Monday, February 28, 2011
My dear friends,
Today I come to you with a knot in my stomach and a plea on my heart. I know I have posted before about Olga, as well as other orphans from Reece's Rainbow. Olga's forever family has come forward. They want to adopt her. They want to bring her home. But right now they are stuck--they are being kept from their baby girl because of money. So I am here to humbly ask one more time for your help.
As many of you know, Olga's true #1 advocate through this whole process has been Patti. She wrote an unbelievably beautiful letter describing the situation and what we're trying to do about it, so if you don't mind, I'm going to let Patti tell you in her own words. Here is her letter:
So many of you already know this beautiful little face....
Olga turned five last month. She has spent the last five years in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, without the love of a mommy and daddy- simply because she arrived in life exactly as God designed her. One chromosome too many, and her fate was sealed from birth.
Sealed, because in Eastern Europe, babies who are born with Down syndrome are deemed unacceptable at birth. They are discarded as cast-offs of society, and when they turn five they leave the only home they've ever known...
And I wish I could say that for most of these children, leaving that home meant going to a place of safety, a place of happiness, a place where they would finally know the love of a family...know what it meant to be cuddled or sung to or read to, tucked in at night, prayed for, loved.
Instead, they are taken to a place that most people wouldn't leave their family pet.
A place of living hell, where they will never know the tenderness of a parent, never know the security of being raised in a family, and there they will stay, one ugly, pain-filled day at a time...until they die.
I read a post last December that stayed with me to this day. It was called from baby dolls to bedstraps.The blog author wrote about Elizabeth, an orphan on Reece's Rainbow who had been transferred to a mental institution, waiting for a family to step forward for her. Her words still haunt me.
I wonder where she thought she was going as they led her out of the orphanage that day. Did she think that maybe it was finally her turn? That they were taking her to her forever Mommy and Daddy?
And when they instead took her inside that dreadful place, when they shaved her head and tied her to a too-small metal crib
when they turned their backs and
when they left her confused, terrified,
in a room where the wails of schizophrenic adults echo through the cold air
what was going through her young mind?
Did she wonder if she was being punished?
How long did she hold out hope that this was only temporary?
That any minute, they would come and take her back to the baby house
to her baby dolls and teddy bear,
to her best friend, Angelina?
Did she long to free her arms from the restraints
to cover her head with her hands to drown out
the scary noises
the scary sights
the scary smells?
That could be my Lily….
It could be your child.
And what if it were?
What if you woke up one morning
and by some hellish, twilight-zone twist of fate
your child wasn’t still tucked into that warm bed down the hall,
what if your child was trapped
across the dark sea
in that nightmare that is
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. Proverbs 24:11
Elizabeth is being rescued today, thanks to the efforts of that blogging mama, and others like her.
Olga is being rescued today, thanks to so many of you...you gave so much and created such a large grant that a family was able to step forward and start the process of adoption.
The Abells have done so much already, towards rescuing Olga. I can't even imagine all the paperwork and prayer and emotion and finances that goes into an international adoption. They have done numerous fundraisers, and will continue to do so until they can bring Olga home.
Through the help of so many, a grant of over $13,000 has been raised for Olga's adoption. That grant is set aside for the final travel costs and fees that it will take to bring Olga home. It will take every penny of that and then some.
Right now the Abells are in need of raising the $7,000 that is needed to submit their dossier for Olga. Without that dossier we don't even know if Olga has been transferred yet. Here in America you just pick up the phone and ask these questions. But here in America we don't tie five year old girls to cribs to keep them from climbing out.
The Abells need to submit that dossier as soon as possible- at the very least to find out if she has been transferred already- because I know an army of prayer warriors who is going to want to know that piece of information as well. And at the very most, it could be able to hold Olga at the baby house until the Abells can rescue her. I wish I could say with certainty that she won't be transferred- truthfully we just don't know that.
Olga has been so heavy on my heart for months- friends, I want you to know that I DO trust that God has a plan here.
I prayed like crazy for a way to help the Abells. I truly believe that there is a network of people who love Olga here in blogland...a net that is woven by God and is stretching out across this blessed country we live in, and even beyond to generous hearts in other nations. I really cannot express enough how thankful I am to be a small part of what God has already done for Olga, Peter and Kareen. But I don't think our job is done.
Olga needs us.
I don't want her to spend one more forsaken day in that place than she has to.
We're not doing a giveaway here today. I don't even think we need to do one- I know so many just have a heart to help and to give, and prizes were never the real reason we all gave anyway.
