Friday, November 16, 2012

We are doing this thing!

All 3 families from Texas shipped out all our belongings to Kona last night! 
It should be there shortly after we arrive :)  (prayers)
On a really cool God side note, another family will be caravanning with us from Texas to Cali, to Kona!  That's a total of 24 of us leaving here and road tripping our way to Kona! We will go from Dallas, to Albuquerque, to the Grand Canyon, to Cali, and then fly out from there.  The Wilkins family found us through this blog, and  joined the Fire and Fragrance DTS.....CRAZY!  What's even crazier??? They are from CANADA but happen to be spending Christmas with their family here in the DFW area.  They booked the same flight as us, and will be joining us on our road trip.  It's so wild how God connected our families through modern technology.  We met on the blog and then all 4 families have been communicating through facebook.  This is going to be an adventure for sure with 16 out of the 24 of us being children :)  Our caravan leaves December 27th.  Please keep praying for us!

Candy time 2013!

I am late at posting these, but wanted to show my cute littles off!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Important Day to Acknowledge An Important Issue!

Today is such an important day to acknowledge.  Not only is it a celebration of the lives of children who use to be orphaned and their lives are now redeemed by God and set in families,  but it's also a day to educate everyone on the huge world-wide orphan crisis that is ever- so- real. May we not see videos like the one below and shed a few tears, and then forget about all the children out there who need someone to step up and be a difference in their lives.  May our hearts be moved to action.  I remember as vivid as it were yesterday, almost 4 years ago, when I was worshipping at my friend Alicia's house with a group of ladies, and singing the song "Hosanna" sung by Brook Frasier( Hillsong). I had sung it a hundred times but this time was different.  I cried out the words to Jesus "Fill my heart and make me clean, open up my eyes to the things unseen, show me how to love like you, have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for your kingdom's cause.  As I walk from earth into eternity." This time I was singing it with my whole heart.  I meant it, and  I wanted His heart and to be more like Him, and care about the things  He cares about. His presence fell on me, and I started sobbing.  One of those ugly cries where I couldn't stop. And my heart broke.  From that day on, every time I heard that song, I would sob and cry out "Break my heart for what breaks yours"  with all that I had.  And you know what? He did.  My eyes were really opened for the first time.  I knew about orphans, but from a distance.  I cared enough to feel sad, during a "save the children commercial."  But I remember turning the channel quickly because I didn't want to feel sad, and then  I would forget about it.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Can any of you relate to that?   But then when I started crying out to Jesus to give me more of His heart, it became very real to me.  He broke my heart for the orphan and the fatherless just as His is breaking.  He answered my cries to Him during that song.  My heart broke so much that it was moved to action.  I was a crying mess from then on until the day we brought JoMo home from Ethiopia, and what a blessing that little boy is to our whole family!  That song to this day, still gets me.  I know God FOREVER changed my heart and opened my eyes that day through that song, and I am so grateful He did.  If your church doesn't acknowledge National Orphan Sunday, step up and make them aware. Start the tradition of acknowledging it every year by dedicating a service to bring awareness. It's such an important issue on God's heart. Be the change for at least one or more orphans in this world.  If God can use our family, trust me, He can surely use yours, or you ;)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Much to be Shared!

SO MUCH has happened with our journey to YWAM it's just crazy!  First off I would like to start off by saying that while we were in Kona visiting, we felt like the Lord said a third family would be coming with us and the Cottles.  I sensed it while we were there, Misty sensed it as well, and then to confirm our suspicions, a friend at church one Sunday morning informed us as he was praying for our families, the Lord had given him a vision of a third family from our church in Kona with us.  He said he saw us all gathered around a table in fellowship and full of joy and he clearly saw who the family was.  When I asked who it was, he said he wasn't suppose to tell me that part, that God would do His thing.  Well, of course for a while Misty and I tried to figure out who the third family was, but never did.  As months went on and it grew closer to leaving time, I honestly thought, 'well, I guess there won't be a third family.  Maybe we heard wrong.' Then BOOM again, so all of a sudden.  It was clear as day to this wonderful third family and to us that they were suppose to be with us in Kona.  So here we have it 3 (the number of completion) families going to DTS in just 9 weeks now!!!!

