"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Eyes Opened

***UPDATE***

I wrote to Katerina's mommy to ask for permission to share her story on my blog. This is the response I received:

Stori (what a lovely name), of course I am very glad for you to share Katie’s story—the wider the truth spreads, the better. Did you know that the Katerina on the S*rbian video is not our Katerina? Our Katerina was nine years old this year, and was from B*lgaria. We just named her for the little girl who God used to open our hearts to adopt. I know I need to address this in a Q & A and plan to do that soon!
Love and blessings!
Susanna

I would never have intentionally mislead anyone into thinking that this was Katerina's orphanage if I had known, and I am so sorry. This was just the impression that I received from reading the Musser family blog! I also know that they did not intend to mislead anyone as you can read from above. I don't think that this changes much though - that orphanage DOES exist. Katerina received the same level of care that those children did (and still do) receive at her orphanage. These beautiful children live in inhumane conditions, they don't have much time, and we need to move on this NOW.

***END UPDATE***

It often amazes the responses that I hear from Christians when they find out about the orphan crisis – the 147 million children worldwide who do not have a mother or father. Often I hear them say that prefer to keep their money at home, to donate locally and help orphans living at home, the implication is that this isn’t the problem of the USA or Americans. I agree up to a point, but not to the point of doing nothing.

The thing is, my God LOVES the WORLD. He is the defender of the fatherless no matter where they are from. And WE are his CHURCH. His beloved bride, his hands, we are the ones who He has called to live in His heavenly kingdom on earth. He commands us to “defend the cause of the weak and fatherless.”

Is this little girl not your problem? 9 1/2 years old and only 15 pounds!

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Her name is Katerina Hope.

Do you want to see where she spent the first 9 years of her life? Only the very brave will watch this video – I promise you, your eyes will be opened.

Did you see Katerina’s precious little body in the video? Holding onto the reporters hand and not wanting to let go? Do you know that her mental institution is considered one of the good ones in her country? YES – the one on the video. She has an amazing story that I will share a little bit about tomorrow.

We are His Church. This is OUR problem. We can make a difference! And tomorrow, I am going to show you just how much.

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

I know that you think that this is a big push for money. It is a little bit – my little Kai-man needs a family! But there are other things that you can do to help.

  • You can spread awareness! I didn’t always know about the orphan crisis until I happened upon it thanks to the miracle of blogging. You can tell others about it, send emails, blog, tweet… be creative.
  • You can sign up to be a Prayer Warrior through Reece’s Rainbow. I believe fully that prayer is the BEST weapon against the enemy.
  • You can ADOPT one of these kids. Yes you really can! All the money in the world is nothing if Christians will not step up to the plate for these children.
  • You can sign up like I did to become an Orphan Warrior/Christmas Warrior and learn the joys of pestering your friends and family for money. I kid, I kid.

And of course, you can also donate money! It is so needed, and believe it or not, all over the United States God is raising up families to bring these children into their forever families, and they could use some help. Kai’s future family will need help, and if you do, you also gain the chance to win an iPad 2! For details, click HERE.

In the upcoming days, I am also going to extend the iPad giveaway to a few other children that are on my heart – waiting for the forever families. I hope you fall in love with them like I have.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Veritas

I have neglected poor Kai shamefully the past couple of weeks!  That precious, wonderful sweet little boy.  I have nothing but excuses – our internet was out for five days, I was busy getting ready to go back to the states, I returned to the states, and now Isla is having another bout of laryngitis...

BUT GUESS WHAT??? It isn’t about me or by my doing that Kai’s ransom will be raised and he will come home!  Its all about God and His Glory.  Have you seen how his fund to the left of my blog has slowly been tick, tick, ticking upwards?  Thank you Lord.  You are more than enough to cover my inadequacies.  Nick and I have not donated a single penny to Kai’s fund, other than the giveaway prizes.  I have sat down a thousand times to do it, to take matters into my own hands, but each time I feel God telling me “no”, sit back, watch what I will do!

If it were your precious child chained to a crib, lying cold in their own mess, wouldn’t you sell everything to the point of madness to bring them home?  I keep asking, how precious are these children to the Father?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

He knows every hair on their heads too.

