Monday, February 13, 2017

Single Girls-There's Nothing Wrong With You

This Valentine's Day I've got a strange bit of heaviness in my heart.

Now, to be fair, I've been married just under a year and a half now, so this year, for the second time in my life (34 years, y'all!), I will not be alone on Valentine's day. I have a husband I absolutely adore and we will be together.

But, of course, I remember those pre-marriage Valentine's Days. Whether I admitted it then or not, those days always stung. Maybe that's the case for you today.

I see you.


I can't count the number of times I've sat across the table from a sweet, beautiful, Jesus-loving, all around stand up young lady with tears in her eyes. Although I do sometimes have that affect on people, the tears I'm talking about here are tears of loneliness. Tears that fall freely at the thought that "happily ever after" has not arrived, and may in fact not be coming.

And so today, this dreaded day of hearts, I've come here with a heart full of love to say to you, single girls: There is nothing wrong with you.


I know, I know, I really and truly know from the most honest of places, the lies that go through your head. The lie that you're not the kind of girl guys are looking for, that maybe you're not worth being pursued, that you're somehow fatally flawed.

I know this because it hasn't been long since those tear-filled eyes belonged to me.

I spent my 20's and early 30's regularly phasing in and out contentedness and longing. There were times when those seasons of longing stretched on endlessly.

In one such season I remember sitting on my front porch in the pitch black night, kids in bed, drink in hand, with my best friend by my side. "I'm going to be alone forever," I said, quite out of nowhere. The words just seemed to fly out of my mouth without my permission and then hung there in the thick humid air. Try as she may, I could not be convinced otherwise.

And then of course, add to my drama that I was a single mother of two. I'd been warned multiple times during both adoption processes to literally kiss my chances goodbye. "No one will want you now," I'd been told. (How's that for encouraging?)

It was all too easy to think I'd been passed over because no one could want a single mother of kids with special needs.

But that wasn't the only lie that would taunt me. Nope, of course it didn't stop there.
You're not pretty enough. 
Or thin enough. 
You talk too much. 
You're a handful.
Your job is intimidating. 
You're getting old. You've missed your chance. 
Sound familiar? I'm guessing some of you have been there.

Can I tell you something? Actually a few true things to combat the lies.


First, I need you to know, to really know, that you are precious. You are lovely. You are enough. That is a fact. God is not holding out on you. And He is certainly not cruelly dangling marriage out in front of you, just out of your reach, because He's waiting for you to be perfectly content in Him. That's not a real thing.

Secondly, it also seems to be true (by my humble observation and limited research) that we Christian women outnumber our Christian male counterparts. I don't think you're imagining things. There really does seem to be more of us than there are of them. Frustrating and unfair, I know. But this is why, for good reason, you continue to wait. Do you want to enter into a lifetime, covenant relationship with someone who doesn't share the most important and only eternal part of your DNA? Likely not. Which leads me to...

True thing number 3. Girl, you do not have to settle. (I know this one from experience.) Again, do you want to spend the rest of your life with a partner who has no desire to chase after the things of God? Right this very minute, just as you are, you have the freedom to follow the Holy Spirit in all things, even if that means its just you and Him for a while. See the world. Share the gospel. Change somebody's life. Do something brave. Make a dream come true. Allow the Spirit to help you find a new dream! I don't think you'll regret your time together.

Date or no date, get out there and love and be loved this Valentine's Day.

Hold your head high. There is nothing wrong with you.


Lots of love to all of you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

T-shirts! Get your t-shirts here!

As promised, they are here! (And they look even better in person!)

First, let me say these are the softest most comfortable t-shirts. Any Lutherans out there have a Thrivent shirt? These are the same brand. You will absolutely love them!

Fund the Nations helped me come up with the design. You may recognize Hannah's future state (Nebraska!) featured in white with an imprint of Bulgaria over our hometown, Lincoln, and a heart over hers. 

We love the verse referenced, 1 Peter 1:3-9, for Hannah JOY.  Check it out.

And for all you Husker fans out there? Y'all, these shirts are for you! Next time you head out to a husker game, you can represent Hannah Joy in all your red and white Nebraskan glory. 



Here's how to order!

