Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our Precious New Daughter Leeann

We have some exciting news to share with all our blogger friends out there :). Many of you who know us well, know all about what we are going to share in this blog, but some of you don’t. For personal reasons, we were unable to post anything about Leeann until now. My husband Derek is going to be the one posting Part 1 and 2 of “Our Precious Leeann!”

Our Precious Leeann – Part 1

Last November Renee and I were waiting anxiously for an invitation to travel to Ukraine and begin our adoption of Sasha, Ethan, and Silas. At that time I was traveling three weekends a month, speaking and leading worship at conferences, churches, and houses of prayer. Because of that, I was home only one Saturday a month on the weekends. My rare and precious day to sleep in and kick back ... Ahhh. Well I got out of bed and went into the kitchen with the words “french press” on my mind. In a lifting fog, I groped for the coffee beans and grinder. As the the grounds met the boiling water in that urn of life and delightful caffination, the aroma began to rise and awaken my senses. I was inhaling this celestial mist when Renee and her mom entered the kitchen with suspicious looking grins on their faces. I’ve seen that look before on Renee’s face. It always means she is plotting to sneak another child into our family. I looked at her and said, “What are you up to?” She said, “Honey, just listen to me before you react”. Uh oh. That never sounds good. She proceeded to tell me that her brother Terry had called her from the Marshall Islands, and that there was a beautiful and precious 13 yr old girl that he knew who was in a very difficult place. Terry wanted to get her out of the country and to safety. He wanted to know if we knew any family at IHOP that may be willing to take her in. Through a nervous laugh Renee asked, “Honey, why don’t we just bring her into our family?” I reacted through a more nervous laugh.... “Are you crazy?” We are about to go to Eastern Europe and bring in three boys with special needs. Stop it! Leave me alone. I haven’t even had my coffee yet, and besides this is my one Saturday off every month and you’re meddling with my serenity.” She laughed and said I could drink my “joe” in peace and she’d check back later. As I sat drinking my coffee I started thinking about the fact that we did have one child who had their own bedroom, and we could easily put bunk beds in that room and have two kids in there. I thought about James 4:17 - Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. Man, that James guy is always messing with my life. I guess that comes with being the brother of God in the flesh. I believe that when we know that we can act and do good, and the way is clear to us (not easy, but clear), then if we don’t do it, we are in sin. I could see how we could bring in Leeann, make her our daughter and help her ... if I didn’t act, it would be sin. Within 10 minutes, I called Renee into the kitchen and said, “Ok, let’s call your brother and tell him we want Leeann. If he can get us custody, I will buy her plane ticket and get her here.” We then called Telma into the kitchen and welcomed her to the ministry. After some pastoral care (ha), she was onboard and willing to share her bedroom. :-) We called Terry and told him and he excitedly began to work hard on getting the proper paperwork in order. Well, three weeks later Leeann was on her first airplane flying over the Pacific ocean bound for Kansas City, IHOP-KC, and her first forever family. We were all very excited about this precious new daughter of ours!

Our Precious Leeann – Part 2

After purchasing Leeann’s airline ticket and making all the arrangements for her to come and be our new princess, we received our invitation from Ukraine and our appointment with the department of adoption in Kiev. Leeann was scheduled to land in Kansas City on December 3rd. We couldn’t believe it when we saw that our appointment date in Kiev was set for Dec 5th. This meant that we had to fly out of Kansas City on the morning of Dec 3rd. I thought, “Man Lord, You are bringing us children so fast, we can’t even meet them at the airport.” This was hard because we so badly wanted Leeann to know how excited we were to have her, we wanted to welcome her with a big celebration and a million hugs and kisses, flowers and chocolates. Fortunately, Leeann knew Renee’s mom and our daughter Telma. We also have lots of family in KC and they did a great job of meeting her at the airport, welcoming her into the family and making her feel loved. Our first trip to Ukraine lasted three weeks and we arrived home on Christmas eve. What an awesome Christmas present was waiting for us! An amazing, sweet, precious, and beautiful new daughter! It doesn’t get better than that. It has been such an incredible joy to have Leeann in our family. She has blended right into our crazy family and all her sisters absolutely adore her. Less than two months later we returned from our second trip to Ukraine with the three boys. What is so amazing to me is to see the way Leeann loves on them. She is an incredible big sister. It blows me away to look at our children who were suffering abuse and/or neglect in totally different parts of the world and see them together laughing and dancing and loving one another. It’s like catching a glimpse of that day when all tribes, nations, and tongues will be gathered together into one family, and they will sing together of the great love of the Father, who redeemed them from the ends of the earth. Now that will be something!

