Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

I set out thinking I’d just do a quick recap of 2012.  Wrong.  Any large family, particularly a family who has many children with special needs, simply cannot have a short recap of their year.  So, with that said, here’s a bulleted list of the highlights of 2012:

God is always faithful.  He has carried us through so much, He has blessed us immeasurably.  Looking forward to the adventures God has for us in 2013!  May God bless you and yours abundantly, may you know Him personally, and may your 2013 be full of awesome adventures with our Lord.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Four Day Challenge

There’s just four days left in the Mission: A House for LIFE fundraiser that my friend Adeye has put together to benefit Village of Hope in Guatemala.

 

Click HERE to read about an awesome matching grant opportunity.  For the next four days only, until Dec. 31, a generous donor has agreed to match every dollar given to Village of Hope, up to $7,500!!!  Incredible.

 

Now we just need to share this matching opportunity and pray for God to raise the funds so the first home can be built to provide a house for life for orphans with special needs.

 

Click HERE to donate.  Thank you!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pray for Teresa

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas.  Our home was filled with joyous laughter and squeals of delight, despite the grief that inevitably hits at Christmas as we miss our Princess Chrissie, as well as my mom.  I truly don’t know how those without Jesus survive.  He is our hope, peace, and joy.  So grateful for our Savior—what a privilege to celebrate His birth this time of year.

 

Many of you may have seen on the Today Show on Christmas Eve the story of a precious little girl, adopted from China, named Teresa.  Teresa was adopted shortly after our Chrissie went to heaven, in July 2010.  Teresa’s mom contacted me in 2010, shortly after Teresa came home, to see if I could help her find a doctor who would help heal their precious princess’ broken heart.  Little Teresa was born with only half a heart, and she was in desperate need of help and healing.

 

Our beloved friend and Chrissie’s cardiologist, Dr. Porisch, reviewed Teresa’s medical records and agreed with all of the other doctors who had reviewed Teresa’s records that open-heart surgery wasn’t an option for Teresa.  Nothing besides a heart transplant was an option, but Teresa wasn’t a candidate because her pulmonary pressures were too high.  Teresa’s mom was devastated, as they prayed with belief that God would heal their little girl.

 

Well, Teresa turned five on Christmas day, and, all glory to God, Teresa is at the top of the heart transplant list!!!  The medications Teresa’s been taking for two years have helped Teresa’s lungs and pulmonary pressures, making her an eligible candidate for a new heart.

 

On Christmas Eve, the Today Show aired Teresa’s story, and I’ve included the video below.  If it doesn’t show up, click HERE to view it.  It’s well worth the few minutes it’ll take to watch it.  Brings me to tears every time.  Teresa reminds me SOOOOOOOO much of our Chrissie.  Even Teresa’s mom said that after she brought Teresa home.  Spunky warrior princesses—can’t help but adore them.

 

Teresa’s family would greatly appreciate your prayers.  You can follow Teresa’s mom’s blog HERE, and you’ll find in the blog sidebar a few links to other stories of Teresa in the news, as well as a link to a Facebook group to pray for Teresa.  Only God knows when Teresa’s heart transplant will occur, so please check Teresa’s mom’s blog often for updates.  Thank you so much!

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Sweet Little Christmas Gift

This is our first year with children in the public school system.  Naomi is in the 18+ program at our high school, for children with special needs.  Cooper and Conner are in the self-contained kindergarten class for children with special needs.  Everyone loves their school and the many teachers, therapists, specialists, and aides who work with them.

 

Since I’m a former a teacher, I thought about the gifts I was given that I really liked.  I LOVE sugar and sweets, so I loved the idea of these mason jar gifts.

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We baked many cakes—red velvet, butter yellow, and chocolate fudge.  Then we crumbled the cakes and layered them in mason jars with icing and sprinkles and M&M’s.

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Then we hot glued velvet ribbon to the rim of the mason jar lid and stuck a cupcake liner over the round metal sealing lid.

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And last, but not least, we tied a card and spoon to the jar.

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We made 30 of these to give to everyone who works with our kids.

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Naomi was SOOOOOOOO excited to give her gifts.  She said everyone loved them. 

 

We wish you a SWEET Christmas, too!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Update on Both Hands Project

Here’s a video from the Canyon Lake Both Hands project that Mattie organized. If you don’t know about that project, read about it HERE.

 

I’m so very proud of Mattie for organizing this ginormous project, and so grateful to all who came out to work.  Serving the widow while helping the orphan, what a perfect way to live out James 1:27.

