Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I can't figure out how to put our Christmas card up here.
But here are some of the pics we used. :)
The family photo is rare and hard to come by - I imagine it only gets more difficult as the years go by - whether it's more kids to juggle or busy schedules that make it hard to coordinate - I know the family picture is something to be celebrated - and I love these. :)
Taken by the talented Jason Pendley at Jet's 18 month session. Speaking of rare - I can't believe Jet's even looking at the camera. :)
So from our family to yours -

Friday, December 24, 2010


It is almost Christmas.
The presents are wrapped (well, most of them) the house is decorated, extended family is arriving (squeal!) and unlike when I was a child, I can't believe how fast Christmas is arriving. Why is it that time crawls when you're 6 and races by when your 26?
It is almost Christmas.
I blinked and my chubby Christmas cherub from last year...
Is my impish Christmas elf this year...
It is almost Christmas!
I guess time flies when you're having a fabulous time living your life. :)
Jet has made each holiday happier, each blessing richer, each gathering livelier.
His joy reminds me to be joyful. His contentment brings me peace. His spirit renews my own.

It is almost Christmas.
And like any true Christmas Eve, I've already been visited by 3 spirits.
The first came to me weeks ago. As soon as our tree went up and the weather got colder and the music got cheerier - it was the Spirit of Joy. The merriment. The festivities. The holiday themed store-fronts. The outbreak of red sweaters. The excitement. The magic. The "may-your-days-be-merry-and-bright" pure essence of Christmas. People smile more. Give more. Laugh more. I've always loved this part of the holidays - it's the child-like wonderment part that I cling to every year, trying not to be disappointed that it's just not quite the same feeling as when you are younger...but it's pretty good. Hot chocolate, fuzzy socks and evergreen kind of good. But it's more than the physical. It's the mental, spiritual, emotional feeling of it all. Whatever it is, something about this time of year makes me happy. It gives me joy. It reminds me that beyond the holly, tinsel and cocoa - we have so much to be joyful about. Someone to rejoice in. And I want to pass it along to my own little elf - and I can't wait until he feels it to.
Because it's warm-your-heart wonderful stuff.
The second spirit came as somewhat of a surprise to me - though I'm not sure why it was such. Perhaps because I underestimated it. And you should never underestimate a Spirit. ;)
It was the Spirit of Giving. Beginning as a tiny hopeful glimmer in the form of a little boy named Shea and fueled by the hearts and generosity of others into a roaring fire of selfless giving. I was given a gift this weekend - a surprise donation from some wonderful people who worked together and gave with such generosity and charity that I found myself speechless. And it was their gift that brought me once again spiritually to my knees in gratitude.
Thank you all.
The spirit of those who have donated to his adoption grant has touched me deeply and awakened my soul in new and powerful ways. Every gift that has been given to this sweet boy in the way of bracelets, donations, and words of kindness has been two-fold as it has also been the greatest of gifts to me. Your desire to help and eagerness to give, both great and small, fill me with gratitude and humility. And over it all and in each of your gifts I see Him who has made it all possible. In every selfless act of giving is The One who gave it all. And I am reminded of the Blessed Assurance that we have in Him.
I am filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
The third spirit revealed itself to me slowly, spread out over this past year and in all honesty my entire life. I've never been without this spirit though there are times when I feel it's presence more strongly.
The day I asked to be baptized. The first time I felt my baby move inside me.
The first time David and I held our little boy.
It is the Spirit of Love.
And not just any love, God's Love. The unconditional, peace that passes all understanding, lift you up from the darkness, make you feel safe and eternally cherished Love. The Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The Love that never fails.
It's not really a love you or I can give - only strive to emulate. But it is a Love that everyone can receive. And I have both received it and seen it emulated these past few weeks perhaps more than ever before. Second only to the Love we received when we feared the worst with our unborn baby and the days that have followed in his amazing life, has been the Love I have witnessed in regards to the only little boy I have ever loved as strongly - little Shea. Shea who has touched so many lives with his shy expression and beautiful eyes. Shea who had nothing when God brought him into our lives and said "Here. Love him. I do." Shea who has recieved over $11,000 towards his adoption grant in 3 weeks. Shea who as of now has a family waiting to adopt him.
That's the Love I'm talking about.
It is almost Christmas.
And I have been visited by 3 spirits.
The Spirit of Joy. The Spirit of Giving. And the Spirit of Love.
But the greatest of these...of Love.
Love to you all. God bless you. And Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sippy Cup and Standing Up

