Sunday, March 22, 2015

Faith at Fifteen

This week we celebrated Faith's 15th birthday. To mark the occasion, I captured a few photos of our rapidly changing teen.

 Well... as rewarding as it was as a photographer to snap this particular picture of our porcelain princess, the photo doesn't do a good job of capturing the real Faith.

This... the real Faith.

Faith is a walking smile who lights up our lives. She is a gift from God! We thank Him every day that He placed her in our lives through adoption.

Fifteen things about Faith at fifteen (written by Faith):
  1. My favorite Bible verse is John 14:18: "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." These words of Jesus not only remind me of God's grace in placing me, a former orphan, in the family I have, but also of the chance to become His daughter! Looking back on my life, it is amazing to see all the ways He has been there for me!
  2. My favorite foods are steak and chocolate! Who wouldn't like steak when it is grilled perfectly by world's best griller (aka my dad)?
  3. My favorite fictional book series is "The Ranger's Apprentice" by John Flanagan. John Flanagan is an amazing role model for me in the way that he writes! He knows what he is talking about and makes the books very intriguing reads. His other series, "The Brother Band Chronicles", is also highly recommended. (My mom asked me to alert you that these books do have occasional curse words in them).
  4. I would like to major in equine management and equine photography. I love taking pictures. Period. However, when I have the opportunity to take photos with horses in them, my interest in photography soars. I hope to own a ranch someday and serve people through horses!
  5. I have a very silly but strong fear of sharks. I know this is irrational because I live among cornstalks...and there are no sharks for a thousand of miles!
  6. My favorite subjects in school are history and English.
  7. If I could meet any famous people from the past, I would want to meet America's founding fathers. What amazing and godly men many of them were who stood up for freedom of religion!
  8. I love anything having to do with World War 2. What an amazing generation of men and women! As I read more and more about theses people, I am astounded by their courage and sacrifice.  
  9. I love helping children with special needs as a volunteer at a horseback therapy riding barn. 
  10. My favorite animals are horses, birds and giraffes. My favorite breed of horse is the Quarter Horse. My favorite type of bird is the Peregrine Falcon. And, as for giraffes, my favorites are the spotted ones.
  11. I adore dogs. My favorite breed is the Gerberian Shepsky. For any of you who are wondering what that is, a Gerberian Shepsky is a mix between a German Shepherd and a Siberian Husky...absolutely the best breeds ever!
  12. Before I marry, I hope to travel to England with my sister Christina. I have been so blessed to go there twice with my family and have decided I could can never tire of visiting there! 
  13. I would love to publish a fictional novel for teens one day. I love to write and try to work on one story for at least ten minutes a day. 
  14. I love spending time with horses and could spend a whole day on horseback if I was given the opportunity My parents have been generous and pay for a monthly horseback riding lesson at a stable near us. I have an amazing teacher and amazing horses to ride! 
  15. My parents gave me the gift of sewing lessons for my birthday. I hope to start a business sewing clothes and household items as a way to earn money so that I can save up for a horse of my own!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

God Rocks! Orphanage Disaster Update

Yesterday Sarah played a small role in demolition following the terrible storm that wreaked havoc on the Kazembe Orphanage in Zambia a week ago. 

The older boys took their turns... did Troy, Tom and Amy's son.

A dear friend of our family who has invested his heart this week in working to raise funds for the repairs through our church here in Iowa, was preparing materials yesterday. He saw these pictures and commented,
"I'm not sure if it was planned, but I found the pictures compelling with the scripture reference under the rainbow in the background. Somewhat profound that in the midst of the destruction and rubble, the scripture on the walls stands out and reminds us that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever which enables us to praise Him despite circumstances!"

My heart aches for these little guys chipping away in the hot African sun.

Despite the devastation, orphanage directors Tom and Amy have not lost heart. God's grace and steadfast love have been clearly evident to them. Here's a link to the amazing God story: You ROCK!

We would ask again that you please consider making a contribution toward the repairs. Tom and Amy believe it will take $18,000 to return the orphanage grounds to their state prior to the storm. That's nearly twenty-thousand dollars they didn't have the night the winds roared and the rain fell in torrents. These on-the-ground orphan advocates are trusting the Lord to provide through friends around the world. Here's a link: Donate to the Kazembe Orphanage.

Let us live these words in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us:
"Wash yourselves. Make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Reprove the ruthless. Defend the orphan. Plead for the widow." (Isaiah 1:16,17 NASB)

Monday, March 16, 2015

disaster strikes at sarah's orphanage in zambia

The children's bathroom --
the 28 kids had been washing their hands in this facility
just five minutes before the roof was torn off.