1.) Click on the donate button on the right side of the blog.
2.) Pay for your shirt(s). $20 each
3.) You should receive an invoice from Reece's Rainbow via email after you pay. Please forward that email to mrs.tegtmeier@gmail.com, so I know you've paid.
4.) You're almost done.
5.) Send me another email to mrs.tegtmeier@gmail.com telling me your size(s) as well as an address for shipping (or personal delivery if you're local).

I have a limited number of shirts in stock right now that can be shipped out right away. If your size is no longer in stock, you can expect to receive your shirt within 4-6 weeks. (I will be placing a second order for shirts in two weeks. Those shirt orders will be shipped to you as soon as I receive them.)

Thank you so much for ordering! Every dollar you spend (minus the cost of shipping) will go directly toward the cost of Hannah Joy's adoption.

*A BIG thank you to Thrivent Financial for funding this project! If you're a member and haven't checked it out, take a look at their Action Team program. They have been so helpful to us in our fundraising. 

Lots of love to all of you.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Come Party With Us for Hannah Joy!

I may have mentioned at one time or another that Chris and I have some pretty incredible friends and family.

Well, can I go ahead and say it again?

We have some pretty incredible friends and family!

Some of our most favorite people have teamed together to host a Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction for our little Miss Hannah Joy. (But, as we call all gatherings of people when talking to our kids, let's go ahead and call it a PARTY!)
And of course, you all are invited.

My friend, Michaela, decided on a puzzle theme, which we think is just perfect, as Hannah is our missing piece. And you can bet there will plenty of balloons in honor of our girl who thinks balloons are the best thing that ever was. 
Did I also mention there will be a silent auction? Some incredible, brand new, exciting donations have been pouring in. We think you'll love shopping through them for that perfect gift, or even treat for yourself!

Tickets are on sale now!


Mark your calendars. 


March 4th, 2017
5:00pm
Calvary Lutheran Church
2788 Franklin Street, Lincoln, NE

Tickets are available NOW by calling our church office, 402-875-1324.
Adult tickets: $15
Child tickets: $8
Children 0-4 eat free!

We can't wait to see you all there!

Lots of love to all of you.

******************************

Also! Stay tuned for our Super-Cute-Tshirt fundraiser. 
(NEBRASKA FANS! See what we did here?)



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Their Most Tremendous Gain

Maybe you've heard about it or thought about it before. 
It's a sad truth. Hard to swallow.

Adoptions don't always work out. 
Sometimes, for all manner of reasons, an adopted child can find themselves in need of a family. Again.

(I should clarify here that this is not a post about my own family. Stick with me.)
Linny Saunders, who blogs at A Place Called Simplicity, shared several months ago about her family's experience adding just such a child to their crew. 
Although another family wasn’t a good fit for our handsome son, he was a absolutely perfect fit for us. Actually we are certain, God brought him to the other family so that he would make his way to ours...And anytime I think of how Nehemiah joined our family I am forever grateful to our great God that we were the ones who were able to bring him home. Someone else’s loss was our most tremendous gain. 
Maybe read that last part twice.

And take a look at her original post if you can spare the time.

This family adopted a child out of the most difficult of circumstances. Their little guy's first adoptive family, for whatever reason, was not his forever family. But he has been happily a part of his now always and absolutely forever family for several years.

Someone else's loss (not to be taken lightly!) was this family's most tremendous gain.

Because you see, however or why ever it should happen that an adoptive family would seek a new home for an adoptive child, one thing is certain. God never loses track of a single hair on that child's head. His good plans for them remain sure. His love for them is unmoving. He can still bring healing and life.

All that being said, can I entrust you, dear readers, with a most important mission?

A most precious, beautiful, worthy mission.

A little girl.


I was contacted recently by Lifeline Children's Services in hopes that I would ask all of you to help me find this little girl a new family. Her always and absolutely forever family.

I agreed. Because I know many of the good people who join me here at Love's Ransom. I know your hearts for the least of these. I've seen you fight hard for justice for other children. (Y'all have blown my mind advocating for Dawn. I hope to have update to share with you about her soon!)

If you're up for it, and I know many of you are, here's the mission that has been entrusted to us: to spread the word that there is a little girl here in the States who needs a family.


