If this is a dream…

I don’t want to wake up!!  We finally received our travel dates on Monday.  HOORAY!!!!!!  I would have posted sooner, but life has been a whirlwind since then!  We leave in less than two weeks, on Memorial Day!  We are so incredibly excited and busy and nervous and happy!  I can’t believe that the day is finally arriving, after waiting so very long.  This isn’t a dream, but last night I did have a memorable one!  I dreamed we saw our sweet son.

We went to his orphanage to go pick him up and he was so excited to meet us.  He loved everyone, including his new little brother and sister.  It was just lovely!  We were talking a perfect mix of Russian and English.  Apparently, he knew exactly all the phrases in English that I didn’t know in Russian, so we were able to communicate flawlessly!  I know this is (quite literally) all a dream… but it was lovely nonetheless.

And then our fairy tale meeting was abruptly interrupted by some kind of war going on (hmm… I wonder where my mind got that idea from).  I bring it up, though, because it leads to a really cool part.  So in all the chaos, eventually Jake and our other two kiddos where taken onto a submarine and I was knocked unconscious.  When I woke up they were gone and Juri was being held by a girl whose father was from the opposing army.  She looked about 12 or 13 and she was saying terrible things to him about how she was his mother now and how we would never love him.

I went right over there and took him out of her arms and told him over and over “Я твоя́ ма́ма.”  He relaxed into my arms, feeling completely safe, and there he stayed the rest of the dream as we went off to find the rest of the family :)  It was all so nice, and it made me even more anxious to hold my son.  I miss him so much and I haven’t even met him yet!  There are lots of things to be done before we go, so I will try to update a little before take-off, but hopefully not too many posts from now we will be across the Atlantic!

Silent Nights

There have been many a silent night on my blog as of late.  Forgive me while I try to move from one floor of my house to the other, compile a dossier, fundraise, get my life in order and think about the many deep mysteries of life… while also trying to have an awesome Advent season.  But I am still here!  I would love to give an update soon about where we are in the adoption, but today this is going to be short and sweet.

I thought I should blog about this milestone for my two little ones… new bedtime milestones.  They are always bittersweet aren’t they?

First, Evangeline is now in her very own room!  Since she was born she has always slept in our bedroom, either in our bed or in her bed pushed up right next to ours.  She has always been close enough for me to hold her hand if she woke up and needed me during the night, but as of Friday we have four newly refurbished bedrooms in our parsonage and… it was time.

We had been telling her about her bedroom for a while and she was so excited to have her “own” room. I always assumed our children would never have their own room, they would share once the first two were ready to make the leap.  But I’ll just say it… it was time.  Stephen isn’t going to be ready for a while and who knows when another girl will come along for the girls’ room.  She seemed ready so we decided to go for it!  And she is doing fabulously.

The first two nights she did not make it the whole night.  We ended up carrying her into our bedroom around 2:00am because she was just restless and, hey, we wanted to sleep!  We still have a second bed in our bedroom (back to that in a second) so it was just like old times and it worked perfectly.  Last night I went to go retuck her in once but she fell back asleep and didn’t need us again until morning.

Now for that second bed :)  Evangeline’s twin bed went with her to her room, but we just happened to have another, so we scooted that up next to ours and that is officially Stephen’s bed now!  We are transitioning him over a few months sooner than we started with Evie, but with the new room and everything it just made sense.  It also helps if I have to get up for Evie in the middle of the night, I don’t disturb him and he will eventually sleep better.  Right now he’s not quite used to the new space so he isn’t sleeping as well.  He has always been very space oriented.  If he’s not in HIS bed, he fights sleep.  But  the second night was better than the first!  He still hasn’t made it an entire night yet without cuddling with mommy by the wee hours of the morning, but I don’t really mind :)

All in all we are very happy with the smooth transition and hope it continues!  I have two blog posts coming up the pike for you, one is an update on our adoption, long overdue I know… and the second is a little more heavy in content, but necessary I think.  Hopefully as the days go on and we continue getting more settled around here I will have less and less of those silent nights on my blog!  Praying you are all having a wonderful Advent!

