Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Hike in the Woods

Today Jon and I hiked almost six miles in the woods.  11,680 steps for me.  Both of us love being out in the woods.  I prefer a larger trail than he does so today we went on a well marked trail.  We walked all the way in, quiet, both of us thinking about things.  Then on the way out, we started talking about our life.  One thing I'm so thankful for is that he & I are generally 100% on the same page.  It makes life so much easier, we don't try, it just happens.  So we were talking about some things we've thought about for years and it just amazes me how we've come to the same conclusion. 

Its funny how marriage evolves.  In some ways Jon and I are a lot alike.  Neither of us are shy in public situations, our "world view" is generally the same...only difference is Jon has TACT, mine & his share of it!  And I have ZERO tact.  I try sometimes to use tact and then think "what the heck, let me just say what needs to be said"  Jon on the other hand has enough Tact for the both of us and is probably the only reason I'm still alive LOL  Otherwise someone would have shot me by now, I'm sure!

When we first got married and for the first decade, all I could see was our differences.  I'm sure he felt the same way.  But as time went on, and we grew up, we began seeing how much alike we are.  The Bible says a married couple becomes one flesh, I understand that now.  For us it took awhile :) 

Our biggest fights were about "spiritual things".  Basically he thought I was not "spiritual " enough and I thought he was "too spiritual"   LOL  that sounds funny doesn't it?  Now we look back and laugh at the ridicules things we fussed about.  Probably 95% of it were things we "learned" from other people or even God Help Us, from marriage books or seminars.  For the record I only went to one seminar and was forced into it.  We were on staff and there was no way out of it.  ( Well today I'd get out of it, but back then I was nicer)  Jon used to read Christian  books on marriage, I didn't except for one that was about sex LOL   Even years ago I knew to laugh and ignore "self help" books, Christian or not, that is one thing I do not need!  

As our lives got "real", we began to realize a few things.  There is not a self help book out there that can make you feel better when life is crashing down.  All those silly little "marriage tips" that you're given in classes or hear in seminars are usually pretty stupid & empty, when LIFE starts happening.  We learned we had to make OUR own way, not listen to others but cling to each other. 

Over 90% of families with special needs kids end up divorcing.....when I first heard that, I was floored.  Now over the years I've seen that happen time and again.  For us, it's drawn us closer than we ever dreamed.  There were a number of years our marriage was quite shaky.  We probably would have divorced because of the social pressure but.....   However we grew past that and then when we were given Sam almost 11 years ago, we both realized we'd better hang on tight cause the ride just got bumpy! 

I'm not writing all of this to tell you what a perfect marriage we have LOL- we still fuss and he swears he is the ONLY pastor that gets the "Italian salute"  from his wife (I'm sure he is NOT)   But I do want to encourage you to hang in there if you're going through a hard time in your marriage.

And another thing do NOT envy another person's marriage!  You do NOT know what they've gone through to get to the point they are at NOR do you know what they might be asked to go through in the future.  I can think of several couples I've looked at in envy and everyone of them has ended up going through some deep waters and most are divorced now.  You don't see what actually happens in a marriage. 

Well guess I'm giving marriage advice!  But my advice is work it out between the two of you, don't think you have to be someone else or perfect.

If you are single....and want to be married....  There is NO perfect person.  If you are a Christian -I'd advise to pray and ask God to send you someone and then go about your business.  Don't try to "make" someone be God's will for your life.  I can say that cause I tried that and it didn't work!!!!   So glad I waited. 

How do you KNOW it's the right one?  I haven't the foggiest!  LOL  I just kind of jumped in with Jon and I'm thankful he was the right one for me!   One thing was we were BOTH 100% doing what God wanted us to do in ministry-neither one of us was sitting around waiting to do things because we were single.  I liked that about him and he liked that about me.

Well that is enough marriage advice from me!

I'm going to read one of my new favorite authors John Grisham.  I'm readying "The Chamber".  I've liked every book of us I've read thus far.  I totally get into the characters and can "see" it.  Love books like that.  I'm not usually a fan of male authors but Grisham is different.  In fact his book "The Testament" could be sold in a Christian bookstore, what a story of redemption.   BTW I'm not into Christian novels at all.  The only ones I slightly liked were the Frank Peretti's set "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness"  I think I liked them cause they reminded me of my crazy hometown.  Not quite sure I believe the "theology" of the books though. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sarah Covenant House- India

Today I have a ministry to share about that I'm really JUST learning about but it has been around for a while!   Sarah Covenant House  in India 

Here is their FB page

And this is one of the moms

She lives and works in a home there.  She has followed our story and one of their new children in the home is named after our Selah:) Selah, Charlotte and Chloe all need sponsors....  Charlotte and Chloe are both blind and remind me of my Sarah. 

Somehow I had missed out on this wonderful ministry!  I'm so excited that I read about it and now am learning more.  What a great thing to be involved with!!!!!   Can I encourage you to help sponser a child???
Charlotte and Chloe are on here, Selah is not on here yet but will be added soon.
Such a great way to do something for an orphaned child if you are not in a place to adopt!

