Dec 23, 2009

We don't do Santa either

OK ... to be fair, I had numerous people ask why we don't participate in Halloween at all and I wrote my point of view.  (It was wildly unpopular by the way).  I've been asked our stance on Santa.  And to be fair, I figured I'd might as well finish the job of ticking off ALL my friends. LOL

Dan and I grew up in a church that disallowed Christmas in any way shape or form. Thought not much of it.  I could tell you all their reasons for not celebrating it.  (Many are interesting, by the way.)

But here was always my problem ... the "Christmas story" is in the Bible!  Seems a baby was indeed born to a virgin named Mary.  There was a star. There was a manger.  There were wise men and shepherds.  The story is actually T R U E.

Now most of the world understands that Jesus was born likely in the Fall, not December 25 but the truth is ... He was born and since we don't know the day, one was picked.  I know the whole story about how this day was picked (rooted in paganism apparently) but I also believe that we could pick ANY of the 365 days to celebrate it and there would be "something" wrong with those days as well.  So to me, December 25 is as good as any.  (My dad, for example, usually shares the Birth of Jesus story in the Fall at a sermon.)

Now about the rest of the stuff that goes with it ... some are just plain commercial, some have roots in paganism, etc.  So much of it we have chosen to ignore.  But we tell the Birth of Jesus part.

"But it's rooted in paganism" was the argument growing up.  Look up that word "Pagan" and it means celebrating other gods besides Jesus.  Uh .. er,   anyone get the irony of that?  Christmas (to most people) means that Jesus was born and people are celebrating HIS birth  (Yes, with a lot of commercialism and odd things added in I will give you that.).  They are not worshiping the tree, the presents.  (And yes, I understand that many people completely leave Jesus out of the whole day.) But celebrating a different God than Jesus?

Santa specifically ... in the church I grew up in, he was akin to Satan himself almost (OK, I exaggerate).  But as I see it, he is just a make-believe character.  (Yes, I know the history of St. Nick.)  I allow the pretend characters of Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Dora, Elmo, etc in my home ... I just make sure the kids understand that Superman isn't able to fly, Spiderman can't spin webs, Dora doesn't have a talking monkey, etc. etc.  It's just fiction.  Santa is also a fictional character.  (I put the disclaimer though that most kids don't know he's fictional yet so don't ruin it.)  So we don't personally have Santa's in our house, don't tell them about a jolly old fellow who will mysteriously leave presents in our house, etc.  I do the best to tell the truth, the whole truth (as I understand it to be).

OK ... so now that I've completely honked off ALL my friends - both those who Believe and support the Santa story AND those who think ALL of Christmas is completely pagan ... maybe people will stop asking me what I teach my kids! Ha ha.

In summary ... if you do Christmas and Santa and the whole tree/present thing ... Good for you.  No judgment here.  And Hope you have a Merry Christmas.

If you do NONE of it ... good for you.  No judgment here.  And hang in there, only a couple more days and it will be over.

Dec 21, 2009

What kind of mark do you leave?

A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. ~ Chinese proverb

I read this quote and felt it mighty and profound.  It made me consider it from many angles.  For example, all of my children are adopted so each of them has a birthmother and birthfather.  These people left the mark of their DNA, their genetics, etc.  They even left the mark of drugs and their effects on some of the kids.  Then there are caretakers (some were amazing, some not so much).  Teachers, friends, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, etc.  They have ALL left some kind of mark ... and to think otherwise is to be blind to the effects. 

It also makes me extremely aware of the need to make sure there are positive and not negative influences on their lives.  I need to make sure who is "writing" on them.

I am keenly aware that *I* am  leaving a mark.  Very early on I would contemplate (OK ... to tell the truth ... I would worry) about what kind of mark this was.  But the truth is ... I don't think I'll know for a long time.

You know how you don't really see your kids getting taller for example on a day to day basis because it's so microscopic but then you buy them jeans at the end of the summer because they've grown 6 inches?  Well, as a mother, I don't know the daily influence I'm having on them.  I hope it's good but there are those days, you know THOSE days. 

So if I consider these marks on their paper as permanent ink and not just pencil marks that can be erased, the gravity seems almost too much to bear.  Yesterday I heard a definition of the word "grace" ... we do our part to the best of our abillity and God applies GRACE to make up for the rest to be where it needs to be.  I LOVE that definition.  I hope it's right and that He daily gives me grace with my children.  I'll need it. 

But as I consider the mark I am leaving, one thing I'm proud to be leaving on their minds and hearts is the love of God towards His children.  HE is the Father of the Fatheless.  HE cares how we take care of HIS kids.  My kids get that to the core of their being.  They see how much time and energy I'm putting into Destiny's Crossing ( ... the orphan care programs we're launching.  And they happily give me the chance to help. 

This quote is so profound to me, it's the quote on our front page at Come by and check it out along with all the exciting things we're planning to do in Northern China in the upcoming year. 

And as you do ... consider this ...

What kind of mark do YOU leave?

Dec 15, 2009

New Start

So today I purchased the new website name and started creating the website from scratch.  It still has a lot of work we need to do on it (like some pages are still blank, others have bad fonts, etc.) but it's a start. 

Check it out! 

We still need tons of manpower help too.  Pretty much if you have a skill and an interest in helping special needs orphans, I need you!  So let me know what you can do and I'll see if there's a fit for your specific skill set. 

Some specific suggestions:
Director for the SHOES project (
Someone to write grants
A person to create a blog for the SHOES project
Someone to coordinate manpower (to keep track of who is doing what)

I also am needing people who work for companies to consider talking to your company about how they might donate supplies or money. 

OK ... that's enough for one update.  Back to updating the website!  Thanks for joining me on this project

Dec 8, 2009

Why Do I Continue To Be Surprised??

OK ... so after the HORRIBLE meeting with the Psychologist yesterday, I was fully prepared to go in loaded for bear.  I had copies of the law, copies of his past records, etc etc.  I had so much documentation and ammunition that I felt prepared.  Yet I felt so anxious and nervous.  (I actually have pulmonary hypertension - not related to high blood pressure but where the artery between the heart and lungs ... if you have PH you are not getting enough oxygen to your heart.  Yesterday, I started having some MAJOR symptoms.)

Late last night, I asked my mother (A PhD Licensed School Psychologist) to come with me for moral support - if nothing else, she could serve as a witness to what happened.

Today, I felt the need to just pray, praise and generally beg for H E L P before our meeting.

10:30, Mom, Dan and I walked into the school.  10:42, we're still sitting in the front office waiting to be invited to the back.  (Power play).  Even Mom was feeling a bit uneasy at this point.  Then the Psychologist walks in and I whisper, "there she is" and mom says, "Hey Leah, it's Sunny".  Leah and Mom know each other ... Mom was her boss on a job this summer!!  LOL (Yesterday she was making fun of my "so called expert" and today, she had to acknowledge my expert does indeed know more than she does! haaaa haaaa)

So as we walk to the meeting, they're chattin' it up, chummin' in up.  Dan and I are walking in back and I giggle and whisper "I think we don't need to talk in this meeting."

Then the meeting opens (it's run by the psychologist) and she has a completely different tune.

It became clear to everyone in the room that everyone in that room (except the two teachers) was  completely "on board"!  The Vice principal, for example, cut through all the proverbial cr*p and was able to articulate the need, stand up for Jacob, etc etc.  It was awesome.  I wanted to give her a standing ovation.  (There were even times she was rolling her eyes at the two teachers when they would make comments which showed just how little the understand about modifications, accommodations, asperger's, autism, the 504/IEP process, etc  And it was clear how misunderstood Jacob is by those teachers.)

During the meeting, we were told the Psychologist had given Jacob's letter to all of them and they had read it.  This VP said, "It almost made me cry."  She was offended that a child at HER school could perceive his school that way.  And she was determined to make sure this turned around.  SHE will hold those teachers accountable!

We got an official 504 started with an understanding that we would draft up an IEP as well.  (ahhhhh).

Bottom line - I got EVERYTHING that I wanted and then some.  I never needed to take out one shred of evidence, cite one law, etc.  They even started asking ME how to handle some things.  They also asked Mom on some of the School Psychology things and said they would use her as a resource if needed.  Cool beans.

