Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Drawing Near to the Father

 Our last couple months have been full.  We have been challenged by the Lord in many ways.  We have had opportunities to trust Him and to believe that He answers prayer in very real ways.  He hears the cries and pleas of His people and He responds.  God has placed some things before us and made us very aware of needs and He has asked us, "Will we go...will we respond...will we sacrifice...will we choose to step out in faith and trust Him like never before?"  We said "Yes!"  And we have never felt closer to the Father and His purpose for our lives.

This past month has been a time of drawing near to Him in a way that we never have before.  There have been times in my life where I have literally had to cling to Jesus because it felt like He was all that was there.  He has comforted me and lifted my head.  Yet, I have never felt as close to the God of the universe as I have over the past month.  The reason...I finally have fallen in love with the things that truly concern my Father!  As I have let go of things that have always been so important, I feel so close to the heart of God.

Derek and I have become increasingly aware that our time on this Earth is brief.  This fact resonated in my soul even more as I completed Chapter 2 of Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love."  He writes:  "Friends, we need to stop living selfish lives, forgetful of our God.  Our lives here are short, often unexpectedly so, and we can all stand to be reminded of it from time to time.  That's why I wrote this chapter, to help us remember that in the movie of life, nothing matters except our King and God."  I recently told Derek that I don't want to stand before the Creator of the Universe one day and give reasons why I didn't live the life that He has very clearly called me to.  Understand that this isn't a legalistic feeling or response, it is a response of wanting to wholeheartedly serve and sacrifice for the King of all kings!

Derek and I both began to feel this "stirring" in our hearts and souls during a series at our church called Traders.  This series really made us question our comfort level, our sacrifice, our passion to live loudly for the God who saved us and created us soley to worship Him.  I did not know then what God was doing inside of us, but now I see it and it is beautiful.  The way that He has intricately prepared our hearts has been miraculous!

Why God has chosen us, I will never know.  I truly feel precious in His sight...that He would call us to love so huge!  And can I just say that it feels so good!  Deep within every part of my being I feel true peace.  Incredible, indescribable, overwhelming peace...truly a peace that passes all understanding.  I have never comprehended His presence like I have over the past month.  This is the reason why........

This precious face has captivated us in every way you can imagine!  His name is Ivan.  He is in Rus*ia.  He is an orphan.  And God has called us to go and get him.  He is our son!  As much as Emily, Timothy, and Stella are is he.  We already have a love for this precious boy that is so hard to comprehend.  The story of how we got to him is a long one.  You can read part of it here. 

The important thing to know is that Ivan is currently in an orphanage in Ru*sia.  We know very little about his conditions.  Here is what we do know.  We know that he turned 1 in September.  We know that he has Down Syndrome.  And we know that in Eastern Europe (as is the case in many countries), children with special needs are not given any place in their society.  Children there remain in baby houses until they turn 4 or 5 and then they are transferred to institutions.  The things that God has opened our eyes to pertaining to these orphanages and institutions is incomprehensible!  Every day, God is making us more and more aware of the needs of these special souls.  The need is tremendous.

We don't know what his needs specifically will be, but we didn't with our other 3 children either.  We don't know how we will fit his therapy needs into our schedule, but we were busy before.  We don't know how we will come up with $25,000.00 plus, but God always provides.  We don't know how we will manage 4 children under the age of 5, but 3 has been training ground.  We don't know what daily life will look like, but who knows what each day will bring.  We do know that our hearts are open and that God is able.  We know that God has opened our eyes and made us aware of a need and we cannot turn back.  We know that we are called to love our God out loud, that we are to respond when we hear His voice.  We have heard Him and want to follow.

Please pray for our sweet Ivan!  Pray that God would move mountains to bring him home to his forever family a mommy and daddy that will love him unconditionally, to a brother and sisters that will embrace him and teach him about family, and to a life that is not in a cold lonely crib in an institution.  Our hearts are heavy thinking about his daily life and we ask you to pray for his caregivers and the other children in his orphanage.  We begin this journey to rescue our son and ask that you prayerfully join us!

If you would like to read about a child, much like our Ivan, a story of sweet redemption, I dare you to meet this family!  You will be blown away by how BIG our God is!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Handsome Boy!

Nothing much to say...

Timothy is getting more handsome every day...growing into a little boy. He is also getting funnier and funnier! He really is a little nut. His antics and the things he says absolutely crack us up and bring such laughter to our home! And what a love he is! He never runs out of hugs and kisses! We love our Timothy Michael!

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Heart Just Leaps!

I SURE do love these precious babies!
(I almost got all boy is looking a little crazy!)
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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Somebody is Getting Pretty Fun to Play With!

