Friday, October 28, 2011

Christmas Orphan Hosting

Imagine spending Christmas in a cold orphanage without parents, without gifts, without stockings, without a Christmas meal, without loved ones to lavish you with love as you celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends.

There are 147+ million orphans in the world who will have no choice but to spend their Christmas alone, without a family, this Christmas.

You have the opportunity to make a difference.  There are TONS of ways to make a difference.  You can donate Christmas gifts to orphans, pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, take a mission trip to serve orphans over Christmas break, donate to help a family bring their child home in time for Christmas, “adopt” a local shelter at Christmas, bring an older child who has aged out of the foster system into your family for Christmas…the ways to help are endless, really.

You could also consider hosting an international orphan this Christmas.  I just happen to know of a couple of sibling sets from an Eastern European country who have a strong desire to come to America over Christmas as part of an orphan hosting program. 

Would you like to help make their Christmas wish come true?

Meet M & S, ages 14 and 12 (siblings) who are BEGGING to come to America for Christmas!


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And another sibling set, I & Y, ages 10 and 11, who would also LOVE to spend Christmas in America.

If you live in the USA and are interested in hosting either of these two sibling sets this Christmas, please immediately contact Stephanee at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Live, Laugh, Love

Live Laugh Love Bible Verse Gift Sign Art Print Framed

Living, laughing, and loving.  That’s how we roll in our family.  Today I’d like to share with you some of the live, laugh, love moments that I’ve treasured up in my heart recently (most of which seem to come via Kiefer these days!):

Kiefer threw a ball in the house and knocked a picture off the wall, then he IMMEDIATELY responded with this: “Can I go to bed now? Tanks (thank) you, goodnight (as he hurriedly ran off to bed).”  {Kiefer has never once in his life asked to go to bed!  I laughed out loud at Kiefer’s ingenious response to avoid consequences for a bad choice.  Three-year-olds, gotta love them!}

Matt and I had date night this week.  We met at a restaurant.  Matt arrived a couple of minutes before me, so he stood in the parking lot and watched me pull in.  I rolled down my window to wave at him, and he shouted, “Only you can look hot driving a 15-passenger van!”   {Lots of laughter at this one, sprinkled with unconditional love!}

Words to Live By: Live Laugh Love

Kiefer:  “You my brother, Parker.  I love you.  We have the same momma.”  {Momma’s heart smiled at this.  Lots of love.}

We’ve been dealing with a lot of things breaking around here:  air conditioner, trash compactor, water well, garage door opener, and more.  Instead of being frustrated, Matt stated matter-of-factly, “Well, the time is getting closer.”  To which I replied, “Closer to what?”  Matt calmly explained, “All of this broken stuff simply means we’re getting closer to Vlad and Dima’s adoption.”  {You see, every time we enter into an adoption, Satan revs up his attacks on our family and our “stuff”.  Now, we are able to calmly identify the problem, and instead of feeling defeated, we rejoice, knowing this means the time to getting our kiddos is getting closer!  Hallelujah!  I had to laugh when I witnessed the way Matt handled it.  Ha, ha, Satan, you're not going to win...ever.}

Kiefer’s middle name is “Thomas”. Kiefer just happens to be in that developmental stage where he often hears us say, “KIEFER THOMAS…”. So, the other day Ella did something that Kiefer disagreed with. He looked Ella in the eye and said sternly, “Ella Thomas…”. Smile {Ella’s middle name is Hope.}

Sage Sign, Live Laugh Love

How about you?  What makes you laugh?  Got any funny stories to share or live, love, laugh moments that you've treasured up in your heart lately?  I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ethiopian Princesses God Nod

I received the following story via email 10/10/11 (just two days after Chrissie’s 6th birthday).  Remember how I shared with you about the God Nods we have received, and continue to receive, as a blessing from God that keep us connected to Chrissie?  Well, this is another God Nod testimony that has blessed our hearts tremendously.  I absolutely love when God chooses to share with us a small piece of His greater puzzle.  Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing this with us!

The following testimony was written by Kathleen and shared with me via email (unsolicited by me) on October 10, 2011:

Hi Lorraine…you do not know me.  Just another of your many blog followers. : )  I have never commented on your blog but have been a reader for quite some time and felt compelled for some reason to write to you today to let you know that your family has been instrumental in our story.

We have six biological kids and have always had a passion for orphans. We even started our own business a few years back and felt like God was leading us to step out in faith...the mission of our custom/ high end wood working business was to be able to help fund adoptions.  Even though we always wanted to adopt, we always assumed that because of our already large family we would just have to stay on the "giving end" of things.  To make a long story shorter...God chose to instead have us close our business after about 4 years of daily "faith walking".  We had used all of our retirement funds in the startup so, once again we were starting from scratch... God has continued to be faithful as our "bruised" faith has slowly learned to walk again.

I came across your blog and was drawn in through Chrissie's story but was also able to relate on other levels.  We also live in the country, on 11 acres in Northern Indiana- Have two houses on our property, the smaller one always being used to "love on others" in one way or another.  Your posts about large family and animals and life as it is just always made me chuckle and feel a little more "normal"..hah! : )

So while I can't give you a particular day, it was partly through following your story that we began, again, to discuss adoption. For many years, at each Christmas, our kids beg to give up gifts and just "Go get a baby".  We would explain to them how that just wasn't possible and wasn't the "wise" thing to do..but maybe "someday".