Before this meeting, I was saying I wasn't sure what all had to happen before I could feel like I could safely send him back to school.  But it happened.  I feel a peace.  Not all the issues are fixed.... it's all about implementation ... but I feel we have all the pieces in place FINALLY!  And if things aren't working I can go to all those people in that room who were on our side - the Special Ed teacher, the Psychologist, the Guidance Counselor, the Vice Principal.  They all "get it".

So God went before us, cleared the way, parted the seas and we walked in on dry ground.

When I left for the meeting today, I posted that I want God to get all the glory for this.  So THIS is why I'm writing this miraculous outcome.  GOD did this.  HE is the hero.


Nov 29, 2009

Spinning plates: AKA 4 new projects

We're back from China. 

We got back Wednesday.  Thursday was Thanksgiving at my house.   Friday through Sunday was camping with our church. 

Tonight, I got the first chance to put a few ideas down about what we'll be doing in China in the upcoming days, weeks, months and years. 

Basically, I think we've come away with 4 projects.  I'm really hoping I can find a Director for each program to take over, run every detail, etc and I will oversee all 4 projects. 

1)  Upgrading a school so the 200 special needs orphans in that village can attend school for the first time.
2)  Educational center for babies and toddlers (preschool, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc)
3)  A group foster home for medically fragile babies (and then fast-track them for adoption)
4)  A shoe project for one family.

For a few more details about each of these, check out the website.

Hope many, many of you feel inspired and want to jump in with both feet!


Nov 13, 2009

News From Beth

Beth has made it safely to China and she is working hard and discovering that the need is very large!  She asked me to post here and let everyone know she is unable to access this blog. 

You can find updates from Beth and follow her trip at
Destiny's House

Nov 9, 2009

All my bags are packed ...

... but I'm not quite ready to go.  Lots of last minute things to do.  It's amazing how many things have to get done for 5 kids - one that's going with me and 4 staying here.  It's taking an army to take care of the 4 while I'm gone.  Daddy, My Mother, my Father, my sister, church friends, etc.  (A job I do alone usually I might add LOL.)

Yesterday was Kaley's 10th birthday party.  Her actual birthday is 11/11 but alas I will be in Beijing on that day so we did the party early.  She had a tinkerbell theme ... appropriate as she is so tiny.  Kaley is so amazingly small it's precious.  She's perfectly proportionate, just tiny.  The only thing that upsets her about being small is that she still only weighs 46-47 pounds and you're supposed to stay in a 5 point harness until 50 pounds.  She cannot believe that she's 10 and still has to sit in a baby chair.

Today, I'm going to her school and surprise her by eating lunch with her.  I think she should really enjoy that!

Then some last minute details, last minute laundry and packing and then homework.  Put the kids to bed (there WILL be tears - especially from Kaley who desperately wants to go with me).  Then last minute preparations.  Hope to get in bed some time before it's time to get up.  Head out the door at 3:50 , get to the airport.  Plane leaves at 6am for Chicago.  

We'll be in Chicago for a few hours waiting for Aunt Shari to arrive from Denver.  Then we'll hit that plane and get to Beijing - arriving at 4:25pm Beijing time on Nov 11.  (3:25am Tampa time if I've done my conversions correctly).  Eat, shower, crash.

Then the real adventure begins.  I'm so overwhelmed with the details of trying to get there and the details of trying to keep my kids and hubby safe here that I've not had a whole lot of time to invest in the details of the new orphanage home.  (Probably a good thing because every time I do, I get the feeling that I am soooooo in over my head.)

I'll be trying to blog feelings here.  If it's not blocked.  My friend Sherri will also be trying to post for me if I can't.  I'll also be putting some things up on the regular website of ... there will be a link there to the pages.

Thanks for all the prayers and the support!  This truly needs to be a team effort!

Love to all, Beth

Nov 3, 2009

One week from today ...

One week from today and I'll be on an airplane with Zoe (4) headed to China.  My head is full of so many thoughts.  I'm anxious to find out what the future holds for us, for the Children's Home.  I know I'll be getting a lot of ideas and a lot of questions answered.  I'm sure new questions will also arise.

But the one thing most on my mind today is ... we get to see Zoe's foster mother.  We were told we'd never get to meet her, never know her name.  Well, by a miracle, I got to meet her in March.  There wasn't a dry eye in the place!  Even the most stoic of men cried tears as they saw this moment.

2 women who both love the same child.

I know what it's like.  I was a foster parent.  And I HATED HATED it when people would tell me "I could never be a foster parent, my heart is too big."  I wanted to slap them and say, "Thanks for saying that I have a tiny heart but YOU'RE the one with a small heart.  I loved this child enough to give him/her a good start in life.  I loved them enough to share all the love in my heart with them.  And when they left, my heart broke into a million little pieces.  Some of the pieces still aren't together yet."

but I digress ...

I know what it's like to love and lose a child.  To wonder what she's doing now.  To wonder if she's happy.  To wonder, "Did I do enough?"

And this foster mother knows the pain all too well.  So we sat there, hugging each other, crying.  We didn't need many words.  There are no words for times like this.  And in a blink, it was over.  She was gone and it was so surreal it was almost as if it hadn't happened.

This time - Zoe gets to go.  We are going to get to spend most of the day with her this time.  And I'm wondering ... what can I do to honor the love she showed Zoe?  What questions should I ask her?  How will Zoe be feeling during all this?  Will it bring a peace and some closure or will it re-open a wound?  What about the foster mother?  Is this good for her or is it going to be very painful to see how much Zoe has grown and changed?  (She's even had surgery and looks different on top of the typical growth.)

I guess I'm just doing what Mama's do ... we put things in our heart and ponder them.

Zoe is making her some drawings.  We've put together a photo album for her of Zoe's years with us so far.  And I wonder ... what does she need from us?  What will make her feel how deeply we love and respect her.

And yes, there will be pictures.  There will be video.  I will share.

Adoption isn't for wimps!

Nov 2, 2009

Coming down to the wire

I don't know about you ... but I find that God likes cliff-hangers!  (I, on the other hand, do not.)  I'm a planner.  I think I find security, comfort in knowing at list the gist of what is coming so I feel I can be prepared.  (I'm SURE I'm not alone on this.)

But God, He has other purposes.  He wants me to be attached to Him.  He wants me to rely on Him.  And I can say I do ... but when it comes down to it, I often feel like I'm hanging on until 11:59 and then He swoops in and saves the day.

Now the trick would be for me not to worry until 11:59 has passed.  I used to worry by 10 pm.  Then my faith grew and I could postpone the worry until 11 pm.  I think I'm up to about 11:30 before worry sets in now.  So I'm getting better. 

As I see it, it's 11:25 right now.  I am not worried YET.  But I also see my pending worry about to set it. 

What to worry about?  All the details and plans for the China trip have not come together yet.  (Even the money is not quite all in ... close, but not quite.  But He's provided the rest, I'm sure that will be available too in no time.)

The front half of the trip is all nicely tied up.   From November 10-18 we're all set.  We have a place to stay, places to eat, translators, transportation, etc.  ahhhhh. 

November 19-24 is a bit scattered still.  So much so that I cannot get flights yet, no hotel yet, no driver. Now that can all come together pretty quickly since I have done the research and I just push the buttons.  But I'm not even sure why we're supposed to be there all those days.

We're to meet the Director on November 19 - which means we'll leave New Day, to go Beijing airport, fly to Taiyuan and meet him somewhere that day.  (Not at the orphanage I was just told today since all foreigners are forbidden to go due to H1N1.)  Then November 20 we're to meet with Zoe's foster family.  Where? When? That will fall in place too I'm sure.  I just want it to be special and meaningful.  Last time, it was a quick 30 minutes and we were outta there. 

November 21? Nov 22? Beats the heck out of me.  I think those days are about doing our Children's Home business around the province.  No problem.  But the person we're meeting with has to go back on Nov 22.  We'll be in Taiyuan with no English speaking person for that whole day.  Why?  Originally I had tried to get the flight back home on that day and it was a NO-GO, already booked.  So I know we'll be there for a reason... but what?  And more importantly, it is in Taiyuan or are we supposed to go back to Beijing and have our divine appointment there???  And until I know this, I cannot book flights or hotels. 

So ... that's what I mean by ... down to the wire.  I leave in a week.  This has to be decided before I go. 

tick. tick. tick. 

Oct 30, 2009

100 years ago ...

I wake up each morning (early) and as soon as I have them all out the door, I RUSH to the computer.  I eagerly anticipate what new messages might be in the inbox.  If the "from" box looks all crazy and unreadable, I go there first. 


