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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day

Today should have been different.  Next year will be.

Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate with family and friends.  To really think about everything that you are (or should be) thankful for.  A day to have a feast to help remember all of those special things.  I will be celebrating and I am thankful, but there are 2 key family members missing.  (Not that all of my extended family is in town but they shouldn't have been here anyway).  Two tiny people, who should be filling up the house with smiles and laughter.

Two pieces of my family that have no idea that today is even a day to celebrate.  I am thankful, but some of my reasons for being thankful are probably very different than the typical..."I'm thankful for my house, my job, food, etc."  Those are very good things to be thankful for, don't get me wrong.  And of course, I am thankful for every physical thing that I have, this beautiful place where I live, family close by, friends, a great meal to enjoy with those people in this place.  But today I'm thankful for more, while also trying not to focus on what's missing. Or rather, who's missing.

"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.John 14:18

My Lizzy Bear
This is not a new verse to me, I've read it, heard it, listened to it, prayed it....over and over and over.  But today I am thankful for it.  I am thankful that even though my daughters are sitting in orphanages in separate countries, waiting, one stuck indefinitely and one simply waiting until all the red tape is cut so she can come home, I know that they will NOT be left as orphans.  I know that their Father loves them and is keeping them safe until the time comes that neither of them will be an orphan any longer.

 I'm not sure what that means for Lizzy.  How long her wait will be to have an earthly family.  But she has a Father, who loves her more than any human could even dream.  And one day, even if she never makes to into an earthly family, she will get to spend eternity with her Heavenly Father.  And for that I am so very thankful.  Even if it is hard for my human Mama's heart to claim all of the time, I am thankful.   My daily prayer for her is that she knows how.much.she.is.loved by Him. (and me.)

For Josie, she is on her way to joining an earthly family.  She is going to be an orphan no more here on earth. Even though she does have a Heavenly Father who loves her so much, she will also know the love of a family and for that, I am thankful.  Though thankful seems like such a small word for the feeling of knowing that your children are loved so dearly by their Heavenly Father.  It's the best word I have...

I'm thankful that, even though my post last Thanksgiving was written with the thought that Lizzy would be home this year and she is not, I know she is loved. And I can write another post with the thought that Josie will be home.  And next year year, my brown eyed bunny will be filling the house with smiles and laughter.  Eating turkey and potatoes and green beans and trying her first bite of pumpkin pie.  Sticking black olives on her fingers.  Falling asleep in a grown ups arms after enjoying the delicious meal.  Spending her first thanksgiving at home, with her family.  I'm thankful for 'next year'.

I am thankful that things are still moving forward for Josie's adoption process, despite some frustrating setbacks, slowly but surely, things are going forward.  And I'm thankful, that even though I am not sure how it has happened (and still get anxious about the future costs) every penny that has been needed for this adoption process has been there.  Even if it did require some down to the wire scrambles and lots of begging, every cent has been covered.  That's a big thanks!!

I really am thankful for my family who has continually supported this process, even though I'm sure they get tired of hearing me talk about this piece of paperwork or that agency or the next step in the process that just never seems to happen.  I know they already love my girl, (both girls) like their own granddaughter or niece and are so excited for her to be home. 

And I am truly thankful for such an amazing place to be able to raise a family.  I know that my daughter will be safe and accepted and LOVED by our community.  SO many people are already very excited for her to be home... and most have not even seen her picture!

And on that note....I am so very thankful for this beautiful smile.
Next year, we can all be thankful for the millions of pictures
that will be plastered all over this Thanksgiving Day post!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanks times 10

It never fails that when I think I can accomplish a post a day for even a short time, it never really happens!  I've certainly still been thankful, for both the big and little things, during the past few days that I've missed posting.  I was last thankful for going to the county fair...10 days ago.  So, thankful times 10...here goes.


17th -  Our church celebrated it's 75th birthday this month.  (Actually on the 17th!)   It was standing room only!  The ushers had to bring in chairs and then members using those chairs actually gave them up for more people coming in!  People had to park in yards across the street. It was so great to see the church so full of life and praise!  We had our own little 'party' in the children's wing. Cupcakes, music, games. And a few babies who were disappointed they couldn't eat cupcakes or who chose to just sleep through the entire ordeal.  Such an amazing morning!






 18th - Messy faces - Birthday cupcakes, minute-to-win-it pumpkin game night, and babies who are learning to self feed.  Could messy faces get any better?  (And yes, the finger point says it all!)