Then earlier this year we felt God asking us to go through the process of becoming foster parents instead.  We could still use our home and our family to help children but it would not require the outlay of $ that we did not have to adopt.  We went through all the hours of classes and paperwork only to be told at the end of the process that Indiana had just changed its laws on June 1st and the maximum # of children in a home, including foster children, was we were no longer qualified.  Looking back now I really think that God used the foster parenting process just to get us to start moving.  As our eldest son told us once during a family prayer time.." Dad, you can keep praying "someday" for the rest of your life or you could just get busy and start doing something".  Got to love it when our kids use the same things we have taught them to speak truth into our own lives.

SO.....our dossier is ready to send off to Ethiopia!!!! : )  We have committed to adopt two little girls.  We have not received our referral yet but are told it could come any day.  We are humbled at being on the receiving end of things as we try to raise funds to bring our princesses home.  We have not seen their faces yet but we love them already.  God is bringing the desire He gave us many years ago to fruition, and indirectly, your family has gotten to be a part.  Thank you for continuing to be real in your journey.

On another note..have loved following Selah's story.  Our oldest son, who is now 18 had a brain malformation at birth and "would probably never talk and possibly not walk...definitely not be normal"...that was the diagnosis we heard.  BUT GOD!! He will be graduating from High School this year and is a starter on the Varsity Football team.  Not...he is not "normal" and we daily praise God for that!! 

Just wanted to share with you...I know you get lots of emails from people but just felt like I needed to send this.  Hope it is an encouragement to you. I attached a picture of our family because I could not figure out how to get it in the email : ( 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


When I saw this touching video clip (at a friend's request), I immediately wanted to share it here.  If you haven't seen this, please take a minute to watch it.  If you're touched by redemption stories, particularly orphan redemption stories, grab some Kleenex.

The thing that amazed me about this video is how moved the judges and audience (and viewers of the video) were by Emmanuel's story and performance.  It actually made me really sad because E.V.E.R.Y. former orphan's redemption story is so similar to Emmanuel Kelly's, yet much of the world remains clueless.  I praise God for opening the eyes of all those who have viewed Emmanuel's story.

"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 what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

Every former orphan has a story of courage, bravery, strength, determination...and other endless qualities that describe redemption.  The sad thing is that most people don't realize or recognize this.

Every former orphan will have a history of survival, whether he/she survived abuse, neglect, being cast out of society for imperfections (internal and/or external), incurring near death experiences, enduring the losses of loved ones, or, many times, all of the above. 

Being chosen, regardless of history, is part of the redemption story, and E.V.E.R.Y. former orphan has a story to tell.


There are still 147+ million orphans remaining out there who are all waiting to be able to share their story of redemption, the story where a family chooses them, regardless of their history, regardless of their disabilities.  Regardless.

Imagine a world where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan IS CHOSEN, where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan becomes a former orphan, where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan is commended for his/her bravery and courage, where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan is given a chance to be someone, to chase their dreams, instead of dying a hard and lonely death while waiting to be chosen.

We, as servants of Jesus Christ, have the power to give E.V.E.R.Y. single orphan the opportunity to share his/her redemption story, the story of when he/she was chosen.  We're actually commanded to care for orphans (James 1:27), yet there are still 147+ million orphans waiting to be chosen. 

Imagine what the number 147+ million could be if E.V.E.R.Y. person who was touched by Emmanuel Kelly's story would step up to the plate and give E.V.E.R.Y. orphan the opportunity that Emmanuel was given.  The now famous mom who rescued Emmanuel and his brother from Iraq didn't make that choice because of an opportunity to become famous; she made the choice to rescue these two boys because of love.  Emmanuel says that his adoptive mom is his hero, his angel.  She was the one to step up, to love, to redeem, to rescue these two boys from death.  She was who God used to enable Emmanuel to share his story of redemption with the world.

Imagine a world where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan is given an opportunity to share his/her story of redemption.

Imagine a world where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan is given an identity.

Imagine a world where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan is given an angel to walk through the orphanage doors and choose him/her, to rescue him/her, to REDEEM him/her.

Imagine a world where E.V.E.R.Y. orphan is given the opportunity to chase his/her dreams, just as Emmanuel Kelly was given.

It doesn't have to be something we just imagine.  It can be real.  E.V.E.R.Y. orphan can be chosen, rescued, redeemed if E.V.E.R.Y. servant of Jesus Christ would answer the call command to adopt.

Imagine a world where we would no longer have to simply imagine the redemption of E.V.E.R.Y. single orphan because E.V.E.R.Y. servant of Jesus obeyed His command and adopted just one orphan.  There would be NO. MORE. ORPHANS.  Only redemption.  Oh how it must grieve our Father's heart to see His children not answering His command.  His answer to the orphan crisis is in our hands.  Imagine if we only obeyed.

Be someone's hero.  Be someone's angel.  Imagine.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."   James 1:27

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Meditation: A Boss Your Heart Message

Thank you, Kirsten Walkup, for today's devo:

by Kirsten Walkup

Much is made about what it takes to be a “successful” Christian. Books have been written and ministers have made careers giving instruction and insight on the subject. But having a successful walk with Christ, at least the way scripture defines it, really isn’t a complex issue that requires a ton of self-help books or in-depth seminars. It can be summarized in one word: service.

In 1878, when William Booth's Salvation Army was beginning to make its mark, men and women from all over the world began to enlist. One man, who had once dreamed of becoming a bishop, crossed the Atlantic from America to England to enlist. Samuel Brengle left a fine pastorate to join Booth's Army. At first General Booth accepted his services reluctantly and grudgingly.

