Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long, 2009. Can't Say We'll Miss You...


I'm not gonna say it was an easy year for us. For me, the end of eighth grade was almost unbearable to the point of my parents considering pulling me out. Not to mention Levi.

8 surgeries. 40 days total in the hospital.

It was stressful for all of us. Every time Levi would go to the hospital - sometimes planned, sometimes not - each of us would have to step it up, and reprogram our plans. The hardest hospital stay for all of us, I think, was his heart surgery in May-June. He was supposed to be in the hospital for maybe a week, but ended up staying over three and having a pacemaker put in. That was a hard for me because Jace was gone to stay with the grandparents in Florida. I went to my grandparents' in Missouri, but only for about a week because I had to work. It was an awfully lonely time. I would go to work, come home, one parent would be catching up on sleep, and the other would be with Levi at the hospital. I'd go up there every couple of days to see how my little man was doing.

We thought we were done with surgeries, but then Levi pulled his feeding tube out. It should have been a couple of days in the hospital and turned into two and half weeks.

But, we also had some great things happen. I got to conduct a piece I wrote at eighth grade graduation. We grew closer as a family. I started a new school that made learning enjoyable again. We made all sorts of new friends thanks to the new school and our association with Down syndrome. With help from so many people, I raised over $1000 for a little boy with Down syndrome. We started Evan's adoption process.

Good things and bad occurred in 2009, but now it's time to move on.

Goodbye, 2009.

2010, here we come!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Hard Day

Yesterday was a really hard day.

I wrestled quite a bit with myself. Now, I'm naturally a deep thinker, but this stuff was intense even for me.
God has given me passion and/or talent in so many areas - writing, music, academics, children, Africa, orphans. I can't decide where he's calling me.
I know people younger than me who have a drive, one area where they know for sure God is calling them in their lives, and they are preparing for that future.

But, I don't have that yet, or rather, I have more than one. And I can't decide which one to follow.

God has gifted me greatly in academics - I could probably get a college scholarship if I wanted to. And, if I got a scholarship, I could become a film score composer - just like I always wanted.

But, I also have a dream of going to Africa and helping the orphans. Lately, this is what I'm leaning toward. Yes, it might not be the luxury life, but it'd be a joyful and fulfilling life. Can you just imagine it? Spending every day giving food to little boys and girls, telling them about Jesus, and giving them all some hugs and kisses they were missing. There would be death, yes. There would be sickness and sadness, yes. But you get that wherever you go, and I'd rather be doing something worthwhile while it's happening.

So, right now I'm torn. If I go to Africa, I may never become the film score composer I always wanted to be. But if I go to college and become a composer, I might never get to help all those orphans. So, I don't know which to prepare for. But, I want to do something.

Ever since I stopped raising money for Dennis, I've felt kind of empty, purposeless. I want to do something to help someone. People always say that the little things in life matter, but I want to do something BIG! I want people to see the love of God through me! And, right now, I'm thinking that may be by helping the orphans in Africa. I'm sure God will work it out. But, meanwhile, he's teaching me to be patient and follow him even when I can't see two feet in front of me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Russia - An Introduction

Although I do have five friends that are adopted from Russia, my extent of knowledge about it was limited to the animated movie Anastasia.
I first started learning about the culture through the classical music I listened to. From the yearning, harsh strings and loud, military brass instruments, I gathered that Russia (at the time the music was written) was a suppressed country, longing for freedom and a better life.
After watching the movie Doctor Zhivago with my grandmother, I began to better understand the rough history of the Russian people.
When we read George Orwell's Animal Farm in school, which just happens to be an exact allegory to the Russian Revolution, I was absolutely enthralled. I found Russia's history sad, tragic, and intriguing.
You can only imagine how I started lapping up Russian culture, music, art, and history when I found out we were adopting Evan. Over the next few weeks or so, I will be posting little tidbits of what I learn. For now, most of this is coming from Culture Smart! Russia. So, here's some general background info about Russia, about where Evan lives:

Official Name
The Russian Federation (Rossiyskaya Federatsiya)
Russia is negotiating membership of the World Trade Organization.

Capital City
Population 10.4 million

Major Cities
St. Petersburg (second city); population approx. 4 million
Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Kazan, Perm, Ufa, Rostov-on-Don, Volgograd, and Novosibirsk.

6,592,800 sq. miles (17,075,400 sq. km)
The biggest country in the world; about one-ninth of the world's total area.

Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and North Korea.
Several former members of the USSR are no longer contiguous.

Varies enormously across the huge land area, from the Arctic north to the southerly latitudes of the Black Sea and the moderating maritime influences of the west.
Broadly speaking there is a long cold winter with snow and ice from November to April, a spring thaw from April and May, and a hot summer from June till September.

Time Zones
Russia covers 11 time zones.
Moscow and St. Petersburg are 3 hours ahead of GMT and 8 hours ahead of New York.

Ruble = 100 kopeks

Recent estimates give around 142 million, 75% of whom live in cities.
Three quarters of the population live in European Russia.

Ethnic Makeup
81% of the population is Slav, but there are significant minorities.
Minorities include incl. Tatars, Ukrainians, Chuvash, Belarussians, Bashkirs, Chechens.

Other languages are also spoken in the autonomous republics.

Russian Orthodox Christianity
Other religions: Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and non-Orthodox Christianity.

Multiparty democracy with an elected executive president and a bicameral legislature.
There are 89 administrative areas, with varying degrees of local autonomy.

The main newspapers are Komsomolyskaya Pravda and Kommersant. The news agencies are Itar-Tass and RIA-Novosti (state-owned) and Interfax (private).

Media: English Language
Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times. Many hotels have international satellite services.

220 volts, 50 Hz. Two-prong plugs.
Adaptors needed for US appliances

PAL/SECAM system
NTSC TV does not work in Russia.

The code for Russia is +7. Moscow's code is 495; St. Petersburg's is 812.
To dial out of Russia, dial 8 (for outside the city), then 10, followed by the country code.

Monday, December 28, 2009


J-Bird, Boisenberry, Mandukin, The Manchild.
My little brother, whatever name he goes by.
What can I tell you all about Jace?
He's the only 11-year-old I know that aspires to be an archaeologist and an architect. The only one that dreams of seeing all of the world's tallest and most amazing architectural feats. The only one who asked for all the architecture Lego sets for Christmas (which are labeled 16+).
He's a boy, through and through. Loves fishing, being outside in the woods, not taking showers, and roughing it up with his friends. He loves playing on the floor with his little brother, discussing the finer details of film scores with his big sister, working puzzles and Rubik's cubes with his mom, and wrestling with his dad. Although he does not enjoy mowing the lawn or taking out the recycling, he does it anyway with minimal complaints.
He still forgets to put on deodorant sometimes, and often sweats so much I wonder why he bothers to shower. He sometimes flies a remote-control bug into my head just to freak me out. He still has the weakest tolerance of pain I've ever seen in my life (a stubbed toe gets the reaction of a broken arm).
But, he also has the best belly laugh in the world. He has a heart of gold. He dances like a madman. He has no understanding of evil.
Jace is my brother - the best of the best, at that. He's sometimes loud and always smelly, but I couldn't imagine life without him. He's always there for me, always willing to listen to a new film score, or take my mind off things with a quick basketball game. And I try to be there for him - help him figure out a song on the piano, help him practice recorder, or have a swordfight on the Wii.
Jace is my brother - and I couldn't live without him.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Is Over... Time to Bring in the New Year!

