The single, blinking strand


On Christmas night last year, after all the gifts had been unwrapped, the meals consumed, the bustle of the day quieted, and my household fell asleep, I sat in front of our lit tree. With all the other lights turned off, I curled up and stared at the Christmas lights. Some of them twinkle, and some do not. This annoys the part of my brain that longs for order, and yet somehow it fits our family.

I watched the half blinking tree, and my heart twisted as I mulled over the possibility that our adoption would be terminated. At that point, talks of a ban on Americans adopting were only murmurs. Nobody really thought it would happen – we all thought Putin was posturing, just trying to save face. I stared at the tree, and I wondered if it was all going to fall apart. I wondered if this year, Christmas 2013, we would indeed have a new daughter home, dancing around the tree, admiring the single strand of blinking lights and trying to figure out why none of the other lights blinked.

I wrote about that night here – I wrote about how the Lord whispered “Wait,” and how my heart fluctuated from grief to peace, and back and forth like that single strand of blinking lights.

Three days later, all my fears were realized when Vladimir Putin made the ban official.

You know the rest of the story.

Two months ago, I woke up early one morning. I felt restless and sad, a feeling that’s been too familiar this past year. With Christmas coming up, I found myself once again wishing that things were different. I thought we’d have her home at this point. I thought we’d be a family of six before the end of the year.

I spent a bit of time sitting my favorite chair, sipping my coffee and praying that I wouldn’t miss all the blessings of the upcoming Christmas season. I prayed for a release from my heartache. I prayed for a contentment in where my family is right now. 

An hour later, I opened my computer, and noticed an email from an organization called New Horizons for Children. This is an orphan hosting organization – they bring children to the United States for 4-5 weeks as an opportunity to experience a new culture, to experience family, to improve their English, and to have a potentially once in a lifetime experience outside the walls of their orphanage.

merrychristmasI showed Lee the email, and together we prayed over this opportunity. We looked through the children available for sponsorship, and one young woman stood out to both of us. Within days we had filled out the application and made the first payment to officially welcome her to our family for the Christmas season.

God is funny, isn’t He? Last year I thought for sure that we would be bringing home a toddler daughter to raise for a lifetime. Instead we will be welcoming a teenage “daughter” to love for only a short time. She turns 18 a week after she returns home, and she will officially age out of the orphanage. Our hope is to love her well, and love her fully, for the month that we have her so that when she’s on her own, she will have some reference and understanding of her worth in this world.

We want her to see Christ in our family.

We want her to see what a godly, stable relationship between husband and wife looks like.

We want her to know that she is not defined by her background.

We want her to know that we will always love her, even if we only get her for four short weeks.

Will you pray for our family as we welcome this precious girl who has spent most of her life in an orphanage? Pray that this experience will be a positive one, for both her and our family. Pray that she will see and know love. Pray that we can bond quickly, and that when she leaves, she returns home with a new sense of confidence as a daughter of God.

This isn’t what we planned when we set out to adopt, but I am so grateful for God’s goodness in giving us this opportunity – for His sweetness in knowing that this Christmas was going to be a hard one. I’m thankful that we’ll have a month to pour ourselves out fully together as a family.

The sign reads "We're waiting for you."

The sign reads “We’re waiting for you.”

When God whispered “Wait” last year, I had no idea this is what we were waiting for. It may not be as I envisioned, but like the single blinking strand on our Christmas tree, it somehow seems right.

Thanks for joining with us in prayer, friends. It blesses us more than you know.

To Mother – with love

“At the very least, they (man) can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things in their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter #4


Two weeks ago, I pulled out the final box. Nearly eighteen months in our home and this one box sat in the office closet, taunting me with the unpacked contents. I lifted each item from inside the brown cardboard and carefully decided whether to keep or purge. As I pulled out the final photo album, I looked down to see a single, red book.

It was thin and hard bound, the binding worn just slightly. As I picked it up, I inhaled deep the smell of history. I don’t ever remember seeing this book and as I turned to see what treasure I had just uncovered, I drew in a sharp breath.

The Screwtape Letters. C. S. Lewis.

I sat down in my plush yellow chair and slowly opened the book. It smelled musty and worn. The pages were crisp and yellowed. Opening the cover, I noticed the inscription:

To Mother,

On this Mother’s Day – with love




Purchased and gifted with love in 1946 by a man who wanted to give his mother something special on Mother’s Day. I ran my fingers over each page and wondered what stories this book held. Bought at the end of the World War II, a subject and piece of history that consumes most of my days right now as I finish my novel, this particular copy has a story.

A story for Mother.


Read the rest at Kelli

Today I rest

It has been a crazy hectic few weeks. On top of kids being sick, finalizing adoption paperwork, preparing for Christmas, a birthday, working, and all the other craziness of December, Lee has been traveling almost non-stop, which leaves one weary Mama.

We’ve made it. I haven’t always handled everything gracefully, but by and large it has been a lovely Christmas season. That said – I need a break.

