Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ethiopia



 
Today I want to share with you about a family that impacted my family in a BIG way and they are impacting many through their humanitarian efforts.
 
I first met Kristen over the phone.  She worked for the agency that had Shad's file.  I called her because i was so concerned about the little blind boy's picture (Shad)  We talked for awhile and I told her to give my name and number to whoever adopted him because I thought I knew a doctor that could help him.
 
A few weeks later I got a call back from her asking US to consider adopting him!  At the time Sam was little and very sick and I had just resigned my career job to stay home with him.  There was NO way we were looking to adopt....yet she asked us to consider.  So we did...consider and called her back and said we'd start the process ONLY to hold his case in the US.  We doubted that China would be crazy enough to approve us.  I can remember her telling me "God can make a way"  And honestly I thought it was easy for that young girl to say that, she didn't have a sick child....  Well she was 100% right...God did make a way.
 
Truly if any other social worker/case manager had talked to us in the NATURAL we would not have adopted Shad.  Our world had just been turned upside with Sam and we truly had no money and it looked like the absolutely craziest thing in the world for us to do and there were MANY people who felt free to tell us we were crazy but not Kristen.  She was always steady and just believed it would work out.  That's the kind of person I needed to be working with at that time.  I'm so thankful in how God used her in our family's life!


She always believed in us and even more so believed in a BIG God who loves orphans and who hears their cries!  
 
So in 9 months time I was in China picking up our little China man. 
 
As time goes on we lost touch, Kristen changed jobs, then somehow I heard she and her husband were adopting two children.  Then we reconnected on facebook. 
 
Now I'm able to see all the projects they do for their children's home country of Ethiopia.   






this is their first project

http://aglimmerofhope.org/success-stories/adoptive-family-gives-back

 
 
And there was a well project recently that they successfully completed
 
 
Now they are working on 

https://secure.piryx.com/donate/UqI6DXkA/Mudula-Water/bachiraschool


Kristen writes "We've been raising money for 6 years now and the Lord just keeps blessing our efforts. Our current project is updating a school in Bachira, Ethiopia to a high school as there is not opportunity for additional education past primary school in this area. education is truly the key to breaking the cycle of poverty so our school projects are always so exciting! This one is in the actual village our two big kids are from, so it will be benefitting their actually family and friends living there!"



So can we help out again??????  Please visit this link  www.bachiraschool.com   to give!!!!!!



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Just an update on Ukraine....
we ( all of you blog readers) $1250 over the last few months to help our a humanitarian mission in Ukraine.  Sergey Kosyak is working hard in East Ukraine helping the refuges. Thank you all for what you do!!!!!!

And the well in Druz is working !!!!!!!!   So excited to hear that! 

There are many different needs in this old world, but if we all do something, it will help out many!  Thank you for being involved!!!
 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dates & Anniversaries

Dates and anniversaries are so important to me.  Obviously my family's various birthdays, my husband and my anniversary, the day we met are all dear to me.  I remember the day I left for college, graduated from high school, the day I graduated from college ....  We all remember sad dates like December 7,1941, or 9/11.   Today is actually 20 years since the Oklahoma bombing, do you remember where you were that day?  I was on the couch in our apartment in NYC, sick as a dog with morning sickness....(thanks Steve)  My brother in law and his wife were visiting us and they'd gone into the city to sight see.  Obviously watching the bombing unfold on TV, made me worry about their safety.  It was only a couple of years since the first Trade Center Tower bombing.  Back 20 years ago, none of us had cell phones so we could only hope that nothing was happening in the city. 

There are dates that are just part of us forever, tomorrow is one of those days for me.  April 20, 2012 was our court day for Selah and Sarah.  We had a nerve wracking court session.  While we were confident of the outcome, it was still scary that we'd be denied their adoption.  Lots of what went on went over our head, all spoken in Ukrainian.  But at the end the very serious female judge spoke directly to us and asked us to promise her we'd always take care of Sarah and Selah for the rest of their lives and be a real family to them.  Jon and I answered through our tears and made that very solemn commitment.  The judge knew both girls would need life long care.  She knew there might be hard times.  Little did we know what was ahead in a few months for us....but God gave us the strength then and has continued to give us the strength to always take care of the girls.  When I look back, that commitment, that vow seems oddly prophetic now......