This is their vision!
Throughout the world there are people who feel that children with special needs lack worth, or that there is a shame in being differently abled.
Jesus sees them so much differently. He said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matthew 19:30). These children, who aren’t valued by society, are the very ones He wants to lavish with His deep and unending perfect love. We want to be part of that!
The vision for Sarah’s Covenant Homes is to provide our children with the next-best thing to a traditional family. Love, growth, laughter, nurture, and more love!
Over 100 children have been referred to us by the government, having been abandoned or relinquished by their families. Most of them arrive in extremely weak condition, with illnesses, anemia, and medical/surgical needs. We provide them with medical care, education, physiotherapy, good nutrition & supplements, and lots of love.
In the future, we see a large campus that contains apartment units where SCH kids are fostered in family units with lots of one-on-one interaction and therapies. A mini-hospital, kitchen, chapel/prayer room, school rooms, therapy rooms, laundry and playgrounds will all be central and shared for a warm community feel. We are committed to our children and young adults—kids won’t “age out” of SCH and be sent to an institution or released to fend for themselves. But because we know that we can never replace a loving biological or adoptive family, our prayer and desire is that many of our children would eventually be placed in wonderful adoptive families. For those who will be adopted, SCH will be a place where they can get well and thrive physically and in every other way and learn that they are valuable and worthy of love.

Here are some questions and answers about Sarah Covenant Houses

01) In a nutshell, can you describe SCH and the vision for it?
  • Children with developmental disabilities and neurological special needs are the most likely to be abandoned and least likely to be adopted children in India. The Lord told me, “Feed My lambs.” I find these overlooked and undernourished (in all senses) lambs languishing in institutional orphanages or hospitals, and bring them home, providing them with love, education, therapy, medical & surgical care, and LIFE in a family-style environment.
02)  Who are you?
  • Sarah Rebbavarapu founded Sarah’s Covenant Homes in 2009.  Sarah is an American woman married to James Rebbavarapu, an Indian citizen. They have been married for 19 years and together run Indian Christian Ministries, an NGO (Non-governmental Organization) in Andhra Pradesh India.  With the recent addition of their twins they now have four daughters and a son and have lived in India as a family since late 2000. Sarah can be reached at!
03)  Are the names used on the blog the children’s real names?
  • No, they are not the children’s official names. We use nicknames on the internet to protect the children’s privacy. Click here for more info about how and why we select the names.
04)  Are you an adoption placement agency? Can I adopt a child through you?
  • We are not permitted by the state government to place our children for adoption, either in India or abroad. These children are wards of the government, though, and the government is the state’s only recognized placement agency, so they are able to place abandoned children with and without special needs (including, if they so choose, our SCH children) at their discretion. To adopt an Andhra child, an Indian family settled in India should approach the state government Women Development & Child Welfare Department Adoption section. Foreign married couples or single ladies may adopt children for whom families in India cannot be found, but only through a licensed placement agency in your home country.
05)  What types of special needs do your children have?
  • The vast majority of our children have neurological special needs: epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, cognitive challenges, hydrocephalus, brain damage, autism etc. or combinations of the above. Many also have orthopedic challenges, about ten are blind, and two have hearing loss.
06)  How many children do you have?
  • As of July 2014 SCH is currently home to 130 incredible children.
07)  Do you serve families who are seeking residential care for their special children?
  • At this time, the children we serve are all abandoned children whose family backgrounds are unknown or children whose parents relinquished them to the state. We also have three adults with various challenges who have no family support.
08)  What services do you provide for the children?
  • We provide physical therapy, early intervention, nursing care, and special education on-site six days per week. Thirty of our children attend mainstream private schools. We are currently seeking a full-time speech therapist, a physical education teacher, vocational trainer, and an occupational therapist.
09)  How are you funded?
  • We are funded entirely through donations. We invite partnership from individuals, businesses, foundations, churches, etc. in India and around the world! At this time, we do not have any committed support from foundations or organizations–please do consider getting involved personally and also helping us to connect with individuals and organizations that might be interested in working together with us for the sake of the children.
10)  How much does PayPal take out of a gift I send online to Sarah’s Covenant Homes?
  • They take approximately 3% of the gift, plus $0.30 per transaction.
11)  Can I give via PayPal if I don’t live in America, If I don’t have a PayPal account?
  • Yes to both. All you need is a major internationally recognized credit card.
12)  Where does a PayPal donation to SCH actually go?
  • The entirety of the donation (minus PayPal fees) goes directly to us via Sarah’s Covenant Homes, a 501(c) 3 Montana-based nonprofit organizations (also called “India’s Hope”). The US nonprofit wires the donated funds to us in India. The local bank waives wiring charges as a way to bless our work, so that makes your gift to help the children stretch even further.
13)  I’d like to send a check. Where should I mail it?
  • Checks made out to “Sarah’s Covenant Homes” can be mailed to:
Sarah’s Covenant Homes
P.O. Box 368
Chinook, MT 59523 U.S.A.