 

The widow whose home and property was lovingly tended to by Mattie’s team was so very blessed by all that was accomplished.  Please help the team accomplish their mission of helping orphans in Guatemala by raising funds for Village of Hope. Your tax-deductible donation, given in honor of the work performed on the widow’s home in the video above, can be given securely by clicking HERE.  Or you may mail a check to:

Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744
- write in the memo line "Preference VOH Canyon Lake #97406"

Thank you to all who have already donated, to all who worked and served this widow selflessly, to Tuttle Lumber and Matt Patterson Insurance for donating supplies, and to all who worked behind the scenes to make this project possible.  What a blessing all of you are!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Brick for Every Year

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Eeeeeekkkkkk, can it really be TWENTY years?!?!  Not that I can’t believe we’ve been married that long, it just seems like we can’t really be that old! Smile  The above photos were taken in a photo booth at my cousin’s wedding a couple of weeks ago.  Yep, we really are that old. Smile

 

Twenty years ago, on this very day, my dad walked me down the aisle of the little church I grew up in.

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He and my mom gave me away to the man of my dreams, trusting that Matt would love me and take care of me for the rest of my life, just as they had done for the first 21 years of my life.

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We were crazy-head-over-heels in love with one another, and we can both honestly say that we truly love each other even more deeply now than ever before.

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Matt has far exceeded my expectations of a husband.  He loves me wholeheartedly and takes care of me like no other.  Matt’s faithfulness, sensitivity, generosity, selflessness, ambition, kindness, and sensitivity are a combination that remind of a heart like His.  Matt is an earthly father to the fatherless, and he compassionately serves those in need every chance he gets.  He always puts others before himself.  Always.  The least of these are the greatest for Matt.  He works hard to provide for his family, yet he treasures nothing more than precious time with his family.  I really don’t think life on earth gets any better than this.  Thank you, Matt, for being who you are.  I wouldn’t change a thing about you, and as unworthy as I am of your love, I am so very grateful you chose me to be your wife, for better or worse, till death do we part.  I love you with an endless love, and I’m honored and humbled to call you my husband.

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In honor of this very special day, as we celebrate 20 years of marriage, Matt and I felt that instead of giving one another an earthly gift, we should give the gift of LIFE to orphans with special needs in Guatemala.  No, we’re not adopting again, but we’ve chosen to purchase 20 bricks (one for every year of our marriage) to help build Village of Hope in Guatemala, a special orphanage that’s near and dear to my heart. 

 

An everlasting gift with eternal purpose, I cannot think of anything I’d rather give and/or receive on this day.  I pray countless orphans will experience the love of family and the love of Jesus at Village of Hope in Guatemala.  Just as my heavenly Father, as well as my husband, haven given me here on earth, I wish to give a house for life to orphans with special needs in Guatemala.  How can I treasure my husband and family and our home and not desire this same experience for orphans?  I simply cannot.  I cannot sit back and wait for someone else to step up and care for orphans.  I must do what I can, and it is a joy and privilege to purchase these bricks in honor of our 20 years of marriage.  I cannot imagine any greater joy than helping others experience the same joy God has blessed me with in this life on earth—a relationship with Jesus, a loving, giving, selfless, compassionate, generous, Jesus-loving husband, a rockin’ family, and a home that fits all of us, providing shelter and safety to us day in and day out.  What joy we will feel when the doors open at Village of Hope—Guatemala and orphans with special needs are able to experience life the way God intended it.  Pure joy.

 

If you would like to purchase a brick in honor or in memory of a loved one or a special occasion, click HERE to learn more and enter a giveaway with some awesome prizes.  Pray, spread the word, and donate if you’re able.  The gift of LIFE; what a joy to partake in.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home on the Range

Matt and I are home from an unforgettable 20th wedding anniversary celebration in Las Vegas where we attended the National Finals Rodeo (NFR).  We’ve only been to Vegas twice, both times for the NFR.  We’re told that’s the only time of year Vegas looks and feels like Memphis, Tennessee, with all the country singers and cowboys overtaking the city.

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Cowboy hats, boots, gaudy rodeo jewelry, horses, trucks, trailers, and good ole Southern values abound in Vegas during the NFR.  Hotels and casinos are family oriented, and there’s thousands of vendors selling cowboy gear.

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Except for one exceptional pair of boots you’d never find on the ranch, everything else feels like home.

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We loved watching the NFR in the Hollywood Theater at the MGM via the live feed.  It was a GREAT experience.  In fact, lots of people were actually selling their tickets to the NFR so they could watch it in this theater because the view was much better.  And free.

