"A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families..."Psalm 68:5-6a

Friday, November 30, 2012

He works in mysterious ways...

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
~Isaiah 55:8-9~

This verse comforts me, when I look at the world & don't understand things that happen. Blessing & suffering happen simultaneously, rejoicing & mourning, acceptance & rejection. Bittersweet life. The Lord sees all, knows all...nothing is a surprise to Him. He has the big picture, & since I know that He works all things together for the good of those that love Him, I can rest in that...even when the part of the picture I see is looking like a toddler got hold of the paintbrush!

Last night I found out that a dear friend, who was in the midst of inquiring about a special boy she found on Reece's Rainbow, has learned that this boy is no longer available at this time. It's a matter of technicalities, really. He is still an orphan, but his citizenship is in question, so they cannot list him with a specific country. Until the issue is resolved, he cannot be adopted. She is heartbroken, but at the same time, she knows that God has given them a clear answer for now. It is not time.

I have known the feeling...the feeling of loving a child, a child who desperately needs to be loved, but of being unable to "do" anything about it. I cannot even communicate it to him. He lives in an institution, he speaks another language, & the only photo I've ever seen of him is old & outdated. The door is shut. We do not qualify. That is a mountain God will have to move. In a way, I can take comfort in that...it is beyond my control, but I know that at any time, God could change things. He just wants me to be willing to do whatever it takes. I pray that I am willing, when I'm tested, & I trust in His plan. The hardest part of trusting is when I think of the days ticking away, as he grows up in an institution with no indoor plumbing, with little to no interaction, with only 1 or 2 caregivers to a group of 20-25 boys. There is no time for affection...there is only time to clean the messes, to transport the boys from one place to another, to put them back to bed..

{"My" Heath}

It is mysterious to me, that there are so many waiting children...children who have been on the adoption lists for years, & have had little to no interest shown in them. Then there are willing families, willing hearts, who long to call one or more of these children their own, but are prevented by something...only God sees & understands why. And then there are those who don't, or won't, consider the children...those who look away, thinking that it's not their problem, or who are just so overwhelmed by the sadness of the situation that they shut it out...who see the diagnosis, & not the child that needs loving & rescuing. I'm guilty of it, too. I've prayed for every child I've carried to "just be healthy"...& that prayer has been answered, by the grace of God. But one day I realized something. I realized that I would love any of my children, if somehow suddenly they were not "typical" or healthy anymore. If I could look beyond a diagnosis for one of my birth children, why couldn't I do it for one of these orphans? Adoption...acceptance...that is the gospel. 

Jesus, give us a heart like Yours...a heart that sees the hurt of others, & moves heaven & earth to ease that pain...a heart that sees the need, & does whatever it can to meet the need...a heart that sees the lost & lonely, the rejected, & offers acceptance & a home. There is so much joy to be had in this heart! The longer I live, the more I see that You weave the tapestry of life in lovely designs & patterns...You give beauty for ashes...You make beautiful things out of us, if we just surrender to the Potter's hand.

Let me just say, again, that I know not everyone can adopt. But everyone should consider, prayerfully, what they CAN do...what their part is in the redemption of orphans. It's not a guilt thing...it's our heart beating as one with the adoptive heart of the Father. He works out the timing, He works out the provision, but we have to be willing to do whatever it is He calls us to do. We need to pray for a heart that is willing to obey. If the time isn't right, He can & does close doors. But if the timing is right, He can fling those doors wide open where they seemed to be impossibly impassible before! We just have to be willing to walk through...

another child found...

Today another Angel Tree child made her way to the My Family Found Me page! 
This is Autumn, born March 2004. According to her page on Reece's Rainbow, she is introverted & quiet, but she likes to listen to people talking (especially if they're talking to her!) & likes to play with adults. She has deformity of her lower limbs, but she can walk with support & she can stand for several seconds. She has cognitive delay, but she can do some self care & play. She is well liked & works hard to learn. Best of all, she now has a family, who found her during Angel Tree 2012! 

You never know what may come of sharing these children...if you can't adopt, you can always share! Someday someone may thank you for introducing them to their child...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wow, blogger is actually going to let me post!

I have had the worst time trying to post lately, which explains my long silence here. While I've been silent here, I haven't been elsewhere. I've gotten a handful of orders on Etsy for Simon...thank you to everyone who is contributing! His grant will be climbing up above the $200 mark as soon as I get these orders taken care of. As I sit down to get started on my work, I just wanted to share another group of children who have found their family...this time, it is four brothers! Meet Neil, Jeremiah, Barnabas, & Logan...

Of these four boys, three are developing typically, while one has developmental delays & a skin disorder. Can I just say I think it is wonderful & beautiful that a family has committed to taking all of the boys, so they can stay together?! I love it!

Now, I have 5 orders to fill, so I better get to it! I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kathi...the sister I could've never known...

