Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cephas's "First" Haircut FUN post

        I just never get over the "firsts."  They are my absolute favorite, especially when they are enjoyed SO much.  Cephas was becoming concerned over his growing hair and didn't want to look "crazy" for Christmas coming up.  (I know it's a month away but he has been coloring Christmas pictures for the "old people" at the nursing home for a week now.  He wouldn't leave the table this afternoon because he had "SO many pictures to make.")

       So tonight Randy surprised him after dinner with a Daddy date to a real haircut place.  I missed out on the experience but I got these photos and the whole rundown from Cephas.  The highlight I gather was the lollipop at the end.

      They ended their night at McDonald's for a couple of ice cream cones and he came home announcing to all of his adventure.  I just love that discovery and new experiences can be pleasurable for him.  So thankful tonight that Randy and I took the leap of faith. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

What Makes Me Special?

For those who haven't followed us for a long time, Maxim joined us not quite three years ago at 9.5 years old.  He has cerebral palsey and spent nearly five years in adult institution in Ukraine. 

      Maxim nabbed my heart at first glance.

 My heart changed this day.  It began expanding, swelling.  I saw so much in this little boy.  And the wait would be long.
Four and a half years later kind of LONG
     See those eyes?  I don't see them much any more and most of the time if people are around and he is busy, this face can't be seen.  But what I learned is that sometimes this face is still happening on the inside even when he looks like this another three years later:
     I share this with you to understand that often placing a child in a new environment filled with love is going to take great time, care and patience to peel away the layers of wrong thoughts that wrap and weave through the fiber of their beings.  It's not a matter of simple explanation or showing of a new way.  Their little bodies hold memory, their little spirits were deeply impressed when raw emotion erupted in response to those experiences they never should have known.

     Most anyone these days meets Mr. Sunshine.  His smile is wide and those perfectly aligned front teeth and dapper glasses rest on his handsome little face.  He is a treasure.  Such depth.  And yet pain runs deep too.  And so, well,  sometimes the safest place to be is shallow.  But when its just mom and dad,  there is no need to perform.  For this, I am thankful.

      For a long while I could feel it.  I knew that something more painful was being wrestled with inside of him.  Bits and pieces surface.  The lock of the door sound, shutting doors, thunder in the night, laying in bed are still things he pushes himself through.  He searches to find what he can do well and at times, needs to put another down for not doing as well as him.  I saw performance was becoming the way he could find his worth.  He has tried different angles to feel better, almost trying on personalities.  Maybe if I act tough, maybe if I make fun of someone else, maybe if I disobey and act like I don't care......  And while we talked with him about this, we all know that things in the head must find its way to the heart before belief sets in.  And so prayer and ministry as only God can do has taken time.  

     Yesterday we were reading from Hebrews 5:7-9

     During the days of Jesus life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once, made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

    Our conversation turned towards the topic of what is "fair."  We talked about Jesus and I asked them if it was fair that those Jesus came to save nailed him to a cross.  I saw a change in Maxim's face.  I went back to the passage and began again to read through.  Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered.  He offered up prayers and petitions with LOUD CRIES and TEARS to the ONE who could save him.   He began choking up, then looked at me and through tears burst that he has not really believed in God and didn't pray because he didn't believe God really loved him.

    And in God's beautiful way I eased him through his struggles gently reminding him of what happens when he becomes afraid and shallow ways want to cover over the deeper aches.  Maxim when you were very young you heard sounds and felt things you didn't understand, but your body still felt fear and your spirit felt unsafe too.  And then when you went to the institution and you were locked in that room each day, fear kept returning.  And while you didn't like fear and still don't like fear, you have gotten used to feeling fear.  But fear doesn't only make you feel bad, it makes you not able to see who you are.  Right now, you don't get to see or truly feel how special you are and that makes me sad.

     With big eyes and the softest, most genuine question, he looked at me and said, "What really makes ME special?"  

     Maxim,  God gave you special gifts that only you can do because he has a special mission for you to do here on earth.  You live in America, were born in Ukraine and lived in an institution, but you came from heaven.  Because God made you, you first came from heaven.  You give encouragement and you teach and you were made for great faithfulness.  The world was not fair to you just like it wasn't fair to Jesus.  But you can pray to your Father in heaven with great big tears and he will hear you as you ask for more faith, ask for his love to take away your fear.  

