Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Betty Jean Denton Immel

In loving memory of my mom:

Betty Jean Denton Immel passed away peacefully in her home in Boerne, Texas, on December 23, 2011, of suspected heart failure. She was born on October 15, 1944 in New Braunfels, Texas, to the late Viola and Alton Denton, Sr.

Although New Braunfels was her first home, she grew up on various Air Force bases around the United States and Guam. She graduated from Lee High School in San Antonio, Texas in 1962. She met her husband, Larry, while working at USAA, and they married May 23, 1964.

Betty was a devoted, stay-at-home mom to four children: Trisha, John, Lorraine, and David. Once her youngest child reached preschool age, she became a preschool teacher and earned her Associate’s Degree in Montessori Education. She dedicated the remainder of her life to what she did best, loving and teaching children.

Later in her life, Betty developed an interest in genealogy and worked tirelessly to research her family roots. Her extensive research earned her a prestigious award from the Genealogical Society of Kendall County.

Betty always enjoyed being outdoors, gardening and planting flowers, but most of all she loved children. She taught preschool through May 2011. Instead of teaching this fall, she focused fully on her 16 grandchildren, 11 of whom were adopted from around the world. She had the capacity to make each child feel uniquely special and unconditionally loved. What a blessing it was for each of her grandchildren to have Nana’s undivided attention in the months before God took her Home.

Not only did Nana love her own children and grandchildren passionately but she had a heart for orphans around the world, giving generously to support orphan care.

Betty is survived by her husband of 47 years, Larry K. Immel; children Trisha and husband, Chris Huddleston, John, Lorraine and husband Matt Patterson, David and wife Bonnie; grandchildren Nate and Nicholas Huddleston, Naomi, Parker, Meribeth, Mattie, Sawyer, Asher, Ella, Conner, Cooper, Kiefer, and Selah Patterson, Henley and Mia Immel; sister Shirley and husband Kenneth Booth; sister-in-law Karen and husband George Foster; various nieces, nephews, and cousins, including one very special cousin, Mary Louise Wunderlich.

The family would like to thank you for your prayers, love, and support and ask that memorial contributions be made to Eagle’s Nest International (Guatemalan orphan ministry), PO Box 3213, Wichita, Kansas 67202, designate in memo: In Memory of Betty Immel, or give online at

Betty Jean Denton Immel
10/15/1944 – 12/23/2011

Dear Mom,

You were the best mom and Nana a child could ever ask for, always thinking about others before yourself, giving tirelessly and loving generously. Thanks for all the sacrifices you made in your life to make ours better. As your children, we have truly been blessed. Your legacy of love will carry on for generations to come.

With Much Love,
Your children and grandchildren

“…if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.” -1 John 4:12b

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Joyous Message

Today is the day of visitation for those who want to pay respects to my mom, Betty Immel.  Here is info for all interested on her services:

Visitation Dec. 27 from 6-8PM at Vaughan's Funeral Home, 319 East San Antonio Avenue Boerne, TX 78006. Phone (830) 249-9128. Funeral Dec. 28 at 11AM at St. John's Lutheran Church, 315 E. Rosewood, Boerne, TX 78006. Phone (830) 249-3651.

Amidst our sorrow, God continues to speckle my day with joy.  Joy of the children He has blessed me with, joy of the memories of my mom loving my children unconditionally and passionately, joy of the encouragement my mom sent me regularly, joy in knowing how supportive and helpful she would have been with our two newest lovies, who happen to have Down syndrome.

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer featured a Utah family who adopted a child with Down syndrome from Ukraine, found through Reece’s Rainbow.  Click H ERE to read that article and view the video ABC viewed last night.  It brought joy to my heart to see God’s highlight on one family who are like so many other “hidden angels” (as Diane Sawyer refers to them) who have adopted or are in the process of adopting children with Down syndrome.  I feel so very blessed that God has chosen this path for our family, and, quite frankly, we are all very excited and eager to get our newest boys home.

This morning, a friend forwarded a message to me that deeply touched my heart regarding children with Down syndrome.  We cannot wait to get these boys home.  I have a feeling my mom’s legacy of love will continue to live through our newest treasures.  In fact, I’m quite sure of it.

Here’s the article my friend sent me.  I encourage you to read it in its entirety, as it is such a joyous message that I pray will bless and educate you in the same way it did me.

“Wouldn’t the world be a better place if every family had a kid with Down syndrome?”

I’ll never forget my 9-year-old son Matt saying this one day – really less a question than a statement of how our family had changed since Jonny, our #8, was born with Down syndrome in 1992. We were all surrounding Jonny on the floor that day, alternating tickling and tummy-kisses with stretches, compression and massage to build his muscle tone, working to prepare him to walk independently.

As I looked around at my children, my heart swelled.  There was no denying that we were different – individually and collectively.  Yes, indeed, the world was a better place since Jonny was born, and we were better people – more compassionate, tender, patient, sensitive, giving – with a truer perspective on what mattered most in life.

I thought of this recently when the news broke of the latest test for Down syndrome – a simple blood draw at 10 weeks – hailed as a vast improvement over amniocentesis, which involves a long needle into the belly at 15-20 weeks and carries a risk of miscarriage. While over 90% of prenatally-diagnosed cases of Down syndrome currently result in abortion, since only 2% of pregnant women opt for this risky procedure, many babies with Down syndrome have continued to make it out of the womb alive.

But now a simple blood test could change everything.  While it’s one thing to receive a diagnosis while holding a sweet and cuddly baby, it’s another to get a phone call when you’re barely into maternity clothes.  Fear and compromise creep in, especially with pressure from doctors and geneticists insisting that the birth of a child with Down syndrome will bring suffering to all concerned – to the parents, the baby, and especially the siblings, whose quality of life will suffer from having a brother or sister who is somehow “less than.”

But are they truly “less than”?  On November 14, USA Today carried a column by Brian Skotko, a physician at  Children's Hospital Boston, titled Will America cull people with Down syndrome?in which he cited a study concluding:

99% of parents say they truly love their son or daughter with Down syndrome; 88% of brothers and sisters say they are better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome themselves spoke up, too: 99% are happy with their lives, and 97% like who they are. My sister with Down syndrome certainly does. (I often wonder: How many Americans can say the same?)

Some may wonder how a child considered “less than” by most of society could have that kind of impact.  All I can do is share our family’s experience.

Yes, meeting Jonny’s early needs refined our character, built a stronger unity and gave us a sense of purpose.  But through the years it became obvious that God had a purpose for Jonny’s life as well.  After all, he was the one who brought out the good in everyone – simply by being himself.  His public school kindergarten teacher, after 30-plus years of teaching, said she’d never seen children as loving and caring as Jonny’s classmates.  The secret, she said, was Jonny.  When he graduated from her class, she wrote us: “As the Bible says, ‘The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’  Jonny certainly taught the children and me to look at the heart; for he has a very big heart!”

Fast forward to his senior year of high school, when Jonny was voted Homecoming King by his peers.  Shocking?  Only if you haven’t seen it already in your community or on the nightly news. It’s a growing trend across the country – individuals with Down syndrome elected as Homecoming Kings and Queens noted by USA Today.

A giant step forward for humanity – especially when you consider that babies with Down syndrome were routinely institutionalized (on the advice of doctors who used the same arguments used today to push abortion), and just 20 years ago their school experience was limited typically to separate trailers and buses.

While the theory of inclusion was that kids of lesser ability could benefit from side-by-side education with their “normal” peers, what no one realized was that the “normal” kids would benefit from rubbing elbows with those who’d been stigmatized for generations before. Nowadays, it’s smiles and high-fives for people like Jonny.  And voting for special classmates for Homecoming King or Queen isn’t really a stretch at all for kids who’ve grown up as Ms. Bessie described – more loving and caring because they were introduced to people who were just a little different too early to develop the fears their parents had.

And yet fear abounds among the current baby-bearing generation. Most did not grow up with inclusion and are vulnerable to the doom and gloom offered by those medical professionals who preach heartache rather than hope: Your life will be complicated, they have medical problems, they will drain your finances, they will ruin the quality of life for your other children.  Better just to end this pregnancy and try again – as though life were just a roulette wheel.

