Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thanks for Stepping Up!

Step Up To Support The BLOCKS

Thank you for stepping up to fund the Blocks as they serve as missionaries at Village of Hope in Guatemala.


It is my pleasure to announce that the Blocks are now FULLY FUNDED!


Glory and praises to God for His provision, and thank YOU for being His hands and feet!

Click to Join our Team!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One Day/One Lunch

It is my pleasure to share with you today a post written by an amazing teenager named Addisyn Block over at Life as a Missionary Kid.  I pray you’ll join her in her efforts.  I just love this girl!

In eighth grade, my life was completely changed when I went to Ethiopia to adopt my sister Havyn. Before that, I knew poverty existed. I had heard about it and seen pictures, I even had four adopted siblings, but once I saw these precious children first hand, I could no longer pretend that poverty didn't exist. As I held their small hungry bodies in my arms and whispered in their ear that Jesus loves them, I knew that there was no way I could leave that place unchanged. I couldn't just go home and forget about them, so I prayed a really dangerous prayer that day in Ethiopia, I prayed that God would use me and that He would break my heart.

He did just that.

I left there with a piece of my heart missing and I could not get those children off my mind. One of my favorite verses comes from Proverbs 24:12. It tells is, "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know and hold us responsible to act."  Now that I knew, I could no longer just go on living like I used to. I had to do something about what I had seen.

As as 14 year old, I didn't think I had much to give, but I've learned that God doesn't care about how much you have, instead He cares about your heart. I may not have had much, but I was willing to give  up the little that I did have for His glory, and He used that and multiplied it.

Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”- John 6:9

Most of you know the story of how Jesus fed the 5,000. A young boy had some food that he was willing to share. Although it wasn't much, God blessed it and used it to feed so many more people that it was originally planned for. That's what God did with me. As I started my freshman year of high school, I began eating a simple bowl of cheap soup like I had seen the kids in Ethiopia eat. I would pray for the children as I ate it, and I would donate that $2.00 that I would have had to pay for lunch at school. Like the boy in the story, people were doubtful. They would make fun of me as I stood by the microwave every day heating up my small bowl of soup, but there were also those that were interested. They would ask questions, giving me the opportunity to tell them about what the Lord was doing in my life, and some of them even agreed to join me.

As I realized that there were other people who were willing to help, I couldn't help but think how cool it would be if we could get people from all over the world to join us for just one day, for just one lunch. So, we began spreading the word through blogs, Facebook and newspapers, and we couldn't believe the response. On February 3rd, my 100th day of eating soup, we raised over $6,000 dollars, because a bunch of people were willing to give up their lunch to make a difference. 

Three years later, God continues to answer the prayer I prayed in Ethiopia. He has continued to break me and use me. My family now serves as missionaries in Guatemala at Village of Hope. Daily God continues show me the need and allow me the opportunity to do what I can do with the little I have. So I ask, will you join me in making a difference in the lives of the Guatemalans this February 3rd?

To donate online click DONATE below:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!
Mail checks to:
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744
*Indicate for VOH One Day/One Lunch

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



When I saw this shirt for sale (with proceeds benefitting Village of Hope—Guatemala!), I knew I had to get one for Selah. 


Know why?


Selah has holoprosencephaly, a rare brain malformation that typically isn’t compatible with life. 


Know what the medical abbreviation is for holoprosencephaly is?




Know what Selah really has?




Yep, Selah has HoPE!


“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy 15th Birthday, Madelaine Grace!


Our beautiful (on the inside and out) Mattie is such a dear blessing to our family.  What a rare treasure she is!  Mattie’s got a lot of talents, a servant’s heart, a compassionate, kind, caring spirit, she has a heart for the least of these, and continuously finds ways to be His hands and feet.  Mattie’s heart’s desire is to serve orphans and one day be a loving wife and dedicate her years to raising her family and taking care of her home.  The young man who has the privilege of marrying our daughter one day will be one blessed man indeed!  There’s no doubt, I am one blessed momma to have the privilege of calling this sparkling gem my daughter.  Thank you, Jesus!


Mattie is starting her own little blog, so hop on over and wish her a happy birthday HERE.  We love you, Mattie!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Adaptive Beds

Thank you for all of the wonderful and helpful info about supplements.  Whew, there’s a lot to learn, but I appreciate the tips.


