Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas thoughts 2009

We had truly expected that Junior and Diamoh would be home from Liberia by now. Last Christmas things were moving with adoptions and we were actually concerned that things might move more quickly than we were able to accommodate. OH HOW A MONTH CHANGES EVERYTHING! The suspension we had hoped would only last a few months is now almost a year old. We had been told that Daniel's case would be approved quickly despite the suspension because of his serious health issues, but apparently that was over stated or under-acted upon, to slaughter the English language, because the promises of March have marched on through spring , summer, fall, and now, as they march out of 2009 , we find ourselves marching into 2010 with fewer words of promise, but still eagerly awaiting our baby who "should have " succumbed to his condition and to circumstances around him, but whom thankfully, God has sustained for His time of home coming. There is little to say about the future for or with Junior and Diamoh at this point; they are and will always be, regardless of their physical address, the children of our hearts. This year saw a new pregnancy for Hannah and the wonderful birth of Grand baby Charlie David, the growth and strengthening of romance between Malachi and Sopheak with plans of a wedding in 2010, but we saw the decay and destruction of a marriage as well. Caleb's two week leave in September from Iraq was supposed to be so much different than it turned out. While Grand Charlie was coming into this world, the papers were being drawn up and filed to end a marriage. I can't imagine what the weeks between that "vacation" and the day Caleb left Iraq at the end of his deployment to come home had to have felt like for him. During the earlier months of his deployment, things were not good, and getting worse, but there was still the hope that what was wrong could be worked out. The little shred of hope he clung to was smashed in the days leading up to his return to Fort Campbell KY. How thankful I am that Charlie (the Patriarch, not the GRAND Baby) and I made a plan for him to be at Ft Campbell for Caleb's arrival back on American soil. NOT an easy plan to carry out, and we will be forever grateful to co-workers who covered for Charlie to keep the trip possible even when the Army changed the arrival schedule, but what we deemed a necessary trip was indeed a sound decision. Christmas Day itself was affected by this string of life-changing events.Celebrating the birth of our Savior, celebrating God's incredible love and mercy , His extravagant generosity is amazing to contemplate every day of the year , but Christmas Day itself...the idea is overwhelming. This year I was more aware of the need of our world for our Savior than any other in my life. With children stuck in a very poor country, with Daniel totally unable to receive the medical care he needs, with one son in Iraq for another Christmas, with Caleb at home in silent self-controlled agony at the deep hurts inflicted upon him, grand chldren living in sinful, wretched home situations over which we have no legal say, with my heart so aware of the needs ALL around our world for Salvation and Redemption, my celebrating was of a very different nature this year. My favorite Christmas carol this year?
Verse 1
O come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Chorus 1
Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
Verse 2
O come Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go
Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
Verse 3
O come Thou Key of David come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery
Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
Verse 4
O come Desire of nations bind
All peoples in one heart and mind
Bind envy strife and quarrels cease
Fill all the world with heaven's peace
Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
Verse 5
O come Thou Rod of Jesse free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel

IF EVER EVER EVER our world needed a Savior it is NOW. People were desperate for a Savior in the times leading up to Jesus' birth. They were oppressed, war torn and weary. How much more today, and now many many MORE oppressed, war torn, and weary people are there now? Caleb asked if in Praise and Worship this week I would sing Battle Hymn of the Republic, and God had given me some thoughts already so I prayed about how He would weave them together.............."GLORY GLORY HALLELUJaH
HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING He died to make men holy , let us die to make me free..........."
LORD please use me, use me up, pour me out, spend me to advance Your my family, my neighborhood, my world. Use me to be Your instrument of mercy and love, example and challenge to others. Oh Come oh Come Emmanuel: to me in deeper ways, to more and more people in Your world, may we invite You, pursue You, allow You to pursue us that Your Eternal will would be being done, on earth as it IS in Heaven!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas photos 2009

I will add more later, but this one pretty much said it all for me...

Formal portrait of the Smith Soup patriarch

Caleb, the home coming hero!

Madyson, Jon, Charlie, Hannah and Blake
Back row Gideon, Caleb and Malachi
Seated Hannah, Jael, Isaac, Isaiah, Leah, Esther, with Naomi in her lap
Rachel and Noah behind Esther and Naomi

Post Christmas musings, not the fun and easy thoughts

I have not posted in almost a week. SO much has transpired, some "good stuff" and some "not-so -good" in and around the Christmas holiday. My heart has been much more focused on the SECOND COMING of JESUS as we have celebrated the FIRST COMING. Our world was in such a tangible mess when that precious Baby was born in Bethelem; our world is still in a tanglible mess today, perhaps more so because so many have The Way but keep it to themselves, we have the technology to know how bad life is for so many more people, the technology to help so many more people, and so much of our world is hurting, agonizing over life with no direction and no Hope. Last week I shared about Esther's friend Matt and about a man I'd never met named Derek Loux. He and his wife, as I shared are also adoptive parents.
Someone shared this with me this morning and with Derek and Renee still fresh in my thinking, Matt's family too, and with the unexpected news that members of our dear friends the Riggs ' family were invovled in a nearly fatal car crash late last night, I am going to share Derek's words. PRAISE GOD that things did not turn out for Garrett, his aunt and uncle as they first seemed they might, but these people are all ready for Jesus' SECOND COMING . They have understood redemption, received salvation, and have Hope.
Here are some of Derek's thoughts about redemption as God reveled them to him during the adoption of three of thier children from Ukraine. Be challenged, be blessed to challenge...... and be challenged to bless!!

