Monday, February 28, 2011

A Day To Save Olga


Dear friends,

So many of you already know this beautiful little face....


Olga turned five last month. She has spent the last five years in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, without the love of a mommy and daddy- simply because she arrived in life exactly as God designed her. One chromosome too many, and her fate was sealed from birth.


Sealed, because in Eastern Europe, babies who are born with Down syndrome are deemed unacceptable at birth. They are discarded as cast-offs of society, and when they turn five they leave the only home they've ever known...


And I wish I could say that for most of these children, leaving that home meant going to a place of safety, a place of happiness, a place where they would finally know the love of a family...know what it meant to be cuddled or sung to or read to, tucked in at night, prayed for, loved.

Instead, they are taken to a place that most people wouldn't leave their family pet.

A place of living hell, where they will never know the tenderness of a parent, never know the security of being raised in a family, and there they will stay, one ugly, pain-filled day at a time...until they die.


I read a post last December that stayed with me to this day. It was called from baby dolls to bedstraps.The blog author wrote about Elizabeth, an orphan on Reece's Rainbow who had been transferred to a mental institution, waiting for a family to step forward for her. Her words still haunt me.

I wonder where she thought she was going as they led her out of the orphanage that day. Did she think that maybe it was finally her turn? That they were taking her to her forever Mommy and Daddy?

And when they instead took her inside that dreadful place, when they shaved her head and tied her to a too-small metal crib when they turned their backs and walked away…when they left her confused, terrified,
in a room where the wails of schizophrenic adults echo through the cold air what was going through her young mind?

Did she wonder if she was being punished?

How long did she hold out hope that this was only temporary?

That any minute, they would come and take her back to the baby house to her baby dolls and teddy bear,
to her best friend, Angelina? Did she long to free her arms from the restraints to cover her head with her hands to drown out the scary noises the scary sights the scary smells?

That could be my Lily….

It could be your child.

And what if it were?

What if you woke up one morning and by some hellish, twilight-zone twist of fate your child wasn’t still tucked into that warm bed down the hall, what if your child was trapped across the dark sea in that nightmare that is the institution?

What would you DO?

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. Proverbs 24:11

Elizabeth is being rescued today, thanks to the efforts of that blogging mama, and others like her.

Olga is being rescued today, thanks to so many of gave so much and created such a large grant that a family was able to step forward and start the process of adoption.

The Abells have done so much already, towards rescuing Olga. I can't even imagine all the paperwork and prayer and emotion and finances that goes into an international adoption. They have done numerous fundraisers, and will continue to do so until they can bring Olga home.

Through the help of so many, a grant of over $13,000 has been raised for Olga's adoption. That grant is set aside for the final travel costs and fees that it will take to bring Olga home. It will take every penny of that and then some.

Right now the Abells are in need of raising the $7,000 that is needed to submit their dossier for Olga. Without that dossier we don't even know if Olga has been transferred yet. Here in America you just pick up the phone and ask these questions. But here in America we don't tie five year old girls to cribs to keep them from climbing out.

The Abells need to submit that dossier as soon as possible- at the very least to find out if she has been transferred already- because I know an army of prayer warriors who is going to want to know that piece of information as well. And at the very most, it could be able to hold Olga at the baby house until the Abells can rescue her. I wish I could say with certainty that she won't be transferred- truthfully we just don't know that.

Olga has been so heavy on my heart for months- friends, I want you to know that I DO trust that God has a plan here.

I prayed like crazy for a way to help the Abells. I truly believe that there is a network of people who love Olga here in blogland...a net that is woven by God and is stretching out across this blessed country we live in, and even beyond to generous hearts in other nations. I really cannot express enough how thankful I am to be a small part of what God has already done for Olga, Peter and Kareen. But I don't think our job is done.

Olga needs us.

I don't want her to spend one more forsaken day in that place than she has to.

We're not doing a giveaway here today. I don't even think we need to do one- I know so many just have a heart to help and to give, and prizes were never the real reason we all gave anyway.

