Monday, March 29, 2010

Pondering tribulation: "pain without stain"

"......God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially formed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain". ~ C.S. Lewis

14"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." Hebrews4:14-15 NIV
1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it..................."               "not without pain but without stain..."
 ~Hallelujah~what a Savior!

I read this quote early this morning and have been thinking about it all day. That led me to find the scriptures  which no doubt  Lewis was thinking about and experiencing when he made his own statement.
If you will turn off the playlist of just copy and paste this Youtube video, thinking about those thoughts, you will be able to rejoice with YOU HOLD ME NOW..............


Worship God for just a little while as you listen to this song? I've had it on my playlist  for a little while, but today its in  my #1 spot

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease
I trust in You   I trust in You
I believe You're my healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You're my portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need
(More than enough for me)
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for You

You hold my world in Your hands


Jesus You're all I need
More then enough for me

Sunday, March 28, 2010

MIA for a week, stirring the "Soup" with a little Monday update...

The snow is gone. The 72 degree temperatures on Tuesday pretty much melted all of even the northern exposure hillside snow drifts. The flowers are flourishing, the Bradford pear trees are in full bloom, the Japanese flowering plum  and Redbud trees are adding their pink hues to gardens and streets all over town. We have purchased new fruit trees to expand our little orchard and  the seeds for the summer 2010 vegetable garden. Charlie spent the better part of Saturday prepping his  trees, digging, planting, staking, fertilizing. He loves his fruit trees. A but too muddy and cool to plant seeds  yet so I am still  in planning mode.  ** ***Monday morning update:  7AM as I go to pour my coffee, I see the little white goat and Ribs the one-horned wonder  buck out of their pen . OH this is not going to be good, I already know it.  Goats eat trees, they love trees. We have lost countless trees to escaped goats and my goats are chewing on the new fruit trees  Charlie just planted. NOT how he wants to start his Monday morning: chasing two goats back into safety and security when he'd rather boot them  in their back sides.  I will wrap the tree trunks to try and salvage them, but they are probably not going to live.  When we were at the Thunder NBA game  last night with the oldest boys , the rest of the children( 8-16)were here to do the farm chores.  They do a great job almost all of the time. Its those "not -so-much" times that are just so much more noticeable.  We'll see what happens. The littler girls assure me that they DID lock the pen, but kids get in a hurry, memories overlap, icky things happen. BIG teaching talk about double -checking ones work is on tap for this morning!!!*****
I am so very ready to get busy in my waiting garden soil.This year we will have a separate corn field from the other veggies. Last year I planted  a lot of corn, but folks, we EAT  a lot  of corn.  We've effectively doubled the size of the garden. I am going to try my hand at soy beans  for the first time, having discovered how much  I enjoy eating them (edamame).
A total "aside" but in his testimony the man who shared in church this morning reminded us that Seed is Seed. IT is the SOIL that makes the difference in the outcome. We work our soil carefully and thoroughly so that we can produce a good crop. WE as a people, I as His child,  need to allow God to work  in ME, He needs to be free to work in  US, the soil into which He places His Word  so that we can produce for His Kingdom.
 In the last week, we saw most of our plumbing problems resolved, fixed, diagnosed, and the "least of these" trade places with the "worst of these" in terms of what was really broken and what REALLY needed attention and time to repair. So we have our front bathroom back, both the tub and the shower stall, the whole bathroom. That is the really good news. The back bathroom ,which we thought was the small problem turned out to be a lot more problematic.the shower drain  pipe is broken, the toilet pipe is broken, the shower which needs to be replaced  can not be replaced....not without huge expense and a lot of cosmetic and altering construction. It seeems that in 1970-something when our house was built, one could choose to install a 28" wide shower stall, build it into the bathroom wall and voila': you'd have a nifty albeit small  shower in an other wise powder-room sized "master bathroom". HOWEVER, in 2010, not only do they not make 28 inch wide shower stalls, there is no where to order an old obselete  leftover one. The only solution to replacing this mini-Behemoth  is to shave three inches off of one wall and one off the other wall to fit a 32" shower stall into the space (can't do it 2 and wall is brick)  Seems we will fix the broken pipe and somehow or another make the original old saggy shower stall work a while longer. While repairing what we thought was one crushed pipe, we discovered seveal other problems: our piers have shfited under the house and causes other pipes to pull apart and to cause our tile floors to crack and break up from the increasingly shifting sub-flooring.  There was so much water under the house the plumber could not work for the first 3 days after he started our project. There is also a problem with our propane line as well. Plumbing continues , phase two, looking forward to phase 3. ALL THAT SAID  TO SAY  we are incredibly thankful to have plumbing downstairs which does not involve shop-vac-ing out the bathtub after using the kitchen sink!  INCREDIBLY THANKFUL!!!!!!!!!
There is nothing to say about Liberia except that I was so aware of people praying for my discouraged spirit all through the week. Thank you to those of you who were among those who prayed!  It will not be March when Daniel comes home; perhaps it will be late April? It was wonderful and oh so painful to hear  from others who traveled to Liberia recently to bring home their children : families who had gotten adoption decrees for their children before the January 26, 2009 suspension date. Having no decree for Junior and Diamoh, there is no possibility for us to even begin to start an adoption  until after new laws are written and implemented: laws which seem  to be beyond any horizon at this time. Meanwhile other children in countries whose programs are fluid, children  who ARE adoptable, wait for paper-ready families.  On my heart is a young girl,  a beautiful young girl for whom I have been praying for several weeks. A new face was added to our refrigerator door this week................she has the same name as my mother in law..........................Not all the children on my 'frige door are children I have asked about for us; most I KNEW were not, but God used me to pray them home to their forever families. What of this girl? I don't know yet , but I know I CARE DEEPLY. I have fallen asleep seeing her face. I have awakened the past few mornings to her image. it is the cry of my heart that she be matched with and unified with her family, a family she so desperately desires.
My younger children who read as I blog, who ask about every face they see in every email, who pray with me for every child or situation I mention to them, know a bit about her. Charlie and I have not had any tine together to talk about anything.  We have a date today. Maybe as  we drive down to OKC for the Thunder  (NBA basketball )game later this afternoon we can talk.  I have such a NON-"poker face" anyhow, he probably already knows "Something " is on my heart. Lord may we communicate, may we hear each other, may we listen to You and to each other...............for Your glory!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Daffodils in the snow: We will have spring flowers !

