Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Throwing Arms Open Wide

I crossed paths with a blog last spring when I was first setting up our family blog that has been such a blessing to read and follow. My heart was burning for the plight of the orphans at the time and God answered my questioning heart with an abundance of red threads that continue to unravel and to weave all at the same time!

One of these red threads brought me to Shannon's blog. Shannon at "throwingourarmsopenwide" has taken me with her family on a journey of a lifetime to bring her daughter, Georgia, home from China and to repair her heart surgically and to fill it overbrimming with the love of a family and with the love of a God so big that He delights in every detail! She has also given my heart so much to consider and to SEEK for in Scripture as a mom, a wife, a daughter and a child of God. And I also have to mention, because it is SO important to the story, that this was all done without her ever knowing I existed or even read her blog! You see, because I wasn't able to leave her a comment on her blog until late this summer after I upgraded my computer and she was IN China, I was simply one of those "lurkers." It was as if God wanted me to not side step Him in it all! (He knows me so well! Even in my best intentions.) My only choice was to pray for her and Georgia. I couldn't just leave notes of encouraging words in the comments section. God is SO AWESOME!

And if that isn't enough to get you over to her blog to check her out ... here's another incentive: SHE'S HAVING A COOL GIVEAWAY!

The give-away is spelled out in detail on her site and features very gorgeous and nifty hand-crafted bracelets that are bringing another precious pearl home to a special family ONE BRACELET AT A TIME! That's right, the goal for this artesian is 3000 bracelets to fund the process of bringing their daughter home. Imagine being a piece of that link to making a family. AND looking fancy-trendy while doing it! Check out Shannon's site and also Orphaned No More Bracelets. Oh yes, and here's my favorite (right now at least ... I keep waffling there are so many cool ones to choose from!) As if I didn't kinda want a daughter before ... well, now just for the sake of swapping bracelets it'd be really cool! Not so cool to swap 'em with your son (heh heh)--I'll stick with swapping hockey jerseys there thank you :-)

This pair is a close second:

Friday, February 19, 2010

An Opportunity for a Lifetime

Bring Drew Home!
I promised another shot at a way to get you out of your winter funk ... AND here it is!
This is your opportunity to touch a family for a lifetime and a soul for eternity ... all the while also getting a chance to win (or several chances) some gorgeous prizes! Check this suggested-donation-fundraiser out HERE. And make a difference!

You might notice a familiar prize. Yup, some vinyl lettering from Wit & Wisdom Interior Lettering. (my humble home business) I hope that will get someone excited to bid. They really dress up a wall instantly and are really fun to put up. I'll even make sure to throw in some practice "blessings" to get you totally comfortable with the process!

My heart is with Drew's family as they bring all the loose ends together before they travel. Wouldn't it be great if there was a deep peace for them about the money end of things? Adding a new family member is enough to worry about and should be the focus, right? I can't think of a better way to be the body of Christ than to come around them in support and love. If you can sacrifice by spreading the word for entries and a few dollars by skipping that mocha or McDonny's or whatever "extra" that you can live without for a moment ... or really dig deeper I am sure you will be happier in the long run! Remember to check things out HERE!

Their family blog is http://mattmandi.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pick-me-ups for Winter Blahs

Need a spark in your day to get over a winter funk?
There are two exciting give away-fund raisers that I'm going to post about in the near future. This is the first of them and it will happen on Feb. 19th! Don't miss out. To find out all the details, go HERE. And the drawing is for THIS wonderful gem that I savor the chance at taking some photos with!

Stay tuned for the other fund raiser to be announced soon. It too is way cool. Even I don't know all the details yet, but as the winner of TWO different drawings in the recent past I HAVE to tell you that your odds are SO good to win something ... and even if you don't win a physical prize, knowing that you've helped to bring a child into a loving Christian home is a prize beyond measure.
Check 'em out!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mostly Wordless Monday: Elizabeth

Is this smile Sweetness or what?!

