Thursday, December 8, 2011

Long term missions work............adoption! (by a proud poppa)

Yep, that's what it is!  A lifetime of dying to yourself and serving the ones God has given you!  My pastor told us that long ago, but it has finally set in.  A voluntary death (as Jesus did) for the well being of the ones you love!  Our old life has died, gone away, adios....bye-bye.  Replaced by one of greatful servanthood, a life of prayer, work, loving and doing everything we can for these two little fellas (maybe even more, someday).

All of the adventures God has put us on, so far, had been fairly short. A few week long mission trips to Mexico, a few week long trips with jr/sr high nuts, 9 months of fundraising for the begining of our lifelong mission trip to Ukraine.

For a guy that that loves adventure, and used to think that being a Christian would be boring.....I was WRONG!  Since giving my life to Him about 5 years ago, it has been one crazy adventure after another....never fully knowing what is around the next corner.  It has not been easy but, I never saw Indiana Jones kick back and take a vacation.....  What a joy it is!  Lots of hard, gratifying work but a joy to do for the Lord who loves us!

I do have a favor to ask all who read this, actually two.  I ask that you pass on this request...that's request one. Request two is that you pray about adoption, if you can't adopt then pray about supporting someone who is.  Not just before adoption, but during and afterward.  The afterward part is so important.  We had so many who helped in all stages....we can't express our appreciation enough.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We thought we were prepared (by joel)

Well, 4 months home and so much has happened.  At times it seems like we have been a family forever, other times like we don't know who swapped out our kids for the ones secretly taking their place....and forgetting how to behave!  All kidding aside (yep, hard for me to do), this was the part we were most unprepared for.  Spiritual warfare in the fundraising process, endless explanation to family and friends, Spiritual warfare overseas, the whole prosecutor issue, living through the daily visits that leave you exhausted, the 32 hours of flying home, the two weeks when we first arrived home (that neither of us remember).....but the crazy emotions and, sometimes, lack of emotions over the last few months were something we were not expecting.

Everything is HARD!  The directional change for my business with a new client, new computer systems, learning all new processes, basicly starting a new business from scratch....12-18 hour days and all.  Staying up late doing dishes for my wonderful wife who spends all day dealing with the 3 P's (you other parents know, Poop, Pee and Puke) along with things we didn't think of....Like the endless invasion of Lady beetles for the past month.  Josiah is way too quick on getting to them as soon as they hit the floor and he loves the BBQ beetles that fall off the light (that kid is just gross :)   )  Satan has tried to break us on everything!  The cars have been falling apart and the most amazing things keep happening to them.  The car had the engine blow up, the first used motor made it all of 10 miles home before it blew up, the third motor didn't quite match up, and we are picking up the 4th tomorrow.  The big van is, well....still on it's last legs/wheels.  And the new/used minivan had $1500 worth of work done on our 4 day trip to michigan (which lasted about a week due to that), and was just in for a rebuild on the transmission....then IT had to be pulled again after something happened to the rebuilt tranny after 300 miles.....NOW, 300 miles later, another internal transmission issue that gets checked out tomorrow.....Oh, forgot about the alternator on the car!  That went out on my way to work one day, got changed out for a new one that wouldn't charge/didn't work, then the second new one seized up and took all the belts with it...the third one worked.  Oh, and the alternator on the minivan that went out on the way to Michigan, for said 4 day trip, that left us stranded on the interstate for a couple hours...then in a repair shop for another hour.  (insert request for prayer on our vehicles here....satan, in the name of Jesus I command you to leave our vehicles alone).

My focus has been harder to keep focused.  The balance is hard to find!  God, Work, Wife, Boys....I had a minute to think about myself the other day, but that didn't last long.  I have never been so tired in my life, worked so hard, played so hard and felt so behind in so much!  This is CrAzY!!!!  So much more responsibility with two little boys needing daddy to provide for them AND be there for them, and Momma needs me too, as well as some time off.  She's been pretty much stuck at home for 3 weeks now and cabin fever has set in....momma needs time out and away!  That way, maybe one of us can be seen as sane :)

