Monday, December 10, 2012

8 weeks of hearing, a good report and new beginnings

Life often seems hum-drum. The same thing, same schedule--day after day, week after week. After a while, it seems as though we are just going through the motions and not too much change is happening.

In our instance, the last 8 weeks have been just that. The routine of putting on Luke's external sound processors over and over again as he gets used to wearing them, the importance of learning to listen techniques, the Ling 6 sounds, therapy sessions, daily care of the devices, etc.

Today we saw the audiologist and tried booth testing to determine more objectively at what level Luke was hearing. And today we had success! Luke actively participated in the testing so that we were able to determine a general baseline. This allowed the audiologist to again change the settings and programs on the devices to allow for continued progression to optimal hearing ranges.

Luke is continuing to be more verbal and interactive with others and the world around him. That being said, he is also more inquisitive and michievious! He is definitely all boy and very much a two year old! He is very determined and will use verbal or physical (hand over hand) means to get what he wants! Eye contact continues to improve as well. His laughter is contagious. It never ceases to amaze me how God has bonded my heart to this little boy. A hundred, a million times over---I am forever thankful to God for blessing us to love and cherish this little boy as our son.

Jo Anna

"Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."-Mother Teresa

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Luke's Hearing Birthday 10/16/12 and Progress

There was much anticipation and excitement leading up to activation day. This is the day when the audiologists turn on the cochlear implants and Luke begins to hear! Our family of 6 arrived, along with a good neighbor friend.

The audiologists had to play 5 test sounds and also record measurements in each ear with the sound processors on. Luke cried and screamed and kicked. He tried to pull them off. He vomited at least 4 times there at the office. I guess I shouldn't have fed him breakfast-but our activation time was 10:45am!

The audiologist said everything looked great. But Luke was so scared. This was VERY TRAUMATIC for him. We couldn't even get both CIs on him at the same time. We took a long break between each ear. They set the first 4 programs and showed us some basics. The audiologists told us not to have him wear them home. They told us to get him lunch and a nap. Then try to put at least one on (hopefully both) and try to get at least 2 hours total time with them on today hopefully while doing something fun.

I was very anxious as what would happen after his nap. Praise God, despite some resistance, we got a total of 2 hours of wear on the first day! We are gradually increasing his "wear time". Yesterday, we got up to 8 hours on. Our goal would be 12 hours on a day.

Here are some pictures of Activation Day.

Here are some pictures taken the next day.

We thank God for this wonderful gift!
Jo Anna

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cochlear Implant Surgery Picture Diary

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pre-Op Photo with Dr. Adele Evans at Brenner's Children's Hospital

Post-Surgery Picture (tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, simultaneous cochlear implants)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 (1 day post-surgery after a rough first night)

Going Home! Afternoon of Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy to be at home!

3 days post-surgery: Friday, September 21, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Shameful Confession

Peace. I crave it. I mean, who doesn't want a peaceful home? Shalom. Yeah, if you have more than one child, you know EXACTLY what I mean. And you also know how difficult it can be when it is missing in one's home.

It has been a hard (but good-but hard) 4 months. Lots of arguing. Lots of tantrums. Lots of misunderstandings. With the bigs. With the littles. With the parents. With the parents and children. Those of you that have brought children home from hard places know what I am talking about.

This morning I had a light bulb moment with God. Not exactly the good kind, either. It hit me like a ton of bricks--I crave peace in my home above all else. I would like to fool you and say my greatest desire is to see my kids love Jesus most. But in reality, I just want everyone to get along and respect each other. Can I get an AMEN?

I began to think on the words of Jesus:

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Lord, help me cling to your words in the hard times.

So this got me thinking- What do you crave most in your home, for your family?

Jo Anna

Surgery: T-16 hours

Today we had our family picture taken. This day marks an end of life as we know it...