Our tiny one is not so tiny anymore! She is becoming quite the little talker and active girl. She rolled over last week (11 weeks) for the first time...tummy to back. She loves to giggle and "talk" to us. Poor Derek is in a house full of chatter-boxes...he doesn't stand a chance!:) We are all loving watching Stella grow and as evidenced by her rolls, she is doing that very well!

TK and Ems are so sweet to her and it is a joy watching their relationships take shape. I think I am finally hitting a season of more rest which is helping with my patience when their relationships are needing some "shaping" from an outside source!:) Haha! Let's just say that Emily hasn't quite embraced Timothy's stage of exploration and curiosity as well as I would like! It takes a lot out of a momma and daddy at the end of the day. But, as I said, I am making the choice to be joyful and have patience. When I am tired, those are not easy choices. I have been humbled while learning that I indeed have to CHOOSE those things! Our babies really are so precious and I am really praying these days that I embrace all of the difficulties and challenges of 3 children 4 and under with grace and joy. I am a very flawed person and have not been doing those things very well, but thank God He offers me mercy and understands EXACTLY what I need and EXACTLY where I am!! I don't know how unbelievers walk through their days...I couldn't do it without the Lord! And not because He is my crutch but because He sustains me. Thankfully I serve a very patient and loving God!...And I have a very forgiving husband and children. I am sure they will all need therapy one day!

Speaking of joy and blessings, here are some pics of the little sweeties!

Oh and our dear friends Kevin and Ginny had their sweet little miracle baby boy! Welcome Bennett!...We cannot wait to hold you! She shared her birth story on her blog (in less than a week after his birth...and she has another son just over 18 months old...sheesh!) and totally reminded me that I had yet to share Stella's and inspired me to get on it!! So, Stella's birth story coming soon!:)

She has the biggest, brightest eyes!

And she loves to smile!

What a chunker! (You should see her thighs:)

TK was sharing his killer whale...he is so cute with her!

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Playing with Big Sister!

Stella is THE most kissed baby in the World!

Right before she turned over!
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Don't Even Know What to Say...

Do you see these big brown eyes? Do you know what lies beind them?'s pure sweetness and LOTS and LOTS of mischief and trouble. This child is quite literally giving me chest pains! To say that Timothy Michael is sweet is a huge understatement. As I have said before the boy is pure passion!

Today I thought he would push my mommy-freak-out-worry-me-to-death gauge over the limit! Derek and I will describe Timothy's quickness, strength, and curiousity to people and they say, "Aww...he's all boy." Yeah....and then some! You can't fully understand the physical demand of TK until you experience it first hand. In less than 30 minutes this morning, this is what he accomplished. He first climbed into the bathroom sink again (this was after I moved the stool and he moved it BACK for the third time). I redirected and as we are sitting together in Emily's room with my back to him about 1 foot away, he manges to knock off the wooden ladder to the bunkbed. It tumbles to the floor hitting the CD player on the way down. The ladder was fine as was the wall....the CD player was not so lucky. It is totally dead much to Emily's dismay. I discipline him. Maybe 5 min. later, I am again sitting in Em's room on the floor now about 2 feet away from him. He obviously gets bored playing with his "drink machine" walks to the OPEN window and pushes out the screen...COMPLETELY (as in, laying on the ground outside 2 stories down)! You can see where I am going with this. I notice he is quiet, turn his direction, then turn the other direction, see the window and LOSE MY MIND!!!! I strongly discipline him!:) Maybe a change of scenery will help. We go to his room. As I am putting something on his dresser, I turn to see him pushing on his screen!!! Seriously kid...did your mother's wild banshee screaming 2 min. prior not tell you that this was a bad idea?!?! I again discipline him.

Keep in mind this was not even 30 minutes of our day....sheesh! I am just beyond thankful to God that he is okay (as I am at the end of every day). Today was just a little more heart stopping than normal. Am I glad he is currently napping?....ummmmm...YES!!!

Pray for me!:) I need it....Oh Timothy, the stories that I will tell your precious wife one day!

He was mad at me for taking his picture instead of helping him.

Such sweet little stinkers!
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Uncle Dana and Aunt Cheryl's Visit

I am so thankful that my oldest brother and his wife were able to visit and see Em and TK and meet Stella for the first time over Labor Day weekend! We had a really great time and although I didn't get any pics of Emily with her uncle, they had so much fun! What an understatement it is too say that they had a few laughs together. I think one reason that Emily and all of the nieces and nephhews in our family love Dana is because he has a HUGE heart and is really just a big kid himself. He loves to cut up and chase the kids and tickle them. The best part for the kids is that he never really tires of their silly games...he always makes time to play with them! I love it! Aunt Cherly was such a kids are nuts and she played with them and laughed and truly enjoyed their crazy antics!
I am also so thankful that they were able to be with us for a really special occassion...more on that later:)
Thank you both for making the long trip was so much fun!!! We love you!

