In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Simple Saturday

We had a simple Saturday, which always includes some cleaning and laundry. The cool thing is that it's the first Saturday this year that I didn't have any room waiting for me to paint! Aunt Deb came over for the day; then her room-mate came for dinner. Whenever Aunt Deb comes, lots of laundry comes with her. Lucky for her, Julia is a whiz with the Spray and Wash bottle. I'm quite sure it takes Deb twice as long with her dedicated helper, but she's always a good sport.

Since it was a nice day, we headed out for a walk. It was the first time that we let Elijah walk instead of pulling out the stroller. He was pretty thrilled with the plan. JD took this picture of Elijah holding my and Deb's hands.

Elijah can really run these days; here he is trying to catch up to "his big kids."

Here's Tori playing along the way -

Aunt Deb cleaning the dirt off Elijah's hands (at his request) -

And Alyssa and Elijah heading home -

It's so amazing to me that little people can grow and learn so much in 19 months of life!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lunchtime Antics

What could I possibly say to accompany these pictures from lunch yesterday?

I could say that it's unusual for us to eat with Elijah on the table (but that wouldn't be true.)

I'll stick with pointing out that he is the 9th child and we are just enjoying every minute of his babyhood, because we really realize how short it is. That's the truth.

He is our normal center-piece and lunch-time entertainer and he does pretty well at not knocking the dishes to the floor. I guess this is a true testimony to how laid-back I'm capable of being - not in everything, but in the things that don't really matter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Transracial Adoption

I'm finishing a book that my friend sent to me called, Adopted for Life, authored by Russell Moore. It is primarily about the church's responsibility with adoption and the orphan crises. Frankly, I think there are very, very few churches that view adoption the way that it should be viewed - as the ultimate act of "religion." Frankly, it is so much easier to sponsor a child or go on a short-term mission trip than it is to commit your entire life to a child. While a bowl of rice or a VBS program is beneficial, it still doesn't provide the orphan what he really needs - a family.

I've also been discouraged how open some people are to Asian or Latino descended children, but not African. You also wouldn't believe how many times I've kindly had people explain that they couldn't do what we did, because their Great Aunt Ethel or their parents or whoever is just too prejudice. My thoughts are, "get over it," but they seem to think it disqualifies them from even considering a child of African descent.

Russell Moore writes (on page 157)... "For some Christians, though, the concern is about family members and how they'll react to a child of a different race. I've seen young couples convulsing in tears on the couch in my office, asking how they can love their new child and honor their father and mother at the same time. I've seen family members of every race and every region of the country turn up their noses at the idea of a niece, nephew or grandchild of another ethnicity, usually with some highly spiritual rhetoric about honoring father and mother or about 'best interest of the child' or a thousand other reasons."

"What I'm surprised by is how many of these extended family members are deacons or women's ministry directors or ushers or Sunday school teachers in their church. They're blissfully unaware, it seems, that what's resting on them is the spirit of the antichrist. They seem not to comprehend that their own devotion to their flesh would disqualify non-Semitic folks like them from the promises of God. If Jesus agreed with them on adoption and race, they'd be in hell."

"One of the most chilling comments I've ever heard is from an adopting white family told by a relative that he wouldn't have a black child in his family tree. When the young couple gently told the relative he was in sin and that, should he go to heaven, he'll be around a lot of persons of color, the man replied, "Well, then I'll have a long time to learn how to love them." Well, no, sir, you won't have that long. The Bible says you have a very short time - short as a vapor - to learn to love your brothers and sisters. The Bible tells us, "We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." (I John 3:14)

Moore concludes.... "If your relatives love their bigotry more than your child, speak to them lovingly but directly, just as you would if they were caught in any other sin. But don't give them veto power to your family."

My sentiments exactly!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hanging up my Paint Apron

I'm finally finished with my painting - for a while anyway. I am saving the master bedroom, retreat and bathroom for next winter and I'm planning on painting the mud-room and mud-bathroom when we move the washer and dryer downstairs to the unfinished laundry room. So, for now it feels good and it wasn't as tough with the kids as I suspected it would be.

I painted the downstairs part of the stairwell today. The upstairs is "sage white" and the basement is "map paper." Now we have to figure out what to do with the actual stairs, they are still quite unfinished.

There are 13 children at my house tonight, what do you make for dinner with 13 kids?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Biggest Brother

Elijah is always happy when his biggest brother, Gabriel, comes home from work. Gabriel is homeschooling his senior year of high-school and life-guarding at two pools, so he isn't here enough for Elijah's liking. I snapped these today when Gabriel came in the door.

