Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday
Summer 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

End of Summer 2014

Well, it's Labor Day - the end of summer.  Where did it go?  June, July, and August were a blur!  So I decided to catch everyone up on some of our other activities as we shut the door on summer and say "hello" to September and a new school year.

Andrii (center) spent 2 weeks in Cambodia!
A missions trip is a family requirement for our teens.  Wayne Jr., Curtis, and Sierra have all been to Cambodia at least once, and Missy went to Ukraine and India.  Andrii enjoyed his trip even though he got sick for a day.  And I'm grateful that he made it home just in time to see my mom before she passed.  Andrii actually graduated high school by the end of the summer and will be working and taking online college courses until Fall 2015 when he will enter Hudson Valley Community College's electrical program to pursue his goal of becoming an electrician.  

 Sierra's new wheels!
 Last week we took Sierra to college.  I now understand what the word "bittersweet" means.  Although Wayne Jr. & Curtis both attended college, neither of them went away.  This is our first experience leaving a kid on campus.  But Sierra is so ready to spread her wings and fly!  We know God has amazing plans for her, so it makes it a little easier to leaver her there - a little easier.

Sierra's Dorm
 God showed her much favor too.  She got assigned to a brandy-new dorm.  They had just finished painting and moving in the new furniture the day before we arrived.

Family photo in front of the chapel.

After Sierra was all settled in we took the rest of the kids to Gloucester, Ma., for a seafood dinner and a stroll along the ocean.
Slava with Jordan the photo-bomber!

Andrii & Anna at the fishermen's memorial.

We spent Sunday in Boston visiting all the historic sites.  Here we're at the site of the Boston Massacre.  It was a great "educational" day for us home schoolers!

Once we returned home from Boston it was time to start gearing up for our new school year.  This will be a very different school year for us.  For the first time in 13 years of home schooling, I will only have 3 students!  Sounds like a piece cake, except for the fact that our youngest two have special needs and learning disabilities.  Let the games begin!
Anna & Avalon cooling off after a ride!

One of the best things about home schooling is the freedom to focus on the kids' interests and strengths while also helping them in weak areas.  This year we're going to focus on a lot of life skill lessons, hands-on activities, and behavior.  I'm actually looking forward to this new year!

We spent our Labor Day enjoying a low-key day with my dad, Wayne Jr., Kerri, Iona, and Kerri's family at our house for a picnic.
Of course I had to include at least one pic of this baby!

Well, I guess I'd better head to bed.  Tomorrow we will begin doing school "lite" for the week.  Next week we'll jump in all the way.  That basically translates into, "I'm not quite ready yet"!  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Season

My last post, over 2 months ago, was about changing seasons.  This post comes as I walk in yet another season of life - the loss of my mom.  The summer was a blur as from January 2014 to the end of July my weeks were increasingly full with taking my mom to doctor appointments, blood and platelet transfusions, setting up in-home hospice, and caring for her daily the last week of her life.  Every prayer I prayed for my mom was answered, in fact, every detail of her passing reflects the love and mercy of God.  And I was blessed to be with her as she took her last breaths.  

Joan Elizabeth Blondell Barger Roberts
2/4/38- 7/24/14

A few days after the funeral we headed to our camp in the Adirondacks for a much-needed week of rest and family time.  It was the first time we'd ever spent a full week on Otter Lake, but Wayne was all for it.  So in one way or another, most of our family was there through-out the week.  On Friday night Wayne and I headed up with Jordan and Slava.  On Sunday, Wayne Jr., Kerri, Iona, and Kerri's parents - Tom & Linda, arrived to stay in a rental camp a few doors down from ours.  Monday morning brought Andrii and my dad and Monday evening brought Sierra, Anna, and Shannon (Kerri's sister).  Curtis arrived on Friday night to spend the last couple days with us.

Enchanted Forest-Water Safari, Old Forge, NY
 While the men all went golfing Linda, Kerri, and I took all the kids to Water Safari for the day.  

Grammy & Iona selfie!

