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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Homestudy Update

Well, here I sit, in a very clean house, waiting for our brand new caseworker from our brand new international adoption agency to come begin our home study update.  It should not take us long to complete the update, and their our information/homestudy will be sent to Illinois, so one woman can make the decision of whether are not we are qualified to be parents again.  It seems so crazy, that I can give birth to as many children as I choose to.  But....the state tells me how many I can adopt.  But, that is Illinois!  One of only 5 states in the country that has this regulation.  

Our new caseworker is very good, and specializes in getting large families approved.  She told us she would not even have taken our case if she was not confident she could get us through.  So.....here we go!

We should have an answer in the next month.   And in the meantime, Wen and Wu sleep alone every night, on a plywood mattress, with no pillow, toys, or even a blanket.  Please Lord, let this go through.  But in the case that this is not your will......Please provide those precious treasures with a family.....and soon!  I know it breaks our Lords hearts to see these lil ones missing out on so much of their childhood.  There are SO many children who wait.  Wake up Christians!  Answer the call!  Fund those who are!  Pray for those children who wait and wait, and have such great needs, that are not being met.   

Will post an update soon!  In the meantime.....here are some new pics of my treasures~!




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!!

McKinney

Family Christmas!




Well another year has come and almost gone!  We are excited to celebrate the birth of our King, Jesus Christ again this year!  We have had a crazy busy year, as usual.  Lots of basketball games, homework, church activities, and family time.

Big news of the year, is that we have moved!  Yes, really, we have moved off of our farm.  There were several motivating factors behind our move, but God literally worked out every single detail for us, and we are thrilled in our new home.  It is LARGE, comfortable, and cozy!  Come visit us!  New address is 3098 N. Norwood Ave., Decatur, IL 62526.

Dale and Ann celebrated 25 years of marriage this year!  It has been a great 25 years, and we hope to have 25 more years together (or more!).  Dale is working hard getting Tzedakah Christian Health Center up and going, it will be Decatur’s first free medical clinic.  He is employed at SIU School of Medicine, but is working at the clinic in his “free” time.  He also took some of our teens to Nicaragua this past summer.  Ann is still home educating (this is our 14th year!), and still hoping to find time to write that book that is in her head!  

Brogan, Zachary and Landon were able to visit over Thanksgiving!  Landon is quite a little charmer, and we are completely smitten with that little man!  Zachary is employed as a police officer and Brogan is working at a trophy business in Havelock, NC.  They need to move CLOSER!!! 

Patrick is in a journeyman welding/pipefitting program at MTI in Springfield.  He will graduate in June, and will probably be whisked away to wherever his honey, Danyne, lands!  They are adorable together!  He is also working part-time at Kmart, so feel free to stop in and ask him to carry something heavy for you.  He does it a lot!

Keagan, Toby, and Brian have all played a lot of basketball this year, and have also been doing a lot of sledding lately!  They all love the pool table, ping pong table, and dart board at our new house.  

Bronwyn, Brittany, and Brianna are loving the new house also.  More space, more places to make their movies, and WIFI, which they love (but mom doesn’t).  Having so many teenagers in the house is a lot of fun, but we sure go through a lot of groceries!  I kept track of just what we consume for breakfast in a given month, and it was overwhelming!  

Rory and Meng are great!  They are both in 2nd grade and doing fantastic!  Rory’s favorite is math, Meng loves to read. They are also both getting ready to start a new basketball season.  This is the first year Meng’s doc has cleared her to play, so she is very excited!

And Daley, or the “Princess of the Castle Norwood”, as we are now calling her!  She is doing very well.  Sleeping so much better, happier, and growing like crazy!  And, of course, still very spoiled!  


As always, we all continue to try our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  He has asked us to do some big things, but has always blessed us when we have tried our best to answer His call.  Our new home is just one example of His blessing.  Our amazing family is another.  God is good.  Serving Him is amazing.  
MERRY CHRISTMAS!  GOD BLESS YOU!

