A Christmas Wish: Meet Boris and Vladik


We are having a cozy day at home, just the six of us.  We’re cuddling in, eating yummy food, playing with toys,sipping coffee.  It’s perfect.

Today, on this glorious day, I have just one Christmas wish.  Today I have a wish that all of our Boys at Romaniv would be truly seen.  I have a wish that they would be seen by many as the beautiful souls that they are.

When I first met our Boys all I could see was their outward appearance.  I saw the filth, the snot, the vomit, the disabilities, the deformities.  I smelled the stench.  My ears were full of the awkward noises.  I knew God had called us to give our lives to these Boys, so I prayed that He would help me to see/smell/hear past all that.

And He did!

That was then.  Now, when I see our Boys I see Boris, Slavik, Yaroslav, Misha, Valera, Orhan, Irakli, Ivan, Dima, Andrei, Seriozha, Vova, Zhenya, Vitya, Vladik, Ilya, and Danya.  I see friends.  I see my babies.  I see my treasures.  When I hear the awkward noises they mean something to me.  They are cries of joy or yells of anger or first babbles or moments of sadness and pain.  They are not inappropriate noises now.  They are communication.  They are voices I love.  I’m not gonna lie, I still smell the stench 🙂  Hehe…I’m only human…that’s for stinkin’ sure.  (pun intended)

My Christmas wish is that today you, and many many more will see our Boys as individuals worthy of dignity and love.  I know that if people will really look- past the differences and into the eyes, they will see.  They will see our Boys as they were meant to be seen; as children of God.

And if you really see, then you will never be the same. I’m changed forever for having known them.

So, will you take a Christmas moment and meet my friends?  You won’t be sorry.  🙂



Bullet Points on Tuesday

Eleven days since I last came to this space. Wow! Days are flying by.

Since I wrote the last post about being still and trusting that God is on our side we've gone through some stuff that made living out those words pretty stinkin' hard. Sheeesh. This fighting for the orphan thing is rough stuff! But, worth it. But still rough. 🙂 There are seasons of heartache and seasons of joy in every life, right?

Our family as a whole is doing just fine. Our work may be heartwrenching at the moment, but our family is good.

Here's what's been up with us:

  • This is the last week of school for Addy and Ez, and then Christmas break! Their schooling plan will change after the new year, so stay tuned!
  • Havalah and Seth go to a private little kindergarten (Hava won't let me call it “preschool”) twice a week while Jed and I are at Romaniv and they love it. Today when I picked them up the teacher said they understand her so well and that Hava speaks a lot of Ukrainian in class. Yay! Comin' along, comin' along.
  • We are right in the middle of renewing our registration. We have to renew every year in order to keep our temporary residency. Stamps, stamps, and more stamps…woot! Ukraine loves stamps.
  • My cousin, aunt and uncle will be in Uzhgorod (a city in western Ukraine) this weekend and we are trying our best to get there for a visit. We were waiting to see if we could get our residency paperwork done in time to be able to leave town, and we finally got done yesterday…but now there are no available train tickets! The lady at the ticket counter told Jed to come back and check tomorrow morning. The train is really our only option. A bus ride would be at least 12 hours over rough roads and Hava gets super carsick on the short, smooth, two hour ride to Kyiv! We can't torture her like that. The train ride is 16 hours…yikes, but worth it to see family. 🙂
  • Next week is Christmas!!!! We've been rockin' the Christmas music pretty much nonstop around here. This will be our first Christmas alone, just the 6 of us, so that will be really different. Last year Jed's parents were here visiting. Did you know Ukraine doesn't celebrate Christmas until January 7th? Fun fact.
  • Our favorite Tom and Emma are coming for a visit on New Year's Eve! They'll be with us for a week and we're counting down the minutes till their arrival. Eeeeeeek! Tom and Emma visited last February and it was so amazing to have them with us. Best Christmas present ever.
  • My mom secretly asked a bunch of people to send us Christmas cards. Oh my word!! It has been such a special treat! I really can't tell you how special it is when we get mail. Our whole family screams and hoots and hollers and jumps up and down. Seriously. We love mail! Thanks Mom 🙂 And thanks everyone who has sent us cards. It makes our day. Big time.
  • We're working on a couple special Wide Awake videos for Christmas. In the videos we'll introduce you to two of our special boys. I can't wait to share them with you!
  • I've been working hard to get all the details figured out for the boys from Romaniv who are available for adoption. After Christmas we will start really advocating for them and I'm so hopeful we'll find them families. Stay tuned for that too. Children were made for families, not insitutions. 🙂

Welp, I guess that just about does it.