"Renee and I are sitting in the office of a telephone company in Novagrad Valenski, Ukraine; using wireless internet. We are in the middle of adopting three special needs boys from an orphanage here. Two of the boys have Down Syndrome. Roman is high functioning, energetic, and happy; Dimitri has serious mental retardation, failure to thrive, and though he is five years old, he is the size of a 1 yr old. He has sores on his face, a distinct smell of death on him, and yells out if we try to do anything with him other than hold him. Because he has less ability to respond and learn, he naturally gets less attention and care from the orphanage workers in this world of limited resources. The harsh reality of the "survival of the fittest" principle is a life and death struggle that this little boy is losing fast. Our third boy Sasha, is a brilliant six year old who has Spina Bifida (the condition our son Josiah died from in 1996). He is like a learning sponge that can't get enough! He is happy and alert and thirsty for knowledge and experience. So with two of our boys we get an immediate return on any investment we make. With Dimitri, there's not much immediate gratification. In fact, it's unknown when and if there will be a return at all. This is the kind of situation that makes the carnal, fallen, human reasoning think, "Why try? What's the point? What will this produce? What good will this do? Why not select a boy who has more "potential"? This looks like a lost cause". Two days ago we drove for hours into the Ukrainian countryside to the village where Dimitri was born. We met with officials there and signed papers and answered their questions. We also went and saw Dimitri's house. The day had been long, we were still recovering from jet lag, I was beginning to really miss my six daughters at home and all the familiar things our fragile human hearts entangle themselves with in feeble attempts to feel secure. Sitting in the dark on our very long drive back to Novograd that night, the Holy Spirit began to whisper to my heart, and new understanding about redemption began to take shape. I was thinking, "Man, adopting this little boy has been so much work. This is exhausting, expensive, uncomfortable ... and it doesn't feel very rewarding right now." What am I doing in some little Soviet car in the dark, in the middle of rural Ukraine in frozen December, as the driver dodges cats and potholes? What if Dimitri doesn't improve at all? What if we get "nothing" out of this? … Ahhh, there it was; that dark, fallen, unreedemed, selfish human love, rooted in the tree of the knowledge of "good and evil". The love the Greeks called "erao" love. The love where we treat someone as precious and treasured for what we can get out of it. This is unlike "agapeo" love, the God kind of love that treats someone as treasured and precious for their good, not for my good. It's when I love a person in order to meet their needs, having no expectation of them meeting any of my needs. At a whole new level, God is working His kind of love into my weak heart, and He's using little Dimitri to do it. On the drive home that night, the Lord whispered in my ear, "This is Redemption. Derek, do you know how far I travelled to get you and bring you back? I had to be separated from my Son, in order to get you, just like you are separated from your children in order to get these boys. Do you know how expensive it was for Me to purchase you? It cost me everything. Do you know how broken, sick, damaged, twisted, dirty, smelly, and hopeless you were? And at the end of it all, you had nothing to give me or add to me. I did it for you. I emptied myself and became nothing so that you could have it all. This is redemption. My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can't even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him … but … he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly "Papa" feels towards us. Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to "pay Him back". You'll never get close you goofy little kid."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Two years ago this morning Esther's dear friend Matt was killed in a house fire. Esther and a bunch of friends had been with him just hours before that fire; she didn't even take a lot of photos of Matt that night because they all had plans for the next day and she was going to take them then............"then" never happened...................she and friends helped his parents plan a funeral instead of a Christmas party for that high school FFA/ Ag senior bunch.
As I continue to rejoice over Caleb being home safely from Iraq, I am so reminded to be thankful EVERY MOMENT that I have with all of my loved ones. I called Esther just to check on her and its a hard day for her in herself...............I'm praying that God just hold her up, hold her close.and Matt's family as well.
Life is so precious!!!!!!! Let's all LIVE IT UP, LOVE IT UP, USE IT UP, SHAKE IT UP, GIVE IT UP, ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD!!! ******************* Even as I was writing this post, a friend was sharing other news . Please pray with me for this family? A key worship leader at the International House of Prayer and one who has also spear -headed an adoption ministry there (and adopted 10 children himself, the last 3 in the past 14 months -- 2 of them with severe special needs...through the wodnerful organization REECE'S RAINBOW) just died in a car accident this morning. Please pray for his family. His name is Derek Loux. Here it their blog:
We didn't know him other than watching his ministry to orphans through hisblog ...and our hearts are so heavy for them all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shopping and singing: favorite SmithsoupMamma Christmas memories