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Trevor Brazile, 16-time world champion of rodeo, was hosted by our hotel, so they had his buckles and saddles on display. 

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And Trevor posed for photos and autographs several times.

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We had a lovely time, and now it’s back to reality on the ranch.  We missed our kiddos greatly, but we also realize how important it is for us to have time as a couple to rest and rejuvenate.  Thank you, Jesus, for this awesome trip!!! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stockings Are Hung

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

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We’re still working on decorating…soon we’ll be there!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nearly 20 Years

On December 19, Matt and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage.  Gosh, neither of us feels “that old”!!!  We got married when I was 21 and Matt was 22.  Head-over-heels in love, blissfully na├»ve, and faithfully dedicated till death do us part.

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Nearly four years later, God blessed us with our first child.

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(Parker’s 2-month birthday picture)

 

And now, almost twenty years after we shared our wedding vows, take a look at this delightfully crazy crew God has blessed us with:

patterson kids goofy oct 2012

 

In a few days, Matt and I will be flying to {hopefully} attend the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas.  Here we are in 2007, celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary at the NFR (we only had 3 kiddos in 2007!):

NFR moose ride 002

 

We’re totally doing this trip the cheapskate way, that’s the Matt and Lorraine Patterson way! Smile  A friend gave us free tickets to fly Southwest, but we have to fly standby.  (Thanks, Erin…and Nicole!)  The flights are really full, so we’re praying God will give us seats to get us there and back.  This is a super way for us to fly because we never know if a kid is going to end up hospitalized, so we won’t be out any money on airline tickets if something comes up and we’re not able to go to the NFR.

 

We got a fabulous rate on a hotel room in Las Vegas.  We don’t gamble, so we don’t care about the casinos, but Las Vegas lodging is inexpensive because they want people to spend their money gambling.  Great deal for us!  And, again, room is refundable if something comes up that prevents us from going to Las Vegas.

 

The only thing we’re trying to figure out now are NFR tickets.  For those of you unfamiliar with the NFR, it’s the biggest rodeo of the year.  It’s like the World Series of rodeos.  We’ll be in Las Vegas for the last three nights of the rodeos, which are all sold out. 

 

Of course we can buy tickets via Craigslist or eBay or a variety of online ticket sales sights, but everyone is selling their tickets for about quadruple (sometimes more) of face value because the rodeos are all sold out.  We just don’t want to spend that type of money to see a rodeo, so we’re praying for God to show us a way to find tickets at or near face value.

 

If all else fails, we’ll watch the NFR via the live stream in the theater at the hotel we’re staying at.  That’s free.  And our meals at the hotel are free, too.  Awesome, huh?  This is less expensive than staying at a local bed and breakfast (which we normally do for our anniversaries). 

 

Woohoo, we’re so excited to take a little vacation for just the two of us to celebrate the twenty years of marriage God has blessed us with!!!  Please pray for well children (and well parents!), no emergencies, no hospitalizations, seats on the flights there and back, and maybe even some affordable NFR tickets!!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

So, Have You Ever Considered Homeschooling?

If so (or if not!), you should take a few minutes to read THIS post written by Addisyn Block.  She’s the daughter of my friend, Amy, whose family serves as missionaries in Guatemala.  You know, they’re the ones starting up the Village of Hope that I’m always talking about.

 

Anyway, Addie wrote this fabulous post expressing her feelings about homeschooling, and I think it’s a great encouragement to anyone who is or might consider homeschooling.

 

Someone asked me if I’d write a post on how homeschooling works for our family.  I promised I would, but I was having a hard time finding an opportunity to sit and type it all out.

 

Then I remembered that I’d already written a bit about how homeschooling has worked for our family over the years.  Click HERE to read our homeschooling testimony.  I wrote that in February 2011, so a lot has changed since then, like having two sons with Down syndrome join our family. :-)

 

So, I’ll try to detail what our days look like now that we have Cooper and Conner in our family.  God always has a perfect plan, so flexibility and dependence upon Him is key (in all situations!). 

 

This school year, Cooper and Conner are both enrolled in our local public school’s special education program.  They are thriving and learning so much.  God clearly showed us this was His plan, and His plan is always so much better than ours.  The boys are in the same classroom in a self-contained Kindergarten special education setting.  They’re teachers, therapists, aides, and even their bus driver and the driver’s aide all adore the boys.  Cooper and Conner are loved, encouraged, and challenged in this setting, which has allowed them to blossom more than I ever fathomed.