I'm happy it's the weekend! So is Elijah and Gabriel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Large Family Ideas

It seems I'm running a race of cooking, dishes, laundry and clutter. I'm almost finished painting the up-stairs and the clutter is really getting to me. It seems that every surface has a resident pile. So, after I paint the stairwell this weekend, I guess I'll make my annual "spring cleaning and organizing list." With this size house, everything should be able to find a home other than the kitchen counters!

Here's my new idea for all the hats, mittens and scarves. I've used a shoe organizer inside the coat closet for years to hold them all, however, the problem has been that the kids stuff their items anywhere there is space and then they pull them out all over the floor looking for their particular gloves. So, I labeled two pockets for each person; now everyone should be able to find what they are looking for without disturbing everyone else's things.

My only other good idea of the moment is cookies - chocolate chip, m&m, oatmeal cookies. The problem is that I've been making them too often!

Tonight is Tori hair night, so I have lots and lots of little corn-rows to get out today, (while I do school, shuffle piles, put away laundry, run to the Chiropractor and grocery shop.) Maybe I should start mission impossible by ending this blog entry! Have a good day!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tori's Valentines

Here's two of Tori's Valentine cards; she enlisted Moriah to write what she dictated. I don't know where she got these ideas, but they cracked us up. Mine says, "This is a lil boy in Candy Land (the game).... he loves you, but he can't find you. He won't miss you if he can find you. Happy Valentine's Day, Tori"

She drew (and dictated) this one for Alei. It says, "This is Plankton's Dad! (from Spongebob Squarepants) He's carrying a back-pack so he can steal crabby patties. Happy Valentine's Alei, Tori"

A bit more creative than the traditional Valentine card, huh? We won't get into the whole Spongebob debate as I really dislike the show, but my children love it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Balentines Day

Happy Valentines (or Balentines) Day from all of us. Moriah set the little people up for pictures yesterday.

Elijah took a few, then went on to more important business.

Tori and Julia are good little models.

Of course, they also tend to get a bit silly.

Here's an example of Tori's big eyes and Julia's big smile.

Have a blessed day with those you love.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tractor Time With Dad

The biggest trauma that Elijah can fathom in his short, blessed life happened yesterday. He is a big, big Daddy fan and waited hours for his Da-Da to come home from work. When finally Dad came home, he held him and hugged him, but then put him down to try and clear snow before dark set in. Since Elijah loves his Dad, loves the tractor and doesn't mind the snow, his little heart was broken. Nothing could distract him as he wailed at the window for a full 30 minutes - wailing about his Dad and the tractor.

After 30 minutes, we couldn't take it anymore, so we bundled him up and Alei carried him across the snow and ice to Dad on the tractor. He spent the rest of the time happily bobbing around on the tractor.

Now, he's a happy boy again.... singing a much better song.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Katie in Uganda

I want to introduce my friends and family to perhaps one of the most remarkable people I have ever read about. Katie is 21 years old, has 14 adopted daughters, and feeds hundreds of children everyday in Uganda. The following excerpt if from her blog today. Her ministry is Amazima which is the button on the right side of my blog. I think she grasps the Gospel in a way that few of us do.

A few days ago an American woman who had spent about three days of her life in a third world country looked at me and said, “I would SO love to do what you do. I would do it in a heartbeat. Oh, I would take 14 kids in a second!” It is a good thing that I was having a graceful day, because I said, “Aw that’s nice.” But my not so graceful heart was angry. And the not so graceful voice in my head wanted to say to her, “Ok then, do it. I can have you 14 orphaned, abandoned, uncared for children tomorrow. So here is what you have to do: Quit school. Quit your job. Sell your stuff. Disobey and disappoint your parents. Break your little brother’s heart. Lose all but about a handful of friends because the rest of them think you have gone off the deep end. Break up with the love of your life. Move to a country where you know one person and none of the language. And when you are finished, I will be here waiting with your 14 children!” I wanted to ask her what was stopping her, knowing that the answer would be her comfort. I wanted to look at her and tell her that my life was full and joyful and WONDERFUL, but I also wanted to tell her to COUNT THE COST. Because my life IS full and joyful and wonderful, but it is NOT easy. My life is NOT glamorous. I do not expect it to be. I do not think that anything about carrying a cross was easy or glamorous either.