Me and my family had a fabulous Christmas! Of course, Santa Claus came and we all got Christmas presents, had a lovely Christmas breakfast, all that good stuff! When I was younger, I would be extremely sad once all the presents were opened, because I'd have to wait another whole year until Christmas came again. But, now, I've learned to be happy and know that this Christmas is one more Christmas I was blessed enough to see!

We all enjoyed our gifts!



Especially Levi!

But my favorite part of Christmas is our Christmas Eve traditions! We ALWAYS bake the 'Happy Birthday Jesus' cake! I decided to be symbolic this year and make red velvet cake (red like Christ's blood, spilled for us). And, before we go to bed, we always read the Christmas story out of Luke, and play a sing a few Christmas carols - piano by my lovely grandmother!

But more than the gifts and the songs, I have learned to be thankful for the life I have been given. On our way home from our grandparents' today, the people in front of us braked super quick for some odd reason. Trying to avoid collision, my dad swerved off the interstate. Luckily, there wasn't a rail or anything, just kind of a ditch. None of us were hurt, but it shook us up pretty bad. I also found out what true, Christ-like love is. My thoughts as we were careening down that rut were, yes, for my own safety, but primarily, "Not Levi, not Jace!" I hand my hand on the seat belt, ready to unbuckle and cover them if it looked like we were going to crash. I've had fifteen years of good, solid life. I want my brothers to have at least that much too. I thank God for sparing our lives, knowing he didn't have to. But, as we enter the new year, we have to realize that every second could be our last. So let's live like it. Tell your mom you love her, give your brother a hug when he comes home from school. Because, truthfully, we don't know for sure if we'll ever see them again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go tho Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the world concerning what had been told them about the child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

- Luke 2:1-20

What a wonderful, beautiful, 100%-true story! I always wonder about Jesus as a baby. I mean, He was God, so obviously he already knew everything there was to know. But, could he remember everything, and he just couldn't express it because of the limitations of his human body? And, angels. What do angels really look like? We all think of them as fair, human-like beings with wings and long robes, but is that what they look like? Seems kind of racist to me. I'm guilty of this too. I never picture an angel as being of African, Asian, or Middle-Eastern appearance. It just never crossed my mind. But I bet that's wrong. I would give anything to have been there that night, to have heard the angels' song, to have seen Jesus, God, right before my very eyes. But, thankfully, we still have contact with him through the Holy Spirit and, one day, we will meet him face to face!

But, until then...


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Love You, Evangeline

So I went and saw The Princess and the Frog last night for a friend's birthday - dressed up like a princess. Yep, I was Anastasia. Sure, people stared at us and some even asked what was going on, but it was tons of fun! And, I LOVED the movie. Now, THAT is a love story! I'd rather see that than New Moon any day! I loved how the characters transformed - they both had flaws, but they helped each other overcome them. And Prince Naveen, at the end, he would give up everything he ever wanted for Tiana. That's love. 100% devotion on both sides, with neither expecting anything in return.
In the movie, the little firefly Ray had fallen in love with the north star, whom he called.... Evangeline! It just made my day! He even sang a song about her! I am going to learn this and sing it to Evan every night before she goes to sleep! Here it is:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sensitivity - Curse or Blessing?

I have to be honest with you all - this post was really hard for me to write. I don't like appearing weak, or unable. But, today, we'll be discussing something that I struggle with enormously. It's one of my many flaws.
I don't do well with scary movies. And, I'm not just talking horror movies, I'm talking other movies that normal people don't mind at all. I could get freaked out by a trailer! The other day I saw the trailer for The Lovely Bones. Don't watch it; I don't want it to freak you out too. But, I know plenty of people who have seen that trailer and it didn't bother them one bit. They actually want to go see it! But, for me, it messed me up.
That night, I tossed and turned as I tried to go to sleep. I didn't like it to be so dark, so I turned on a few lights. In the darkness shapes appeared, shadows walked across my room. Whenever I closed my eyes, pictures flashed across them - horrible pictures, pictures of murder, pictures that scared me. My heartbeat quickened and my breathing was rapid, I felt fear start to bubble up in the pit of my stomach. I couldn't close my eyes for fear that the images would come back.
I got up out of bed and had my dad pray with me, but try as I might, I could not go to sleep. I went downstairs to watch TV, get my mind off things, but, still, everytime my eyes would drift shut, images would flood my brain. I didn't go to sleep until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning that night. And, I was already sick, so it wasn't beneficial.
My dad says that this is a blessing, a gift. He says that not everyone has such a sensitive heart. He says it's good because my heart can tell when something is wrong and should not be, and it doesn't like it. To me, though, it's a curse. I can't watch a movie trailer because it will scare me and I won't be able to sleep, even when I want to sleep. At one point that night, I just broke down crying to God saying, "I just want to sleep! I don't want to be afraid!" Right now, I hate this part of myself. I don't like who God has made me in this area. Hopefully, that will change in time. God will change my heart, so that I fully accept all of who he has made me - sensitivity and all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Moon

I was never a big Twilight fan. I have friends that absolutely LOVE it, and friends that hate it with a burning passion, but I'm kind of lukewarm.
I think it's a brilliant story and incredible character ideas. Like the vampires' human talents being magnified? That's a magnificent idea! That makes for a great story. But all this overly-dramatic romance? I could do without it.
Since when did, "I love you so much I would die for you," become, "I love you so much I won't kill you,"?
My parents won't let me read any of the books except the first one, and they were hesitant to let me see the movie. This made me angry at first, but now I'm beginning to understand. Twilight is presenting girls with a romantic relationship that's just not real, and not healthy. Bella and Edward don't really LOVE each other so much, they are absolutely INFATUATED with each other. Girls today say, "I want a boyfriend like Edward." I can tell you right now, I don't.
He leaves to protect you, and then tries to kill himself when he thinks your dead. That's not heroic, that's called feeling sorry for yourself and not moving on with your life. He stalks her at night and watches her when she sleeps. That's not romantic, that's creepy and unethical.
I like the story, it's a good concept, but you need to be careful that you guard your heart while you're reading/watching it. They're setting girls up for relationships that don't work, and don't happen in real life. Be careful that you don't get sucked in, because it's dangerous. It's dangerous to focus on relationships like that, instead of your relationship with God and others around you. God will bring you to the right person, and he probably won't be like Edward.
Boys, don't kid yourself into thinking that girls will like you more if you act "cool" like Edward. Good, strong, Christian girls aren't looking for Edwards, they're waiting for disciples of the Lord to come to them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

And So the Adoption Process Continues...