When all that snow fell over the weekend we were not sure that the newly emerged mini-daffodils or tulips would survive, but they hung tough ! As the snow melted yesterday we could see the brave blooms and leaves still holding their own.

Ageratum and Dusty Miller waiting to be planted

New tulips, planted last fall
The first full sized daffodil of the season and a patch of the mini-daffodils, 3rd year for these to come back up!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Snow storm that WAS!!!!

Yesterday this was a back yard with 8" of snow on the ground! After all that football yesterday, warmer temperatures, SUNSHINE, and more football (mud ball was  more like it) today,  we have a 4" deep puddle at the edge of the back porch and a  whole back yard of mush! It is  still cold out however and the snow is still quite deep on the picnic tables which got not only the real snow fall but the fall off from the roof which made some 24+ " deep drifts! Quite  a sight!
taking a sweeping glance around from the back door........................

Easily visible are the puddles where snow abounded yesterday!

Usually we go in the nursery to play with the baby goats and to bottle feed them. TODAY, bottles propped through the fence will have to do. Leah wants no part of muddy goat feet!

Naomi didn't want to get muddy either so she ran a pretty wide circle  around the yard to find the driest ground on which to run from the nursery!

These baby goat photos were  from the day before the snow storm. We were having a lot of fun  playing  and running around in the back yard with our babies!

Naomi with the triplets. She is holding Daffoldil (Daffy)
This is Edward. Naomi chose his name.

This is Topsy Turvey , the oldest of the triplets and the one  who was born bottom first and upside down.

Here are Topsey Turvey and Daffy. Daffy has wattles, the  wobbly, floppy, little appendages growing from her jaw line. Hers are white, tipped with black. Both  Satsuma and Ribs, the parents have wattles but only Daffy inherited the gene for wattles. I personally like wattles on my goats. Some people do not.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Snow football, and getting buried in the snow

Isaac prepares to throw a pass;

Isaiah is down, the other guys scramble for the ball

Malachi prepares to pass

Isaiah is down again and Gideon prepares for the next play

It is so much fun for me, the Mamma of Smith Soup and Calico Acres Farm to watch my children at play. (Even when they are not techinically children any longer How cool is it when the 26 year old son will come home for a long weeknd of leave from the Army to play football with not only his 24 year old brother or even his 21 year old brother, but the 13, 12 and 11 year olds as well? The snow was too much to resist, so out they all went, with pal Andy who was also here for the weekend. Naomi also decided that it would be fun to be buried in the snow on the picnic table. Not MY idea of fun, but she had a good time!!

Noah helping Naomi witht he snow buying

I won't bother showing Y'all what it looks like in front of our wood stove as all the jeans, boots, hats, socks and gloves dry laid out o nthe hearth, but picture what 6 boy/men people of varying heights and weights would shed once they came in from playing snow football, and add to that what 2 little girls would add to the mix. Its a LOT of wet clothes!

Jael sank the van, or as my neighbor into whose yard she sank it said........

"Jael planted a van  in my yard!"

No there is never a dull moment in our household and that state of being appears to be spreading to the households of friends and neighbors! When this neighbor had a broken water pipe, she came and showered at our house. Now that our plumbing is out, she has graciously shared with us. This planting of a one ton van was intended to be practicing driving and taking a shower. BUT NO! What also transpired was that after we watched the tow truck pass our well marked house 5 times before the driver called to ask where we were actually located, he arrived on the scene and promptly sank his tow truck not far from the van! Thankfully I had sent Combat Engineer son Caleb freshly home from Ft Campbell to keep an eye on things. A grateful, albeit embarrasssed tow truck operator, took Caleb's instruction and was then able to successfully remove our van from Lori's yard!
Our plumbing is not completed yet, we do not have downstairs plumbing, I am still Shop-Vac-ing out the bath tub and shower stall every time we use the kitchen sink, but it is my hope that these are the last couple of days for this non-plumbing to be our status. We are all looking forward to more than one sink, toilet and shower stall for the 12 of us to use. THAT SAID, we are all extremely grateful to have those. If they were not part of a later addition to the house, we would be totally without plumbing!
I'm really sorry I didn't get photos of all my mini-daffodils and hyacinth in bloom yesterday when it was a sunny 72 degrees outside.They were beautiful! The stems of the 250 + new bulbs I had planted last fall were well on their way to being blooms this weekend as well..... Last night the temps began to drop and rain began to fall. This morning we awoke to about 3 inches of very heavy wet snow and temps of about 30. Trustfully on Monday when the warmth and sun are scheduled to return,I won't have a yard full of wilted frozen-to-death spring flowers and stems!
The snow sure is pretty, even on the First Offical Day of Spring!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comings and goings and staying puts............