Below, are some pictures that Leeann's Aunt sent to us of Leeann! Thank you so much Mina! They are just beautiful! I also, want to thank my brother-in-law, Terry, and his wife Amy, along with Leeann's Aunt Mina, for all they did to care for Leeann and to help get her here to us. You guys are amazing! We love you and pray for you daily as you work so hard to help the people of the Marshall Islands! God bless you guys!

Leeann (on the far left), singing in a Christmas program at her church

Leeann with her friend and her cousin, dressed in uniform, preparing to sing in a program at church

Standing in front of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean

Just look at those beautiful eyes!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Beautiful And Amazing Telma is 18!!!

It's hard to believe that only 6 and 1/2 years ago, Telma came into our lives! Many of you know her personally and know what a gift she is to us and to many others! It's hard to sum up how proud we are of our precious daughter! Telma still has a real heart for the poor and she loves reading about Mother Theresa and her work in India. She wants to work with the poor one day. Right now, she's enjoying helping to care for her three new brothers and is still digging deep in the Word of God!

When Telma came into our family, she was almost 12 and tested at a 1st grade level. She's completed 2 years of schooling for every year she's been here. She recently took her SAT's and scored amazingly high! She has worked very, very hard in school
and her last day is this Friday! She is officially graduating from High School! I just want to honor her in this post and tell her how very proud her daddy and I are of her. We love you Sweetheart and we are amazed at all the Lord has done in your life! We can't wait to see some of the awesome plans that God has ahead for you! You are so precious and we love you!!! I can't believe you're 18! Our sweet girl is growing up so fast.

We love you Telma (Meemers)! You are so precious to our hearts!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Favorite Time Of The Day

Every morning after we've all woken up, eaten and gotten dressed, we meet together at 7:30AM for devotions. It's my favorite time of the day. All 12 of us (including my mom) gather and sing and read the Word together. We drag out all the instruments in the house, including the toy instruments and most everyone plays something. There are toy pianos, flutes, recorders,tamborines, toy drums, shakers and Derek is on the guitar leading us all. I think he's the only one who is playing in tune. It can get pretty hilarious but it's awesome at the same time! Ethan is the only one who hasn't seemed like he's been engaged during our time together. He would just sit on one of our laps and look straight ahead. Last week when Derek picked up his guitar and began playing, Ethan crawled across the floor and rested his head on Derek's leg, totally engaged. He was watching Derek sing and he was looking at the guitar strings. It's been so precious and amazing to see the changes that Ethan's made! I just had to post these pictures for you to see. We are so thankful to Jesus for all the amazing work he's doing in Ethan's mind and body. It's truly a miracle! We were told by the doctor in Kiev Ukraine, where we adopted him, that Ethan would always be a very low functioning down syndrome child. Looks like the Master Physician has another plan for his life!

I have to brag on our daughters now! There has been so much attention given to our boys by friends and family, welcoming them home. We've been so blessed by the outpouring of love our three boys have received! Our whole world has been changed by these three little guys. Our girls love their three new brothers but have definitely given up some of the attention they were getting before. Don't get me wrong, Derek and I make sure that we are still spending quality time with our girls and that they are not suffering in any way in regards to our time with them, but, they definitely have given up some of the normalcy that we've had together, to help with their new brother's needs. Derek and I feel so blessed to have the daughters that we do. They are absolutely amazing! Sometimes I just stand back and watch them, how they interact with each other, and with their brothers, and it just blows my mind. They are all so beautiful, inside and out and I just want to say, "I love you girls and I'm so proud of all you are!"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It's A Choco Puddin Day!

After seeing the nurtritionist at Children's Mercy Hospital, we were told that among the things that the boys needed to eat as a treat, was pudding. After the boy's afternoon nap, we drug out the chocolate pudding and here's proof that the boys had a great time with this new treat.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rock On Silas!