14)  Which way do you prefer that we give?
  • This is probably the most frequently asked question. To be honest, I’m just thrilled that you want to give and am happy if you give in the way that’s most convenient for you. I personally don’t give to many organizations that I can’t give to online, so I certainly understand if that’s how you prefer to give as well. Some organizations give you the option of adding a little bit to cover the PayPal fees so that the intended amount all gets there–I tend to do that whether they ask or not. PayPal’s pretty fast, and they really don’t take that much out of the gift anyway, though–it’s worth it because of the convenience to donors.The absolute most economical way to give is to mail a check to Sarah’s Covenant Homes in the USA (see mailing address question above)–almost nothing gets taken out of it. This may be the best way to give large donations.Our US nonprofit is great in that they’ll change their regular wiring date to accommodate our needs. If we need money fast for an unforeseen emergency or need, they’ll wire the money that day.
15)  How much overhead does SCH (the US nonprofit) have?
  • It’s a very tiny amount. Sarah’s Covenant Homes is run by volunteers at this point and takes out of donations only what is needed to pay for one internet and phone connection and a few supplies such as printer ink, paper, postage etc. A lot of these expenses are borne personally by those involved as well–it’s a sacrificial work in which we’re all personally invested.
16)  Is the US nonprofit a foundation or endowment?
  • No, they do not have any large fund from which they make donations–they connect the project and supporters.
17)  Are donations made via Sarah’s Covenant Homes/India’s Hope tax-deductible in America?
  • Yes, donations to SCH can be made through our 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization in the US. The organization’s registered name is India’s Hope, and it also has official IRS permission to do business as (“DBA”) “Sarah’s Covenant Homes” and receive donations made out to “Sarah’s Covenant Homes” or “SCH.” (Contact us if you need a copy of the DBA registration).  Donations made through the US nonprofit are sent directly to our organization in India designated for the children, and are tax-deductible for US donors.  You will receive a receipt for your donation.
18)  How can a Canadian citizen donate and receive a tax deduction?
  • A wonderful Canadian friend would like to register SCH as a nonprofit in Canada.  She is just in the beginning stages of the process. Right now, donations can be made via Sarah’s Covenant Homes in Montana, but it won’t qualify for a tax deduction–I’m sorry about that! If you would like to be part of making SCH Canada happen, please write us!
19)  I live in India. How can I best donate to your organization?
  • Here are our bank details for ICM’s Sarah’s Covenant Homes:Bank Name: Federal Bank
    Ongole Branch

    Branch code: FDRL 000 1351

    Account Number: 13510100051559

    Account Name: ICM
20)  What our others ways I can donate to SCH?
  • We are also very thankful for gifts in kind like children’s clothing, shoes, bed sheets, toothbrushes & paste, combs, etc. and would welcome donated services such as from medical and dental professionals, orthopedists, carpenters, welders, painters, etc.
21)  I’m from a country other than the ones you mentioned. What should I do?
  • That’s wonderful. You can donate in any currency via PayPal in any currency using an internationally recognized credit card. Or, if you’d like to make a very large donation and prefer not to use PayPal or send a check to the US address, please contact me at for details on how to give via Western Union or bank wire.
22)  Is Sarah’s Covenant Homes a registered charity in India with permission to receive foreign funds?
  • Sarah’s Covenant Homes is one “project” (for lack of a better word–it’s so much more) of India Christian Ministries, an indigenous registered charity directed by James Rebbavarapu, an Indian minister. India Christian Ministries (ICM) is registered with the FCRA (Foreign Contributions Registration Act) and is permitted to receive foreign funds.
23)  How much of what I donate for SCH goes to ICM administration or other ICM projects?
  • Three percent is retained by ICM to help cover things like maintaining of registrations, hiring accounting staff, auditing, etc. for all programs. Ninety-seven percent of donations for SCH are deposited immediately and directly in the account (SCH Hyderabad or SCH Ongole) to which they are designated by the donor (or by Sarah, in the case of general donations according to need).
24)  Can your children be sponsored?
  • YES! Currently we do have several children being sponsored.  Our cost is approximately $200-$300 per month per child.  This is excluding any additional surgeries or private schooling. Educational sponsorships for those children who attend mainstream private schools are also much-needed and appreciated!  To sponsor a child, visit the “Children in Need of Sponsors” gallery and click on a child’s photo. On the child’s page, you will find a paypal link where you can set up a monthly sponsorship. Not a paypal member? That is okay because you can sign in as a guest. And if you have any more sponsorship questions, you can email us directly at
25)  Can I set up a recurring donation to be made automatically from my bank account or credit card?
  • Yes! It’s a wonderfully easy way to give and it gives us such peace to know that we can count on a particular amount monthly. I can generate a customized PayPal link for you in about five minutes. Drop an email to and let me know the amount you’d like to give monthly and the designation, and I will email you the link right away. You can stop it anytime via your own PayPal account if the need should arise.
26)  How are the volunteer staff members compensated at Sarah’s Covenant Homes?
  • We are all personal givers to SCH.  None of our volunteers draw a salary from ICM, or Sarah’s Covenant Homes. Occasionally someone designates a gift for staff members, and the US nonprofit honors their wishes and deposits that into a personal account.  Our volunteer staff is entirely responsible for raising their own support to meet their financial needs.
27)  What if I cannot afford $200.00 a month to sponsor a child?
  • That is fine.  We have several children that have multiple sponsors.  Sometime 2 to 3 or more families or individuals come together to take care of one child.
28)  Can I communicate with my sponsored child?
  • At this time we don’t have a reliable way of facilitating two-way communication from the children.  Several of our children are nonverbal and/or would have difficulty even understanding the concept of a sponsor, but of course their need for a sponsor is just as crucial, so we hope you would not be dissuaded by that.
29)  What types of updates can I expect regarding my sponsored child?
  • We are currently working on continuing to strengthen our updates and information regarding our children.  With the addition of some new long-term staff members as well as a redesigned website we hope to make large strides and leaps in this area.  Right now so many of the children have come to us with such serious needs that our attention has been primarily focused on their care and getting them out of danger.  We provide four email updates per year to each sponsor, about their specific child.
30)  I’d like to help, but can’t commit to a monthly sponsorship at this time. What other options are there?
  • In addition to monthly child sponsorship, we have many ongoing needs. Several of our children need surgeries, and we need one-time gifts to help us do this. We also love to have people come and volunteer. Spreading the word about us via your blog, your Facebook page, or your e-mail list helps SO much as well,