 

This year, after the boys entered public school, their teacher informed me of a program offered in Texas (and perhaps all states, I’m not sure) for students ages 18-22 who have special needs.  (The boys’ teacher formerly taught this program.)  Naomi asked us if she could attend school like Cooper and Conner, so our school district’s educational diagnostician performed educational testing on Naomi to see if she would qualify.  (I’ve shared before that Naomi has special needs.)  Well, the results confirmed that Naomi has a severe intellectual disability, so she qualified to attend the 18+ special education program if she wanted to.  Naomi was so excited to start her special school the week after Thanksgiving.  She LOVES it!!!

 

The only two children at home who are not attending some type of school are Selah (age 2) and Kiefer (age 4).  We work with Kiefer on preschool concepts, but don’t have a set schedule or curricula.  He watches one learning video each day, and he’s curious about letters, numbers, and most preschool concepts, but his love is the outdoors.  He prefers to be outside doing all things cowboy.  Last night he told me that when he grows up he’s going to be a cowboy.  Or a goat farmer.  Love that boy!  Selah doesn’t do any schooling, as her special needs prevent her from doing the things a typical two-year-old would.  She doesn’t color or even look at or listen to books, except once every few months.  She prefers to be outside roaming, climbing, and jumping.

 

The remaining kids attend our homeschool, Agape Academy, and my amazing friend, Stephanie, teaches all of the kids.  She has students with severe learning disabilities to students who already have college credits via CLEP tests, so the range of students is broad, both in age and ability.

 

Our kids take shifts in who goes to school when.  Meribeth and Sawyer attend school from 8AM-12Noon daily.  Ella attends from 10:30AM-12Noon, then goes again from 1PM-2:30PM.  Parker and Mattie attend from 1-5PM daily.  We all eat lunch together at 12Noon.  Believe it or not, all of the kids are able to achieve more school than necessary during those time frames.  This year (in just one semester), Parker and Mattie have each CLEP’d out of six hours of college courses, so they get dual credit for those courses, meaning they get high school credit as well as college credit.

 

Stephanie tailors the curricula to each student.  She writes much of the curricula herself.  We’ve found that Alpha and Omega’s Lifepacs are a great resource for many of our students.  Those cut down on the time it would take to write a course curriculum, they’re affordable, and they put God in the center of every course/subject.  Ella, who has a variety of learning disabilities, has been helped greatly by Saxon Phonics.  Math-U-See is the math curriculum that each of our children uses, and we LOVE it. 

 

In the past, we’ve used a huge variety of curricula.  Sonlight, My Father’s World, Tapestry, Switched on Schoolhouse, Teaching Textbooks, to name a few, plus tons and tons and tons of phonics and reading curricula (Sawyer is dyslexic, so I tried just about every single curricula out there for the first few years to try to help him).  Barton Reading and Spelling was the best curricula we found to help Sawyer with his dyslexia.

 

We battle severe ADHD with a couple of students.  One student must take ADHD medication in order to learn.  Without it, no learning occurs, no matter what we do.  For the other student, there’s not an ADHD medication out there that has worked, so this student must be active often, sit on a bouncy ball chair, take frequent breaks to swing and jump and spin, but it’s a constant battle.  ADHD really affects a student’s ability to learn—it’s not something to take lightly.

 

If you’re considering homeschooling, God put THIS book in my path when He was trying to get me to homeschool.  I found it super helpful because 15 different types of families share how they make homeschooling work for them.  There’s such a variety of families, schedules, testimonies, and examples in this book that encourages even the most timid of homeschooling families.  YOU CAN DO IT!!!

 

I wrote about what I felt like and how I tried to resist God’s call to homeschool.  You can read about that HERE and HERE.  If there’s anything I haven’t addressed or if you want more info, please feel free to contact me.  Leave a comment or click on the “email me” icon in the sidebar of the blog.

 

Thanks and hope this helps someone decide that they CAN homeschool.  With God, all things are possible!

 

PS  Amy Block wrote a post on her blog last night that illustrates why I’m always advocating for Village of Hope—Guatemala.  I shared with you on Monday my excitement that my friend, Adeye, was also advocating for Village of Hope.  She’s added some awesome items for a giveaway to coincide with her project, Mission: A House for Life.  Click HERE to read Adeye’s post and enter her giveaway.  Tomorrow is the big day for the Both Hands project our 14-year-old daughter, Mattie, organized.  Please click HERE to read about that.  Pray for God to bless this widow and Village of Hope through this project.  Thank you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Advent Season

Every year, our family does Advent readings and activities together as a family.  This year would be a little more challenging to make this work due to the variety of children with special needs.  Because Selah cannot sit still at all (and she rages when forced, due to her brain malformations), I wanted to do something simple and quick, yet meaningful.