Daily I get messages from people in China.  Daily I am receiving questions to answer and answers to my questions.  It's a daily dialogue halfway across the world.  And if I get to the emails IMMEDIATELY, the people on the other side of the world will have a chance to read and shoot me an email back before they must head to bed.  Then I spend the day answering the questions and thinking of new things to ask them. 

I was pondering my female counterparts just 100 years ago.  Think about it.  1909.  There was no internet.  There was not a way to pick up a cordless phone and call China.  There was no way for her to jump on a plane to get there.  And yet here I am 100 years later and it's not even a big deal to me that I chat daily with people on the other side of the world.  I don't find it strange that I'm becoming very good friends with people who speak no English (and I speak no Chinese). 

In 11 days, I'll be hopping on a plane (OK 2 planes) and less than 24 hours later, I'll be sitting in a hotel in Beijing. Then I'll use Skype to call back to my kids and see them and talk to them.  Isn't that marvelous?  And I can pick up a cordless phone and speak to them too. 

And I'm doing all this ... why?? 

When you were little, did your parents ever say to you, "Eat all your vegetables.  Do you know there are children starving in China?"  Well mine did ... it was about peas.  Hated those little suckers!  I was like, "So ship them to THEM!"  And now I have the opportunity to make sure at least a few of those little ones go to bed with full tummies.

And now you know why I rush every morning to open my emails.  There are babies on the other side of the world. 

Oct 29, 2009

Time to reflect

Things are back to "normal" at my house.  I'm back to having 2 hours every morning where the kids are gone and the house is eeerily quiet. I can enjoy my time by myself ... and it seems quite self-indulgent having always had the kids around 24/7.

Yesterday I took a shower ... all by myself.  Now that might not seem like such an incredulous task.  But for me, it is.  Or at least it was.

Last Friday I took a shower before I headed towards Peoria.  Dan was already away attending a conference of his own.  All the kids were supposed to be sleeping.  Zoe came in and just stood there staring at me.

I'm like, "What?"
She says, "Nothin'".
Me: What are you doing?
Her: Staring at you.
Me: (realizing it was a stupid question the moment it left my mouth) WHY??
Her:  Because you're Hubba Hubba.
I make a mental note: Talk to the child when I get home!

There are really, really hard days with them.  There are days I want to crawl up in bed and hide under the covers.  There are days I'm almost dehydrated due to the tear loss.  There are days where I'm frustrated beyond belief.  Days where I feel I'm making no difference at all.

But there are mostly moments where I realize how precious these little people are.  Where I realize how fleeting this time with them is.  I know that in a moment, I'll wake up and it will have been like a dream.  I'm already forgetting what they looked like as an infant.  I'm already forgetting their sweet baby smell.  I'm already losing the memories I thought would never fade.

I wonder if I'm helping shape them into Godly people.  Am I helping or hindering God in His process with them?

So as I sit here on this quiet morning - freshly showered, I have a chance to take pause and reflect on such things.  I think about where they have been, the miracles God has already performed in their lives.  I think about where they are and I think about the roads ahead (some fun and some tough).

Hope you are taking a moment here or there to reflect on what matters most to you.

Oct 25, 2009


Do you get paid to talk about your favorite subject? Have you ever been paid to do something that you would have PAID to do?

I do. I don’t know how I got to be so blessed, but I’m on the plane on the way back from giving a talk about what it’s like to be the mother to 5 adopted children with special needs. There’s this awesome ministry in Peoria, Illinois called “Angel Arms” and they just had their first conference for the caretakers of individuals with special needs.

They found me via google! Isn’t that amazing? About 1 ½ years ago, Colleen contacted me and asked if I’d be the keynote speaker at a conference. I usually get booked via “word of mouth”. People have heard of me or have heard me speak. This was the first time I got found and hired with Google.

I did some research about them and was actually quite impressed. They have a program to help assist families with special needs children. So if you go to their church and you have a child with say autism, they will make a plan (much like an IEP) to assist you and your child. This way, the parents can actually attend worship service! Each family will have a different plan to meet the needs.

Their ministry is relatively small right now … but … I have a feeling it won’t be that way for long. I truly believe it’s going to explode in the near future! And furthermore, I believe this needs to be the model for every church! (If you know of a church or pastor … let me know and I can give them some awesome info about an amazing ministry.)

Anyway, I got to talk about my kids and share a little of our testimony of our journey. And as typical “Beth” form … I told the truth. I mean, I don’t think other necessarily “lie” when talking about special needs, but I do think they often leave a whole bunch of the picture out. And as I looked out over the audience, I saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement. I saw many tears being wiped away as I shared some of the stories. I saw people who “got it”.

It’s just such a blessing to be in a room full of people who completely understand what I am talking about. There are also BTDT. I do a lot of presentations but I rarely speak to an audience quite like this one. (I’m usually trying to get people to understand what I’m talking about … and these people are living parallel lives.)

They also asked me to sing some of my songs. It’s actually kinda cool as I don’t normally get to combine those worlds. But I have songs I’ve written on the subject and never get to sing them. One is called “Catch My Tears”. How God captures every tear we’ve ever shed (Ps. 56:8).

So as I go home to my children tonight, I’m so blessed to be their Mommy. And as I shared today, I know to the core of my being that my children were “Handpicked” for me and I was “Handpicked” for my children.

Oct 22, 2009

Collecting donations for Ayis

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a foster mother or a caretaker of babies?  Have you wondered what it's like to pour your life and your love into a child only to see them leave? or worse, die? Have you ever wondered what YOU might be able to do to say "Thank you" for even just one of these wonderful nannies? 
Zoe's Foster Mother/Ayi

The countdown is on. (If I'm not delirious from the lack of sleep with all the H1N1 and pneumonia around here) I leave in 19 days for China.

Last trip, I collected donations (monetary and "stuff").  As a result, we were able to purchase hundreds of pairs of shoes and socks. We bought 2 refrigerators and 2 washing machines.  We got diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, etc etc. 

For this trip, I haven't asked for donations ... and I'm really rethinking that decision.  While this will be a "smaller" type deal this time, I would still love to be able to live donations in all the places we are going.  And since I'm going to be spending most of my time with the caretakers this time, I'm wanting to give some small gifts of appreciation to them as well.  (I did foster care for 9 years and I know how hard it is to care for a child only to see them die or leave.)

So ... with that in mind.  I know that times are tough.  Most of you are stretched to the max financially.  I understand.  But if any of you are in a position to help ... even just a bit, that would be awesome.  If that is cash, great.  If that is a few supplies and mailing it to me, wonderful.  Even one gift for a caretaker?

If you are wanting to give via paypal ... go to and click on "Make a Donation".  If you want to give a check or send donations, email me and I'll send you my address. (goredan 

If you cannot give ... NO PROBLEM and no guilt.  I still need other things so email me for that too.

Thanks for all the love and support.

Oct 19, 2009

I love it when a plan comes together

Little by little, bit by bit.  That's how a plan comes together.  I don't know about you, but I get *giddy* when I start to see how the pieces of the puzzle fit.

Today I got an email from the director of the Taiyu*an SWI (orphanage) and he says he is very excited to see us again ... and it was one of his greatest hopes to meet one of the children adopted from there.  He's asking what all WE need!

Truthfully, what we *Need* is the open door to help him.  We want the "all clear" that we can actually serve the children of that province.  We need his help for that.

When we were there in March, we went down to Hong T*ng and had a very interesting day.  We saw some of the children in foster homes there.  (That was a bit "strange".)  We ended up having a marvelous lunch with the director and his staff - along with all our entourage!  (We started out with 1 Chinese person helping us and by the end, there were 12 I think was the final count!)

But while there that day, I got the experience of a lifetime.  I got to meet Zoe's foster mother, in her home.  It was an hour full of tears and laughter.  There wasn't a dry eye in the place (including the Director's) as these 2 women shared stories of the little girl they both loved so dearly.  At the time, I was so engrossed with the actual experience that I was unaware of anyone else but that foster mother.  But looking at pictures (thankfully I had friends with me to snap away), I saw how intently he was watching the interaction.

Fast forward ... I want to propose to him that I open a children's home there ... to have a foster home component.  My selling feature?  That moment.

In his letter to me, he actually mentioned the Hong T*ng visit as one of the most memorable moments of his life.  (That's a good sign, don't you think?)

