LOVE

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27


He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.

Ephesians 1:5-6


Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Isaiah 1:17

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Miss Abbi Grace

       



        So I wanted to write a little bit more about Miss Abbi Grace! Abbi is in an orphanage in Shanghai China. Unfortunately for us Shanghai does not give many updates about their children so I may not get too much more information like I did with Nina. Fortunately though, I was able to connect with a facebook page with other moms who are going or who have gone to Shanghai to get their kiddos, so they may be able to meet Abbi and hug her for me! She is 3 and will be 4 in January.
            She has severe hearing loss in her left ear and mild hearing loss in her right ear. She also has a hemangioma on her liver. Along with these other needs she has mild hemiplegia on her right side, but from her video seems to get a long just fine. Because of her hearing loss it says she is not speaking, but being in a family of girls, I am sure she will catch up pretty fast once she starts her therapies.
             We can not WAIT to bring her home and make her a Noll! I have no doubt she will fit right in!
           It is going to be a journey watching God move mountains to raise the funds but we know He is able and I can't wait to watch all of the people He uses to make it happen!
       
  And only 5 more days to buy a shirt to bring her home!!!! Go here to buy it! It Is Here! 

Here is a little video for your Abbi viewing pleasure ;)

video

Thank you and God bless!!!!!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It Is HERE!!!

Well I have been working on a design for a shirt and I cannot wait to show you all!!! This is an idea I have had floating around in my head since before we knew we were going back again! After teaming up with Fund the Nations their professional designers tweaked my design and I LOVE it!!!!
So without further adieu I present you with our shirt that will hopefully help lead the way into our fundraiser efforts to bring our Abbi Grace home to her forever family!!!!!
My favorite part--look closely in the word LOVE!!! Awesome right?!


Adult XS-XL                                                    $20
Adult XXL                                                        $22
Youth M-XL                                                     $20
Child's sizes                                                      $15
                
                                                             
 photo belowpic-2.png
*** It is more cost effective for us if you want to send a check to us at
 8550 Pinetop Ridge Ln Brooksville, Fl 34613, then we aren't paying Paypal fees :)

*There is a $5 suggested shipping fee; obviously all help in fees help us towards our goal of bringing Abbi home but I want all to be able to show their support of Orphans and of Abbi Grace!

*These shirts are a softer material than your average tee and more fitted so FTN said if you are between sizes it is better to go up a size for a more comfortable fit.

*Make sure your address is correct in PayPal as this is the address we will use to mail your shirts to you!

We would LOVE if you'd share this blog so we can get the word out about our shirt! When you do be sure to hash tag it #ShopFTN! The more shirts we sell the better the price of the shirt we buy them for and the more money we raise for Abbi Grace!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you are having a fabulous week!!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nina Update and More

Well Nina has her big appointment we were waiting for. They went over all of her tests, scans, blood work, video, every possible thing you can think of. So she has surgery November 12th. Her first surgery will be to put little sensor things under her skull to detect FOR SURE which tumers are causing the seizures. IF you look at her EEG from her hospital stay-there will be times when the EEG doesn't pick up some of the seizures that you can clearly see she is having, so the ones under the skull will guarantee where they are coming from so they are sure they are taking the right tumors out. Then the following week they will remove the tumors that need to be removed. We will need so much prayer at that time. Not only will she be having brain surgery, which is big, we will have very little time to decide which ones we should remove based on how close they are to certain areas of her brain that could effect her daily life, which we wont know till they are in there and see what they are looking at. WE have a general idea now, but wont really know till we are there.
Sooooo...that is that. I am excited that we will be starting Speech Therapy with her this Monday because I know that sweet girl wants to speak so much more than we can understand! And after a hearing test we learned that she may have mild hearing loss. We are not too concerned about that since we know she seems to be hearing us fine.
This girl is a FIGHTER! A sweet fighter guised by her sweet smile and contagious giggle! And even more than all of that-Her Heavenly Father loves her more than Gold! I can not WAIT to see what He has in store for her!
As far as things in our new adoption world...we are starting up and getting our first fundraiser going!!! I can't WAIT to show you all what is coming!!!! I'll give you a hint...it is something that can help you sport your support for Abbi! ;)
Keep an eye out for our next blog post...we will have our big reveal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love you all!! Thank you ALL for your AMAZING support in our new journey to Abbi!!!!