If I could choose a noun and a verb to describe my little boy as of late - this title says it all.
He has become addicted to the sippy cup. We are working on the open cup of course at meal times - but I felt like he took so long to drink milk from a sippy cup that I can't make myself take it from him just yet. :)
And he's almost always standing up.
(Toes = Precious)
Two things that at 12 months I though he'd never do. Why do we worry so much?
( above: "look ma - no hands!")
He's doing very well with his walking too! :) Taking more an more independent steps away from the furniture and walls and holding one hand to walk around the house or the store.
He's a little energizer bunny!
That is when he's not being a lazy bones and catching up on his favorite furry friend, Curious George.
He is obsessed with the cute little monkey who makes a mess out of everything but is so lovable that each disaster just endears you more to him.... someone else I know.
Over Thanksgiving, David used our new favorite thing - the DVR - to record a little movie called Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas which is now more commonly known as "Jet's Source of Happiness." He has almost refused to have anything else on the TV - not that we 100% induldge him...but maybe 80% ;). It's so cute how his face lights up at the beginning of the movie and how he smiles and even fake laughs at some parts like he knows what they are saying! lol. Therefore you can see why I almost had a panic-attack when I accidently deleted it from our DVR this week! You don't know true desperation until you lose something your child is SO attached to! I mean - this kid will find the remote and point it to the TV and babble like crazy for me to turn it on - not just for TV - FOR GEORGE!
And with the weather so cold and 2 more teeth making our days restless and fussy - I knew we were in for some difficult days ahead of us without a 30 minute Monkey-break to fall back on. So I was on the computer right away - searching - laughing at how this was such a big deal to me - thankful Jet didn't know what I had done - and luckily I found it! Later that day A Very Monkey Christmas was safe and sound in our DVD collection.
Big sigh... :) The life of a mommy.
I love it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making Time for Merry

As you know, the past week has taken my life in a direction I wasn't expecting, down a path I've never gone down before. A week ago is when we found Shea, opened our hearts to his heartbreaking story, and started our mission to save him. When something big like this happens, it's hard to think about anything else. It's like when you have an important doctors appointment, or a big career opportunity that would bring about a lot of change, or when you first find out your baby is going to be born with spina bifida. That knowledge that something big is looming in front of you. Something that may be good, or scary, or sad. It invades even the most mundane of activities.
You think about it when you fold the laundry, go to the grocery store, clean the kitchen.
You think about it as you make your son chocolate milk for the 3rd time that day. :)
You think about it when you snuggle up to read a book with him.
You think about it when you tie his shoes.
And of course, perhaps the hardest time to think about it but most unavoidable - at night when you lay in bed.
And you pray about it alone. Every day. And you pray about it with your husband. Every night.
And you talk about it with family and you chat about it with friends and you write messages on facebook back in forth with those who are thinking about it with you.
And somewhere in all of that... you are living your life.
Life doesn't stop because your anxious, or worried, or even planning for the future. We learned this when we were pregnant with Jet. Just because we were worried about him and what the future held, it didn't mean we didn't have to go to work and interact with people. And I'm so thankful it also didn't keep us from enjoying things like going to get coffee, watching a funny movie, or delicious family dinners.
We still laughed, we still loved, we still lived.
We never stopped thinking about our unborn baby.
We never stopped loving him or wishing we could do more for him.
We never stopped praying that God would protect him and strengthen him.
But neither did we stop thanking God for being with us and trusting Him in everything.
And that is what I am reminding myself to do now.
To let God be in control - because as soon as I think I am in control that's when things truly fall apart.
To believe that God will grant me what I'm praying for when I pray for patience and guidance.
To enjoy the blessings we have - even while we're praying for someone who doesn't.
To play with our silly boy and holiday shop and mail Christmas cards!
To live each day with a happy heart.
To remember to drink hot cocoa...
...and gaze at the tree and all the holiday decorations.
To smile at the ornaments- as they only come out of the box for about 30 days of the year...
old and new....
his and hers :)...
I will be remember to be blissful in the knowledge of who these sweet little ornaments belong to...
...and how much joy he brings to our lives.
And I will not forget the comfort that an evergreen wreath and a hallway full of family photos can bring...
And I will make time for "merry" no matter what.
So Happy Holidays from our family!
And a very, heartfelt thank you to all who have donated, initiated fundraisers, and otherwise supported Shea so far. He deserves to be merry too - and we are working on that...with your help. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sessions for Shea

