Saturday, June 30, 2012

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

If, and when, we move to the Kellybrook area, we will have lots of new neighbors.  Most of them with young, school-aged kids.  Coralyn will actually have playmates her age, right next door (most likely)!  I am looking forward to meeting the people who live in the houses we have been driving past the last several weeks.  I am excited about developing friendships with them and introducing them to Jesus as we live side by side.  Our prayer is for them to see Jesus in every area of our lives -- when they come over for supper or play with our kids in the backyard or bump into each other at an elementary music performance or splash each other at the neighborhood pool.

As I mentioned before, the Kellybrook area is densely populated with young families with children.  Around 650 boys and girls ages 5-11 attend the elementary school alone!  Check out this Google Map birds-eye-view of the area these kids call home.  Hopefully, we will soon call it home too!

Today, we went with our realtor, and good friend, to look at quite a few houses.  Several in particular caught our eye.  If everything falls into place, we could be moving into one of those houses soon!  Of course, we have to actually put our house on the market and someone has to want to buy it.  They have to make an offer and be approved for the loan.  The house has to pass inspection and all that jazz.  I'm not sure what all else is involved in selling a house, but I am sure lots of i's will have to be dotted and t's crossed before all is said and done.  Not only to sell our house but for us to buy one as well.  Like I said, everything has to fall into place just right.

I get overwhlemed as I think about jumping through all those hoops, but then right before I start to hyperventilate, God reminds me that He is a God of details, that He has everything all figured out -- even the things I have absolutely no idea about.  He has all His ducks in a row, quacking and waddling just like they are supposed to be.  And so I can rest assured that He will not only provide the perfect place for us to live, but He will also bring the exact right people to our house, at the exact right time.

Please pray with me, and for me, as we continue on this wild and crazy adventure God has laid before us!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sense of Urgency

I told Lawrence last night I better understand how missionaries feel when they are in the process of raising support.  They feel called to reach out to a certain country or area; their hearts are full of love for the people there, whether that be a foreign country far, far away or the streets of their current cit or somewhere in between.  They desperately want to live among them and share Jesus with them.  BUT, they have to raise support first, before they can go.  And so they ask people to join them in the ministry God has given them.  They admit they can't do it alone and need others to help them -- by donating money and by praying.  They visit churches, send out emails and handwritten letters, post videos on facebook, etc. to spread the word about the task God has laid before them.  Then, they wait...

Waiting, it seems like it would be an easy thing to do.  But no, waiting is hard, REALLY HARD.  You are filled to overflowing with this sense of urgency, and yet you aren't able to fully act on those desires.  You can't quite fulfill your dreams or turn your ideas into reality, not just yet at least.  Instead, you have to wait.

And so you pray more for other people to catch the vision, to realize the need these people have for Jesus, to understand the heaviness of the burden you carry in your heart and mind as you think about the work God has called you to do.  You long for them to sense the same urgency that you do.  But, of course, you can't make them feel or do anything.  Only God can do that.  So, you wait for Him to act, to rally the troops.

God always comes through, usually in a way that is bigger than we could ever have imagined.  Which makes all the waiting worthwhile!  It doesn't make the waiting itself any easier at the time, but just like a woman in labor is soon overwhelmed with love and joy and pride as she holds her newborn for the first time, our waiting will be overshadowed by our delight when God breathes life into our hopes and dreams.

As I think about the ministry God has given us, my heart is filled with this same intense urgency.  These boys and girls NEED Jesus.  Some of them are hurting and need His healing.  They may feel alone or unlovable or invisible.  Perhaps, they have bought the lie that they don't quite measure up or that they don't matter.  Whatever the case may be, each and every one of these children (and their families) NEED Jesus.  Yes, they are young.  What better time to be introduced to Jesus, to develop a deep personal relationship with Him, and learn how to boldly and passionately pursue Him in every area of their lives?!

Kellybrook is the 10th elementary school in Liberty!  Around 650 students attend just this one K-5 school!
Those numbers blow my mind as I graduated with a class of 30 from a K-12 school with around 250 students total!  My entire hometown has between 500-700 people.  And that's how many boys and girls, ages 5-11, go to Kellybrook Elementary alone!  You can tell from the map that Kellybrook is a "young" family-dense area.  It's one of the smallest zones, and yet one of the most highly populated schools.  So in addition to the 600 or so school-aged children living in these neighborhoods, I am sure some of them have younger brothers and sisters who aren't in school yet.  And I bet you some of them have older siblings who are in middle school, junior high, and high school.  That's A LOT of kids who NEED Jesus!  

But, you may say, Liberty is a well-churched area.  Yes, it is.  I would guess we have about 50 or so churches in our area.  I can also guarantee you that not every single family in Kellybrook regularly attends one of these 50+ churches.  And even those kids who do go to church every single Sunday, or Saturday, may not have a personal relationship with Jesus.  That is foundational and of utmost importance, of course.  But it doesn't just stop there -- oh no, that is just the beginning, the very beginning.  We strongly sense the need for DISCIPLESHIP, starting when these boys and girls are young, setting them up for a solid, deep, ever-growing relationship with Jesus.  We want to plant seeds and help these kids grow strong roots, but we also want to watch them bear fruit.  It's been so exciting (and rewarding) to see Lawrence's former students (and mine too) invite friends to camp year after year.  Because of those 9 students who first went to Ponca back in 2007, around 90 kids from the Liberty area are registered for camp so far this summer!  Those former 3rd graders will be in high school this coming fall, and that brings on a whole new mission field.  It's a ripple effect that will keep growing and growing and growing.

I could go on for quite some time about what we feel God is laying on our hearts, but I will stop here, for now.  But be prepared to hear a lot about Kellybrook and the vision God is giving us for the many opportunities God could give us there.  We have a sense of urgency to begin this ministry, so it's extremely hard to be in the waiting phase...We know, however, that God is definitely at work and will bring about His perfect plans and purposes in His timing.  Thank you for your prayers as we seek His leading, guidance, and provision!  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ripe and Juicy

The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.
Luke 10:2

     This verse brings to mind a movie I watched way back in junior high and high school.  A farming family lost their dad and didn't know how they were going to manage.  The mom and her young boys were doing their best to keep up the farm, but of course they couldn't do everything on their own.  When the wheat was ripe, all the neighbors drove their combines (or whatever machine you use to cut the wheat) side by side through the fields and completed the harvest in record time.  The movie ends with this verse scrolling across the screen and soft music playing.  And then, of course, a missionary or guest speaker would get up and talk to us about the importance of missions.  They would challenge us to get involved in missions in some form or another, usually a short-term trip in the summer.

     Having grown up in church and being there practically every time the doors were open, I have been well exposed to missions.  As a child, we attended a Southern Baptist church.  Right up there with altar calls at the end of every service was the annual Lottie Moon Missions Offering.  I am sure we always gave to the offering, but really had no idea what or who the money went towards specifically.  I can't recall having missionaries "sent" from our church.  I was, however, familiar with the idea of missions.  I remember learning about different countries and trying "exoctic" foods like kiwi that missionaries in foreign lands would eat.  Through these experiences, God began to develop "a heart for missions" inside of me.  More than anything I wanted to be a missionary doctor to the deep, dark jungles of Africa.

