Walking With Our Oldest Baby

Here I am again. I know, it has been months since you have heard an update from us. We are still here, just super busy these days.

First, a little update on Seth and Joy: Seth is crawling correctly now after Princess 1 and I spent a lot of time on the floor helping him learn to crawl the correct way. He is also saying, “Dada” and “Mama” and cruising around furniture at 16 months of age.

Joy is crawling, standing up, and saying, “Dada”. She is also making “kiss” noises these days. She and Seth enjoy throwing soft baby toys at each other from crib to crib when they wake up. 🙂 Those two are so adorable together! We are so blessed!

So, you ask, what is this post about today? This is about our “baby”. Our oldest “baby”. Prince 1 is an amazing son. You see, he has been through many adversities and struggles in his life. He has asperger’s, auditory processing disorder (loses about 30% of what is said in background noise), and dyslexia. He is severely handicapped and yet, has an amazing IQ! He is extremely intelligent, but people do not always get to see this as they judge him by his un-social behavior (which he often does to try and get attention or “fit in” as few want to be his friend) or slow processing (reading or hearing incorrectly) issues. I used to think when I heard the word, “severely disabled” that it meant someone who could not function in society. That thought was totally wrong! Our son’s disabilities hinder him from doing easily what others do without a second thought. However, it doesn’t mean he can’t do the same things they do. It just means it takes more time and effort for him to learn to do the new things. For example, he took a diagnosis test that would normally take only 2-3 hours. It took him almost 6 hours to take it! So, when you read something in 15 minutes time, it takes him a little over an hour to read it! You can imagine what this will be like for him in college.

Our son just started his first job as a CNA-in-training. He was upfront with them on his first (and only interview he has ever had for a job) interview about his struggles. They said it was not a problem and hired him on the spot! They are going to pay for his training and certification to be a CNA. By the way, CNAs do not make much at all. He plans to work for a year or so to earn enough money to attend college as he will be paying for all of his college. Then he plans to study to become a physical therapy assistant. Later, he wants to attend med. school to become an orthopedic doctor.

He told me, ” Mommy, it may take me until I am 50 years old to become a doctor, but it’s what I want to do. I just remind myself how many years it took me to learn how to read fluently and know that I have to keep moving forward.”

Prince 1 and I have shed many, many, many tears, said many prayers, researched, read together, and walked side by side through this past 18 years of homeschooling, holding each other up at times. His Daddy has always been supportive and helped us in any way we asked for help in homeschooling. He has listened to me many times as I called him at work sobbing over yet another struggle or discouragement that Prince 1 and I had run into. He has prayed for us and supported us all the way. His siblings have at times been totally unkind(as all siblings can be at times) to him, but for the most part, you don’t discriminate against their brother! You don’t not include him because he struggles. He is their brother and you better recognize him as God’s child too.

Prince 1 reads his Bible, can quote Scripture, and shares his faith with others. He researches so much and then shares with us. He loves his German Shepherd, who is faithly by his side every moment of the day. He is amazing with animals. All animals seem calm around him. He throws a mean bale of hay. He won in 4H Shooting Sports in the rifle competition, beating out the 18 year old champion when he was just 14. He put 5 bullet holes through a hole the size of a dime! He gives his all when asked to do a job around the house or when helping others away from home. One time when we were stuck in the snow, he carried his little brother all the way up the long, long driveway to the house so that he would not fall in the snow while we walked in the dark. He does an awesome job of moving people-furniture, boxes, and more. He can quote laws beyond your imagination in certain areas. He has been known to tell doctors more about where certain bones, joints, etc. are located than they ever dreamed this guy would know. He is so handsome too! Most importantly he is a child of God, created in His image!He is our son, our oldest “baby”.

It took him until he was 15 to read fluently. He would work with me during the day, work with Steve at night, and then sit up late with his little brother asking him to tell him what certain words were. He would then write the words down he did not know, draw a picture of them, and then memorize the words. This child has worked 10 times harder than any of us have, just to get to this point in his life! He has already worked a lifetime worth!

After meeting with a lady (who specializes in some of his areas of struggle), she has recommended that he get a special speech-to-text/text-to-speech reader. The cost of this? $1800. Plus, he will need to buy a scanner as well. He will then be able to scan his textbooks, put this item over each page and then it will highlight the line it is reading. It will then read the line outloud, allowing him to follow along with his eyes as the areas are highlighted. He will be able to read much faster and hear it read to him at the same time. The lady said that it will take him 10 years or more just to get 4 years worth of college completed as it will take him so long due to his processing struggles. She herself has a couple deaf children and has her own hearing impairments. She says this has been a life-saver for her as it has allowed her to go to college a few years back. Insurance will not cover this wonderful piece of technology because they do not feel it is medically necessary.

Meanwhile, the studies show that people with this many struggles end up homeless and jobless as it is very difficult for them to get into a job or school. We have been pointed in the direction of getting some help vocationally and finding a caseworker who will advocate for our son in college. We are now looking into this. See, we can no longer advocate for our son when he turns 18 next month. He is now an adult by world standards and is expected to stand on his own two feet. Our son who is so intelligent will not make it through the cracks at this rate! Our son who has worked so hard for so many years to read, to hear properly, to fill in the blank, will most likely be looking at being jobless and unable to attend college because of this????? NO!! NO!!! NO!!! Mama Bear will NOT stand for this! Nor will any of her family. Our son has been motivated all along, prayed his way through learning to read, begged God to help him learn as quickly as others learn through reading, and not given up even one time, will not be told he cannot go to college or get a full-time job. It’s fine if other teens do not want to be friends with him. It’s fine if other adults think I’m nuts when I talk about some (notice, I never tell all of our struggles…you can’t handle the truth!) of our struggles on this walk of special needs. It’s fine if others want to judge us too. But, it is NOT fine if our son is not given the opportunity that others are given! He has worked too hard to come this far! We will storm God with prayers all day long that the gates will open wide and clear for our son. We will pull together a prayer warrior circle to pray our son through college and into a successful job! We will NOT give up.

I have had moments of wondering if we did the right thing homeschooling our son, but God always confirmed to me that we were going in the right direction. Today the lady we spoke with, told us that she can see how much work we have all done through the years and that we did the best thing ever for our son-homeschool! She said it was wonderful that he was able to have a quiet area to study/hear/think and so much more, along with having extra time to do his work. He was safe at home to be himself and did not grow up being labeled and picked on. Do you know how comforting those words are to hear? We did the right thing. The best thing for our son! All those years of praying about which direction to go with our son each year, have paid off. God has never left our side, nor our son’s.

It is amazing to look back and see that our son is even here. The first words the doctor said as he was born all dark purple were, “Don’t quit on me now” after we had just endured a very traumatic birth. Our son has never quit- EVER. You know what? If I had to face these adversities, I’m being honest here, I think I would have days of wanting to quit. Just forget it…I’ll never do this or that…noone will ever accept me….

Anyway, that is only a touch about our oldest baby, who by the way graduates in just a few short months. We had set up a special SURPRISE gofundme account for him just a week or so ago. We wanted to help him raise some funds towards college. Well, now that we realize we need to get some special technology into his hands to help him function like anyone else in college, we are working on raising money to buy this technology. I am unsure of the name of it at the moment- Prince 1 has all the paperwork with him right now. But, suffice it to say, it is some amazing technology! So, Mama Bear is going to be busy fundraising for Prince 1 (without him knowing about it!) to get this piece of technology. If you’d like to join Mama Bear and Papa Bear in their fight for their son’s playing field to be somewhat leveled with everyone else’s in his “new world” being an adult working and going to school, please consider donating or sharing our story with others.

Want to help our son show the world that he is quite capable of doing anything that he puts his mind to? Then consider these options, but please remember this is a SECRET. Our son has no clue we are doing this for him! 🙂 Also, please do NOT post his pics. to Facebook. Our family does not put pics. of our children on FB. So, if you want to share, please email the link for his Go Fund Me account. Here you go:

http://www.gofundme.com/BlakeBennett (this is to help with college costs)

http://w3657.myubam.com/Event/51741 (I am donating all my commission to our son’s need for the speech-to-text/text-to-speech piece of equipment along with a scanner. So, every time you buy through this link, he earns money to use towards this purchase…again this is secret too)

Or if you’d like to surprise him via mail, please do so!

