Category Archives: Uncategorized

bringing home oliver


We had hit our two year anniversary of adoption, and we have had the joy and privilege of watching our son shed his identity as an orphan and step into his identity as a son. He was made for this, I often think to myself as I watch him play with his siblings. He was created to be a son.

We’ve had our sleepless nights, our fear filled days of what our future would hold, but for the most part, those days have passed, and we’ve moved into a peaceful reality. We’ve all bonded well, and even the siblings I worried about a bit more, have transitioned into a beautiful relationship. Answered prayers, all of them, and sometimes the moments of where he’s been and where he is now strike me so hard, I find myself choking back tears as I hear one word whispered to my heart, ‘Redemption’.

Redemption is messy, it is difficult, it is purposeful, and it is costly, but it is also beautiful. It’s beauty is not always a surface beauty, but the kind that can only come from deep prayers, deep pain, and an even deeper love.

While we enjoyed our new reality, there was truly nothing in me that desired to join the ranks of my friends that were diving in to adopt again. We were firmly settled, and our house is full.

I saw his picture, and looking back, I think I knew then that he was different. I showed his picture to the kids. They are used to seeing the waiting children, but this one was different, and we all knew it. The kids all asked if we could adopt him, but we weren’t interested in taking another leap of faith and growing our family at that point. They told us all of the things they would be willing to give up if we would only consider adopting him. And so a conspiracy of young minds and hearts of strong faith began. Their requests were not from the naivety of the unknown, they were well aware of the cost of redemption. We had always said we would listen to our children, and longed to encourage them to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives, but when we talked about the reality, fear gripped me.

I requested his file, and reading it left me broken. His birthmother discarded him in a place that no human being should ever be, much less a precious new baby. He was miraculously found and brought to an orphanage. A family, a very good and loving family, crossed the ocean to adopt him when he was 16 months old, but after having him for four days, they realized he had nf-1, and were unsure if they could care for him, so they took him back to the orphanage. I cried as I heard one word whispered to my heart, ‘redemption’.

And then, and unlikely but beautiful friendship formed. I called the family that had chosen not to adopt him. Carrie answered the phone and I could hear the tears in her voice. She loved this child, and had lived with the decision she had made for the last year. I heard her pain. And I hear HIM whisper, “I make all things new.” And while she will not be his mother, she will be my friend. She is a part of his story, and she will watch his journey unfold. I am so thankful for this beautiful path that has intertwined us. I am so thankful to call her friend.

I threw myself into researching his condition, and the more I read the scarier it looked. Tumors, learning delays, and so much more kept me awake at night. I talked to Justin and the kids about all this could mean for us. I was desperate for them to understand that we couldn’t take this step. I knew our decision was made and it was time to close the door on this.

It was bedtime and I heard his feet pad across my floor. This child that has been a gentle leader to his younger siblings greeted me in his characteristically timid way. “Mom? I’ve been thinking. I know you’re scared, I’m scared too. I just keep thinking, even if he is going to die, don’t you think he deserves to die with a family?”

How do we get so caught up in having comfortable lives, that we fail to see the importance of making sacrifices for these little ones?! I tell my children all the time that God has not called us to live a life of comfort, but sometimes, I need them to remind me of my own convictions.

And so, we’ve let go of the strongholds, and have surrendered to the Redeemer’s plans for us and for Oliver. His life has redemption written all over it.


Almost Birthday


He received it today. It was his first one. I knew from the moment it landed in his small, Brown hands that he would hold it all night. His Birthday is tomorrow and tonight his very first card came in the mail. He cheered with excitement when he opened it. He sang the happy Birthday song with us and yelled when money came out of the card. He read it and reread it. He proudly showed me where it says his name at the top. When he was finished, he ever so carefully put his card Back in the envelope it arrived in, pressing the sticker in the exact spot to seal it once again.

He doesn’t know that we are going to celebrate Big all weekend long. He doesn’t know that this year, he has a closet full of gifts. He doesn’t know that we hired a Baker to make him a spiderman cake. In his mind, his entire celebration started and ended with this card, and once again, he has humbled me. His Beautiful, content heart makes me wonder again at God’s graciousness to me.

