Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For!

Let me start first with asking begging you all to take just five seconds and two clicks to go VOTE for Project Hopeful in a contest that could give them $50,000 to help the least of these.  Project Hopeful is hoping to get 2,000 votes today as part of their voting blitz.  Please vote, share, and continue to vote every single day through the end of June!!!  Thanks!


Now, here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for:

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Cooper got his casts off yesterday.  He’s been in full-length leg casts (on both legs) for a total of 9 weeks now, as part of the Ponseti method of repair for his bilateral club foot.  Had Cooper been born in the USA, he would have had this repaired within the first two months of life.  Instead, Cooper lived for almost seven years with severe bilateral club foot, making it impossible for him to walk.  Almost seven years of not walking simply because his feet were turned inward and twisted.  Something that could have been repaired in only nine weeks.  Breaks my heart.

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But today we rejoice, for He has done great things!  Even though Cooper lived for almost seven years with club feet, he has been redeemed!  He no longer has bilateral club foot!  Hallelujah!  I was given the honor of removing one of Cooper’s leg casts.  The item in the photo below is a combination of Vetrap (sticky tape stuff that we wrapped around Cooper’s casts to protect our arms from fiberglass and protect Coop’s casts from dirt and abrasion while Cooper crawled around outside) and hurricane tape (an indestructible tape that we used to reinforce the knees of Cooper’s casts). 

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Here’s what Cooper’s casts looked like after all of the Vetwrap was removed:

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Cooper’s casts were pretty dirty, considering he had 3-4 layers of Vetrap covering them.  Plus, he only had this particular set of casts on for three weeks.  Cooper’s TOUGH on his casts!

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Look, look, look!!!  STRAIGHT FEET!!!!!!!!!!!!

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OK, so Cooper’s feet are disgustingly dirty after not being washed for three weeks, but hey, who cares, they’re straight!!!!!!!

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Cooper always enjoys his sink baths at the orthopedist’s office when his casts were changed weekly.  Momma always enjoyed getting the dirt and stinkies off!  Cooper’s legs and feet and Achilles tendons were (are) super sore/tender.  His Achilles tendons were clipped in three places (on both tendons).  OUCH!

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I love the orthotics man who works with Cooper’s orthopedist.  As he fitted Cooper for his shoes and bars, he shared with us that he’s been doing this for 46 years!!! 

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Faithful Mattie attended Cooper’s appointment, as she was there for 8 out of 9 visits, so she didn’t dare skip the revealing of straight feet on this most joyous occasion!!!

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For Cooper, the biggest thrill came after we got back home.  Cooper has patiently waited and watched as his siblings splashed about in our pool on many occasions.  Now that Cooper is cast-free, nothing’s stopping this water-lovin’ boy from some pool time!

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This was his very first time in the pool.  Ever…in almost seven years.  Cooper was SO happy to be in the hot tub with his little siblings instead of sitting on the sidelines.

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The reflection of sunlight in the photo reminds me of SONlight in this picture of redemption.  Sunlight, smiles, and splashing.  Thank you, Jesus!

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Of course this post wouldn’t be complete without a video of Cooper in the pool:

Praising the One who made this possible for Cooper.  Cooper will wear his bar shoes for 12 hours/night to prevent his feet from re-clubbing.  Today Cooper will get AFO’s (special orthotics to give more support to his weak legs), and soon he’ll begin physical therapy to learn how to walk!  Keep him in your prayers, please, and rejoice with us in this victory!!!


“With God, all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Now that Texas is officially sweltering, we’ve been spending lots of time in our pool.  Poor Cooper can’t get in yet because he still has his casts on (post-op for his bilateral club foot repair), but he gets those off Wednesday this week.  We’re already rejoicing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for poor Cooper, and praising God in advance for the changes we’re going to see in Cooper’s repaired feet.


Cooper so badly wants to get in the pool, and we are so eager to get him in there!  We KNOW he’s going to LOVE it; he LOVES water.  For now, while Cooper’s casts prevent him from entering the pool, he gets as close to the pool as he possibly can.  Cooper crawls over to the pool fence and tries to shake it, notifying us that he wants to go inside the fence, near the pool.  The closest we can let him get is on a bench that nearly touches the edge of the hot tub.  The photo below is blurry, but it shows Cooper sitting on the bench wondering why he can’t get in the pool.  Poor guy!  He does crack up every time someone jumps into the water though, so his laughter helps heal the hurt of his not being able to get wet.  Cooper’s going to be SO thrilled when we put him in the pool tomorrow after his casts are removed.  Oh the changes that will occur around here.  Yeehaw!