I have pictures of some of the court officials and us but I'm hesitant to post them because of the war. I don't want to put anyone in danger.   The very courthouse we were in, has been the scene of a killing.  I actually saw the video and the aftermath of the attack on the internet.  I've since heard the building has been bombed.

we just became parents again:)
 
 
 
 
 Jon and I with our dear wonderful facilator
 
 
It's so odd, that day was all about Sarah and Selah but we didn't even see them that day.  We were granted permission from then on to visit them on the weekends which was such a blessing, we got to see them every day unless we had something we had to do (like paperchase for visa's birth certificates etc) 
 
 
Actually I had to look at our pictures from this day-3 years ago....
it was our first day outside on the porch.  I think this is the first time they'd ever been out there to  be honest.
 
 
 
 me and Sarah
 
 
 
 
Selah and me
 

 
Jon and Selah
 
 
 
Just so you know, it was not at all cold
 
So this was the orphanage.
the 2nd floor area was the porch we played on with the children
Sarah's room was either the first or second window on the right.  Selah's was all the way at the other end
 
 
 
 
It's funny how certain dates come up again and again...  Ironically, May 5th which is the day we took the girls out of the orphanage forever is the same date a year later that I had to take Sam to NY and have most of his left eye removed.....and now three years later it will be the date that Selah has her 2nd hip surgery.  When I was given the date, I first looked at our nurse in shock!  She asked if I wanted to change it but I said no, it was a good date, it was our "gotcha day" and it was a day that Sam's pain was relieved so it will be a good day for Selah too!  Her pain will be relieved and hopefully this upcoming surgery will forever take care of her hip issues. 
 
Also we remember sad days, I remember the dates of my various family member's deaths, the hardest date for me is August 15, the day of the accident. Well, Steve will report to college and move in the dorm on that date this year.   That kinda took my breath away.  But it will be a day of happiness, this year, we are glad to see Steve take independent steps, who know what that step of going to college will lead to......
 
 


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just a Good Week

It's been a busy week around here.

 The best news is that Steve got accepted into Southeastern and got his financial award letter.  He got a $3000 scholarship based on academics and another almost one for almost $3000 for his essay.  Along with two grants, we are really happy thus far BUT being that this is a private college, he still needs some more scholarships or we/he will be facing some big loans.  I believe it will work out somehow.....he still needs about $15,000 for the school year!

We are really focusing on spending time as a family, knowing that soon Steve won't be with us every day (just every weekend, all holidays and summer LOL)   Wednesday was his day off and I took the kids to Brandon, to drop off some stuff at a consignment store and we spent the day out together.  It was just good fun. 

Yesterday Jon and Steve had off so after Jon and I did our FIVE mile hike in the woods.  We went out last night to see "Mall Cop II"  It was really funny and awkward LOL .  I love awkward humor.  Maybe because that is my life.   Ha-ha!   Then we went to our new favorite place "Happy Cow"  Just so good to be together having a good time.  Sam enjoys a movie, or he enjoys the popcorn and drink!  Sarah sits on my lap, she doesn't care for the commercials before the movies, those are too loud for her but she did fine. 


Mall Cop II is my kind of movie, no real drama, just funny without being dirty.  I like a movie that makes me laugh.  I'm not into serious deep movies, life is too serious, I don't need to see it on the big screen. 



                                         what a cute picture:)  All three boys into the movie.


And here are the kittens at 5/6 weeks.  Yes they are adorable but they are becoming a pain!  They climb out of the box I had for them.  I went and cleaned a big dog crate we have and I think that is where they will stay for now.  They have learned to use the poop box quite well but it has to be changed 2x a day because they are so many of them!  The kids want to keep all of them and it would be hard for me to let them go.  However Jon almost had a heart attack...."SIX cats in the house?????"   LOL  Our two cats come and go outside so it's not like they are complete house cats.  We keep a poop box for them but most of the time they go outside.  Pets are wonderful but messy!