Tomorrow will not Be his first Birthday. That day has long come and gone. Tomorrow will Be his first Birthday as a SON, and friends, we are going to celebrate, Because this small Boy with a Beautiful heart is so very, very worth celebrating.




I stood beside her in church on Sunday. She was singing along, when she shyly reached out and held my hand. I looked down to see her stroking my hand against her cherubic cheek and staring up at me. I choked back the tears as I reached over to hug her. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was wondering if this is what it feels like to have a mommy. Still she waits for her day to be chosen.

And I wonder, would you be willing to sacrifice to make her yours? Would you be willing to live with less, so that she could call you Mommy? Would you be willing to stand beside her during her adolescence? Would you be willing to guide her to become all that a woman should be? Would you be willing to tuck her in at night? Would you be willing to cross the oceans to redeem this little life?

Two older boys are still waiting to be chosen. They are waiting for someone to say ‘You are mine’. When we asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, they had no dreams to share. They are old enough to know that outside of being chosen, their dreams could never come true. The one thing that they want more than anything is to come to America. They all want to be adopted and come to America. They have long passed their chances to be adopted in their country. Their only hope lies with the Americans. With tears streaming down my face, I hugged them when we left and whispered in their ear, “God has a beautiful plan for your life.” Could that plan include you?

Would you teach them to dream big? Would you believe in them and support them and help them become all that God designed them to be? Would you help them through their teen years and teach them what a good man is? Would you take them to baseball games and play basketball with them outside? Would you sacrifice to redeem them?

One shy little boy who resisted all of my efforts to engage him, finally got up the courage to speak to me on our last night. He shared with me that his dearest friends have come to America, and he wants nothing more than to be adopted and go there as well. I knew he struggled with English and it took great courage to approach me and share his heart. Could you be the one he is waiting for?

Would you be willing to set aside your dreams for your future and step out so that he can have a future? Would you be willing to whisper in his ear, “Families are forever. You are mine and I am yours.” Would you be willing to put up with the language barriers and let him know that love speaks the same language. Would you risk it all to redeem him and make him yours?

A sweet little boy with a giggle and smiling eyes greeted me. His story has redemption written all over it, and he has not even been chosen yet. He is waiting for a family. Is he waiting for you?

A little girl so full of life and vitality despite some of her special needs, captured my heart in an instant. She dances across the room giggling and sweeping everyone within the perimiter into her excitement. She has a joy that is contagious. She has a story that would make you cry, and yet she refuses to have her joy squelched. She is awesome, and she is waiting. Is she waiting for you?

Would you be willing to set yourself on the back burner to pursue her? Would you be willing to jump through hoops, and fill out mountains of paperwork, and go through months of waiting to redeem her? Would you be willing to let her know that she is worth everything in the world to you?

I do not know God’s plan for your life, but I do know that He did not intend to leave these children as orphans. As I looked at all of their faces, as I spent time getting to know them, I could not help but wonder, where is the church? Where are God’s people? Why are these beautiful children still waiting? Can I encourage you to set aside your idea of what your family should be. Set aside your idea of capping your family at the perfect number of children. Set aside your inhibitions. Set aside your idea of what your future should look like, and ask the Lord if He is calling you to redeem one of these little ones.

Our agency has a beautiful list of waiting children I would be so happy to send you. I can tell you it won’t be easy, but HE knows. Redemption is never easy, but it is always worth it.



It was the day before we were to travel to bring our son home. The day before our journey thus far would be completed. The day before our lives would change forever.
My son Nate said, “Mom, I am excited about so many things about bringing Cedi home, but do you know what I am the most excited about? Cedi will never be an orphan again.”

So many details about our journey to share, but that was a beautiful beginning. My son said it best.

Friends, we would like to introduce to you our son, Cedrick John Russell.  Adopted for life.



A Place Called Simplicity


Linny Saunders at A Place Called Simplicity is running an amazing contest!
1. Tell us a bit about the child you are adopting – including this treasure’s age and name {Please post a picture if allowed.}Cederick John is 6 years old and he’s from the Philippines. He is very small, only 30 pounds and he is awesome! =)
Sorry, no pictures are allowed on the internet, so you’ll have to take my word for it that he is the cutest Filipino to ever exist.

