Gratitude Journal…Slowing Time

The days go by like water flowing, a steady stream of cascading blues and greens that bubbles over rocks and sways around the roots of trees, rubbing the rough edges smooth and cutting shallow banks deep. These days, the minutes, hours…they slide by so quickly and the beauty of them is so fleeting, some times I want to weep for the feeling that this water is flowing between my fingers and I can’t hold on. When the water runs too swiftly, when the cascade seems like a torrent and the singing of the brook sounds like a cacophony of tumbling waves, I remind myself of the cure for rushing frustration, the one thing that slows and smooths and preserves the flow of time.

Gratitude, for every beautiful moment.

Gratitude, which captures and preserves each precious spark of light dancing on the water and holds it, in the mind’s eye, a photograph of memory. The pause to appreciate slows racing time down, God’s gift is that when you pause to wonder at the beauty of it all, time seems to stand still. Perhaps that’s why a child’s days are so long and full, while ours seem to slip so quickly through our fingers?

171. Dandelion crowns and sweet sisters

272. About Face roses
273. snowball fights in June

274. eleven candles

275. new little faces
276. a smiling yellow dog
277. moments when you might just be Heidi
278. a seat with a view
279. a girl and her cat
280. the love of my life
281. his blue girl roses
282. pink wildflowers
283. watching the storm roll in
284. the blessing of family love
285. the way a newborn’s head smells
286. two new lives in our church family
287. the smell of honeysuckle
288. this cat’s crazy yellow eyes

Giveaway Update: Matching Donations Extended!

Thank you to everyone who has taken interest in helping Mallory and Peach! I have been so touched by people’s willingness to help and their heart for these sweet girls. I have had so many conversations with friends about the conditions in orphanages in Eastern Europe over the last week, it is amazing how when your eyes are opened to the situation it is impossible to look away. It is a blessing how community comes together when there is a need, and how those of us who connect through blogs, facebook and twitter can suddenly realize that we are real to one another…that these connections are solid, true and deep. Together, we can make a difference!

On that note, the generous donor who was matching funds donated to Mallory and Peach’s cause has agreed to continue matching them until the giveaway is finished…July 2! What a blessing! So any donation you make will not only qualify you for the three gifts mentioned in the post below but will also be doubled.

I can’t wait to see those girls home with their family! Thank you to everyone who has already committed to helping, and here’s another shout-out….please post about Mallory and Peach on your blog, facebook, or twitter account! Let’s get the word out and help bring them home soon!

You can donate to the girls here or here. Or, head on over to their blog and click the links there!

Here’s a video detailing some of the situation in orphanages in Eastern Europe

God Bless!

Note: Please click pause on the music icon in the right sidebar so you can hear the video!

Win a Photo, a CD, or a Gift Card…Help Bring Them Home!

Mallory and Peach are two little angels with Down Syndrome, currently living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. They have never known the love of a mother’s arms, the protection of a loving father, the blessing of a family. They own nothing of their own…no clothes, no toys, no soft blanket to snuggle up with at night. They are lost in a sea of little faces, two precious babies among hundreds who are in desperate need of love. Peach, the baby, needs heart surgery very soon to save her life.

But for these two little girls, all that is about to change!

Mallory and Peach have a family here in the US that is committed to bringing them home! A family that already loves them, already counts them as members of their family. They have a mother whose arms are aching to carry them out of that orphanage, take them home where they are loved and wanted and will be cared for in every way. They have a father who longs to protect them and bring them the joy and security that all children deserve. They have brothers and sisters longing to meet their new sisters.

Let’s help bring these two sweet girls home! I feel confident that I am not exaggerating when I say that adoption is saving these girls’ lives, giving them hope that they would otherwise not have.

So without further ado…I am offering three prizes up for raffle to help raise funds to bring the girls home! Here is how it works: Please donate any amount to the family’s fund on Reece’s Rainbow or Chip In fund, and your name will be put in a hat. In two weeks, I will draw three names from the hat. If your name is drawn, you will receive….

First Prize: A beautiful 8×10 photo print from The Least of These (your choice of the photos below).

These photos are the brainchild of A Simple Country Girl, who sells them and donates all proceeds to help orphaned children and those in need. Please go and check out this unique ministry! When I contacted her about the fundraiser, wanting to buy one of the prints, she offered to donate the print and ship it to the winner! (please click an image for a larger view)

Second Prize: A CD by Christian music artist Steele Croswhite. Check out his music here

Third Prize: A gift card for $15.00 at Bath and Body Works. Who couldn’t use a little pampering?