The Battle Plan

Are ya’ll ready for this?  Yesterday was my Battle Cry for Sutter.  Today we’re getting to the Battle Plan.

Sutter has until February to find a family.  He will be turning 16 then and will lose his chance to be adopted.

Let’s not cut it that close folks.

My goal is a family for him by Christmas.  Let’s make this happen.  My Battle Plan includes several strategic moves and I need YOU to be my army and make it happen!  This post will be updated frequently with where we are at in our plan and the progress we make, so keep it bookmarked for future reference!

STRATEGIC MOVE 1: PRAY

God loves Sutter more than I do, more than you do and more than anyone ever could.  The absolute best thing we can do for Sutter is to pray for him.  I need 16 prayer warriors to commit to praying for Sutter until his family is found.  Below is a list of the prayer warriors we have already and the ones we still need!  I am hoping that we can cover this boy and the family who has not found him yet with prayer throughout the day.  If you pick a slot you commit to praying for Sutter at least once every day during the day, preferrably within the time frame listed.  I have two overnight slots available for those night owls, people who wake up frequently at night to pray or friends in other time zones who can cover those hours.  This list will be updated as we get new warriors in!

Morning Warriors (5am-10am)
1. Taken!
2.
3.
4.
5.

Afternoon Warriors (10am-3pm)
6. Taken!
7. Taken!
8. Taken!
9.

Evening Warriors (3pm-10pm)
10. Taken!
11. Taken!
12. Taken!
13.
14.

Overnight Warriors (10pm-5am)
15. Taken!
16.

STRATEGIC MOVE 2: ADVOCATE

Other than praying this is quite possibly the most pivotal part of our strategy.  We must advocate for Sutter or his family may never find him.  I need sixteen people to join me in advocating for this child!  Our mission is to introduce him to as many people as possible as soon as possible.  My strategy for this is Letter Carrying (or as my husband lovingly called it, guerrilla warfare).  I need sixteen (or more!) volunteers to sign up for this task.  I will send you a PDF file letter with Sutter’s picture, story and a way for them to get more information on how to help.  Print off as many as you think you might use, fold them and seal them with a note on the outside for whoever is likely to read it (Ex: “Dear Christmas Shopper” if you are at a store or “Dear Reader” if you leave them in a library).  Place them in strategic places around your town and pray that God would soften the recipient’s heart to pray, advocate, give share or adopt!

We still need THIRTEEN more Letter Carriers!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 3: SHARE

Along with advocating independantly, you can also advocate through sharing.  It’s very easy!  My goal is to have (you guessed it!) 16 shares on each post I write for Sutter through the Christmas season.  I will update this with a list of all my posts for Sutter.  Please share each one and check back regularly to make sure you get them all!  16 shares per post would be FANTASTIC in helping me to get the word out and encouraging some more participation.  Please share on Facebook, Twitter, through email or your own blog and let me know so I can update numbers!  Below I will list all current posts:

1. Battle Cry: Shares so far…. THREE
2. The Battle Plan: Shares so far… SIX

STRATEGIC MOVE 4: GIVE

Yes give!  Giving to Sutter’s tax deductible grant fund does a few great things.  After his family sees him for the first time, one of their first reactions might be “How can we possibly afford to adopt?”  If he has a large grant fund that diminishes some of the fear for the family of taking that leap of faith.  It shows them not only that a part of his adoption has already been paid for but also that there are other people out there that want to see him come home and will likely help along the way.

Second, if we reach our Angel Tree goal of raising $1,000, Sutter will be moved up to the next level of Moving Mountains on the Reece’s Rainbow advocacy site.  This gives him a huge bump in visibility, which could help his family see him!  And last but not least, a larger grant means less time fundraising and the ability for his family to move quickly through the process once they commit.  This is a huge blessing, especially for Sutter who has already spent the first sixteen years of his life alone and has so much time to make up for!

