Saturday, December 18, 2010

Living Above while Living Within

We've needed a few miracles, things I didn't share a prayer request on. Mainly because I didn't have access to the computer. And, I think, that's what God intended for me at the time. I think he wanted me to see these things unfold before my eyes without seeking man's prayer. Not that he doesn't want us to pray for eachother but I really sensed he was doing something in me, and these were events for me to go through with God alone.

First there were two birth dates reported and we had to have a separate court process to remedy. I shared that prayer with you all and at 11:59 God had it fixed in time for us to have court naming us the parents of Maxim.

Next, before you can get a passport you have to travel to the birth city and retrieve the birth certificate and have a new certificate made. All the day before I kept hearing in my spirit that there would be need for great faith today. I really sensed it was regarding our travels since it was heavy snow and very icy on rough roads and we had a 4 hour drive each way. While I was aware, I wasn't focused on trouble or expecting difficulties. I was expecting to see God do something. He placed upon me a peace that did not require courage or bravery. It was simply his gift he gave and all I did was go where I was supposed to go.

When we arrived to the ladies office who was going to tend to us I sensed she had a incredibly rare soft demeanor. As I sat and listened to her and George work out details I was becoming well aware that this was taking MUCH longer than it should be. They talked and talked and talked in Russian. Soon she began asking questions about our adoption and then confided that she herself had taken in a 3 year old boy and would like to take more but they barely make enough money to sustain their own family. She expressed the judgment and ridicule she faces to do something truly radical in her own country.
Then it came. The bad news. There were more problems with the abandonment papers for Maxim with dates not matching in the archives. To me, it seems not a big problem but George explained- no this was big. Here a discrepancy like that would take us back to court and another couple of weeks here. Then, the woman did something that George had never seen before. She made the changes herself and took on the responsibility should there be problems later.
She then went on to explain that she wasn't supposed to be the one in charge of this case but was called in last minute. She spent hours in her office and stayed after work to finish what we needed with no extra payment. If you know this culture- that just doesn't happen. Everything has a cost. Not only did she finish up our work but we were able to talk about God and his incredible love. We left in tears, hugging exchanging information and she introducing me to her husband. When God has something planned it is so far over our head. We don't see what He has coming at us nor will we EVER grasp the ramifications of what our agreement with him will do. But if we don't truly believe that God is a good God we become afraid and miss out. These opportunities are meant for us to REST in what He is doing.

Shortly after we breathed our sigh of relief and climbed in the car for the long journey home in the dark, the next adventure began. As we were driving in the country heading up a hill on the ice, the car slows more and more and I know that the tires are not able to keep traction on the road. Soon the backward slide happens before it stops. The driver keeps trying to start the car over and again and when he would get it started it didn't want to climb since we were on ice. Over in the other lane, oncoming traffic, there wasn't ice so he thought if he could get over into that lane we would have a chance at making it up the hill. With some more tries the engine starts and we crawl onto the other side when it dies again. So now I realize that I have no control. There is no place to go. No short walk to anyone around.
Before we made it over to the oncoming traffic, cars had been coming but not a one came during the several minutes we were stuck there. Quietly I prayed for God to do his thing and the car started and we made it up the hill and over to our lane again. Once we were over the hill, oncoming traffic began again. The trouble was, this car was running out of gas and going up a hill was a definite killer. We still have several miles to go before we could reach a gas station. I have seen lots of things but I have never seen a car with no gas drive- until now. It scooted us at 5-10 miles an hour. We had such excitement as we saw the gas station come into view.
Realizing now that no matter what, we could walk there we were certain our adventure was over. It's late and no one around we pull into the station only to find- there is no gas! They were all out of order. The driver was not familiar with the area so we weren't sure what to do next. A man comes out of nowhere and points in a direction of where we could find another station about 2 miles away - up a steep hill. :o) For the next quiet half hour we watched this car move- ever so slowly but ever so surely all the way there where we safely and with joy filled up.
Over the last days I have been talking to God and praying about that day he showed himself so beautifully and I realized that what I could have chosen to view as an awful day, a close call, etc.... I had been given the ability to see as God's work. That I can rest in the midst of the trouble's the world wants to hand me is a miracle. It's living above the world while living within that we are called to do.
Some people have "deal breakers." Those things they won't do because it's uncomfortable, challenging, difficult, and maybe means having some heart pain. I can tell you that has definitely been the case on this journey that we would hit roadblocks. How many times do we ourselves limit our unlimited God? How many times do we say, "Well that would never happen."

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 GOD has GIVEN you power. He gives you the strength when you have none yourself! He gives you the gift of love when you don't think you have enough. (Am I patient enough to do this? What about this... and what about that?)

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I've done so little on this trip but go and receive. It's true. All we did was say yes. Your yes to God hold's power. It releases into the heavens. Not that it is our will that we bestow upon God...oh no...that we already know it is God's will to rescue and release the captives in whatever capacity that might be that he has assigned to each of us. None of us are exempt. There are all kinds of precious jewels hidden in dark places through out this world. Will you go on a treasure hunt of the most divine kind? Will you allow God to WOO you with His works?

