Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why "there" when there's so much need "here"?

My grandmother and I are talking about the gifts.  We're talking about how she could mention to her girlfriends that if they'd like to buy a small gift for one of the children we'll be visiting at the center in Ukraine, and I'll give her some photos to show them, so they can see the kids.  We talk about how it's so important for a child who has lost everything - sometimes more than once - to have a little something that is just theirs.

She tells me that she has enjoyed the shoebox projects her church does at Christmas, but that a lot of people ask her, "Why do you send things to kids in other countries when their are so many needy kids here?" She doesn't really have an answer, except that she enjoys it.  But I can tell she wants an answer, as I think she feels a little anticipation of these questions coming up again.  

We talk more.  About Jesus and children and gifts. About needs so great.  And us, so small.

The question is valid, though, and I think it's important to talk about all these things, when we talk about missions and ministry and giving and orphan care.  I hear this question worded in different ways. "Why would they adopt from another country when there are so many children here?" "Why would they adopt a child with severe special needs, when there are healthy children who need a home?"  "Why did they want to have a foster child, when they could have adopted a baby, without all that baggage?"  "Why would you help kids far away, when there are so many poor children in our own communities?"  

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but the only thing that continually comes to mind when I hear these questions is that the needs are so great..... so great.  Way beyond what any one of us could possibly meet.  And the Lord loves each of these little ones so incredibly.  And there is truth in each of these questions.  There are so many children - little ones, bigger ones - who all have needs that sting my heart. And I'm so thankful that we serve a God who calls each of us to unique areas of service, so that, hopefully, we are all together working as the body of Christ to do what we can to reach this hurting world with the love of Jesus.  

And I'm encouraged when I step back and see a larger picture of what is happening around me.  I have friends who have adopted from foster care and others who've adopted babies of all different colors as infants, and I have friends who've travelled the globe against all earthly odds to bring children home when governments and embassies have been difficult to work with.  I have friends who have had adoptions fall apart time and again, but who've continued on in faith that God is in control, even through tremendous grief and broken hearts.  And I have friends I have not yet met who give their lives daily to rescuing children from the streets of Eastern Europe and taking care of them.  I know a man who set up a house in a whole different country just so that kids there would be safe.  And I am getting to know friends who've stared down stigmas and fear and lies to bring home children who would have died of AIDS if left in other countries, but who are able to be safe and healthy and live great lives in the U.S. because we have the medicine they need and the families they need.  I have a childhood friend who works to fight human trafficking.  Each of us can do something.  God will show us each what that is.  And that feels like hope.

And all these children are precious.  Each of them is of indescribable value to the Lord.  And they each do have needs.  And as God's people, we have to ask Him how He wants each of us to be working to meet those needs.  We are not all called to do the same thing.  But I believe we have to be honest enough to ask the Lord His heart for us, and we have to be willing to expose our own hearts to the hard things and the hard places.  Sometimes that means going.  Sometimes it means staying.  Sometimes it means seeing needs and not understanding why they are not met yet.  And it means trusting that the God we serve is able to redeem the broken pieces and create beauty from ashes.  But I don't believe it's God's will for any child to be an orphan.  It's a sad fact of living in a broken world, but it's not ok.  And I don't care where the children live, they move my heart. 

I can't really get my head around the magnitude of need in our world...In our own back yards or across the planet.  So I start where I can.  And there is no value to be placed differently among children based on their geographic location.  If you have a heart to serve, the Lord will show you where your life and your love and your time are needed.

For us, God has given us a relationship with a boy halfway around the world.  And we've been blessed to call him "son," even though he is not with us in person.  One thing that is true, no matter where we serve is that relationship and consistency are the keys.  Also, I'm learning over and over again that we have to be continually asking the Lord and asking the people who know more than we do, "How we can best help?"  

We're approaching the Ukraine orphan care work with that attitude of "Show us how, Lord."  We are working to have authentic dialogue with people who are currently in the trenches of orphan care in Ukraine, who know where the needs are and who have incredible insight into how we can come alongside and offer support. So please keep praying with us that God will continue to reveal His plans and His will to us as we are working to understand the best way to care for orphans.  