Which brings me to my point. I am not actually that angry about what that woman said, it was just an offhanded comment. But it got me to thinking… How many times to we grieve our sweet Savior’s heart because we refuse to COUNT THE COST? How many times do we choose comfort instead of the cross?

In my NIV Bible, the header above Luke 9:57-62 says, “The Cost of Following Jesus.” Here it is, plain and simple, laid out for us by the Lord. “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my Father.” Jesus said to Him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts His hand to the plow and looks back will be fit to enter the Kingdom of God.” THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF.

A little later in Luke 14:25, “The Cost of Being a Disciple,” Jesus tells the crowds gathered around Him, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry His cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to complete it; everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first consider if he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. In the same way any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”In Luke, in the days of Jesus, He expected EVERYTHING of his disciples. Do we believe that He requires the same today? We sure don’t act like it. If you ever read my blog or have heard me speak then you have heard me reference Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus basically looks straight at the crowd and tells them that when He comes back, those who have seen the needy and met their needs will come with Him to heaven. He also says that those who have seen the needy and done nothing will be sent away to “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Right, hell. This is heavy, I know, but I believe that it is TRUE. I believe that the words of Jesus are timeless and therefore still apply to anyone desiring to be His follower today. (Oh, and in case you think you can get away with saying that you have not seen Jesus naked or hungry or thirsty or in need and therefore you are off the hook, let me help you. 30,000 children will die today because of hunger or preventable disease. There. Now you know. Now you are responsible too.) Faith without good deads is DEAD, my friends. Yes, I believe fully in salvation by His grace alone. I do not believe that anything we do or work for will save us. I also believe that if we are indeed saved, meaning that He lives inside of us, we will desire to do what is pleasing to Him. That if we really love Him with all our hearts and all our strength, NOTHING will feel like sacrifice in light of the promise that one day we will get to be with Him forever. Automatically, we will help those in need, we will give our all, we will love our neighbor as our self, because our heart is aligned with His. But so many don’t. This then begs the question: If we are not walking in the words of Jesus, do we truly know Him? Do we really know and believe in the Jesus of the Bible. Because if we do, if we believe what He says is true, our lives will be powerfully, unimaginable, radically different than the lives of those around us. He requires EVERYTHING.

I wonder today if I had been one of the people listening to Jesus as He spoke in Luke 9 and 14, if Jesus would have convinced me to follow Him or if I would have walked away. I believe I would have really really wanted to say goodbye to my family. I wonder about “Christians” today. We wear Jesus on our T-shirts, we wear His cross around our neck and a bumper sticker with His name on it on our car. Have we just laid the foundation without being able to build the building? Does Jesus feel like I did when a woman I didn’t know told me she would love to do what I do but I knew that she never would? Do we claim the precious name of Jesus Christ without counting the cost? Without being willing to REALLY give it all? And does Jesus, in His infinite grace, look at us and say, “Aw, that’s nice,” but really with the furry that he flipped over the tables in the temple want to spit our lukewarm selves out of His mouth?

This is heavy on my heart. I have spent hours typing it to get the words out right and still I feel like I am rambling. If you would like more references on God’s heart for the poor, try Isaiah 56-58, Proverbs 14:31, 21:13, 28:27, Matthew 19:16- 30, Luke 6:20-25, 18:18, James 5:1… Please feel free to add more in your comments! If we believe that these words are true, the way we are living is not tolerable. How can we live in willful disobedience and claim to know Jesus Christ?I do not claim to have the answers.

I do not claim to be doing it right. I do claim to believe that the words of Jesus are absolutely true and apply to me, right now today. I want to give EVERYTHING, no matter the cost. NO MATTER THE COST. Because I believe that nothing is sacrifice in light of eternity with Christ.

Please take an hour of your time to listen to this sermon my David Platt of Birmingham, Alabama. I pray that it would drastically change your life: www.brookhills.org/media/series/radical

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Indoor Pictures

Yesterday I dug my monster van from the snow drifts to take three more children to the dentist. I do three people per appointment, one appointment a week, and generally end up at the dentist every week in February. On Monday, the dental office called me to see if I thought I could make it in. I replied with confidence that I thought I could. So, I loaded up Alei, Moriah, Tori (and Elijah) and set out for the dentist. Although JD had cleared the van, and the boys had dug out the snow in front of the van, it still required a good bit of digging to even start rolling. I then drove about 1/2 way to the barn when it slipped on the ice and slid into the snow-drift on the right side of the drive-way. I retrieved the shovel and dug until Gabriel saw me out the window and showed up to help. Between the two of us, we dug and spun the wheels on the ice for about 30 minutes until I admitted my predicament and called the dentist to reschedule.