This is not a fundraising post that I plan to post on Facebook.  I do not like posting my blog on Facebook status and “advertising” it.  I don’t want it my blog to be a famous blog, I just want it to be out there for friends and family who love me and mine.  It’s a very vulnerable thing to be out there like this and I suffer from a terrible “fear of man”, so maybe I will the next one..

But oh my goodness??? How can I do nothing?

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act.

Thank you so much to any friends and family (and friends I haven’t met) who have donated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know there are many of you who have donated and have not told me because you want to remain anonymous and have not entered to win the iPad. 

I still have one month to raise money for Kai and his ransom.  There is so much more to share, and I am going to share it!

If you want to help raise the ransom for Kai’s forever family and maybe win an iPad 2, please click on this link HERE.  Or you can donate directly from the link on the left of my blog if you do not want to win the iPad 2, but you really should!  I am the worst about anonymous donations, but now that I am the one asking for money, I am dying to know and to thank each and every one of you!  Bless your hearts.

A Perfect Hamlet

Ok, first off – how cute is my niece???  She’s a keeper! Remember her outfit?

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We originally wanted to go and see Balmoral our last day, but it was closed.  This is actually a very good thing because given that we are all slowwww movers, there’s no way we would have made it there and back and to the airport on time.

Thankfully Dunnotter castle was less than 30 minutes away and also the place where my favorite movie version of Hamlet was filmed! The 1993 Mel Gibson Hamlet was hands down the best Hamlet. I have seen TWO different versions after all, so I consider myself an expert.

Its pretty breathtaking.

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I think Isla looks so cute in this outfit!

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I love this picture!

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Dark and dreary!  Just like a castle should be.

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I just like pictures where Isla looks small since she’s getting so big lately.

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She’s happy because she’s cute!

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Family shot.

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Isla started to get really possessive about other people’s hats… see how intently she is staring at Hallie’s hat?

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Uh oh, there she goes!

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And she eventually got Aunt Tiffy’s too!

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We all thought that it would be the coolest thing if Hallie took her first steps in Scotland…

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Can she do it???

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Uh oh!  Not just yet.

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I guess she’ll just to have take her first steps in the great state of Texas!

We loved the castle, but eventually we had to leave.  Boo.

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That was the end of our trip in Scotland.  We left straight for the airport from there, but we cannot wait to get back!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving

Isla and I are safe and sound in Texas! Whoo hoo. We love the Lone Star State :). And I am sipping Cookie's hot chocolatey heaven right now, all is right with the world.

We had the worst trip over, EVER. Thank goodness I can laugh about it now. I was already feeling pretty discouraged before we got on the plane because Isla was being so busy amongst other things that I wont get into (DME is the least kid friendly airport in the world - I may start looking for different routes home for that reason) and within an hour I started feeling something funny in my tummy... I am sure you know the feeling, the feeling that very soon, something will be coming... UP that is!

Of course being the Godly young woman that I am I immediately start blaming God - ugh, God, I asked you to prepare the way for me? Didn't I pray and ask you to make this trip easy for me? Couldn't you make Isla into a calm child for ONCE? Why does she have to have so much energy? Why won't she sit still and watch TV? And now on top of everything I am SICK! Lord, please don't let me get sick! You are awful for doing this to me!!!

And then like any righteous martyr I started to compare myself to Job because just like Job, everything external was going wrong, and NOW even my health was being taken from me. But then I snapped back to reality, and I quickly realized that I am nothing like Job. He went through far more than I ever have and never once sinned or lashed out at God in anger. I mean, I was upset because I had to corral a busy toddler on a 12 hour flight while sick... Thank goodness I had a busy toddler to corral, Job lost every single one of his precious children!

And then I prayed a different prayer, that I would have patience. That I would lean on God for the next several hours. That I would suck it up, die to myself, and watch over my baby girl patiently. That I would be joyful always and give thanks no matter what my circumstances. And the next several hours were the hardest of my life, but I got through it somehow, and was able to relay the story to my husband with a laugh.