But life is not a roulette wheel and people expecting a baby with Down syndrome are not losers.

Ask Lisa about how her brother Stephen has affected her life:

My sister Julie and I are only 17 months apart in age.  We were 10 and 11 ½  years old when our brother Stephen was born (with Down syndrome).   Once my sister and I were grown and married, we both went on to adopt children who have Down syndrome because of Stephen’s amazing impact on our lives.

Stephen is sweet, kind, compassionate, helpful, encouraging, loving, sensitive and fun.  The person most likely to put others’ needs first.  He brings joy to everyone he meets and he is my favorite person.

Stephen has always given me a different window or perspective into seeing what God is like and how He knows more about what is important than the world.  IF the world thinks that people who have Down syndrome are “handicapped,” then surely God sees the rest of us as “handicapped” in a way that people with Down syndrome are free from.  I believe that people who have Down syndrome are freed from much of the worldliness and selfishness that typical people become entangled with.

If my brother had never been born, I am sure my family would lack the sense of warmth and connection that Stephen brings.   We love each other and I know we would still be close, but Stephen is like the extra glue that brings more joy to our relationships and times together.
I believe the gift that God gave my family by giving us a child/ brother with Down syndrome was one of the most amazing gifts we could ever have received.  I only wish more people could experience this overwhelming gift, and see it as just that.
Down syndrome has brought only blessings to my life!

If only people like Lisa could deliver the results of the new blood test!  If only parents could be given hope instead of heartache with the news that their child will be a little different than they might have planned!  If only all parents could trust this mysterious part of God’s plan!

Barbara Curtis and her husband Tripp have 12 children - including three sons with Down syndrome adopted after Jonny's younger sister Maddy was born.  Barbara is author of 9 books, including Lord, Please Meet Me in the Laundry Room: Heavenly Help for Earthly Moms, and she blogs daily at

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hand in Hand

A friend made this video of Chrissie about a week ago, out of the blue, as a gift to me and my family.  In this video, the second photo is of Chrissie and my mom, holding hands.  The words say, "took my hand".  The photo is of Chrissie and my mom walking together, hand in hand.  I cannot help but imagine this image of our princess Chrissie and her Nana walking together, hand in hand, in Paradise.

Happy birthday, Jesus.  This year you've got not only one, but two of earth's greatest treasures with you to celebrate your special day.  While we wish they were both still here on earth with us, we know from experience what blessings Nana and Chrissie are.  Can't wait for the day that ALL of us are in heaven together, rejoicing with Jesus. 

Thank you, Anastasia, for making this video.  We will forever treasure it!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Mom’s with Jesus

Nana and PawPaw grandkids

I truly cannot believe that I’m writing this post.  My mom is now in heaven, most likely playing with Chrissie.  She passed away Dec. 23 unexpectedly at the age of 67.  We don’t know the cause of death yet, but we’re suspecting her heart.  She had a heart attack 9 years ago, had open-heart surgery, had a pace-maker installed, and was doing great, as far as we knew.


My mom is the sweet grandma pictured above with all of her grandkids on her 67th birthday, October 15, 2011.  She was the best Nana any grandkid could ask for, so giving, loving, selfless, always putting others before herself.  Always.  My mom always LOVED kids, and she loved them well.  My children were so blessed to have her as their Nana, even if it was for a shorter time than we would have all liked.  I wish she could have met her newest grandsons, as she would have made them feel like the most treasured children on the planet.  I’m sure of it.  She would have helped me love on them, teach them, encourage them, and cherish them.  She was good at that.


This is what my brother, John, wrote on my mom’s Facebook wall on her birthday:


Just wanted to say Happy Birthday once again today. To the best mom a son or daughter could ever ask for, always thinking about others before yourself. Thanks for all the the sacrifices you have made in your life to make ours better. As your children, we have truly been blessed. I hope you enjoyed your day. Happy Birthday.


That pretty much sums up how we all feel/felt about my mom.  I cannot believe she’s in heaven now.  As my dear friend, Ann Rolling said, “HOME for the holidays” has a whole new meaning.


We are so very grateful for your prayers.  My little brother is the one who found my mom, so lift him up, as I truly cannot imagine.  We were supposed to have our annual Immel Christmas Eve celebration in our home today.  Instead, we are meeting with the funeral home. Sad smile

Friday, December 23, 2011

Urgent prayers needed

My mom just died. Please pray.

Sent from Lorraine's iPhone

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rainbow Miracles

Matt and Mattie will arrive home this afternoon from Ukraine.  They won’t have any children with them, but they will have a richer heart than when they left Dec. 12. 


God has us on a wild journey, but His faithfulness and sovereignty prevails.  He is good all the time, and all the time, He is good.


Vlad and Dima’s bio aunt is not changing her mind.  She isn’t filing for custody of the boys due to fear of the boys coming to America, she is filing for custody because she loves them.  She wants them to be her sons.  She has been actively involved in their lives for much longer than we have, and she truly loves them, just as we do. 


The bio aunt shared her address and phone number with us, and she welcomes us to stay involved in the lives of Vlad and Dima.  We are welcome to call her, and even visit if we would like to.  And, if things don’t work out, the boys would like to come live with us.  We all feel a peace about this decision.  A peace that passes all understanding.


As hard as it is to let go of our “sons”, boys who we felt were meant to be a part of our family, we know this is God’s will, and His will is always better than we can fathom.  Vlad and Dima will always be sons in our hearts, even if they’re not in our home.


Vlad and Dima will have a forever family, just not our family.


God is good.


As you know, Matt met two other boys, ages 11 and 13, on Monday, Dec. 19.   Through much prayer and discussion, we felt God was not leading us to adopt these two boys.  It was really sad to feel like we were rejecting them, as we’ve never been in this position before, but God had a plan for these boys as well.


When Matt was at the orphanage in Mariupol visiting these boys, a Ukrainian foster family who had formerly expressed interest in these boys just happened to stop by to see the boys.  They saw that an American family was visiting with the boys.  The very next day, this Ukrainian family petitioned to foster these boys in their family, in their culture, in their community.   They were not rejected, they were chosen, just by a different family.


These two boys will have a forever family, just not our family.


God is good.


So that left us with the question of WHO does God want us to adopt?!?!  We had been praying for 10 days for God to show us specifically who He wanted us to adopt, if it wasn’t supposed to be Vlad and Dima.  Countless emails came in from people who were advocating for specific orphans in Ukraine.  We looked at countless faces, countless stories, countless orphans, all deserving of a forever family, yet none of them seemed like “the ones” God wanted us to adopt.

photo (24)


God reminded us of our calendar’s scripture, quote, and photo for December 15, the day of our original SDA appointment, the day we were SHOCKED to find out that our host sons were not adoptable.  They were the reason my husband was in Ukraine.  They were the reason we even had an SDA appointment.  We were NOT prepared to discover the news that the SDA officials shared on that day.


Once we finally came to peace with the decision that Vlad and Dima were to live with their aunt, believing this is God’s will for them at this time, we recalled the calendar message from December 15, along with the significance of the photo.  If you’ll recall, God spoke to us often using rainbows with our Serbian princess, Chrissie.  The calendar quote was significant in itself, but to be accompanied by a rainbow photo, well that just put Chrissie all over it.  (We now associate rainbows not only with God’s covenant, but with Chrissie as well.)


When one door closes on us, another usually opens.  The trouble is that we often look with so much regret and longing upon the closed door that we do not see the one which is open for us.


Well, we could not see the open door because we were looking in all the wrong places.  We were looking for typical children, a mere substitute for Vlad and Dima.  Perhaps a couple of healthy children, maybe even 4 children, but they’d be healthy, for sure.  Just like Vlad and Dima.  God began to show us that His best was not a mere substitute for Vlad and Dima.  His best was something we had not even been considering.


photo (25)


God spoke through our calendar quote, scripture, and photo for December 20, the day we found out that Vlad and Dima would for sure be going with their aunt.  What do you know?  Another rainbow.  (This is NOT a calendar filled with rainbow photos, I promise!) 


Your best bet is to stake everything you’ve got on God, and you’ll come out a winner—that’s a 100% guarantee!