Wow lots of info but I think it is so important for you to get to know this organization like I have!  Please give if you can! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Shepherd's Crook Ministry

Sunday we were blessed to have The Shepherd's Crook Ministry and its founders Scott and Kathy Rosenow with us. TSC is a ministry that has been around for awhile and has a spotless reputation.  In 2006 they featured Shad, as a hard to place orphan.  I got to know them through his adoption and have appreciated them ever since.  Scott and Kathy live what they preach, having adopted 17 children from about 6 different nations.  All of their children were "hard to place" either because of a special need or being an older child. 

Here is their FB page

Here is Kathy's blog
Love this blog since it mentions us, my friend Angie and my friend Jan- They ministered at each of their churches this weekend and we are all contacted now for many years....

And this is their website

I urge you to consider giving to this wonderful ministry.  After hearing them speak, I am reminded again of the importance of adoption and the beauty of it!!!  They NOT only help children to get adopted but help the ones left behind.  I'm just blown away by their personal story and how God has led them thus far.

Kathy and Scott sharing


The kids singing

All of them wanted to meet Selah since they've prayed for her for so long


Jaden kept calling Shad "Papa"  Shad LOVED it!  He sat with him and talked with him all through lunch. 

We were honored to have them come and share about their lives with us.  These are the people I admire.  They make a real difference in the world and live what they talk about.  Again I encourage you to go to their sites and read about them.  Support The Shepherd's Crook if you can!!!!   Pray for them that God will open doors so they can help more children. 


On a personal front.....

The house is moving right along.  We are still waiting on the windows where ever they are in the world....hopefully they will come in tomorrow!  Today we went by to meet a group of new volunteers who are working on the house.  Sarah was a bit upset as they were cutting the siding and the noise drove her crazy.  Steve was carrying her around.  When Sarah gets nervous she pats us on our back, Steve said he probably has a bruise from being "patted" on the same spot for about 20 minutes! 

Well my research about redoing our new van turned up a lot of issues.  I finally got a clear answer that a Kia can NOT be made handicapped accessible.  So as I began to look at trading in the van for one that could be refitted I found out that it costs $15,000 to remodel a van.  We have looked at some handicapped accessible with the idea of trading the Kia in BUT the lowest price we found was about $20,000 for a 12 year old van.  I'm very disappointed.  The doctor and company had bought this van before discussing it with us as a wonderful surprise and we so appreciate it.  After I found out it was a Kia, I knew that we had been told that our Kia could not be refitted when we first brought Selah home.  Then we were told it might be possible with an older van but after all of that it's not.  We couldn't have afforded it anyhow.   Right now we are just going to wait for a few months to figure out the best thing to do.  We need to get moved into the house first and get all that paperwork and financing done before we look at trying to finance a van for Selah but it has got to happen.  She is getting too big and it's not safe for her or us to move her back and to and in and out of a wheelchair.  She needs a van that she can be loaded into while still in her wheelchair.  If you would please pray that this will work out for us and soon!!!!!


Friday, January 23, 2015


Wesley Chapel Toyota is partnering with Habitat for Humanity to help build our home.  They made a video of one of their work days.  It shows the home, complete with a drone fly over :)   Our family was there also.  I can't load it on here but if you go to my Facebook page below you can view it. PLEASE like the FB page too:)  Thanks!

Yesterday we picked up the van that was given to us by Dr  Bonati  of the Bonati Spine Institute.   It's a 2008 Kia Sedona.  Now we are in the process of finding who can make it wheelchair accessible for Selah.  It's funny we have a Kia Sedona that is grey it's a bit newer but everything is about the same in both vans.  We were originally told that our van couldn't be made handicapped accessible but now they have told us a Kia possibly can be modified.  We will have to take out some seats so that's why we couldn't do it with our van as we need every seat!   So I'm researching how we can go about doing it.  Just to have a vehicle that we can fit for Selah is wonderful.  Transporting her is one of the hardest things we do.

So we ran around getting paperwork done all day (we- as in me and all the kids)  No one got a nap!  Then we went to a cookout with the RV volunteers of Habitat for Humanity.  That was fun, getting to spend time with some of the folks who have worked on our house.  The little ones did much better than I would have though they would have done with all the traveling they'd done. 