The emotional aspect is something I, honestly, didn't think of.  Would I love these two little guys like I would if they were born into our family?  Would it be instant?  Would it take a little time or would it grow slowly?  What is normal for a parent to be overcome with love?  The answer is.....I still don't know!  We have bonded, I do love these little guys, I brag them up like any proud poppa, And if anyone thinks of messing with my got one protective and angry poppa on your hands :), I desire to play with them and provide for them, I hug and kiss on them, I look forward to the most amazing "welcome home's" that have ever been enthusiasticly given by a 3 1/2 year old (I really need to record it some day, it breaks my heart every night)...but is it the same as what other dads feel?  I don't know?  I sometimes want them to go to bed a few minutes early and often wish they would sleep in past 4:40, then I feel guilty for not wanting to love on them more.  I do love them both very much, and God is working to further strengthen that bond.

For those who are adopting, I give this advise.  The spiritual warfare does not end when you get home, satan steps it up a notch or two.  Turn first to God, then to your spouse.  Love them like Jesus would, are there to serve them....forever!  Take time for God, he is in control of everything and will reward you with more time than you though possible...if you first, put Him first.  Put your spouse ahead of yourself.  Men, we were made to it!  I heard a sermon once that has stuck with me and I try to live out this part of the message.  The preacher said, "as the leader of the house you should be the first one up...praying for your family, work hard, come home, work hard there, spend time with your family, spouse, God (again/still) and be the last one to sleep".  A man following the Word of God has little time to sleep, there is much praying, working and helping that needs to be done.  I have accepted that challenge and have all to often found myself leaning on me instead of God, and I can tell you that things spin quickly out of control when I am the foundation on which I stand!  Pray, pray and pray some more.  The children we adopted, and some of you will or have adopted, are a gift and a full time ministry!  With that holding true, you would expect nothing less than satan to try to get a foot in the door anywhere he can.  I say, hit em with prayer....let God do the fighting for you and you (ok, I write this to help remind myself) keep your focus on glorifying God with all your actions.

Now, as for the cars and the unexpecteds....I am grateful for the opportunity God has given me to grow!  To love, to be loved and to know what it means to be a father!  The special bonding that takes place with my sons....a deeper understanding of what the relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son, how to serve, and how to pray in ways I never thought possible.  I will continue to pray for our cars (some see that as silly but my God is sovereign over everything and it is all His anyway so....I pray and seek His advise).  I am ready for battle!  For my God is with me!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Boys First Thanksgiving

Yesterday was the boys first Thanksgiving. Obviously it meant way more to us than it did them. To them, it was a special day because daddy was home to play with them. :)  For me, it was the same...until we sat down for our Thanksgiving dinner. As we sat around our little table, a family of four, thanking God for all He has blessed us with, it really hit me. I have no words to describe the thoughts and emotions running through me at that moment. The tears threatened to spill over, but for what specific reason I could not tell you. Last year at this time we were just beginning our journey to our boys, they were just a thought. We dreamed about the next year when they would be with us, but really it was just that, a far off dream. We had no idea, really, who we were bringing home. Yes we had pictures to look at, but, as we found out, those are never a 100% sure thing. And even if they were, we didn't know their personalities. We dreamed, but could not truly imagine, what it would be like having them here with us. Then the day was suddenly here, and we've been so caught up in just living that I don't think it really hit either of us right away. The boys are here. They are having their first Thanksgiving with their family. They sat at our table and ate turkey with us. There are NO WORDS to describe that feeling. All I can do is fall to my knees and praise God. He knew what this day would be like, He knew that it would take me by surprise. He knew. He chose to bless us with these two very special little boys, as unworthy as we are. I am humbled. How amazing that one year later, we know these boys, we know now what it is like having them here in our family. We know that they LOVE turkey dinner. We know that they don't care about football. We know that they don't like their "normal" to be disrupted. We know that they love each other. We know that they don't like to sit still for pictures...EVER! :) We know that they are the biggest blessings God has ever bestowed upon us. Thank you Lord! And thank you to all of you who helped bring them home!

 My boys :)
 Apparently the boys have had too much turkey to smile.
Going in for a kiss :) 

 Doesn't that face just make you want to smile? 
 Waiting for the turkey dinner they keep talking about....
 Tired of waiting.