Now, here’s another question for y’all, which will probably be a little more limited in who’s able to respond.  We need to get an adaptive bed/safety bed for Cooper.  He’s learned how to rock his crib to the point where it fell up against Conner’s crib!  (Cooper’s crib is perpendicular to Conner’s, with about 2 1/2 feet in between the cribs.) The only thing that keeps Cooper from crawling out of his crib is that he must wear his foot braces/bar shoes when he’s in his crib.  The bar shoes prevent Cooper from hiking his leg over the edge of his crib to crawl out.  Otherwise, he’d be out of there in no time flat.

Noah's World Bed for Children with Autism and other Sleep Disorders

Up until recently, I didn’t even know adaptive beds/safety beds existed, and, had I known, I probably would have thought it was cruel and unusual punishment.  Until I had three children with special needs who all would NEED an adaptive bed to keep them safe (once they are longer safe in their cribs). 


An adaptive bed is used for children who have special needs and are unable (for whatever reason) to sleep in a regular/traditional/typical bed.  In Cooper’s case, he needs the confinement of a crib to keep him safe, yet he’s no longer safe in his current crib.  Since Cooper is non-verbal and doesn’t obey commands, he wouldn’t be able to call out to us at night for help, and we wouldn’t be able to insure he’d stay in a regular bed.  In fact, I’m positive he’d just climb right out because I’ve watched him do it.  He’d be all over the place, into everything, and totally unsafe if he could get out of his bed.  (Cooper doesn’t sleep well—lots of night time waking, but if he’s in an adaptive bed that keeps him safe and contained, he’ll be content to play with toys in his safe place until it’s time to get up, or until he goes back to sleep, whichever comes first.)


There are TONS of options for adaptive beds.  It would be nice to have one with padding inside because Cooper bangs his bar shoes against the crib rails, which has banged up the wood and taken the finish off.

Special Needs Beds for Children 3

So, my quest for today is to gather information on adaptive beds for children with special needs.  I’ve been told that many times insurance will cover the bed if a doctor writes a prescription for it and explains the medical necessity, so that’s the route we’ll try first.  (If not, I’ll probably just buy the Nickel Bed Tent, but I’m not sure that it would keep Cooper contained because he’d thrash his bar shoes against the edges, which might tear it.)

I asked this same question on Facebook yesterday and got some good suggestions.  Just wondering about pros and cons of various beds, what my options are, which bed(s) are people’s favorites, etc.  Eventually, we’ll need to get an adaptive bed for both Selah and Conner as well, so hopefully I’ll learn from y’all which ones to avoid and which ones are fabulous.


Thanks so much!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I’d love to learn more about using natural supplements for children with brain malformations.  There’s such a huge variety of literature available, I’m not even sure where to start.  None of Selah’s specialists have recommended supplements, but I know a few of the obvious correlations with supplements like fish oil helping the brain to make connections.


Selah has such a wide variety of symptoms and brain challenges, it’s hard to pinpoint which things to target.  Then there’s the whole cost factor.  Supplements are expensive, so I’d need to go with the most bang for the buck.  What’s most likely to make the biggest difference?  I need to prioritize.


Another factor to consider is that Selah is super picky about medicines and vitamins.  She loathes liquid medicines, yet her chewable vitamins/medicines/supplements have to be super yummy for her to chew them up and swallow them.  And there’s no disguising the liquids in foods.  She detects that technique immediately and spits it out.


So, if you have knowledge in the area of using supplements to help children who have special needs with brain function, and you have a moment to share your expertise with me, I’d sure love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment so others can benefit, but if you can’t get the commenting system to work, feel free to email me at BossYourHeart {at} gmail {dot} com.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Step Up

Many times we pray for ways to live out James 1:27, ways we can care for widows and orphans in their distress.  Many times we don’t have the funds to contribute financially, but we can pray and serve. 


But our hearts long to do more.  Much more. 


But how?  Who?  When?  Where?  We already know the why.


Today I am sharing with you a way that is one of those MUCH MORE ways to help widows and orphans in their distress. 


This is a way that I believe every single one of us can participate.


This is a $5 campaign that will make an immeasurable difference in the lives of countless orphans and widows in Guatemala.  I believe every single one of us can come up with $5/month. 


Will you STEP UP to care for widows and orphans in their distress by pledging $5 monthly?


