Friday, September 09, 2011


Just a quick comment about us coming home!

Please know that while we are so excited to celebrate with you all and see your faces, we KNOW that our flight is very late and that Nashville is a good little hike from the 'Boro.  Most of you will have church the next day and we totally understand all of that!

We will have plenty of time to see everyone, so if you can't make it to the airport, please feel the freedom in not coming.  We so mean that! 

This has changed our lives on every level!  As I told a friend before, we will need you all in the hours, days, weeks, and months to come and the airport is just one night...a joyful night, but indeed one night!  We are humbled by your ongoing support, love and care for us!  We can't wait for you to meet our son...whenever that may be!  We love you all so very much!!!!

So from our last night in Russia...Paka, Paka!!!

Home never looked so good!:)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Literally a Miracle!!!!

This never happens! 

I still can't explain what all has taken place over the last few days. 

We were originally supposed to arrive home on Wed. Sep 14 @ 9:50pm.

Today we officially changed our flights!!!!!


I can't believe it and don't know how it all happened...seriously!

We are humbled and thankful and can't wait to see our kids at home and for everyone to meet Samuel!

Love you all!  Hope to see you very soon!!!!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Sharing Pics!

I know none of you came to hear me ramble so I will get right to it!:)

Samuel is eating a bit better and finally drinking.  We are seeing some self-soothing behaviors and sometimes he is most comfortable in his crib (thank goodness the hotel had one), which quite honestly is really hard for me.  It is a harsh reminder of where he has spent many many days.  Let me just be frank, I don't care how "okay" a baby house or orphange looks, IT IS NO PLACE FOR A CHILD!!! 

The last few days have been incredibly busy.  It looks like we are getting out of the country really fast, which is amazing.  That is whay we are so exhausted and a bit weary.  We think there is a very real chance that we could be leaving on Sat.!!!!  We should find out for sure by tom. and if so, we will go to the airport and change our flights.  I might have to sell a kidney for the airfare but it's all good...We want to get Samuel home!  He has an appt. with the DS clinic at Vandy next week and we are so thankful it is so soon!

We will let you know if our arrival is going to be on Sat.!  Pray hard!

Leaving court...finally the parents of Samuel James Kramer!
Picking Samuel up at the Baby House and saying goodbye.

Final walk through these doors!

In the car....not sure what he thought about that.

Back at the hotel in Smolensk.

Trying out his new spoon.

He has the sweetest little feet.

The sippy cup...that he won't drink out of:)

Flexible little guy....he has very little muscle tone in his legs.

He self-soothed for a long time to get himself to sleep:(

Asleep in Moscow...was pretty worn our after the last 24 hours.

Sweet dream will be home soon!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Gotcha Day!!!!!

Guess who I am currently watching snooze away?

Ivan officially became Samuel James Kramer today!  We have the passport and birth certificate to prove it...that's right.  All.In.One.Day!

We can officially shout from the rooftops the miracle that took place.  Our 10 day waiting period was waived!!!  That means that today we picked our son up from his baby house...more on that later...and we will be leaving on a train back to Moscow tonight!!!  You read that right....TONIGHT!  Samuel will  have his medical exam in the morning if all goes well. 

The next days will be long especially with Samuel in tow.  Everything that has ever been "normal" for him is now very different.  From food, to sleep, the way we smell and sound, our touch, his routine, the children he grew up with...all very different.  In the long run, it is a change that will bring life and love to this precious child...our son!  But in the interim, we know things will be difficult.  We can already say that he did not enjoy the shower (couldn't do a bath, and don't know if he has ever had a full one) and he really doesn't like what we tried to feed him:( 

Please pray that we can find something he likes to eat and that we can keep him well hydrated!

We cannot believe he is with us!  And we are in awe of everything that the Lord has done!

We will share more on court and our day later.  We have to pack to get on the train and are hoping that Samuel will drift easily back to sleep:)

More tomorrow!

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Truly Incredible Day!

Woke up early today...4am.  A bit difficult to stay in bed.:)

Had breakfast with a really handsome guy.  Took a really long walk around an entire city with the same handsome guy.

Then we waited...and waited...and waited.  All totally worth it!

Around 3 pm we headed to the only home that our son has ever known.  I was actually breaking a sweat in the car driving down the bumpy road. 

We joyfully delivered a plethora of donations.  WOW!!! is all I can say!

Pretty sure the director's face conveyed the same thoughts.  We had the honor of telling her that it all came from many many people!

After a brief chat with the director, we walked to our son's room.  Words can't describe the joy, the relief, the sheer emotions of the moment.  We didn't think to take a picture at that moment, but his smile was enormous!  And then he was in his sweet Daddy's arms...guaranteed the strongest, most gentle loving arms that have ever held him!

He has grown a bit and developed.  He is sitting up with more strength.  He is more animated.  He still loved his mommy's hair...don't think I will EVER cut it now! 

And then Mommy got some sweet time with this precious little miracle.
And if all of this wasn't good enough, we got to play with this little pumpkin that made us laugh so hard!  And I got the privellege of whispering in her ear, "your mommy and daddy are on their way."

Then more time watching our son explore on the FLOOR!!!  I was so excited about that!  And as if God had not given us enough today...our favorite caregiver was there.  A precious precious woman I tell you!  She is full of joy and laughter.  She works so hard with these little ones!  For over 20 years she has served children that could never say "thank you"!  She is a gift to us...a gift to our son!

