Friday, December 26, 2008



We would like to share some joy with our family and friends:

Joy that expresses itself thru the many faces of our family: This year has been a glorious year in lives of our children. Joy as we watch all of them gain the confidence to overcome, the ability to strive for their heart's desire, and the love to welcome 5 new Briggs children into our ever expanding family. Some of the more significant happenings this year were: In Feb. our dossier was submitted to the country of Ukraine for us to be able to adopt 5 children. In March Jeane's mom passed away from a long battle with Alzheimer’s; we have a peace and a joy knowing that she is now with Jesus. In May we traveled to Ukraine for 4 weeks to complete the adoption of Olivia- age 16, Rachel-age 14 and Tia-age 11 ( our first sibling adoption) , Jonas- age 13 and Caleb-age 9. All 5 were from the same orphanage. We have been the only family we have known who have been able to adopt 3 unrelated children and Ukraine has allowed us this honor 2 different times. The mother and granddad of the 3 new girls died of TB. They are latent carriers and have begun the treatment to prevent the disease of TB in them. Jonas lost his left eye from cancer; he was also a smoker since the age of 5. Praise God he has no desire for smoking now. They have been home 5 months and all are thriving, healthy and very happy kids. Luke has had 3 surgeries this year. The first was in April to remove a spinal myloceal (hernia). He had a knee surgery to help his leg to grow straight and he had a second palate surgery. All have been successful and he has done remarkably well; he definitely enjoys being able to walk now! There has been joy in seeing Luke be able to talk clearly, continue to walk and have a normal healthy spine. Mya was scheduled to have her left leg in an external fixator to grow her femur 5 cm but, she got sick and it is postponed until 2009. She now wears a leg brace and shoe lift; these do help her to walk better..

All the kids are doing well in our home school. Each one is meeting their challenges head on and overcoming issues like ADHD, FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome), speech and developmental delays common in children from an orphanage. It is amazing to see how far these kids have come. What joy to watch Joseph (19), home just 3 years, succeed at his job at Sam's Club. This is especially rewarding since he was basically forgotten and written off in Ukraine; he was sent to an insane asylum during the summer months while the other "normal" kids were sent to the beach. Watching the older kids mature and discover positive things about themselves has been very fulfilling for us. We have joy in seeing Ben, Mary Kate and Molly open their hearts to even more brothers and sisters and loving them unconditionally.

All 5 of our "grand" children are doing well. Laura Jeane and Brian's boys, Tyler and Drew have started school and enjoy it. Ava, Mary Kate's little one, is almost 2 and talking up a storm. We rejoice with Mary Kate and Ava as the Lord has brought Keith into their lives. He loves them both dearly and we expect a wedding in the future. Jenn and Jeremiah's Ella and Ezra are expecting a baby brother or sister in July. They still live in NC where he is a pastor. Molly is still living in Hagerstown and we now have a "grand" puppy- Leyla, who in reality is loved by all and we can return her to Molly after she gets off her 24 hr shifts... the kids and us get the benefit but she has the responsibility. There has been so much joy in watching our children have their own children. I wonder how many "grand" ones we will have?

There is joy because in October we completed a very large addition that gives us a "dorm" room, 2 more full baths, a laundry room, a gathering room and a new 2 car garage. Winter won't be so cramped this year because of the extra space. Once again we have seen the Lord's provision as He has met all our need; this has opened our hearts to these dear children and we have been blessed. We pray that our story, our testimony to the love the Lord has placed in our hearts, has given you some joy as well as an encouragement to perhaps open your heart to a child, an orphan or a need in someone's life. We are often asked, "How do you do what you do?" Our answer is simple and it comes from 2 Corinthians 5:14….. For Christ's love compels us….. To be compelled by a love outside of our understanding, deeper than our own love for ourselves and a love that desires to change lives, brings so much fulfillment and joy. We hope that some of you can experience the joy of watching the life of a child be given to them, the ability to live and be who they were created to be and to experience the joy of a full stomach, loving arms around them and a family who is there for them.

Our gifts to you are the faces of joy from our own blessings. Our hope is that some of you will adopt, support adoption or the cause of a child. It is our heart and deeply felt passion to love children and to share what a blessing a child truly is... for in the beginning we were all blessed by a child, the baby in a manager, Jesus.