Tomorrow is Luke's surgery date. We have the orders to be at Brenner's Children's Hospital at 6 A.M. We are expecting surgery to last 4-5 hours. Dr. Adele Evans will be performing a possible adnoidectomy and simultaneous cochlear implant surgery.

Some related prayer requests:
1) successful surgery

2) minimal pain

3) no complications

4) sleeping (Luke sleeps on his side, and since this is bilateral cochlear implant surgery he has no safe 'side')

5) that this would not affect his developing attachment; he would still find comfort in us

6) for us as parents - the strength, stamina and wisdom how to manage his recovery


7) that he would develop sufficient 'hearing' (though it will never be like ours) as a result of the implants

8) that he would develop sufficient speech

For His Glory,

Jo Anna

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Two weeks from today...

...our little guy undergoes bilateral cochlear implant surgery.

Would you keep us in your prayers?

God continues to shine grace into our lives. Today I am thankful for:
*week 3 of the girls' home school and it is going well
*for friends and family who walk beside us in hard times
*for family and friends who overlook our faults and still love us
*for a prayer request being answered
*for laughter and giggles of little ones and big ones in the home

Have a blessed week,

Jo Anna

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Surgery Date set and other ramblings

Praise God! Monday's appointment confirmed that Luke's MRI and CT scan were normal. We will be going ahead with bilateral cochlear implant surgery at Brenner's Children's Hospital on September 18th. This surgery gives Luke his only chance to be able to hear and learn how to speak. Surgery rates are very high in children under the age of 5 years old.

Yesterday, Luke had his ophthamology exam. Everything was normal and he doesn't need to be seen for 2-3 years. He also received his loaner hearing aids and is doing well with them. He doesn't like me putting them in or taking them out. But, overall, I would say he has been very compliant with them. He has only tried to pull them out once over the last 2 days. It seems as though he is hearing some loud sounds with his hearing aids, such as the vacuum cleaner running,the microwave, and the van door opening and closing.

Tomorrow Luke goes for his PT evaluation.

We have decided to take the plunge and home school the girls this year. I ordered my curriculum yesterday...

Jo Anna

Friday, August 3, 2012

Monday results and the road ahead

This day has been in the making for close to a year. On July 29th, 2011, our family stepped out in faith to inquire about 2 brothers available for adoption from the Philippines--being told that the little one has some degree of hearing loss. Some 10 months later, our sons sons arrived home to join their forever family.

We meet on Monday afternoon to hear the results of Luke's MRI and CAT scan that were done on August 25th. During this appointment we will find out whether Luke is a candidate for cochlear implant surgery.

Luke's ABR hearing test on August 25th showed the same results as the one done in the Philippines in September 2011. It confirmed that Luke's hearing is estimated to be in the profound hearing loss range bilaterally. All other preliminary tests and evaluations have already been performed, so we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to implant within the next 4-6 weeks.

We have such a long road ahead of us regardless of the path before us. On Tuesday, Luke will be fitted with loaner hearing aids for a trial period. It will be interesting to see if we get any response whatsoever from them. How will he react to something on his ears?! After all, he is only 2 & 1/2 years old...

Our family continues to be grateful and humbled by the love and support we receive by the body of believers both near and far.

Our prayer for Luke has been John 9:3"...but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

Keep watch for an update on our appointment!

Jo Anna

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sarah turns 10 today!

Happy Birthday to our creative, fun, and beautiful baby girl today! Who knows what adventures God has planned for you? Carry that joy with you always!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What?? Did you say no cavities??!!

It's the littlest blessings that often knock our socks off. After all, Luke and Jansen have only been home 10 weeks. With having lots of transition in the home, we try to remember to thank God for both the big and little things.

Today, the boys went to Dr. Tina Merhoff's pediatric dentistry office. We love this office staff! The boys did great at their first visit and have beautiful white teeth! Best of all, no cavities for either child! Woo hoo! You adoptive mommas know what a blessing and rarity this is!

A big shout out thank you to Chosen Children Village for the excellent care provided to our boys.

God is so good!

