I've been spending a lot of time in thought and prayer for Ally's first mom. I'm sure that Ally's birth mom still thinks of her and she probably still misses her and I have been praying for her heart.
Even if she feels that she made the right choice. Even if, on the outside, she has moved on. She carried Ally for nine months and gave birth to her and cared for her at the beginning of her life. That isn't a small thing. An invisible bond exists between them.
She may not have wanted to give Ally up. She may regret it someday. She may regret it now. So I pray for her often.
I pray for Ally's heart too and we give her extra love to help heal her loss. God seems to be working in her heart. We continue to see growth and healing. She seems content and happy and she trusts more and more.
Ally needed a new mom and God gave the job to me. I am humbled by the awesome responsibility of nurturing and loving another woman's child. I love being Ally's Mom. She is my little girl now and every day I thank God for her and for the blessing she is to our family.
I promised to update on how our little Ally-girl is doing. She's doing so well that it's hard to believe that she's been here less than a year.
She's still such a tiny girl, but she was such a baby when she came home and she is looking less and less like a baby and more and more like a big girl. Her hair has grown out and is shiny and beautiful, although she still doesn't like having her hair done.
She still sleeps and eats well. Overall, she's an easy-going little sweetheart.
Her favorite thing is being included. She loves sitting with everyone else and doing whatever they're doing. She now cries if I leave the house without her or sometimes she'll even sit outside the bathroom door and cry...poor little one. But I'm glad that she's learning to express her feelings.
One night we had a fire at my dad's house and everyone was roasting marshmallows. She wouldn't eat a marshmallow and I'm not sure she understood exactly what they were doing with them, but she wanted one on a stick. It didn't quite reach the fire, but she sat as happy as can be "roasting" her marshmallow.
She's had a great fall so far. She enjoyed a trip to orchard and loved seeing the animals and having donuts and cider after all the fun.
We're really looking forward to Ally's first Thanksgiving and Christmas here at home. She is such a blessing to our family and we thank God for her every day.
I have a lot going on right now, and my blog has fallen by the wayside for the last few weeks, but I had a reason to stop and do a quick post. My friend Sharon at Dear Little Girl of Mine awarded the Liebster blog award to our humble, little blog. Thank you, Sharon!
The purpose of the award is to share blogs with others. I've been given 10 questions to answer and then I pass the award along to 2 other blogs.
1. Why did you start blogging?
When we were looking into adoption we were so encouraged and inspired by other families' blogs. Just reading about other adoption journeys and following along until children were settled into their new families was so great. When we decided to adopt, I wanted to share our story in hopes of encouraging others.
2. What post on your blog is your favorite?
Our Secret Treasure is probably my favorite. Our first trip to visit Ally was a life-changing experience and this was a day I'll always remember.
3. How did you choose your blog's name?
Early on, I felt that Isaiah 45:2 (the verse at the top of my blog) was given as a promise for our adoption.
4. What are your hobbies?
Do laundry and cooking count? I really do like cooking and would consider that a hobby. Reading. I occasionally have time to crochet, I used to make soap and sew a little bit. I love to garden, but only have a small flower garden right now.
5. What made you decide to adopt a special needs child?
We learned that children with SN are institutionalized in some countries and, at this time, their only hope is adoption. After learning that some countries allow large families to adopt, it was something that we prayed about and then we stepped out in faith to do.
6. What's your favorite book?
I really can't pick a favorite. I haven't had time for fiction in years. Besides the Bible I read Oswald Chambers every day and I love other Christian authors who take deep truths and make them clear and easy to grasp. I also love Christian biographies. 7. Approximately how many blogs do you read each week?
I have about 5-6 blogs that I check daily and I have another dozen or so that I check weekly.
8. What is your favorite room in your home?
My favorite room is my kitchen. I spend an unreal amount of time in my kitchen. Every day my teen/adult children sit on the barstool while I'm working. I make them an iced coffee and we talk. Often someone turns on the kitchen radio and a little one will walk in and grab my hand to dance. It's the primary place where the day to day is lived and food and memories are made.
9. What is your favorite season?
Definitely summer is my favorite...warm and carefree. I love it when the trees are finally full and green and it's warm and the kids play outside. I love it when shoes are optional and it only takes a few minutes to get ready to go anywhere. 10. What is one of your favorite movies?
I love historical/biographical movies. One that I love is Amazing Grace (about William Wilberforce).
The two adoption blogs that I've chosen to pass this award along to are: The Road Less Traveled
and Hearts Toward Home. I love both of these blogs and have been encouraged by the stories of their adoption journeys as well as their posts about family life.
Here are their 10 questions.
1. What led to your decision to adopt a child with special needs?
2. In what ways did God let you know He was with you during your adoption process?
3. What is your favorite childrens' book?
4. What is your favorite dessert?
5. If you had a whole day to yourself, what would you do?
6. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
7. Do you have one piece of advice or encouragement for other adopting families?
8. What is your favorite holiday?
9. What is your favorite post on your blog?
10. How many months were each of your adoptions from start to finish?
Today, Miss Alayna celebrated her first birthday home! We kept things simple and low-key. We didn't want to overwhelm her and just wanted to celebrate our sweet girl.
She doesn't like sweets. When offered cake or cookies or candy, she refuses as if she doesn't regard it as food. She has eaten ice cream and she loves plain cones, so we decided to have ice cream cones.
She loved having everyone sing to her. When we clapped, her face lit up and she clapped too.
She needed help blowing out her candles and in the end she didn't want the ice cream and just wanted a plain cone, but she was happy.