Booth said to Brengle, "You've been your own boss too long." And in order to instill humility in Brengle, he set him to work cleaning the boots of other trainees. Discouraged, Brengle said to himself, "Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to polish boots?" And then, as in a vision, he saw Jesus bending over the rough, calloused feet of a multitude of unnamed fishermen. "Lord," he whispered, "you washed their feet; I will shine their shoes."

Serving Jesus doesn’t always mean we do the things we want to do. Often it means that putting ourselves in positions we’d rather not be in, in order to be of best service to Him. When we’re willing to do whatever the Lord wants, regardless of whether our ego is glorified or not, that’s when we’re able to be the most effective for Him.

During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. When asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, "Sir, I am a corporal!" The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, "Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again." It was none other than George Washington.

Obviously, the corporal’s attitude was not the attitude of a servant, and it is not an attitude that leads to success. We are called to lead, but becoming a leader requires an attitude that is willing to serve.

Colossians 1:25-28-I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

Paul was undoubtedly the most significant leader of the first century church. But he led people by serving them. He gave his life for them. He endured hardship for them. He sacrificed for them. He committed his life to teaching the Word of God, telling people about Jesus, and showing them how to grow as Christians.

Paul understood a crucial principle: Success is not a life of privilege; it's a life of service.

Boss your heart!



Friday, October 21, 2011


"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it." ~Frank A. Clark


Kiefer and Ella play “babies” everyday.  They’re such good friends.  I feel so blessed by watching them play together, witnessing their friendship, created by God. 

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Kiefer decided his baby needed a diaper change.  He used a real wipey to clean baby’s bottom.


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Lining the real diaper up, all by himself.


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Uh-oh, the diaper is as big as the baby!


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Oh well, that’s OK, it’ll work just fine.


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Here are all of the babies lined up on the couch.  It’s meal time for the babies, compliments of Ella and Kiefer.  They take good care of their babies.


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Speaking of babies, my oldest bio baby is growing up way too fast.  They all are, really.


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And here’s my baby bio, hauling the Selah’s exersaucer outside.  Sawyer takes good care of his baby sister.


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Baby Selah enjoying tractor time with Daddy.  Our kids have always enjoyed tractor time with Daddy.  Smile


Lorraine and John bunnies

This is me when I was just a “baby”.  My brother, John, and I were rescuing some baby bunnies whose momma had gotten killed.  Funny how God created us with a desire to help babies, from the very beginning.


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Kiefer’s no longer a baby.  He’s 3 and had his first big-boy teeth cleaning!  He did great, and he didn’t have any cavities.  Hallelujah!


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Here’s my mom and Dad (Nana and PawPaw) with all 13 of their grandbabies (without Chrissie in the count, of course, although she is undoubtedly smiling from heaven for this photo).  My mom and dad had 4 kids, and probably felt like their babies would never grow up.  Now their “babies” are giving them grandbabies.  Life is so short.  Treasure every moment of it.


“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for” ~anonymous

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just One

I think all too often we get caught up in thinking that because we can't change the entire world, we can't save every single orphan, we can't donate $100,  that perhaps we shouldn't do anything at all.

This is faulty thinking, my friends.  Satan loves faulty thinking.

I'm reading a new book (highly recommend it) called Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. 
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

Some of you are familiar with Katie from her blog about her life as a young single mom to 13 girls in Uganda.  Katie is a gifted writer, she's sold out for Jesus, and she's making a difference in the world, one child at a time.

Katie didn't give up and do nothing just because she couldn't save the world in the blink of an eye.  Katie says in her book, "I will not change the world.  Jesus will do that.  I can, however, change the world for one person."

One person.


Think about your life right now.  Think about ONE PERSON who you can make a difference in his/her life.  Just ONE PERSON.  Then commit to helping JUST ONE person, to reaching out to that ONE PERSON, and making a difference.  You can do it.

One person is worth it.

And there are so many ways to  help.  You can donate your time, your talent, your treasure.  You can simply love another person, perhaps someone who doesn't feel worthy of being loved.  You can pay attention to someone who no one else ever listens to.  You can visit a nursing home and visit with just one person there, letting that person know they're not forgotten.  The ways for you to make a difference in JUST ONE person's life are countless, but it won't count at all if you sit back and do nothing just because you can't save all 147+ million orphans.  Don't let numbers scare you away.  Start with JUST ONE.

Do not let Satan squelch your ability to make a difference one person at a time.  He would so love to have that power over you.  Katie says, "So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time.   Because this is my call as a Christian."

Beth Clark writes in the foreword of Kisses from Katie, "People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another.  And I've noticed something about people who make a difference in the world.  They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters.  They get excited over one smile.  They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one would.  They aren't determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they're satisfied with small changes.  Over time, though, the small changes add up.  Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world."

One person.  One life.  One commitment.  YOU really can make a difference.  YOU can change the world for ONE PERSON.  And don't let Satan tell you otherwise.

{Note: This post was scheduled to automatically post on October 17, but I just noticed that it didn't. So I'm posting it now.  Sorry, Samantha and Chrissie...I had these little PS messages for you on Monday, but this didn't post when I had it scheduled to for some reason.}
PS  Happy 20th birthday, Samantha!  We love you!  (October 17)

PPS  Happy US Citizenship day, Chrissie (October 17)!  While we wish you would have remained in Texas for many more years after you became a US citizen, we know that your heavenly citizenship is the most important citizenship papers you'll ever obtain.  We can't wait to get our heaven papers, Chrissie.  We can only imagine the life you're living there without us right now.  You, one little person, change the lives of so many people around the world.  One person.  One little person.  Making an eternal difference.  Thank you, Chrissie, for who you are.  We love and miss you and look forward to joining you one day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Ecuadorian/American Princess God Nod

Ever since I shared the God Nods, in memory of Chrissie’s 6th birthday, God has poured in the affirmations that He said what He said, He shared what He shared, and He will continue to link me with Chrissie via His God Nods.