I will go before you and will level the mountains[a]; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:2-3

Oh and I love this....

The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How beautiful they will be! Zechariah 9:16-17

God is inviting us to participate in the works of heaven. Have you ever thought of it THAT way?

Sitting next me on my bed in Ukraine is a little jewel that is sparkling! Not only has his life been redeemed but only God knows what He has in store in His mighty power for Maxim's life. You may be a part of God's plan to bring home one child, but the results of that love may very well result in multitudes of others receiving their freedom!! You see God multiplies....He doesn't only just meet us but he overwhelms us. I'm really not in pursuit of the orphan. I am in pursuit of the releasing of the powers of Christ's love to invade and restore the generations to their heavenly Father. Don't let anything get in the way of the prepared path God has set for you. His gifts are just way too powerful to sit on a shelf.

With great love this Christmas, I'm bringing my boy HOME!


Monday, December 6, 2010

What do you see, God?

I have been asked a couple of times how I can go in to a place where there is a lot of sadness and pain and be able to "handle it." When we first arrived I was told by someone here that they had visited this institution before but could not ever go back. It made me sad to hear that but I knew what she was really trying to say. It is very difficult to see children who were hurting, living outside of the design God had for them within family.

If I went each day as Tina, one stand alone gal, with really nothing to offer I don't know that I could go. But God sends us to places not to feel "warm and fuzzy" or to walk in and transform and fix in our efforts. He sends us really for only one purpose and that is to bring His love.

Long ago I saw these children and places like this as sanctuaries, as holy places. If God speaks of orphans as he does in the Bible, than can you imagine the kind of seriously silly love abounding there? That many cannot see it isn't because God is not madly in love with each of these children. Oh he is! He's watching us to see our response. He's poured his love into us now what will we do? Will we care? If He is our first love, than we can't do anything else than care.

The question I ask each morning... What do you see God? Show me what you see! The world tells me lies, but you God, you tell the truth! Everything he has made is GOOD! What man has done is another thing. So if we wake up each day looking at what man is doing, there is no power and ya know what, not much grace. But when I ask the all knowing God to reveal hidden things, sweet and precious beauty that no one else will take the time to look for, He will show it. He wants us to take off the veil and to see Him here, in this orphanage, in your home, neighborhood, workplace.

Recently, it was brought to my attention as a concern that we will not be able to handle another child with special needs in our home. As I swallowed the heavy painful lump in my throat, they pointed to my unorganized kitchen, my almost 2 yr old, my "high maintenance" child with FAS, and the concern to keep my older boys focused on their school. I have prayed and prayed on this. It hurt.

This is the response I wish I could have said but usually I don't have a fast reply.
It's written with love and God was good to wipe the sting along the way.

I often find straggling socks without matches. My boys often have holes in their pants that I haven't had time to mend yet. Some of our schoolwork is done in the van on our way to therapy appointments. My white floors are usually a week behind in being cleaned. My counter tops are collections of art piles, books and misc. items that eventually make it back to their "home." The laundry is never "done" and most definitely the dishes are never finished. The bannister finds a mark as soon as I remove it. I can see hair from our cherished animals on the furniture. On several occasions I forgot to take my shower I had planned on. If you tour my house and judge me in this, you are welcome to, but you will miss much.

You might overlook our joyful pancake making that the kids learned how to do while you are busy looking at the mess it has made. You might not see that we come together in worship and devotion to God if you are distracted by the missing baseboard in the family room. You might miss the twinkles in my children's eyes as you observe the cat on the table licking out of the leftover milk in the cup. You might mistake my children's artwork as clutter. As you stare at the pantry that needs revamping once again, you might overlook the miracle that one of our family members learned how to eat in this house and might not be alive today if God did not bring her here. If you notice dust on my hanging light fixture, well, I might just be glad you are atleast looking UP!

But no matter how I reply, I am still guilty by the standards this person has held me to. Those standards, by the way, are none being taught to my children.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

As I prayed, I washed everything through Christ's eyes. I considered this other point of view for only a time and I found chains there. I lost the joy and peace and love that God promises when we seek Him alone.

As I sat amongst the orphans today I tried to imagine how I could ever convey to them the sorts of reasons laid before me not to come here and not to love them, help them. How would that go?

"Listen, sweetie, Jesus loves you but I have floors that never seem to get clean! I know you are hungry and lonely but God is a father to the fatherless! Let me wipe your tears honey. Surely you realize the importance of my children taking two vacations this year. We need to find rest and relaxation after our "crazy" sports schedules, Christmas shopping and church work. Keep trusting God sweetie! He loves you! He's blessed me with SO much and we are having a big party to celebrate. If he can do that for me, I know he will help you. I wish I could do more but I am getting out of I can save up for more fun things. Just know that I am praying for you sweet girl!"

