Deuteronomy 4:35

You have been shown these things that you might know the Lord is God besides him there is no other.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

She Ran To Me

She ran to me just now. I was eating supper after feeding her some and she was playing in the living room. She looked up and ran to me calling momma, momma, momma and smiling the whole way. The last few days, she has been a bit disconnected and had a rough night on Tuesday. So to say my heart is full of joy to hear her calling that and running toward me is an understatement. Oh I love her so. Becoming her momma is such a blessing and to have her knowing that that is me..well-it's beyond words.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Serving the Forgotten in Foster Care

(I posted an introduction to my newest project serving the foster care community in a post here. If you missed it..please read the first post and then return to this one. There are also pictures and videos of other Project Sunshines just like this one we will be doing in Pekin at this site if you would like to see a project in action.)

I am so excited to announce that the date I have set for this Project Sunshine to redo the visit rooms at the DCFS agency in Pekin is

Saturday, November 19.

Now that the date is set ...


(these foster kids need you!)

1. We need money to redo these rooms. I'm going to be honest and say that so far I am coming up short in this area, but am trusting the Lord to provide if it is in His will. Without funds donated, there is no way that this project can get completed. Each project, though sponsored through The Forgotten Initiative (TFI), has to fund itself. My heart so wants to be able to provide these children in the foster community with a clean, inviting, safe place to stay while they wait for placement in new foster homes, visit siblings, and see their bio parents during supervised visits. I want these kids to feel loved, special, important, and cared for. Please pray about contributing. My heart is broken when I see the conditions of their current rooms. They are so in need of revitalization.

If you feel led by the Lord to help financially, you can contribute online by going to The Forgotten Initiative website, clicking on donate in the main body of the page, entering an amount, and writing Pekin Project Sunshine Room in the comment section. If you donate online, please shoot me an email at slmaster16 at hotmail dot com to let me know the amount of your donation. You can also write a check made out to Lifesong and mail it in the old fashion way. All contributions are tax deductible.

2. We also need new toys and supplies donated. If you are interested in donating art supplies, books, toys, furniture..we need that too. Children of all ages use these rooms and we want to have something for everyone. If you have contacts in the furniture industry and can hook us up with some donations or carpet that would be amazing too. You can contact me at slmaster16 at hotmail dot com if you are interested in making that kind of donation.

3. We need volunteers the week of November 19. We won't be able to pull everything off on Saturday so I will be working there preparing, getting things ready, cleaning, and various other things throughout the entire week. If you have a free day or two, please email me and let me know. We also need lunch on Saturday, November 19 to feed our volunteers.

4. We need prayer. More importantly, the foster kiddos and those who love and serve them need prayer. This room is for them. They need us. They have been forgotten in my heart for far too long. One of my friends who is a foster momma just adopted her boys in the last few weeks. She told me that when she went to visit them in her agency office before accepting them- the social worker told her that she was there only hope. No one else wanted them. I cry as I type that seeing them now in this christian family-happy, healthy, and growing. The body of Christ is the only hope for most of these hurting kids. They need our hope. We have it to share. Will you join with me in this project and serve these kiddos as a way to show the hope of Christ to them?

So excited to be on this ride with Him. God is up to something BIG here as He is bringing many into my path that have been involved with fostering. I know that all who are a part of this will be blessed to see how God works. Will you join me?

I Almost Said No

It was late the other night and I was getting the girls to bed when I discovered my Jilly had filled her pants. Perfect timing..I cleaned her up and changed her, but there was the issue of the dirty diaper upstairs. So, I bagged the dirty diaper and asked Darling Kiddo to please walk it downstairs and put it out the backdoor so it wouldn't contaminate the upstairs with its odor. She hates poo diapers. Really hates them. She usually leaves the room when I change Jill's diapers and she usually makes a big scene too. So because of her feeling toward the poo diapers, she refused to take the bag downstairs. Part of me wanted to just tell her to get over it and take the poo to the backdoor. I was tired, still had a toddler to wrestle to bed, and her to tuck in too. Regardless, she offered to stay upstairs with sissy so I could get rid of the poo myself. I agreed hesitantly and went off with the bag in hand. I came back upstairs after throwing out that diaper to find Jillian and big sis snuggled up in their pjs on the bed. Big sis was not only watching sissy for me, she was lovin on her next to her all snuggled up in her bed. It was a precious sight for a momma to two girls snuggled up together like that. I wish I could have captured it on film, but my camera was not near and so I am going to have to rely on my heart to record this moment. So glad that I didn't say no to big sis's offer. So glad that I took her up on her deal and handled the poo myself because seeing them together like that warms my heart.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It Takes My Breath Away..

