Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Transportation Prayers

Please join us in praying for an affordable vehicle with a lift that can hold 2-3 wheelchairs (my power chair is optional, but Jon and Vanessa need their wheelchairs to best enjoy activities).  The vehicle needs to seat at least 14 including the driver so we can take Amber and Angela along too.  Extra seats beyond 14 would be a bonus for friends who might be crazy enough to want to go somewhere with us and for luggage and medical equipment that travels with us if we are gone more than a few hours.  Several people have asked if it can be a yellow mini school bus...yes!  The kids would love it!  It can be any shape, age, color, etc as long as it runs and has the items listed. 

We have found out that we can even install seat belts so please pray for the following:
  1. Affordable
  2. Wheelchair lift
  3. 2-3 wheelchair spaces
  4. Seats at least 14 including the driver
  5. An automatic transmission is preferred so I can drive it too (Something about a driver with just one good leg driving a standard makes the Department of Motor Vehicles nervous.)
The school bus provides our
kids the only opportunity that they
have to take their power wheelchairs
in public.
Please be praying that we will have the right amount of resources to pay cash for the vehicle when we find it.  We have passed on several vehicles because we would need to take a loan to cover the purchase.  As many of you know, we started on a path to be debt free in 2006 and our home is our final debt that we have yet to have eliminated. (You can join us in praying about wisdom in eliminating that debt too.)  We have made due without transportation for over 2 years, but now the situation is getting tougher as the kids grow.  Please pray for us to continue to be patient too.

I know some of you are saying that there is nothing wrong with debt if you can pay it, and I agree that responsible debt is not sinful.  In fact the Bible gives us guidance on being responsible debt holders.  However, we feel that God has called is to another standard of financial freedom and responsibility so we can be available to His direction for our lives.  For example, within 6 months between October 2009 and February 2010, God grew our family from 5 to 10 children and one of the boys spent 2 months in the hospital having open heart surgery and other medical problems!   We had no way of knowing that we would be given these awesome opportunities to expand our family and to help 5 little boys who needed a home.  What if we had previously made financial commitments to use the money that we needed to get them home?  To buy beds? To pay immigration fees? To buy shoes? To get lab tests for parasites? To get post placement reports?  We had to depend on God's provision to help us through that time, but if we had also had other debt, then we could not have met the financial requirements. 

INTRIGUED?  Our family specifically follows Dave Ramsey's advice for financial freedom and when the boys added to our family, we had just reached Step 4.  It took almost our entire emergency fund to get the boys settled, medically treated and deal with the legalities.  In fact we are still on Step 3, rebuilding our emergency fund over 2 years later, but we have no stress of debt on our cars, no credit card payments, no student loans left....It is a great way to live and be available for whatever happens next in life.  If your interested, check out http://www.daveramsey.com/new/baby-steps/?gclid=CPHfnqz0prACFUZeTAodOwR9DA

Owe no one anything except to love one another,
for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
~~Romans 13:8

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blogging Chicks

Corrine reminded me today that we had not blogged about her quickly growing chickens.  So here is a photo from farmer Corrine for those of you interested in their progress.
Their farmer Corrine is having a bit of a crisis that we are going to be
gone 2 days.  She is having a hard time picking someone she
trusts with her chickens.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Emergency Prep Test

Haitian beans & rice are a
favorite at our house.
On Monday April 16th, I started an unofficial test of my emergency preparations.  I knew going into the test that I had some deficencies such as not enough bottled water.  However, this month long test taught me several things and sent me to the store 2 to 3 times a week filling in gaps. This is a brief summary of what I learned.

1.  I had the wrong balance of food.  I needed more flour and more powdered/canned milk.  My milk supplies did not last a week!
2.  My kids would probably choose death over eating any of the tuna or spam stash. As Corrine pointed out, "I thought you had those in case the neighbors needed food during an emergency."
3.  Peanut butter is not my kid's favorite food without bread and jelly.
4.  Cereal without milk is not a good plan...no matter how good the cereal.
5.  Locating my emergency supplies was more difficult than I thought. 
     Grace: "Mom, where is the rice?"
     Me:  "In one of these 8 big boxes".
6.  Paper towels are less desirable in an emergency than wet wipes or toilet paper.  Make the best use of storage space, fill it with wipes and toilet paper!
7.  Day 7 of using up the emergency supplies will cause everyone to crave chicken nuggets, even the parents.
8.  Diapers!  A month long emergency plan can NEVER have too many diapers.  (A few cloth ones and plastic pants are going into my new improved kit because the "old way" is better than the "new nude way" when the diaper supplies are gone.)
9.  Treats for everyone!  Okay so treats may not be essential, but 30 days living with a teenager who is going without chocolate can have its own challenges.
10.  Having a 100 pounds of rice and 50 pounds of beans as part of the emergency plans, means one must be prepared to eat a 100 pounds of rice and 50 pounds of beans without it deminishing anyones will to live.

