Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quack, Quack!

Chrissie was the cutest ducky you've ever seen!  Last Halloween, Chrissie had only been a part of our family (our entire family at our home in Texas) a total of 14 days.  Chrissie received such a warm welcome from everyone, and she was invited to one of our friend's birthday parties, who was the same age as Chrissie.  We were blessed to attend a fun party with a children's band last Halloween, and the memories of Chrissie dressed up as a little duck with a big fat belly will be forever treasured. 
I'm quite sure Chrissie had no clue why in the world we were putting this stuffed duck costume on her, but she sure was the cutest ducky we've ever laid eyes on!  Being home just 2 weeks, Chrissie didn't yet speak or understand a lot of English, but she was a trooper!

Chrissie chose a pink flower to have painted on her face at our friend's birthday party.
If you'll look closely, you'll see that Chrissie insisted upon wearing a necklace with her ducky costume.  She always adorned herself with jewels!  Christyn "Jewelry" Patterson!

Below is a video clip of Chrissie's first "Hokey Pokey" dance, on Halloween, at the birthday party.  It continues to amaze me how securely attached Chrissie was in such a short time.  (If you're reading this post in a reader or by RSS feed, you'll need to click on our blog to view the video.)

I'll try to post pics of our other kiddos this evening upon our return from a fall party.
Happy Fall Y'all!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Night With The Chapmans

On October 4, 2010, our family drove to Houston, Texas, to spend "A Night With The Chapmans".  Steven Curtis Chapman, his wife, Mary Beth, and their sons Caleb and Will Franklin are on tour as a family this fall.

As I posted HERE, our family was able to meet Steven Curtis Chapman and his sons back in May, just before Chrissie went to live with Jesus.  This back stage meeting was a tremendous source of encouragement for our family back before we even realized that Chrissie would be joining Maria Sue Chapman in Heaven, and little did we realize that Chrissie would dance with Jesus just 3 days after our meeting with Steven Curtis Chapman.

So, as a birthday gift to my husband, I purchased tickets for our entire family to attend A Night With The Chapmans on the eve of Chrissie's 5th birthday, which was a tremendous blessing to us all.

Our 7 kiddos posing in their 147 Million Orphan gear in front of the Steven Curtis Chapman gear at the concert.

We were able to attend a special Q&A session before the concert started.

This photo is of Steven Curtis Chapman singing Cinderella.  If you look on the screen in the upper section of the photo, you'll notice the video footage that showed up when I snapped the photo of Steven Curtis Chapman dancing with his cinderella.  Matt and Chrissie danced to Cinderella on her last night in our home.  It's so hard to listen to the Cinderella song now, but I love the new ending that SCC wrote to this song.  Instead of saying, "When the clock strikes midnight, she'll be gone.", it now says, "the dance will go on."  Yes, the dance goes on.  Chrissie is dancing with Jesus while we learn this new dance on earth without her, but we are forever grateful for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ who freely gifts us the promise that one day we'll dance with Chrissie again for all eternity.

If you haven't already purchased Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing to SEE, I HIGHLY recommend it!  It's one of the top books on the NY Times bestseller list, and I know why!!!

After the concert, we met with Will Franklin Chapman.  He's the one who was driving the vehicle when his baby sister, Maria Sue, went to live with Jesus.  This boy is a real hero.  I cannot imagine walking in his shoes, but he's done it with such amazing grace and integrity that comes through Him.  He is a walking testament of Jesus' mercy.  Will Franklin is an amazing encouragement to our children because there are not a lot of support groups out there for kids who are grieving the loss of their adopted little sister who they loved with all their hearts.  Will Franklin was so sweet to our kids, especially to our 10-year-old, Sawyer, who has such a tender heart.  Sawyer's face was swollen and blotched with red from all of his tears, and Will Franklin just reached out and grabbed him and hugged him and encouraged him.  Thank you, Will Franklin, for who you are and your sweet, sweet, compassionate heart; for living out life with integrity for His glory after such tragedy.  Satan would have loved to take your life in a different direction, but through Him, you are victorious and will always be a hero in our book.
PS  The Chapmans have a ritual of doing "rock face" photos in memory of their Maria Sue.  Will Franklin suggested we do a silly photo, which was just what Sawyer needed, and somehow Will Franklin knew that.  Well, I know how he "somehow" knew that.  Thank you, again, Will Franklin.  (Sawyer is the boy right next to Will Franklin Chapman in this photo.) 

And this photo has Caleb Chapman front and center.  Caleb is so kind...he was instrumental in connecting our family with his dad back in San Antonio at the Seaworld concert.  And, BTW,  Caleb's band ROCKS, and he seems to be carrying the torch of his father with his music.  Will Franklin is the drummer in Caleb's band.  And both Caleb and Will Franklin played in their dad's band during the concert.  How cool would that have a band with father and two sons?  God is so good.

Thank you, God, for using The Chapmans in so many amazing ways.  We have been blessed by not only the awesome music of Steven Curtis Chapman, but also Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to SEE, and the testimony that they so freely share for your glory, in their grief.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."  ~Mark Twain

Matt (my hubby) and Parker (our 14-year-old son) are returning from Haiti tonight after a week-long mission trip to an orphanage there.  Can't wait to see them and hear how God moved in their lives as they cared for orphans in their distress (James 1:27).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adoption is Redemption...