Reece's Rainbow doesn't just help children with Down syndrome. Some of the special needs I've seen on RR are blindness, severe burns, mental delay, cerebral palsy (which my oldest sister has), arthrogryposis, HIV+, deafness, congenital heart defects, autism, fetal alchohol syndrome, hydrocephalus, microcephaly, & even spinal muscular atrophy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy that my own nephew also has. I personally have seen what a difference the care of a loving family can have in the life of a person living with special needs. 

As I mentioned, my oldest sister Kathi has cerebral palsy. She turned 45 this year, & everyone who knows her loves & is delighted by her. She is active in her school, in all sorts of sports including downhill skiing, basketball, & horseback riding, & she is an incredibly hard worker. Every birthday she makes a handmade card for each of her sisters, & she knows & loves each of her nieces & nephews. She is partially paralyzed & cannot speak, but she certainly can communicate! But her life could have turned out much differently. You see, when she was diagnosed with CP, around the age of one, the doctor recommended that my mother put Kathi in an institution. He gave a grim prognosis, stating that Kathi would never walk, be toilet trained, be able to communicate, or even know her own family. My horrified mother refused...she knew that her baby needed one thing most of all, & that was a mother.

Kathi has proven that doctor wrong many times over. I often wish that somehow that doctor could see the life that Kathi has led. I hope he became better informed on what is "good for" children like her, & I cringe when I think that other scared, new parents probably took his advice. The difference between Kathi's prognosis & her actual life simply comes down to the love of a family, & the hand of God. It all began with my mother's willingness to lay her own life down & do whatever it took to be a mother to her baby...

I am praying that people would see these children. That they would really see them & realize that they each deserve the best chance at life that they can get. I'm praying that families will be raised up to bring the children home. I'm praying that people would do whatever they can to help the cause of the orphan. Christians out there, this is specifically addressed to you. We are told that true religion is caring for the orphan & widow. Every single one of us should be asking ourselves & God, "What is my role? What can I do?" There are people like me, who long to adopt but cannot...but there are also people who are able in every way, but who just haven't ever thought about or who are kept back from adoption by fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what it will do to their family. Fear of never having their child-free golden years. Meanwhile, the children wait, & suffer, & long for the love that they need.

It's not my job to convict anyone...that is the work of the Holy Spirit. All I can hope is that my words can help someone to stop & think...to ask themselves what they can do, & maybe even to come to the realization that they are called to adopt. Oh Jesus, open the eyes of your people to see the need, & speak to them to do what they can to meet it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

another child redeemed...

I am so happy to be able to share the news that one more Angel has found their family! Meet Sabrina...
Sabrina is five years old & is HIV+ with signs of pneumonia. I will be praying for her family to be able to bring her home as soon as possible, so she can get the medical care she needs & finally be a part of a family.

The Angel Tree is not just about fundraising. It's about getting these children seen. It's about awareness. And it's amazing what a little awareness can do. Remember that Reece's Rainbow has helped over 800 children find their forever families in only 6 years. Many families found their child by scrolling through the photo listings on RR, perhaps praying for the children, & suddenly being caught by one child's face standing out among all the others. So share them with everyone you know! You may help to introduce a child to their forever family, & be a part of an orphan becoming a beloved son or daughter.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I know it can be heavy, reading about the lives of these orphans. I thought you'd like to see some other faces...some of the faces of the children whose families have found them! I will try to post the photos of rescued children at least once a week. So without further ado, here are some children from Reece's Rainbow's My Family Found Me pages...










Saturday, November 10, 2012

it matters to this one...

It wasn't that long ago that I had a hard time understanding international adoption. The price tag is so very high, I wondered why people pursued it. Not that the children weren't worth every penny, but I wondered if those tens of thousands of dollars couldn't benefit more children if it were somehow raised & donated to benefit in-country ministry, rather than to bring one or maybe two children to our own country. The problem seemed so big, so impossible to address one child at a time. If you search online, you can find estimates on the number of orphans worldwide, anywhere from 143 million to 210 million! If we look a little deeper into the huge number, we can find more detail about the lives of these children. Check out these statistics from Orphan Hope International:

According to data released in 2003 as many as eight million boys and girls around the world live in institutional care. Some studies have found that violence in residential institutions is six times higher than violence in foster care, and that children in group care are almost four times more likely to experience sexual abuse than children in family based care.
Every day 5,760 more children become orphans
Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen
Each day 38,493 orphans age out
Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home
Studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen
These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals
Another study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years…
An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year; (THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2005)
2 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multibillion-dollar commercial sex industry. (THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2005)

Statistics like these help me to see why it's important for families to step forward & bring the children home. Life in an institution, regardless of the quality of the institution, is not a substitute for a family..for home...for love. Bless those who are truly working to help the children in institutional settings! They are necessary & what they're doing is so vital. But let's not let ourselves think that an orphanage can take the place of a family. God puts children into families, for a reason. Sometimes families are broken, & then other means of caring for the children have to be used, but always the goal should be to have the children placed in loving families again. Families, even with their faults, are the means that God has ordained for raising children.

