Answers for Ashley

The satisfaction of an orphan set free is not completely breathed until that child is set  free into the arms of capable parents. Today though something amazing happened. Not an orphan home, yes…somewhere I’m sure there is an orphan who is seeing the doors of their waiting cell close behind them forever, but that isn’t Ashley’s story today. In Eastern Europe she still waits, a friend of hers is meeting their family for the first time and brought this preschooler something. It wont set her free, but it will set in her crib at night for her to snuggle with. I’m the one who bought that toy. Ashley-Photo-6-May-2013-2-236x300I wish I had taken a picture of the process of choosing it, or of us putting the toy horse into the smallest postal box that we could find to mail to Kentucky to have taken in a suitcase all the way over the ocean to a country where I have no way of knowing if I will ever go. We were given the opportunity to send a present to this little girl that my daughter particularly loves among the number of orphans that she’s seen online photo listings. When I explained as best I could on how we’d get a gift to Ashley she ran down to the playroom and quickly retrieved a favorite stuffed toy and pushed it into the box. I pulled it out to have a look and found that the stitching was thin in a few places and the face was quite faded. My daughter was quite sure that she wanted to send a toy of her own rather than buy one but came up with nothing that I thought was in good enough shape to send an orphanage that ought to have years of use out of. We agreed on a toy and went to the store where we had bought it a few months ago to see if we could find a double. It wasn’t there.  In the end, it was me and my youngest that chose a toy, bought the card and mailed the box because my 5 year old couldn’t decide. The chose was made based on the size of the box and between two toys which a two year old grabbed for 1st. And that was it. We bought a brown 9 inch tall stuffed horse with a tan mane and bead black eyes, it’s gorgeous, as far as stuffed animals go. I sent it right away because I knew the chances of my kids wanting to keep it were significant. My dream to adopt has been quieted. But there’s little ever that will matter more that believing that this is real, there is pain and there is a little piece of peace that can be had. Cath sang about going to sleep, now Ashley has a toy to hold when she has to be quieted too. She doesn’t know that she’s holding on waiting for a family, but hopefully the Lord has plans for her to receive a family some day. I hope that there will be answers for Ashley someday. Answers of a family who gives her more than a horse, perhaps a home for her and her horse.  If you don’t care about orphans enough to think that they’re people who should be reached out to in these little ways, I can’t convince you or defend myself if you’re going to tell me that I just sent a toy to make myself feel better. Looking at the face of that little girl who has only 1194.25 towards a $35K adoption, I do wish I could do more but this is something that she has to have and to hold until it’s stitches fall out…or until it gets lost in the laundry and another child gets it. Moral of the story for the moment, if you get the opportunity to give in the tiniest way it just might mean a lot to someone so if you can do it, certainly do.


Happy birthday, Mommy!

946402_241348532687674_1813481383_nThere are a number of moments in motherhood that say, “It’s OK, you’re doing OK.” I get those when my kids give me a fist full of dandelions and tell me that it’s a gift or make me a drawing at school. Mothering is a sacrifice, it’s humbling and just the most incredible thing that ever you could be gifted with here on Earth. If you’re a mama you know that your birthday is one of those incredible times to get buried in kisses and snuggles and I’d just love for that to happen for a dear mother today…Her turn will come.

I remember in New Moms Network we had a discussion question back in 2005 when my oldest was 3 months old that will never leave me, “When was the first moment that you really felt mother to your child?”

I went home so depressed because I didn’t know. It actually has nothing to do with giving birth, some say it does and you can convince yourself of anything but that wasn’t it for me. Yes, lots of pain. But my bond was much more of a still small voice as is my whole relationship with this particular son. Stephani, the mom who celebrates her birthday today is dreaming of what her relationship will be like with her daughter who has no idea that there is a mom for her. Jesus knows, but this child does not. We’re talking about the miracle of adoption for Zola.

But the truth is, you do not need to give birth to a child for that child to be your daughter or your son. After all, we are adopted into Christ’s family.

When my newborn infants eyes are for my breast and their need is for me, I know who I am, but if I were to die, someone else could feed and clothe them. The hours that I spend with that child, nurturing and learning together those times bring us close and our bond has become incorrigible.

I would not exchange any one of my children for anything in the world. My days after my second child were so busy. Pulling fights apart, balancing wills and attentions. But through thie tense moments that siblings have, there has always been love and that goes back to mom. It begins with her and proceeds through to the children who live with each other and make up the family.

As my children come to me to share with me their achievements and desire my appreciation for the growth that they have made as individuals and as respond to that is the fulfillment and continuation of my necessary role life goes on and we grow together that’s just the way time slips by and the reason mama’s take pictures–to save those moments!

Saturday April 4th, 2014 a very special mama turns 28. Her name is Stephani Obenauf.