I have so many things I want to share, as always, but this is the message I feel like God wants me to pass along to you all right now.  I didn't write it; I'm reposting it from The Loux Family Blog.  I may have posted it here before, but this post deserves another highlight since it's the most powerful blog post I've ever read in my lifetime.  It's not just about adoption, it's about redemption.  And those go hand in hand.  For those who don't know the story of The Loux Family, it's important that you know that Derek Loux, the author of this post, is now in Heaven.  He was called home to be with Jesus last Christmas after an auto accident.  He wrote this post about redemption a year before he went to live with Jesus.  Derek's wife and their ten beautiful blessings continue to live out James 1:27.  And now, here's the most life-changing blog post I've ever read, authored by Derek Loux:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Renee’ and I are sitting in the office of a telephone company in Novograd 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 year 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.

Now, here's a follow-up post of The Loux's, which is a reminder of God's goodness and faithfulness.  Here's the post that The Louxs authored about 9 months after Derek wrote the post about redemption, 9 months after these 3 boys joined their family.  Here's the follow up post found on The Loux Family blog on September 30, 2009:

Ethan’s progess has been nothing short of a miracle. Derek and I were looking at some past pictures of Ethan when we first took him out of the orphanage. We were shocked at the shape he was in! It’s amazing how your mind forgets some of the hard details of the past when such growth has been made. It’s good to see the growth and it’s also important to remember God’s faithfulness and all the Lord has brought Ethan through. Ethan is truly a miracle child! All our boys are!

When Derek and I were in Ukraine going through the process of adopting our three precious sons, Derek went though a really difficult time connecting with Ethan, who at that time was named Dimitri. On December 12th, Derek and I were sitting in the office of a telephone company using the wireless internet to write some emails. Derek began to write a post for our adoption blog. As he was writing the post, he had tears in his eyes. I knew the Lord was speaking something powerful to his heart. We wanted to re-post Derek’s post again to remind you of God’s greatness and His power! When you read the post below you will be reading the names Roman, Dimitri and Sasha as the three boys we were in the process of adopting. We changed Roman’s name to Silas, Dimitri’s to Ethan and we kept Sasha’s name. When we left Ukraine with Ethan, he weighed 11 pounds at 5 years old. He now weighs 26 pounds and has grown 8 inches in 9 months. He laughs, he smiles, he talks, he’s learning how to walk and he is very smart. We were told he would “do nothing.” What a testament to the Lord’s awesome power!

Those of you who follow our blog are aware that since this post below, we have not only adopted our three boys but have also brought in two new daughters, Leeann and our little Sana. God is good! What an amazing heavenly Father we have! His love endures forever and we have 10 beautiful blessings to prove it!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hospital Visit and Prayer Requests

*I've been working on this post for a while, and haven't been able to complete it.  I'm going to call it done even though I wanted to post more pics, but I want to call your attention to the prayer requests at the bottom of the post.  Prayer is so powerful; it truly is.  Even when the result may not be what we were hoping for, there's no subsitute for prayer.  We draw closer to Jesus when we pray, and He is always near to us, just waiting for us to climb into His lap and pour our hearts out to Him.  And if He doesn't answer us the way we'd like, He wants us to come to Him to ask Him why and let Him hold us and comfort us and let us know that He is sovereign, He is faithful, and He loves us more than we'll ever realize.  Please lift up the requests at the bottom of this post.

Now here's the post I've been wanting to share:

On Tuesday, October 5, I went to the Methodist Children's Hospital (where Chrissie was carried into Jesus' arms).  One of the wonderful chaplains, Diane, ordered a leaf for the children's memory tree at the hospital, and she asked if I might be able to stop by to put it on the tree in person.

For those who go by this hospital, the memory trees are on the 3rd floor of the children's wing by the oncology unit.  Chrissie's leaf is on the tree to the right, in the very bottom part of the right hand side, next to the pink flower and blue butterfly.

Another reason I stopped by the hospital was to pray over this little guy:

Rowan is 4, and he was in the hospital at the same time that Chrissie was.  (He's actually spent more days in the hospital than not in his 4 years of life.)  Well, Rowan's mom, Carrie, was a huge support to  me while Chrissie was in the hospital.  Carrie and Rowan prayed continuously for Chrissie, and almost every day that Chrissie was in the hospital, Carrie would deliver something to me.  Sometimes it was food or drink, sometimes it was a card and Scripture, sometimes it was a cross or an angel or an inspiring trinket, but ALWAYS the item had been delivered with love from a mom I had just met who had walked the hospital path far too often.

About half-way into Chrissie's hospital stay, Carrie asked if she could make us a quilt as a tribute to Chrissie's battle, as a triumph reminder for God's glory.  Of course I accepted Carrie's offer, but on the day Chrissie went to Heaven, I assumed the quilt would no longer be necessary.  WRONG!  Carrie worked continuously from the time Chrissie went to Heaven for almost 5 months making the most amazing photo quilt in memory of Chrissie!!! 

