Sunday, April 17, 2011

Update on Olga

***Their Chip-In account is up to $710!!!  If was all give what we can, they will be fully funded this week.  We can do this!!!***

I wanted to give you all an update on the precious little girl named Olga who truly has changed my life. 

About a month ago, I joined many other bloggers in an attempt to raise money so that her forever family could bring her home.  You can read my post here:  A Day to Save Olga.  What an amazing response we saw!  In just a few days time, so many people responded to the call by praying, donating and/or sharing the story with others.

I come to you now asking you to rally together once again.  While they have raised around $20,000 so far, the anticipated costs for this adoption is around $35,000.  For those not familiar with international adoption, you are probably looking at this number in shock!  I know I did when I first became aware of it.  It is outrageous that it should cost that much money!  But, no matter how disgusted we are by the complicated, over-priced system, the fact remains that these children NEED TO BE RESCUED!  If you haven't read my previous post, please take a minute to do so. 

These children are unwanted.  They are considered defective and disposable. 

And yet, there are loving families here that desperately want to open their homes to these babies.  The Abell family has the means to support another child.  They have the space, the love, the ability, and the desire.  But no matter how much they are willing and able to bring another child into their life, that $35,000 initial cost is overwhelmingly difficult to come by.  How many people do you know that have that kind of money just lying around? 

If they had chosen to bring another child into their family biologically, this would not be nearly as complicated.  Medical insurance covers most of the expenses involved in a pregnancy.  Unfortunately, there is not equivalent insurance coverage for adoption expenses.  So because they chose to rescue a child that is in desperate need of a family, they have this enormous up-front cost.

This is not a situation where the family is getting in over their heads.  They have not made this decision lightly.  They are not going into it blindly. 

They are following God's call on their family. 

Most of us at one point or another help to raise money for something.  We raise money so that people can get the medical treatment they need.  We raise money to help fund research for various diseases.  We raise money for organizations that help end human trafficking.  We raise money to help people recover from natural disasters.  We raise money all the time for so many different causes.  But they are all similar in that they are there to help others in their time of need.

This is not a welfare case.  This is not supporting someone who just doesn't want to work to get what they want.  This is not enabling someone who doesn't know how to manage their money.

The Abell family has cut out all non-essential expenses such as "cable, eating out, haircuts, birthday parties, vacation, knick knacks, etc."  Chris has taken on a second job and works extra hours any chance he gets.  They are scrimping and saving and working.  Jenn is making and selling various items.  Yard sales, bake sales, MaryKay sales.  They are doing everything they can to bring their daughter home.  You can read more about their journey, their struggles and their undying love, hope and determination for their daughter in their latest blog post here

Won't you be a part of helping them bring her home?

What can you give?  $10?  $25?  $50?  More than that?  Some tax return money that could be used to help a little girl get home?

I want to challenge you to be a huge part in this wonderful story. 

First, pray for this family.  Pray for peace and wisdom and strength.  Pray for miracles in the process.  Pray for Olga...for her safety and health. 

Go to the family's blog, Saving Our Starfish, and donate to their "Dossier Submission Chip-In" account on the right-hand side of the page.  Give what you can.  Check out all of their fundraisers and participate.  They currently have $635 towards their goal of $5458.  Let's all join in and blow the top off that goal!

Then, share this story.  Email it to all your friends.  "Share" it on Facebook.

I have seen what can happen when we rally together. 

Let's do it again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

To Serve and Protect

According to the Concerns Of Police Survivors website:  "Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty."  As of the writing of this post, there have been 58 line-of-duty officer deaths so far this year.  We are currently on day 115, so if we do the math we see that on average an officer has been killed every two days so far this year.

Can you imagine going to your job every single day, not knowing if it is going to be you next on that list?

There are so many people who bad-mouth the cops.  They see a news report of an officer injured or killed and they celebrate.  Maybe they even participate in the violent protests against officers. 

A saw a video on Facebook of three officers chasing down a crazy fan that was interrupting a soccer game.  The video shows the officers tackling the man and then fighting with him.  Shortly thereafter, hundreds of spectators descend on the officers, attacking them.  The comments that were made in regards to this video sickened me.  People saying the officers got what they deserved. 

Really?  Three officers doing their job, taking care of the crazed fan who chose to fight them and resist arrest...they really deserved to be attacked by hundreds of people all at once?  Yeah, that sounds fair.

People are so quick to complain about the police.  I am fully aware that cops are human.  All humans make poor choices from time to time...some more frequently than others.  I also believe that those in authority should be held to a higher standard.  However, to make blanket judgments regarding an entire profession is ludicrous.  Are all officers brutal and over-the-top?  No.  Are all officers crooked?  No.  Most actually are not.  Unfortunately, as our society loves to gawk at the negative rather than applaud the positive, all that is brought to our attention are the "bad apples". 