If you missed the story about when her soggy birthday present arrived to me during a snowstorm read HERE.
She's on my heart often and I'm going to have to say I received such a gift seeing her excitement over her package! I am amazed at the faithfulness of her ND family who makes sure to send photos of appreciation without fail!

It's hard to believe this is the same little girl as last year about this time. (I wish I had a photo of when I first saw her! ... a small smile and what looked like a lot of scared feelings ... it was last spring when her world was so turned totally upside down. It's amazing to think back and point to something where God so evidently changed hearts and allowed a glimpse through HIS eyes. I should have done a screen capture of her entry photo ... and also of my heart at the time (if that were possible) ... but little did I know at the time the effect she would have!)
You'd especially notice that her purple lips are now a rosy PINK and that her timid, hesitant painful almost grin ... is now a beaming smile that lights up a room! And my heart? God's still working on that, of course, as He is ALL of ours.
The picture of LOVE--given, received and given out again.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two Posts in One Day and This One is a Give Away! (scroll down for the other post)

WIN this Pagoda Dress!
Speaking of Kay Bratt (read post below if you are not familiar with her) I just noticed this cool give away from this WAY COOL site!
Click on Kay Bratt's website on the side bar, or here to see the details.
Enter a comment on Kay's blog and then visit Fly Away Home Clothing Boutique at http://www.flyawayhomeclothing.com and leave a comment. This mom makes the cutest clothing! ... all to help financially cover the cost of her daughters' adoptions. How fitting for the upcoming Chinese New Year Celebration too! Even if you're not adopting but love adorable clothing you should check it out ... hey, I even checked it out and we have no girls ... but I do know a few, so you should check it out too. It's a "bookmark it" page!

(I'm not sure if this dress is still available, but it's my favorite! Maybe we can make a petition to bring it back?)

And is this not the cutest outfit? I wonder if it'd be cute in a size 10 women's? Probably not nearly as much.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thankful ... Friday

In February 2009 I read a book,
that broke my heart,
that made me ask questions,
that made me "SEEK."
It is a word I continue to hear.
That pulls me closer.
Closer to God and His heart.

In October my children and I sent off these sweater to the very orphanage I had read about in the book, "Silent Tears" by Kay Bratt.

And today those sweaters ... especially this one, warms a sweet child.

From my hands in Iowa buttoning those buttons, putting it in a box and mailing it far away, to his/her caregiver now buttoning it over that sweet, small, warm body ...
The Lord is good and has great plans far beyond what we can imagine.
On this cold morning here (18°F outside,) I am thankful and warmed with the reminder that someone far away is warm and wrapped in a love that goes beyond being seen. But I hope they DO see it ... and I hope they DO feel it!

If you haven't read "Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage," by Kay Bratt, I would highly recommend it to you!
It will move your heart and hopefully change your life.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Breaking News: Tooth Fairy Comes Tonight!

Just as I was going to post about the weekend, complete with photos ... Brayden lost his very first tooth this morning at 9 am!
CHANGE GEARS ... Okay, like when he got his first tooth on Christmas 2003 it's kinda a mom-thing ... or dad thing. But it's BIG for him and us ... one of those rites of passage. Thankfully we had a late start to school this morning due to snow ... otherwise I wouldn't have gotten to witness the raw excitement of the event. Oh the blessings of being a stay-at-home-mom! (Kinda makes up from having all the kids home all day yesterday and most of Monday--oh they're angels ... except for when someone gets poked in the eye or doesn't play fair or all those things that helps kids grow up into respectable adults while making us parents a little weary and gray.)