Carrie wanted us to have the quilt for Chrissie's birthday (Oct. 8), but Rowan went back into the hospital Oct. 3 in an emergency situation (he's still there). Carrie was bummed because she didn't think she could get the quilt to us, but lo and behold, I was trying to build the courage to go put Chrissie's leaf on the memory tree, and I knew God wanted me to pray over Rowan, so I told Carrie I would just come by the hospital to get the quilt. Carrie finished the quilt at the hospital, and we both knew it was God's will for the quilt to be delivered to me at the hospital, the same place where Chrissie was delivered to Him.
I was so nervous to walk into the hospital since I hadn't been back there after Chrissie went to forever dance with Jesus.  I truly thought I would totally fall apart, but a few good friends were praying for me, and God gave me a total peace as I walked by the area where Chrissie was ushered into Heaven.  I saw some of Chrissie's nurses who gave me huge hugs, which felt oh so good.  One nurse (Hi Rosanna!) talked to me about how I should write a book about Chrissie's story, so that conversation was a fun distraction that kept me from staring at Chrissie's old room.  I tried to maintain eye contact with Rosanna, then I headed straight to Rowan's room where I was so completely overwhelmed when I saw the quilt that Carrie made in memory of Chrissie.  

This photo was taken in the PICU waiting room.  Dr. Porisch held one side while I had the other, and 2 people (Carrie and the Child-Life specialist) stood on chairs behind the quilt to hold it up.  That's Diane, the chaplain, on the far right.  I was so totally blown away by this quilt, made by a mom I hardly even knew.  I was overwhelmed that she took the time, effort, and money to put this together for our family.  She truly poured her heart and soul into this gift, and it's the most treasured and perfect gift I've ever been given in my entire life.  Seriously.
The quilt has 132 photos of Chrissie that tell her life from Serbia to Heaven.
Carrie hand-quilted the entire thing, and she chose the most amazing fabrics and embellishments in the entire world.  Carrie put a ribbon border around each photo, and she matched the ribbons to the photos.  She printed Scripture onto pink fabric that she cut into hearts and hand-sewed them on, placing them near photos where the scriptures would have extra significance.  Carrie sewed on all kinds of precious princess embellishments and darling "bling" buttons that I adore.  Oh my word, this quilt is amazing, and Chrissie would have LOVED it here on earth.  I pray God will allow her to see this beautiful piece of art from Heaven.
This is Rowan imitating his favorite Chrissie photo.  It's the one of Chrissie with her hands on her hips being bossy.  (You can see the Chrissie photo in the pink border next to Rowan.)  Rowan kissed and prayed over every picture on the quilt as his mommy so lovingly and carefully designed each quilt square.  So, one can just imagine how close Rowan grew to Chrissie, even after she moved to Heaven, as Rowan spent day in and day out praying over her quilt photos while his mommy so lovingly hand-sewed this king-sized quilt.  Carrie even hand-sewed the front to the back of the quilt, using swirls and twirls and all things girly and beautiful.  It truly is amazing.  I wish you all could see it in person.

This little rock that Rowan is holding is a scripture rock that Rowan held on to all day, waiting to show it to me so he could stash it into a special pocket on the quilt.

Rowan stuck his scripture rock into the heart-shaped pocket that says "Christyn "Jewelry" Patterson".

Just look how darling this quilt is.  Oh my word.  It feels like Easter candy to me...I could just eat it up.  The colors remind me of all things Easter...pastels that are just bright enough to make you want to salivate!  Easter is a reminder of new life.  And what a new life Chrissie has.  A new life where she is whole and perfect and all things Easter, with swirls and twirls as she dances with Jesus.  This quilt couldn't be more perfect.  Words cannot describe my love of this gift.  I am so unworthy of such a treasure.  Carrie's selfess act of service, her generosity, the time and attention to detail, the countless hours and pin pricks, the unending prayer and tears poured into this project are more than I can fathom.  More than I am worthy to receive, yet I accept it with a heart that is more grateful than I will ever be able to express.  This is a love offering more precious to me than anything I've ever received.  Now I kow what Jesus probably felt when the woman washed his feet with her treasured perfume.
Thank you is simply not enough, but THANK YOU, Carrie!!! 
You have blessed my family and me more than I'll ever be able to express.

Now, here are the prayer requests that I beg you to lift up to our Savior.  Our family was so very blessed by the army of prayer warriors during Chrissie's hospital battle, so I ask you to get on your knees for the following requests:
  • Rowan is still in the hospital, and he will be having brain surgery at 7AM tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 19) to help drain excess fluid that is causing way too high of intrcranial pressures, which is beyond migraine level pain for Rowan.  Rowan is a true warrior who is wise beyond his years, and he says Chrissie is his girlfriend.  He still talks to her and loves her dearly.  Rowan's life is a miracle, just like Chrissie's was.  Click HERE to follow his story/progress via his mom's Facebook.
  • Rowan's mom, Carrie, has been there by his side non-stop since Oct. 3, and she's only gone outside twice for sunshine for a few seconds.  I completely understand what this is like, and I know Carrie could really use some extra prayer coverage as her son goes in for brain surgery.  Rowan will be in the PICU for an unknown amount of time following his brain surgery.  If you'd like to deliver a meal or goodies to Carrie, please leave a comment to let me know and I'll get you in touch with Carrie.  I was so blessed by so many of you as total strangers who stopped by to bless me with meals while Chrissie was in the hospital, and I would love to give Carrie this same blessing.
  • Also pray for Rowan's family.  He has 2 other siblings and his daddy is taking care of them while Rowan's mommy stays by his side at the hospital.  This is hard.  Very hard.  Please pray for all of them.
  • The last request is for a baby in Haiti who is in Rhyan's care, a sweet young lady who prayed fervently for Chrissie.  Click HERE to learn more about how to pray for Baby Bianka, who may not make it through the night.