We received our dossier for Russia the other day. Oh. my. gosh.
My parents have to be fingerprinted twice! We have to have a family portrait in semi-formal to formal attire! I don't think I own any formal attire! It's insane that they make us do all this work to make sure a child that they would throw into a mental institution would be safe. How's that for your reverse psychology?
Mom and Dad also talked to their adoption coordinator, and it turns out we may have Evan sooner than we thought! The coordinator said that at the speed the government is going now, we may be on our first trip to Russia in March, and we may go to get Evan in May or June! That would be the best birthday present EVER (my birthday's in June)!
So be praying for us that the government's adoption process continues to move quickly and that Evan stays healthy and safe (and that I can find some formal attire).
Thankfully, we have our good friends the Hollis's to help us! You can check out Mrs. Hollis's blog at:

They adopted a child from Russia too, who is now 11. They also have two young children (soon to be 3) with Down syndrome close to Levi and Evan's age. So they will grow up together. They really are an amazing family after God's heart, so check out their blog. More than one miracle has happened in their lives the past few months! Praise God! (There's a lot to praise God about, if you haven't noticed!)

We had a Reece's Rainbow fundraiser at their house on Wednesday night and it was a blast! People dropped of their kids from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and all proceeds went to help children on the Reece's Rainbow site! Of course, I stayed like three hours later and listened to some AMAZING original music by Lydia, and played a little Wii Tennis! Seriously, please do check out their blog, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Not Date?

I was with a few families I know a couple of weeks ago and, of course, all the girls were shut up in a room sharing secrets and talking about annoying teachers and guys they liked and all sorts of stuff like that (it's a girl thing).
Now, I may be a rare kind of person, but I'm just not really into dating relationships right now. Sure, I think some guys are cute and all, but I never think now, my mind is always on later.
There was a girl there who was in 4th grade and she'd already had three boyfriends. Now, I know some girls develop romantic feelings earlier than others, and I'm just a late bloomer, and blah, blah, blah... But why? That's my question? Why do you date when you don't get anything out of it?
I've heard people say that it's fun. They say they're in love. Well, that may be, but every time you date someone, you give a little bit of your heart to them. Girls, you may try to deny it, but we just can't help it. We are emotional beings, and we get emotionally attached whether we realize it or not. I have a friend whose dated about five guys this year, and it's the same every time. She's in love, they go out for a few weeks, then he breaks up with her and it breaks her heart. As much fun as it sounds, or however in love you may be, it's just not worth all the heartache.

Statistics show that only 2% of people today marry who they dated in high school.
Less than 1% marry who they dated in middle school.
Elementary school doesn't even have a statistic.

After I throw all that statistical information at people, they're comeback is usually, "Well, why not date?"
1) I can hang out with guys without worrying about whether or not they're a prospective boyfriend.
2) I don't have to deal with all the drama that comes with being in a relationship.
3) I never have to be depressed about a breakup.

My philosophy is that you shouldn't date until you're ready to marry. I mean, isn't that the point of dating anyway? To find out if you'd be good in a marriage relationship together?

And (a personal dream of mine), to take it to the extreme, I would really rather not date until I am married. People today think that's impossible, but I say that anything is possible with God. And I don't see Him being too upset about me saving every single little piece of my heart for my husband. I want my first kiss to be on my wedding day. My heart already swells when I think that I will be able to tell my husband, I saved my first kiss for him. Can you imagine how special that would be? You shouldn't think in terms of 'how much can I get away with?'. You should think 'how little can I do?'.

I mean, on your wedding day, you wouldn't want to tell your husband, "I was in love with 3, or 15, or however many guys before I met you." No. Personally, I want to wait. I want to get away with doing the least. I don't even want to hold hands! And, let me tell you, just thinking about that wedding day, where I can say to my husband, "I never dated anyone before you. I never held hands with anyone before you. My first kiss is today, on my wedding day," makes me swell with joy. So just consider waiting. It's worth it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Evan's Song

This is a song I wrote for Evan! It's supposed to sound kind of Russian, but I don't know if I accomplished that... Please, please, please give feedback! It helps me become a better composer!
Hope you like it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dance and What Not

So, for those who don't know, a 147 Million Orphans apparel sale will be held at our good friends' house tomorrow from 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. and on Thursday from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Contact me if you want the address! The shirts and hoodies are pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I wouldn't endorse uncool t-shirts. They also have bags, necklaces, and other cool stuff! And all of our profits go to Evan's adoption!

And, I don't know if you all watched it, but tonight was the So You Think You Can Dance final performance night! I am not a dancer. Before this year, I never knew anyone that was a dancer. I just decided to TiVo the show because I didn't have a show to keep up with this fall/winter. And, let me tell you, I'm glad I did. I have learned so much about dance, and just how beautiful it is. There are so many different styles and forms that I had never even heard of! It's just amazing how stunning and moving some of the dance routines are!

It just really opened my eyes to ALL of God's gifts! Dance is a gift that God gives some people, and thank goodness He does! Dance can tell a wonderful story and be just absolutely gorgeous! I strongly recommend the show to anyone next year. Probably not good for younger kids though; they wouldn't really understand or be interested. Like Jace? He didn't care one bit for an extraordinary contemporary routine that gave me shivers!

God blesses each of us in different ways. One of those ways just happens to be dance!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


For those who don't know, I have an aunt and uncle that are 10 and 9. My grandparents adopted them. They decided that for this Christmas season, they wanted to help me raise money for Dennis. So... They had a rolling lemonade stand! Instead of just a stand, they went house to house selling lemonade and cookies! Drumroll please.... THEY RAISED $400.00!!!!!!!!!! Which means...


So a big shout-out to the people who helped out with that: Nana, Pop-Pop, Annie, Angel (especially you guys!) and all the other neighbors in Maitland, Florida!!!! You guys are the best!!!

From now on, all money is going to EVAN!!!!!! So keep donating!!!!! We still need that money to BRING MY SISTER HOME!!!!

Bake Sale!

The bake sale last night went fairly well! It was at a Christmas Open House where people could come inside and look at the lights and trees and stuff. I raised $40 at the bake sale, making for a total of $627.99 for Dennis already! So great!

This is me bakesale-ing.

Awesome flyers my dad made for us.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Cinnamon Swirl Bread


Brownies w/ Vanilla Frosting

Brownies w/ Vanilla Frosting & Peppermint Crumbs

Your mouth is probably watering right now, cause let me tell you, those don;t just look good, they taste AMAZING. They SHOULD, I spent 9 hours on them on Friday! Anyway, I've still got a few of each left, so if I see you regularly and you'd like some baked goods, let me know!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Why Should I Care?

Lately, I've had a couple people ask me why I care so much. It's not like I've ever met the kids I advocate for. I've never seen any of these circumstances firsthand. I've never even been to an orphan home. So how can I possibly be so passionate about this? First of all, if your heart doesn't hurt for dying kids, there's something wrong with you. Second of all, God has put this on my heart - and there's no quenching that fire. Also, it's a commandment, it's what God likes, and it's what he wants us to do. And I can back it up:

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

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
- James 1:27

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
- Deuteronomy 15:11

I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.
- Job 29:16

But the needy will not always be forgotten;
nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.
- Psalm 9:18

"Because of the oppression of the weak
and the groaning of the needy,
I will now arise," says the Lord.
"I will protect them from those who malign them."
- Psalm 12:5

For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
- Psalm 72:12

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
and upholds the cause of the needy.
- Psalm 140:12

He who despises his neighbor sins,
but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
- Proverbs 14:21

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
- Proverbs 14:31

Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
- Proverbs 31:9

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
- Proverbs 31:20

"The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them."
- Isaiah 41:17

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?"
declares the Lord.
- Jeremiah 22:16

'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
- Ezekiel 16:49

Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
- Psalm 10:12

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
- Matthew 9:36

There are 147,000,000 orphans in the world today. That's more than the entire population of Russia.

