Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Belated Happy Birthday to Jessica!

Poor Jessica - we were in the midst of the stomach flu in our family when her birthday arrived.  Even worse, she had held out long enough that she didn't get sick until the wee hours of her birthday morning.  How miserable is that!  That will most definitely go done in the annuls of the worst birthday in her life, possibly forever!

So, in suit for my purpose this year in highlighting each child on his/her birthday, here's my "ode to Jessica' for her birthday, quite belated - her birthday was on May 8.

Jessica was our first girl baby.  She arrived just 19 months after Jason had joined our family.  Back then, ultrasounds were rare, so we had no idea if we were having a girl or a boy.  I had suspicions that I was carrying a girl, but really didn't dare to hope.  Once we went past the due date, I began to be more and more convinced that this was a girl, as both boys had been close to their due dates (Jeremy was 2 days late, and Jason was born on his due date).

Since I was officially 2 weeks past my due date, I was scheduled for an induction.  Once again I experienced a pitocin labor.  Not fun.  But after just 6 hours of labor, Jessica was born, weighing exactly the same as Jeremy - 7 pounds 10 ounces.  She was pink and so cute!  She had the tiniest head, so tiny that when she was all bundled up she looked like a preemie!

Jessica was a very good baby.  I needed her to be.  I had to return to work when she was just a couple of weeks old.  I took her to work with me, everyday, until she was mobile.  She played contentedly at work, and I even brought her to clients homes (we owned a custom drapery store).  I loved dressing her up in the lacy, fluffy dresses that a friend passed on to us.  It was so fun to have a little girl after the two boys.

She was slow to grow hair, so I glued bows on her head until she had enough hair to put in clips...but that wasn't until she was nearly 2 years old!  Finally, when she was just over 2 years old, I was finally a stay at home mom.  Jessica was so happy to have me all the time - she was a serious momma's girl.

She loved it every time we added a new baby to our family. She was such a little momma!  She was thrilled when we had Rebekah, as that meant that she wasn't the only girl anymore!  She doted on Rebekah so much, even though she was only 5 years old, she was a pro at caring for babies by then!

As Jessica grew up she developed a love for kittens, horses and dogs.  When she was about 9 years old we started a 4 H group and she thrived.  She raised sheep, rabbits, and puppies.  She showed chickens, rabbits, sheet and goats at the fair through 4H.  She developed a talent for baking as she grew up as well.

She also has a talent for music.  She learned to play the piano and violin when she was young, and she also loves to sing.  She still does all of them and does them exceptionally well!  She also love to play games and has since she was little.

When my business started, she also learned to sew for me.  She had already done sewing, especially through 4H.  She continued to raise puppies as a side business.  She loved puppies!

She showed her determined spirit when she saved up enough money to go visit her cousins in Chicago for spring break when she was 13 years old!  Reminded me of myself - I saved up the money to visit my brother in Germany when I was 13 years old too!

Jessica has always been very close to her older brothers, and when Jeremy went off to join the Marines, it was really hard on her.  She continued to invest in her relationships with her other siblings through the years, and she is a favorite for many of our younger children.

When Esther was born, Jessica ended up taking over running the house.  This was a giant leap for her. While she had learned to do just about everything there is to do in our home and in my business, but now she was nearly completely responsible to do it all, with little or no help from me as I was in the hospital for weeks on end with Esther.  I think this time in her life may have been both the most difficult and the most defining time in her life.  She was challenged deeply and many times felt that she just couldn't do it, but she was able to manage.  This gave her a great sense of accomplishment that has helped her to tackle great projects with confidence.

Since that time she has saved and taken a trip to Germany for a short term missions trip, and she also built a horse shelter and had a horse for a few months.  She has pushed our family back into having chickens and has been working for a couple of years to get our family ready to have milk goats.

Today Jessica still loves to spend time with her brothers, often spending days on end at Jeremy's house or taking trips with them.  She is so good with the babies, and is great at getting things going in the morning when I'm busy with business or taking care of the little girls.  She is still a momma's girl and loves to go with me to run errands or to take Esther to Children's for checkups and appointments.  But she's very independent too.  She has started taking violin lessons again and has taken classes to be a care provider for children with special needs.  She loves to play games, and her latest addiction is the board game "Ticket To Ride" (OK, so our whole family is addicted to this!).

Jessica is continuing to learn how to care for a home and how to run a home business.  She continues to take on more responsibilities both at home and away from home.  She does quite a few voluntary things at church as well.

She loves the Lord and spends time in His word.  She also takes time almost every morning to read to the children after breakfast, both from scripture and from books.  She has completed more books reading aloud to the children that we can count.  I'm so thankful for this as this is such an important piece in the development of children's learning, but as a busy mom of many, I find it so hard to find the time to read to the children.  When our children were young (and there were far fewer of them), I used to read to them at bedtime and we read through so many good books.  But life had sped up and it just doesn't work right now, so this is really a great ministry that Jessica does for our family everyday!

Jessica is a blessing to our family and to those who know her.  She is a loyal friend and has a very generous nature.  She loves to have fun, and is willing to take risks (like white water rafting last year!).  She is a valuable part of our family.  We are so pound of the young woman she has become.

We are also excited to see what her future holds.  God bless you, Jessica, in all you do and in all you become.

Spring Has Sprung!

Cutest Toddler in the World!
Can it get any more adorable?
We suffer from so much cuteness
that it's painful at times!