My heart has been twinkling ever since I shared about the God Nods.  So many people have emailed me to share stories of how God used Chrissie to connect them with orphans, adoption, prayer, etc.  I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for all of these testimonies.  {I will try to share several of these stories over the next few weeks.  First one is posted below.}

One of the common things with losing a child is that the parents/family of the child in heaven WANTS to have people remember their child.  We want to talk about Chrissie, we want people to share stories and pictures of Chrissie, we want her life to be remembered.  All too often, people falsely believe that if they just avoid mentioning Chrissie, that will void us of the pain.  It’s the exact opposite, really.  The more people talk about Chrissie, the less pain we have.  I guess it’s a way of keeping her memory alive, knowing people still remember her, people still care about her, and people remember that sweet spirit and joyful personality that touched our hearts so deeply.

If you know someone who has lost a child, I encourage you to contact them and share with them a memory you have of their child and/or to let them know you’re praying for them.  Mention their child by name.  Mention something you loved about their child.  Mention how their child has affected your heart.  Mention the child.  Period.  It is a balm to hurting hearts to hear others talk about their child in heaven.  It really is. 

I am honored to share with you a testimony that was emailed to me on Chrissie’s 6th birthday.  Kaleigh, the author of the following testimony, is the oldest daughter in her family.  God used Chrissie to inspire Kaleigh to take a mission trip to Ecuador, where He introduced Kaleigh to two girls who are now in the process of being adopted by Kaleigh’s family.  My heart is singing with JOY, knowing God used Chrissie in this testimony, and I’m so very grateful that Kaleigh is allowing me to share the story with all of you.

The following testimony is written by Kaleigh:

Sometimes God gives you a story that you just can’t stop telling. Sometimes He does something so special that you want to shout about it from the roof tops and whisper it to yourself in the dark just so you can marvel over it.

I think Chrissie had a story like that.

Chrissie also is a huge part of other people’s stories like that.

Our family is a family of adoption. God gave us the great privilege of each being adopted into HIS family, and when my sister was adopted (the answer to so many of my prayers, having only brothers at the time) we all became passionate about the ministry of adoption!

Through the years though I forgot what an incredible privilege adoption was.

Late in 2009, I somehow stumbled on The Patterson’s blog. Their family was so beautiful, and I was interested in reading more about their lives. As I read, the Lord did something in my heart. He used Chrissie to put a fire back in my heart for orphans. Each picture with her huge dimpled smile and big deep eyes and each funny or sweet story taught me something I can’t explain. Chrissie’s battle and Bossing her heart, and finally her Gotcha Day in Heaven was used mightily, yet quietly by God to give me a passion.

If not for Chrissie, her story and the renewed passion for orphans SHE gave me, I don’t think I ever would have traveled to an orphanage in Ecuador, South America (the same orphanage my sister was adopted from 8 years previous), to love on His children. If not for Chrissie I KNOW I never would have listened to God’s spirit telling me I was there to find the sibling God had for my family.

I did not seek any child out. God just very, very clearly put one particular 5 year old little girl on my path. This little girl caught my attention the very first day with her sass, spunk and ATTITUDE. She had a way of getting you to do whatever she wanted. Smile
In my first email home to my family about her (before God even confirmed that she was “the one”) this is what I told Mom. “I met the Ecuadorian version of Chrissie today.”

Would you believe that God put all that together and at the time I didn’t even realize that Chrissie had been the one to change my heart and make me GO to Ecuador in the first place?!?!

On top of that, the very same day I met my Ecuadorian sister, I also saw this beautiful rainbow. I kinda think it was significant. Whatcha think??
(Note from Lorraine:  The rainbow is very faint in this photo, but I’m amazed that Kaleigh has a photo of it.  She didn’t realize the significance of this rainbow at the time, but God allowed her to capture a glimpse of what would later be revealed as a God Nod!)
Over the next few days I fell head over heels in love and I came home ready to launch my campaign for her adoption.

God continued to teach me volumes through Chrissie and through my Ecuadorian “Chrissie”.

After a few months my parents KNEW God was calling them to adopt her. Even then there were SO many things in the way. We had to believe and wait and trust for over 8 months with no hope that we could ever adopt her.

And just when we thought it was over, that the answer to our cries for miracles was no, God showed up.

On August 13th 2011 we found out we COULD adopt her. It was the best day-late birthday present I’d EVER gotten!

Her name means God is My Judge. Her story is heartbreaking in places, redemptive in some and miraculous in all. I cannot wait for the day when I can write a book that tells it all and proclaims her song of victory and joy.

Through other special “God stops” (Hey Samantha Smile) that happened during our months of waiting, my entire family knew that another girl, “L”, was to be a part of our family too. She is a precious angel who has actually cried many times over her wish for a family.
There is oh so much more to the story, mine, hers and our family’s. Chrissie’s part is just one incredible chapter. But it is a chapter I feel so incredibly privileged to be a part of.