Ecclesiastes 4:12

New International Version (NIV)
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Meet our newest family traveling with us on this amazing ride: We are so blessed to be in this with The amazingly servant-hearted Shocklee Family!
Backing up again while we were in YWAM, Kona.  Our first day in the prayer room, this precious young girl comes over and starts praying over Misty and myself.  Then she starts prophesying and telling us that she sensed  the Lord was saying that we did not have to worry about money at all and the journey He had set before us was already provided for.  The finances are there.  She said it would be effortless and her words were "Like you will be on an elevator and a stranger will write you a check."  I was thinking.."I receive that word Jesus, Amen!" HA! Others praying over us at home also gave us that same word, so we received it.
So here we are 9 weeks out until we leave and we're raffling IPADS and Canon Rebels and selling and stacking firewood, and the money is coming in..... in trickles.  Now there are 3 families here, a total of 19 of us, who don't have a ton of extra money laying around, so we knew God was going to have to come through in a big way for our DTS and outreach for all of us, because to be honest, it's really expensive to take your whole family to a school and then a 3- month outreach.  Even though we knew He would, and He really does like to surprise us at the last moment, (and we know that) we were starting to sweat it.  9 weeks out and we weren't even close to having what we needed to go.  Then BOOM!  Out of nowhere again, God surprises us. 
I mentioned above we were selling firewood.  Well, someone my mother-in-law knows heard of us selling firewood and what it was for and offered us a HUGE, GIGANTIC donation (fun jewelry) from a very large and well known retail chain in our area to sell to raise money!  You guys, IT. IS. RIDICULOUS!  We could open a store with the amount merchandise that was donated.  And it is such fun stuff!  Great stuff!  So we have all this stuff (CRAZY AMOUNT OF STUFF) and in our minds we knew since God provided this, He will provide an avenue to sell it.  A couple nights later I decided I did not want to cook and I randomly felt like Steak Kountry.  It's a great little small chain restaurant, but we rarely go there. It was a random choice. We were sitting eating our dinner and a couple from church walks in and comes to our table and says,"Hey, how is all your fundraising going for YWAM?" We told them about our donation and the husband says, "Hey I have a meeting with a man tomorrow morning and he happens to have a booth in Canton  First Monday Trade Days, do you want me to ask if he can hook you guys up?  UM, Seriously!  YES!!!!!! So today, we got the number and... WE.ARE.GOING.TO.HAVE.A.BOOTH.AT.CANTON.TRADE DAYS!!! For those reading this, that don't know what Canton First Monday Trade Days is, google's huge!  It is rated as one of the top 3 Trade Days in  the US and one of the top 100 best events to attend, and people from all over the US travel on down to little Canton just to go shopping there!  AND......November and December are the busiest Canton months of the year!!!  AMAZING!  We didn't go asking for this blessing or looking for it, God just laid it right before us and gave us an amazing venue to sell it as well.  He is so amazing like that!  The other night during our meeting, Misty said it so perfectly, she said something along the lines of, "You know, to the rest of the world, we are crazy. "  What she was getting at is when you tell people you are packing up your big families and dropping your jobs and your life for a 6 month season, people tend to think that is irresponsible.  Some Christians may think, (and I've heard it,) "Wow! I'm so jealous,  I wish we could do something like that."  Well Then Misty went on to add that our donation is just mind blowing, and the timing and venue can only be God. CAN ONLY BE GOD! She said she felt like the Lord was going to use we three families as forerunners to show other FAMILIES that they to can go when God calls them somewhere.  Not just young adults right out of high school or retired couples with no strings attached.   No matter the cost or how impossible it may seem, HE WILL MAKE A WAY and blow you away with how He does it, just as He is doing with us! He just wants you  to trust Him enough to say YES to what He asks of you.

Matthew 19:26

New International Version (NIV)
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

During an exciting time where God is calling His church to rise up, Let this verse ring true in your heart when you hear God call YOU!  Because Jesus meant it when He spoke it, and even though your story will be different than ours, we are living proof that He meant it.

If you live near Canton or are planning a little trip over this next weekend, come find us.  We don't know our exact location yet, but we are on the main side.  And we are going to be handing out fliers telling where we will be, so keep an eye out for our fliers.  Come get the best deal you wouldn't find anywhere else on some super fun jewelry, and say hi to us! We would love to see you and pray with you.  GOD IS SO GOOD, AND SO MUCH FUN!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy 1st and 2nd Birthday!

I remember last year as we were waiting to bring home JoMo.  He was suppose to come home some time at the beginning of September, but with all the potholes we hit, he didn't come home until January.  JoMo's birthday is the 2nd weekend of September, and I remember being so sad and mourning when we missed celebrating his 1st birthday with him.  So this year when that special day rolled around we decided to do it up right, and celebrate our guy in a big way.  We threw him a "Monster 1st and 2nd birthday party", complete with smash cake and all.  Funny the difference in a 2 year-old and a 1 year- old with a smash cake.  Our little proper guy wouldn't dig into his smash cake until he was given a fork. LOL!
We had the party at my brother's house.  The kids swam and played hard.  Hot dogs, and doro wot with injera were served, along with the best cake on the planet with ice cream.  My friend Ginger made the glorious Monster cake.  It was layered, rice crispy treats, strawberry cake, chocolate cake, and then vanilla cake, with strawberry filling and cream cheese icing.  It was big enough to serve 75 people, and although we didn't have nearly that many people at the party, everyone managed to nearly finish this cake off.  BEST CAKE EVER!
I had so many people tell me that God will make up for the lost time we missed out on with JoMo. And although I have found this to be true in many ways, I still get sad when I think about some lost moments. We can't dwell on lost time, but instead celebrate this life we get to cherish all the days to come. So to my little man.... I am so blessed to be able to call you my son, and celebrate every birthday of yours between now and eternity. Love you to pieces my sweet, funny, happy, smart, and handsome little 2 year old!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We've Come a Long Way Baby!