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Movin' on up!

Let me first say that I CANNOT BELIEVE MY TINY BABY GIRL IS IN A BUNKBED!!!! I do not know how she has grown this fast. Even though it is months away, my mind can't even process her turning 5 in January! It goes without saying that Emily was truly beside herself to receive her bunkbed!
Em stayed the weekend about a month ago with my mom and without her having a clue, we transformed her room. When she came home, her room was rearranged with a new bunkbed and new bedding. I loved seeing her face when she walked in! Excuse the pics being so blurry. Because she was bouncing up and down I didn't get good shots, but you get the picture...she was excited! And so was her little brother. It will be so fun when he can sleep in there with her. They have already asked:)
It was necessary for the sake of space, but I think that we would have done it anyway. Emily had been begging for a bunkbed for over a year, way before we even knew about Stella. She is loving every minute of it! Things like this make me miss being a kid! Derek and I LOVE seeing joy like this in our kid's eyes. We are blessed and I am thankful they get to experience things like this!

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WHAT Were We Thinking???

Can you even believe that we put this little nut into a big boy bed??? Although Timothy has been climbing in and out of his crib since he basically left the womb (yes, I am funny), we opened up a whole new world of freedom to him about a month ago! As seen from the post above, Emily had to have some changes to her room due to baby sister's arrival. Derek and I figured we would have to deal with him transitioning to a big boy bed sooner or later anyway so, sooner it was! He actually has done fairly well...certainly a whole lot better than I ever imagined. His new trend though is wearing us out! He has greeted us in the morning this past week as early as 5:45 am!!!! Yes that's right! Now I know I have probably been spoiled in the past, but our kids are typically later sleepers usually not opening their little peepers until at least about 7am. Hopefully it is a phase that will pass! Below are pics form his first day in his bed and of him loving on his baby wearing his superhero cape. And yes that is a kitchen towel clasped around his neck...super safe right?! He and Em both prefer those to the real capes they have...too cute!

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Stella Takes a Bottle...AND Loves Her Thumb!

Not much to say about this except that I am VERY thankful!:) Since neither Timothy or Emily would take a bottle, this was a HUGE deal for us. Shockingly, Stella will even let me give her a bottle! As you can see, the girl also adores her thumb. While I know that will be a whole other issue later, it comforts her so well now that I could truly care less. Every ultrasound we had of her, we got to see her sucking her thumb, so it was no surprise. It is very cute and she couldn't be happier when that little appendage makes it past her lips! Sweet little Stella!

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

What?...My Baby Boy is 2?

I remember the day Timothy was born 2 years ago so vividly! Every day with him since then has been so full of something new. Timothy keeps us on our toes...we are constantly trying to keep up with his latest physical accomplishments:), his crazy antics, and his passionate little heart! He is the sweetest little boy ever, giving hugs and kisses to absolutely anyone willing to receive them. His smile is infectious as is his funny little laugh. His heart is sensitive, his will is strong, his curiosity is endless, his strength is shocking, and his passion is huge! He loves to make us laugh, loves to sing, loves to dance, loves to read, loves to explore, loves to say "no way", loves to wrestle with Daddy, loves to test the limits, loves to climb, loves to be held, loves his sisters, loves to eat, loves his friends, loves to be chased, and loves his mommy and I said, one thing about our boy is that he has a passionate spirit! We all love him so very much. Timothy Michael you are a joy to everyone you come in contact with. I have prayed since you were in my tummy that you would always have a winsome personality and that it would be used for the Kingdom of God. I think the winsome personality part of my prayer has been answered!:) We pray now that you would see your need for Jesus at a very early age and that you would rise up to walk with Him with humility and grace...that others would come to know Christ through your love and passion for your Lord!

Here are (many:) pics from Timothy's Dr. Seuss Party. My mom made his adorable cake and the fish suckers. Our little guests received Dr. Seuss board books and the fish suckers as treats. We had a fabulous time singing Happy Birthday to Timothy, playing a game with Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You, and reading Happy Birthday to You to all of his friends! We even made the best of the crazy thunderstorm that ended his party, complete with losing our electricity! I sent my first birthday invitation using an Evite...made me sad not to make them this year, but I got over it:) It was a fun party and I'm sure Timothy enjoyed it all! Happy 2 years little are PRECIOUS!!!

This was the cake table as we were getting ready for his party.

My mom made these adorable fish suckers and the kids LOVED them...what a hit!

Of course, Timothy was all smiles about his cake that Mimi made for him!

Derek told me I needed to get something fun for the kids to drink so Capri Sun it was! I guess eating healthy is a completely ridiculous thought at a child's birthday party...after all, you only turn 2 once!
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Presents with friends

Patiently waiting for yummy cake!

What a fun crew we had!

Listening to Happy Birthday to You.
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