So there you have it! Please, donate today. The family has a donor willing to match funds up to $5,000, but only for a little longer! Your money…whatever amount you’re able to give…will go twice as far if you donate now.

Will you please help me get the word out?
Facebook this fundraiser, Tweet it, Blog it…pass it on to friends and family. Please help get the word out quickly! Little Peach needs to come home soon!

And bless you for your donations and help.

NOTE: If you can’t get the Chip In link to work, please go to the family’s blog and click on the Chip In widget on the right sidebar. I’m trying to figure out why it won’t work here!

He Will Not Leave You Orphans….

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

These are the words of Jesus, comforting his disciples. He will not leave us. Does this not bring joy and comfort to your soul? It brings me so much peace, just to whisper those words in the dark moments of night….He will not leave us.

Few of us know what it is like to be an orphan. As Americans, we are blessed beyond belief….in all honesty, how many of us have ever even met an orphan? In our protected American world, we don’t have much reason to think of orphaned children, hungry and cold, confined to hard metal cribs, neglected and sick, living without love, waiting with little hope of ever finding a family. Can you imagine a child who’s never known the love of another human being? One who may never in his or her life know the embrace of another soul who loves them?

There are thousands and thousands of precious children throughout the world who are living that life.

My friends, my heart is breaking for these children. For the last six months it has been weighing heavier and heavier on my heart, until I can no longer keep quiet about their plight…these precious children are God’s beloved ones, children with so much potential and so much to give to the world! Yet they face being sent to an institution at the age of just four years, where they will never again have even the slightest chance at life. These children have some small difference…down syndrome, a cleft palate, a club foot, a deformed hand. Problems that can be fixed easily here in the United States, differences that make them unique but no less amazing and worthy of love than any other child. And for these differences, they receive a death sentence.

My friends, these children do not make it once they are institutionalized. These precious children face death from hunger, sickness, dehydration, or hypothermia brought on by the dilapidated buildings they are confined to. They face unspeakable neglect. They lie in metal cots, their arms lashed to their sides to prevent them harming themselves out of the despair that the dreary drag of the years of neglect brings on. They never leave the confines of one room, left to stare blankly at the same walls day in and day out, their hands tied to the rungs of a crib. They die of simple lack of love. They die of broken hearts. I have read statistics that report an unbelievable percentage of children sent to institutions die in the first two years. I have seen it as high as 80 percent.

It doesn’t have to end that way.

These children can be adopted and brought home to loving families, the joy that was stolen from them at birth can be restored fully! Miracles of love happen every day. Read about two beautiful children with down syndrome adopted last month from the Ukraine…one sweet angel had never left the room where her crib stood in all her five short years. You can read her story here…please, do! She weighed just 16 pounds at five years of age…yes, you read that right. Sixteen pounds. She was written off as non-responsive and hopeless by the orphanage staff…take a look at her sweet face now! She is laughing and smiling, thriving after just four weeks of love. Do you feel like you’ve never seen a ‘real’ miracle? That perhaps the days of Miracles are over? Here is one unfolding day by day, God’s amazing love shining through the lives of a family who took a leap of faith.

Here is a fellow blogger who has made that leap of faith and committed to bringing home two sweet angels from an orphanage in Eastern Europe. The process isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap, but there are resources out there to help. We can contribute to this worthy cause in so many ways…one of them is as simple as clicking a link! Will you prayerfully consider contributing to their fund to help bring their girls home? One sweet baby has a heart defect that needs surgery right away, they are unable to perform the surgery where she lives and they need to get these girls home to the United States soon. I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating at all when I say that your contribution will indeed help to save a life….in fact, two lives! Please do consider helping, and soon…they have a donor who has agreed to match funds donated in the next two weeks dollar for dollar up to $5,000! Your contribution will be doubled if you’re able to donate soon!

This problem isn’t going away any time soon. The waiting children will be waiting until someone saves them, or until they are lost to an institution forever. I urge you to look into this, if your heart feels pulled to help these children in any way you can…help to finance an adoption, get the word out, raise money through your church, have a garage sale, agree to pray for one of these orphans.

Please, if you blog, would you consider getting the word out to everyone your blog reaches? Send out and SOS for sweet Mallory and Peach!

Or maybe you feel led to bring home one of these sweet babies and bless not only the child being saved from a life of misery and neglect, but also your own heart and the hearts of all those touched by your family?

Please pray about this!

Here are some links….

Reese’s Rainbow (a non-profit agency dedicated to placing orphans with special needs)
Mallory and Peach (read their story, and please help!)
No Greater Joy Mom (the beautiful story of a family blessed by adoptions)
Saving Sofia (another family who just brought their child home)
Adoption Financial Aid (ways to finance an international adoption)
Imagine a Different Life (read about what happens to children who are not adopted…not for the faint of heart!)