And even then, when we look at the various videos out there that show us the "police brutality", we are watching one short clip from a silent film!  Can you really determine the entire story from such little information? 

How about you put yourself in their shoes:  You have to fight for your life on a daily basis.  You frequently encounter people who hate you and want to seriously harm you and/or kill you.  And you never know at the onset if this particular person approaching you belongs in that category or not.  You always have to be on your guard.  You cannot assume that the person you are contacting is a rational, kind human being who just wants to live in a peaceful society.  Because as soon as you let your guard down, you could lose your life.  When others are running away from the gunshots and the fights, you run towards them.  You work long hours, dealing with people on the worst days of their lives.  You are constantly using yourself as a shield to protect others from danger.  You are regularly making split-second life-and-death decisions.  You rarely have a day that is not utterly draining physically, mentally and emotionally.  You see things that you wish you could erase from your memory:  the young family that was plowed down in a hit-and-run, the woman who was brutally raped and left to die, the man murdered and stuffed in a barrel, the mother sobbing uncontrollably at the news that her son who just graduated college and had a promising future ahead of him died in a tragic accident...just to name a few. 

Does this really sound like a job you would want?  Most of us would say absolutely not.  And yet there are so many people who are quick to criticize the men and women who do willingly take on this job. 

Thousands of men and women get up each and every morning, noon and night to face yet another shift full of catastrophic events.  Nobody calls the cops to celebrate a fantastic day in their lives!  They call when their world is falling apart and exploding all around them, and they expect the officers to come take care of the situation, then complain that the officers did just that.

What does your average work-day look like?  What is your job?  What constitutes a bad day at work for you?  I am picturing the work-safety signs that are found in most factory-type settings such as this one:

Now imagine having this poster in your workplace...and the number never gets above 2...and that's just for the fatal accidents.

I know some may feel that I am being a bit dramatic.  I wish it were only that.  Unfortunately, I have sat through numerous police officer funerals.  I have witnessed the pain and sorrow and devastation and shock.  I have also seen the honor and bravery and respect shown to those officers by their brothers and sisters in blue.  I have sat through those funerals full of the knowledge that I could be the one in the front row tomorrow.  I have dealt with the gripping fear that comes from that realization.  And it causes me to get very angry when I hear people spewing hatred towards officers.

These officers are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, best friends.  When you celebrate an officer being beaten, shot or killed you are celebrating a child losing her father, a wife losing her soul-mate, a father losing his son.  That sickens me.

Four years ago, I sat next to my childhood best friend as she received the news of her husband's death.  I spent every moment with her that week as she faced her new reality of being a widow at 30.  I watched her twin daughters' 3 year old faces as they tried to comprehend the fact that Daddy was never coming home.  My heart physically ached as I watched the officer hand her the folded flag that had been draped over her husband's casket during the funeral.  So many tears shed.  That week is forever burned into my memory.  How painful it was to watch my dear friend go through that!  Every wife's worst nightmare.  Emotions I cannot even begin to describe.

So yes, I get a little worked up when people bash cops.  I have seen it during large-scale protests here.  Hundreds of people who want to kill my husband just because of the uniform he wears.  Many others who would stand by watching and not feel the least bit sad.  And that angers me. 

I want my husband to come home...each and every day.  I want us to grow old together and live to see our great-grandkids.  I pray that we get to.  But I am also painfully aware of the other possibility. 

For my husband, the risk comes with the job.  He knew what he was signing up for.  For me, the risk comes with the man.  I knew what I was getting as well. 

It is truly a noble deed to die serving and protecting others.  And I honor that fully.  But, it does get a little personal when others are wishing harm and death upon your loved one just because he is doing his job defending their rights.

So, please, next time you see an officer or hear the sirens, take a minute to pray that God would protect them and let them go home to their family unscathed.

On behalf of all the wives and families out there, I thank you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is this your daughter?

I was very excited to see that Dateline did a story this past weekend about orphans in Russia.  It was a wonderful story entitled The Boy From Baby House 10, that focused on a spunky little boy named Vanya who came dangerously close to living out his life in a mental institution.

I have shared the Today Show story about Serbian institutions with you before in my post Sweet Babies.  This story from Dateline shows some of the same conditions, but is a redemptive story.  Through Divinely providential circumstances, Sweet Vanya did find a forever family.  Take a few minutes to watch his story here

What struck me most was how his mother found him.  It was through word-of-mouth.  Information passed from one person to another.  Nothing over the top.  No large-scale efforts (though such were attempted).  What saved Vanya from possible death as a child in that dreadful institution?  Somebody shared his story.

