For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Special Needs: Love and Family

The following is a post that I wrote for Joy in the Journey. Visit them at and read some amazing stories of moms sharing the amazing journey of adoption.

Special Needs: Love and Family
I remember so vividly the days of paper-chasing. Amongst the many piles, one paper stood out… the “special needs” paper requesting that we make a selection of those special needs that were acceptable to us.  My husband and I agonized over that paper. We spent many hours, over several days, tearfully discussing and praying over what we could handle taking into consideration that we already had three very rambunctious boys. After all, we had always left that in God’s hands. Who were we to make those decisions? How could we ever make them?

                In November 2005, our paper-chase was complete, and our dossier was logged in. After prayerfully considering those special needs, we had made the decision to go the “traditional” route for a “healthy” little girl. We thought it would be the best decision for our family. We felt like we would not be equipped to handle any extra care that might be required for a special needs child. However, what we thought and what we felt were of little importance when God was calling. As the wait for adopting “healthy” children began to increase, we began to feel God tugging at our hearts and moving us in a different direction. January 2006 would bring news of a waiting 16mth old little girl through our agency’s waiting child newsletter. Our hearts were captured from the moment we read the words in that email, and we knew that this was our little girl, our Mia. We were blessed beyond measure to be accepted as this treasures’ forever family.   Yes, God had indeed turned us in the direction of special needs!

                God would lead us to adopt 4 special needs children over the next 5 years. Each of our children is distinctly unique and amazingly wonderful! Two of our children were born with varying degrees of cleft lip/palate. Although, CL/CP is not an “easy” special need, it is a very manageable one. Managing this special need requires a devotion of time and energy. It is an ongoing process that requires many years of attention including speech theraphy, surgical procedures and working with a team of doctors for the continued care of the child. We are so thankful for all the resources available to us and to a very talented and devoted CP/CL team. One of our children, adopted as an older child, came to us with many special needs. Some were diagnosed at the time of adoption, and some have been discovered over time. The needs that we knew about included Hepatitis B, Microtia /Atresia and hearing loss in one ear. Despite the fact that Hepatitis B sounds intimidating, it is a very workable disease within the modern parameters of western medicine. Dealing with this special need requires trips to a hepatologist and keeping the health of the child in focus.  Dealing with Microtia, Atresia and hearing loss are only slightly more of a complication. Since our child was born with a malformed ear, with little to no hearing in that ear, she had learned to listen and hear with only one ear. After consulting with a specialist, the decision was made to surgically form and give her a non-working ear. This constructive surgery required 4 different surgeries spanning over one year. The benefit of this type of surgery was two-fold for our daughter. In addition to giving her self-esteem a boost, a constructed ear would give an avenue for future hearing if necessary. We have since dealt with many other special needs for this child including myoclonic epileptic seizures, facial asymmetry/ palsy, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. Each of these special needs requires medical attention. In addition, RAD requires lots of work and determination. Our youngest came to us with the diagnosis of malnutrition and developmental delays. The papers we received were a bit vague about a true diagnosis, and this child has been thriving within the loving arms of our family. Depending on the severity of this special need, it requires medical attention, additional nutrition and lots of special care and love. Yet, none of these special needs (or any others for that matter) prevents children from needing the love of a forever family, nor should it. Really, the only special need these children have is the need for a family! As we go about our everyday lives we often forget that our children have special needs. Sometimes this repression is because we are so busy with the sheer number of our children but in large part because we choose to forget. We have always looked upon their needs as gifts from God…the things that make them who they are to be. In fact, these special needs are so much a part of whom they are that we forget that there are any differences.

Many times I look at my children and think how very blessed I am. I think of all the joy that my children bring to me, and I think “Look what we would have missed if we had not followed God’s direction to these beautiful, loving, joyful children!” We look at each of our children and see the beauty and love of God in each one. I often pause  thinking about the special treasures that all of my children are to my husband and I, and I am overwhelmed with God’s mercy, grace and love for each of us. I praise him for continuing to love me, and for continuing to grow my love for my children. My husband and I cannot imagine life without each one of our children, whether by birth or through the beauty of adoption.  Special needs adoption is most assuredly a demanding and challenging quest, but Oh my!  The joy is unequivocally in the journey!


Bio:     I am a wife, mother and a self-proclaimed Jesus freak. My husband  and I have been happily married for almost twenty years. We are the parents of 7 children... three boys by birth, two girls and two boys through the beauty of adoption. We are enjoying the 10th year of our homeschooling adventure. It is through the love of Jesus that I am so blessed…blessed beyond my wildest dreams!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What Have We Been Up To?

The Month of August seemed to just disappear at our home. As we

began school, our days were filled with our studies. Least you think that we are book worms, we did take some time to have fun as well. One of our summer events was celebrating Princess Mia's birthday. It was a small, family event; nevertheless, Mia was thrilled just because she was turning 9.

