Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gull Lake Here We Come

Gull Lake Ministries is a piece of heaven right here on earth for our family. Gull Lake has given us many, beautiful memories together as a family and with treasured friends. Gull Lake has some amazing Bible teachers that over the years have challenged our family so much from the word and helped us to grow in our faith.
We had to lay Gull Lake at the foot of the cross again this year. We had to give it to the Lord because living on one income to meet our sweet girl's needs means sacrificing things like Gull Lake. This sacrifice is small compared to living without water or food, but we love it so and our hearts so desire to spend a bit of each summer there. And don't you know that it is the Lord's longing to give us the desires of our heart.
Our hearts are bursting with JOY because grandma provided for us to go to Gull Lake this summer! I made our reservations this week and we are thrilled. Already counting down the days until our family will be singing praise songs each morning at family huddle, hearing from God's word four hours each day, and swimming in that crystal blue lakes with our very best friends. God is so good. And Grandma is so generous. Thank you grandma. Again and again thank you for this amazing gift.

Happy Six Months Home

Six months. The number of months it was between first seeing Jillian's sweet face and holding her in my arms for the very first time. Those six months seemed to take forever....
But since coming home, the last six months have flown by.
Happy Six Months Home My Sweet Girl.

Six months ago you couldn't...
make any speech sounds
let me hold you
eat any solid foods
touch and play with any toys
go anywhere outside of our home without intense anxiety and meltdowns.

You didn't..
hold our hand
leave any room in our house without us
sleep next to me at night
call out for help when you needed it.

BUT NOW... you do all of that and more. How I continue to marvel at how far you have come. How blessed I am to be your momma and to be able to watch you grow each and every day.

Today you can..
run, climb, jump, and walk occasionally too
scream with joy, babble like crazy, and chatter nonstop
you ask us to hold and rock you
you like to be snuggled tightly next to us
you love to eat
regularly touch every toy you own while throwing them around the living room
have gained nine pounds
are very comfortable outside the house if you are familiar with where we are
sleep nestled in the crook of my arm each night
laugh and smile continually
How we love you our precious girl. How grateful we are to God for the glorious gift of you. Looking forward to the many more months that life brings as our wait is over and you are home forever. You are forever our treasured daughter, loved by God, and adored by the three of us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jesus Redemptive Power

(I posted about these three, precious girls here. I remember back to last winter when they longed to still be living with my friends when we brought Jillian home because they wanted to play with her. Now she is home and they are here to play with her as they are being adopted by our wonderful friends. Praise the Lord for His goodness!!)

I had three extra littles yesterday afternoon while their momma was working. That made five girls at my house all afternoon including two two year olds. It was busy and wonderful!!

When DH came home, he said..Are you not the least bit stressed out after having all those kids here this afternoon? (Clearly he was-that's why he asked.)

I said..No. In fact I have so much joy because those three extra littles are a physical representation of the redemptive power of Jesus right before my eyes. I can't help but smile as the almost six year old sings worship songs at the top of her lungs throughout the house all afternoon. I can't help but tear up when the same six year old sits in my lap and recounts stories of her former life for me. I can't help but sing His praises when we sit down to eat and they intiate prayer all on their own. Watching that precious two year old fold her hands and say the prayer right along with her big sisters..that my friends is the power of Jesus to turn ashes into something beautiful. These littles have been the daughters of my friends for a bit under two years and the change that living in a loving, christian home has made for them..well it's indescribable. Watching them thrive, hearing them praise Jesus' name, seeing them praying to God after all that they have been through in their short, little lives..It's something beautiful.

AND..I have been honored to be able to watch it happen. God is so good to work so beautifully and to allow us to watch with our very eyes as He does it.

Having the littles here-It really makes me want to bring home love more in His extend myself for His purposes.

BUT DH said after having five girls here all afternoon maybe he would need another ten years to decide he could do it. (He was only kidding of course. At least I think he was just kidding..)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Discoveries

What's that sound? Where is it coming from?

It's that strange black box daddy always has attached to his ear.

It's playing music??