I only know her through the adoption community, but hope that if it weren’t through that we would have met otherwise since she seems like a really cool person. The first line of her bio is, “Stephani always wanted to be a mother.” Me too! Whatever it took, I actually really hoped adoption would be a part of God’s journey for me and have that yet to be revealed. Continuing into Stephani’s story beyond the desire to be a mom is a terrible loss that is the deepest fear of all moms who have one on the way, “stillborn” This mom’s little one missed knowing her mom here on Earth. I’ve lost a baby too, mine in 2006. Stephani’s daughter Emma would be the same age now as my son Willie who is such a treasure to my life. Zola, Stephani’s daughter who is in Eastern Europe right now is two years younger than the baby that went on ahead–both little girls born years that I had children.

My world is all about my children and I have a pretty good idea that the same is true for Stephani’s heart which is why as Stephani is turning 28 on Saturday I’m talking motherhood because birthdays are about celebrating yourself and what God’s given you and motherhood is a very special gift that he has given Stephani. While neither of her daughter’s are here to write her notes in crayon, as I have and you may also, I know all this mom wants right now is to have Zola where she belongs, which is home in Michigan.Zola-Photo-2-Apr-2013-267x300

Truly the best way that you can help is to give financially and to offer up to heaven a happy prayer of thanks. Thanks for another year and a spirit to press forward. Cheers to adventures and not too many disappointments. This mama knows that the road to a child through adoption is not perfectly clear and has to have a heart strong for whatever may come. Love from your daughter no doubt. She has no idea that you’re coming for or the fun that she has in store! I’m so excited for your future together.

By the way, I lost sleep over that question in New Moms Network and stick with my thought then these years later as I’m coming up on my son’s eight birthday as we’re working through epilepsy together. I had to share with the group on the next meeting a whole week later even though they were on another topic. My answer was I know my belonging when I feed my child. When I’m OK being soaked with over lactating for that newborn baby, fine living without sleep for my child, that’s how I knew that I was Mother.

While Stephani does not get that with Zola’s infancy, she gets the lifetime ahead of them together to learn to feed and dress to comfort and love.

Just because the infancy is not there to share, there is so much more to be mother over and it is there and beyond that she will feel and be mom. I am so excited for Stephani and for her darling daughter to become a Obenauf in God’s time. If you want to help Stephani celebrate 28, please click on one of her pictures and give to her adoption fund. Stephani writes regularly and throws her heart into fundraising with not much response. Please do visit her blog for updates and consider celebrating her birthday with a donation today. Faith, Hope, Love


Messing with your Mind: A Five Family Update

 Where’s your best place to write? I’d love to know where you crank your creativity and how you make it pour out through your fingertips on demand. I think best while going through my day, I especially love being out with my kids. A favorite past time for me has always been going to anywhere in walking distance, for my two year old and I yesterday that was to the park.

A.J (pictured here at 2 months old) went the whole block without taking a break. From time to time she’d slow her pace to look up at me, only to keep on a little quicker as so much as her little legs would allow.

We’re for sure putting up fences this year. This one would walk and walk without worrying where her people are. Though this blog post I’m using pictures of my own kids, as they are my motivation for the love that I extend to other families and their ministry to extend their lives and hearts abroad to grow their families through adoption. These are my little monsters, I love them more than life!

OK. I have to get down to it. Usually when I ask where you write I’m actually wondering why the heck I can’t turn on exactly what I want to say in this time limited segment that I have available.  Today I don’t think it’s going to happen for me, as it didn’t yesterday or the week before that.

Credit for the Claus Clan was my last blog post. The fundraiser that I mentioned for them brought in $65. They have a grant or something going on right now also to get friends to pour as much money as possible into the Claus adoption fund as big exciting times are coming up. Chelsea is traveling to meet her son in seven days. It will be a number of months before he is a USA citizen, but this is tremendous. At this point in my life I absolutely cannot imagine getting to live the incredible emotions that must whirl around as a mom counts down and fumbles to pack for what certainly may feel like the biggest trip of her life. Months of paperwork, social works telling you what you can handle and how your house should look, organization to be done and maintained through the process that feels like infinity.

IMG_0694Then finally that plane ride! It’ll feel like forever, and Chelsea’s time with her son will be over before she knows it. She’ll treasure every second and relive the moments of their time together of the next matter of months lapsing between this trip and the second during which Chelsea and her husband Josh will take Levi away from his orphanage forever.

For the Claus family March 21 is a very special day–the day Chelsea and her dad leave to meet Levi, who will join the family later this year. Chelsea will travel with her dad for the first trip, then for the final trip in a few months she and her husband will go together. Right now a $500 matching grant is being held–when their fund reaches “8040” every donation after that point for $500 is doubled. This family also has some puzzle pieces yet for purchase for Levi’s adoption. Families often have keep puzzle piece fundraisers in action through the entire duration of their adoption as a fun way of remembering the names of people who have contributed financially through their adoption journey. The Claus’s have some pieces left, for $5 one can have your name on it. This makes a great keepsake for the child’s room or to be displayed anywhere around the house.

IMG_0700Keegan’s family finished their fingerprinting  and has almost finished collecting their primary paperwork for this adoption homestudy. Anita’s 81 year old mom lives with their family so she gets to go through all of the background check series of events also. This week she got to go to the police station and have her finger prints taken for her grandson who on the other side of the world. Best grandma ever! Up next for this family is wellness checks at the doctors office. Smooth sailing so far for Ian (Keegan)’s family. Very cool surprise of earlier today is that someone dropped a good portion of money into this adoption fund bringing the number from $52 to $106. This is a sweet surprise!