Would you like to give a small gift to an orphan in Ukraine?  Let me know, and I'll tell you about the kids who still need someone to give to them!  And I'll be sure to share photos with you.  You can also make a donation through the Donate button at the top of the page, and help through Project HOPEFUL - we're raising money to do some special things for the children while we're there.  It's really exciting!

I am praying also for you, that you'll be encouraged in your own life as you see needs and work to meet them in the name of Jesus.  If you would like to share about how God's stirring your heart into action and where you are called to serve, I would love to have you leave a comment and tell me about it. It's so encouraging to hear about what each of you is doing! 

"May the God of all peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus...equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."  
Hebrews 13:20-21

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"to give you HOPE and a future...."

This is how it all starts for me.  I'm watching this clip, shared by a friend on Facebook, and I am ashamed at what I do not know.  Every misconception that exists about HIV, I am guilty of assuming true.  And it's humbling, this heart for the orphan that has missed out entirely on such a large group of orphans to love, simply out of ignorance.  But this family hits my heart at its center, and the truth that requires bravery and releases hope is powerful.

Over a course of months, I read lots about Project HOPEFUL, and I often sit and wipe tears from my face as I scan the faces of children who need a mom and dad... children who need to know the Father who is their Defender and the One who hears their cry.  The Father who has promised to them, "'I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD, 'plans for good and not for evil, to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11. I think of my Savior, his heart for "the least of these," and it's hard for me to sit in my house in America with my healthy children and my kitchen filled with food and the goodnight stories read in the rocking chair and not wonder, "who could this world possibly consider as less than the orphan living with HIV?"  And there are so many we call "least."  

The list of who we consider to be least grows.  It includes these little ones living with HIV, who we don't stop to consider, because we are afraid and don't know the hope that exists.  And it includes the foster children in our country whose hearts are wounded.  It includes little babies in America born with skin too dark for some waiting parents to bring them home.  It includes children who have nothing left on this earth but the brothers and sisters they have come to depend on for every sense of safety, but they are too many in number, so we break them up so it is easier on us.  And it includes boys like my Sasha, young men with promise and humor and dreams, who age-out of care and yet still are at ages where care and support and structure is needed.  

I am thankful for a Lord who shows us how to love "the least of these," and who reminds us that how we treat them is, in fact, how we are treating him.  He says, "And whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:5

After learning a lot about Project HOPEFUL and having spent the past year and a half praying about where exactly the Lord would use me to serve in orphan care, I'm very excited to now be the Maine Associate for Project HOPEFUL.  This week I'll be learning more in a training about the variety of ways I'll be able to serve families in our own state, and I have been blessed with a very unexpected and absolutely amazing opportunity to link our trip to Ukraine to the ministry of Project HOPEFUL!

Friday morning, I enjoy a long and wonderful phone call to Traci Heim, who is Project HOPEFUL's Ukraine contact and the FIG Director (Family In the Gap Program, which helps in a variety of ways to link families here with kids in other countries who need support and love and prayer and family).  As we chase busy toddlers thoughout our homes (I automatically feel a friend-connection with anyone who understands that it's ok for me to give my 2-year old several popsicles in a row in order to manage a full phone call...), we have a two-hour conversation about Ukraine and the kids there who we love so much. This is a great news clip about her family:

Our mission in Ukraine has at its center a boy who is our son according to our hearts.  You all know our Sasha.  He is part of our family, and his photos are on our wall in our family gallery, all around my computer desk.  Our kids consider him family, and I have grieved his absense from our home tremendously over the past year, although I know God's story is not finished.  So we are thrilled to see him in only a few weeks!

As I talk to Traci, she shares a need she sees.  She tells me that Project HOPEFUL seeks to help older children and sibling groups as well as children living with HIV. We both know that in Ukraine, orphans age-out of orphanages at 16, and most often they are left on their own.  She has a vision that Project HOPEFUL can come alongside organizations who would care for these kids, offering support and linking families in the States with teens who need to know the love of family and of Christ and to be safe.  I tell her about Sunshine, about Sasha having someone to go to his trade school parent nights and about his letters sharing that he is learning to manage his time and money, and I tell her that I am so thankful he is safe and loved and provided for as he transitions to aduldhoood.