Our email is and our blog link is

Blessings for peace and joy this Christmas,

A day full of joy and some of my reflections

We woke with our daughter, Molly coming in with her "baby" Leyla to open presents. Molly worked the rest of the day and this was her Christmas with us... Then we had our traditional brunch, cleaned up and left to visit Paul's mom and dad and on to visit Grandad. He is still in the rehab. home and they would not let him get out even for a few hours... We brought along our piano that Abraham played and we sang Christmas carols and danced (even some did some break dancing :)) Then we got home way latter than planned and we just fixed spaghetti instead of our lasagna...No one cared. When asked what was the best part of the day... most of them said it was, "visiting grandad". I would have to agree. We did not even eat dessert that evening... it was so late and no one wanted any... We ate cake and dessert for our breakfast instead this am...

This is such a busy time of year and I am sure most of you adults would agree... we are glad when things return to "normal". We have been nursing our older, mini dashund Abbie these past few days... we may have to make a decision about her soon, our Annie dog is also not doing well, last year our youngest dog, Levi died of a rare disease . These are all precious members of our family... then we also lost my mom in March and now my Daddy their grandaddy is very ill..... I reflect today on all the life that fills my home with these precious children- blessings given to us from the Lord and my heart is filled with much joy as I watch them change because of the love we have been able to give because He first loved us......

A few days ago I was watching some videos of a special done by BBC on Bulgarian orphanages. I saw deplorable conditions... children suffering at the hands of abusive caregivers. One little boy who looked about 4 yrs was actually older like 8 was trying desperately to such his thumb... when he moved his mouth off there was no thumb... someone in his orphanage had cut his thumb off because "they had gotten tired of him sucking it." Another little girl who was older as well than what she looked like was screaming as the caregiver moved her around lifting her leg and arm and swinging the kids into a tub to wash them... sort of hoisting them one armed and legged ( not gently). They were not concerned about her obvious pain... 6 months later when the BBC team arrived you could see when they showed this girl again she had a fracture in the top of her tibia the leg bone under her knee...

It is never pleasant to watch this and it is an outrageous way for people to treat another person ... and there is not much we can do to change it for all of the orphans... it can be very maddening for me.... However I can adopt and I can encourage others to help by adopting, or taking up the cause of these deperate orphans all over the world..... Here is a part of our Christmas letter ..... I beg, I beseech, I cry out to all of you reading my blog to be moved by the plight of children, orphans who have no one to comfort them, to stick up for them in abusive situations to let them know that someone cares...... PLEASE PRAY ABOUT HELPING OR ADOPTING THE CAUSE OF AN ORPHAN.......

Some pics from our Christmas Celebration---for Jenn

This is all the kids waiting to come down ... then opening stockings and finally coming into our sunroom for the presents under the tree....

I came up with this idea this year instead of wrapping so many presents for the 23 of us at home. It was great... I bought huge gift bags and each person had one with all of their presents in it. We had way less trash on Christmas am too.

Christmas eve and "Daddy" is up putting together a table

Here is Keith putting together a table for his little girl.... the first of many

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas eve and I am waiting for lots of people to go to sleep... so I decided to update my blog :)

We had a somewhat quiet day if it can ever be quiet here... the kids were so excited all day long... Our vet had us over this afternoon like he did last year when our beloved dog, Levi died... the kids loved seeing and meeting his cowboys, Jacobs sheep, llamas, mule and different breeds of horses. He shared another "cowboy" poem with us and hot chocolate and cookies.... He is such a sweet man and we sure glad he takes care of our animals....Tonight was our traditional meal of soup but this time we had made lots of cheese balls and had them with crackers and a veggie tray... Then we played our "Christmas Charades" that we have always played now for 25 yrs... Some of these pics are of the kids acting things or messages of Christmas... We also called Grandad. My dad has been very ill and was in the hospital and is now in rehab. He spoke with all of them... I love their smiles in some of these pics... Now it seems like it has gotten quiet here and so I must go play Santa... Merry Christmas!