 Maybe if I lay down right beside my high chair they'll quit talking about the turkey dinner and just feed me already!
 I think Jackson is telling Josiah to just smile so these weird people will let us eat all the food in front of us.
 A very full plate.
 Josiah even had all the fixins, just a little different texture ;)
 My boys! Got two of them to look.
 Okay, still two looking but just a different two!
 Wiping his mouth at the end of the meal...notice the plate now.
 Licking every last drop off the fork.
 And now the plate.
 Does he look full to you?
 Sitting on the floor because we're too stuffed to do anything else. :)

 Brothers :)
 Anyone else notice a smirk on Josiah's face?
Our two beautiful blessings!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Hard to believe sometimes that is was just 4 months ago that these two had no idea what it meant to be brothers. They had only seen each other a couple times, and only briefly.
As you can see from the top picture, Josiah has wasted no time in becoming a true younger brother. :) And Jackson has become such a great big brother! He is always trying to do for Josiah what Joel and I do. I love to watch Jackson teach Josiah sign language!! And I love how he gets so frustrated when Josiah keeps throwing his pacy while he's in his walker. Josiah knows that Jackson will pick it up for him, and he does, every time. But around time 2 or 3 he starts getting frustrated and he lets Josiah know it!

I am so thankful we were obedient when God told us to go. I am so thankful we were obedient and brought home 2 little boys. Yes, it is harder at times. But when I watch them play together, laughing and loving one another, it is all more than worth it. There are times when I can tell Jackson is bored of playing with me, and isn't really interested in playing by himself, but as soon as brother comes downstairs from nap, well, it's like he was just waiting for that moment. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Impromptu Lunch Date

A couple of days ago, due to special circumstances, I was able to enjoy lunch with the most handsome of men. :) Little men that is!
Josiah decided to sleep through lunch so I found myself eating at the table with Jackson. Normally, with the chaos of 2 little boys who eat different things at slightly different times, I am unable to sit down to lunch until after they are down for afternoon nap. This day I found myself able to eat at the same time as Jackson so we heated up some leftover chinese and had a "date"! I didn't realize it until after we'd been sitting there for a bit, but suddenly I realized that it was just he and I. :) Life had actually slowed down for a bit and we had nothing else to do but enjoy each others company. It was the best lunch I've had in quite some time. :) So we sat there smiling at one another and eating and giggling some. When we were done we cuddled on the couch watching a movie (Baby Einstein, Animals Around Me). It was the best! And I could tell that Jackson was enjoying this date as much as I was. Every now and again that little sweetie would just lean over and give me a kiss. :) Talk about melting a momma's heart!

I cannot wait until things are more settled here and we can go out for our dates! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Want to win a Kindle Touch? My sister-in-law is the Christmas Warrior for little Andy in China. To help her raise at least $1000 for his grant she is doing a Kindle Touch giveaway. You can earn an entry by donating as little as $5!!! So head on over to her blog and see what she's got going on. And please share about this sweet little boy to help him find his forever family.

 You can find info on all her fundraisers and how to donate on her blog,

There is also a Thirty-One fundraiser happening right now for Andy too. 25% of total sales (my whole commission) will be going towards his fund. Just go to and click on "my events" where you'll find the fundraiser for Andy. Then just start shopping! Get some Christmas shopping done, maybe even a little something for yourself, while helping an orphan.

Thank you!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Praises and prayers

We tried getting both boys looking at the camera by saying "look at Aunt Melinda" who had the camera. So Jackson signed "aunt". :) lol
Apparently the boy is happy about beet soup!

 Poor little guy was so tired. A long day of meeting grandparents can do that to a little fella.

Just sitting there looking cute! And playing with his feet. If his feet are bare, he is playing with them! lol

Quite pathetic right? This is when he realized I was telling the truth about the juice being all gone.

 This is him protesting when I first told him it was all gone. :)

In this photo Jackson was looking at me instead of the camera and Josiah is trying to sneak in a kick to great-grandpa's head. I now understand all my friends family photos. :)

This was our little cutie on the hotel bed. (We had car trouble and had to stay in a hotel one night on the way up.) Both boys just loved the feel and sound of the "crinkley" blanket on the bed! This is where they played the whole time we were there. If only it had been as comfortable to sleep in.....