Whoa. There's video too? Who knew?
This place is just full of surprises. New stuff everywhere I turn.
Incredible. I'll take a little worship music anywhere I can get.
(Love watching her discover it all.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Lost It

I really desire above all else to glorify God through this journey. I want desperately for people to see Him through me as I care for my little one.
It got messy yesterday at therapy and I had to ask the therapist to leave. It wasn't my best moment. I was upset and the only thing I could do was ask her to leave. We are getting another therapist..
I am so passionate about my daughter. I love her so much. I am also certain that how I am parenting her and the things that I am doing to help her heal emotionally and bond to our family are the best practices..not because I made them up myself, but because I am reading things and watching DVDs from Dr. Karyn Purvis. I have also attended thirty plus hours of classroom training online and at our home study agency before bringing her home about parenting kiddos from hard places and have read at least thirty different books on the subject. Most importantly, I lean heavily on God's word and His wisdom.
My daughter spent the first two years of her life neglected, underfed, and under stimulated. Some people just don't understand this piece of my daughter's puzzle. She needs to be nurtured not encouraged to go off alone in solitude to soothe herself. She needs to be attended to when she cries and has anxiety not left to cry it out. She needs to know that I will care for her, protect her, and fight for her. Right now her emotional well being and our attachment have to be my number one priority. Call me crazy, but I don't care if she sits for ten minutes and puts plastic bears in cups. She is just a baby having only been allowed to live in this world for the last five months. So, I lost it. I really lost it. God isn't glorified when I loose it.
I bet this is not the last time it's going to happen, but I have deep regret that I couldn't have handled it differently. I have been feeling that this therapist just didn't match up with my philosophy for at least two months and I should have done something before it got this far. I shouldn't have let the coordinator talk me out of switching two months ago when I first brought it up because it required more paperwork. Forgive me Lord. Give me wisdom and strength as I continue to navigate this world of being a parent of a child who is so very special. I love my Jillian so, but I need to remember that you love her even more than I do. I need to remember that you have a plan for her life. Help me Lord. Help me remember that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just Because

Just because I want to remember that the last two days when you cried at let me calm you. You sat close to me in my lap on the platform swing while I sang to you and you stopped crying. You recovered from your sadness and moved on because of momma's comforting you. Oh, sweet girl to hold you in my arms and have you stop's beyond words. How I love you so dear, sweet child. How I long for you to know that-all the moments of your life. How I want you to trust me more than anything. How I want to hold the place of momma in your heart for a lifetime. I am praying fervently for your healing and know God has a plan to redeem you little one. With all my heart, I wait in anticipation for that day. Until then, I will lay hands on you each and every night and pray my heart out. Love you! Love you! Love you, Jillian Elizabeth. Love you more than words could ever say.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lessons Learned At the Park

I love going to the park with my baby girl. She has taught me much. Today we spent two hours there doing absolutely nothing. We had no agenda. She led me this way and that. Which got me thinking about all that she has taught me. I thought I would share it with you.
1. Take time to enjoy crunching the leaves.
Bury yourself in them if you want to.
The laundry will wait.

2. Always stick your tongue out while you work. It helps you concentrate.

3. When you feel like it, sit a spell.
It doesn't matter where you are-just do it.
4. Never go too far without reaching for the hand of one you love.
It's safer to always be connected to them.
5. Always take time to look at the beauty around you.6. When you find something you love,
laugh until your eyes disappear into your face.
7. Don't worry if your hands get dirty,
just fling it off.
8. Take time to pick the flowers.
9. Don't forget to get your nose so close to the blooms
that they brush your face and tickle you.
10. Just take as much time as you want here.
These moments are fleeting.
I won't be small forever and right now I just need to be with you momma.
I was thinking today that I wish I could just keep her small forever. No labels, no special needs, no worrying about her future, no struggling to make her fit into the mold this world has for her..just a baby enjoying time with her momma. I know we will have to face these things soon enough. As for today and tomorrow and that day after that, we will spend two hours enjoying one another at the park. Blessed to have time for this. Blessed to be her momma.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Off the Path to Worship

Jillian led me off the path today.

She was crossing the street at the park this morning. We were entering the trees where she usually begins to pick up sticks and poke at the tall tree trunks that we pass by as we walk in the grass. Suddenly, she turned around and led me to the swing set off the path situated by itself back near the popcorn stand.

We were alone there. It was just the two of us along with a few chirping birds and some squirrels playing in the trees. She motioned for me to sit on the swing. I did as I scooped her up in my arms and sat her in my lap. At that moment, I was overcome by the beauty of my God. Here I was sitting with this little treasure in my lap taking in the sights of the park at its autumn peek. The clouds overhead billowed with fluffy whiteness as I raised my eyes to the heavens. There I was sitting on a swing with my girl. This beautiful girl once discarded. This little one I had missed and long for those ten months of waiting. This little one from across the sea-now mine. Here. In my arms. Once again this little child leading me into an intense, beautiful, and overwhelming moment of worship..