Jo Anna

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Prayer request and update on Luke

Tomorrow afternoon, our little guy, will be having a CT, MRI, bloodwork, and ABR hearing test under anesthesia. The results of these tests will help us determine whether he is a candidate for cochlear implants.

He is such a joy and loves life. We covet your prayers!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy 12th Birthday Rachael

A Daughter
Author: Unknown

A daughter brings sunshine
to brighten your day.
A daughter brings joy
through her loving ways.
A daughter is a blessing
that comes from above.
A special and beautiful
treasure to love.

-Jo Anna

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cutting for a Cause - Follow Up

On January 15th, 2012 friends of ours at Progressive Image Day Salon held an adoption fund raiser for us called Cutting for a Cause. We made $1500 towards our adoption costs from 2-6pm that day.

Debbie Jones (co-owner of the salon) had asked to change their usual partial ad in Forsyth Woman magazine for their business to include a promo for CFAC. The editor found our story so compelling that they chose to give us a full ad that described our adoption story in great detail, along with Progressive Image's efforts to assist. We were so honored...and somewhat embarassed by the exposure. BUT, God used this to bring folks in the door for the event that would not have otherwise, and He connected us with new friends and resources.

Fast forward to the beginning of June...
We had been home with our boys for about a month (arriving here on May 8th). Carolyn Peterson from FW contacted us about a follow up. Jo Anna did an outstanding job explaining in further detail our story and they included some wonderful pictures of our new family. Here is the link to this month's issue. Our story is on their page 46.

We have been blessed to adopt, though you may say the boys have been blessed to be a part of our family. Jo Anna and I were called to adopt, after we had been adopted into God the Father's family through His Son, Jesus Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit unto eternal life. As my lovely wife said in the article, not everyone is called to do so. BUT, if you are a Christ-follower you have an obligation to do something. I personally feel honored to be a part of the Together for Adoption organization, involved with exhibitor planning and on-site coordination for the conferences. "We believe the theology of Adoption is transformative on so many levels: for the Church, for churches, for Christian experience, and for mobilizing and empowering long-term engagement in the global orphan crisis." Our national conference is coming up this September 14th and 15th at Cross Pointe Church in Atlanta, GA. If you want to learn more about how you can get involved, this is an excellent place to learn how you can do so. Or, maybe you are feeling the 'tug' to adopt or be engaged in foster care - I can't think of a better place for you to be that weekend. Visit the website by clicking on my first badge on the left for more details. Thank you for partnering with us as we are living in THE story!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Thank heaven for Grandparents

Here are a few recent pictures of the boys with both sets of grandparents...

Ever wonder how Together for Adoption is involved in global orphan care?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Realities of Institutionalization

It is one thing to read about a subject. But living it, is a whole different ballgame.

I am so thankful for the wonderful work of professionals and available resources for adoptive families on how to parent children from "hard places".

To be honest, my biggest concern prior to bringing home the boys was dealing with Luke's hearing loss and how we would communicate with him. The reality? That hasn't been much of an issue at all. Of course it is a concern of ours, but it is easier to deal with at this stage than other issues. As Rachael so aptly said the night we got home from the airport, "Adoption isn't just puppies and kittens. Bears and snakes are there, too." There is so much truth to that statement.

We met the boys one month ago today. I have been reminded again over the last two days how important it is to emphasize that children belong in FAMILIES, not institutions. Our boys received wonderful care and for that we are forever grateful. As those of you adoptive families know, we are starting at the beginning. The very beginning. The cycle of need must be met over and over again. Those synapses and connections are just not there. You see a handsome boy who is almost 4 year old. We see an infant who wants to be held all the time and loved on because he never had that one-on-one care provided by parents.

My patience sometimes wears thin. I must think first, empathasize, then react. It is exhausting at times, especially when both little guys need so much individual attention. It is so different than the "typical" parenting of our biological children.

But is it worth it? Yes. Have we already seen forward progress? Yes. Here are just a few:

*Luke and Jansen's eye contact is getting better.