Meanwhile, there's yet another person who has great insight into this process (been doing it for over 10 years) who has offered to give advice.  People are bending over backwards to help us. (I hope that continues.) And she has been working with Taiyu*n as well.

More to follow!  But this is getting exciting.  I leave in 3 weeks from tomorrow.

Oct 17, 2009

Warning: NOT going to be a popular post

Disclaimer:  I am going to stray from the adoption topic for a day to discuss Halloween.  I feel that I need to post this ... even though I know it won't be popular.  I just feel it needs to be said and people can do whatever they choose to with the information.

OK ... here goes!

Most of my friends are Christians.  Most of these friends celebrate Halloween.  Most of them feel it is just a day for their kids to have some innocent fun, wear cute costumes and get candy.  I understand that point of view. 

Our family does NOT participate in Halloween in any way.  I do not feel it is all innocent fun. I can't get over the pagan history of the day.  It's basically just a day to celebrate witchcraft and evil in general.  There are MANY sites on this if you're interested (Just google "Halloween Origins" and you'll find plenty ... here is just one  I'm not sure why Christians feel this is OK to participate.

Daily, people ask if the kids are ready for Halloween.  To which they proudly state, "We don't celebrate Halloween."  Then people (including Christians) stare at me like I'm the worst parent on the planet!  How does this make me a bad parent that I won't let my kids dress up like Witches? 

And in case you feel my kids are all deprived, here's what we do.  After Halloween, you can get the greatest deals on costumes.  We buy princess outfits, spiderman, superman, etc.  And you wouldn't believe the deal you get on candy.  We let them wear these costumes any other day of the year besides Halloween.  And they get their fill of candy. 

OK ... I said it.  Like I said, I know this won't be popular.  And if you do Halloween, I'm not judging you and I don't expect you to defend your position.  I'm just saying ... I don't think I should be considered weird just because I don't let my kids celebrate witchcraft. 

Know where I'll be on November 1?  Picking out new play outfits for the kids and stocking up on candy. 

Oct 15, 2009

Tickets are bought

I bought tickets today for China.  I did it with trembling hands and a mind full of questions.  Am I doing the right thing?  Am I crazy?  Who the heck do I think *I* am to try this?  What if it fails? What if it doesn't work?  What if I can't find funding?  How do we pick which children come to the home and which don't? 

But I hit "send" and bought the tickets anyway.  Why? 

Because for a lifetime, I've had the dream to run an orphange.  Because I see the need.  Because it was asked of me and to ignore the request is to ignore the proverbial beggar on the side of the road.  (You know that story?  Everyone saw the guy but they all passed by.)   

But the biggest reason is because I keep telling God, "I will walk through each door until you say no".  And He keeps saying "Yes".  Every time I put a problem before Him, a reason for NOT doing this ... He finds the solution to it. 

I am putting one foot in front of the other.  I'm scared out of my mind.  I'm way in over my head.  But I also know who is in charge.  And there's something completely humbling about being His instrument.

Oct 14, 2009

What's in a name?

Let's assume we're going to take on this MONUMENTAL task of a children's home in China. 
Further, let's assume we know what we're doing, how to do it.
Let's continue down this assumption road and say we will find the necessary funding to pull it off. 

So with those pesky details out of the way, we're going to need a name for this children's home.  I have been asking for suggestions.  Some border on the insane.  Some just don't roll off the tongue well.  Some don't translate to Chinese very well. 

The one that everyone seems to like is one that I'd thought of a long time ago but hesitate to use.  The vote so far seems to be - Zoe House.  I LOVE the name.  I just didn't want people thinking I was naming it after our daughter, Zoe.   We actually named her that because it's the Greek word for "Life" (Like in John 10:10 ... came to give you life (Zoe) and that more abundantly.  We named her after that word. 

So if it's the Zoe House, it means house of life.  Not a bad name ... Also, if you write it out with Zoe horizontally and House written vertically (crossing at the O), it resembles a cross.  Not a bad reference. And besides, our Zoe is from Taiyu*n where this house will be.

Let me know what you think.  (There ARE runners-up for names. )

Oct 13, 2009

Full panic mode - Help wanted!

(Please excuse my "dust" as I remodel the blog.)

Many of you have offered to help in some way.  I'm in need of help and support.

Looks like I'll be headed to Beij*ng and Taiyu*n in November.  Yes, that's right.  NOVEMBER.  Can you say "full panic mode"?  I don't have flights, hotels, guides, drivers, details, funds, donations to take, etc.  Yet I'm still trying to pull this off.

I'm talking with directors of several different organizations who have been great about extending their help to me.  Several of them have offered to give me any info I could want if I could just get there.  So I'm working on it.

Many of you have offered to collect donations to take with us.  If you want to collect a few things and ship them to me, that would be great.  As you know, the winters in Northern China are brutal so we can use warm things.

Cleft bottles are also high on the list if you have any of those hanging around.

I'll try to put up a full list of "needed" items in the next couple of days ... but it's the basic list that's always needed.  (list will be linked on )

I know most of you aren't in a position to donate money and I completely understand that.  But if you are, you can donate via check or paypal.  (same link as above).   We're hoping to purchase some much needed things like diapers, formula, and bigger items etc that we can get in China.  That's what the money would be used for.  (And of course, any donation is tax deductible as this is a non-profit charity.)

If you are able to secure donations from other sources (such as corporations, doctors, etc.) that would be awesome as well.  It never hurts to ask!  (Like I mentioned our trip to Zoe's dentist and he donated hundreds of toothbrushes.)

I'm also in need of other types of support ... such as those of you who have offered specific support, I will need that now.  (Like those who want to write for me, etc etc.)

Oh and finally, if you have adopted from Taiyu*n SWI, I'm going to take a photo album with me with as many kids from there as possible.  (With updates on how they're doing, new photos, measurements, etc.)

So I guess I'm calling in all the support offered.

So exciting!  We're going to figure out if we can really pull this off or not.

Oct 12, 2009


Not sure when it happens.  But it happens.  Every time.  

Maybe it's after the mountain of snotty tissues but before the knee deep in throw up.
Or maybe it's between the bottles of used tylenol.
Perhaps it's the smell of Vick's Vapors wafting in the air.

But when people are sick in my house, time stands still and nothing else seems to matter.

Kaley sounds like she is swimming. Her head and chest are so full of fluid.  And even the tiniest cough hurts her stomach because she's coughed so much.  So she's trying to do these baby coughs not to rattle her horrible headache.

Luke, meanwhile, has a VERY high fever and is throwing up.

And somewhere in the midst of it all ... I think of Jesus Christ.

He died a sinless, perfect life in exchange for us.  He paid the penalty of death so we could all live.  But that death could have come in any number of ways.  As long as He died, it would have served the purpose.

He went "above and beyond" and was tortured, willingly taking stripes on His body.  It tells us in Isaiah 53:5 that "with His stripes we are healed."  He purposely, willingly took on the beating of His physical body so we could have our physical bodies healed as well.

I know a lot of Christians 'know' this.  But when we're wading through snot and changing out bedpans and doing the piles of laundry, do we really consider this?  I mean, REALLY consider it?

I know that physical illness affects all of us from time to time.  And most times it's a temporary condition (like a cold or the flu).  And simply the passing of time will "cure" it.  But there are other times when it's more complex like cancer.  There are times when we know this will just "go away" and other times, we wonder how long we will live.

So it's at times like this that I wonder why sometimes we get an immediate physical healing and other times we don't.  I know many people speculate on it.  But the truth is, we don't know.  I don't think there's a formula with God for this.

I know some of you know that a few months ago I was going through all sorts of testing for lumps in my axilla.  Fast forward - one doctor thinks it is not a big problem and I should just get re-evaluated after 3 months.  Another doctor feels it's a big deal and wants the whole thing gone immediately (every lymph node on that side).  I'm awaiting a 3rd opinion to break the tie.

I have to consider that just one short year ago, my Dad was fighting for his life and had basically 0% survival rate.  They didn't feel he would make it off the operating table.  I knew that his life was completely in the hands of God.  If he was supposed to stay, he would live.  If God was ready to take him, he would die.  Plain and simple as that.

I could go down each and every one of my kid's and the miracles God has performed in their lives.  One by one.  It would take us weeks just to discuss them all.

God has touched my life with so many miracles - big and small.  I'm aware of quite a few.  Sometimes I ponder all the ones He did that I missed.