“I will put my trust in Him” –Hebrews 2:13


God had been asking us to stop looking at typical kids and open our eyes to something much bigger.  Something much more grand than what we ever fathomed.  Something that would give God more glory than we ever could. 


God told my husband he was in Ukraine to rescue a child (or two).  Those rainbows in the calendar photos not only reminded us of Chrissie, and how God told us He would be using Chrissie to “hunt” in heaven (for orphans and lost souls, uniting orphans with their forever families), but it also reminded us of the organization God used to bring Chrissie into our family:  Reece’s Rainbow


We hadn’t looked on Reece’s Rainbow’s site for our possible children, mainly because we’d spent so much time focused on a mere substitute for Vlad and Dima, typical, healthy, “normal” kids.


Well, lo and behold, God showed us our children, the very children He had chosen all along, He just had to align things in such a way that would get us to these precious children.  Children in desperate need of rescue.  Children who would be transferred to an adult mental institution in a matter of days, a place no child should have to spend one minute in, much less the rest of their lives.  Children that were being prayed for by others, that God would make a miracle happen for these precious children, yet we had no idea anyone was praying for these boys.  We didn’t even realize at the time the magnitude of all the intricate details God had so miraculously woven together to get us to our sons.


God is good!


We are so very excited to announce to you today that God has chosen us to be the forever family to two precious boys found via Reece’s Rainbow:

OLEG and SHANE for the Patterson family — Wimberley, TX


These precious boys are God’s best for our family, something far better than we ever fathomed.  Both boys are six-years-old, both boys live in the same orphanage in Ukraine, and both boys have Down syndrome.  Both boys are TINY, both boys were within days of being transferred to an adult mental institution, and both boys were in desperate need of an immediate forever family.  Both boys are now chosen and cherished.


God is good!


The SDA is closing for the holidays, so Matt and Mattie are on their way home!!!  They’ll be home for Christmas!  On January 2, 2012, our facilitator will submit our request for a new SDA appointment, to specifically request the official referral of these boys.  Matt and I will return to Ukraine together in January 2012 to go get our newest sons!!!


And, guess what?  There’s another family in Ukraine right now, adopting a boy from the exact same groupa as our sons, and this is what she emailed me:


I got to hold your boys today!!! Oh Lorraine!!! What a BLESSING these boys will be to your FAMILY!!!! Both boys held right on - they didn't want me to let them go. Shane weighs more than Oleg for sure.  Shane is solid - Oleg is teeny tiny!  Oleg laughs - Oh my it is a beautiful laugh.  Shane smiles and my heart lit right up. Shane is strong, I could feel his strength. Oleg has very low muscle tone I imagine but his eyes light up like you wouldn't believe. I am absolutely in LOVE with your boys!

I wanted you to know that the caregivers told us today that they were about to be transferred to institution but the Director put a stop to it today!!! Isn't that just so amazing!!!! Oh My Gosh!!!!! So the Director is holding these beautiful boys for you!!! Oh My!!! I can't even believe this Miracle!!!! Witnessing it is something I will always cherish!!!!!

Yep, GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Testimony Worth Watching

This is what can happen in America when an unborn baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome.
This is what can happen in Eastern European countries when a child is diagnosed with Down syndrome (video above).

And this is what can happen when a child with Down syndrome grows up in a loving Christian family (video above).


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beauty from Ashes

photo (24)


Thank you all for praying for our family and Vlad and Dima.  God is in the process of creating more beauty from ashes, but nothing is finalized yet, so I’m not at liberty to share.


Vlad and Dima will not become Pattersons at this time.  God has a plan.


He’s slowly and oh-so-graciously revealing it.


I promise to share more just as soon as I’m able.


Keep praying for more beauty from ashes.


Trusting our loving and sovereign Savior.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Prayer for Mountains to be Moved

OK, I think God might be up to something here, and I need your prayers.  Please read through this post and join me in praying, if God leads you to do so.

We know that Vlad and Dima’s bio aunt has filed for custody of the boys.  While I once thought that was a good thing, I have come to believe it might not be God’s plan for them.  Apparently both the director of the orphanage, as well as the local inspector (similar to a social worker) who is in charge of the boys, are concerned about Vlad and Dima going to live with their aunt.  That made me feel even more unsettled and conflicted than I was already feeling.

Then I read the email that I’m posting below.  The email was written to Matt by one of my children Sunday night:

I am so glad you got to see Vlad and Dima! I really really miss them. I just wanted to let you know that I think that the reason you are in Ukraine right now is to get VLAD and DIMA!! I really really feel that they ARE part of our family and that it IS Gods will for them to be in our family. I want to tell you that about 3 or 4 months ago I had a dream and it was the most vivid real dream I have ever had. I woke up crying from my sleep because I was so happy that Vlad and Dima were home. In the dream I walked down the stairs and into the round room and Vlad and Dima walked through the door with you (also this is before I even knew that you would go to Ukraine trying to get them) and they ran and hugged me and never let me go and Vlad said "I love you brother" over and over as I bawled my eyes out. I feel like if God has ever told me anything in a dream it was this because a few nights earlier I told God I wanted to love something so much that I could cry with Joy over it. I had realized that I had never cried for joy before so I asked God for the ability to love someone so much that I could cry with joy over them. So a few nights later I had that dream and it was like God woke me up and told me "you want to love someone with such compassion that you cry for joy when you hold them, then remember Vlad and Dima...''  I feel very strongly that it is God’s will for Vlad and Dima to live in our house, so I think you should do everything in your power to find and talk to Vlad's aunt before you go to look at other children. I'm not saying these other kids don’t deserve to be adopted because I feel very certain that they do need to be adopted but I strongly feel that our role in this should be to advocate for and help these other kids be adopted. Just remember that we love you and are praying for you and that God is fighting for these boys to come home.

OK, so go ahead and rip my heart out of my chest.  I did NOT know about this story that was shared via email with my husband.  A copy of it was sent to my inbox where my jaw hit the floor as I read it.

Then, a few minutes after reading this email, my friend Stephanee called to encourage me to have Matt visit with the aunt in person before he makes any other decisions.  OK, I get the message, God, I’ll try to relay that message to Matt.

I emailed Matt my opinion about things, and I also texted him several times (with the 8 hour time difference, it’s a little challenging to communicate), but I never heard back from him.  I figured he was in church and he would call me when it was over.  But I didn’t hear from him at that time either, so I tried to call him.  But his phone wouldn’t ring and the call wouldn’t go through.  So I texted Tara to ask where he was and she said he was fixing to board the train with Mattie to head to Mariupol.  UGH!  I was hoping he’d be able to head to the Sumy region to hunt down the aunt before he went anywhere else.

I finally got a hold of Matt, but they were already traveling on the train, heading to Mariupol.  Go figure, his cell phone worked while traveling on a train, yet not when standing still!  Ugh!  I read the email aloud that one of my children sent to Matt so he could know what it said since he didn’t have internet access.  Then our phone call got cut off.

Then about 15 hours later, my phone rang (at 12:30PM CST), and it was Matt!  His phone was working again and they were fixing to get off the train.  We wished each other a happy anniversary, then quickly discussed the situation. 

I had received an email message shortly before I talked to Matt that I felt was significant, so I read it to him:

I just started following your blog. I have a pretty good idea what you are feeling. We had serious issues with birth family...but it all worked out. Not knowing God's will for sure is the worst part of it. Is it a test or is it God telling you to change directions? Ugh! I will tell you that I think our hurdles were all about ultimately ending up with not only our two adopted daughters but also an extended family including biomom. In less than a year's time, our daughter's half sister has come to know Jesus and we were blessed with the opportunity to save the life of biomom and her unborn child. I could go on but I am travelling and typing on my phone. No one can decipher God's will for you but you but I would do everything I could to find the aunt and talk to her. Our girls Grandma (who worked at their orphanage) and biomom (who saw them weekly) were terrified and ready to stop the adoption at all cost. Once they understood who we were and that we weren't going to hurt the girls things quickly changed. We now call Ukraine weekly and love them all! Anyway, I didn't mean to ramble on but felt the need to share.
By the way, we met the Airharts in Kiev along with the first Tara. They are wonderful and they know our story.

