Monday, April 30, 2012

Boss Your Heart Shirts & a Giveaway!

SOLD OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Updated 5/21/ more orders accepted)
Get your LIMITED EDITION BOSS YOUR HEART shirts today, in memory of Chrissie! FREE SHIPPING!
Orders will only be accepted through May 19, 2012. Please no international orders; domestic US shipping only. Orders placed are considered pre-orders, as shirts will be made in bulk after all orders have been received and paid for, after May 19, 2012. Shirts will ship by June 1, 2012, with FREE shipping. All proceeds will benefit orphans. Thank you for your support! Boss Your Heart!

Just in case you didn't see it over the weekend, we're offering several color options of the Boss Your Heart shirts!  Yippee!  Hurry and get your order in because this is a limited time offer from now until May 19, 2012.  All proceeds will benefit orphans, in memory of Chrissie.  See the very end of this post for info on the giveaway.

Front of shirt features Chrissie’s official Boss Your Heart logo, complete with her handprint.
Back of shirt boldly displays James 1:27 in turquoise.

The Original Boss Your Heart shirt--chocolate brown Gildan 100% pre-shrunk cotton tee

<><><><> SOLD OUT

This year we are introducing two new Boss Your Heart shirt colors.  All of the shirts are special limited edition shirts that will only be available for orders from now until May 19, 2012.

Black with PINK Boss Your Heart shirt:
Black Gildan 100% cotton pre-shrunk tee featuring pink Boss Your Heart logo on front with pink John 14:18 scripture on the back.
black BYH tees png
Black with PINK Size options

Black with BLUE Boss Your Heart Shirt:
Black Gildan 100% cotton pre-shrunk tee featuring turquoise Boss Your Heart logo on front with turquoise Proverbs 3:27 scripture on the back.

black BYH tees png
Black with BLUE Size options


Boss Your Heart PLUS SIZE shirt options:

PLUS Size options

Get your LIMITED EDITION BOSS YOUR HEART shirts today, in memory of Chrissie! FREE SHIPPING!
Orders will only be accepted through May 19, 2012.  Please no international orders; domestic US shipping only.  Orders placed are considered pre-orders, as shirts will be made in bulk after all orders have been received and paid for, after May 19, 2012.  Shirts will ship by June 1, 2012, with FREE shipping.  All proceeds will benefit orphans.  Thank you for your support!  Boss Your Heart!

*Giveaway Winner (updated 5/21/12):  Ashlee Linnea!*
We will be giving away one Boss Your Heart t-shirt (your choice of color and size).  Enter the giveaway by spreading the word about the Boss Your Heart shirts and Chrissie's story/legacy.  One entry per share (share via Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc.).  Just leave a separate comment per share on THIS post.  Winner will be chosen via on May 20, 2012.  Comments/shares left before 11:59PM (CST) May 19, 2012, are eligible for the giveaway.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy Boss Your Heart Day! Get Your BYH Shirts Today!

Today, April 28, is the 2-year anniversary of Chrissie’s “Boss Your Heart” day.  Little did we know at the time that this day would become Chrissie’s legacy.  To read about the miracles that occurred on this day in 2010, click HERE.  Click HERE to read about the significance of the “Boss Your Heart” phrase.

And now, back by popular demand, in memory of Chrissie’s Boss Your Heart day, we’re offering the original Boss Your Heart t-shirt!  The shirts will only be available for a limited time (from now until May 19), so order yours today.  All proceeds will benefit orphans, in memory of Chrissie.
Front of shirt features Chrissie’s official Boss Your Heart logo, complete with her handprint.
Back of shirt boldly displays James 1:27 in turquoise.

The Original Boss Your Heart shirt--chocolate brown Gildan 100% pre-shrunk cotton tee

This year we are introducing two new Boss Your Heart shirts.  All of the shirts are special limited edition shirts that will only be available from now until May 19, 2012.  Hurry and get your orders in today, as no late orders will be accepted.

Black with PINK Boss Your Heart shirt:
Black Gildan 100% cotton pre-shrunk tee featuring pink Boss Your Heart logo on front with pink John 14:18 scripture on the back.

Black with BLUE Boss Your Heart Shirt:
Black Gildan 100% cotton pre-shrunk tee featuring turquoise Boss Your Heart logo on front with turquoise Proverbs 3:27 scripture on the back.

Boss Your Heart PLUS SIZE shirt options:

Get your LIMITED EDITION BOSS YOUR HEART shirts today, in memory of Chrissie! FREE SHIPPING!
Orders will only be accepted through May 19, 2012.  Please no international orders; domestic US shipping only.  Orders placed are considered pre-orders, as shirts will be made in bulk after all orders have been received and paid for, after May 19, 2012.  Shirts will ship by June 1, 2012, with FREE shippping.  All proceeds will benefit orphans.  Thank you for your support!  Boss Your Heart!