     And something began anew yesterday.  A breakthrough.  An understanding that His Jesus suffered too.  An emerging realization that coming from pain and rejection doesn't mark him as deficient.  

So afterwards we went to the park and then the lake and I was able to observe him just a bit differently.  His smile not so cheesy or plastered, his spirit was at rest and joy shined a bit brighter.
And, I really loved this part..... He walked up to a boy on the playground, introduced himself and asked the boy to play tetherball with him.  I was so thankful God sent a sweet boy to the park yesterday.
 And God is so very good.  Today Maxim discovered something.  We began practicing our first Christmas song of the season (which makes Lucia cry everytime! She is such a softy!) and Maxim gave it his all.  As I taught the kids the song we reflected on the words.  They seemed to take on deeper meaning this day.

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviours birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt it's worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born.

And when he sings this song, which he asked to sing for all of us tonight by himself - he clutched his heart at.... "and the Spirit felt it's worth."

This is real life parenting.  Waiting upon the Lord, moving when He says and speaking truth in love we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Isaiah 40:31, Deuteronomy 13:4, Ephesians 4:15) 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Harvesting the Seeds

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens  Eccelesiastes 3:1

So many wonderful things about planting and harvesting sunflowers!

Besides the fact they are AMAZING to watch grow, they provided many opportunities within our homeschooling activities.

We planted two different varieties of sunflowers and discussed comparison.  What is different and what is alike?

We sorted according to seed sizes and and colors (some black and some varigated.)

We measured diameter.

We counted.

We touched.

When all the seeds where removed we used what was left as a stamper....painting it and pressing on paper.  Even enjoyed some art time!

We tasted!  We ate them before baking and after.

The kids can't wait for next years crop. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Heart of Flesh Necklaces and Bracelets

     I began making these necklaces after inspiration from Ezekiel 36:26.  I wanted to share a message through something visual that would be meaningful and heartfelt.  And so I began playing one evening a few weeks ago and several began to take shape.  I wanted to share just a sampling.  They will be for sale through Grace Haven's website shortly for $15 each and will help build our grants and go to our ministry outreaches.  Watch for ordering instructions soon.  Each necklace comes with the following story card attached:

Heart of Flesh Necklace

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

A while ago, I began finding heart stones. Gazing at the unique aspects to each one, I found beauty in the marks and the grooves. Some were soft and others had been shaped rather harshly. Some were eroded over time while others were hit fast chipping the surface. I imagined my own heart and its shape. How was it being formed? What aspects of my surroundings were shaping me?

I realized that regardless of what was happening around me, my heart was taking its shape from what I believed. More than anything I needed to know that Truth was filling my heart for it to receive and give Love as God intended.

As I prayed further I was led to this passage in Ezekiel and I felt a washing over my heart. My spirit rose as I rested in the words that our heavenly Father would remove the stone in our heart and soften us in his grace. No condemnation, no self willing, no striving, but through His love we are able to love well.

When you hold your necklace, I pray you contemplate the unique aspects. The wire represents the winding roads of your own personal journey that no other person will ever know, but Jesus. While you may have made some rough turns and at times loops didn't seem to have an end in sight, Jesus was always there. The stone represents who we were without God. It was hardened; alone. The thread represents the grace of Jesus that came when he died on the cross for us; the grace your heavenly Daddy weaves throughout your entire life making all things new. He wraps every broken piece and hands it back to you for you to see beauty. Your heart won't look like any other because it is as unique as you are and the destiny God has planned for you. But it is forever BEAUTIFUL, as you are.

If you haven't yet met Jesus as your heavenly Father, today He is asking you to receive him into your heart and to release to him everything that has kept you from living freely in the Love of Christ Jesus.

May your heart rest today in the safety of God's grace,

Tina Kacirek
Founder, Grace Haven Ministries

His Faithfulness - Our Follow

Well certainly the last 20 hours have unfolded quite differently than we had been expecting.  We were told we would need to stay seven days and be prepared it may be more than that.

Last night was a bit restless and around midnight I was praying when I knocked my bible off the chair and it slipped down beside me opening up to Matthew 21.  The passage my eyes landed on first was Matthew 21:21.

I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, "Go throw yourself into the sea, and it will be done. If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Immediately I felt in my spirit to pray this over Cephas.  I know healing is for my son, for all of us and it is a gift through faith we have to pray in belief.  Yet, often times we stop ourselves from praying due to different reasons.  