 

My friend McKenna listed some Advent activities on her blog.  When I saw the idea for an Advent paper chain, I knew that was perfect for this season for our family.

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For our Advent paper chain, I chose the Names of Jesus.  I printed the template on red and purple paper, mainly because I had that on my shelf. Smile  The red reminds me of Christmas and the blood of Jesus while the purple reminds me of His majesty and royalty. 

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We do our Advent activities during our dinner because we’re all at the dinner table together every single night.  During dinner, we light our Advent candle, then we remove one link in the Advent chain.  We read the Scripture that correlates with that night’s name for Jesus, then one person is chosen to hang the paper strip on our Christmas tree.

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Everyone is enjoying the visible reminder of the Advent chain as we count down the days until we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.  I love that our hearts are focused on the Real Reason for the season.

 

We also sing a few Christmas carols, which Cooper LOVES more than anyone at the table!!!  We read a story from the Jesus Bible Storybook (using THIS guide), then we pray and blow out our Advent candle.

 

I’d love to know what your family does to focus your hearts on Jesus, the Reason for the season!  Do you have any favorite family traditions?  Do you have a favorite Advent devotional or activity?  We’ve done the Jesse Tree devotional and various other Advent guides—we seem to change it up each year based upon our needs for each season.

 

May your hearts and homes be filled with JESUS this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Redeemed

“God sets the lonely in families…”

Psalm 68:6

 

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Conner Christian Patterson, age 7

Home 9 months

  • Went from wearing a size 1 infant shoe to a size 7 toddler shoe
  • Signs “more”
  • Laughs the most adorable laugh ever
  • Makes and mimics lots of sounds
  • Finds joy in all situations
  • Chews and swallows most foods (could/would only drink liquid when he first came home)
  • Walks everywhere independently (could barely stand for 3 seconds with support when he first came home)

 

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Cooper Immanuel Patterson, age 7

Home 9 months

  • Weighed 21 pounds when he came home; weighs 44 pounds now!
  • Signs several words (“more”, “movie”, “eat”)
  • Is mostly toilet trained (although he doesn’t tell us still, we just have to schedule him)
  • Walks while holding someone’s hand (no longer has severely clubbed feet)
  • LOVES music and movies
  • Gets so excited when we sing; radiates pure joy
  • Eats anything now (Cooper will feed himself almost independently, chew his food, and swallow it without gagging.  When he first came home, he gagged on anything with texture—had to have pureed first foods.)

 

Praise God for His precious and perfect gifts!

 

PS  Thank you for sharing, praying, and supporting our daughter’s Both Hands project.  Click HERE to read about it if you missed it.  Please keep up the good work!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Both Hands—Organized by Mattie

For countless reasons, I am so proud of our 14-year-old daughter, Mattie.  She has such a heart for orphans, and she spends the majority of her time serving our family and doing anything she can to help better the lives of orphans.  I think much of Mattie’s passion to help the orphan is fueled through her commitment to living out her little sister’s legacy.  Instead of wallowing in the pain of losing her sister, Mattie has made a commitment to help orphans around the world in memory of her sister Chrissie.  Mattie loves Jesus.  James 1:27 is her life verse—serving orphans and widows.  Mattie has a true servant’s heart, one that doesn’t need praise for her works because her joy comes through serving Jesus and the least of these.

 

A few months ago, Mattie came to her daddy and me to ask if she could receive our blessing on a project she felt God calling her to do.  She wanted to organize a host a Both Hands project, a project that lives out James 1:27, with one hand serving the widow and one hand serving the orphan.

 

I explained to Mattie that I wouldn’t be available to help her with this project because my plate is so full right now.  As much as I wanted to come alongside her, I knew I couldn’t commit to such a big project at that time due to having so many health issues with several of our children at that time, requiring hospitalizations and such.

 

Mattie wanted to chair this project anyway.  She knew God would lead her, as He was calling her, and she felt comfortable taking on the project independently. 

 

From that point on, Mattie, age 14, has completed 100% of the work necessary to bring the first-ever Canyon Lake, Texas Both Hands project!!!  This is not only the first project in our area, it’s the first Both Hands project EVER led by a child.  I kid you not, Mattie has done every bit of the organization, gathering of workers, communication, sponsorship letters, administrative work, forms, etc. required to complete a Both Hands project.  To be honest, I skimmed the project requirements and paperwork emailed to Mattie by the Both Hands organization, and I wanted to run!!!  There was SO MUCH to be done.  Their requirements were strict and done with utmost integrity, but that didn’t scare Mattie away like it did me—haha!!!