And just because I feel the need to share more about what actually occurred on April 28, 1010, here’s the copy/paste version (taken directly from our blog) of the Boss Your Heart miracles that occurred on Chrissie’s Boss Your Heart Day on April 28, 2010:

Chrissie amazes me. God knocks my socks off. I am blessed beyond words.

Today was a tough, tough, tough day.

When Chrissie was bleeding so badly and rapidly earlier today, we knew that it was serious. Dr. Kupferschmid was looking really stressed about getting Chrissie off the ECMO machine. There was just no way to stop Chrissie's bleeding unless we got her off the ECMO because they couldn't give her any blood-clotting medicine while on the ECMO, in fact, they had to keep pumping her full of anti-coagulating medicine in order to keep her on the ECMO.

If Chrissie hadn't started bleeding today, she would still be on the ECMO now. The right side of her heart still needed rest. It was still too weak to perform on its own. It was obvious when viewed via echo (sonogram) that there was no way this girl's heart could hold its own. Not for a few more days, at the least.

So, when we were told about the "do or die" situation with getting her off the ECMO today, it was a bit of a panicky mode for Matt and I. We knew that Chrissie's heart and lungs were still in very bad shape. We knew that if they disconnected the ECMO and Chrissie's heart and lungs weren't strong enough to hold their own, then we would lose her and there would be NO getting her back after that. The ECMO is the biggest, baddest life support system out there, particularly the rescue circuit that she was on! There would be no other options out there if Chrissie's body failed her.

On top of all of this, I never mentioned to you that our beloved cardiologist, who was sent straight from God, left today to go to Iraq on a heart mission trip with Samaritan's Purse. She's my earthly rock. She gives me the low-down in layman's terms. She cries with us, prays with us, laughs with us, and reminds us of Who is really in charge, The Great Physician. Dr. Porisch had been recruited for this heart mission trip (which she volunteers to do quite often) before Chrissie had so many complications. Dr. Porisch told us last night (in tears) that she REALLY didn't want to go to Iraq and leave Chrissie and us behind at this time. God reminded her that He was calling her to head to the ancient town of Nineveh, the same place where He also called Jonah to so long ago. But, Jonah disobeyed God and ran away because he didn't want to go there. And we all know what happened to Jonah! So, Dr. Porisch told God she would obey Him, and she would leave Chrissie in His hands as she obeyed and headed to ancient Nineveh, even though she REALLY didn't want to leave Chrissie at this time.

So, my cardio-rock was GONE today during this time or crisis. UGH! This forced me to rely solely upon God, knowing it was all in His hands from Day 1, and He ordered these steps with sovereignty. Dr. Porisch stopped by to see Chrissie and tell us goodbye before she headed to the airport. We hugged and reminded each other that it was going to be OK, it was all in God's hands, and He didn't need either of us in order to make His plan work!!! She left the room in tears while I was forced to face the reality of getting Chrissie off the ECMO machine without Dr. Porisch around. (As if I had anything to do with getting her off the machine, but still!!!)

The team came up with their do or die plan to get Chrissie off the machine, and the first attempt failed. Chrissie's oxygen sats dropped down to 40, so they had to turn the ECMO back on. At that time, I went to Chrissie's side (she had been asleep, totally out of it), and I prayed Ezekiel 16:6 over her. "Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood, I said to you, "Live!", and the moment I said the word, "LIVE", Chrissie raised her eyebrows!!! I knew at that moment that Chrissie was telling me she was going to fight her heart out to LIVE. Dr. Kupferschmid said to keep doing whatever I was doing because her oxygen sats went up in the 90's when I spoke to her! I prayed over her, spoke Scripture over her, and continuously reminded her of how much we love her and how much we needed her to fight. She responded to EVERYTHING I said. Chrissie used the movement of her eyebrows to speak volumes to me as I claimed life for her broken body. Every time I told Chrissie that I loved her, she would raise her eyebrows, to tell me that she loved me back. The medical staff in the room (about 8 people) kept telling me to stop asking her to respond to me because her carbon dioxide sats were too high for her to be able to respond, but I told Chrissie to show them what her God was made of, and CHRISSIE RAISED HER EYEBROWS! Take that! My God is bigger than any paralytic meds and carbon dioxide levels that prohibit movement. Chrissie ministered to ME through her eyebrow talk!!! I knew she was going to fight her way through this.