I thought I had posted this, but somehow I never completed  it!  This should have been dated a week ago!  Oh well, better late then never!

We are a few weeks into May, but the weather has been mostly like summer!  The kids have been enjoying time outside, and we even went to the park recently.

The only problem with the park is that Esther picked up a stomach bug that she then share with all of us. So we have been out of commission for over a week.  But we are all recovered and are now working to get our home back in order!

We have great news on progress for our adoption - read about it here
Jonathan on his motorcycle.  Serious biking gear for this boy!
I'm short on time, so I'll just leave you with some recent photos from around here!

I had a wonderful mother's day - we spent the day at Jeremy's house (what a blessing since our home was still in disrepair from all of us being sick all week!).  We had take out Chinese and then played several rounds of Ticket To Ride - our new family favorite game board!
Mother's Day
My favorite food!

Mother's Day - playing games at Jeremy's House!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Priscilla's Story Really Started in 2008 You Know...

I have an incredible, mind boggling story to share with you.

It really starts in 2008, when Esther was born into our family with that blessed extra chromosome.  But let me skip ahead a little first.

In February of 2010, an expectant mother got the news that mothers dread.  Through a standard ultrasound, it was revealed that their daughter had not only a heart defect, but also had Down Syndrome.  As she was dealing with this news, a friend sent her a link to my blog.  Esther was just about 1 1/2 years old at this time.  She found encouragement in what she read, and also lots of information.  She blogged about finding my blog Here.

I didn't find out about it for several months, as she had sent me a message on a board for parents of children with Down Syndrome and I had not visited that site in months.  I found her note just weeks before her baby was due.  When their baby was born, they named her "Verity" which means truth.

Verity, 1 1/2 years old
Katie, 9 years old
I found her blog and began to follow an amazing story of the love a family can have for a precious baby with the gift of Down Syndrome.  But it didn't end there.  Susanna read This Blog Post about the plight of children with special needs in Eastern European orphanages and her eyes were open to the truth.  This led to their adopting Katie, a 9 year old with Down Syndrome, hidden away in the top floor of a terrible orphanage.  She weighed just 10 1/2 pounds when she was ransomed.  She required specialized medical care to preserve her life as they transitioned her to good medical care and proper nutrition.

Katie and Verity, just 14 months later
Katie blossomed in her new family.  She grew and learned to do so many things so quickly. (Susanna and her family are now adopting Tommy from the same orphanage that Katie was in).

But the Mussers weren't satisfied with just saving one child.  They worked to make changes in that orphange, and changes were made.  The director was fired and fundraisers were done to provide proper medical care for the orphans there.  They spread the truth of what was going on there and so many families have stepped forward to ransoms these deprived children.  The Mussners have ransomed another child there, 16 year old Tommy. He has been home for a while now and is blooming too!

Tommy enjoying time with
his new mommy when she
came to visit!
 When I read about the things happening on the other side and world, and what a difference a loving home can make in the lives of these forgotten, abandoned children with special needs, I was inspired to act.

Tommy, 11 years old
I knew there were so many others still in those dark, filthy places where children were not properly cared for.  So I had to act - I started advocating right her on my blog and on Facebook.  I selected some children and a family to advocate for.

But God wasn't satisfied with that level of involvement.  He pushed us to consider adopting a child into our family.  This was WAY outside our comfort zone, but God was relentless.  We tried and failed to adopt a little girl from Russia (before that evil ban was put in place).  We discovered "Priscilla" in January.  We tried again in January and found success.

Priscilla, Whom we re-named "Christiana" and we call her "Christy", is the daughter we didn't know about until just over 3 months ago.  But God knew she was our daughter a long, long time ago.  Do you know how I know this?  Because I discovered something tonight.

So Christy's story starts way back in 2008, when God blessed us with Esther and opened our eyes to the wonder and joy or raising a child with Down Syndrome.  And then, way back in February of 2010,  Susanna was given her news and she found my blog,  and Christy's mommy was just finding out that she was pregnant.

So God, in His sovereignty, put into motion the events that it would take for us to discover Christy just when He had prepared the soil of our hearts to be ready to adopt.  Before Christy's mother could possibly know that she had Down Syndrome, God knew it, He had designed her that way.  But He had a plan, and that plan has been in place long before we had any idea that God had a plan like this for us.

Isn't God's sovereignty amazing?

I can't wait until the day that I can tell Christy that God prepared her place in our home for her before she was even conceived.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program...

I just wanted to make a quick post here to update everyone on the matching grant and the fundraising for our adoption last month!


It won't all show up in our Reece's Rainbow FSP grant, because we received a lots of money in person.  That was such a providence, as we have to submit our dossier (along with $4500, plus the cost of preparing the documents) before we can use any of the Reece's Rainbow funds.  It looks like the money given to us directly will now cover all of the expenses we will incur before we gain access to the money in our grant!

Praise God from Whom Abundant, Overflowing Blessings Flow!!!

Now, I hope to spend less time on the computer, and more time with my family.  I also plan to do some more blogging to catch you all up on family happenings in the last six weeks too!

So Stay Tuned!

And now for a "sound bite" - Esther got new glasses in March, and she's doing great with them.  She sees better and with the way of attaching it to her shirt, she hasnt' lost either pair, and since we ordered flexi frames (titanium based), she hasn't broken either set as well!