Monday, November 23, 2015

He Gave Us a New Name

A lot can change in a year.

A brokenhearted, angry little boy can begin to heal. He can finally understand what family is. And that he has one.


A little girl who'd already blown the lid off of my expectations can reach milestones I wasn't sure she'd ever see.


A perfectly sweet 17 year old girl can reach her one year milestone living in our home, loving and being loved, and selflessly serving our family as if it were her own.

A mama who'd seen enough sadness to last a lifetime (or so I'd like to think), feeling overwhelmed and in over her head can reach the light at the end of the tunnel. She can begin to smile again. And breathe. And occasionally shower.

And after 33 years of waiting and dreaming and cautiously hoping, God can ever so swiftly and unexpectedly answer every prayer, spoken and whispered. He can answer the prayers I wouldn't have even known to pray. He can bring our family the gift of a godly, selfless, humble, strong, compassionate husband and father. He can show me a love I've never known on earth. So far beyond my expectations it's almost too much to take in.


He's here. The one we've waited for.

He's given us a new name.

And with that new name we've also been afforded yet another new start. A reimagined idea of what family can be. A safe haven from the storms of life. A warm, soft place to land at the end of a long day. Smiles and laughs, hard work and new expectations. A brighter future for each of us.


Yes, God gave us Chris. Very possibly the only man who could have taken us on, this crazy little family of ours. This man who God has quite obviously been preparing for this role, for this family for years.

He's given us a new name. And for every last thing it stands for, the sound of it is so sweet


Monday, February 16, 2015

Celebrating Sam

We are celebrating a BIG double-digit birthday in our family today.

Samantha Love is 10 years old!

I've been feeling extra sentimental this past week, often catching myself imagining what baby Sammers may have looked like. She was tiny; that much I know. Less than 5 pounds.

Its hard to imagine my little squish quite so small. The cuteness is almost unbearable.

I tell her, "I bet you were the sweetest baby there ever was."

I can say that because, let's be honest. She was the sweetest baby there ever was.

I've also been taking every opportunity to tell Sam how special she is. To be sure, she really doesn't understand a whole lot of what I'm saying to her. But I know she feels extra loved.

We smile at one another, her face only inches from mine. She cocks her head to one side and then to the other, then lifts her sweet, chubby little hands up to hold my face while I tell her,

"Do you know that Mommy is so proud of you?

You are such a good girl.

And you are SO beautiful. Do you know you are SO beautiful?

I love your laugh. And your smile. And I love the way you dance.

You are so funny. And smart!

And you are kind. You are such a good friend to have. Everyone should be so blessed to have a friend like you."

She giggles and giggles.

"How in the world did I ever get to be your mommy? I love being your mommy, precious girl."

I don't think there's many days that go by where I don't say aloud, "I wish I was more like Sam."

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Sam was celebrated today with a special surprise.

She had never had a playdate with a school friend before, so I asked her best buddy, Charlotte, and Charotte's mom to join us for lunch and a trip to the children's museum- another first for Sam.

The girls had a great time.


Sam was happy as a clam all day long.


She loved every minute of her special day with with her friend. Thank you Jesus for the gift of a friend.


Sam had even more fun at the children's museum than I expected. It was as if they knew she was coming today. There was a music exhibit filled with instruments that Sam was able to try. Obviously, she was great at all of them. She could have stayed in that room all day. She had the best time.

video

Sammers has such a natural talent and love for all things music. I love that we can share that passion with one another. We may not ever be able to communicate with words, but we'll always have music.

video

And joy of all joys, there was a water exhibit, too. This little chick was in heaven. 

video

And let's be perfectly honest here. I was just beside myself with pride watching her play and love and get into things, and just thoroughly enjoy herself. God has done a great work in this little baby girl's heart. She is happy and healthy, a joy to all who know her.

Speaking of which, Sam also enjoyed a few phone calls and visits from people who love her dearly.

It was a lovely day, for an absolutely, delightfully, perfectly lovely girl. 

(Well, Tony might have a slightly different opinion, haha. Sisters can sometimes cramp your style. Dog pile anyone?)



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Please, keep praying for Pleven. 

For those who are willing, let's change our profile or cover photos on facebook to remind people to pray for Pleven. Its just one small way for us to show our solidarity. We will not stop hoping and praying for victory.

Our beloved older children, who have already suffered so much, will be transferred tomorrow. I can't even bear the thought.

