Monday, October 21, 2013

A Special Day

Today is a very special day.  
It's a day for celebration,  for waking up to your favorite breakfast, for getting to wear your favorite dress up clothes.  It's a day that everyone that sees you gives you extra smiles and hugs, high-fives, and sings just for you.  Today is YOUR day.  Special snacks at school, special treats in your lunch, your favorite dinner.
Friends invited for a party. Balloons. Presents wrapped up with your name on them.  Cake (or cupcakes) with candles just for you to blow out and make a special wish. Ice cream and party games.
It's a day that only happens once a year (and in a way, only once in a lifetime.)

Today is a birthday.  
A 3rd birthday.
It's a day that a three year old little girl should get to celebrate with her family and her friends.
Happy Birthday was the title of my post one year ago.
I wrote that last year would be her last birthday spent alone. And how different this year would be. 
Wrong.  I was so very wrong.
Today my Lizzy Bear turns three.
Alone. again. with no end in sight.
I continually pray that someday, she will know the love of a family.  That she will have the love of a Mama.  She will get to celebrate a day that is all about her.  Someday.

But today, an ocean away from where she is stuck, she has presents waiting and a balloon.
Cupcakes with pink frosting.
I will celebrate her on this day, even when she can't. 

You can celebrate, too.
You see there is another little girl, a Colombian princess,
who also has never gotten to celebrate her birthday.
There IS an end in sight of her time in an orphanage.
She IS coming home..
to be able to celebrate every birthday for the rest of her life, with her family.
And you can help her get home.

 I've shown you her beautiful smile and her squishy little hands.
My wish on HER birthday would be, to be able to show you a picture of her first day out of that orphanage.

There are a few ways you can help celebrate Lizzy's birthday 
and in turn help Josie get one step closer to a homecoming.

Right now there is a t-shirt fundraiser going and for $20 you can get a pretty cool shirt. You can get more information
by reading this post -

You can simply donate to "Seraphina's" grant at Reece's Rainbow.
"Seraphina" is Josie's code name to help protect her identity.
(Maybe $3 for a three year old birthday?)

Prayer is ALWAYS needed.  Pray for things to keep moving forward in this adoption process.  Pray for patience on my behalf. (I'm at a point that the next few things to happen are totally out of my hands...and that's HARD!) Pray for the people who are in control of the next steps!  Pray for my girls. For Josie to continue to stay safe and healthy in her last few months at that orphanage and for Lizzy....
Just pray.
God knows what is needed.

You can purchase a bracelet made by my younger brother, Josie's uncle.
If you would like one of these great handmade bracelets, just drop $3 into "Seraphina's" grant or GiveForward page.  Just be sure to leave a note with color preference and your address!

And last but not least, I had started a puzzle fundraiser for Lizzy over a year ago.  The puzzle is about 1/4 of the way complete.  Wouldn't it be amazing to finish that puzzle in honor of Lizzy, for her little sister to have a chance at a family?!? What a great birthday present! 
To 'purchase' a puzzle piece, again just put $3 into "Seraphina's" grant or GiveFoward page.  
This time, be sure to leave a little note with your name or a special word or phrase 
to be written on the back of the puzzle piece!

I hope you'll join in the celebration!
 And help bring one little girl home,
in honor of another one who is stuck indefinitely.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A blog to share a blog

I'd like to share a post I came across that I thought was pretty interesting.  I happened across Jen Logan's blog Down Wit Dat by way of another blog.  That is what happens in the blog reading world.  There are quite often links to other blogs within a blog and of course, once you start clicking, you never know where you might end up! 

   Anyway, I read this blog and wanted to share this specific post.  Jen Logan's entire blog is very well written and there are many many posts that are full of GREAT information, lots of statistics, stories and general truths and myths about Down syndrome (and life in general!)  In this specific post, she shares a list of famous individuals who had a family member with Down syndrome.  It's really quite fascinating.  Did you know that there was a princess who was born with Down syndrome? So very cool to read...

And if you don't get sucked in to reading more of her blog, at least check out this recent post.  It has a long list of great news links... very helpful (and again, so easy to get caught up clicking away!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Climbing Mount Everest

This spring, in March to be exact, a young man became quite well known.  At just 16, Eli Reimer successfully climbed the 17,598 feet to Mt. Everest's Base Camp.  Though he was not quite the youngest to ever make this accomplishment, (being bumped only to second by a 13-year old in 2010) this was pretty amazing because he accomplished as a 16 year old, what I (and millions of other adults) have only ever dreamed about.  And to be completely honest, I bet most adults really don't actually dream about it, because there is not a chance that it would or could ever happen! 