There was a LONG way to go to get Chrissie off the ECMO with little time to spare. I started telling Chrissie to be the boss of her heart. (Chrissie is always looking for opportunities to boss someone around!) I told her to tell her heart exactly what it needed to do, and I explained it all in detail to her. Then I told her repeatedly to "boss her heart", and guess what?!? Right there on the screen of the echo machine (sonogram), Chrissie's heart started doing what it needed to do!!! Chrissie was bossing her heart, and her heart was obeying!!! The entire medical team witnessed it with their very eyes. I heard one person say, "There's no way." Another said, "Amazing."

So then the doctor shouts out for me to tell Chrissie to "boss" her lungs!!! I cracked up, but they were witnessing our God at work before their very eyes with medical equipment to capture it in action!!! So, I told Chrissie to boss her lungs, and I told her exactly what her lungs needed to do. I told her that her lungs were dirty/icky, and they needed to get cleaned up. I told Chrissie to send her lungs to the bathroom to wash up, and each time, they were coming back a little more clean, but not totally clean. So, each time that occurred, I would tell Chrissie to tell those lungs to march right back to the bathroom to finish getting cleaned up. They had to remove the icky carbon dioxide and open up and accept blood from her heart and oxygenate the blood. There was so much bossing to be done, but Chrissie hung right in there and bossed and bossed and bossed. She would tell me how hard she was working to boss her heart and lungs by physically shaking and moving her shoulders, arms, hands, and eyebrows. (This was all while she shouldn't have been able to move at all due to drugs and high CO2 levels!)

The doctors and entire medical team witnessed miracles before their very eyes. Right here in Chrissie's PICU room as I told Chrissie to show the world what her God is capable of. It was absolutely amazing. Seriously. Words cannot describe what we witnessed today. We went from a heart that was broken and collapsed, to a full heart where every chamber was beating perfectly and filled with the right capacitites, beating properly, pumping properly and doing exactly what a healthy heart would do.

We also went from lungs that were filthy and not filtering or oxygenating or removing carbon dioxide from the blood to lungs that were giving oxygen sats in the 90's while CO2 levels consistently dropped!!! Dr. Kupferschmid asked me to stay right where I was, doing exactly what I was doing while medical staff worked all around my daughter and me. Everyone was crawling through wires and tubes and machines just so that I wouldn't have to leave Chrissie's side. We only had "crawl" space available, but no one wanted me to move as God directed my steps and breathed LIFE into Chrissie. His life. Right before our very eyes.

Before we knew it, the ECMO had been turned off for 1.5 hours, as I "coached" Chrissie as God told me exactly what to say to her. She continued to communicate with me through her eyebrows. (She can't talk due to the intubation, and she had very little movement ability, but she forced her eyebrows to communicate with me!) So, the decision was made to convert Chrissie's PICU into an operating room (for the second time today) and completely remove the ECMO machine!!! I explained to Chrissie what they were going to do and what would be required of her, and how we needed her to continue to boss her heart and lungs so she could tell the world what her God is capable of, and Chrissie totally agreed with me by shaking her eyebrows up and down with absolute agreement and purposeful movement. She even cried. I cried, too, but I KNEW that God was going to save her and pull her through this. He was doing it miraculously before our very eyes.

We were kicked out of the PICU as the cardiovascular operating team moved in to do their stuff. (They all know us now and we know them...not something I wish upon anyone!) I told them that if Chrissie started to die, to come get me so I could tell her what to do so they could see our God at work. They assured me that they would.

Matt and I, along with my mom, sat in the waiting room and prayed. A man from our church, Mr. Bill Taylor (who has faithfully come by to pray with us), led us in prayer before he headed out to donate blood. It was all in God's hands.

About 2 hours later, Dr. Kupferschmid bee-bopped with a glow into the waiting room and told us to come back into the room. She did GREAT! He was able to get the cannulas out and repair both the jugular vein and carotid artery. (He had planned to not repair them and just tie them off because he didn't think he'd have time to get them repaired before she bled out.) He opened the lower portion of her chest and sternum and drained off a lot of extra blood. Everything remained stable during this time, and Chrissie was successfully removed from the ECMO machine!!! This was impossible just a few hours prior. It was so obviously God. Dr. Kupferschmid rubbed Chrissie's head and said, "Amazing...just amazing." He shook his head in disbelief, but a smile and joy radiated from his face. Our miracle girl was alive!