I get this look in my eyes when I’m about to snap. It’s kind of a manic, wide-eyed, get me out of the house before I break down mentally and spend a day on the couch eating Nutella with my fingers and staring at the wall sort of look. Lee knows it well. So tonight he is sending me to a hotel at the beach.


By myself.

I’m sorry, but did you hear what I said? I AM GOING TO A HOTEL ALONE!

Are you jumping up and down, clapping your hands and girl shrieking like me?

I’m taking my computer and plan on working on my book, because I haven’t had time the last couple of weeks and it’s been driving me crazy. I’m going to order room service and sit in the hot tub and be totally crazy tomorrow morning and sleep in…until, like, 8:00.

So forgive me while I head off and merrily skip through the house. There’s laundry to put away and crunchy floors to clean. There are Christmas parties to attend at school and I think it’s time I got the car washed. I have one more Christmas gift to buy and the dog needs a walk and I should probably put something in the crock pot for dinner.

I can think about doing all that with out mentally shutting down because I’M GOING TO A HOTEL BY MYSELF TONIGHT!


And we all said amen.

(PS – Please pray hard about this situation in Russia. It’s so tenuous right now. This thing is going to go all the way up to Putin and right now nobody can really read which way he will lean. But if he signs it into effect, Russian adoptions will be effectively banned beginning January 1st. What that means for us is still a little unclear. No one is sure if he will give a twelve month clearance before shutting it all down, or if he will effectively close it down completely.

Where yesterday I felt peaceful, today I am nervous. Pray for  the situation. Pray for Putin. Pray for the hundreds of thousands of waiting orphans. Pray for our family and all the families like us who are so close. Thank you!)  


Sveta and Uly

We met eight years ago. Both of us young, married and in love with the world. She was my translator and for one month she acted as my guide. I was on a grand adventure. I was touring the country of Ukraine, interviewing veterans of the great war, World War II. I was five months pregnant and became ill almost the second I set foot in the country. And she made sure that I was well taken care of as we traveled.

We took trains and taxi’s, my pregnant belly bouncing all over the pitted roads, me hanging on for dear life becuase the taxi driver’s seat belts were broken.

“He wants you to trust him,” she said. I heard the sympathy in her voice. She knew I was uncomfortable. Over the course of our adventure, Sveta and I bonded. My mom was with us and the three of us became fast friends – family. Separated by an ocean, but filled with trust and love for one another.

Sveta and her husband, Vova, were fairly newlywed and were devastatingly cute. They were, and still are, madly in love and it just made me smile to see them together. They were mushy and gushy, but not in an uncomfortable way. They just made you happy.

One of the stops on our trip was to Sveta’s hometown of Dunaivtsi. We spent two days with her family, her Mom and Dad fussing over me and making sure I was well fed and taken care of. I ate her Mom’s green borscht and it was, quite possibly, the most wonderful meal I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

Sveta and I laughed a lot on that trip. Her sense of humor was so keen and her English so sharp that she was easily able to keep up with my random wit. We visited fortresses and classrooms. We spent time in colleges and she stood by my side as a group of veteran soldiers poured out their hearts, and their memories, to me in vivid detail.

Sveta became more than a friend. She became a sister.

And for eight years, Sveta and I have remained the dearest of friends. We’ve rejoiced in children born and mourned pregnancies lost. Her first born, Ulyana (Ulya) and Landon are just days apart. I’ve watche dSveta, through her blog, as she’s grown into such a wonderful, beautiful, lovely mother. She is expecting her second child now and I’m just so proud of her and excited for her.

But tomorrow Sveta and Vova need your prayers. Ulya was born with specific health challenges that have brought them to a point of needing surgical intervention. The surgery is tomorrow and it’s dangerous and meticulous and difficult. No parent ever wants to see their child suffer pain or discomfort. It’s stressful and frightening.

Would you please pray for Sveta, Vova and Ulya tonight and tomorrow?

Pray for peace as Sveta and Vova wait. They are currently in Kiev, where the surgery will take place and they will remain there as Ulya recovers. Pray for Sveta in particular as she is dealing with major stress while pregnant. Pray for her safety and for the safety of her unborn child.

Please pray for the doctors as they work on Ulya, a sweet little girl with a vibrant personality. Pray that they have wisdom and special skill.  Pray for protection over her little body.  Pray for Ulyana’s bones, that they would be strong and that her body would be able to withstand the procedure.  Pray that this surgery would only enhance her life.

Sveta and Vova have been on my heart for some time now as they prepared for this day. They have been concerned and frightened, as any parents would be. It just felt right to share this prayer need with you all and I’m thankful because I know that you all will lift them up.

Svetochka, I love you and I, along with many others, will be praying for you, Vova and Ulyana tomorrow!

Thank you, everyone, for supporting a sister in need! I appreciate it more than I know how to express.

On the wings of love


Before we get started, I’d like to give you a moment to let the cheesy ’80’s ballad wash over you.  Go on, sing it out.  You know you want to…

Feel better?’


There is no great way to transition from obscure ’80’s music to prayer, but I’m gonna give it a try.  Consider yourselves transitioned.