Then I was reminded:

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs of judgment.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go I wish you well; keep warm and and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:12-17

We hope we are teaching our children to see Jesus in everything they do, in every place they go and even to love the ones who do not reflect his love in their hearts. Our children know that God doesn't look at the outward appearances, he looks at what is inside. And even when he doesn't like what's inside of us, he still loves us. Our children have learned how to wait on God for their desires and see Him answer. Our children have learned that suffering happens, because they have seen it and some have experienced it. They also know that God saves because they have witnessed his grace. Our children are learning that sometimes, things don't go as we plan, but God is always good.

I hope that most of all, our children know they are never a burden to me and their father. They are hugged, kissed, and told they are loved everyday. They know what it's like to have parents pray over them. They know that Mom and Dad mess up but they also know parents who say "I am sorry." They get to see a Mom and Dad who are passionately devoted to eachother and to their family and to GOD!

There is great GRACE poured out on those who will say YES when Jesus calls your name and sends you. Your house maybe won't be spotless and you might find that there things you just didn't get done that you hoped to. But do not become enslaved by those who have not had their eyes opened to the greater works He has in store. The joy our family marinades in, well, I wouldn't trade it for anything. We will never trade Christ for anything else.

So keep asking, What do you see God? I want more of you JESUS! And when those painful words come at you like arrows questioning why and what and how you are doing what you do, just keep seeing Jesus' love poured out for YOU! You are the beautiful hands and feet of Jesus going places most of the world closes their eyes to! Praise God, you didn't!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 17: Taste and See that the Lord is GOOD!

I've got about a weeks worth of blog topics, but today I will stick with the little miracle of love! If you've been through much or maybe had everything taken from you, if you have loved and lost over again, if you have been betrayed by the ones who are supposed to care for you, if you have been left out if you weren't the fastest in line, on and on, it's quite humanly reasonable to not trust anymore.

Many many of the difficulties adoptive parents have experienced isn't children's behaviors, but the one's who hurt the children to begin with. And that can be a multitude of factors. So when you see a child who hoards, who steals, who lies, who lashes out first, it's not an evil child you are seeing. It's a child who has been neglected, who was stolen from, who was lied to and who was hurt. This really isn't the topic of today's post but it sets up for you why what I am about to share is a miracle.

Today Maxim didn't hover over his snack. Today Maxim drank his juice in sips and returned it to the table. Big deal! Yeah, actually, it is!

He trusted that there would more good to come. He trusted that he didn't have to shove it in or ELSE. He is learning to enjoy food with those he loves and TRUSTS! I made a little video so you could see him pace himself and for me to remember as a real triumph. You will have to see it on my FB page though.

While I was taping the video of Maxim and Artyom having their snack, I was able to catch footage of Artyom opening the snack and giving more to Maxim when he asked for it. The really awesome thing about that is Artyom not only is missing feet and has a cleft palate but his hands don't work like ours either. This kid I believe, has demonstrated more faith and determination to the others around him than he will ever know. The grace upon his life makes me want to cry, but then it just makes me want to be a better person. He has strengthened my faith.

Today I handed out more mirrors to children. I know very few words in Russian but because "Beautiful" says beautiful all the time, they know that word. :o) So as we held those mirrors and listened to worship music I spoke over each of them their beauty and preciousness in Christ Jesus. I point to heaven, hold their faces and smile.

By the way, some of the orphans I get to love on are in their 50's.

I'm amazed at how much God has been able to do with few words. Peace shows up, love abounds, and for our time together coloring, drawing, singing, SWEETNESS rests there. Ya know, it's pretty easy to love and show kindness for short periods of time when under pressure. You know that your time will be up soon so you "hold on." Well, what has amazed me is that there is an abundance of love stored up in hearts and they are looking for opportunities to pour it out. These "children" have seen only 3 adoptions now in the last 6 decades of this institution and yet, HOPE lives. If that isn't God, I don't know what is. The hope of freedom still thrives in many hearts here. Maxim's is being realized. Artyom, Beautiful and some other children are witnessing his miracle right before their very eyes and they are holding on to the hope that one day THEIRs will arrive.

Artyom took this photo as we were finishing up for the day:

For many children here, their hope is fading. Perhaps this has been the most painful part to see. They are beginning to shut off in their pain and sorrow and many are physically in great pain. If you can remember back to the post of the boy with the slippers. He needs medical help that isn't available here. I am praying for a family for him but even more I am praying that the body of Christ would be moved to financially support medical treatment for him. He has spent his entire life in "the splits." He has great joy and smiles everytime he sees me. "Priviet, what is your name?" he says. He asks me in English. He's a charmer.

I have seen the goodness of God here. I have been moved and touched in deeper ways than I knew. I love God more. My hunger and thirst for Him has grown and I taste and see that HE IS A GOOD GOD who has sent his son Jesus to demonstrate His great love for us that we might live our lives that reveals that GOODNESS to the world who has not yet met Him.

"You my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge sinful nature; rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." Galatians 5:13-15

"I the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." Isaiah 42:6-7

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 14: A "Beautiful" Kind of Day

There's no way around it, Beautiful has weaved her way into our hearts. She joined us again today to play with Maxim and Ira, a 25 year old girl. I can't call her a woman because in so many ways she seems about 15. She too has cerebral palsey. Her feet are twisted in and up and she has learned to walk on them that way. I met another miracle yesterday. Here's Ira.