Matt only had a few minutes to visit before he had to get off the train, but he decided he would most likely go meet the 2 boys in Mariupol he received the referral for since he and the translator are now in Mariupol, but then he wants to find a way to get to the Sumy region to try to find the aunt.  Right now, we don’t have any information on the aunt, but we are going to pray that if God wants Matt to find the aunt, He will guide Matt to her. 

There is apparently going to be a trial to decide if the aunt gets custody.  We don’t know the date of her trial, but it could be this week.  (Someone at the SDA office apparently mentioned her trial is this week.)  Would you please join me in praying that if God wants Matt to visit with the bio aunt, that He would move mountains to make this happen?!?!  And if God does NOT want the boys to stay with their aunt, that He would reveal His will to the aunt and change her heart to embrace His will?  Pray that the aunt would have her eyes opened to the truth about our family.  We love Vlad and Dima and want God’s best for them.  If it is God’s will for the boys to stay with their aunt, we want to embrace that and support them.  If it His will for the boys to become Pattersons, we would like to keep the aunt updated and stay in communication with her.  Ultimately, we just want God’s will to be done, but we feel we must do everything we can to meet with the aunt before her court date so we know we did everything we humanly could to try to adopt Vlad and Dima.  If the aunt doesn’t change her mind before court, and the judge rules in favor of the aunt having custody, that will be a permanent decision.  If the aunt is stable, competent, kind, caring and able to properly care for the boys, we need to support her in that, but if that is not God’s plan, well, we just pray He will move mountains to make His will be done.  His will be done.  Period.

Please join us in prayer.  Thank you!!!

19 Years

On this day 19 years ago, I married my very best friend.  I never dreamt back then that in 2011, my husband would be in Ukraine without me on our anniversary, living out James 1:27.  I had never even read the verse about caring for orphans back then, nor would I have even cared about it, frankly.


In fact, when we got married, I wanted to have 4 kids and Matt wanted to have 2.  We settled on 3.  But God had other plans, and there is no “settling” with God.  There’s obedience and there’s disobedience.  Period.


How grateful I am that God had other plans for us.  I would have missed out on many of His abundant blessings had I stuck with the compromise my husband and I made of having 3 children.  He had SO MUCH MORE planned for us than I ever could have fathomed, and the same holds true for our future.  He has SO MUCH MORE planned for us in the days to come, more than we can possibly fathom.  How great is our God!


Before I met Matt, I seriously thought I would never find the man of my dreams.  I had a list in my mind of everything my husband would be.  You know what the very top thing on the list was?  He would have to LOVE children.  Yep.  That was #1.  (It should have been that my husband would adore Jesus, but somehow that didn’t make it in the #1 spot.  Sigh.  Praise God that He delivered me a man who adores Jesus, even though I hadn’t put that in the #1 slot.)


The summer of 1990, I learned about Matt when I was working as a camp counselor in San Marcos, Texas.  Matt’s sister, Pam, was my campus director, and she talked so highly of her brother, Matt.  When I learned that Matt was spending his summer as a camp counselor in Pennsylvania, I was mesmerized.  Could it possibly be that this guy was REAL?!?!  He seemed to have every single quality from that list I’d created in my mind since childhood.  This guy seemed too good to be true.


Well, Matt came knocking on my apartment door in August 1990, the day after he arrived home from his job as a camp counselor in Pennsylvania, and the rest is history.  He really IS the man of my dreams!  He met every single criteria on my mental list, but, what I never ever imagined is that he would be SO MUCH MORE than that silly little list I’d concocted.  I am so undeserving of this man who loves kids, loves Jesus, loves me, and loves others wholeheartedly.  I never feel worthy of this gift I treasure so deeply, but, deserving or not, I thank God regularly for giving me Matt as my husband.  I did nothing to deserve this man, yet God chose to unite us as one anyway.  So undeserving, just like Jesus’ gift of salvation.  So undeserving, yet He freely gives us His gift of eternal life, regardless.  God is so good.  So, so good.


On this day, I praise God for the gift of my husband of 19 years.  I praise Him for all He has done in our lives.  I praise Him for growing us into people we once were not.  I praise Him for His continuous work in our lives.  I praise Him for joining Matt and I as one, until death do us part. 


Happy 19th anniversary, Matt!  I love you and I miss you and I thank you for traveling halfway around the world as you live out caring for orphans in a way many husbands would never choose to do.  You are my hero, and I love you more today than yesterday.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for loving kids.  Thank you for loving Jesus.  You ROCK, Big Daddy!  So proud to call you my husband.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Much Anticipated Visit with Vlad and Dima

First, I want to thank all of your praying.  I feel so overwhelmed by His love with the sheer number of people He has used to bring us His peace.  I am so grateful for each and every one of you who has contacted us to let us know you’re praying.  Man, a lot of you have come out of “lurking” and stepped into real life!!! Smile It’s been quite amazing to hear from so many of you who are telling me you’ve never left a comment and never emailed, etc., but you’ve been following our journey since Chrissie…some of you even before that.  WOW!  Thanks for hanging in there through our crazy journeys! 


I apologize that I’m not able to keep up with all of your messages, but please know that I am reading each and every message I receive, I just don’t have time to respond.  Oh how I wish I could reply to each of you and thank you for praying for us, but please know that even if I never get time to reply to you personally, I am truly grateful for your prayers and support, beyond what my mere words could ever express.


Matt and Mattie’s journey to Ukraine was supposed to start at 4AM, Kiev time, so I started praying (and texting Matt) just about that same time.  I never heard back from Matt until a short while ago, about 20 hours from when their journey began!!!


Whew, the anticipation.  Waiting to hear from Matt.  Not knowing what was happening.  Did they get to see Vlad and Dima?  Were they safe?  What was the outcome?  Oh, the suspense was killing me!  I finally texted Tara in Kiev to ask if she had heard from Matt.  (Matt’s cell phone wouldn’t ring or let me leave a message, and he wasn’t responding to texts, so I wasn’t sure if he was even receiving my texts.)


Tara had talked to Matt for a very short while with a bad cell phone connection, but she promised to have Matt call me the minute he walked into her apartment.  Tara shared with me that our sweet friend, Alla (the one who escorted Vlad and Dima to Texas this past summer), had hired a driver to take Matt, Mattie, and Alla to Sumy.  (Alla would be the translator and emotional support, prayer warrior, etc. for Matt and Mattie.)  Well, the driver was late to pick up Alla, which made them late getting to Matt and Mattie, so the trip started about an hour later than planned.


The original plan was to leave Kiev at 4AM and arrive in Sumy by 9AM.  The orphanage kids were supposed to leave at 11AM to see a play, so Matt and Mattie would have from 9-11AM with Vlad and Dima.  Matt and Mattie stood outside of the Kiev apartment for about 30 minutes (in the freezing temps!) while waiting on the driver and Alla to arrive, then they saw some “shady” activity, and decided it would be safer to wait indoors.  Only the concierge didn’t hear them ringing to get back into the locked apartment building.  So they called Tara and woke her up so Tara could let them back in.  Around 4:45AM, Alla and the driver arrived and they headed off to Sumy.


About 2 hours into the commute, the driver decided he needed to turn back to Kiev because something was wrong with the wheels on his car and it wasn’t safe to continue the journey.  So, they drove another 2 hours back to Kiev, and by this time, it was already close to 9AM, when they SHOULD have already been in Sumy!


So, Alla called the orphanage director to let her know that they would be late…a lot late.  The orphanage director decided to  keep Vlad and Dima home from the play so they could visit with Matt and Mattie.  Praise God!  Matt, Mattie, and Alla took a bus/van/shuttle to Sumy and arrived around 2PMish.  (Matt said it was NOT a comfortable ride, to put it nicely.)