http:/There were two distinct memories which came to my mind when I read this FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORY Mc Linky header; quite different from each other but so special , each in its own way. One Christmas probably 15 years ago, we had extra money, not a lot, but extra...back then "enough" was "rare" and "extra" was unheard of, but we did. We also had friends who were on some hard really HARD times. He'd been injured at work, they had a housefull of little children, like me, she was frequently pregnant. Charlie and I decided to "Christmas them" in secret. We shopped for clothing, toys that we knew those children didn't have but would likely enjoy, a new Christmas outfit for my friend herself, and several weeks worth of groceries including lots of fruit which I knew they really loved. THE DILEMMA? How to get the secret giving done in secret?? I was leaving a grocery store at that time and saw my friend pulling in with all her kiddos in tow. ZIPPED HOME, I got "Christmas" and took a gamble that she had not locked her vehicle. Quickly, SO QUICKLY , I loaded up her vehicle and sped away. To the best of my knowledge she never knew who..... She asked around at church and in town, but since we were not typically in a position to do "that kind of thing" we (I think,) escaped suspicion: exactly what we hoped for!!! I loved it!!! The second memory ? I was given a very difficult solo to sing in a Christmas cantata , while almost 6 months pregnant with Hannah It was one of the most beautiful songs I had ever sung, and the most difficult in range and scope. HOURS of practice, week after week on that song. By the week before we did our cantata performances, I was singing Sandi Patti's "Night of a Million Mornings" in my sleep, seeing the sheet music in everything I did; it was my boys' lullaby de jour for October, November and December, and into January when I could not get it out of my head and heart. It was one of the most captivating cantatas I have ever done. Not music specifically written as a Christmas cantata. but as a story told with already- written music. It contained a few traditional carols,; "People Need the Lord" was one of the other songs, so was a song whose title escapes me at the moment but its Joseph singing to the Baby Jesus was part of it.... "My Little One " or something... That Christmas of music is one of my all time favorite memories. I knew that I had sung "as unto the Lord" with "all my heart, all my mind and all my strength" with every ounce of ability God had given me. I had one of those "third person experiences" in that God somehow allowed me to hear the music as one in the audience, not as one performing. It was amazing fun!!!! I don't have that range any more, a lot of bronchitis and pneumonia when we moved to Oklahoma changed my Sandi Patti -esque range down quite a bit . I could not do that song as I did it "then" but its a wonderful memory !

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas season, the lighter side

I love to make wreaths for any and all reasons. This is what I made for our front door this year: poinsettias, gift boxes, snop drop flower sprays, a snowman, some glass ornaments, mistletoe and bells

This one I made for my mom's door at her nursing home . I had so much fun with beads and bells glass ornaments, stockings and that cute stuffed puppy dog! Of COURSE she had to have a stocking with her name on it! She will get it for a gift tomorrow night at the nursing home Christmas party!!

My sweet Grand baby! He did not smile once for the 30+ photos I shot of him in his Santa suit. He looked alarmed, bored ,ticked off, acquiescing, (Wow, spell check says I DID spell this correctly) anything but happy that I was talking photos of him dressed in a suit which kept bumping up on his chin and nearly "eating his face"
Yes indeed, "What happens at Grammy's STAYS at Grammy's!!

It is silly how many Photo Ops we seem to think are necessary for Baby C, but they are simply a fact of life. We do stumble into a few really good ones from time to time. THIS was not one of those times for a great Charlie smile either! Bit STILL to this Grammy's thinking, pretty close to a perfect face regardless

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Charlie called me about 1:30 to say that Caleb was down on the ground, the troops were lined up in formation preparing to march out to meet the waiting families. At about 2, CALEB's name showed up on my phone screen and I got to welcome him home myself! BIG teary moment for this Mamma, and for the Dad too. Caleb was so thrilled to find his dad whistling for his attention fromt he ""Green Ramp" where the soldiers march from the plane. What could have been a very lonely time for Caleb was the next in our series of military family reunions. He should be home - HOME in time for new Year's Eve as near as he can tell right now.
We are rejoicing, grateful and excited to be able to say that YES ! Caleb is home, safe and sound!
Praising God

Saturday, December 19, 2009

short and sweet but it was not from Iraq!

On my Face Book page from Caleb when I got back from my 9 PM grocery shop............................."As of 1023pm ur time im in germany " Thank You Heavenly Father!!! 12 hours till touch down on US soil!! This mamma is rejoicing!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas music

I am thoroughly enjoying the variety of songs and artists I can download for a Chirstmas time play list. If you're popping in and listening, please drop me a quick note and "hi"? In Jesus' love,


This photo always brings a smile to my face. Poor Walter! How could watching people open gifts be such an exhausting event for a dog? Walter is not with us any longer us, so having this fun photo of him is "kinda special"