Here's a few adorable pictures of the little's and what has been happening around here...

Levi really concentrating of writing

Nina LOVES dressing up! So beautiful!

Isac working on his letters!

First day of Co-Op for my kiddos-they LOVE it!

Jumping on the trampoline our neighbors gave us-Nina LOVES jumping!

Isac loving on Nana and Papa's puppies

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's Up Next...Don't Miss It

I think of the people in the Bible, people we think of as the GREATS! There is Moses, the man who tried giving God every excuse in the world not to lead a huge group of his people to the promised land, but ended up accomplishing this HUGE act through God. Many doubted him, even those he was called to rescue. There is Noah, we all know him, built a HUGE boat and sailed through crazy storms for a year with a bunch of smelly animals and his family, listening to the cries of those outside drowning because of their stubborn pride. Yeah he was laughed at quit a bit during those days of building, but no one laughed later. And David, a young and small kid, willing to step forward past the strong men dressed in armor, and defeat an enormous giant! His brothers and the other soldiers, undoubtedly joking at David's expense at how he thought he could dare take this giant that they coward from. But he did it. And so did so many other men and woman of God, in the Bible and every year after. Men and woman willing to lay it all out on the line to follow Him and only Him. Willing to handle the doubt, mocking, and sometimes VERY unsolicited advice clothed as "godly wisdom", to listen and only hear the words coming from their Heavenly Father.
That is the life I want to lead. A life that is ready and willing to be one of the GREATS! I don't want to be remembered. I could really care less of the legacy I leave behind as being one of the greats, because that fades. Another hero will always rise, another person will always do something greater, that is just the way history works. I want to be a great because I want to know I was willing to give all to God.
 I know some think (I have been told)  us adopting more kids would take away from our family dynamic. How could we enjoy our family if we have so many kids? The only answer I have to that is my joy is found differently than it once was. It doesn't look the same as it once did. It is seeing my second child take it upon herself to teach her younger sister, just adopted, how to write, just because she wants to see her learn. It is in seeing my third daughter laugh with her new sister and tell me how much she loves being a big sister to her because they both love to giggle and Nina didn't have that before. It is watching Levi step it up to try and build a relationship with Nina and Isac that I have never seen him try and build before, all on his own. It is seeing my oldest cuddle with her new baby brother and read him a baby book. It is in watching my Nina learn the simple things that come so easily for all of us and LOVE the praise that comes with it. It is in watching Isac rest so easily in Josh's arms because he feels his love.
Getting there wasn't easy. Just like Moses I tried making every excuse I possibly could, but I KNEW God was calling us in a direction that I needed to go to. And I did not want to miss what HE had in store for us!
And...He is calling us again!!!!!!
Again, I tried making every excuse I could. I mean this time I've got good ones Lord! Things with Nina are still working themselves out. We are starting the process to move since we knew we were going back eventually, we need to be in a home that will fit our growing family. "Please God, I am willing but not now! What will people think?!"
I wrestled with this A LOT! But in the end, I saw her face, and in my heart I knew for some reason God was telling me,"this sweet girl just can't sit there any more...are you willing?"
"But God there are so many waiting? Why her? Is this you or me? LORD I am willing but please answer me?"
And over and over I knew His response..."are you willing?"
Josh and I just laid it down. Prayed hard. And the next morning in church, our Pastor preached a series called "Whatever It Takes". One of his quote was;

"God didn't call us to be average, HE died for us to be EXTRAORDINARY!"

Ephesians 3:20-2120 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


And what really hit us is when he said, "IF our own plans are not intimidating to me, it is probably insulting to God!"

