Saturday, June 18, 2016

Reading - an important part of our summer







 This fall when we begin our school year , we will be starting our 30th year of formal schooling.  We value reading the most as far as the academics go. I happen to love reading and encourage our children to read, read, and read. It makes my soul happy to watch as they discover the joy of books. When they run up to me excited to share what they are reading i love it. One of the ways we have tried to encourage reading is thru a summer reading program. Sometimes we have done this thru our local library. Other times I do my own program. With this many children I find it easier for me to do this rather than use programs available at the library ( which are excellent ). Just the logistics of managing the programs protocol and record keeping sometimes don't work for our children. So this week we started our program....these are pics of some of the kids who took right to it the night I introduced it. We even have a place for Jubal for his reading.

My program is pretty simple . I bought bags, a recording booklet, a special pen and a piggy bank from the Dollar Store for each one. My older ones will earn 25 cents for 5 books read that someone older checks off in their record books and a sticker is placed on a chart. When they reach 50 books they will get an extra reward of 10 dollars for the summer with the 25 cents/per 5 books they've earned. I have a collection of extra activities like new puzzles for diff. ages, Dory coloring books with 3D , paper airplanes, cards, new memory games and other things to do on the quiet parts of our days in the summer . This is to encourage quiet times . We do a lot of outside times in summer with the most time swimming but we always have a need for some down time. Usually at our home it is nap or quiet time from 1 to 3 daily. The older ones can read during this time.

We have also done some books read aloud or listening to cds of great people in history and the christian faith. Developing listening skills are important for our kids who sometimes struggle with this . Encouraging times where they have to pay attention to a reader who is reading out loud or following the directions of a music cd helps with this skill.

I love summer because we don't feel the pressure to have to do all the academics and we can relax and share in one of my joys way more than during the school year. Reading is so important for the children who want to go on to college but also in life as an adult can be enriched with good reading skills. All of my kids at home are now ESL ( English as a second language ). Reading helps them to develope their vocabulary and proper use of the verbs , pronouns and other parts of speech. My first desire though is for them to love to read because I have seen if they enjoy it they will read. We check out easily 120 to 150 books every 3 weeks for the children. They all love going but I have to restrict the amount of kids I send so they rotate. We have many books and book shelves of ones we own too.

Read to me or can I read to you....are words I love to hear.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Remembering our first adoption in 1985 when we traveled to Mexico.... 31 yrs ago - Abraham's Story

 This was our Abraham loving to sit on the swing in the front of his orphanage.

Ken Silver was a dear friend who traveled with us to help facilitate getting Abraham getting out and into our family. When Abraham was around 2 he suffered a beating where both legs were broken and he was in a body cast. He is also blind .  

 We took our oldest daughter, Laura Jeane who was 6 yrs old with us.

 Some of the children in front of the orphanage



 Paul helping Abraham get a drink.


 A birthday party for one of the children - complete with a real Mexican piƱata .

 Group picture taken on our trip to pick up Abraham... Other couple there are Dave and Judy ( missionaries ) and a young woman also a missionary.

 Laura Jeane connected with several of the children but this little one was a favorite of ours.



 She was special to Abraham as well.




 The kids would line up in the dining area and sing praises to Jesus. Even our little Abraham did this.


 This is me holding our Abraham. Saying goodbye to him in October of 1985 but returning in December to bring him home on a medical visas. I was just 26 yrs old...We had Laura Jeane, Jennifer and Molly - ages 6, 4 and 2.

Here is Abraham with his beloved, Dee Anna now. All grown up 33 yrs old. 



Paul and I had 3 girls and I was pregnant with our 4th child the year before I traveled to Mexico. I lost the baby and we were devastated by the death of our baby. However, months later I heard of a mission trip to Mexico that our church at the time supported. If I had been pregnant I would not have traveled to Mexico . Even though I was terribly sad about losing our baby I can now see how God moved in that situation to allow me to travel and adopt Abraham. I could not see or say this during that time of my life. I had to choose to move forward from my grief and loss to the next journey the Lord gave to us...which was our adoption of Abraham.

I traveled with the team in October of 1985. It was during a preparation meeting that I learned of a little boy who was blind. He had suffered a beating months before. Paul and I prayed about adopting him and began the process to adopt. We got our home study done in an amazing timeframe and for just 500 dollars. We were originally going to continue with his adoption until we learned of 2 more times where his life was in harms way...So we prayed and God told us to travel in December of 1985 to bring our son home. We decided to bring him home on a medical visas. We had no idea how God was going to bring Abraham home but we had no doubts He would.