We had our Sunday School party Wednesday night and it was so much fun!! The link is below for my Snapfish photos.I hope it works. Fun, fellowship,food and the option of clean water or not...
Our church is not any bigger than VERY SMALL, but we have HEART, Jesus' heart!
When I announced that our Sunday School Christmas party would be about giving to build a well for other people to have clean water, and as a way for them to alos hear the Gospel of Jesus, wo is Living Water, I was met with much enthusiasm and support. We partnered with my friend Jill's 15 year old daughter Lexi's CLEAN WATER project to help her reach her Christmas goals since we knew we could not reach a 1 or 2 thousand dollar goal by ourselves.
Our party tonight which was short several families who were out of town,but to which I invited another family of close friends so we had Smith kids,K- kids, my older very Special Student, and a baby. Several people had given me some donation money at church to help, but our total tonight was $154.00~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I know that there were several other people who were interested in being part of our project too so I am hoping that we reach at least $200 when all is tallied!!
Considering that the oldest child at our party was 15, not counting my Special Student, and most were 8-13, I am so proud of those children!!!! They were excited to be a real part of something so important. I had put out jugs of clean water and jugs of water form our pond on Sunday to make the point of how we just don't think about clean water very often , but that 80% of the world does not have that luxury, but more often than not has something akin to our back pasture non-fresh water fed lagoon, full of algea and gunk and they struggle to clean that nasty water up to feed their children, cook and wash clothing in. We talked about that tonight too in context of Jesus' birth and His being Living Water. It was a very special night for us all. The kids made ornaments for which we drew numbers and then exchanged. LOTS OF FUN!!!!! The creativity of each of the children made for an incredible craft project, and a great lesson in how they did their creative best .....only to give that hard work AWAY. Nobody complained that they did a "Cool ornament" and got a "baby one" but all laughed and joked about who might get whose ornament. Two of our Liberian friends sang "I FLY AWAY" (not to be mixed with "I'LL Fly away) but a song they sang at the orphanage before they came home last summer. They were shy for quite a while but when they opened up, it was great! They are 6 and 8.
Can you believe what the kids wanted to do when we had finished up all the "official business"? PLAY CHURCH!!! They were clamoring over each other over who would preach and who would sing, and they took turns telling bible verses to each other. This was NOT my idea and they all loved it! It got a little too animated in its exuberance and we decided that the other Sunday School teacher should close the service with prayer, but yes!! They were not running and playing ball, or tustling, this group which is higher percentage ALL BOY -- boys, wanted to play church.
How much cooler than cool is that!!! The verse my Sunday Scool class has been learning this month is from Phillipians 2:5,7... " in your livesyou must think and act like Christ Jesus. He gave up His place with God and made Himself to be nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant."
I am thinking these wonderful children are on the right track in living up to Pauls' words! How I praise God for each one of them!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Comings and goings

This mamma is so proud of her boys...I'm sure Y'all know that, but in case anybody had a laspe, I AM SO PROUD OF MY BOYS! This is a very busy week for both of my oldest sons...Joshua the eldest prepares to leave for Iraq on Friday while next oldest Caleb prepares to come home tomorrow!! Since the War on Terror began, yes that one war, not two, someone from our family has been serving. Joshua has served our country the most over this period and he is the civilian contractor! His job requires that he be right with the troops and their equipment, so he is no "safer" than any new Private just getting his boots on the ground. Our military and its support staff are all to be praised for their courage, selflessness and sacrifices for our world. The families of each one are in our prayers daily! I hope that they are in yours as well. I guess you can tell who is the civilian, right? this photo was taken in Mosul , Iraq earlier this year , when Caleb was arriving and Joshua was preparing to come home. They have had a number of family reunions in Iraq or Kuwait.

Caleb looks so serious and business like in this photo. it is a reminder that every day is serious and not promised to anyone. My heart is overflowing with thanksgiving that Caleb is right now serving his last 24 hours in this deployment. He has faced many a number of life-threatening situations
( a number he does not share with his mamma) amongst the "missions" and yet PRAISE GOD, he and his comrades are all coming home together:safe and sound!