 No amount of adoption training in the world could've prepared me for the reality of bringing a once-orphaned child into our home.  To be honest, it's hard.  Adoption is hard all the way around.  The long drawn out process and the hurting heart to bring that little person home, you already so strongly love, felt almost impossible on some days to get through.  Our days were filled with constant stress, and at times hopelessness.  Towards the end when we received our RFE for our son, I am sure I wasn't anyone's favorite person to be around ever.  I am certain I pushed most of my friends and family away with my never ending conversations about our process.  I couldn't help it! My son, whom I loved was over there and I was here, missing his first birthday and watching him grow up in pictures while he sat in an institution.  I was a whining mess of deep pain and sadness and no one could relate unless they had walked it, so at times I felt super alone.    It was the most intense thing I think I had ever experienced.
Then finally that long-awaited day came.  We were cleared to go get our boy!  All the sweat, and tears, and prayers, and fighting to bring him home had paid off and we were on our way to get him.  I envisioned rocking him, and holding and singing to him, and being the mom that he never had for so long.  I wanted to fill that void  he had been missing his whole life.  This was my calling, my destiny!  I knew without a doubt the Lord had gifted me the privilege of calling His beloved one my son, and I knew JoMo would love me.  After all, I'm a full-time mom.  I do it for a living!  It's what I was made for!  I'm not talented in anyway, but I'm a great mom!  I am a nurturer's nurturer when it comes to my kiddos.   This I knew I was good at, and I knew this boy would absolutely adore me.  I couldn't have been more WRONG!  Imagine my shock when I realized he didn't like me. He didn't want me to hold him or get too close.  He wasn't hungry for cuddles or kisses or nurturing.  He was hungry for the attention and playfulness of a dad.  He clung onto Aaron quickly. And the harder I tried, the more he didn't want me.  OUCH!  My mom ego was a bit crushed.  I felt rejected by this dear one I had fought so hard to bring home. Once home, I very quickly realized that life the way I had envisioned with JoMo home was going to look a lot different and be more difficult than I had anticipated. 
The first month wasn't too bad, JoMo was forced to tolerate me when dad had to return to work.  Little by little we had progress in attaching, and I could tell he was starting to like me.  He started looking forward to our cuddle times in the rocking chair and loved for me to sing songs to him.  Then around month 2, the newness wore off and JoMo started testing us like we had never been tested before.  Someone explained to me in the midst of his controlling behavior that he was "acting out of grief and loss." Hmmmmm... something you wouldn't think an 18-month old would deal with, but they totally do.  He was grieving the loss of the only life he had ever known, and he didn't know what to do with himself, except take it out on mommy with some extreme behavior.  The way our agency explained it, is that he had felt like he had lost total control of his life.  Everything had changed for him drastically, and he didn't know how to deal with it, but what he did know, was that he could control his behavior, and for a while, he could control me and Aaron with his behaviors.  For some time, we weren't sure how to deal with it.   We felt torn on how to respond to him.  It was a little tricky knowing whether we should hug him because of his grief or discipline him in fear of behaviors getting worse. We let him act out a lot, until it kept escalating and he kept pushing his limits further and further.  When the behaviors started controlling our house, was when we decided it was time to start disciplining and teaching him he couldn't push any further before it spiraled totally out of control.   And let's just say, he did not like the word "no" and leave it at that.  His little "time out/in" chair was being wore plum out.   Like I said before, no amount of adoption training had prepared me for this.  Even though I was a seasoned mom, this was different.  He had sadly learned the skill of manipulating his behaviors to get what he wanted and this wasn't going to be a fun thing to try and undo.  Admittedly in the midst of the 1,000th screaming fit or biting episode of the hour , I would forget where these behaviors were coming from and I allowed frustration to creep in.  It wore on me.   Many days I felt I was at a loss. I begged Jesus to give me His heart and to HELP ME!   Since JoMo didn't like to be disciplined and I was the one home disciplining him all the time,  we went through another I-don't-like-this- woman phase and he would cling to total strangers (women) out in public who would ogle over him and give him any kind of positive attention.  I had to peel him off of strangers legs kicking and screaming while calling them,"momma" on more than one occasion.   IT WAS PAINFUL!  Anytime in public a woman would speak to him, I would almost get angry at this oblivious- to- adoptive- children's- attachment -issues woman and wanted to scream at her and tell her to back-off!  I seriously thought of having a t -shirt made for when I was grocery shopping that said,  "Please if you are a woman, don't make eye contact or speak to my son, attachment in process."  I just couldn't take feeling rejected by this boy I loved one more time.   At the end of my rope, you think?  I was!  It was a horrible and confusing feeling to love someone so much and not get that reciprocated and feel unattached to them.  So I built up a wall around my heart to protect me from getting hurt from all the rejection I had allowed in.  That wall of protection in the long run was leading me down the road of resentment and getting in the way of my attachment to him.  I found myself having cynical thoughts of "if you only knew" when people would compliment me on how sweet or cute he was.  I found myself being annoyed with God because I felt I had said yes and answered this calling He so clearly had called me to, and all I was getting through the whole process was hurt and pain.  I was even angry with Aaron because I felt he was reaping the benefits of being the favorite one, while I felt I was the one putting in all the work.  It wasn't fair!  