Pages

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Week in a Relatively Large Adoptive Family.


So this post happened because of a joke my sister-in-law made about me writing a blog post about my stay out of state with her and her fam. I laughed pretty hard when she brought it up, but the more and more I thought about it the more it made sense. A lot of people think bigger families are weird and unnatural, I used to be one of those people. (I'm not saying bigger families are for every person. . . ) Before going to visit I had already changed my opinion on bigger families, my trip confirmed my change of heart. 
Big families rule, seriously. 

So some of you that know me personally, know that my SIL and her husband brought home two children from Eastern Europe last year. They also have two other children (and one on the way). I got to hang out with their crew for just over a week. There's a bit of chaos but it's pretty controlled, it was weird coming back home to my quiet life. . . I may be crazy but I've missed the chaos. I actually have dragged my feet writing this post because of how hard it was for me to transition back to my quiet life after my trip. 




One major thing that I really took away from being part of the crew is the importance of not stressing over the little things. The simple life is awesome. Maranda and Ed don't double as short-order cooks for their kiddos and I LOVED feeding their kids lunch for that reason .(Everyone got the same thing and there was minimal whining!) The kids know they have schedules and in between homeschool lessons they have access to the backyard where they're able to run, play, exercise, and explore. My nieces and nephews get to be kids! There are tablets, computers, and TVs in the house. . . but they don't spend their days in front of screens. These kids know how to play and have great imaginations, they bring me so much joy. 





S (who once spent all of his days in an Eastern European orphanage) would tell me of his adventures as a pirate and all about the fish he saw during his time at sea. J is the sweetest "puppy" you'll ever meet, complete with doggy sounds. R and D have become a pretty dynamic duo (R lived in the same Eastern European orphanage as S), you can often find these two dancing or collecting branches, leaves, and toys in the yard and making "sculptures" and "machines". 


Many mornings I woke up to a softly spoken , "I love you Aunt Family" from R or was the recipient of a random hug or kiss on the cheek. Not because I asked for those things but I think when you have lived life without a family and true acts of love. . . even the little things are a big deal. If I have to sum up R in one sentence. . . it would go something like this, "R loves harder than most people I've met and adores making people happy." Maranda and I would sit on the couch some afternoons and we'd watch tiny R pull her almost 11 year old Brother J around in the wagon. . . her little tiny cheeks turning pink as she strained and J clapping in the wagon behind her. I can already see Jesus working R's life and I can't wait to see her grow in him. 



Then there's Mr. S. Before I went to visit I had kind of prepared myself for S to take awhile to warm up to me. I planned on a handshake and maybe a short hug. The first morning when I walked into the living room, S greeted me like we'd always known each other. S is a tiny warrior, he has an upper body that is about 95 times stronger than mine and he is one tough cookie. S is VERY brilliant and catches on very quickly! One of my favorite moments with him happened when we were on the trampoline. . . I was teaching his sisters how to do back bends and back walkovers (when you kick your legs and use your upper body to flip backwards out of a backbend) and he goes, "I try Aunt Family!". Within five minutes this boy was flipping his whole body weight over using ONLY his upper body. I can't wait to see what Jesus has in store for S, I believe that his story will touch thousands. 



God places the lonely in families. . . (Psalm 68:6)

Most of you know that I advocate for waiting children on Reece's Rainbow. These two are a big part of the reason why I've chosen to advocate for these precious kiddos. These kids aren't just faces on a screen in a country across the ocean. . . YOU can make a difference in the life of an orphan today. 
(email me to learn more.) 
I love a good before and after. . . (S&R haven't even been home a year yet!) Once orphans, now beloved members of a family. 
This is what redemption looks like. 