Conner, however, is able to get into the pool, and he takes full advantage of that.  He prefers the hot tub, where the water is in the mid-90’s, much like a bath.  He is our little water prince.  Just look at the chub on this sweet boy who has gained nearly 10 pounds in less than three months home!


Conner is brave in the water.  No fear. 


Ella is trying to teach Conner how to swim.  Big sis is determined, bless her heart.



Conner sticks his face in the water and blows bubbles, so that’s a good start to this whole swimming thing.  Big sis is doing a great job!  (Ella is only 7 months older than Conner.  Crazy!)



Oh, and speaking of Ella, you probably didn’t recognize her in those hot tub shots above.  That’s because she’s sporting a new do.  I got the idea from my sweet friend, Jenny, who has many Liberian daughters. Her girls’ hair always looks so beautiful. She shared her secret with me.


Hair extensions!


Here’s a shot of Ella with only a few extensions in place:



Ella was SO excited to try out some long hair.  She sat patiently while I corn-rowed her hair, then Mattie and I spent a couple of hours latch-hooking inexpensive hair extensions into Ella’s corn-rows, starting at the neckline and working our way up.  It was so easy to do, the whole project cost less than $15, and Ella LOVES her new look.  Always changes happening around here.



So fun!  Thanks, Jenny, for the tips!

Monday, May 28, 2012

It Makes a Difference to This One

Back when we were in Ukraine adopting Conner and Cooper, there were so many precious darlings in their groupa (room) whom I desperately wanted to find forever families for.  Day in and day out, during our twice a day orphanage visits to see our boys, my eyes would lock on each and every child in their groupa, praying for God to rescue them.  I so desperately wanted each and every child there to be chosen, treasured, and loved by a forever family.  They all deserve so much more than life death in a cold, desolate orphanage in Eastern Europe, abandoned, alone, rejected, left in their cribs 24/7 with no one to hold them, love them, or tell them that they are treasures.


I inquired about every single one of the kids in Conner’s and Cooper’s groupa, promising myself and God that I would advocate for them all, praying so desperately for forever families to rise up and rescue these forgotten babes, but, unfortunately, most of the children were not available for international adoption. 


It was all I could do to hold back the tears when I heard that news.  I simply cannot imagine life without Light, day in and day out.  The children crying, rocking, stimming in their cribs 24/7, just to pass the time.  It is truly unfathomable how these children survive.  My heart still aches for the ones left behind, the ones without hope, the forgotten ones who would thrive in a family, but instead, are locked away, waiting to be rescued, at the mercy of their government to get their paperwork together, which many times never happens.


But one.


One precious little boy who IS available right now for international adoption.


Meet Andrew.

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“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

(author unknown)

Andrew is a precious 5-year-old blind boy who IS available for international adoption.  One of the few.  One of the waiting treasures who doesn’t even realize how blessed he is to be available.


Of course the available status doesn’t mean anything to him until someone comes.


Oh please, body of Christ, please, oh please, oh please won’t you join me in sharing Andrew’s story? 


I am confident that Andrew has a mommy and daddy out there.  A forever family who will see Andrew’s story and know that he is their son, but we must share Andrew’s story in order to find his forever family.

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This one.


It makes a difference to THIS one.


This one who IS available.


But, sadly, in his country, most special needs children at Andrew’s age are transferred to adult mental institutions where they will most likely die within a year of transfer.


What’s even more sad is that money is usually the biggest barrier that prevents families from stepping up to say YES, to be the one to make a difference to THIS one.


Please don’t let money prevent Andrew from finding his forever family.  He will perish.  I have seen Andrew’s life first-hand.  He lies in his own urine and feces for hours, with no one who cares enough to change his diaper.  He doesn’t get the privilege of playing, laughing, and learning.  He never gets to leave his orphanage room, he never gets to go outside, he never gets attention.  Ever.  He is not loved on.  He is not treasured.  He is tossed in a room full of other special needs children where not one child is considered a blessing.  They’re all considered burdens.  No one there understands the potential for Andrew.  No one realizes just how much Jesus loves each and every child, no matter the disability.  ALL are precious in His sight.  ALL.


