Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's "i" Not "e"

A few number words have proven challenging for Braden to spell.   This week, as we've been working on spelling "6" I've continued to remind him, "There is an 'i' after the 's' not an 'e!'  S--I--X!"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Packing, Preparing, Planning, and Praying!

We leave for Ghana in less than two weeks!  We will finally be together as a complete family!  Yeah!  We will spend two weeks in Ghana ministering as a family.  I expect this will be a life-changing trip for all of us.  Mason is taking his guitar and hoping to have some opportunities to play.  All of the boys are ecstatic! 

I'm becoming weary trying to pack, plan, and pray as we prepare!  Realizing the most important thing is PRAYER!  Franklin broke his arm this weekend.  We had a trip to the Emergency Room on Friday.  Franklin was trying to be Tarzan by swinging on a vine.  Unfortunately for him, the vine broke!  Thankfully, because of our upcoming trip, the orthopedic doctor put him in a removable cast.  Last night I returned home late from picking up Lamar at the ER.  He needed seven stitches from a scooter accident.  Ugh!  This was our third trip to the ER in less than three weeks.  Today I have a pulled muscle in my back which has had rendered me unable to do some things I'd planned on.  So, would you please pray for us?  Speed bumps will not stop us, but they do slow us down.  Sigh.

We are gathering with some friends soon to pray for three men leaving for Ghana on Saturday, and also for our upcoming trip.  How grateful we are to have friends who seek the Lord in prayer for all things.  We look forward to asking the Lord to go before us.

As for our little Overcomer...  He's doing fantastic.  I was blessed to talk with him this weekend.  His Auntie M has been so wonderful to call and let me hear his voice.  Precious!  Every time I hear him though it makes me long to be with him.  I find myself awake at night wondering what our family will be like once we are all together!?!  What a glorious day that will be! 

We are so amazed by all the Lord has done.  So many of you have helped us on this journey.  People have given us handmade pillowcase dresses, school supplies, clothing, toys and numerous other donations to take to the children in Ghana.  Thank you!  We'll keep posting as we are able.  We are grateful for your prayers.  If you would like to pray for specifics while we are in Ghana or if you would like to meet us at the airport please e-mail me.

A friend sent me this verse today.  It's our prayer right now.  Lord, please go before us...

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Heaven When You're Seven

Needless to say, our family has been ecstatic with the wonderful news of the visa.  Last night was the best night's sleep I can remember in weeks.  So thankful for peace!

Early this morning, Braden shared the following with me.  His thoughts about heaven.

"Mom, I was wondering what heaven must be like.  I think there will be a huge party all the time.  I  think there will be cake and Cheetos, grapes and candy.  Also, you know how the Bible talks about the secret places?  Well, I think somewhere in heaven God has a big office.  It's full of paper and stuff.  I think heaven will be really neat!"

Braden, dear, I don't think you are even beginning to scratch the surface of how wonderful it will be.  Thankfully, we will be there together some day!

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, 
and where thieves do not break in and steal.  
Matthew 6:20

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, 
we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands.
2 Corinthians 5:1

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We Got It

Today while I was teaching my Shurley 4 English class, I looked up to see Reid standing in the sliding glass door in the back of the room.  Confused as to why he would be there, I said to the class, "Students turn around and meet my great-looking husband, Reid."

Reid smiled and waved to the class, then he looked at me with tears in his eyes.  "We got it!" he exclaimed.

"We got it?" I questioned.  As soon as the words came out of my mouth, it hit me.  The Visa!  Overcomer was granted his visa!  Quickly I ran over to hug and kiss my wonderful husband!

As I was running, Reid assured me, "Yes!  His visa was granted!"

Most kids don't like mushy, gushy hugging and kissing...but my class was cheering!  Reid and I were both crying.  We were so happy.  The class just screamed, clapped, and cheered.  They were as excited as we were!

As soon as the news sunk in, we prayed and thanked God for his goodness to us.  He answered our heart's cry!  After Reid left, I searched the building for the boys and told them the incredible news.  They were thrilled.  We leave for Ghana very soon.  For sure.  Overcomer is coming home.  Another obstacle has been overcome!

I was thinking tonight about the significance of the day.  This is three days after the original day for Overcomer's visa to be granted.  Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day.   On this third day, God is bringing assurance of our family being united.  HOPE!  JOY!  REALITY!

Thank you, thank you. Thank you, Lord.

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27:13-14 

Lord, thank you for allowing us to see your goodness!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Braden's Restaurant

Braden worked all day today on a special surprise for Reid and me. He turned our dining room into "Braden's Restaurant." We were treated like royalty as we enjoyed our special meal. Braden decorated the table with flowers, china, crystal and silver. (Mom may have helped a little bit.)