And a PS  WE GOT CHINA'S APPROVAL TO ADOPT THE TWINS!!!  Now we just have to get Illinois approval, and we are parents AGAIN!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

And a few more!

Ok, here are a few more photos, including a pic of Wen and Wu, the twins we are hoping to adopt!  Aren't they so amazing!  We will call them Wen and Wu, their Chinese names (we learned through Meng, that changing a name is difficult!), but their American names will be Cecil and Ervin, after my father and father-in-law!




An update AND some photos of my treasures!

Well, we are LOVING our new home!  I am almost unpacked, and we have all settled in well.  We had a crazy scare the first week.  We all had headaches, and felt sick.  We just assumed that we were exhausted from packing and unpacking.  Nope...turns our we had a carbon monoxide leak, and we were all feeling the effects!  But, God is good, His hand of protection was on us, and we are fine, the boiler is repaired, and life goes on!  But we did install some carbon monoxide detectors!!!

Daley has been doing SO well since we moved!  We lost her pacifier the first few days here, and once we found it, we decided she didn't really need it after all!  She cannot keep it in by herself, and her dentist is going nuts over her having it!  So, this is day 8 with no paci.  And....she has slept through the night almost every night since we have been here!  Praising God for some much needed sleep!  Over 4 years of never sleeping through the night has taken it's toll on this old momma!

No update on the twins.  We thought for sure we would here from China by now, but it seems that the families needing waivers are taking longer to be granted pre approval for adoptions.  So....we still wait!  We did get some awesome updated photos of them, however!  Chomping at the bit to get our home study updated and going!

Well, gotta get some sleep!  Enjoy these new photos of my sweetie-pies!  And God bless you all!








Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Life Change - MAJOR! :)

Hello!
   Wow, where to start!?!   Well, last weekend, we MOVED!  It is just crazy how it all worked, but here is the short story.  We knew it would be hard to sell our home, while living in it.  Keeping a house of 12 clean and orderly is a challenge.  So, we looked into purchasing the new home, before selling ours, which truthfully scared me to death. We needed $4200 down.  The next day, we got a check in the mail for $4155.  And we remembered a secretly stashed $50 that was given to Dale by a stranger, who admired our crazy family.  So, God provided the down payment, without us touching our savings.
   We made the purchase.  SCARY.  We put the livestock up for sale, and sold them all within the week!!!  We put every dime back into savings, and had enough reserve to make about 8 house payments, should our home not sell quickly.  Whew.  It was hard to say goodbye to my sweet critters, but they all got excellent homes!  My sweet Pedro went to a dear friend, so I can visit him often!    The following two weekend, we showed our farm house many, many times.  And then finally, an offer! Actually two!  We accepted, made it through inspections and such, and have a closing date for middle of December.  Whew again!  God is good, and He totally is taking care of us!
   So, we moved in last weekend.  Our new home is huge, beautiful, and starting to feel more comfortable every day.  I am still not unpacked, but getting there.  We are settling into city life, and it is nice!  Our neighborhood is quiet, our dogs are adjusting better than expected, we have so much space and play/school areas!  It is really great!  I almost feel like this house was build for us!  Fireplaces, 8 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a fenced yard, 4 car garage, a beautiful fountain for Daley Faith!  It is just wonderful!  And it was less $ than what we sold our farm home for!
    And, so you were wondering about the twins?  Li Wen and Li Wu AKA Cecil and Ervin are still waiting in China, and we are anxiously waiting to see if we get pre-approval from China.  We applied last week, and should hear from them any day now.  If we get approval, we update our home study and  then we face Illinois!  Our agency is confident they can get us approved, so we again are trusting God's perfect plan for our lives!  Parents of twin 3 year olds?!?!?   WOW!  He is gonna have to give me strength!  LOL
   God bless you friends.  Trust Him, Serve Him, and give Him control of your life.  You will not be sorry!  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Decisions, decision.........

Hello!