Sarah had a friend feeding her baked beans. 
So these are retired folks who come to Florida (or several southern states) in the winter with their RVs.   They camp out at the HH's RV park and work Monday - Friday.  They are all an amazing bunch of folks.  Some commit to a 2 week time period, some are there for  months.  It's easy to see the friendships that are made and grown as they all work together.  I'd encourage you to get involved in something like this if you like to RV and to help others.  There are lots of sites like this one you can work on and I believe they also do this in the northern states in the summer where RV'ers can live on a site and work for Habitat! 
Totally different subject....
I've been asked how we communicate with Sam, Sarah and Selah. 
Well Sam says NO- his only word besides Mama and Dada every now and then.  We LOVE when he says NO and we hear his voice.  Since Sam understands some receptive language- what he hears - we can continue asking basic questions like "does Sam want to eat ?"  until he makes his happy sounds - sounds like "wooda wooda" then we know what he wants.  He doesn't understand non concrete ideas like he wouldn't understand "are you in pain?" so that's hard.   It's like communicating with an 18 month old
Sarah also has more receptive language skills than what she can express.  If I ask her to come to me, she will scoot over.  If I ask if she wants to eat, she'll clap and/or open her mouth.  She has said Mama a few times but she doesn't say anything else but will parrot back vowel sounds and enjoys that.  She doesn't understand as much as Sam.  So with Sarah it's like communicating with a one year old
Selah is like a baby, we can tell by her face expressions and her body if she is upset.  We also have her on a machine that measures her heart rate and her oxygen level.  If her heart rate is high, she is upset. 
So basically think back if you have kids, just like you KNEW what your baby wanted, it's basically the same thing for us.  We know them and have learned how to meet their needs by the clues they give us. 
So since I've been asked that question a few times lately I thought some of you might be thinking it. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Quick note!

As you can tell things are busy around here!  That along with too many annoying computer/satellite issues, when we move we will have the high speed Fios thank God!  I've lived in the country now for 10 years and even before then we only had dial up in our house which was out of the city limits.  We've never known the joy of real wifi  LOL SOON we will!

We went by the house today and the doors and some windows are going in.  the company sent the wrong size windows so we won't have them for a few more days but they'll all be in by sometime next week.  The siding is going up too:)  It has to fit up with the windows so it can't all be done until the rest of the windows are in but it looks great!

Here are some of the guys working hard.  the house was a beehive of activity today.  Some new volunteers were here so we met them and got a chance to know each other.  It's exciting:)
Well hope you all had a nice weekend and that this week is going good for you.  I have some longer blog posts coming but sometimes things have to roll around in my mind....

Friday, January 16, 2015

Crazy Week

What a crazy week....I think I say that a lot.....

Well Steve got the job and started training.  He's loving it. He set up a checking account today so he can have direct deposit and got a ATM card....LOOK OUT!

Monday was a hurry up and wait day for us.  I rushed around getting the kids ready for teachers and therapists and no one came.....

Tuesday Selah had a doctor's appointment.  We get her loaded in the van...and the van won't start....   So my nurse drove us.  On the way there we put Selah in the back seat and she was so stiff, it was awful.  We didn't bring her wheelchair because as we were trying to load it, it would not bend at all.  So when we got to St Joe's I went in and got a "regular" wheelchair.  Well by that point she was so tight and straight that all we could do was lay her in it and go up to the doctor's office.   Once we got there she had a "storm"...I was just about to have one with her by that point.  Luckily we were taken right back and could lay her down and give her her meds.  she calmed down.  The doctor's appointment was to see if she could have Botox injections in her legs to see if we could get her knees to bend again like they did before her hip operation last summer.  She is cleared to have it done, although the doctor is not sure it will help her.  What was so annoying is that his staff SHOULD have scheduled us for the Botox without this appointment as he had seen her and already ok'ed it before....  It made me feel good that he seemed annoyed with his staff. (It really made me feel good as just that morning I had called to confirm her appointment as I never got a call from their office.  It took me over 10 minutes for a receptionist to confirm the appointment)  So we talked to him about how we were going to take her home and he said we could put her in the front seat as it was more hazardous to her bones to have her in the backseat since it didn't recline.  She's so tall that her feet got stuck under the front seat on the way there.  On the way out of the office, I sat in the wheelchair and held her across me.  She is so long we had to be careful with her legs in the hallways.  The nurse pushed us out.  Our nurse said later she should have taken a picture, it looked like I was a new mom bringing home her new baby LOL   I don't know what people thought who saw us, but it worked.  She was much happier on the way home and more relaxed. 

Wednesday we thought we had the battery issue fixed, just thought someone had left the lights on....NOT~!  I went out to go to the Y and found it dead again.  Jon had to come home and jump it off, I picked up Shad from school early and then headed to a THREE hour wait in Walmart for a new battery to be put in...I was about to offer to do it myself when they finished!!!

Thursday Steve worked all day and Jon was involved with the prison's annual review.  He found out today that his portion with the chapel was in 100% compliance to all the state/federal regulations:)    That's a GREAT thing!!!!

Thursday night Steve spoke for a group of volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.  We all went with him and he did a great job.  The meeting was held at Wesley Chapel Toyota in one of their big conference rooms.   Steve did good and Shad helped hand out prizes, he loves to do that!


Here are some pictures from last Friday when Wesley Chapel Toyota folks worked on the house





Today the roof is on, including the shingles....WOOHOO!!!!  Doors and windows go in Tuesday!
Hope you all have a great weekend.  Jon's bringing home Chinese for us to celebrate his good score on his review:)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Shad's 9 year "Gotcha Day"

Shad has been our son now for nine years.  His actual "gotcha day" was on Thursday and we celebrated it by going out to eat today and he got two video games on Friday. 