Thank you!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Samantha and Happy Citizenship Day, Chrissie!

Happy 19th Birthday, Samantha!
(Sorry, Sam, that I am posting this early morning PJ photo, but I love it!)
We love you and we're so proud of you, Samantha!!!

Today (Oct. 17) is also the day that Chrissie arrived in Texas and officially became a US Citizen!  She was so happy to be HOME!  After traveling for 30+ hours from Serbia to Texas (and only have slept about 30 minutes of that entire time!), Chrissie walked off the plane in Houston, Texas, and announced with a Texan accent in her loudest voice, "HI, Y'ALL!!!"  So precious!

Chrissie took her bath the last night in Serbia, then climbed into the suitcase, ready to go to Texas!

Mommy and Chrissie at the Belgrade, Serbia, airport before departure to Texas.  Woohoo!

I held the camera out and took this photo before Chrissie had to get strapped into her seatbelt, which she did not enjoy!  She had never had to wear a seatbelt before in her life, so she started to cry, and I had a sweet woman who spoke Serbian and English explain to Chrissie why she had to wear the seatbelt.  Then Chrissie was fine for the rest of the flights, praise God!

This was during Chrissie's 30-minute nap.  The only time she slept in 30+ hours of travel!

Chrissie became a US citizen in Houston, Texas!

We were starving after our super long travel adventure, so when we saw Wendy's restaurant in Houston, we ordered it.  So, Chrissie's first American meal was Wendy's.  She only ate the French fries, but she was so excited just to be HOME.  Such a sweet girl.

We didn't get to our house until around 1AMish, but bright and early the following morning, Chrissie was doing nails with her sisters like she'd known them her entire life.

And by the following day, Chrissie was right at home, bossing everyone around and charming the socks off all her siblings.  In this photo Chrissie's "talking" on her Barbie phone while Emily gives her a pedicure!

A few weeks after being home, Chrissie's US Certficate of Citizenship arrived.  Chrissie was ready for bed (with her red cowgril boots on) when we discovered her citizenship certificate in the mail, but she had to pose for a photo with her citizenship certificate before falling asleep that night!

Chrissie, we love you so much and we're so grateful God chose to share you with us, even if it was only for a short while.  I wish we could visit you NOW, but I am so thankful for Jesus, who died for our sins to give us salvation.  Because of Him, you celebrated your Heavenly citizenship day on May 19, 2010, and because of Him, we'll get to spend all of eternity with you in Heaven.  Praise Him!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pure and Undefiled Religion

Hallelujah, Julia's family is getting closer to rescuing her!!!  Please click HERE to go to Julia's family's blog, and be sure to leave them a comment of support.  I am so very grateful that God spoke to this family regarding Julia, but even more grateful that this family LISTENED and JOYFULLY OBEYED.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  Thank you Schwenzer Family for answering His call!!!  You are living our pure and undefiled religion, according to James 1:27.

Also, I thought some of you might enjoy another adoption story of how God works to knit His families together.  Click HERE to wish Scott (an orphan in Serbia where Chrissie was from) a happy 7th birthday, and listen to how God connected these families. 

The family that is hosting the online birthday party for Scott (The Campbell Family) has an adopted daughter from Serbia who they named Christyn Joy and they call her Chrissie, after our Christyn Joy of course.  Well, Scott's forever family is here in the US (The Seversons), and we met them personally in Serbia last October while we were there adopting Chrissie!  Click HERE to meet Scott's forever family.   Upon our arrival in Serbia last October, after 30+ hours of travel, The Seversons invited us to sleep in their apartment in Serbia and fed us a home-cooked meal upon our arrival, which was such a sweet blessing after we had traveled for two days and knew no one in Serbia and had no place to stay!!!

Well, The Seversons knew God was calling them to adopt once again, and their newest child is Scott, who is celebrating his 7th birthday today.  The sad thing is that The Seversons were approved and invited to go get Scott, but they were lacking the remaining funds for the adoption, so they were not able to celebrate Scott's birthday in person today as they had hoped. 

God's plan is to come to every orphan (John 14:18), and He is depending upon His people (the Church...the body of Christ around the world) to answer His promise to come to the orphan.  There are families all over the world who are ready to go rescue God's orphans, but finances are holding them back.  Did you know that you have a responsibility to SEND families to rescue orphans?  All Christians are called to live out James 1:27:  Pure and undefiled religion is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  This is our litmus test of Christianity.  It's the only verse in the Bible that defines pure and undefiled religion.  Are you looking after orphans and widows? 