We are now adding a new element to our trip, as we connect our mission with that of Project HOPEFUL. Specifically, we are exploring the "how's" of linking up support to kids in Ukraine who need to be safe and loved and guided through learning a trade and being ready to transition to adulthood safely and successfully.  I watch as God is weaving together a relationship between our countries based on loving the orphan, and I see that even in what I thought was a closed door, God's faithfulness is opening a door of opportunity to serve Him alongside a team of people scattered across different countries but joined by His heart for "the least of these" and faith in the One who gives "hope and a future."

We've added a Donate button at the top right of our blog page, which will allow you to donate specifically to this mission in a tax deductible way through Project HOPEFUL, should you be led to do so.

{I'd like to say thank you to Project HOPEFUL for being used to share and expand the vision we have of orphan care in Ukraine!  It's been a desire of my heart to see more kids have the blessings of family and safety that Sasha has received, and I'm honored to be part of a team of people seeking to come alongside those in orphan care ministry overseas.}

{I'd like to also say thank you to Kathi Lipp for writing The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You've Always Wanted and for your friendship - your words have been an encouragement to me to make steps in the direction of the dreams God has given me.}

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Of the "yes" and the greatest bookstore ever

"Yes."  That's where it all starts.  At the yes.  And faith doesn't swell up in the unknowing, before-hand moments.  It is the answer we give without knowing how or when or sometimes even exactly what. But we always know why...  Because He has asked this of us.

A "yes" in the midst of not enough and no clue how and not at all qualified is the offering.  It's the giving up dependence on ourselves.  Giving up the comfort zone.  The cost of obedience to a God who has all the resources of the universe at His disposal is the willingness to let go of that small bit of what we presume is under our control.  Although it never really has been.  Not really.

And we embrace the unknown future with a sense of eagerness and wonder, knowing the story we are living has an Author whose plans for us are good.  We know that any story He writes for us is one worth living.  And worth living with abandon.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

The way I write a story is to map it out... to know the way the pieces fall into place before it's all been written down and fleshed out.  But that's not the way to live a good story.

The real secret is in the yes.  The yes, no matter what.  The yes, period.  When God asks us to do something too big for us, too expensive for us, to hard for us, it is because that is when we finally get out of the way and trust in Him alone.  He orchestrates the details.  He puts people in our lives to become part of the story.  And it all starts with saying yes.  It's a leaping without needing to look, trusting that what springs up from obedience to the Lord will be a beautiful harvest.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."  Hebrews 11:6

Over and over, I am so blessed by the help we are receiving from people who are eager to help us get to Ukraine this summer.  I struggled at first with the asking for help.  It's not what I'm comfortable doing.  And that's just pride.  It's not good, and it's something God's stripping away, layer by layer.  It's been so incredible to ask for help and to see people catch the vision for helping these kids we've come to love.  And in sharing, more people have come to love these kids as well.

Today, I was at Borders (the Bangor store is THE best!) having my favorite latte, and I was so encouraged and excited to hear that they're collecting bags of flavored coffee for us to take to the caregivers in Ukraine!  What a treat for them!  This outreach has become something bigger than just ours alone.  It's something our community and friends and family are joining with us in making possible, and all the fruit that is a result of the time we spend there belongs to all of you as well.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This Man of Mine

What he is as father, this is more than a gift to them.  It is also a gift to me.  His daily rising up to leave early for a day spent providing.  For us.

The quiet strength of his character.  Unchanging. Unfailing.  A display of manhood to our little man.  An example of how to love a woman to our daughters. His steadiness.  His laughter.  The safety we feel because of his presence.

Every day, laying down so much that could be for him.  It is for us.  And it is for Him.

This man I love, a father of three with a heart to call son a fatherless boy halfway around the world.  And a heart strong enough to carry the dreams and feelings of a woman.  And wise enough to lead us in God's will.  This man is everything a man could ever be.  And I sit in awe of him so many days.

Hours working.
And all of these things, seeds planted into the soil of lives growing up under his care...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Her Father's Daughter

"Only Daddy," she says to me, as I lean over the side of the crib, to tuck her in.  "Only Daddy.  He special."

This baby was her Daddy's girl before she was even born, and I remember the words he spoke in the sonographer's room, as we watched the squirming baby on the screen.  When we were told this baby was a daughter, my husband - all man... strong, rational, logical, unwavering - said, "I'm ruined."

And so it has been.