Eli's parent's, Justin and Tamara, had founded The Elisha Foundation in 2005 to pursue Christ-centered transformation in the lives of people impacted by disability around the world.  The Elisha Foundation was named after their son, Eli (Elisha) who happens to have Down syndrome.  The fundraising trek up Mt. Everest was a fundraiser for their foundation.  $100,000 was raised by Eli's fearless endeavor.  

You can find out more about Eli's journey up Mt. Everest and find out the amazing things that The Elisha Foundation does by visiting their website, The Elisha Foundation

I love this little blurb from the website in regards to their Mt. Everest Trek:
"The Trek was a resounding success in every aspect. We had prayed that this adventure would be a platform for the gospel and to show God’s good design in disability. In the months leading up to our departure our Team’s efforts were producing opportunities to share about God’s grace and goodness in disability. Many of the friends who stepped up to support the Trek were being exposed to the heart of disability and the Christian faith. What an amazing opportunity for our Team! From the Trek launch last year, through our time on the trail, and, now, with all of the thousands who have been touched with this “story” God has faithfully made His name known through His purpose in this adventure."  

I especially like the phrase "God's good design in disability."  
My daughter has Down syndrome, but she is just as God intended her to be.  
He designed her perfectly.  And I know that she will have some amazing adventures in her lifetime.  
Will she climb Mt. Everest?  Nah, probably not, that's already been done...

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

After getting this video uploaded, I decided it really just needed it's own post....

I love these kids. 
They make me smile whenever I'm around them
and I can't wait for my daughter to get to be their friend!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The last ones.

I have had this Matthew West cd (History) in my car for weeks.  I'm sure I've heard this song before, but as I was driving to church this morning, a line of lyrics caught my attention.  I started the song over from the beginning and sat in the parking lot actually listening to what the song said.  I probably shouldn't have done that.  I was already a little off this morning, it was going to be a busy morning.


We were short a few staff  (though still had a great group of volunteers!) and my littles were singing for the first time in the service this morning.  Our 2's and 3's choir has been practicing hard for this moment, but they are 2 and 3, the game changes when the sanctuary we've been practicing in is now full of people (specifically family!) and singing loud while completing hand motions is just too much to ask at 8:30 in the morning.  I was a little unsure of how the morning was going to play out and admittedly a bit nervous for us all! 

At the same time, this is October and most mornings I wake up remembering that the sweet baby that should have been home months ago, eagerly awaiting her 3rd birthday at home with her family, is stuck in Putin's version of hell. Literally.  Some mornings are a little hard. Especially mornings at the end of a week that I've been putting together a lesson all about how people celebrate communion all around the world.  How other little children learn about Jesus and our differences and similarities, while living in our different countries around the world. (And of course unknowingly, 1/2 of my 3's chose the Russian flag (out of 20 choices) to put on their World Communion Day projects....they are three...they really had no idea, but...)

All of this to say, this morning, we were observing a religious sacrament occurring worldwide, by my little 2's and 3's singing a song about God having the world in His hands, the whole world, even the little babies and the children, all in his hands.  And my little Russian who should be home singing with this little group, is not. And that's hard.  But...

After sitting in my car listening to the lyrics in of the Matthew West song.  I knew my sweet Lizzy bear was blessed.  Even though I pray daily for assurance that she knows she is loved, not simply by humans she's never met, but by her Heavenly Father, I know in my heart she is.  He's got her in His hands.

And so is her little sister.  Josie will get to experience life's blessings in an amazing way...with a family.  I can't wait to be able to wake up one morning next fall...on World Communion Day 2014, and spend the morning getting myself, AND my daughter ready for church.  Ready to go hear about how children in other countries learn about Jesus.  And on another random Sunday morning when my little 2's and 3's are singing their hearts out in front of the sanctuary and my little Colombian is standing right up there with them.  Proof that God does bless the last ones.

Check back to this post tomorrow for a little added cuteness...(that's taking way too long to upload tonight!!)  Edited - The added cuteness just got it's own post...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Two in One

Because I was a slacker yesterday and missed a post, I'm combining posts for October 4th & 5th in one. 

I'd like to share a few tips on person first terminology and a guide to proper language when talking about an individual with Down syndrome (or any special need for that matter).  I know that everyone is not perfect and people sometimes don't even realize that what they say or how they say it may be offensive. 

The correct name of this diagnosis is Down syndrome. There is no apostrophe (Down). The 's' in syndrome is not capitalized. This is because an "apostrophe s" connotes ownership or possession. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it.