When they arrived at the orphanage, Vlad and Dima were napping.  The orphanage director wanted to visit with Matt before she woke the boys.  She explained that she has concerns about the aunt being able to take proper care of Vlad and Dima.  She explained that the aunt is only 22-years-old and she has 3 girls, ages 1-5.  The aunt stays home and her husband works.  The orphanage director assured Matt (with Alla translating everything) that she was in favor of Vlad and Dima being adopted into our family.  She does not want to see them go with the aunt, and she said the timing of the aunt stepping forward is purely coincidental, although Vlad most likely told the aunt (upon his return to Ukraine from Texas in August) that we were planning to adopt them.  The orphanage director explained that Vlad and Dima have no voice in whether or not they want to live with the aunt.  In Ukraine, if a relative petitions for custody, the children do not have any say so. 


Then Vlad woke up and came in to the office.  Matt said he seemed very conflicted and solemn.  Apparently, Vlad felt some responsibility because he signed an agreement to live with the aunt. Vlad didn’t realize that it really didn’t matter whether or not he signed that agreement because his desires don’t matter in this case because it’s a relative wanting custody.  After about 20 minutes, Vlad opened up and then became himself again.


Compassionate Vlad

At which time Dima comes into the room, RUNS into Matt’s arms, and embraced him for 20 minutes, never leaving Matt’s arms. Not kidding.  Matt said he bawled (Matt bawled). Dima was SOOOOOOOOOO excited to see his daddy. He wanted to leave with Matt at that very moment. He didn’t understand that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be going with Matt. Sad smile So sad.  Dima never left Matt’s lap during the entire visit, except to take photos.



Sweet Dima



Vlad still looks groggy in these pics.  Or conflicted.  Or both. Sad smile


Both boys asked about all of their Texas family members.  Dima asked if “his” 4-wheeler was fixed.  They looked through the photo album we made for them, played with the toys we brought for them, and had a wonderful visit with lots of hugs, laughter, and tears.




They all made an “agreement” (including the orphanage director) that if Vlad and Dima are abused and/or neglected with their aunt, that they will get in touch with the orphanage director.  She will step in to help them if that ever happens, and the director has our contact info in case she ever needs it.  The boys don’t get to choose where they want to go; they must go with the aunt.


They tried to say goodbye and give goodbye hugs something like five different times before they actually departed with heavy, yet satisfied, hearts.  Vlad and Dima will ALWAYS be our children in our hearts, even if they’re not in our home.


Oh how I love these boys.  LOVE.


Apparently, there’s a trial sometime this upcoming week to officially put the boys in the custody of the aunt.  I’m still praying that if it be God’s will for Vlad and Dima to be with our family, that He will intervene.  He is able, but what is His will?!?!  Who am I to decide?  God’s will be done.


PS  Matt wanted to try to visit with the aunt, but apparently no one had her address or phone number.  Apparently she doesn’t live within close proximity of the orphanage, and the director was needing to leave for her own birthday celebration.  (The director’s husband came to the orphanage and was waiting on her, so there was no time to investigate further.)  The orphanage director said she would try to locate the aunt’s contact info for Matt to have, as we always want to stay in touch with Vlad and Dima if at all possible.  The boys and the director have our contact information.  The boys also said they want to come again this summer to see us, but I have no idea if that’s even possible due to orphan hosting rules/regulations/requirements.  No clue.  I think I feel conflicted, too.  No, I DEFINITELY feel conflicted.  Sad smile  God is in control.  I am not.  I am here for a reason.  I cannot do anything but pray.  Grateful for God’s leadership, sovereignty, love, and mercy.  His grace is sufficient.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday’s Latest

Matt will go back to the SDA today at 4PM (Kiev time, of course), which happens to be right now CST. Smile  He will pick up the official letter of permission to visit the 2 boys at the orphanage in Mariupol, then Matt and Mattie will take a 16-hour overnight ride on a train that leaves Sunday afternoon from Kiev to Mariupol.


In the meantime, Matt and Mattie will be going to Sumy at 4AM Saturday to visit with Vlad and Dima!!!  We all feel like there needs to be closure for them and us, so our facilitator spoke with their orphanage director and arranged for Matt and Mattie to get to meet with Vlad and Dima for two hours Saturday morning.  They will get to give them their gifts from our family, love on them, and say goodbye.  The most important thing is that Vlad and Dima will get to witness with their own eyes that Matt upheld his promise to come for them.  The scripture God used over and over with this adoption is John 14:18 (hence the adoption fundraiser gear!), “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” 


Please pray that if there is any corruption/darkness with the aunt, that it will be revealed, hearts will be changed, and God’s will be done.  We’ve heard of stories where an orphanage director did NOT want a child to be adopted, so he/she contacted a relative and told the relative lies about the prospective adoptive family.  Then the orphanage director persuades the relative to file a petition for custody in an effort to simply protect the child from the harm of the awful American family.  Nice, huh?  We don’t know at all if this is the case with Vlad and Dima, but we feel we need to at least meet with the boys and see what God does.


Thank you all for praying.  We don’t know what God’s plan is in all of this, but we KNOW He has a plan, a much better plan than anything we can fathom.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Well, that was wild!

So, here I sit, 6 hours after being awakened in the middle of the night, still not really fully processing what just occurred, nor fully grasping what God has in store, yet fully trusting in His sovereignty.

What we know that we know that we know that we know is that God called us to adopt from Ukraine.  Period.  He's made that abundantly clear, no questions, if's, and's, or but's. 

What we don't know is WHO He wants us to adopt.  While we absolutely believed it was Vlad and Dima, apparently God had other plans. 

God brought two boys into our family this summer at a time when we weren't expecting it, we fell in love with them, they said they were in love with us, and we thought the rest was history.  Ha!  Love stories are never that easy, are they?

Vlad and Dima look like us and act like us.  They like the things we like, they laugh at the things we laugh at, and they have the most precious, tender, compassionate hearts ever.  Oh how I love those boys.  They LOVED working alongside Matt, particularly Dima.  He was always tinkering with stuff, and he still has a stash of tools and half-disassembled treasures in his fort at our ranch.  Vlad loved everyone in our family passionately.  He was so tender with Selah and Kiefer.  He got along well with everyone, and was truly just a rare gem.  There were so many things that confirmed they were Pattersons.

But God had other plans.  God most likely knew that we wouldn't just jump into another adoption for any ole kids.  He knew our hearts needed to follow in love with Vlad and Dima in order to pursue the paper chase, fundraising, home arranging, and  heart preparations necessary for adopting more lovies.  During this season of our lives, it took our love for Vlad and Dima to get us to commit to all of the exhausting requirements of international adoption.

In my heart, I'm secretly hoping (and may or may not be praying!) that somehow, some way, Vlad and Dima will become available.  Not that I don't want them with their aunt, I just feel a motherly fierceness protection over those boys.  They were my sons.  I love them.  I want to make sure their aunt is stable and will take good care of them.

Our two biological sons feel the same way!!!  When I broke the news to them a little while ago, Parker (our 15yo) was angry/upset/sad.  He didn't take this lightly.  He still believes Vlad and Dima are his brothers.  He loves them and wants the best for them.

Sawyer (our 11yo) immediately went into protection mode.  He asked all kinds of questions about the aunt.  Is she a drunk (common in Ukraine)?  Does she love them?  Will she meet their needs?  How do we know she's OK?  Who will verify this?  Can Dad go see them and ask Vlad and Dima what they want?  Can Dad go make sure they're OK?  Sawyer then went on to explain how Vlad had shared with Sawyer some disturbing things about Vlad's bio grandma in Ukraine.  Typical Ukrainian stuff, and what he shared with me is probably why Vlad and Dima were removed from their mother's care.  Grandma would NOT be a good placement for Vlad and Dima, so then I wonder if this aunt is the daughter of Grandma.  Probably.  Is she in a better place than Mom and Grandma?  I sure hope so.  I feel protective, too, but I have to choose to trust in God's sovereignty.  He knows what is best for Vlad and Dima.  I do not.  I can only feel what I feel, and I know not to trust my feelings, but to trust God above all.

So, where do we go from here?

Good question. 

With my being in Texas and Matt being in Ukraine, this is a little difficult, but we know God orchestrated it this way for a reason.  Matt said the SDA was VERY accommodating and easy to work with.  They gave him a HUGE stack of files of children who are available for international adoption.  Our facilitator, translator, and Matt went through the files.  Matt said there's definitely no shortage of children available.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of waiting children in Ukraine, all available for international adoption. 