 

Today, it is with great pleasure that I share with you the information below, written by our 14-year-old daughter, Mattie:

 

Towards the middle of August this year, I was doing my usual blog cruising when I came across a post my friend, Amy Block, had on her blog. She posted this video:

Both Hands Big Build Animation from Lifesong for Orphans on Vimeo.

 

Click HERE to view the video if it doesn’t show up.

 

And Mrs. Block posted a plea for people to rise up and answer God's call to take care of orphans and widows by doing a Both Hands project, where people serve a widow while raising funds to help orphans.

 

At first I blew it off, thinking, "Some capable ADULT church leader would be perfect to do that! What a nice project".

 

I continued my week, but it seemed like that Both Hands Project deal was following me around! The Block's mission, Village of Hope in Guatemala, and the children that would some day occupy it were invading my thoughts.

 

I went to church that Sunday and the sermon was (of course ;-) on obeying what God is calling you to do.

 

"Alright, alright, I'll see what I can do," I told God.

 

I was trying everything to wiggle my way out of taking on this massive project.

 

I couldn't. There was no way to escape!

 

I finally made the plunge and committed to undergo organizing a Both Hands Project.

 

As it is with all things that God calls us to do, we say, "Yes," and His peace abounds. I was wrapped in it. Of course, all of us who have said yes to what God was calling us to do know that it is by no means easy. Every step in the process has been anything but easy. A 14-year-old girl trying to rally construction workers, I mean come on!

 

Jesus has so abundantly provided, He made sure that I found a person to specialize in every area. He made sure everything got done along the way as I worked to organize this project. All I had to do was follow. Thank you, Daddy!!

 

So, a few months later and a lot of Both Hands organizational experience under my belt, I’m so excited to announce that the Canyon Lake, TX Both Hands Project benefitting Village Of Hope in Guatemala will happen this Saturday!!

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At 7:30am this Saturday we will be gathering in our church parking lot to car pool over to our project's widow, Nancy's, house. My question for y'all is if you would consider donating to sponsor me and my siblings to work this Saturday on Nancy's house.

 

We are tearing down her old deck and building a new one, redoing her driveway, insulating her pipes, and putting siding on her walls! Every penny goes to Village of Hope—Guatemala, a mission to give orphans with special needs a safe and loving home in a family style setting.

 

Every penny donated will make a difference in a child's life at VOH. I have seen what y'all precious blog readers can do, and it is beautiful. The Body of Christ, I believe, was meant for times like these! Please pray about giving.

 

Your tax-deductible donation, sponsoring the work we’re doing on our widow’s home, can be given securely by clicking HERE.  Or you may mail a check to:

Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744
- write in the memo line "Preference VOH Canyon Lake #97406"

 

May Jesus bless you in your coming in and your going out, from the tip of your head to the soles of your feet!! 

 

Thank you for your support, Mattie Patterson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As Mattie’s mom, I would like to BEG you to support Mattie with this major undertaking!!! Smile 

  1. Please SHARE.  Share this post everywhere you can because the more people who read this, the more opportunity for God to raise funds through this project. 
  2. Please GIVE.  Your donation is tax-deductible, 100% of your donation will go to Village of Hope in Guatemala to serve orphans with special needs.
  3. Please PRAY.  Pray for this precious widow, Nancy to be blessed by this project.  Pray for safety of the volunteers.  Pray for much success in fixing up Nancy’s home—a huge project.  Pray for abundant donations to be given to help orphans at Village of Hope in Guatemala.  Pray for God to be glorified, always.

 

Thank you so much for your support!!!  Let’s launch this and watch what God does.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hearts, Homes, and Joy this Christmas

Thank you so much for praying for our flight back to Texas from Baltimore.  After 30 minutes of screaming, kicking, crying, and raging, and, yes, even having Selah throw her chewed up food on me, as well as winging some objects at the passenger in front of us, I caved and took Selah out of her car seat on the plane, during take-off.  Gasp.  I’d given her night-time dosages of her sleep medications, so she needed to konk out, but just couldn’t give in.

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Until she snuggled into Momma’s arms, a rarity I treasure, and slept the entire plane ride home.  Hallelujah, thank You, Jesus!!!!!!!!!

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Home sweet home.  No place I’d rather be.  Truly.  What a sigh of relief!!! 