Now do not get me wrong. I am not saying adopting equals to leading hundreds out of captivity like Moses or building a cruise line type boat to help save the human race. I am merely bringing our daughter home. But it wont be easy, I know people won't understand and some will doubt BUT it WILL be amazing to watch God provide all that we need once again to make it happen. HE has done it before for many who are willing, and I am grateful that we are in the front row to see it all!
I know many got to ride a long to watch us journey to Nina and Isac! I hope many will share in our next adventure to our sweet girl!

*Disclaimer: Eve is her agency name not the name we gave her.


I leave you with an excerpt from a book that has become a favorite of mine (and the Bible of course)....

Matthew 16:24-25
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Like 14:33
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

"Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last thing Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that HE commanded? You'll notice that HE didn't add, "But hey, if it's that's too much to ask, tell them to just be Christians-you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything." "
"Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers. 
Christians today like to play it safe. We want to put ourselves in situations where we are safe "even if there is no God". But if we truly desire to please God, we cannot live that way. We have to do things that cost us during our life on earth but will be more than worth it in eternity."
"We ended up moving into a house that was half the size of our previous home, and we haven't regretted it. My response to the cynics, in the context of eternity,was, I the crazy one for selling my house?Or are you for not giving more, being with your Creator more? If one person "wastes" away his day spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better thing to do then worship the Creator or Sustainer, who is the crazy one?" Francis Chan CRAZY LOVE

Being the parents of 7+ kids, some with special needs, will not and is not the easiest journey to live, and our kids may not have the memories of amazing expensive trips and vacations, but as a family we are making so many memories. IF there is one legacy I do want to leave my kids it is to live a life of denying self, taking up the cross and following Him. God DOES want us to have fun and enjoy life...but I guess it just depends what you consider joy...
No doubt Moses, Jesus and David didn't "enjoy" being mocked and persecuted...but their joy was not found in the things man thought of them. I pray we can live a life of a new kind of joy.
All of our joys will look different...God calls us to different things and has in different places in life, different journeys and different desires...this this where He lead us...this is where WE chose joy.

This is a video we showed our kids and family to announce our sweet Abbi.
video







Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quick Update On Nina

Many of you know that Nina was admitted to the hospital on Monday-Friday for A LOT of tests.  While I was very happy to be with a team of doctors who seem to really know what they are talking about, I was super nervous about the week! Nina was put under every day but one for different tests and even more nerve wracking was that we had to take her off of her medications on Monday because they want to see how her body reacts and try and locate the trouble tumor.
With Tuberous Sclerosis Complex there is usually one tumor in the brain that will seek out the other tumors and cause them to intensify the seizure activity, and the longer that one is allowed to continue, the less chance Nina would ever have at being seizure free as she grows and also her chances of developing mentally and behaviorally become less and less. So all these tests were to try and find that trouble tumor.
It was a loooong week but Nina's body did all the things it needed to do to help the doctors gather more info. We started her on a new drug on Tuesday night and I will say the child has not been the same since!!! We are still seeing seizures, but whenever we change up meds it takes a while till everything balances out and we know if everything is at the right dose. But the girl that used to laze around the house because she was so tired, and be super irritable in the morning and fight every meal, has now woken up happy and running and laughing and eating! She has become a little more difficult at times and definitely testing her boundaries, but that is what every NORMAL child does, so I'm happy to reteach her. :) We are basically starting over.
The way the TSC clinic works is now that they have done all the tests, in a few weeks they will meet as a team to go over all of Nina's tests and get ideas of what they think would be the best course of action is. Whether it is to keep trying just the medicine she is on, add a new one or start looking at brain surgery to remove the trouble tumor.
We also met with a neuro-psychologist while we were in the hospital. She did not do a huge evaluation, but based on what we told her and what she saw of Nina she told us she definitely thinks she is on the autism spectrum. We were given a script for occupational therapy, speech therapy and behavior therapy.
Time will tell what the future holds for our girl. She for sure is a fighter but I am so happy we get to see the spark come alive in her!
We also were amazed at the chances we had to share our adoption story with doctors nurses and the food staff! ;) We had SUCH a great team of people around us at the hospital and did not meet one person who did not love on our Nina and help us out as much as possible!!!! I know nurses sometimes get the bum end of the deal as they have SO much to do and if not everything is met people can be hard on them but they all did AMAZING!!!!! THANK YOU!
Thank you all who prayed and left comments-they truly got me through the week!!!!