     Well, our family is facing some major decisions right now, and all of the options are exciting!   First of all, is our adoption decision.  We never thought we could adopt again....or at least until the teens were over 18.  The state of IL is very particular about family size, and we are over their limit.  But recently a friend, who is a caseworker, called to ask if I was still advocating for a set of twins, who have arms and hands just like my Rory.  I had been told that they found a family, so I was no longer advocating for them.  The caseworker told me that they had NOT had a family, and then asked if we were interested in them!!!  I explained to her our family size limit issue, and she said that her agency would do everything in their power to get IL to approve us!  Not a guarantee by any means, but we have never had an agency willing to go head to head with IL for us!  So, here we go.  It is in God's hands.  He knows where these boys belong.  If it is with us, we are ready!

    In the midst of thinking about adding 2 to our family, we realized that our home is much too small. We already have Meng and Daley sleeping in the master bedroom with us, and no where to put two more!  So we began getting estimates to build onto our home.  We got several estimates, and they were so radically different, that it confused the heck out of us!  So, we decided to look at all of our options, and began looking at large homes for sale.  And then, we found it!  The perfect home for us!  It is HUGE, plenty of room for everyone, plus the new lil ones (if they are ours), and even guests!  The only catch is, it is is a residential area, which means giving up my farm and my farm critters, including the new horses we just got!   So, here we go again, putting our lives and our future into God's mighty hands.  I am sitting here right now, waiting for our realtor to come, so we can officially list our home on the market.  And if it sells, we will be moving!   Whew!  I am excited, but also a wee bit overwhelmed!

    I will keep this blog current, with our decisions and our progress.  Prayers appreciated!
Much love, and God bless!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Running, Riding, and Rescuing!

I don't do things for myself very often.  Not enough time, and better things to do!  But, not long ago, I began a running program, and I can truly say it is one of the best things I have ever done for myself!  I am in better shape physically than I have been in a very long time.  And spiritually as well!  When I run, I have nothing to do in my mind but: Pray, Praise, and sort through the thoughts that are always racing through my head.  Daley runs with me, and it is a blessing to her as well.  She loves the sunshine, the breeze blowing in her hair, and the movement of the stroller, thumping along the road.  We have done several charity runs together, and even though we don't astound people with our amazing speed or abilities, we love our time together, and are both better for it!  :)

Well, we did it!  We talked Dale into getting some horses!  Which was no small task!  We had horses when Brogan and Patrick were teens, and they were a lot of fun.  But, once they got older, the younger kids did not have enough interest and Dale and I did not have enough time.  This summer, we went to the state fair, and all the kids were infatuated with the horse shows!  So, we began talking and praying about adding horses to our farm again.  And God started working.  We now have 2 beautiful horses, both given to us and both a blessing!  Sugar is our old gal!  A beautiful jet black thoroughbred/Morgan cross, who is a babysitter for the younger kids.  And Cherry is the younger mare, who is a wee bit spunkier than we hoped, but she is still working out beautifully for the kids to love and learn on.  I have always loves horses, so I am very happy to look out the window and see them both grazing in our pasture!

And on to the rescue part.   Well, it started with a little stray dog, we call Wishbone.  We don't want another dog.  We don't need another dog.  But she came, she's a sweetheart, she's adorable, and it looks  like she's staying.  Actually, Patrick and Danyne are hoping to take her with them, when they start their life together.  But in the meantime, YES, we have another dog.  But that's not the only rescue that God has put on our hearts.  We are feeling that familiar adoption "tug" again.  Yes, I know, you will think we are crazy.  We may very well be.  But.....I would rather the world think we were crazy than God be disappointed that we failed to obey Him.  So.....here we go.  I cannot reveal any great details yet, but I will say, that if God intends for us to move forward with this particular adoption, He will have to perform some mighty miracles.  Miracles in moving China to waive regulations, Illinois to waive regulations, and in blessing our finances!  We are willing, if He has chosen us to be parents again!
How I love this exciting life!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lots of good news!

Hello friends!   A dear gentleman from church reminded me this week, that I have not been very faithful in posting family updates!  So....I'm gonna try to do better!  Especially with it being summer....I do have a little more free time.