One the Dinner/Lunch menu: Cheese Quesadilla, PB & J Sandwich, Salad.
Breakfast is served all day. Breakfast menu: Pancakes, Pancakes with Grits or Pancakes with Eggs. Everything cost less than $.40!
The chefs (Mason and Weston), the servers (Franklin, Zach, and Braden), and the customer (Mom). By the way, I highly recommend the spicy quesadilla and salad with homemade Caesar dressing! Yum! Also, the PB & J appetizer would knock your socks off! Five Star! *****
Reid savors his ice cream sundae dessert! Delicious! The strawberries topped it off!
Out total for the entire meal - including dessert was $2.10!!! Wow! Can we eat here more often?!? Reid gave a hefty tip and the owner of the restaurant, Braden, seemed thrilled with the payment! We could hear him divvying out the tip to his employees. The workers each earned $1.00.
We are uncertain if this restaurant would pass the standards of the Health Dept. Braden admitted to only washing two of the strawberries. The two he washed were the only ones he dropped on the floor! Oh my! Our salad dressing was served directly out of the huge mixing bowl, but the entire night was precious. We are so thankful for our thoughtful boys!
We love you, Braden. Thank you for making us feel so very special! You lavished us with love tonight!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
I John 3:1a

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Tree Stays Up!

This was our family photo taken on Christmas Eve last year - 2010. We are standing in front of my parent's enormous Christmas tree.

My parents are so excited about their grandson coming home. Originally, we thought he would be with us around Christmas time. At that time, my mother began telling everyone that she was going to keep her Christmas tree up until Overcomer came home. Her reasoning was that Overcomer would be the best gift of Christmas.

Once Christmas past, we had reason to believe he could be coming at the end of January. And then it seemed he would surely be home by Valentine's Day. My mom continued her mantra, "I'm keeping the Christmas tree up until he comes home." As Valentine's Day approached my mother began to waver, "I'm keeping the Christmas tree up until Valentine's Day, but I think that will be it. We are headed into Spring now."

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. It was Overcomer's third birthday and also the Embassy appointment for his exit interview for his visa. Late evening, I had to call my parents to tell them Overcomer's visa was not granted. We must wait. For how long? I'm not sure.

Today my mother told me that last night she told my dad it was time to take down the Christmas tree. He responded, "The tree stays up! Taking it down would be like giving up hope and we are not giving up hope. Overcomer will be coming home. The tree will stay up until he arrives."

So, the tree stays. Up and decorated. His gifts are here at our house still wrapped in Christmas paper.

Mom and Dad's tree will be a welcome home for him. I continue to pray it will be soon. However, I know God is in control of the timing. But, we are not giving up hope! The tree stays up as a reminder that we are holding onto hope!

A friend of mine recently shared this quote,

Hope is to the human soul what oxygen is to the human body. Our hope is in God and in His Word, the Bible.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
Job 11:17,18

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Things NOT Seen...

I just finished this update to send to our church family. I've changed parts of it to fit our blog for those of you who are checking in. We are forever grateful for your faithful prayers for Overcomer and for our family. My heart hurts even as I'm typing this.

Thank you for your prayers for us last night and throughout this journey. The visa exit interview was this morning at 7:30 am Ghana time. Reid had set our alarm so we were up praying at 2:20 am asking for the Lord's favor. All day today, we waited for the wonderful news that his visa was granted and we could make our plans to bring him home soon.

Some friends called and sang, "Happy Birthday" to him because today is also Overcomer's third birthday. A few friends called, and several posted on FB telling us they were praying. We are so grateful for your prayers and we know the Lord has heard them.

However, Overcomer's visa was not issued today. "Why not now?" we ask.

God answers:
"For my thought are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways, My ways," declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than the your ways,
And my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Our Power of Attorney must return to the Embassy with more documentation to their satisfaction. Right now, we have no idea how long this will take.

This morning, I felt like the Lord was gently reminding me of the name He had given us for our son, the one I'm using on this blog, Overcomer. He will be an Overcomer, and we will face adversity in bringing him home. We must stand strong in our faith that the Lord has a perfect plan for all of this to be resolved. However, my heart is that of a mama now, and I long to hold my baby!

Who is holding him now? Did he even know today was his birthday? Is there any spark of happiness in his sad eyes? Oh, my heart hurts because I thought we would be together soon.