It takes my breath away to think..

She's mine..

She's really mine..

Oh, I love her to bits!!!

Those cheeks are made for kisses..

Those chubby toddler hands are perfect to hold..

What a HUGE blessing!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Special Guest

We were so lucky to have Uncle A here with us for the night last week. He was a big help around here and even got in on feeding Jill...

She truly enjoyed having another person at her beck and call. She bossed him just as much as she does the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recovery and Preparation

We were swinging today at the park like always. But because the electric sprinkler system doused the silver swing that is usually stop #2 of our route, we were rerouted to a black swing near the road. All part of God's plan for us this morning because from the black swing we were visible from the road..and wouldn't you know this morning "my class" ( I was a special ed teacher before staying home.) was out on a morning community trip with their new teacher. Their wonderful teacher spotted me from the swing (because of the reroute) and they pulled into the park to say hello. It was so good to see them. I miss those special kiddos so much.

My first instinct was to get on the bus to hug them. Of course, Jill was not OK with that and she started to cry. I got off the bus immediately and started to walk with Jill, but was sure that she was entering into meltdown mode and we would have to leave the park. I kept walking with her, holding her close, and singing to her (sorry to those at the park-I can't sing).

Then, the most wonderful thing happened as we walked...
I can hardly believe that I am able to say that BUT it's true..SHE RECOVERED!!

We were near the beginning of our swing route by this point and so she just started all over again. We started with swing #1-then #2-then the playground. She fully recovered and enjoyed another hour at the park. It was probably one of the most victorious mornings of my life. I am not kidding.

Starting our route again also gave me time to think as we were swinging. I was thinking about how God has been preparing me to be this special girl's momma for the last 13 years. I am no stranger to the world of special kids, therapy, communication devices, joint compression, deep massage, sensory integration methods, IEPs, or the like. In fact, special kids is my professional specialty and one of my passions. God has been developing that in me and He knew that this special little girl would be mine and that I could use all that knowledge for her. It struck me again that God is so much bigger than I could have ever imagined. He has it all planned out for our good even when it seems less than good at the time. AMAZING! Amazing that I get to be this little one's momma and that God has been preparing me for it all of my life. How I love knowing that His hand never leaves me..How I love knowing He is bringing about His perfect will in my life each and every day.

To My Girl

My Dear Jillian,

You haven't left my lap today. You have been snuggled down happy as a lark all day. It is so good to see you so very happy. It rained last night and at the park this morning there was mud everywhere. You loved it. You squished your shoes all around in it. You made me go down the wet slide with you in my lap. You laughed hysterically at the speed the water added to our descent.

I marvel at you today. I marvel at how you are growing. I marvel at how your heart is able to love and I rejoice at how freely you are accepting love from us. I marvel at how God has prepared us all for each other from the beginning of time. His plan is far greater than I could have ever dreamed. My love for you and joy because of you is deeper than I could have ever imagined. I love you with all my heart.

Becoming your mother is a journey that continues to grow me in ways that I never dreamed. Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for all that you have taught me. Though our time together thus far has been short-you have shown me so much about trust, love, and perseverance. I truly think I needed you more than you needed me. Love watching you sleep just now and taking in each and every one of these moments. You are a treasure. You are my daughter. You are loved by the King and by this momma.

Love you so dear girl.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Giggles Galore

(I have to begin with a confession..We must not be making Em practice her piano enough as Jillian has been home five months and this is the first time she has heard the piano. Summer break was long..but back to lessons and practice for Darling Kiddo.)

Wonder what could be causing this...

and this...

and this..

Why this...Of Course!

Sissy is back to piano lessons which means practice. Jillian loved the sound and the vibration in the floor as sissy played the keys. She asked us to play that piano all night and giggled with joy as each of us "played". Look at how she is holding her sissy's hand. Who can stand it? So cute..