We are having a great summer!  First of all....I am getting SLEEP!   Yes, Daley is sleeping SO much better these past few months.  She is sleeping most nights until 6am, which is amazing considering she is usually up every 2-3 hours.  She has been happier, healthier, and we are gradually getting her seizures under control.  And that upcoming horrible, nasty hip surgery that I have been dreading putting her through....well, I cancelled it.  Not sure if it was the absolute right decision, but I feel like a 100# lifted off of me the minute I officially cancelled it.  WooHoo!

Brian has also been doing great!  Better behavior, less arguing and paranoia.   I think the thing that has helped Brian the most, was allowing God to work on my heart and mind.  I have to understand that Brian is different, and he will never behave or act like my other children.  He is who God made him.  I may never understand his actions, his noises, or his antics, but God does.

Dale, Patrick, Danyne (Pat's GF), Keagan, and Bronwyn are leaving on Thursday for NICARAGUA! I am so excited for them, a little nervous for them, and YES, a tad bit jealous of them!  Praying they can be the hands and feet of Jesus, and all of them will GROW in their relationship with Christ!

Britt and Brianna are doing well!  Enjoying their summer off.  They are both amazing girls.  Just recently I was sent their entire adoption "file", and I was pretty horrified over some of the things I read. God has surely had His hand upon them.  With everything they have been through in their short lives, they should be angry and bitter, but they are joyful and full of love and compassion.  I never though they could adapt to our family so quickly.  :)

Rory, Meng, and Toby just got back from Camp COCO, which is an oncology/hematology camp in Bloomington.  They had a blast!  I am grateful to all of the docs and nurses who volunteer their time to let kids fighting illnesses to still be able to enjoy the fun times of summer camp!

My sweet Dale is working hard on getting Tzedakah Christian Health Center open!  It will be the first FREE medical clinic in Macon County.  If all goes well, it should be open next month.  I am quite proud of him, for following through with a dream God put on his heart.  He's my sweetie, and I love him more each day!  <3 p="">
Me...well, I am still running, although it is much harder in this heat!  I am a winter person, but I am trying to find time to run in the early morning, or at dusk.  I am participating for the first time in the St. Jude Children's Hospital run on Aug. 3.  Our relay team of 10 will be running from the Walmart in Forsyth, to the Convention Ctr in Peoria.  We have to take country roads when possible, so it is a total of 96 miles. This will be a true test of my running commitment! LOL I am trying to prepare for it, so prayers appreciated!

Think that's all of the big news for now!  I do have 2 special kids I would like to ask you to pray for.  One is a baby girl, whose momma is not sure she wants to be a momma.  She is not willing or ready to accept the responsibilities of being a momma, and baby B is suffering because of it.  Please pray that this momma would step up, or allow baby B to be adopted by a family who is ready, willing, and able (no, not us!). Second is a young man named TJ.  He is unchurched, but recently accepted Christ at a Christian camp.  Pray that he will find other Christians in his neighborhood, his school, and family who will help him GROW.  He has such potential, but needs guidance and accountability.
Thanks sweet friends!  God bless you and your family!  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mary the GREAT!

Well, last month, it happened.  I lost my granny.  I knew it was gonna happen.  She was 97 years old, had cancer for the 3rd (or maybe 4th?) time, and had a weak heart from several heart attacks.  She died peacefully, in her sleep, in her own home, with her sweet dog Rufus(her best friend) near her.

Mary the Great, AKA Ralph, AKA granny, was truly an awesome, inspiring woman.  She was probably one of the Godliest women I have ever known.  She lived what she believed, and devoted her life to serving Jesus Christ.  She wrote me a grandmothers book several years ago, which speaks over and over, of her dedication to Christ.  She left an amazing legacy.

I am so glad I got to spend summers with her, building birdhouses, and pressing flowers.  I am glad I got to spend my Monday evenings with her, sharing a meal and watching Full House (one of her favorites).  I am glad my kids got to know and love her, although I hope the littles will remember her as they grow.  And I hope someday I can be a Godly grandmother to Landon, and to all my grandchildren who will come after him.  I hope God will be as pleased with me, as I know he is with her, on the day I leave this earth.