Shad is a very unique kid/old soul.  Everyone that meets him loves him.  He is very outgoing and involved in life.  When I first met him in China, he was interested and agreeable to go with me.  There was another little boy meeting his new family for the first time who was freaking out.  Shad looked at the other kid like he was crazy! 

I went on my own to get him as Sam was not quite two and was very sickly.   Also at that time, one of those Asian flus was making it rounds so I didn't want to risk the kids getting sick.  I flew out on a Friday and got to Chengdu China late on Saturday night.  Sunday I got some sightseeing in and on Monday morning we were off to the orphanage to get the kids.

We drove and drove to the outskirts of Chengdu to get to it.  When we finally pulled in, my heart was just bursting!!!   They escorted us into a small conference room.  No one seemed to really know what was going to happen next and THEN the nannies came in with Shad and the other little boy.  Shad was very interested in everything that was going on.
This picture was our first one together.  Shad looks a little questioning in it LOL.   He got over it quickly and we started playing together.  We had been told that he was totally blind and delayed....NOT!  I was busy trying to keep him out of things within minutes.
After we signed some papers and made arrangements to meet the next day at the Adoption Office, we all left.  Shad immediately fell asleep on my lap.  The other kid, screamed!   At the time I was feeling pretty superior to the other family now I know that he falls asleep as soon he gets in a car LOL!!
When we got back to the hotel, I took him up and gave him a bath.   He had on FIVE layers of clothes.  At first I had thought he was a chunky two year old but as I got the clothes off, I was sicken to see marks all over his little skinny body.  It looked like insect bites or welts.  His back near his waist was bleeding from this skin condition.  He only weighed 19 pounds once we did the medical exam the next week in Guangzhou.  I thought Shad was skinny weighing only 19 pounds at 2.5 years old until we got Sarah who weighed that at 5.5 years old!
This picture was after his bath.  He seemed dehydrated.  Luckily I'd brought some Pedilyte and a bottle
This is a picture the next morning of us signing the adoption paperwork.  Even the taxi driver got included somehow LOL
Here are pictures of us at the Chengdu Panda Rescue as we sightsee waiting for all his paperwork to be done so we could head off to Guangzhou to get the America stuff done. 
This is a picture in Guangzhou of Shad on our balcony. 
You know I absolutely HATE to fly....well to get Shad I had to fly to Newark NJ, then OVER the North Pole into Beijing, then from there to Chengdu which is like flying from NYC to Phoenix Arizona and that was on a China airlines!  I was by myself till I got to Chengdu which is as far from Florida as you can get on the globe-literally on the other side of the world!!!!
From Chengdu we had to fly to  Guangzhou which is like flying from Phoenix to Miami FL, again on a Chinese air line.  It was a cultural experience.
So the family I traveled with, the mom cried all the time.  She had her mom, her husband and teenaged son and she cried.  I was all by myself with a little guy who was pooping raw hamburger looking stools.  I felt like slapping her  (geez I hope she is not reading this but she annoyed the heck out of me!)  Once we got to Guangzhou, we met up with some other families who were adopting through our agency but most of them were first time parents and very serious.  The other kids were younger and all seem to cry a lot.  I was very thankful for Shad!!!  All the men loved Shad who would eat anything and eat them all under the table.  More than once I had to stop them from feeding him extra food.  Shad was rather obsessed with food.  No one could believe how much food he could eat. 
Shad was and is such a unique boy.  I have to admit the first few months were not easy.  He was very independent and strong willed.  He threw a few crazy fits, where he would throw himself on the floor and bang his matter what kind of floor.  We managed to get those little fits STOPPED!  While we always knew he was our son, it was a new experience for us, as Steve was such an easy going child and Sam was still such a sickly child, we'd never dealt with a child like Shad.  There were a few times I thought we'd "bitten off more than we could chew" but within a few months, he really began understanding FAMILY and that he could come to us for his needs.  He was always funny and engaging so we'd have plenty of laughs when he was in a good mood.  At one point I talked to the social worker and explained to her how defiant he was and the social worker laughed at me and told me I had a two year old!  She did assure me that we'd see some big changes at the three month mark and we really did.  Things got easier and easier with him as the months past.  NOW looking back, I really feel his behavior was just a regular two year olds behavior.  At the time, it was so different than the other boys' behavior that it was a bit overwhelming.  Now when I hear people talk about their post adoption issues, I realize we really did not have many issues.
Shad has no memory of China but does want to go back and visit some day.  He has become such a fun kid.  Everyone loves Shad and he is enjoyable to be around.   I'm usually the one to pick him up from school and we do errands together.  I'm always glad for those times so we can talk, just the two of us.  He loves to read and his reading level is very high.  We are reading some of the same books right now and we discuss them together. 
He has a very Southern accent and loves ribs!  He is more like Jon and me as far as being social.  He is really like Jon in many ways, it is uncanny and we love it!  He is comfortable in social settings that make me uncomfortable LOL  He has no fear of people not liking him!  We kid him all the time and instead of the show "Everyone loves Raymond" should be "Everyone loves Shad". 
He's a great kid and I'm thankful that God gave him to us.  We would have missed out on so much if we were not the ones who got to be his parents. 
Shad meeting Jon!
This picture is priceless!!!!
And some pictures from today!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Busy Week!