And Beautiful with Ira

I better back up to say that this morning was a rough start. The neighbor of mine had the television blasting so I put my earplugs in and then slept through the alarm this morning. I woke about 20 minutes before I had to leave so I forgot to pack the juice and food treats that Maxim loves so much. I wondered how Maxim would take this disappointment and how I was going to convey to him how I forgot. I put my hands together next to my head like I was sleeping and then yawned and opened my eyes, looked at my watch then screamed "machina to Maxim, machina to maxim" Vroom! Vroom! Well, it worked. They all understood me and we had a good laugh at how silly Mama is. Perhaps my efforts to convey what happened was a good enough to forgive me quickly. I was surprised he never really showed disappointment at all. In fact he said, "Mama, okay."

I didn't post yesterday mostly because I was working through little bits of sorrow and leaning on God. It was good, just not a posting kind of day. I had spent a good amount of time praying with Beautiful and Ira. I learned quickly that they knew God in heaven. Without words, you can feel worship. Ira went from reclusive and downcast face, to radiance. In prayer, I began crying which I did not plan to do in front of these girls. I was truly overwhelmed with them and their love for God that it sent me to humility so deeply. With some thoughts of my kids back home and missing Randy, I guess I was ripe.

But what happened next just killed me. They leaned over to me and wiped MY tears. I recovered quickly but I learned that the capacity for love can still thrive. These girls are longing to GIVE love! Not just to receive love but they too want to live freely and to have families, to nurture. They aren't looking for clothes, food, toys and all of the extra's. They really want to be loved and to give love. They want to be seen for who they are. Not a number sewn on their clothes. Not a diagnosis made years ago that determined their life course. Can you imagine? Can you imagine on your worst and weakest day being judged and labeled and for the rest of your life you live according to that day?

So all of this was my yesterday....

Come today, I wasn't surprised to find Ira and Beautiful waiting for me again, hoping to spend these two hours in hugs and prayer and worship again. Maxim is very close to Beautiful so he likes having her around.

I was playing ball with Maxim for a long while when I noticed Beautiful and Ira sitting together whispering a distance away. They looked sad watching us. Perhaps the better word is longing. They looked longingly. I knew what they were talking about. I heard those clue words, Mama, America, dom (home), love. Maxim came over to me and hugged me and said Mama Tina and Beautiful's face had a million expressions on it. God, please grant her miracle! When it was nearing time to go she came over to me and she hugged me but it was a different kind of hug. It felt like a plea for mercy on her life. She knows she only has until April to be adopted.

I don't know if you have heard or not that Ukraine has said they are putting a moratorium on adoptions. What that means exactly isn't known yet, but more will be known Dec. 17th when the next meeting is set to discuss this. Will you please be in prayer for this day? This will have a big impact on the older kids like Beautiful. Their clocks are ticking.

May the growns of the prisoners come before you;by the strength of your arm preserve those condemned to die. Psalm 79:11 The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. Psalm 37:18

With love and thankfulness, I pray you are overwhelmed with your heavenly Father's love today and that these days leading up to Christmas would be filled with thoughts of that love and the precious gift you have of your family. You are free to be loved and to give love. Do it generously and with joy in your hearts and watch what happens.

Sweetly wrapped in grace,

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day Twelve: Court

Sorry no photos to share today. It was an emotionally packed day as we scurried to make calls and confirmations and learned early this morning that our problems were resolved for court. Then we went out to the institution for Randy and Holden to play with Maxim one last time and say goodbye. It was hard for all of them and me too. I knew that this place had changed their hearts and the children are forever impressed into their memories, not to be forgotten. Telling Artyom and Beautiful goodbye was especially difficult. Maxim took it all pretty well knowing Mom was going to continue coming to see him each day and that he would be coming to America soon. He's hanging on that.

We had a small break of time for lunch before we walked to court. We stood in a crowded dark hallway until we were called in to a small room. The inspector, the institution's psychologist, the prosecutor, recorder and judge met us there. The session went well and we touched that even when the inspector and psychologist spoke in the hearing they spoke well of us personally and had we had impressed their hearts with our time with Maxim. When it was over we were sent back outside to wait for the decision to be handed down and then we were called back inside. While we waited, George who doesn't meet a stranger was explaining to the others in the hallway what was taking place. We received blessings, hugs and thank you's from people I will never see again but will thank God for the encouragement at that moment. As we filed back in to the court room, I tried to keep myself strong. The weight of all of these months, the paperwork, the years of prayers for Maxim, thoughts of my kids at home, thoughts of Holden and Randy leaving only a couple of hours later....ALL OF IT was sitting on my heart and I didn't want it all to come pouring out on in a bawl like I wanted to so badly. So as she announced that Randy and Tina Kacirek are now the parents of Maxim Joseph Kacirek, I stood there with tears pouring down my face. I didn't know tears could be produced in that quantity. I turned to see the inspector and psychologist and everyone was crying. It's only right that Maxim be rejoiced over in this way. We felt a huge victory spiritually- what Satan meant to kill has been redeemed and blessed. Maxim Joseph has a mother and a father and a family!