Linda, Kerri & Iona on the Lazy River

Slava navigating the Lazy River

 Back at camp we enjoyed the lake, boating, kayaking, fishing, camp fires, and lots of eating.  Iona enjoyed her jumper out on our porch.  Most early mornings as I enjoyed my coffee and quiet time, Wayne Jr. and Iona would arrive to join me on the porch before anyone else woke up.  My precious perfectly-timed granddaughter brings me much joy during this difficult season of life. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

We all took a day trip to the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake.  It was a beautiful day and the kids enjoyed the hands-on activities.
Slava & Jordan

Sierra, Andrii, and Anna - my teens!
 Blue Mountain Lake in the background.

Jordan & I

Friday night fish-fry at Van Auken's Inn in Thendara
 l-r:  Curtis, Shannon, Linda, Tom, Wayne Jr., Iona, & Kerri

Saturday we hiked Bald Mountain.
Andrii with 4th Lake in the background.

Up in the Bald Mountain Fire Tower
 l-r back row:  Andrii, me, Linda, and Shannon
front:  Jordan & Slava

On top of Bald Mt.
 Andrii, Wayne, me, Anna, Curtis, and Sierra
Slava & Jordan in front.

Uncle Curtis, I want the guitar.
I love this pic with Curtis, Iona, and her other Grammy.   
Curtis often has a guitar in his hands - even while on the boat.
Iona was intrigued and kept reaching out to touch it.  

The week at camp flew by and it was wonderful, but returning home meant returning to the reality of my mom's passing.  It also meant it was time to get Sierra ready to leave for college, prepare for another home school year,  and celebrate Jordan's 11th birthday.  My next post will feature these events.  Seasons change.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Seasons of Change Are Upon Us

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...Ecclesiastes 3:1

As the days, weeks, and months fly by I find myself in a new place - a new season in so many ways.  We are still walking through my mom's illness which has me at the doctor's and hospital many times each week.  Presently she's stable and in pretty good spirits all things considered.  I am so grateful for my husband and children who are supportive, helpful, and on top of things through this exhausting time.  And so many people from my sister-in-law to my mother-in-law, to my daughter-in-law's mom, to my church family have all been praying and bringing meals to my parents.  Above all, the Lord is faithful to guide us through this difficult season.

One thing that brings joy to my heart and a smile to my face is this precious little one.  My granddaughter, Iona, is almost 5 months old and such a joy.  The Lord certainly knew I'd need this bright spot during this season!

She does smile!

 Uncle Slava, Grammy & Miss Iona rocking the yellow swim suit!
 We cannot get enough of this baby!  We love on her, smush her, smell her, kiss her, cuddle her, stare at her - you name it, we just soak her up!
Iona with Grandpa!
 She fell asleep in Grampy's arms at church a few weeks back.  I couldn't resist taking this pic.  We are all in love with this baby!
Luci, Wayne Jr., Sierra, and Andrii
 We made the 4 hour trip to Rochester for the annual home school convention and graduation commencement.  With my mom's condition I wasn't sure if we would even be going.  But things worked out for Wayne and I to leave on a Thursday evening so we could enjoy the convention on Friday.  Friday afternoon Anna arrived with the Anderson family as Sierra's best friend, Luci, was graduating as well.  By 10pm Wayne Jr. arrived with Sierra, Luci, and Andrii.  Saturday morning, the day of the commencement, Curtis and Jordan arrived with the rest of the Anderson family.

Luci & CC - Class of 2014
 It seemed only fitting that we were all mixed in with the Anderson's as they are our next-door neighbors, dear friends, and home school veterans.  Luci & CC have been best friends since they were 5 years old.  I can't believe these 2 are high school graduates!
Most of us!
 Andrii, Jordan, Me, Wayne, Sierra, Anna, Wayne Jr., and Curtis.
Kerri opted to not make the trip with the baby as Iona isn't very fun to ride in the car with.  "Miss Cranky Pants" has become a term of endearment.  Slava is also not too fun to ride on long car trips with, not to mention sitting through looonnng commencement ceremonies!  Kerri stayed at our house with the baby and Slava, and her sister Shannon stayed also to lend a hand with the kids and some hay to Anna's horse.  It made things a bit easier on all of us.  