An individual with Down syndrome is an individual first and foremost.  The emphasis should be on the person, not the disability.  A person with Down syndrome has many other qualities and attributes that can be used to describe them.

Encourage people to use people-first language. "The person with Down syndrome", not "the Down syndrome person." A person with down syndrome is not 'a Downs'.

Words can create barriers. Recognize that a child is 'a child with Down syndrome,' or that an adult is 'an adult with Down syndrome.' Children with Down syndrome grow into adults with Down syndrome; they do
not remain eternal children.  Adults enjoy activities and companionship with other adults.

It is important to use the correct terminology.  A person 'has' Down syndrome, rather than "suffers from", "is a victim of," "is diseased with" or "afflicted by."

Each person has her/her own unique strengths, capabilities and talents.  Try not to use the clich├Ęs that are so common when describing an individual with Down syndrome.  To assume all people have the same characteristics or abilities is demeaning.  Also, it reinforces the stereotype that "all people with Down syndrome are the same."

The ONLY 'R' word that should be used is the word 'Respect'.  NDSS strongly condemns the use of the word "retarded" in any derogatory context. Using this word is hurtful and suggests that people with disabilities are not competent.

 Every person with Down syndrome possesses strengths and talents that make him/her a valuable asset to every family and community. Please help to educate your family, friends, educators, and physicians about the preferred way to refer to our loved ones with Down syndrome.

(editor's note - these websites - and were the main source for my list...with a few edits and additions!)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I AM - Day three and a couple of videos

These two videos were originally created for this past World Down Syndrome Day.  
World Down Syndrome Day is on March 21, every year. (3/21...Trisomy 21...clever huh?).  
 But I feel like the message they share works year round!!

"I AM"

"Who I am"

(I know I've posted the 'Who I am' video before but some videos are worth a second viewing!)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Down Syndrome Creed

Day 2 - (might be the end of the day, but still the second day!)   
I'd like to share a poem titled The Down Syndrome Creed. 
It says a lot in a just a few words.  Enjoy it!

I also found it in a video (which ironically was made by a young lady who's family adopted a sweet baby with Down syndrome from the same Eastern European country where Lizzy is currently stuck)  I've attached the video in this post as well.  It's full of adorable faces!







Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October - National Down Syndrome Month

Okay, I know I haven't written a new post in months, and for that I apologize.  It's been a crazy few months, with some excitements, some frustrations, some finallys and some hoorays.  The final draft of my home study was finally completed, USCIS application was sent in and I'll be walking in for fingerprinting soon.  
(Yeah, who needs an actual appointment date...been there, done that!)  And that's the last piece needed to complete my dossier. It's taken a little longer then originally thought to get to this point, but I've been catching up when possible. (when the paperwork needed is in my hands, it's next day turnaround!)

I was sent some new pics of the bunny girl.  
Those eyes are gonna be my weakness.  
I'm pretty sure they'll be EVERYONE'S weakness. 
And the squishy hands and fingers.  I can't wait to kiss those little hands! 

This month, October, is National Down Syndrome Awareness month.  
For anyone who was not aware, Josie (aka 'Seraphina') has Down syndrome.  
Having this diagnosis is probably why she ended up in an orphanage in her country.  It's a misfortune that so many countries do not have services for individuals with special needs and that individuals are just not accepted, because of their needs, in so many countries.  That being said, another adoptive mom (who brought her daughter home early this year from the same country as J) recently blogged about the fact that if our children had been 'born' here in the US, they probably wouldn't have actually been born.
If it weren't for that diagnosis and being born in another country in Latin America and ending up in that orphanage, she wouldn't be coming home to her Mama. So I will forever be thankful that she was given life.

I am going to try to post everyday for the month of October.  
Each day sharing more about Down syndrome, with different links, other blogs that are written about Downs, facts, myths, fun stories, pictures and more.... 

I'd also like to raise "a-wear-ness" for down syndrome & adoption and raise funds by selling specially made t-shirts throughout the month.
You can read all about this special "a-wear-ness" raising fundraiser in this separate post!
Mark 9:37 - Adopt Colombia t-shirt fundraiser

Today, on October 1, I'd like to share a couple of facts about Down syndrome:
  • Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
  • People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
  • Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels
  • Down syndrome is named after Dr. John Langdon Down, a British physician who described the syndrome in 1866.
  • People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways (there will be a post or two dedicated to this fact!) 

And the last thing I'd like to share on this first day of Down Syndrome Awareness month is this....

yep, those squishy little hands.

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