So I'm just asking- for one day- for you to do whatever you could to help Olga. Whether that's $10 or $20 or even a hundred...if you are able to help raise this money for the dossier, please do so HERE...
This is the link for the Family Sponsorship Page on Reece's Rainbow...every single dollar goes to the Abell's adoption fund, and every single dollar will help.
We're calling this A Day to Save Olga, because there are about 17 of us blogging mamas who have set aside this day to blog, post on Facebook, pray, give and spread the word to SAVE OLGA.
Will you help us?
I know you will:)
Sunday, February 27, 2011
And all through the Zoo...
Not a creature was stirring...
Except for Roo!
This cute little guy had NO INTEREST at all in taking a nap today--and in fact, got quite a case of the giggles instead. I carried him over to my bed, where he talked and laughed for an hour before I finally got my camera out. By the time I shot this video, most of the giggling was over, but he was still having a fine time being awake. I have to tell you before you watch the video, though, that I did a really silly thing--I forgot that I was holding the camera sideways, and that doesn't work too well for videos. Bummer. But it's kinda cute anyway.
Friday, February 25, 2011
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love & trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all.
I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
I sang these words in the shower this morning. As I did, a vivid picture came to mind: I was handing things over to God—concerns, situations, people—and as He took hold of them, I pulled them back. I kept telling myself to let go, but I just couldn't—wouldn't. I didn't want to completely take them back… I wanted God's Hands on them, but I wanted mine on them too. Even as I sang, "I surrender all", I couldn't make myself—even just in my little daydream—let go of what I needed to give to Him.
So today I've been pondering surrender, and what makes it so difficult. Here are my thoughts:
Is it just my imagination…?Imagination is a fun tool, an amazing gift from God. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world, and every blessing from God can be easily twisted in our brokenness. We use our imaginations to dwell in the past and to worry about the future. The scenarios we imagine cause us to fear surrender to God, but there is an inherent flaw in that thinking. You see, when we imagine something, we are in control, not God. So God is not the one whose control we should be fearing—it's our own control that is scary! :-)
Is God good?
One of my favorite bloggers, Angie Smith, writes about the day her world turned upside-down—the day she found out that her precious little Audrey Caroline would likely never see life outside of the womb. Angie's first response was, "I think that my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked into this room." Sometimes our circumstances are bad—sometimes they are unbearable—but God remains good through it all. In fact, He alone is good: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Why would you—why would I—want anyone who falls short to be the person making the calls?
It's all about me… right?
Are you a parent? How hard is it to surrender your children to God? Many times I have told God, "I give my children over to You", only to immediately imagine (hmmmm… there's that word again!) something bad happening to them, just to teach me a lesson or test my level of "surrenderedness". What a selfish view! To think that God would allow harm to my children only to test me assumes that I am more important to God than my children are. Even though I may learn something from a difficult situation that happens with my children, husband, or others that I love, to assume that it is happening solely for my benefit (or punishment) is unrealistic and shows a rather warped view of God and the world.
In Genesis, we learn about a boy named Joseph who is sold into slavery by his own brothers. In fact, they originally intended to kill him—out of jealousy—but were convinced by their youngest brother to merely sell him. Joseph's life goes through a series of twists and turns before he finally ends up predicting a famine, then helping Pharaoh to prepare for it so that the people of the nation do not starve. He is given a position of honor in Pharaoh's court. He is essentially put in charge of the entire nation of Egypt! And before long, Joseph's brothers are among the many who come looking for food. (To find out Joseph's full story, read Genesis 37-48.) When Joseph finally tells his brothers who he is, look at how he comforts them: "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." (Genesis 45:5) He doesn't say, "Don't be distressed, because look at how successful I am now!" It wasn't all about him—God had a plan to use this man in great ways for the whole nation, but it had to start with a young boy being thrown into an empty well.
And after I spent so long thinking of why I struggle with surrender, I realized how ironic it is to struggle at all. Surrender isn't a duty—it's a gift. I hold on to my worries, thinking "What if something happens to Mr. Fantastic? To the kids?" I think, "What if the economy doesn't get better and we lose our house or the business—or both?" I worry about relationships, about money, about plans for the future. But does refusing to give those things over to God mean that they're not going to happen? Of course not. As Jesus says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27) God allows us to surrender, so that we can be free from worrying about things that are not in our control.
Surrender isn't really about giving up control—because we don't really have control anyway. Surrender doesn't mean that bad things are less likely—or more likely—to happen. Surrender is about taking a deep breath, giving up our worries, and trusting the One who is in control, the One who is good, the One who sees the big picture.