Your $5/month contribution WILL make a difference because God multiplies our giving and provides exceedingly and abundantly more than we ask for.  He loves a cheerful giver.  He loves the least of these.  He loves to see His people STEP UP in pure religion, caring for orphans and widows in their distress.


Please read the following excerpt, written by my friend, Gina, then prayerfully consider STEPPING UP to support the Blocks as they selflessly, faithfully, cheerfully, and wholeheartedly serve the least of these in Guatemala:


Imagine with me if you will: You, your spouse and your 9 children are living a comfortable and blessed life. You have access to quality education, top-notch care and resources abound. Your family and friends are at most a short plane ride away.


And then you hear HIM. God is calling you and your family to something MORE. A life that will stretch you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually more than you can possibly imagine. Yet all that matters is this: the one small voice that proclaims “GO”.


So you quit your jobs, sell most of your possessions, say goodbye to family and friends-including your two oldest sons’-and you, your spouse and 7 of your 9 children move to a developing country 1100 miles away. You don’t speak the language and you know very few people there.


17 months ago that is exactly what the Block family did. Not knowing exactly what God had planned for them once they arrived, they KNEW they were obeying God’s call on their lives and they had FAITH. Today the Block’s serve at Village of Hope-Guatemala; a ministry they founded 7 months ago in San Lucas, Guatemala. Village of Hope exists to provide faith, family and future to special orphans with special needs, along with ministering to the local community through teaching them about the love of Jesus Christ. You can learn more about Village of Hope HERE.


Since the Block’s relocated to Guatemala, their only source of income has been provided by generous donors who have agreed to partner with the Block’s on a monthly basis. This income ensures that the Block’s needs are met and they can devote 100% of their skills and energy to the ministry. Unfortunately the Block’s have never been 100% funded which has made it difficult to meet their family’s basic monthly needs. It is time to change that.


We are stepping out in faith and BELIEVE we can have the Block’s fully funded in 1 week. We are looking for 200 individuals who would like to partner with the Block’s. For only $5 per month, and a 12 month minimum commitment (that’s only $60 for one year of support!), you have the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing at Village of Hope. You may think your $5 donation won’t make a difference. Nothing could be further from the truth.


In order to support the Block’s follow THIS LINK; select “monthly support”; select “Todd & Amy Block, Guatemala (97808) from the list of missionaries; complete the online form; click “submit payment”.


Please prayerfully consider supporting this precious family and share this need on your Facebook Walls and Blogs. We have one week to make our goal and we need everyone’s help to make that happen. Thank you!
To truly see a glimpse into the beautiful heart of the Block family, please visit their blog HERE and read their latest post.

Step Up To Support The BLOCKS

Monday, January 21, 2013

Some Joy for Your Monday

Conner has learned how to make other people laugh.  He cracks us up.  It started when he was imitating us when we would laugh about something.  I can’t adequately explain what Conner started doing to make us laugh, so if you’d like your Monday to have some extra joy in it, just watch the video below.  Happy Monday!

If you can’t see the video, click HERE to view it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chronicles of Selah

I haven’t updated things on Selah since we got back from our visit to Baltimore to see Dr. Ben Carson and other specialists at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kennedy Krieger Brain Institute.


We have a HUMONGOUS praise:  Selah is now, for the most part, sleeping through the night!!!  Selah’s brain malformations literally cause her brain to never turn off.  Ever.  So, heavy sleep medications (a cocktail of three prescription meds) is finally working to get Selah to sleep through the night.  What a blessing this has been!!!  (For those interested, Trazadone was added to Selah’s sleep cocktail.  For those familiar with Trazadone, you won’t believe that Selah, age 2, must take 50mg in order to sleep!!!!  That’s a CRAZY high dosage, but lower dosages didn’t work.)


We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Selah’s local sleep specialist.  In fact, he’s one of my very favorite of Selah’s specialists.  He just makes us feel at ease when we visit with him, and, of course, he knows what he’s doing, he’s comfortable doing it, and, praise God, he got Selah to sleep through the night!!!  (Prior to Trazadone being added to Selah’s sleep cocktail, she was still waking nightly and remaining awake for several hours and not taking any naps.)  Sleep, glorious sleep—it does a body good!


Selah wearing her big sissy’s apron.


You may recall that Dr. Carson and the psychologist at Kennedy Krieger recommended ABA therapy for Selah in order to help with her extreme mood/behavior disorder.  Well, every therapist who works (or has worked) with Selah strongly disagreed, which, of course, sent me into research mode, trying to figure out why the strong disagreement.