*Both boys are giving us kisses and hugs.

*We have lots more laughter in our house.

*Swimming, bathtime, and rides in the van are some favorite activities.

*Meal times and bedtimes usually go well

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Jo Anna

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Life, Love, and 15 years of marriage

Where in the world has the time gone? I met Scott 18 years ago this week. We were both skinny kids in college, not knowing how God was going to write the intertwining story of our lives and use us to testify of His goodness. Today is our 15 year wedding anniversary!

Funny how with each passing year, we are taking on more of each other's personality traits. We have always worked good together as a team. Scott often talks to the kids about our family as "Team Crawford". We are definitely stronger and better together than apart. Scott is my best friend and love of my life. Words cannot express my gratitude for all Scott does sacrificially for our family.

We have been home with Jansen and Luke for 3 weeks now. We have had some incredibly wonderful times and some not-so-wonderful times. The boys fit right in to our family. Granted, they are louder and more rambunctious than we were used to, but the attachment and love is already visible and we are all growing together. God has miraculously completed our family with the addition of these two little ones.

The girls finished school on last Friday, so we are excited to be home more and are going to the neighborhood pool every day. I cannot say enough about how wonderful the girls have been with their little brothers. They have played with them and loved on them. They have done more chores than ever before. They have shown grace and love in a way that is an example of how I should live. And they have been a testimony to their friends, neighbors, and classmates to God's love for the fatherless. I am so proud to be their momma and cannot wait to see how God continues to work in their lives.

We have been to the pediatrician. Luke weighs 20 lbs at 28 months old and Jansen weighs 28 lbs at 47 months. They are teeny tiny, but are cute as a button. Early intervention comes tomorrow to evaluate Luke for services and we have many medical appts lined up for the boys in June. Luke will have an EKG, hearing tests, bloodwork, and probably an MRI, as well as seeing the ENT specialist at Brenners. Luke is making great sounds and a lot of baby babbling. He is such a pleasant baby. We pray that if it is the Lord's will, he will be able to get some hearing and learn to speak. Jansen has some speech delays that will be evaluated, as well.

We have been blessed by family, friends, and neighbors in so many ways since we have been home. This has been such a help as we transition. Visits from parents nearby and out of state, a welcoming party at the airport, childcare for the girls, transportation of the girls, gifts, meals, emails, calls, and prayers are just some of the ways we have been cared for. For this we are forever grateful and thankful. You know who you are. God knows, too, and I pray each one of you are blessed in a special way for being the hands and feet of Jesus.

A special thank you goes out to Jim Woodward, Vickie Turner, and Vonnie Bishop from Christian Adoption Services who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us navigate this new world. A special shout out also goes to Nikki Esquivel and Laura Cross who have shown so much love and support to our family and have sweet blessings from the Philippines in their families, as well.

In just a few weeks, we will have the privilege of seeing face to face our sweet adoptive momma friend, Tanya Robinson, in the U.S. visiting from Italy. What an unexpected, joyous surprise!

How can one count all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on lowly me?

Jo Anna

Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message) "I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Challenge for Adoptive Dads « Empowered To Connect

We love the work that Karyn Purvis and the Monroes are doing for adoptive families. Tapestry is one of the best and most influential adoption and orphan care ministries in the country. If you don't utilize the Empowered to Connect resources, you need to. Michael Monroe throws down here:
A Challenge for Adoptive Dads « Empowered To Connect

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One week home

Well, we have been home one week and are getting into a regular routine. The boys are sleeping better and the hyperactive impulsive behavior is happening less often. Jansen is learning to listen when he hears his name and is exhibiting less jealousy towards his brother. Maybe boy toddlers are different than girls, or I am just older but the energy they possess is unlimited! There is never a dull moment in the Crawford house! We have found that rice, soup, pasta, and chicken are the most popular foods. The 4 most popular phrases used by Jansen at least 1,000 times a day are (in no particular order): What??? Where??? Huh??? Doot dat??? (what's that?) I am learning deep breathing techniques and to cherish my 5 minutes of silence in the bathroom! Luke makes a lot of baby babbling sounds and is a very happy little guy. He does, however, spit out any food he doesn' like. That's all for now! Jo Anna