     When I was in 5th grade, we moved and started going to a new church.  Once again, I was exposed to missions.  Pictures of missionaries who had grown up in the church or community and felt called to spread the Good News were displayed on a wall with a map.  Strings from their pictures went to places like England, Germany, Spain, Japan, Morocco, and Argentina.  God continued to work in my heart, and my desire to be missionary intensified.  My vision began to change, though, and I became more interested in working with children.  I also realized that the road to becoming a doctor was quite long, and I wasn't sure I wanted to spend that much time in school.  And so, I went to college to become a teacher!

     I didn't attend just any college, but Moody Bible Institute, who just so happens to "produce" quite a few missionaries.  When I was there, I think the stat was that 1 in every 4 missionaries graduated from Moody.  Living in the inner city and further exposure to missions in all forms stirred within me the desire to work with underprivileged children, providing them with a quality education and introducing them to Jesus in the process.  God opened doors, in some pretty big and obvious ways, for me to join Kids Alive International in the country of Haiti.  I lived there for nearly two years and experienced both the best and worst times in my life to that point.

     When I finished my two-year term and returned to the United States, I truly believed that I would only be here for a short time.  I was sure that God was going to send Lawrence and me back overseas, somewhere, hopefully Africa, to work with kids in some sort of educational setting and tell them about Jesus as we helped them learn math, reading, and writing skills.  Honestly, I didn't want to be in America.  I was judgmental of people who lived in big houses and drove nice cars.  I got overwhelmed walking into Wal-Mart, all that food and clothes and toys and electronics in ONE place was almost more than I could handle.  Let alone the idea that children in Haiti were starving while people tossed leftovers in the trash without a second thought.  I figured that sooner than later Lawrence and I would be moving to a foreign country far, far away, and that in the meantime I would have to "settle" for living and working in the good ol' US of A.  And in suburbia to boot!

      As I taught 5th grade, my goal was to expose my students to missions, to help them develop critical thinking skills, and to equip them to make a difference in the world -- whether it be their home, neighborhood, church, or some foreign land in the future.  I wanted them to realize how "good" they have it here in the United States.  More than that though, I longed for them to have deep personal relationships with Jesus, to truly KNOW Him, not just about Him.  I didn't want to fill them with knowledge about the Bible, I wanted to show them how to live it out, boldly and passionately.

     God was at work, way back then, helping me see that I didn't need to be in some country in Africa to be a missionary.  Nope, He had called me to work with children right here in the Heart of America.  God has made it very clear that the kids of Liberty/Kansas City, Missouri (and their families) are our mission field.  In addition to teaching our students in the classroom, He has given us the opportunity to invite these boys and girls to Ponca Bible Camp.  This will be the 6th year that we have invited Lawrence's students, and God has blown this ministry out of the water.  Back in 2007, we drove 9 kids down to camp in a 12-passenger van.  The next year 18 kids signed up for Ponca.  The third year, about 40 boys and girls attended camp.  Then 60, then 80.  I don't know the numbers for this year yet (as you can still register for one of the remaining 4 weeks of camp!).  I do know that A LOT of kids are going.  Some of the kids are going for two weeks of camp because they love Ponca so much.  I called about 25 parents for week 2, 13 for week 3, and then just today 12 or so more for week 4.  I still have 27 parents to call for week 5 and another 11 for week 6.  I think all together about 90 kids from the Liberty/Kansas City area will be going to Ponca!  Over half of these kids I don't even know!  Lawrence's former students (and mine too) have invited friends and those friends have invited other friends to come to camp.  I feel kind of weird calling complete strangers, but it's also extremely exciting to see how God is at work in getting kids to camp!

     My heart exploded when we got the bus lists, and I saw how many kids had registered for camp so far.  I had no idea!  I am anxious (in a good way) to watch God work in these boys and girls, not just the week they are at Ponca, but for the many years to come.  Crazy, next year some of our former students will be old enough to counsel at camp!!! 

     As I think about this amazing ministry God has given us, I can't help but get ansy as I think about the opportunity we will have to invite the boys and girls in the Kellybrook area once we actually live there in the midst of them.  So many kids live in those neighborhoods.  The harvest is certainly ripe and juicy!  And I can hardly wait to help harvest it!

      Amazing how God has turned me full circle.  Less than 5 years ago I couldn't wait to get out of America, and now I want more than anything to move into a subdivision in one of the top ten suburbs for people to live (according to an article we read last year).  We may not be moving overseas, but we are definitely answering the call to be missionaries!  Lawrence jokingly asked me last night if that means we have to start raising support :) 

      All I know is that God is filling my heart, and it's about ready to burst as I think about all He has for us, right here, right now.

The Best Nest

The idea that God has a sense of humor is becoming more and more of a tried and true fact than just a whimsical thought.  And I am glad that He does.  Life would be far too serious, and stressful, if He didn't give us something to laugh at (sometimes that something happens to be someone -- ourselves).  Yesterday afternoon, He did it yet again and brought a huge smile to my face as I read a book to Coralyn.

We had been reading book after book after book.  As soon as we finished one book, she would reach into the basket and get another one, "Let's read this one now, Mommy!"  All of the books were by none other than Dr. Suess, who always seems to be able to teach me a life lesson whether he is writing about "green eggs and ham" or "all the things you can think if only you just try."  This particular book was called The Best Nest and told the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bird as they searched for a new house.  Apparently, Mrs. Bird had grown tired of her "old" birdhouse and insisted they find a newer, bigger, better house.  The love birds set off to find "the best nest" but have quite the time finding a suitable home.  An empty boot soon gets filled with the owner's foot.  The postal worker (is that the politically correct term these days?) disturbs their afternoon nap when he delivers the mail.  A squirrel doesn't want to share his cozy hole in a tree.  Finally, after flying all over town, Mr. and Mrs. Bird happen upon the "perfect" place to set up house -- a church bell tower.  They collect string and straw and hair and set about the task of making their nest.  When they are done, they settle down to rest, but not two minutes later they are rudely awakened when Mr. Brown comes to ring the bell, as he does every day at 12 noon.  Shaken up, literally, Mrs. Bird flies off with a huff and a puff, extremely frustrated that their search for a new home has been an epic fail.  Mr. Bird takes a bit longer to figure out what has happened and once he comes to, Mrs. Bird is nowhere to be found.  He sets off to find his wife, and if being separated from his soulmate wasn't enough, a big storm thwarts his search and rescue mission.  In his attempt to dodge the thunder and lightening, Mr. Bird whacks into something.  It's dark and he can't see anything, so he decides to just rest for a bit and continue looking for Mrs. Bird after the rain stops.  Well, wouldn't you know it, he had run smack dab into his old birdhouse.  And even better, Mrs. Bird was inside!  She had returned to their original lay an egg!  When Mr. Bird questions why his wife came back to the house she couldn't stand any longer just the day before, she shows him the egg and announces that this old birdhouse is indeed the best nest for them to welcome a new little bird!

As I read the story to Coralyn, I couldn't help but catch the similarities to our present situation.  In deciding to put our house on the market, we have been looking at numerous houses on-line and driving around the neighborhoods in the Kellybrook area eyeing houses we might like.  Finding the "perfect place" has proven more difficult than I thought.  I figured since the houses in that area are bigger, they would have everything we were looking for in our new place.  Nope.  And even though they are nicer and newer than our current house, they just don't measure up (in some ways).  In fact, it's ironic that God is calling us to move now.  For many years I have visited friends or simply driven past other houses and played the comparision game or sighed an "I wish..."  But recently, God has replaced this jealousy with genuine contentment.  I truly like our house.  It is everything we need, and more really.  We have 3 bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs.  We have 2 full bathrooms and one half bath.  We have a nice living room and a rec room downstairs where we can play ping pong, foos ball, and darts (all at the same time) to boot.  We have an office and a play room.  We have a great backyard with room for a swing set and trampoline, plus some pretty cool landscaping (including a three layer garden)!  The only thing I would change about our house is that we would have a bigger kitchen with more cabinets and counter space and an actual dining room/area.  But I don't really need those things.  I have survived just fine for the past 5 years without them, and I am sure that I could manage another 30 years as well.  Yes, they would be nice, but they aren't truly necessary.  And so I have come not just to be okay with our house, but to LOVE it.  This is our HOME. 