 
 
 





 
Mama cat has been so good



this is from last week, they've grown since then
 
 
 
 
 Can you smell the honeysuckle?
It's so strong this year.  The honeysuckle bush we have is huge.  It took about 3 or 4 years from when I planted it for it to really take off.  More than once I thought about pulling it out and starting over but a few years ago it started growing and blooming so nicely.  I love walking outside and smelling honeysuckle.  We have a big jasmine bush/vine too but it's further from the front door so I don't notice it as much.
 





 
 
Well you know I'd packed up everything pretty much including all four of my various size crock pots.  I was going to unpack so I could do some more meals for Sarah but Steve found this roaster for me at Walmart on clearance (it's nice to have a kid working at Walmart)  It's huge!  So I've been cooking her meals and pureeing them and putting them in the freezer again.  I love this roaster, it's probably twice as big as my biggest crock pot so I can do so much more food with it.  What I try to do with Sarah's meals is to prepare them with ours if possible then puree and freeze them.  Otherwise on days we have something that we can't puree like salad, sandwiches etc.... I still have healthy meals for her without having to use canned soup or baby food.    This roaster enables me to have plenty left over for her.  I use 2-cup glass (never plastic) bowls for her food.  I did have to buy some more of those but she needed more anyhow.  


 
 
 
 
Here are 12 servings ( 2 cups each) from the last couple of days.  She has chicken & rice, spaghetti, and beef stew. 
 
I'm southern in my roots and I just love feeding my people LOL
When I was a kid, I did not get that.  My family was all about FOOD.  And of course with my anorexia/bulimic self, I didn't want to talk or think about food.  Even when I was older and married, we'd stay with my grandmother and she'd cook a breakfast that would send you back to bed for the day and then as soon as it was cleaned up she wanted to know what we wanted to eat for lunch!  All I wanted to do was hit a bathroom and go back to my bulimic days!!!!   But now I love cooking for my family.  I'm not quite like her, my kids want me to cook breakfast every day and that hasn't started happening YET!  
 
I found out a few years ago my great grandmother was from Italy.  I still don't have that all figured out but I understand our embrace of food now!   I was raised it was not supper unless you had at least two meats on the table.  No one cooked any pasta, my grandmother would call that "goulash"  The only pasta was good ole Mac & cheese- all homemade of course. 

Up early this morning, woke up at 4:30 am with a cat on my pillow.  That will do it for you:)  Thought I needed to do a catch up on here.  Hope everyone has a good weekend.  Jon is teaching a seminar for volunteers at the prison this morning, and Steve has to work.  No more play dates for us.
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Taking Care of Business

WHEW!  One of the very least favorite things for me to do is a church business meeting.  I've been in some that were doozies!  I've seen people threaten other people and throw fists, and I'm not kidding.  Well we have been a little late, maybe I should say a lot late in doing our annual church business meeting this year.  Honestly I was dreading it, not that I thought something like that would happen but I've walked into business meetings with perfectly sane people and walked out think "Oh My God the Exorcist was here!"  LOL

Anyhow we had our meeting, went over the agenda and the last two years of financial stuff and made plans for the future.  What a GREAT meeting!  Everyone was eager to participate, in a good way.  No one got upset, everyone was of "one accord".  We even welcomed a new member into the church.

At the end of the meeting, some really sweet things were said to Jon and me but all I could do was to thank God that He has been so faithful to us and to our church over the past 9 years!

At one point in this church we only had SIX real members and two of them were me and Jon! Now we have 26 members and all of them are involved & active.  Of course we have more folks than that that attend, but 26 people who have committed to join and be a part of the backbone of this church in a deeper way.

Our church has absolutely not one penny of debt and has a large saving account.  Our mission giving is close to $10,000 a year PLUS if you include my various fund raisers on her for orphan care.  All of our building have been remodeled since we've been here and the grounds cleaned.