Every day 5,760 children become orphans.
2,102,400 children become orphans each year in Africa alone.
A child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan every 15 seconds.
There are 14,000,000 AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. That's more than the total of every under-eighteen year old Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland combined.
About 250,000 children are adopted annually, but...
14,505,000 grow up as orphans and age out of the system each year.
38,493 age out each day.
An orphan ages out every 2.2 seconds with no family to belong to and no place to call home.
In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10%-15% of these children commit suicide before they turn eighteen.
These studies also show that 60% of girls become prostitutes and 70% of boys become hardened criminals.
Another Russian study showed that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless, and 3,000 were in prison within three years.

These kids need help.

And I'm gonna be the one help them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Is It Really All About?

What is Christmas really about?

Most of the modern-day world will tell you that it's about the spirit of giving, about being thankful and being cheerful, about kindness and goodwill. While all of that is true, it really all comes down to Jesus - just like every other aspect of our lives.

I tend to forget this quite a bit. I get caught up in the holiday spirit of Christmas music, winter coats, Santa Claus, and gift giving. All of that is just fine, but we have to make sure that Jesus is our priority this season. Without Jesus, there would be no Christmas.
Even the dictionary says that Christmas is "the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth," so shouldn't we, as Christians, be the ones who set this example?

My family has 20+ nativities set up all over our house. The picture above is one of my favorites. It just seems so humble compared to all the other fancy, elaborate ones - just like Jesus.

And did you ever think about how incredibly faithful and brave Mary and Joseph had to be? Mary was only 13 or 14 when the angel came to her. I find it insanely awesome that she trusted God through her family not believing her, and her fiancé threatening to reject her. That is one amazing young woman. And Joseph, he led his wife, pregnant with a child that he knew to be the Son of God only by faith, across 100 miles of desert and rocky terrain. All I can say is, "Wow."

A movie I suggest watching is The Nativity Story. Probably not great for younger kids, it gives whole new depth to the old story that everyone's heard. You walk through the journey with Mary. One thing I love about it too, is that the people are portrayed as Middle Eastern (probably Pakistani or Israeli descent). That is the way they really looked. They were not Caucasian. I watched it earlier today and was just blown away by the amazing way that God works and his people showed faith to Him. It came out in 2006. It should be at your local Blockbuster. Please do take the time to watch it with your family, it will change your perspective on Christmas.

Because we all need a wake-up call. It's not about the "holiday spirit." It's about Jesus - it's always been about Jesus.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't Forget

No, I am not talking about the Demi Lovato song, for all you preteen/teenage girls.

The other night I saw this video about the mental institutions in Serbia, which are very similar to the ones in the rest of Eastern Europe and Russia. You can watch it too:

For those of you who actually watched it, you understand. It's horrible. Grown men strapped into cribs. Children that are so deformed I can't even find their head. It made me cry.

Now, the first thing I wanted to do after I saw it was forget about it. I didn't want to think about all those terrible things that were happening because it hurt, and it scared me. But as I was doing some reading in my Bible, I realized that God doesn't want me to forget. And I don't want to forget. Those images are what prompt me to take action. And I want to DO SOMETHING. I want to help them! Because I remember. I don't forget.

If you say, "Hey, that's none of my business,"
will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know --
Someone not impressed with weak excuses.
- Proverbs 24:12 (The Message)

Once we have seen the pain and the hurt and the suffering, we can't just turn our backs. However much we may want to forget, and never worry about it again; stay safe and sound in our cozy homes with our safe, normal lives, we CAN'T.

He is watching us, to see if we will remember, and do great things through the pain, discovering love along the way. Or if we will turn our backs, and refuse to help the weakest of the world.

Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me -- you did it to me."
- Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Beauty of Silence

A lot of you know that I absolutely LOVE to write (hence the blogging...)! Well, every once in a while, the good Lord gives me pictures, scenes in my mind. Unlike some people, I don't paint it, I don't try to capture it in photography. I can't do those things. I write it. I write out in the most vivid language I can what God has revealed to me. I had just started reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan last night. I got about two sentences in before I got this amazing scene in my head. It was a hard message for me to receive, as it was on the beauty of silence. And, being completely obsessed with music, I really don't like silence. But sometimes, it's not about what we like, it's about what's best for us. And sometimes that's silence.

The Beauty of Silence: A Short Story

The girl knocked on the large, wooden doors once more. This was the third time she'd been to see Him today. She understood what He wanted her to do. It's just that she had quite a few questions. She didn't see where He was going with this, or how He expected her to pull it off. The moment the doors creaked open, she burst into the foyer, words spilling out of her mouth. An endless stream of doubts and worries rushed out, filling the gigantic room with uncertainty and confusion.
"Enough," God said in his deep, resonant voice. The girl cringed, lashed by the harshness of His tone. She fell silent as His speech took on a rhythm like the beating of drums, strong and steady. Entranced, she sat cross-legged on the floor, staring up at Him. He explained all of His plans to her as she sat there and listened. However, she still didn't think it would work.
"But - " He covered her mouth with His finger.
"All will be clear if only you will listen." She nodded and pursed her lips, awaiting instruction. As she listened to all He had to say, something clicked inside of her. And she understood. She didn't understand what was going to happen afterward, or even how exactly it was going to work now. But she did know that God had everything under control. She had no idea how He was going to work, or why He'd chosen her, but it would work. Because He had come up with it. And everything He came up with worked. Maybe it just wouldn't be how she thought it would.

Letting Go - And Having Fun

In life, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. You have to work when you don't want to. It's called taking responsibility.

But other times, you need to just let go, loosen up, and have some fun. Did I have a lot of homework today? Yes, but I had a few more days to get it done. Did I have plenty of things to worry about? Absolutely.

But did I also have a little brother who needed some time with his sister now that his Momma was on vacation? Yes, I did. And little brothers trump everything else.

So, without further ado, here's me and Levi just hanging out and having some fun! Maybe by this time next year, I'll be doing this with Evan! Although, I doubt she'll be as ecstatic about seeing herself in a camera as Levi... But, hey, you never know!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Living the Dream

The other day at school, we got an assignment that asked us 'What would your dream life be?' This took quite a bit of thought for me. Would it be having my name in the credits of big movies as the composer? Or starting a youth orchestra in Africa that becomes world famous? However, what I came up with was this:

It was Christmas Eve night, about 8:00. Jace had just been put to bed, and I was walking by his room. "Tori, if you don't go to sleep soon, Santa won't come!" he warned me. "I know, Jace," I replied, gently closing his door. I sat down in one of the recliners in front of the TV, the Christmas tree emitting warm reds, golds, and greens. I felt a tug at my leg and looked down. Evan kneeled right beneath me, her big, gray-blue eyes pleading with me. I gently hoisted her up onto my lap, holding her close. I heard an upset grunt and some whining. Levi sat on the other side of the room, looking very upset that I had picked up Evan and not him. I rolled my eyes and motioned for him to come over here. He grinned and crawled over, holding up his arms for me to get him. I lifted him onto my other knee, and he flashed me his crowd-pleaser smile. However, when he saw who was taking up the other side of my lap, he brought up his hand and smacked Evan right on the arm. "No, sir," I told him, grabbing his hand. "Be gentle." He smiled again and rubbed the palm of his hand smoothly across her face. "Thank you," I told him. Evan was already starting to nod off. I brushed a strand of her light blonde hair out of her sleepy eyes. A few minutes later Dad took Levi to put him to bed (which he protested very loudly). I gently pulled the sleeping Evan up to my shoulder and carried her into her crib. "Good night, Evan," I whispered, gently kissing her forehead. I laid her carefully down in her crib and covered her with a blanket. "I love you. Merry Christmas."