So my point?  If you're sick or you know of someone who is sick and needs healing ... ASK.  God has made provision for YOUR healing too.  And when He heals you, make sure to let me know... I LOVE hearing about the miracles of God!

Oct 7, 2009

Where she needs to be

Is it sitting in those little chairs?  The smell of the chalk in the air?  The dingy florescent bulbs flickering on and off?

What EXACTLY is it that makes me absolutely cringe to be back in a school room???

I know, maybe it's the fact that I spent 12 years in school and another 7 years in college classes (2 bachelor's degrees, MA, PhD).  That's not to count the years I taught in school or in the university.

My poor deluded 1st grader (Luke) went off to class the first day and I thought ... "You have NO clue what you have just signed up for, the YEARS ahead of you."

But I digress.

This morning, I had a parent teacher conference with Mrs. Ryan.  She's Kaley's 4th grade teacher.  She is WONDERFULLY amazing.  Love her.  She is kind and respectful and most of all, she likes my kid.  She was telling me all the lovely things Kaley is.

Kaley is so tiny that her classmates all want to take care of her, help her out.  And truthfully, she can use all the help she can get.   Mrs. Ryan is an experienced enough teacher to know that it's OK for a fellow student to help out.  She said Kaley and Lydia (the next seat over) are always talking, but it's always on point, never about the latest movie or whatever.

Kaley IS having a bit of struggle with some of her reading/writing assessments ... but we knew that going in.  She learns just a bit slower in this area and I'm so thrilled that she has Mrs. Ryan, someone who "gets" it.

So I left this teacher conference with all the confidence in the world that Kaley is right where she needs to be.  That is HUGE news.  Before sending the kids to public school, SHE was one of my main concerns.   But seems that God has put her right where she needs to be.

How often can we say that in life:  We made the right choice!  So I'm going to enjoy my cup of hot tea and this feeling of doing *something* right.  But I'd better drink fast ... I know these feelings are fleeting. ;)

Oct 6, 2009

Who knew!?!

Tough economic times.  Check.
Already contributing somewhere else.  Check.
We're financially strapped right now.  Check.
We're in the middle of an adoption.  Check
Where you going to get the money from?  Check.
Why you?  Check.
Why China?  Check.
Why not help "our" kids?  Check.
Why now?  Check.

These are just a few of the questions/statements I expected to get ... and I got them.  (Strange though because I have not asked ONE person for ONE penny.)  We haven't decided IF we're going to do this yet, how much it would cost, etc. so I've asked for help - like brainstorming.  But it's too soon to start asking for monetary donations.

What I have been shocked by (so far) is how many people come up with reasons/excuses for me NOT to do this orphanage alternative.  People are being so helpful at trying to eliminate my guilt or my burden or whatever insanity I must be experiencing that makes me want to even consider this.  They're not telling me it's a bad idea.  They're not saying I couldn't do it.  They're simply saying, "Why do you feel YOU have to help?"

I understand that they might not get the whole picture.  I get that people might project their own feelings onto me.  Fine.  But what I don't get is why they think their sense of morality and obligation can be passed along to me.

What I know is this ... when I was standing in the orphanage (2 days after adopting Zoe), I was overwhelmed by all those 'left behind'.  There was one little boy especially about 15-18 months I'd say in the far corner reaching his hands out to us asking us (through the glass window) to pick him up.  His little face haunts me still.

As we left the orphanage that day, something was deposited in me.  I KNEW I had to do "something" for those left behind.  I knew that I MUST return.  And I did.  I brought shoes, socks, medicines, strollers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, clothes, school supplies, food, formula, diapers, wipes, etc.

And it wasn't enough.

I left from that trip knowing I would have to return and do MORE.  What that will be still remains to be seen.  I at least have to try.

Come join me on this new adventure.  What if we help just one child?  Would it be worth it?

Oct 5, 2009

Full circle of emotions

Metacognition.  Thinking about thinking.  It's your mind's ability to step away from your life for a second and view it as you would a movie.

There are people who have NO clue what they are thinking.  They are not aware of their internal processes.

I do not understand that.

Currently, I've been asked to take on this HUGE project.  On the one hand, it's a dream come true.  Truly, I've had this dream for most of my life.  And right in front of me is the opportunity to seize it.  I've been musing lately on how to help, truly HELP the orphans of the world.  How to make an impact.  And the answer falls in my lap.

But on the other hand, what the heck am I thinking?  I don't have any money.   I do not know where to get funding.  I am not a business person.  I don't have a clue how to get corporate sponsors.  I don't know what it takes to run an orphanage.

The responsibility is overwhelming.  And yet I know I cannot walk away.
But I also have 5 children at home who also depend on me (6 if you count Hubby).

Last night, someone said to me, "And out of the 1 billion people in China, YOU are the only one who can help these kids?"

I kept my mouth shut!  I wanted to scream.  How dare they attempt to pull down my dream!  And NO, I am NOT the only one who can help ... but why AREN'T they helping?  And the Bible says we are to help our neighbor.  Who is our neighbor?  Anyone who asks for help!

But the truth is ... Who *AM* I to think I can do it?  I could, at this very moment, rattle off 50 reasons I am NOT the person for the job.

In the story of the good samaritan, I'm mostly struck by those who can walk past, do nothing.  How can they see a travesty and turn away as if they didn't see it?  I've seen things in China.  I cannot "unsee" them.  I know of children who at this very moment are hurting!!  And I can't "unknow" it.  The question really isn't who do I think I am but rather, who else is going to come along beside me and answer the cry of these kids.  They are asking US for help.

I have no clue how to say "Yes" ... I just know I can't say "no."

So back to "metacognition" ... THESE are some of the thoughts running through my head lately.  People's first question is often, "What are you thinking?!?"  to which I can now refer them to this blog entry.

In summary, I'm thinking:  I have been asked to help.  I must find a way to do it.

Photo is Zoe soon after arriving at the Group Home (similar to what we're talking about creating).  I'm very thankful someone said "yes" to her. 

Oct 4, 2009

Calling all churches

I'm a firm believer that the Bible actually MEANS what it says.  We can all get caught up in the various doctrines of what makes you a better Christian than me or than your neighbor.  But when it comes down to it, there seems to be some clear mandates.

Don't know if you've been to Matthew 25:31-46 lately or not.  But it seems pretty clear to ME.  Jesus himself says the Lord will separate the sheep and the goats - some to life and some to death.  Based on our doctrines?? NOPE!  Based on some simple principles of life.

Did we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc?

In 9 years as a foster parent, I couldn't take in one of those little ones and feed and clothe them without thinking, "You do this unto the least of them you've done it unto me."

Now we've been presented with the opportunity to help, REALLY help some of the special needs orphans in China.  Due to circumstances, there are some children falling through the cracks of the system and WE have been asked to help.

Many of the successful models of group homes have several churches and companies as their "base."  They support financially, with donations, volunteers, etc.

In the next week or so, I'll be putting together a proposal of what that looks like.  I'll be contacting various churches who do not currently have an orphan care program to see if they would like to help.  And corporations who might want to make contributions.

So think about it, do you know of a church?  You friends with a pastor? Know of a company who does charitable donations? Know of a person who would like to donate?  (Time, resources, money, services).

Many of you have offered to do "anything".  THIS is my first request:  Rack your brain for people you know who might be a resource.  

Be encouraged.  Many, many things are coming together behind the scenes, faster than I can keep track.

More details to come!

Oct 2, 2009

The shoestring ... The faith of a child

Sam has these shoes that he picked out because they were "COOL".  They have a blue string at the top and a black string at the bottom.  Problem is ... they won't stay laced and the laces are 3 miles long.  I've hinted about them being a problem.  I've made suggestions on how to keep them tied.  I've tied them for him.

And frankly, I've grown tired of reminding him to "Tie Your Shoes!!"

So I took matters into my own hands.  I took all the laces out and started fresh with only ONE lace per shoe.

Problem is ... those little "thingys" on the tips are missing.  So re-lacing was taking a very L O N G time.  In fact, so long that I began to think that I wasn't going to get it done before he had to leave for school.  (And he doesn't have a second pair.)  Serious problem.  Each hole was taking 2-3 minutes of twisting, cutting, pushing, pulling.  It came down to 1 minute before they HAD to leave and I still had 3 holes to go ... at this rate, it will be 9 minutes.

Luke came up beside me and started saying, "It's going to work now.  I prayed."