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Brothers & Sisters in Christ

Today we had a unique opportunity to worship at Village Baptist Church here in the Philippines. The people were so welcoming to us! Scott was asked to give testimony of how the Lord has called all of us as Christians to care for orphans and widows, and specifically, how we have come to adopt Luke and Jansen.
The boys did amazingly well yesterday and today, even though we have separated them from all of their usual surroundings and given them new experiences. They have adjusted reasonably well despite our disrupting their schedules and routines. We love these little cocoa-skinned guys, and so do their sisters (FaceTime has allowed them to meet in cool)! We specifically would like to thank James and Margie Gordon for connecting us with their friends Dante Velasco and Manuel Resultay here in the Philippines. The coordination of transportation has been an amazing gift. These men have cared for us in so many ways and have been true brothers in Christ. We will never be able to repay them with the kindness we have been shown both by them and their amazing friends. We were also treated to an amazing meal at a local chinese restaurant and had the privilege of meeting Manuel's wife Joy and their daughter Hannah.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Famous Quotes from Our Adoption Experience

- "I am putting my foot down on the 'poop'" (referring to J's remarkable frequency of doing #2)

- "Can you 'Febreze' a child?"

- "What does *insert Filipino pronunciation of words* mean?"

- "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger...(repeat)"

- "I don't know why I said that, he can't hear me" (no disrespect to the deaf/HOH community, but you have no idea how many times Jo Anna and I caught ourselves talking to 'Lukas' (as we discovered he is known to all) despite his not even looking at us

- "We need to post a prayer request NOW for the plane ride home. I seriously cannot take 20 visits to those bathrooms. "

- "I feel like I (Scott) already need therapy"

- (last but not least, after our harrowing experience at the Ninoy Aquino Int'l Airport last evening) "How many inspections does it take to see there is no bomb in my shoes? Next time they will have to simply reach around to their rear to pull my sandal out..."

We hope to post more soon. Right now I/we need to get a little rest before we finish up the travel part of our journey :-)


Friday, May 4, 2012

We are Parents...AGAIN!

(NOTE: Due to recent changes in the Blogger platform, our formatting is not working. Sorry!) Random thoughts from the Philippines: Greetings! We are on day 4 of parenthood to 2 toddler boys. Everyone is doing well . The boys are down for a nap, so I thought I would give a short update, first on our experience here in Manila and also on the boys: *It is hot and humid! There is a thick smog here in the city that makes the city hazy and burns your nose when outside. *Almost everyone speaks English here :) *There are many employees at each establishment/business, employees are dressed to the T, and all the decor is very well appointed and modern in style. *We have never seen such an amazing continental breakfast. Hopefully Scott will post pictures soon. The number and varieties of food were simply amazing. *Luke was called "Lukas" at the orphanage. He is such a cute little wiggle worm. He is very, very inquisitive. He is nonverbal and quiet but loves to giggle. This boy can eat. He is a master with a fork and a spoon and can chow down with the best of them! He is walking very well. He loves to play with matchbox cars and likes board books. *Jansen's smile lights up a room. He is very loud and has lots and lots of questions about anything and everything. He often talks so fast that it is hard to understand him. The most common two phrases/conversations involve 1) going potty (which is at least once an hour while awake!) and 2)cars/airplanes. He loves to play, especially with Daddy. We have gotten a glimpse of some the results of his past trauma and wounds. He is asking for us to hold him when he is scared. We are seeing him beginning to trust us to meet his needs/comfort him. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to adjust and also for our long flight back to the U.S. The 16 hour flight was almost unbearable for me--an adult! I cannot fathom how this travel and time change will affect the boys. Jo Anna