Jim woke me yesterday morning softly uttering, "Sarah's okay...".

I sat bolt upright in our bed instantly wide awake. Immediately I began praying for God's grace to handle whatever news my beloved husband was going to give me next about our 20-year-old daughter. We both know that when you allow your children to work in third world nations, you live each day aware that they could be danger at any time.

Sure enough, Jim's next words were, "...There has been a terrible storm and much damage has been done to the orphanage." (To learn about the orphanage click here: 

The classroom in which Sarah teaches

Orphanage director Tom assessing the damage

The sad job of storm cleanup got underway immediately

Social media has it's blessings, and in this case we were able to see pictures of the damage upon rising this morning. Tom and Amy, the couple who run the orphanage recognized their need for both prayer support and financial help as soon as the storm was over. Before going to bed last night, Amy put together a number of photos of the damage and a description of their devastating day and sent out a newsletter. You can find that newsletter at this link: Disaster Strikes at Kazembe Orphanage .

Children from the orphanage and the village retrieving roofing materials from nearby fields

If you would like to would like to help financially, here's a link: Donate to Kazembe Orphanage. Please consider donating. Having watched the operation of the Kazembie Orphanage through Sarah's eye's for four months, Jim and I wholeheartedly endorse the work Tom and Amy are doing to help the fatherless in rural Zambia.

Whether you can donate or not, please pray for Tom and Amy and their life's work; nearly three dozen orphaned children rely on these loving, generous followers of Christ. As we've pointed out many times in our blog, not everyone can adopt, but everyone can participate in orphan care. Prayer really matters in the care of orphaned children! We draw that conclusion straight from the Bible: "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress." (James 1:27)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

before they departed

Alison and her funny guy, Will, left earlier this week. We'd all enjoyed a blissful seven days of love and laughter! To mark the special time, I wanted to make sure I had a photo of everyone in the family with their favorite 5-month-old little boy. I'd already taken pictures of Zhenya and Eliana with William, but this post includes photos with the rest of the gang.

You'll see William's tongue out in most of these photos. During the last couple of days Will was with us, the silly boy was almost continually trying to roll his tongue. In those moments when he forgot his passionate pursuit, there was always someone around from our extra-large family to remind him by rolling his or her tongue. I was left out of all this fun because I'm one of those folks who can't roll my tongue. Can you roll your tongue?

When William was placed in Hope's arms, he was quite interested in tasting her. Perhaps this was because he was born in October everyone has been wearing sleeves. Maybe? Perhaps...?

One lick became two before we could get Will to turn toward the camera.

Love this guy's sparkly eyes! Even when he isn't smiling, he still looks happy. God has been so kind to give him delight in his world.

And when Will smiles, we find we can't resist smiling with him.

In fact, when William smiles, the whole room lights up.

The Bible says that grandchildren are the reward of old age. William's grandpa and I are relishing the sweet reward of having this precious child as one of our grandtreasures.

These two were buddies during Will's visit.

As were these two.

When John got home from work, William used his lap as a throne.

Christina had been volunteering at the horse therapy ranch near our home, but when she returned I got a photo of this auntie and her little nephew in his pajamas just as the sun set.

Now that our grandson has gone the house just seems too quiet.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

William's Very Busy Day

William's second full day of his unexpected visit started with his mom lovingly letting the five-month-old investigate a whole new world at his grandparents' house.

During the morning, Will was lavished with affection by his Auntie Zhenya.

When she laid him down, William was one massive grin!

Will carried that same happy-hearted smile into the dining room as we ate lunch. He passed the time in the "jumperoo" bouncing up and down with glee.

After nap time, William spent some special time alone with Auntie Eliana while others in the house were occupied in other ways. We all marvel at what a natural Eliana is with babies. Knowing how to keep them happy seems to be a God-given gift.

In the late afternoon, William got another round of kisses from Auntie Z.

Uncle John was eager to get in some time with his twin's son when he arrived home from work. However, William was too hungry for his evening oatmeal to be willing to play. The little one wasn't even interested in the pacifier his Uncle John offered him. Alison told John that she'd make sure he got some time with his nephew on Saturday morning during William's happiest time of day.

While William's momma prepared her son's dinner, a whole crowd gathered to see the baby through those long moments waiting for food. Will had had a very busy day! And we all had a very blessed day having Alison and William here with us. Our deepest thanks to Alison's husband, Eric, for this incredible gift!