Once upon a time I was an early riser.  While the rest of my generation slept until noon, I could often be found at sunrise jogging through the streets of my neighborhood.  This was pre-baby when I still enjoyed jogging and my body moved in a more coordinated rhythm to make it possible, of course.

In college, I spent many an early morning watching the sunrise as I crammed knowledge into my over-functioning brain.  In early motherhood, when it was me and one tiny baby, I watched the sunrise as I whispered prayers into his ear.  I prayed he would grow into a man of character, a man of grace, a man of stature and wisdom and knowledge.  I prayed that he would be strong and courageous, filled with love and a desire to help those in need.

But something happened to me in the seven years since I three times became mom.  I lost my sense of wonder at the morning.  My bed grew warmer and more comfortable.  My children pitter pattered their way through the house at such an hour that in order to beat them up I really needed to rise while it was still night, just so I could welcome the morning.

With this unfortunate phenomena, I also lost my ability to passionately cry out on their behalf.  My prayers for them became kernels of popcorn, popped up here and there throughout the day and rarely scratched the surface of my true desires for them.

“Help him understand love.”  “Give her the courage to fail.”  “Show him who You are.”


A series of issues has brought me to a place of longing once again.  Longing for the morning.  The smell of life rising.  The glint of dew on green grass and the painted reds, oranges and yellows stretched across the sky.  Of darkness fading into morning light.  Of fatigue mixed together with anticipation, staving off the sleep that still lingers.   Longing stillness enough to hear.

To hear the wind blow.  To hear the birds sing.  To hear the Voice, still and small, waiting on the wings of love for my heart’s cry.

(How’s that for blending the ’80’s with prayer, eh?)

And my prayers are rising once again.  A new song, a new desire, a new longing.  I lay them down and wait.  Sometimes I fall asleep in the pool of desire and heartache that I’ve only just surrendered.  Sometimes I wait and listen.

For Sloan I pray Hebrews 10:19-24.  May he be free from the guilt that so often weighs him down and pulls him back, his tender heart torn over sin, yet wrestling with the flesh.  I pray Galations 5:22-23 and 1 Peter 1:5-6: self-control to make the right choices.  I pray for wisdom in mothering such a strong willed, lion hearted child.  I offer praise for being chosen for a clearly difficult task.

For Katya I pray 2 Timothy 2:10, that her heart would be turned toward the Savior and she would desire to know Him.  I pray Colossians 3:12, that she would be free from the apathy that her spirit seems bent toward and would be filled with compassion.  I pray 1 Thesselonians 5:15, that she would find more joy in kindness than she does in torturing her brothers.

I pray that I would have the belief that that last prayer could possibly someday be answered…

For Landon I also pray 2 Timothy 2:10.  I pray that even at a young age, he will know and understand how high and deep and wide and vast is the Father’s Love for him.  I pray Ephesians 6:1.  I pray that he will delight in obedience and that the mischief that brings that twinkle to his eye would be harnessed, but not snuffed out completely.  Because the mischief makes him oh so fun.

I pray verses over my husband that are sacred and are between me and God.

I don’t always give in to the call of the morning.  Though I desperately love it, sometimes the call of my bed is more tempting, more comfortable, easier and warmer.  But as spring is bringing change and decision, I find myself with a bit more urgency to reaquaint with the earliest hours of the day.  And to pour over my children in the quiet that comes so rarely.  I don’t whisper it in their ears anymore, as I am no longer cradling them in the rocking chair.  But I pray that as I release my pleas, they take off on the wings of love and settle within the hearts and spirits of the little ones I love so dearly.

When and how do you pray for your children?

The good of blogging

Blogging is a great thing.  It is a powerful tool to reach numerous people with one minor strike of a key.  It does, of course, hold some negative effects, one of those being the addictive power it can hold. 

 There are days when I find myself sucked into the blogosphere as a means of procrastination.  I work really hard at not sitting at the computer all day because that’s not healthy for anyone; but some days, when I’m in a tired or lazy mood, I do tend to slack a little.

I am a work in progress.

There are a few blogs that I permit myself to read every single day.  I try not to alot any more than 15 minutes of blog reading time most days, and, for the most part, I do a pretty good job of that (save for the aforementioned slacker days…)

One of the blogs I read faithfully is My Charming Kids.  If you haven’t yet discovered this site, I highly recommend you check it out.  Jennifer (or McKMama) is a brilliant writer, witty, a great mom, an encourager, a godly woman and she’s in need of prayer.

And this is what I love about blogs.  Since she and her husband discovered the very serious nature of their son’s heart problem in the womb, the world – yes, I said world – has mobilized in prayer for their son.  And we have witnessed miracle after miracle in that little boy’s life.

Stellan is now 9 months old and he is sick again.  Will you pray?  Will you allow this thing called the internet be used for good and cry out on behalf of a family that is desperate for healing?

For as much evil as the internet has brought into the world, it is beyond encouraging to see the good, and to participate in the good, that the internet holds.

So I ask that you join me today in praying for Stellan.  A little miracle boy whose earthly heart is weak.  And may we all rejoice in our ability to be a part of God’s miracles.
Prayers for Stellan