Maybe next time I write it will be from Uzhgorod…if we survive the 16 hours on the train, that is! Ha!



Be Still My Soul

“Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side.

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly Friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”


Be still, my soul.

My soul is restless. My soul is fighting. My heart is grieving for our Boys more than ever these days and my mother’s heart for them is growing more than ever these days.


Be still, my soul; the Lord is on their side.


Do we trust that our God is good?

Do I trust that God is good, even to our Boys, even now- at this very minute as they rock back and forth in their beds?

Do you trust that your Heavenly Father is working on your behalf?

Do I really and truly trust that God is working on behalf of our Boys and He is keeping His promise to be their Father?


Be still, my soul; the Lord is on their side.


The Tuesday before I left for Switzerland we had just finished up our morning at Romaniv and the time had come for us to hop in the taxi and head home.

Sweet Dima, one of our highest functioning boys in the Isolation Hall began to ask his usual questions.

“When are you coming back?”

“Are you coming on Friday?”

“Is Jed coming on Friday?”

“Is Mama Nina coming on Friday?”

“When are you coming back?”

“Will you come tomorrow?”


Dima gets very fixated on when we are coming back and who will be present on the team. He gets super excited when we answer “Yes, Dima, we are coming on Friday. Jed is coming, I am coming, Nina is coming. We can’t come tomorrow, but we will come on Friday.”

He needs to hear those words. He needs to know.

Well, last Tuesday I had to stray from the normal response. I told Dima that I wouldn’t be coming on Friday because I had to go on a trip. There was no use of explaining Switzerland or fundraisers or supporting churches, I knew Dima wouldn’t understand. All he could understand is that I said no, I wouldn’t be able to come on Friday.

Dima was so unhappy. He didn’t understand. He kept asking why, and I tried to explain.

If only Dima had known. If only Dima could have understood WHY I wasn’t coming on Friday. I was traveling far away on his behalf. I was going to share with people who love him from afar. I was going to share about him and to be his voice. I was going there for his good. But all he knew was that I wasn’t going to show up on Friday.

I’m not saying that Jed or I or our team are God or something. Not even remotely. 🙂 But I use this as an example to look at myself as Dima. How often am I Dima, upset because God doesn’t show up when I want Him to and how I want Him to, when He is really working on my behalf and I just can’t see it?


Be still, my soul; the Lord is on my side.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side.


Do you trust that He is good?

Do you trust that your Father is working on your behalf?

Do you trust that He is working for your good?

Be still. Trust. I know how much I love Dima and want only good for him. How much more does your Heavenly Father want only good for you? Vastly, infinitely more.

God is working on our Boys’ behalf in ways I can’t even see. His love for them is endless and perfect.


Be still, soul. God’s got this.


“Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on

When we shall be forever with the Lord.

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”


Swiss Shock and Awe

Welcome December! How did that happen? November was like two seconds long. I was planning to do a Thanksgiving post, but then we lost electricity for 5 days, and then we had Thanksgiving, and then the next day Addy and left for Switzerland!


I have a lot to be thankful for. Even more so after this weekend. Oh God, why are you so good to us??? Wow.

I might have told you before about our Switzerland connection, but just in case I didn't, or you forgot, I'll sum it up real quick like.