As the Lord leads, please go to this link to make your tax deductible gift to Sutter: http://reecesrainbow.org/52642/sutter

If you give a gift of $35.00 or more, Reece’s Rainbow will send you a lovely ornament for your Christmas tree.  You can see the details for that HERE.

In addition, my husband and I have decided to tithe 10% of all the donations we get from Juri’s Birthday Party Fundraiser to Sutter’s grant from now until the end of the year.  If we meet our fundraising goal we can put an extra $2,000 in Sutter’s account!  Please check it out! 

I have another fundraiser coming up the pipe as well so stay tuned!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 5: ADOPT

We don’t need sixteen… we just need one.  Sutter needs one Mommy and one Daddy.

Sutter could be your son.  God has a family for this boy.  Is it you?

Sutter

 

Battle Cry

I saw a picture on Facebook recently that said “Do for 1 what you wish you could do for 100.”  This rings true for me in this stage of my life.  There is so much ministry to be done, so many hurting people to comfort, so many hungry to feed, so many lonely to bring into families.  People think I am joking when I say that I wish I could  be approved to adopt a dozen children or when I ask people to come to Eastern Europe with me and take home some of the precious ones that are still waiting.

They think I am joking.

Dear friends, neither are these statements a joke nor are they said with frivolity.  The lives of many precious people are hanging in the balance.  This is no joking matter.

I want desperately to save the world, but that is not my vocation.  My vocation is limited to not a hundred, not a dozen but just one.  God has called me to focus on just one.  And so we are.  We have taken this leap of faith and we are racing to the finish line to rescue (Yes.  That is the right word.) our dear boy.  God is stretching us in this process in so many ways, but perhaps one of the most painful is the soft refrain that repeats in my mind “You cannot save them all.”

There are so many I love and so many that I can do nothing but entrust to God’s care.  But that is not true for Juri.  I can do more for him, and I will.  I will fight for the life of this child whom I love as my own dear son.

And there is another boy who this refrain is also not true for.  There is a boy who I can help.

If you do not yet know Sutter, let me introduce you…

Sutter

Isn’t he handsome?  Meet Sutter.  Sutter is easy going and organized.  He is a really smart boy. He enjoys solving puzzles and can solve them really fast.  If you try to fool him, he will say “No” and start to laugh his contagious laugh.  He has a soft heart for the other children in his group and helps out, but sometimes he craves attention and tries to be at the center of it.  Doubtless a small glimpse that we have into his reality, the reality of a child with nothing and no one.  The reality of a child without a mother or a father.  The reality of an orphan.

Sutter has Cerebral palsy, just like our Juri, although his is more severe.  He had several operations as a child, which improved his movement for a time, but after a growth spurt he lost some of his mobility again. He tries to walk with crutches and he gets some physical therapy, but it is not the medical care his body needs.  With the right attention to his needs it is almost certain he would walk again.

But here’s the real crux of the issue.  Sutter has grown up with limbs that don’t cooperate, in a place where no one loves him like a family would love him.  He is living in an adult mental institution for no other reason than his legs don’t work and he doesn’t have access to the medical care that would help him make them work.  None of these, though, are Sutter’s greatest obstacle in life.  He has a far greater hurdle looming in the near future, and he has no power to clear it on his own.  Sutter has a chance at life – real life.  Life in a family, loved, wanted, learning, growing, succeeding… living.

He can do all of these things and do them well, but he can’t do them without you.  Yes YOU.

This is my battle cry.

Sutter needs a family.

Now.  Yesterday even.

This boy is turning sixteen in FEBRUARY of 2014.  He needs a family to commit to him BEFORE HIS BIRTHDAY or he will age out and never be adopted, never know a life outside of institutional walls.

I am fighting for Sutter, and I want you to fight for him too.  We cannot save them all, but we can make a difference for this one.  This one precious child.  This one that God would love to bless a family with.  I am Sutter’s Christmas Warrior.  That means that from now until December 31st it is my job to advocate, to fight, for Sutter.  I have committed to raise $1,000 for Sutter, and more importantly MY goal is to find him a family.  He needs a family.  I can’t be that family, but I can certainly try and find out who is.