We have made so many memories here.  And Coralyn finds it quite confusing why some strangers are coming to look at our house and possibly buy it.  "It's OUR house!" she reminded me again and again yesterday while we were driving around, waiting for the potential buyers to finish touring our house.

Yesterday, as the girls napped, I looked on-line yet again at the houses for sale in the Kellybrook area.  I ended up putting 12 of them on a "favorites list."  Weird that my top two are nothing like what I would have described to you as my "perfect" house just a few days ago.  I am realizing, though, that what our house looks like or how many bedrooms it has or how big the kitchen is aren't the most important factors.  Instead, it's all about location.  God has called us to live in the Kellybrook area, and given us a vision to reach the kiddos and families there.  The house isn't the main thing -- no, it's just BEING there in the community, living side by side the boys and girls, doing life with them day in and day out, and showing them Jesus in the process.

So, whatever house God provides for us, it will be the BEST NEST for the Young family.

And as if He is assuring me, yet again, that He will indeed provide this house for us, He had me read these verses in Psalm 57 this morning.

I look to You for protection.  I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings.

I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me.

My God will send forth His unfailing love and faithfulness.

My heart is confident in You, O God, no wonder I can sing Your praises!

For Your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.  Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 
Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.  May Your glory shine over all the earth.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

Ever since Jay asked me last weekend if he could show our house to some potential buyers, I have been in a freenzied state.  I have been rushing around trying to get as much done as possible to make the house as appealing as it can be for these people, whoever they are.  Every spare minute has been spent painting, vaccuming, dusting, mopping, and arranging everything "just so."  Given that I had three children under the age of three for the majority of the time that I was running around on a cleaning rampage, I didn't get as much accomplished as I would have hoped. 

Not all the basement rooms got painted. 

Cabinet handles didn't get "updated."

New flooring wasn't laid in the kitchen or bathroom.

The basement didn't get carpeted.

And we didn't win the lottery to be able to afford to do most of those projects anyway.

BUT, my house is the cleanest it has ever been in a very long time.  Every room has been dusted.  All the floors with carpet have been not only vaccumed but steam cleaned as well.  The ceiling fans have been washed -- I had no idea they were so gross!!!  The other floors have been swept and mopped.  Cupboards, floorboards, doorframes, and anything else I could think of have been wiped down and sanitized.  Piles of papers and other random assortments of stuff have been organized, or at least shoved into closets or drawers for the time being (like I said I had three small children who needed changed, fed, and played with).

I didn't just work inside either, but braved the heat and did my best to get our yard and landscaping in top form as well.  I pulled weeds in the garden, in the landscaped area, and even from between the cracks of the bricks in our fire pit spot.  My finger tips are now numb, but all the weeds are gone (for now at least).

This morning I was doing a few last minute things like wiping down the table one more time and picking up tiny specks of dirt from the carpet.  The potential buyers were scheduled to see the house around 11:30, but we left at 9 this morning.  I didn't want to have to keep telling Coralyn, "Don't touch that!"  or "Don't spill your milk!"  So we headed to Chick-fil-A, where Miss Julie greeted us with a huge smile and a big hug.  She was delighted to see us, and we couldn't have been happier to see her as well.  Coralyn played and played and played.  At 10:30, she informs me she is ready to go home.  Since that wasn't an option, we decided to visit Hy-Vee.  Coralyn enjoyed a piece of cheese from the deli and Kellah slept in the sling while we just walked around the store.  Finally, around 11 we thought it would be fun to surprise Lawrence at work -- recess is at 11:15, so that would be perfect!  We hit every green light on the way, so we had a few minutes to spare, so I drove to the little park in the area where we just might be moving.  Sadly, the slide was too hot, so we just sat on the bench for a bit.  As we were getting back in the car to head to the school, Lawrence called, from the DMV wanting to know where the newest insurance card for the car was so he could get the new tag.  I had totally forgotten that he had a technology class this morning and wasn't actually at school.  We met for lunch at  Subway instead.  He ate his sandwich and then had to get going so he could be at school for the afternoon.  We finished our lunch and waited for Jay to let us know that the showing was done.

Right around noon, he sent me a text saying they were gone.  We packed up and came home.  The girls crashed (both of them!).

I spent a good chunk of nap time looking at houses for sell in the Kellybrook area.

Granted, I have no idea if the people today even liked our house, let alone want to make an offer on it.  We just have to wait and see. 

All that hurrying and scurrying.  Time seemed to fly by as I was trying to get everything done.  Now the clock doesn't seem to be moving.  Time appears to be standing still, as we wait for word either way.  Tick, tock, tick, tock. 

I hate waiting.  But for now, it's all I can do.  Wait, wait, wait.

"Wait patiently on the Lord, and He will act."  I am holding tightly to that verse for sure!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Caution: God at Work

Don't you just love seeing the "Caution: Men at Work" and "Road Work Ahead" signs?  Right along with them come the reduced speed limit signs and the warnings that fines are doubled in work zones.  All these signs seem to come at least 12 miles before the place where the road work is actually taking place.  Or better yet, the road work hasn't even begun...BUT the cones are still out, eliminating not one but two lanes of traffic -- meaning that the three-lane interstate has become a narrow one-lane road with a line of cars backed up for miles as you creep along and see a snail pass you on the left.

I have mentioned that I believe God is truly at work in our lives, doing something bigger than I could ever imagine or dream up on my own.  Thankfully, it hasn't just been a ruse -- orange cones and huge caution signs and reduced speed warnings with no actual road work being done yet.  No, God really is up to something, and He seems to be letting us know it!

Last night we had supper with our good friends the Popps.  Their little girl Sylvia and Coralyn are birthday buddies, born just about 12 hours apart.  We have been friends with Brian and Maggie ever since we took Bradley classes with them back in 2009.   They are foster parents as well, and have greatly encouraged, challenged, and inspired us along our own journey of fostering.  They recently decided to put their house on the market, and like us are discouraged by the current market and frustrated that selling their house will result in a loss of money, not a gain (aren't homes supposed to be an investment where you make money!!!!).  We are in the same boat.  And the boat seems to be drifting out to sea, where the way is deep and way over our heads.  If the boat tips, we will drown.

As we said good-bye, I told Brian and Maggie we would pray for their house to sell if they did the same for us.  Apparently, they got down on their knees last night before going to bed.  We haven't even officially put our house on the market.  The sign isn't up in the yard.  No one knows that we are thinking of selling, except for our realtor friend and all of you who have so kindly taken the time to read my blog! :) 

God doesn't need us.  He has reminded me of that many times, in various ways, throughout my life.  Well, He did it again today.  Jay, our realtor friend, just called to let me know that he has a client who is interested in a house in the Westboro area, where we live.  They have lost bids on FOUR different houses and are getting pretty discouraged.  Jay mentioned that he might know of another house they could look at and wanted to get our okay to show our house to this couple.  Well, we have painted the stairwell and basement bathroom, but nothing else has gotten done given that we just added a third young child to our family and I haven't really had much time to complete any major projects.  I'm doing good to get laundry done and supper made.  However, I told Jay we would be happy to have him show the house NEXT WEEK!