Caleb is coming  home from Ft Campbell Kentucky for a long weekend!RIGHT NOW!!!!  We have not seen him since January when he came home from Iraq  to complete his sad , unwanted, unexpected , unplanned, and  unavoidable, painful  divorce. He swore me to Face Book secrecy so that he could just come home and "Chill out". No problem!! He should be home in just a few hours and will be here until Monday sometime. We are all excited , even Leah who gives up her room for him to have a room to himself while she shares with Naomi and Rachel. He is so happy to just be home ;when I asked if there were something  special that I could fix for dinner while he was here:ANYTHING,   he said he just wanted  whatever  I was cooking because it would be good.  WHAT A GUY!!   He went before his E-6 promotion board last week  and tomorrow sometime  the board will announce whether the point requirement will stay where it has been or be changed at all. At this stage he has 110 more points than he needs.(Again, WHAT A GUY!!!)  Hopefully we will celebrate with him that April 1 is his long awaited  promotion day!!
Malachi and I bought  plane tickets for Cambodia  this morning for him and for  Sopheak's ticket to the US so she  can  officially become his wife and live with him  in the USA!!!. May 30th  is his departure is date and August 1st  is their return date together.   (Believing that her visa  appointment will be easily in the time frame Malachi is in Cambodia...)   SO EXCITED for both of them!!!
Jael is coming and going and staying put! She got her learner's permit  for  her driver's license this week. Shehas to have her permit for atleat 6 months before she can take her driver's test, so she is asking to drive  anywhere  with anyone for practice. A curfew buster the other night kind of killed the remainder of of her spring Break, but I am letting her drive with me when I NEED ot go some where.............coming, going and staying put.Tonight she is folding laundry, at home. Earlier today she drove us to Walmart, to the park and to the tire shop to pick up Esther.  Excited for her too as she reaches this important milestone in her young lady -life!!
Daniel? Still waiting unawares  in Liberia for a letter from a woman, who is a high ranking official in the Ministry of Justice to state that YES YES YES the judge may procede with an adoption decree  so that Daniel may come home. MAYBE TOMORROW??????????????? IF  IF  IF  if IF they get this letter  and sign his decree, I can go to Liberia and be back by/on/for  RESURRECTION SUNDAY! There IS time for what needs to transpire to take place by then.  Oh how I long for Daniel  to be home , and what  a wonderful holy  holy holiday for him to come home too.....Resurrection: new life , new birth.............pretty appropriate in my thinking! (Hope its God's too. I really want to be 100% in sync with my Lord!)
Our plumbing  is still out downstairs and will be out until maybe late tomorrow ......or next week. We  do not know yet. Its been five weeks  and I am quite ready for the rest of the family to use the down stairs facilities again , and VERY ready  for me to not need to use the shop vac to suck out the bath tub, shower stall  and toilets every time we use the kitchen sink. THAT has gotten really old fast. I am so grateful for the addition whose plumbing is separate from the original house structure so that we do have one working toilet and shower for the 11 of us and the steady stream of company who gravitate here. Last night, 5 extra people for dinner. and three extra  overnight. Tonight, only two extras for dinner and over night. God  has given me an extra measure of grace for sure to deal with this plumbing "thing" for as long as it has been an issue!!!

So, what songs has  God led me to for worship this week???  ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND ... ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND!!!!   for starters!! And "I  Heard the Voice of Jesu Say'Come Unto Me and Rest'"   and "In Christ  Alone  my Hope is Found  ...He is my light. my strength, my song.............!!" and "HOLY SPIRIT  RAIN DOWN ....Let Your power fall, come and change our hearts    as we stand on Your Word..."  AMEN and amen ..............what anointed words God gave each of those writers so that they could impart those words to me, to us!!!  I know I could not be standing , much less walking , without my Sold Rock and His holy Spirit! How about you??? How is He proving Himself faithful to YOU? Please  leave a comment and share with me ? Thanks Y'all!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Derek Loux, with Jesus, but his family blog lives on with Renee, his wife!

 If you are interested, you can follow Derek Loux's famiy blog. Renee, his wife is a wonderful lady of grace and substance. is the link to get you there. Be blessed to bless, pray for Renee and the 10 Loux children too!!The Loux Family Blog

Living out an "Adoption Revolution" fueled by night and day prayer..........

"I am constantly amazed at God’s kindness in ministering to my heart through your encouraging letters and emails. I am so thankful for your love and prayers. Honestly, there are some days when I am feeling our loss so deeply and the pain is absolutely beyond words. On those days, I am especially aware of the fact that without your prayers I would find it hard to take one more step forward. Yesterday and today were two of those days. I miss my precious man. I miss his laugh, his smile, his voice…. everything about him…..everything!

I went to Derek’s grave again yesterday and just stood there, still so sad and in disbelief that Derek’s earthly body now rested 6 feet below. I had no words. The tears just poured down my face. I was aching just to be able to hug him and to feel his arms around me one more time, not wanting to accept the fact that that is something I will never have again until I am also with Jesus. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of a car door slamming shut and I turned to see who had arrived. It was a woman who seemed to be about my age. She had a large bouquet of roses and gently placed them on the vase that was attached to the grave she was visiting. I began to wonder who the precious person was that she had lost. We both stood there, under the blue sky, feeling our grief. I became overwhelmingly aware of the fact that there is so much pain in this world, for so many. I once again began thinking about what people do with their pain when they don’t know Jesus? What hope do they have? I can’t even imagine….