We have a youth group and a Fine Arts group (they do competition within our denomination in music)  It's amazing to us all that has taken place here.

But we had some very dry, very lean years.  YEARS not months or weeks....YEARS or some really rough times but God has been so faithful. 

I'm not trying to be odd but we had a minister that we really look up to tell us that it would be 7 years of sowing before we'd see any type of harvest at this church.  At the time we'd only been here for 3 years so we were not thrilled with that "prophecy" LOL  I remember telling Jon "boy we get some wonderful words from God don't we?" 

Well it was exactly 7 years.....and 7 months to be exact before the harvest began.  The "funny" thing is we were gone from the church for 7 months in 2012 between picking up the girls in Ukraine and the accident in NY. 

But is that the craziest thing ever?   You might think what's the big deal, you guys get excited when you have 60 people in attendance....but we are a rural church and this kind of stability is such a blessing! 

We are so extremely grateful for God's blessing and for the people He has brought into the church.  People that want to be apart of what God is doing around the world and here in our "little neck of the woods" too. 

So for any pastor's wives who read my blog or anyone doing ministry, just continue to be faithful to what God has called you to do.  Be yourself, don't worry about gimmicks or trying to be cool, look only to Jesus and measure yourself to what He asks of you.  Don't look around at others and be discouraged by their success, be glad for their successes for God.  The thing we believe is the most important thing is to be FAITHFUL!

Anyhow I'm just really feeling happy today, grateful for all that God has done and the fact that we are still here, standing!



Saturday, April 11, 2015

My Favorite Place

Hillsborough River State Park is one of my fav places in the world.  I love being there and there is such a calm that comes over me when I go and walk by the river.  Jon and I went today and renewed our annual Florida State Park Pass.  For $124 a year, a family can go to any state park as much as they want without paying anything else.  What a great deal, Florida has some wonderful state parks so we love to visit them.

Today it was "crowded" which meant you met people on the path.  So we went off the paths and used a little known path to take us further out in the woods.  Boy did we see the wildlife today!

 
Can you see the two big gators?  We were across the river so the picture isn't that great.  Look at the tail on the one!  Baby got BACK!
 
 
 
 
This picture was my hubby's big idea, we crawled down the bank so we could take a "selfie" with the gators in the back ground.  The bank was probably 8 feet down, I thought I'd bust my tail but managed to get down and back without killing myself.
 
 
Back to the "rapids" SO beautiful to me
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I grabbed the tail of this snake once it got itself in the fence.  It's just what we call a corn snake or a barn snake, harmless.
 
 
my husband in his "Steve Irwin" outfit
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
See the baby gator?  He was all stirred up, jumping off things and swimming around.
 
 
 
 
Jon and I had a great time.  We both love getting out in the woods and walking.  It was really hot today, by the time we'd finished an 1.5 hour walk, I had sweat pouring off me but it was good:)
 
Yesterday I got an email telling me that Sam and Sarah are eligible for "respite care"  It's part of a federal program called Medwavier and it is for special needs families regardless of income.  Of course the email said it was hard to get a provider in our area but that's fine, we have a young lady who babysits for us who will become our provider.  It's an easy process to become a provider.  I laughed when I read the email, like I'd leave my kids with someone I don't know!!!    Anyhow we were daydreaming today about some of the things we are going to do when we have respite care.  We are going to take the boys on a kayak trip down the Weekie Wachee River.  That's something we can't take the little ones on.  We also plan on going to Weekie Wachee the park to see the mermaids too!  Homosassa Springs is on our list too.  We love to do things like that but Sam and Sarah really don't nor do we feel comfortable taking them on any kind of boat trip.  Sam and Sarah rather be home with their things, where they are happy than go out.  Also neither of them are too thrilled with the sun or bugs!   We take them out because we don't want them to become to used to being at home.  We don't want them fearful of being out of their home.  There is a balance for little ones like them.  But we are really excited about getting back to kayaking as a family.  Jon, Steve Shad and me have our own kayaks and really love it.  Usually we all four can't go together.  Someone has to stay home.  But now we can:)  
 
 
Hope you are having a great weekend! 
 