Love you all!








Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I Wish I Did Not See, What I Wish I Did Not Know



When we went to China we only saw Isac's orphanage-the one he spent less than half his young life in, and when we were there, despite them telling us we could have a tour, the tour began and ended with our trip down a dark hallway to get Isac. We saw no faces of children, no class rooms, no cribs, nothing. I have heard of many friends touring their own children's orphanages. They say the silence in some orphanages is eerie, a sign of children who know there is no purpose to crying for a need, a hungry belly, a dirty diaper or purely out of a need for comfort, because they learn quickly- no one is coming. They tell of crib after crib after crib of two or three children staring blankly at the ceiling, having no one to smile at, no one to engage them. Toddlers lined up on the floor, with toys all around them, but no one to teach them what to do with them, and all they do it rock, or bang their sweet heads on the floor, for any sense of feeling. They say the smell is strong, a mixture of soggy clothes and dirt, some orphanages with a lingering scent, some that would knock you over. The air is thick. And the children that are old enough to engage, are attaching themselves to your legs, wrapping their fingers around your legs looking at you with eyes pleading for you to see them, to love them, and choose them to take home. Some have seen enough prospective families or foreigners to know how to get their attention, how to be perfect and sweet enough to prove they are worthy of you taking them home. But some, some sit off in a room alone, away from the people who come to take someone else. They have seen enough to know this isn't their time. Some simply have been told Americans only want to make them be slaves so they truly do not want to be adopted. If you asked them they would say so, and if you took them to court to be adopted they would tell the judge no.This is their reality-for all of them. They fight to be stronger, they lie to keep safe, they manipulate to be loves, they steal to eat and inside they cry...to survive another day.
I did not see all of that. Part of me wanted to, to have some idea of the life Nina did grow up in, another part of me is happy with my naive version of the beautiful first floor of the orphanage they allow the adoptive families to see.
But truth be told...I see it everyday. I do not dwell on it, I do not look for it, and I wish with my whole heart I could forget it. But I still see it. Every moment someone tries to play with Nina and her immediate reaction is to pull away. Even Josh and I, have to be slow to coax anything from her fingers. We were told Nina was picked on a lot in the orphanage, so my guess is anything she had, she probably did not get to hold to for very long before someone older or bigger wanted it. Nina fights meals a lot. She ALWAYS wants to eat, if your in the kitchen, she is in the kitchen at your toes, but at the same time we are pretty sure she only had two meals a day, making one of those meals a fight. And if ANYONE gets too close when she is eating food, you better be ready to put up a fight because she is not playing when it comes to food. Like I said, she was picked on, probably had food taken often. There are still days when Isac has woken up in the middle of the night screaming his poor lungs out. I don't mean a sad, scared scream like any of our children. Like a scream you would hear coming from someone fighting for their lives! It breaks my heart that our son has 2 1/2 years of history I know nothing about. So when I hold him after he cries like that, I simply do not know how to make it better...because I can't. There are moments when Nina is in "time in" that she still rocks-her way of self soothing herself from years of having no one there to teach her she is loved, she does not have to face anything alone and she is safe. Nina HATES to have any one upset at her! The more upset any one is at her, even when it is simply a stern look, she is very very sad! She still fights for attention. While Nina doesn't do many things in extreme, we still see so many signs of wanting and longing for attention. If she sees her brother crying because he got hurt and getting a hug and kiss, she will start crying, if she sees mommy or daddy laughing at her sister because she is dancing funny, she will start dancing and laughing to get the same attention. She craves it and soaks it up! Those moments when I am rocking and cradling her to make up for our lost baby years-I see her look up at me with eyes that seem to have an under lining sadness of loss. The same is true for Isac, though I am sure he doesn't understand his loss, when he feels wronged or just really sad about something, sometimes it is hard to consul him, and the crying is different, as if there is an underlining sense of loss. All of these things have shown me what being abandoned and living life in an orphanage look like...and I see it daily!