These two loves of mine have standing Starbucks dates on weekend mornings.  They shoe shop at L.L. Bean. She has even gotten him to sing the theme song to Veggie Tales (and he is a self-proclaimed "non-singer," you must know).   I laugh as I ask her for a kiss, and she often says, "Only Daddy."

Sitting back, I watch them.  I see the tenderness they have with one another. And I see the places this love will be carried in the years to come.  These things I know because I am a Daddy's girl myself.

One day, she will have her own family, and if she lives very far from her dad at all, she will have to look out the window for a few minutes as her husband drives them away.  So the tears don't spill over her lashes.  So she can keep looking at her father until she can no longer see him standing there, waving goodbye.

Friday, June 17, 2011

(in)spired to Encourage

 This week I helped my daughter say her first big goodbye to a good friend who'd become more like a sister than anything.  Her family lived at the end of our street, and they moved yesterday.  Her friend's mom has become a good friend of mine, and over the course of the girls' friendship, she's welcomed my whole family into her home for dinners and parties and impromptu back yard gatherings. Our husbands have become friends. She has shown up in my driveway at 7:30 in the morning every school morning for months to take my oldest to school, so my toddler can sleep in. Friends like this don't come along every day.  She knows how to encourage.

I've been given the opportunity to review a product for Dayspring, and I'm so excited to know their theme during the month of June is encouragement.  As a woman, my sister-friends who fill up all the little spaces in my heart with their encouragement and laughter are a gift to me every day.  I'm really looking forward to sharing my Sassy & Sophisticated cards.  Some of the words make me laugh out loud while some are so tender.

My friends are amazing.  They are real.  They let me into their lives, and I know I can let them into mine - into my three-kids-tearing-around the house evenings, my yes-it's-almost-lunch-and-I'm-still-in-my-jammies door answering mornings, my I'll-step-out-of-the-minivan-so-I-can-hear-you-over-the-Veggie Tales DVD-and-kids-talking chats on the cell phone mid-afternoon.  The real places.  The places where our lives intersect.  The shopping trips with toddlers in tow, wondering what Stacy and Clinton would say about the "trousers." The whispered prayer requests from broken hearts letting go of adoption dreams again and again.  The steady encouragement to keep praying about whatever it is in life we're discussing.  The Word shared over coffee and the noise of preschoolers tearing the house apart, but we don't care because we love our mama-time.  The laughing till we think we're going to pee our pants.  It's all that real stuff. It's the core of friendship, and it's like a breath for our souls as women.

So this month, I'm going to be intentional about showing some friends my appreciation for them.  Thank you, Dayspring, for all the many ways you give us ways to celebrate our friendships and our faith!

"A sweet friendship refreshes the soul." Proverbs 27:9
(The opinions expressed are my own, and I have not received payment for the product review.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Days

How quickly the days of warmth and sand and carefree, crazy summer fly past.  What treasures we have in the captured moments.  The images frozen mid-air in our memories or in a photograph.  Some pictures reveal the same location and the same people, year after year, but oh, how we are changing.  The days of small hands in mine are replaced with my stumbling over shoes way larger than my own, worn by kids whose little bodies are turning into grownups before my eyes, and whose hearts are even more beautiful than their sweet faces.  The only way I'm learning how to keep the moments from slipping away from me too quickly is to try to be there, present, in the moment.  Sometimes I do well at this, and sometimes I realize I have so much to learn about stillness and focus.  I don't want to miss a single grace-filled moment.

Looking back at some memories from last summer, I'm eagerly anticipating what will become the memories of this one just unfolding...  What are your best summer memories?  What are you hoping to do this summer?

Let's thank God in advance for the good plans He has in store for each of our families this season.  Some days are hard.  Some days are sun-filled.  The Lord is with us in each and by His grace alone, we will always have cause for joy.

Praying for you, my friends, to have a blessed summer! I'm glad to have you all in my life, to share the wild ride that is chasing after a radical faith in Christ.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Watering Cans and Living Water

 These days, we are doing so much growing.  Watching the beauty of seeds planted in past seasons developing into incredible new life.  Days of sun beating down and wandering through the garden with my two-year old, watering cans in hand, admiring what our God does in our very own yard.  We see the daily transformation of strawberry plants as they flower and now as the berries are growing plump.  We gently lift small new plants from their little containers and carefully tuck them into the fresh potting soil in our old, rusty pots.  Her litte chubby hands leave a trail of soil along the driveway as she grabs fistfuls to pat around the roots.  
 I watch her trot through the yard, carrying her purple watering can, so proud of how she is learning to care for the life that is entrusted to her.  "This guy need a drink?" she asks me each time, before dousing the plants and the pavement and the porch steps with water.  She wants to water everything. 