An internet friend had been advocating for our family to adopt 2 boys whom she hosted in the past. So, those two boys were the first files my husband requested.  He truly thought we would adopt them, but the SDA said that their orphanage director recently declared that he is no longer cooperating with any international adoptions.  In fact, he posted a sign outside his orphanage that says, "NO MORE FOREIGNERS!"

So, that door closed. 

My husband prayed for God to show him who to pursue.  Hundreds of possibilities, everything written in Ukrainian.  The translator recalled two boys in the Mariupol region of Ukraine who were begging for a family to come for them.  She found their files.  Matt called me to discuss things.  I told him I trust whatever decision God leads him to.  Then he discussed a few more files with me, but I had NO sense of direction whatsoever.

Oh, backtrack for a minute with me.  I didn't mention that I had woken up at 3:30AM to pray.  Then Selah woke at 3:45AM (she's sick right now).  Then my cell phone rang at 3:55AM.  It was Mattie, using Tara's phone, calling from the pizza joint across from the SDA office, frantically asking me to find the names of the two boys that the American family was wanting us to adopt. 

Meanwhile, it is the middle of the night here, so everyone is asleep but Selah and me.  Selah wasn't happy.  I have very little voice (I'm sick, too), so I'm trying to talk on the phone, get my laptop open to search for the boys' full names, and keep Selah happy.  All while still half asleep.  Then the internet was out.  Not kidding.  Couldn't access the links to the two boys because of no internet.  Meanwhile, Selah was getting into all kinds of paperwork, tossing it about the room, so I start giving her all kinds of novelties to try to divert her.  Things like medicine bottles, dirty shoes, fingernail polish bottles.  Yep, all of the things she's not allowed to play with, I start tossing onto the floor to try to keep her occupied!

Then the internet comes back up, so I get to the page with the two boys, only to find it's all in Ukrainian.  Somehow the "translate this page" icon was no longer on the page, so I have NO CLUE what the info says.  Tara gets on the phone and asks me to describe the Ukrainian characters for her so she can transcribe things and translate as best as possible.  So, here I am with a baby playing with all kinds of no-nos, my having very little voice, in a panic to get this info.  So, I start describing to Tara what the Ukrainian characters look like.  It's comical now.  Things like, "OK, this looks like an upside down capital L.  Followed by something that looks like a cursive lowercase r."  Then Tara says, "Oh, is is a swoop with a straight line over the top and another straight line coming down from that on the right?"  Yep, that was it!  Only there were at least 50 different characters to translate.  Ugh.  Then we realize the last names aren't even listed.  So we start looking at the region.  Back to things like, "OK, this character looks like a capital N with a squiggly line above it.  Then a lowercase b character.  B as in Boy.  H as in Hog.  C as in Cat."  You know, stuff like that!  We finally realize there's an identifying case number, and the numerals are normal numerals.  Ahhhh, that would have been so much easier!!!

Then we find out those are the boys whose orphanage director refuses to cooperate. 

OK, so who do you want us to adopt, Lord?

So this is when Matt calls me.  Did I mention he forgot to take his cell phone, so he's borrowing Tara's cell phone?!?!  Thank God for Tara!!!  So we discuss several options, and, ultimately, I just leave it all in God's hands.  I truly had NO idea who God wanted us to pursue.  I thought it was Vlad and Dima!!!

Matt and I hung up, I prayed, got Selah back to sleep at 6AM, prayed some more, and some more, and some more.  Broke the news to the kids.  Sadness.  Then Matt called to tell me that he and Mattie will be taking a 16 hour overnight train ride Sunday afternoon to the region of Mariupol to visit an orphanage there.  It's the orphanage where the boys are that our translator recalled during the SDA meeting.  Matt just felt that was the best option.  He doesn't "have" to adopt these boys (there are two of them, half-brothers, ages 11 and 13), but he wants to go visit with them.  Then he can decide if this is what he believes God wants.  If he feels it's not what God is asking, He can go back to the SDA to ask for another referral.  He can go back to the SDA two more times before our dossier would get kicked out. 

That's all I know for now.  I'm just praying for God's will to be done.  And for our hearts to be soothed as we learn to let go of Vlad and Dima.  (And I might just throw in extra prayers that if God does still want us to adopt Vlad and Dima, that He would make a way and make His way known.)  Oh goodness, this is just too much.  I can't imagine being in Matt's shoes, making these decisions with Mattie instead of with me.  But Matt and I both agreed that God orchestrated it this way for a purpose.  Matt is LOVING having Mattie with him, and he's comfortable making these decisions.  Meanwhile, the rest of us simply wait and pray.  And pray some more.

Thank you for joining us in prayer.  God has a plan.  He always does.  Faith is built during trials.  It remains stagnant without mountains to climb, hurdles to cross, challenges to face.  He's building our faith through this, and the good thing is that we're not in control.  At all.  We can rest in His peace that passes all understanding, in His sovereignty that is unlike anything we can fathom.

PS  Many of you have emailed me about the 15-year-old Ukrainian boy who ages out Dec. 31.  We were approved to adopt up to 4 children between the ages of 6-14, so we're not approved for a 15-year-old. :-(

Here's the Deal

I talked to Matt around 5:30AM CST (1:30PM Kiev time).  He said that when he went to the SDA to receive their referral, he was told that Vlad and Dima's aunt filed for custody.  There's a hearing in a week to determine if the Ukrainian court will approve her, but there's no reason for her to not be approved.  God's hand is all over this, even with curve balls being thrown.  Vlad and Dima love their aunt, and she loves them, too, so it appears that God used our pursuit of Vlad and Dima to bring about a positive outcome for their futures by being adopted by their Ukrainian aunt.  Being in a family is God's best for each of us, so we're praising God that He is in the process of delivering Vlad and Dima to His chosen forever family, even though that's a different family than ours.  God is sovereign and loves Vlad and Dima more than we do, so we trust His will and embrace it as His best for Vlad and Dima.

Apparently the SDA gave Matt a bunch of files of other adoptable children to review.  At this time, to my knowledge, Matt has not made a decision about which children he would like to pursue.  We're all praying for God to reveal exactly who He has already chosen for our family.  We're approved by USCIS (US immigration) to adopt up to 4 kids, ages 6-14.

Please join us in praying for God to reveal His chosen children for our family.  We KNOW that God called us to Ukraine; there's too many God details and provision in this for it to not be from God.  He's already got some kids picked out for us, we just need to figure out who they are! :-)

Curve Ball

It's 4:45AM CST.  I've been up for over an hour now.  The curve ball was thrown a little while ago, so I'm praying for God's will to be done.  The SDA did NOT give us the referral for Vlad and Dima.  Let me repeat what I know.  THE SDA DID NOT GIVE US THE REFERRAL FOR VLAD AND DIMA.  Not kidding.

Now we're praying for God to give us His chosen children.  I don't know anything else right now.  I wasn't even able to talk to Matt, as he's still in the meeting with the SDA.  Tara, bless her heart, has been on the phone with me.  Crazy story.  My voice is gone, our internet is out, the baby is's crazy.

Please pray for God to give us His chosen children.  We KNOW He led us on this path.  He has lined way too much up for it to not be His will.  He just has something different in mind than what we thought!!!

SDA Appointment TODAY, Plus Kiev Pics!

{Note:  Mattie has updates and pics at the bottom of this post, so be sure to read all the way to the end!}

At 12Noon (Kiev time, which is 4AM CST) today (Thursday, Dec. 15), Matt and Mattie will be meeting with the adoption officials of the government of Ukraine, what is known as the SDA.   The SDA will be giving Matt their official referral.  There have been cases where the SDA has chosen different children than the ones an adoptive family has requested, so we’re praying first that the SDA gives Matt the referral for Vlad and Dima.  (By the way, their little brother is NOT available for adoption.  I can’t recall if I ever updated everyone on that news.) 

The SDA will tell Matt which children they’ve selected for him to adopt, then they will  give the files of those children to Matt for his review.  (Again, we’re praying the SDA chooses to select Vlad and Dima as their referral for our family; we requested them since we hosted them, but this is not a guarantee.) 