My parents cannot wait to bring their two new daughters home. Through our “Ecuadorian Chrissie”, they have felt God calling them to a stronger love for the orphan and a passion to bring hope and healing to as many as they can. One of their dreams is to turn our home and property into a little piece of heaven on earth and use it to minister to the orphans God calls us to.

For now though, we are taking that first step and working towards bringing D. and L. home!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Little Ducky

I'm so excited to have finally captured Selah's first words on video!  Every other time I've tried to video Selah saying, "Quack, quack", she sees the video camera and completely loses her mind!  All she wants is to grab and eat the video camera! 

Selah is 12 months old now, and she loves for us to sing Five Little Ducks (went swimming one day...).   I'm thrilled that God allowed us to capture Selah saying, "Quack, quack, quack."  Happy dance!  Thank you, God!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Beyond Measure

God has blessed me beyond measure through a totally unexpected letter I received via email.  I never expected to receive this letter.  I never expected to “meet” the author.  The circumstances that led up to my receiving this letter seem so very ordinary, yet so very extraordinary at the same time.  Definitely God-orchestrated.

If we weren’t adopting Vlad and Dima, I wouldn’t have received this letter.

If I hadn’t put a Chip-In on our blog for donations, I wouldn’t have received this letter.

If I hadn’t noticed the comment in the Paypal buyer instructions (sent to me after a donation was made), I wouldn’t have received this letter.

Paypal Instructions to merchant (Note:  I'm the "merchant", the recipient of this donation, and here's the comment left for me):
In memory of my little girl, she would have been 12 this year. Bring Vlad & Dima home...

If I hadn’t emailed the sender of this donation to inquire about her daughter’s story, I wouldn’t have received this letter.

If my God didn’t love me as much as He does, I wouldn’t have received this letter.

For all those who have lost a child, I have no doubt that this letter will deeply touch your hearts.  For those who haven’t lost a child, I pray God will use this letter to change, circumcise, affect, pierce, grip… BLESS your hearts the way it did mine.

This letter is written by a mom here on earth to her daughter in heaven.  Samantha Faith was ushered into Jesus’ arms as a beautiful, beloved baby in 1999.  This letter was written to Samantha by her mom 11 years later.  Samantha’s mom shared this letter with me in response to my email inquiry regarding the story behind the donation she made to our adoption fund, in memory of her daughter’s 12th birthday this year.

I consider it a great honor and privilege to share this letter with you today:

Samantha Faith
2 Samuel 12:23 I will go to her, but she will not return to me.

Precious baby girl...

At first, it seemed impossible to imagine life without you growing up alongside of us...

It was impossible to comprehend that we'd miss all your firsts... Your first smile, your first step, your first birthday, your first bike ride, your first day of school...

My heart would see an extra pair of shoes missing by the front door, and I'd ask myself... "Would you have been a girly girl, or a tomboy? Would your shoes have been neatly placed by the front door, would they have been thrown aside...would you be like Josh and forget to take them off altogether, or leave them strewn about outside? Maybe you would have been a mommy's girl and gone barefoot...". In many ways, that's how my heart sees you even now; mommy's girl, barefoot, with your footprints deeply imprinted upon my heart.

Our table has an empty chair next to me at each meal, and I would wonder if you would have been as picky as Joshua, as hungry as Brandon, or eat as painstakingly slow as Jillian. Either way, I'm thinking the odds are that you would have had more table manners than your siblings, and sometimes, I wonder if I would have failed in teaching you these things too?

My heart would remember that you're not here when I'd see friends knock on the door for Jillian, Joshua and Brandon, but no one coming for you...

I would watch the boys growing up as best friends, while Jillian found it difficult to be the odd one out. It wasn't lost on her that Terry and I had each other, the boys had each other, and she was by herself. It wasn't lost on me either, and yet I didn't know how to tell her that I understood more than she realized.

Although the family photos look complete, they never felt complete to me, you're not where we pictured you to be...
you were not home.

There were things I wished I could ask you... do you get older in heaven, or are you still the same way I remember you? Has Daddy told you about us? Do you know that I heard your message to me last fall? What's it like to be held in the hands of the One who created life?

There are things I wanted you to know... Remember the spot where I held you against my heart? It still aches, and there are days when it's all I feel. I reach out to touch that spot to soothe it, but it's like I can't quite touch the emptiness. I imagine it's much like phantom pain of a limb being removed -- part of me went missing when we lost you, and I will always feel that empty space where you once were. And yet, if holding you has left me with a permanent ache, holding you was worth it... You were worth it. Someday soon, I'll hold you this way again, but by then, I will be whole and no longer aware the ache ever existed.

At first, it seemed impossible to imagine life without you growing up alongside of us... and now, it seems impossible to believe that there was ever a different possibility to begin with...

It isn't that you have missed the life we feel you should have had, you are living the life you were meant to have. It is not you that is missing from where we are, it is us that are missing from where you are. You've achieved the dream I pray for all my children; for their lives to lead them Home. This was the way it was meant to be all along, but somehow, along the way, we made up our minds that parents need to get there first... even though Jesus clearly said "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
" (Matthew 19:14) Oh how foolish I have been in not letting you go.

Maybe it's not what we wanted at first, but in the end, if we had wanted what He wanted all along, we would have found peace much sooner than we did.

Now, instead of my heart seeing your shoes missing at the front door, I see my shoes missing beside yours. I see us running barefoot together.

Rather than my heart noticing the empty chair alongside mine at the table, I see the seat you've saved for me at His table, and you showing me which fork to use. I'm sure there's about ten! I might even like mushrooms when I'm sitting with you at His table.