I surrender all.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Here's how my week was supposed to look…
Sunday: AM – Church
PM – Family dinner (with my side)
AM – Birthday party
PM – Movie night with my kiddos
AM – Visit with Jamey, who is home with her kiddos for a week, and another friend—neither of whom I have seen in a good 10 years
PM – Meeting for something-really-cool-that-I-have-yet-to-announce-on-the-blog
AM – Bible study, followed by playing & lunch at Chick-Fil-A
PM – Bible study for me, classes for my kiddos (which they LOVE)
Do you know how my week has actually gone?
Sunday: Sick boys. Stayed home.
Monday: Sick boys. Stayed home.
Tuesday: Sick mama. Stayed home.
AM – Sick mama. Stayed home.
PM – Sick mama dragged herself to Bible study because she had teaching responsibilities, then left early and dragged her unhappy children home to bed so that she could collapse from the utter exhaustion of actually DOING SOMETHING other than laying on the couch for 2 hours.
There is nothing like a virus to take an extremely busy week and turn it into a very boring week really fast.
Can I feel better tomorrow? Please?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Ahhhh… long weekends. I thought I appreciated them when I was a kid—no school, no responsibilities, nothing to do but play or watch TV or… whatever I wanted. I didn't think I would appreciate them as a parent, but I really really do. There is something special about getting an extra day at home with Lamb, listening to the kids play, taking a break from the standard housework to play with the kids, just because it's a "holiday."
That being said, we had a Very Busy Weekend at the zoo. And by Very Busy Weekend, and I mean that my kids wore pajamas for three days straight and we never left the house.
And actually, even though it sounds like I'm being ironical (hmmmm… I used that word to be silly, but my spell checker doesn't seem to mind it… interesting…), we actually DID wear PJs for three days straight, and we WERE quite busy.
Mr. Fantastic was home with us all weekend, which is a rare treat. Since he is self-employed and the economy sucks, he usually tries to work on Saturdays. But I woke up with a severe case of the dark & twisties on Saturday morning, so he stayed home instead. We (and by "we" I mean he…) are working on a massive garage reorg, so he spent most of the weekend out there. Meanwhile, the big kids and I did a deep clean of their room, which was MUCH needed. Oh my word. That's all I'm going to say about that.
And between my boys being sick and Lamb getting back her cough (which never seems to go away for long—let's hope we actually make it to the ENT this time before it goes away again), we kept everyone home on Sunday, too. We absolutely love our church and don't like to miss… but it was nice to have a big chunk of time where we were all home and could just enjoy… even though the kiddos didn't feel 100% well.
Roo does seem to be feeling better—thanks for your kind words and prayers. He is definitely still not feeling good—yesterday he fell asleep on my chest (which is highly unusual for him) around 1 PM and slept for three hours (also very unusual for him!), and then he fell asleep in my mother-in-law's arms about an hour early last night—but I'm not quite as concerned as I was a few days ago.
And I'm glad that he is starting to recover, because in the meantime, my precious children have managed to share all those germs with their mama. I am on night number 2 of almost no sleep, not to mention all of my actual sickie symptoms, so I envision the day ahead to involve a lot of television. Yesterday we managed to make it through the entire day with NO TV. Not that this is a major accomplishment in our house, but since I AM sick I was pretty proud of myself for keeping them occupied all day without it. But today… I surrender. PBS Kids can HAVE my kids for the day. Let's just hope that Roo takes a sudden and profound interest in WordWorld, or I'm going to have to call for back-up.
Where is my substitute mommy?
Friday, February 18, 2011
My little Roo is sick. He's actually been congested most of the winter, but a few weeks ago he developed a cough. I debated and debated about whether or not to take him to the pediatrician—I am so paranoid about him getting an ear infection that I want to take him in every time he sneezes, but I have to balance that with my complete aversion to being that mom. So I waited it out, until this week when Lamb came down with something nasty (turns out it was strep… hooray…), and I figured it would be just as easy to make 2 appointments as 1 (especially since Roo would be going with me to her appointment anyway).
The doctor, who was not our normal pediatrician, diagnosed him with a sinus infection and wrote him a prescription for amoxicillin. Two days later, we were back in the office for Monkey's 4-year well-child visit. Roo was, of course, with me, but this time his cough was significantly worse than it had been the last time. We saw our regular pediatrician this time, who (even though she was really there to check Monkey out) examined Roo again and said the amoxicillin wasn't going to do anything for Roo's cough… "That's not a sinus infection," she said, "It's RSV."