Something about the way she is joyful in the working makes me hope that when my Father looks at me as I'm tending the lives in my care, He sees the same passion.

And like my little girl with her watering can filled to overflowing, so is my life, my spirit.  I hope that I am someone who "waters" like my toddler does... taking the abundance and the very life-giving Truth that has been given to me and pouring it out, recklessly, enthusiastically, continually.

There is so much of God's grace and goodness springing up in our lives.  Intricate, beautiful, exciting opportunities to make much of God and to glorify Him in our lives are continually unfolding.  Our lives are being poured into by others and by the Lord even as we are endeavoring to be ones who are continually being emptied of ourselves so that we can be filled fully with Him.

"But we have these treasures in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13 & 14

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beautiful Eyes, Searching for a Mama and Daddy

Look at this face.  This sweet girl is Melodie. I wonder what is going on behind those big, brown eyes.  I have photos of my little ones, pulled up to stand, proud in front of the camera while Mommy takes a picture to post on Facebook or email to proud grandparents.  Melodie's photo here is taken in an orphanage.  She doesn't have a mom or dad.  Her photo is not being posted for grandparent.  It's in a waiting children's list on Project HOPEFUL's website.

Melodie was born around Christmastime in 2009.  I don't know how she spent that first Christmas.  My baby was born right before Christmas the year before, and she spent the holiday in front of a tree overflowing with gifts she was too little to open, wearing a red dress with furry trim, surrounded by family who wanted to hold her non-stop, older siblings flinging gift wrap in the air in a flurry of excitement.

Melodie has spent two Christmases without a mom and dad so far.  She's a toddler, living in Eastern Europe in an orphanage.  She also has HIV.  She really needs a mom and dad.  She needs a home where she can have the medicine so available to us in the States.  Medicines that have caused HIV to be considered a "chronic illness," not a death sentence.  (I didn't even know this a few months ago.  I'm ashamed by my ignorance.)  Besides this medical diagnosis, she is a healthy little girl.

Would you please pray with me that Melodie would be found by the mom and dad the Lord knows by name even now?  Will you pray that God will move hearts and move mountains and clear the way for this little one to find her family?  Please pray with me that she will know the feeling of being a Daddy's girl, that she will one day wear matching aprons with her mommy and "help" in the kitchen, that she will pester an older sibling, or perhaps one day be an older sibling.  Please lift up this little one in prayer with me today, that our God who is the Defender of the fatherless and who "sets the lonely in families," according to His Word, will show up and show off in mighty and beautiful ways in the life of little Melodie.

Please share this post, if you feel led to do so.  If you have any questions about Melodie, or any of the children on the Waiting Kids list at Project HOPEFUL, please check out their website for contact information. This is a wonderful organization, committed to educating families about the truth of living with HIV and to helping children find HOPE and family.  Many of the little ones on the website will be resigned to spending the rest of their lives in mental institutions if they are not adopted by a certain age.  (Have you seen the documentaries Ann Curry did??? God forbid it...)  Please pray.  God has filled His Word with promises for the orphan, and He is true and faithful to His Word!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Signed, "Your Sasha"

June already feels like it's flying by.  I can't believe that in just a handful of weeks, we'll be boarding a plane and heading to Kiev, Ukraine!  Neither Selden nor I love flying, so please be praying that I won't hyperventilate while flying over the ocean.  

This morning, I want to express my thanks.  When I have needed help, friends have shown up, unexpectedly, to lighten my load.  When we've shared our story of Sasha coming into our lives (and I've tried not to cry while talking about seeing him finally get to have that highly anticipated fishing day with my husband - even if it's halfway around the world), I've seen smiles spread across faces, and I know that the Lord's moving hearts for this boy and his friends at Sunshine. I remember daily that this is the Lord's work, not mine, and He will do this.