This doesn't mean you have to actually adopt an orphan in order to have a positive pure religion litmus test, but I do believe every person who claims to be a Christian should be caring for orphans and widows, according to God's definition of pure and undefiled religion.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world who could be financially supporting adoptive families, uniting orphans with their forever families.  It's just heart-breaking to realize that many Christian families are spending their finances on so many temporary things that have nothing to do with pure religion, things like new cars, new clothes, new shoes, hunting leases, Halloween costumes, new furniture, vacations and travel, green fees, school fundraisers, sports events...the list goes on and on.  I'm not saying God doesn't want us to enjoy these things within limits, but I am saying that something is wrong when a Christian does nothing to care for orphans and widows, and, instead, spends their time and finances on temporal things that bring nothing to the Kingdom and do nothing to show Christ's love to orphans.  Give FIRST to orphans and widows, then spend your other money according to how God has asked you.  I'm just as guilty as the rest, I'm not perfect, I am no financial expert, I misuse God's money every single day, but I am asking God to HELP ME live out James 1:27 in a variety of ways:  adoption, prayer, and giving to help unite orphans with their forever families.  Would you please join me in asking God to help His people answer His call?

A quote from last week's sermon at church:  "I've never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse."

Keep that quote in mind next time you're spending money.  Donate to bring orphans home.  Live out pure and undefiled religion.  Put your investments in His kingdom, store up your treasures in Heaven, because, after all, the temporary stuff you're spending money on now will not go with you in a U-Haul behind your hearse.

Last Day for iPad Ransom!

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."  Proverbs 24:12

Please spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, email, your blog, etc.: 
Today is the last day to donate to the ransom of 2 Russian orphans.  Your donation enters you in the iPad giveaway and helps rescue two orphans! 
"Y" needs your help!
Please donate to bring her home for Christmas!

"I" is waiting for his forever family.
And they're anxious to get him.
They just  need the funds.

Adoption is expensive.
Pure and undefiled religion is caring for orphans in their distress.
You don't have to adopt to live out James 1:27.
You can do your part as the body of Christ
by donating to bring I and Y home.

I can't stand the thought of these two precious children spending Christmas alone in their orphanage with no gifts to open, no nativity baby Jesus, no reason to celebrate.  Oh how I pray God will move amongst His people to provide the funds for this family to go get their children. 

Please don't delay.
You have until 11:59PM tonight to donate.
And don't forget, each donation is an entry in the iPad giveaway.
Click HERE to donate or just click on the ChipIn below.
Remember, every donation makes a difference.  No amount is too small.  Spread the word!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chrissie's Gotcha Day

On this day last year, October 14, 2009, we celebrated Chrissie's first and only Gotcha Day.  (In the adoption world, that's the day when the adoptive family "gets" their child...hence the phrase "gotcha", as in I got you.)  In Serbia, the orphan isn't allowed to stay overnight with the adoptive family until after the adoption is finalized.  Matt and I were blessed that the orphanage director asked us to allow Chrissie to spend a few nights with us before the adoption finalized because it broke their hearts to see Chrissie returned to the orphanage each day after our daily visitation hours.  Apparently Chrissie would cry and beg us to come back (after we dropped her back off at the orphanage each evening), but it was the country's rule that we could only have set hours of visitation prior to finalizing the adoption.  God's mercy was poured out on Chrissie as the orphanage director made an exception to the rule and actually asked us if we would mind keeping Chrissie with us overnight prior to the finalization since she was so sad not to be with us day AND night.  Mind?!?  We were elated and in total shock that the director asked us to do this.  WOW!

Chrissie couldn't wait to spend the night with us.  She didn't speak English, but we knew by the smile on her face and the constant chatter in Serbian from her lips.  Chrissie loved the hotel we stayed at in her hometown of Subotica, Serbia.  She took several bubble baths each day, which she had never done before.  She took "notes" (in her prestigious and authoritative secretarial manner) on every hotel notepad she could find.  She snuggled between her daddy and me in the king-sized bed, acting as if she had slept there her entire life.  And Daddy fed her chocolate in bed, just like every princess deserves.

Chrissie filled her days with nail-painting and chocolate-eating.  She painted Mommy's and Daddy's nails multiple times/day, and we painted hers.  Only she was the boss, so we were lucky to get to paint hers since she wanted to do it all by herself.  Daddy bought several packages of M&M's each day, and there was never an uneaten M&M around.

The morning of the adoption finalization, we weren't sure if it would actually happen that day.  We got up super early (4 or 5AM) and got all of our stuff packed.  (We had been living at this hotel for about 12 days.)  We wanted to be completely ready incase we got the word that Chrissie would officially become ours that day.  And around 10AM, we got a phone call from Chrissie's favorite orphanage worker, Sandra, letting us know that YES, the adoption ceremony would take place that day in the city where Chrissie was born. 

We had 15 minutes to get out the door.  The orphanage van picked us up (which is not something that normally happens), and the orphanage driver and Sandra (the speech therapist) escorted us to the adoption ceremony, which was about 2 hours from Subotica.  They even allowed Chrissie to attend the ceremony, which usually doesn't happen.  (The ceremony consisted of about 12-15 people sitting around a large table in a tiny room full of smoke, signing papers as we promised to care for Chrissie and love her forever.)  I remember it snowed and hailed during the meeting, and the windows were open, and Chrissie kept saying she needed to go tee-tee, so I left the ceremony about 15 times to take Chrissie to the restroom.  (She never went.  She was just nervous.) 