As I drove home from Derek’s grave, I asked the Lord to help me to be able to walk out the rest of my day with the strength and comfort only He could give me. I desperately needed Him in the middle of the pain of my weak and broken heart. As I pulled into our driveway, I got out to collect the mail in our mailbox and found a letter that was written to me by a precious woman whom I’ve never met, named Kendra. She began her letter by letting me know that we were all in her prayers and on her heart. She was so kind. Kendra then began to share some reflections that her pastor had written while he was battling terminal brain cancer for over 19 months. Just when I thought I didn’t have one more tear to cry that day…the tears began to flow, but this time I was weeping over God’s faithfulness once again, to encourage my heart. I began to feel His presence very near, as I began to read what Kendra shared with me. I pray this precious pastor’s reflections, passed on to me by my new friend Kendra, will be as encouraging to each of you who are going through your own sad, heartbreaking and difficult experiences, as they were and still are to me.
“Hope and despair are not opposites. They are cut from the very same cloth, made from the very same material, shaped from the very same circumstances. Most of all, every life finds itself forced to choose one from the other, one day at a time, one circumstance after another. The only difference between the two is that despair shapes an attitude of mind; hope creates a quality of soul. Despair colors the way we look at things, makes us suspicious of the future, makes us negative about the present. Hope, on the other hand, takes life on its own terms, knows that whatever happens God lives in it, and expects that, whatever its twists and turns, it will ultimately yield its good to those who live it well. When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads beween hope and despair, torn and hurting. Despair cements us in the present; hope sends us dancing around dark corners trusting in a tomorrow we cannot see. Despair says that there is no place to go but here. Hope says that God is waiting for us someplace else. Begin again.”We’re choosing Hope to send us dancing around this dark corner into a future where God is very present!

Thank you Kendra and the rest of you who have not just said you would pray for us, but have truly been on your knees faithfully, taking us before the throne of God, asking Him to draw near to us, in the middle of our great sadness. He is truly our refuge and our strength! We are blessed beyond belief to have you in our lives; those we know well and those we’ve never personally met face to face.

I pray that the Lord will wrap each of you in a blanket of His precious love and that you will feel Him near."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meet our Water Dogs :Mr and Mrs. McLintock

Some years ago we had a pair of water dogs, which are an aquatic lizard and look quite a bit like the "Luck Dragon" in The Never Ending Story movies. After that pair passed on...we looked for replacements but had no "luck".This pair of water dogs are my husband's pets. Hannah and I bought them for him for Father's Day two years ago, much to his pleased surprise! Charlie is a huge John Wayne fan so it was only fitting that we name this male and female pair Mr and Mrs McLintock, after the name sakes of one of his favorite John Wayne movies. They eat dried pellet food but prefer tiny fish, (if you look carefully you can see some meals swimming around...they are pink) The McLintocks like to be handled and they are a pretty cool conversation piece in the kitchen, almsot as cool as when we had a 2 foot iguana living in the kitchen, almost!.
MckLinky Blog Hop

This is not what it looks like, they crawl over each other all the time and it means nothing that we can tell, so far !

YES water dogs have eyes, but in this photo, even close up, they are not visible because Mr Mc  had closed his eyes.

Juxtaposing my friend Anita's blog with my own for a post or two.........

As I was writing to Nordic  Africa News about the plight of orphans and adoptions in Liberia, with emphasis on our situation with Daniel, my dear friend Anita was blogging about the plight of adoptions in Ghana.SO many of the concerns are the same,  and the outcomes: past, present, and future as well. Ghana is not in a suspension now/yet...but the evils of corruption which dog the heels of those seeking to care for orphans as God instructed us to, seems universal. Get apporval to have an orphan adoption program in a needy country, GREAT IDEA, some rreally GOOD PLANS too..........but there are a couple things which get in the way every time: people  and money.  Anita's open post to those in authority in countries where there are adoptions AND the creeping  or rampant corruption and to adoption providers is so after my own heart. Coming from Anita who is a seasoned adoption services provider as well as an adoptive parent of 4, I feel  that thewords she spoke carry far more weight than if I'd spoken or written them.
Her post about God providing for her  at just the right moment in a very specific way by sending a Ghanaian pastor to her church was jsut SO "Isn't it just like God?!!" I'm inviting you to read that too, to edify your own spirit and to be encouraged.
Today Anita shares about us, SmithSoup, and how God is using us and our long term friendship   to meet a very big need for her family. When she called me Saturday and I could sense some tears in her eyes, I knew God was doing something. I knew He was asking me, and our family to be part of that something. I'll let her tell it.   Banku, Phi, and Fried Spiders is her blog.  When I told Charlie a little while later about our conversation, he gave me a big hug and said it was a wonderful idea as long as there was enough Linda to go around, and he knew there would be.  What's the down side?  I dont'get to see enough of Anita and Eric!!! She will be in Ghana, Eric, at home and at work, and we will have her 4 sweeties here with us at Calico Acres Farm! I'm sure we can do something  about the Eric part though!! Charlie works pretty close to where Eric works.we'll see. Anita and I didn't talk about that...
Anyhow, so as not to tell a tale twice, for those of you who know both Anita nad me, you may have the story already, and for those of you who don't, pleae do go to her blog and read at least the last three posts.
I knew when we went through "the valley of the shadow of Cambodia" we would always be friends, when we went to Vietnam together, Eric and Anita, Charlie and me, and adopted Samren and Naomi together, our friendship was sealed. We don't get to spend nearly as much time together as we'd like, but when we do it is so precious ! Our children get along so well when they are together: the girls are all  very close in age, our boys just older enough than Samren to big brother him....and OH yay!!! I get to love on Bright and Kendi Mae too! I don't know them as well  right now but I'm sure looking forward to it!
We don't know how Daniel fits into this two week plan, but I know GOD DOES, so I know it will be "good, very good."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Published today in Nordic Africa News: a letter from ME