So I'm just asking- for one day- for you to do whatever you could to help Olga. Whether that's $10 or $20 or even a hundred...if you are able to help raise this money for the dossier, please do so HERE......every single dollar goes to the Abell's adoption fund, and every single dollar will help.  This is the link for the Family Sponsorship Page on Reece's Rainbow.    Another way to donate directly to the Abell family is through the "chip-in" button on their blog....Saving Our Starfish !

We're calling this A Day to Save Olga, because there are about 17 of us blogging mamas who have set aside this day to blog, post on Facebook, pray, give and spread the word to SAVE OLGA.

Will you help us?

I know you will:)


Friday, February 25, 2011


wow!  i can't believe that it has been one year since wyatt's open heart surgery!   in some ways it seems like yesterday, but mainly it seems like a lifetime ago!   i can't believe that one year ago we handed him over to virtual strangers for them to cut open his chest, put him on bypass, stop his heart, fix his heart, and restart his!   that little guy has been through a lot in his short life!  

so many emotions as we wait for anesthesiologist to take wyatt back.....

his surgery was a lot shorter than we anticipated....i think it was about 1 1/2 hours!   i so dreaded what i would see when it was time to see him post-op....i was scared!   my friend susan and i had gone to the "pumping" station for me to pump, and when we were done i was told that wyatt was in cicu and that i could see him right then!   so i went, all by myself....susan wasn't allowed in cicu....and was really pleasantly surprised at what i found.....
wyatt all hooked up, but resting peacefully a few hours post-op!
wow!  and his recovery was amazing!   i couldn't believe that he was taken off the ventilator within about 48 hours and transferred to the step-down cardiac unit!   and then it was completely up to us to take care of him, for the most part!   and glory....then we could resume nursing!    praise GOD!   

3 days post-op...happy as can be, kicking his feet!
we were only in the step down unit 2 days before he was discharged!   God is so good....wyatt's body healed so quickly, with no complications!  we made the 5 hour drive home where he was welcomed by his big brothers and all his grandparents!   he was back to therapies within 1 month....such an amazing recovery!  

and now he's almost 20 months old.....and to look at him you'd never know he had open heart surgery....such a busy boy......what a blessing he is to us!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thankful for Wyatt's Friends Too!

april and clayton

i've mentioned my friend april before...she's the awesome mama to clayton...wyatt's best friend!  we were blessed to have a playdate together today!  and today's playtime was the best the boys have ever had together!  they "equally genetly "hit" each other!  you know how boys are!   i worry so much that wyatt will hurt clayton, but today clayton held his own!  and they were so cute together!  april is so smart when she visits....she brings a bag full of clayton's toys for the boys to play with so that both boys are sharing their toys!  when i show up at their house, i'm lucky to have the diaper bag!   and she brought lunch too! it was a terrific, fun day for our boys...and us!

best buddies clayton and wyatt!

sharing wyatt's favorites...mickey and elmo!

i wonder what they're "talking" about???

two happy boys waiting patiently for lunch!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

God's Gift of Friendship...

susan and i, about a year ago!
susan is moving.  she is one of my very best friends in the whole world.  i am so sad.  today i went over to their house, and it really hit home.   their house is in a bit of disarray as they are packing her hubby up; their family is driving to el paso this weekend to move him, and then susan and the boys will return to finish out the school year here.  

i will never forget the first time i saw susan in the hallway at church; she and scott were heading to a sunday school class, i think, with their friends the garlands.  i actually thought that both susan and scott were in the military...she had a VERY short haircut!   in reality, her husband was an f-15 fighter pilot stationed at tyndall air force base, and she was a stay at home wife!  

we became fast friends, with a common love for ladies Bible studies and women's ministries!    that was about 14 years ago, i think.  although the military moved them away from us once before, they were only gone about 2 years that time.  we've been through trips, tent camping, moves, infertility, babies, adoption, deaths, major illnesses, having a baby with Down syndrome, open heart surgery and so much more together!    i could write a book about all the life experiences we have shared!   there's so much more than this brief paragraph portrays..... she has been there for me and i have been there for her...NO MATTER WHAT!   as the Bible says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

the memories just came flooding back today, and i must admit that i was a little teary as i was leaving her neighborhood.   this is really happening.  and it will be here before i know it!   last summer we were able to hear michael w. smith sing "friends" while we were together for his beach could not have been a more perfect setting!   God blessed me with this precious lady....a strong woman of God.....and i am so thankful for her!   but i sure will miss her.....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"A Baby Boom!"