This season is marked by thankfulness.  Everyone reading this is fed, clothed, sheltered, privileged.  Our cup is running over with blessing.  This  this Thanksgiving and Christmas, let your cup run over onto those who God has put in your path that are less fortunate.  God has put Sutter in my path, and now in yours.  Help me find his family.

There is a time to weep and to mourn over injustice.

And there is a time to stand up and fight against it.  This is the time to fight… for Sutter.

Come back tomorrow and join me as I lay out the battle plan.

It’s time to fight.

UPDATE: The Battle Plan

Reece’s Rainbow: What is It?

Reece's Rainbow

Since I am sort of starting over from scratch, I thought I would just clear the air right up front.  I am a passionate person.  I know there are things wrong in the world and I feel compelled to shout for those who have no voice.  With that being said, I wanted to introduce you to an organization that you’ll probably be hearing a lot about from me if you stick around long enough to listen.  This way, you all have a heads up that I am going to be advocating for the children on this site, and if anyone asks “What exactly is Reece’s Rainbow?”  I can have a nifty little post to refer them back to.

So… here goes!  Reece’s Rainbow is not an adoption agency.  They are an advocacy organization that seeks to find loving families for orphans with special needs around the world.  Reece’s Rainbow was started by the mother of a little boy who has Down syndrome (that would be Reece).  When she discovered the horrific conditions that children born with Down syndrome and other disabilities endure because of their differences, she did something about it.  That something, is Reece’s Rainbow.

How exactly does Reece’s Rainbow help orphans?

Reece’s Rainbow helps orphans on multiple fronts, this is a not a cut and dry battle, but one that is fought on many sides.  Reece’s Rainbow’s ultimate goal is to no longer be needed!  We all hope that one day the parents of these children will be equipped and encouraged to keep their children and raise them.  But for right now, there are children with no families who desperately need out.  Reform has to happen, but it will not happen in time for most of the children waiting right now.

Reece’s Rainbow has a waiting list of children with special needs who are available for adoption.  This gives children from around the world the ability to be seen, something that they would otherwise not have.  Their families often find them through the advocacy of this organization and her many volunteers and fellow advocates.  Reece’s Rainbow also holds grant funds for the children who are waiting.  Now, this often puts people off initially, but let me explain…

The dollar signs next to children’s names are not “for sale” signs.  Rather, these amounts are indicative of support that has been donated and built up for a specific child over a period of time.  International adoption is prohibitively expensive, but if a child has a grant fund in place for their adoption the process can move more quickly and smoothly once a family is found.  This saves lives.  Potential parents who are on the fence about whether they can adopt are often encouraged to know that there is already support waiting for them on the other end.

The other way that Reece’s Rainbow helps is by connecting families with resources and grant funds, giving people tax deductible ways to donate to a family’s adoption and giving them a fundraising platform.  Reece’s Rainbow walks with families throughout the entire adoption process, which is a huge blessing for anyone taking the giant leap of faith that is adoption.

Why do you advocate for Reece’s Rainbow?

There are many ways to care for the widow and the orphan.  This organization, in particular, has my heart.  I have come to fall in love with many of the children that are still in need of families, and can’t help but shout for them, hoping their mommies and daddies will hear!  I have also made dear friends with many of the families adopting with the help of Reece’s Rainbow.  I have learned so much from Andrea, the Reece’s Rainbow staff, adopting families and the advocates that I cannot help but be indebted to them.  In a way they have become a part of my family and my neighbors whom God has given to me to serve.

How can I help?

There are so many ways you can help!  Stay tuned here long enough and I will give you some ideas for sure.  Otherwise, go to the Reece’s Rainbow website and learn more about what they do.   There are waiting children that you can advocate for and families in process that you can encourage and support financially.  Pray for all of these children and families and ask God’s protection over them as they long to be together.

To connect with Reece’s Rainbow and stay informed about more ways you can help, check out their Twitter and Facebook Page.

So Much to Say…

So little time.