Here are some children from S&R's country that are waiting for their story to begin. 

http://reecesrainbow.org/52873/cara

http://reecesrainbow.org/64331/lynda

http://reecesrainbow.org/24193/gina




Monday, February 24, 2014

Twenty-one Days of Hope! Meet Lynda.


http://reecesrainbow.org/64331/lynda

This is Lynda. Lynda currently spends her days in the same orphanage my niece and nephew once called home. . Lynda's hair has been cut very short and she often was put in boy's clothing. My sister-in-law and her husband met this little girl and even though they were there adopting Sam and Ruby. (So they were only a little busy!). . . Maranda knew that she needed to help "Lynda" find a Mama and Papa of her very own. So, I'm going to use Maranda's words instead of my own. . .

"We met Lynda when we were at Sam & Ruby’s orphanage this summer.  She was in the same groupa (the group of children who basically share life together…they eat, sleep and play together all day, every day). Lynda needs a family badly.  She was one of the least favored children in the groupa.  As you can see, her hair is cropped short.  Thankfully, they put a cute dress on her for this photo, but for several weeks at the orphanage we thought Lynda was a boy.  Most of the other girls in the groupa wore girls’ clothes and always had pretty bows in their long hair, but not Lynda or another little girl with mental delays.  These two girls were dressed as boys all of the time.  Lynda seemed to receive the least attention and was often found playing by herself.

She has a quiet, noble nature about her.  She was always very kind even though she received little attention.  She is in a “good” orphanage in that she is well fed and kept clean, but she so desperately needs a family.  On one occasion she wandered over to the play shelter where we were playing and was trying to eat Ruby’s cookie.  We didn’t have any extra (we brought treats for the groupa every three days or so) so Ed just picked her up to distract her and as soon as he did, she threw her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder just soaking in the attention.  It was the most precious yet sad thing I’ve ever seen.  She just wants to love and be loved…to be a Daddy’s girl.  I wish you could have seen the smile on her face as she hugged Ed.  It was priceless.  For that brief moment, she was in heaven.

She has hydrocephalus and is globally delayed in her development but she is still very bright and has so much potential in a family.  Judging by the size and shape of her head, it seems that either her shunt isn’t working or she has never been shunted.  A shunt is crucial for people with hydrocephalus to keep the fluid from building up around their brain.  She needs medical attention, but most of all she needs a family.  Lynda will turn five in December.  Just like Sam, she will face the threat of being transferred to an adult insane asylum where she would likely die."

 Right now Reece's Rainbow is doing a campaign entitled, "21 Days of Hope." From February 24th- February 28th you can vote for a child daily (And yes. . . you can vote for the same child each day.) . The "Top 21" children will be featured between March 1st-21st, wouldn't you love to see Lynda featured?! So. . . starting today, once a day you can vote for Lynda! A free way to help a precious little girl get one step closer to a family of her very own. If you click on the Image below it will take you directly to the page where you can vote, so select Lynda's name and you can VOTE HERE for Lynda once every 24 hours! A free and easy way to help an orphan! Pretty cool, right?

Edit: Lynda is one of the 21 featured kiddos, THANK YOU for your votes! Now she could use your (tax-deductible donations! When the Voice of Hope fund hits $7000, $2100 will be added to Lynda's fund!  
DONATE HERE!

Lastly if you're interested in learning more about Lynda, email me and I'll connect you with the right folks.




Sunday, February 9, 2014

White as snow.

We live in a society where it's commonplace to place blame on others. . . most times I don't even think it's intentional. We just know that it's much easier to not place blame on ourselves, we can still hold our heads high. We go on with our daily lives and choose not to think about how our actions affect those around us. The battles that we fight within we fight in secrecy and those aren't our fault either. It's very hard to see past our sin, to realize that we need to forgive. We create a mess and take residency in it.

I spent many years blaming my actions on people in my family, even on my closest friends. Then through many conversations and meaningful relationships, I realized that I didn’t' have to fight my battles alone. I realized that when I accepted Christ and asked him to forgive my sins. . .He accepted me. He accepted my bad days and my battles, He loves me so much. Christ did a work in my heart, it then became clear that the next thing I had to do was forgive those around me. I needed to stop placing blame on others for my decisions. It says in Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.” When we forgive those around us and confess our sins, we get cleaned up. Jesus takes us in His arms and scrubs layers of gunk off of us, He whispers in our ears that we're not alone. Through His forgiveness we are made new, we no longer have to live in our mess.

