missing.

Now we are looking forward to a new year. New challenges, new hope, new opportunities. As I form the beginnings of the year in my mind, I contemplate what it holds for our family. Of course, none of us will ever be able to know exactly how our days will unfold, but some of the things I hope to accomplish are these: look for ways to help others in need, find someone whose life I can make a major impact in, and rely on God's provision to do my best to alleviate stress and hunger for another human being.

I know I can't change the world. But I do believe I can stand beside ONE person this year and help meet the needs of that person to the best of my abilities. Maybe if all of us could find one person to help, we would see a major lessening of need in our world and we could each grow by giving of ourselves.

Happy New Year to my family and friends. Let's make it a year we can look back on and be proud of. Let's help someone less fortunate than ourselves. I plan to. I pray blessings on each of you as you try to do the same in 2012.
Posted by Faith at 6:03 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's beginning to feel alot like Christmas!

Coming back from Africa during the holiday season has really thrown me off! Seeing Christmas trees there in the 95 degree heat, and hearing traditional American Christmas songs on battery operated radios in the village made me realize how close it really was!

And now it really is!! This is the countdown week!! We have spent many weeks remodeling the house and switching rooms around, preparing for the new boys. So, finally, we put our little tree up last night. I found the star this morning, and now I am looking for the tree skirt. And stockings. And deco. My kids were starting to beg me to put the tree up, and likened me to "Scrooge!" Oh how simple it is to bring joy to their little lives. Bella walked in and saw the tree lights up and stopped at the doorway. Her eyes widened and she said, "Wowwwww!" Just like she had seen the real star of Bethlehem. I had decided not to put alot of decorations out, mostly because it means bringing a ton of bins up from the basement. Yuck! But also, I am trying really hard to streamline our lives for at least a little bit. I expect it to get kinda crazy once the boys do come home, with doctor appointments and therapies, so it's in my heart to keep things a bit more simple than usual.

If you know me, you know how very much I love this time of year. The lights, songs, gifts, wrapping...ah, it's the highlight of my life. I LOVE to find special presents for my loved ones, and I work hard to keep the costs low. It's challenging but it really revs my engine! I began wrapping yesterday and spent most of the day trying to complete it. Unfortunately, I had to stop to sleep last night, so I will have to jump back in on that again later today. Tonight we have our friends family over to celebrate the holidays with them before things get crazy!

We will be missing our Jenni this year, but thankful for the two weeks we shared with her before, during and after our African trip together. She is always too far away, but at least we did have precious time together. Wednesday night we travel to Chicago to pick up Scott, Britt and those adorable grandsons. As of this writing, the boys have no idea they are coming to Michigan for Christmas! How exciting when they all figure it out! They will be taking their big German shephard dog home after this visit, so it will feel like we have one less horse in our home. (he's huge, but a well behaved dog. The last 6 months we have bonded!!) The boys will make our christmas VERY MERRY!! I can't wait. In pictures they look like they have all grown so big in the last six months and I am so excited to see them! My kids are giddy, waiting for them, and I probably won't see much of the boys since they will be off playing with their little aunts and uncle!

I have many things to look forward to in the new year. The ministry of Forget Me Not Children encompasses much of my thoughts. I am blessed to have enough money donated now to ship some orthopedic supplies to Liberia, and I know my heart will continue to reach out for ways to help the unfortunate children there. I am thankful that God lead me to the boys, and to the greater needs in their villages. I will continue to pray for what I can do to alleviate some of their suffering.

I also am working with a dear friend on a new business venture. It will allow us to help others tell their adoption stories, and we are excited about that! I am grateful to be surrounded with so many wonderful people who encourage me and help me grow! Stay tuned for the updates on both! Exciting times ahead!

I have baking to begin, and alot to accomplish yet this week, but I wanted to wish everyone of my blogging friends a Merry Christmas, and a peaceful happy New Year. How will you spend 2012? My advice (and I am taking it to heart too!) is to always take time to make memories, and look for ways to change someone else's life.

Love and Peace to you all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ahh, Africa!

Just returned last night from my second trip to Africa. I must still be on Liberian time,(it's past noon there!)because I could not sleep past 5:30 this morning!

As I write this post, Mike is at the Emergency room with Tommmy (7). He was so excited to have me home, he bought me a Slim Jim treat at the store last night, and while trying to open it this morning, he cut his hand with the scissors. I figure it will be stitched, but it sharply brought me back to the contrast of living in America to living in Africa.