She left me a small amount of money.  I struggled what to do with it, as I wanted her to be pleased with how it was spent.  After lots of prayer, this is what God put on my heart. We bought 10 fruits trees in her memory.  I spend many summers learning to can and preserve fruit with her.  We also bought 3 picnic tables, in honor of her love of "family time".  And finally, we bought 10 pairs of shoes, to be sent to orphans in South America, to honor her loving and giving spirit, that always chose to help and serve.

Bless you, Mary the Great!  Thank you for setting the standard for our family, and thank you for being the exact woman God created you to be!  See you soon!
This was taken the week before granny died.  She and Daley Faith had a very special bond!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My encouragement!

Well, there are times when I feel I am failing with my kids.  Sometimes I question why God chose me to parents all of these kids.  Times when I try to be Jesus to them, but I end up being human to them, and getting frustrated, angry, and losing my temper.  And then I end up mad and disappointed in myself.
Well, God chose to send me some HUGE encouragement today.  In the form of a writing assignment.  Each of my jr high-ers had to writer me a paragraph, on what they expected to be doing with their lives in 10 years.  I want to take a minute to share Brittany's paper with you.  And yes.....I did ask her permission before I printed it here!  LOL

"My Life in Ten Years" by Brittany Owens McKinney

Well, in 10 years, I hope to be in college, earning a degree in beauty, and readying myself to be a worship leader. I pray I have a car at that time, and a nice apartment and that I 'm where I need to be in my relationship with God.  Hopefully there will be no more major bumps in the road and I'll be able to open my own store by the time I am 26.  The store will be like Monica's, only a thousand times better.  It'll be big and have my art everywhere.  And a lot of the money I make will go to help change Haiti.  The store will be in the middle of the worst neighborhood so I can make an impact.  I'll give away clothes, food, school supplies, and anything else, because I know just how much I needed those things when I had nothing. When they come to get the free stuff, I'll use that as an opportunity to share Christ with them. And they don't have to just come to me, I could go to them and drop stuff off at their house.  Or maybe God will lay it on my heart to adopt a million kids, like some "people" I know.  Maybe I'll become a doctor and move to Africa to save lives.  Truth be told, only God knows where my life will go and I've just got to make sure I am ready for whatever God tells me to do.

*tears*

Monday, February 18, 2013

Brian...........

Brian Lamont.  He is so hard, and I will admit, this could be a very depressing post, because I am struggling with him at this point.

When we were approached about adopting Brian, and his sisters, we were told he had mild CP.  I do believe this is true, however, anyone who has spent 30 minutes with him can tell you this is the least of his issues.  Brian has autism, significant cognitive delays, anger issues, lying issues, post traumatic-stress disorder, ADHD and the list goes on.  He was also abused, neglected, and kept stuffed away in his bedroom for most of his life, before he came to us.  There are very clear reasons for many of his behaviors.  His former caregivers were cruel to him, and blind to his needs.  So, we were basically handed this child, whom we had no idea how to deal with.  Brian's issues were things I had never been exposed to before.  But we knew we were his family, and we moved forward.

Brian can be so incredibly sweet.  He tells me he loves me.  He likes to have his back rubbed.  He makes me pictures at school, and appreciates simple things I do for him.  But he also punches and kicks the younger children.  He pinches them so hard he leaves welts and bruises.  He lies continually.  I can never believe a word he says.  When confronted, his entire demeanor changes, and he gets an eery look on his face, and is completely non-responsive to anything you say or do.  It is a wee bit frightening.
Simply asking him to take a shower can be a war somedays, but then others, it is no issue at all.

I am noticing a pattern to his behaviors, and I am seriously wondering about the possibility of him being bi-polar.  He will goes several weeks with excellent behavior.  And then we will have "hell week".  Right now, we are having a bad time.  But hoping we are almost done.  He is currently in his room, after punching Toby in the back, and pinching him so hard on the leg that Toby has a bruise already.  And then of course, he lied, and said that he was simply "pushing Toby off of him".