After Matt reviews the kids’ files, the SDA will ask Matt if he still wants to adopt them.  Matt’s answer will be yes, of course.  Then the SDA will tell him to come back Friday, Dec. 16, to pick up the SDA’s official letter of permission to visit the boys.

The SDA office is in Kiev, Ukraine.  The boys are in an orphanage in Sumy, Ukraine, about 4-5 hours from Kiev.  Because the SDA’s letter of permission to visit the boys won’t be ready until Friday afternoon, Matt and Mattie won’t be able to visit the boys until Monday, December 19.  The boys still have NO IDEA that Matt and Mattie are even in Ukraine, nor do they know that we’re still pursuing their adoption!

I want to do a big ole update on all the ways God has provided for us in this adoption.  He continues to amaze me.  It would be overwhelming to try to record everything in one blog post, and since this post is already going to be long and my time is still very limited, I will stay focused on Matt and Mattie in Kiev for now.

One of the ways God provided for our family came shortly after we announced that we’d be adopting Vlad and Dima.   I received an unexpected email from a sweet young mom, Tara, whom I had never met.  She explained that she lives in Kiev, Ukraine, and that she would be happy to help our family in any way possible, including offering her home to us in Kiev!  (If any of you are still following us from our very first adoption in November 2008, we had the same thing happen with our Colombian adoption.  Our psychologist (required testing for Colombian adoptions) just happened to own a home in Bogota, Colombia, and he invited us to stay there for free.  I just love the way God works!)

Anyway, Tara went on to explain that she started following our blog back when she was praying for Chrissie, only I had no idea because she had never left a comment or emailed me, so I had no clue that Tara even existed.  Smile Tara and her husband and their infant daughter are Americans living in Kiev, Ukraine, and this week, they have become Matt and Mattie’s new best friends!
Team Airhart

I cannot even express my gratitude for God’s amazing and abundant provision.  His love for us is expressed in so many ways, and right now, His love is being heaped on us through the provision of Team Airhart.  This precious family has gone above and beyond to host Matt and Mattie.  They picked M&M up from the airport (after some confusion about their arrival time, which was our fault!), fed them lunch, let them snooze the afternoon away on their couch, set them up with wi-fi, and taken them on tours of Ukraine, helping them to experience the culture of Ukraine in an amazing way.  There’s nothing better than having sweet, generous, selfless, English-speaking hosts to help clueless Americans transition to a foreign country!!!

On Day 1 of Matt and Mattie’s arrival into Kiev, I must have emailed Tara 10 times!!!  I probably appeared to be a “helicopter” mom/wife!  I had gotten concerned because Matt texted me at 5:30AM (my time) to let me know they had arrived in Kiev.  That meant they arrived there at 1:30PM Kiev time, but we *thought* they weren’t supposed to arrive until 10:50PM!!!  I was thoroughly confused, so I texted Matt back to try to get details, but I never heard back from him.  So then I got a little concerned because he wasn’t answering texts and I didn’t hear from him again for about 6 hours!!!

I didn’t even think to email Tara to inquire, but, praise God, she emailed me to fill me in!  We had misread their arrival time into Kiev.  It was 1:05PM, not 10:50PM!!!  Tara, being a young and wise woman, figured this out before we did and had already made arrangements to be at the airport so Matt and Mattie wouldn’t be stranded there for 9 hours!  Whew, God knew we needed Team Airhart to keep us straight!

Matt and Mattie made themselves at home at the Airhart’s place.  They ate tacos for lunch, then fell asleep on the Airhart’s couch.  For about 4 or 5 hours!!! Smile  Nothin’ like jet lag after 20+ hours of restless travel!  Tara was so cute when she said she didn’t want to wake them up, but she wasn’t sure that they’d be able to sleep that night after napping the day away.

I had been texting Matt throughout the day, with no response, so, I finally broke down and called Matt on his cell phone around 7:30PM (Kiev time).  He and Mattie had woken up from their slumber, and they were ready to go explore Kiev with the Airharts. 

Here’s the email update I received from Mattie that night (December 13):

We're about to leave for a light dinner and some exploring.  I have time to send a few pics from our journey and I'll take more tonight and send them to you.
We got Starbucks!!

This is us waiting for our DC to Frankfurt flight to take off.

Waiting for our flight to Kiev.

Frankfurt airport, haha:-).

That's it for now!  I did not sleep at all until the flight from Frankfurt to Kiev which was 3 hours.  I just watched movies for almost 9 hours on the DC to Frankfurt flight:-).  I am loving this place<3. 
Then I didn’t hear from Matt or Mattie again.  I think they were exhausted.  I did receive some emails from both of them the following day, Wednesday, Dec. 14.  Here are Mattie’s Wednesday updates (with pics):

Mattie’s Kiev Update, Dec. 14 at 9:02AM CST
(5PM Kiev time)
I'm feeling great! The jet lag was nothin :-)! Seriously, I feel normal. I slept until noon and then went and had lunch with the family that stayed with the Airharts before us, the Mooneys. They are the ones with the non profit called 99 Balloons. Their first baby boy had a "not compatible with life" disease and died after 99 days. They are awesome! I love them. Anyways, I decided to try something new to eat, and it was pretty gross:-). I got to ride on the metro, which is just like a subway in NYC, no concept of personal space!! I really love this city, I think it's beautiful. Tara, Baby E, and I went to go get the cell phone working and we just got back. She went in and I stayed with the baby and the dog. It's not snowing, and it's not freezing either. It's like 38 outside right now. It feels great with a coat on. We don't see much of Jonathan, because its finals week for him. Tara is like my new best friend:-). Ellie is such a good baby. We're gonna go see that soccer game, I'm stoked!
Yes, we met with Nina and her husband. She is all business:-). She so has us taken care of. She has a new breast feeding baby, so she can't come to the SDA app. tomorrow, her husband will. We're going to take a car early Monday morning to Sumy. She keeps saying our case is "sensitive". She's very glad I came, she said I could be a key point in getting the boys home. I showed her videos and that boosted her confidence that the boys will be able to come home. She said the chances are slim of getting a court date before new years, which stinks. So our travel stuff is still up in the air. She was pleased with her boots, and her husband was ecstatic about his hat! Dad showed him some roping magazines and he loved it:-).

Tell everyone I miss them and love them!! Tell the boys that I'm going to a real European futbol game! I don't know why I'm so excited:). I miss say say {Selah} so much:-(. Anyways, LOVE YOU!!

Mattie’s Ukrainian Update, Dec. 14 at 3:15PM CST
(11:15PM Kiev time)
The game was AWESOME!  Full on fan fights, people getting thrown out, crazy stuff.  It was very exciting, we tied against Tel Aviv.  Here's some pics:
This is Tara and I on the mile long escalator in the metro station.

I asked two Ukrainian girls to take our photo using the word in perfect Ukrainian "foto":-).  Then I said, "diaku" which means thank you. 

Me enjoying the game:-).
The game.
I took this going down the mile long escalator.
So, now all of us are up to date on M&M’s Ukrainian adventures.  I’ll be sure to let y’all know what happens at the SDA appointment today.  If anyone is awake at 4AM CST, we’d appreciate your prayers for a smooth appointment and a referral for Vlad and Dima.  Thanks!

And back on the Texas home front, we’re all hanging in there.  We’ve got a few sick kids, and I’m battling whatever virus this is as well.  We’ve got coughs, congestion, sore throat, lethargy, etc.  Selah and Ella are on antibiotics for ear infections/sinus infections.  Other than this cold crud, everyone is pitching in and stepping up to fill in the gaps with M&M gone.  We all miss them terribly.  I’m so grateful for how selfless and helpful our kiddos are.  Only God could orchestrate things so beautifully. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Safe in Kiev

Just wanted to let you all know that Matt and Mattie arrived safely into Kiev, Ukraine, and they're now resting at their host home. (I have a story to share later about that.)