2. Is the child you are adopting considered “Special Needs”?
Yes he is. He has global developmental delay.

3. What country or geographic area are you adopting from?
The Philippines

4. Have you adopted before?
No, this is our first adoption. (we are sooooo excited!)

5. How close to travel are you?
We anticipate traveling sometime next month! Eek!!!

6. Do you attend church regularly? If so, what type of church is it?
Absolutely! We are very involved in our Baptist church.

7. Do you tithe with each pay {at least the scriptural standard of 10%}?
We do. We feel it’s not our money, it’s God’s.

8. This week, did you participate in any way with the day of Praise, Prayer by giving praise on the link and then posting your request?
No, unfortunately, this is the first time this week that I have read your blog.

9. Have you read the entire Deadbeat Dad series? {Yes or No} Please read it in full, so you can better understand the heart of God for stewarding the money He has graciously gifted us with.
It is a four part series and can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Absolutely, and loved them! They truly gave me great encouragement.

10. How did you hear about this Link up we are having?
My friend told me. =)

11. Is there anything, briefly, that you would like to share with our orphan-lovin’, God-honorin’, Jesus worshippin’ bloggy friends reading this?
We have 4 bio kiddos. Our youngest daughter has congenital glaucoma. Before she was 2, she had had 14 eye surgeries. We saw Cedi’s picture and we felt God was asking us to step out in faith, but we felt it would be highly irresponsible of us with a child that needed so many surgeries and care. We talked and prayed and prayed and talked, and we just couldn’t get away from the feeling that God was asking this of us. We stepped out in faith. TWO WEEKS after we sent in our letter of intent to adopt Cedi, our daughter had an exam under anesethia. The Dr. came out and informed us that he could not explain this medically but she showed NO MORE signs of glaucoma!!! Our God is so kind. He had so much in store for us, we just had to trust Him.

Finally, understanding that each gift received through this “Response Time” has been entrusted generously for our use from our loving Father, we promise, in the unlikely event that we would be unable to or decide not to adopt the children we are advocating for, we promise to return all of the money gifted to us as a result of this link to International Voice of the Orphan so they can, at their discretion, give to other families currently adopting.

{Please place your initials on the line.}
Yes, I will submit__ER____ No, I am unable to submit to this ________

If you are a “1”, then copy, paste the above questions, answer each, link to our Place Called Simplicity and I will have the post up tomorrow for you to link to.

Fish and Loaves Fundraiser


Praying that the Lord will use our ‘fish and loaves’ to bring our boy home!   OUR CURRENT TOTAL IS – $1,060 !!!

Okay, here it is!  Below you will see pictures of all of the items that have been donated to our fundraiser.  Here’s how it works.  Any donation enters you into a drawing for one of the gifts.  You donate by clicking the paypal button on the right.  You do not have to have a paypal account to donate.  Any friends you send that donate will be entered and each friend will count as an additional ‘name in the hat’ for yourself as well.  Make sure your friends leave comments below to let me know that you sent them, so I can add your name an additional time.  The fundraiser will go from Thursday to Saturday evening when we will draw and announce our winners.

I’m so excited about these gifts that have been donated!  I am confident anyone would love them!

Christina’s Bakery in Hanover, PA donated a $20 gift card.  I do believe that they

ship, so if you live out of town, you can still indulge!  Their buttercream frosting is out of this world!

Photo: Cupcakes for today are: German Chocolate, Coconut, Cookies & Cream, Carrot, Chocolate Peanut Butter; and of course Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate and Vanilla Buttercream.

Grace & Glee is donating a custom made, one of a kind, knitted tea set.  My daughter LOVES hers!  As previously mentioned, every little girl should have one!

Photo: Grace & Glee is donating a knitted tea set for our adoption fundraiser!  Lydia would agree, every little girl should have one!  =)

I am a huge fan of Taylor Joelle Designs.  They have such fun and unique designs for kiddos.  They have graciously donated 3 baby boy onesies with matching striped leg warmers.  A-DORABLE!!!  I don’t have a picture of the actual item, but here is an example of one of their designs, so you will see how absolutely cool they are.