At that moment, Dr. Porisch texted me to say these words:

"I am in Denver now. It was the longest plane ride ever being unable to check phone, text or blog. I have been in constant wrestling match with the Great Physician since takeoff from SA. It is killing me to not be tehre with Chrissie and both of you! But God is in control and He is mighty to heal and save. You have been such an amazing witness to me and thousands of others. I am praying that God will strengthen you and uphold you on this unbelievable roller coaster. ~Mary"

I texted Dr. Porisch back to tell her to call me if she could! Moments later the phone rang, and I gave Dr. Porisch the praise report! Dr. Porisch was elated, and she shared with me that she spent the ENTIRE plane ride praying for Chrissie. She told me that the last blog update she got was that the bridging off the ECMO failed when Chrissie's O2 sats dropped in the 40's. At that time, she was forced to power off her phone. So, she cried and prayed and yelled at God the entire plane ride. She looked up every Scripture that had to deal with healing and giving life, and she prayed and claimed those for Chrissie. She said that the lady next to her surely thought she was crazy, but she couldn't control herself. Dr. Porisch said she finally gave up the wrestling match with God and cried out with desperation to The Great Physician as she drifted through the heavens, as close to God as she could be, claiming LIFE for Chrissie!

Well, would you believe that Dr. Porisch's prayer time occurred during the exact same time that Chrissie started to "boss" her heart and lungs and things started turning around so miraculously with Chrissie's sats and functions that the ECMO was able to stay off for an entire hour and a half?!? This is NO coincidence that on the very day at the very hour that Dr. Porisch is flying through the heavens with no internet or phone service, while she fervently prays for her patient to live, that God was moving mountains in PICU room 1 at Methodist Children's in San Antonio, Texas!!! Dr. Porisch obeyed her God's command to leave her patient and go to ancient Nineveh, and in her obedience, she trusted God and petitioned Him to grant Chrissie life.

And God answered her prayers and honored her obedience. A little different ending than Jonah's.

We are amazed.

Truly in awe.

Utterly grateful.

Forever blessed.

Dr. Porisch, you will never know how much you mean to me, precious servant of God. You took the risk of contacting me back in the summer of 2009 to let me know that you were willing to help save Chrissie's life if we were to obey God and bring her home from Serbia. When all other cardiologists stated that Chrissie's condition was "not compatible with life", you chose LIFE. His life. His way. You obeyed God's command to leave and go to ancient Nineveh, even when you didn't want to. Even when you begged God to let you stay. You sought His will and obeyed, even when it wasn't what you wanted. You prayed and prayed and prayed and cried and cried and cried and begged and begged and begged and pleaded and pleaded and pleaded on behalf of our precious angel, Chrissie. And guess what our faithful God did? He healed and healed and healed. He has used your obedience to breathe new life into our Serbian Sensation. We cannot ever express our gratitude for you. Ever. We love you and I already miss you immensely.

I will need to thank Dr. Kupferschmid and all of the medical team members and ECMO specialists for saving my daughter's life, multiple times, literally. I will have to save that for another post.

I have to thank YOU, my faithful prayer warriors, for continously lifting Chrissie and our family up. Please don't stop now as the road is still not clear. As you've witnessed on this Wonderful Witness Wednesday, God hears our cries and He answers our prayers.

"The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Genesis 2:7
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Chrissie hospital days 8,9,10 022
Oh, precious princess, as I look back through the photos of what you endured during your courageous hospital battle from April 19-May 19, 2010, I am so, so, so proud of you.  You were such a fighter, such a tough warrior princess.  I’ve never met anyone braver than you, my sweet Serbian Sensation.  The miracle of Boss Your Heart Day, April 28, 2010, cannot be accurately described with words.  The blog post I wrote back in 2010 doesn’t even come close to describe what actually occurred in your PICU room on that day.  I wish I could do a better job of portraying God’s Boss Your Heart miracle for all the world to experience, but, sweet girl, please know that I will never ever ever forget the miracles of that day, how hard you fought, how much you glorified God, and what an amazing warrior princess you were through it all.

Little lovie, Mommy and Daddy and your whole family miss you more than words can convey, but we cling to the promise that we will be reunited one day in heaven, through the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  We know you’re living the good life with Jesus while we’re stuck on earth waiting to join you.  We pray that all we do on earth will glorify our Savior, and we pray we’ll be able to do everything in our earthly power to help orphans around the world in memory of you, Princess Chrissie.

Selah’s Sudden Injury

As if Kiefer’s fishing hook in the eye miracle wasn’t enough drama for our family, Selah fell Friday night and cut her head.  TONS of blood freaked us all out!