Silas passed out in his shark tent!

Sasha and Silas campin out together

One of our little guys that we recently adopted from Ukraine named Silas, loves to rock, his body that is :). The problem is this. When he rocks, his head bangs against anything that's behind him. This doesn't seem to phase him a bit! I think God must have designed him with an extra hard head. I'm always running around repositioning him so he doesn't hurt himself.

Our daughter, Michaela bought the boys a shark tent with money she had saved to buy them a present. Silas absolutely loves this tent. When he's inside it, guess what he does? He rocks of course! The cool thing about him rockin in the tent is that he doesn't hurt his head. In fact his rocking makes it looks like his shark tent is swimming. It's a pretty funny sight to see the tail of the shark swaying back and forth! He actually rocks himself to sleep at naptime sometimes, as you see in one of the pics above!

There is never a dull moment around here! I love it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Pictures

I wrote a post with an update down below this post if you'd like to catch up with what's happening. I just wanted to post a few more pics for you all to see how healthy the boys are looking! We are so excited about all the positive changes. A good diet, lots of love and tons of prayer will do wonders!!!

Latest Update On The Boys

DJ Sasha! He loves his music!!!

Brother Sasha and Sissy Michaela lovin on each other

Big sister Teyolla, holding Ethan and Silas (check out the peace sign from Ethan :)

Silas enjoying his after tubby time in his froggie towel

Friday, Derek and I took Ethan and Silas to Chidren's Mercy Hospital. We were there the entire day while many different tests were being performed on the boys. The most important test being an echocardiogram done on each of them. Both Silas and Ethan have a hole in their heart. The hole in Ethan's heart is not serious and he will be fine. Silas' on the other hand, is very serious and will require heart surgery in the Spring or early Summer. We are waiting to hear back from the panel of doctor's discussing Silas' case. Ethan and Silas will begin going to Orthopedic Therapy and Physical Therapy this week. We are excited that they got in to see all the specialists so quickly.

Sasha is doing great! He is so happy! He's eating very well and isn't acting out with fits of anger like he did in the beginning. He still has his moments but we are working through those times with him, as best we can without knowing how to speak Ukrainian. He seems to have much less fear at night as well. We are so pleased with how far he's come in such a short time. We've only been home with the boys for less than a month and the changes are all posititve! Praise God!

We'll keep ya posted! Thanks to all of you who have faithfully continued to pray for our boys. We are so humbled by your love and your kindness!

May God wrap you in a blanket of His love today!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Precious Little Silas

Today we were at the doctor's office for the whole day.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Yay For Good News!!

Today we took all three of our precious boys to the doctor's office for check ups and thorough exams. As you know, Ethan went in to the doctor's a week ago and had gained 4 pounds since we brought him home. When we took him to the doctor's in Ukraine, he was 9 pounds. When we got him out of the orphanage and took him to Kiev to complete paperwork for his Visa, then got him home to the U.S., he was 11 pounds. Last Friday he was 15 pounds at his check up. Today he weighed 18 pounds! The doctor was quite impressed with his growth. She even said he looks ten times better. She checked his lungs and the pneumonia has completely cleared up and he is breathing very well. She also said that she thinks he can wait a little bit for his heart surgery. We were so excited about this great report!

Silas, Ethan and Sasha all had to have 4 shots each today because there were no medical records showing whether or not they had received any immunizations. They all had blood drawn too. Sasha was the first in line. He was terrified when he saw the needles but felt nothing since they gave him the shots in his legs (he's paralyzed). Later in the morning he had to have blood drawn from his arm and he cried and cried... poor little buddy. Silas was up next. He was completely hysterical. When the needles first went in to his legs, it took his breath away. He turned completely red and held his breath, then let out a real loud scream. Bless his heart. When Ethan got his shots, he yelled out a couple times and then he was fine! Wow, what a big boy!

On top of the great doctor's visit, we got to see a pic of our brother and sister-in-law, John and Tracie, at the orphanage with their new angels! How awesome to finally see them all together. We took many pics with their little Aiden while we were at the orphanage and we even played peek- a -boo with their new little girl! How fun is that! I can't wait to hold these angels in my arms again, here at home. We are so thankful that Aiden was there waiting for them and had not been moved like many of the children had. The Lord is amazing and He never ceases to blow my mind with his love and goodness!