Now that a few more inches of snow has fallen today, I may not leave the house until spring. Since I'd rather not look at any more snow pictures, I took some random picture inside. Here's Ben working on his new hand-writing book. Since he and James continue to form the letters incorrectly, we are doing another round of Handwriting Without Tears.

Here's James reading his mandatory book of the day.

Here's Julia in her favorite everyday dress, trying to reach the "sauce." "Sauce" is salt and she wanted to dump it on her tortilla chips!

Here's Tori in her "kingdom." I am not sure of the details, but I know she is in charge and she needed a lot of stuff around her throne.

Here's Gabriel's idea of a mid-morning snack. I thought it was a party platter, but turned out it was just to hold him off until lunch.

Here's Elijah between changes of clothes from dipping in the potty. Some days he hits the potty numerous times, resulting in several arm scrubbings and clothes changes.

Lastly, here's Charlie - rough life indeed.
Enjoy your snow day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I've Had Enough

My fun snow days are maxed; it's just too much work. By the time 10 people deposit a coat, snow-pants, a scarf, two mittens, four socks and some wet boots by the door, it resembles a wet war zone. I end of doing at least two extra loads of laundry a day and griping at several children whose answer is always along the lines of, "I didn't wear those." Who wrote the children code that doesn't ever allow them to pick up something that they didn't leave there? So, while the barn looks beautiful in a coat of snow, I'll take my pathetic grass that lies underneath.

Here's the front of my house once JD plowed the drive-way. Since some of the snow-drifts are as big as the children, they are going to be there for some time.

Here's Tori's snow-ball. Alei wasn't impressed with herself stuck in the background snow of this picture, but I assured her that no one would even notice. :)

Lastly, here's just one of the wet piles of boots that have taken residence by my front door.

Thankfully, our homeschool hasn't taken any snow days, so we'll still get a spring break this year! Oh, there's more snow in Wednesday's forecast....

Saturday, February 6, 2010


We are definitely in the midst of a Virginia blizzard. There is about a foot of snow so far and it looks like it could go another few days. Thankfully we still have power; however, it's flashed a few times and my neighbors down the road have lost theirs. Every meal and load of laundry, I'm very thankful.

I'm about half way through painting the dining room. Elijah has decided that the only way he can nap the last few days is in my arms; every time I lay him down, he wakes right up. It's slowing down my paint progress a bit. I think we'll do some bedroom cleaning and organizing tomorrow; the kids will love that!

Friday, February 5, 2010

We're Waiting...

Well, we are hunkered (is that a real word?) down and waiting for our blizzard. It is snowing pretty well, but we aren't experiencing the high winds that the newscasters threatened us with. This winter has definitely motivated us to do what needs to be done to have the whole-house generator hooked up before hurricane season this fall. We've been blessed so far to not lose power, but since we are in the middle of no-where, it could be a long and painful wait for it to be restored if we did have it knocked out.
The best part of the storm is all the clean kids and clean laundry I had last night. There's nothing better than a fresh baby from the bathtub to snuggle with.

Thursday night, JD and I headed to town with three children to run errands before the storm. We found little girl dresses and pajamas at Wal-Mart for $3 on clearance. I meant to buy Tori and Julia each two dresses, but came home with three for Julia and only one for Tori since I didn't read the tags carefully. Julia was thrilled and wore all three of hers yesterday. Here she is modeling one of them.

I really love dressing my little girls. I'm going to be really sad when they get big enough that they don't want to wear dresses or coordinate with each other. Julia is the queen of girly-girls; she seldom will wear pants.

Have a happy weekend. I plan on painting the dining room if we don't lose power.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'll Breathe Tomorrow

This morning came way too early since I went to bed way too late and my little boy didn't sleep too well. When I got up, the only hard thing on my agenda was taking the girls to art class, so I was sure that I could cram a nap in once school was done. While we were preparing for our 10:15 departure, Alyssa was in tears that her neck hurt from sleeping on it wrong. She didn't think she could even stand going to her much loved art class, so I decided to take her to the chiropractor while the other girls were at art. We loaded the van and dropped Alei and Moriah at art. I had a few other things that could stand to get done before our enormous snow storm hit tonight, so I was just going to see how far we could make it. I was only a few miles down the road when a friend called to say that she was having van trouble. She thought there was a chance that she was out of gas since her gas meter wasn't predictable. I came back home and got a gas can; I then went and filled it and delivered it to her. Together we managed to pour about 1/2 of it in her gas tank and the other 1/2 down the side of her van. It still didn't start, so she progressed to calling the husband out of work plan.