A friend sent me a link to this newspaper because of a story of a child who was helped because of a newspaper story and a journalist who cared. I thought, "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" and gave some thought to writing a letter about Daniel, about the plight of adoptions in Liberia. I prayed and talked to Charlie and several friends for guidance. I sent the letter to the editor who quickly got back to me and asked IF  I wanted my letter to be published, and I told him that we did want to see it run. He told me it would be  yesterday but it was today. Sunday publications always have a larger following so I am curious to see what/if any response this may generate.  I have seeen that several Liberian politicians have also used this paper as a forum for their issues, so I know that  governemnt folks are reading this publication.                                  We continue to pray that our Ministry of Justice letter is written this week and that it results in our getting an adoption decree for Daniel. His paperwork birthday is tomorrow. He will officially be two years old. I never dreamed he would still be stuck in Liberia for his second brithday, never !
We pray that the suspension which has our Junior and Diamoh held hostage  is resolved very soon as well.
I would love for this  to be the last letter I need to write on Daniel's behalf. I suspect it is not the last I will write which is related to Junior and Diamoh's case.

A Mother pleads for her kid
Sunday 14 March 2010
Published: 2010-03-14

 Good morning, I appreciated your story about the little girl with the imperforate anus very much. Our family like many others is caught up in the year long-plus suspension imposed by President Sirleaf against adoptions in Liberia.
Unlike Cambodia, which during its adoption suspension, constructed a "pipeline" for the families already in process to complete their adoptions, Liberia just shut the whole process down and left many, many people stranded.
Last fall a plan was worked out for the families whose children had adoption decrees to be allowed to complete the adoption process. This plan also included special needs children who did not already have adoption decrees, we were told.
Our Embassy in Monrovia even hired an extra person to adjudicate the load of cases anticipated. She left last week, and there were barely a handful of cases completed, sadly.
I know of one 13-year-old boy with special needs who was allowed to leave Liberia last summer because he was able to advocate for his own case and his life. The other special needs babies and young children: none of them have been cleared to come to their adoptive families. Not one.
We have been matched with a healthy older brother and sister since August of 2008. They are currently 7 and 10 years old. We are also matched with a very special needs toddler, a baby turning 2 years old next week, who has severe hydrocephaly and cerebral palsy and who has received no treatment in Liberia for his condition.
My husband and I spent two weeks in Liberia last March with our older children. They know us, they are holding out hope that we will return for them.
We were told when we met our baby at that time, that his case was already "approved" even though there was a suspension and that getting him home would be "Fast". THAT was March 21, 2009. Today is March 9, 2010. We still have no adoption decree, our baby is still untreated in Liberia, unaware that he has a family eager to love him and get treatment for him as soon as he lands in the USA. Through our agency, I have written to the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the President herself and our agency has advocated hard for his case to be completed.
Several other children who were matched with families have died waiting for their special needs cases to be processed. It is my strong desire that our baby not be the next collateral damage in this suspension which was to improve the conditions of adoptions in Liberia.
As it stands right now, the orphanages are locked into a desperate situation. They do not have fees coming in to pay for staff and for food to care for the children to whom they are committed; they can not take in new children who need to be cared for because their rooms are full already.
If EVEN, ONLY the children who are matched with families were allowed to complete adoptions, if the special needs children's cases were allowed to proceed, the orphanages would have spaces for other equally needy children.
Today, the only new spaces made available come when a child already in care, dies. We are desperately hoping that our toddler baby is not the next of those. He will die without the brain surgery we have made arrangements for with physicians here in our city.
We understand the need for adoption reform. We agree that corruption, bribes and graft have no place in matching children with qualified families, we agree that families should be very carefully screened to show preparedness for their Liberian adoptions, but we also maintain that making no way for matched and legally adopted children to be placed in their waiting families is equally unsatisfactory.
Our son and many other children stuck in this adoption suspension quagmire need to be freed. I do not know if a newspaper story is the answer. Sometimes in the United States it is. I do know that many children need genuine help and they are not getting it from the NGOs who promise help and they are not being helped by a government which has made no plan for its current or next generation of orphans.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Words that bless the heart of a mamma who is a singer.................

Morning Update! We got  new photo after I had shut things down. What a treat to awaken to a new photo this morning!
From our agency director this evening: I must say that your son loves music.We had a special guest at the orphanage last week named Peter Cole who is a famous musician in Liberia and actually all of Africa. He is a personal friend of mine and offered to come and sing for the kids. Secret (Daniel) was crying before he started singing, but as soon as Peter sang to him, he quieted down. Every time Peter stopped he would start up again. I teased Peter and told him he would have to go home with him and live with you! Anyway, he is doing fine.

  There was more about things we need to do regarding Daniel's case but oh these words were like music to my ears!! I am so longing to be able to sing to my little son like I do his older sibs  and now his nieces and nephews as well. A song came to my mind as I was reading those words, and my friend Jill said  "Sing to your baby right now and ask God to deliver  your song to him right now!"  That was easy, except for the mamma -tears which were flowing down my cheeks.  
There is supposed to be a meeting tomorrow which could/should have positive influence on getting the needed signature for Daniel's adoption decree. I have written to the woman in question already, and spoke to her on the phone two weeks ago  and found her very gracious. NOW I am praying that she will allow God to move her to exactly where she needs to be to get Daniel on his way home!
Oh what did I sing to my sweet baby ? What song did I send to him? "Masterpiece"  ..of course! "....I'm so glad that God has given you to me... Little lamb of God. You are my masterpiece!!!"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm asking for you to join me in a concert of prayer for Abby Riggs