We left the Friday after Thanksgiving and it was amazing how God made it all come together. He provided a wealthy , Mexican couple who had helped the orphanage before. They were moved to help us to get our son home . The De Lemora Pena's traveled with us to obtain a passport and a miracle happened - we got it when we should not have . Then we went to the US embassy and were able to obtain his visas to travel to the US. There were too many mountains to climb over and too many obstacles that got in the way but we saw the Lord work thru each and everyone that I never had any doubt we would be bringing my son home. Our trip took just 10 days including our 2 days of travel. We arrived home with Abraham on December 10.

Our anniversary is on Dec. 19. My dad came up to watch the kids while Paul and I went out to dinner. Abraham had been listening to Christmas music the 9 days he had been home and he was singing all the carols in perfect English...this was our first sign that Abraham had an amazing talent and gift for music. We had given him his birthdate so he was just under 3 yrs of age.

Abraham has perfect pitch. He can play any instrument and long pieces of music, and any song he hears once. He has a gentle spirit and a quiet faith. God brought his girl friend, DeeAnna into his life 9 yrs ago at our church. He adores her and their love is shared by a love for the Lord. They have a simple but fulfilling relationship even thru the struggles each one has. Abraham suffered a frontal lobe injury during his beating in the orphanage. This causes him to not be able to recall things at times. He forgets even that he is hungry...so he is not able to live independently. The music part of his brain was not affected . He plays for events in our area like weddings, church gatherings, nursing homes community events. Once when he answered in his journal , "If you can have anything at all what would it be ? " We thought he'd write about getting his eye sight back. Not at all . He wanted a baby grand piano. That tells you a lot about his soul...which is music and his faith.

We recently went to a retirement party for his music teacher in early elem. school ( before we home schooled him ). I heard 2 stories about him that made me so very proud. One was told to us by another teacher. A storm was coming up and the kids were all huddled in a room. They lost their electricity and it was dark. Kids were screaming and crying and Abraham who lives in the dark because he is blind got them all to pray and things calmed down. His music teacher , Mrs. Hall shared at the end about diff. things during her career with children. She said she prays for the children but only once did she have a student who left her room every day and told her he was praying for her...she was talking about Abraham. When they had Halloween parties he dressed as the " Holy Ghost " ( a sheet with holes cut out of it ). When asked what he was he got to share his faith. This was  in early elementary school.

God has always had his hand on our son, Abraham. I am so glad that He chose us to be his forever momma and daddy. Now he is the oldest son with 35 siblings. We never thought we would be in this journey of life but what an awesome God we serve.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's Been A Year Today Since He Was Placed in My Arms Forever


When I first met him - a tiny little thing.
Thanks to Kofi Jubal is alive today .


Finally home on May 23, 2015 with baby Gideon.




Surgery pre op in September to remove the foot tissue and revise the stumps for a better fit for his prosthetic legs. 












Gideon and Jubal



                                                                                 First Snow

Loves ice cream.


                       Learning to walk in his legs from November ....


Our happy little guy




Starting to take steps by himself - watch out world here he comes !



Placing his hand in Jabin's hand print....I wonder if he will remember his sweet brother in Ghana.


Well today we celebrate exactly a year that Jubal was placed into my arms. Joseph and I had traveled to Ghana to bring him home and many miracles had to happen first. We had his documents but not his passport. We were able to get his passport, have and pass his exit interview and travel home after being in Ghana just 2 weeks. God moved in ways that only He can to help us get Jubal home and look at him now.

He was just a mere 9lbs, hands tightly clasped, not making eye contact with us and showing very little emotions. After just 2 days we had him laughing . He had severe reflux and vomited all the time. Good thing all of my bio. kids did to because I was well equipped to deal with this issue and he quickly over came his reflux issues and gained weight. He now is pushing 25 lbs and eats every thing we do. He has surpassed all of his developmental markers and probably the most amazing is his language development. He remembers and sings complete songs that he hears. He repeats everything and speaks in full sentences. He is deeply bonded to all of us . He can name each member of the family and all of the Johnsons who are 11 more names. He is one of the littles and plays along with them. He can even count to 10. Some people might wonder about our mega, large family but honestly for children like Jubal it is the best stimulation mixed with love that happens here . This many around him to help, encourage and support him thru his life.

Jubal you bring so much joy to our family ! Can't wait for your next year.