Please read the newest post on Shea's blog (click on the red link) for our first local fundraiser idea! It's happening this Saturday and we are so excited so check it out now!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saving Shea: The Rainbow

You know those moments in your life when you feel time stop.
Whether it be that split-second when you thought that car was going to hit you.
Or the minutes you hold your breath before the doctor says "everything looks fine."
The moment that follows when you first see the ring in his hand.
And that first glimpse that you get of your newborn baby's face.
We all have them.
They can be terrifying or exciting.
The scariest or most beautiful thing you've ever experienced.
But whatever the emotion - you're shaken.
Whatever the outcome - you're changed.
And you know it was important.
And however long the moment actually lasted - you can remember how you felt at that exact moment...forever.
This is one of those moments for me.
The past 3 days all combined together in one, big, all-encompassing moment that just keeps going on and on.
And it all started when I saw his face.
This is Shea.
Shea - isn't that a beautiful name?
A beautiful name to match his soulful eyes and cropped, blonde hair.
I'm not sure how I found him. Just one of those series of events where you're reading a familiar blog, that leads you to another new and exciting blog, that tells you a story, that leads you to a rainbow, and at the end of that rainbow something very special.
And 3 days ago, at the end of a beautiful rainbow - I found Shea.
And once I found him - I realized it wasn't just some series of events.
I was brought there.
My family was brought there.
And though I'm am still asking and praying and waiting to know exactly why we were brought there -
But there is one thing I am sure of.
Shea needs us.
And we are going to save him.
You may ask..why does Shea need saving?
Well, when I found Shea, I didn't just find a picture - I found a few sentences underneath the picture.

Boy, Born October 17, 2006

Shea only became cleared for adoption very recently, so we are so hopeful he will find a family quickly. He is facing the institution very soon because of his age.

From his medical records: primary hydrocephaly, shunt dependent (has one in now), disorder of function of pelvic organs, paralytic clubfoot of both feet, spina bifida. Very good and smart boy. He can speak very well, he can only sit - he is in plaster cast so he cannot stand and walk.

Shea will remain bedridden the rest of his life once he is transferred.

That's right.

Shea is an orphan.

An orphan who is 4 years old.

An orphan facing an institution in Ukraine.

An orphan born with Spina Bifida.

Do you see now why Shea needs saving? I'm sure it's not hard to guess why this little angel has grabbed a hold of my heart and won't let go -so closely connected to the story of my own sweet little angel. It's probably not a mystery as to why David and I have stayed up late for 3 days talking about what to do...what this means to our we can save him. And like I said, I don't have all the answers right now - but I did contact the people at Reece's Rainbow and we signed up to be Prayer Warriors for Shea as well as volunteered to help raise money for his adoption grant. There is no obligation from Reece's Rainbow - they don't call you up or keep tabs on your efforts. It is all up to the individual. It was up to me to contact them - and it is up to us how much we help. On the right margin of the blog you will see a "chipin" link allowing anyone and everyone to donate toward Shea in his journey finding his family. As you can see on the "chipin" link - Shea's funds are nothing. He has nothing. And adoption in Shea's country is 25,000 dollars on average. This is where we need your help.