Joshua.............who can find fun anywhere on this planet found it in Iraq. This little vehicle he tells me is a "Gator". For all the hard times out repairing, servicing and teaching maintenance of his company's equipment, there are moments like this to write home about. We hope to see Joshua and his family some time next year after he returns and before he goes back over again! Reunions with Joshua are more complicated. He lives over 1100 miles away when he's not overseas somewhere! How I am rejoicing that we will have a reunion, face to face, with Joshua hoepfully soon and with Caleb : VERY SOON. I won't be at Fort Campbell for Caleb's "Green ramp" arrival and Caleb doesn't know it, but Charlie will be. I was so blessed to be on the ground when Charlie returned from his last deployment. The first tour, there was no way for that to happen so we all waited at the gate barriers when he came into the OKC airport. This second return with friends and a son-in-law-to-be as well. Malachi was in Cambodia, but the rest of us were there waiting in eager anticipation to see the Daddy Husband Friend walking out of the gate. Several days before Hannah's wedding we welcomed a dear friend home too, but it was not the welcome that Charlie , Caleb, Gideon , Joshua or Jon received. THAT welcome in contrast to the ones I'd grown accustomed to, defied words. All I can say or think or try to figure out in my head is how grateful and undeserving I am that all my guys came walking off the Green Ramp into waiting arms. The alternative is unthinkable and yet for some, unavoidable. I had dreams for months before Caleb deployed that he was not "coming home". They continued for months into his tour of duty. My prayers are all around him now as he prepares to board his first plane toward home. Yes Caleb will be back at Ft Campbell this weekend. We will see him , celebrate his return and celebrate the tail end of the holidays together. Please praise God with us for this return of soldiers, but as you look at my other photos , which are from our friend Scott's home coming in June 08, please stop and pray for the many families who did not have the smiling , hugging home comings, but instead solemnly awaited a flag draped casket to be rolled from a plane, escorted by dress uniformed soliders , to be welcomed in privacy by immediate family on the tarmac of the closest airport, hopefully not assaulted by the war protesters and their ugly sentiments splashed on posters or shouted at the grief-stricken family or friends, possibly escorted to a funeral home by a troop of patriotic biker folks who earlier stood at attention on that tarmac with flags unfurled to honor a soldier in his last home coming. Please pray for the children of those soldiers. Life insurance may cover a multitude of expenses, but it does not replace a Daddy or a Mommy in any of the ways that matter to a child. Pray for the families of those who are trying to figure out "what next" and for those who do not have the peace of God which ABSOLUTELY passes all human understanding as they send their soldiers to war and hope for the best. Pray for the marriages of those deployed soldiers, the spouses, the committment made to their marriages, the difficulty many face readjusting to being together again after a year or so apart. SO MUCH MORE THAN "Please Lord, keep our soldiers safe" isn't it? War is hard work for all involved. For some, the work will never truly end. Many of those are the families who now live without the soldier who did not meet them with open arms and big goofy smiles in an airport.

Charlie and Caleb , soldier to soldier, combat veteran to combat veteran

Charlie and Noah ...they all waited their turns for those hugs and smiles
Scarcely 6 months later we were part of this home coming........................

not the way this 12 year old boy planned to welcome his daddy home
My tears flowed as I took this photo. I could not put myself in my friend's place as she walked to the back side of the plane to say her private "hellos" and simultaneous "good byes." At that point I knew it could be me one day, but this day was about being there for a friend, for the widow of a friend and to help with arrangements that no one wants to make.

The contrast between this photo of my husband just becoming visible to his eager family before we joyously surrounded him, and the photos of our friend's reunion always serve to remind me to be so thankful for my family, not haughty or assuming, not expecting anything above and beyond what "could be" but prayerfully grateful that our family is still completely intact so far. The words to an old hymn "I Know Whom I Have Believed " (from 2 Tim. 1:12)come flooding to my mind."I know not why God's wondrous grace to me He did make known, nor why , unworthy, Christ in love , redeemed me for His own. But I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day......" Truly I know not why some other family grieves and we continue to celebrate , except that God has a plan which includes all life and death and those events were known to our Heavenly Father long before we knew about them.
Its been two years since Charlie came home, and our sons continue to go. I am beyond excited to add another WELCOME HOME photo to our gallery...for this week, I'll rejoice over this one !

Friday, December 11, 2009

Water 4 Christmas and JUNK POSSE

Thank you Tracy!! Thank you Jill!! My Africa water drop necklace arrived late this afternoon and I love it!!! My kiddos all thought it was really cool too as they watched me open the package and put the necklace around my neck. If you are a first time reader, I explained this necklace in my WATER 4CHRISTMAS post a few days ago, and shared a photo of the necklace mentioned here.
Jill's drawing and Tracy's artistic gift have really blessed me, and that is not to forget or downplay that the whole purpose of the drawing and the necklace is to help inspire people to want to help donate funds for wells and clean water in Africa. My Sunday School class has invited the other classes at our church to a Christmas party next Wednesday evening and we are not doing a "White Elephant" or "grab bag" or "Ugly Santa" gift game to give gifts at all. We are going to bring donations to WATER 4CHRISTMAS and make ornaments to give to each other through a drawing of numbers game. Our church body is small, and we do not have a big Sunday School by any stretch but that does not matter. ALL of the children who will be at the party NEED NOTHING, maybe don't even really want anything serious for Christmas. I want our focus to be on giving, sharing, and being aware of caring for others, and totally taking the focus off of our own selves. We'll have snacks, we'll sing Christmas songs and hear the Christmas story , but the party atmosphere that I am aiming for is that of joyful giving and sharing because God sent His very best gift, JESUS His Son: for each of us.
I love the line from the old hymn " Victory in Jesus" that says , "He loved me 'ere (before, ) I knew Him and ALL MY LOVE IS DUE HIM......"
Before I knew Him He loved me, not after I fell in love with Him, not after I recognized Him as my needed Lord and Savior, not after I asked Him to forgive my sins and BE my Lord. No. HE LOVED ME 'ere (BEFORE) I KNEW HIM.
That is pure Romans 5: 8 Gospel..."But God commends His love toward us , in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." I know me. I am not a loveable person a lot of the time. God loved me sight unseen, promised to never give up on me no matter what. I John 4:7-11 tells us that this love, God's love , is how He wants us to love one another :
"7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. "