So it felt all so anticlimactic to find ourselves in the market afterwards and then packing Randy and Holden's things into the truck to go. They take a drive to the train station then a 12 hour ride to the city. Tomorrow they go to the Embassy and hop an early flight Thursday morning. Because of the time change, they will be home thursday afternoon. Funny. My heart will feel such a leap to see them back home.

As for me, I cannot get rights to Maxim until Dec. 13th and I still need to travel to his birth city which is 3 hours away to get his birth certificate- that can't be done on the 13th so we wait until the 14th. And we need to have the birth certificate before we can attain his finalized passport so adding all that needs to be done here in region before we head up for medicals and 2 day embassy visits, we may be looking at returning to the US around Dec. 18-20th sometime.

As I waved goodbye to George, Randy and Holden, I kept repeating to myself inside, "I'm a big girl. I'm a big girl. I'm a big girl." Then thoughts of Maxim flooded my mind of all of the times he had been disappointed, left alone, scared. Then I began thinking of all that is going through his little head right now and how strong he has to be. Not knowing where he is going, no idea of what America is or how he will get there. His leap of faith is far greater than Randy and mine in going for him. Leaping in faith isn't easy. There are not guarantee's that your road is made easy. But we don't live out faith because we are "safe." Part of leaping is trusting. That's what Maxim is doing. He's leaping that even after being hurt by his birth parents, being left alone in an institution for many years, that he will trust one more time. Gosh, that leaves me speechless. I think of how many people I know who will not trust again, who will not believe the best, who feel they are forever scarred from their pasts.

Childlike faith.... Childlike faith.... I'm a big girl. I'm clinging to childlike faith.

Praising Jesus for this day, for this gift of Maxim Joseph Kacirek - a preciously loved son of mine.

Love, Tina

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day Eleven: New Sights

Today was a packed day of new events, some good some not so good. We started the day with our visit to Maxim and had so much fun with him. It's more and more a delight and it's "comfortable." Artyom joined us and "Beautiful" came in to greet us and to put a necklace on me that she had been working on all weekend. I love that girl.

We pulled out our treats and juices and what a surprise to see Maxim try so hard to slow down his drinking. Dear boy held on for the first bit but then dove in and began looking for more from me. How could I say no? :o) Towards the end of our visit, I broke away to give knitted booties that Heather made to the little one's in the bedridden room. I will share just one so you can share in their excitement. The hardest part was that we didn't have enough for everyone in the room so I am going to go looking this weekend on the open market and see if I can find some for the others.

Our facilitator met up with us for lunch to give some news about our adoption. When the judge looked over the papers today she found some problems. One is that their are two different dates given for Maxim and another is that since we are only the third to adopt from here, they are not used to the US papers and needs the Embassy to send a document before tomorrow. So George, is getting up very early in the morning to drive 3 hours one way to Maxim's birth city to try and fix the problem with the birthdates and get back before court at 2pm. We also need the Embassy to send this form to the judge before court tomorrow. So if you might pray for us on this that would be great.

With this last minute work we rearranged our schedule for tomorrow and went to get Maxim at the institution this afternoon to go get his passport photo taken. While George called the director for permission, in the buzz of everything going on George forgot to tell any of the staff. We had gone in and changed him, taken him out to the vehicle and left before anyone noticed. When we returned there was all kind of excitement but not knowing a word we just stood and smiled. George explained it all to us later...and we had a good chuckle.

Anyway, it was a gift for all of us to see Maxim on his first ride in a "machine" and seeing the city. He's come so far that little guy. He was talking a mile a minute and we wished we knew all he was saying. George conveyed that he was asking lots of questions and wondering all of the details about tomorrow and when would he be leaving, who was going, who was staying, would he be to his new home before the new year? He was kissing our hands and smiling from ear to ear.

One other thing that just makes me SO happy is that he will let Randy carry him. Usually he is very scared of being picked up. None of the kids are carried or held so this was very scary for him but today when Randy carried him on the stairs he trusted him!! When we returned to the vehicle we noticed a small park behind the photo place so we snuck over there for him to have a taste of what a park is like. You would have thought we took him to Disneyland! It was priceless. Soon we had to leave and he was good about it, but for that moment it was so nice to imagine life with him outside of the mental institution. Soon!

Thank you for your prayers through tomorrow for court. We pray that all of these issues are resolved quickly and that Randy and Holden's plans to return to the US can happen as soon as possible. They really need to get home to the kids in the US. This is definitely a marathon.

Love from Eastern Europe,
Tina, Randy and Holden

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Ten: Getting Comfortable

Today we brought a little of this and that to try with Maxim and ended up coloring stickers and color sheets.