Any of the links out to the side that we used to raise funds to adopt Seth and Joy will now be used towards our son’s needs. You may shop through the links to the right of this.

And last, but not least, would you consider writing our son a note of encouragement? We want our son to know that he has a slew of friends behind him praying for him every step of the way. A note or card would be a wonderful encouragement to him. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders right now- trying to learn all of the CNA training and pass the exam, get into college to study to be a PTA, passing the ACT and SAT tests (and needing tons of extra time to do so), preparing for a speech/debate tournament coming up in which he will participate in, learning his new job, learning a new piece of music to play for his graduation ceremony, trying to earn the money to eventually go to college, applying for scholarships, and worrying about his future.

We will give him the SURPRISE funds after graduation, unless we are asked to give them to him earlier for other reasons. 🙂 He will be so shocked when we give these to him!

Thank you for coming alongside us and praying with us as we continue this journey with our son. We so appreciate your support and love!

We continue to be walking with our oldest “baby”.

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Walking With A Couple of Awesome Young Men

Today I want to share with you some awesome young men in our life. Prince 1 and Prince 2, otherwise known as our oldest boys, have really started to show us much fruit in their lives lately.

The beginning of August, we participated in our 4H fair. Prince 2 showed his goose that he hatched this year from our neighbor. He also showed his Muscovy duck. Our neighbor is not a Believer. In fact, I don’t know if she believes much of anything spiritually. She does not like children/kids she says. The first day our son stopped to talk with her about her geese, she answered him in a somewhat “icey” tone he says. Ironically, she has taken an immense liking to Prince 2, now a year later! She even told her friend how she does not like any children, but there is just something about our son that she is drawn to. She enjoys talking with him and sharing her geese stories with him. This same neighbor came for the first time ever to the 4H fair this year. She wanted to see our son’s goose and duck and how they did in the show. While she was there, she went over to see some of our projects. Prince 2 had made an illumination of a Scripture on a posterboard. She asked him about the Scripture and he was given a wonderful opportunity to share his faith with her. He also asked her a few weeks before the fair, where she thought she was going when she died. They had an interesting talk. I am so proud of this son. I have known since day one that he would be like this someday. He is bold. He is determined that people will know the Truth. At 11 he wrote our farrier a letter asking him to accept Jesus into his heart. Our farrier was a Native American and continued to share that all people can get to Heaven no matter their belief. Our son continued to share with him that there is only ONE way to God and that is through Jesus Christ. He did this at age 11! I can only wish that I had that faith and knowledge at that age. I was clueless at that point in my life.

So, back to our neighbor, she is coming around us often and spending time with us. She cusses like a sailor, but she is receiving the seeds that our family, and especially Prince 2, plants in her heart and mind. We continue to pray for her and her husband. We are also so thankful to see that our children are emitting a light to others that draws them to our children, wanting to know more about Jesus. This is a constant prayer with us, that we may all be a light unto others.

By the end of August, we were blessed to go camping together at the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon. BEAUTIFUL! None of us had ever seen any thing like these amazing God-formed areas! On the last night at our campground, hubby, the 6 youngest children and I were sound asleep at 11PM. Guess where Prince 1 and Prince 2 were? Not in their tent, but in the game room with two wild, inappropriate, raucous, half-drunk Aussies (Australians) witnessing to them. They spent until the wee hours of the morning sharing Jesus with these men. They laughed at our sons and made fun of Jesus. Our sons continued to talk with them and share. By the end of their time together, one of the men actually asked our son how he could be saved! Ironically, the other man lives literally 15-20 minutes from us!

The next morning I awoke, hearing Prince 2 telling the story of their night with the Aussies to my husband. Wow! What a way to wake up- hearing that my sons were not ashamed of their faith and were willing to share it with these wild and crazy men. Praise the Lord for their hearts for Jesus! We are so blessed!

Then there was the eye doctor appointment with Prince 1. He needed glasses, but refused to even consider any of the glasses available on the wall. He only wanted to see the glasses that our insurance would cover that were in the little box behind our eye doctor’s desk. 🙂 Bless his heart for watching out for us financially and not batting an eye about it.

We are walking with a couple of awesome young men!

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The Sweetest Walk

I’m still here! Just been a little bit busy this summer with our babies, 4H, hay, livestock, etc. 🙂

Over the past few months I have been blessed with so many sweet moments that I just sit and cherish them. I want so much to always remember them and hold onto them. So, this post is going to be quick flashes into our life right now. Here goes:

As I sit holding Joy, giving her a bottle, I look across the room at Prince 3 and Seth on the couch. Prince 3 has Seth in his arms and they are playing practically nose-to-nose. Prince 3 is smiling and making over Seth and Seth is gooing and cooing like crazy at his big brother. Then Prince 3 looks over at me and gives me this big smile. The love in his heart just pours out of his beautiful blue eyes. He loves his little brother so much. This is a memory I don’t ever want to lose.

Another evening I look out our kitchen window and see Prince 1 and Princess 1 riding bikes together in circles, slowly. They are enjoying their time together talking about all sorts of things. This is a memory that I want our children to hold onto-the good times together, the love shared while growing up.

I walk into the room and find Princess 2 holding Joy, smiling, and making over her. She is telling her how much she loves her and what a pretty little girl she is. She tells Joy how she has never had a baby girl or baby boy to hold before and now she has both. She smiles real big as she looks at me. Her beautiful curls hanging to her shoulders and her adorable smile melts my heart. This is another glimpse of love in our home.

One evening I find Prince 1 and Prince 4 measuring Prince 4 to see how tall he is. Prince 1 is encouraging Prince 4 that he will be tall someday and to continue to eat properly, along with exercising. Prince 4 then wants to sit and discuss more with his big brother. He jumps on his back and asks for a piggy-back ride. A sweet memory to hold onto again.

Prince 2 is found planning a purchase for a new Risk game with Prince 4. They pool their money together and order one. They count the days together until it should be here. Today, Prince 2 comes in from retrieving the mail and announces with a big smile, “Risk came!” Prince 4 is thrilled! He runs over and helps unpack the game. They immediately begin playing a long game of Risk. All the other children come and go, watching the game in our front room. What a sweet memory these brothers will have to carry in their hearts as they grow older.

My walks in the mornings this summer have been wonderful. I have so enjoyed my time in the desert(how ironic that I am walking in a desert) with God. It is a wonderful time to pray and think. Today as I was preparing to go for my walk, Princess 2 came running in and asked if she could walk with me. As we began our walk in the beautiful morning sun, she quietly slipped her little hand into mine. She talked to me about the sage brush and asked if I liked to chew on sagebrush as a child. My mind raced back to my childhood and how it was filled with green pastures and green trees. This sweet, little daughter will not grow up knowing and seeing the environment that I saw as a young child. She is in the middle of a desert! At that moment I wanted to sweep her off her feet and hurry to pack and go back “home” to what I had always known until God called us here. Then I was reminded that God is sovereign. He has a purpose for us here and this is where we belong for now. We will stay and my sweet daughter will grow up chewing on the sagebrush that she brushes by as we walk together. We continued on our walk with Princess 2 holding my hand. She confessed that she feels sad if I happen to take off for my walk without her. She held tightly to my hand and chatted away the whole time. I closed my eyes as we were walking and wanted to just absorb the whole moment I had right then and there with my sweet, little girl. A memory I do not want to forget.

One day we began putting Joy and Seth on the blanket together to “play” on the floor. I took several pics. and thought to myself, “I want to remember this moment always”. Seth rolled over and over and then grabbed Joy’s hair. Joy has a ton of hair and Seth is quite taken with it. Then he rolled in the opposite direction to find some more interesting toys to play with. 🙂 Our younger children gathered around and watched as these two played together. Sweet!