So simple.  Yet so effective!

So, here I am again...asking you to share this story.

Look at these faces.  Don't just scroll past them.  Don't glance and look away.  Really look into their eyes. 

These are children.  Babies.  All they need is a chance.  A loving environment where they can grow and play and become healthy and strong.

They need a mommy and daddy.  A family who will snuggle them. 

Is that you?  Is that someone you know? 


Look at this precious face. 

Sweet, lovable little girl. 

Somebody's daughter.

Is she yours?


Take a look at this adorable little girl.

Active love-bug is how she is described.

Does she belong in your family?


How about this sweet girl...

Beautiful brown eyes...

Is this your daughter?

Are you familiar with the concept of six degrees of separation?  Wikipedia defines it as "the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer."  Many will recall the "Kevin Bacon Game" which uses this concept to connect any actor or actress to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less.  Fun trivia game.

How about we use this concept for something much more important?

I firmly believe the parents of these three girls can be found by me and you.  You know someone who knows someone who knows someone.  A friend of a friend of a friend is the mother of one of these precious little girls.

All you have to do is share the story.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Right Now

"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow' -- when you now have it with you."  Proverbs 3:27-28

What a convicting verse. 

I am so guilty of pushing things off.  Procrastination is something I have perfected. 

I'll get to that...later
I'll spend time with you...later
I'll help you with that...later.
I'll take food to that family...later.
I'll call that friend who is having a tough day...later.
I'll donate money to that worthy cause...later.
I'll make a difference...later.
I'll take you to the park...later.
I'll let you build an entire city out of our recycling box...later.

Whether it is laundry, dishes, helping those around me, reaching out to those in need, or just spending time with my loved ones, I am really good at tell them, "Later!"

My youngest son recently called me on this.  Isn't it remarkable how small children can say something that will pierce you all the way through?  Once again he was asking if he could do something (I don't even remember what it was), and I responded with my usual, "In a minute!"  Well, all you mom's out there know that when we say "In a minute" we really mean "When I get to it!"  He turned his sweet little 5 year old face to me and said with complete sincerity, "Mommy, your minutes are soooooo long." 

In the midst of juggling all I have to get done each day, it is so easy to continually put things off.  My boys are always wanting "Mommy time" right when I get a few minutes to myself to sit down and rest.  They want me to play a game with them when I am trying to dig my way out from under a mountain of laundry.  My husband wants me to hang out with him at the end of the day when all I can think of is a hot bath calling my name.  I see on Facebook that a friend is having a rough day, and I am too exhausted to talk on the phone.  I see so many 'causes' that I could help with, and I put it off because I don't want to think about the suffering of others.  The dishes pile up in the kitchen to the point of rendering the room utterly useless, and so I avoid the kitchen. 

Unfortunately, these tactics never fix anything.  The dishes are still dirty, friends are still in need of an ear to listen to them, 'causes' still need champions, my kids still want "Mommy time" and my husband still wants to spend time with me.  Are any of these things horrible?  No, not at all.  Do they all take something out of me?  Yes.  Are they worth doing any way?  Absolutely.  Avoiding them or even delaying them only seems to send the message to those around me that they are not very important in my life.   

I love my family and friends.  I want to serve them and take care of them and spend time with them.  It is easy to say that my priorities are in order: God, family, friends, others.  But is that evident in my daily actions?  Not usually.

And so, as with many aspects of life, I am constantly straying off the path only to be yanked back on.  I am ever so grateful that God is a gentle shepherd who guides us, cares for us, searches us out when we stray and brings us back to where we need to be.  His merciful kindness overwhelms me in times like these. 

He sends His messages to me through His Word.  Many of us are familiar with the phrase, "Love your neighbor as yourself."  The New Testament says this phrase ten times.  Jesus says it is the second greatest commandment, only after "Love the Lord your God".  Unfortunately, it is so familiar that it has become trite.  We can recite it, but we don't put it into practice.   

However, every time I read this verse in Proverbs, I am really convicted:

"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow' -- when you now have it with you."  Proverbs 3:27-28

Somehow, this one hits home a little more.  Maybe because it is more detailed.  Maybe because it hits the nail on the head, so to speak.  Maybe because each time I read it, I can recall a specific instance (or two or twenty) within the previous 24 hour period when I was guilty of putting something off till later.  All I know is every time I read it, my immediate response is "Ouch!"

And so here I am again, feeling the stab of my conscience, the prod of the Holy Spirit, directing me back to the right path. 

At this very moment, my kids are getting ready for bed and my husband has just walked in the door after a long day at work.  So I am going to end this post. 

I must go tuck in my boys and spend some quality time with my best friend....right now.