I'm so thankful for all the Lord is doing in all our precious little ones. He is faithful! Thanks again to all of you who have been praying!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Silas Has The Chicken Pox!

Sophia snuggling her precious little brother, Silas (who is now covered with red dots.... a picture of that to come)

Michaela, doing her part to fatten up her 5 year old brother Ethan!

Well folks, now Silas has the Chicken Pox and is covered in red dots, bless his little heart! He's not the happy little Silas we know. He threw up on me several times on Sunday in the middle of church (peaches and bananas everywhere). We didn't know that our pastor would be calling us up on stage. I was just getting Silas ready to go home when we were called up on stage. I had vomit on the sleeve of my jacket and running down my pants. I quickly brushed off the chunks of bananas and peaches and walked up front calmly as our new little fellas were introduced. It was humbling but hey, it's all about the boys, not me :). All three of our little guys have doctor's appointments on Friday. Other than the pox, things are going well for our three little ones. Ethan is still eating like a horse! Can't wait to see if he's putting on more weight when he gets weighed on Friday. We will know soon when Ethan and Silas' heart surgeries will be scheduled.

Please keep Sasha in your prayers. He has anger and fear issues, which is understandable with all he's been through. He scratches his face (just clipped his nails again today) and yells out. He loves to be held and loves to play with the CD player.
He turns the volume up and down and sways back and forth to the music. Sasha has been terrified of our doggies but is just now starting to be ok with petting them. He usually just says, "Go bye bye doggies, go bye bye!" He is such a precious little guy and we are praying that the Lord will massage his little heart and bring him to a place of joy and peace.

We are so excited because our sister-in-law, Tracie and Derek's brother John, are in Ukraine right now, getting ready to meet their two new angels tomorrow. They will be adopting one boy and one girl. We are so excited about all the Lord has in store for these precious ones. Walking with Jesus is such a grand adventure!

Thanks for your patience on the pictures we promised to post. We really will be posting some soon. We've just been overwhelmed with getting everything on a new schedule. It's going great but WOW! Need I say more?

Love and blessings to you all!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Update On The Boys

Precious Ethan, covered with chicken pox!

Beautiful Sasha (just look at those eyes)!

Sasha loves tubby time! His sisters love to play with him!

Teyolla lovin on Silas!

Telma loves her new little snuggler!

Our little Ethan has pneumonia, a very enlarged heart and a hole in his heart. He is scheduled to see the doctor again on Friday morning. We will be consulting with a specialist to have a date set for surgery on his heart. We will have more updates after our visit with the doctor. Thanks to all of you who have been praying. This little one has been through a lot and on top of all that he's dealing with physically, he contacted the chicken pox from the orphanage he was in. Most of the children in the orphanage had chicken pox when we left Ukraine. We would appreciate your continued prayers.

Ethan weighed 11 pounds at 5 years old when we first arrived home from Ukraine a little over a week ago. After one week at home, he weighs a whopping 15 pounds!! We are excited about this and thanking the Lord for helping him to gain weight! Ethan still can't suck so we have to give him water and juice through a dropper. He's a good eater though and is showing improvement daily!

Silas is just Mr. Happy, all the time! He loves to dance, sing and play all his new little instruments! He's eating well, no problems at all, and enjoying all the love that he is getting from his new family! He has a doctor's appointment this Friday as well and we will be able to update you on whatever challenges lay ahead for this precious little angel!

Sasha would take over the house if he could. He is so funny. He loves to tell us what to do, even though it's all in Ukrainian. He's eating fairly well. Meal time can get pretty noisy around here, especially if Sasha doesn't like something. Sasha loves anything electronic and we are sure that one day he will be a scientist or an engineer! He is so bright! He loves to dance (with his arms, his legs are paralyzed). Our daughter, Teyolla has been teaching him a few smooth moves!

Our daugthers have all been amazing! They love caring for their brothers and loving on them. I love their hearts for these
little ones. Our three boys will never lack for love!

As soon as things get a little calmer around here, we will be updating all of you on what the end of our time in Ukraine was like. It was quite an adventure! We have lots of pictures to share with you too!

Thanks again to all of you who have been praying! It's making a difference!