We took off to Ft. Bridger, WY one day as a family. We had a wonderful time together walking around the old fort, meeting new people. Another day we went to the Great Salt Lake and spent the day swimming in it. Our children played games in the water, floated for ages, and begged to stay longer when we said it was time to leave. They had so enjoyed each other’s company while floating/swimming in the lake. Many other days were spent with Steve and our boys picking up hay out of fields, putting it on the trailer (you should see the assembly line they have going with our oldest driving the truck, Steve and the others rolling the hay to the trailer, putting it on the trailer, etc.), driving home, and then putting up the bales of hay for the winter. It is such a sweet memory to see them come home all tired out, but having just used immense amounts of testosterone in the hay field. 🙂 They have “bonded” in the male way. LOL!

We had the 4H fair last week. All of us enjoyed the time together seeing the children’s projects and their ribbons that they won. As you can see, we have had a busy, but fruitful summer. We have been about the business of making memories with our children. Memories that they will carry with them the rest of their lives. Sweet.

This summer has been so sweet. We have taken our time and spent lots of family-time together. It has been such a blessing to see our children loving one another while making these sweet memories.

This summer has been even sweeter with Seth and Joy in our arms. Seth has learned to roll all over the place, sits up if you put him in a sitting position, claps his hands, is learning baby signs, drinks out of a sippy cup, and praise the Lord, his eczema is getting better after having his lymph glands worked on. All of his lymph glands were swollen from the toxins that had been put in his body and it was causing quite a bit of the eczema issues. When I say eczema, you have no idea what it looks (looked) like on him. I have friends with children that have eczema and they look fantastic compared to Seth! He had scabs, bloody spots, oozing, red patches, flaking skin, etc. People still comment on his eczema and corner me in public (even at the fair and while doing a clothing exchange, I was cornered) asking if I have ever considered using natural products and what is wrong with him?!?! One lady made me feel like she was ready to call CPS on me! It’s pretty amazing what we have heard from people. Anyway, he is doing so much better. He is going to be seen next week for his eyes. He can see us up fairly close to him, but when we are across the room, he loses us. It is as if he can hear us, but can’t find us and is looking around for us. I found this concern and shared it with Steve and some of our older boys. They all did not see the same thing. I remembered how I was the one that figured out one of our sons was deaf as a baby and how it didn’t connect for Steve at first. I remembered how people compensate for their weaknesses and this is what I am seeing with Seth. So, I continued to do experiments with talking across the room vs. waving hands w/out sound across the room. It was at this point that Steve and the boys admitted that there seems to be something going on. Seth was on oxygen for a short time before we were able to meet him in NICU after he was born. I went to school with twins. One got too much oxygen at birth and went blind early on. I am not saying this is the cause, but I know it is a possibility. I also know that some of the drugs his birthmom was on can affect vision. So, we wait for answers. Please pray for Seth’s vision.

One more thing about Seth. We keep having people comment on how much Seth looks like Steve and a few of our boys. It must be the reddish hair (I am predominantly Irish and Steve is English for the most part), the blue eyes, and the pale skin. 🙂 Anyway, people assume he is our biological son! One lady did not believe me when I shared that his birthmom is half Vietnamese. I had to explain to her that I had actually been to lunch and dinner with this woman and she is half Vietnamese!

Joy is growing like a weed. She just this week has discovered her voice and is now joining Seth at times in cooing and gooing. She gives us the most humongous smiles when she sees us. She is just tickled all over when we talk with her. She smiles and wiggles her legs all over. Her feet are the same size as Seth’s and she is almost as long as him already! She is holding her head up looking all around at the fun siblings she has. She can’t wait to join Seth in playing too. She is an awesome sleeper and only tends to get up one to two times per night. Everyone that sees her comments on how beautiful she is. People want to know is she Asian? Phillipino? Native American? After I explain to them that she is Marshallese, they want to know where that is. I then get to share some history with them about the Marshall Islands and how in the 40s the USA did bomb testing there and injured (even caused death from the radiation) many Marshallese people. Most times people go away, planning to look up the Marshall Islands to learn more. It’s the teacher in me that comes out. Joy has brought us great joy. I asked and even told the Lord that He would bring me joy when I lay on the floor that day losing it after we had been through Steve’s truck wreck, Steve’s knee replacement, our barn fire, and then the hanging of our dog all in four short weeks time. He brought me Joy! In more ways than one. 🙂

One more sweet story and then I will stop. We are still looking for donor milk for our babies. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone offer me milk and one of my friends just so happen to be in the same city as the donor, happen to have a cooler with her, and be able to pick up the milk for me! It is totally God. He has continued to provide for our babies. I know they will not go hungry! One dear friend told me she did not know why we had been through so much trauma, but it was sure obvious that God was providing for our babies. I told her about how blessed we are to walk this walk of faith and that we are thankful for having lived through many moments of trauma/drama. We continue to pray that the Lord will make us a light unto the people here. We pray that others will see light within us. We pray that our children will remain strong in their faith. If you feel led, please join us in these prayers.

This is the sweetest walk.

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Asking for Forgiveness on This Walk

Lord, hear my cry!

Forgive me for wanting to scream out at Seth’s birthmom, “What were you thinking when you were taking all those drugs and smoking????”. Remind me to continue to pray for her to be led to you, Lord. Remind me that our beloved son would not be in our arms if it were not for her choices.

Forgive me for growing weary of all the stares and comments about Seth’s eczema. Give me patience, Lord. Give me love for those people.

Forgive me for feeling frustration as I try a new cream, supplement, technique or doctor almost weekly for Seth’s skin.

Forgive Seth’s birthmom for all the terrible things she did to her body while carrying him for 9mths. For she is addicted and cannot help herself. Only YOU can help her.

Lord, continue to help me hold back the tears as I lean over Seth while bathing him and he is screaming with frustration over all the itching. Help me hold those tears in as I do not want him to look into my eyes and see my pain over his pain. I do not want him to become upset and worried.

Lord, continue to keep me strong in this often times lonely walk. You walked so far that day long ago, carrying the heavy wooden cross on your back for me. I know I can walk this walk with you holding my hand.

Forgive me for being impatient and wanting an answer for Seth’s eczema immediately from a doctor, pharmacist, friend, article, etc. Help me to continue to lean on you and wait on you to lead me to the answers. Help me to continue to trust you in all that we do.

Lord, help me as I sit quietly at night or early in the mornings and cry to you. Help me continue to get up and be strong for our family. Hear my prayers, oh, Lord. Hear them and answer them soon. I know you will in your time.

Lord, just hold our sweet son in your arms and help his eczema, itching, bleeding, oozing, and digestive issues to heal. Give him healing, Lord. Give him a beautiful life to live where he will always give you glory in all he does. Let him tell of his faith to others.

Lord, forgive me for whining to you as I know things could be so much worse. We are so blessed with the life we live. Thank you for loving us, Lord.

I am humbly coming before You, asking forgiveness on this walk.

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My Fleshly, Imperfect Walk

Let’s be honest here. I am human. I am so human! I am a sinner. My flesh gets in the way or tries to get in the way often. My walk of faith and Steve’s walk of faith does falter and stumble at times. We are imperfect. So, I’m going to ramble through this post with examples of my (our) imperfection in this world as we pray our way through this walk with our eight, beautiful children and each other. Yes, we are so blessed. Blessed beyond belief and yet, we are imperfect.

Seth is continuing to do well. He is 8.5 mths. old now. Can you believe it? He is still very tight in his arms and shoulders and tends to always hold his arms straight out to the sides as if he is struggling to balance himself. Even when he is in our arms, he does this. At 7 months he began to grab for toys. We were so excited to see him reach for a toy! Yes, he is behind schedule, but who wouldn’t be after all he has been through? Now he is trying to learn how to sit. I sit him up and he plays for awhile with a boppy pillow around him. Then, he tumbles over. He does not lift himself up on his knees or elbows yet. So, he has no clue how to get back to a sitting position yet. We always help him back to the sitting position when he falls. He also is still struggling with eczema (or is is psoriasis?) all over his body, including his adorable face.