You can help us save him.

The woman who inadvertently led me to Shea, is hosting a fundraiser for another little baby named Cliff. In her plead for help she expressed perfectly what I would say to you about Shea.

Please read it here.

It is exactly what I want to say.

Hopefully soon I will have a blog button to display our mission for Shea and link back to this post. When I do, I would be so grateful if my fellow bloggers would add it to their as well.

If you don't blog, please copy and paste the link to this post (in the web address bar above) on facebook or copy the post itself to an email. We need as many helpers as we can get to raise enough funds to make it possible for Shea to be adopted as soon as possible. He needs money. Any amount you can give is enough. It will make a difference. We can't be sure how long he has before he will be forced to leave the orphanage and be committed to an institution and far from any help.

And please, pray for us.

Pray that God will continue to guide us and use our family for His glory.

Pray that His will for will be done for Shea and that He will keep Shea safe until he is able to be adopted.

Pray that Shea will be given healing and strength and peace every day, and feel God's love upon him.

Thank you so much, and may God bless you.

- David, Joanna and Jet

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Belated-Birthday Rocco!

I can't believe we missed it!
The last day of November just slipped by unnoticed.
November 30th came and went without fanfare or festivities - but that doesn't change the fact that this November 30th we had great cause for celebration.
For as of yesterday -
November 30th, 2010 -
Rocco is one year old.
Now hold on a minute (you're thinking) who in world is Rocco?!
Why are we celebrating his birthday?!
Why have we not heard of him before?!
All valid questions.
And I will answer all of them.
Rocco joined our family a year ago yesterday. We knew it was possible he would be coming to live with us - we just didn't know for sure if or when. When we first heard the news that Rocco was indeed going to be joining our family - we felt heart-sick, scared, and worried. We had hoped we wouldn't ever need to meet him. We weren't sure what this addition to our family would mean. How he would change our lives. I cried. We prayed.
We hadn't wanted him.
But we knew in our hearts, that Rocco coming would be a good thing thing.
The best thing.
Because as much as we didn't want Rocco -
Rocco was coming to save Jet's life.
Our Jet needed Rocco - and Rocco would be there to help him.
Now Rocco comes from a large family. And we had heard stories of some of his family members who had also gone to live with different friends of ours. Sometimes the stories were good - successful stories that encouraged us that everything was going to be okay.
But sometimes the stories were full of frustration, difficult transitions, and disfunction.
We hoped Rocco would be an answered prayer - not an unwelcome nightmare.
The day we got Rocco is a bit of a blur.
We were up early and on our way to prepare to receive him. Family met up with us to offer support. We waited for the time when Jet would have to leave us to go get Rocco - only Jet could go - Rocco was for Jet.
When we were alone we prayed that Jet and Rocco would have a successful meeting - that Jet would accept Rocco and that Rocco would be able to help Jet the way he was supposed to.
God heard our prayers.
The meeting was successful.
We stayed overnight so we could be sure that Rocco was doing his job and Jet was okay.
The next day we went home - and Rocco went with us.
He is still with us.
He has been with Jet every minute and has done his job perfectly every day.
Every day - for one year.
We have never had a problem.
We have never had to separate them.
He has been a Rock-Star - just like our little Jet.
They make the perfect team.
That's why we named him Rocco. He is strong - rock solid.
And I looked it up today -the name "Rocco" means "rest".
Very appropriate considering he did bring us peace of mind and rest this year.
So today we celebrate his (belated) birthday - by thanking Rocco for 1 year of successful service.
And thanking God for allowing Rocco to be an option to save our then 6 month old baby boy.
Because fluid on the brain - it's not okay.
The pressure and problems hydrocephalus can cause are innumerable - and often deadly.
Without the doctors and technology we have today - that allowed "Rocco-the-shunt" (did you guess it? :) yep - Rocco is Jet's shunt.) to be placed in our son's head to drain that fluid off -
we might not have our little miracle today.
So Happy Birthday Rocco!!
You are a life-saver and a blessing and we are so thankful for you!

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