So, I am asking for a miracle here.  I am praying that this couple falls in love with our house, just the way it is.  I want them to envision themselves living here happily ever after.  I would jump up and down with giddy joy and excitement if Jay called me to let me know they wanted to make an offer on our house.  And then after I shrieked and screamed, I would freeze in "terror" because we don't actually have a place to move to after our house sells. 

But, I am sure God already has that all worked out.  He seems to have taken care of everything else thus far.  I think He's got this "minor" detail covered too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Three Under Three

God has a sense of humor, I believe.

I've mentioned that I have sensed that God is at work behind the scenes, that He's up to something big, bigger than I could imagine or dream up on my own.

For about a month now, I have had the strange desire to move Kellah into Coralyn's room, even though we didn't really need the extra bedroom at the time.  After I found out I have two little boys for daycare this fall, I decided that I would for sure have the girls share a room and use the other bedroom as a mini play room and nap room for the boys.  The plan was to do all the rearranging while my parents are visiting in July.  They're coming to help me get a bunch of projects done around the house in order to prep it for market, so changing the rooms around would be a perfect job for that week.

One thing I am looking forward to about our new house is that it will have a 4th bedroom that can be set up and ready for a foster kiddo at all times.  When I blogged that we wanted to put our house on the market and move to the Kellybrook area, I talked about how we could use the bigger house for various ministry opportunities, one of them being welcoming kids into our home and showing them the love of Jesus in a day in-day out type of way.  I mentioned how it would be nice to not have to rearrange bedrooms at 9 pm to get ready for a foster placement.

Stick with me for a appears that I am changing gears all together, but I am just moving to another way that God has been working to get things ready for what is now happening in our family.  It will all make sense in a minute.  Trust me.

I am very excited about watching the two little boys, both of whom will be 15 months old come August.  Not only will I have a consistent income, but the girls will have some playmates every day.  However, I was thinking how Coralyn might have more fun with a little girl, who was closer to her age.  And so I began praying that God would send a little 2 to 3 year-old girl for me to watch this fall.

God has been extremely faithful to answer my prayers.  On Wednesday of last week, I woke up feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders as we had learned that our house was worth quite a bit less than we had hoped.  Not to mention we didn't have the money needed to do most of the projects our realtor friend suggested, let alone pay all our bills, fill the cars with gas, and put food on the table.  So, I took my fears and worries to God and cried out to Him to act on our behalf.  I specifically asked for Bradley childbirth students and kiddos for daycare.  Well, one week later, I have received 5 emails about childbirth classes and 4 confirmed students.  I have gotten a call about daycare and set up part-time (3 days a week) childcare for a second little boy.  God has certainly heard, and answered, my prayers!!!

He didn't forget about my prayer for a little girl playmate for Coralyn, though.  He answered that prayer last night, just in a very, very different way than I was expecting.  About 8:30 pm, Kellah woke up and I went in to check on her.  As I sat down to nurse her, my cell phone rang.  Lawrence answered the phone and then called out for me; I couldn't figure out why he didn't just talk to the person himself or tell the caller that I would get back with them in just a few minutes.  When I came out in the living room, he asked, "A 21 month old girl?"  I immediately thought he was talking to a potential daycare client, and so when I took the phone I was searching for pen and paper to write down all their information.  I was surprised when the lady on the line began, "I'm here at Children's Mercy with a little girl...."  I had to stop her and explain that I needed a second to get my brain on track, switching from daycare to foster parenting!  Once I was on the same page, the woman went on to describe the situation and tell me more about the little girl.  Lawrence and I both felt a peace about having this little girl join our family.  We let the woman know we would be glad to take in the child! 

I hung up the phone, and we immediately began the process of moving Kellah into Coralyn's room.  It was 9 pm on the dot!  Like I said,  God has a sense of humor. 

An hour or so later, the girls' "new" bedroom was set up and the extra bedroom was ready for the little girl.  Lawrence had moved the mattress to the lowest setting in the crib while I rearranged all the other furniture in the two rooms.  Thankfully (I guess), Coralyn hadn't fallen asleep yet, so she "helped" me get everything ready.  We even went downstairs and picked out two special stuffed animals for the little girl to have so that she felt more comfortable .  We explained to Coralyn that this little girl might be scared or shy and that we would need to be extra nice to her.  I reminded her that she would need to share her toys, and maybe even clothes, with this little girl.  Once everything was physically ready, we set down as a family and prayed for the little girl who would be joining our family any minute now.

Finally, around 10:30 the investigator pulled up to our curb and got out of her car, holding a precious little girl.  This beautiful child has the biggest blue eyes and cutest blonde curly hair.  She is just adorable.  Without any hesistation, she let me hold her as the investigator told us a bit more about the situation and what would take place the next few days in regards to paperwork, court hearings, DNA testing, and other such foster parenting related matters.  She handed us the little girl's belongings: a sippy cup, a little blanket, a small draw-string bag with a pair of socks, 6 diapers, and 2 onesies inside.  That was it!  Besides the pajamas she was wearing, that was all this little girl had!  The investigator was able to get a carseat for her, so at least we don't have to go out and buy one of those!  And as far as clothes, shoes, and other such things go...well, we have PLENTY of that!  I just have to make a trip downstairs, pull out the 18-24 month tub of clothes and she is set!  She's actually not that much smaller than Coralyn, so I may not even bother and just let her wear the clothes already in Coralyn's dresser and closet.

With the late night, both Coralyn and our newest little girl are still sleeping!  I haven't heard a peep from the little girl.  She didn't cry once last night!  Granted, I don't think she has many words in her vocabulary and is a little delayed in her speech, but crying or even whimpering at all!  My heart melted when I put the little girl down and introduced her to Coralyn.  She immediately got a huge smile on her face and reached out to pull Coralyn towards her and give her a hug.  We then walked to her room to show her where she would sleep.  She was more interested in the toy box, and again, her face lit up when she noticed the bag of hair supplies.  She reached in and grabbed a bright yellow pony tail holder and laughed.  It was precious!  She may not have said a word, but this little girl has captured my heart.  I don't understand why anyone would hurt her or do anything to harm her!  How anyone could do such things to this precious, innocent little girl boggles my mind!

This morning I have enjoyed the quiet (as only Kellah is up) and was glad to have the chance to sit down with a cup of coffee and read my Bible.  Again, God has a sense of humor and one of the verses I read seems as if it was written just for me at just this moment in time.  Proverbs 20:24 reminded me, "How can we understand the road we travel?  It is the Lord who directs our steps."
So, so true.  And thus we begin our adventure of parenting three girls under the age of three!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Half Way to a Year

How is it possible that my baby girl is already 6 months old?!

Kellah is growing up, fast!

Well, I guess she's still a little thing...weighing in this morning at 13.5 pounds and measuring 23 inches long!  She is wearing 0-3 month clothes for the most part.  I did get out the 3-6 clothes, just to find some summer outfits - not out of necessity.