 Wearing Uncle Mike's hat and signing "momma"!! My smart little man!
 And again! Of course, shortly after this he started signing "daddy" and "momma" was forgotten.
 No words needed. :)
 Pillow fight with Aunt Melinda!
 Again, no words.
 And here is the first picture in the "juice saga". Here, there is still juice. :)

Okay, now that we have that out of the way! ;)

As the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree has started back up, it is hard for me to keep from thinking about last year at this time. Last year we had committed to one little boy and were praying about a second little boy. Because we didn't commit until after the Angel Tree had started, little Jackson was on there. I still remember looking at all those faces needing families as I would scroll down to see if Jackson had any more donations or not. And then I started looking to see if certain faces that always caught my eye had any new donations.
It is amazing to me when I think that this year, Jackson is not only no longer on the Angel Tree, he is IN MY HOUSE!!! He lives under the same roof as me!! He is no longer a picture on the computer, he is my son. It is quite difficult to really wrap my head around that! So we are praising God for His mighty work in our lives and for all He has done for these boys of ours.
This doesn't mean, however, that we forget about all those left behind. Some we've met, some we've caught glimpses of, and others we only know by their RR picture. But we've been there, we know, we cannot forget. So this year, I am not looking to see if "our" child has any more donations, I am looking to see how many have found their families during this time. Now I look to see if the other children in the boys' orphanage have donations or families. I pray that more donations than ever before are made during this Angel Tree season. I pray that more children than ever have families commit to them. I pray for these dear children.

And because I know personally how much every dollar in a child's grant counts, I have started selling Thirty-One products to help orphans. For all parties/orders, I will be donating all of my commission (25%) to an orphans grant or an adopting family. In fact I have my first fundraiser going now. Between November 1 and December 10 I will be hosting 2 different parties (because of how the specials are scheduled) and my commission from both will be going to Andy from China, whom my sister-in-law is Christmas warrior for. You can find out more about the different fundraisers she has going on her blog,

As for the Thirty-one fundraiser, you can order online at and click on "my events". For those ordering $75 or more of product, your name will be entered into a drawing for some hostess rewards. The larger the party the more names drawn! Also, anyone getting $200 or more in product orders from friends/family will also get their name in the drawing. If ordering online, please email me the names so I can make sure you get your name entered!
Anyone wanting a catalog can email me your address and I'll get it mailed out to you. And you can always email me with any questions.
Please take a minute to take a look, there are great specials going on over the next couple of months. Great gift ideas!!!

Thank you!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 months home....already! (by joel)

Wow, I have literally not had any spare time over the last 2 months!  My business has expanded into another field after my sign installation work dried up.  So, we have added a family, started a new job (12+hours a day, 6 days a week) and have tried to start bible school (just not the right time for it right now).  Being a new dad has put my priorities to a test, I have a huge desire to make this new job work because I have 2 little boys counting on me.  Before, I knew Rachel and I could make it even if it meant beans and rice....seems a bit more pressure filled now!  :)

Rachel is doing amazing with her role as a mother!  The DS clinic doctors and the early intervention lady were all amazed by the vocabulary of Jackson and now of Josiah!  Yep, Josiah is now signing and saying a few words!  Looking back, that absolutely blows my mind.  The little baby that had no muscle tone, little or no expression and no vocalization.....well, He's worming around at break neck speed, he can stand with just a little support at the waist and this kid has attitude and lungs to match!!!!  This all happened over the last couple of weeks, like God just flipped his switch to ON and now he's full speed ahead!  He even says Jackson, penny, dadda, momma, and a few others that come out of left field...He just signed "thank you" to me after I changed his diaper tonight!

Jackson is not only suprising us with his language skills, but his mind is amazing.  Yesterday, we got a little tikes slide given to us and he went to town on it.  The neat part was watching him figure out how to swing his second leg around and not fall down!  He is so adventurous and quite the dare devil!  He loves playing "jet man" where I pick him up at the thigh and raise him to the ceiling, then let him fall like a rock until I "save" him at the last second, flips and twirls and climbing on daddy are on the to-do list every day.

Looking back, it seems odd that we have only been home for a little more than 3 months.  The sleep to coffee ratio is quite different with a family and I was just thinking how much of my life was wasted before the boys....I don't think I ever had productive hours between 4-8am before....  And I can't figure out, for the life of me, how the heck the boys can be in bed at 7:30, asleep by 8, up at 5:30-7 and we can be so sleepy!  The boys are sleeping 10 hours a night, sometimes more!  And how is it they take two naps a day and yet I get none!  :)  Please read this as just amazement, not complaining...because, with all said and done...these boys bring so much life to this house.