I'm starting the restocking plans now and I'm developing a more organized way to store and track the items so we can eat the old before it expires.  So far new items include the following:  multi vitamins, pediasure/boost, canned ham, canned Chef Boyardee, canned prepared baked beans, shelf stable cheese like parmesean and more focus on things the kids eat well like pudding, fruit (dried and canned) and yes, maybe even chicken nuggets!  (I'm so glad this past month way just a test and I could go to the store to fill gaps.  Hopefully, I'll now be better prepared for if there were a real emergency.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Neosho Master Gardeners Tamed My Jungle

March 2012 before the jungle "leafed out".
I REALLY wish I had taken a recent before picture, but all I have is this photo from March before everything leafed out and started taking over the front of my house. It had truly gotten out of control and too much for Grace and I to manage alone.  The ornamental grass had spread and blocked the down stairs door, hostas needed divided, and vinca vines were out of control.  A healthy size crop of polk was growing in the beds, not to mention Elm tree starts and dandelions.  It was so overgrown that the retaining walls could not be seen!

Today after a BIG cleanup!
Then a very nice lady from the Neosho Master Gardeners contacted me to see if I could use any volunteer help.  She had NO IDEA!  She came over and looked at my jungle last week, and today she returned with a fabulous group of gardeners who tamed the area in less than 4 hours!  Such a blessing!  They sized the beds down to a portion that I have a shot at controlling.  The out of control bushes were removed and the area in front can be seeded back to lawn.  Plus  I can open the downstairs door to my office without having to part and sort my way through the decorative grass to get in/out. 
I can open the office door and get in/out!

A BIG thank you to the Neosho Master Gardeners!  I am so pleased with how it looks.  I REALLY appreciate your help. 

For the earth [is] the Lord's,
and the fulness thereof.
~~I Corinthians 10:26

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tahiti & Chickens

Corrine has been working on improvements to the chickens' country cottage.  She went to the dollar store and bought a lot of the "Tahiti Collection" to properly outfit her cottage.  She got bamboo roosts and shallow bowls for nest boxes and place mats to keep the bowls in place.  She even bought the hens a mirror so they would be less bored.  Yes, Corrine is concerned that her chickens might get bored. (I can assure you, my grandmother NEVER considered if her hens were bored and they still laid good eggs.)  These chickens just need a disco ball and we will be approaching having scenes like out of "Shaun the Sheep"!  (BUT I'm glad Corrine is enjoying her chickens.)  Below are some pictures from the cottage. 
I find the toy phone on the wall to be a bit surreal
in a fabulously funny way!
Nesting boxes:  Tahiti Collection bowls and place mats
on a shoe organizer.

Friday, May 11, 2012

David is 9!

Today we celebrated David's 9th birthday. 

This is the 4th birthday that David has celebrated since he became a part of our family.  It is amazing to me to see how much and how fast he has grown.  I really miss 5 year old David who would sneak in our room and slept by our bed; AND 6 year old David who was frightened by his big new school; AND 7 year old David who worried I would die like his birth mom; AND 8 year old David who told me that I love him "too much", but I'm glad 9 year old David is able to start this year confident of himself, his place in the world and as fearless as his peers.  We have been through many milestones in 4 years and I look forward to many more while wishing we had lived his first 5 years together too.

I think Grandma picked out
 the right gift.
Birthdays of our adopted children are often bittersweet to me because it reminds me of the time my children spent outside of the loving protection of a family.  I will never understand how the citizens of this planet can allow kids to have such rough starts to life, but I'm very blessed that God set us and David on a path to be family forever.  Many adoption critics would point out that this post's first paragraph fails to recognize that David's life story started before age 5.  To those critics, I would say David lives with good memories and his healing emotional scars everyday.  They have become a part of his future as these have helped shape who he has become.  Below is a photo of a worried David, sitting on a table about to receive lifesaving nutrition, medicine and LOTS of love from Children of the Promise.  Many kids like David were close to their life story ending too soon, but were sustained by the efforts of groups like Children of the Promise

David's 1st picture
The "orphanage" as we often call it, has become a resource center for families in Haiti.  Children of the Promise is building for a future that lets them provide kids with the security of a family from the minute that they enter into care.  This will let kids like David learn how to function as an individual that is part of a family from the beginning, rather than having them function as a group within a group.  We are excited for what this will mean for kids who have a family to return to, as well as for kids who are waiting to be adopted.  If you are looking for a ministry to support, I would strongly recommend Children of the Promise.  I've been there and I've seen the needs AND most importantly I've seen the difference that they are making for infants and toddlers in Haiti.  As David would tell me right after he came home, "Babies under the mango tree need a mom like you."  I'm so happy that Children of the Promise is moving to a new method of service that will give these babies the moms that they need right away while they are in the care of Children of the Promise.  I'm so pleased that we can be a small part of making these changes happen! 

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.
~~Matthew 25:35-36

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Matt is 5!

 My petite bundle of song and dance energy turned 5 today! 