Some pics of our 32 yr anniversary and Christmas with Jenn's family

We had a wonderful wknd. last wknd. in NC with Jenn and Jeremiah... MK and Keith came with Ava and we a grand time with all of our kids and grandkids. On Friday nite all the adults went out to eat... while the teens held the fort down.. and they did a wonderful job too. Then Sat. we put up the trampoline we gave them for Christmas and went to eat out with all 27 of us.... at Sweet Tomatoes and it was delicious. They took our reservation and it was not crowded at 1:30... which for our crowd was a plus...Home to some fun and relaxation( 27 of us in their farm house) :) On Sunday we went to their church and saw Jerimiah lead the worship and praise .... Everyone had a sweet time together and for as many of us it really was a smooth wknd. with lots of great memories made.... Here are some of the pics from the wknd.....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa of Calcutta always had room in her heart for one more. "Bring the child to me," she'd say.

She is probably the one person on this earth who I admired the most, for her heart and compassion. If I can only teach and share with others and especially my own children to love and to express their love to others like this. Then I will feel like I have been able to fulfill my deeply felt passion to love children and to know what a blessing a child truly is... for in the beginning we were all blessed by the baby in a manager, Jesus.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Joy- Experiencing the real meaning of Christmas

Since our family has expanded to now 22 kids.. I get asked "how do you do Christmas?" I share that besides the obvious sharing of the birth of Christ I try to have us experience Joy...I think that having a sense of joy and experiencing the meaning of Christmas is best done thru a home where joy is expressed thru music, lots of laughter, and the evidence of a "real" faith.So we have lots of lights to represent the light that came to us at Christmas, extra foods and goodies to remind us of the Lord's provision, and opportunities for us to share with others about the love of Jesus... to help build compassion in our hearts... we do giving activities like making shoeboxes for our local homeless shelter, and/or Samaritans Purse. We have them buy/make for each other( a name is picked for them to buy/make for their sibling), placing money in the Salvation Army buckets when we go shopping, baking for others and we listen to lots of Christmas music and sometimes go carolling. We have some straw set aside in a bag in a drawer along with an empty basket on our fireplace mantle. When someone does something for someone the receiver gets to tell that person they can put a piece of straw in the baby Jesus basket... on Christmas eve. we hope there is a nice, soft bed made for the baby by our love for one another... then Christmas am there is a baby placed in the manager basket representing Jesus. On Christmas eve. we give out the creche pieces to the little ones and we reenact the Christmas story with the chosen child doing their part. Then we all go outside ( we have done this in all weather) looking for the baby Jesus like the shepherds. Before this our older kids have made a manger scene by a firepit somewhere on our property.. we go seeking the baby as the shepards did and the wise men. When we find Him we sing carols by the fire.I think that the expression of joy thru gift giving and gift receiving is important at Christmas. There is a balance in all of it but it can be glorious to celebrate Jesus thru gift giving and receiving. I think joy is giving God the glory... we need to be able to express joy in our glory and praise to the newborn King.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If only I were in this one it would be our Christmas photo...

Someone asked the ages of our children:

From the oldest to the youngest-

Laura Jeane- 29, married to Brian with 2 boys( Tyler and Drew)

Jennifer-27, married to Jeremiah with ( Ella and Ezra and another one on the way-Yeah!)

Mary Kate-21,almost married to Keith with Ava

This is 10 teenagers :) 3 sets of virtual triplets, 3 sets of virtual twins when Mya turns 7 in a few weeks

This is what we did yesterday-cut our tree at the farm

Caleb, Isaac and Lily helping Joseph carry our tree...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You know what I loved about Sunday and sharing in church

There were 2 things that brought joy to me when I shared in church on Sunday..... the first was after we had shared at the first hour service, Jonas was by me and he said, "Mom it worked". Leah and Joseph heard him and they piped in with, "I saw so many people crying mom when we were up there... I counted at least 50 people crying." What they felt was evidence of something working or moving the people's hearts was the tears the kids saw... It was very touching that they would pick up on that part and then to have Jonas think "It worked" was precious.

The second thing I loved was that some of our older kids had asked if they could share some about adoption and what it meant to them... There was not enough time but I was moved to think that they wanted to speak in front of our large church about their life and family.

Playing with Playdough for hours

Boys Having Fun Playing Uno

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In Honor of National Adoption Month

Today our family shared in church about the amazing ways we have seen the Lord thru the many adoptions of our children. I will paste a copy of the words I shared in the 2 services . We have already heard from many and I know that the Lord will move to His will if we are obedient...