Obenauf family! Stephani is bringing home Zola  from a country that is a new addition to the international programs that Reece’s Rainbow works with in bringing home kids internationally. Stephani has recently learned that it will be 12 months before her Dossier is to be submitted to the country, what a hard waiting game knowing that her daughter is doing just that…waiting. After it is finally submitted, she will get an invitation to travel in six months then can return to pick up her daughter in the time lapse of six more months.

IMG_0037When I asked Zola’s mama-to-be if she, knowing how slow this process is compared to other countries, would recommend it she said Absolutely yes and went on to suggest that I should adopt one of the little girls who is my daughter’s favorite in that country. Currently the Obenauf family have a clothing auction happening. For $5, you’re helping decorate Zola’s bedroom with your name in the color of your choice written on her wall. The infant clothes in Zola’s clothing sale are brand new, or are in very good condition and have me wanting to have another infant in the house! Visit Faith Hope Love to learn about the ongoing “Hearts for Zola” event to celebrate this sweet child and her journey home.

Jenks are keeping on. They have another matching grant in the works and a Norwex fundraiser is currently active for bringing home their girls, Veronika and Emilija. Shop Norwex Products Online and select Rebecca Jenks at check out. Find the catalog here. Glancing through the catalog I see that these are super quality of the microfiber products that we’ve become accustomed to seeing in the grocery store cleaning isle and elsewhere. The website is easy to navigate. Lots of great stuff, value over the long haul and for a good cause. Mrs. Jenks says that a couple of her favorite items are the Window Cloth and the Envirotowel.

IMG_0664The Feinland family has been visited by the FSP fairy recently! The anonymous large donation to their adoption fund and an approval to add a second child to the plan has us all holding our breath, waiting to learn who the lucky kid is going to be. I want to make the statement here, that through adoption parents are being blessed as much as the kids are! I am allowed to be excited for the suspense of looking forward learning who is coming home for who.  Rachelle has recently put in a new entry on her blog, “Piecing Our Puzzle Together” which you should stop in and read, because I haven’t. Tell me what it says, if you make it there before I do. My computer time isn’t until 10pm which is not for a number of hours. That FSP fairy? He or she is welcome to visit me if I ever get a turn to adopt. Della’s family got $2500! Know what? God provides! Each and every one of these families knows that and somehow he carries them through. It’s amazing, and I hang around to watch. Simply brilliant.

Editors note: As of 9:20pm, the Claus family have $140 to go in order to get that $500 matching grant. FSP needs to read $15,541 ($8,040 for Matching a Grant!) FSP: Blog:

This is an amazing family who has come so far.

Saving with Stephani

Zola in Eastern Europe

Zola in Eastern Europe

Among somewhere around 200 families adopting, there isn’t time enough to read all the individual stories; unless you’re the one setting up the new family funds which I am not (!!!)

There are however quite a few that do get read. One that captured me and has held my prayers is Stephani from Michigan who has suffered the loss of having a child still born which is a heart break that every pregnant mama who treasures her baby to be fears. It’s not Stephani’s loss that holds her story up, it’s her zeal to follow the Lord’s in a love-at-first-sight-no-matter-what. She’s going for it with a new program knowing that a child is meant to be hers.

God has been with this dear mama, bringing her eyes and  heart upon another daughter, this time one overseas. I remember casually happening to talking with Stephani online one afternoon, she probably wouldn’t even remember, it was before she had officially made the commitment to her daughter to Zola.

Her words aren’t available now for me to quote as it was months back now, however what she had to say was that the expense of the countries program or how new it was did not deter the choice to adopt this particular child. In her core, Stephani just knew that the little girl in pigtails, with rosy cheeks and the upside down smile was to be hers. This is a new program. I can’t disclose the name of the country, but do pray for Zola as she’s not with her mama yet. A mother who knows her child by sight needing no other assurance is a mother in deed and I can’t suggest more that you come along side with an encouraging word or a financial gift for the baby girl from Eastern Europe and her mama from Michigan; may Jesus keep paving the way for a healthy and happy union between them in due season. I nearly typed “reunion” as that is what it will be with this deep assurance of belonging that Stephani is so blessed to have. So often, I go through life operating on what my interpretation of what actions will make tomorrow easier.

My purpose of writing today is to recognize Ms. Obenauf’s awesomeness in following what she has seen to be God’s direct leading in her life with a daughter that she has never held. I believe some people can go through an entire earthly existence without having that direct leading of God–it’s tremendous. I can mark a couple times in my life when that has been mine and it’s a treasure which any personality wishes the world to know of.

Support Stephani as she follows Jesus’s guiding in her life. She needs people like you and me to come together around her as this is an emotional and annoyingly tedious paper pile also. Tacking the cute “Help Bring Zola Home” widge on this new website soon.

Zola’s mama is looking for a Family Warrior. Please consider participating in this program for her, it’ll be a tremendous blessing to both of you! For more information, visit Reece’s Rainbow’s information page on the new movement here.