I've written about our friends the Riggs' family  from time to time; Abby Riggs' photo is in my sidebar, a  photo of my daughters wearing their PRAYING FOR ABBY t-shirts is there too. My daughters Rachel and Naomi got their hair cut last year and donated their hair to Locks of Love in Abby's name. We pray for Abby and her family every single day and see them when we are able. It is NOT often enough.
Abby's mom, my friend  Michelle  posted this  update on their blog this morning. Whatever you are doing when you read this  post, will you stop and pray for God to surround this precious family with His love and His peace in a tangible way ? We know that God is everpresent, He IS  El Eloi (the God who sees) and we know that His love for Abby and her family never wanes, but when life gets really tough and  seems to stay that way, sometimes we simply need an extra tight, big squeeze of a hug from our Abba Father. THAT is what I am asking  you to pray with me for the Riggs' family as He leads them through Abby's cancer journey together.
Will you leave me a little comment when you pray? I would like my comments box to be a concert of prayer today  to our Father, for a beautiful 5 year old little girl and her equally beautiful family.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Duct Tape Medicine

From Michelle

Abby's primary doctor (oncologist) has brought in many specialists to evaluate Abby. The specialists have then in turn requested more specialists look at Abby. She is currently being followed by 8 pediatric specialists and has been seen by 4 other types of doctors (not including her pediatrician).

To say Abby is complicated is a gross understatement.

Friends often ask how Abby is doing but how do I honestly answer them when my daughter is being held together with spit, wire and duct tape.

Abby's oncologist is coordinating her treatment but we haven't been able to see her for months. She has been on hospital rotation when Abby has been home and in the clinic when Abby was in the hospital. Abby has seen other oncologists/PAs/nurses but not her primary doctor. They talk to her doctor and the she decides what to do. The other oncologists are great but they only know a small portion of Abby's medical history/status.

I am frustrated/worried/tired. Abby is hurting again. Her headaches are back because the medication to treat them was decreased. It made her CO2 dangerously low and we could have lost her. It needs to be increased to prevent brain damage but it needs to be managed much better this time.

Abby's breathing is still horrible. The CO2 problem causes slow breathing, her airway is weak because of damage from the chemo and she has asthma. No official asthma diagnosis yet but 3 doctors (who are treating different parts of her anatomy) suspect she has it and I have seen many signs that support their opinion.

I don't think we can safely care for Abby at home without medication and medical equipment to help her breathe but I can't get them without a doctor's order. Abby has an appointment with one of our favorite oncology PAs today. I am praying I will be able to express my concerns clearly and that she will be able to help Abby.

We need your prayers more than ever.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Harbor, reaching the aging out orphans of St Petersburg,Russia

We had the honor of meeting  a man named Alex  Krutov about 4  years ago, we've seen him several times since. Alex is co founder of  an outreach ministry called THE HARBOR in St Petersburg Russia.  The Harbor is a home and school for the orphans of Russia. The main goal is the orphans who are aging out of the Russian social welfare system and who will be turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves, but who more often than not end up mixed up in drugs, thevery, prostitution, hopelessness, jail and suicide. Alex was dropped into a trash can by his mother when he was an infant. He was a street orphan,  put in the orpahange system, he was adopted by  Russian family who turned out to be abusive and drug users. He ran away  at about  age 10, back into the streets: for years. Along the way God was setting the stage for Alex to encounter  Himself. Back in the orphanage system but about to age out, a family in Arizona who worked with  The Navagators ( Bible study ...memorization focus folks) heard about Alex, and were asked by missionaries who'd met Alex if they would want to sponsor a Russian boy who was troubled, but had, they felt potential. LOTS OF RED TAPE later  and Alex came to the USA...........He's 32 now, with no trace of Russian accent, but a bit of a Southern drawl from time spent with folks in the  USA South, although still fluent in his native language. God called Alex BACK to Russia to minister to those who are still like he was.  A couple whose last name is Cathey had a vision for  a ministry of out reach with older Russian orphans............  and here is where God put Alex . He is a passionate and animated speaker. He knows his Lord and knows Him well.  It s obvious that Alex is well known to the Lord. Alex  knows the Word and knows It well. He knows what God saved him from and to and it is what makes him "pound the table and weep" as he works in Russia and as he shares his ministry traveling around the world.   As the mom to 6 originally orphaned children, Alex's story touches me so deeply. As his sister-in-Christ I am challenged to keep telling others about the need for Godly people to get involved in reaching orphans, and as a Believer in Jesus, I am thrilled at how God found this messed up, unwanted boy and turned a small pile of ashes into something beautiful  which is having an impact far beyond  his home town of St. Peterburg Russia . God is using Alex to change the demographics of Heaven itself as he shares his faith, shares his life and leads young Russian people to a saving knowledge of Jesus !                                                                                          
                                                         MEET   THE HARBOR

The Harbor…taking young adult orphans off the streets of Russia and helping them successfully integrate into mainstream life.

Find the lost and forgotten orphans of the Russian state system who have a desire to succeed and develop them in such a way that they are anchored in life and launched into a sustainable future.


Numbers help illustrate the grim reality…

Russia has 10 million children-at-risk. Once they turn seventeen, orphans are moved out of institutions and forced to make a way for themselves. Most don’t succeed. The result? More orphans and street children in Russia today than in the years following World War II.
135,000 children are orphaned every year.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 orphans leave the Russian state orphanage system annually.
An estimated 40% of post-institution orphans become alcohol and drug addicts, 40% end up in the criminal world, and 10% commit suicide.

The Harbor immerses young adult orphans into small holistic communities providing:
Practical Formation

Harbor staff model and coach residents in life skills such as cooking, nutrition, personal hygiene, budgeting, housekeeping, and family living.

Spiritual Formation

A Russian pastor provides encouragement in the journey of finding God and meaning in life.