Some area churches have expressed interest in sharing the ministry of Sunshine and our heart for Sasha and the kids who, like him, call Sunshine their home.  Please pray for these opportunities with us.  It's exciting to see God take the seeds of a small "yes" spoken by a couple of ordinary parents in a small New England town and grow them into more ministry opportunities, more ways to spread the Gospel and the heart of Christ. We know all we have offer to our Father is small, but we have a Lord who can take a few loaves and fishes and feed thousands.  It's the willingness to give what we can that God wants to see in our lives.  Sometimes, knowing that what we have is less than what is needed to accomplish something has kept me from the "yes," but not any more.  

I'd like to take this moment to let you all know that, as you have come alongside us in prayer, in giving of time and encouragement and even sharing with us financially, this mission is already bearing fruit, and we haven't even packed our bags.  We're very excited to spend time with all the children and to do some special things to bless them in the name of Jesus while we're in Ukraine.  This is a heart mission.  A sharing God's love in tangible ways mission.  An entering-your-world-because-you-are-worth-the-effort mission.  All of these children are worth the time and effort of getting to know personally, and the staff who minister to them daily are people I am honored to have the privelage of calling friends and getting to meet!

We got a sweet letter from Sasha late last week.  He is excited for our visit.  His heart sounds hopeful and full of anticipation, and he's already coming up with a list of places in Ukraine he wants to take us, and we can't wait!  God loves this boy, this young man who puts tears in my eyes every time a new photo of him comes up in my email.  Every time I see his letters, signed "Your Sasha," my heart whispers a tearful "thank you, Jesus" to the Father of the fatherless, to the One who takes regular people like us and  helps us be family to a child we've yet to meet but recognized as "one of our kids" the first time we laid eyes on him. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Back from Much Painting and Fund Raising

So I've been missing for the past few weeks. Well, not really missing, just painting and yard sale hosting.  We're working on a couple big dreams right now:  Getting our family into a different home (with more bedrooms,which my husband is certain I'll fill with children in need of a home in no time!) and raising the funds we need to get to Ukraine for our missions trip and to do some special things with the kids at Sunshine. 


The real truth is, I fell in love with this crazy yellow sofa at an antique marketplace downtown.  It was love at first sight.  And it looked hideous in my red living room.  Hence the painting.  (Plus - bonus - we love the neutral color pallette for selling!!!!!)  I've added a couple silvery chairs from Home Goods and a wild pair of lamps to de-grannify my hundred year old sofa in my hundred year old sitting room.  Love it!

Our dining room had been navy, which I loved at one time, and of course, no one on HGTV recommends navy for a room when one is trying to sell her home, so we painted the woodwork (to flatter the new windows we put in this fall) and also lightened up the walls.  

 I LOVE my new tone-on-tone dining room!  We have tons of windows, so the softer colors really bounce the light around, and the Brazilian cherry floors really look great with the bright white woodwork (which, by the way, is so beautiful and one of my favorite features in an old home!) and cozy taupe walls.

We still have a couple more rooms to spruce up before the house goes on the market, and since our peonies are about to pop open, and the irises are about to bloom, it would be super if we can finish up this weekend and get listed!

I can't believe I didn't take any photos of the yard sale we had last weekend!  Literally, our family room, garage, entry foyer and part of our dining room were FILLED with boxes of wonderful items donated by friends and family for our fund raiser yard sale!  I can't believe I didn't get one photo....  You should have seen the driveway, COVERED with tables of fabulous clothes and other goodies.  We had friends bake amazing pastries, which sold in a snap for donations to our missions trip.  Friends showed up and stayed for hours, helping me set up and sell.  And the Lord was so good to us - we had thunderstorms forecasted, and He gave us such a bright sunny day that I'm now trying not to peel my sunburn (sorry if that's too much information....).  God gave us the money for our first plane ticket!!!! He's so faithful!  We're praying to have the money for the second ticket within the next few weeks, then we will continue to fund raise for the special things we're desiring to do with the children at Sunshine and with our Sasha.
(If you are a person with great fund raising ideas swirling through your head, PLEASE, by all means, leave a commment!)

I've missed you all, and I'm glad to be back.  Hope you enjoy peeking into our home and seeing and hearing about the good things the Lord's doing in our family.  I'm praying that your family is experiencing good days of crazy, busy, blessed moments and that God's grace is felt by you in every circumstance you are in.