Photo: LOVED the shoot with Heather Telford Photography!  These knot dresses should be up on our site in just a couple weeks.  Sizes are 2T through 6T.  My favorite Taylor Joelle product yet! - Jenny

I have been a huge fan of Chartreuse for a couple of years now, and I was delighted when she agreed to donate a gift to our fundraiser!  She takes items that most people would see and throw out, and makes them works of art.  Below is a picture of what used to be a hideous chair that she transformed.  We aren’t sure what the exact item will be yet, but I assure you, I will wish it was mine!

Photo: These chairs turned out amazingly beautiful!  Beth Turner Herochik of Winter Bird Interiors in Richmond is responsible for this perfect transformation! Wow!

My very favorite frame company, that I use for my business donated two of their gorgeous frames for gifts to help bring our boy home.  Thank you, Artsy Couture!

Photo: Giveaway: We are giving away three 11x14 sweet frames. Simply comment here and tell us other than Gallery Blocks, Photo Cubes and Sweet Frames what other photo products you would like Artsy Couture to sell.

The Shabby Apple has been a dress company that I regularly drool over their designs.  So, I was totally screaming when they graciously agreed to donate a dress as a gift to bring our boy home.  Below is the dress they are donating.  They gave me a coupon code so that the winner can get the dress in her exact size.  Brilliant!

Purple ballerina dress has ruching at waist with a v-neckline.

And, I saved the best for last!  The Gaslight Inn in Gettysburg is donating a night’s stay as a gift for our fundraiser.  Justin and I stayed there a couple of months ago, and it was absolutely fantastic!  Our room was nothing short of luxurious, and the breakfast left me craving another trip back.  I can’t wait to give this to one of our sweet friends as a thank you for donating!


Don’t forget if you send friends, to tell them to leave a comment with your name!

Five fish and two loaves


I’ve always loved that miracle.  Thousands of people, all of them were hungry.  The question was posed does anyone have any food?  One small little boy stepped forward with his meager offering.  I have to wonder if he really and truly was the only one in that entire crowd that had food.  The skeptic in me rears it’s ugly head and I have to say, I would speculate more people had food than that one small boy, but they remained silent.  They were unwilling to give all that they had into the hands of Jesus.  They missed being a part of the miracle.  Oh, they were there, and they saw it, but they missed the opportunity for Jesus to multiply their small into His large. 

But one little boy, with his child like faith stepped forward and was willing to share.  He held nothing back.  In the mind of an adult, how could one boy’s lunch feed 5,000 hungry people?  How far could 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish possibly go?  But in our skepticism we forget Who HE is.  We forget that His hands are not limited that they cannot save.  We forget that if we could just touch the hem of His garment, we might be made whole.  We forget that little is much when HE is in it. 

And so the Savior took the bread and break it and gave thanks, and ate, and gave everyone there – 5,000 people enough to eat.  In fact, they had so much, that they had baskets of leftovers!  Why do we doubt? 

Even when we believe that He can do the impossible, we doubt that He will do it for us.  I know.  I’ve lived it.  I am now living everyday, shaking my head in wonder at my daughter’s restoration.  It cannot be, and yet it is. 

And today, I am asking for the impossible yet again.  I have vacillated on how much to share, but I have been so encouraged by others transparency in their adoption journeys, and I would like for this blog to serve as an encouragement to someone else, and testimony that God is going to provide to bring this boy home.  I was sharing with a dear friend of mine my prayer that for our fundraiser we were setting a goal of 200 people donating $25.  I love this friend, and I love the safety of sharing my heart with her.  She agreed to pray for us to reach our goal. 

On Sunday, my friend’s two little girls came up to me and handed me an envelope full of change.  They had held a lemonade stand that weekend to help bring our boy home.  Our first $25 was donated from the proceeds of these two little girls.  They gave all that they had.  They held nothing back.  Oh, how my heart is touched by this sweet, sweet generosity.  And now I am asking my Father, to take these loaves and fish and multiply it.  Oh, how HE has blessed me already, and the fundraiser has not yet begun!  May HE be glorified and may we hold HIS banner high every step of this journey!