After the ceremony, the orphanage driver took us to get Chrissie's passport.  Then he drove us to Belgrade, which was another 2 hours away, in the opposite direction.  We had to complete more paperwork in Belgrade before we could go to Texas.  (Medical visit, Embassy visit, obtain visa.)  Sandra and the orphanage driver found us a place to stay in Belgrade, and they didn't leave us until 10PM.  They VOLUNTEERED that day.  And they wouldn't take any money from us.  They didn't get back to the orphanage until around 1AM!  Amazing people with huge hearts.  They were a true blessing.  (And our in-country adoption facilitator and our attorney worked round the clock to get everything done so we could get home quickly, which was another huge blessing.)  And Shelley, the Reece's Rainbow coordinator was working stateside to help us.  And a sweet travel agent from Golden Rule travel (humanitarian travel) worked diligently to secure flights home since the adoption was completed a week earlier than what everyone had planned.  God moved mountains to get Chrissie home; we received huge blessings and witnessed great miracles in Serbia.

And the day after the adoption was finalized, Chrissie crawled into our pink suitcase and told us she was ready to go to Texas.

Oh how I would do anything to unzip that pink suitcase and have Chrissie pop out and say, "SURPRISE!" 

But Chrissie now has a new Gotcha Day.  God sprung her from our lives and into His Home on May 19, 2010.  That's her new Gotcha Day.  And one day we'll be in Heaven to celebrate it with Chrissie. 

Chrissie and her daddy lounging on the bed.  We were trying to get Chrissie to take a nap, but she wanted no  part of napping in Serbia!

Chrissie having a blast in the bathtub at Hotel Galleria in Subotica, Serbia.
She got such a kick out of having the water running and filling her mouth with water, then giggling the water out and down her body.

Chrissie always took "notes".  She spent most of her days at the orphanage in the lap of various office staff, so she thought she was a secretary.  She would put the phone to her ear, take a ball-point pen and click it on her chest to get it ready to write, then take notes as she chattered in Serbian to the make-believe client on the other end of the phone!

Chrissie loved for me to blow bubbles right into her face.

Chrissie SOOOOO wanted to be able to blow bubbles, but she never had enough "wind" to make it work.  She would turn blue as she tried to blow bubbles.
I know in Heaven she's now able to blow as many bubbles as her precious heart desires.

Chrissie painted Daddy's nails multiple times/day!

Chrissie didn't have any problems falling asleep her first night with us, and she didn't have any issues with feeling safe.  She is fast asleep in this picture taken her first night to sleep over with her mommy and daddy.  Amazing.

The orphanage van that came to our hotel to get us, then drove us all over the country of Serbia, taking us to Chrissie's adoption ceremony in the town of her birth, then on to Belgrade where we stayed until God brought us back to Texas.

Chrissie was SOOOO excited to have her passport, knowing that was part of the requirement to get to Texas.

Let's get this show on the road!
I'm a Texan and proud of it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

3 Days!

You only have a total of 3 days to donate to rescue I & Y from Russia.  Let's come together as the body of Christ to ransom these 2 precious ones in His name.  Let's be selfless in our giving so that two orphans can be united with their forever family in time for Christmas.  In December, we will celebrate the birth of the One who ransomed us.  Help this family celebrate the ransom of their two children, for God's glory, through your selfless giving in His name.

I didn't mention this in my post yesterday about Jennifer and the Pay it Forward iPad, but Chrissie played a role in Jennifer's commitment to one of her kiddos who has a heart issue.  You can read about that story by clicking HERE.  And while you're there reading about how Chrissie influenced Jennifer to say YES to her precious heart child, please donate to the ChipIn that you'll see on their blog.  (Or just click on the ChipIn below to donate.)

What are you willing to give up today in order to make a difference in the life of a child (2 children) tomorrow?  Every penny makes a difference.  Don't let Satan steal the joy of giving by convincing you that $10 won't really help.  YES IT WILL!  No amount is too little.  And, remember, your donation enters you in the iPad giveaway.  The Pay It Forward Ransom iPad:  making an eternal difference.  How God is that?!?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The "Pay It Forward" Ransom iPad

I have so many things I want/need to blog about, but there's just never enough time in the day for me to share all that I'd love to share.  I learned so much at the Together For Adoption conference last week, but I left my laptop charger at the hotel and was unable to turn on my laptop for a few days.  Life is so busy right now, and I wish so much that I could keep this blog better updated, so I thank you for your grace and support as you try to stick with me during this sketchy season.

I need to do a post to tell about Chrissie's b-day celebration, but I want to get this iPad post out first because time is running out and children's lives are at stake.

Remember when my friend Adeye gave away an iPad when she was fundraising for Yulia?  Remember how God so amazingly moved His people to donate over $20,000 in just FIVE days to pay Yulia's ransom?!?  Well, I have a neat little story to share about that iPad and the ransom.

My husband was recently given an iPad as a reward from the executives of the company he works for (Farmers Insurance).  I was SOOOO excited because I love the idea of an iPad and all of the cool things one can do with this nifty gadget, and, lucky me, my husband didn't have the slightest interest in the iPad, so he gave it to me.  (I didn't even have to beg him! :-)  Well, much to my dismay, within a few hours of my receiving the iPad from my husband (I hadn't even had a chance to open it up), I felt God telling me that I needed to give the iPad away.  WHAT?!?!  NOOOOOOOO!  This was MY iPad.  It was free.  It was a gift.  I soooooooooooooo didn't want to give it away. 