There are no photos of you missing in God's family photos -- you're where He pictured you to be all along.

We're missing... we're not home.

God has shown me something about you... It was never my place to teach you here on earth; I'm not sure I could ever have taught you as much as you're teaching me.

I no longer see us growing up without you, I see you growing up without us... waiting for our hearts to understand what you've understood all along, waiting for the day until you can teach us about where you've been for the last 11 years.

Not too much longer...

Love you, beyond measure...
Grateful, beyond measure...
Blessed, beyond measure...
Miss you, beyond measure...


Friday, October 14, 2011

Sowing Seed

My sweet friend, Adeye, is hosting a giveaway on her blog right now in an effort to help adoptive families fundraise.  I'm always so amazed by Adeye's efforts to help orphans in such a variety of ways.  I've witnessed God pour out His abundant blessings upon those Adeye has advocated for...over and over and over.  God loves to see His people acting as His hands and feet, working together to rescue the least of these, the forgotten, the fatherless.  Sowing seed.

Please hop on over to Adeye's blog, choose a family to bless, then leave her a comment on THIS POST so that you'll be eligible for one of the many awesome prizes she's giving away. 

Hurry, time is running out...for the kids, for the families, for the fundraisers, for the prizes.  There are 32 families featured.  Surely there's at least one that will touch your heart.  The minimum donation is $10, and you'll have a chance to win some great prizes, including a $500 Target gift card! 

Thanks, Adeye, for your heart, for pouring it into others, for sowing seed in so many ways.  We're so blessed to call you "friend".

I Wish This Were Another Gotcha Day Celebration


On this day two years ago, October 14, 2009, Chrissie officially became our daughter.  This day is known as “Gotcha Day” in the adoption community, the day you officially “got” your child.

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The driver of the Kolevka van (which was normally used to transport sick children to the hospital) picked us up at our hotel at 10AM, October 14, to take us to the town in which Chrissie was born in Serbia for an adoption ceremony.

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Chrissie was so excited.  She sat patiently in the van while we loaded all of our luggage.

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This was a whirlwind day, as we weren’t sure if the adoption ceremony would happen on this day or not.  We were told to be ready for pick up by 7AM, but the head minister in Serbia hadn’t yet signed Chrissie’s adoption paperwork at that time, so we were told it probably wouldn’t happen on that day.

Then we received a phone call at 9:45AM (October 14) from our dear friend (who was Chrissie’s speech therapist at the orphanage), Sandra (pictured below in the van with Chrissie), to let us know that the head minister signed the paperwork and the adoption ceremony would be taking place on that day after all. 

Sandra saved the day when she arranged for our last minute transportation (the Kolevka van), and she even offered to accompany us for the day.  It was PERFECT because Chrissie LOVED Sandra, and Sandra spoke Serbian and English, so she was a HUGE help to all of us.  We had hoped to take Chrissie back by her orphanage (Kolevka) to let her say goodbye to everyone, but we didn’t have time.  That made me sad for Chrissie and all those who loved her so dearly at the orphanage, but we were so grateful to have the ceremony where Chrissie would officially become our forever daughter.

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Believe it or not, I don’t have a single photo of the rest of the day on October 14, 2009!!!  It was such a whirlwind of a day that we completely forgot to take photos. Sad smile

The ceremony was held with officials in the town in which Chrissie was born.  It took about an hour, then she was pronounced our daughter.  There was a challenge with obtaining Chrissie’s birth certificate because apparently we were only the second international adoption in that town, but eventually it all worked out.

We had to get Chrissie’s passport photo taken in that same town, and Chrissie smiled so big for her photo.  Everyone there laughed.  They just adored her, as did we.

After we completed everything with the adoption ceremony, passport photos, and birth certificate documentation, the Kolevka van drove us to Belgrade, Serbia, where Sandra helped us find a place to stay.  We were starving upon our arrival at the hotel (around 7PM) because we hadn’t eaten breakfast, lunch, or dinner!  (See, we didn’t even get to eat, much less take photos!!!) 

The hotel had a restaurant that cooked us a special meal that we were so grateful for.  We were the only people in the restaurant.  I think they were closed, but they had a few staff who were willing to cook us something.  They asked Chrissie (in Serbian) what she wanted to eat, and she told them she wanted bread with butter, rice, and French fries with ketchup.  We let her eat it…all starches, no protein, oh well. Smile

I so wish Chrissie were here today on earth so we could celebrate her 2nd Gotcha Day.  I can’t wait to hug that girl’s neck in heaven one day.  Oh how we miss her.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Submitted Today!

Today our adoption dossier is being submitted to the Ukrainian SDA (department of adoption)!!!  We should have a travel date assigned within a few weeks, as long as there's no questions/complications/rejections with our dossier.  It could be November when Matt travels to Ukraine to start the Ukrainian process (which takes about 4-6 weeks to complete), and then our boys will get to come HOME!!!  It would be so fabulous to have them home before Christmas.

We haven't heard anything else regarding the situation about the boys saying they no longer want to be adopted.  Several people contacted me to let me know that they've encountered the same thing and/or that they've had personal experience with specific orphanages and/or regions having a high percentage of kids being "talked out of" adoption (for whatever reason).

Please pray that if it is God's will for these boys to become forever Pattersons, that everyone involved in the decision making processes will know, trust, believe, and obey God's will above all else.

Thank you!

Pray for Sawyer

Our 11-year-old son now has the same horrid stomach flu that started with Selah over a week ago. It's slowly making its way through our family.