This has been a busy week for us.

Yesterday Jon had the day off and we all went by our new house.  We didn't realize that there would be a large group there but the folks from Wesley Chapel Toyota was working on the roof.  We got to meet and thank many of them and take some pictures.  They had a guy out with a drone taking pictures of the work.  It was a lot of fun.  We'd never seen a drone before so that was interesting. 

here is the drone
the back of the house, the roof is almost ready to be shingled.
The next two I borrowed from HH's site.  They are from earlier this week.  We are pictured with some of the RV workers.
this is an adorable picture of Shad watching the roof go on earlier this week.

We had a good family day yesterday just going out to eat and then running a few errands together.  I was thinking that days like that make up the patchwork of our lives.....
I found Sarah's bed set yesterday and bought it.  She will go from a crib to a twin bed when we move and I found a beautiful quilt for her bed, the main color being PINK of course!   Even is she doesn't see her room, it's going to be a lovely, warm room, with a soft quilt and blanket for her. 
We stopped at our doctor's office and dropped off all kinds of paperwork for the poor man to fill out!  Literally have SIX different requests for each girl and a couple for Sam. 
Today we (as in me, Steve and Shad went through Sam's & Sarah's two toy boxes ( as in Sam's toy boxes- her tends to take her stuff) and got out every toy that didn't work, put I new batteries or threw it away.  I usually do that before Christmas but didn't have time this year, so now it's done.  I was afraid I was going to go into a seizure due to all the toys going off at the same time as we tested them LOL.  
Besides reading the Harry Potter series (I'm on book 5) I picked up some books at a thrift store.  One of them was "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" by Capt Ted Lawson.  What a great book about General Doolittle's daring bombing of Tokyo a few months after Pearl Harbor.   One of my father-in -law's close friend was on the Naval ship that the bomber flew off of and he was the one who pulled the things that hold the plane down, off of one of the planes.  He had some amazing World War Two stories to tell us.  I love WWII history.    I'd encourage all adults and teens to read it.  Good history from a personal aspect.   IF I believed in reincarnation and I do NOT....I'd think I lived during WWII as interested in it as I am!
We have a NEW thing that Sarah is doing that is not as fun as most things she does....she CRIES now....   Since we got her home (almost 3 years ago) she has seldom cried, maybe ten times.  Well that is changing!  She cried once on our NY trip and we think it was because the hotel bed was so high that it scared her.  We ended up making her a pallet on the floor as she was too upset to lay on the bed, even with me holding her.  Now this past week she has cried twice at the end of a meal when one of us has been slow to give her dessert -she loves her sweets.  Today she cried because she'd gotten her hands dirty in the back of her diaper, no one is sure how it happened.  she was in the living room and she most have noticed she needed changing and put her hands in it!  I was changing her to put her in the bath and she had so much poop on her hands that I told Steve to hold her hands so she didn't get poop on her face/eye area.  Oh she did not like having her arms restrained!!!  She threw a fit so I hurried up and got her in the tub and then she was all happy.  
It was nice having an angel girl who never cried but this is good.  When she cries, she finds it hard to stop and I feel it is because she had to keep quiet for all those years plus no one came to her cries.  Now I rush to her ( I can't stand to see her upset) and she is learning her needs are met when she cries, something that babies learn....    I am just glad I can be the one to go to her and give her comfort.  This is natural and a part of her emotional learning.  It makes my heart sad for all the orphans who have no one to care for them.....
Well just remembered I have to order some food for a luncheon after church tomorrow.  Hope you all have a good weekend!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winning Wednesday!

Titles are hard to come up with some days!

Yesterday I started classes at the Y.  I did Yoga and an aerobics class yesterday and today. Today I also met with a personal trainer and found that my BMI (Body Mass Index) is not where it should be!  She also taught me how to use some of the machines I'm not familiar with so between classes I did 30 minutes on the bike.  I'm just really thankful I am still able to walk! 

The classes I take are the "Silver Sneakers" class for older adults....let me just tell you, those classes will kick your butt if you do them just like the teachers tell you to do!  Of course there are folks who can't and there is no pressure but the classes are fat burning!  I thought the classes would be boring and slow......NOT!

Tomorrow I have to miss classes as Sarah has a wheelchair appointment.  Our PT felt it is best to get her a wheelchair that will fit her, instead of continuing to use a stroller.  Sarah will probably never walk long distances.  She still is not consistent with her walking skills and doesn't have a huge desire to walk.  However with me gone yesterday....she scooted all the way down the hall looking for me.  That made me happy/sad....I always worry what she is thinking if she can't find me!

Yesterday the trusses went up on the house and Shad and I watched some of it.
(oh boy my pictures came out normal!)

Shad standing in front of the swamp across the road.  He was hot in his sweatshirt, quite a warm day yesterday.

I love swamps....




Well Steve got an email from the Department of Corrections and they are starting his background!  It had all the instructions and info.  He is really excited.  He also has a job interview tomorrow with Walmart for a part time job which is great because it will take a few months for all the paperwork to be processed.  He then has to wait his turn to get into a class, so it will be a while. 
This is a busy week for us!  This afternoon I made myself sit down and do paperwork.  So many different things to take care of for the kids.  We are putting Sarah and Selah on the Medi-wavier wait list and there is so much paperwork to do, I did get some done today so I feel a little lighter.  But I still have more to do.
Hope everyone is having a great week!  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Morning!