The eczema has brought more words into the air around us than anything else. Here are some of the comments/questions we have received when people look at Seth:

Oh, my what happened to him?? (My flesh wanted to say: Oh, nothing, he just had a birthmother that did quite a few drugs while pregnant with him, he went through almost 3 weeks of drug withdrawal in NICU, he had surgery for tongue and lip tie by 7 weeks of age, he will never know who his birthfather is as his birthmother has no clue, blah, blah)

What is wrong with him? (My flesh again wants to say : Nothing Lady, what is wrong with you for asking in front of all my children what is wrong with their beloved baby brother?)

Did you take your baby out in the sun? He looks very sunburned. The sun is not good for such a young baby. (My flesh wanted to say- Look Mister, I have been married for 26 years, have 8 children ranging in age from 5 weeks to 17 yrs. I think I know by now not to take my baby out in the sun for long periods of time and allow him to burn)

What kind of disease does he have? (Disease? Is this what disease looks like? )

What afflicts him? (What afflicts you to ask this about our sweet baby?)

Of course, my flesh never once said those things, but the thoughts ran through my mind. Instead, I just shared a bit of Seth’s story with them and how blessed we are to have him in our family. Some well-meaning folks then began to offer me all sorts of creams to try, drugs to get from the doctor, etc. My eyes at times glazed over, as this has been a never-ending battle trying to get his eczema under control and you name it, I’ve probably tried it or am still trying it.

Seth’s eczema oozes and bleeds. He now has scar tissue on the back of his neck due to the eczema. It’s pretty bad. I have learned a few items that seem to be helping him right now. It is looking better than it ever has. Please pray for this little guy!

I also had one lady when I was out with both babies, make several comments about how Seth needed love and attention and she kept making sad faces at him. All this, while I sat holding Joy and giving her a bottle. Seth was in his stroller. My flesh felt under attack and wanted to say, “Look Lady, I only have two hands and I cannot hold both babies at once when I am feeding them, but I can love both of them.” Instead I just assured her that all of our children do hold him as well as my husband and myself constantly. I went home feeling as if the woman was judging me for Seth’s eczema! Really? I almost felt like she was implying that I don’t pay as much attention to him as Joy because of his eczema. Really? Like we spent all this time and effort to adopt our son and now we just push him to the side? Maybe she didn’t think that, but let me tell you, I was feeling it bigtime from her.

Then there are the days where Joy gets the spotlight. People do double-takes when they see me holding a baby that is of a different skin color than me. My flesh at times wants to respond to “the looks” with, “Did you know that we all come from Adam and Eve? And all of us have the same blood- it’s red? Have you ever heard the story of the tower of Babel? That is where the beginning of different people groups started….” But, alas, I am usually too busy with a crying baby, a child needing my attention, etc. that I cannot take the time to share with them.

We have even noticed that some people have reacted differently to Joy. Things they have done with Seth, they have not even begun to do with Joy. Is it prejudice? What is it? Why is it? We do not know, but let me tell you, it hurts and we pray for it to stop. Joy may not notice the different treatment now, but her siblings will pick up on it and so will she as she gets older if we continue to spend time with these people.

So, we have been in the spotlight in several ways since adopting Seth and Joy. I must say it has been a learning experience for me. It’s been very eye-opening as well. I never would have dreamed that someone would freely make comments about a baby’s eczema as I have witnessed. I knew there was still prejudice out there, but have still been surprised. It’s okay though. The way I look at it, is there will be some overwhelmingly tough days, but most of the time, people will need to be prepared for “mama bear” to come out from hiding when they treat/speak of our babies in these ways. And Mama Bear is not always the sweetest thing to be around, but she comes out to protect her babies and bring them up in a safe environment, while trying to politely educate others about special needs and differences in people. So, there you have it…for those of you who have looked at us and said to us how wonderful you think we are for adopting and how amazing our family is. I laugh! If only you knew all of our fleshly issues/thoughts! We are so imperfect! SO imperfect! We are not some amazing family. We are God’s people trying to do as He wills for our family and His children. Somedays we get it and other days we don’t. We continue to walk forward daily in faith.

And then my last little speal is about friendships, bonding, Sisters in Christ, etc. I remember years ago when I had started a homeschool support group and led it for 6 years, there was a new mom that called me up one day. I had been praying for a close friend before she called. After we met, she told me that she had been praying for a close friend too. Love you Angela! It turned out that many of the families in the support group thought that because I led the group, I had tons of friends and connections. So, they didn’t ever consider that I might want to do something with them or spend time talking about deeper thoughts. They assumed I was connected. It was tough, but the Lord sent me a few awesome Sisters in Christ, that to this day are there for me at a moment’s notice. Love those ladies!

So, fast forward to moving to UT. I’ll be honest, the honeymoon is over! 🙂 Still love the people here, the beauty, and so much more, BUT I miss those Sisters in Christ. Sadly, it seems that most of the ladies around here are very busy with their activities, sports, etc. and they most likely have forgotten what it is like to be the new kid on the block. And I do not blame them for that! I have tried to connect, but it is very tough. Most already have their close friends that they have known for years and their children’s friends. Our children have had a tough time finding friends too. Some of our children found friends fairly fast, but others are struggling to find that connection. I know it is to be expected after only being here close to 20mths. However, the other day I was able to talk with another newcomer in the area and she expressed similar thoughts to me. She feels lonely here too and that everyone else seems to be too busy to take the time to get to know her as well. She too, has tried reaching out, but like we both said, we do not want to come across as pushy “new kids”. So, this is just a piece of advice for all you ladies out there looking for those special connections during this hectic time of raising children. First of all, keep praying for the Lord to bring you those close friends. He is faithful, He will provide in His time. Second, share with others how you are feeling and that you’d like to connect up with some new friends. They may not have time to connect, but they may be able to connect you with someone else that is looking for a close friend. Third, don’t give up. Keep trying. Keep asking questions, keep inviting, keep sharing your heart, keep on keeping on. I know it is tough. I also know that I have ended up with some very dear friends that felt the same way as I did and yet, the Lord brought us together in His timing. And that bond has not been broken since. These ladies have been Sisters in Christ. They have been prayer warriors. They have been a shoulder to lean on and at other times my cheerleader. I have also been so blessed to be those for these dear ladies.

Please do not think that I am posting about this for pity or comments. 🙂 I am just sharing my fleshly thoughts and struggles. I am being real.

I have to tell you one more thing. I do not like facebook! I never have. However, I had to delve into it when we started fundraising to adopt Seth and so many people asked if we were on FB. I have debated many times about shutting down my account as I really detest it. But, I continue to stay on. The Lord has blessed me with many dear friends through FB and I so appreciate that. Just recently I have had a couple people take a moment and thank me for sharing real, fleshly stuff on FB and not just the highlights of my “perfect” life. They’ve shared that some of the stuff out there is pretty depressing – it seems as if everyone has a perfect life, they take exotic vacations, have tons of friends, buy amazing stuff, post pics. of all their Christmas, birthday and Easter presents, talk about how much their husband drives them crazy, how mad they are at their sister/brother, etc. I want you to know that if you are on FB and feel that way too, you are not alone! If you are on FB, let’s work on being real. Let’s share what the Lord is doing in our lives, our struggles, etc. It’s like a friend told me once. I had invited her over not long after meeting her. I added to the invitation, “Please excuse my house. It is such a mess.” and she said that she was thankful for us being real and to please NOT clean my house before she came over. She voiced how I often feel, and that is why do we try so hard to make ourselves and our home look so perfect? Why not be real? To this day, she and I can go to each other’s houses and not bat an eye at the pile of laundry on the floor or the dirt in the kitchen cabinets. I know she loves me as I am and she knows I love her as she is. So, if you are on FB, let’s be real with each other!

This is my fleshly, imperfect walk.

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Our Walk to Joy!