Sawyer's turn has been BAD. In 2 hours, he's thrown up 15+ times. We would appreciate prayers for this horribly rotten virus to be cast out and to stay out!!!

Thank you!

Sent from Lorraine's iPhone

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday's Meditation: A Boss Your Heart Message

Thank you, Kirsten Walkup, for today's message.  I'm grateful that you got to "meet" Chrissie, even if it was only through our blog and the stories and photos shared there. 

Boss Your Heart

By Kirsten Walkup

It never ceases to amaze me how the life of one little girl, who left this world far too soon, could be so impacting and far-reaching. I was not fortunate enough to have known Chrissie while she was with us. Before her struggle with her illness and victory through Jesus Christ, I couldn’t have told you who she was or picked her out in a picture. I probably saw her at church in my daughter’s class or in the hallways with her parents, but I had no idea as to who this little girl, Chrissie Patterson, was.

Like many, I became acquainted with her through Lorraine’s heart-wrenching account of Chrissie’s fight in the hospital. I must confess that I’m not one that follows blogs and I generally only glance over the church’s newsletters when they come out. But something about Chrissie’s battle really stuck with me. At the time I was really bogged down spiritually as a ministry endeavor I had sunk my heart and soul into had come crashing down. I was in a bit of a funk and was feeling a little sorry for myself about how things had turned out. Reading daily updates from a family I hardly knew concerning a remarkable child that I did not know is not typical for me, yet her unfolding story drew me in. I didn’t understand why, until the words “boss your heart” flew out of my computer screen and hit me like a freight train.

It was late in the evening when I read of Lorraine’s prescient exhortation to her little princess to boss her heart (and lungs), even though it didn’t want to work right. The fact that Chrissie did just that and her heart cooperated made it all the more compelling. When I finished reading through that account, I stopped and stared at my screen for what felt like hours, as the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. Chrissie needed to boss her physical heart into working right and had the courage and fortitude to summon the will to do it. I too needed to boss my heart into getting back into a right frame of heart and mind so that God again could use me for His ministry, but had yet to summon that same will.

A little girl who had endured so much had demonstrated to me what perfect faith looked like. Her mother told her to boss her heart, she trusted her mother, and told her heart to work again. And it worked. My Heavenly father had told me that the things I was dealing with had a purpose, even if I didn’t yet understand them, and that I needed to trust Him. The difference is that I was harboring anger and hurt in my heart, and I didn’t want to let it go. Like so many, my hurt was my possession, and I wanted to hang on to it, but I couldn’t. If Chrissie, this precious little warrior, could boss her heart into doing what it was made to do, then I could boss mine into letting go of the things that were sapping my spiritual will. That night I did just that and have since given little thought to the things had troubled me so much.

Chrissie’s life-story has been told, but the impact of her life and triumph over death will not be known this side of eternity. As one whose life has been immeasurably impacted by her brief time on earth, all I can do is give thanks to God for allowing me to know of her and her remarkable strength and courage.

Happy Birthday, Chrissie!



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Benefit/B-Day Party Pics

Saturday, October 8 (Chrissie’s birthday), we held the 1st annual Boss Your Heart memorial benefit team roping.  This was rescheduled from the original date of May 21, which was cancelled due to that crazy horse virus. 

We decided to make this benefit into a more intimate gathering here at our ranch.  In conjunction with the invitational team roping benefit, we held a double-birthday-party in memory of Chrissie’s 6th birthday, as well as in celebration of Selah’s 1st birthday.

We knew there was rain in the forecast for this special day, but since Texas is in the biggest drought EVER, and we haven’t had rain in about TWO YEARS, we weren’t too concerned about it.  Well, wouldn’t you know, about an hour before the event started, it DOWNPOURED.  We had to move all of the party supplies and decorations into our barn, which was not cleaned up or set up to host this event!  (We had cleaned up and set up everything outside, overlooking the arena, with picnic tables and chairs…just perfect.)  Oh well, at least we had a dry spot to put everything, amongst the horse feed, tack, workshop tools, and horse stalls!