ABA therapy is typically used with autistic children.  While Selah has many autistic behaviors/tendencies, she has great relational skills.  She has a super sweet spirit, a desire to please, and the ability to speak and express herself.  Selah’s therapists believe that ABA therapy would actually squelch Selah’s strengths.


So, through prayer and the help of Selah’s original physical therapist (with Early Childhood Intervention), we decided to seek behavior therapy with a fabulous psychologist with our local ECI program.  Selah was discharged from ECI shortly after she turned one because she had met all her goals and we weren’t having any issues.  Since that time, Selah has developed this severe mood/behavior disorder, and we’re in desperate need of help.


Selah’s psychologist came yesterday for the first time.  Oh what hope was delivered through this loving, compassionate, empathetic psychologist.  We’re praising God for sending her.  Even if Selah’s behaviors don’t change, which we believe they will, at the very least, this woman has spoken truth and hope into Selah’s life and situation.  Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him!!!


Selah joining the big kids in a game of Twister.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen rapid global development in Selah.  She is using more vocabulary to express herself, she’s started to string words together to build sentences, and she seems to be more willing to listen to us (just a tad).  She still has an extremely difficult time sitting or staying still in any way.  Since her brain never turns off, her body needs to move.  Constantly.  That’s perfectly fine except for meal times (sitting still in her high chair) and car time (being restrained in her car seat is an absolute nightmare).


Selah’s pretty much got her daddy wrapped around her finger.  She gives him big kisses when he takes her out of her high chair during meals. Smile  Pretty hard to resist such love!



While Selah still struggles greatly throughout each day with aggression, violence, fits unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed, self-injurious behaviors, and the ability to play appropriately (with people and toys), we are seeing progress.  It might be super slow progress, but it’s progress, and we’ll take it!



Being on people’s shoulders is one of the only ways to keep Selah still and safe.  She will usually stay on shoulders for about five minutes, which is longer than she tends to anything else.  I’m so very grateful for all of our older kids who are able to help with Selah.  Everyone takes shifts, and if it weren’t for the relief of the next person taking over the next shift, I don’t know how any of us would make it through the day.  Of course, Jesus would give us the strength, no doubt, but it’s almost unfathomable. 


Even with all of us taking shifts throughout the entire day until Selah is asleep, we’re all plain ole exhausted by the time Selah’s resting peacefully in her crib.  It’s tough on everyone, but it’s worth it.  So very worth it.


Selah is an incredible blessing to our family.  Even with all of the trials, tribulations, hard work, and exhaustion that feels like the workload of 25 kids in just one Selah, we still firmly believe that Selah is a gift, a precious treasure, a blessing from the Lord.


Thank you, Jesus, for bestowing this rare and priceless treasure upon our family.  We are grateful!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Country Boy Kiefer

Our little Haitian sure is a country boy!  Kiefer breaks out into song often, most of the time singing old country tunes, which his big brother and greatest hero, Parker, loves to listen to. 


If you can’t see the video, click HERE to watch it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bossing Our Hearts

If you’re new to our blog, you’re probably not familiar with a phrase we use often, “Boss Your Heart”.  Click HERE to read why this phrase is so important to us.


In short, our Princess Chrissie, who now lives with Jesus, is the inspiration behind this phrase.  God enabled Chrissie to “boss her heart” into beating and pumping on its own when it shouldn’t have been able to.  You can read about that horribly frightening yet beautifully miraculous day HERE


After Chrissie went to live with Jesus, countless people suggested we created a ministry to carry out Chrissie’s “Boss Your Heart” legacy.  Countless people shared with us what the phrase “boss your heart” meant to them in a spiritual way (which you can read about in our Boss Your Heart book).  A precious woman of God even created a “Boss Your Heart” necklace in memory of Chrissie.

Boss Your Heart

So, the phrase “boss your heart” has special meaning to our family, as well as to many people around the world who have been touched by Chrissie’s story and legacy.


Up until this weekend, I had never heard anyone talk about bossing their hearts without referencing Chrissie.  Well, this weekend, two women posted on my Facebook wall that they had read a devotional that referenced bossing their hearts.  I was stunned to find that someone else had written about bossing hearts!


Click HERE to read a devotional entitle “Sometimes I Have to Boss My Heart Around”, written by Renee Swope, published on the Proverbs 31 Ministries site.