I know many of you have been asking for details of our walk to Joy, pics., and the whole God story. We have been home only a week after traveling 3500 miles in a 15 passenger van pulling a trailer that had a playhouse on the back of it half that time. We are flat out exhausted! And yet, each day we get up and work. Steve goes to work and keeps his day job while I stay home and try to get a load of laundry done, maybe fix a meal if it’s a decent day, and do a few other things in between feeding babies, diapering, changing outfits, burping, and holding. If any of this post rambles or blurs in my writing, please forgive me. I am utterly exhausted. Yes, our children are doing tons of work and giving us tons of help, but they too are tired as they have all of our livestock to care for along with their regular chores. We are all in this together.

On May 13, 2014, we received a phone call that our birthmom was in labor at the hospital and would have the baby either that day or the next. I frantically called Steve. I tried all of his numbers and could not reach him. I had to call a friend that works with him and ask him to tell Steve that our baby was coming.

Princess 1 began baking tons of muffins for our road trip. I finished up our packing. Steve hurried home after he tied up loose ends at work for the next couple of weeks.

As we were filling the van with our coolers of milk and luggage, we got the call! Joy Elizabeth was born at 5:07PM Central Time weighing 7lbs. She came before we even got on the road!

Just two days before the interstate had been shut down in the state next to us do to a huge snowstorm. We asked everyone to pray for clear roads as they had just opened it back up.

We had an awesome team of friends from Indiana that kept in contact with us daily as we traveled. They would check in and ask if we needed prayer for anything and how our drive was going! It was an absolute life-saver as we did not hear from anyone in UT during our drive except when we reached out a couple times asking for prayers. 😦 We are still the “new kids on the block”. I was woken up some mornings to texts going off from IN friends asking how things were going and where we landed the night before. These dear friends literally prayed us through each state we drove through and then got on our Facebook group and shared our prayer requests as they came up. I cannot say enough wonderful things about these beautiful, sweet, Christian friends. By the end of our trip, I wanted to move back to IN just to be with them. Thank you Tina, Heidi, Danielle, Heidi, Jean, Karen, Lisa, Lacey, Joanna, Jessica, Joyce, Jessica, Kristi, Deb, Amanda, and so many more! Thank you to all of your families too, who joined you in prayer and prayed for our trip to Joy and back to UT. Thank you to all of you who planned such a sweet gathering with our family while we stopped over in IN for a day and a half. You all have been the hands and feet of Jesus like none other. We cannot thank you enough. You mean so much to us!

The first night we drove until 12:30AM. We landed in Rawlins, WY. There we crashed into a hotel room and slept for a few hours. Meanwhile, we had texts coming from our birthmom asking where we were. She and I continuously texted throughout our whole trip as well. She prayed for us daily on our drive as well. So blessed by her love and prayers.

It was on this first night that we realized that Steve forgot his deodorant and I forgot my toothbrush and toothpaste! Yuck!

We also drove through areas that had 2 feet of snow in the middle of May! Unbelievable. Now we can tell Joy someday the story of how we drove through snow, rain, and sun to get her. 🙂

May 14, we drove until midnight. We landed in Park City, KS. But before that, we met with our first horse motel client since the loss of our barn, on the road. She gave us the money for the stall and we gave her the paperwork to fill out and give to our oldest sons when she arrived at our ranch.

May 15 just 3 hours from our destination and we receive a call asking for paperwork that needed to be notarized. What??? We had to frantically look for a bank and a Staples to get our paperwork notarized and overnighted to our lawyer. Coincidentally (is anything coincidental?) God had our bank literally across the street from Staples! 🙂

Our birthmom was still texting with me the whole way through. She was letting me know how Joy was doing and that she was praying for us.

Literally two minutes before we pulled into the hospital parking lot, we received another call from our paralegal. Her message? The hospital was refusing to sign as a second witness to the release of Joy to us, the adoptive parents. Yet, in northern AR this had not been an issue with the hospitals. When pushed further, they claimed Joy suddenly had an eating issue and would not be released for awhile. They even went so far as to say we may have to do the “exchange” in their parking lot of Joy from her birthmom to us! Ludicrous!

As we pulled up to the hospital, we spotted two police cars parked at the front door. Nothing like making a person a little nervous after what we had just been told on the phone. We were allowed in to meet our birthmom and Joy. We sat with her for several hours and then went to our cottage. The hospital told us to come back the next day and meet with an administrator in the morning. We were there the next morning at 9AM to meet. She told us they would not sign as the second witness for releasing Joy. Nice. Here we sat in Small Town America where everyone knows everyone and we needed a second witness to release Joy to us. How would we do that? God knew! He had had another Marshallese baby born just a day after Joy next to our birthmom’s room. The adoptive parents flew in from the west coast. We ended up meeting them and deciding we could all trade signatures as the second witnesses. God is awesome! He planned it all perfect as always.

The next day, two police cars were found parked right behind our van. Hmmmmmm…..

We then requested an attorney to come to the hospital to give us the forms to sign and witness our witnessing. However, before we got back to the hospital, the chief nurse had sent the attorney away and said he was not needed. What???? Steve had been saying all along that the head nurse guy was setting us up as he is the one that had by this time called CPS on us and had the Marshall Islands officials contacted. The officials and CPS questioned our birthmom extensively. The hospital also took Joy away for a few hours in the morning and would not say why they took her. So, when we were all standing there and the chief nurse came up and said he sent the attorney away, he told us we could do the “exchange” in the parking lot. No sir!!!! We were not going to be set up for CPS to be called again. It was already being implied that we swooped in to strong arm our birthmom and take her baby away from her. No, we were not doing an “exchange” in the parking lot. I spoke up and said I wanted the attorney called back and that I wanted everything in writing so that there would be no question. The attorney came back a few minutes later and we all signed as the second witness for each other. Praise God! We were legal and ready to go to the cottage to await finalization in a less than a week!

Keep in mind that all these things happened while we had four of our youngest children with us during this time. They had to hear many hours of discussions, watch tons of paperwork be signed, and wait and wait and wait and wait. They were awesome, but very tired.

Interestingly, during this whole time, by May 16 Joy had gained 3 ounces. Not bad for a baby with an eating issue!

Finally on May 16 at 5:30PM, Joy was legally released to us! We took her back to our cottage!

Steve worked during the daytime on his computer, I cared for our babies, and our children played in the creek outside our cottage. The cottage that we were blessed with staying in had plenty of room for all of us. It was a cottage that children were not allowed to stay in, but the owner knowing our situation allowed us to all stay there.

Steve sweetly named the moments when both babies were crying, “babies in stereo”. 🙂

Over the next couple days we continued to enjoy our time together in the cottage. We all took turns holding Joy and Seth and caring for them.

On May 19, we met our birthmom and her two friends at a park about an hour away for dinner that evening. On our way back to the cottage that evening, we were pulled over by a state trooper. Steve had missed the change in speed sign and of course, with out of state license plates, that meant a visit from a trooper. Nice. Thankfully, we only received a warning. Shew!

On May 20, Steve did our laundry at the laundromat with Prince 4. We were also asked on this day if we would mind having our birthmom and translator in court the next day for our hearing. This would hopefully, prevent our case from being held up if the judge chose to speak with our birthmom about this. Judges in northern AR have started questioning birthparents, so, we were being proactive. We had already endured enough. We didn’t need to be detained longer.

May 21, our 26th wedding anniversary and Steve and I were standing shoulder to shoulder leaning over the babies on the bed, changing their diapers while they cried. I looked at Steve and said, “Twenty six years ago today at the altar, did you ever imagine you’d be doing this now?” He laughed and said, “I wouldn’t have married you if I knew that then.” We both laughed as I had only wanted one child and he had wanted two when we married. My, how God does amazing work!

After most of us were dressed in court attire, we headed to the courthouse. Prince 4 had pants that were two short, white sport socks, and two right shoes. He had packed himself! So, he went to court in shorts! In this small town they just so happened to be having a huge murder trial that day! There was no room for us! They had to squeeze us into the judge’s chamber and he came in and gave us a couple minutes. After that we were FREE! Joy became ours officially! We went downstairs and took pictures with our birthmom and children. Then we were off! We had finalized two adoptions in exactly 5 weeks!