I also have a couple of photos of Monday night when Brayden wanted his dad to PULL the tooth. (Usually one to keep quiet, I actually said, "Not a good idea ... don't do it ... just say no!" -- I mean, I was there when he was born, I remember that look he gave me that clearly said, "YOU put me through THAT torture?!" And I clearly remember how he doesn't deal well with pain ... EVER. But who am I? Just his mom, who carried him for nearly 10 month and has seen my fair share of him and pain and they are NOT friends ... but who likes a Miss Know-It-All? Nobody ... and I just maybe could have been wrong! )

SO, Brayden was insistent, questioning a little bit if it would hurt and Jeff was honest and said it might a bit but Brayden really wanted that tooth out ... and he even went and got a pliers when Jeff said it was too slippery to get a hold of! He was "in" with the idea whole-heartedly ... well, that is until the pain came. I guess the look on his face tells the story best.
BEFORE--Tooth is a-leaning



(Click on this to see Brayden's expression bigger) NO the pliers did not actually work ... not that they couldn't have ... but it was not the right time yet.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Whisper

Have you ever wanted to write a post and just not be able to get it started right or really have it say what it is that's really at the heart of it all? Well, I'm there.

I have started this post a hundred times in my head, each time wondering if it's just me who sees the fingerprints of God ... or if others would see them too. In fact last spring, while things were still very fresh in my mind, I wrote down my thoughts and the details in a journal, knowing that time would erase their sharpness. And I wondered, would I ever return to the story and share it? You may remember I started her story this summer (here) ... but didn't get into the details. I still don't know if there will be a time when the details that I find such joy in will speak to others in the same way that I hear them. And it gets to be a rather long winded story that I'm not sure anybody wants to wade through ... but I do want to share in part the blessings that continue to unfold in a super-abbreviated version. (If you remember seeing these photos last summer please stick with me ... the ending is good! I promise!)

Request for Lei's Surgical Sponsorship at LWB Medical Sponsorship Page

Please read the text from the website below the photo. When I first saw Lei late last March I was captivated ... and also so sad that all the surgeries were SO expensive. Everything seemed so far out of this stay-at-home mom's budget! And I simply prayed "God if there was something that I can afford I'd give it, I would." And the next day March 31st, when I checked the site ... this is what I found. Suddenly all but $190 was paid! If that didn't give me goosebumps let me tell you! I'm not sure if I was more scared to have been heard or excited or stunned. And I am not sure why all but that small amount was paid and I don't want to know any logical reason if there is one other than the answer to prayer. I am so blessed and humbled to have had a sliver of a part in this beautiful child's life. Why God chose to call her to my attention that night I do not know, but I am so glad he did and she will forever have a part of my heart for it. I submitted the balance on Monday, one of the first days in April ... and she was one of the patients on the fifth day of the six day Medical Cleft Lip Exchange April 8th that had 2 doctors from Minnesota performing and teaching surgical techniques for the doctors in Shanghai. Was she suddenly added to the list and prepared for travel for the end of that week? At first my heart wants to think so and then again it doesn't ... because then I think about the children who have not had the opportunity to have such a life changing surgery.

Lei at admission to Fujian Hospital for her cleft lip surgery, April 2009.

Lei right after her surgery repairing her cleft lip on one of the final days of the Love Without Boundaries Cleft Lip Medical Exchange.

Lei as she is discharged from the hospital and returned to her orphanage.

Lei today--15 months old and 9 months post surgery

One thing I noticed, maybe you did too? ... in her photos, she has the same look that is somewhat questioning and seeking, so very somber. Maybe it was the situation or the photographer, or her personality or a thousand other things ... She is no doubt smart, curious and full of blessings and love. And her eyes are so deep they speak volumes in their quiet darkness. I cannot wait for her smile to find her and for it to fill her eyes and her face. I know that it will be beautiful!

So in short,
Spoken For!
Soon to be united ... with her forever family!
Yes, I just received an update that she has been matched for adoption!
SWEET. Oh so very, very sweet!
What a blessing to have had the opportunity to be a part of her life. God is so good!
I did want to add one quote from my journaling entry, " ... all He was asking from me was $190 to save a little girl's smile in an orphanage--a smile that repaired would give her a chance to be adopted--hopefully into a Christian family."

I will continue to pray for her and that her family knows God and will lead her to the Lord so we can all meet her someday on the other side of this life if not before! I just had to share the love--the sweetness--of it all!
Soli Deo Gloria

The family

The family