exciting announcements this past few days in our online Down syndrome community!   two of my facebook friends who have children who have Down syndrome have officially announced that they are in the process of adopting children who have Ds from eastern european countries!   and one of our families is there in country right now, spending time with their precious girls (2) and completing all necessary tasks to be able to adopt!  if you'd like to follow their stories and/or donate towards the cost of their adoptions, which is tax deductible, i'm including their links below!

in the ukraine now are jennifer and andrew lane; their blog is "journey with the lanes"....they are there visiting and falling more and more in love with their daughters johannah and ellee!   beautiful girls who are so blessed to have this precious family as their forever family!   they found these precious girls through reece's rainbow, as many of my friends have!  

julie and cam are thrilled to have found peter through my friend patti's pure love giveaway fundraiser, which raised over $15,000 for peter!   they have 2 children, one who has Down syndrome, and had always planned to adopt a child with Ds through reece's rainbow sometime in the future.  they did not realize how soon that future was until they were introduced to peter!   julie works as a nurse in the nicu of texas children's hospital, the largest free standing children's hospital in america, as well as home to a premier heart institute... peter will need major heart surgery in the near future!  isn't God awesome to capture the heart of this family for peter?   follow their journey at "upside down"

and finally, my dear friend christie, who actually introduced julie to peter, found her own 4th son through this journey as well!    christie advocated day and night for peter, begging someone to come forward to be his forever family.   little did she realize that this would lead her to her own adoption journey!   she also began advocating for alexander, who is an older child from reece's rainbow....only to realize that she and shawn were to be his forever family!   praise GOD!   christie is an amazing mom to 3 boys, one who has Ds, and she has always been an incredible source of support and encouragement in our Ds community!   alexander is nearly 6, and has already been transferred to an institution.   christie and shawn must work quickly to bring him home!   as christie said, "We cannot do this alone, we are praying for God's safety over Alexander in the institution until we can get to him and bring him home. Please join us in that prayer. We also must raise just a wee bit more than $12,000 to fund his grants fully. We need God's blessing in this part too, we cannot raise that kind of money alone. I am humbly asking you to share what you can, even if it is just $1.00. We will be forever grateful."   please pray for alexander; please give as you can!   follow their journey at "T-Cubed: 3 boys, twins, & Trisomy 21"!

isn't this exciting?  as my friend cathy ("a walk in lily's garden") said the other night, "There's a baby boom around these of the Reece's Rainbow kind. Praising God for all these little ones whose families have found them."  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thankful for God's "Winks" This Week!

i'm so excited to share about something i'm calling my "God winks"!   i'm not trying to sound irreverant or anything like that, but that's the best description i have!   i was blessed with an extra dose of God's love and blessing this past week, and must share it with you!   and it all happened the days surrounding valentine's cool is that?     and it came in various shapes and forms!    just fyi, i LOVE gifts and presents.....i just do....i love to give them and i love to receive them....and i have a special fondness for sterling silver handstamped jewelry, and hearts too!   i also have the gift of encouragement....i believe that it is my special gift from God to encourage others in whatever way they need encouragement.....   GOD is so AWESOME....HE blessed me in these particular ways this past here goes.....