Whaaa, whaaaa, whaaaa!  Poor me!  It had turned into being all about ME!  That wall was blocking my view of the bigger picture and vision the Lord had once placed before me.  The picture of redemption and mothering and loving a child who had no one.  The picture of heaven and how God loves and adopts us into His family.  A life focused on Jesus and others and not on myself.  How had I become like this?  It was ugly, and I didn't even recognize myself anymore.  Then came the guilt.  I started feeling like I had failed God in the calling, that He surely was disappointed in me, and that I was failing my son too, and he deserved a better mom.   Then on top of all this, God calls us to Kona, Hawaii to attend a discipleship training school with Youth With a Mission.  LORD JESUS! I can't handle anymore change right now!  I really just might totally lose it!  But He spoke so loud and clear on that one, if we didn't say yes, we totally would be being disobedient to God, and deep down, even though the thought of all we had to do to prepare to leave was overwhelming, in the midst of our attachment issues,  I didn't want to miss out on anything the Lord had for our family.  So we said yes!  To make a longer story shorter, for a while I stayed in a funk.   I don't know what did it, but one day we woke up different.  I think I had been told over and over that these feelings in the beginning with attachment were "normal, " and they are normal.  I had learned that 65% of adoptive moms struggle with post adoption depression, and I wasn't the exception.  I was hoping I would be, but I wasn't.  It is very typical to feel this way, and we are all sinners and fall short and none of us are perfect and we all mess up with raising our children from time to time.  The difference for me came when I realized that even though my struggles were typical it was still wrong.  I made the decision I wasn't going to stay there.  I didn't want to be the mom that still had attachment issues 2 years down the road from now.  No WAY!   God gifted me this boy and I wanted us to have a healthy mother/son relationship, and I knew that we would.   So that was my prayer everyday.  That God would supernaturally bond our hearts together....  mine to his and his to mine.    I made a choice.   I sent an email out to all the important women in our life (because it was women who we had trouble with JoMo wanting to go home with, not men) and asked them to please back off a bit until JoMo learned that I was his only mom.  JoMo had MANY moms in his short life, so it was so normal for him to go to any woman available to comfort him or for help of any kind.  In the orphanage, I am sure that if he didn't like the way one nanny responded, he could run to the next, and this is what he was doing with me ALL THE TIME.   I explained my reasons and just asked for them to please respect our request and be friendly at a distance.  I asked them not to kiss or hold or feed him, or be motherly to him in anyway.  And said no over-the-top doting or playfulness or going on and on about how cute and sweet he is to him. He devoured that kind of attention, and if he wasn't getting it, he sought it out using his uber-cute smile and charm to draw people to him.   I was the only woman that needed to be giving him that kind of attention for a while at least. Some didn't understand, and they thought I was overreacting, but at this point I really did not care what anyone thought.  I was in the thick of it everyday and knew that it was necessary, and not only necessary but crucial.  I wanted to do what had to be done to create a better environment for me and JoMo to connect.   It was the best thing I could've ever done!  We were at the hospital a couple weeks ago visiting our friends,  and this very sweet woman was talking to JoMo and going on with him. He grabbed her hand, brought her over to me, pointed and said,  "My Momma."  I nearly started crying right then.  Do you know how huge that moment was for me????  It was a moment that was 8 months in the making.  The other night I went out with some friends and Aaron put JoMo to bed instead of me and he woke up at midnight crying for me.  I walked in his room, he saw I was there, and then he was fine.  He just wanted to make sure I was there.  I think he missed me!  So I can finally say with confidence that although I didn't do things perfectly, I feel that we are both finally connecting on a healthy mother/son level.  He's always had my heart but I think now that I have his.   I  very well could've kept those walls up and never really felt connected to my child, or I could've taken the other road, which I did, and made the decision to open my heart back up. Even though it was painful and difficult at times, tearing down those walls so that my heart could be open and raw allowed God to work within me.  And you know what?  When my heart became open, JoMo's heart became open.  That's just how it works.  They respond to us.  So now after 8 months home, I feel we have found our new normal.   I have this amazing gift of a son from God who is a light everywhere he goes.  He is a living testimony of God's love and faithfulness every single day.  He is radiant with joy and just as content as could be, and he is thriving in our family.  Most of the time it feels like he has been here all along, and then the other half it hits me that I still can't believe he is finally home forever.  Our days still are not perfect and I am sure I mess up on a daily basis, and we still have many temper tantrums that come with a 2 year old, but they are more normal 2 year old tantrums now and not coming from a place of control or grief.  These past 2 years I feel like I have been thrown in the fire and reshaped and molded over and over, and let me tell you, it hurt!  But I know God allows us to walk through the fire and come out on the other side so that we can share what we have walked through to help others that may in the same boat.  So to all you newly adoptive parents out there that may find yourself in that place where I was,  keep asking the Lord for help.  Don't build a wall up with your child.  This road you said yes to is hard, and it's a day-to-day battle, but it's so worth it!  Your child is worth every tear.  Eventually your child will realize you are forever and not going anywhere and things will start to feel more "normal" (whatever that means ;) 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pray for Jeremiah!