So thankful for my girls..So much love to share.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Joy Has Returned.. that Daddy is back home. Our girl is back to herself since daddy has been home again. She is far less anxious and much more connected. Oh last week was so hard, BUT she has had three days in a row that have been meltdown free now that daddy has returned. She is so complex our little one and things affect her so deeply. I knew she knew something was going on and she definitely knew that daddy wasn't home. Praise the LORD-her joy has returned!!

Just look at her playing with her daddy!! So much JOY!

There is nothing cuter than a chubby tummy in longjohn pjs. Precious!

Lacing bead fun!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Today is one of those days that as I watch her sleep..

I am overcome with joy that God has made her mine.


Grateful to you-who made this happen-by giving to bring her home.

I see your faces each and everyday as I feed her, hear her laugh, listen to her say momma, or see the twinkle in her eye.

Thank you is simply so inadequate.

But thank you..

Thank you for caring about bringing our baby home to us.

Thank you for loving her and sharing some of what the Lord has blessed you with so that she too could have a loving family.

Truly the difference you have made for her-in her life-is beyond words.

I love you-each and everyone of you-because you loved my baby with Jesus' love..

Praise Him!

Praise Him that He sets the lonely in families and invites us to take part.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

The journey with our little miss this last week has been incredibly hard. There have been times, many times, that I have felt like I did the first week we were home. I have been at the bottom and thought we were climbing up, but now it seems like the floor has been taken out from under us and we are starting over in many ways.

I'll tell you though-I love her and she is mine. I am in this for the long haul no matter what. I am trusting God with this journey as I know He has it planned out.

I also have to say that without the incredible trials and tough times of this last week-I simply would have missed the comfort of my Lord and He has been handing it out to me abundantly lately...

It was a rough night. About midnight, she had been screaming for two hours already. I was desperate. I left her on the bed and sat in the rocking chair next to her and turned on the nightlight. I got just enough light to read and so I began reading some of the Psalms aloud as she continued to struggle. Then God brought a song-The Joy of the Lord is My Strength-to my heart. It has been such a long time since I have heard it that I could only remember the chorus. The chorus was enough. I just began to sing it over Jillian as she cried. I closed my eyes and rubbed her back while I sang that chorus again and again. I haven't felt closer to the Lord than I did last night. It was such a beautiful time of worship right there in her bedroom in the wee hours of the morning. It calmed her too. She finally fell into a good sleep about one AM and slept until seven this morning.

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord that He is the great comforter, that He is ever beside me, and that I know Him as Savior. Couldn't live one day without Him in it..the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saying Goodbye

We lost Sean's dad on Friday to cancer. This is a very hard post to write, but I want Jill to be able to read it one day and know how much she was loved by her grandpa. I want her to know that while she only had four short months with him-she meant the world to him. I also want to celebrate the incredible grandpa he was to Emily for the twelve years that he walked beside her..

For Emily..

The moment that Floyd found out that I was pregnant, he wanted a black haired granddaughter with green eyes, but when you came out with blonde fuzz and blue eyes he was captivated by you. Truly as a toddler, your grandpa was everything to you. No one could make you laugh like he could. He played with you on the floor for hours on end, took us on beach vacations, took you fishing, shared pizza with you, built tents, baked biscuits, and endured a frightening tornado with you all before you were four years old. As you grew, he continued to spoil you like crazy giving you anything that you wanted, sleeping on the couch when you visited so you could sleep in his bed, making you cheesy eggs and chocolate gravy, and always having chips and cheese on hand for you to eat. My dear big girl you have been blessed to know the love of your grandpa and to be able to truly experience it is something that you should not take for granted. I am so grateful to God that you have all of these memories to carry in your heart. I only wish we could have had him longer.

For Jillian..

Grandpa anticipated your arrival just as much as he did Emily's. He loved you from the moment we were blessed with you. On Thanksgiving, though you weren't home with us yet, I remember him talking about you as we sat around the table. He wondered where "our" girl was and what she was doing on this day. When arriving home from China, we were met with news that Grandpa wasn't well and your very first visit with him was in the ICU. Then her rallied and we were given a few more months and some precious memories that momma will always carry in her heart of the two of you together. You were so unsure at first if you could play with this curly haired guy. He didn't give up though and as soon as you allowed him, he was on the floor next to you. He read to you and you let him hold you. You would have thought that the world was brighter than it ever had been in that moment because he was able to hold you. We were able to make a trip to see him again in his apartment near the hospital in St. Louis and, though he was not well, he held you on the balcony in the rain for nearly forty minutes as you splashed in the puddles. The last time he saw you, he decided that you might like a ride in the laundry basket and so he hooked a belt on and pulled you around the living room. Oh how you laughed. Seeing you experience being loved by a grandpa was beautiful though it ended much too soon. Know that he loved you with all of his heart.