And because of those things...I will NEVER be the same! I struggle daily for the children who are still left behind. In Ukraine, in China, in America, in Uganda and Ethiopia and India and all around the world!. My heart is always aching, always asking, when and if we should go back?! I know as long as I am able I will always say yes to God when it comes to bringing children into our homes.
 I hear the excuses the world throws at us...how messy my house must be, how can you possibly hear yourself think. Isn't it too wild?! It is, there are times when I have to step outside and breath in and out, but I know parents with ONE who need that very same moment! My children LOVE each other! They play together! They accept each other! It doesn't matter if you have two or 20, your children must learn that of their siblings if they are going to show that to the world! It isn't always perfect love, but then I am still learning that myself! And depending on the children you are bringing into your family, it may take them some time to learn of this love and acceptance, it isn't always a perfect formula, but it is love.  I know in America we have set rules as to how many children we should have in our home. I mean you just HAVE to pay for their college. And their weddings, FAR more important than any child lost without a future rotting in an orphanage right? And every child MUST have the childhood we never had-toys and trips-their own room and a full ride to college, and working through high school-now what kind of life is that for a child! I refuse to live by these rules. They are man made, NOT God made. HE wants a future of love hope and salvation for each one of His children. WE are His hands and feet! I no longer want to hear, "if God really loves them then why are they orphaned." Short and simple, we live in a fallen world where He gave us each free will, to not be puppets. To love Him freely of our own will. And many of us choose to not love Him. Many choose to kill their babies. some forced to abandoned because of others cruelty. But it is up to US to love on His children!
To get past our excuses and SEE Him moving in our lives through the lives of these children all over the world!

So that..

Our sweet Amy (a child we sponsor) who is in a good foster home, can have the chance to thrive and walk and run like every girl her age should!

So that this sweet boy whose need is so small can actually lose the sadness, the defeat and he can grow big, strong and thrive!

So that Lucy can stop asking everyday, "when is it my turn? When will my mama and baba come for me?!"


So that this sweet girl whose sight isn't perfect can learn the face of her mama and know she is loved beyond measure!

And so Teddy can know that he really isn't so different because HE IS LOVED AND PERFECT THE WAY GOD MADE HIM!

And so sweet Eve can grown stronger and grow up knowing she is beautiful and strong  and oh so loved!

I pray for all of these babies daily! I wish my home was bigger, that adoption wasn't so expensive and that it didn't take so much time!  I hope and pray all of these babies and many more will soon have brave mama and baba's stepping out on faith for them!!!!Though none of these things will stop me from moving mountains if I need to, to bring them all home. Because God has done it before for us...and I know He can and WILL do it again!


These songs below capture what my heart says:








Monday, June 16, 2014

Journey to Nina and Isac Video and Prayer Request




Well it took me some time but I finally got a video together of my two kids journey to us!!!! Hope you enjoy!


PRAYER REQUEST!!! Nina has her neurologist appointment tomorrow to go over all of her 48 hour EEG tests from a few weeks ago! Pray we get answers to get rid of her seizures! We did notice in the hospital during the tests that she was having some in her sleep, but it would be nice to know how many she is having that we don't see. It will be a long journey of trial and error with different medications till we find one that gets rid of all her seizures and doesn't have crazy side effects. And med changes are always hard on her emotionally and physically. It will be a long road but so worth it to see her sweet happy self again!

Hope your all having a great week!