On our first trip to Ethiopia, we had the pleasure of meeting 2 amazing families, the King family and the Gerig family.  Although we only had a few days there together, we just bonded.  I can't explain it, only to say that God knew exactly what He was doing when He orchestrated who we would be with on this trip.  It was a God-ordained meeting, and when things got even tougher with our adoption processes after returning home, we all just grew even closer over the phone.  While we were in Ethiopia together, we all talked about how we would love to be able to have a reunion every year together.  We wanted our kids to know each other forever, so as our 1- year anniversary approached, we decided to do it.  Brandy and Mike and Becky and Todd pitched in for our whole family to fly to Indiana so we could all spend a week together.  The King's only live 2 hours from the Gerig's, driving time, so they were going to drive and we were all going to stay with the Gerig's. We had a week of boating, barbecuing, playing, date night, etc...all planned out.   The night before our plane was to take off, I got a text from Becky saying that Brandy had just texted her and said, Jeremiah, the King's youngest son, was just hit by a car.  I think the news just shocked us.  We immediately started praying and had everyone we know start praying for Jeremiah.  With our plane set to leave the next day, we decided to go ahead and go to Indiana.  Upon arriving to the Gerig's home, it was so bitter sweet.  It was great to see the Gerig's, but the absence of the King family just left an emptiness within us all, and a deep sadness knowing the reason our friends wouldn't be joining us.  The next day we packed up both our families and headed to Illinois to visit our friends and support them, and pray for their son.  Becky and I talked on the way about our relationship.  All three families, although we really don't know each other well, have such a deep love for each other.  It's a unique and special bond that we share only with each other, and can't fully explain.  Somehow in Ethiopia on that first trip God gave us each other, because He knew we would need each other to walk through something hard.  Going through that hard time together, just made us all even closer.  A year later, still not really knowing each other very well, but sure feeling like we have known each other forever, God brought us together again to walk through something hard together again.  We all had the pleasure of hugging Brandy and Mike and praying over Jeremiah.  Little Jeremiah is in a coma.  When he was struck by the car going approximately 45 miles an hour, he was thrown on top of the car and landed on the pavement behind the car.  He has no broken bones but his MRI shows he has some spots indicating damage to his brain.  By the grace of God, he had no swelling in his brain (answered prayer!) .  He did get pneumonia and was on steroids to treat it.  The doctors are preparing the family for extensive physical therapy and speech therapy.  They discussed the possibility of Jeremiah not being the same Jeremiah he once was when he finally wakes up.  Brandy shared with Becky and me that she could handle having to teach him how to walk again, or read again, but to think about his personality being different, was too much for her to think about.  Would you please join us in contending in prayer for little Jeremiah and the King family?  Please be praying for God to fully restore his body and brain, and personality.  Pray for continued strength and comfort and emotional healing over the entire King family.  Brandy and Mike were asking us not to forget to pray for the man who was driving the car who hit Jeremiah.  They said it wasn't his fault, and that Jeremiah ran into traffic, and they couldn't imagine what the driver must be going through as well.  Please be lifting them all up in prayer.   We know and have seen with our own eyes that God is a God of miracles, and He CAN fully restore Jeremiah.  Will you believe with us for this? Pray for this little Superman to be fully restored.