I read this devotional yesterday, and it almost felt surreal to read someone else’s devotional that talked about the very thing we preach daily, using the very phrase our daughter coined—“boss your heart”.  WOW!  God used this devotional as a reminder to me to boss my heart that morning, as it seemed I had woken with an ungrateful attitude, full of grumbling and griping just because I was tired.  The devo set me straight, and I bossed my heart back into submission to God’s Word.


I love when God does stuff like this—uses our very own phrase in someone else’s devo to remind me to boss my heart back into submission.  Praise Him!


Perhaps your heart needs some bossing today—mine always does!  So grateful for the legacy of our princess, reminding me daily to be the boss of my heart, not allowing it to be deceived by the world and Satan’s lies, but to be submissive to God’s Word, living in Truth.  Don’t let your situation, circumstances, and/or emotions to boss your heart.  Let God’s Word be the boss of your heart and experience the joy and freedom we have through Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday, Ella!

Ella, you are one of the greatest surprises God has ever given us!  We love you dearly and wish you an awesome 8th birthday.  And many more, our beautiful princess Cinder-ELLA!




Friday, January 11, 2013

Easy and Inexpensive Headbands

Mattie and I saw some super cute headbands at a boutique not long ago.  When we checked the price, we thought we could make about ten just-as-cute headbands for the same price.


Yep, we were right.


We bought some quilt fabric bundles at Wal-Mart that had about 5 coordinating fabrics cut into probably 1/4 yards each, bundled together to make quilt squares.  I think each bundle was about $3.


Then Mattie cut the various fabrics into strips, folded the edges under, and sewed a hem around the edges of the fabric strips.  (You could also just use that sticky iron-on hemming stuff if you don’t sew.)


Then you just tie the finished fabric strip around your head.


Voila, a totally cute headband for less than $1!

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5


Mattie got all crafty and started finding various fabric flower patterns online.  She used various strips of leftover fabrics to create all kinds of cute flowers to accent the headbands, or wear separately.


My mom had gobs of costume jewelry, so Mattie has been choosing some of her favorite pieces from her Nana and placing them in the center of the flowers.  So cute!

photo 1

photo 5

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Superheroes


Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.

~Marc Brown


I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as

the need for a father’s protection.

~Sigmund Freud



Anyone can be a father.

It takes someone special to be a daddy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

All Life is Beautiful

January is Sanctity of Human Life Month.

My heart, my soul, and my entire life have been drastically reformed by the Master over the years.  While I know He still has so much more circumcising of my heart to perform and so much more refining to do in my life, I am so very grateful that He has opened my eyes to the TRUTH regarding human life.

Until God sent us Chrissie, then Selah, then Cooper and Conner, I didn’t view ALL life the same.  For most of my life, I felt that “typical” people, those without special needs, had better lives than those with special needs.

I was so wrong.

Only the Lord could have taught me the real meaning of sanctity of human life.  He would choose to do this by entrusting me with several of the greatest treasures on earth—the least of these. The ones who were weak, forgotten, cast aside, given bleak prognoses, even the ones termed ‘not compatible with life’. 

ALL are precious in His sight.


There’s not one exception.

How do I know?

Because He doesn’t make mistakes.


Which means that every single human life is truly precious in His sight, regardless of what society might tell us.

It doesn’t matter the IQ, it doesn’t matter the ability, it doesn’t matter the diagnoses.



If you believe in the Author of Life, and believe His Word is Truth, you must forget what society tries to convince us of and cling to His Truth and His promises.  Always.  Regardless.  Period.

Nuff said.

Please take some time to peruse the short videos on the site Every Life is Beautiful.  You’ll be so blessed by the variety of messages proclaiming His Truth.  Indeed, Every.Life.Is.Beautiful. 

If you haven’t already seen the movie October Baby (rated PG-13, so use discretion with children), I highly recommend it.  Truth is told in this movie, based on true testimony. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Respite Homeschooling

It seems like overnight, God completely changed our course for 2013.  We thought we had it all figured out and 2013 would be smooth sailing without a lot of transitions and challenges.  Schedules were ironed out.  Life was settling in nicely.  Things were becoming easier since everyone has now adjusted to life with ten kids in our home.


Transitioning after a new child (or children) are added to our family is always challenging.  We have to learn a new normal, and that takes time.  As we try to figure out our new children (this time it’s Conner and Cooper, who are both non-verbal), we are also trying to figure out new schedules, new family time, new responsibilities and roles within our family.