Here's what I can tell you about Little Girl.
  • Little Girl is an absolutely beautiful child. She is ten years old and was adopted from Bulgaria four years ago.
  • She is currently nonverbal, developmentally delayed in most areas and has been diagnosed with institutional autism. She has moved through periods of progress and regression. She has in the past been able to acquire some language and toilet training but is currently in a period of regression. She struggles with self harming and other institutional behaviors. 
  • Little Girl is usually described as a happy child who can be extremely affectionate. She enjoys physical activity, being outside and jumping on the trampoline. Her favorite inside activity is working puzzles and she can put a 50 piece puzzle together on her own. 
  • Since Little Girl's adoption, her family has added 4 additional children to the family by birth and one by adoption. At this time, her family indicates that Little Girl's needs have exceeded their ability to care for her in the most effective way. 
  • Little Girl will require a family that has a strong understanding of the impact of the orphanage experience on a child’s behavior and development. A family that might best fit her needs would be a family with older children who would be able to understand her needs and the time required of parents to invest in her care. It is felt that with help (counseling and therapy) she has great potential for growth and healing.
  • Out of respect for Little Girl and her family, I am limited in what I am able to share here in the public forum. If you would like to know more, or are interested in learning about how such an adoption process would work, please contact Lynn from Lifeline Children's Services at lynn.beckett@lifelinechild.org. 
    I would also invite you to feel free to share this post, while also urging (although I would expect nothing other than kindness from all of you) that we would all, me included, refrain from casting judgement or pointing fingers. Let's keep our focus solely on one precious girl's future. Let's treat this with the utmost respect. 

    Lots of love to all of you.

    Saturday, January 14, 2017

    The Beginning and The End

    Fifteen years into her time here on earth, Hannah Joy will walk down the stairs of an orphanage and into a new life.

    She gets a clean slate.


    It's true that her pain will follow her, but like a new baby, we'll carry her home to everything new. New bed. New family. New routine. New world. 


    She'll have opportunities for growth around every corner. Therapies for eating, communicating, and familiarizing herself with all manner of new input for her senses.


    She'll see half a dozen doctors in short order, who'll look her over and treat her from head to toe, inside and out, optimizing her chances for a long healthy life.

    Everyday she'll be greeted with a veritable feast of fruits and vegetables, healthy meats and starches.


    And she'll never be alone again.

    Whether she likes it or not, our whole family is prepared to love her for the long haul. She may push us away at times, as love is a tricky thing to learn for those unfamiliar. But over time she will likely come to know that she is safe and sound with us. Cherished forever.


    We're already enjoying thinking back over our time with our soon-to-be-daughter and recognizing all the family resemblances. She has Tony and Sam's beautiful dark brown eyes. A sensitive soul like her mom. Pays attention to every little detail like her dad.


    We're thinking creatively about her space and how we can best make her feel at home. And shopping around for clothes to fit her long lanky little body.

    We're noticing things we imagine might make her smile and and we're paying attention for any triggers that might make her nervous or sad.

    We've thought through our journey home with her, three flights long and how we'll make her comfortable.

    We're praising God that He would see fit to use us to bring about this sweet treasure's new beginning.



    Somewhere across the country from Hannah lays another tiny teenager. Maybe she's still sleeping in a crib, too. And drinking from a bottle.


    So many similarities. A lifetime of not enough. Abuse. Neglect. Yet precious, worthy, infinitely valuable.

    The difference?

    She will have no new beginning. Her time, in fact, is coming to an end.

    She will finish out her days in an adult mental institution. She will fight for food and fight for attention, of both there will not be enough. Eventually she will lose her fight.

    The world is a cruel place when you're an orphan.

    No one will come for this child who has already spent 15 Christmases and birthdays alone.

    She has nothing.

    She has no one.

    Her time is coming to an end.

    Chris and I were able to speak with a friend about Dawn while we were in country visiting Hannah.

    Even with only one month left on the clock before she ages out, we are told that it is not too late for her to be adopted.