Whew today was "one of those days"  Jon didn't think to wake me up so our physical therapist woke me up at 9:30!  Luckily Selah was ready for her (thanks to our nurse) and I stumbled around getting the kids all up. I meant to get up early as I had so many things to do.  But I did get some things done!

We Rejoined the YMCA.  Our Y has  dropped its' enrollment fee through the end of the month.  I think most  Y's have done that too.  IF you join your YMCA and give them my name, then I can get a month FREE! Then you can tell your friends and if they join you'll get a month free.  We've tried a few gyms over the years but the Y is the best for us.  Looking forward to Yoga tomorrow morning!

I went by the new house this morning as I had a question about a couple of things.  It's so fun to go by!  The main roof is going on our house tomorrow!!!! I'm planning to go watch it as they put it on with cranes....NOW things will really speed up! When  I was out there today and really enjoyed talking with some of the RV volunteers (they are retired folks who spend their time building HH homes.-they know what they are doing unlike some of us LOL) I'm not one to believe so much in "positive or negative energy" BUT there is so much positive energy going into that house! It will be even a happier home because of the folks who are building it!!!

Well Steve has decided not to go back to college this semester.  He did fine last semester with all B's but he wants to work.  He's applied to the prison but that takes some time so in the meanwhile he has applied to Wal-mart and they've called him for an interview.  He is excited and is looking forward to working there if hired.  He is planning on keeping it even after he gets hired at the prison, just working maybe one day or so a week.  We've let him make his own decision on this but I'm glad he gave college a try and saw that he could do it.   When you have adult's different!  LOL  He is such a joy (most of the time) I just want to see him happy and fulfilled.  Since he was a kid, he's wanted to work in the prison.  I think he'll be happy doing it. 

We've never ever ever pushed any career on him or even on Shad.  I had so many friends in Bible college who were going into ministry because their parents expected it of the.  We swore we'd never do that to our kids and we haven't!  We go out of the way NOT to encourage them to go into ministry....if God calls them, let Him do it not us!   None of our friends who were "encouraged' to go into ministry still are in ministry.....   So if working as an officer is what he wants to do and is happy, we are happy for him.  The state still is a good place to work for the long run (retirement and benefits)  Prisons are soooooooooooo  different from what you see on TV!  My husband works behind the fence as a chaplain and has for 17 years, he's never had many issues.  Of course being an officer is different but Steve respects people and will treat the inmates as men.  As long as he does that, he will be fine.  Steve grew up living at a prison (we did for about 3 years) he's been allowed to go in the prison a few times and he's met plenty of ex-prisoners over the years.  He is looking forward to a career and in the meanwhile getting experience  working- he hopes he'll get hired as a loss prevention person at Walmart but I told him they probably want him for his muscles and skills unloading trucks LOL!

I'll have some cool pictures to post tomorrow!  Can't wait to see the roof go on!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Surprise 9th anniversay surprise at Grace church

Today was our 9th anniversary at our church.  To be honest, I'd thought about it a few weeks ago and then forgot with all that has been going on with us.  Our church folks didn't forget though!  We were completely surprised after the service ended and our music minister asked to share something....then each family of our church shared and I was bawling!  Sometimes in the busyness of ministry, you can't help but wonder if anyone cares....well we found out today that they do!

They did a great job in surprising us!  Several things could have alerted us but I was so busy this morning I didn't pick up on anything until each person started sharing.  It was so sweet and thoughtful!

These past nine years have been challenging and have caused us to grow.  Being a pastor is not easy-if anyone says it is, they are lying LOL!   Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a pastor's wife.  When I married Jon, he was in ministry but not a traditional church.  He was the director of a homeless shelter.  We went from there to working for some years in a ministry called Teen Challenge in NYC.  Then he became a chaplain over 17 years ago.  When he was offered the chance to pastor this church, we thought we'd only be here a few years to "help out"  It wasn't like some big burning desire BUT God has caused it to become that to us.  It's funny.....we never saw ourselves pastoring in a rural church BUT we found that was just where we were supposed to be. 

Tonight I can help but think of all the things we have accomplished with the Lord's help and plenty of help from others.....  all three buildings on the campus are re modeled, we have a strong volunteer prison ministry in the church, we have a couple heavily involved in leadership of the Christian Motorcycle group,  we have a Spanish church meeting here weekly, we have no debt, our church giving to missions has tripled and we support adoptive and special needs families and orphan ministry.  We are a unique church, our folks are unique and have a lot of love for each other and for others, especially for the ones that no one else cares for.....

It's funny how God can put you in the right place.....

Nine years ago for the first Sunday here, Jon was alone with Sam and Steve.  I was in China picking up Shad!  That was probably a very unique start for a pastor and his family......Who knew then all that was ahead of us personally and with this church!  Glad we don't know the future but glad I know WHO does and that He walks with us through every trail!

Here's some pictures from today....including some pictures from our walk tonight!





Sorry the pictures are "off"  It must be our internet.  It was fine when we were away!!!!