I know you can't bear it either. I've heard from so many of you whose hearts are broken. 

We will not give up.

This story is far from over; God is working. This I know for sure. 

Thank you to everyone who has written letters and prayed. Please, keep praying! And if you haven't, write a letter

I hope to be able to share good news soon. Or at least more ways you all can help. 

Until then, lots of love to all of you.

Friday, February 13, 2015

For Those Who Will Pray

I don't want to be one of those people.

I'm sure you know the ones. (Points finger at self.)

Those well intentioned people who say, "I'll pray for you," but then, well, don't.

But I was convicted this week in Bible study as we wrestled with Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount.

"Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one."

Or maybe you've heard it said, "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no."

How much weight do my words hold, if I, in my busyness or doubt, make a promise here and offer to pray there, with a heart that is whispering maybe?

I never mean to leave people hanging. But do I?



I'm evaluating my own heart as I am struggling to give myself over completely to prayer for the children I so love on the other side of the world.

I want to pray with absolute desperation to God, knowing that He holds the very answers we are crying out for. He and He alone.

Only God can take what was meant for evil and turn it into good.

Only He can thwart a disastrous plan, that must have been in the making for months, that is only just now coming to light.

Only He can protect those 12 fragile, and most precious, valuable little people.

He alone can win this battle. He alone will have the last word.

So what can we do? We can pray.

We don't have to bear the burden of this catastrophe on our own human shoulders. We really don't. (And I repeat again, to myself. Seriously, self, we don't.)

But we can pray with all boldness.

We can change our posture. We don't have to live in the fear of "But, what if He doesn't come through..."

We just pray. We can literally hand it all over to Him. And then repeat. Trusting Him to do it, because He's faithful. And He will do it.

We can offer God our yes because He's the one doing the work. And He knows best.

He's got this.

We're just agreeing with one another and agreeing with Him.

(Y'all can remind me of this the next time my voice starts to waiver.)

Yes, God. I am joining my prayers with people all around the world for the older children of Pleven. I am lifting my voice on their behalf. Praying that today You will save.

Yes, God. I believe that You can turn this thing around.

Yes, God. I believe that my prayers, and the prayers and those who turn to You matter.

Yes, God. I want to see this thing through to the end.

For those of you joining in this battle, lifting your voices to heaven on behalf of 12 tiny children with a desperate need. For those of you who've given your yes. 

Thank you.

Please keep praying.

And as you pray today, will you please hold up our friend and the children's greatest advocate, Toni. 

Toni is fighting on the frontline.

Please pray that God would give her strength, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Pray that God would stretch her time and give her great wisdom.

And, don't forget to share Brandon and Mikah today. Today just might be the day they find their families.




Sending lots of love to all of you.




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Urgent: Help and Prayers for Pleven Requested

Y'all.

I know I have been absent

Like real bad.

Embarrassing.

And I am so sorry.

I think about y'all all the time, and everything I want and need to tell you...but life keeps happening...and, well...

Here I am.

And let me tell you this was not how I wanted my first post back to go. But this is, as the title says, urgent. And you, my faithful, loving, supportive, big hearted friends. I need you.

Pleven needs you.

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10 minutes before my alarm went off, I woke up to a high pitched message alert on my phone.

"Do you have any time to talk today? I just go some really bad news about Pleven and the older kids."

Oh Jesus, no. 

My heart immediately dropped to my stomach. I've felt sick ever since.

"Of course. What can you tell me right now?"

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I had been waiting to tell all of you.

I'd been sooooo excited to tell you.

My church and I have been working with the Pleven Project to raise money for the older children of Pleven.

You know, the kids who've been there forever long, who've been abused and neglected beyond comprehension.

We've been working to raise money to build a group home for them. A place where they would have their own space. Their own staff. Their own equipment for therapies. Their own specialized programs and diets. 

It wouldn't be a home home, with parents. But, for those children who have aged out and won't be adopted, it was our opportunity to allow them to live out the rest of their lives with dignity.

Without this home, their only other option was that they would be transferred...to adult mental institutions and group homes, where, because they are not verbal or mobile, or at all self sufficient, they would die. Literally.

An architect was drawing up plans. Nearly $10,000 had already come in. And I hadn't even talked to you yet! I was elated watching God move mountains for these beloved children. Finally, finally. Redemptions for these, the most vulnerable.

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Today I had to send the following email to all of the parents of precious children who've been adopted from Pleven. This is just an excerpt, but you get the drift.