    She is available for adoption by either a single mother or a married couple (one of which must be at least 15 years older than her). She has very little time left, so a family who has a previous homestudy that could be updated would be helpful. Dawn needs a family to be able to complete a homestudy and get immigration approval before her birthday.

    There is now $15,000 available toward the cost of her adoption.

    And now, within days, with the hope that someone will see her, someone will be visiting to gather new photos and videos to share with prospective families.

    I know, I know. Posts like this inundate our facebook feeds too often. The need is heartbreakingly awful and can seem hopeless, especially if you're reading this and you know that you can't be this child's family.

    But, who's to say that there's not someone out there who could be?

    You may not be the kind of person who usually shares this kind of post because its a downer. And nobody likes a downer.

    But what if, in your sharing, we were able to find a family for Dawn?

    It only takes one person saying yes to change her life forever. To give her a new beginning.


    Do you want to know more? Is there a chance you, crazy as it may seem, are her family?

    Please contact me at mrs.tegtmeier@gmail.com.

    I will quickly put you in contact with an agency that will soon have her file.

    If it's you, if the Spirit is calling, please don't delay.

    Lots of love to all of you.



    Wednesday, January 4, 2017

    Through and Through

    As much as we could possibly learn about Hannah in one day, I do believe we learned today.
    Amid some high highs intermixed with some very sad lows, we confirmed once again that this child is ours, through and through. 


    We had several glimpses into her pain-filled heart, leaving both Chris and I biting our cheeks to keep from all out crying. 

    It was a very big day for Hannah, for several reasons. 

    video

    Our visits were longer today. We spent three hours straight together just this morning, and 2 more this afternoon. That's a lot to think about for a little one who knows little to nothing about mommies and daddies. For someone who has undoubtedly spent much of the past 14 years alone.

    video

    Chris and I had the opportunity to feed her for the first time ever. We'd been told that she eats slowly, but that she eats well and finishes her food without fail. When her snack came into our visiting room in that familiar silver bowl, we fastened a bib around her neck with velcroe, sat her in a beanbag chair (the only furniture in the room), loaded the spoon with food and...rejected. She was terrified. After trying for 20 minutes or so without success, a care giver was called in to finish feeding her. We watched intently, from a safe distance, as she ate. She opens wide, tilts her head back and swallows without closing her lips around the spoon or around the nipple of the bottle from which she drinks. 

    In our afternoon visit, we had the opportunity to try again. She allowed mommy to feed her more than half of her snack (one bowl of bread softened with liquid, and one of some sort of fruit puree.) "Bravo, bravo!!", we encouraged, enthusiastically. "Bravo, Hannah! You are so brave. Good eating!"

    Pictured in the background is Hannah's Lelya (aka baba).
    She is a lovely, softhearted woman who very obviously loves our daughter very much.
    We are thankful to God that she will see Hannah nearly every morning
    until we return to pick her up.
    As part of our afternoon visit, we loaded up into two taxis (Chris, Hannah and I, our agency representative and a staff person from the orphanage) to travel to the town center for Hannah's visa photo. We had no idea what to expect taking her out on the town, but lo and behold!, such bravery from our girl once again. She thrilled in that short car ride, sitting up tall with a seatbelt fastened across her lap and over her shoulder, like a pro. She seemed to enjoy watching the hub bub of the city out her passenger side window. The taxi dropped us off a couple blocks from the photo shop. She was completely oblivious to the stares of strangers as she walked proudly holding dad and mom's hands, smiling all the way, our field trip a solid success.


    When we arrived back at the orphanage, we journeyed upstairs via tiny elevator, through a corridor and down the hall, to the room where we enjoy our visits. Along the way, Hannah spotted a group of 4 colorful balloons hanging on the wall and made a beeline for them. We vaguely asked permission for her to keep them before handing them over and continuing on our way. 

    I didn't think any child could love balloons as much as Samantha does, but her sister may give her a run for her money. Hannah + balloons = love at first sight. From then on out, those balloons were all she could see. (Sam, did you hear that? Just like you!) 


    She loved them so much,in fact, that she very obviously wanted (aka desperately needed) to get those balloons upstairs to her room to be stored safely in her bed. Her caregiver shared with us that she hoards a little pile of favorite things in the corner of her crib. Some of those things she brings in and out with her each day, while others she hides for safe keeping from the other children. 