The accident occurred in a matter of a split second.  Our entire family was outside sitting under an oak tree visiting after dinner.  I was sitting on this little bitty roping dummy (a device our boys use to practice team roping), when Selah decided to join me.  She straddled the pretend cow’s back, which is only about a foot and half off the ground.  Selah thought sitting on this fake cow was great fun, but when she tried to get off, we think her foot got hung up and in a split second, she fell to the ground.  Her head hit the ground HARD…it actually sounded like a brick had hit the ground.  I swooped her up to comfort her, and I noticed blood dripping off my hand.  I held Selah out to look at her, and blood was pouring down the back of her head.  Everyone stood there in disbelief, particularly since we were all RIGHT THERE when this happened, right next to Selah, yet in an instant, Selah fell and blood was pouring down her head!


Matt and I ran with Selah into our house to get washrags and ice.  The cut stopped bleeding almost instantly once we applied pressure to it.  Then we were able to examine Selah’s skull to figure out how bad the cut was.  We were in disbelief when we saw how teeny tiny the actual cut was.  TEENINESY!!!

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That’s a lot of blood for such a teeny little scrape on Selah’s skull!!!  Our other kiddos were so concerned about Selah, so Selah marched back outside shortly after the accident to let everyone know that she was just fine.

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Praise God for instant healing!


PS  Selah had her 18-month-old well check today, and her pediatrician shared with us that Selah is the average height and weight of a 2.5 YEAR old!!!  Wow!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Kiefer’s Fishing Hook Miracle

Fishing is one of Kiefer’s favorite activities.  While I was outside working on our pool, Parker and Kiefer went to our pond to fish.  I quietly watched and treasured up these moments in my heart.   The site of Kiefer peddling his tricycle down to the pond, getting his fishing pole, catching grasshoppers to bait his hook, then patiently waiting on a fish to bite, just made my heart smile.

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When no one else can catch a single fish, Kiefer ALWAYS catches at least one, most of the time he catches fish cast after cast.  He could sit by our pond and fish ALL.DAY.LONG.  Sun up till sun down.


Well, not too long into this brotherly fishing adventure, I went inside the house to feed Conner and Cooper while Parker and Kiefer continued fishing in the pond.  Suddenly I noticed Parker carrying Kiefer up our driveway with his fishing pole in his hand, Kiefer dangling along Parker’s side.  Something inside me immediately panicked.  I ran out the door to holler to Parker to make sure everything was alright.


When I opened the door, I heard Parker’s voice shouting, “Mom, Mom, come quickly.  Kiefer needs you.” 


My heart beat nearly out of my chest, my palms sweated, and panic overwhelmed me as I ran to find out what was happening.  I was secretly hoping they were simply going to surprise me with a big fish on the line, but I had already assumed by the tone of Parker’s voice that this wasn’t a fun surprise.


Well, the surprise was definitely a BIG CATCH, but NOT the catch anyone would hope for.

{warning: if you’re squeamish, skip the photos below}

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Kiefer had gotten a hook in his eye!!!  Instead of catching the big fish, he caught himself!!!  He was so brave and calm, I was so very proud of him.  And so proud of big brother, Parker, too, as he remained so calm and helpful throughout the entire ordeal.  We tried to check Kiefer’s eye to see if the hook was actually in his eyeball or eyelid, but we couldn’t get a look at the hook part that was inside Kiefer’s eyelid, so we opted for the ER.


I called our pediatrician’s office to notify them, then we headed to the emergency room of our nearest hospital, about 25 minutes from our house.  I gave Kiefer some Benadryl (to make him sleepy so he’d keep his eye closed), as well as some Tylenol for pain.  Parker sat next to Kiefer in the car and held his hands so that Kiefer wouldn’t rub his eyes.  Praise God that Kiefer slept the entire car ride!

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While we were driving, Parker explained to me that this accident occurred when Kiefer was trying to get some moss off his hook while fishing.   The hook popped out of Kiefer’s hand when he pulled the moss off, and, unfortunately, the hook landed directly in Kiefer’s eye.  Kiefer dropped his pole when the hook hit his eye, which set the hook in Kiefer’s eye.  Parker ran to Kiefer, scooped him up (along with the pole), and carried him to the house. 


We got to the emergency room, and, glory to God, they took us in immediately. 

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Kiefer's fishing hook miracle 012

Bless Kiefer’s precious heart, the hook still had the bait (a grasshopper) on it!!!  Oh my goodness!


The ER doctor came in and had Kiefer lie flat on his back on the bed so she could take a better look at his eye.  Four of us held Kiefer down while the doctor pulled up Kiefer’s eyelid so she could examine how to best remove the hook.  Kiefer was so very brave and tough.  He squeezed my hand and winced a little, and then this is when the miracle occurred.


Believe it or not, the fishing hook just popped right out of Kiefer’s eye without anyone even touching it!!!  Just like that!!!  The doctor was shocked as the hook literally just POPPED out of Kiefer’s eye!!!  The doctor just rolled Kiefer’s eyelid up and POP, the hook landed on Kiefer’s chest!!!  MIRACLE!!!