Hi there fellow Pleven mama. I hope and pray you and your family are doing well. 
I received word this morning of a situation happening right now in Pleven, and I am writing to you on behalf of Shelley, Toni, and the Pleven Project to ask for your help. 
Today we received word that a group of former orphanage employees, who we know to be unsafe for the children, have banded together to start their own group home for the older children of the Pleven orphanage. They have funding from a EU non-profit organization who provides no accountability or oversight. They are scheduled to move our beloved children to their new facility on Tuesday of next week. We know this to be an unsafe, inappropriate environment for the children. We also know that the staff have ulterior motives. 
I know this is a lot to take in, so I am contacting each Pleven parent privately, not only to inform you, but also to tell you, that if God would move you to do so, there is something you can do...
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You caught that, right?

The former director's right hand man, and her former cronies. The people who abused my children and hundreds more. The people who intentionally, criminally stole the life out of these, the most sweet and vulnerable of souls. The people who put a huge cement building filled with tiny humans through a true holocaust.....have swooped in and undermined the work many people have been doing to ensure their better future.

We won't stand for this. I hope you won't either. These children deserve so much better. 

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I said it to my precious Pleven parent friends, and I'll say it to you. There's something you can do. 

Actually there are 2 somethings.
  1. You can PRAY with all your might that we can take back control of this project. Tomorrow through Tuesday, anyone who is willing is invited to fast and pray that the Lord would intervene, as he has for these precious little ones time and time again. That He would rescue and provide more than we can even think to ask or imagine.
  2. You can WRITE A LETTER that will be sent to the US Embassy in Bulgaria, The County of Pleven, and the Minister of Labor and Social Policy. The goal in writing these letters is to express our interest as a community to fund a private group home for the older children of Pleven who cannot be adopted. We also want to specify that we want to make sure the children will be appropriately cared for and that money will not be given to people we know to have abused funds and children. 
Here's a form letter to follow.


February 12, 2015 

To whom it may concern: 

[Please start by briefly explaining what you know of the abuse and neglect of children you know from the Pleven orphanage, as well as changes you have seen in them since their arrival home.] 

[Then, feel free to edit the following or copy and paste it as it is.] 

I understand that 12 older children from the Pleven orphanage are scheduled to be moved to a group home that will be run by the very people that abused___________________ and many other children. The same people that abused them year after year before the new director came to care for them. They are being handed over to their abusers. This should not and cannot be.  

I, with many hundreds of people behind me, am willing and eager to fund a private group home for the older children from the Pleven orphanage who have lived through a true holocaust. We want the opportunity to make right the wrongs that have been done to these children for so many years. Please, help us to help these children live out the rest of their lives with the dignity all humans deserve.  

We, under the supervision of the Pleven Project, are specifically requesting that we be allowed to fund and manage a private group home where the children can be properly cared for. This will ensure that all authority and financial responsibility be removed from the individuals who have criminally abused children and misappropriated government funds, and put into the hands of a board with oversight and accountability for the future. 

Sincerely, 

John Doe
1111 Street Ave.               
Lincoln, Nebraska 68951        
United States of America


All letters should be signed and scanned to Shelley Bedford at shele337@gmail.com.

Shelley will send letters to Toni, our attorney, to be translated and delivered. 

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Of the 12 sweet children who will be transferred on Tuesday, there are two who are still available for adoption. And for them, this would be their absolute best chance. Redemption in the truest sense of the word. Will you share their beautiful little faces today. Or everyday until they find their families? If we find these babies' families soon, we can save them from a whole world of additional heartache.

This is Brandon,


and Mikah.


I'm sure you already know, but it has to be said. Each of these boys is beyond precious. Diamonds in the rough. They would do so, so, so well in families.

Thank you for standing with us in believing that God will make all things right. Thank you for seeing these children's worth. Thank you for your hearts that say "yes" to God, even when the things coming from his hands, at times like this, bring difficulty and heartache. Thank you.

Now, if you feel so led, will you share this post all over social media. Send it to anyone and everyone who might be able to help. Especially to people who will pray. Like, really pray. We need whole armies of angels in the coming days. These kids need God to fight for their lives. And the power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside of each of us believers, so we must pray. Will you comment here and let me know that you're joining the fight in prayer? Or that you're sending a letter? 

Don't you just love watching God win? Here we go again...

Lots of love to all of you.