I told him all about how Isla kept running into business class and all over the plane while I chased her down aching with fever, how I hit the bathroom and up-chucked during the worst turbulence of my life and thankfully managed to get it all in the toilet and not on myself since I didn't have a change of clothes on me, how Singapore Airlines - famous for their service - had the least helpful flight attendants on that flight, and somehow they had lost the reservation for a child's meal for Isla so she had nothing to eat but the snacks I had brought and the ONE jar of baby food that the flight attendants could scrounge up, how we had a head wind the ENTIRE time that turned it into a FOURTEEN hour flight, how Isla broke a glass on the floor that took forever to get cleaned up so I had to hold her squirmy, fighting little body on my lap, and finally at T-minus 2 hours Little Isla Frances vomited all over herself, the chair, the floor, leaving us only one seat to sit on that was untouched.

It was a tough trip! But we survived by the Grace of God. Nick got sick too, so there must have a bug that hit our family. And I have to be honest, once I got to my mom's house, I couldn't believe that I had done it.

Anyway, I didn't do a Thanksgiving post on the day, but I want to do one now because I am very thankful right now.

I am thankful for the following things-

My God - he made the heavens and the earth, and yet He loved me enough to become human and die on the cross in atonement for my sins so that I could be right with Him and spend eternity worshipping Him.

My trip is OVER and that I am at my parents, and I don't have to do that flight by myself again until Isla is much older because Nick will be with me on my way home to Russia.

My husband. I love him so much, and he loves me too.

My baby girl, we prayed for so long for her and she is the most blessed, funny thing in our lives.

Our parents, both mine and Nick's, we are so lucky to have TWO sets of amazing parents.

An extra one for my mom, she was waiting for me when Isla and I got up at 5 am, ready to snatch Isla up and feed us breakfast!

My family. They know me best and still love me.

My friends, the new ones in Russia and the old ones in the states, I have been blessed with the BEST friends.

Nick's job, we have everything we need plus a little extra, and we get to live in and travel to some amazing places.

Our health - we are all pretty healthy and that is awesome.

For technology that allows me to keep in touch with people from all over the world, and get home in two short days.

For my new warm winter jacket, I've really been needing one and the one I ordered from Land's End is perfect.

That it, there are probably a million and one small things that I am thankful for but those are the ones that come to mind right now!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Serendipity

Isla is a Scottish name – it’s a river in Scotland (and I also just found out – a famous whiskey).  The Scottishness of Isla’s name had nothing to do with the why of why we named her.  Its just an extra little tidbit of trivia that I have never really thought that much about it.

When I told people that we were going to Scotland, they all said that we should go and see the River Isla, but I just blew them off.  I didn’t even bother to look up where it was, even though I wanted to do it.  I figured that one of two things would happen 1) it would be too far away and I would be disappointed because we couldn’t see it or 2) it would be close enough, but inconvenient so I would do everything I could do cram it into our already limited free time.

So what happened when we were driving back from Loch Ness was pure magic.  We took a different way back from Loch Ness than the way we had earlier and it was getting dark, and right at twilight as we were crossing a bride, I saw a sign for…

THE RIVER ISLA!

Of course we had to stop.  We had to.

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The setting on the banks of the river was so picturesque.  There was a beautiful stone bridge across a shallow, rocky, babbling river.  There was even an old cemetery to the left that you cannot see.947 (640x425)

Standing over the River Isla.

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Papa and his girl.

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Me and my baby.

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This was the BEST part of our trip, for me anyway.

I love my little Scottish lass. Smile

I’m a Believer!

We only had one full day where Nick was not working in Scotland and even though it was kind of far (3ish hours) and we had two little babies, we knew that we had to at least try to visit Scotland’s most well known tourist attraction and get a glimpse of a certain prehistoric creatures that lives in the depths of the famed Loch Ness.

We went to Inverness first and ate at the just-fancy-enough-to-make-my-husband uncomfortable Mustard Seed restaurant, which of course turned out to be not even that fancy, and also remarkably kid friendly and inexpensive. Seriously, the kids menus in the UK were out of this world!  No macaroni and chicken fingers for those British kids, they get full kids menus filled with all kinds of neat and fancy foods – USA, take note!  Then from there, we went onward to Urquhart Castle, which is said to be the best castle from which one can view Nessie.