But I knew what God wanted me to do, and even though I didn't want to joyfully obey, I knew my obedience was more important than my temporary happiness.

So, I contacted Adeye to ask her if it would be helpful if I donated our iPad to her giveaway for Yulia.  Adeye had already purchased the iPad that she was giving away on behalf of Yulia, so I felt relieved that I could go ahead and keep my iPad! :-)

But then God told me to ask Adeye if she could return the iPad that she had purchased so that I could re-gift the iPad that I had been given.  Adeye let me know how much of a blessing that would be to their family during this season of their lives, so I, of course, told Adeye that I would just mail the iPad to whomever won the giveaway.  (I didn't mention my grumbly spirit that was trying to joyfully obey God in this, but my selfish flesh was giving me a good battle!)  Oh, and I secretly prayed that *I* would win the iPad!!!  And if that didn't work, perhaps the winner would tell me to just keep the iPad!

So when Adeye announced that the iPad winner was Jennifer, I noticed that the very same Jennifer had sent a friend request on Facebook that same night.  I was at the Together For Adoption conference at the time (where I...ahem... saw countless people taking notes on their iPads), so I took it upon myself to accept Jennifer's friend request and notify her that I'd be shipping her the iPad that she won.  (I was still secretly hoping she'd tell me that I could just keep the iPad.)

Well, God continues to blow me away b/c Jennifer did not tell me to keep the iPad.  Instead, she told me that she had donated to Yulia's adoption fund in memory of Chrissie, AND she was ELATED to win the iPad, not to keep for herself, but to GIVE AWAY in order to raise money to bring her 2 Russian children HOME!!!  Oh my word.  And what a selfish loser I felt like when I thought about my secret wishes that I'd get to keep the iPad!!!

This iPad has now become the "Pay It Forward Ransom iPad", and I'm once again blown away by how God works.  He is using an iPad to ransom His children!!!

Please, please, please go to Jennifer's blog and donate to help her bring her 2 cuties home before Christmas!!!  You may simply click HERE to donate or click on the ChipIn at the bottom of this post.  If you donate even a few dollars to this ransom fundraiser, you will be entered to win the Pay It Forward iPad.  And this isn't just any ole iPad.  It's a 64 gig!  The really good one!  And it came with a cover, too.  Yep, it's the whole shebang.  The good stuff.

But nothing is as good as saving a life.  Nothing.  And now I'm not bitter about giving away the iPad.  Because God's plan ALWAYS trumps my idea of what is good.  Always.  I'm thrilled that God is using this iPad to save His children.  Lives are eternal, and no orphan should be separated from their forever family because of finances.

Jennifer's family is ready and eager to go get their 2 kiddos from Russia, they just need the money to do so.  Everything else has been done.  2 kiddos are just waiting in an orphanage in Russia, waiting for their mommy and daddy to come get them and bring them HOME.  And all this family is waiting on is the ransom.  Adoption is expensive.  Orphans are worth it. Would you be willing to skip lunch out one day this week and donate $10 to Jennifer's adoption fund?

Hurry, there are only 4 days left until the iPad giveaway ends!

And if this family doesn't get their funding with this giveaway, these 2 Russian kiddos will be spending Christmas in their orphanage, separated from their forever family because Russia will not process adoptions in December.  It's now or 2011.  I vote NOW!  Please help make this possible.

"I" and "Y" in Russia are counting on you!  Please spread the word...Facebook, Twitter, blog, yell, scream, donate, donate, donate.  Jesus Christ ransomed your life.  Help ransom I and Y.  They're worth it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday, Chrissie!

Dearest Princess Chrissie,

Mommy doesn't have a lot of time right now to type this note to you because I'm preparing for your party at Forgotten Saw Ranch.  We're going to release balloons by your favorite "Lake Palic" near your gravesite where your shell is buried.  Just today, God gave me a few ideas to do with our family to celebrate your special day here on earth while you're celebrating in Heaven, so I'm trying to pull those together at the last minute.  I hope you're watching and listening from Heaven as we sing you Happy Birthday by Lake Palic later.

I don't know if Jesus already told you, but we are so pleased to announce that Sweet Yulia has a FOREVER FAMILY!!!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISSIE!!!  As you know, baby girl, so many people donated to raise the necessary funds for Yulia's adoption ransom.  Many gave in your memory, sweet love!  And now, a wonderful family has been approved to adopt treasured Yulia, who will be known as Julia now.  Praise God for this priceless gift.  While we can't really send your birthday gifts to Heaven, God can deliver one directly to you:  He has rescued Yulia from bondage and placed her into a family who already loves her and calls her by name.  I can see you dancing like David, only instead of wearing an ephod, you're wearing a tutu, I'm sure! :-)

We love you sweet princess, and we miss you more than we think we can possibly handle so much of the time.  But, as you know, God holds us and catches our tears and carries us through this valley as we learn to live withou you.  We cannot wait to be reunited with you in Heaven, our sweet Serbian Sensation!!!

Happy 5th Birthday, Baby Girl!!!  WE LOVE YOU!!!

PS  I'll reveal Julia's forever family just as soon as Reece's Rainbow posts their page! :-)  Many thanks to all who donated!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You're Invited to Chrissie's 5th Birthday Party!