Both of my girl's lives are richer and beyond blessed because they got to call this man grandpa. So thankful for that. So thankful for how he loved my girls. Praying for God's comfort and peace for my dear husband as he buries his father tomorrow.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tidying Up

Despite my little one's not feeling at all well..We are enjoying some sweet moments here.
Thanks to the love of the rice bin...Rice is constantly on the floor. I am also constantly trying to sweep it up. I found my little peanut doing this yesterday with the broom I left next to her sensory bin...

So cute..

So darn cute..

She is lovin her some books in the last couple of weeks. Just look at her..

That smile melts my heart..

Please do remember her in your prayers though. We got a call from the doc today that the culture they took on an infected spot under her arm grew some nasty infection. They are changing her antibiotic to fight it off and have no idea how she got it or what it was..The ear infection antibiotic is making her feel much better but reeking havoc on her bowels. Poor baby. Sore ears. Sore bottom. Now an infection under her arm. She is still not drinking anything from a cup or bottle either. It has been almost three weeks now since she started refusing her bottle. I am watching her closely for dehydration, but so far she is a-ok. It may be a long ten weeks waiting for those tubes. It'll be so worth it though.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Up to Something New

I wish I had the words to tell you what was in my heart this morning. Walking the halls, meeting the workers(investigators, placement workers, caseworkers), taking pictures of their spaces that desperately need revitalized..

Over the last few months, I have been praying about serving the foster care community. I know the children in this system need believers to stand up for them, serve them, and show them God's love. I know there are hundreds of children in our community who are hurting, broken, neglected...I know and I have been praying about what my part should be..This morning I was so excited as I walked the halls of the local state children's agency because it meant that my part of serving the foster system is beginning.

I am so excited to be coordinating a "project sunshine" right here in our community through The Forgotten Initiative (TFI). TFI is a ministry that was started by an adoptive momma whose journey led her to also be a foster mom. She discovered for herself just how forgotten some of these children are and God stirred her heart to help. So, she started TFI and God is moving the hearts of many to serve these kiddos right here where we live. She is working-with the help of many others-to make sure they are not forgotten. She is beginning mentoring programs, letter writing programs, foster family support, and so much more.

I am thrilled to be a part of this "project sunshine" which means that I get the chance to lead the redo of the visit rooms at our local agency. A visit room is an area where foster kiddos visit with their biological families weekly. It is also a room where the foster kiddos may wait during transitions between homes or while caseworkers visit with their families. It should be a kid friendly, inviting space that makes each kiddo that enters feel warm, welcome, and cared for. The rooms that I toured today were not that. They were forgotten. Forgotten no more because TFI is on the scene.

I am so excited to do this!!!!! We will be working to raise funds in the next several weeks, looking for toy donations, and volunteers to paint or clean. If it sounds like something you might want to do, let me know. If you have a Sunday School class, Bible Study, or church congregation that would like to contribute financially to the makeover..I'll be getting the account info up and running. Of course, it's tax deductible and for an amazing cause..those kiddos in the foster care system.

I'll be sharing more soon. I could burst I am so excited...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

She's So Right

I just read Andrea's post here. Before I read it, I was thinking about our visit to the doctor this morning..(our third in two weeks). I was thinking that I didn't get Jill to surrender to sleep for her nap until almost 3:00..(two hours later than normal). I was thinking about how difficult it was to hold Jill down at the doctor watching her fighting and flailing. I was thinking about how hard this job is sometimes and how very much I love Jill and want to help her.

BUT after reading that post...The worst is behind Jill. She is home with a family. She has access to the best doctors, therapies, and a mom/dad who are commited to taking care of her whatever it takes. So many children don't have any of that. My needs and trials are so minuscule compared to theirs. They are desperate. Desperate for food, care, Jesus' love..