OK ... point of decision.  And some background info is necessary. As a child, I was given a gift of faith. I just KNEW I would pray about something and God would do it.  Plain and simple.  I even know God turned around a tornado  (but that's another blog entry for another day).  I wasn't all that encouraged when I would say things like Luke said to me.

So the question is:  How do I encourage this gift of faith?  How do I raise a prayer warrior?

The answer *I* came up with:  *I* must take the leap of faith.

He prays.  I pray that his prayer works (for HIS benefit).  And VOILA.  Shoe string in!  We clap, we cheer, we do High 5's.  All the hoop-la draws the attention of Sam who joins us and starts to pray too.   Shoe string in!  We clap, we cheer, we all do high 5's.  More hoop-la.  Now Kaley and Zoe join in on the act.

They're all praying for the shoestring.  I'm praying for God to build their faith.  3rd and final shoestring.  It too went in quickly and painlessly!  They're doing dancing in the kitchen and praising God.  Me too.  We get up and dance all the way to the door ... Sam wearing his nicely tied shoes.

And the rest of yesterday, I spent wondering the amazing journeys that God is going to take my family on.  I began to speculate about future things where we gather together and pray prayers of faith - me and my prayer warriors.

Yesterday it was shoestrings.

Maybe tomorrow it will be the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk.  Maybe it will be seeing a person with no hand or foot suddenly have one appear.  Maybe we'll see someone resurrected from the dead.  Maybe mountains are going to be cast into the sea.

I don't know about you, but I'm a woman of faith.  And I'm thrilled to say I'm learning (by God's grace) how to raise children of faith.  I'm raising prayer warriors and praisers.

Anyone got any "shoestrings" that need prayer? I've got the cutest bunch of prayer warriors you've ever seen just itching to see what else God will do!

Oct 1, 2009

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Each morning I rush to my computer to check on my favorite blogs.  I love getting those notices that one of my favs has written a new entry.  I eagerly click and wait for it to pop up.  I know some will be full of wit or wisdom.  I know others will come with amazing pictures.  Some tell me of experiences in far off lands.  Sometimes I get to experience the birth of a new family ...

... all while wearing my pj's from the comfort of my home while sipping hot tea.

Ahhh ... my morning somehow feels complete.  I feel whole.  I feel connected to an outside world.

This morning ... it hit me like a ton of bricks:  God has His daily blog entry He would like me to read. 


Sure I pull out the scriptures and I pray.  And there are days where I feel I've found the best nugget in the world.  Sometimes I hear from God.  Sometimes I have the best time and feel connected, feel whole, feel complete.  Sometimes I find wit and wisdom.  Sometimes I get a great picture.

But let's go there ... sometimes I do not.  Sometimes it seems more like a chore, an obligation, a duty to check off my ever growing list.

I've begun to wonder this morning:  Maybe I don't always "hear" what He has to say because I sometimes I don't like what He has to say.  Or maybe it's back to that entry I wrote on being a spoiled brat.  (How I like only the extremes, not the daily grind.)  Or maybe I just fill my head with all these other distractions of life so I DON'T hear what He has to say.

I'm assuming I'm not the only one here.    

So this morning, (I know this stuff, but ...) I'm reminded to rush to HIS blog entries first.  To find comfort in HIM first, to feel connected to HIM first.

Go be shocked at what God has in store for YOU today!  It's a really great blog entry ... you'll be glad you read it!  Below is something God shared with me.  Maybe it's for you too.

I'd love to hear what God is saying to YOU lately!

Psalm 121                                                                I lift up my eyes to the hills—  where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip  he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel  will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Sep 30, 2009

So many possibilities

Last night, I couldn't sleep.  My brain was full of possibilities.  The world seems SOO open right now and the possibilities limitless.

I love this part of the process ... when you haven't been told NO yet.  When the wind hasn't been knocked out of the sails yet.  When you only share it with supporters so you know you'll be getting just that ... support.  When you're getting lots of "we're here to support you" instead of "we're here to discourage you every step of the way".

Eventually, I faded off.  After getting the older kids off to school this morning, I took a minute to grab a book.  I opened to the next page to read and on the top was this quote:
"Start by doing what is necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."  - St. Francis of Assissi

Love that!

When we went to China in March, I felt it was possible to do "Something".  I remember telling people, "I don't know how to get feeding trucks to Africa, but I certainly can get shoes and socks on kids so they don't lose toes to frostbite."  I felt I was doing what was possible.

Now this next step seems so very impossible.  It's big.  OK, let's be honest ... it's HUGE.  I can't imagine how much money this will be.  The start up costs, the daily running costs, paying caretakers, food for the children, diapers, heat, auuuugh!

Then there are the questions ... a few that leap to mind:
Do I make frequent trips? Short ones? Long ones? Temporarily relocate?
Do I start looking to find funding through corporations or churches or college clubs?  Which model do we use?
How do I get a new 501 (c) 3?  Do I need one? Can I use the one we already have access to and do a DBA under it?
Is there someone who can walk me through some of this early stuff so I don't reinvent the wheel?
What about volunteers to do some of the massive amounts of coordination?  And what all needs to be coordinated?
When should I schedule a trip over?  Soon? Wait a bit?
How do I go against my every instinct and start asking for support (help, prayer, volunteers, donations, funding, sponsors, etc.)

Just to name a few.

But I feel that the step from the "possible" to the "impossible" is just taking one step at a time.

People have been asking what they can do to help.  Here goes:  Think about YOUR resources you have access to.  Think of people you know, churches, corporations, etc and who has a heart for the Children of China?  If you're like most people, we have resources in our network that we don't even consider as resources.  Once you figure out someone(s), we can decide ways to talk to this person/group.  (For example, I'm creating a proposal for Churches to see if they would like to come on as a regular supporter, to "adopt" this new orphanage alternative.)

At this point, we need EVERYTHING!  You might think that what you have to offer isn't very helpful, but the truth is ... it's going to take our whole village to raise these children!

Sep 29, 2009

Overwhelmed (in many ways)

Head still spinning.

Overwhelmed by the number of people who would love to support me in the next adventure, people who share a similar vision and a lifelong dream of running an orphanage.

Overwhelmed by the amount of work that has to be done.

Overwhelmed by the amount of money that has to be raised.

But also overwhelmed by the God who is granting a lifelong dream ... and it landed in my lap.

This March, when in China ... we could tell things were being built. Things were coming together.  Bridges were being built.  But we didn't know what for or when or what it looked like.  Yesterday, that began to come into focus.

Friday I had been lamenting the fact that I wanted to help kids, really help them in something sustainable.  I even used this one particular group of kids as example of the type of kids I was wanting to help.  Wouldn't you know ... less than 72 hours later, THOSE kids were offered to me to care for ... not kids "like" them .. but THEM.  (insert Twilight Zone theme song here).

So don't be shocked at me asking strange questions and having odd requests over the next few months.

I'm thinking of some working models - like New Day Foster home in Beijing.  Wouldn't it be awesome to be like that someday?  But we also can't forget that we are starting at the beginning and we need to take baby steps.

Meanwhile, if you would like to be involved in some way ... let me know what you feel you could do/would want to do.  We need everything!   Welcome to the rollercoaster ride.

Sep 28, 2009

An answer to prayer ... how to have IMPACT

Ever put out a question to God and then IMMEDIATELY get the answer from an unexpected source?

I think that just happened to me.

I have been pondering a way to truly help and serve orphans, not just throw stuff or money at the problem.  How do I make the most IMPACT?  This has been on my heart for a while now.

Last night, I put it up to God again.

This morning, I wake up to an email from China.  Quick version:  H. was instrumental in helping us during our last trip to China.  We came to find out she was the director of all the foster homes and group homes for all of China Care.  They have since changed their direction and no longer do fostering so H. went with Half the Sky (in the merger).  She helped us meet the various overseers of the various China Care homes.  She was with us when we met the Director of the Taiyuan Orphanage.  She was instrumental in helping us get the supplies purchased.

H. is asking if I will start a Foster Home (probably in Shanxi).  *I* do not have a clue how to do this.  Where to start?  What kind of funding would this take!?!  Can we really pull it off?

Then I wonder - is this the answer to my question?  This would certainly fall in the IMPACT area.

And H. knows all the answers to the questions.  She has been there to start up several foster homes and group homes.  She has been around to hire nannies and leaders.  She has worked with the system.  She says she is confident we could do this together.