We threw our bags in our car and headed north to pick up donor milk from two different ladies. God was providing plenty of milk for Seth and Joy on our trip! Praise the Lord!

We arrived in Jonesboro, AR at 7PM that night. It was nice to get in before midnight for a change. The next morning, Steve spent a few hours with his friend and touring his plant. I stayed cooped up in the hotel room with our 3 children and two babies. Fun!

Speaking of hotels, we stayed in some real dives! We had bashed in bathroom doors, missing locks, windows with a view of the trash and truck stops, and tight spaces. And who thought of making the sink next to the toilet??? I hated filling milk bottles nightly next to the toilet! Yuck!

I got to thinking that we would probably score pretty high on the stress tests. You know the one that asks you all those questions? Well, we’ve had our family grow from 8 to 10 people in 7mths., lost our barn and possessions, lost our truck, lost our dog, and traveled halfway across the country. All this in just 7 months time. I think that would put us up in there in stress, don’t you? God is good.

May 22 brought us to Spencer, IN. We arrived by 1AM and literally fell into bed. One thing I did learn during this day was that I can make 4 diaper changes in under 3 minutes in a van seat! Pretty good, huh?

All of our children had begun to really tire of the bugs and heat by this time. Funny how quickly they forgot about the humidity and bugs. 🙂 And our children asked what the red glow in the sky was. The sun setting. We don’t see that in the mountains. We see a sun going behind a mountain. It was at a stop on this day that I was reminded of the sweetness of our children. Princess 2 sang “Home on the Range” behind me in the car while I fed Joy at a gas station stop. Prince 4 helped Steve fix the trailer lights at this stop too. Princess 1 held Seth and played with him while we waited on Steve. I am truly blessed.

May 23 brought my dear friend, Tina, to my door of our hotel room! She and her daughter came to take us to the grocery store, and then back to her house to bake. It was such a sweet time with an old friend, baking and talking at her dining table. I will always treasure that memory. While we spent the day together, Steve and Prince 4 went to our old house to load our playhouse on our trailer. Do you remember the story of the playhouse that Steve built? It had moved from IN to CT and back to IN with us. But, this time, the company said they couldn’t move it and would give us the money into another playhouse. Then the playhouse company gave us part of the money back after our children talked and prayed about it and decided they wanted to adopt again instead of have a playhouse. Well, since we still own our house in IN and the playhouse was not up for sale, we were able to bring it back home with us. This is the adorable two-story Cape Cod that Steve built. It is made to last forever.

That night we met with dear friends at a state park and had a meal together. Such a sweet memory. I wish I could have taken you all back with us! We had such a wonderful time seeing everyone again. You all definitely need to come see us!

May 24 began our trip back to UT. The playhouse brought us tons of questions, stares, and stories. Every time we stopped we had either a man in the playhouse having his pic. taken, a WWII/Korean/Vietnam veteran talking with us, a biker couple saying,”Hallelujah, Praise the Lord” as I shared our God stories of adoption and love, guys saying, “Hey, did you bring your house with you?” and more. I also met a sweet lady in WY that is a Christian as well. We exchanged emails and hopefully, they will come visit us sometime soon. The Lord just poured people into our path because of the playhouse and I was able to get out and share our stories/faith with people all over the country. Steve would be paying for the gas or pumping while I was sharing our faith. It was an awesome experience. If I didn’t get out of the van, people would come to my window to talk. We said we need to take the playhouse on the road to share our faith all across the USA. LOL! We could share about adoption so much. Every morning as we came out of the hotel, we would find people outside taking pictures of our playhouse and wanting to ask us questions! It was like we were moving a “star” across country. 🙂

May 25 was the same all over with pictures and stories.

May 26 brought us down to the last of our food- two cans of tuna, a few snack bars, an avocado, a few chips, some boiled eggs, bananas, and apples. We were determined to make it home without having to stop and grocery shop. And we did!

Some of the other sweet moments on this trip were the first time I help Joy in my arms next to her birthmother at the hospital, watching our daughters really step up to the plate and take over in caring for the one of the babies while we cared for the other, the God stories I was able to share with so many people (you all that know me, know I cannot keep my mouth shut about my faith! Well, God used my mouth again), the people we met and became friends with while traveling 3500 miles, eating out of coolers daily (no we did not eat at even one restaurant or fast-food place- we did it totally out of coolers and saved tons of money!), being stuck in a traffic jam on the highway and stopping at a rest stop during that time where Steve teeter-tottered with our children, the beautiful voices of our children singing on the trip (Yankee Doodle, Home on the Range, Davy Crockett, and more), the beauty of this land that God created, the amazing people He has placed in this country, filling bottles every night in the hotel bathrooms, drying our clothes on the windowsill of the hotel room because the one dryer in the hotel did not work, and last, but not least, I am amazed at the “lines” that we have crossed in the past 7 months. We have crossed lifestyle lines (drugs and other unlikable things), ethnic lines, language lines, and many state lines for our babies. As I tell people often, my God does not live in a manmade box. My God is sovereign and capable of doing so much more than I can dream of! Steve and I often talk about how humbling it is to see how much He loves us and how many mountains He has moved for us in our marriage. God is good. He is so good!

Joy is doing wonderful! She actually sleeps better than Seth. However, Seth still has to fight the eczema from his immune system being compromised from the drugs, and his nervous system still has some kinks to work out. So, that makes sleep for him a little more difficult. We continue to pray that he will sleep better soon. Steve and I are so exhausted though. We know many of you have expressed interest in who we adopted through, how to go about adopting, how much it costs, etc. We are here and will answer questions to the best of our knowledge with full honesty. Ask away. As for pictures, we do not post pictures on facebook or the internet. We do however email or mail them to our friends if they ask. 🙂

We continue to walk in faith daily as God continues to give us story after story to share with others. If you don’t know Him, you are missing out on something wonderful. You too, could have story after story to share. Maybe you do have the stories, but are you sharing them? So humbled that He sent His son to die on that cross for our sins.

This has been our walk to Joy!

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Walking the Final Stretch

This is going to be a short post. We are heading out soon to meet our birthmom and baby girl. Please continue to pray for our birthmom’s health. Please also pray for our baby girl’s health. Prayers for our travel and our health would be appreciated as well. Prayers for the courts to finalize Little Princess’ adoption quickly would be appreciated too! Prayers for Steve to be able to get quite a bit of his work done while we are on the road are needed too. He is pretty much out of vacation days and cannot take leave as we need the money. So, he is working on the road daily. This will not be a vacation for us for the most part. Pray for our sleep too! 🙂

We are still being told from the translater, our birthmom, and the paralegal that the due date is May 28th, but that she will arrive earlier. I believe this to be true as most Marshallese are smaller in stature and compared to our “average” size charts they do not measure up the same. Hence, most of my friends who have adopted Marshallese babies, have had “early” babies. 🙂 So, we are not counting on May 28th as the actual due date. Plus, if the ultrasound was done late in the pregnancy that makes a big difference too. After Little Princess arrives, we will then finalize in court, hopefully five days later. Pray we do not get stuck there and have to wait weeks as some of my friends have had to do. We cannot afford to be gone that long from Steve’s work and the rest of our family. Staying away from home, fuel costs, etc. are going to add up quickly if we have to stay extra weeks.