Maybe we have heard all the reports and in preparing ourselves for that we lose faith to believe what God might be saying to us.  Or, maybe what we see seems impossible or perhaps we think we are being proud or acting without humility to pray a power prayer of healing.  And sometimes its that we see our own limits, sins, flaws that keep us from praying.  

But last night all I heard over and over is, "Our faith comes from His faithfulness."  It just kept repeating in my heart.  It's not about how strong we are and how good at prayer we have gotten.  It's that we KNOW His faithfulness.  That we understand WHO OUR GOD IS.  And the goodness of God is not dependent on us.  It's just not! 

And so I placed my hand on Cephas and told God not by my strength or will but in His faithfulness to the word He showed me at that moment, heal my son. It wasn't a lengthy prayer with eloquent words and I didn't need to dazzle my heavenly Daddy.  He was just inviting me to believe and ASK.

And this morning I am watching my child surprising his doctors and nurses with his very quick recovery.  He is eating and drinking well, sitting up and in almost every way our Cephas.  He is more tired than usual and he has some pain at the site of the incision but otherwise he is full of energy oozing out all over!!  Talky, talky, talky!  

While I kept things going with Cephas here, Randy took Lucia for her tooth extraction.  He found quite a surprise himself with it lasting only TEN minutes in the chair!!!  She is doing BEAUTIFULLY and hasn't complained of mouth pain ONCE today!

So the wonderful news is that we ALL go home together - TOMORROW after lunch!  TWO DAYS after surgery and FIVE DAYS early!

We had some special celebrating with a visit from Charlie the retriever and Lucia was able to go outside to special festivities for the children and see a juggler and have her hand painted.

They hardly felt like they were stuck at the hospital today.  This place is so incredibly good to us.  I keep thinking we got lucky with a nurse and then the next one comes and is equally a blessing!  This experience is doing so much to repair what Lucia went through back home and she is feeling good about having her upcoming surgery here.

I am praying for anyone who has been struggling with belief to begin thinking about faith in a new way.  Begin asking for HIS faithfulness, not yours.  As you press in to who HE is, your spirit rises.  It's not dependent on you....His yoke is light.  Rest in who He is....LOVE.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Strength of Weakness

 I'm learning more about love.....

About how it involves so much weakness........

 Not knowing all the answers.....

But just being there in the midst of it all...... being present in heart to hear
and to touch and respond.

 Not to have the answer but to say, I will be with you through it all.

 The words I hear break me.....

Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for not throwing me on the ground.

Thank you for hugging me.

I need to call Grandma and tell her about my surgery.

Is Lucia okay?  Will she have her surgery soon?  I will be with her.

I love my family.  Thank you 

I've learned more about love from my broken children, than all of my other years of life.  Watching them work through real concerns, processing their own medical conditions, discussing where they came from, what they have seen and experienced, and watching them interact with one another ministers Jesus.

They move in healing continually and Randy and I are on the receiving end of love's wisdom.  We receive heavenly nuggets of knowledge simply by being a part of this. 

Today Lucia asked if there was any way she would ever have to go back to Ukraine.  Would there be any reason we would ever send her back?

I asked her why she thought that and if she worried about it.

"Yes I worry.  I love you so much and I worry that I will be too much and you will not want me anymore."

In the waiting area we had a good cry session.

In the midst of medical needs we process emotional needs too.  They both affect their life.  Healing of their bodies and healing of their spirits.....

It's all about believing....of trusting and knowing that heaven is our home.

Throughout the day they ask us to pray with them and they stop to pray for others.  They have a sober spirit that understands their own weakness and seeks Jesus to heal them.  Randy and I see humility and a dependent heart on God. 

Spending time around these two will convict pride immediately.  These two have softened our other children and been an example of facing frailties.  I pray one day Cephas and Lucia will fully understand the incredible gift they have been to our family. 

Randy and I are softer than ever and what I witness in my husband is a holy working out.  The further we walk, the tighter we are being woven together up and into Christ.  It's a blessed walk and it might not be understood, but it's precious.  It's worth loss....even as I say that through painful tears, it's true.

Cephas is doing well this evening.  Laying next to me in his hospital bed he is soaking up some good sleep after recovering from his surgery today.  The doctors expect a nice healing and for us to be able to go home perhaps as soon as Monday if he continues to do this well. 