It’s been ten months now since Conner and Cooper joined our family, and everyone has embraced our new normal.  A friend asked the other day if we were ready to adopt again.  I laughed out loud and explained that I’m not sure we’ve ever really been ready (at least not the way we’d like to compartmentalize what “ready” should look like!), but we are always willing if God asks us to (no matter what it is He asks us to do).


Nope, I’m not making an adoption announcement today, but I am sharing that God has asked us to do something we’ve never done before.


Respite homeschooling.  Is there even such a thing?  Yep, there sure is, according to what God has asked us to do.


A friend of mine, who I’ve known since high school, who lives nearby, who has a large family, and has four children who are adopted, has been struggling with homeschooling her youngest four children.  This friend of mine has been homeschooling for 17 years now, and she needs some respite, she just didn’t know how God planned to answer her prayers.


A few weeks ago, God laid it on my heart to consider offering ‘homeschool respite’ to my friend.  I discussed this with my husband first, then we discussed it with my dear friend, Stephanie, who teaches our school-aged children.  (And, yes, we still call this homeschooling, even though I’m not their school teacher anymore.  Our kids still attend school at home, and in Texas, if you attend school at home, you are called a home schooler.  Unless, of course, you’re enrolled in public school and you’re receiving home bound services for whatever reason, which is not the case for our family.  FYI, home schools in Texas are technically considered private schools, so we could technically say our kids attend private school, but that would imply that our children actually leave our home to attend a private school elsewhere, which is not the case.  Sorry for the rabbit trail!)


Anyway, Matt, Stephanie, our children, my friend, and I all prayed about this decision, and each of us felt peace that God was asking us to bring my friend’s youngest four children into our home for eight hours per day, Monday-Friday.  Stephanie will be teaching these four children, and when they’re not in school, they’ll be a part of our family.


We were concerned that our children wouldn’t like this idea because they’d have less one-on-one time with their teacher, they’d have more noise and chaos in the classroom, they’d have more kids in our home, more responsibility, and more changes in their lives. 




Each one of our kids is so very excited about this opportunity.  They blew us away with their responses when we discussed the potential idea with them.  Our kids eagerly welcomed four new children into our family, home, and school for eight hours each day.  Not one hesitation.  Not one complaint.  Not one con.  Not one excuse.  Just pure joy and authentic excitement.


The reaction of our children really impacted my heart.  Their response is exactly how Jesus wants us to respond to everything He asks of us.  He doesn’t want us to come up with excuses and disobey His callings.  He wants us to eagerly welcome the challenges He asks of us, to instantly obey His will, to respond to His adventures with pure excitement, just the way our children did when we discussed 'respite homeschooling’ with them.


When we moan and groan and think of every excuse in the world not to do what He asks of us, we miss out on His blessings.  Sure, it might not seem like there could be a blessing when He asks us to do something that seems way too challenging, but there is always a blessing in obedience.  We might not feel or see or know the blessing immediately, but there is always a blessing when we obey.


The other thing I’d like to toss out there is that three-four years ago, when God began building this ministry and He sent Stephanie to come alongside us and join us, we had NO idea where God was taking this.  We truly thought Meribeth would be the only child we would ever adopt because we felt our family was complete.  Then He sent us Chrissie, and Stephanie began teaching full-time while we were in Serbia adopting Chrissie.  Little did we know that God would send six more children for us to adopt after He sent us Chrissie, who was our fifth child, and Stephanie would wholeheartedly embrace her role as teacher in our family with a passion like none other.


See, blessings come with obedience.  God has entrusted us with ten treasures living in our home, ten blessings we wouldn’t have had if we had chosen to make excuses and disobey His callings.  God has knit our hearts together as family in a way only He can do.  He has included Stephanie and her two daughters in our family in a way only He can do.  Abundant blessings.


I must say that Stephanie is one of the greatest blessings He has sent us.  She is an amazing teacher who goes above and beyond to teach each child in the way he/she learns best.  She writes much of our children’s curricula, she loves Jesus, she weaves Truth into all subjects, and she makes each of her students feel treasured.  Stephanie has the spiritual gift of teaching, and each of her students is beyond blessed to have Stephanie as his/her teacher.