Reece's Rainbow was instrumental in bringing about a change in my own view of international adoption. They put a name & a face on all those millions of nameless & faceless orphans that I had heard about. I realized that God had a plan for each of them...

for Heath...

for Simon...

for Kolya...

for Alexander...

for Veronica...

for Constance...

for Carina...

for Lilah...

& for all the rest of them. It's true that not all of them will be adopted, but their lives all have a purpose & value, & they are worth the effort, the struggle, the sacrifice it takes to redeem every single one. Many of the children pictured above are facing imminent transfer to adult mental institutions or have already been transferred. Their lives are in danger of being over before they've rightly begun. Please pray, support, give...every one of them matters.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

grace & peace to the fatherless & widow we declare...

O my soul has come to be an instrument of hope
My Lord has made me useful.
Come now, child, lay your burdens down & trade for rest your debt
Come now & be made well.

God of light shine down.
I am overwhelmed.

Grace & peace, to the weary soul whose heart is full of holes.
Grace & peace, to the fatherless & widow we declare.
Grace & peace, to the prodigal who's traded love for gold.
Grace & peace, from a God whose yoke is easy & His load is light.

Oh my Lord, I am set apart, please let me not be still,
Find me in Your will.
Take myself, I offer up this empty cup,
Let it be filled with Your life.

I cannot be still.
I cannot be still.

Grace & peace, to the weary soul whose heart is full of holes.
Grace & peace, to the fatherless & widow we declare.
Grace & peace, to the prodigal who's traded love for gold.
Grace & peace, from a God whose yoke is easy & His load is light.

I was hopeless, You led with light.
I was lifeless, You gave me life.
I was drowning, You cast a line.
I was lifeless, now I'm alive in You.

~Grace & Peace, a beautiful song by Preson Phillips~
To listen to this song, check out Soma Spokane on Soundcloud. I love the way they do this song!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

what do these three children have in common?

{Ellison, born 7/2010}

{Fiona, born 8/2010}

{Sunny, born 8/2011}

According to the Angel Tree 2012 page*, these three children have all found their families through the Angel Tree this year! I hope & pray that Simon will join their ranks soon. The older he gets, the worse his chances. He has a few strikes against him...he is a boy, he has special needs, & he is getting closer every day to the dreaded age of transfer. Don't forget that this isn't just about giving the children a better life, although that is wonderful...this can mean saving them from death. I remember reading that many of the children will die within the first year after they are transferred to an adult mental institution (although I cannot remember the source...I'll try to find it!). The clock is ticking...please help save Simon! 

*There is a discrepancy with Sunny's status. She is listed as found on the AT page, but her profile says she is still looking for her family. I have been told that the AT page is correct.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ornamentally speaking...

Here's my next ornament, soon to be featured at TrueRuby & a craft fair near you.

Isn't it fun?! This is a felt monogram ornament, made with two different colored layers of felt, blanket stitched, & embellished with a few colorful buttons. This one is just a prototype, but I'm excited to perfect them & get them listed in my shop ASAP. The price will be $5, with $4 going to Simon's grant. When you buy three, you'll get $1 off the total...3 ornaments for $14.00. So hey, buy a letter for everyone in the family! (Why do I suddenly feel like Vanna White?) :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

my own path to a heart for adoption...

As promised, here's a little bit of my story. It's been a gradual progression...God has gently led me to the place I am today. It went something like this...

...I read the stories & saw the pictures on Reece's Rainbow & adoption blogs, & I was moved

...Eventually I wanted to help, so I gave a little money here & there, & prayed for them occasionally

...I learned more about the conditions they often face, & my mama's heart hurt for them

...I thought of my own children in the orphan's place, & I really saw them for the first time

...I saw the face of one boy, & I felt connected to one orphan personally, for the first time

...I learned that adoption wasn't an option for us, & I felt despair as I thought of "my" boy in the institution, waiting, indefinitely

...I turned to God, & He comforted me. He assured me that He can redeem the years the locusts have eaten, even in the orphanages & institutions. He reminded me that my first call is to delight in Him, & to share His love with those around me. He gave me the desire to do anything I can reasonably do to help these children who lie heavy on my heart. I say they lie heavy, but there is always the hope that comes from the knowledge that God in Heaven has a plan & He is bringing it about...I cannot fret when I remember His sovereignty, & His redemptive heart.

So now you all know where I'm coming from. One thing I often ask the Lord when I pray about hard & heavy things, is that He speak to me gently. His quiet, whispering voice does just that, & it makes me want to hush so I can really hear Him. Do you want to hear Him? I'm guessing you do...so tell Him so. Let Him speak to you gently...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

more baby pics of Simon...