 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Good News/Bad News

  The story of my life LOL



We have a date to move in the house!!!!!!!!



It's June 17 :(



So we did get a date, there are lots of little issues, along with inspections and I think a new kind of Florida inspection dealing with flood zones.....  so everyone is positive that everything will be done and finished by June 17th.  It's official....

At first I was pretty upset, not so much with the wait as with what all is going on with us.  Selah is having hip surgery on May 5th and will probably have to go into casts, I'd hoped we'd be moved so the nurses could tend to her on both sides of her bed, so much easier for everyone.   Casts are really hard to deal with, we've done it once before and since we can only work from one side of the bed because the room is so small, it just makes it 10 times harder for everyone.   This time the casts will be high up, maybe even with a bar in the middle to hold her legs apart.  NOT looking forward to that!

Plus my house is packed up....totally, I could fill a moving truck up today.  So now I certainly will have to unpack some of the kitchen things I've put away.  Our house seems very chaotic with boxes everywhere.  I packed up over the last few weeks so we wouldn't be "caught with our pants down"  Sometimes I can't do things when I'd like to and it's better to do them as soon as I can....well....it's all done! 

And the other thing I hate is with Steve going away to college in August, he'll only have 2 months of actually having his own room before he leaves us......I think that's what got me the most upset.  I feel like he's spent the last 2 plus years giving up a lot of privacy.

But we'll live and time will pass fast.  I do love where we live now, just not with boxes everywhere~!

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So Steve and Shad's big trip was a trip by themselves to Universal Studios!  They've had a blast, we got them a hotel room there by the park so they would be safe and not have to drive all over the place.  Steve bought his and Shad's tickets, he wanted to do that for Shad and we got them the room.  I love that Steve wanted to take his brother with him.

 
 
I went out and cleaned the car windows with Windex and a towel before they left.  I remembered my father in law doing that for us one time we were down here visiting from NY and then waving as we left.  NOW I'm the parent left behind and waving LOL
 
 
Both boys were big Scooby Doo fans as I am too.  I adore this picture!
 
 
 
 
 
We were really happy that the boys got to go and have fun.  Of course now they'll expect this all the time.....
 
 
 
 
Sarah and Sam were out on the swings this morning having fun.  Sam is getting so big we can hardly strap him into the toddler swing.  But they still love it!
 
 
 
 
 
Sarah got her wheelchair today.  It's lovely and she likes it.  I'm hoping our insurance will cover one for Sam too.  He walks, but not far distances and both of them are too long for the big strollers we have.  He will be jealous of her wheelchair.  There have been times we've had just the single stroller and put Sarah in it and Sam just sits down on the ground in protest. 
 
 
 
 
 
 We'd hoped that Sarah would walk but despite intensive therapy and all kinds of doctor visits, she just doesn't.  We are not sure exactly why.....    All the doctors say her legs are strong enough and she really doesn't have CP.  It's like she doesn't have the desire.  It might be because of her vision, she doesn't have the sight to see things so there is no drive to move.  She'll walk some in her walker but she doesn't like to do it for long.    Sam was just turning 3 when he started walking.  He really took off after he'd had the corneal implant when he was 3.5 years old.  So maybe the lack of sight is what holds her back.   She'll walk out on her sidewalk but to take her anywhere with the walker is just overwhelming to everyone.  Maybe that will change, but at least we have her a wheelchair now to help us get her around:) 


Well hope you all have a great weekend.  Our boys will be home tonight cause Steve has work tomorrow.  We'll be glad for them to come home!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

VEGAN update

VEGAN update.....we were vegans for a month, I had a couple of "slip ups" but Jon was perfect.  Now with half of house packed up, we are not always eating vegan.  Cooking Vegan is a commitment and time consuming but worth it!    Both of our cholesterol went down.  Mine went from 202 to 168 and his 210 to 178 and that is just in one month!  Is that crazy or what?.  But we both have higher than normal triglycerides  levels.