We went home with instructions to continue the amoxicillin (because it's quite possible that he also has a sinus infection), to use a cool mist humidifier (already doing that), and to suction out his nose as needed (already doing that too). By early afternoon, he was running a fever of 101.5. Why couldn't he have had that before we went to the doctor???
This morning he was still running a fever (but down to 100.8) and coughing miserably, so I called the office to find out if the temp was "appointment worthy." I was told he needed to come in if his temperature went over 102 or if he showed signs of distress in breathing. Things like wheezing, lots of chest movements when taking a breath, etc. Oh, and by the way, the cough could last 2-6 weeks. This just keeps getting better…
And then tonight… there was a wheeze. Just a little one. And not constant. Only once in a while for a few breaths at a time. But I was paralyzed.
Mr. Fantastic is out working in the garage tonight, and I think I took Roo out there 3 times to have Daddy listen to his breathing. Each time he assured me that he thinks the baby is fine. "But we'll take him in first thing tomorrow morning if you still think he needs to go," he assured me.
He's right. I know he's right. But I was still afraid. I went in and sat on the couch and just watched Roo breathe. I opened the top of his pajamas so that I could see his chest and watch it while he breathed. And even though I went to bed at 8:30 PM tonight from complete and utter exhaustion, I'm still awake 2 hours later. Because I'm afraid. And I'm really not that afraid of this thing in particular. I have a much deeper fear, one that hasn't surfaced in a few months, but that is nagging at me tonight.
I don't know if I shared this before on this blog or not, but I will share it now in the hopes that it won't be read the wrong way and that it might be helpful for someone else…
After Roo was diagnosed, I became convinced that he was going to die. I did not WANT that, but a part of me really thought that we were going to lose him. Maybe it was because my mind was trying to wrap itself around the death of the child that I thought I had before he was diagnosed. Maybe it was because my mind couldn't envision the future of Roo with Down syndrome and so it determined that there must not be such a future. Whatever the reason, I was panicked over it. I didn't tell anyone, mainly because I knew deep down that it wasn't rational and that it was just my brain going a little bit crazy with the stress and grief of it all. But I was so afraid that I was going to lose more than my hopes & dreams for Roo—that I was going to lose Roo himself.
But each day we woke up and life continued. And Roo's heart defect is a relatively minor one. And his eyesight is good. And his eating is good. And he started all of his various therapies. And winter came and he didn't get sick. And he hasn't had a single ear infection. And the fear just slowly went away, until I had all but forgotten about it.
Until tonight. Tonight, a little voice whispered to me, He's susceptible. He's small. He's vulnerable. And I was afraid. Not of RSV, necessarily. Just afraid of all of the "what ifs" out there for my sweet little Roo. What if we do have to make a 2 AM trip to the ER tonight? What if both diagnoses are wrong and it's something more serious? What if he picks up Lamb's strep virus too? What if this goes away, but next time it's pneumonia? What if, somewhere down the road, he contracts leukemia? What if… wow, once you open that door, it's not easy to shut it again, is it?
So tonight, my ears are tuned in a little more closely to the monitor—and honestly, to any sounds that may come from the big kids' room too, because once you awaken the Mama Bear, she goes into overdrive for all her cubs. But I'm taking deep breaths. I'm trying to distract myself (and failing miserably). And I'm reminding myself that the what ifs have nothing do to with the what is. And that sweet baby boy in the next room… well, he is fragile. But God gave him to me so that I could handle him with care. Care, not worry. So I'm going to care for him the best I can, and leave the what ifs to the One who knows what will be.
And I suppose if I want to care for Roo and Lamb and Monkey to the best of my ability… I should probably get some sleep...
Monday, February 14, 2011
"Mommy, how did everyone in our family get to know Jesus?"
Lamb asked this as we got in the car last night to take dinner to some friends. I explained to her that I had grown up in a Christian family, where we went to church every Sunday much like our family does now, and that I asked Jesus to be my savior when I was just 5 years old—like she is now.
Daddy then told her his story—that he didn't grow up going to church, but that he learned about Jesus when he was in college, and then became a follower of Christ.
"So…" she says as she processes it all, "Mommy's story is like most people's, and Daddy's story is kinda different."
We explained to her that Mommy's story might be similar to hers and many of her church friends', but many, many people don't grow up going to church. They learn about Jesus later in life, if at all.
"But… but we should tell them about Jesus."
Yes, we told her, that is one of God's commands to us—to tell everyone in the world about Jesus.
"I heard that a lot of people in China don't know about Jesus. When can we go there?"