She loved her presents and her balloons and loved being the star of the show.
We are so thankful to celebrate the day she was born. We so thankful that she was born and that the Lord kept her and planned for her to be our daughter.
Even though she's tiny, and a stranger would never guess that she's 4, she is getting big and doing so well. I have an update post planned for soon!
We live about an hour from Lake Michigan. Our family has a tradition of going to the beach at the beginning of September. We pick the first warm day after Labor Day, when most everyone goes back to school, and we take off to enjoy a very uncrowded beach.
This was Ally's first trip to the beach. I thought she was going to absolutely love it. Here's her first impression.
After letting us know that she did not like the sand on her feet, she sat on a blanket and had a snack and got used to the sand, the sound of waves and wide open space.
After a while I sat her on the edge of the blanket with a shovel and pail. She loved filling the pail with sand.
Later we moved her down near the water and let her see the difference between the warm, dry sand and the cool, wet sand. She enjoyed filling the pail again.
She eventually helped with the sand castles and enjoyed watching the waves and sea gulls. She ended up having a great time.
It was a perfect day to play and relax...
To breath deep and enjoy the beauty God created.
The perfect way to capture the last little bit of summer.
Recently, my children and I were reading that man's primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
I used to think that in order to glorify God that my life needed to be a success. Whatever I did, I needed to do it really well. People always said that "God will never give you more than you can handle", so I got the idea that I should be able to handle my life and do things well, and then always give God the glory.
Well, that hasn't exactly been my real-life experience. I can look back to a point when I did, for the most part, have a handle on things and I can remember spiritually where I was at the time. Then I surrendered my entire life to the Lord and told Him my life was completely His and things began to get interesting.
Some of the books I had read for Christian women when I was younger had given me the idea that since God is a God of order and beauty that I should be able to reflect that by having a beautiful, orderly home. I got the idea that a good Christian wife/mother would have a peaceful, clean, quiet home where everyone could find refuge and rest from the harsh world.
I cannot even begin to tell you how that has not been my real-life experience.
My experience has been that of being called to do way more than I can possibly do gracefully.
The Lord has filled my house with children. The Bible says they are a blessing...and they really are. They have eternal value. They are created in the image of God. They are amazing, funny, precious, huggable little people.
As true as all of that is, it's also true that they are noisy and messy. It takes them years to learn to control their emotions and their bodily functions. They fight, they demand their way, they demand to be heard. You really need four or five little ones all within a couple years in age to get the full effect. It's something.
I really do love it, but this life I've been called to is bringing me to the end of myself. It's tiring. It's humbling.
I would love for it to be beautiful, orderly and peaceful. Some days I would just love it to be somewhat civilized.
I would love to do an amazing job and have it all together. Oh, how I would love that. But then maybe I would get glory. Of course, I would say that it was all the Lord and give Him the credit, but perhaps all the while, I would burst with pride and bask in the wonderful sense of my own accomplishment.
I remember reading a devotion about the very end of our Lord's life on earth and how it must have been viewed as a complete failure. It was brutal and gut-wrenching. It left his friends and family heart-broken.
But how that sacrifice brought glory to God!
It is by His blood that we are saved. The sacrifice of His life through the shedding of His blood is what redeemed us. It wasn't neat and tidy.
Obedience. Sacrifice. Laying down our lives for others brings glory to God.
God may call us to a life that looks foolish to others. We may not be able to always do it with beauty and grace, but if we show up and do our best, our obedience and sacrifice, even if it looks like a chaotic mess to others, will be beautiful to the Lord.
Orphaned children in Eastern Europe with serious disabilities end up in mental institutions, but orphans without special needs are "graduated" when they are still teens and often end up alone with very few options.
The Bible Orphan Ministry shared a story last week about a teen named Olga. She was in an orphanage for children with mild disabilities, even though she doesn't seem to have any. She did well in school and graduated and then had to leave the orphanage.
She was sent out into the world to fend for herself, but because she was in an orphanage she can't get a job. She'd like to attend a trade school to learn a skill, but every school rejected her except one.
The school that accepted her would teach her skills so she could get a job working in a bakery, but she can only attend if she pays her tuition and living expenses to stay there.
She doesn't have the money and only has a few days before the deadline.
Olga is a Christian. She loves the Lord and prays for help. She has a little hope, but she needs help!
Let's help her. Please go to BOM's blog and read Olga's story.
Please consider helping. Please share Olga's story. If we share her story and enough people help in the next few days, we can make a difference.
She'll be able to go to school. She'll have something to work toward, she'll have a place to live and food for the school year, and she'll have her heart encouraged that other Christians cared about her and reached out to offer real help.
Without this chance, Olga doesn't have much hope. It is hard for us to even imagine.
Our son, Andrew has been back from Ukraine for 2 weeks and he's had a lot of stories to share. It is clear that these young people who grew up in orphanages have a very hard time just meeting the very basic needs of food and shelter. Jobs are hard to get for anyone, but even harder for orphans.
She only has 4 days to raise the money to sign up for school. August 31 is the last day.
Please share her story. Please help.
UPDATE: The Bible Orphan Ministry was able to enroll Olga into school on the very last day! 4 months worth of tuition/room and board expenses were raised. She was able to move to the same town as the BOM lives. She will be able to go to church and be near Christian friends. She has a new chance at a new life. She still needs money for the rest of the year. If you feel led to help, she still needs several months of tuition and expenses. If you could keep praying for her, that would be great. She's a very sweet girl.