I couldn't help, but praise Him.

I started to sing...

I love you Lord and I lift my voice
to worship you.
Oh my soul rejoice.
Take joy my King
in what you hear.
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.

I sang it again and again. We must have sat swinging there as the leaves dropped for twenty minutes. I was singing that praise chorus the entire time. As I was cuddling her little frame, the tears came and it was as if God was whispering..I made you for this. I made you for this. He made me to love this little girl. He made me to be her momma and He made me to simply worship Him because of it. Miraculous. I continue to marvel at just how amazing it is that I get to do this. He made me for this. What a feeling. What a God. What an honor to be able to mother this treasure. What an incredible blessing to have such an incredible man and mature, loving daughter to do it alongside.

I love you Lord. You are the thrill of my life. Truly I continue to be blown away by you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Praise Jesus Name

I have to begin by saying that tv does nothing for Jillian. She pays no attention to it. It doesn't matter if Sesame Street is on or Sports Center-she doesn't care. It is as if that big black box is a void of space in her mind. While this is not such a bad makes this story even more miraculous....

Since our princess is not a fan of the sanctuary building, I generally don't ever get to attend the worship service. BUT since DH is part of the television ministry, he generally gives me the DVD of the service and I participate in it by watching it in my spare time from the comfort of our living room.

Well, the same was true of the SYATP youth rally that was held at our church in the sanctuary on Wednesday, Sept. 28. We had a praise band, Belair, booked to lead praise. We had over 200 kids attend and a great speaker, Brandon Grant, present the gospel. Sadly, little Jill was way too frightened that night to even enter the doors of the church because the crowd was outside. So, I missed it...but it came to me via DVD. I popped it in on Friday night while Daddy and Sissy were out at a church function and the praise music and visuals of the band on our television filled our living room with praises to our King.

Just look at our sweet girl's response...

It caught her attention. She is totally watching the band. Imagine with me the lyrics..The Praise Goes Out to You..The Praise Goes Out to You..playing as she stares. At this point, momma is singing along with the band and we are having us a real praise session in our living room.

Then her little hands go up! So adorable as I was singing and raising my own hands to the Lord that her little arms went up in the air. Look at that look in her eyes. She is having her a time with Jesus for sure.

Soon being seated wasn't enough for her. So she stood and walked as close to the tv as she could. Eyes fixed on the screen and ears hearing the lyrics.."Today, today I live for one thing to give you praise..the praise goes out to you. Yah the praise goes out to you. Jesus!"
Then before I knew it there she was-in front of the tv with both of her hands up in the air and her eyes closed. She must have stayed that way for a good minute. It took my breath away. She can't yet speak, but she was feeling the love of her Heavenly Father tonight. This is one of those beautiful moments that this momma will treasure in her heart always. Forever. Another tender and close moment with my Savior brought on because I have brought this treasure in my life. Praise Him for her! Praise Him that she is mine.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Little Working Girl

This is our new "work" chair. It is super cute and looks like a little desk. The first thing I had to do was get her comfortable sitting in it...It looks like she's what have you gotten me into lady?
Blocks..I like my blocks-no problem here.
(I started her out with tasks that she was comfortable with so she wouldn't have any additional anxiety. She had enough about the chair.)

I am outta here momma.

(She sat in it for about a minute the first time. Baby steps. All I want are baby steps and we're getting them.)

Watch me scale this thing. Over and out.

Yeah! Victory. I am outta there.

(Gotta love her will and determination. Really though introducing this chair has been much less stressful than getting her in the highchair. She is beginning to trust me.)

So now that she is used to the chair..It's crayon time. She was less than thrilled about putting those things in her hand and scribbling, but she tolerated momma's hand over hand. Her first work of art. It will be displayed proudly on the fridge. She continues to spend a bit of time each day in her chair. She is a working girl for sure..therapy momma is at her best with this chair. Ah the joys of having a teacher momma. One day she will appreciate it..Maybe!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Therapist Said It

I have said it myself about our princess. I have used the words myself when talking to my friends in my Sunday school class about our Jillian. I have continued to "prepare" daddy and used the words many times when talking with him. Really I know this is coming. I know it because professionally this is the thing I was all about. I have logged four times more professional hours of training involving these words than any other in the last thirteen years of my teaching career. I have loved deeply many kids who are labeled with these words. They have been my joy-my passion. I know all about the ups and downs, the joys and the hurts, involved with these words very well. I know it's coming, but when the OT said this is typical behavior for a kiddo on the autism spectrum when talking about my baby-I was taken aback. To hear her say these words aloud-it rocked me to the core. Luckily she went out to her car right after using them to get us some more equipment and I composed myself very quickly.