Mr. Fantastic told her that he hopes we can take her anywhere in the world she wants to go when she graduates from college.
"OK," she answers, "but you'd better start getting ready now. I want to take lots of food and clothes to people who need them, and lots of stuff so we can tell them about Jesus."
Thank you, God, for this little girl who inspires us.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Something is missing from this pic... Can you tell what it is???
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Andrea Caskey said...
I love the cubes beadwoven cuff. It looks like an OSU bracelet and would go perfectly with my wardrobe. I must have it!!
Congatulations, Andrea! You have won the Honey Coils Wire Wrapped Bracelet from MonkeyBuns.
If you still feel like winning some stuff, and you want to be part of something that is very near and dear to my heart, please please please PLEASE head over to A Perfect Lily and take part in the Pure Love Giveaway. Already the giving goals for Olga and Kareen have been reached, and Peter's total is over $10,000. It is absolutely unbelievable. AND even better--all three children now have families in the process of adopting them. Can you believe it? It honestly brings tears to my eyes. Please, friends, please consider giving to this campaign. If you don't feel led to be part of this giveaway, head over to Reece's Rainbow and just learn more about the children listed there and what RR does. Pray for the kids, for the families God has intended for them, for the orphanages and institutions that currently house them.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Friday was actually Monkey's birthday, and we celebrated by having some friends over for dinner, playing, and of course cake! I tried my hand again at a cake, and I think it came out pretty well...
Big sister decided to wear her best dress to celebrate...
Monkey is hamming it up, as always...
There's a real smile!
How old are you, Monkey?
Friday, February 4, 2011
4 years + 1 day ago… I dropped my nephew's birthday present off at my brother's house. We weren't going to be able to stay for the party.
4 years + 1 day ago… I took my baby girl, just 20 months old, to her best friend's house to spend the night.
4 years + 1 day ago… I ran from the car to the ER entrance of the hospital, dragging my hubby behind me. (It was 2 degrees outside, with a wind chill well below zero. I wanted to get inside as fast as possible!)
4 years + 1 day ago… We called our parents. We waited and we wondered.
And to help us celebrate, Krystal from MonkeyBuns has donated a beautiful bracelet to give away to one lucky reader. I am completely hooked on Krystal's jewelry, and you will be too. Check out this gorgeous piece that one of you will soon be wearing…
Isn't it beautiful? The Honey Coils Wire Wrapped Bracelet is one of my favorites--and it's just one of many, many pieces from MonkeyBuns that I would like to have filling up my jewelry box. A great big THANK YOU to Krystal!
So how do you win this treasure? It's easy… Go to MonkeyBuns on Etsy and leave a comment here telling me your favorite piece. You MUST do this one first to be qualified. But you can also get an additional for any (or all) of the following:
- Become a follower of the blog (Click the "Follow" button on the right-hand side bar)
- "Like" MonkeyBuns on Facebook
- "Like" Diary of a Zookeeper on Facebook (It's new!)
- Share this giveaway and/or blog on Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social media outlets (StumbleUpon, Digg, Google Buzz, etc)
- Blog about this giveaway (leave a link in the comments)
And HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONKEY!
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Oh, and don't forget to enter the Pure Love Giveaway! In just 2 days, you have helped to raise over $5,000 for these kids! Please keep it coming! :-)
AND tomorrow we here at the zoo will be celebrating a very special birthday with a giveaway of our own. So come back, and invite your friends! :-)
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
For this morning, though, I want to talk to you about giveaways. I am actually hoping to do at least one more giveaway this week, BUT my original plan has changed a bit. I had 3 $10 Starbucks gift cards that I had planned to give away here over the next couple of weeks. It would have been fun. But now they are a small part of a much, much bigger and better giveaway. You still have a chance to win them, and even better, you have a chance to make a difference.
Do you remember Patti, whose daughter Lily has Down syndrome? Over the past few months, Patti has become a wonderful advocate for orphans with Down syndrome. She is probably quite tired of hearing me use the word "amazing" in reference to her, but just wait until you hear what she is doing now. Starting today, Patti is hosting the Pure Love Giveaway. My friends, you HAVE to check this out. Here are just a few of the prizes you could win...
- an iPad (with accessories)
- a Nikon SLR camera (I want this so bad I can taste it!)
- a beautiful pair of diamond earrings
- more jewelry
- hats, clothes, and accessories for your kids
- and more!
But really, the best part is not what you can get, but what you can give. Patti's giveaway is once again centered around raising money for international orphans with Down syndrome--and specifically, these orphans...