Where I reside we've had a lot of snow as of late. I told one of my friends that I was so tired of the inconvenience of snow and began to complain. She quickly told me that seeing fresh snow doesn't upset her, that she sees it as cleansing. Physical snow falling from the sky reminds my sweet friend that she's loved. That even though we hurt each other and in turn hurt Jesus. . .When we forgive and confess our sins we are given new life. Through forgiveness, we begin to see that the people around us deserve second chances as well. It says in Ephesians 4:32, “ be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. “. . . it doesn't say to be kind and forgive each other only when you feel like it. Always forgive, especially when it's difficult to do so. After you make the decision to forgive those around you, you will begin to feel love like never before. Your once messy life will take on a whole new meaning and your relationships will change for the better.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Family Warrior!

So most of you know I spend some time hanging out over at Reece's Rainbow. I've been a "Prayer Warrior" and "Angel Tree Warrior" and now I get the pleasure of being a "Family Warrior". At first I kind of pushed it aside and decided to not commit to it. . . Mostly because I have so much fundraising of my own to do for my missions trip to Eastern Europe. But all day something tugged at me to read through some family profiles and make a decision. I knew that I needed choose a family and stand with them.

So after a ton of reading I chose The Williams Family, I had read their story before. But after reading it last night I knew that these were the people that I needed to commit to helping. This is an excerpt from their Reece's Rainbow FSP (Family sponsorship Program)  . . .

"After the adoption of their two youngest domestically Crystal kept being drawn back to the beautiful faces on Reece’s Rainbow. In the summer of 2012 another Reece’s Rainbow family posted on Facebook about a girl from Eastern Europe needing a host family for the summer, they thought this would be a great opportunity and excitedly agreed to host her. They fell in love with this thirteen year old girl and started making plans to make her their daughter; up until this point Jared had not really been on board about going overseas for adoption. God had even bigger plans for them; they both felt someone would still be missing from their family. After much prayer they found Grayson and knew he was meant to be theirs as well. God still was not done in his plans for this family. The 13 year old girl was not able to be adopted by Jared and Crystal due to some extended family that she still had, and even though this devastated them they believed it was in God’s hands even if they could not see the plan yet. Just as God had led them to Eastern Europe he had then led them to Callen who was in the same orphanage as Grayson. They lost a daughter on that trip but gained another son."
Reading that broke me, I realized that as much as my trip to serve in Ukraine matters to me . . . Berkeley matters and so do her parents and siblings. So I'm looking forward to praying with and praying for the Williams family, I'm excited to get to know them! I can't wait to see the photos of Berkeley with her family, as soon as I saw her photo I couldn't help but smile. As most of you know I ordered bracelets in bulk for  Angel Tree. Well, I'm bringing them back! This time for the Williams family!



When you donate to the Williams' family (http://reecesrainbow.org/61131/sponsorwilliams) forward me your receipt at emmyxjoy@gmail.com. I'll send you some bracelets and you'll help this family get one step closer to bringing their sweet girl home. 

Learn more about the "Family Warrior" program by visiting the link above. 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

My big adventure!

Beloved friends, family, and readers:

I want to share with you a challenging ministry opportunity God has presented for me to take part in. During all of June, I will be going to Ukraine with a team of people from all over the United States. We will be working directly with orphaned and abandoned and I couldn't be more excited to invest time and love into these precious children.

The orphan epidemic in Eastern Europe is a huge issue that is often overlooked and not talked about. The ministry that I will be going to Ukraine with is well-aware of this epidemic and has been running Christ-centered camps for orphans for 20 years. I will be working alongside Ukrainian nationals to provide a Christ-centered program for these children. The presence of American Volunteers has encouraged Ukrainian locals to consider assisting at the camps and it helps boost overall morale. This is life-changing experience for everyone involved and I couldn't be more excited to serve in Ukraine.