What she lacks in size, Kellah makes up in spunk.  From the moment she wakes up in the morning to the time she finally falls asleep at night, Kellah is "talking."  I love her smiles and laughs, her ooohs and aaahs and gaaahs.  I am looking forward to the day when she starts saying, "Mama!"  Not only is Kellah a talker, but she's also a squirmer.  This little girl does not like to sit still, for even a second.  She seems to be on the move.... all. the. time.  When she's on her tummy, she does this "trick" where she spins in a full circle, plays with the same toy for a bit, and then uses her arms to push herself round and round again.  She's not crawling yet, but she does scoot and roll to get where she wants to go.  She will push up on her arms and then kick with her legs and push off her toes to propel herself forwards.  As far as rolling goes, if I lay her on her back, Kellah is on her tummy as quick as a wink.  And then she rolls, always in the same direction, to reach her toys.

Kellah is sitting on her own now, and even got to use the high chair this weekend at Lawrence's parents house.  It was his high chair when he was a baby!!!!  Coralyn used it as well, so it was fun to have Kellah sit in it and be "all grown up."

Speaking of high chairs, Kellah is eating solids.  I am much more laid back when it comes to introducing food to her than I was with Coralyn.  I have decided not to  make baby food -- no purees or mushing things up.  I want her to feed herself from the beginning.  She has 4 teeth, so why not put them to use -- eating food, not biting my fingers!!!! :)  Sometimes when I help her hold a banana (after it's gotten all slimy and is too slippery for her to hang on to), she gets my finger instead of the banana.  Ouch!  Those teeth are sharp! 

So far Kellah has eaten banana, apple, cantaloupe, grapes, blueberries, carrots, green beans, and even black olives.  This morning she had a bite of yogurt.  When I went to put the spoon in her mouth, she grabbed it and held on, "helping" me feed her.  I let go of the spoon, and she kept it in her mouth and sucked the rest of the yogurt right off.  She did the same thing a couple of days ago when I put some of her slimy banana on a spoon since she couldn't hold the actual banana anymore.  She was a pro with that spoon! 

Back to Kellah being on the go...I think she might be pulling up on things and even walking before too long.  She loves to stand!  I will try to get her to sit on my lap or on the floor, and quite often she will just push herself up to a standing position and hold onto my hands for support. 

For our family pictures this weekend, she was able to hold onto the chair and a suitcase and stand all by herself.

I don't want to jinx myself, but in the past week Kellah has been sleeping so much better at night.  She has gone from 12:30 to 5:45 without waking up at all, and this morning she was still sleeping at 6:30!!!  I "dream fed" her then so I could go on a walk without her waking up while I was gone.  She didn't get up until around 8 this morning!  I could really get use to this whole 6+ hours of uninterrupted sleep! :)

Kellah's hair is still as red as ever, and I love that!  Everywhere we go people comment on how beautiful her hair is, and how LONG it is!  I am hoping and praying it stays red -- Coralyn's has really turned more into a strawberry blonde.  Very pretty, but not the bright red it was when she was born.

While we're talking about Coralyn -- she is still a fabulous big sister!  She has her moments, of course, but I couldn't ask for a better big sister for Kellah.  I am blessed beyond measure to be the mother of two precious girls!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Just Call Me Alexander

If you have children or are familiar with children's books, then you have heard of the story about Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I feel like I can relate to Alexander today.  It's been one of "those" days.

The morning actually started out pretty good.  I met with a couple for a private childbirth class.  Granted, I had both Coralyn and Kellah with me, so it was interesting to say the least.  I had told the couple to come at 9 because that is when Kellah typically takes her morning nap.  Well, she didn't get up until 8:45, so she wasn't going to be taking a nap, at least not while they were here for class!  However, I knew she would start to get cranky around 10:30...she did.  I was well prepared in regards to Coralyn, though.  I had my laptop set up in her room and said that she could have a special treat and watch a movie while I taught my class.  I put in the Little Einsteins, knowing it would give me 61 minutes without her trying to "help" me teach.  I even had Bob the Builder ready to put in so she could watch yet another movie.  Like I said, a very special treat for her.  All was well until Little Einsteins finished and Bob the Builder wouldn't work.  You would have thought the world was going to come to an end.  My sweet little girl turned into a hysterical, angry, screaming "monster."  About the same time, Kellah decided she was done playing with her toys and fussed even when I held her.  I guess the couple got to see what real life with kids is like! :)

As soon as the couple left, Kellah fell asleep and took a great nap.  I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, so I took Coralyn downstairs to play in the play room while I painted in the bathroom.  If I had told Coralyn she had to stay in the bathroom with me and watch my every move, she would have insisted on playing in the play room all by herself.  BUT, since I suggested that she go play, she wanted to do the exact opposite and "supervise" my painting.  She didn't get in the way too much, as she entertained herself with the shampoo bottle and empty toilet paper roll in the shower (no water).  She even gave the bottle and roll names and had them act out various scenarios; it was really cute, actually.  I was able to get all the taping and trim work done.  I had just dipped the roller into the paint when Kellah woke up.  I quickly spread that paint and then hurriedly put up my supplies, but not all that well because I planned on coming back down and getting more done later while both girls took an afternoon nap.  Coralyn ran upstairs to "rescue" Kellah, and I soon followed.

I got Kellah out of her crib and settled down in the glider to feed her.  I figured Coralyn would go play in her room or the living room.  I should have known better! :)  Not a minute later, I hear a loud crash, from downstairs.  It didn't sound promising.  I was really scared that the light fixture had fallen and broken glass would be everywhere, Coralyn covered in blood.  Thankfully, it wasn't the light fixture, and there was no blood.  However, the back of the toilet hadn't fared so well.  I had taken it off and laid it on the closed toilet seat so I could better paint back behind the toilet.  I hadn't put it back, because as I said before, I planned on heading back to the bathroom as soon as both girls were napping in a couple of hours.  We would play upstairs or outside until then, so no need to put everything away...especially since Kellah was crying in her crib at the time.  Evidently, Coralyn needed to go potty while I was feeding Kellah.  Why in the world she decided to go all the way downstairs instead of just using the bathroom upstairs, just steps away from Kellah's room, I don't know!  But, for whatever reason, she had gone back downstairs and thought she could lift the back of the toilet all by herself.  That would be the loud bang that I heard!  Good news, it didn't fall on her toes or fingers.  Bad news, the back of the toilet did break.  More bad news, when I picked Coralyn up to carry her upstairs since she already had her leggings and big girl pants at her feet and couldn't walk on her own, I banged her head on the wall.  Good news, she didn't pee all over me and waited until we got to the upstairs bathroom.  Bad news, she was NOT happy with me and thought she should let me know that by screaming at me with her mean, growling "demon-child" voice.  That prompty got her sent to time-out, which resulted in more hysterical yelling.

Eventually, things calmed down.  We played for a bit and then I suggested we take a walk to the mailbox.  After we got the mail, we could play in the front yard for a bit before we came back inside to eat lunch and get ready for our afternoon naps.

I should have left the mail alone.  All I got was bills and junk mail.  Well, I did receive my free sample of Ovaltine that I requested 6-8 weeks ago!  I put the advertisement stuff in the junk pile, opened the Time Warner Cable and MGE bills and put them aside to file later.  I opened the bill from Children's Mercy Hospital thinking it too would go in the file pile, assuming it was a notice telling me that Kellah's hearing screening way back in March was so much money and that insurance had paid the expense on my behalf (that's what insurance is for right!).  Oh no, Children's Mercy was sending me a bill for $657 that needed to be paid by the end of the month!!!  What?!