Kiev is 8 hours ahead of Texas time, so jet lag will be a challenge. Tara, the sweet mom who is hosting Matt and Mattie, emailed to let me know that they fell asleep on the couch after she fed them tacos. :-)

They've been "napping" since they arrived in Kiev, so pray Matt and Mattie still be able to sleep tonight. Jet lag is one of the hardest things to overcome. After 20 hours of non-restful travel, all Matt and Mattie could focus on was sleep. Unfortunately, their sleep is happening late afternoon/evening in Kiev. I think they've been sleeping since around 2PMish (Kiev time) and they're still asleep! It's about 6:30PM right now in Kiev. Ugh!

Thank you, Tara, for mommying my lovies. I'm praying they'll wake up and join you for dinner!!! And that they'll sleep tonight, too!

Sent from Lorraine's iPhone

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday's Meditation: A Boss Your Heart Message

At this very moment, my husband and 13-year-old daughter are flying across the world to Ukraine.  Stop reading here for a minute and go down a little further to read the devo that Kirsten Walkup wrote for the blog today (posted below).  I'll continue my thoughts below, just after the devo by Kirsten.

The Nobodies
by Kirsten Walkup

Last week a major news organization ran an article titled “The Nobodies”. The Nobodies referred to 1,639 individuals in Los Angeles County whose unclaimed bodies were disposed of by mass-cremation. These people were individuals who had no other person in their lives who would claim their bodies to give them a proper burial. The Nobodies' lives were of such little consequence to society, that many of their birthplaces, ages, and even names, will forever remain unknown. They will not be missed by anyone, their memories will not live on through their loved ones, and had it not been for the (very short) article written about them, very few would have even known that they ever existed. They are the lone and forgotten of society; the homeless, the invalids, the elderly, the lonely. While the vast majority of The Nobodies were homeless people off the streets, there were more than a few who died at home alone, or in car wrecks, with no family or friends to speak for them.

After reading this article I sat and thought for awhile, and I wondered just how many “Nobodies” I passed by everyday without giving them the slightest thought. I started to question things.  How many neighbors do I have that might fit this description? Even though the company I work for is small, there are people who come and go every day with whom I’ve never even spoken. Do any of these people live in an utterly desolate world surrounded by a mute sea of humanity? Do I even care enough to find out? Have I constructed my white, upper middle-class, suburbia lifestyle in such a fashion that I come in contact with as few of these types of Nobodies as possible?

As I sat and thought about each of these questions, I realized that there were no easy answers to them. I’m a Christian, and it’s my job to care about everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from. I am to demonstrate God’s love with all those I come into contact with, and be ready to show the Nobodies that they are someone to Jesus Christ. Sadly, I feel that my efforts in that regard often fall woefully short of what they should be. While I do care about people and would never intentionally give someone the impression that they are less than important to God, the pace at which my life runs, my career, and my own insecurities regarding my ability to communicate likely override any concern I may have for the person standing right next to me. I’m perfectly comfortable serving in various ministry capacities as long as it’s on my own terms and in the timing I choose. But I wonder how many I pass by on a daily basis who desperately need a relationship with Jesus Christ, yet don’t quite fit into my neatly compartmentalized world.

In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus sat around with a group of outcasts and shared a story, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

 This story tells me that heaven rejoices more over one Nobody coming to Christ more than it does over an entire church congregation coming together on Sunday morning to bless the blessed. I know that the thing I must do is to train my heart to remove the blinders and focus on things that do not necessarily have direct correlation to my set schedule. The people who are important and matter to God are the very same who have slipped through society’s cracks, they are the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, the Nobodies. This season as we celebrate the incomprehensible gift that God gave the world when He sent His Son to live among us, let us remember that this same Son would later give His life so that these Nobodies could have salvation.

Boss Your Heart!

OK, so I'm back now.   Thank you for reading Kirsten's devo.  When I first read it, I couldn't help but think about all of the Nobodies who are orphans around the world.  147+ million orphans, Nobodies.  That's why I'm OK with Matt and Mattie flying around the world without me or the rest of my kiddos.  They are going to let many Nobodies know that they matter to Jesus.  They are going to bring two Nobodies into our family to change their lives, and our lives, forever.  No longer will Vlad and Dima be Nobodies.  They will be Pattersons.  Praise God for redemption.  Jesus sets the Nobodies, the lonely, in families.  (Psalm 68)

"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come for you."  John 14:18.


I can't remember the Ukrainian word for goodbye, so adios Mattie and Daddy. We'll miss y'all sooooooo much!!! Love you both!


That last post accidentally sent before I intended.

Anyway, we're leaving for the airport soon and the kids are saying goodbye to their daddy and sister (temporarily), a well as their dog (forever, or at least in this earthly lifetime) .

We adopted Sweetie Pie 15 years ago. She was a severely abused 2-year-old dog until a local pet advocacy rescued her. We were very blessed to have been her forever family.

Sent from Lorraine's iPhone

Our Sweetie Pie

Matt just discovered that our very old and very sweet dog, Sweetie Pie, died in the night. She went to sleep on her dog bed in our game room, as she always does, and this morning she never woke up. :-(

Our kids don't know yet. Please keep them in your prayers. I'll be leaving in about 20 minutes to take Matt and Mattie to the airport.

Sent from Lorraine's iPhone

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winner of the Thanksgiving Blitz

I totally forgot to announce (publicly) the winner of the John 14:18 giveaway.

Wrightfamilyusa 1 comment
Hello- bought a red shirt- LOVE YOUR SHIRTS!!! :)

Dawn of Are These Kids All Yours? was the winner.  I already contacted her via email, but I forgot to announce the winner here on the blog.  Sorry to those who were wondering who won or if I still hadn't drawn the winner. 

I have an awesome story to share about Dawn.

Dawn's an awesome and supportive bloggy friend.  She faithfully leaves comments on our blog, and after Chrissie went to heaven, Dawn invited us to stay at their family camp (for free!).  We weren't able to go to their camp, but Dawn has been a faithful friend by reaching out to our family in multiple ways over the past year and a half.  Dawn's a huge adoption advocate (she even works as an adoption consultant) , she and her hubby have 8 kids (all adopted), and they're currently in the process of adopting a special needs child domestically. 

Dawn held a giveaway on her blog not too long ago.  I happened to be the winner of her giveaway.  I asked her to keep the money she would have spent on the shirt I won so that she wouldn't have to take any money away from their adoption funding.  Dawn was grateful.

Then, not too much longer after that, Dawn and her husband blessed our family with $500 to help bring Vlad and Dima home.  Yep, $500, and, I did mention that they're currently fundraising for their own adoption, right?  Selfless.  Supportive.  Gotta love Dawn's example.

Dawn said their large monetary donation to our adoption was a God thing.  I asked for details (because I always love God stories).  This is what Dawn said:

We had a sermon this past weekend that really convicted me of our giving (not tithing that is a given), but well let's just say that since we took a huge paycut....we have been using that as an excuse to not really do much giving.

During the service I heard the Lord tell me that we were to give away money- a larger amount.....and I reluctantly said ok- well this is yours anyway. And HE dealt with me in my heart. I then told God - in order to do this the right way HE needed to convict my husband as well.

Without me saying a word- my husband said to me last night- I have been thinking what would you think about giving money away. I said- how much? He said $500. I said (ok God you got it- I will obey) ok honey. To what? He said isn't the blog you are on right now doing a fundraiser ? Yep they I reminded him of who you are because I am the one who reads up on everyone ;) He said - let's do it.

SO CRAZY- YEP! But you know God will provide for us when our little one comes a long. OUR JOB is to be obedient in the mean time.

So there is the whole story! :) And your check is on the way!!! SOO STINKING EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WILL BE GLAD TO SEE THEM WHEN THEY GET HOME!!!!!! :)

Yep, that's Dawn for you.  Didn't I say she's an awesome and supportive bloggy friend?   I'm still in awe of Dawn's generosity during a time when families usually put every cent into their own adoption funds.  They are fundraising for their own adoption, for goodness sakes!  Please go check out Dawn's blog and purchase some of her fundraising items to help them raise the ransom for their newest addition.  I'd love to pour some blessings back into Dawn's adoption fundraising efforts.

Thank you, Dawn, for your friendship.  Thank you for blessing us immeasurably.  We are grateful!!!
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