Anna, Slava, and Avalon
 Things are going pretty well with having the horse on the homestead.  Anna is thrilled and is doing a good job taking care of the horse.  Somehow she managed to talk her dad into getting a barn cat, next thing we knew a kitten has taken up residence with Avalon - and our new baby chickens.  It appears we're turning into farmers!  Seriously, we're considering getting a beef cow.  Now that we're set up for it, and with the food prices the way they are, even Wayne is beginning to see it's a good idea.  We'll see if I post a picture of a cow on the next blog update!

Victoria on fife & Andrii (back right with serious face) on drum.
 Andrii is still part of the Jubilee Fife & Drum Corps through our church.  Victoria also comes to our house each Thursday to help me homeschool the little boys and brings Slava to services at the local elementary school when I'm at the hospital with my mom.

Wayne Jr. & Curtis circa 1994
 Talk about seasons changing!  These guys are now 25 & 22!  They took me to dinner the other night as Wayne, Andrii, Jordan, and Slava were all away on a camp-out and the girls were at a youth group event.  I tried taking their picture to post on Facebook and they refused to cooperate.  I had to resort to posting this picture instead - it got over 80 "likes"!  It's one of my favorites too!  It seems like a lifetime ago that they were this little.

Surgery Time Again!
 About 5 years ago Jordan had growing rods placed in his back to help straighten severe scoliosis.  When we adopted him at age 3 he had a cork-screw curved spine, we suspect from alcohol exposure in the womb.  Since the rod placement he's had to have the rods revised and lengthened about every 6 months or so.  I've lost track of how many times we've done this.  This brave boy is such a trooper.  He endures this procedure without complaint every time.  We hope to be getting to the end of it as he's almost 11 and once his torso stops growing it will be time for the next phase.  Depending on his growth and how his spine responds the next step could be permanent rods and spinal fusion, spinal fusion only, or nothing at all.  We're praying for a miraculous healing so he will not need anything more done.
If you were brave enough to make it all the way to the bottom of this post, first of all - thank you! And second, would you be willing to become a follower?  Just check out the right side of the blog and click where it asks if you'd like to follow.  It would be a great encouragement to me!  My goal is to blog at least monthly, if not weekly, but presently life is not cooperating with that plan.  So I blog when I can!  Thank you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May Madness

If I thought I was busy before, that was nothing compared to the whirlwind I find myself in these days!  Family and ministry have me in constant motion - if you count sitting on the couch at 10pm with my laptop trying to accomplish Justice For Orphans stuff - motion!  I've entered some new seasons in our family life between my mom's illness and my daughter's college preparations.  Some seasons are more fun than others.  And Justice For Orphans is in full swing for Foster Care Month and our Love In Action event on May 16th.  

Your Orphan Sunday Team at CAFO's Orphan Summit 10!
 Pastor David Arruda, Teri Froman, me, & Roberta Davis
I had the honor of working with this amazing team at the Orphan Summit in Chicago last week.  We've been connected through social media and email, but I got to meet Roberta, the National Director for Orphan Sunday, and Teri, the Recourse Coordinator for Orphan Sunday for the first time in person at the event.  I've had the privilege of meeting Pastor David at 2 other events previously.  It was also a blessing to travel to the Summit with Mary Slager, Sandy Besenfelder, and Connie Van Kleek.  This was my 3rd Summit, but a very different experience as this time I attended as part of the Orphan Sunday team and as the OS Media Director.  God is so faithful to open doors!

Slava broke his thumb on Easter Sunday!
 There is never a dull moment when you have a large family!  Easter Sunday was an enjoyable day with all of our kids present along with my daughter-in-law's family.  Just after we finished eating and the little boys were outside playing, Slava crashed his bike and broke his thumb and got a mild concussion.  Lesson:  when your older brother goads you into finding out how fast your bike can go - don't take the bait.
Friendly Memories
 Sierra and I made another college visit trip.  This time we toured Gordon College in Mass.  On the way we stopped at a Friendly's restaurant - a popular choice when my kids were little and the restaurants were more prevalent in our area.  We had a nostalgic plate of quesadillas and Sierra made her final decision:  She is Gordon College bound in the fall.  This is a new season I find myself in.  Even though 2 of my other kids have college degrees, neither of them ever went away.  Gordon is only 3 1/2 hours away - but it's still far when it's your first-born baby girl!