I realize this blog post is all over the place.  There’s so much anticipation, excitement, and rejoicing in our hearts right now.  We are so excited to have four new students, four blessings He is entrusting to us daily as we obey the call to provide ‘respite homeschooling’ to another adoptive family.


I encourage you today to pray for God to show you ways you can serve Him outside the box.  What might that look like?  He may ask you to do something no one you know has ever done before.  There might not be another family in the world who provides ‘respite homeschooling’, but, then again, perhaps God will use this situation to show other families something they can provide for a struggling family in need of respite, something they might not ever have thought of before.  Respite care doesn’t have to remain in a box.  Think outside the box and see how you can help a family in need today.  Perhaps you can watch a family’s children so the parents can have a much needed date night?  Perhaps you can make that commitment weekly.  Or monthly.  Or maybe it’ll just happen once, but whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability for the glory of God, for our Father who does not fit in a box.


Just a reminder:  Don’t put God in a box.


Don’t put what you can do in a box. 


Think outside the box and see where God takes you as you pray for Him to show you ways you can serve Him outside the box.  Then joyfully and eagerly obey His call without hesitation, without excuses.  2013 just might be your most exciting year yet, the type of excitement that cannot be contained in a box!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

These Feet Were Made for Walking

Today marks ten months home for Cooper and Conner.  I tend to focus on Conner’s growth when I do reports of their progress because he was the smallest and most malnourished, so today I want to focus on Cooper.  (Conner is doing amazingly well, and I’ll update on him next time.)


Unfortunately, Cooper spent the first six, almost seven, years of his life confined to a crib.  He was unable to stand or take steps due to his severe bilateral club foot, meaning both of his feet were twisted and turned inward, resembling what you’d see at the end of a golf club.

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Cooper arrived home March 3, 2012. Shortly thereafter, on March 21, 2012, we were blessed with an appointment with Dr. Dehne, a pediatric orthopedist who happens to have a special gift in repairing club feet.

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Dr. Dehne used calculations and x-ray to determine the degree of severity of clubbing in Cooper’s feet.  Both of Cooper’s feet were not only turned inward to the worst degree, but they were also twisted outward.  The photo below displays both the twisting of the foot near the ankle, plus the clubbing inward.

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On March 28, 2012, Cooper began the Ponseti casting method of repair for club foot.

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Every week for six weeks, Cooper would go see Dr. Dehne and get new casts on his feet, slowly turning the feet toward the correct positioning each week.

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The photos below were taken to display the degree of correction just ONE week after Cooper began the casting process.

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Cooper was already starting to stand with more stability after just one week of casting. He only had the opportunity to stand for a few minutes between castings, when we would let him play in the sink while we washed his legs so they didn’t get too dirty and stinky from the casts.


Cooper was such a trooper! He never fussed or complained about his casts.  For six weeks, he wore these uncomfortable casts that slowly twisted and turned his feet into the correct position.

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On May 8, 2012, Cooper underwent surgery to complete the correction process, which meant clipping both of Cooper’s Achilles tendons in three places each.

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Cooper would wear post-surgery casts for another three weeks, making it a total of nine weeks in casts.


After Cooper’s casts were removed, he was petrified of standing or using his legs in any way.

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He even “forgot” how to crawl.  (He was just afraid to use his legs.)

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But we insisted Cooper learn to use his legs, whether he liked it or not.  Yep, we’re just mean like that.

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Before long, we’d find Cooper actually standing up on his own, without our forcing him to do so.

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After many months of therapy and persistence, Cooper began to build leg strength and muscle tone.  After spending six years without using his legs at all, Cooper had zero muscle tone in his lower extremities.  Complete atrophy.  He had a lot of work to do to build that strength up.

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We are delighted to announce that seven months after Cooper’s final casts were removed (on May 31, 2012), he is finally walking independently!!!!!!!  Over the Christmas break, since Cooper was home with us 24/7, we worked diligently, many, many, many hours per day on walking independently.  It helps to have nine siblings pushing and encouraging. Smile  Sawyer (our 12-year-old son) was the one responsible for finally getting Cooper to walk without holding someone’s hand.  Watch the video below to see living proof of Cooper walking independently.



What an awesome joy and privilege to witness God’s redemption and healing of Cooper.  Don’t ever let anyone convince you that a life is not worth saving.  Cooper is such a blessing to our family, and it’s so rewarding to see how much he’s changed in just ten months home.  Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him!!!

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