Our time in Indiana was much more different than we all anticipated.  We and the Gerig's tried to enjoy our time together, but it just wasn't the same without the King's.  I wish we lived closer so we could hug and love on them more, but they are being so well taken care of by their amazing community who are supporting them above and beyond.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the King family and all who are serving them during this horribly difficult time they are walking through.  Please be praying for Jeremiah and his precious family. 
One year ago meeting each other and our babies for the first time.

One year later, bitter sweet reunion.

  Here's to one year from now celebrating our 2 year anniversary with a fully healed Jeremiah! 
 Love you King's and Gerig's.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Look to Him!

Before you read this post, please know it was written on what my heart has been personally convicted on lately, and on an issue that I feel has grieved God's heart.
My heart has been so stirred and troubled lately with the heavy division in our country right now.  I know there has always been division.  We have our conservatives and our liberals who have never seen eye to eye, but lately it seems like we are divided more than ever before.  But to go a step even further, Christians seem to be divided more than ever before.  Our brothers and sisters who have the common bond of Jesus, representing His name, seem to be debating and arguing over issues across the board.  Has anyone else noticed this?   I see debates all the time on facebook about what is right and what is wrong.  I think we are all familiar with the Big Chick Fil A debate.   I watched MANY debates on facebook unfold between Christians about this.   I even weighed in on a couple. No need to expound on that any further.  I think we have heard enough opinions on that one.
Of course, a lot of what I read are blogs about adoption and orphan care, and I have had many conversations on the topic with people because it is an area that the Lord has burdened my heart on.  Here are some examples where I have seen and/or heard Christians divided in this area :  "It's wrong to adopt an infant child under the age of two."  "It's better to contribute to a family preservation plan than to actually adopt a child."   "It's better to give your money to US orphans than to International orphanages."  "We should be helping our own and not some other country."  "No one should pursue adoption out of Ethiopia right now because it's just too corrupt." I would read these posts or hear this and think what on earth???? When did we start playing the voice of God?  When did we start thinking we knew better than He does?    He cares deeply about ALL OF US and ALL of these issue and He calls everyone to different places and different things!!!   That's just how He is.  Just because God gave me a heart to pursue a 4 month-old boy in Ethiopia and my friend a heart to pursue a 15 year-old boy in America doesn't make one of us right or wrong.   God cares deeply about both of those children no matter their age or ethnicity!  There shouldn't be division on which one is better.  And family preservation plans are AMAZING and a wonderful way to prevent children from becoming orphaned out of poverty.  We support families and family preservation plans, but it does not mean they should take the place of international adoption altogether! BOTH ARE TERRIBLY NEEDED!  They go hand-in-hand.    We need family preservation plans in place and there are STILL MANY CHILDREN out there that need to be adopted into a family!  One is not better than the other. There is a need for both!   Yes, there is some corruption in adoptions, and something should be done about that, but people SHOULD NOT ever make anyone else CALLED BY GOD to adopt a certain child feel guilty for doing so, or ever tell them they shouldn't be adopting a child.  Especially when that family knows in their heart, with all their being, they are adopting the right child for THEM, because they sought the Lord and followed His leading.  Who are we to say that is wrong?  I can see where there is concern about some children being true orphans or not, but there are babies out there who are TRUE ORPHANS that God loves, and those babies deserve a family just as much as the older children.  My neighbor may be called to an 8 year-old in America, while my best friend may be called to that infant in India.  God calls different people to different things and places, and puts different things in everyone's heart.  Your calling in life is not going to look just like mine, and I shouldn't judge you when it doesn't.  Maybe sometimes someone's passion on what God has bent their heart towards, can become so passionate that they start to believe people are wrong when they aren't as passionate as they are about the subject.  This has happened to me before.  It's not a hard thing to do. This kind of thinking can cause division.  It also seems like lately, when someone shares their opinion or JUDGMENT,  that judgement spreads like wildfire throughout the body, and people grab a hold of this one person's opinion and claim it as their own opinion. I admit I am guilty of this!  I have read a blog, was convinced I was for an issue or (on their side) and then read a different post about the opposite view of the same thing, and felt torn on where I stood. Then I would call up Suzie Q and ask her where she stood on the issue, instead of asking God first what He thought, and make up my mind according to Suzie's opinion.  I have looked to people many times instead of looking to God and what He thinks. 
This seems to be more than people weighing in with their opinion or jumping on someone else's bandwagon of what they view as truth.  This seems like a stirring of confusion in the spirit.  Like a direct attack from the enemy to divide Christians and cause divert us from God's true heart and what breaks His heart.    MANY things break His heart and He gives a different piece of His heart to each one of us at different times.   I read a blog the other day, I'm not even sure where I saw it, but a quote really stood out to me.  The blogger said something like, "We, Christians, are more focused on hating the sin, than we are at loving the sinner."  I thought that was truth in many instances.  And I also think we are so focused on hearing what everyone else says and thinks, or hearing our own selves talk that we aren't hearing God's heart anymore.
A friend posted this song below to facebook the other day, and I loved it!  It says very clearly what my heart has been feeling .   
"Jesus Friend of Sinners, we have strayed so far away, we cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing.  Jesus friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see, the world is on their way to you, but their tripping over me."
Lord,  may my voice or anyone else's never be louder than your voice.  I pray no one trips over me and my views on their way to knowing you and your true heart and what you have for them. Forgive me when I have done this is my life already.  May your heart be heard and not my voice!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Six Months Home!

Six months ago today, was the day we arrived home with our little Jo Mo!  To say this time has flown by would be an understatement.  It really feels like he has been here all along.  There are still days, however, when I have a moment of just being stunned that he's really here, a minute of disbelief, and extreme gratitude at what the Lord did in our life when he joined our world with a little boy's all the way on the other side of the planet.  Josiah is full of energy and joy.  He is almost always happy and smiling and he's so funny. It's hard not to smile when you look at him.  He is all boy!  He loves to wrestle with dad, and be tickled;  points his fingers at me like a gun and makes "pow, pow" sounds; He loves to "jump" (although this is hilarious because he can't quite make it off the ground yet) .  I think my mom and I laughed until we almost cried watching him "jump" on the trampoline.  He loves any kind of ball, and goes crazy when he sees one.  His favorite thing right now is swimming.  He lights up when he sees water and would stay in the pool all day long if we let him.  He is fearless in the water, belly flopping "jumping" off the diving board, and just floating in the pool with his little floaties and goggles on!  He likes to color, and for mommy to read and sing to him, and he loves to dance.  He loves shoes and new clothes and when I dress him in the morning he says"I like 'em," with a big grin on his face.  Josiah is a good eater.  He loves any kind of fruit and his favorite food is corn- on- the- cob. He loves it so much we have to hide it from him when we make it until he eats the rest of his dinner, or else if he sees it first, he won't eat anything but corn.   He would drink milk, juice or water all day if we constantly kept his sippy full. He sucks it down fast.  Josiah sweats more and faster than any person I have ever seen in my!  We walk outside and within seconds his head is dripping...bless his heart!  He is a ladies man already, such a flirt, and no woman can resist wanting to flirt back with him or to squeeze him because he is so chunky and adorable you just want to eat him up!  He has a genuine sweet heart and we can already tell he is mercy gifted.  Any time someone is hurt or crying he is running over with a concerned look on his face, asking "what happened?" and making sure you are ok, sometimes with a little back rub too as he is asking you. Josiah Moti Reeves, you have challenged us, blessed us, and taught this family more than you will ever know and we wouldn't trade a second of it for anything!  We love you to pieces sweet boy!  You are such a gift, my son.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Give me a good beat with a good message!