Please keep us in prayers.  I try SO hard to see Brian through God's eyes.  But it is a daily struggle.  I feel like I am constantly on guard with him, making sure he does not seriously hurt anyone.  He is a child of God's and I am privileged to be his new momma.  But this momma needs some prayer warriors to hold her up right now!

Bless you all.   And my hats off to you mommas who have autistic children.  You having been given a pretty big task.....God must think you are pretty special and capable!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Finding Joy!

Hello friends!  Just a quick note to let you know we are all thriving!  And finding JOY in all we do!

Daley has been amazing lately, sleeping better than she ever has, so happy all of the time, and being more mobile than she has ever been!  She brings me joy!

Dale and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage this month.  Wow, I feel old!  My sweet husband is such an amazing man!  Best thing that God ever gave to me!  He brings me joy!

Brogan, Zachary, and Landon have settled into their new home in NC.  And God has chosen to anser my prayers.  He has provided them with Christian friends, and they have even found a church they like there!  This brings my heart such joy!  Love them and miss them dearly!

Patrick is home this semester, attending RCC instead of ONU.  It is great to have him home to help with the kids and the farm, and saving us lots of money, with the lower tuition costs.  Patrick is such a great guy.  He brings me joy!

I have gotten lots of joy our of basketball this season.  I have 7 playing.  Watching Keagan and Timmy's team take on Bronwyn's team has been crazy!  I cannot believe how good they are all playing!  Impressed!  And Toby and Brian are playing together on a team as well, and are both doing fantstic.  Brian's team has accepted him so well, that is a blessing.  And little Rory man is doing his best to make baskets and steal the ball on the 1st grade team, with mom and dad as his coach!  My first time coaching, and I love it!  And Meng is a cheerleader, and is showing the church just how loud she can yell!  Basketball this year has been a blast, and I look forward to it each week.  It brings me Joy~!

Brittany is taking her 2nd semester of guitar lessons, and WOW she is getting good!  Hearing her play, brings me....you guessed it....JOY~

And Brianna.  I am struggling finding something she is interested in!  Besides boys!  LOL  Brianna is a crazy, funny, sweet, helpful child, who brings me joy!

Lastly, my critters are bringing me lots of joy this season.  I have had 15 lambs born on the farm so far, with more to come!  They are all so beautiful, and remind me how amazing the gifts of life is!  There is simply no way these babes were an accident of nature.  I have every belief that God created each and every living creature, by His hand, and for a great purpose!  Amen!

Do you need some joy?!?!   Aks God to show it to you.  There are things all around you, that if you take the time to notice and enjoy them, they will bring you JOY!

Blessings, my dear friends!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Danny"

Well, this little handsome African prince is Danny.  He is waiting for his forever family to find him, in far away Ghana, Africa.  And.......I cannot get him off of my mind.
Sometimes I think I have gone crazy.  My life is SO hectic and busy.  We have more doctor appts in a month than most people do in a year!  Daley's sleep habits(or lack of) are SO difficult, that I am ALWAYS exhausted, and I can barely keep up with the kids schooling.  And we JUST finalized B, B, & B's adoptions last month!!!
But.....I see this little man, read his story, and my heart breaks for him.  He NEEDS the love of a family.  He NEEDS someone to support him, to snuggle him, to kiss him when he's hurt, and to help him reach his potential.  Is that me?!?!   Could I possibly take on another child with huge needs?!?!   Is God asking me to be his momma, or just to help find his momma?!?!   Wish He would just send me an email and let me know!  LOL
Anyway, I have no idea my role in Danny's life.  The odds of an agency or even Illinois approving us to adopt again are pretty darn slim.  But, God can move mountains, if He chooses to.
Please help me pray for Danny!  Have you heard Kings and Queens by Audio Adrenaline?!?   Well, Danny is a future King!  :)