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...