Knowing that I was going to run out of time, I stopped by JD's work and dropped off a box that I needed mailed. Elijah was so happy to see him, that he kept him while I journeyed on to the chiropractor. When I unloaded my six children there, I was questioned down by a few ladies in the waiting room. An older lady was concerned that we were all patients and didn't want to wait through our group. Another lady asked if they were all mine. When I replied yes, she asked if they all lived with me. That was a new one, but I assured her that they did.

We left the Chiropractor, picked up Elijah, and headed in the grocery store just to swap the Motrin pills that Gabriel bought for the liquid that he was supposed to buy. I waited through customer returns and was told that they would refund me at the register. I grabbed the correct Motrin, and ketchup which a staple at our house, and got in the longest line I've ever seen at the Food Lion! I guess when there is a possible two feet of snow predicted, people get nervous, and whenever people are nervous, they all run to the grocery store! We waited and waited - Elijah was whining and Julia was on the verge when I reached the cashier who informed me that refunds are only given at line two. I nicely told her that they didn't tell me that at customer service and that I had no intention on waiting through another line; she somehow refunded me anyway.

I then rushed to pick up Moriah, 30 minutes late, and she was just a bit miffed to say the least. It seems that her brother had not adequately given her the message that I may be a bit late and since she is one of the few deprived 12 year old on the planet that doesn't own a cell-phone, she was unable to check on my where-abouts.

We then came home and started school. Now, I'm celebrating the forecast snow by doing lots of laundry and baths in fear of losing power. My husband is driving the 60 mile round trip to Lowes for a cord that will hopefully deliver water from the well, via generator, in the event we lose power. I don't ever remember snow like this in Virginia - Montana, yes, but not Virginia.

If anyone is still reading, I will say that my computer that I down-load pictures onto is dying a slow and painful death. There is hope of pictures once again once the Fed Ex driver delivers my new video card. However, it may be a while with tomorrow's snow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Discouraged Part Two

When I re-read my yesterday post, I was shocked to realize that I had neglected the tale of James leading the girls into the woods and losing them. It's amazing that something like losing your children in the woods for hours gets buried with the other crises of the week. My concern with my boys is beyond forgetting chores and breaking things at this point, those are annoying but not alarming like the events of the last few weeks. I appreciate the kind responses I've gotten; I think the main point is just to pray. Pray for every one's safety as we live day to day and pray for wisdom for all of us! Sometimes I search so hard for a brilliant plan, that I neglect the obvious - prayer!

On a good note, James and Ben are both loving and caring and I plan on them growing into well-adjusted adults; it's just going to be a lot of work (and prayer) to get there.

Thanks again...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Discouraged in the Land of Parenting Little Boys

The last two weeks has presented several occasions with James and Ben that have left me just shaking my head. I haven't written the specifics of the the things they have done, but the list is rather long and definitely discouraging. One of the stunts included pulling the fire alarm at the Y, resulting in the evacuation of 250 people (150 swim-team participants) into the cold rain. Upon further questioning, he claimed he thought it was a Purrell dispenser in spite of the red sign that said FIRE. Another stunt involved sneaking sandwich baggies of uncooked rice (some filled with water) down to their room - one ate it resulting in quite the stomach ache while the other just made a mess on the carpet with it. Jumping to today, we had a throw-the-shovel incident outside during chore time which resulted in splitting open the eye-brow of his brother. The guilty party then came in and resumed life as if nothing happened. The injured brother later came in and asked for a band-aid, while I freaked out and got ready for an urgent care visit. In all these cases (and more!) there have been swift and direct consequences; the fire alarm incident resulted in losing Chuck E Cheese play time (since we were on the way there) as well as months of grounding from the Y. While I see true remorse after these incidents, I am losing hope of helping them think through the the consequences before the actions. I realize that I can depend more on Tori's logic at age five than I can the boy's at eight and nine.

Realistically, they both started with real disadvantages, one from horrible neglect in America and the other from the Bush of Africa, but neither have any obvious disabilities. I am at a huge loss of how to get them to weigh what they do before they do it AND how to get them to grasp that wrong is wrong even if they don't get caught!

Keeping it real guys; my life isn't all fun and braids!