My heart is a flutter.  My brain is a buzz.  My head says "What the heck are you thinking???"  But I feel in my gut that this is an answer to prayer.

So ... anyone want to help me figure out how to start an orphanage in China?
Anyone want to help me make an IMPACT?

Sep 27, 2009

push or hold, what to do "until"

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what we do "until".

1) You know how you are expecting to do something exciting in just a little while ... what do you do "until" it's time to go?

2) Or you have a problem and you haven't figured out the solution yet ... what do you do "until" you decide?

3) Or what about how you've asked God to do something for you and you even know He will ... but what do you do "until" it arrives?

I personally think it is THOSE moments where I can get myself into the most trouble.

For example one, while I'm waiting for something to happen, I can get distracted, get off course, waste time. It's hard to use that time productively.

For example two, I can find all sorts of trouble to get into. From the time I discover the problem until I act on the best solution ... my mind can come up with lots of crazy ideas.

Like Jacob is having some trouble at school - but only with one teacher. All the others think he is a great, loving, well-behaved kid who loves to learn, gets along with others well, is getting good grades, etc. But this one is saying he is a behavior problem, is not there to learn and is failing. (In a subject he LOVES by the way). So my head gets around the problem and I come up with all sorts of CRAZY things to do. If I went with my heart, I would have already been to school to deck her for making my son cry. If I went with my cunning side, I would have already been to the school to talk to the principal (she has become a good friend and a great advocate). If I went with my mommy heart, I'd have pulled him from school and been back to homeschooling to protect his heart. etc etc.

But none of these are really the best answers. I know I will let my calmer head prevail and come up with a solution that works for all. But in the MEANTIME or "until" I do, sometimes I'm full of swirling thoughts, negative emotional churning. And if I let that get the best of me, that's not OK.

For example 3, I know that I do the same thing (like with Jacob) when it comes to God. I know that He has promised X but "until" it arrives ... I'm not exactly sure what to do. And with the Jacob story, the answers seem pretty clear cut of which is right, which is wrong, which is doable/not. But there seems to be a lot more "gray" areas when it comes to waiting on God.

I find scriptures that back up 2 completely opposite points of view.

One says to wait and look and hope. Be paitent and rest in Him. Stand still and see the deliverance.

But there are just as may scriptures that show we have not because we ask not. Or we weren't like the widow who kept going to the judge. Or the person whose friends lowered him through the rooftop so he could be healed. These examples show going above and beyond, of PUSHING and not holding still.

I find myself completely caught in the middle of this argument many times. I KNOW that God will ultimately do. I KNOW that it will be perfect timing.

But the question is ... push or hold?

What to do "UNTIL"?

Sep 26, 2009

Spoiled Brat

Wanna know a secret?

I'm a spoiled brat.  OK.  Must clarify.

This does NOT mean I am "high maintenance"... as I am not.  Quite the opposite in fact (a fact that dear hubby loves).  Proof?  I cut my own hair, color my own hair (the $2 bottle stuff, can't see paying more for it), buy all my clothes at Salvation Army or Good Will (other than undies, but that's another story for another time), etc. etc  So definitely NOT high maintenance.

This also does NOT mean selfish.  I don't think I'm that really either.  Sure, I like my way (who doesn't).  Sure, I think everyone tends to a bit of selfish.  But if you lined up every American woman from least selfish to most selfish, I'd end up below the halfway mark.

So how am I a spoiled brat?  Why thank you for asking.  I love the extremes.  I love those wild adventures of life.  I love when life sweeps me up and I'm carried away my something fun, way silly, scary, intense, passionate, etc.  If it's full of drama and intensity ... SIGN ME UP.   But I also love the other extreme of those quiet times.  I love snuggling with a child, cuddled up with a good book, rocking a sleeping baby, sitting quietly watching my waterfall in the back yard.  You know, *those* times.

I somehow dislike all the stuff in between (the hard work part) and I have just begun to realize (last Saturday) that makes me pretty spoiled.  You know all the stuff in the middle ... dishes, laundry, cooking, shopping, blah blah blah.  The "ordinary" the "typical.  Y U C K

OK .. still think I'm pretty "typical"??  Me too.

But HERE is where the rub is:  Our church has been pretty "ordinary" and "typical" lately.  No real sweet quiet times, no real grand adventures.  Just the hard work in between.  Sure there are moments but mostly hard work.

Last Saturday at church, God had done this really cool miracle of bringing people off the street and into our Church.  They were amazing ladies ... they had similar stories of God's testimonies.  They were fun, loving, Godly ladies.  God clearly LED them into our church.  What a GRAND adventure it was!  So much fun.

After they left, the praise team (I'm lead singer) got up and started into our set and we were plain giddy.  We were dancin' and laughin' and having a grand time.  The worship sounded better than usual, the praise went higher and I KNOW God was glorified.  At the end of the last song, I broke into a prayer ... and in the middle of that prayer, this "spoiled brat" thing hit me like a ton of bricks!  I apologized to God for it.

10 minutes later we were packing up and God led us to that next adventure (see post What are the odds?)  After that, a guy walked in from a meeting in a different room and Dan asked someone to pray for his girlfriend ... I was the closest so I did.  Apparently, God was giving me words of knowledge as I prayed because afterwards, this guy was like, "You were right on with x and y and x".  He even left, came back later and asked when our church is - he may want to pop in from time to time since God clearly shows up here.

As I face church tonight, I keep having those "spoiled brat" thoughts.  I am SOOOo hoping we have one of those quiet, grand times, those sweet times with God.  Or we have an amazing miracle.  I'm bored with the mundane things.  I think God shows up even in some of those times we consider "boring".  But I don't want to go back to the proverbial dishes and laundry.  And I think THAT makes me spoiled.

They say confession is good for the soul ... so my soul must be doing pretty well right about now. (sigh)

Sep 25, 2009

The ebb and flow (Kids in School)

It's officially been a month now that the kids have been out of homeschooling and into public school.  We've had a few bumps along the way.

Among those lows: Sam's lunch got in Jacob's backpack.  I put notes in each kid's lunch and got bad reviews.  One kid is learning the value of bringing home homework to do and not put it off until Mom discovers it missing.  Kaley did get sick and have to stay home a few days (but truthfully, she's doing better than I thought she'd be doing!) Some nights, I'm spending more than 5 hours doing homework ... THEY are not doing that much, but by the time *I* get through each of them, *I* have spent 5 hours!!!  Yikes (that's more than a homeschooling day)

Among the highs:  They are all still enjoying school.  They get up easily in the mornings and don't complain.  (I do, but they don't.)  They are getting great reviews from their teachers and are well liked.

Yesterday, I got a note from Kaley's secondary teacher saying she had scored a 95% on her math test (that is a HUGE praise report) and he added that the students all seem to like her.  (I'm not surprised.)

When she got home, she told me she had done well on her math test.  She said, "Mr. Morgan asked me in front of the whole class, 'What do you think you got on your math test?'  and I said '11'.  The whole class laughed and thought I was funny.  He asked again and I said '15?'"  The great part is that she knew they weren't laughing AT her (they weren't), she knew they thought she was funny.  Made her glow talking about it.

Then Sam and Luke both had an "AR test" ... never heard of it but it's some kind of computer reading test.  Sam scored an 80% and was fairly satisfied with it.  He's a glass half full kind of guy (which I love about him because I was the kind of kid who beat myself up for the one question I missed and not the 95 I got right).

Luke was soooo excited to take his ... if he got 100% he would get THREE gumballs!!  (That teacher knows his love language for sure.)  I didn't want him to feel so pressured so I told him *I* would give him 3 gumballs if he just did his best.    But guess what?  He made 100%!!  He was sooo proud. I asked him what the questions were and he couldn't remember! (Typical) but at least he got them right.

Jacob is continuing to amaze me.  He has some "issues" we're working on .. but overall, he's making friends and loving school.  His teacher has a real heart for him - she has a 3 year old nephew who has recently been diagnosed with autism - she watches Jacob with real, personal interest.

Zoe is kickin' butt in school too.  3 hours every day plus 2 days of speech therapy.  At the beginning of the year she could already do all the goals for the END of the year.  So she is having fun, learning to socialize with others, learning to articulate for strangers.  Her only complaint is that she doesn't have homework!  She actually makes me do some for her every day.  So I happily do.  Her little mind is just a buzz waiting to be filled.