"seemingly random words of
encouragement and love...."

last tuesday, february 8th, as i sat down for the evening, i discovered a beautiful sweet note of encouragement in my message box on facebook!   a sweet younger cousin of mine just sent me a little note that she titled "seemingly random words of encouragement and love"....about my example as a Christian wife and mom to her....we have never been particularly close...she is much younger than i am, and i actually had no idea that she was keeping up with my life through facebook!   it was a precious sweet note i will always treasure!   it was such a blessing!

random note of encouragement
from a dear friend who moved away....

the very next day, wednesday,  i received yet another "random" note of encouragement from a dear friend who had moved away.  she was just encouraging me about Ladies Bible Study and my leadership in that area.   and she used the word "random" again..... i wondered what God was up to with these "random" messages.... these unexpected blessings!  

the letter.....

then on friday of that week i received a handwritten letter (don't you love a handwritten letter?) from one of my very best friends in the world, just encouraging me as wyatt's mom....such precious words that i needed to hear that day!   

giveaway winner announced....

on sunday of that week, wyatt was sick and i stayed home with him while tim went and taught our adult sunday school class.... for some reason i checked my blog and found a comment on my latest post that i had won a necklace in a random giveaway that i had signed up for!   i love kristen's custom creations, which is beautiful handstamped sterling silver jewelry, and i had just posted a comment on her blog stating which necklace i would like if i happened to win....and I WON!!!   a beautiful silver conversation heart necklace that said..."LOVED".....and it arrived yesterday!

isn't it beautiful?
and as if that wasn't enough....on tuesday of this week we received ethan's valentine's gift for his girlfriend that i had ordered for him, (yes it was late...misunderstanding there).... a beautiful "sterling silver handstamped" piece of jewelry from lisa's pieces; unique handcrafted jewelry, and inside the box was another box that contained beautiful handstamped sterling silver earrings with hearts on them and a letter that stated i was the 1200th customer to place an order, and she included a "little something extra" in celebration!
aren't they sweet?  i love them!
why did i receive these special blessings this week?  i have no idea....did i deserve them?  absolutely not!  i deserve NOTHING from God, but He loves to bless His children, just as He has blessed us with the free gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ...."For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" (ephesians 2:8)   there is nothing that i can do to deserve ONE THING from Him....but i'm so glad that He choses to bless me you know HIM?   i'd love to tell you more about Him...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun Friday "Fotos"!

wyatt walking....

wyatt has really been practicing walking today.....inside the house he walked over 30 feet pushing his cart!

"let's get rid of some of this weight...."
so we decided to take it outside!

"there, that helps..."

"these bubbles have got to
go too!

"i'm good to go now!"
 enjoying the beautiful day.......

wyatt just loves mickey!  
this belonged to big brother ethan!

"coming to get you, mom!"

"what big ears you have!"  

a little grass never hurt anybody, did it?
"how long is she gonna make me sit in this prickly grass?"

no words....just too cute not to share!

precious hands and feet....
and "holey" jeans from lots of crawling! 
thanks for sharing our beautiful fun friday!   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

"all because two people fell in love..."

so much for posting earlier in the day to wish everyone a happy valentine's day!   as usual, the "special" day did not turn out quite like i expected...not that i expected fireworks or anything!  hehehe!  mr. wyatt just has not felt great today!   i did "drag" him out to lunch with daddy, and then to forrest's valentine party at school, but he was wiped out by the time we were finished!   this cold just keeps dragging on, poor little man!   so i got to spend lots of time cuddling my littlest valentine!  sweet cuddle time, too!  

i've always been a huge valentine's day girl! i just love to celebrate love, don't you?   i love hearts and flowers and candy.....the list goes on!  i used to even cut out hearts that led a trail out of the boy's rooms to find their valentine treats.....used to!   that was always fun!   when i was little, my daddy used to buy us girls beautiful lacy huge boxes of candy that were waiting on our beds when we got home from school....i love those memories!   i have a terrific daddy!    the younger boys and i actually had dinner with my parents tonight while tim worked late....delicious steak dinner!   yummy!   

college visit.....where did the time go?

just wanted to wish everyone a happy valentine's day.....and share some pics of my valentines.....

mother/son night of fun!

my littlest valentine!

one of my favorite pics....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Are We Really Half-Way Through Early Steps?

we had wyatt's mid-point of services evaluation this week.  early steps provides his services until he is 3 years old, and he's now 19 months old, so we had a full-team evaluation where we sat down together and all his therapists talked to each other as well as his service coordinator, shanina, about how he is doing.  unfortunately, his developmentalist/early interventionist was rear-ended on her way to the meeting and was unable to join us...