In honor of National Adoption Month we would like to share briefly our walk with the Lord thru our 17 adoptions. James 1:27 says, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and fautless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. Our very fulfilling walk in adoption really started when Paul and I gave our lives to Jesus- We first became adopted into the kingdom of God by choosing Jesus.

Paul and I gave our lives fully to Jesus before we met and then as a couple we dedicated our lives to serving him. We were childhood sweethearts. I have always had a call on my life and a love for children. We almost went to Africa to serve in an orphanage and our older kids tease us instead we are bringing all the kids here.

Often we are asked these questions:

What do you drive? A 15 passenger van and an 8 passenger Honda when we need to go with everyone.
How many bedrooms or how big is your house? It is a very large home with 4 and a half baths, and 8 bedrooms ( one is a lg. dorm room).
Why do you do what you do? This is a vey simple answer that was given to us while on our adoption trip for Josiah. It was in a devotion . Simply stated it comes from

2 Corinthians 5:14- For Christ's love compels us....

We have no other choice but to be obedient to Him who has called us.This is the love placed in our hearts - for orphans and especially special needs children- the ones no one wanted.

Several of our children were not the first choice of most families because of their health issues like kidney problems, cleft lip/palate, arthrogryposis, polio,heart condition, and the mere fact they were boys, to old, or came from abusive, dysfunctioning families where drug and alcohol were the norm.

Each one of our children have their own story of overcoming and experiencing the love of Christ. He had his hand on each ones precious life to lead our family to them.

My second reason for sharing today comes from a deep conviction I experienced the weekend before the elections. One of our greatest motivation for adopting and especially for adopting special needs children comes from our pro-life conviction. I have been involved in the pro life movement back when the only organization to work with was the Catholic church.

As I was praying about whom to vote for and how I can help the pro life movement it became ever clear that we Christians are not doing enough:

Most of us here today voted for what we thought was a pro life ticket. But that is the easy way to support pro life. We can push the screen in the voting booth and then walk away and feel that we have done enough... but I am here today to share that is not enough anymore. The right to life has been battling this abortion issue for 30 some years this way... and it helps but Christians can do more... I strongly feel we can encourage others to get involved by helping out at a crisis pregnancy center, supporting or helping unwed moms and their babies... we can personally open our hearts and homes to unwed moms, and orphans who have no one to care and love them. If anyone needs some more ideas or places to help come see us we can share several Christian places that support the pro life movement thru the crisis pregnancy centers or the actual adoption of babies and children and we need to do and not just vote... we need to get involved in the life of the pro life movement which is loving and caring and showing the love of Jesus to others thru our actions and not just by thinking we can just vote.

I want to end with just one quick story of one of our children's adoption- our Mya. We were at our agency just after we got home with Jacob, Isaac and Lily. They wanted to meet them and while there they shared a picture of a baby who they were having a hard time finding a family to adopt her. She was tiny and paralyzed on her L side ( her medical stated it was from hip dysplasia) which it was not at all. They wanted us to help find a home for her. We took one look at her picture and decided we were not showing this picture to anyone... we wanted her. We were the 13th family they had offered her to. Thank God the 12 before us said no... because if you have had the priviledge of meeting her she is a loving, very affectionate and full of charm little girl who will capture your heart easily with her smile. It turned out she had polio and that is what caused her paralysis. We traveled in Dec. 2002 for our first trip to meet her. While on that trip we asked to meet some other children they were having a hard time finding someone to adopt. We met our Anna and Josiah. We returned in Jan. of 2003 for her adoption. We brought her home Jan. 29. She was only 11 lbs. when she came home at almost 13 months old... they told us she would have died by the summer if we had not gotten her.... Praise God for her sweet life. What if we had decided not to do anything about our pro life conviction when we were deciding to adopt her? What if we had reasonably said, "We don't have enough money. We just got back with these 3." Or what if we had said 3 is all I can "handle" right now...........We were told after the adoption about her life expectancy if she had stayed in the orphanage... Praise God, Praise God we listened to the still small voice in our hearts and adopted her.

I have heard some say, I am too old. When we were adopting Joseph, Cate and Leah there was a couple coming in to the embassy in Kiev as we were leaving... they were there to adopt an almost 16 yr old girl. The father was 70. Paul and I are 52 and 53 so we have many more years left to adopt. Some say we can't afford it..... How do you think we have adopted this many or feed and care for this many children? The Lord has provided every step of the way in our walk of obedience to this call to "look after orphans in their distress."