Princess Girl's Birthday

Presents! Excitement Abounds
 We took a small break from school and spent a few hours enjoying the beautiful outdoors. We enjoyed a picnic lunch, and playing. There were many activities, basketball, tennis, swings, slides, and the like. They were all going on at the same time, and I spent a lot of time just soaking it in.
Family Time...a picnic in the Park

Rather play basketball than to eat

Many games of tennis
 Toby started going to Preschool ( he calls it preskoos), and he loves it. He attends our churches preschool two half days a week. It gives him a chance to make new friends and allows me time to  devote my attention to the other kids schooling.

First Day of Preschool
 Mandy's friends came from different states, and we all met for a fun weekend. The girls loved being together and sharing news about their lives. They spent some time with memories, but most of all, they giggled, laughed, and enjoyed being girls. Feeling so blessed that God has given us opportunities to meet and keep these girls close together.
The Guilin girls reunion

We made lots of crafts.

...and had make-up fun

The young sisters made fast friends.

Mandy's BFF

Precious Children of God

Monday, August 19, 2013

School Time

Where? Oh, Where did Summer Go? I certainly do not know.
Nevertheless, It is time that we give our school year a show!(Okay, that is it for my rhyming...had a little "Dr. Seuss" moment.) 
 As an annual tradition on our first day of homeschool, daddy plays the bus driver, and usually, he will take the kiddos to pick up breakfast of some sort. This year, the family decided to eat out for our back-to-school breakfast. So, what did the kiddos choose?...Chick-Fil-a, of course! Even mom was invited to go along, Hip, hip, hooray! After an hour of food and fun, the bus headed back to school. The bus driver was kind enough to allow me off the bus, ahead of the crew, in order to take pictures on this the first day of school. Each of the kiddos seemed compliant with our back to school activities for the first time in several years. I am guessing that they have realized that mom is going to make them participate in this family tradition, and there is no amount of complaining that can get them out of it! Now picture taking  that is another matter... . They always try to hide from the camera...ok, well some do that and some love to smile for their audience.
Smiling for her peeps!

Busy eating and carrying on...


Mr. Sleepyhead, Mr. Easy-going, and Mr.Smiles

Ready for School

How many more are in that bus?

The School Crew... still a few who don't want summer to end.

Mr. Studious?...really?...Could you please just smile?

I told the teens to let me take a serious (good) start of school picture. These are the faces I got...
Our back-to-school kick-off was a great success. This year I staggered the start for each grade level (I get to do that, you know, since I am the teacher!). It simplified the day and allowed for a more relaxed time getting each grade level started. I am teaching a Junior (Nolan), a Freshman (Garrett), a Seventh grader (Mandy), a sixth grader (Nate), 2 third grades (Levi and Mia), and then my preschooler (Toby). It is our 11th year of homeschooling, and  I love the blessing of being given this time to spend with my children! Time is going by so quickly, and I am grateful that I can be at home with them each day. Yep, It is going to be a GREAT, GREAT year!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Summer Tale Part III

Our summer tale continues with one of our favorite pastimes. If you have followed our blog for very long, you know that we are avid baseball fans and usually spend much of our spring and summer involved in baseball games. Oh, and then there is lots and lots of Texas Ranger Baseball games to watch on TV... and listen to on the radio... and maybe, one day take in a game in person. Go RANGERS!! It is definitely the busiest part of our year. This year was no exception, except for the fact, that we had only 2 boys playing this year instead of the standard 4. Nolan, at 16, has aged out of the program and since we homeschool, he is unable to play highschool ball. Garrett played in the 13-15 year old division. It was a short lived season for his team; however, he seemed to have fun just playing the game. Nate has opted out of playing ball. He has tried his hand at playing several different years, and he has decided it is just not for him. He loves watching the games, but he prefers not to play. And THEN, there is Levi! He adores the game of baseball, and He has a natural talent in this his favorite sport! He played very well on his city team, and he was selected to play on the 8/9 year old All Stars Team.
As the rest of the events of our summer were taking place, baseball was happening at the same time. Levi and Garrett each had to miss a game while we were in Montana. Upon our return, it was baseball full-force. So, as we were caring for the K-krew, we spent many nights at the ball fields. I have to say that it was GREAT fun to blow people's minds with 11 or 12 very-well-behaved kids in tow. No one quite knew what to make of so many children, and then to think that they could all sit still and watch the game...mind boggling, I tell you!  Levi's team played 3 district games, and they won by a considerable margin. During one of the district games, Mia had a very nice surprise. Her best friend (they were actually crib mates at their orphanage...and have a unique story all their own) and family came out to watch Levi play. Mia was SO surprised, and the girls were just adorable getting to visit together! With those district wins, it meant that the All Star Team would head to the State Championship. Brad and I were able to arrange for the girls to stay with their friends (Mia at her "besties"), and we left the big boys at home under the watchful eye of friends. Levi, Toby, Brad and I made the trip to State Championship after a short break for the July 4th holiday. It was a good trip for us and the younger boys. Unfortunately, the team came up against some much tougher competition, and they didn't bring their "A" game. We lost two of the three games we had to win. It was sad not making the championship; however, the boys had a great time playing. Levi just enjoys the game so much , and it made me smile to hear him tell his sister later..."Well we lost but you know what ..they called our names and we got to stand on the baseline during the National Anthem, like REAL baseball players!!!... and I had fun playing three games!"