It wasn't long and he was asking for food again. Today we brought grapes and applesauce and enough juice for all of us to have our own box. When he eats he is first sweet to offer some to us but after that he huddles over his food like a little squirrel does and he plucks and slams those little suckers in his mouth.
He doesn't pay attention to anything going on or being said to him while food is around.

After seeing him gulp so many boxes the other days we decided to play a juice box game where we each took turns taking sips from our box, hoping he would catch on to slowing it down. It went pretty well, Mama, Holden, Papa and Maxim! He kept wanting to skip over Papa- that wait was so hard for him. When he drinks he doesn't breathe, he just sucks and sucks and sucks.... When he finished his he had to check all of our boxes to make sure that none was left.

The whole time I just kept thinking about our hunger and thirst for God. Our longing for Him. I prayed that over Maxim, that He would have a mighty hunger for Jesus.

We had many "joiners" today during our meeting. So many children longing for hugs and kisses. So many clingings to my legs and arms and clothes. It reinforced this message to my heart of being desperate for Christ. Randy and I prayed and blessed each child and told each of them that they were precious gifts. They didn't know what we were saying but I loved it when they tried repeating it. I love to see hope.

Today we took mirrors to many of the children. We planned originally to give to the younger children on their cribs and headboards but when the older orphans saw them they were so enamored and appreciative we realized these were meant for them too.
I handed Beautiful her mirror and some lip gloss. I wish I had a photo of that! She was so very excited. Oh Jesus, please find her a family.

So many children. Not one forgotten by our Father in heaven. Not one. It is his will to place the lonely in families and I am becoming more and more convinced it is not to bless the lonely as much as it is to bless the family.

In His grace and merciful love,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day Nine: A Quieter Day

We had a nice visit today...but it was quieter and maybe a bit heavy on my part. There are many more "Maxim's" here. We've loved being able to see the children and to bless them in very small ways but our thoughts go to how much more they could have. Here is Sveta (too old for adoption) receiving some thick pink Bugs Bunny socks she kept asking for:

Artyom has his own cell phone and even though he doesn't have feet he always meets us at the front, always takes us through the grounds and halls and I see the great purpose work has given to him. He longs for that purpose. Here he is with the guys.

He always tries to take on this tougher older position as he knows his chance at adoption is over. But I still see it in his eyes as he watches us with Maxim. It's that look that says, "what if that were me?" Today before we left I grabbed him and gave him the kind of hug a Mama would give her son and I held him longer. He looked me in the eye with that misty look and then led me down a hall to show me the work he has been doing. Here it is:

As we went to go, some staff started getting on his case and I have a feeling it's because they thought he was taking us away from Maxim. I felt so bad for him... He was having such a sweet moment of encouragement. As I told him molay deitz- Good job on his work, I saw his face beam.

Then I look over and see Beautiful scooting down the hall on her knees and I broke. It feels so wrong to me that she would scoot on all four like a dog down those halls. I admit it, it's just a weaker day for me. Randy had his break lastnight so I guess we are in sync. We know God is good all the time, and we trust Him! His faithfulness to bring us through 4 and a half years to Maxim shows us the lengths he goes to.

There is more that is heavy on our hearts. God knows them all. Please do not read this as something we need relief from, as I think it is a part of loving. Part of caring, part of being moved, part of compassion is feeling broken for the things that breaks God's heart. So in this kind of way, I am thankful that my heart is tender enough to feel this sadness and grief. We are learning thankfulness at deeper levels. This helplessness, leads us to deeper prayer.

When Artyom took us down the hall to show us his work, we went by the room where Maxim was eating from a bowl on a bench. My mind couldn't register that the boy sitting there as an orphan was my son. I wanted to pluck him out. He looked at me with great sadness again. God, please let these days go fast for our boy.

A few more days until court....and then Randy and Holden leave immediately afterwards to head back to Kiev and then to America. Please pray for us leading up to court, in country travel and then on to home.

With love and thankful hearts and arms lifted high,
Tina and Randy and Holden

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day Eight- The Sun Came Out!

Today was the first time the sun came out and decided to stay so we prepared to take Maxim out for a walk. When he came in the room today he just didn't seem himself...he was missing his famous smile. The caretaker for today said he had a rough morning but we aren't sure what that means.

We know that he was very active yesterday and was bee-bopping all around the place so maybe he expended all of his energy. He was still eager to go outside but walking was more labored and we shortened it a bit.

He likes the kitties almost as much as Mom!

As we rounded back toward the door to go in I saw the serious look in his face. Here it was:

I wish I could know all that was going through his mind. His strength amazes me.

Holden opens the door for us to go back inside...

He cheered back up when we got back inside and realized he didn't have to say goodbye to us just yet. We played a few more rounds of Maxim's Ball Game.

I videotaped music time today and have included it in the movie we made on our Facebook page. I love how he relaxes and his body comes to rest so fast. That is something that took years for Grace. What a blessing. After awhile his eyes started rolling and the yawns came on...we almost had him to sleep until his caretaker came in to take him to lunch. He went better today...