In this house me and my kiddos love to dance and sing.  We do a lot of worship music but sometimes we just want to dance to a good beat.  Also, I sub cycle class when an instructor needs me, and I need a good beat to lead a high energy class.  I personally love hip hop music.  My kids love it, and once we hear that beat we just can't stop our feet ;) lol!  If you glance through our windows in the evening, you may witness our family dancing around the house to some hip hop music and more often than not, we are bopping our heads to something when we are in the car.  We love to car dance!  The problem is, the beat is great, but most of the lyrics are so trashy and I don't necessarily want that filling up my children's ears or spirit.  And my heart has been convicted at times when everyone I know, knows I am a follower of Jesus and I am playing Pit Bull or Kanye music with lyrics all based on promiscuity  or getting wasted with bleeped out curse words all through them during cycle class, just because I love the beat.  I have spent a great amount of time googling songs with a good message.  I have typed in..."inspirational hip hop", "Christian workout music" , High intensity Christian workout music" etc...Some of the stuff that came up made my eyes roll all the way to the back of my head.  I thought ...why oh why can't some talented Christ- centered artists make some music we can dance to and let our little ones hear??!! Have you ever thought that?  Well, I found some!  There are actually a great deal of talented hip hop artists that bring a good message that you can dance to.  I really like Robot by Trip Lee, and Lecrae is another good artist.  I found this video on youtube.  It's called Dum Dum, By, Tedashii.  My kids love this one!  Our little JoMo goes crazy dancing to Dum Dum.  Maybe I will post that one day for you to see ;)  Anyway....turn it up, grab your kids and have yourself a dance party....GO! It's just fun!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Favorite helpful trick!

Fruit flies love to take over our house in the Spring and
Summer time, especially when Aaron brings in the boxes full of fruit to keep cool before we have the fruit stand on Saturday mornings. I honestly think at times that TV show on Animal Planet called Infested could do a story at our home on fruit flies. I can't stand them.  They annoy me to no end!  I didn't know how to get rid of them until I posted something on facebook one day about them and a friend told me about this little trick. It's such a great trick I figured I should share with you ;)

All you need is a clean jar, a plastic bag, some rubber bands,  a needle or nail or something poky, and some fruit.  I have found the best things are bananas and cantaloupe or honeydew. Put the fruit at the bottom of the jar, cover the top with a plastic bag tight, and securely rubber band the top.  Grab a safety pin or needle and poke tiny holes in the top of the plastic back on top of the jar.  Make sure they are big enough for the flies to climb into, but not too big to make it easy for them to escape.  Fruit flies are blind, they get around by their sense of  smell, so they can find their way into the jar by smelling the fruit, but can't find their way out.  After they are trapped, I always put tape over the holes just in case one gets lucky and finds it way out.   This little contraption really does work very, very well. I hope you find it as helpful as I have!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th!

We hope your July 4th was as wonderful as ours!  So much to be thankful for!

Friday, June 29, 2012


            (Best looking okra farmer on the planet!)'s a staple of the south and it's my husband's biggest crop. Aaron has 40 some-odd acres that he farms and about 30 acres of it is just okra.

(One of our fields)

(Okra blooms look almost like hibiscus, so pretty)

  My dad grew up farming cotton and my Memaw tells me they never made a dime until they started farming okra. It's terribly itchy and horrible to pick. I did it ONCE and was itching from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes on every square inch of my body,but it sure is good! I grew up in a small town and my dad owned grocery stores that I worked as a cashier in. Many customers, around the same age as my dad would say " When I was a boy I would pick okra for "Wad Gilbert." "Wad" pronounced "Wod" is what my grandma would call my grandpa whose name was actually Wallace.
            ("Wad" or "Pa" as all the grandkids called him.)

My mom also grew up in this same small town and tells me stories of being in elementary school and having to pick okra everyday for her family. So it's in our blood. We are a farm loving veggie growing family. We always had okra in the summer growing up. Fried okra was the best way, or stewed with fresh tomaotes and onions. Folks from Farmersville (the next town over) would argue this one, but Princeton, Tx. use to be the onion capital of the world, or at least that's what we all that lived there believe! There use to be an old onion shed and the train would run by it and take onions by the train loads off. Though it doesn't hold that title anymore, they still have  their annual onion festival every year. My mom is on a committee in Princeton called the "Noino Club" (which is onion spelled backwards) who host the onion festival every year.
                        (Pulling our yellow sweet onions)

Collin County cantaloupe are also pretty famous in our small town. My dad is growing the sweetest cantaloupe around right now!
(Dad and Aaron after picking a truckload)

We have black dirt that our okra thrives in with no irrigation. We rely on rain and do much praying in the heat of our 107 degree Texas summers. Okra is a dry weather plant that actually doesn't need much rain to thrive and loves the heat. My husband was smart when he picked our main crop knowing we had no irrigation. When studying okra's background, my husband learned that coincidentally enough okra originated from Ethiopia and Egypt, although I think our son is the only Ethiopian that actually eats okra or knows what it is. Okra is also a huge staple in India. They call it "bhindi" and it is also wildly popular in many Asian culutres. I bought okra frozen one year in the winter and it was HORRIBLE compared to what we are use to. It was big and tough had end pieces mixed in and we didn't end up eating it. A lot of times when it finally makes it to the grocery store in the fresh section it has already turned black in some spots on it.  A lot of times stores will package their okra in little plastic containers, but okra actually heats up easy and needs air.  Our okra is hand-picked daily and is so green and super tender. My children eat it up raw!
Although some of you may be turning your nose up to the thought of eating "slimy okra" it's actually a super food, and it's not slimy unless you eat it boiled plain. It's low in saturated fat with about 30 calories per cup, and has no choleserol. It's low in sodium, high in calcium, high in dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese and niacin. It is very high in phosporus, potassium, thiamin, vitamin A, B6, C and Zinc. So if you live up north or in an area where you only can find the frozen okra or the breaded kind at your nearby cracker barrel. I am sorry. You are just out of luck with getting the really good stuff, but if you live near us, I know where you can get your hands on some super fresh all natural, pesticide/chemical-free okra that you will love. Or go to your nearest farmer's market or neighborhood market that supports local farmers and you may find some there.