Isn’t that how it always is?

It’s very cold here… I don’t appreciate it too much.  I have been lethargic for two days; I could lay in bed all day long and still be tired.  I don’t appreciate that either.  But some weeks are just like that I suppose.  I have a lot I could talk about, there’s so much going on.  I am working on Evie’s basic homeschool outline for the next two years, and I’m reading lots of children’s books to preview them for her.  I realized last week that we have hardly any quality children’s books in our library… and I think that should be ammended.

I just finished reading J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”.  And guess what?  I cried at the end!  Ugh!  My hormones are driving me insane… I don’t know if any of you have ever read the book, but the end isn’t really terribly sad.  Normally something that would make me go “Aww”, shrug my shoulders and move on with my day… but no.  I had to cry.  Evie looked at me like “What on earth is wrong with you?”  Oh well.

So my brain has been scattered; I could say so much, but I don’t know where to start.  I thought I’d write a post anyway… although I hope you’re not expecting too much :S

Evangeline was having some potty difficulties the last couple weeks.  I wouldn’t call it a “potty pause” necessarily, as she still wanted to sit on the potty.  In fact, I usually have the opposite problem where she just likes to sit there forever after she’s done and I have to bribe her with food before she’ll get up and put her pants back on.  I don’t get it… but anyway.  She was having trouble telling us exactly when she needed to go.  She kept letting me know after the fact, or while it was happening.  It was getting a little frustrating.

The worst part of it though was that this seeped over into her nighttime pottying too.  She stopped fussing when she had to go… she just went and then started nursing again, completely content to sleep in a wet bed.  Which meant that I had to get up and change the sheets 2-5 times a night, and I was not a happy momma!  After about a week of this we made the decision to start transitioning her to her own mattress.  We hadn’t yet because being right next to her was so helpful in knowing when she needed to go, but once she stopped communicating, it wasn’t really that helpful.

The move has been great for all of us.  I am so glad we decided to do it, and it was the perfect timing.  We had sort of tried a few months back, but she just wasn’t ready yet.  She always ended up crawling back in bed with us.  Now she’s comfortable being on her own, so she will fuss if she wants me, but she doesn’t seem to need me right there all night.   And the best part is, if her body wakes her up because of a full bladder I am not right there so she needs to fuss in order to get the milk she wants.  Therefore, I know when she needs to go, and she has been having very few nighttime accidents since.

Her mattress is right next to ours, so it’s easy for me to move from bed to bed during the night.  Last night she slept, I think at least 5 or 6 hours without needing to nurse at all, and Jake and I enjoyed having lots of space to ourselves.  Now we feel spoiled :)  She is also back to telling us that she needs to potty right beforehand, although her timing’s not perfect. I know it’s just a phase, and she’ll pick it right back up very soon.  No biggie.

In other news, our processed-oats-free house is doing great.  Not sure what else to call it?  We are only eating properly prepared oats now, as the first step in eradicating our house of foods that are dangerously high in phytic acid.  It wasn’t too difficult, but we’re going to ramp it up next week.  We’re getting rid of *drum roll please* corn.  Yup… corn.  So all those things at the grocery store that have corn in them?  We will be saying goodbye.  That is going to be a challenge.  And I will be sure to keep you updated.

In the meantime I am working on perfecting my homemade soaked granola recipe.  The batch this week was ok, Jake said it was delicious, but I’m not through experimenting yet.  When I’m satisfied I’ll post it for all of you to enjoy!

And last, but certainly not least, I have been asked by a friend to spread the word about this little darling who is desperately in need of a family:

Her name is Megan, and she has a grant fund large enough to cover almost her entire adoption!  She has been transferred to a mental institution and the word is that it is not a good one.  If you are unaware of what that means, take a look for yourself.  Most children die within the first year of being transferred.  Please pray and help us spread the word about Megan so that her forever family will find her and rescue her from such a dismal fate.  Remember, this is a very inexpensive adoption due to her grant fund, and single moms are welcome to apply!  Go here for more information.

Blessings!

Dalas

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