Last Thanksgiving we were praying and wondering what new life would be around our table. We have 5 new children we adopted from Ukraine this past June and they will be celebrating their first Thanksgiving this Thursday. I hope we have encouraged someone to consider opening their hearts and homes to adopting a child, helping an unwed mother and her baby or helping at a crisis pregnancy center. Because today is not about us... it is about the love of Jesus and what He can do thru people who choose to walk a walk with Him that shows his Love by our actions and not just by our votes.... I encourage all of you to have new life next year to be thankful for at your Thanksgiving table.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blessed by another child- praise God

Jenn and Jeremiah called and shared some glorious news... they are expecting their 3d child in July. All of us are very excited for them and us... another little one to love.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dirt Dessert

I have had some request for the dessert that was in front of Lily for her b-day. It is called Dirt Dessert and is one of our kids favorites. I make it lots of times for their b-days because that is what they choose. Here is the recipe:

Only we just used a lg. bowl this time you can put it in a planter and eat with a spade... we had a plastic planter that I bought from IKEA but it is too small for us now.

1 Planter
Plastic Flowers
1 Spade
Cellophane or wax paper
candy rocks (optional)
gummi worms (optional)
2 - 1lb packages oreo cookies
1/2 stick margerine
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powder sugar
3 1/2 cups milk
2 small packages french vanilla instant pudding mix
12 oz cool whip
Mix with blender: margerine, cream cheese and powder sugar.
Mix in separate bowl: milk, pudding mix and cool whip.
Combine the above.
Crush oreo cookies with cream left in the middle (blender or
chopper/mixer works well).
Line bottom of planter with cellophane/wax paper.
Put layer of oreos then creamed mixture - continue until mixture
is used up and last layer is oreos.
Garnish with gummi worms and candy rocks and serve with the

Friday, November 7, 2008

We all can do more than just vote.....

I was very convicted this past weekend on a pro-life issue that I wanted to share. All of my life since Roe vs Wade I have been a part of the pro life movement. First thru a Catholic church because they were the only ones at first who were doing something about abortions. I have supported in many ways my deep conviction that all life is precious and children are a blessing. Thru work at a clinic,financial support, the wearing of pro life bumper stickers and clothing with pro life messages I have done all of this in support of a deep conviction of mine. This would also include the adoption of 17 children who have many special needs and were not the ones anyone really wanted... lives looked upon as worthless. I have also voted pro life every year I could... following the pamphlets handed to me in my church most of the time. Well this year,actually this past weekend before the elections I was convicted once again.. not to vote a diff. way than I did or change my past actions of adoption or support but to more boldly speak up about this pro life movement and to encourage people to walk this walk and not just to an easy thing like just voting pro live. To vote is an honor and privilege and one I take very seriously but it is an easy way to support my conviction and really does not cause me pain or trouble... I go, stand in line and vote . Then I am done. I believe that the Lord has called me and all of us to do more... We need to walk this out more and act. We need to adopt children and support unwed moms by taking them into our homes and caring for them and their babies if no one else will, we need to offer financial support to families so they to can take part in this wonderful blessing of adoption. We can not just vote pro life we must live it by doing something.

I just wanted to share and I am not totally certain where the Lord is taking me but I do know and feel that He is directing my path to this walk even more deeply than before. We can not be silent and comfortable and feel we have done our part for many children who are orphans and babies who are aborted when we just go to the polls and vote... we must do more. Please pray with and for me as I discern more clearly my direction in God's will.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November is National Adoption Month

One of the things our family is doing is to wear these buttons we made for the month of November. We wear them everywhere and the kids are wonderful with their answers when someone asks them about the button.... " Because I have a family, Because it saved me, I got adopted and now I know Jesus, Every child deserves a family, Because momma loves kids, Because I am loved."

I would encourage you all to celebrate this month the opportunity for a child's life to be changed, to give life to a child or at the least support the adoption of a child in other ways... there are so many children who need the love and protection of a family.... won't you please consider opening your heart and home to a needy child?

I will share the other ways you can help the cause of adoption even if you don't feel lead to adopt...please prayerfully consider how you can give life to a child in a very real and tangible way.