We are still in need of our last $2,000 for the legal fees. We know God will provide. How can you help us? You can share our story with others and ask them to shop through our links to the right. You can hold a fundraiser for us if you’d like. 🙂 At this point, we are not doing anymore fundraisers. We have been fundraising for two straight years and are exhausted. We would like to challenge all of you that read this, to donate $10 to our adoption fund. It is located to the right here. If each of you that read this blog post today donated $10, we could come a lot closer to having the legal fees in hand before we begin our trip to get Little Princess. No, we are not putting the money into new clothes for our children (we garage and thrift sale shop), house furnishings (have you seen our furniture? none of it matches and half of it has holes or is falling apart), vacations (what is that?), food ( that comes from Steve’s paycheck), or anything else that you can wonder about. Every penny given to us goes into our adoption fund and that is how we are paying for this adoption. So, if you’d like to donate $10 to our fund, you will know where the money is going. You will see our daughter after we bring her home. You may also come over and check out our furniture and clothes if you like too. LOL! Just sharing, because some people have been totally appalled at the thought of helping a family adopt. You know the saying, “If you need help paying for the adoption, then you don’t need to adopt.” And you know some of the thoughts back are, “well, did you pay cash for that car you are driving or did you take out a loan? how about your vacation- all cash? And did you have to pay mega dollars to deliver your biological children?” and then I have to remind myself to hold my tongue and instead share God’s word on adoption. My flesh does try to get in the way at times. 🙂 So, yes, we are trying to adopt Little Princess debt-free, just as we did for Seth. And yes, we will be able to cover the food, medical, clothing, etc. expenses through the years for our children.

Either way, God has this!

We are walking in the final stretch!

P.S. Just received word that Steve will be in PA on our anniversary. I may be alone with a newborn baby at that point! And half our children! AAAGGHHH!!! Pray for Steve’s safe travels, my sanity, and anything else you feel led to pray for for us!

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Pulling Over to Bawl on This Walk

The Lord is good. He is so good to us and yet, we are so unworthy.

I grew up in a very dysfunctional family, never went to church, didn’t know anything much about Jesus except that for some reason He was hung on a cross, and yet, I would pray to God many, many times as I was growing up. I just knew there was a God and that He was always there listening to me. I felt His presence in every thing I did. Yet, I didn’t know His son, Jesus.

Fast forward many years later and I came to know and love Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I haven’t been the same since. I mean that in the most awesome, good way I can think of. He continues to bless us and I continue to break down and bawl in awe of His love for us. Why does He love us so? Why would He want to bless us sinners so? How is it possible for Him to love us so?

On Saturday morning before the yard sale, we had 3 gowns, two sleepers (larger sizes), 5 onesies and a couple blankets for Little Princess. The 3 gowns were supposed to have been in one of the baby girl totes that turned into ashes on Christmas Eve. Somehow they had found their way into our closet. How sweet to let Little Princess wear the same gowns that her big sisters wore when they were babies. I knew I would not be going out to buy clothes for Little Princess at this time and yet, we were to be leaving very soon for our baby girl. I knew the Lord would provide. I just knew it. At the end of our sale, my dear friend, Michelle showed up with a couple boxes of baby girl clothes from her daughter and neice, a car seat, and a pink bathtub seat! The Lord does provide! Then we received a sweet one piece from a wonderful lady at church on Sunday. Thank you Margret! While at church, another sweet lady stuffed a sweet gift in my hand and told me it was for our travel and legal expenses. Thank you Susi! Then on Sunday afternoon, our dear friends Hannah and Andy and their family came over. They brought us an adorable sleeper and sleep bag! Thank you Hannah, Andy, and family! The Lord continues to provide. Yesterday our mail brought 5 plus outfits from Aunt Christy! Thank you Aunt Christy and cousin Maggie! And today a wonderful lady who has been donating milk weekly to Seth, offered to give us some of her baby girl clothes! Thank you, Alisha! The Lord has provided abundantly!

I have been praying for clothes for Little Princess and milk for Seth and Little Princess. We are starting to run very low on milk and we need enough to travel to get Little Princess. We will be packing a full cooler of nothing but donor milk for our babies on the trip. I have continously asked God to provide that milk. A dear friend (thank you Hannah!) happened to have another friend who is moving and has 3000 oz. of milk in her freezer. She needs it moved like now! Would I be interested??? Oh, I dance for joy! The Lord has answered my prayer. We will have milk for both babies for the trip and then some.

Then I received two texts from a dear friend, Luann, whom I met through my need for donor milk. She said she had a large stash of milk and would I like it for our babies? She offered to be my “deep freeze” if I did not have room for it here. She told me she will not donate to anyone else. I broke down and began to cry. I had to pull over and bawl as I could no longer see the road from the tears. I just sat in a subdivision for several minutes just bawling and talking to God. It went something like this, “Oh, Lord, I asked you for milk for our babies and you are providing. You have heard my prayer. You are providing for YOUR babies. Oh, Lord, thank you.” I texted Luann back that I had to pull over and bawl, the Lord is so good to us, and that I loved her. She had no idea that we needed milk and yet, she said that she knew there was a reason why she had to give up this milk NOW. The reason was the Lord’s urging her to give to us. He provides.

Recently we have had a huge change in our finances. Don’t worry, Steve still has his job and we are not poverty-stricken. We are just having to live through an even tighter time than we have been. All is good. We know the Lord will provide. It may be a long time of waiting on Him to make things better/right, but He will provide. He will provide in His time, not ours. So, these little (huge) blessings have been awesome reminders of how much He loves us and is always here by our side.

Anyway, our children know that we are now down to our last amount of funds needed to travel and finalize on our baby girl’s adoption. $2,314. The Lord will provide. Tonight, He provided through one of our children. Our oldest daughter volunteered to clean out the horse stalls when the horse motel clients come over the weekend. She said she would donate her money that she earned from mucking the stalls to the adoption fund. She said she had been wanting to donate something to the fund. I cried. We usually pay our children a portion of what we earn from the horse motel clients, to muck the stalls. She said she did not need it and wanted it to go to fuel to drive to get Little Princess. Then she came back from her room with $12 for our adoption fund. Bless her heart. I grabbed her, hugged her and cried. You’ve done it Lord! You’ve given our child a heart for adoption. You’ve given her a heart filled with love for others. We praise you and thank you, Lord. She put $12 of her own, hard-earned money (she sold her first goat kid this year and was thrilled to have some money!) in our adoption fund and also volunteered to muck stalls (four stalls) for free and they are not even our horses! God is doing a mighty work in her and all of our children. Sometimes we see glimmers of the work He is doing and other times we wonder if His work is for naught. 🙂 These are His children and they are being raised for His glory. We are so thankful for this opportunity to be in the midst of such a wonderful crew!

So, make that $2,302 that we are down to! Praise God!

I am continuously amazed at how much the Lord loves us and how good He is to us. I cry with joy.

I am pulling over to bawl on this walk.

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Counting This Walk All Joy!

Our whirlwind has continued the past few weeks. We are trying to get our horse stalls built before we leave, so that the horse motel clients that are coming actually have stalls for their horses. Steve and the boys have spent every evening and this past weekend, along with all day on Friday working on building the stalls. They now have two walls up. Praise God! We are in desperate need of help/volunteers to help us screw 3,000 screws into the horse stalls, help us spread aggregate in our turnouts, help us sort donations on Friday for our sale, help us transport donations on Friday to our church, and help us with our car wash and yard sale on Saturday. Lord, bring those people to help us!

Last night I heard my phone make the “text message” noise as I was walking in the room with Seth. I knew instinctively that it was our birthmom. She and I have been texting every day this past week. I also froze feeling that she must be in labor! Panic struck me! Her English is not very good, so, all I could get from her is the doctor said she had one more week before the baby comes. I hurriedly texted our translater, who talked with the doctors this morning. She said she is still due on May 28th (WHAT????? What happened to she was due on May 16th????) and that the doctors think she will go a week early. However, she said to listen to our birthmom as she knows her body better than the doctors. Oh, thanks for a lot of answers! Ugh. So, when is she due? Only the Lord knows. When do we leave? Only the Lord knows. Will our FBI fingerprints/checks get back in time for us to finalize Little Princess’ adoption quickly? Only the Lord knows. We know nothing! Absolutely nothing! We are “free-spirits” at the moment and I don’t do well as a “free-spirit”. Those of you that know me, know I like to plan things and be somewhat organized. 🙂 So, we wait on the Lord. His time, not ours.

We have been tying up loose ends this past week- dentist visits, eye dr. appts., dr. visits, CPR testing for our older children, working daily on the horse stalls, etc. Hopefully, most of the loose ends will be tied before we are called away.