I imagined I would be blogging constantly about the downloads from God...but I feel rendered in an awe state most of the time. There is much I am writing and soaking on in prayer with lots of quiet tears of hope. Watching Randy and Holden be touched moves me as well. Randy has been given an amazing gift of love to reach the brokenhearted and I see it when he is with Maxim. Holden's willingness to be gentle and softer when its needed, and to recognize when it's needed is also beautiful.

Love wins. It just does. There are times it hurts to be weak. It hurts to do the right thing. It sometimes even hurts to do what God call you to, but you are always blessed and you always have the victory in His love. If God has called you to something that feels like the impossible, that will make you a fool for him, trust me, He is setting you up for something GREAT! Our sufferings are temporary but His mercies endure forever!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day Seven- Play and Prayers

We took mostly video today so not many good photos to share with you, but if you can hop over to my FB page, the video is worth it. :o) Of course, atleast I think so! Mama's so proud!

Today the staff cleared out the therapy room and allowed us to play in there with Maxim all to ourselves. We have loved playing with all of the children but they are so needy and I have a very difficult time turning away from any of them. They all want a Mama and Papa as they say. So today with the exception of Leo who kept scurrying away and sneaking into our room, we had privacy.

This time together really brought out so much more today between Randy and Maxim. They played ball and I don't think you will believe me when I tell you Maxim can hit the ball like baseball, kick the ball like soccer and even pulled out the jump rope and jumped! His coordination is really incredible. He doesn't mind falling down a bit and almost sees it as part of "the deal." He's found his own way to do most things!!

He played so hard today like a monkey- which was fitting since we brought him bananas and he chomped down THREE big ones FAST! LOL! He gets very excited while playing and plays hard too but when I told him it was time to be done he was good about crawling over to us. We pulled out the worship music and he laid across his daddy and looked into my face. His bottom lip started quivering and tears welling as he listened to Misty Edwards sing Fling Wide. As he saw my eyes welling to, he tried to busy himself on the avoid a cry. in fact, he hasn't cried in front of us yet. It's okay, we want him to know he is safe to do that.

Soon after one of the caretakers came in for him and he seemed even more reluctant this time to going. I think these days stringing together are becoming more painful for him. In the beginning he couldn't wait for these visits, but now I sense he's finding it more difficult to let us go. But he obeyed and I watched him walk down that dark hallway holding on to his caregivers hand as she led him to lunch.

I went in with the bedridden children for a visit for a while afterwards so about 45 minutes later we were readying to leave the institution. We started heading down the stairs when Maxim came barreling out of his room and flying down the hallway to us hollering Mama, Papa. It broke my heart. He grabbed us and hugged us and soon a lady was after him to take him back.

I can't say thank you enough to all of you who donated into our adoption and to making this possible. We praise God and we thank him for you and pray you are so blessed for what you have done in your love for Jesus.

This has not been without great challenge and many tears but God holds them all so dear and he loves us oh so much. We feel that love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A girl named Beautiful

I have to share with you the story of a young girl at the institution. I have given her the name of Beautiful for this story because everyday and often she says "Beautiful!" after she nods her head in this sort of I dream of Jeannie blink and nod. It's adorable and we mimic her in love in our days between the three of us. We all love Beautiful.
Here she is:

I wanted to tell her story because her life is precious and she is a gift God has given the world. A gift that needs to be shared. She brings the light of Jesus and hope to many where she lives.

Beautiful has cerebral palsey and cannot walk so she scoots everywhere she goes. She cares for the children younger than her and has taken on a teacher role with them. Like Artyom, she seeks purpose and I see her goal is to bring love to others. In Ukraine, orphans with special needs who are given specific diagnoses are sent to institutions for their life because there is no other place for them to go. Beautiful will not know another place.

She is 16 and will turn 17 (to old for adoption) in a matter of a few months. This has burdened my heart greatly. She is a wise young girl in matters of the heart. Will you please just pray about whether your home and heart might be stretched for children like Maxim and Beautiful? Time is ticking. Please do not read my plea wrong or take anything I say with guilt but these children need voices and I can at the very least be that voice. So today, as you go to sleep, will you please just ask God if adoption is in your future and will you consider giving God your yes, your willingness to go where He sends you?

I had a surprise waiting for Beautiful today. I found a purse and filled it with socks, juice, tissues, juice, fingernail polish and soap. I knew she would be so happy and I longed to see that joy in her face. But wouldn't you know it was Beautiful to surprise me FIRST. She had worked since yesterday putting little beads together into a bracelet for me and tied it on my wrist when I arrived. She then took her bracelet off her own wrist with Jesus on it and placed it on mine. She asked me to please keep it as a reminder of her. Oh if she only knew that I could not forget her. She's been imprinted as a carrier or Christ's love upon my heart. So after her presentation to me, I gave her my gift. Her thankfulness was so beautiful, Randy had it videotaped and we had to share with you. Once again, you need to see it on FB.

Can you be thankful in your circumstances? This is what Beautiful's life forces you to ask yourself. Do you see beauty where you are? Do you take the love God has given to you and do you give it away freely?