This is the love, and the lesson I hope our children are getting from us as parents ,and me in particular as a mom of many and as a Sunday School teacher of young children: LOVE that gives itself away................freely and easily, without hanging on and counting pennies. I want to be known as one who gives of what she has and one who teaches by example and not only by a book Or the Book. Hoping for a loving outpouring by our children toward meeting the needs of others! That is a Christmas party I want to want to remember!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I am choosing to focus on the blessing that son Caleb is leaving Iraq in just a few days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am choosing to focus on the blessing that son Joshua, going back to Iraq AGAIN on December 20, is going only for a short stint and not for even 6 months or a year. I am choosing to focus on the fact that while our little son Daniel is still in Liberia and will be until next year some time, God is sustaining him when other healthier children around him succumbed to illnesses we prayed that he be able to resist. I am thankful that he does not know that family is waiting for him and trying with all their prayers to get him home. We thought this Christmas would be very different than how it has shaped up to be.....we were pretty sure early on that Junior and Diamoh would not be here....not much hope for that this year or next, pretty sure that they will forever be the children of our hearts but not our home, but we had a lot of hope that Daniel would be home, have had some surgery and that we'd have some idea of what his life might be like. These were obviously NOT God's plans in God's time. Hard as it is to be thankful that our little Daniel still lies in his orphanage bed with his hydrocephaly totally untreated, I need to choose that response to my Lord Who has ordered all our steps for us. Hard as it is in my mamma-heart flesh to be thankful that Junior and Diamoh and the many other children of Liberia are still stuck in orphanages and not in families , I am choosing to be thankful that God knows the whole bigger picture................He knows if we need to be more faithful in praying for or giving to those situations, He knows which situations need more time, even which situations were "mistakes" needing His intervention, He KNOWS WHAT IS BEST.
How I praise Him that HE is omnipotent and omnicient, and that His mercies are NEW every morning! His compassions: they fail NOT . He knew that my dear friend Jill's daughter in Ethiopia needed her case heard in court yesterday, needs to come home to her forever family probably in January, after a relatively short process, and that is GOOD. Through tears of joy for Jill and some tears of sadness for myself and my children, will sing. I will sing "My heart will choose to say ' Lord BLESSED BE YOUR NAME!' " "Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Water 4 Christmas

I saw this necklace at Tracy's ETSY store when I was reading about Water 4 Christmas and her generous offer to donate half of the price of each necklace purchased to the Water project. My friend Jill teamed up with Tracy and had a GIVEAWAY of this awesome necklace as well. I opted to donate money and forgo the necklace, but GUESS WHAT? I WON the drawing! How blessed is that??? There's more information below. I hope that you will take a few moments to check it out!

From Tracy who sells her her jewelry on ETSY as JUNK POSSE:
With the purchase of each necklace I will make a donation to supply water for one person in Africa for almost 40 Years!
I created this design for Water 4 Christmas. A grassroots effort to bring life-saving, clean water to West Africa. 4500 mothers bury their children every day due to contaminate water. Unclean water is the leading cause of death in undeveloped nations. And it just doesn't have to be. So we are joining together to keep our eyes open and hearts soft and together buy Water for Christmas.

Africa sits upon a water drop covered with tiny drops of water. This handmade necklace is 1" inch and dangles from a 18" inch sterling bead chain. It is also available on a 20" inch brown leather cord with a sterling silver lobster claps. "

Please think of water for Christmas the next time you are Thirsty. I am really excited about this project but even more excited to help support Lexi at as this wonderful young lady, my dear friend Jill's daughter has dedicated a chink of her time and talents to making this project a true success! Won't you stop over and see Tracy's ETSY store, and think about buying a unique necklace for "someone" you know who has their heart in Africa (maybe you are your own "Someone"?) to make a shared donation with Tracy, or visit Lexi's blog and make a donation directly to the fund. Like the idea? Maybe you'll want to "be there, do that and WEAR THE T-SHIRT. You can do that too! Having been in SE Asia and seen the results of no clean drinking water AND the results of a new working well, having been to Liberia, West Africa and seen the absence of clean water there too and how precious just possessing a well is, I can tell you that any time we are part of providing clean water to a mom who has small children, or who is perhaps pregnant with a new growing little one, a family eager to take the best possible care of its children or aging parents, a village trying to offer school for area children, it is a BIG thing to have clean drinking water.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fiancee visa update

How excited Malachi was yesterday to recieve his receipt letter from USCIS !! Not a rejection letter for imcomplete documentation or an error in filing, but THE letter which informed him that USCIS has begun the process of investigating his case for Sopheak's fiancee visa!!!! Thank You Heavenly Father that we did all this paperwork correctly and it was accepted on the first pass. We trust You to work out the timing for the visa interview itself for next summer and believe that Malachi wil be able to bring his bride-to-be home with him at the end of his visit to his beloved Cambodia.