The other season I am in is much less fun.  My mom is very ill with a progressive blood disorder.  We are now at the stage where she needs weekly blood and platelet transfusions.  This requires several weekly doctor and hospital visits which I take her to.  Presently I type this by her bedside as they run a unit of blood into her and then platelets.  If all goes well with that then we hope to have a port put in to make the regular treatments less painful.  Her arms are so trashed from the numerous needles used to test blood and transfuse her so frequently.  With Mother's Day around the corner I'm finding it difficult to think about it.  She has declined so much in the past month.  My mom has been an every day part of my life and my family's life.  We have always lived near each other and she has always been there for me.  Now I get the privilege of being there for her.

Proud Grandmas!
 Linda (my daughter-in-law's mom) & I sharing our grand baby!
This little bundle brings our family so much joy.
Babies are truly gifts from God!

LOVE IN ACTION:  Finding Families For NY's Waiting Children
With Summit behind me, now my focus is on our LIA event on Friday, May 16th.  This is the largest event our ministry, Justice For Orphans, has organized so far.  It includes a Pastors' Brunch from 9am-noon and a General Session at 7pm for the general public.  Our keynote speaker for both times is Bishop W.C. Martin, author of Small Town, Big Miracle published by Focus On The Family.  Bishop Martin and his wife began fostering children in the late 90's and since then 78 children have been adopted out of the Texas foster care system and into families in their church and small community of Possum Trot, TX.  The location for the entire event is Our Savior's Lutheran Church 63 Mountain View Ave, Albany, NY  12205.  Visit our website for more details.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April Action

Ahhhhh April has finally arrived!  I'm so thankful for the warmer weather.  The kids have been outside more and sleeping a bit later in the morning.  We're all feeling a bit more energized, and it's a good thing - the next 7 weeks are going to be busier than usual!  

Grammy with Iona!
 I snapped this shameless selfie during my first official baby-sitting gig with my granddaughter!  Being a grammy is the most wonderful thing in the world!

Poor Slava had a touch of the stomach bug.
 While I was out with my mom for a doctor appt, Sierra called to tell me Slava threw up.  She took good care of him as you can see and he enjoyed a Curious George marathon.  Thankfully it didn't even last 24 hours and no one else got it!

Happy Birthday Curtis & Andrii!
 We celebrated their birthdays last Saturday.  Curtis here was getting ready to blow out his candles.  I can't believe he's 22!  Next we sang to Andrii.  It also amazes me that he'd already 17!

My Mom enjoying her coffee at Cracker Barrel!
 My mom was supposed to have a blood transfusion last Friday, but on Wednesday the doctor's office forgot to send her blood sample over to the hospital so they could match it and have it ready.  So, since it wasn't ready and Mom didn't want to wait 4 hours for them to get it ready, she opted to go out to breakfast instead!  We went back on Monday and she got her transfusion, unfortunately her blood work on Friday indicated she needs another transfusion this Monday.

Miss Iona
 My weeks have been crazy, but I look forward to Wednesday evenings when I get to spend a couple hours with this precious little one.  The highlight of my week!

Construction Project
Wayne promised Anna that when spring arrived he would break ground to make ready for her horse to come home.  He ordered a pre-fab 2 stall barn which should be delivered any day and just needs to fence in the corral area.  The little boys have been having a great time helping daddy!

This coming week will include Mom's transfusion, a homeschooling moms' luncheon, an advisory team meeting for the Sound of Life radio station, and a trip to look at another college.  Sierra has been accepted at Gordon College in Mass.  After we tour their campus on Thursday she will have to make a decision by May 1st!  Jordan will also get his cast off this week to be ready for surgery next week.  We are in a very busy season of life.  I'm not sure there's anything we can eliminate that we are currently doing. Thankfully, the Lord is faithful to carry us through each day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Could Never Do That

"That's so wonderful what you've done for those kids.  I could never do that."  I've heard that comment many times, and I always cringe.  First of all, I am brutally aware that haven't done anything more than obey God.  Isn't that what we're all supposed to do?  Walk out in obedience what He has called us to do?  And caring for orphans is something He calls all of us to do.  Secondly, I am only able to do what He calls me to do because He does it through me.  My job is to remain in His presence, so I can hear His voice and follow His lead.