So, business is going good and the hours are starting to normalize.  Momma is doing great with everything she is teaching these little men.  IT IS HARD THOUGH!  Every day is different than it was before, for all of us.  We don't see the boys as any different than "normal" boys.  I kind of struggle with this.  To me, they are two little boys.  Others see the DS or notice they are different some how.  They do great when other kids don't treat them as different, Jackson tries hard to do what anyone else is doing and Josiah follows suite by copying Jackson.  Jackson can count to 5 and knows some of the ABC's in the ABC song, has a huge understanding of the English language and is speaking fairly well and signing quite well....he can communicate with us very well.  If one method doesn't work, he'll switch tactics until you understand!  It is amazing!

But with all that said, they both get over stimulated.  Unfortunately, very few people actually get what that means.  They don't understand some of the rules we have, or why they/we don't do this or that.  They see the boys as normal boys, and they pretty much still are.  It isn't the DS that is the problem, I'm thinking it is just the adjustment from the orphanage.  We were given some amazing advice from a couple that were going through their second adoption from the Ukraine.  They told us to grow their world slowly, as in one room at a time, one place at a time and for a limited amount of time.  Since we have no other children, this is the approach we have decided to take.  Their world is growing, but we are growing it slowly.  Sunday school, a couple trips to the store per week and that's about where we are at.  It is very hard on them to go to another place and be there for a while.  Most don't understand or see what is overstimulating about it because the boys don't show any signs of anything being all happens over the next day or two, even the next week some times.  The staring off into space, the naughty behaviors, the lack of sleep or restless sleeping or the 4+ hour naps the days following.  Then there is the upset stomach issues, whining, crying, and other actions of acting out that the boys don't experience except after having their little world upset.  They are still trying to figure out why people are paying attention to one has ever done that before and they don't know how to deal with it.  So, we simply ask for patience!  For those who don't understand, please trust that the Lord that took us on this amazing adventure is still in charge of our lives and we are listening to Him, seeking His advise.  As brother ken preached today, It is Rachel and I that will stand before God giving an account of how we raised His children.  Knowing this, we are seeking His guidance, and He has given us some amazing people to help lead us in this endeavor.

Trust us, we know how much everyone just wants to love on these guys...and we are going at the pace that God has set for us.  As it was explained to us, the more the boys can trust us the less the over stimulation happens.  And for that to happen, we need to be their everything right now.  Our little house has to be their world, and the adventures out of their world have to be limited (but with the goal of expansion being worked towards).  These guys still need your prayers, as do we!

I will do my best to get some more pictures put up!  Please, keep the other families in your prayers.  There are many who went before us and are going after us....we all need support of some kind.  Pray, give time, give money, advocate.....I am working on a "Just save one" project for churches and hope to roll that out in the next few months.  Pray, Pray, Pray.....

Thank you to all who helped!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We've been a little busy.....

I know that is no excuse for waiting so long to post. Please forgive us. I'll try to catch up everything and hopefully get some pics and videos up too.

The trip to the Ds clinic went great! Josiah is doing great and they didn't feel the need to send him for any kind of testing or specialists. However, we believe he does have reflux. For now we are just doing some things here at home to try and help, but if it doesn't seem to work we will have him tested. Jackson is doing well too. He does have a small hole in his heart that the doctor is not concerned about at all. Just wants to see him again in a year. This is kind of funny because the info we had was that Jackson was born with a hole in his heart but that it closed by itself, and that Josiah was born with one but that it didn't fix itself so he needed to be seen in a year (which would have been October of 2011). As for Jackson's eyes, well the doctor said that surgery is his only option. He doesn't have a weaker eye, they both see the same, but he just sees out of one of them at a time. The surgery would make his eyes straighten out and would help them start seeing at the same time. We haven't scheduled the surgery yet. We are taking time to pray about it and see if there might be other options.