The doctor put the hook in  a specimen container for Kiefer to show and tell about his fishing hook miracle.  Keep in mind, Kiefer set the hook when he dropped his pole.  He had reeled in his line with moss on it, so there wasn’t any tension on the line when it hooked him in the eye after removing the moss.  No one could believe the hook just popped right back out of Kiefer’s eye without anyone having to even touch it!!!

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The doctor put some drops in Kiefer’s eye to check for any scratches or tears.  The drops made Kiefer’s eye glow under infrared light, which would have shown any scratches or tears.

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And the other miracle is that Kiefer’s eye is perfectly FINE!!!  No scratches, no tears, no sign whatsoever of a fishing hook being lodged in it!!!!!  Glory to God in the Highest!!!


Here’s a video of Kiefer in the ER telling the story of what happened:

After a few hours at the ER, some antibiotic eye drops, and God’s miraculous healing, Kiefer was able to walk out of there without any signs whatsoever of this fishing hook accident.  Kiefer’s fishing hook miracle!  Thank you, Jesus!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Did We Sign Up For? Part 1

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These are the boys we *thought* we were signing up for, Dima and Vlad, our Ukrainian host boys of summer 2011.  Even though signing up to adopt these boys was quite a surprise to us after the summer of ‘11, we felt their transition into our family was very doable.  We’d gotten the surprise privilege of hosting these boys in our home for five weeks, and we truly fell in love with both of them.  They were so smart, so tender, so compassionate, so fun, so loving…so, well…perfect!

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Their transition to our family and home would be quite simple.  Both boys were learning English in their schooling in Ukraine, Vlad was a little pantomime translator who we could communicate quite well with because he was such a confident, quick thinker and learner.  Neither boy had any health issues, and both boys were great helpers who enjoyed doing chores alongside our family, helping care for Kiefer and Selah, and joyfully pitching in when they saw a need that they could help meet.  Yep, perfect.

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Both boys had good appetites, could feed themselves, and were really good eaters.  Meal times would be simple.  We’d just  need to fix a little extra food, the same food that the rest of us would be eating, serve it on a plate, the same plates the rest of us eat from, and we already had chairs at our table, so no big changes would occur at meal time.  Except there would be extra smiles and full bellies. Blessings.  Perfect.

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And their room was already ready for them both.  No changes at all in that department.  And we already had clothes and shoes for both boys, too, so that would be a simple transition as well.  Perfect.

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Both boys were quite adventurous, typical boys.  They loved being outdoors, running, swimming, riding horses, hunting for critters, fishing, riding bikes, riding 4-wheelers, playing, and enjoying outdoor ranch life in a large family.  Not much would change about our lives around here, except there’d be more fun, more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, and more love.  Perfect.

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Good friends.  Yep, these boys would not only be our new brothers, they would be forever friends.  Good friends.  Fun friends.  Perfect.


However, what we *thought* we were signing up for was not AT ALL what God was busy drawing the contract up for.  He had something so much different in mind.  Radically different.  Back in December 2011, when we shockingly discovered that God planned to place Vlad and Dima with their biological aunt in Ukraine, we began the search for whom it was who God wanted us to adopt.  After all, He’d clearly led us to Ukraine to adopt someone, but who?


In our search, we were looking for easy, doable, simple, perfect.  We were looking for mere substitutions for Vlad and Dima, the boys we’d fallen in love with.  The ones we’d signed up for.


In that search, God began to change our hearts and lead us to the boys He intended us to adopt all along.  Only this transition would be anything BUT simple.


…to be continued

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chrissie’s Legacy Lives on

April 19-May 19 is what we refer to as “Boss Your Heart Month”, the anniversary of our Princess Chrissie’s 31-day hospital battle.  Last year, our first anniversary of Chrissie’s Boss Your Heart month, I advocated daily for various families, and I focused on sharing Chrissie’s story daily as well.  This year, due to time constraints, I’ll be advocating here and there for various fundraising families and orphans in need of families.  Today I’d like you to meet my friend Kelsey, who is in the process of adopting a special needs orphan from Eastern Europe.  I continue to be amazed at ways God has used and continues to use Chrissie to change lives and unite orphans with their forever families.  Today, I’m honored to share with you Kelsey’s story, as written in her words.