 





19th - Chick-fil-a is not really my favorite place (I know, I'm odd) and I don't really eat there very often.  Only occasionally when I'm with friends who want to go or kiddos who have free kids meal tickets.  BUT, their yogurt parfait is delish and the milkshakes....Mmmmm.  Every Christmas/Winter they offer the seasonal Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake.  It's milkshake perfection.  I could easily drive through and grab one on my way into work every morning, and then again on the way home in the evening.  And because it's 'dairy' it is good for you, right?





20th - Messy feet - The gooey feeling of pumpkin squishing between your toes and watching the faces of the youth while digging their feet into the gooey pumpkin, priceless.  The wiggly toes of a baby while trying to paint their little foot and the faces that follow.  I'd love to know what thoughts were running through their head as we squished their chunky feet into the paint and then made almost perfect little prints.  And then turning those little prints into the most adorable Thanksgiving turkeys.  (The chunky baby rolls while creating the prints sure didn't hurt either!)


21st - Weekday faces                        22nd - Sunday morning faces         23rd-And when the two combine

 
I love the kids that I get to spend my week with, weekdays, Wednesday evenings, Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and the best part is when those kids that I spend the weekdays with show up on Sunday mornings!!
And knowing that this is the group of kids that my daughter will become a part of makes my heart so happy!



24th - This girl....who has had my heart since the first day that I met her.  I've gotten to watch her grow so much in the two years that I've known her.  I love that
I am able to be a part of her life and cherish every
moment that I get to spend with her.  She always
brings a smile to my face!





















25th - This creature who has decided to take up residence in my community pond.  There has been a great blue heron hanging out in my neighbor hood lately.  I see him often during the day, just chillin'.  And have now seen him many nights, sleeping in the bushes, safe under cover.  He's pretty magnificent to watch fly around and dive for dinner.  The beauty of creatures like this just hanging out in your back yard....life on an island.













26th - When planned activities work out just as you hoped (or even better!) We have made a few pretty fun activities at school and church over the past week.  I love it when the kids enjoy the activity as much as you'd hoped they would and when the end result is as adorable as you'd pictured.  Our Turkey M&M counting activity was educational and delicious, the footprint turkeys earned a place on the classroom door and the magnetic Christmas tree Advent calendar was a HIT with both the kids and the parents!  Success!



  
27th - Waking up early, just to be able to lounge on the couch, drink hot cocoa, and watch Christmas movies in the morning.  And knowing that I have an entirely FREE day, AND it's rainy and windy, gosh, the possibilities of organization, crafting and movie watching.... we'll see what really gets accomplished.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Loving from Afar

My girls are famous (I mean they kind if were already) but this week, they made the local news! A reporter from our local Brunswick Newspaper contacted me wanting to do an article on the Russian adoption ban & Lizzy and switching countries and now bringing home Josie.  Of course, I jumped at the chance.  What a better way to share about adoption during National Adoption Month.  The reporter did an amazing job.  She touched just enough on the hard parts of adoption, including the ban but also focused on the great parts of adoption... giving children a home, being able to be a parent, getting to share your love.    One of the best parts about it, is the fact that people are a little more open to asking about adoption and how the process is going.  One of the comments I'd made to the reporter was how I felt so many people didn't understand adoption, why someone would want to adopt, especially a child with special needs from another country.  But the sad part was, without being able to share and explain, those people will never understand.  I've had more inquiries about my adoption process, about Josie (and Lizzy) and just about adoption in general, during this past week, then I have probably had for the past 6 months combined.  People are realizing that adoption is not something that has to be 'hushed', orphans don't need to be 'scary'.  It's okay to talk about, actually, great to talk about.  If no one had talked about Josie, I may never have found her.

National Adoption Day was created to be able to dedicate an entire day to raise awareness of the millions of children waiting for a family.
There are so many children in need.  Infants, toddlers, elementary aged kids, teens, children with special needs, siblings.  So many children just waiting for someone to call them son or daughter.
Wanting nothing more than a family.


Josie has a family.  
Working very hard to bring her home.  You can help in that process by supporting the envelope fundraiser....here.  Or by sharing the fundraiser.  
Facebook, Twitter, email...however you can, please share.
Maybe a friend of a friend has felt led to help support the orphan crisis and be a part of Josie's homecoming.
Here are just a few kids who DON'T have families.  Their files are with a specific agency and they are just waiting for a call. Please, click on their picture to find out more information...
while their agency's are waiting for a call, these children are simply waiting for someone to notice them.
 Like Josie got noticed.

James
http://reecesrainbow.org/31691/james-la
What a darling boy!! James is 2 1/2 and has Down Syndrome who currently lives in an orphanage in Latin America.  He has over $5,000 waiting in a grant in his name.  If I could bring home two at once, this sweet boy would undoubtedly become Josie's little brother.  But since that is not a possibility...does he belong in your family?