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cool and Cloudy California

We are on our journey to meet L and J! We arrived safely in Los Angeles yesterday.Yesterday we took a long walk and ate at the famous In-N-Out Burger. Today we went to Manhattan Beach and pier, ate at Uncle Bill's Pancake House, and rode the Ocean Express Trolley.In just a few hours, we will be enroute to Manila!It is an almost surreal experience for us. It has been soooo long in the making, I can hardly believe this moment is finally here!I will you leave with a quote I read yesterday. It's a good reminder of what we have already gone through with the Lord's help and it encourages me for the future. "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."-Christopher Robin to Pooh
Until later,
Jo Anna

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gearing Up

We are just days away from traveling half-way around the world to bring home L and J. And the attack has started up again. You know, the spiritual attack, of the one that wants to discourage and defeat us, place fear in our hearts and put us in panic mode.

Unexpected dental work yesterday-$500
Unexpected necessary van repair today-$1200

We need to "gear up" and put on the armor in Ephesians 6, as the battle is sure to get more intense...

 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. "

We choose this day to trust HIM.

Psalm 94:19
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.

We covet your prayers on our behalf, as well.

Jo Anna

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Travel Plans!!!!!!!!!

For those of you who do not know, our journey began in May 2007 when God planted the seed of adoption in my heart. We officially began our paperwork pregnancy in January 2009. We "found" our special boys on the SHF list on July 29, 2011. Although there have been many delays and setbacks, we believe God is sovereign and HE has chosen these boys to come into our family at this very time. Almost exactly 5 years later! We humbly give God all the Glory for what HE has done and will do in our lives.

Yes, finally!!! We will be traveling in 2 weeks to the Philippines!!!

The boys have their visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila on Tuesday, April 17th. Please pray for all to go well. Their visas should then be processed in 1-2 weeks.

Only Scott and I will be going-the girls will remain at home.

Our flights are booked and accomodations and transportation is being coordinated.

Gifts are bought and the packing has begun!

Jo Anna

Psalm 20:5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

God is never in a hurry.

I read that sentence this morning in my devotional. It stopped me in my tracks. I KNOW this. But in my human flesh, I resist this statement. Knowing something doesn't always equal liking something. Our adoption process that has had so many ups and downs, twists and turns; it leaves me wanting the outcome I desire in my expected time frame.

"Until Jesus Christ is truly our Lord, we each have goals of our own which we serve. Our faith is real, but it is not yet permanent. And God is never in a hurry. If we are willing to wait, we will see God pointing out that we have been interested only in His blessing, instead of in God Himself. The sense of God's blessings is fundamental.
" of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33) Unyielding spiritual fortitude is what we need." Oswald Chambers

And so, we wait to hear the latest update. We hope to learn more later this morning. I need another dose of spiritual fortitude...

We ARE coming L and J. Soon, sweet babies, soon.

Jo Anna

Monday, March 12, 2012

God-Style Multiplication and Other News

****UPDATE: Thanks in part to you, and in full to our God we have raised  over $3,000 to bring our sons L & J home! The giveaway is officially over. We should be traveling in around a month to the Philippines to give our sons a forever home.

And the "winner"  of the giveaway is #127  Kathy Bartony!!! See widget below.

Other wonderful news we received over the last 2 weeks:
*L & J have their medical appointments for their visas on March 14th
*L & J have their appointment at the Embassy on March 19th
*Our sons know we are coming! We were told this week that J in particular is "very eager" for our arrival. There was another family at the orphanage this week and when they left he cried thinking it was us. The caseworkers pulled out our photo and reassured him that we had not yet come. The ICAB worker said J has "worn out" our photo by showing it to everyone - "bragging" about his new family!
*We have learned that the orphanage is teaching Luke American Sign Language and that he has learned a few basic signs!
*My ankle is healing and the results of the multitude of medical tests I had all came back normal!
*We are so thankful and humbled as we are reminded that all we have is a gift from God and the example of so many of YOU to hold loosely, to give freely and eagerly is remarkable. To God be the Glory!