Our biggest goal for the day was to try to get good pictures of these cute little baby princesses in their matching dresses.  An even more impossible goal – I think – than spotting Nessie, yes they are cute and incredibly photogenic, but they are ultimately also very squirmy. Isla did at least get the gist of what we were doing and did her best to smother Hallie with her hugs, which was cute, but we didn’t get too many face and smiling shots.Hallie and Isla 4 (640x402)Isla and Hallie (640x416)Isla and Hallie 2 (640x414)Isla and Hallie 3 (640x425)Isla and Hallie 5 (640x425)

This one looks a little treacherous!  The girls were perfectly safe, I can assure you.

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Isla, giving Hallie the lay o’ the land.

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Kissing cousins.

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Brother and sister.

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I love this one!

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How green is this valley?

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I know people say that Ireland is supposed to be really green, but I have been to Ireland in the middle of the summer and Scotland in October, and Ireland has got NOTHING on Scotland.  Nick kept asking everywhere we went what the grass was called (yes, he is like Hank Hill when it comes to grass-care), and all he got was blank stares because no one thinks anything about how amazingly green and soft their grass is!

The beautiful Highlands.

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Four girls.

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The family.

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The highlands again.

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In spite of the fact that Nessie decided not to reveal herself – it was a pretty awesome day… and coming next! The BEST part of our Scotland trip!

Scotland: The Beginning

So, I am finally getting around to posting about Aberdeen, Scotland…

Nick was in training for the first four days that we were there so we kept it pretty low key on those days.  Monday I just worked on figuring out how to get to downtown Aberdeen from the hotel we stayed at near the airport using the train – in case you haven’t heard, I HATE TRAINS. 

I took our broken iPad in to the Apple Store at Union Square, and I fully expected it to cost $350 to repair, but the guy at the Apple store replaced it for FREE! It was amazing. That guy was a heavily tattooed and pierced angel. We also ate at TGIF – a lot.  Here are Isla and I eating lunch alone.

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The whole family eating lunch at TGIF later that night.

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Tuesday I just shopped, and then Wednesday, Nick’s sister flew in with baby Hallie!  We spent the day downtown and Nick met us for dinner at Wagamama’s which I have been hearing a lot about so I wanted to try it.

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Nick, Tiffany and Hallie on the subway home.

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Thursday was the best day!  Nick was still in class so we went to this place outside of Aberdeen called Storybook Glen.  It’s a beautiful piece of property where the owners have built statues of different storybook characters.  Its was so pretty and the grass was so green and soft.  It was the perfect place to let Isla run around, and there was almost no one there.

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If I had known how beautiful it was going to be, I would have brought my good camera and taken more pictures!

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This picture cracks me up.  Since there was no one there, we left Hallie asleep in Isla’s stroller while we walked over to another statue about 100 ft away.  Isla got so upset that we were leaving “baby” that she ran over and tried to push Hallie over to us.

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Storybook Glen is a beautiful place, and a must-see if you have kids and are visiting Aberdeen!

I loved Aberdeen, and I would love to move there one day. Nick’s company has an office there so who knows??? Maybe its in our future.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas in November

Since we are leaving this week for the USA, and we won’t be getting back until January 8th or 9th, I decided to go ahead and assemble two of the Christmas presents that I bought for Nick and Isla at IKEA last Thursday.  I am so thankful for my driver, Andrey.  He is the best and a huge help.  Since its 2 1/2 to 3 hours away, it already promises to be a very long day, but Andrey comes with me, and runs interference for me and helps me carry things so we can get in and out of the mall quickly.  He is awesome!

First, Isla got her very first little play kitchen.  Its so cute, and she loves it!  It keeps her very busy while I am cooking.  The little IKEA dishes and pans that you can buy separately are so realistic, so she thinks she has ones just like mine – which makes her more likely to play with them. Notice the little hooks that you can hang utensils and pots and pans from? Adorable.

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For Christmas for Nick, I bought him a HUGE world map from IKEA. He loves maps and I have had this bare wall for 7 months now, and I couldn’t decide how to arrange the family photos on it.  I have also been on the look out for a Russian painting, but I haven’t found one I like in my price range.  In the mean time, we both love this.  Its better than the TV!  We spend very long periods of time staring at this – if we were both better at geography then it might not be so fascinating, but every time we look at it, its like we are realizing where everything is for the first time!

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We are trying to keep Christmas small this year. We don’t really need that much, but I think that we will get a lot of enjoyment out of these two presents!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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