I bought an antique desk the other day, and when I was cleaning it up, I found this card in one of the drawers.  I felt like it was sent directly to me from Chrissie.  (The desk wasn't full of stuff, it just happened to have this card tucked into one of the drawers.  I didn't realize it was in there until I took the drawer out to paint it.)  I've been trying to figure out how to celebrate Chrissie's 5th birthday, so this card gave me an idea of something Chrissie would love.

Since Chrissie is in Heaven for her 5th birthday, I believe God may allow her to partake in many birthday parties on her special day, October 8.  Chrissie LOVED birthday parties.  She LOVED hearing people sing, "Happy Birthday to You!", but only if it was sung to Chrissie.  God told me to have a birthday party for Chrissie at our house the night before her open-heart surgery (the party was held April 18, 2010), and oh how Chrissie's face lit up as we sang happy birthday to her!!!  She wanted us to sing it again and again, and even the morning of her open-heart surgery (April 19), she asked her daddy and I to sing happy birthday to her again.  Chrissie truly treasured her birthday party, even though it wasn't really her birthday on the day we celebrated it (April 18).  Matt and I were blessed to be able to celebrate Chrissie's REAL 4th birthday in Serbia at her orphanage on October 8, 2009 while we were there to adopt her, but the April 18th birthday party in our home was so much more special for Chrissie because she had a family to sing to her in her forever family in her forever home, instead of caregivers with roommates in an orphanage.  There was a tremendous difference in Chrissie's joy and excitement when comparing the Serbian orphanage birthday celebration (Oct. 8, 2009) with the Patterson Family birthday celebration (April 18, 2010).  I'm just so glad that God allowed us to have that special party for Chrissie before her surgery.  I truly never thought we wouldn't be celebrating Chrissie's 5th birthday here on earth this October 8th, but God knew.  So grateful for our "mock" birthday party!

So, here's the idea this card gave me in planning the celebration of Chrissie's 5th birthday party, which, of course, she'll be attending from Heaven:

Christyn Joy Patterson
October 8, 2005-May 19, 2010
A Celebration In Memory of Chrissie's 5th Birthday
  • WhoYOU are cordially invited to send birthday wishes to Princess Chrissie in memory of her 5th birthday. 
  • What:  A round-the-world-celebration in memory of Chrissie's 5th Birthday
  • When:  October 8, 2010 (any time of day)
  • Where:  The comfort of your own home (or wherever you'll be on October 8)
  • Why:  To give Chrissie the biggest and best birthday party she's ever had...people singing happy birthday to Chrissie in Heaven from all around the world!!!
  • How:  This is easy!  Just do what the card says:  Put a chair for Chrissie at your table, put a candle on your cake (or anything you want to use that could hold a candle! :-), then include among your favors the very best wish Chrissie can make.  And what do you think Chrissie's birthday wish would be?!?  Leave me a comment to let me know what you think Chrissie would wish for!  Or leave a comment with a birthday wish TO Chrissie!  Or leave both types of comments.  (Our family will read the comments on Friday (Chrissie's birthday) as we try to figure out how to get through this hard, hard day.  I have no doubt that we'll treasure your comments, whether we know you or not. :-)  And if you are able to send a photo of your little celebration, please do.  That would be an extra special blessing to see some of your sweet faces!  And if you want to go all out for the celebration, release a helium balloon to Chrissie with a note attached from you, sending her birthday wishes all the way to Heaven!  Oh, and feel free to eat some brownie batter (Chrissie's FAVORITE) in honor of our princess' special day, and don't forget to sing (or shout!) a loud and lovely happy birthday to Chrissie! :-)
These are photos taken the night of Chrissie's "mock" birthday party, the night before her open-heart surgery (April 18, 2010).  We had a formal princess ball that we threw together at the last minute because God shared this idea with me on Saturday night (LATE) April 17, and the party was Sunday afternoon, April 18.  We only had our immediate family at the party because we had to shield Chrissie from outside germ exposure to protect her health, but Chrissie didn't care who attended her party.  What mattered to her was that she was loved, chosen, cherished.  Forever and always, no matter what.

Princess Chrissie celebrating her "birthday" on April 18, 2010, the day before her open-heart surgery.

Chrissie and Daddy at her princess party, April 18, 2010.

Family photo at Chrissie's princess party. 
(Naomi and Asher joined our family this summer, so they're not in the photo.)

Chrissie gazing into Daddy's eyes as they danced to Steven Curtis Chapman's Cinderella song.
(We're super excited to be going to A Night With The Chapmans today in Houston, Oct. 7!)

Chrissie with on of her gifts at her little b-day party, April 18.
So grateful for this party that was tossed together at the last second!

Christyn "Jewelry" (Joy) Patterson

Chrissie received an electric Disney Princess scooter for her "birthday" (in April.)
A funny sidenote is that any time Chrissie would see a picture of Cinderella, she would say, "Awww, Chrissie!"  She totally thought SHE was Cinderella!!!

Can you see the pure joy and excitement in Chrissie's face as we sang happy birthday to her?!?

I wish I could see her twinkly eyes and sparkling smile in Heaven as various people around the world sing happy birthday to her this Friday in memory of Chrissie's 5th birthday.  Wow, I can only imagine what her party will be like in Heaven. 

Thank you for loving us and praying for us.  We are most grateful!!!

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