Jo Anna

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bringing L and J Home...FOR GOOD!

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Today YOU have a unique opportunity. Two precious young boys, J and L are waiting for a forever family...specifically OURS. We were officially matched October 13th and the USCIS approved their visa applications on February 7th (Scott’s birthday). The authorization to travel is expected in the next 6-8 weeks.

As you may already know from our original post, we are stepping out in faith to adopt these 2 little toddler boys (our girls are 9 and 11) with the younger having complete hearing loss. God has brought us this far, and He will not leave or forsake us...EVER. Jo Anna is possibly not returning to work in any substantial way...any time soon. In addition, L's medical bills alone will be impacting the family budget. Currently, we are confident that we can provide for our soon-to-be family of 6, but the initial costs are immense. This is where you come in. You get to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. You get to be a part of a story and get to help unite a family with their little boys. L and J are about to be orphans no more. Please help us so we can travel without having to worry about funds.

In celebration and in an effort to raise the funds for this trip we're offering a chance for your very own iPad!

Here's how it works. A fellow adoptive family was kind enough to donate a brand new iPad because they understand the financial strains put a family that chooses to adopt (in our case, 2 children at once). There is a helping others paypal donate button on my blog in the upper left hand corner. You can donate there by Paypal or credit card.

$25 for 1 opportunity for the giveaway.  You may choose to donate more than once. ***DEAL: 2 opportunities for a $40 donation! Also, If you believe in what we are doing please consider spreading the word:

1. Repost on your blog or Facebook.
2. Tell others via email and other media.

We believe this will be our last fund raiser, with the goal of finishing off the purchase of airfare (2 adults and 2 children). Cutting for a Cause contributions made up the difference for this and accommodations. Entries will be numbered in order of donation receipt (displayed on blog) and the giveaway will be random.

The fine print disclaimer. In order for this FUNdraiser to happen we must raise at least $3000 for it to be ON! We need just 120 folks at $25 each to do this. We will announce when we hit that point and once we do, the giveaway will end 7 days later. This is NOT a r-a-f-f-l-e, please do not mention that it is. This IS helping to bring children into their forever family!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Visa applications approved!

Praise God! We found out late yesterday afternoon (on Scott's birthday!) that the U.S. govt has approved the boys' visa applications! They now have to be scheduled for a 2 day medical exam and then the visas and passports will be processed. It normally takes 4-6 weeks from this point before we get authorization to travel. We are praying we can travel mid-end of March, but we know to expect the unexpected...

2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
   I will sing the praises of your name.

Jo Anna

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thankfulness and Praise

Yesterday we were blessed in so many ways! At least 60 people received haircuts compliments of the wonderful stylists at Progressive Image Salon and Day Spa.

A huge thank you to Debbie Jones for organizing this event and for all of the stylists and volunteers who made our Cutting For A Cause event possible. Thank you to each and every person who came out to join us and who so generously donated to help bring J and L home to their "forever family". It brought joy  to our hearts to spend time with each one of you and for your support of our family. Words cannot fully express our appreciation.

We are happy to announce that the total raised was $1,533! We are still short by approximately $2,500 of what we believe we will need for travel to the Philippines. God has already moved mountains and we know that HE is faithful to provide the rest needed.

We are also so thankful for the staff at Christian Adoption Services who went above and beyond to see that our home study update be completed in a timely manner! Our homestudy is now complete and ready to be mailed off to the USCIS tomorrow along with the other documents requested. 

We are praying that we will receive authorization to travel some time in the month of March. Nonetheless, we have learned to expect the unexpected!

Ruth 1:8 "May the Lord show you kindness as you have shown me."