So there's a (semi) quick version of what is going on in the land of the Gores with school.

One month down. 8 to go.

Hope I make it. Them?  They're doing great!

Sep 24, 2009

Odd or Normal (Autism behaviors or child going nuts)?

Jacob (11) is one of the coolest kids on the planet.  He is sweet, kind, smart, funny, loving.  He is a (relatively) good communicator and an avid reader.  He can spout facts like a trivia book.  He has basically a photographic memory.  If he's read something - even a year later - he can cite the book.  If you challenge him on it, he can find the book, the page and the paragraph in 2 seconds flat.  And then you'll notice not only did he get it right, he did it in his own paraphrased words (showing comprehension not just rote memorization). 

Jacob has always been the kind of kid you can count on and TRUST.  For example, when he was 5 and at a preschool event, all the other kids crossed the small street to go to the playground.  He did not.  He was highly praised.  I was not surprised ... he is just like that. He is very, very rule oriented. You tell him to do something, he WILL do it.

Most of you know, he recently started going to public school .. after doing grades K-4 at home.  Long story why we did this ... let's just say it was time.  As a result, I'm noticing a few things.

He's no longer rule oriented.  He does what he wants.  He makes stuff up as he goes.  For example, I would ask where his math homework was and he would say, "I did it at school."  Well, I know the first few weeks are often review and I thought not much of it.  But eventually, I started getting suspicious.  Then last week, I got an email from the math teacher on the benefits of homework and how I should be doing a better job of helping him so he can master the concepts.  I was horrified and livid.  I kept my cool though and read it to him. 

"What's going on?"  Eventually, he is able to tell me that he felt the homework was too hard and too long so he just didn't want to do it.  So he didn't. He thought I wouldn't notice.  He thought his teacher wouldn't notice.  I showed him how a teacher's grading book works - she knows what homework she gave out and which ones came in.  She puts the scores in her book.  "Oh." 

I made him write a letter of apology to his teacher and what he was going to do to remedy the situation.  We've been working diligently on catching up.  (And he realized it really wasn't that hard or long.)

This is something that would have NEVER occured to me that he would do.  In homeschool, I give him the work and he does it right then and there.  Sometimes with my help.  Sometimes alone.  But when he is done he turns it in to me.  But now ... we have to rely on him to bring home his homework and take it back. So now his 2 teachers and I are on the same page, working together to help make sure I know what he is supposed to be doing. We still have to rely on him as the "transporter".  Like yesterday he said he only had one page of math, nothing in him math notebook so he didn't bring it home.  I do not know if this is true or not, so I wrote a note in his book asking. 

This isn't the only thing going on, just an example of it. 

So I guess I'm asking ... is this just "typical" boy of age 11?  Is this just a phase?  Is this just "him" testing the new boundaries? (never done that before)  Is it possible I'm seeing a ceiling to his capabilities?  Is this "typical" in autism spectrum?

And furthermore, suggestions for how to make sure we're on top of it? 


Sep 23, 2009

Misled (part 2)

Thanks for all the wonderful comments on "I feel misled".  Great discussion. 

Time to clarify.  143 million children were identified by UNICEF as needing extra services.  They put the label "Orphan" on those children.  Technically, many are not orphans.  But they still need services of some type and need help.  But MOST do not need a new family. (This was all news to me as I'd only heard it as 143million kids need a new home.)

Meanwhile. The Bible tells me to take care of the orphan.  Now the Bible doesn't clearly define orphan so I will not either.  But it also urges me to take care of the poor, the needy, hungry, sick, etc.  And it tells me to take care of my neighbor.  And it tells me to help those who ask for help.  (I could cite verses for all of these but I'm not really trying to do a Bible Study here.) 

Therefore, 143 million children need some type of help.  True.  The TYPE of help is what is in question for me. 

When I speak about adoption now, I will make sure to use the right data.  It's not 143 million who need to be adopted.  In fact, it's a relatively small number (which is actually GREAT news).  It's still a huge need.  Of those that need to be adopted, MOST (estimates are 95%) are above the age of 5 and many are in sibling groups.  Most are not Caucasian but are African, Asian, Hispanic.  So as I help people identify the need, THIS is the clearer picture.  (And Yes, there are still little ones needing a home.)

Next, as I speak, I will be sure to include the need for services right where the kids are.  That emphasis needs to be a part of the story.  To help the child who is living with his grandmother and they are not eating every day.  The child who cannot go to school because he does not have clothing or shoes to be able to go.  The child who drinks from polluted water every day.  The child who is sick and has no access to medical care.  THESE are among the 143 million children - whether they have parents/relatives or not. 

I was among those giving out misinformation.  Now, I am on the track of giving the right information.  I'm hoping that I can better identify the actual needs and help meet THOSE needs, not the ones we "thought" or were "told" were the needs. 

My heart has not changed.  My personal mission has not changed.   ("Speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves" from Proverbs 31:8.)  The mission of S.H.O.E.S. will change but only slightly.  We have a lot of work to do. 

What will YOU do to help these children?

Sep 22, 2009

I feel misled

I've been dreading writing this for a while now.  Here goes. 

What does the word "Orphan" mean to you?  To ME, it means - has no parents (No mother or father).  I was told (and it's everywhere in literature and on the internet, in sermons ... everywhere), that there are 143 million orphans in the world.  I even wrote an article about it, had it on my website. 

Turns out, they have a new definition for the word "Orphan" ... meaning - having lost one parent.  There are 143 million "orphans".  You are called a "double orphan" if you have lost both parents.  There are approximately 16 million of those in the world.  (Still a lot, but a huge difference.)

According to Unicef (the noted expert on this subject) says of those 16 million "double orphans", 95% of them live with a relative (grandparents, aunts, etc.) and are not available for adoption.  Now I have NO clue if this data is correct or not. I'm not even going to cite where I read this - just google it for yourself if you want.  I'm simply saying, I feel misled.

Does this change the fact that these 143 million children NEED help?  Of course not.  But it DOES change what things they need.  They don't need a family, need to be adopted.  They need services around them, services for their family and community.  It completely shifts the focus for me at least. 

My head has been spinning.  As the director of SHOES (a non-profit designed to help these orphans), I have to rethink what we are doing and if we're meeting the actual need, not just the one I was told was there. 

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Where does my ministry go from here?  I'd love to hear from all of you on this. 

Maybe I'm the last person on the planet to have figured this out ... I highly doubt it. 

Sep 21, 2009

Sibling Rivalry: The Luke and Zoe story

When Zoe came home 2 years ago at age 2, Luke was 4.  He was very, very excited to be getting a little sister.  I was seriously THRILLED because he was so gentle, kind and loving to my niece so I knew he would make a good big brother.

Zoe came home from an orphanage and she had some, er, um, "issues".  She played nicely with everyone, everyone except Luke that it.  Him, she hit, bit, slapped, and generally made his life miserable.  (Of course we tried to stop it and intervene.)  He took it for a long time.  Eventually, his feelings got enough hurt and he started doing the natural thing.

A rivalry was born. That was not going to be OK with me.  Ever since the first day home, I've been trying to build that bond.  Some days there is a lot of hope that it's working and then 5 minutes later, they're at each other's throat. 

I know many people say that sibling rivalry is fine, normal, no big deal.  But until this ... we had NONE.  And I want that back.  And the hitting, pinching, etc is over.  It's mostly just a verbal battle now.  But still. 

One thing I make them do sometimes is hold hands when they are upset with each other.  Then I give them a chore to do that can only be done with 2 hands so they have to do teamwork.  By the end of the 2-3 minute task, they're usually laughing and having fun with each other. 

This school year, they all started public school.  Zoe found a little boy to be her playmate.  He's blonde headed and blue eyed and looks a lot like Luke.  You'll never guess his name.  OK, maybe you will.  LUKE.  Her playmate at school ... out of all the kids she could have picked ... is Luke.  Hmmm.

Then Luke has been telling me about his friends.  Joey, Ricky, Ukari and Logan.  He tells me how they play together, have fun together.  Last week, I asked which was his best friend and he said Ukari.  Then I met that friend ... you guessed it.  An Asian girl.  Ukari is an Asian girl.

So ... it has birthed in me the HOPE that they are finding friends that are similar to their siblings.  Maybe all that stuff I am doing is actually working on a subconscious level. 

Isn't parenting grand?  Especially the parts where we make stuff up as we go?