While Cephas was in surgery, we met with Lucia's spine surgeon.  He shared that her back is at 120 degrees scoliosis and her right lung is pressed so severely it looks like a "sliver."  It's hardly functioning.  He said that fusion of her back was not only a good option but necessary for her to live.   She is struggling with internal organs being pressed up into her ribcage area and besides breathing, feeding will continue to become more difficult.

Her surgery is scheduled for January 10th.  In the mean time we are working on getting her body strengthened for surgery nutritionally.  She is working very hard in therapies and we will return in December for her to undergo several more tests and preparations before her big surgery day.

They will put her in traction similar to when I had broken my neck with four point screws in her head and then screws in her legs and then they stretch her body into position so she is held in position when they put in the rod and fuse it.  She will be placed in a body brace for 4 that we can bathe her with. 

Our prayer request is that she would remain healthy and stable from now until the time of surgery and of course that her body would respond well to the surgery.  Tonight Randy has her at the hotel and will take her in for a tooth extraction in the morning.  Then they will come visit us one last time before he takes her back to Arkansas. 

I know many of you were a part of helping bring these precious hearts into our family and I just want to edify each of you and THANK you most sincerely for being part of God's divine plan and partaking in growing each of us.

I am truly humbled to be in the presence of so many beautiful hearts who share their own stories with me and who allow us to pray with them in their own journey of healing too.  It's what we are called to love one another and to bear with one another. 

God bless you

Friday, August 30, 2013

His Beautiful Provision

    As I have been soaking in the amazing provision God has poured out through His people for the Higbie family adopting Nadiya, Oksana and Vasyla, I have been asking for a refreshment of my thankful eyes.  Lord, let me keep excited about your provision and the many ways you care for us!!  He loves us through one another.

One of the many ways God has blessed us is through our therapy team.

I love looking back and seeing how God has so carefully weaved our lives together with the perfect people for us!  Back in they day, about 10 years ago I became friends with Amanda Clark.  She and her husband have three blessings from Donetsk, Ukraine.  A few years later Amanda returned to Ukraine on mission and brought some therapists with her and I joined along too.  It was the summer of 2006 and it was the trip when I would first meet Maxim, Cephas and Lucia.
Kym (on the left) and Amanda (right)

It was from that time that Grace Haven has grown and our passion for the weakest ones ignited by Jesus!  At the same time a really incredible thing was happening with the therapists who went on that trip too.  One of the owners of our therapy clinic, Kym Hannah, met her own sweet daughter and began praying about how Children's Therapy TEAM could continue to return to Ukraine to help orphans with special needs.  What has developed over the last several years is that many of the therapists have caught the passion too and travel over twice a year with TEAM Ukraine!!

So how very perfect is it that the people who come in my house each day not only love God, but love orphans and have actually been where my children lived and some even met them there!!  AMAZING GOD!!  And of all the places in the country I could live....He has us here just down the road from all of these precious people.

Yesterday, our occupational therapist, Abby Snyder, came to evaluate Maxim and she brought her own little doll, Eva - adopted from Donetsk, Ukraine just last December. Our kids were NUTS to see her and hopefully we didn't overwhelm her too much.

Cephas needed to hug her and pet her, Rainan brought her an assortment of dolls, Grace made sure she had books and blocks and Lucia waited the entire time until the end when she could have special cuddle time with Eva.

Gosh it's true life is complicated and "get up and go" isn't how it happens so much these days, but this is the stuff that makes it quite perfect for us.  Life is beautiful.  Just LIFE.

So let me introduce you to some of the gifts that show up on my doorstep a few times a week. 
Danielle is one of our physical therapists and is a new special friend to Lucia.  I love how calm she is.  Such a perfect match for our children.
 Working on extension
 Tonya, GOD BLESS HER, still gets down on the floor and works hard at nearly 7.5 months pregnant.  She reminds me a lot of myself funny and serious at the same time.  She is loaded with information. Cephas loves therapy time!

Working on keeping balance while sitting on the bench without arm support and learning puzzles at the same time! I love multi-tasking!
 This is our lovely speech therapist, Amy Smith.  She is working with Grace to help her learn to read. 

    They aren't only therapists, they are friends.  They show up and see my messy kitchen and funny hair and think nothing of it (or hide their snickers really well!).  They put their heart into everything they do and it shows.  Their presence ministers to me and I love that I get to be free with my faith and passion for orphans with our therapy team.  

To read the beginnings of TeamWorks Ukraine go here:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  1 Timothy 6:17