We need prayer for wisdom and discernment. We are anxious to know more details. We don't know how to proceed with travel plans, or...not. And for our hearts to stay encouraged. Reid and I have both battled frustration, discouragement, and sadness upon learning this latest delay. We again recognize our weapon to fight for Godwin Derrick is only through prayer! Will you please pray with us? May the Lord move this mountain. We have the faith of a mustard seed to see it accomplished.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of my dear friend, Ansley. For the first time in four years, yesterday was the first February 13th, I have not spent the day in tears and overwhelming sadness. All day long, I was doing things Ansley would have loved - praying with a couple who experienced two deaths in one week, having a friend and her daughter over for lunch having deep conversation while putting lunch together, gathering some things for a man who just arrived from Africa - including a Bible we just happened to have in the car (Thank you, God, for providing!), and packing five suitcases full of supplies for Ghana. 250 pounds - packed! WHOA! God ministered to me throughout the day and brought JOY. He is bringing "beauty from the ashes." Truly. Finally.

Throughout yesterday, I found myself thinking, "Ansley would love this." But I wasn't thinking, "I wish Ansley were here." I know she is experiencing true joy in the presence of God. Mason shared with me that he had a dream about Ansley on Sat. night. He dreamed she was dancing and she was so happy. He said she even had her short curly hairstyle that Ansley wore after her hair started coming back in. God ministered to me reminding me that HE IS God. HE IS with me.

In light of yesterday, when I read these verses tonight, my heart was greatly comforted.

"Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times the things which have not been done,
Saying, "My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure."
Isaiah 46:9-10

Surely, thus says the LORD,
"Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away,
And the prey of the tyrants will be rescued;
For I will contend with the one who contends with you,
And I will save your son(s)."
Isaiah 49:25

God will be the one who saves Overcomer. We don't understand, but we must choose to trust without understanding. We must "walk by faith and not by sight."

Please pray these verse for us -
"For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look NOT at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Grateful to each of you.

Minus the Guest of Honor

Today is Overcomer's third birthday. It is also the day of his visa interview at the Embassy. I knew if I stayed at home I would go crazy waiting to hear news from Ghana. So, the boys and I decided to have a celebration in Overcomer's honor. This was the first birthday party I've ever attended where the guest of honor was no in attendance. However, today our family is CELEBRATING what should be celebrated - Overcomer's birthday! We only greatly wish he were with us to complete the celebration!
We met the Brownings at the park, and played for several hours. Mason helped watch little Laine. She loved sliding with him!

Braden frosted the cake. Afterwards, he covered it with every kind of sprinkle imaginable. Green, orange, blue, yellow, silver... Lots of color and sparkle!

Janet and little Laine. She's growing up so fast!

Because of the wind, lighting the three candles was a trick. Finally, we were able to get them lit and then we all sang, "Happy Birthday!"
Happy Birthday Overcomer! We will celebrate with you very soon! Don't worry, we will bake another cake, have more candles, and sing very loudly to celebrate YOU! We love you, Mr. Three Year Old!

For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit...
Colossians 2:5a

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Overcomer's Birthday Cake

What can we do to make Overcomer's brithday special? Even though he is not with us, we can at least make a birthday cake to celebrate him. Braden and Weston take on the baking challenge alone to create the perfect birthday cake!

The finished cake was done completely by your big brothers, little one! Oh, how we wish we were together for your special day. We celebrate the day you came into the world - three years ago today!

We are waiting with anticipation for good news from the Embassy. Today is your visa interview in Ghana. We are praying! We are hoping to come for you very, very soon.

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. I John 3:11

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Packing 101

Time to get crackin' and start packin'!
Today the boys and I went out to the O'Learys to begin packing for Ghana. Kristie had some supplies to send for Feeding the Orphans, and I was anxious to have some items packed expecting we will be traveling in less than two weeks.

Today we packed school supplies, diapers, formula, clothing, etc... Within two hours we had five suitcases packed. Yeah! It's a start! Seven more to go! Oh, I love this family! What an example they are of serving Christ!

Thank you for sharing in our excitement of going back to Ghana. Soon we hope!
We've been blown away by how many people have donated items for us to take to the children in Ghana. Sheets, games, books, clothing, school supplies, baby items, etc... Thank you all for sharing with those who have so much less. What a gift!
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
- Proverbs 28:27

Baseball Tryouts

If you give a mom a camera...she'll take pictures...and her sons will be mortified! Especially those over the age of twelve!

Reid was out of town, so I thought I'd take some shots of Franklin's baseball tryouts. Yes, I was the only mom there with a camera. "How embarrassing!" Mason kept whispering.

Even after all the effort, the best pictures were of Weston,

and Braden

watching Franklin "do his thing." Strike!
We look forward to seeing which team he will be on for the Spring.