 

We got home Saturday night, then spent Sunday decorating our home for Christmas. 

 

My husband pulled out our old faithful Christmas tree of 7 years, only to discover it looked like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree on steroids.

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What a pathetic sight.

 

The branches were matted and squooshed like an elephant used the tree as her bed for a year.

 

The tree was once a gorgeous pre-lit tree with about 10,000 beautiful twinkling lights, but yesterday, only a few strands of lights illuminated.  In the photo above, everything is plugged in and that’s how many lights worked.

 

Pitiful.

 

My heart felt so discouraged.  We didn’t have time, nor the desire to spend the money, on a new tree.  The task to make this tree something presentable felt overwhelming.

 

Until God whispered to my heart that I, too, was a pathetic sight in need of His tender-loving care.  With some TLC, this tree would be transformed.

 

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Just like He did for me—transformed before my very eyes.

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This pathetic tree began to sparkle.

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As family members knelt down low, as Jesus was born among the lowly, and reached up high to the heavens, where Jesus reigns today, God sent me messages of His presence and reminders that the birth of Jesus is the reason we celebrate this season.

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Now, our tree isn’t perfect, but it is hand-crafted with love. 

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Each ornament has a story to tell, packed with memories from years past.

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This little note was “hand-written” by Chrissie and tucked away into a Jesus stocking ornament in 2009.

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Each child gets a photo ornament every year.  It’s such fun to go through the ornaments and see how everyone has changed.

 

And remember how lives have been transformed.

 

But the other thing I realized yesterday is that my heart felt heavy.  So very heavy.

 

Last year, on December 23, my mom died completely unexpectedly of a heart attack.  She was baking the desserts to bring to our home for our Christmas Eve gathering the following day.  She has the ingredients measured out on the countertop in her home, sat in her chair to eat a yogurt, then went straight from her chair into the arms of Jesus.

 

About 1/4 of our ornaments are from my mom.  She always bought the kids ornaments that would represent their personalities that year.  So many memories were stirred through these ornaments.

 

And then there’s our princess Chrissie whom we miss dearly.  Oh so dearly.  I really don’t think the pain gets any easier.  I found myself wanting to just sit and cry and wallow in the pain my heart felt, but God surrounded me with the love of our family and the joy of the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of His One and Only Son whom He loved so dearly, Jesus Christ.

 

We sang at the dinner table with Cooper flapping his arms with so much excitement he looked like he’d fly right out of his high chair.  Joy filled the air.  We lit our Advent candle for the first night, and we created our first Advent reading, adjusted for our little ones.

 

Then this morning, my heart was lifted even higher as I read my friend Adeye’s blog post.  Joy to the world, my heart could not be happier!!!  I’m so excited to see what God does through Adeye’s efforts.  He always blows me away with the fundraising He does via Adeye. 

 

I urge you to focus your heart and mind on Jesus this Christmas.  I pray you will read Adeye’s blog post (click HERE) and pray about how God is asking you to respond.  I tell you, He will multiply our giving abundantly when we obey His call. 

 

I love the idea of giving one $25 Christmas gift in honor or memory of a loved one.  You can buy a brick in their honor/memory, and your gift will have an everlasting impact.  It seriously will, much more so than a toy or gift that will only be remembered for a short time.  This gift will be remembered for a lifetime, and this gift will help give a HOME for LIFE to countless orphans with special needs in Guatemala.

 

Please ready your hearts for CHRISTmas.  Give to the weak, the lowly, the forgotten ones who matter greatly to our King of kings.  And may God bless you abundantly this Christmas season, transforming your hearts and homes, overflowing you with His joy.

You can give via the above ChipIn or click HERE.  Thank you!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Held by Gifted Hands

Selah slept through the night Thursday night, nestled in bed with Mommy, AND she slept in late to boot! Yeehaw, wild child woke rarin' to go!


Perfect for a full day of seeing specialists! Friday between 11:30AM and 5PM, Selah saw a behavioral psychologist, a neuro sleep specialist, and the world famous neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson.




Selah wore a special shirt that says, "I'm kind of a big deal". :-)




Selah kissing the fish tank. :-)




Fish!





Selah never sits on chairs or couches--she always stands.




Looking out the window of the Kennedy Krieger Brain Institute.

The staff at KKI were amazing. They had complimentary valet parking with the kindest valet staff ever. The man who met us at the vehicle didn't act all all shocked to see Selah's major head banging fits. He just calmh set up her stroller and waited with respect and empathy. Just the beginning of many heart-warming welcoming staff members at KKI.