And then there was this sweet and gentle but very REAL reminder, when we leave with our son whom God chose for us, we leave behind these sweet faces...

and the thing is, there are more just like these two.  They are desperately waiting for a mommy and daddy, for a forever family...waiting to not be outcasts.  I stroked the faces of these children today.  The touch of my hand calmed a sweet little soul today. That was all he wanted.  Cerebral Palsy left him unwanted and now he and others lay in cribs for hours on end waiting. 

While we enjoy all that God has given us, I ask you boldy, has He called you?  Has he nudged your heart and you think the calling is too great?  It just takes a tiny seed of faith.  You know that Bible stuff is actually real.  He just wants a little bit of faith...He will do the rest. 

Our house can't hold 6 most people's standards.  Our calendar is really busy.  Life is really full.  My children our really young.  My husband only makes this much money.  We don't have THAT kind of money.  Our 401K needs to grow.  I will lose my "ME" time.  We might not have an empty nest.  Getting out of our house is going to be A LOT of work.  Vacations may have to wait and may never come.  I will never get my laundry done.  People may look at me funny in public.  My "other" children will be affected.  He might need serious medical care and therapy.  My relationships with others might change.

Ashamed to say...I have thought it all.

There is nothing unusual about me or Derek, nothing exceptional.  One of my dearest friends just released her newest album and there is a song called "White Page." You can listen to the actual song here:

"You and I we write our lines with seven days a week And in the twenty-four that each day stores we hold possibility

But when we pull the shades our page is blank We chalk it up to progress a better story waits another day lost to the T.V. set

We're just a white page We're just a white page The story of our days Is like a white page

Do our lives leave much space for the the hand of a writing God To create to sign His name on us when the work is done

Because the ink we hold is not our own time takes the ending And so the sun has set on my discontent Cause I don't want to leave

Another white page Another white page No the story of my days Won't be a white page

In hope, in faith, in suffering we are the truth this world will read Love strikes the page, we're reckless marks we're lines that write redemption's song

When we part with life there's one long page tucked into yesterday And the lines that keep once we've fallen asleep are etched in eternity

On a white page On a white page The story of our names They're on a white page

No won't leave a white page No the story of my days Won't be a white page"

I love the line that we are the truth this world will read...we're reckless marks...we're lines that write redemption's songs!!!  Christ tells us very plainly in His word, "And the King will answer them (speaking to those on His right...the righteous vs.34) 'Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:40)  As I watched with my own eyes what the touch of my hand brought to these tiny little bodies so in need of love and care and affection, I thought of how I will stand before an almighty King one day and I pray that He will be pleased with me.  I prayed over a child of His and wept begging God to either bring him a family or take him home.

My heart and my soul are forever changed.  This journey has not been easy and it hasn't been without great cost and sacrifice on many levels...and believe me when I say that the enemy has been lurking at every turn.  Greater is He that is in me (and you) than is in this world.  I pray that I will live my days, not perfectly, but with eternity ever present and etched deeply in my soul.  

Obedience is a funny we walk more and more closely with the Father, He reveals just how much this life is not about us.  I pray that as we all lay our heads down tonight and tuck our children in, we will all beg God to reveal what He might be boldly asking of us and that we won't be afraid to take that first step of obedience!

Tonight while you sleep, we will be in court with our God going before us as He has done for many months now, asking for favor...asking for there to be one less little boy without a family.  So thankful we said yes to this journey...Not one single regret! 

Gotcha Day tomorrow friends...Samuel's last night in the Baby House!  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

We Are Here!!!...Round 2!

After more than 25 hours, we are here at the hotel!  It felt very surreal driving back into the city and actually recognizing things and knowing where we were going.  Being back in Samuel's city is really wonderful!

So here we go again.  One difference this time is that there will be no goodbyes!  We get to see Samuel around 3pm tomorrow, which is around 7am TN time on Monday.  We will be taking the clothes and shoes that were donated.  Also, we will take the unbelievable amount of medicine (can't wait to post those pics tomorrow)!  After speaking with the director tomorrow, we will purchase multiple boxes of diapers and deliver them on Wednesday.  Please pray with us that somehow they will see the hand of God in this generousity from His people and that it will stir their hearts.  We pray that they will question why people would do this for these precious children and that we will be able to boldly proclaim Christ and the work of His hands!!!

We miss our sweet babies at home and of course it was so hard to leave them.  We know they are in good hands and that from the beginning of time, God had this road intricately planned, down to every detail, for our family!  We have peace in that.  Our hearts our humbled at the work of His hands and His absolute sovereignty!  His name is truly mighty to be praised and I so pray that while we are here His praise will continually be on our lips!!!  Thank you to each one of you for all of the ways you have involved yourself in this journey, which much sacrifice.  The beautiful part is that we get to speak of what God did and is doing and that He is actually using us....that blows my mind!

I have had this song on my mind for weeks and a sweet friend spoke words of encouragement to me the other day.  The words she spoke were almost word for word the verses of this song that have permeated my heart and mind.

"You are God alone from before time began, You are on Your throne, You are God alone"

You all know the rest I am sure and if you don't look it up on YouTube!:)  The words of this song speak so strongly of who God is!  "You are not a God created by human hands....You are not a God in need of anything I can give.  You are God, that's just the way it is!"

Please pray that paperwork is speedy.  Also, we will be in court while most of you sleep.  Our court appointment is Tuesday at 10am here....1am in TN!

Thank you friends for loving us and walking steadfastly with us!  We love each and every one of you!  More tomorrow!:)