Many moons ago, in my former American life, I loved a little boy in Ukraine. My friends and I desperately wanted to find this little boy a family because he resided in an institution much like Romaniv and we knew he needed out. A few friends and I decided we would organize a day dedicated to this precious boy (who now lives with a wonderful family in Texas!!!) and try to get as many people fundraising for him on one day as we could. Adoption is expensive and many times if the money obstacle is removed, it makes adoption more possible.

Well, as we were fundraising in Oregon a woman in Switzerland, Sandra, contacted me by email and told me that she too was fundraising for the very same boy! She desperately prayed that he would find a family, and our friendship grew as we advocated for our sweet boy.


Once we knew we were moving to Ukraine, Sandra chimed in and said if we ever made it over to Switzerland we should share at her church in Lucerne. We highly doubted we would make it to Switzerland, but thought the gesture was nice. Well, God knew better. It turned out that last January we needed to go to Switzerland to get our Ukrainian visas and we got to visit Sandra, her family, and her church.


The International Church of Lucerne embraced right from the get-go. They fell in love with our Boys and God broke their hearts. They began to support us in prayer and with some finances. I can not express to you how warm and loving is this awesome community of believers. They are the real deal and I can't believe we get the honor to partner with them.

Jed went to Switzerland in September for a family wedding and got to visit our friends in Lucerne. He told them of our need for a van to transport volunteers to and from Romaniv, and right there on the spot they decided to do a Thanksgiving fundraiser to buy a van for Wide Awake. Awesome.


So, this past weekend was the fundraiser and holy moly, I guess I set my expectations just a wee bit too low. God blew my itty bitty expectations out of the water. What a generous, loving, beautiful community we found in the International Church of Lucerne. In one weekend they donated thousands of Swiss Francs. THOUSANDS. Those thousands, in addition to gifts from their body given to Jed in September will buy us a van. Need met in an instant.

Blown away, humbled, joyful, tearful, THANKFUL.

Jed kinda kicked me out the door by sending me on this trip to Switzerland. He knew I needed a breather and a time of refreshment for my spirit. I felt nervous, and unsure, but excited to go. I brought Addy with me, and thought if nothing else it would be a special time for the two of us together.

It was that, and so much more.

Many of you have donated and donated and donated to this cause. Many people have given thousands of dollars to help improve the lives of our Boys. Many people gave before we moved, and many more people have given since. We are thankful for every single cent, and for every single bit of love that goes along with the cents. THANK YOU!! Because of the distance, all that communicating and giving is done online. Yay for internet! This was different though, because this was the first time I had seen a group of people, in the flesh, get behind this cause and get behind our Boys like this since we moved to Ukraine. It's different now that our Boys aren't just an idea or a passion. They are our friends and our loved ones. When I share about them now it's with a knowing that comes from hours spent together. Watching strangers work hard to prepare and then pull off an event like this just for our Boys, after really knowing our Boys is a whole new ballgame.


I just sat there, watching pies being auctioned off for my Boys and tears filled my eyes. How is God so good? How is it that He cares so much about our Boys and about us that He put it in the hearts of people thousands of miles away to give so generously and selflessly?

I wish so bad I could tell our Boys how much they are loved from afar. As I sat in that room on Friday night I wondered what each of the Boys would think and feel if they were surrounded by as much love as I was that night. I felt so honored, so loved- to overflowing. My spirit didn't see that coming. 🙂


To the International Church of Lucerne- your love and care for our family and our Boys is absolutely amazing. You tell us that you love and you care, and we believe it. Not just because of the money (which of course we couldn't appreciate more!) but because of your warm hearts and open arms. Your love is evident on your faces and we are just so thankful that God has brought our lives together. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for every bit of generosity poured out last weekend and in the months since we met. You have made a difference.


So, there's my Thanksgiving post. I'm not sure I've ever had a Thanksgiving where it hit home more. Praise God, it's time to go van shopping!! Yeehaw!


PS: Addy and I also got to spend some very special time with family. Brett and Rachel just got married and it was such a joy to be with them. Serious balm for my soul. Brett and Rachel, we love you and are so proud of you. Addy and I loved and savored every single minute with you. Ukraine is waiting for you!!! 😉