From Kelsey:

We started talking about adoption many years ago before our first child was born. We had difficulty getting pregnant and talked about adoption many times during the three years before we were able to conceive. God used this time to start to prepare our hearts for the journey to come. Fast forward a few years and after having 4 children in 8 years we were not thinking about adopting, we were just trying to survive! J The Patterson’s were in our Sunday School class at that time and God used them to introduce us to the idea of international adoption when they brought Meribeth home from Colombia, and then started working to bring Chrissie home from Serbia. We marveled at the way God worked in each of their adoptions and wondered if we would ever see God working in our lives that powerfully. Little did we know the adventure He had planned for us!


In the beginning of 2010 when Chrissie was preparing for her heart surgery we started to pray for her as a family. Our daughter Ana is only 5 months older than Chrissie and she was really affected by the idea that a little girl just her age had to go through something so scary. We continued to pray and follow the Patterson’s blog all through Chrissie’s fight. During that time Ana started asking a lot of questions about how Chrissie had become part of their family and we showed her the Reece’s Rainbow website and all of the children who were “waiting for their mommies and daddies”. During that visit to the RR website God started to put adoption on Kelsey’s heart in a big way. God used the Patterson family to lead us to the Reece’s Rainbow website, and open our hearts to the idea of adopting a special needs child internationally.


One of our main concerns (as with many families considering international adoption) was the money needed (why does adoption have to be so expensive anyhow?). As part of our home school group, each mother is assigned to assist with a particular area each week. One week in the fall of 2010 Kelsey was assigned to help with cleaning up the pre-school classroom. She was a little early getting there and started looking at the literature that the church pre-school makes available for parents and was drawn toward an article about adoption. As she read it she realized that it was an article about how to raise the funds for adoption!  God orchestrated Kelsey’s service in that area at exactly the time that article would be available to reassure us about the fundraising possibilities. Can you say God Nod?


Then that same night at bible study we were talking about going into the “promised land” (the place God has prepared for us where we will receive all he has for us in a way that we just can’t even imagine) and how we sometimes get stuck wandering in the wilderness for 38 years just outside Canaan like the Israelites did because they were too afraid to go into the land God had promised them. They thought the cost of obeying God and going into Canaan would be too high. At that point in the video we had an overwhelming feeling that God was talking to us. We really can’t explain it except to say that we felt very strongly that he was challenging us to obey, even if the costs might be great.


Then at the end of 2010 Kelsey was planning an annual women’s event at our church. The morning of the event several things they had planned fell through and she arrived at church and discovered that the Mothers of Preschoolers group was set up to meet in the worship center where she needed to work. She decided that since she could not accomplish what she needed to, she would sit in on the meeting. The speaker that morning “just happened” to be Lorraine Patterson! So many little details had to fall into place for Kelsey to be there on that particular day, and have the opportunity to attend the meeting that it could not be anything but God. I know that getting up in front of that group and sharing their story just a few months after Chrissie went home to Heaven must have been excruciating for Lorraine, but once again God used Chrissie’s life to His glory. God absolutely used Lorraine’s words that day to convict Kelsey’s heart toward adopting.


Very soon after that we had another heart to heart discussion about adopting, and we committed to pray about it over the coming weeks. Just a few days later Eric confirmed that he was also hearing God’s calling to adopt and said “Let’s go for it!” After many evenings looking at the children available for adoption on the Reece’s Rainbow website, one little boy in Eastern Europe stole our hearts. “Allen” has a rare genetic condition called Kartagener’s Syndrome that affects his lungs causing him to have frequent infections and poor lung function which has negatively affected his growth and development. We formally committed to adopt A.J. (“Allen”) about a month after we decided to adopt. It has been a long journey, but our dossier is complete and we are waiting for a travel date to meet our little guy for the first time. We are excited for the day that our son will be home! You can follow our adoption journey on our blog at


We are so very thankful that the Patterson’s were willing to step out in faith to bring Chrissie home. Without Chrissie’s life we would not have heard God’s calling to adopt and A.J. would not be joining our family. Chrissie is definitely hunting for orphans in heaven. Thank you Chrissie!


Please spread some love in memory of Chrissie and donate to help bring Allen home!  Thanks!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bittersweet Goodbye

There are those times in your life when you know you must say goodbye to something, but if you had it your way, you'd hang on to it, even though it's not a necessity.  Yesterday was one of those days for me.  A time to say goodbye to something I'd prefer to keep, yet the reality is that we really don't *need* it, and saying goodbye to it would bring a great blessing to another family.

A few weeks ago, we were evaluating our vehicle situation.  In that evaluation, we decided to try to sell our 15-passenger van because it has gotten so crowded and cramped for us when we travel as a family.  Believe it or not, we craved something BIGGER than our big ole van!!! 