Lucas
http://reecesrainbow.org/54431/lucas
Look at those big eyes! Lucas just turned three and was born with a congenital heart defect. He is currently in an Asian country, waiting in an orphanage for someone to notice him.  He has already had surgery to repair his heart (but may need another when he's a little older).  Wouldn't he make a great addition to someone's family?

 Phillip
http://reecesrainbow.org/43908/phillip
The questioning look on his face says it all.  Does someone love me enough to bring me home? I love this boy and would bring him home tomorrow if I could! (Maybe Josie will have lots of brothers!)  Phillip lives in an orphanage in Latin America and is 4 1/2, and though he does have some special needs, his biggest difficulty seems to be a speech delay.  What a blessing a family who cares would be for this boy!

Tessa
http://reecesrainbow.org/47123/tessa-2
This sweet girl just turned three this month.  My heart breaks for her knowing that she's had to undergo surgery in her Asian country while living in an orphanage without a mama to hold her.  Her little face has such a sad expression.  How great would it be for her to find a family and be able to smile and laugh with her parents, siblings and friends. 

"J" and "M" 
"J" turned 12 in July and his younger sister "M" will be 11 in December.  A brother and sister, living in Latin America, that still have so much to offer a family.  And so much to learn from a family.  Wouldn't it be awesome for them to have a home and a family who loves them as they enter their teen years.  Having parents to love them and help guide them in to adulthood would be so wonderful for these two!

Yelena
http://reecesrainbow.org/12873/yelena5904
Just look at those dimples!  9 year old Yelena was diagnosed as HIV+ and has a few behavior issues but would flourish in a patient family who was willing to see the potential in this beautiful girl. Her diagnosis is very manageable. While living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, she has said that she desperately wants a family...are you the family she is wishing for?

Aaliyah
http://www.adoptuskids.org/_app/child/viewp.aspx?id=50263
Doesn't this darling girl look like she should be dancing like a ballerina or learning how to play the piano?  At 7 years old, she's spent her life in foster care, living in the USA.  Yes, with people who are taking care of her, but not a real family to call her own.  What a special gift for a sweet child to have...a real family.  

Joshua
http://www.adoptuskids.org/_app/child/viewp.aspx?id=47635
 Oh my, I think this 6 year looks like he is all boy!  Living in the USA in foster care, gives him the opportunity to attend school where he loves music and playing outside.  But even though he has been given some opportunity for growth, nothing can compare to having a family of your own.  Could you be Joshua's forever family?

These are just a few of the children wanting homes, there are so many in need.
Do they belong in your family?


I know the sweet baby with this smile, belongs in mine...
http://reecesrainbow.org/37338/sponsormeyer-2

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:17-19

Saturday, November 16, 2013

County Fair

I LOVE the fair! I grew up in the Midwest, northern Indiana to be exact and the county fair was always a highlight of my summer. Riding the Ferris wheel, the Himalaya, the little dragon coaster. Getting chocolate milk from pioneer land, eating elephant ears, ice cream, corn on the cob (literally on.the.cob) dripping in butter! Corn dogs, snow cones, fresh squeezed lemonade and Bubble Up with crushed ice. Walking through building upon building of winning 4-H displays (cakes, plants, collections, sewing, and more!) and collecting bags full of free goodies from vendor after vendor. I have never purchased a yard stick, Frisbee or bandaid holder, the pens and pencils, fans, key chains, hand sanitizer, it just never ended! There were dog shows to watch & horse shows. I loved the smells walking through the dairy barn's' (yes, plural!) and sheep and goats and pigs (oh my!) We had multiple horse and pony barns, draft horses, chickens and rabbits. 

And then there was the mouse game... You put your quarter (which we started saving in early spring) at the top of four numbers, the man inside the tent kept the wheel sling while he slid the kid off of a long box and a tiny little mouse jumped out, ran around and ducked into a numbered whole. All the while the man is shouting, "here she goes folks", "keep your eye on the mouse", "round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows". Then he hollers the number and the winner chooses from one of the many stuffed animals hanging from the tent ceiling. We never left without one of those stuffed toys. (I bet some years that $1 toy cost about $10 in quarters!) 