so i had some sad and happy moments.  tim was out of town, so he could not join us, but he, again, was not saddened by anything that i shared with him!   overall, of course, everyone thinks that wyatt is doing terrific, and they just have to keep reminding me that i do not see a lot of other kids who have Down syndrome who are his age to compare him to....not that we should compare, but they are just saying that i don't have the experience that they do having worked with so many other children with Ds and their varying abilities!  

joanna, wyatt's physical therapist scored him developmentally around 12 months.....basically because he is not walking YET!    not much room for argument there, he's not walking....and he needs to meet that milestone before he progresses developmentally concerning his physical abilities...    

shelley, his occupational therapist scored him around 12 months as well for self-feeding.....mainly because he STILL DOES NOT DRINK FROM A CUP consistently....UGH!!!!!    he's getting better and better at picking up his chunks of ham and cheese, as well as green beans, etc. to feed himself.   so we're working more on using a spoon and fork to self-feed.    and even in the few days since we met, he's made major progress in that area as well!   he's taken spoonfuls of oatmeal, that i "loaded" for him, and put them in his mouth unassisted!   and he's taken a fork with avocado chunks on it and done the same thing!   i can't wait for her to see the progress he's long as he doesn't also show her how he likes to take a spoonful of food and fling it on the floor and walls.....   oh well!    but she did score him around 18-19 months for another area....self-help skills, i believe.   this is where he can put on a hat, knows to lift his hands to help with getting dressed, will attempt to put on socks or shoes.....he at least knows what he's supposed to do with things, even if he can't do them yet!   he's also made significant progress with using his hands to place things in slots, etc.!  

i was very happy to receive a phone call from wyatt's speech therapist, kenalyn, with the results of her evaluation!   she assessed wyatt's receptive speech skills at 23 months!  woo hoo!   this means that he listens and understands a lot more than he communicates verbally!   his visual processing is terrific, and he takes in and processes A LOT!    his expressive speech skills were assessed around 18 months...pretty close to on target!   we continue to work on USING HIS WORDS and SIGNS to communicate!   i often look in his little eyes and know that he has so much he wants to's right there.....just not coming out yet!   but we're getting there!   

i'm so glad that we actually took the time to sit down together....i was more encouraged than discouraged!  it's nice to have some formal feedback as to how the professionals think he is doing!   they all love him to death, and we are blessed with a tremendous team who support and encourage us!  i know that he will "get there" in his time.....and as mr. rogers said, "A berry ripens in its own good time and so does a child's readiness. Just as the one needs water and sunlight, the other needs the patient reassurance of loving adults who can trust children to grow according to their own timetables."

Thursday, February 10, 2011


yes, it happened again....someone asked me if i was wyatt's grandma.    crazy, huh?   i personally don't think i look old enough to be a grandma, but i've been reminded (repeatedly) that grandmas can be pretty young....i've heard as young as 34, even.....WOW!   grandmas apparently are no longer just little grey-haired old ladies!   (no offense grandmas out there!)   i'm not looking for sympathy here....i got plenty of that on facebook yesterday, but it's just so interesting to me that people feel the need to clarify my relationship with wyatt!   and why doesn't tim ever get asked if he's wyatt's grandpa???????

yesterday at the pediatrician's office a lady (grandma) said to me "he's your grandson, right?"   my sweet response was "no, he's our little surprise gift from God!"   we went on to have a very pleasant conversation, and she apologized, but i just wonder why people feel the need to ask that question!  does it matter to a stranger if i'm his mom or grandma?    if they want to talk about him, why can't they just say "that's a cute kid you've got there!" or "i bet he keeps you busy!"

as you've probably guessed, this is not the first time i've been asked this question.   one day i was wearing wyatt in his sling at wal mart and one of the associates there asked me "is he yours?"......"um, no....i just found him and put him in this he yours?".....of course i did not say that, but i thought that was a strange way to phrase that question.    then there was the taco bell drive thru worker who noticed wyatt and forrest in the back of my van and commented on my grandkids..... i said, "oh no, they're mine".....and she said "seriously?"  really....would i kid about this?   bizarre!!!!

i know that i am not alone in this situation.....i've heard that many of my friends have experienced this as well.  i've just got to come up with a quick answer for their silly remarks!   and make sure that i keep those grey hairs colored!    peace.......