THAT is my dream life, right there. What's funny is that my dream life is already my life. The only thing missing is Evan. I even had Levi hitting someone in there. What I realized is that, I wouldn't change my life even if I could (with the exception of Evan being home faster, but even that will probably change with time). That's because my life has made me who I am. If all of my siblings hadn't been adopted, I probably wouldn't be so passionate about adoption. If my brother and sister didn't have Down syndrome, I probably wouldn't be offended at all when people use the word "retard." But I am. Because of who my life has made me. So the next time you would want to change your life, remember that if your life hadn't been what it is now, you wouldn't be the same person. You'd be completely different.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Really Big Announcement!

Many of you know that I have two younger brothers. No sisters. Many of you also know that I have always wanted a sister. I prayed countless times for God to give me a sister.

Well, folks, that prayer is being answered!

Yep! You remember Lydia, who I posted about a few days ago? The one who raised over $20,000 to adopt a child with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe? Her family offered to give my family the extra money so we could adopt a child from Reece's Rainbow (see I told my parents it HAD to be a girl. We've got two boys, we need another girl!

So we chose a little girl with Down syndrome from Russia. Her name is Evangeline, Evan for short. The agency tells us that she is calm and affectionate. She's very quiet and she loves to help the caregivers. She also cleans up after all the other children and makes sure everything is neat and tidy. When one of the other children is crying or upset, she'll try to comfort them and make them feel better. She has grayish-blue eyes and super blonde hair. She is the sweetest thing I've seen in my entire life! She's MY SISTER! Now, we have around $9,000 left over from Lydia's fundraising. Adopting from Russia costs around $27,000. I have absolutely no worries that we will be able to raise this money. However, in order to raise money, we have to have people GIVE money. So, please contact me if you're interested!

BUT. Until Christmas is over, I have committed to raising money for little Dennis. I want SO BADLY to start raising money for my sister Evan, but I made a commitment, and I'm going to stick with it. So if you want to donate, please wait until AFTER Christmas, or you can donate to Dennis. Both would be appreciated!! Please be praying for my family and MY SISTER Evan.

This just goes to show that even though it may take YEARS, God does answer your prayers in time! Trust, trust, trust Him. He will not let you down!!!!

(Pictures will have to wait, I'm not sure we have rights to those. I will put them up if and when I can.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Epic Fail Times a Million

Where I live, the phrase 'epic fail' is used pretty much on a daily basis.
For instance, today I was baking colossal brownies for a bake sale I'm having tomorrow at school. I'd noticed that the batter had been kind of thick for brownies, but I went with it, assuming that it was just the mix. After they'd been in the oven about 15 minutes, I slapped my hand to my forehead and yelled out, "Oh, CRAP!" My dad peeked his head out of his office to ask me what was the matter. At this point I was having a mini breakdown. The bake sale is TOMORROW and I need to have enough items to sell. "I forgot to put the eggs in!" I yelled as I stormed around the kitchen. "Epic baking fail!!!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. For all of you nice people who care, yes, I do have enough baked goods. So I composed myself pretty quickly.

But, anyway, 'epic fail' is used pretty much everywhere. When a kid in my class failed a test, he called it an 'epic geometry fail.' It's just used a lot around here. But, we people like to laugh at other people's epic fails. Like I guarantee many of you laughed to yourself when I forgot to put the eggs in up there. One epic fail, though, we don't like to laugh at. It was an epic fail times a million. It was like that explosion up in the top left, one that took out the whole world.

Have you guessed it yet? It was Adam and Eve's epic fail. THE epic fail of all epic fails. This is how I like to see the story.

Adam and Eve are just walking around, hanging out in the garden of Eden one Saturday evening. Adam's listening to music on his iPhone (okay, maybe not, but let's pretend) and Eve's eating a banana. God went out for coffee, and everything's hunky-dory. When all of a sudden, this lizard comes up to him. Now since Adam and Eve talked to all their animal buddies, the talking lizard really didn't bother them. He turned his attention to Eve and spoke in a slippery, sneaky voice, "Did He really say you couldn't eat any fruit in the garden?" Much to the annoyance of the lizard, Eve shoved the banana in front of him. "We can eat any fruit we like except the fruit from that big tree right there," she said, pointing to the big apple tree that was a few yards away. "He said we'd die if we ate that fruit." The lizard shook his head, a glint of evil in his eyes, "Of course you won't die!" Eve dropped the banana in surprise. The lizard continued, "If you eat it, you'll be just like God, knowing good and evil. He just wants all the knowledge to Himself." Eve was shocked, and she felt betrayed. She couldn't believe that God would do that to her, and she didn't know if she trusted this little lizard. But the shiny, red apples did look tasty. She reached up and plucked one from a branch. Now, Adam was here the whole time, playing Labyrinth on his iPhone, sort-of-not-really aware of everything that was going on. After Eve took a bite of the apple, her eyes widened and she had a new look about her. She put the fruit in Adam's hand and said, "Oh, Adam! It's wonderful! Eat, eat!" "Yeah, yeah, whatever," Adam replied, taking a quick bite out of the fruit. Afterward, his eyes gaining that new shimmer just like Eve's. When God came back and found out they had eaten from the tree He had SPECIFICALLY told them not to, he cursed them. For Adam, He cursed the ground so it would be hard for him to make enough money to support his family. For Eve, he made childbirth horrifically painful, and separated her from her husband so that she would want to rule over him. I can just picture all of their friends laughing at them and shouting, "Epic fail, guys!" Until they realized the curse was on them too.

Their curse is still on us, but God sent a way to escape the curse. He sent His Son. So, you see, next time you have an 'epic fail,' remember that God fixed THE epic fail. Fixing yours is a like breaking a toothpick.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Gift Just for You

So I don't know about you guys, but I am so excited about Christmas!

I'm the person who listens to Christmas music year round, and then gets all happy at Christmastime because it's finally not weird.
Christmas is such a wonderful time of year! Everyone's in a better mood, and there's a warm, cozy atmosphere in your home. Holiday lights get put up and trees get ornamented. Everybody is more compassionate at Christmas.
On Christmas Eve night, 2,000 years ago, God sent us a gift. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. Everybody knows the Christmas story. What they don't know is that God sent us another gift, a separate gift - the gift of Talent.
Every one has this gift, but it comes in different forms. Some people's Talent is music, for others it's math, or communicating.

We all have Talents. And each one of them is a gift from God, a little piece of him meant to be used as a reflection. Our Talents should reflect who God is.