I have a video of Andrew, and I can share first-hand about him.  I believe Andrew has partial vision, as I’ve witnessed his navigating the room when one sweet nanny allowed him out of his crib for a few minutes.  Andrew sensed my presence when we came in to get Conner and Cooper for our twice daily visits, and he sought attention from me multiple times, reaching out of his crib for me to hold him, desperate for someone to love him.  Andrew on multiple occasions cried out for me to touch him and give him attention, cruising along the play crib rails to try to get close to me.  The few times that I was allowed to give him some lovin’ (by simply patting his back and rubbing his head), Andrew always quieted, his face bathed in peace as he treasured the attention.  Andrew is longing for his forever family to find him, rescue him, and love him.  He will thrive with a loving family.  Please donate to Andrew’s adoption fund, share his story, and pray for his forever family to find him and rescue him quickly.  (If you are seriously considering adopting Andrew, feel free to contact me at BossYourHeart (at) gmail (dot) com.)


There’s an awesome giveaway for Andrew right now (until June 13).  Please click HERE to enter the giveaway.  You’re eligible for entry to the giveaway by donating to Andrew’s fund and/or sharing about him.  You can win awesome prizes for an awesome cause, and, more importantly, you can make a difference for ONE!!!


Please help rescue Andrew!  Click HERE to give your tax-deductible donation to Andrew’s adoption fund.  Sadly, Andrew currently only has $922 toward the cost of his adoption, and he’ll need at least $20,000 to fully fund his adoption.  Statistics show that if a child has a large grant, he’s more likely to be adopted.  Please help increase Andrew’s chances of being adopted!!!


Remember, your donations, large or small, and your sharing Andrew’s story WILL make a difference to THIS one.  Andrew is worth it.  Please help rescue him and be part of the team who will make a difference to THIS one!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy 16th Birthday, Parker!


I sometimes wish you were still small,
Not yet so big and strong and tall.
For when I think of yesterday,
I close my eyes and see you play.

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I often miss that little boy
Who pestered me to buy a toy,
Who filled my days with pure delight
From early morn to late at night.


We watch our children change and grow
As seasons come, then quickly go.
But our God has a perfect plan
To shape a boy into a man.

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Today, my son, I'm proud of you
For all the thoughtful things you do.
I'll love you till my days are done,
And I'm so grateful you're my son.

Poem by Larry  Howland


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Dear Parker,


You are our firstborn, our oldest son whom we’re so very proud of.  I never knew the depth of a mother’s love, until you were born.   Although we’ve made many mistakes as we’ve learned to parent, you have graciously loved us and forgiven us through the variety of challenges we faced as new parents.  

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Even though we were clueless in many ways, our Father never was, nor will He ever be.  He has blessed us with the finest of young men, much more so than we deserve or can take credit for.  You have grown from a small, mischievous boy into a man of honor and integrity.  From the time you were just two-years-old, God has used you to guide us, to point us in His direction, to remind us to seek Him, and to live with purpose to honor Him in all that we think, say, and do.

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Today, as we celebrate your 16th birthday, I am reminded of how very proud of you I am, proud of the Christian example you are to not only our family, but to the world, proud to call you my son.  God blessed us beyond measure when He chose to share you with us, Parker.  We pray you will always keep your eyes fixed on Him, living your life as selflessly as you do today, committed to the One who gave you life.  You are a rare example of a wise young man with a heart broken for the very things that break His.  We pray that God will use you to touch the lives of countless others, the way you have touched ours.

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Thank you, Parker, for leading us, teaching us, and reminding us of what’s truly important in this life.  We couldn’t be more proud of you, son.  Happy 16th birthday!

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Selah and Parker



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

True Friends

Creating a family cemetery on your family ranch (because there are not plots left in the local cemetery)…

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Is hard.

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Burying your daughter there…


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Is even harder.


We rejoice that God lifted up a team of servants to bless our family with a family cemetery makeover, revealed to us on the second anniversary of Chrissie’s Homegoing, May 19, 2012.


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It couldn’t be more perfect.


We would like to express our deepest gratitude to The Hughes Family (Moana, Artie, Hunter, and Justin) and the team of guys from Josh Lowry’s Wimberley Lawn Care who came to our home to serve our family in this way.  We are most grateful.