"What constitutes a Miracle?" he asked

Gideon called just a bit ago and asked me that question. I told him pretty much an event which defies human understanding or scope of ability/possibility/probability but not God's scope of authority. He asked if that was something like.................."You went to the VA hospital in OKC with me on October 20 and heard the PA tell me that 'the 4 year old fractures and bone fragments on/from my L4 and L5 vertebrae were visible, the bulging herniations were visible, there were no new fractures from the incident on 19 October but the existing injuries would require further assessment and treatment with an orthopedic and or neurology consult doctor at a later visit,' right???? And I today I saw the PA at the new VA clinic here in town, they looked at the old x-rays but wanted new ones to assess the swelling viewed on the 20th of October. She just called me to say, 'I can't explain this but your back is healed. There is old scar tissue evident in the x-rays but there are no fractures, no loose bone fragments which were in the other x-rays.' IS THAT WHAT YOU WOULD CALL A MIRACLE?" YES yes YES!! That is what I would call a miracle! X-rays from 6 weeks ago which are consistent with x-rays taken over the last 4 years (but which have gone untreated. VA is another long story...) will not normally be completely different with those taken by a new -doctor-ordering assessment - tests to schedule surgery. SO much prayer has gone on between the Lord and me over my son for so many years. He was medically discharged from the army because of these back injuries and he has been severely limited as a result ever since. God has been working in Gideon's life recently in many areas, so this does nor surprise me at all, but that does not mean I am not PLEASED AND PRAISING GOD through my tears and my happy dancing!! You see, when I was in nursing school a lot of years ago, I had a sledding accident, golf course, saucer sled, dry patch, some chopped up soil, I flew up in the air, came down on my back and flipped to my face when my hands would not let go of the hand grips to get off of the sled when I started to flip. I landed, and was unable to move from my waist down. I felt nothing, and could not move. AS I lay there at the bottom of that hill I prayed and told God that I would be crippled if He willed it, but He had recently done a financial miracle for me to finish nursing school , and I was asking for a healing of my back. NO cell phones back then, no phones on that side of the public golf course, my brother, my son Joshua who was 7, and then -boy friend Charlie and a few pals stood over me asking what I wanted them to do. I asked them to leave me be but not to move could make it all worse. For about 30-45 minutes I lay there, praying, and thinking and suddenly, I felt a warmth starting at my toes, creeping up my legs little by little until I realized I had the feeling back! I asked for someone to help me up, we walked back to our car and went home. I went to the clinic and told my story, was not even x-rayed because I was walking and had no numb spots. I was prescribed some soma (muscle relaxants). Fast forward to the week before nursing school graduation, 8 months later. When students enter nursing school they get a back x-ray to assess soundness and lack of injury . Upon completion, another x-ray is taken to verify that no injuries occurred during rotations with patients. When my exit x-ray was compared to my entrance x-ray, there was another "I can't explain this" moment. "When did you break your back?" I was asked. I explained the sledding incident but was told , no that this was impossible for several reasons, the first being that the scar tissue very evident in the new x-ray was VERY OLD scarring. I asked if this "old scarring " should have been in the earlier x-ray and was told that there was no way this kind of scarring would not show up. I was told that the Radiologist simply could not explain the scarring, the EVIDENCE of God's healing power, except that "maybe " I had "Experienced a miracle after all." GLORY be to God who IS our Great Physician, for Whom nothing is impossible, not even two healed broken backs in one family!

Praises over Iraq

I shared this message with my prayer group yesterday and got the most precious response from a dear friend. THIS is being the Body and I am so glad to be a part. Thanks Kellie for the goose bumps I felt and the tears I shed as I read your kind words. You really blessed me!!!***********************************

I am so praising God right now!! My son Caleb has two more weeks in Iraq until his second tour of duty is completed. This morning he was reassigned to a different company in his unit to oversee some higher level admin stuff. HALLELUJAH! This means NO MORE "MISSIONS" more patrols, no more going out to search for the enemy, to be found by the enemy or his guns and road side bombs! I have been in such fervent prayer for Caleb during this whole deployment because I had a number of dreams that he was killed in action, and while I seldom remember my dreams, the ones I remember have every other time, happened in real life. My son Gideon shared with me that he too had several dreams like mine. I have been praying this entire deployment, perhaps more so than during any of my other guys' deployments or even Caleb's first tour, that God would (Psalm 91:11-12) "Give His angels charge over him to keep him in all his ways" and this today was such an answer to prayers. More soldiers are killed during their first few weeks in theatre and their last few. Inexperience, being war weary, being distracted and not totally focused, thoughts of home and family...............these are fatal thought- flaws for soldiers out on missions. My heart is rejoicing that Caleb found favor with his higher-ups who have placed him in this new position; he is a very competent soldier but that it takes him out of that " mission " part of harm's way . We continue to pray for ALL the soldiers' safety, particularly those who are replacing Caleb and his comrades right now, during the holiday season.
This particular Psalm has been one which I have covered Caleb with truly from the moments leading up to and during his birth. I mentioned it in my blog post yesterday in fact.
Today we had just finished our family Bible and prayer time when Caleb called and we had literally JUST finished praying for Caleb.
This made my day for him son needing that kind of deep Heavenly intervention is Daniel