What's your Talent? And what are you using it for? Try using your Talents to glorify God, even if it's something that you think is unimportant. Like balancing a pencil on your nose. When everyone says, "Wow! That's pretty cool," you can tell them why you can do that. Tell them who gave you the ability to do that. Even the smallest things can be used for God.

Everyone has Talents. Are you glorifying the One who gave them to you?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Being Busy

"If the devil can't make you evil, he'll make you busy."

This statement is so true, but it takes some thinking to realize that it doesn't just apply to "the rest of the world," it applies to you and me too.

There have been so many times in my life that I've just been "too busy" for God.

"I can't go to youth group because I'm too busy."
"I didn't get to read my Bible today because I was too busy."
"I meant to have a quiet time this morning, but I was just too busy trying to get out the door for school."
"I meant to say a prayer last night, but I just stayed up so late doing homework. I was way too busy."

I think we even become too busy when we're doing things that are for the glory of God.

I am currently raising money for a little boy in Russia with Down syndrome and lots of days, I don't read my Bible or have a quiet time because I was too busy trying to raise money for Dennis.

The Devil is sneaky. When he saw that I was not going to be made evil, he turned the things I was doing for God into just "being busy," and forgetting who I was doing it for.

This trap is easy to fall into. So the next time you want to skip church, or youth group, or reading your Bible, or your quiet time, remember why you're alive. Remember who gave you life. Who gave you everything you have now. You have NOTHING without God.

It's time we remembered that, and we stopped being so busy all the time. I challenge each of you (including myself) to take ten minutes out of your day to read your Bible and have a quiet time with God.

He's the Creator of the Universe and the one who gave us everything we have. I think He deserves at least that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Faith Like a Child

There is no faith like a child's. I used to be pretty sure of this, but now I'm absolutely positive.

Lydia is 11 years old. She has two younger siblings with Down syndrome - Hope and Charlie. Her family had been considering adopting another child with Down's, but were unsure. Lydia fell in love with a little girl named Darya on the Reece's Rainbow site ( and asked her mom if they could adopt her. Her mom replied saying that she would love to, but they didn't have the money. Lydia then asked that if she could raise $20,000 by Thanksgiving (9 days away), could they get her? Her mom said that would be a sign from the Lord, so yes. Well, Lydia has almost reached her goal. We are positive she will have surpassed it by the morning. Fox News is coming out at 6:45 so that Lydia can publicly announce her total.

The cool thing is that Lydia never doubted. She never doubted that the Lord would provide the $20,000. Not even when the world looked at her and said, "This is hopeless. This is stupid. This has no point." Lydia remembered that God would always provide. She had faith. And her faith moved mountains.

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
- 1 Timothy 4:12

Monday, November 23, 2009

Patience: No One Said It Was Easy

Patience is not my best area. In fact, it's one of my worst. I don't like waiting around for things to happen. Even in my spiritual life, I hate sitting around doing nothing. I want to be up and about doing something to glorify God. What's hard for me to understand is that, sometimes glorifying God means sitting still and NOT doing anything for a while.

An area where God has been teaching me patience lately is in my desire for a sister.

I've wanted a sister since I was old enough to know what one was. When I was younger, I would pray every night, "Dear Jesus, please help me to have a sister."

It never happened. It STILL hasn't happened. Maybe it won't ever happen.

I've got two younger brothers and, truthfully, it was probably better that way. I wouldn't have enjoyed playing dolls or tea parties. I would have rather been wrestling with Jace or making scary faces with Levi.

My family is trying to pursue the adoption of a little girl (also with Down syndrome) in Africa. Jace was completely in love with this baby (but not in an awkward way).

However, I had my heart set on a different child right here in the U.S. who was being fostered by one of our family friends. This child had spina bifida, a disorder that we knew nothing about. I watched as she was adopted into another family. Don't get me wrong, I am SO happy that she found a family who will be perfect for her and LOVE her to death. I just wish it would have been our family.

Once I had lost hope of getting the little girl with spina bifida, I changed my goal to the baby in Africa. But, once again, I may be disappointed. The country she lives in has closed all adoptions through America, and it's not looking like we'll be able to get her.

I'm almost afraid to hope for a child to enter our family now. The love I felt for both of those girls was so strong that it made my heart hurt that they would never be a part of my family. I know that God has a perfect plan for our family, but it's SOOOOO hard for me to wait. I want to know NOW who's going to come into our family. That way I won't get another broken heart. I won't have another hoped-for sister ripped out of my life. I've closed myself off from getting to attached to any one child because I know we might not get her.

But, somehow, I feel that this isn't what God wants me to do. He doesn't want me to close off my heart, but guard it. He wants me to patient and know that He already has my family planned out. And if that means no sister, it means no sister. Slowly, but surely, I am learning to be patient with him and with those around me.

It's not easy. But, then again, no one said it would be.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rocks Into Diamonds

The past few months have been very busy for me (hence the no posting). I've started a new school, spent some time in the hospital with Levi, and prayed about adopting a little girl.

As you can see, it's been pretty hectic. And God has been teaching me SO MUCH through all of it.

The next few days/weeks/how ever long it takes me to post this stuff, I will be talking about the many things God has been teaching me.

Today, I'm going to talk about God turning rocks into diamonds. Yes, very metaphorical, I know.

In the past month or two, Levi has been in the hospital for two surgeries. Following that, both he and Mom got sick. We had just recovered from that when now Mom has the flu. What a sicky house we are!

When I get stressed out and tired, I snap at people. That's what I do. That's how I show that I am NOT well in any way. Is it the best way? No. So I'm going to have to learn to control that at some point.
Yesterday, I was being particularly snappy because we weren't able to go out to eat with our friends because Mom was sick. When my dad asked me what was wrong, I said, "I'm tired of people being sick." And he replied, "Well, you're going to have to deal with sick people every day of your life with what you want to do." And as much as I hate to admit it, he was right.

For those who don't know, I want to be a missionary to Africa when I graduate high school. I don't know how long I will stay there, as long as God wants me to. I used to want to be a famous film score composer, but now I don't know if that's where God is calling me. Yes, I enjoy writing music. But what I LOVE, is helping people. Is taking care of little kids. Is hugging a baby close to me when it's crying and telling him it's all gonna be okay. That's what I LOVE doing.

In Africa, I would have to deal with AIDS, malaria, worms, all sorts of stuff. I would have to deal with death.

In that moment, I realized that God was preparing me. He was preparing me to be able to deal with all that sickness, and still be able to hold to my faith. God is slowly, but surely, molding me into a diamond that will shine for Him. He makes us who we are through the things that are difficult for us.

Last year, I would not have been able to deal with sickness and surgeries in the same month.

Two years ago, I would not have been able to handle Levi's three weeks at the hospital following open-heart surgery.

God is preparing me. He's preparing you too. You just have to learn to see it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Unsuspected Murder

There are approximately 1.37 million abortions each year in the United States.
That means about 3,700 abortions every day.

People, I've heard so many reasons why abortion should be allowed and I've heard a lot of reasons to why it should be allowed. But, in my mind, nothing can account for the taking of a life.
Listen to this story and you tell me if this is right:

A young pregnant woman is on her way to an abortion clinic to have her baby aborted. On the way there, a drunk driver crashes into her. Although the woman is not harmed, the baby does not survive. The drunk driver is charged with murder. Even though she was going to have the baby killed anyway.