We have not started any kind of early intervention services yet. We will be in touch with them over the next couple of weeks hopefully, but for now we've just wanted time for everyone to adjust.
We've seen so much growth from both boys in the two months we've been home. Josiah is so strong now. While in his walker he can put all his weight on his legs. He also can sit up now. He cannot sit totally unattended, but before he couldn't even sit straight up with you holding him. He has come so far!! He has also let his personality come out. He jabbers, smiles, laughs, giggles. We LOVE it!! He has also started dancing (which is funny because he does it while laying on the floor). His babbling has started to become more like he's trying to talk, and he's started saying "ahhhh". Whenever Jackson takes a drink at dinner Josiah will look longingly at him and say "ahhhh". He also said it as he watched me eat some Starbursts!! LOL He just knew they tasted good enough to be worthy of an "ahhhh"!!

Jackson is surprising us with how quickly he is not only understanding English but speaking it. He says so many words that I've lost count. Among them are: monkey, kitty, Penny (our dog), momma, daddy, brother, Josiah, Jackson, up, down, two, five, clap, eat, cereal, car, vroom(and he knows this is the noise the car makes), woof (he knows this is the sound the dogs make), and meow (he knows this is the sound the kitty makes). There are many more! He is doing great with his signing too! The other day at dinner he couldn't get his salad on his fork so he said and signed "help"!
As for eating, he eats well. He still eats almost anything, but he has started to get awful picky about eating his fruits. :) He doesn't like apples or peaches, but he'll eat applesauce or peachsauce. So I'll be making some pearsauce too.

Jackson still gets overstimulated easily so we pretty much stay at home and we only attend Sunday school for now. The boys enjoy Sunday school as they get to go into the nursery with Mrs. Debbie, whom they love.

We have had no visitors since Aunt Melinda and Uncle Mike, but we are expecting my parents the end of this week. The boys will be meeting their Grandma Pauline and Grandpa Mike for the first time.

And now for the pictures/videos :) We don't have many as our camera is not working and when Joel gets home from work his phone is dead. :(

This is a cute looking boy! Well, look closer at his feet.

While we were making dinner we kept peeking around the corner at the boys and Josiah would just look at us and smile and giggle. We thought he was being so cute. Then something caught my eye and I went in for a closer look. This is what I found.

 Apparently just enough poo went out the side of his diaper and down his leg for him to smear it all over his feet and the carpet!!! The spot on the carpet was like a foot in diameter!! And the total amount of poo didn't even fill the diaper, it's just the way he was sitting in his walker that made it come out the side. So daddy scrubbed the carpet and momma scrubbed the kid! (okay, daddy helped momma a little!)

These next two are just because the boys are cute!

The above is what happens when Momma is in the kitchen making applesauce and daddy is playing with the boys. He made a "gladiator" hat out of a piece of scrap fabric. All those knots are "spikes"!! Jackson loved the hat thought. We even have a video of him doing the chicken dance in it! As soon as I figure out how to get videos on here I'll post it as well as one of Josiah showing off his skills.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Four weeks

Believe it or not, we've now been home 4 weeks!! (okay so by the time I got to finish this post it's 4.5 ;) ) It feels like we've only been home a couple weeks, but yet Ukraine seems like so long ago, a distant dream.

In that 4 weeks, the boys have both grown and changed so much. I wish I could come in with new eyes and see them only as they are, sometimes when you are there through the growth and the growth comes gradually, you tend to miss some things. Some of the things we are not missing though are the fact that Josiah now has a personality! He smiles and giggles and laughs, especially when big brother is being reprimanded for hitting/throwing/not obeying for the upteenth time :) Josiah is now a pro at eating by a spoon, he even will chew (with his 3 teeth) and we've only just started feeding him this way and we haven't even worked with him on the chewing! That boy watches everyone do everything. He also has started dancing, just like big brother. He watches Jackson so much and tries to be like him. The funny thing is, Jackson will copy Josiah as well! Funny at times, not so funny at others (like chewing on all toys!) Try telling a 3 year old who doesn't fully understand English that it's okay for brother because he's a baby and teething, but not for him because he's old enough to know better. If you figure out how to do that, please email me!! LOL  And praise God, Josiah gained 2 pounds in the first 3 weeks home :)

Jackson is learning and growing also. He is understanding so much of what we say now, it's just getting him to listen and obey!! LOL  We are starting to catch on, though, when he understands and when he doesn't. See, he tries to fool us by staring at us blankly even when he does understand so he doesn't have to do something like pick up toys. Whew! He is definitely a three year old boy :) He is also learning so many new signs and starting to use them appropriately. It sure makes understanding what he needs/wants so much easier. It's also funny to see him make up signs that he doesn't know yet for words he wants to say. There are some we still haven't figured out. Jackson is also saying so many new words. He now says his name :) And peek-a-boo (which happens to be his new favorite game).