Over 15 years ago in a women's Bible study group I was immersed in Blackaby's Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing His Will.  That study transformed my walk with God.  Since then my everyday goal has been to experience God - to know His will and to walk it out in obedience.  Funny how God doesn't waste anytime issuing the first assignment!  And you know how the Scripture says, "Well done good and faithful servant.  You've been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master's happiness."?  It's true.

 My first assignment was welcoming an 8 year old girl into our home.  She was kin, needed a family, and we were that family.  Looking back, it amazes me that we were clueless to the James 1:27 mind-set.  We didn't think, "Oh, orphans and widows, let's do this."  We just saw a need, knew God wanted us to meet it, and so we did.  I will say this, 5 adopted kids later, I wish I knew then what I know now.  We have no regrets about adopting our daughter who is now 24.  The only regret being not knowing or understanding wounded children.  My second assignment was to volunteer-teach at the small Christian school our kids attended.  There I discovered my passion for teaching and God's sense of humor, as my next assignment was to homeschool our then 4 kids.  That was 11 years ago and Flach Academy is still going strong.  I have 4 survivors, I mean graduates, and 4 current students.  Then came our biggest assignment (yet):  to grow our family through international adoption.  We stepped out in faith again and adopted our 3 Ukrainian-born kids 7 years ago, and then 3 years later continued the journey to the 4th.

The above mentioned assignments do not have a deadline or completion date.  They are on-going.  That's ok with me because it has been this on-the-job-training that has brought me closer to the Lord.  My faith has grown, I've matured in the things of God, and I have a deeper understanding of my salvation.  Adopting children taught me about my own spiritual adoption in ways I wouldn't have learned otherwise.  The Bible says, He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well.  Is that not what it means no know me? Declares the Lord.  Yes, caring for orphans will bring you to a place of knowing God beyond anything you can imagine.  could never do that...without God!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Calendar Says It's Spring

Well, the calendar says it's spring even if the upstate NY weather hasn't sprung!  It's still cold, but our days are busy and full.  Recently I enjoyed a little escape with Sierra as we headed to the western part of NY to visit Houghton College.  She loved it - even if it is 4 1/2 hours away.  She's already been accepted there for the fall, but we're looking at a couple more.  I guess that means more road trips are pending!
Houghton Or Bust!

The little boys are getting cabin fever.  They keep escaping to Daddy's garage and dragging various items of interest into the house.  The other day Jordan actually used plexiglass and wood dowels and built this little table.  Slava decided to enjoy his snack on it.

Great Grandmothers with Iona!
 I love this pic of my mom (on left) and my mother-in-law (on right) holding their great-granddaughter!  This is a precious picture to me.  My mom has been ill and my mother-in-law had a hip replacement the same day the baby was born!

Legislative Day in Albany, NY
 Crystal Langdon, of Crystal Clear Finances invited me to share her table at Leg Day 2014 so I could represent Justice For Orphans there.  Crystal is responsible for me being on the radio for the very first time a few years ago.  That led to our radio show on The New Light WDCD in Albany, and then the Lord opened the door further for us to be on The Sound of Life also.  Two exciting radio developments:  (1) all of our past Orphans No More shows are now on our website  http://justicefororphansny.org just click on "Events" and then "Radio Show"!  (2) WDCD just added another time slot for or show!  We are now on 1:30pm Fridays, 10:30am Sundays, and 1:30pm Wednesdays!
Miss Iona & Aunt Sierra
 This little blessing is getting bigger! She's almost 2 months old already!  She's looking around and checking everyone out - and there are a lot of us to check out!
Uncle Curtis!
 Iona would like to announce that her Uncle Curtis made the Dean's list at RPI this quarter!  

Grammy & Iona
 Wednesday nights are my "date nights" with my grand baby!  I love this special time to visit with Wayne Jr., Kerri, and the baby.
Grammy Love!

Can you tell I'm loving being a grandma?