The day we got to Africa, which is a story in itself, we were loving on the FMN kids and a little 4 year old showed me a cut on her hand. It was raw, and had dirt in it already. We put neosporin and a bandaide on it, but thru the week I watched it get puffier and infected. We kept adding salve and bandaides, but it really has little hope of healing well without a big scar. I am praying the infection can be less due to the salves we applied. I hope my Tommy comes home with stitches, and I know we can get the help he needs here for that type of injury. Such a sharp contrast.

Delivering a walker for a 5 year old, and a wheelchair for a 6 year old, my mind kept racing to how different life is for my children here. A cerebral palsy child in the states will have therapy and medical care from the beginning of their lives. For these two precious African children, the help they receive must come across a large ocean, from a continent away, from concerned and giving people who feel as if it is never enough to meet the needs we so wish we could. But for Karin and Barry, it will help to change their little lives in their communities. It makes me hope to do so much more.

We fired our agency for our adoption while we were there. Sad to return again without our babies, however, we are at peace that we were able to stop the insanity and corruption that was prevelant from this american agency. What a shame. We are encouraged that we can pursue the adoption through a different angle, and we are grateful for the brilliant minds of the team that God assembled together for the time we were there. We were never alone in our struggles and emotional pain, and we have a plan for bringing the boys home in the next few weeks. We hope what we endured will put an end to the pain this agency could have caused many others had it not come out in the end.

What did I learn? I learned that my daughter Jenni has the biggest heart ever, is capable of keeping me grounded when our world was falling apart, and that she loved the African church service as much as I did! She spent a week on packaged snacks from the US and never once complained. Our airconditioning didn't work in the 95 degree heat, and our refridgerator in the place we stayed never did cool. Our lights dimmed, we lost all power, we couldn't access the internet, our water stopped working and our toilet clogged. Jenni reminded me what a blessed life we have in America each time she said, "well, it's a third world country, after all." She graciously accepted our daily changes, cried with me, laughted with me, and comforted me more than she will ever know. I love the way God has given me such lovely daughters, and thankful for her selfless ability to "vacation" with me in Africa. I will never forget our precious time together.

I learned that sending an email home and having to wait for a day for a reply made me realize how much I rely on my friendships and family connections on a day to day basis. When I would receive a letter from Ash, or Britt, it made me know of their prayers and support from across the world. We all shared in the mission to bring home our boys, and the joy and then tears were between us, even though the miles separated us from each other. Although our grief at leaving the boys behind was thick enough to choke on, our hope for a quick return turned our tears to joy and hope renewed was like a medicine to our hearts.

I learned that I will never hear a honking horn again without thinking of Africa. I learned that the most simple tasks here are darn right hard if not impossible over there. I watched sweat droplets hit a dirty cement floor in africa, as the beautiful christians in a simple church service blessed our hearts with their joy, their songs and smiles at a time when we desperately needed to hear a word from our God for the boys we had hoped to bring home. I learned that our timing is not necessarily God's timing, and it's ok to be disappointed but joyful at the same time.

I saw tears on their faces as my boys were forced into a bad situation, and smiles when they returned to the homes that have securely cared for their needs for the past year. I grew in appreciation for the foster mothers who have begun a beautiful journey of change for my boys, and their desire to change the impressions in their villages of handicapped children and their place in this world. The boys who must be discarded are accepted and loved by a foster family and have bonded well, and they will become healthier bonded children in our family because of the love they have developed there.

I met a biological mother whose eyes showed so much love and emotion for a child she knew she could not keep, and was able to ask her how she felt about giving her child to an American mother who would be responsible to let this child grown with the knowlege of just how precious his birth mom's sacrifices would improve his life. I would deeply touched by the impact of the gift she was giving to me - this precious damaged life who will soon thrive in all we can offer in health that her own village and resources never could do for him. An African mom and an American mom, working together. He got his beauty from him birthmom, and I will love and remind him of his start there. It was a treasure from God to have had the opportunity to meet her and to accept her gracious gift. She chose life for us all. I am grateful.

It was a big trip to a big continent, on a huge mission and a failed attempt to bring the babies home. But our God is bigger still, and we trust the plan to return soon. The big brown eyes in the tiny bodies of our African children draw me back as often as it takes to complete the plan. And the other children and people I meet along the way enriches my life. It is the icing on the cake to trust our minute by minute lives to a knowing God who only works for our good. I will continue to praise HIS name and fight for a people who He has placed on my heart.