Some of my favorite times of day are when the boys are playing together, when we are all dancing around the living room, and when daddy is playing with his boys. I love being a family!

Please keep us in your prayers. Next week we take both boys to the Down syndrome clinic in Nashville and on the same day (a very LONG day) we also take Jackson to the eye doctor also in Nashville (both at Vanderbilt). Also, Joel may be starting a new job next week. That means momma and the boys will be flying solo during the day :) It also means momma can't hand the boys over to daddy when she smells a stinky diaper ;)  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dying unto one's self....over and over and over again! (by Joel)

I continue to struggle to find time to do everything that I used to have ample time to do!  I was struggling the past couple days, as I've been on the road working!  I kept pushing myself, doing everything I could to get home as quickly as possible....I missed my family!  The stories from Rachel on the growth of the boys, over just a few days, were amazing.  These two little fellas are growing up so quickly, Jackson's personality is becoming more an more apparent and Josiah is continuing to surprise us with what he can do and comprehend.

Something that our pastor has kept saying to us, keeps coming back to my mind tonight.  I think it has finally set in for me, it makes sense now.  He keeps saying that we have been, and will continue to die unto ourselves....and I am finally getting it!  2 Timothy 2:11b states, "if we have died with him, we will also live with him".  A death to our old selves and a life, eternally, with him.  This dying part is now so clear to me!  I used to enjoy the free time I had, the ability to help others whenever they needed it, to work on things at my own pace, to go willy-nilly throughout the day doing as I pleased.  Sleeping in as I felt I needed, staying up late chatting with old friends on facebook, blogging about the craziness of adoption....the list just goes on and on!  But that part of me has been dying lately, my desires have been falling by the wayside (some trying to cling on, necessitating a bit of a shaking or even help from Jackson with a big ole slap to get 'em off).  I was joking with a friend just the other day, how I had wasted so much time before...but doing what, I didn't know!

Now, the crazy part is, I don't miss it at all.  This is a joyous thing, one that doesn't make sense.  One that takes more work and focus, but joyous none the less!  The work comes as I must realize the new role I have as head of this household, supportive husband, provider, and father to two young men who need so much from me and Rachel.  Trying to balance work, household chores, time with the boys (good one on one time, teaching and playing) and also helping out my lovely is hard work!  Keeping up with a 3 1/2 year old, in and of it's self, is hard work!   I am sure that Jackson has a stash of Red Bull somewhere...and he ain't sharing!  The upkeep on the house is driving me a little nuts too but that is where the focus comes in, I have never had to prioritize so much in my life.  

See, we have been blessed with a tractor to replace the one I had to sell when the whole adoption process started last year.  It started and ran great when I picked it up, but hasn't run since I've got it back to the "ranch".  That is no problem, or at least it wouldn't have been..back in the day!  I love working on anything with a motor and old diesels have my name written on them...but  I now have different priorities.  Just to diagnose the problem took me 4 days, then the help of my brother when he was down (and Jackson, ok..he was in his playpen right beside us working on it)  Then getting the part to fix it took another 4 days, now finding the half a day to fix it....who knows when that will happen!  :)  In the meantime, the yard is starting to take over again and the gravel driveway is turning green.

Dying to self, every be more like Christ!  I have a long way to go, but I am finally starting to see what it means.  Setting aside things of old, focusing, instead, on others (namely, Josiah, Jackson, and Rachel) and trusting God in everything.  For, as verse 12 says, "if we endure, we will reign with Him"  implying that it won't be easy, but most defiantly, worth it!  


I was reminded as I typed this, that as I prayed on what to start teaching the boys for an occupation, I was lead to prepare them for farming and mechanics!  I think this might be a good start for Jackson!  I also think that saturday might bring about another daddy/son tractor fixin' day :)