Everyday we will be teaching Bible lessons, doing crafts, playing games, and doing skits. By combining both Ukrainian and American cultures, a unique community is formed. By combining all of our attributes we will become an unshakable team and we can speak life and hope into children that have a very bleak future. I believe that through Jesus these children will not be a statistic and will come back from camp forever changed. Our time with these children is vital and valuable, they deserve to spend a few fun-filled weeks surrounded by love and acceptance.

I need to raise $3,000 by May 30th. If you can support me in a financial way, I would be
forever grateful. Every dollar gets me one step closer to my goal, no donation is too small. And, most importantly, I also need your prayers. Your prayers mean more to me than I could ever being to describe to you. . . pray that the lives of these children are forever changed. Pray that I'm able be a light in the darkness and a source of strength for the children that I come in contact with.

Thank you and I can't wait to share this journey with all of you.







Wednesday, December 25, 2013

He loves Lanie and He loves me.

If you've read my blog at all the past couple months, you know that I've been raising money for a little girl living in Eastern Europe named "Lanie". . . during Reece's Rainbow's Angel Tree.
So many people showed love for this little munchkin, her 1k goal was met before the end of December.
I was amazed by the love that people showed for Lanie through monetary donations, prayers, and word of mouth. So if you're one of the people that helped Lanie this Christmas season, thank you. If you 're interested in donating and would like some bracelets, donate to the link that is the photo's caption and email me your receipt at loveforlanie (at) gmail.com

http://reecesrainbow.org/36282/lanie-l


During the first week or so of fundraising for Lanie I would say things like, "Good thing I'm not funding a whole adoption soon" . . . "Glad I don't have to do this for a living."  "This is hard!"
I had a quite a few bouts with frustration.
Then people happened, so many people united with me to help Lanie.
Jesus made it clear how big He is, how much He loves the orphan and little ol' me.
I knew it didn't end with Angel Tree.

So in the midst of advocating, something happened.
I started to feel a slight tug in the deepest part of my heart. . . to go to Eastern Europe.
After much prayer, I've decided that I will be going on an adventure to Eastern Europe early this summer.
To serve, to learn, and to become the best possible advocate I can be for these precious ones.
So after Angel Tree. . . my adventure begins.
In coming weeks/months I'll be posting more details about my trip. . . (cost, fundraisers, trip location, and what I'll be doing.)
But in the meantime, please keep me in your prayers.

Merry Christmas friends, I love every last one of you.





Monday, December 9, 2013

Daughters.

As many of you know, I've been raising money for a little girl named "Lanie" for Angel Tree this Christmas. 
Reality hit me the other night when I was praying for Lanie . . . 

This Christmas, Lanie won't be surrounded by her family.
She sits behind orphanage walls. . . She won't receive hugs and kisses from her family, there won't be a carefully stuffed stocking with her name on it. Lanie won't get to wear a pretty dress with tights and shiny shoes for family pictures. 

My prayer is that before this time next year, she'll be someone's daughter. 
 I'll smile (and probably cry) when I see a picture of her standing in front of a decorated tree with her family. 
Love will win, I just know it.  

A year ago, my friend Natalie's daughter Sara spent her Christmas in an orphanage. 
This year she is a beloved daughter and is learning new things every day. 
Spend five minutes with this little gal and she'll capture your heart. 
Love won. 


Me, Natalie and Sara.
Check out Natalie's blog at:
http://nataliekeller.blogspot.com/
Sara meeting Santa.
Here are some precious little girls waiting for their families. 
Little girls that would look precious in pretty dresses while wearing shiny shoes. 
These girls need to be seen, they deserve to be loved. 
 Could one of them be your daughter?


http://reecesrainbow.org/36282/lanie-l

http://reecesrainbow.org/40489/kimberley
http://reecesrainbow.org/24193/gina

http://reecesrainbow.org/64331/lynda
http://reecesrainbow.org/24244/tessa
http://reecesrainbow.org/38595/lene