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How Long WILL It Take?

i was having lunch yesterday with the small group of ladies that i have truly come to depend on for support in this unexpected journey, and i asked them "when does it really sink in?"   i still feel like there are days that it's just not real that wyatt has Down syndrome, if that makes sense.   these ladies are a little bit further along in the Ds journey than i am, and i asked, "was it when your son started public school, or was it when he started preschool?"    i was thinking that it might be when they are in school setting with other kids and it's more apparent, maybe that's when it "sinks" in.....

my friend kristen told me that the mother of a 37 year old son with Ds told her that there are STILL days that she cries for him.....hmmm,  maybe she cries for how hard life has been, maybe for the fact that she is aging and will leave him behind.....who knows, but i guess i just assumed that one day there will be no more sadness, as we adapt to the new normal that having a child with Ds is.   not to say that we don't KNOW that our kiddos have Ds, but the full realization of it just seems to come in bits and pieces.'s probably best that way.   i do agree with the "welcome to holland poem......"  where it says "And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss."   i'm not saying that i will never be happy....i am happy, more days than not!   but it was reassuring to know that it's not just me that has sad days every now and then! 

if we knew everything to expect, and knew exactly how we would deal/cope with it.....would we need God?   i think we would rely more on our own abilities, thinking we could handle everything....instead of HAVING to trust God....each and every step of the way!    day by day, minute by minute......

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's He Thinking?

okay, sad time here....i wish that wyatt could talk more!  i just look in his little eyes, and know that he understands and comprehends so much more than he can express.  today i'm just very sad about that.  i often wonder what he's thinking.... i love to talk, and i feel like i talk to him ALL DAY LONG!  i guess one day i'll be really surprised when he answers me!  

some of his therapists have mentioned this week how much they can tell that he understands and "gets" stuff.   he does what we ask him to do for the most part.   he just hardly speaks.  we really have to prompt him to say words.....unless he's calling one of us.....mama, dada, ethan or bubba (forrest)....or if he's telling us to turn the fan "ON!"  and he does sing and babble a lot!   i saw a friend yesterday with a child just a bit younger than wyatt and she was saying LOTS of just made me realize how little he talks, i guess.  

i know that his surgeries have delayed him in addition to the delays that can be attributed to his Down syndrome.  i know that he probably had fluid sitting in his ears a lot more than i ever realized.  and so we've only had about 1 good month of fluid-free hearing.   and i know that i am not alone in wishing my child could talk more.   i KNOW lots of reasons as to why he is not talking..... we're just a "talkative" family, and i hoped that he'd be talking more by now!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Patti's Pure Love Giveaway

that patti over at A Perfect Lily is at it again!   please take the time to go over there (just click on that link!) and let God speak to your heart about what you can do....what you should do.   and what will you do?  this precious woman of God has her own "tribe" of kiddos....lily is #10....she homeschools and she is a pastor's wife.....her plate is more than full, yet she is an advocate for "the least of these children"....children with Ds who are born in eastern european countries, reece's rainbow children, who have no hope for the love of a family!   

she has a new giveaway that just started...."patti's pure love giveaway"!   the prizes are amazing, including an ipad gift set, diamond earrings, a fabulous camera....the list goes on.   all she's asking is that you give....give $10....more if you help bring olga, peter and kareen home!   and share on facebook about the if you blog....just help get the word out about this giveaway!  

she is expecting God to do great things as she follows His leading to help bring these children home!   before the giveaway began, she had a donation of $1200 for peter.....WOW!   and she truly believes that this is just a taste of the GREAT THINGS TO COME!!!!   so go ahead....head on over to A Perfect Lily....and allow God to break your heart for the things that break His!    trust me, you will be blessed!   peace.....