I promptly went inside, got my insurance card, and called them to see what in the world was going on and why they hadn't paid for this, as I had read that it was covered.  The insurance lady informed me that the hearing screening was indeed covered, but only at a reprised amount of $434.57 which went towards meeting my deductible.  However, I would have to pay that "discounted" price of $434.57.  Well, at least I was saving $200, but I was still a bit upset that insurance didn't cover the entire amount.  Oh, the insurance lady had an answer to that as well.  You see, the hearing screening was considered "diagnostic" and not "preventative," and was thus not paid for by insurance.  If I had the hearing screening done during Kellah's well-baby check-up, then insurance would have paid for the entire amount.  Fabulous!!!  Oh wait, way back when I got the letter in the mail informing me that I was a deliquent parent and required by law to have my child's hearing screened, I did call my family doctor to set up a well-baby check-up appointment at which Kellah could have her hearing checked.  Problem: family doctor doesn't do hearing screening; only Children's Mercy Hospital does that.  Okay, so I called them and set up the appointment, figuring since my doctor referred me to them that insurance would still cover the expense.  I had no idea it was going to cost $657 to check her hearing!!!!!  I never dreamed that I would be personally responsible to pay such an outrageous amount, especially when I knew good and well that Kellah could hear just fine in the first place!!!
And the hearing screening process was a whole different "adventure" in and of itself, but I already blogged about that :)

Back to today's "fun"...

After I hung up with the insurance lady, I immediately called the hospital to inform them that I should have been billed for less.  The nice lady at Children's Mercy had no record that I should have been given the discount.  The insurance company had not contacted them with this information, so I needed to have them fax the hospital assuring that they would cover the difference.

I called the insurance company, again.  I gave them the fax number and requested that they let the hospital know I should be billed "only" $434.57 and not the original $657.  The insurance lady assured me she would get that information to the hospital and wished me a good day.  Thanks, but a good day would have been a letter letting me know that you had paid for the hearing screening in its entirety, not billing me a ridiculous amount for such a simple test!!!

Amidst the phone calls, I fed Kellah and laid her down for her afternoon nap.  I also gave Coralyn her lunch, and then had her go to her room to "rest."  After I put Kellah down in her crib, I went to check on Coralyn.  Her arms were completely covered with ink marks.  Apparently, she had run out of paper or just thought it would be more fun to draw on herself.  The Father Daughter Dance at church is tonight.  How am I supposed to get all that ink off her arms before 7 pm?!

I figured I would take of her arms after she took a nap and wasn't Miss Cranky Pants.  Kellah was napping, so I headed back downstairs to get the first coat of paint on the bathroom walls.  I was actually able to get the job done and started cleaning up, much more thoroughly this time as I figured getting a second coat on was out of the question with the way the day was shaping up so far.  I put the lid on the paint and hammered it down good.  I gathered all my brushes to take upstairs and wash.  I started wiping off the medicine cabinet, which I had been unable to remove from the wall.  In so doing, I caused the light fixture, which was on top of the cabinet because I didn't want to deal with the wires and get electricuted.  I had balanced it on the cabinet and done my best to make sure it was secure.  Yeah, not so much.  As I wiped up the last bit of paint, the light fixture fell down and the lights went out.  So now it's sitting on top of the cabinet, with half of the wires attached and half of them not.  Pretty sure I'm gonna leave that for Lawrence to take care of when he gets home.  I switched off the lights, since they weren't going to be working anyway.  I headed upstairs to get a drink of water and take a deep breath.

Five minutes later, Coralyn is yelling for me from her room.  I go in to see what could possibly be the matter.  She'd peed her pants.  Plus, she's still tired and when Coralyn wakes up tired, she cries and screams.  This, in turn, woke up Kellah from her nap.  I got Coralyn changed, again (earlier today she spilled her drink all over herself).  Coralyn was still being fussy, so I left her in her room and said she could come out when she was done being cranky.  I took Kellah out of her crib and sat down to feed her.  As soon as I did, Coralyn announced she was ready to be nice and asked for a snack.  She wanted a peanut butter sandwich.  I said no; she had one for breakfast.  She wanted graham crackers.  I said no; she had them while I was teaching my class.  She wanted a banana; I told her she needed to finish the one she started at lunch.  It was "yucky."  I told her it was just fine.  She cried.  I walked out of the kitchen to finish feeding Kellah. 

Coralyn decided her banana wasn't that yucky after all and ate it.  However, she left her lunch plate on the table.  It still had food on it, food that was enticing to T-Bone.  I noticed that T-Bone had climbed up on the chair and was looking at Coralyn's plate with wide eyes and licking his lips.  I yelled at him to get down and asked Coralyn to put her plate in the refrigerator so T-Bone wouldn't eat her food.  Coralyn started crying, thinking he had already eaten her lunch.  I assured her he hadn't and to keep him from eating it, she needed to put her plate in the fridge.  As she was taking her plate the two feet from the table to the fridge, she dropped it and spilled everything.

My friend Tiffany just texted me to see if she could come over to get our zoo pass tomorrow.  We will be out of town for Father's Day weekend, but I mentioned that she could come today.  She's going to come over this evening and hang out with me (and Kellah) while Lawrence and Coralyn are at the Father Daughter Dance (figure Kellah can get her picture taken with Daddy and Big Sister and then come year she can stay longer).  Last year, Tiffany came over and we enjoyed some fondue while our husbands took our daughters to the dance.  When Coralyn got home, she puked all over (a reaction to having too much sugar).  I joked with Tiffany that we could have a repeat of last would be a very fitting end to this "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."

Maybe I should just move to Australia, but then again, Alexander's mom told him that bad days happen even in Australia. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shaken, Not Just Stirred

Sorry, Pastor Michael, I totally stole your sermon title for my blog post.  If it makes you feel any better, your sermon was the inspiration behind what I am about to write.  Well, I guess I can't give you all the credit, but how about, say 47%.

For those of you who have no idea who Pastor Michael is or haven't had the opportunity to listen to this sermon that so profoundly impacted me, you are totally missing out!  And so, I have the link for you! That way you can check out the message for yourself and better understand what in the world I am talking about as I begin this post.

Great, now we're all on the same page...

A couple of days ago, I wrote about how God has been working, behind the scenes, to do something BIG in our lives.  I don't know all the details yet.  However, God seems to be revealing His plans little by little.  And it's really cool to discover some of the things He is doing.  It's also really scary as we realize more and more of what He's up to and what He is asking of us so that we can partner with Him in this amazing work.

The last post was about Ukraine and the wonderful privilege we will have this December to host a little boy (or set of brothers) in our home.  How that whole opportunity came about is pretty neat, and it's exciting to look forward to this winter and all that God can do in those short four weeks that the child (or children) is with us.  It's also a bit overwhelming as we think about raising $3,000, interacting with a boy who doesn't speak much English, and everything else that adding another child to your family entails (let alone a child from a completely different culture!). 

Hosting a boy from another part of the world seems so small in comparison to what else God has been doing in our hearts recently, specifically this past week.  For awhile now, both Lawrence and I have felt a "stirring" as we sensed God was preparing to do something in our lives, but we had no idea what that might be.  I was reading books like Radical by David Platt, Forgotten God by Francis Chan, and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis.  By the time I finished reading Katie's story about her life in Uganda, which included adopting 14 girls (!!!!), I was ready to pack up my bags and move to Africa myself.  I even blogged about how I felt God tugging on my heart, showing me that He had something in store for me, for us.  A "mission" that would provide us with the opportunity to work wtih children in such a way that would rock their world as we introduced them to Jesus and modeled how to live radically, boldly for Him.  I mentioned that I might get a call from my mom asking if we were preparing to head overseas, and take her precious granddaughters with us!