So on with it. I am using all I know to help her and I am blessed to have a lot more knowledge than the typical parent would thanks to my professional training. One thing is for sure, words or not, my baby will reach her full potential with my help. I will do whatever it takes to help her be all that God created her to be. She is perfectly placed in our family and all of this is God's great plan.

You have to love my man, who when I told him about the words the OT said and their effect on me, he replied.. "that is why we have her because we know how to do this". He also asked if we got to keep the really cool cube chair the OT brought because it might be useful for some of the other kiddos we will be bringing home. This momma's heart beams at that thought. These words will not defeat us. We will not waiver. We will not be afraid. God has a plan to use this for His glory. Bring it on. Bring it on. This momma is ready.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

She's Brave Enough

She's been going to the park playground for almost five months now. Everyday. For five months. Most days she enjoys it very much. She walks holding my hand, explores the trees, and walks near the play equipment, but never would she get on it. That is until about four weeks ago when she was finally brave enough to give it a try...

She used to only walk on when I would carry her and all the while she clutched tightly to my neck. Now, she walks like a big girl up the ramp to the slide watching her feet on the "strange" surface.
I'm still not sure I trust you lady, but I'll give this a try!!
Here we go!!!!!!!!
Let's go again!

Incredible to watch her conquering her fears. Slowly she is overcoming. Who knows maybe she'll get on the baby swing next week..I'm not holding my breath. It may be next summer before she gets up the nerve to do that one. Oh Well, I like having her swing in my lap on the bench swing better anyway. The only big concern is what we will do everyday when it gets cold. I'm not so sure.. The park is one of the only places that she is comfortable.

It may be a long winter. :)

I Cried Just Now

I cried just now..

I am so excited to redo these rooms for the Project Sunshine makeovers. I think about it a lot. I spend nap time scouring the Internet for products and design ideas. It is consuming me because it is so much fun.


I just got some amazing news about funding for this project. That's right God did it again. He stirred the heart of one of His own and led them to make a generous declaration of support to this cause in honor of the forgotten in foster care. I was giddy when I got the news. Just like that we have abundance!! SO HAPPY. SO BLOWN AWAY. SO SURE OF THE GOODNESS OF GOD TO PROVIDE FOR HIS CAUSES.

Then suddenly I was filled with sadness and the tears came. They came because while I am having so much fun decorating these rooms via cyber-world, these children who will visit and use these rooms are hurting. They are hungry, sad, about to leave everything that they know with a social worker only to be swept to a new place because they are living in a dangerous situation. I cried about that. I really let myself feel these kiddos pain.

Sometimes I wish Jesus hadn't shown me these children. Sometimes I wish I could just pretend that I didn't feel such overwhelming sadness about all the children in the world who are in need, but God has shown me. He has broken my heart for what breaks His and I feel it. There is so much to do and I want to do it. Sadly though, most often I turn my face after feeling their pain and walk the other way.

Feeling isn't enough. I want to do something to be the hands and feet of Jesus for these children. I want living out my faith to be a verb not just a feeling. Crying out to God to show me what to do to help. Begging Him to be persistent in me and hold me accountable to represent Him to these children and the millions more who need believers to light the way.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Project Sunshine-Change of Date

The caseworker has had a change of plans and because she has to be there while we work..

Saturday, November 19

is our Pekin Project Sunshine Date

(So sorry about the change. She just emailed me yesterday.)

There is still lots to do and plenty of ways to help. If you can be there on the 19th, let me know and you can help with the painting and putting together of the rooms. If you can donate funds or new toys to our project or if you are willing to bring lunch to our volunteers on the 19th...Please let me know by emailing me slmaster16 at hotmail dot com or leaving a comment.

Praise the Lord..

  • we have $105 of the $2,000 we need donated!

  • we have a Ladies bible study group in Minier committed to helping!

  • we have a business who is donating all the paint!

  • we have a group of 10 of us to work that day!

Remember if you want more info, are interested in donating online, or are led to help the foster care community in other ways visit The Forgotten Initiative. If you want to get involved with this Pekin project sunshine email me at slmaster16 at hotmail dot com. You can also see this post for more information. I have been so blessed to have begun work on this..Remember prayer is key so if you can commit to praying for us..THANK YOU!!!