Emotional and Relational Formation

Psychologists help participants wrestle with their unique issues in individual and group sessions.

Educational Formation

Staff members guide participants through completion of their high school education and eligibility for technical college or university studies.

Vocational Formation

Professionals provide basic competency in technology, carpentry, English, sewing, and cosmetology.

HOW Does this work?

Most donors today are familiar with the concept of exponential growth versus linear growth. Nevertheless, it is interesting to think about again. If you were to reach 1000 kids’ lives each year, in ten years you would have reached 10,000 kids. But if you reached only 12 in two years and those kids reached another 12 in two years and so on exponentially, you would reach 248,832 kids in the same ten year period.
We all want to reach the most people possible with the good news of Jesus Christ. But what does it mean to really “reach” someone? For us, this means to befriend, invest in, love, journey with, and live out the good news to someone, as well as tell them about it. We would probably all agree that this is impossible to do with more than a few people at any given time
This strategy – investing deeply in the lives of a few – was the Lord’s strategy and model to us as he worked with his disciples. The Harbor is committed to ministering deeply and individually to each young adult orphan. Not only will such care and development empower these orphans to reach others with Christ’s love, but it will also mirror the genuine love and attention that God demonstrates to each of us as individuals. God’s love has transformed our lives and we believe that it will transform the lives of Russia’s orphans. Will you join us?


Secure eight permanent apartments, each housing eight young adult orphans and full-time mentors.

Develop a Professional Training Center offering degrees in twelve professions.

Train leaders for 250 programs within Russia and another 100 in the other CIS nations.

Financially support the program through businesses and endowments

CATEGORY      2001        2002        2003        2004        2005        2006        2007          2008      Total

Orphans helped      4              4              8              13            13           16             16             21          74

Staff working with orphans as mentors, counselors,

trainers, pastors, administrators, and tutors
                              4              6             7                8              13           13           13            13           13

Orphans served through community service in the baby

home or orphan hospital
                            4                4            20              20           25              80           80        80          ~240

Harbor graduates 0                2             4                7            6                12            16        3                50

Individual partners 50 ~       100 ~     150 ~          210 ~     250 ~           260 ~      314 ~ 322           ~350

Church partners in Russia & America
                            2              3            3                  6             9                 11            14     14                14

Foundations/Charitable Trusts/Corporate partners
                            0             1            1                   3            4                   5               8      8                   8

I want to share with you part of the Harbor's  February 2010  quarterly newsletter. Director Melinda Cathey had this to say :
"I had a meeting with our psychologist, Natasha. We talked about our residents, the problems and progress she was seeing. She showed me some of the new techniques she was using to work with our orphans and I was astounded at her wisdom and creativity. One of the things she has discovered to be particularly powerful is videoing and photographing our residents throughout the course of their normal days. Seeing their behavior gives them a much better idea of how others see them and why others respond to them as they do. It is very fertile soil to help them begin to ask themselves, “What is going on inside of me? “ Their emptiness and sadness are eerily visible. It shocks even them. Natasha continues this personal documentary on each one and you can physically see them changing in their countenance before your eyes. What a blessing and testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit. I was on cloud-nine after this meeting!

In the days that followed I had many opportunities to interact with both current and past Harbor residents. One night at our VTC , I was asked to fill in and help teach an English class for an orphanage that we have developed a good relationship with. Varying degrees of mental delays were obvious. I spoke with the accompanying caretaker and she told me “Oh, yes, all of these kids have fetal alcohol syndrome. Most are third generation orphans and from third generation alcoholics/drug addicts.” After class we just hung out and I was listening to the kids talking. They were telling stories of violence and abuse they had witnessed throughout their lives and were laughing about it all. I thought they were recounting movies they had seen, but I was assured these were personal stories. “Oh Lord, these kids don’t have a chance!” was the honest cry of my heart. More stories of all their dabbling in the occult left me feeling very low.

I went to the kitchen to pray, process, and have some tea. As I walked in, I saw this stunning Russian beauty who looked vaguely familiar. She gave me a big smile and a warm hello. It took me a few seconds to realize this was Tanya. Wow! Talk about a transformation! As we caught up I was amazed to find out she was in her fourth year of a five year psychology program. She is studying to be a psychologist and came to get advice from Luba about how to pursue internships and what kind she should secure. I asked her how she liked school and she bluntly replied, “I love it when we are not in session!” I asked how her grades were and she said, “Fair.” Upon reflection, I realized these were the most encouraging answers she could have possibly given me. Five years ago Tanya could not think past the moment. She had no goals. She was lazy and not particularly motivated. Now, in spite of not really liking school, she was in her fourth year of a five year program! She had stuck it out. She has goals and is persevering towards those."

Maybe you'll be blessed by reading about this ministry. If you are  please remember to pray for Alex, Melinda and the other staff members of The Harbor?   Please pray for the residents ? Please pray for the far too-many orphans in Russia and the rest of our world who need places like The Harbor, orphans who need families  with opened hearts and homes in which to welcome them...families like yours and mine................

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A fun photo to share

I just saw this photo today of  Malachi and Sopeak  and liked it so much I wanted to share it. Just a fun photo. It was taken outside a restaurant in Phnom Penh. I have no idea whose bike this is  because I know it  is/ was not Malachi's, but they sure  look great on it!