Is that right in any way? One man gets sent to prison for something another man would get paid for.

I've heard a lot of arguments as to why abortion should be allowed. Especially in the area of teen pregnancies. They say that a teenager should not have to be responsible for caring for child. My response to that is that the teenager should have thought about that before she got pregnant. But, I agree - a teenage girl is not the right person to be caring for a baby. Some will argue that it's not the mother's fault (I'm assuming they're talking about rape and such). And I agree, the mother should not have to care for a child that she didn't even want to take the risks to have. But you all are forgetting that there's another way. There's an alternative to killing the baby. It's called adoption.
Did you know that if just 10% of U.S. families adopted one child, there would be no need for the foster care system? Instead of killing the baby, send to a home and a family that will care for it, and love it as their own. Abortion is not the only option.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Miracles - Alive or Extinct?

What exactly is a miracle? The dictionary says a miracle is "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs". Trust the dictionary to make things more complicated than they need to be.

I view a miracle as something that couldn't have happened without God's help. Something like raising the dead, feeding 5,000 with a small child's lunch, healing a paralyzed man. Those are miracles.

But notice that all of those things took place 2,000 years ago when Jesus was on earth. I haven't heard of any miracles like that since the times of the Bible.

It seems that in today's world, there just aren't any really miracles. Where did they go? And why don't they happen now?

The answer is that miracles DO happen now!
A young child hovers between life and death from malaria. Miles from any hospital, his family drops to their knees and prays fervently to the Lord of all Lords, "Please, Lord, please save my son! He's in your hands now, Lord! Please let him live!" The boy makes a full recovery within a few months.
The 2004 tsunami swept over India and a young mother was forced to let go of her 5-year-old son in order to save the baby. In the aftermath of the tsunami, her son was found floating on a mattress, healthy and safe.

If those aren't miracles, I don't know what a miracle is!

We, in America, in places where we don't have many natural disasters, or diseases or anything like that, we have come to depend on ourselves. When somebody has a life-threatening illness, we take them to a hospital. When there's a natural disaster, we trust the weather channel to tell us what to do. We don't see any miracles because we don't give God a chance to perform any miracles. We live in a society that is completely dependent on itself.

Miracles are alive today - we just refuse to see them.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy

So lately I've been somewhat depressed. My baby brother's been in the hospital for a week and a half. This is the third or fourth time this year he's been in. I know my way around Vanderbilt and I can't get from my house to school!!! Now that's just SAD. But I've also been introduced to some people who are hurting ten times more than I am. If I thought I was going through a tough time, listen to these stories:

Jake is 18-years-old. He's across the hall from us.

He's waiting for a heart.

He's already been to one hospital and they turned him away and said they couldn't help him. The doctors here haven't given him a very good chance. If he doesn't get a heart soon, he'll day.

Emily, a little baby girl, got life-flighted in yesterday. She was aspirating because the doctors at a different hospital forced liquid into her mouth when she had trouble swallowing. This also caused her to develop heart problems. And her parents don't even have money for gas or a hotel.

When I think of these people, I think, "Wow, I can't believe I've been so selfish as to think that I was going through a hard time when these people are going through so much worse."

I've been trying to be happier now, to give those people hope. Let them know that Jesus loves them and he's ALWAYS there for them. No matter what they're going through. Just the way we act is a testimony for Jesus. Because people just don't understand how we can still be happy, hoping, and trusting in such situations. And when they ask, we can say "I've got the love of Jesus." It's a wonderful thing, to be able to say that. So remember to act (or try to act) in a way that honors the Lord. I know we can't ever live up to his standards, but that shouldn't stop us from trying. Jesus loves it when we try. He loves it when we're striving to please him. Even if we fail. He still loves us. We need to show him in our lives. Be HAPPY!!! The King of the Universe died for YOU and he's coming back to bring us to paradise!!!

Live what you believe!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Bad Case of Hospital Overload

There are many things in this world that I dislike. Let's list a just a few.

1) Pickles
2) Punky kids
3) Stuck-up government officials

You guys remember my baby brother, right? The cute, baby one? Yeah. Last Tuesday he had...

Open-Heart Surgery

Yep. They sliced open the chest (sawing through bone and everything) of a two-year-old boy. And the surgery went great. Yep, everything healing up just fine. Except, oh yeah, his heart isn't beating well enough. He's on an artificial pacemaker right now. They're giving him until Monday for his heart to start beating or they're permanently inserting the pacemaker. At first it was , "Oh this is relatively normal. It will probably start beating within two days." And then it was four days, then six, then a week. They said it could take up to two weeks - and it has. I feel like everything that could go wrong with his recovery, is going wrong. He even pulled out his feeding tube!

And the worst of it is... the doctors are SOOOOO unfeeling!!! My dad kept trying to crack jokes on the doctor to lighten up the surgery atmosphere, and she was totally not buying it. She just sat there, all business, with that cold, hard face, unmoved. And they would NOT sedate that baby boy so he could get some sleep!!! It was ridiculous!!! My mom would try to sit him up and he would just flop over he was so tired. INCONCEIVABLE!!! So I came to the conclusion that those nurses and doctors had a bad case of...

Hospital Overload

They've seen so much horrible stuff happen at that hospital, that they just don't want to interact with any of the patients or the patients' families because they're afraid something will happen to them and the pain will be all the worse. Not to mention they're sterile, dull feeling of the place. It's ALL white. And the lights are all fluorescent and weird and... they just make me shiver. Whenever I go there, I feel extremely deprived of sunlight and the outside world. I mean... Little Man's only been there for a week and I've had enough hospital for a LIFETIME.

But then, I guess it's not all bad. Lot's of good stuff happens at hospitals too. Lives are saved, broken bones healed, all sorts of stuff. But, even so, let's just say I'm NEVER going to medical school. That's one career choice that forever had a giant red X over it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beware! It's... MONDAY!!!

As I slowly, blearily opened and rubbed my eyes this morning, trying to tune out the annoying beeping of my alarm clock, my first coherent thought was:

Eew. School.

And now, for a short commercial brake! (An advertisement for a TV show comes on)

Just the whisper of its name strikes fear in teenagers everywhere! Every Sunday night, they feel its presence creeping up on them - Beware! It's coming! it's almost here! Sleep while you can!!! It's... IT'S.... MONDAY!!!

Oh, yes, magnificently malicious Monday. Just saying it's name leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Okay, so I'm exaggerating just a bit, but nobody likes Mondays. For teenagers, it's the start of a new school week. ANOTHER school week. A week of waking up at the crack of dawn, doing stupid, pointless homework, and sitting through lectures. Not really things that one would look forward to.

Even adults despise Mondays. Now they have to get up for work and do whatever their boring job is. And even if it's not boring, chances are they don't like it. I mean, have you ever seen an adult hop out of bed with a huge grin on their face laughing and saying, "YES!!! I get to go to work today!!!" Wait, let me answer that for you.


But there's also GOOD things about Mondays. On Monday, I get to see my friends again. On Monday, I have something to do other than lay around being bored. Without Mondays, school would never start! Now, you may be thinking that's a good thing, but without school we'd all be uneducated neanderthals scrounging for food in the dirt. So, as a matter of fact, there ARE good things about Mondays. You just have to look a little harder to find them.