Day Six: Puzzle and Kisses

Maxim is catching on to the routine. First thing he wanted today was food and guess who forgot to bring it? GULP! Thank goodness we did have with us a green grape juice box which was gone in NO TIME! He forgave us. ;o)

Lastnight in the market I found a little foam puzzle of Tom and Jerry and remembered he had seen that cartoon once and loved it. We brought it with us today thinking he'd be thrilled, but soon realized that puzzles aren't his thing. I don't think he's ever done a puzzle before so we took it slow. He didn't pay attention to the pictures on each piece, he was focusing on the slots to put together. After we put together and took a part several times, he began catching on and we celebrated when he began doing it all by himself. There are many things he may not know but he catches on quickly!

George, our facilitator went back to Kiev to submit our documents to SDA which means we are without a translator! YIKES! We have a cell phone to reach him if we need and we are making it just fine but these family visits are a bit more challenging as I know Maxim is asking questions and we are not responding exactly as he may want. He's talking and talking more and more and we just want to know all that he is saying!! Soon and in time.

He's very affectionate with me and quickly warming to Holden but today I would say was the first real obvious day that he is warming to his Papa. He went over to Randy and asked for music. He knew the phone had music on it. So he pulled out some worship music and Maxim laid across Randy's lap while Daddy gently rubbed his back. The smile on his face told it all. He was at his daddy's arms.

I have another video- again on Facebook only.

Thank you for the comments and encouragement and love. We love hearing from home.

Love you,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Five: Grapes and Fishes

Each day gets a little sweeter! He came running to me with a big welcoming smile today. He was ready to play.

We found a magnetic fishing set. I wasn't sure how Maxim would take to it and if it would hold his attention for long but we played the same thing for nearly an hour.

One of the things that amazes us about this little boy is that he is so concerned about being fair. Holden had been sitting back and pretty soon he called Holden's name and handed the toy to him. After a while he said, Mama and then later Papa. he wanted everyone to have the same fun he was having. He grips your heart I tell ya.

We took a break after a long time fishing and we surprised him with a tray of green grapes all for himself!

Watching him eat was so comforting for ME!

He had them down in no time but at one point he realized how fast he was pushing them in and stopped himself and then handed each of us our own cluster of grapes to join him.

Then to top it off we pulled out his first ever juice box! It was down in 10 seconds and we didn't even get a photo! LOL It wasn't too long that he stood up and rushed off and when i called his name he didn't stop. He took a crash hitting his face to the ground and then was up and ducked into one of the rooms. When I found him I realized he had to go to the bathroom. Perhaps these new treats for him brought with it some other gifts.

As soon as he was done he came out and went running down the hall back down to where we had been playing and once again BOOM he hit the floor. He really does need a walker and help walking so we will look into that RIGHT AWAY as Mama is about to have a heart attack! The palms/wrists of his hands have developed these large protruding knots from having fallen over and over. It appears he has learned different styles of falling and goes into a roll quite often but he's got a large scabbed over knot on the back of his head I would like to see go away. The one thing I have learned about Maxim is that he will not be held back.

He is such a trooper with saying goodbye each day. I know he is anxious for us to take him with us but he smiles big and waves and goes when he is called. I usually just find myself lost in stares at him...praying and dreaming of him for so many years. This time is here. It's come. God has been so faithful. All of my quiet desires, silent prayers, rolling tears, aching desires have resulted in me here.

My faith is greater than ever. It does not mean we are without trial, but I have seen the goodness of the Lord and his LOVE wrecks me. Such great beauty in the weak.

Monday, November 22, 2010


We called this "Discovery Day" for Maxim! We bought him new warm pants, fuzzy thick socks, new shoes, and a shirt and then bundled him up for play time outside. That sounds fun enough but if I told you that he has been outside a hand full of times, you might understand why this was an extra special day for him.

He wanted to walk all by himself with no stroller and what a trooper he is! So determined and joyful.

We didn't go far but I realized just how little he knew of the place he has lived since he was 4 years old. Just outside and feet away he began asking questions of Artyom about the buildings and surroundings he was seeing.

He heard the engine of a car and said, "Machine!" The way he said it made me want to cry really. That he found that sound new and exciting impressed me with how little he has experienced. So discovering we did! He found all of the pigeons quite exciting!

As we made our way around the grounds there was a place to sit and rest for a we surprised him with his first OREO cookie! Ssshhh! He just about shoved the whole thing in! But he was a good boy and after two he didn't even ask for more. He was just thankful for what he was given. He tried water from a bottle for the first time too and thought that was pretty neat.

Then Dad pulled out the bubbles and he must have thought he was in heaven!

Here he's blowing at the bubbles in the air.

This was such a special day for him! He's such a joy and we are overwhelmed at watching him discover the world. He is so thankful! He humbles me! Here's one more picture of my boys- but missing one of them back home! (We love you Liam!)

SO! Here's the drumroll! We have a COURT DATE! YES! November 30th at 2pm! This is almost a week earlier than we expected although it is exactly what we prayed for! Thank you Jesus!

We love you! Our hearts are FULL!