Anyway, a lady named Wendy contacted me when she heard we might be selling our van, then God worked out all the details.
  • Wendy has two boys adopted from Ukraine, both who have Down syndrome.
  • The family/kid stickers on the back of our van match up to Wendy’s family!
  • Wendy is 40; I am 40.
  • Wendy’s husband is 41; my husband is 41.
  • Wendy and her husband got married December 19, 1992;  Matt and I got married December 19, 1992.
  • Wendy lives in Texas; I live in Texas.
  • Wendy is the person who recommended I purchase the Have Heart book that God used as a major source of healing for us after Chrissie went to heaven, but I didn’t realize until Wendy told me yesterday that she was the person who recommended this awesome healing book.  So grateful to meet the person who God used to direct us toward that amazing tool for grieving parents.
  • Wendy  has been praying for our family for about two years now!

Yesterday Wendy made a six hour trip to our home in order to purchase our van.  It was so great to meet Wendy, and God blessed us with an afternoon to fellowship and even enjoy dinner together.  Then it was time for Wendy to hop in our big ole van and drive away.  That felt a little bittersweet for me, but the joy of blessing their family trumped the selfishness of wanting to hang on to this vehicle for our family. 

As the time drew nearer for us to let the van go, I started reminiscing about the good times we’ve had in this dependable vehicle that kept us safe and allowed us to travel as a family. We bought this van just two months after Chrissie came home in 2009, so it always held a little piece of her in it. After losing a child, it feels like no big deal to say goodbye to a vehicle, but it still felt somewhat bittersweet.  Yep, no doubt we will miss our big ole van, but I'm so glad it's going to an awesome, godly family who will be transporting lots of God’s treasures in it.

After evaluating our vehicle options, we decided we would convert our motor home into a bus that will have seats for all 11 kiddos, yet still be a motor home.  It will have space for all of us, plus all of our stuff.  Strollers, special foods for special kids (nutrition drinks and food allergy kiddos), diaper bags, pack-n-plays, and all of the gear that must accompany us just about everywhere we go as a family.  Bonus:  it will  have a bathroom, a refrigerator, and beds.  Hoping this works!

Thanks, Wendy, for driving out here, purchasing our van, playing with our kiddos, joining us for dinner, blessing us with your wisdom, inspiring us with your stories, and encouraging us with your prayers.  It was GREAT to meet you, and we look forward to hanging out with your family soon!  May our big ole van be a blessing to you and yours for many years to come.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Praising God for Cooper’s Casting Success!

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Thank you, God, for giving me straight feet!


After just three weeks in casts, using the Ponseti method of repair for bilateral club feet, we are seeing AWESOME results.  Major God results that I’m sure humans would like to take credit for, but I’m giving glory to God. 

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Cooper is 6 years 10 months now.  He’s only been home since March 3, and not only are his feet much straighter (after 3 weeks in casts), but look at the chub on this boy!   In less than two months, Cooper has gained TEN POUNDS!!!!!!!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Cooper weighed 21 pounds when he got home, March 3, and at his casting appointment with his orthopedist April 18, Cooper weighed 31 pounds (in a dry diaper, without casts on)!!!

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Jehovah Rapha is really showing off! 

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Look at Cooper trying to stand up with his newly straightened feet! 

Cooper clubfeet visit 079

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The above left photo was taken March 28, 2012, showing the severe degree of club foot in Cooper’s left foot.

The above right photo was taken April 18, 2012, showing the significant straightening of Cooper’s left foot, after just 3 weeks in casts, using the Ponseti method of repair for his bilateral club feet.


We are praising the Lamb for the awesome news that Cooper should be able to have surgery May 8 to completely repair his bilateral club feet!  When the orthopedist started this process, he reminded us that he wasn’t sure if the Ponseti method of repair would be successful with Cooper since he was almost 7 years old (and this method or repair usually begins within the first 10 days of life).  So far, the results show that this method is working.  Hallelujah!

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Cooper will continue to get new casts every Wednesday, with each cast turning his feet straighter and straighter.  Then, if all looks good, Cooper will have surgery to clip his Achilles tendon (also part of the Ponseti method of repair).  Then Cooper will wear casts for three more weeks (following surgery).  After the casts are permanently removed, Cooper will wear shoes with braces 24/7 for three months, then he should be able to move to wearing the shoes with braces only at night for a total of three years. 

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I imagine Cooper will be up and running by the end of this summer!  Praise God!


I’ll leave you with this short video of Cooper playing in the sink at the orthopedist’s office.  Someone advised me to bring baby soap with  me to Cooper’s casting appointments so that I could bathe Cooper’s legs in the sink during the time between old casts coming off and new casts going on.  Brilliant idea!  Not only does Cooper get his legs bathed once a week, but he also gets to splash in the water, which he LOVES.

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