The first specialist was a behavioral psychologist. Selah pulled out ALL her problem behaviors for the psych to witness. After spending about 45 minutes with us, the psychologist recommended Selah start ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy, preferably with KKI, the world's leading brain institute. I agreed to take the information and visit with my husband about it. There's a tremendously long wait list for this therapy, so she suggested we at least turn in the paperwork as soon as possible.

Then Selah saw the pediatric neuro sleep specialist, a very rare specialist. (Most sleep specialists are not neurologists.) This doctor was helpful because she recommends we start a longer lasting sleep medication such as Trazadone or Ambien. All of Selah's specialists in Texas have worried that these wouldn't be safe for a two-year-old. It gave me hope and comfort to listen to this neurologist/sleep specialist, who has the exact expertise of Selah's sleep disorder, said she was comfortable with Selah taking Ambien or Trazadone. Selah has an appointment next week with her Texas sleep specialist, so this doctor's recommendation will be passed along and hopefully implemented soon!!!

The KKI was so good to make sure we were out the door in time to see Dr. Carson at the Johns Hopkins outpatient center.









Dr. Carson is a busy man indeed. There were probably 20 other patients (plus their family members) who were also waiting to see Dr. Carson. Praise God the hour of waiting in the waiting room passed quickly.

Waiting in the examination room, not so much.



Selah has this thing about needing to pull pictures off the wall. Our son, Sawyer, wonders why any doctor hangs photos on their walls. It's a compulsion of Selah's. Aaaggghhhhhh!!!

We waited. And waited. And waited. My friend Terri (who we met up with Thursday night at Johns Hopkins Hospital) warned me that the wait would be long.





Eventually, Selah mellowed out just a tad, perhaps due to sheer exhaustion...and God's answer to prayer that Selah wouldn't completely destroy the room.




Oh, and spinning in Dr. Carson's chair helped, too.

Dr. Carson's nurse, Judy, came in first to review Selah's case. She told us of a similar case where a newborn was born with just a sliver of a brain, and hospital staff said not to do anything because the baby wouldn't survive, like Selah. However, after a VP shunt was placed, and the baby's brain expanded, just like Selah's.

I didn't get to hear how that baby's case turned out, but the similarities of their cases as newborns was so very similar.

Eventually, Dr. Carson came in. What a pleasure, honor, and privilege to shake the hand of such a gifted neurosurgeon who gives glory to God.




Oh my, look at all those shiny pens in Dr. Carson's pocket.




Awwwwww, let me listen to your heartbeat, Dr. Carson.




Ok, I'll look at the camera, but I'm not gonna smile.

So, we visited with Dr. Carson about Selah's story, her history, and her behavior issues.

Dr. Carson couldn't get over how well Selah is doing in terms of development. He used the word "amazed" to describe how he felt about seeing Selah and witnessing all that she is doing given her brain diagnoses.

In listening to Selah's story, Dr. Carson interjected to ask if Dr. George is Selah's Texas neurosurgeon. Turns out they're friends and both went to Yale. Dr. Carson thinks highly of Dr. George, as do we, so that was a comfort to hear.

After listening to Selah's story, Dr. Carson felt like Selah would be helped with ABA therapy as well. He felt like from a neurosurgeon's viewpoint, there's nothing that could be done differently for Selah, which is what we thought.

We didn't think Selah needed any more brain surgeries, so we wondered why God opened doors for Selah to see Dr. Carson. We still don't know exactly why, but God does. Of course, it was way cool to sit in the same examination room with Dr. Carson, to discuss the miracle of Selah with him, and to have him hold our daughter in his "gifted hands", but I think God is busy behind the scenes with some plan that may be revealed down the line. God's always doing amazing stuff like that.

I'm grateful for this trip. We discovered Selah's underdeveloped optic nerves, we got an approval and recommendation for stronger sleep meds for Selah, we received recommendations for Selah to have ABA therapy, we spent time in the best brain institute in the world, and we shook the hand of the world's best neurosurgeon. Wow.














And now Selah sleeps again beside me as I type this update on my iPhone. What a blessed momma am I.




We will fly home in about 12 hours. I need to get to bed!!!

If you have any experience with ABA therapy, I'd love to hear from you. I've heard it's not normally covered by insurance. I've also heard the therapists and program make a huge difference, and KKI is the leading place to go for ABA therapy. I'd so love to hear from you if you have specific experience with KKI's ABA therapy program.

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts once I'm not so sleepy. Please pray for a better flight experience with Selah. Thanks!
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