Reflections on Barbie, her frumpy aunt, and Sunshine eyeballs

Over at High Calling Blogs they’re celebrating Marcus Goodyear’s new book of poetry, Barbies at Communion: and other poems
with a bit of a Barbie-fest. My first thought was that I couldn’t possibly join this party, not me. Not with my tragic, Barbie-less childhood.

But then I realized…my Barbie-free childhood makes great grist for the mill! And, like it or not, Barbie did play a roll in my early years, as she seems to have done one way or another in the lives of most American women. My desire to play with Barbies was less about actually playing with them (I found them boring, I would rather have played with baby dolls) and more to do with wanting to be “normal”. Whatever that is. I grew up with a mother who shunned all things feminine and was enraged with the way that society encouraged girls to act. I’m sure she meant well. What she didn’t take into account was that some women are just…born girly. That was me. I loved to cook, sew, baby sit, and shop. I dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, raising kids of my own, and wearing skirts whenever I felt like it. I hated being mistaken for a boy in early elementary school (thanks to a bowl-cut and gender neutral turtle necks and corduroy pants) and longed to be like the other girls in class.

Later on, efforts were made to meet me half-way. My mother bought me a Sindy doll when we lived in Norway. For those of you who haven’t met Sindy, she was the sturdy British version of Barbie. Sindy wore a modest brown dress in a pattern you might find on your grandmother’s couch, sensible white knickers and a pair of very reasonable vinyl flats. She was superior to Barbie in that she had bendable knees and her bust was not so out of proportion so as to make her pitch forward whenever you tried to play with her, but she was…well, sort of like Barbie’s frumpy Aunt.

I also owned a Sunshine Family. I loved my Sunshine Family. The dad in his red turtle neck and impressive belt buckle, the mom in her wonderful floral 70’s pesant dress, and the baby…Oh, how I loved that baby! A blond afro and soft yellow sleeper made the baby of the family just perfect. They had wonderful sparkely eyeballs, too. My interest in the Sunshine Family waned when…well, you’ll have to read the poem to find out about that one.

Somewhere in my memory is an actual Barbie that a babysitter insisted on buying for me for Christmas one year. It was almost perfect, except that my mom had allowed the purchase on the condition that she choose the clothes. To this day, I have no idea where my mother found, in 1980, a tiny flannel shirt and jeans for Barbie. I hate to suspect this but I think I may have been playing with a Barbie who had been cross-dressed from Ken’s wardrobe. True story.

After all that, I have to say…my girls don’t really own any Barbie dolls. They had princess dress-ups, countless baby dolls, and plenty of pink and lacy dresses. They’ve had a few Barbies over the years, but these were never their favorites…I remember Middle Child opening a Barbie, taking it out to play with, and abandoning it on the table after only a few minutes. When I asked her why, she pointed out that Barbie didn’t look normal, she was all out of balance and couldn’t even be made to stand up…her feet were too pointy and her chest was too large.

At any rate…the Saga of my Barbie-less Childhood, in three parts……..


I envied those girls
in their frills and ringlets
whose mothers could endure
the color pink, and daily braided
with expert fingers
their daughter’s flaxen hair
these girls played with Barbies
tugging tiny fashions over
the bulbous vinyl heads
of many different dolls
identical in their tanned nudity
the floor a confettii mess of
tiny shoes, lacy dresses.
at their houses I ran my hand
though brown hair shorn short
longed for dresses like these
in child-sizes, pink and purple
coveted the plastic princesses
that littered the floors
of every other girl


Sensible Sindy gathered
with Barbie, Skipper, and others
’round plastic table
hot pink tea cups and saucers
Sindy, in her brown dress
looked drab, forlorn
like a fat brown sparrow
surrounded by vividly plumed
and strutting Barbie-birds.
The other girls grabbed her
peeked shamelessly
at her white cotton knickers
rudely manipulated her jointed knees
and, arms akimbo, secrets exhausted
abandoned her on the dining room rug.


I took my Sunshine Family
all happy, plastic bliss
to Danielle’s house
and we played with them
in the dollhouse
for hours
and when we went to lunch
I didn’t see her brother
abduct them from the living room
couch, which we had made ourselves
from cardboard and rags.
I was surprised, but Danielle was not
when we found them later
goulish and terrifying
their eye sockets empty
and that was when
Danielle showed me the little velvet
marble bag that her brother kept
under his bed, the bag with a dozen
Sunshine Family eyeballs
blue, green, brown
rolling free inside