{he's wearing an Idaho shirt!}

{what a sweet baby}
{look at those kissable cheeks!}

a sneak peek at some ornaments...

I'm still waiting for the all-clear to make & sell these, but here's a sneak peek:

I'm hoping to sell them for $5 each, with $4 of that money going directly into Simon's grant fund. Shipping should be minimal, as they are very lightweight. I'll talk to my shipping expert (AKA my husband) about that soon. I hope you like them! Don't you just want a few of these hanging on your tree? I've got plans for some original designs as well, so stay tuned!

the Johnson family (no relation!)...true religion

I ran across the Johnson's blog, Whole Lotta Love, while I was searching for info about Heath...the boy who opened my heart to international special needs adoption. I love the heart the Johnsons have, & the vision they feel called to makes me want to jump for joy!
Here's their dream, in their own words...

~The dream is to establish a small group medical home for bedridden orphans. The dream is to work with the local government to take the most vulnerable from the orphanages and provide them with nutrition, therapy, medical care, and plenty of hands on lovin and attention. The dream is to work in conjunction with the local church to employ Ukrainian believers to care for the children. We would love to help mobilize the local church to care for their own.

The ULTIMATE dream is for God to establish a network of these group homes all over the country.
Sounds impossible? Yep, we know.

"Jesus looked at them and said, 
'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' ” 
Matthew 19:26~

This is one more amazing example of the diverse ways God calls His people to minister to orphans! He comes at it from all different angles. I love to think of His hand, weaving the threads of all our lives into this amazing tapestry!

Some may ask, why the Ukraine? Why these specific children, when there is suffering all over the world? Here's the Johnson's simple answer, the only answer needed...

~There are orphans all over the world.
There is suffering all over the world.
But, God has called us to these specific children and this specific country. We don't know why, and that's okay. So, I guess the answer to this one is simple: God said so. :)~

That's really what it all boils down to. We know we are supposed to care for orphans, but sometimes people get lost when they wonder HOW they personally are supposed to be involved. All I can say is pray...pray, & ask God for a heart that would be aligned with His heart in this matter, & ask Him to reveal what your role ought to be. God is still revealing to me what my role is. I'll share more on how I got to the point of advocating for adoption, for Simon, in my next post. Until then, seek Him!

Friday, November 2, 2012

how can I help?

If that's a question you've been asking yourself, here are a few things you can do:

*Pray. Everyone can do it...& it's the most powerful thing we can do!

*Be informed. Find out why Reece's Rainbow started, & how they've helped over 800 children find their forever families. Educate yourself on the plight of special needs orphans, read adoption blogs, & share what you learn.

*Share. If you feel comfortable, or hey, even if you don't but you think you need to, share Simon's picture & story with the world! Or go to www.reecesrainbow.org & look at the faces of the children there. You may just find your own little one to shout about!

*Give. There is a ChipIn widget on the sidebar of my blog. Money donated goes directly to Simon's account on Reece's Rainbow, & it's tax deductible. Please be sure to mention "Simon 2S Angel Fund" in the special instructions. How easy is that! (Be aware that the ChipIn widget requires Flash, so if you want to donate on an Apple device, you'll have to donate directly at Simon's RR profile page. The photos of him on the sidebar link directly to his page.)

*Start your own fundraiser. Many thousands of dollars have been raised through bake sales, car washes, catalog parties, walk-a-thons, etc.

*Shop. At least 50% of every purchase made in my Etsy shop, TrueRuby, will be donated to Simon's grant fund through December 31, 2012. I do have gift certificates available, in any amount, if you want to purchase for a friend or loved one, but would like them to choose their own custom colors. 

*Adopt. Perhaps you will fall in love with one of the children, on Reece's Rainbow or elsewhere. What a blessing & a high calling to be able to adopt! Not everyone can, or even should, adopt, but we can all support those who are called to adopt or foster in many different ways. 

I don't believe that every person will feel the same call, the same urgency, or the same need to be involved...but for those who do, there is always some way we can heed that call. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

patience is a virtue...

Please bear with me as I figure out how to configure everything on the blog! It seems to be a bit glitchy, so it may take me a while...

Thanks for your patience!

what difference does it make?

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. 
And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do."
~Edward Everett Hale~

It seems futile, sometimes...the meager bit we can do doesn't seem like enough to really help. But, if we all combine our crumbs, our tiny offerings, we can make a difference for one...
And if we keep on doing it, if we keep on giving a little here & a little there, we can make a difference for another, & another, & another.

I am only one. But all of us together...we are a force. We are an army. We are friends of the friendless & voices for the voiceless. We ought not refuse to do what we can do...& we can all do something! Share the needs, give some pennies, pray for the children & for families to find them & bring them home.