Oh this song is so the prayer of my heart this week. Please take a moment to turn off my regular play list and let the words minister to your hearts too?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

some things are just easier to talk about

like baby goats. Those are easy, especially when they are healthy and cute and strong .When you wake up to find your son's Black lab dead on the street right past your house....not so easy. Nash has been Gideon's best friend, literally  for almost  5 years. When people were harsh or unfaithful as friends, when Gideon's  friends were just not tuned in to his ups and downs,  Nash was always there for and with him, since the day Gideon adopted him from the pound. Its not uncommon for Nash and Malachi's Golden Retriever  Aslan to go out at night, swim the pond  and come on back home in the wee hours. They are country dogs; we live in the country. Nash usually lives with Gideon but moved in with us temporarily this time  while Gideon moved and built a fence at his new house to keep Nash safe in his city place. Nash wasn't even here a week this time . It was a hard hard day for him. The other brothers dug the hole. Charlie and Gideon finished that sad part of the day together later on in the after noon. I had invited Gideon out for supper to share home made barley soup, homebaked bread and corn bread. That's a bout all a mom can do for a grown son to respect his grief, his privacy and still show a lot of love without babying.Sometimes the care and parenting of adult children is harder than some of the parenting of young children. Some people are not dog people and might not understand how deep this was for Gideon.For those of you who are not always people-people yourselves and who are animal lovers, you know. I know my son. He is grieving very very deeply. He is very lonely for his best bud.

Baby photos!

The link for my Snapfish album failed earlier. Let's  try  again!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Triplet update

A quick check on Satsuma and the triplets : all is well, all is very well. Babies are all up walking around , Sasuma was  up chewing some hay when I peeped in, and seems to be doing just fine. After  that long labor, I didn't know if she'd be wiped out today or not. Her eyes are sparkling. I am so thankful  for the weather . I have to say that because even thee days ago the night temperatures were well below freezing. The risk to wet, new born goats who were living inside a 104 degree mama getting hypothermic is great. I lost a small , healthy, meat goat to the cold in January. It's not "Warm"  outside, but no where near freezing either. Satsuma kept the babies close, no one got extra frisky and climbed out. The Farm Mistress is a bit tired today, but  I slept in "heavenly peace" for the few hours I had.washed off with HOT WATER and slept in a room with 64 degree temps around me (bedroom temp had dropped to lo-mid 50s when the propane ran out. ) Sometimes we are just more aware of the things for which we are thankful.  Thank YOU Lord Jesus  for.......................................................................


Since there is never a dull moment  at Calico Acres Farm, today was as good a day as any  for my prize Alpine doe ,  Satsuma  to go into labor. Since goats are pretty predictable and carry for 150 days, I thought today would be the day. Well, almost. Goats do NOT labor for more than an hour or so. SIX+ hours is dangerous. Tonight  was  beyond dangerous.  At 5,  I was excited for new babies. At 6,  I was anticipating.  I knew at 7 we had potential trouble. At 8,  I was quite certain. At 9:30, I knew it was time to call my very goat-experienced friend Julie, who was more than likely in her own goat barn when I called.That meant it was time to call our  vet  out for a farm call . Beloved vet  didn't answer for 35 minutes. Someone else's emergency was already going on so I knew I would wait at least an hour for Lisa to get out here. Got out the meds, gave Satsuma a good injected dose of Calcium Gluconate for muscle tone, stayed with her, and waited.There comes a point at which a goat is laboring and you have to glove up and go in.  I assessed:  NOT a nose, not feet, not going to be a normal birth...............Satsuma and I had a long talk. It was simply a  long hard night. There  was a lot of praying and common sense thinking and visualizing going on. There was strategy going on in my mind. IF  this part, then this. IF THAT PART, do that. IF this..............................PLEASE LISA JUST GET HERE!!!!!   At about 12;15 AM,  but no longer the day I anticipated as birth day, Satsuma and I had another  talk and then we teamed up to get that stuck  baby born. Face- first with two little paws, body slides out right  after   is "normal" ,and usually poses no problem. Think  this shape  (      and   a banana sliding out of a     (    banana- shaped tube. THIS baby........frank breech and upside down. That means butt first and   )  shaped  coming down the   ( shaped tube. THIS means the midwife does mental geometry and knows that the only way OUT  is a cork screw sort of maneuver to turn the baby back to face down to get all those legs out!
TWO MINUTES AFTER  Satsuma and I got her baby girl born,  AND the second baby, a right side- down   (  (  breech boy,   Lisa the vet  showed up. Just in time to help catch #3 as I was cleaning up the first two.
  Satsuma was wonderful!! She was so tired, but took immeditate great care of the babies  and was so attentive to them! Lisa left after looking everybody over and congratulating me,  I cleaned everything up, took some photos which are not very good because of the infra red heat lamp in the pen, but we have beautiful triplets , all healthy and  scampering around already, and TWO DOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a great end to a day with no heat, no plumbing , backed up tubs and shower stalls, NO plumberreturnng calls for a bidded job,  propane which didn't arrive till 5:30, and more bailing of shower  stall  and bathtubs!  So its now March 2. We have hot water, I have heat upstairs, I cooked dinner  for the chldren  and two  extra friends before I spent the next  7 hours with Satsuma. The babies  are great,  (did I mention)  I HAVE TWO DOES!!  and I got  a few photos too.  I can honestly tell you  that the goats on Calico Acres Farm are almost as prayed over as the children! Adrenalin is still pumping so I know I won't get much sleep tonight. SO thankful that God gave me the insight to know how to help  Satsuma  and that our babies are fine and healthy! Last year I lost a very valueable doe in labor  with FOUR babies the night we returned from Liberia. The year before  I lost a doe and three babies during  a prolonged labor. This was a breeding I have been working toward for 4 generations so it was particlarly an important kidding. Satsuma is such a GREAT milk doe  besides, we really depend on her. I will take more photos in the morning. Now I am going to try  to read a bit and go to sleep!!