REJOICING BIG TIME HERE AT BONKLAND at this news! You guys needed some encouragement! Father God, thank you for Your hands of safety and protection over Caleb! Thank you for this new position and we continue to ask Your protection over Caleb and the other soldiers as they face such challenging days and a merciless enemy! We ask, Father, that Linda's baby boy, Daniel, finally be released to come HOME where can receive the love and medical care every child deserves...the love and medical care that Charlie and Linda have waited so long to be able to provide him. Encourage Charlie and Linda, hold them up, and sustain them as they continue to wait. We ask that the wait come to a final end! IN JESUS NAME

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And now its December

but Daniel is no closer to being home than he was in March, April, May, June, July (well July looked close for a few hours!) August, September, October, and now November. December is more than likely not going to happen either. We got word that Daniel's needed documentation which we thought was nearly signed off on, IS NOT. Just : not. Our travel agent warned me last week that flights in and out of Liberia after the 15th of December were impossible, so if I could not get there and back by the 15th, we can scrub December as a travel month. My heart aches for my little son, so far away, so needy, so very needy, and I wonder how my Heavenly Father feels about all of this. SURELY His heart is even more broken at the selfishness, greediness and the abject apathy, of those who have the power and the authority to have completed this precious little baby's adoption months ago. As I wrote in a letter to a Ministry official a while back, "I know that Daniel does not have much value to very many people, he is not special to but a very few, but to those few, HE IS SO IMPORTANT. He is very important to us. His future matters to us, his health needs matter to us." I asked that these people would please use the compassion I knew was in their hearts for their children, and the authority granted them, to please move on this case and bring it to completion. We were told in March that Daniel's case was already approved, pending a family to adopt him. From our agency to American politicians to Liberian officials, I have repeatedly stated our case: DANIEL'S CASE, his dire medical needs, his prognosis.............and today is December 1.
So often I default to music for comfort, most often I go automatically to old hymns. There is much good contemporary music, but there is a richness in old hymns (even when the language is extremely outdated) that feels like the coziest of thick, lovingly hand- crocheted afghans wrapped around my spirit. Last night as I thought and prayed about Daniel, and about the even more remote chance of ever bringing Junior and Diamoh home, God brought to my mind George Beverly Shea ( of Billy Graham Crusade fame, if you don't know who he might be; he just turned 100 this year) I so clearly heard him singing two songs HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW and

HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER THEE. God is so faithful through His Holy Spirit and through His Word and through His servants.
I was comforted, I knew Daniel was too...Deuteronomy 29:29 practically calls out Daniel by his "first name" SECRET...........
"The SECRET things belong to the Lord our God but those things (my italics) which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Daniel has always belonged to the Lord; for a time he was a SECRET, but as God revealed him to us, He put a love for Daniel in our hearts: this tiny oh-so -brain damaged baby........God called us to love him, as ourselves, as we love God: with all our hearts, our minds, our spirits, willing to lay down our lives for him. It has not been our "lives" literally, but we have willingly laid down this year, putting everything else on hold in anticipation of Daniel's homecoming and necessary surgical procedures, and not to fullfill a law, but because GOD Himself put this incredible love into all of our hearts for a baby who may never be able to "love back" as we expect to be loved in return, may or may not ever hug back, kiss back, even reach out to hold our hands or fingers when offered to him. WE do not know that he will ever even see us beyond as shadows. That all is so uncertain, and more uncertain as the time passses and he is not here to have brain surgery.
AND YET, Jesus reminded His disciples in Matthew 10:29-31 that even though sparrows are sold two for a copper coin,"
NOT ONE OF THEM FALLS TO THE GROUND APART FROM YOUR FATHER'S WILL. (But the very hairs of your head are numbered.) Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

I know that Daniel too is of far more value than the sparrows God keeps careful track of! So of course are Junior and Diamoh, and the too-many-other-waiting children. Psalm 91:11 is a verse I have clung to so many times and to the song mentioned as well. IN FACT, the night that our Caleb was born, my labor came on hard and fast,and our midwife had barely enough time to arrive to do any part of her job. In the midst of telling dear Charlie what we needed to do and have on hand, I KNEW, a week earlier, I had planned a stack of various phonograph records (yes...those!) next to the stereo for Caleb's birth. Huffing and puffing and panting I huffed "Next to the stereo. Records, 3rd album. PUT IT ON NOW!! Second side THIRD SONG PLEASE!!! Baby blankets are on the changing table, bring them in here. " YES in that order. What WAS the third album, second side third song? George Beverly Shea, in his beautiful rich voice singing
That was the song playing as Caleb was born, just a moment or so later! I digress to memories of a 45 minute labor: start to finish. My point? I knew then and I know now that God is faithful. He does send His angels to keep charge over us, and His angels are ministering to our Daniel.

And those angels? That passage finishes up with verse 12:
"...In their hands they shall bear you up."
David says a little while later "For You Lord have made me glad through Your work; I will TRIUMPH in the works of Your hands."
Today did not start out feeling like a day of triumph, but as I prayed and sought God though His Word, HE has made me glad. HE has, and He is causing me to TRIUMPH. With Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:14 I can proclaim, " Now thanks be to God who always leads us to TRIUMPH in Christ and through us difuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place!"

Lord please keep me in Your hands, Keep me difusing the fragrance of YOU in every place I am !