“A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Superhero Autographs, Anyone?

Forget The Avengers, support a REAL LIFE Superhero!  (See very bottom of this post for info on how you can support this amazing young hero.)


Y’all have read about our precious friend, Rowan, and his mom, Carrie, here on our multiple times (HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE).  Well, we’re rejoicing that Rowan’s now a TV Star, in addition to being a Superhero (Iron Man), and a REAL LIFE hero!!!  Before I show you the TV clip, I first want to share photos from Rowan’s blog from May 19, 2012, the two-year anniversary of the day Chrissie went to heaven.  Rowan came to our home to visit Chrissie’s grave (and give us yummy, customized “Chrissie” cookies), and here are the photos from Rowan’s blog:


Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Faith makes things does not make them easy."

Today marks the second anniversary of Rowan's special little friend, Chrissie going to heaven. Rowan and I went out to her gravesite this morning to take flowers. He also painted her a picture of butterflies and flowers and made them "all rainbowy, just like she likes them", he said. Here are some of the precious photos I took this morning:

At one point Rowan asked me to read the large stone at the foot of her grave to him again. When I read, "Faith makes things possible, it does not make them easy." He said quietly, "Got that right. This part is not easy-just seeing her grave and not her, but I know it is possible for me to see her in heaven again someday." Amen!

(written by Carrie, Rowan’s mom, and posted on her blog)


And now, here is the INCREDIBLE story of our REAL LIFE hero and precious friend, Rowan:

Click HERE for video and news source.

Written by Marvin Hurst:


SAN ANTONIO -- Life threatening challenges are ridiculously normal for Rowan Windham. Ever since he was born, he's been fighting to stay alive. He has a rare incurable disorder called Shwachmann-Diamond syndrome.


"Basically, it affects your pancreas, your blood, and your bone marrow, " says his mother Carrie.


The condition also means his immune system is frequently compromised. So, Rowan gets sick very easily. At just five years old, he has been in the hospital more than 700 days of young life. The New Braunfels kid has had everything from brain surgeries to blood transfusions for sepsis.


Rowan takes 26 different medications daily. His body is rigged with special tubing to feed him special nutrients around the clock. Rowan's diet is so restricted all he, generally, eats are potatoes. He can't enjoy simple childhood indulgences like ice cream and cheeseburgers. On his birthday, he can't even have cake.


"It rocks your world," says his father, Brian. "It's quite the shock to know that your child is going to have so many health issues, and as a parent there's nothing you can do to prevent it."


It's home schooling for Rowan because his immune system makes it virtually impossible to attend regular school. However, he can occasionally make it to martial arts class to perform a few drills.


Last November, Rowan was well enough to travel to Disney World courtesy of a foundation for terminally and chronically ill children called Kidd's Kids. The trip made quite an impression on little Rowan. He had an epiphany to pay this experience forward. So, he bent his mother's ear.


"I told her I wanted to sign autographs so other kids can go to Kidd's Kids," said Rowan.


His parents embraced the idea. Rowan is selling an autographed picture from his Disney escapade to fund trips to Disney World for other chronically ill children. The donation for the charitable photo is anything over $1.


So far, he has sold 40 pictures for just over $1,000. He plans to donate the total to Kidd's Kids.


"He knows he's special," said Carrie. "He knows he is important to so many people and how many people see him as a hero and knows how brave he is."


Sometimes Rowan only has the patience to sign about 10 photos a day. Yet, this is a kid committed to a cause even though he still needs help. His own medical bills are about $50,000 a month. That figure has ballooned into $500,000 during some hospital stays.


"He's a kid who could be crying on the curb about some of the things that have been happening in his life," says Brian. "But we choose, absolutely not to live that way."


None of these obstacles has stopped this young boy from dreaming. In fact, he knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.


"A superhero and a doctor," says Rowan.


In a few years, Dr. Superhero Rowan will need multiple organ transplants. His family faithfully prays for a miracle. Meanwhile, he picks up his Sharpie, pouring over a batch of pictures, signing his name and drawing a heart next to it - the act of a kid with the heart of a hero and the healing spirit of a doctor.


To get your autographed photo from this amazing REAL LIFE HERO, click HERE.  Thank you for your prayers and support!

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