Praying I don't turn my face one more moment. Praying that I can be a part of meeting the needs of those least of these Jesus speaks of in Matthew.

I needed that post today. I needed a fresh perspective. Don't miss it for yourselves. Allow it to sink into your life today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Those Shoes

Those shoes. Jill saw them today. She picked them out of a pile of ten or so pairs and brought them to me as I sat next to her on the floor. Those shoes. The ones she had been wearing the day she left her old life and was thrown into her new one. She lifted those two little shoes and held them up to me. She wanted me to see them. She wanted me to know that she remembered them..that they represented something to her. Those shoes. I talked to her about those shoes as she held them..about how she was wearing them the day that God placed her in momma's arms. Those shoes are from your orphanage..Those are Jill's shoes...I kept saying again and again. Then she wanted to put them on. I squished her feet in those shoes. Her eyes were so sad and she kicked them off. She laid sprawled on the floor with that look in her eyes-Staring at those shoes. My heart was breaking in two. I knew she was thinking about her past. I knew those two shoes were causing her to remember. Then, she started to sob and she wanted me to hold her. She sobbed for a long time while I rocked her and rubbed her back reassuring her that she was in the arms of her momma and that she would never have to be without me again. I tried to tell her that I understood how sad she must be and how much she must miss China. Then, I just started sobbing myself for all the pain this sweet, precious baby has felt. Pain that time and her momma's love will never fully erase. Those shoes are a reminder of that today. A reminder that God is the only one who can fully heal this precious girl and turn the ashes of her life into something beautiful.

It is so hard for me to understand sometimes how I can love this little one so much. After only four months, she is really still a stranger to me in many ways. Yet strangely, I would die for her. She is mine-her pain is my pain. She is my daughter and today it broke my heart to see her hurting so much. While it broke my heart that she was I love that she wants to be in my arms. I feel beyond blessed to be her momma. I feel blessed that God has allowed us to do this..Blessed that we can call her ours.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hard Times

Hard Times. We have them just like anyone else who is a parent and has their heart walking on the outside of their body. Maybe not having our baby girl from the beginning just makes the hard times we have with her seem harder to us or maybe after twelve years the intesity of the first time around wih darling kiddo has faded.

Jill went to the ENT today. We took the elevator up as the office was on the third floor. (We should have known to take the stairs.) Her meltdown was bad. Hard. She cried-no screamed-with deep intensity and flailing for over an hour all because of the elevator. We tried to calm her. Tried to walk her outside (taking the stairs), tried to rub her back, tried to soothe her, distract her, put her down, pick her up BUT nothing worked. The doctor was so nice and got us out of there in record time even letting us walk outside until they were ready to take us back. (I am sure it was unpleasant for them to hear her screaming.) Despite all of our best efforts to calm her nothing worked to help her. She was completely out of control. She screamed the entire time we were out today. Even when we went to the car and were done in the doctor's building, she could not calm herself. She was a big mess and I have to admit..I let myself get a little messy too. I cried right along side her. Cried for all that she has been through. Cried because I don't always understand what she needs. Cried because sometimes this journey is so hard.

After getting home, I took her to the rocking chair in her room and it was as if she hadn't just been melting down for the last hour. She stopped. Stopped just like that the minute we got to the chair..What was she thinking? I can't help but wonder what she was going through. Did she remember riding the elevator to the third floor of the Civil Affairs Office on Gotcha Day in China and being left with us? Was she revisiting the trauma she experienced then? We will never know. She can't tell us.

Praying that this episode doesn't have a lasting impact on her. This is the second one this week. The first meltdown was just as fierce and took longer to run it's course than this one. I need prayer. I really do. I want this baby healed. I want her to be able to handle life and right now she just can't always do that. Also, it is so easy for Satan to worm his way in with lies when I am weary during a meltdown. So easy to hear him can't do this. You're not good enough. Pray that I would fill my mind and heart with truth knowing that God made me for a time just as this and I can do all things through Him.

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts you. Keeping my mind on him. Trusting Him. Knowing that He is in control and loves Jill even more than I do.

Surgery is scheduled for Nov. 17th (ten more weeks!! UGH!!!). She will have a sedated hearing test, tubes inserted, and wax removed. Praying the time flies. I just want this done. Thanks for praying. We need it.