    At any rate, it became quite the emergency situation that Hannah couldn't get her balloons to her safe spot, resulting in a heartbreaking meltdown that was probably 1 part exhaustion from the day and 1 part her inability to set her thoughts on anything other than those darn balloons. We are confident she will be feeling much better tomorrow after a good night's sleep. 

    ***************************************

    As a side note, I need to throw in a big ole' "Good job, Bulgaria!" because we were on several occasions today pleasantly surprised by kindness, charity, and good will. 

    One of our taxi drivers today was absolutely enthusiastic about our adoption. He also noted that there are many needy people in Bulgaria, living outside, isolated from society, that "might do even better than us (referring to himself) if they just had some help." I wish I could remember more, but that should be enough to give you an idea. His words were a blessing to us on our way to visit Hannah. 

    Then, on our way out of the orphanage today, we came upon a Bulgarian couple bringing two large bags filled to the brim with clothes they wanted to donate. 

    Later on at the photo shop, the woman who took Hannah's photo was genuinely kind to her and patient as she took shot after shot after shot trying to get one acceptable photo for the visa. 

    Back at the orphanage we saw on more than one occasion, a parent from the community walking in with their disabled child for therapy...and then walking back out with them to go home. Praise the Lord! 

    And last, but not least, we saw a young man with Down Syndrome walking down the sidewalk with his daddy today. He was obviously very well taken care of. What a gift that was to my heart.

    Thank you all, really and truly, for your ongoing prayers and support. 

    Lots of love to all of you.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2017

    Meeting Our Hannah JOY

    How do you begin to describe those first, holy, life changing moments with a child?

    I fear it won't be possible to find the words.

    We were nervous. Excited, yes. But there were jitters. Even especially from me. This place!

    Our nerves may have put a damper on our visit...had she not been absolutely perfect.

    God did it again. Our hearts seemed to have already been inextricably woven together with hers. There is overwhelming peace. Between Chris and I about our decision. Between us and Hannah. She is completely ours.

    Someone already told us she looks a little like her mama, although I look at her sweet little lips and I'm sure I see her daddy.

    She was cautious throughout our first visit, so we spent a lot of our time walking with her in circles around the room. This kid learned how to walk at age 12, and hasn't stopped since. She has a lot of time to make up for!

    She already seemed to recognize us when she walked in for her second visit, warming up to us quickly. Chris has been praying for her the last couple days, that God would help her to be brave in getting to know us. We already sense Him answering that prayer.

    We were able to remain in closer proximity to her this afternoon. She would hold our hands or hold our arms while she walked. She liked laying down next to us on the red activity mat, reaching out to lightly touch Chris's beard, or to touch my hand. All on her terms.

    She loves to laugh and laughs a lot! And they're big girl laughs coming out of that teeny, lanky frame.

    Speaking of big girls, she knows she's a teenager. She's very interested in phones and purses. All things lovely and feminine very well may be the way to this little girls heart. She carried my purse around for a while today and was all smiles, so proud.

    We can't show her face quite yet, but here she is laughing with her daddy.

    Laughing, laughing, laughing.

    video
    Dancing with mommy.

    video
    Walking with daddy.


    video
    Again, we can't show her face, but here's an audio of her laughing! I dare you to listen to it only once.

    In addition to all of the fun we've been having with our girl, we've had the opportunity, over the last couple of days, to learn a little bit more about the suffering our girl has experienced in the last 14, almost 15 years. It is more than we can fathom. Years upon years of unimaginable pain brought on by complete negligence and deliberate abuse. And yet. God, in His grace, because of His "never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love" (Courtesy of the Jesus Storybook Bible) preserved this child's joy-filled heart.

    Chris and I have loved this song throughout this adoption process as it gives words to the pain we feel for Hannah and all we pray God will accomplish in her redemption. Take a listen if you would.
    We're gonna take back all the enemy has stolen  
    It's in the blood of the One who's worthy
    I know God has not forgotten all that's lost and broken
    We are so looking forward to helping Hannah take back all the enemy stole from her.

    Please continue to pray for our Hannah Joy.

    Lots of love to all of you.