Well, good news for my mom (and Lawrence's parents, and the rest of our family), we are not leaving the country.  At least not right now...I don't think.  BUT, we do want to pack up and move...across town. 

Specifically, we are looking for a house in either the Kellybrook, Brooke Ridge, or Auburndale subdivisions.  Lawrence has been teaching 3rd grade at Kellybrook Elementary for 3 years now, and he feels as though God is telling him, "This is home.  This is where I want you."  God doesn't just want Lawrence to put in his hours as a teacher though; we believe He has something much bigger for us as an entire family.  We sense that God is calling us to be "missionaries" to the kids (and their families) of the Kellybrook area.  To truly pour into their lives and have a lasting impact on these boys and girls, we must live among them.

A few weeks back, Lawrence and I were slaving away in the kitchen, taking apart our dishwasher and cleaning every single piece individually in hopes that we could get it working properly again (like actually having clean dishes at the end of a cycle!).  While we scrubbed disgusting hard water grime and gunk, we began to talk about what God was trying to "stir up" in us.  As open as Lawrence is to moving overseas, he didn't really think God was sending us to Africa.  He truly believed God had something for us right here, right now.  The right now part is extremely important to me, to us.  We don't want to keep waiting and waiting and waiting to "do" something "big" for God when He has something else for us right now

Our good friends Brent and Dara Pacheco were over the other night to watch American Idol, or perhaps it was So You Think You Can Dance.  Either way, during a commerical or after the show, we were discussing how we all felt compelled to "do" something "big" for God, but didn't know what that meant or looked like.  We all agreed though that we don't need to do "big" things for God to make an impact; we just have to be open to whatever God has for us and do that well, for His glory.  So, for Brent, that might mean running his side music business with integrity and cleaning sticker gunk off records before he sells them.  Or for me, I need to keep being intentional about visiting our neighbors.

For us as a family, it means being available to the kids in the Kellybrook community.  In the middle of our dishwasher talk, Lawrence mentioned having a Back Yard Bible Club.  I love that idea!!!  We already invite his students to camp, but why not bring camp to the kids, especially those who can't go to Ponca.  God has already laid a solid foundation to make this possible.  He has given great favor to Lawrence amongst his students' parents.  Many of these parents have sent their sons and daughters off to camp, 6+ hours away, in a different state.  They have never been to Ponca themselves.  They don't really know anything about the camp other than what we have told them in a brief 30-minute informational meeting.  And yet, over 75 kids from the Liberty area attended camp last summer!  It's not just Ponca though.  When Kellybrook and Brooke Ridge had their neighborhood garage sales last month, we drove up and down the streets in search of a bed.  At almost every turn we would hear some kid yell out, "There's Mr. Young!"  At one point, we had about 10 kids running down the street, following our Yukon.  When we finally stopped, they ran up and gave us cookies they were selling to raise money for their baseball teams.  The moms had to come over and see the girls; they ooed and ahed over Kellah's red hair. 

Like I said, God has been at work, behind the scenes, preparing for this and whatever else He has in store for the future.

We have been hesitant to start making plans to actually move, though.  The houses in those subdivisions are a bit nicer/bigger than ours, which we would like because it would give us an extra bedroom to have ready at all times for a foster child.  That way if we get "the call," we don't have to rearrange the girls' rooms, rush to Wal-Mart and buy a new bed, and set everything up, at 9 pm, 20 minutes before the child arrives at our house.  However, with an extra bedroom (and actual dining room, hopefully!), comes a bigger (not so nice) mortgage payment each month.  We are already counting pennies here, so to think about buying a bigger house seems absolutely ludicrous!  It probably is...unless God is behind things, which He seems to be, and then it's no big deal (to God, at least).

I guess God was growing tired of "stirring" our hearts and wanted to totally "shake things up" a bit.  And so, he used Pastor Michael to get our full, undivided attention this Sunday.  He showed us that He was done using a spoon and about to put us in a blender, on full speed.  After the service, we talked a bit, prayed with Pastor Bil, and went home to e-mail our friend Jay O'Brien and let him know that we are a bit more serious about this whole moving thing.  Last night we bought paint to completely finish our downstairs renovation project.  We made a list of some projects we need to get done, in the next four and a half weeks.  See, our goal now is to have our house on the market by the time we leave for Ponca on July 14!  Maybe in the two weeks that we are gone, and won't have to re-clean and get things ready for a showing at a moment's notice, Jay can show our house at any time.  And just maybe, someone will make an offer!

Crazy, I know.  Idealistic, totally.  Unreasonable, humanly a great big, fat YES.  We just might be a little off our rockers, but that's okay.  We are just doing what God has put on our hearts.  Right about now, our hearts are a bit shaken up.  And like I said at the beginning of this post, it's an exciting and scary time in the Young family. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


God has a strange way of working in our lives.  We don't always realize what He is doing at the time. Come to think of it, we probably rarely understand what He is doing at that specific time or why He's doing it, let alone how He is going to use that particular event/situation/circumstance at some point in the future.  We can try as hard as we possibly can to make sense of God's ways, but we will always fail.  We will forever come up short.  And that's okay.  It just means that we have to accept by faith that God is indeed doing something far bigger and far better than we could ever even begin to imagine in our wildest dreams.

I feel like God is up to something in my life right now.  I don't know exactly what it is, at least not completely.  For now, God seems to be showing me little snidbits, brief glimpses, like tiny pieces of the humungous jig-saw puzzle He is putting together.

On Tuesday, I posted how I entered a Make-Over Contest for the sole purpose of winning $5,000 for the charity of my choice: Ponca Bible Camp.  You are probably tired of seeing my repeated posts to vote for me.  And it's only day 3 of the 10-day voting period, so just humor me until June 15 when the voting part of the contest comes to an end.  Until then, please, please, please vote for me!  I think it would be absolutely amazing to donate $5,000 to Ponca! 

That's just one piece of the puzzle though.  The winner of this Make-Over Contest also gets $2,500 personally.  As I said on Tuesday, all of this money will go towards a sponsorship for an orphan from Ukraine.  Sometime in April or May, shortly after I found out about the Make-Over Contest, I heard an announcement on K-Love regarding the opportunity to host an orphan from Europe for 6 weeks during the summer or 4 weeks during the winter.  Seeing as how we are licensed foster parents who are interested in international adoption at some point in our lives, I immediately checked out the organization New Horizons for Children.  After reading about the program, I felt like this was something God was calling us to do.  So, I filled out an application so that Lawrence and I could personally host a child in our home.  A few days later, I got a call from someone in the organization asking more about our family and what child we were interested in hosting.  Wow!  I didn't realize things were going to happen so quickly!

After talking with the woman for a bit, I discovered that the timing for this summer was not ideal for us to host a child in our home.  We would be at Ponca for two of the six weeks that the boy/girl would be with us.  Since the child won't speak that much English and will be adjusting to life in our home, not to mention the United States in general, we thought that going to camp with a whole new set of surroundings and people might be a little overwhelming.  However, the winter session is absolutely perfect for our schedule!  I assured the woman we would "re-apply" this fall and have the money raised to sponsor a child and have him/her stay in our home this December.