The hit TV show MONDAY about a horrible monster that consumed teenagers and adults is receiving less and less views. People found out that the monster wasn't all bad, and started to think that the conflict in the story just wasn't worth their time. It seems MONDAY has just lost its ferocity.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Brothers...You Gotta Love 'Em

So I don't think I've ever introduced you faithful readers to my brothers. I have two AMAZING little brothers.
My brother Jace is 10 years old. He's in 4th grade. Like all little brothers, he totally gets on my nerves. But, he's great for stuff like basketball and hanging out. That's one way older brothers are different than younger brothers - the younger ones let you hang with them, the older ones don't. He's totally obsessed with Star Wars. And he is ROCKIN at Legos. No joke. I'll have to upload a picture of some of the stuff he builds. He also has pretty good taste in music for a ten year old, better than I did anyway (Jump5 *cough, cough*). And, get this, he has hair like.... NICK JONAS. I'm not a particular Jonas Brother fan, but pretty much all OTHER teenage girls are. He wanted to cut it off like Indiana Jones and I said, "Dude, your hair is BETTER than Indiana Jones. He couldn't pull it off." Here's a pic of him:

My other brother is Levi. He's only one. And, let me tell you, he's as cu
te as a button. He's totally a ladies' man. He flirts with all the nurses at the doctor. Both of my brothers are adopted, but Jace looks just like us (weird, I know). Levi is African American. He also has Down syndrome. He's scheduled for heart surgery next month. Yeah. But he's such a heartthrob (or will be, one day). Just LOOK at that smile!
Great brothers, I know. You're all probably jealous - I have one brother that's about the cutest thing ever and another that's a future Nick Jonas. But, like all brothers, they do get annoying. Jace is just LOUD. And I don't mean just a little noisy, I mean REALLY LOUD. And Levi has that feeding tube on his stomach that he can't leave alone unless there's a bandage around his stomach. We have to change it every night and it is GROSS. I won't even go into all the details just in case someone here is a tad squeamish. So, what do I do? I flip out and yell. GASP! It can't be! Well, hate to break it to you people, but I'm only human. As are you. Everybody messes up. Like right there, I just misspelled 'messes' about five times before getting it right. Don't beat yourself up when you make mistakes, just try not to make them again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Putting It In Perspective

So it's the eve of the last day before Spring Break, right? And I'm sitting at the dining room table about to have a breakdown. I can feel the tears coming, the frustration bottling up inside me - it's coming.
Why, you ask, can I be so upset when we only have ONE DAY left until Spring Break?
Because I had too much to do.
Science project, giant math review packet, reading an assigned book, and decorating my "Tennessee Can" for History.
So my buddy came over and we got the science project out of the way, but what about all this other stuff?
The clock read 8:14 p.m. and there was no way I was doing all of this and getting enough sleep. Being a perfectionist, the concept I had to integrate now was foreign and unwanted. This was....

PRIORITIZING (put your tasks in order from most important to least important, and get as many done as you can. Forget the rest.)

So.... science project - done. Math packet - yeah, I needed to get that done (giant test the next day). Reading - I'd do it in homeroom tomorrow. And, by that time folks, I'd be drop-dead tired. So, you know what that means. Yep, I'd have to drop... THE TENNESSEE CAN!!!

Oh, the horror! I would be sent to detention for not getting this done! Well, I thought, at least they can't send me until next week.

I walked into Social Studies class the next day expecting the worst. "Mr. Harley," I said, "I'm really sorry but I left my Tennessee Can at home."
And you know what he said? NOT that I would be sent to detention or ISS or ALC, but that I could just turn it in when we got back. You know what that means...


It was all in vain! So next time you think something's going to be the end of the world, put it in perspective. When I'm an adult, I'm not going to be reminiscing about that one time in 8th grade when I forgot my Tennessee Can. If you don't think it'll be important twenty years from now, it shouldn't be overly important now. So just take my advice...

Put the things in your life in perspective.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Symbiotic Friendships

Lately, we have been learning about the different forms of symbiosis in science class. I was struck by the fact that symbiotic relationships are somewhat similar to friendships. If you haven't figured it out already, I tend to make previously unheard of connections between today's culture and the Bible.

Parasitic Friendships
Parasitsm - a relationship in which one organism is harmed and the other benefits.
Parasitic friendships are just that. When your friend benefits, but when you are harmed. Or it could be the other way around: You could benefit and your friend could be harmed. Either way, people are getting harmed. It's okay to be friends with people who's ethics and religion may be somewhat different from yours, but if they start changing you for the worst, it's probably not a healthy relationship for you to be in. Likewise, if you realize that you are badly influencing a friend, you probably need to back off.

Commensalistic Friendships
Commensalism - a relationship in which one organism benefits and the other neither benefits nor is harmed
Commensalistic friendships are A-okay to be in. They're not, persay, the friendships that everybody dreams of in which each of you would give your life for the other, but they're perfectly fine. As long as the relationship is not having a negative effect on you or your friend, than it is alright. But remember, you want to benefit from a relationship. If you're not being benefited, why stick around? I know that sounds stuck up, but you really don't want that person's neutral effect to change to a negative one.
Mutualistic Friendships
Mutualism - a relationship in which both organisms benefit
Mutualistic friendships are the best kind of friendships. Each of you is shaping the other into a better person. You are honest with each other and hold each other accountable for your actions. Mutualistic friendships are the ideal friendship that everyone should strive for.
Think about it. Are you benefitting or harming your friends. Are your friends harming or benefitting you? These are all important factors in choosing your friends and deciding what kind of friend you should be.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Real Deal On Popular People

Popular people.

There's some at every school. They're the ones that are always wearing the right clothes, always saying the right things, and always look stunningly beautiful. But does that really make them popular? And what is popularity anyway?
I think that people are only popular because other people make it so. I mean, if nobody thought the popular people were popular, would they be popular?
Because no one would support that idea. If you don't believe me, let me give you a few real-life examples:

Example #1:
I was with a group of friends the other night. It is comprised of about 10 girls in my grade who go to my school. I was surprised that night that one of the "popular" girls had come. As she sat down, one of the other girls goes, "Oh my gosh, Tori, Megan, like, loves you." And the popular girl goes, "I do! Your hilarious! Everybody loves you, Tori. I'm so jealous!"
That kind of hit me. What do you know? A popular girl was jealous of me. And I had always viewed myself as unpopular. To further prove my point, here is one more example:
Example #2:
I was with a group of friends, once again, and we were sharing the highs and lows of our week. I was surprised to hear that the popular girls were the ones who were being bullied at school, being called names and what-not. I had never been bullied at school before, ever.

So you see, I think we judge popular people. I think we expect them to be sort of demi-gods. In short, they make the same mistakes as we do. People think they're really mean and snotty because they never pay attention to them. But isn't that being judgmental too? When we think that, are we not judging them without really and personally knowing them? How do we know that they haven't gone through something really hard. Maybe their mom's been divorced three times and they're having a hard time with all their dads. Maybe they had a parent die. Or maybe they just have a difficult home situation.
So next time you say or think something bad about a "popular" person, try to catch yourself. You don't know what they've been through. Maybe they just don't know how to handle their emotions. And remember, they're just like you and me. We're the ones that make them popular.