Jo Anna and family

Monday, January 9, 2012

Providential Provision

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

As we were so eloquently reminded this Sunday at Salem Chapel by substitute-teacher and my friend Bill Ketner, the "new" commandment given to us by Jesus is just that...a commandment. John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The Greek word used there is entole and speaks of "an order, command, charge, precept, or injunction" (via Greek Lexicon). Hmm. Sooo, in other words we don't have a choice? Correct. Have I always abided by that "rule"? way. BUT, by God, I should. Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life, and paid the price for my sins (and yours as well, if you call upon his name - John 3:16) and rose again on the third day. God so loved the loved me, that I ought to love others. Just. Like. He. Did. I appreciate the chorus that the worship band sang near the end yesterday: " Oh, praise the One/Who paid my debt/And raised this life up from the dead." He deserves my unending devotion...that which I fail to do, but strive to otherwise. Part of that is to obey His command to love, just like Jesus did and still does today (love us).

Now step forward to the reason for my post -- and backward (huh?) to the verse at the top -- God's provision. One of the "names" of God is Jehovah Jireh (English translation, if you will): The LORD will provide (Genesis 22:14). Just as He did for Abraham by supplying the substitute for Isaac with the ram, He still provides for His own today. We re-evaluated our adoption financials today. Wow. Our God has already provided for us, His children for our future children by His calling. We have miraculously paid $18,405 of the anticipated minimum of $29,015 that the adoption of L and J will cost. Again I say WOW. All this is in addition and during some unexpected expenses such as a new air conditioner, car repairs, a spinal fusion surgery and 4 months living on short-term disability and a mission trip to Guatemala for our entire family. Amazing. But wait...there is more.

We still have around $10,610 to go. We don't have that much in the savings right now. We have -- being transparent here -- around half that. Yep. Now, remember we had a great poinsettia fund raiser that yielded $1200 and have 2 more events scheduled...a hair cutting event and an iPad give away. We are trusting that He will provide for us through people like you -- our family and friends -- through these opportunities to partner with us in bringing our boys home. Trust. Webster's defines that word as the "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something." We know what our God is capable of....we just need to believe it despite the circumstances. We must actually have faith that Jehovah will provide. After all, He loved us enough to send His Son. I am reminded of His command to love, just like Jesus did and still does today (love US). "...(our) God will meet all (our) needs..."

We have found our home/We have found our peace/We have found our rest/In the one who loves/He will light the way/He will lead us home/As we offer all/To the One who saves us...Forever His love endures/Forever and EVER! - The One Who Saves by Hillsong/Ben Fielding


Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Timely Reminder-The Great Equalizer

A Prayer from today's devotion-Dave Keesling's A Journey: Life in Real Time:

"Lord, You are the great equalizer. In Your presence, no one can stand. My best righteousness is like dirty rags compared to Your glory and majesty. Father, there is nothing I can bring to You by which I can be made worthy. I am like every other man or woman in Your sight, fallen and sinful and desperately in need of the redemption that can only come through the sacrifice of Your dear Son."

May the attitudes of our hearts be honoring to God.

Jo Anna

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cutting for a Cause Event and Adoption Update

Happy New Year!

Progressive Image Day Salon and Day Spa in Winston-Salem is sponsoring "Cutting for a Cause" as another means of assisting us with the remaining funds needed for L and J's adoption. For a minimum donation of $15 you will receive a shampoo and haircut by one of their professional stylists. They are located at 3538 Vest Mill Road, 27103. and the phone number is 336-760-1292. The event will take place on Sunday, January 15th from 2-6. Please contact the salon for more details. We hope to see you there!

Thanks to USCIS (said with irony), we now have until February 5, 2012 to submit a new home study update in order for the boys' visas to be processed! This is mainly due to L being classified as "special needs" due to his severe hearing loss. Our new home study must show the resources available to us and ways in which we will specifically parent these two little boys. Of course, not only is there now increased expenses for the home study update and the $350 processing fee to USCIS, but it also delays our travel to bring the boys home from the Philippines. Please pray that things move quickly and that we will be approved upon submission.

Jo Anna