 We also got some scans done, mine are fine but Jon's show some plaque in his arteries.  It doesn't impede blood flow...YET!    That finding was incredible to me!  Jon rarely ate fried foods growing up and probably has not had fried food more than once a year. He only eats it if we are at some dinner or something and he can't escape it.  The last time I can remember him eating fried food, was at a banquet at the prison and he tore off all the skin!  That's the best part!  If anyone should have plaque on their arteries it should be ME!  Fried Chicken is my comfort food.  One of my friends I worked with would laugh at my lunch choices.  It was always easy to see when I'd had a rough day, I'd head right to KFC!  Of course I restrain myself a lot these days. 

So with that finding, he will be having some more tests.  No one thinks he has any real risks right now but with his terrible family history, he has to take more care.  Once we get moved, and unpack I'm going to be back to cooking vegan!  I will say, the other night we were eating grilled chicken from Sonny's our favorite BBQ place and both of us were just about purring LOL.  When you've been away from meat, you appreciate it more when you eat it again.  Some folks get where they don't like meat, I'm not sure that will happen to us!

I can't imagine him exercising any more than he does.  He generally gets 2 hours in Friday-Sunday.  During the week he generally gets some days in which he gets a full hour of exercise in.  With his job as a chaplain, he walks the campus of the prison all day long.  He used to wear out a pair of dress shoes in about 9 months.  He would literally wear a hole in the shoe.,  So he asked if he could start wearing tennis shoes, and he was allowed to wear black ones-plus it's better for his back.  Now he still wears out tennis shoes but not as quickly.  So it's not like he is sitting on his butt all day.  At this point, I'm just very thankful he has taken care of himself over the years, knowing the health risks that runs in his family.  When we were first married, I didn't quite "get it" but when my brother in law almost died at only 32 of a massive heart attack, I suddenly got a lot more concerned about heart health!  Jon refuses to take Statin drugs and really his cholesterol is not bad enough but his doctor wanted to put him on a statin as a preventive measure.  I'm hoping the vegan diet full time or close to full time will do the trick. 

I just encourage all of you to be aware of your body and to take care of it.  I know I need to do better, it's so easy to be bad-there is fast food everywhere and all kinds of convenience foods that are full of chemicals and ingredients that are terrible for us.  It really is a battle daily.  I have to be prepared to feed my family healthier meals or I will go and get take out.  At leas I fight it:)
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SOOOOOO  good news on the house!  I got a call from our contractor today.  I told him I feel like a teenage girl when I see his number come up on my phone:)  It's better than getting a call from a boyfriend!  Haha!   It looks like almost everything will be done by the end of this week.  Of course this is Florida and there is always rain to deal with.  Next week the inspections from various county agencies will start....  I'm crossing my fingers for a move in date of April 18-19 but that might be premature.  Selah's surgery is set for May 5th, I really really want to be moved in and settled before we have to deal with that.  Unfortunately the surgery is quite extensive-anything with the hip is rough.  She did good last year, but we hoping this will be the final surgery she will need on her hip.



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Well my older boys are going on an EPIC adventure for spring break week.  I'm not going to share the details on line till they are back but I can tell you this Mama is learning how to "let go" and let them grow up.  Having gone through so much more than most people go through to have a child, both my biological and my adopted kids, and then having gone through a tragic accident, it's hard for me to not worry about my kids' safety but I PUSH myself to let them go and do things even if I have to take drugs (just kidding, I rarely have to do that!  LOL)   So anyhow if you think of my boys, just say a little prayer that they will be safe while they are having a fun time this week. 

The thing I appreciate about both of them, is they really don't get how special they are.  They just are who they are and most of the time just incredible guys. It makes me want to let them do things that I never got to do, and certainly never at their ages!!!  I'm a bit jealous and wish I was going with them.

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Hope you all are having a great week!