I am so excited about this amazing opportunity!  For so many reasons:
*We get to show a child what it's like to be part of a family
*We get to introduce this child to the love of Jesus Christ
*We get to celebrate Christmas with this boy/girl
*We get to learn more about another country and the culture there
*We get to expose our girls to missions at a young age

While we don't know anything about the child who will be staying with us, we are fairly confident:
*The child will be a BOY, or maybe even a set of BROTHERS.
*The boy/brothers will most likely be 6-10 years old
*The boy/brothers will be from the country of Ukraine

I don't know anything about the country of Ukraine.  My heart has never been specifically drawn to Europe, let alone the country of Ukraine.  I have always be interested in Africa.  Whenever, I think about adopting a child from a foreign country, I tend to see a little girl with dark skin and black hair that I can twist and braid and put into lots of pretty barrettes.  Or sometimes, I see a little boy from India or South America, who will love playing soccer for hours on end.  HOWEVER,  God seems to have something else in mind, at least for right now.  And so, this is the fun part where He has been up to something, working behind the scenes to orchestrate something special, something I never would have come up with on my own.

*One of my friends from college, Meg Collier and her husband, do have a heart for the country of Ukraine.  I have been getting their newsletters and updates for about a year now.  I get to hear what God is doing in their lives and how He is preparing them to work with the youth of Ukraine.  They just had their commissioning service and will be headed to Ukraine very soon.  Their picture is on my refrigerator.  I see them every day, multiple times.  And so, I pray for them quite often.  Little did I know, I would soon be invested in the country of Ukraine myself!

*About a month or so ago, another friend from high school (and college), Ryan Brandenberger and his wife, sent us a letter telling about an opportunity they have to go to the country of Ukraine.  We agreed to pray for them while they are there and sent a small gift to help with their expenses.  Just this week we received a nice thank-you card in the mail from Ryan and Kristine.  Again, I had no idea when I wrote them a check and put their prayer request list on the fridge, right next to Meg's picture, that I would be hosting a child from Ukraine in just a few short months!

Like I said, I know absolutely nothing about the country of Ukraine.  I had to look at a map to find out where in Europe it is.  (At least I knew it was in Europe and near Russia at that!)  But, as I see God putting these pieces together, I am inclined to start doing some research on the country of Ukraine.  I want to learn as much as I can.  If we are going to have a little boy from Ukraine living with us for a month, I think we should know at least a few words/phrases in his language.  We should be able to make some authentic Ukrainian food for him to enjoy.  Or music to listen to.  We should know about special traditions and customs the people of Ukraine have during the Christmas season since he will be spending the holiday with us.  And so, I have begun my independent study of Ukraine.  Granted, besides the internet, my primary resources are going to be books from the Juvenille Non-Fiction Section of the library!  When we make our weekly trip on Monday, I plan to check out every book they have on the country of Ukraine. 

Until then, I have found a few interesting websites with information about Ukraine.  I had better get busy on my research project!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Year Later

Last year, on May 12, I participated in the American Cancer Society's "Shave to Save."  With the generous support of friends and family, I was able to donate just over $6,000 to the Hope Lodge, a place in Kansas City where cancer patients and their families can stay for free while they receive treatment.   I decided to volunteer as a Shavee after we miscarried.  As so many people called, wrote, emailed, and visited us personally I realized how many people had experienced the same sorrow of losing a child.  I also began to see how countless other people were going through difficult circumstances of many varities.  Rather than feeling sorry for myself, I wanted to be a blessing to others, to share with them the love and goodness and peace of God that I myself had felt after our devastating loss.  And so, I had my head shaved.

The best part was getting to announce on stage that we were expecting a baby, due almost to the day one year after we had miscarried.  The news of another grandbaby took some of the sting away as Lawrence cut off my foot-long ponytails and held them up for everyone to see.  I think the grandmas were too giddy with the idea of a new baby to let the buzzing of the razor bother them too much. 

Well, a year has past since that eventful day. 

Kellah will be 5 months old on Thursday.  (Now, she'll be 6 months in just 2 weeks!)

My hair is now touching my shoulders.  I can even put it in a ponytail...kind of.

And so, I have a new mission. 
And once again, I will need your help.
But don't worry: no hair will be loss in this adventure!

This time around, I am asking you to do one of two things: click a button or make a financial contribution.  Or if you are super ambitious, you can do both!

So, what, pray tell, am I trying to get you involved in this go-round?!  I'm glad you asked! :)

A couple of months ago, a Mary Kay consultant contacted me and wanted to know if I would participate in a Make-Over Competition.  All I had to do was let her take my picture without any make-up on, use some Mary Kay products to wash my face and then try out a "mommy look," and have her take my picture again once I was all beautified.  I agreed, but only because in doing so I will have the opportunity to win $5,000 for the charity of my choice and $2,500 for me personally.

I immediately thought of Ponca Bible Camp.  I can't think of a better organization to receive $5,000.  Lawrence and I met there as counselors in 2004.  I went to Ponca as a camper from 5th grade until I graduated from high school.  Needless to say, it is a special place in our hearts.  AND, we really feel like it is a huge ministry opportunity that God has given us.  Each year, Lawrence invites his students to camp.  This is his 6th year of teaching, and the kids from his first class have already signed up to go to camp for the 6th year in a row.  In fact, this time some of them are going for TWO weeks!  One of the girls' moms told Lawrence just the other day that she went into her daughter's room and found her reading her Bible.  Upon further discussion, the daughter explained she was using the Read Through the Bible plan I had given her when she was a camper in my cabin FIVE YEARS AGO!  She told her mom that she has been doing her best to read her Bible every day since then.   WOW!  God always, always, always blows our faces off with the work that He does at camp -- from having kids trust Jesus as Savior to promising to live boldly for Him to starting Bible studies once they go back home to inviting their friends to camp next summer.  The first year we brought kiddos from Liberty, we packed 8 boys and 1 girl into a 12 passenger van.  The next year, we had to have a school bus because 18 kids signed up for camp.  The third year about 40 kids came from the Liberty area.  The fourth year, around 60 kids went to Ponca.  Last year, almost 80 kids from Liberty/Kansas City attended Ponca.  Who knows what the numbers will be this year!  All I know is God is at work, and once again, He will knock our socks off!

And as for the $2,500 that I could win personally.  ALL of that will go towards sponsoring an orphan from Ukraine or Lativa or another country in Europe.  A few weeks ago, I was listening to K-Love and heard about New Horizon's for Children.  Each year they bring orphaned boys and girls from Europe to the United States to live with Christian families for a short time.  During this visit, the children get to experience what it's like to have a family who loves them.  Even better, they get to see the love of Christ in action.  Lawrence and I have decided to host an orphan this December.  For four weeks this winter, we will have a child live in our home and celebrate Christmas with us.  As this boy's sponsor (we don't know the age or name of the child yet, but we do know that we would like to host a boy, or a set of brothers), we will pay for his travel expenses, a trip to the dentist and eye doctor, and send him home with a suitcase full of new clothes and toys.  All this will cost around $3,000!  $6,000 if we host two children!  We don't have an extra $3,000 laying around, BUT we know that God will provide all the funds for this mission so that we can show an orphan His love and what it means to be a part of HIS family.

THIS is where YOU come in! 
To help me win the Mary Kay Make-Over Contest, you simply have to vote for me.  All you have to do is click a button!  Simple enough, right?!

Of course, if you aren't the voting, clicking-a-button type, that's okay.  I understand.  BUT, if I don't win the Mary Kay Make-Over Contest, we will have to raise the $3,000 to sponsor the orphan from Europe another way.   So, if you would like to make a financial contribution to our fund, that would be fabulous!

Just think of all the people who will be impacted as a result! 
Together, we can change the world -- one click of a button or one dollar at a time!

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