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My good friend, Carrie Windham (Rowan’s mom), volunteered to make the princesses’ cakes.  She is so very talented, and God is continually blessing us through this precious family.  Carrie even framed a photo of each princess and set them by their individual cakes.
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Carrie made an individual cake for Chrissie, which was chocolate cake (of course) with beautiful pink flowers and birds. (Rowan has told us before that Chrissie wants us to know that she’s in all things beautiful, like the flowers and the birds.)
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Carrie went out of her way to make Selah a dairy-free cake, complete with soy butter icing, and the icing melted in her vehicle on the way to the party. Sad smile I thought it was still beautiful, and the pretty yellow flowers and birds stayed on the cake.  The decorations were so delicate and pretty, just like our baby Selah.
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Rowan brought butterflies to release at Chrissie’s grave.
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He also painted a rock for her that included a butterfly with rainbow colors.  He lovingly placed it on her grave.  (BTW, Chrissie’s grave is looking awful right now with the Texas drought.  I think I’m going to paint her little fence pink in an effort to spruce it up since nothing will grow there.)
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The butterflies are coming out of the cage in the photo below.  We’re so blessed by having Rowan in our lives.  He’s Chrissie’s little boyfriend on earth, and he’s connected to her like no one else I know, with a childlike faith and special God-connection that simply blows me away.
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I know you can’t see it in the photo below, but right after Rowan released the butterflies, dozens of cardinals (male and female) came to the ground and danced around.  It was a rare and special moment.  I’ve never seen that many cardinals in one place.  Rowan always said Chrissie is in all things beautiful, like the flowers and the birds.  We don’t have any flowers right now, but God sent LOTS of birds.  Pretty red ones at that.
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OK, I totally don’t know what I was gasping about in this photo, but I thought it was hilarious.  I’m rarely in photos because I’m usually the photographer.  Selah was trying to climb down into Chrissie’s grave while Mattie was trying to get a photo of the two miracle princesses on their double-birthday-party day.  Selah failed to cooperate. Smile
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Rowan had a dream about Chrissie the night before the party.  He said that she was in heaven when he saw her, and she wasn’t six, she was still four.  (Hallelujah, that’s what I’ve been hoping for!!!)  She told Rowan that she wanted him to blow our her candles for her, but she also wanted Rowan to tell us to put enough candles on her cake so that each member of her family could blow one out.  We had Rowan blow out 4 candles (since he said Chrissie is still 4), and then later our family blew out more candles, just as Chrissie wished.  (This made me think of the God Nod birthday card that says, “Put a chair for me at your table, and a candle on your cake, then include among your favors the very best wish I can make.”)  Thank you, Rowan, for making Chrissie’s cake/candle wish come true for her this year!
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Look at this precious little “couple”.  Don’t you just adore them?  An angel in heaven with an angel on earth.  Priceless.
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Just after we finished blowing out candles, the guys were ready to rope.  Within minutes of getting into the arena, it DOWNPOURED…again.  Every single person on a horse came galloping up the hill and into the barn, amongst the gifts and cakes and party décor, to take cover from the storm.
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That’s not sweat on Matt’s brown shirt, it’s rain.  You can also see the rain in the background, just outside the barn.  POURING.
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Matt took the photo below (while he was sitting on his horse) to show the guys in the stalls, sitting on their horses while it poured down rain.  There were several horses in each stall, some with riders on them, some with riders standing next to them.  Some horses were put back into their trailers.

Matt seized the opportunity (with everyone gathered together) to share Chrissie’s story and explain the message and meaning of the phrase “Boss Your Heart”.  It was a touching moment.

Then our pastor friend, Jeff, prayed, thanking God for the rain, asking for an opportunity to rope, if it would be His will.  Then the rain stopped, and guess what to our wondering eyes should appear?
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A RAINBOW!!!  Remember how God always used rainbows to speak to us about Chrissie, then Chrissie would use rainbows to speak back to us after she went to heaven?  Well, the tradition continues, my friends, another God Nod!
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Chrissie’s rainbow stretched all the way over the arena and barn, exactly where we were gathered.
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You have to look closely to see it in the photo below, but it’s there.  That’s the arena where the left end of the rainbow is.  (The photos above show the rainbow above the barn.)  Chrissie was present for her birthday party and memorial benefit roping!
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Kiefer just loves everything cowboy, and he loves people, so he was having a hay day at this event!!!  (He also loves Gatorade, which he calls red tea and green water.  He only gets Gatorade at ropings, so he was thrilled beyond all thrills to have all of his favorite things in one place!!!)
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Does he look mischievous or what?
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Below are shots of the actual team roping event.
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The picture below shows Parker in the heel box.  For those clueless about team roping, there’s a header (one who catches the steer’s horns) and a heeler (one who catches the steer’s heels).  The header catches first, then the heeler goes for the steer’s heels.
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A couple of sweet moms (pictured below) volunteered to keep track of the team roping books.  Not an easy job, made harder by the rain.
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The photo below shows Matt in the head box, although you can barely see him.  He’s the one in the far left side of the photo, without a cap, on his horse, with a rope in his hand.  (Both the header and heeler have on brown shirts and are riding brown horses, so it makes it a little difficult to describe who Matt is!)
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The blurry shot below is of Matt heading a steer with his heeler coming up behind the steer.
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The shot below shows Sawyer (Buckshot, on the left) taking a shot at the steer’s horns with his heeler on the right. 
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Asher loved being on his horse, just like the rest of the cowboys, although he’s not yet able to rope off a horse.  (He does lots of practice roping on the ground, where it’s safer.)
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And the winners of the 1st Annual Boss Your Heart Memorial Benefit Team Roping are:
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1st Place Header (RT):  Dylan Cosper
1st Place Heeler (LEFT):  Parker Cudd
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2nd Place Header (RT):  Dylan Cosper
2nd Place Heeler (LEFT):  Danny Duckett
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3rd Place Header (RT):  Dylan Cosper (Yes, he really did win all 3 places as the header!)
3rd Place Heeler (LEFT):  Tanner Montgomery

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The belt buckles were custom made and include the words “1st Annual Boss Your Heart Memorial Benefit 2011”.  The buckles also have Chrissie’s logo in the center (the heart with wings, a tiara with a cross, and a halo) with the words “In memory of Chrissie” under it.  Of course, we had to bling them out with pink Swarovski crystals, specially picked for our princess.
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Selah says, “Thanks for celebrating my birthday, along with my sissy’s birthday, too!”  Now I’m outa here to go crawl and cruise!  (All Selah really wanted to do the entire night was get down and crawl around, only the entire ground was MUDDY, full or horse poop, and not suitable for a baby!)  As soon the party ended, Selah had her own party in our home where she  partied (in her crawling and cruising 1-year-old b-day girl fashion) until 1:30AM.  Not kidding!!!

Thank you to everyone who helped with this benefit, for those who attended, for those who prayed, and for all those who have supported us throughout this journey.  We are so grateful for you!
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