Please pray that our FBI background checks get completed in time for us to finalize. They usually take 22 days! We don’t have 22 days it looks like. God can do this!

The other day I asked God to confirm for me that we are walking in the right direction and that this is His doing, not ours. You know how you start to question yourself and ask if you are trying to push something to happen? You know how you start to wonder if somehow you “made” it happen? Well, I was there the other day. It went something like this, “Lord, we are going to basically have twins!!! What are we THINKING??? No, WHAT are WE thinking?? What are we doing? We could be taking the money and buying stuff(yep, my flesh was raring its ugly head), going on vacations, get furniture that actually matches, actually buy some dishes that match, blah, blah. Ah, yes, but our treasures are in Heaven, I know Lord! But, this is going to be tough the first year…are we too old? What ARE we thinking? Please, Lord give me a sign, speak to me, confirm to me that we are walking in the right direction.” Then yesterday as I was checking out of a doctor’s office, a lady that was waiting in the lobby just 2 feet from me said something about going to Arkansas in the next week or so. I spoke up and told her we were going there too as our baby is going to be born there. We chatted for a minute. Then the lady that was checking me out, said, “Well, I am moving out of the country in the next few weeks.” I asked her where she was going. She said, “The Marshall Islands.” I about fell over. Our baby’s birthmother is from the Marshall Islands and now lives in AR. She is delivering our baby girl in AR!!! Now how can you say that was not planned by God??? That was my confirmation. We are walking in the right direction! How on earth could two people be sitting within a couple feet of me and talking to me about where they are going and they both mention places that make connections for me??? No that is not coincidence! God is here always! That was all I needed to reassure me that He has this under control and that we are following His lead.

So, the next time I post, I may have exciting news and then again, we may still be home waiting for a call! 🙂

We received many “how can we help?” questions when we suffered the loss of our barn, Steve wrecked his truck into the mountain, had his knee replacement, and we lost our dog. We shared at times ways that others could help. If you knew us well, you would know that we have been the most independent people around at times and never needed help. However, the Lord has dealt with that fleshly issue of ours and we have found ourselves asking for help over the past year. I am tired of asking for help and long to be able to reach out and help others instead of being on the receiving end, but that is not where the Lord has us right now. We still need $3,000 to travel and pay legal fees to adopt Little Princess. Yes, we chose this path of adoption. However, if you take a moment and read your Bible, you will see that God has a lot to say about caring for the orphan. Is this baby an orphan at the moment? No, but she will be if we do not adopt her. We do not want to see any child put in this situation. We have been praying hard and working hard to pay for this adoption. God even had a “yard sale” on Christmas Eve for us with our barn to help us out. It’s okay…we can have a sense of humor about our loss. Our children gave up their playhouse to adopt a baby sister. We have given much. Remember ashes for beauty? I have come to understand this line so much better in the past 4 months. This has become real to us. Very real. Only the Lord knew that the tears we shed in December would soon rise up in pure joy over a beautiful baby joining our family. I cannot thank the Lord enough for our suffering. Do you know what joy I feel over the struggles and suffering we have had? I so understand how Paul counted it all joy in the Bible. We have been so blessed to be able to share our faith with others during this walk, so blessed to meet new friends along this walk, so blessed to see the glory of the Lord through it all, so blessed…so blessed. This walk has brought us JOY.

So, if you feel led to volunteer an hour or two of your time, here’s where we need help at this moment. We need help with our barn stalls. We need help with transporting our donations on Friday to our church. We need help with our car wash and yard sale on Saturday. We need old towels and soap for the car wash. If you feel led, we would joyfully accept any help that you can give. 🙂

We are counting this walk all joy!

P.S. Update as of 5/1/14 We now are down to needing $2,924 for our travel and legal expenses! Praise God! Please shop our links to the right and help us meet this goal!

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This Joyous Walk

I have had many moments lately where the Lord has just given me JOY and I find myself smiling quietly.

The other day I was making muffins for breakfast when I heard Princess #2 around the corner hug Seth and say, “Seth, I love you SO much!!!” I smiled to myself as I thought about how wonderful it is to hear and see the love in our children for little Sethy Bear.

Then within just minutes of hearing those words, I had Princess #1 in the kitchen mixing up her milk replacer for her twin goat kids. She had brought up one of the goat kids to the house. See, the twins’ mother disowned them after they were born and they both almost died. We thought the girl wouldn’t make it for sure. They both were freezing cold inside their mouths when we found them. We put them on the dining table in a box with a light and began our work of saving them one Sunday morning. Princess #1 brings the doeling up to the house daily. On this day she said, “I love you SO much Snowbelle” as she squeezed her tight. I smiled…ah, the love and joy that I am blessed to hear out of our children’s mouths.

Later that same day, Prince #3 was found sitting at the dining table teaching Princess #2 how to do a word search and spell certain words. He calmly helped her through his activity book he had made for her to do. Ah, such joy I felt as I heard the two of them working together quietly at the table. These are memories that they are making and will carry with them the rest of their lives. How sweet!

Then that afternoon, I looked out our front window to find Prince #1 and Princess #1 riding bikes together in a circle, chatting away about Princess #1’s goat business. 🙂 Joy felt again in the love they share.

And behind me sat Prince #4 calmly dismantling a broken vacuum cleaner to turn in for scrap metal. He and Prince #2 were discussing how much the metal was worth. They’ve been helping us gather the scrap metal from the burned barn. We have made 4 (one hour trips) trips into the scrap metal place this past week. We are turning in our scrap metal from our burned barn to pay for our trip to get Little Princess. Remember, beauty from ashes? Again, I felt joy as I saw our two sons working together to help us raise funds to travel and also to make some money for themselves as well.

At church this week, one dear friend gave us a sweet, baby girl sleeper! We have 3 gowns and now 2 sleepers for Little Princess! I smiled as I remembered that God will provide on this walk and He never fails us. Such joy!

We also were given a sweet gift from another dear friend that was a cross. On it, it says, “Glorify the Lord”. We count it joy to praise and glorify the Lord. What a blessing we have been given.

On that same day at church, our pastor’s wife gave us clothes for Seth to wear in another month or so! Again, I was reminded how the Lord cares for us. Such sweetness.

Also, this week, I went into our chiropractor’s office and was greeted with an “Are you still in need of donor milk?” question from our chiropractor. I almost laughed out loud with joy at that moment as I knew that again the Lord was providing for our needs. I hadn’t said a word to the chiropractor about needing milk in months and yet, here he was asking me if I’d like to meet their friend to get some milk from her. I was reassured again that Seth and Little Princess will be taken care of. He does not leave us.

And today? Today Seth legally became our son! We finalized his adoption in court today. This day was a long, awaited day that caused us to hold our breath at times, not knowing what could happen in between placement time and finalization time. What a blessing to be told Seth’s adoption is now legal and official. How interesting that his finalization is exactly one month from Little Princess’ due date. How interesting that this day is also exactly 18mths. since we left Indiana for Utah.

So blessed by this joyous walk!

P.S. We have found a wonderful place to stay where the owner is giving us a great deal during our adoption of Little Princess! We now have enough funds to cover the cost of fuel there and back. We are still working to raise the funds to cover our lodging and our legal fees. Please pray that our yard sale on the 26th will provide what we need! We are also going to do a Delicate Fortress fundraiser again on the 29th. You may remember that from last year. Beautiful products made by sweet women who have escaped slavery, and other unsavory conditions who now create these beautiful items. Please watch for info. about this fundraiser in a week or so! If you’d like to help us with our yard sale/car wash, please give us a holler. We are still in need of soap, sponges, and old towels for our car wash if you have any.

And a last little prayer request. Prince #4 has outgrown something. He keeps saying he wants me to find one at a yard sale or on freecycle. I have not found one for his size yet. God knows what it is that this little son of ours wants so much. I have asked Prince #4 to be in prayer about it and reminded him that God hears our prayers even for the small things and He does answer them. If you feel led, please pray that our son will see his prayers answered soon.

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