You can find our okra in any United Supermarket in Texas or at our local weekend fruit stand in Rockwall. 
(Old poster of our family before Josiah days that still hangs in United Supermarkets)
We should get an updated one with our boy now!

If you can get your hands on some good okra, here are some great recipes that we enjoy. 

TEXAS FRIED OKRA : ( I never fry accept in the summer and it is just because fried okra and squash is a must in the Texas summer)
*I am sorry I never measure, just toss to your liking
~Wash okra and slice up as much as you want to to cook up, removing ends, and put in a bowl. 
~Toss evenly with a mixture of white cornmeal a little bit of flour and salt and pepper to taste. (note: do not dip in milk or eggs before.  It's sticky enough on it's own unless you want it battered
~ Add cooking oil to the bottom of frying pan. (a generous amount to cover the bottom but not for your okra to be swimming in it) and heat it up.
~Once oil is heated add the cornmeal coated okra, put heat on low and cover with lid.  Flip over with spatula every once in a while to make sure you are cooking it all evenly.  Once the okra is cooked until softened, turn your heat up to medium/high, take lid off and brown it up.   Pour onto a paper towel to drain excess oil.  Eat up, and enjoy!  We like it with Ketcup ;)
* You can also do the same thing and chop up potatoes, summer squash, onion, green tomatoes and add to the okra, toss it the same with cornmeal and cook it the same, and you got some Texas jambalaya as I like to call it! SO ridiculously delicious!
(My husband's plate at dinner...fried okra, fresh tomatoes, fresh beats, cantaloupe, purple hull peas, and oven baked, fake fried chicken kid's favoite)

OKRA GUMBO (easy peasy and my children love it!) (sorry again about measurements)
*You have some meat choices here, but ALWAYS add the bacon.  You can either cook it with just bacon, or you can do bacon and boiled chicken, or smoked sausage, or all 3 together, which is super great!
Let's just pretend we are doing all 3 here! you can either boil the gumbo on top of your stove or leave in your crockpot all day.  I do both. 
You will need :

~1-2 large yellow sweet onions diced up (I personally think the onions make it good)
~smoked sausage cut up
~chicken breast boiled and cut up
~1-1b bacon fried and crumbled, (save some greese to the side)
~a large amount of okra cut up ( I would guess 1 1/2 to 2 lbs or fill up your largest pot  or crockpot nearly half- full of okra cut up)
~1 large can plus 1 small can of stewed, diced tomatoes, or peel and boil in fresh tomatoes as well.  I probably use 8-10 fresh tomatoes when using fresh.
~Salt and pepper to taste
~1 tbls of better than bouillion chicken flavoring (it's a paste in a jar on your soup aisle) (optional)
*throw all in a large pot and cover with water, and add 2-3 tbls of the bacon greese. This gives it great flavor.
Simmer on low stirring ocassionally until okra and onions are tender I would guess about an hour or cook on low for 6-8 hours in your crockpot).  Serve with hot buttered cornbread and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Favorite Faces!

In the midst of our crazy farming season this summer I get to look at these 4 faces everyday! What a blessed mom and wife I am!

Monday, May 21, 2012

My 7 Year Old!

Yesterday was my oldest child's 7th birthday! We had a blast of a day celebrating my sweet girl. We decided to have family get-together at Hurricaine Harbor. We started the day out with donuts, instead of cake. Alyssa isn't a big fan of cake :)
We ate pizza at lunch and swam alllllll daaaayyyyy looooonnng.
To say everyone had a blast was an understatment! I am so proud of my seven year-old. This past year she lost 4 teeth. She still loves to dance and sing. It's probably her favorite thing to do. Her number one gift request was an ipod. So we got her a shuffle and are praying she doesn't lose it. So far, she has loved it and is constantly on it listening, and singing along and talking too loud because she doesn't realize how loud she! Alyssa is such a sweetheart! She has a gentle and kind spirit about her. She is quick to forgive, mercy gifted, and has such compassion for others. Her new favorite colors are lime green and more pink for her! She is adventurous and loves to be outside. She can be a bit timid at first, but once she gets through that first little push, she can't get enough. Whether that is riding a wave on a boogie board, riding a roller coaster, kayaking with her dad, or conquering the black hole at Hurricain Harbor. She loves it! She's just a fun girl to be around! She loves dogs. My dog, Lucy has now turned into Alyssa's dog, and when we are at the market, if I turn my head for a second she is darting over to the SPCA booth to see what dog she can hold that day, and wish to bring home with us. She is a bit soft a spoken (at first) but she is very relational one on one. She's like her daddy in that way. She's a pie kinda girl, not a cake kinda girl and she prefers milk over juice. She is a skilled roller skater, and loves to run and ride her bike. Alyssa hears from God far more than I ever remember hearing when I was her age, and her knowledge of Him surprises me at times. She has spoken into my life on more than one occasion. I love this precious precious girl God has gifted me with. She is worth more to me than all the diamonds in the world! I love you my Alyssa Joy! You bless my life and others more than you will ever know!