And last, but never least, was the fish barn. Pay your $2, get handed a bamboo pole with fishing line and worm that had probably been stuck there for and hour and go 'fish' from a pool inside stocked full of a variety if goldfish. If one unlucky fish happened to nibble in your worm & you snagged the pole just right, hooray!, you left with your catch in a bag of water. Believe it or not, my last fish barn caught fish lasted 5 YEARS! (I actually cried when that little fish went belly up)

I LOVE the fair. When I moved to the southeast fall of 2011, I had visited my childhood fair for the last time that summer. But here in the southeast, our fair occurs in November. Yep, cause it's still 80 degrees and we can do that. I was so excited my first year here that I was going to get to experience both fairs in one year! Unfortunately, this is not the Midwest. The Glynn County Fair, while a grand treat for many I'm sure, was a bit of a disappointment for this Midwestern girl. There was only one little building with minimal 'stuff', the petting zoo consisted of a pig, a goat and a handful of chickens. That's it, no other animals in sight (or smell)! The few rides were just okay, and well no mouse game, no fish barn, no elephant ears. I didn't even bother going last year...sad. But this year, we found out about another county's fair and with hopes held high, drove an hour to the Jacksonville Agricultural Fair. 

I felt like a 10 year old kid walking through those gates. It.was.county.fair.heaven! 
Ahh the smells and the lights and the sounds of people laughing and screaming on rides. There were cows (granted only one barn) but THERE.WERE.COWS!! And rabbits and sheep and goats, there were three horses (okay not three barns but I just keep telling myself this is NOT the Midwest). But I got to pet cows and sheep and goats and bunnies. They all made their noises and ah, the smells... I love the smell of the barn! We rode the Ferris wheel, bumper cars, Himalaya and loved every minute of it! Screaming and laughing  as we spun round and round. There were freebies and 4-H displays. We watched the pig race and I walked away with a blue ribbon after 'my' pig won! Go Red! 

There wasn't a mouse game and no fish barn (I did try my hand tossing ping pong balls into bowls to win a fish, with no luck. I guess if a fish is in my future, I'll need to go to Walmart with 49cents.)

I left with a giant elephant ear smothered in cinnamon sugar.  The deliciousness getting licked off my fingers all the way to the car.  It certainly was not Indiana but it was 'oh so close' and for this Midwestern girl, 'oh so close' is good enough when living in the southeast.

 I will definitely be bringing J back next year.  She MUST experience the fair in as close a way as possible to the good old Midwest!  I can't wait to see her face when she gets to pet a baby cow or have her first bite of an elephant ear.  We'll undoubted ride the dragon and helicopters. And after buckling her into the little car to ride round and round,  I will finally get my chance to stand at the fence and wave each time she passes by.
I hope she loves it just as much as her Mama does!!


















Only in the south is there a Chicken & Waffles stand at the County Fair!

Fried deliciousness on a plate


Just wait until next year, when all of these pictures have an adorable little brown eyed girl in them as well!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thankful Weekend


This was such a good weekend! Quiet, busy, fun, relaxing...all at some point!

We celebrated my oldest, little brother's birthday Friday night and our mom went full out in party prep.  First, I must clarify that sometimes, my family can be a little 'nerdy', for lack of a better word, but I love them anyway and it's okay, nerds are awesome people.  They aren't that way all the time, just once in a while! (and this may or may not have been one of those times...)


My brother is a huge LOTR fan and consequently, a Hobbit fan.  He was given the extended special edition version for his birthday (it came in a fancy box with 'stuff'...really pretty cool!).  And so to 'celebrate' his birthday we had dinner and watched the new release.  My mom made a party fit for a king, or really a dwarf or hobbit in this case.

This was my brother's invitation to his 'party'.

                And our way to know which house to gather at.
 (If you've watched the movie or read the book, you'll understand!)


   And the food... so much food.  Every dish was geared toward the movie and how the hobbits ate. And EVERY dish was delicious!! Tolkien and Jackson would have been proud.  There was Lembas bread, fruit, pickles, eggs, cider and ale, chicken, pork pie, apple tarts, Belladonna Took's seed cake.  I don't think I've eaten that much at one meal since, well, I can't remember when! 

A delicious staple when going on an adventure!

 
Even the dwarves   were present. 



 I'm so thankful for brothers!











  I also got to spend a day at The McGladrey Classic PGA Golf Tournament.  Our little island is pretty well known for it's golf courses (and resort!)  And every year the Seaside course is home to this PGA tournament.  The weather was PERFECT!! and the scenery was gorgeous...as usual.  I love having an island full of tourists (90% of the time anyway)  It's so fun to see the little island alive with activity.  (Of course, it's always nice when they all go home and we can have our Village and beaches back!)  This has been a particularly busy couple of weeks, with Halloween/Trick-or-Treat, the county fair, the GA/FL game and now McGladrey.  Next week will seem SO quiet.   I'm so thankful for people visiting our community to keep our local shops running year round and at the same time, so thankful for the peace and quiet between tourist 'seasons'.


Brian Gay, Brian Hartman and Matt Every walking the green




Matt Kucher teeing off at the 11th hole




Celebrating our Military at every hole.


It was a pretty great weekend....and I'm always thankful for time well spent over the weekend!