Pitcher...down and ready

Batter up

A Base Hit


Mia is still giggling over her surprise
  In between district games and state games, we celebrated the 4th of July Holiday. It was so much fun to share time with Uncle J, Aunt Leslie and the girls. The kids were super excited to see their Uncle as we had not seen him in about 3 years (Uncle J serves in our nations Army). They loved getting reacquainted with their Aunt and cousins who had joined us at the beach last year. It was a nice relaxing few days with lots of laughter, fireworks and food.
Cousins...Nolan was at work

The Goofy Picture
After the Holiday break (the boys practiced a lot), we made the trip to State. Loved watching all these cute boys play hard at a sport they love.
Watching and Waiting for their turn

not gonna let a ball get past me...not gonna let a ball get past me

And their OUT
I guess our Summer Tale doesn't truly end with part III. We still have a few weeks of our summer left. Next week is devoted to VBS at our church. It will be full of lots of fun times and special memories. We are hoping to make a couple of road trips to Texas to see family and to Oklahoma to visit the K-krew (I need to get some of that sweet corn, and more importantly hug on a few of those precious treasures.). We are hoping to make a quick trip up Chicago way as well... we have some friends to see and some baby's to hug. On second thought, I am thinking some of the trips may extend to the fall! That is the beauty of homeschooling, we can either take school with us or make it up later allowing us the freedom of taking some of those trips in the fall. Speaking of homeschool, we are planning, organizing and preparing for school to start about mid-August. What! School?! Man-0-man summers just seem to go faster and faster!
I hope you have enjoyed our little Tale. It never seems as if it is anything fancy, but our family stays busy and we keep on keeping on. It is my hope to make this "new wave" of blogging a permanent thing; however, once school starts up again, my life becomes more busy than at anytime. So, I am making no promises...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Summer Tale (Pt II)

Part Two of our Tale begins a short week after our return from Montana. We were more than excited to get to spend ten days with the K-krew (5 of them). We had been missing them terribly since our stay with them in March. When their parents needed someone to watch them during camp week, we jumped at the chance. They came to stay at our house this time. Most of our time was spent here at our house with a few days traveling back and forth to Levi's District Baseball Games. It seemed like the days went by much too quickly, but each day was filled with lots of activities, lots of noise and the beautiful sound of children's laughter.

Water gun out girls there is a sneaky boy behind you!

Even the bigs and their friends joined in on the water fun!

Now, for some water Frisbee!

Creating some "bubble-sculptures"

Princess Mia blowing lots of bubbles...( it wasn't so long ago that this was an impossible task for her)

More "bubble-sculptures"

Sidewalk Chalk creations

Two cuties awaiting their turn
A Group birthday celebration.... Kaeleb and Kinley have birthdays at the end of June and Kayden and I have birthdays in July
We will see a little more of the K-Krew in Part III of our Summer Tale. So, Stay tuned for PtIII.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Summer Tale ...told in 3 parts (Part I)

Our Summer began with a trip to Montana. It was quite a distance to our final destination, but the beauty of that part of our Great Nation more than made up for the long days of travel. We loved spending time in the great outdoors and seeing many different sights. The weather was absolutely beautiful and even slightly on the cool side. We enjoyed lots of sightseeing, lots of good food, and a few days of relaxation.
Outside our Cabin in Eureka Montana (5 min. from the Canadian border)

Most of our Crew (Nolan had to stay behind for work)

God's Amazing Creation

Rock Formations

Wildlife in Abundance
 The return trip home included a couple of stops in South Dakota. Since we are studying American History this next school year, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to see Mt. Rushmore. It was awesome to see in person just to get an idea of its enormous size. We learned about the creation of this massive monument and the skilled craftsmanship poured into it. We included a stop in South Dakota's Badlands. The Badlands include a large wildlife preserve and natural rock formations. Of course, Mom and Dad had fun pretending that we were making the trip in "covered wagon", thus driving all the children crazy. At least a few of them appreciated our acting abilities, ha!
We made a stop at Mt. Rushmore on the return trip

Don't they look Presidential

He was captivated!

A visit to the Badlands ("Must we take a picture, Mom?!")

Mountain Goats in the Badlands

Buffalo... I was so excited when we were finally able to locate them.
We were gone a total of 10 days and had a great time as a family. We were so grateful for the opportunity to make this amazing trip, and we spent a lot of time reflecting on the wonder and beauty of God's masterpiece!
Stay tuned for Part II...