Due to the severity of malnutrition in his first years in Haiti, Matt is still so small and is so far behind his peers.  Malnutrition in infancy has such a cruel fate on its small helpless victims.  It can cause trust issues and food issues and learning/self-control issues from the underdevelopment of the brain during those critical months.  Matt has been home almost as long as he lived in Haiti.  He has grown.  He has developed tons of new skills, but he continues to lag behind his peers.  Fortunately, Matt is unaware and mostly unaffected by his small size and his struggles to master language and early academics.   Although he gets frustrated with his tendency to stutter.

Next week I meet with the school about the transition to kindergarten.  He is just not ready and I'm really not ready for him. I know that if there is a time that he will discover his challenges, it will be with the help of his Kindergarten classmates.  I would rather he remain oblivious to how he compares to his peers.

However, tonight there was no worries.  As Matt says there was "just fun,fun, fun!"  Matt fell asleep on the couch after school and we had to woke him up at 7:20pm to get him to finish celebrating with cake and ice cream!  Not to mention presents!

BTW-A birthday money $aving tip:  Matt's cake below was a plain ready made bakery cake with green edging and a ribbon.  I purchased the $2.89 toys on top and kept them in their plastic packaging to keep them clean.  The names of the trucks were cut off the cardboard box and added along with the candles.  The result was a cake plus 3 toys (rather than a cake topper figurine) for under $20.  I would have paid $24+ for a character cake from the bakery and the cake topper would have been a waste. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jon's Big Day

If you are a mom or a dad, you have probably had something that you knew your kid could do or learn to do, but others may have had doubts and maybe even your child had doubts.  You may have prayed with and for that child, but you had not doubts.  You prayed for God to strengthen them or maybe to give you the right words of encouragement, BUT you knew your kid COULD do it, make it or achieve it.

Well, I have STRONGLY believed since I first met Jon in Haiti in 2008 that with proper therapy, practice & encouragement, Jon could drive a power wheelchair.  HOWEVER, our insurance company and some of our (previous) therapists had doubts. 

I had no doubts.  I knew Jon had never moved beyond creeping 2-3 feet on the floor and that took over an hour.  I KNEW Jon needed independent motion.  He needed to get to his location without waiting for us to guess and offer to move him.

So with our new amazing home health aid for Jon, I knew it was time.  I had the therapists that I needed AND I resized an old power chair, private paid for a few improvements AND we put Jon in it. 

Yesterday he really didn't even want to sit in his new chair.  We pushed the chair manually AND only turned it on to show him the horn AND he still cried easily when he was not distracted with a movie or bubbles.

Today he wanted in the new power wheelchair this morning.  Amber took him on his usual tour of the neighborhood and she egaged the chair, dared to turn it on and drove the chair slowly around the neighborhood.  Then she showed him that he could push the button himself...at first he was scared!  Then within 30 minutes he was able to chase Matt with minimal assistance.  Jon was thrilled, but was soon very tired from all the thinking!  He could make shallow turns and go forward by the time the therapist arrived around noon.

Just think, this day was the equivalent of any other child rolling, crawling & taking first steps...rolled into one BIG day!  Jon had never had to think about his body in relation to others.  He has never had to consider if it was a space he could fit through or if it was something he could crawl over.  He had NEVER put his own body in moion beyond just a few slow inches at a time.  It must have felt like the wind was whistling through his hair at the speed he was now able to achieve. 

One thing for sure, it brought out the onrey little boy that I knew lived trapped in his brain.  He was highly motivated to try to "run down" his brothers.  He giggled with delight as he ran into furniture and it scooted as he "pushed".  Today was my warning from Jon.  He clearly showed me and the therapists that if we give him the opportunities, he'll be just as onry as his brothers.  Too bad insurance isn't interested in letting little boys have the chance to be everything that they dream in their heads. 

We had some more changes to make to the wheelchair and hopefully after I get those parts, Jon will be able to drive in reverse too and be better with sharper turns too.  Then on to getting a workable communication device and developing reading skills....yeap, I know....some teachers have doubts...thats okay because I don't.  I continue praying for the wisdom and resources, but I have no doubts.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
 “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you
 hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and
 pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and
find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be
found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you
back from captivity.~~Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chicken Run

Well, the little chicks started trying to fly last week so they moved into their Country Cottage House both night & day. (and OUT of my bathroom!) With their move, the need for a place for the chickens to "play" outside was quickly upon us.  Mr. Workman had state debate tournament on Friday & Saturday in Topeka.  So our already busy Sunday, now had the request that we build a chicken run. 

Mr. Workman & I looked through the garages for what we might already have to aid in building a quick & temporary run.  An old broken folding table from my office, an old sliding screen door, some scrap lumber and some chicken wire AND about 60 minutes with the staple gun AND the chicken run was complete.  Granted it is not beautiful (and may violate our neighborhood covenant), but it is functional.  Most importantly the chickens seem to like it!