family fall 2016

family fall 2016

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Humbled

 Dressed in their beautiful, traditional dress for the Christmas Party
 Sweet Mable has rarely left my side in 2 days :)
Jeremy and his buddy, Frankie

Excitement... Fear....Joy...Sadness....Peace...Confusion....Thankfulness...Guilt... AND TRUE, RAW, ABUNDANT LOVE.... We have felt every one of these emotions very deeply in the past two days.  Is it what I expected... yes... does that make it any easier or less real... absolutely not. Last night, we had a Christmas Party with the kids from the orphanage and kids from the market... and when I say from the market... I mean the market is their home. Each one of these children have their own story to tell on why they live in the market but each story is covered with some level of pain and abandonment. The youngest that John knows of in the Market is 7. Let that sink in for a bit. With that said, these kids have not lost the desire to "be known." Some of the older girls shared their stories with me. One of the boys came up to Jeremy at the end and prayed for God's blessing over us for helping to bring them FOOD. I am continually humbled when I see the 5 year old children washing their own dishes after they eat and the 7 year old cleaning the kitchen, fetching water, and putting out the fire. I do admire John and the other leaders here at CKO for establishing responsibility and accountability in the children. For some of these children, so much of their childhood and their innocence has been torn away. Their precious eyes and ears have been exposed to things that no human should bear. I have seen small remnants of these wounds in their interactions to one another. Our names have changed in the past two days from Jeremy and Kristin to "MOMMY" and "DADDY". That was a first  for us and nothing can quite prepare you for that. I had ~50 coloring pages shown to me today searching for approval and a simple "good job." AFFIRMATION... we all love and crave it. It is so vital for children and you can tell that some of these little ones need extra to make up for the lack of it before. Since we left, I have felt the Lord whisper...."Jump with two feet, don't hold back." so that is what I am doing... jumping in and investing the lives of these people as they invest in mine. I would challenge you to jump in to what the Lord is pushing you towards. This is just as much your journey as it is ours. Thank you for answering the call. You will be blessed.

* I put a lot of pictures up on facebook!
     

If you would like to sponsor one of the children to provide food and schooling, please visit http://feedingtheorphans.com/ and click on "How can I help?" If you are feeling the nudge to adopt, please send us a message and we can get you connected with people who can help answer questions!!

Tomorrow, we will be heading to the Volta region to represent "Feeding the Orphans" and provide food to hundreds of street children. Even though this is a temporary feeding, Christ will be represented and HE is anything but temporary. Please cover tomorrow in prayer.

Blessings,
Kristin and Jeremy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

17 little dresses




We picked up 17 beautiful dresses today to take to princesses in Ghana! Jeremy's momma and her sweet friends have been working hard on these since they found out we were going. Thank you for living out the words of Matthew 25....

'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

      “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Can't wait to show you pictures of these dresses again BUT next time on some beautiful Ghanian princesses!

Love,
Kristin

Thursday, December 16, 2010

BE STILL

Last night a sweet friend and mentor gave me the "Jesus Calling" devotion by Sarah Young. I wanted to share an excerpt from today's entry....

"I AM SPEAKING in the depths of your being. Be still, so that you can hear my voice. I speak in the language of Love; My words fill you with Life and Peace, Joy and Hope. "

     It is EASY for me to "be still" the day after I finish my final exams, when I have nothing written in on my calendar, and my phone has not rung or beeped one time this morning. In all honesty, I have no responsibility today. On one side, this makes my heart relax and filled with joy. There is nothing wrong with a day of rest for anyone!! But, there is something not right about the fact that I have not been able to "be still" in front of the Lord in quite sometime. Yes, I can spend time with Him, but in the back of my mind is the test I need to be studying for or what I can be doing to get ready for our trip to Ghana. In the quote above, it says that the Lord speaks to the DEPTHS of our being. In order to get to my depths, I have made it so that my Father must yell over all the other voices to get my attention. It is not until everything conveniently slows down that I can hear His whisper. I have been convicted lately of "busyness with good things." School, spending time with friends and family, and advocating on behalf of orphans are NOT bad things BUT when they take priority over simply "being still" in front of the Lord, they can become idols. I must be careful and guard myself. Idols are often the things in your life that look the best on the outside and do bring fulfillment, but like everything else on earth; they will eventually fail and destroy you. I will be the first to tell you that I LOVE reading blogs and looking at pictures on facebook. Knowing other's stories brings life to me BUT it does not bring eternal life. I must commit to spending time drinking from the FOUNTAIN of LIFE before I enjoy the blessings He has given us here on earth... each other. I invite you to assess where you are spending your time, energy, money, gifts, thoughts, etc.... and while it may all be "good" things, please be sure to look first to your Creator and simply ask Him if that's where He wants you TODAY, in THAT moment. For anyone who is reading my blog who is not so sure about Jesus, I RESPECT you. Just promise me you will give Him a try and at least ask about Him. You're life will never be the same. And for those who claim HIM, you have made a commitment to HIM as your first love. Do not forsake HIM ( Revelation 2:4) and settle for things of this world. They will all eventually fade away. I have no idea who, if anyone reads this, but if you ever need accountability in "being still," please ask me or a close friend you can trust. "Being still" takes discipline and practice. Our Jesus is not going to sit there and grade you on what you are doing right and wrong. Just simply be willing.

 I hope and pray your day is filled with LOVE, LIFE, HOPE, JOY, and PEACE.

~Kristin

Friday, December 10, 2010

Special Request

Sweet children and beds at the orphanage we will be staying at in Ghana.

Please consider donating twin sheets or plastic mattress covers for the children's beds. They have had trouble with bed wetting and damaging the mattresses. Please email me at kristin.a.lusby@vanderbilt.edu if you would like to donate or leave a comment on here! Thank you so much for walking this journey with us.
 "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." Matthew 25:35 
In the season of gift giving, I challenge you to evaluate your giving and have a significant conversation with ONE person (or more if you like :) about giving to an individual in NEED together instead of buying something for each other. It could be a significant other, best friend, or child. Children LOVE to be a part of something bigger than them. It doesn't have to be with us but take the EXTRA step this year. I promise you it is extremely rewarding.


Blessings,
 Kristin and Jeremy

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Little Things


" Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
~Mother Teresa
This little boy is in Ghana and the son of our precious friends. He is holding a picture of his momma and patiently waiting for the day they come back for him. Please be on your knees for this family and everything that goes into the adoption process.
      Last night, I laid in bed and thought about all the things that had been done for us in the past 15 days to make our trip to Ghana possible. As an outsider looking in, these occurrences may appear "small" but to us and to the Lord, they mean everything so let me start by saying THANK YOU! These are my thoughts in no particular order....
1. The invitation from the O'Leary family to "GO". They stepped out in faith and worked to open a door for us to travel to Ghana. 

2. In the craziness to get our plane ticket, my name was accidentally put in backwards on the ticket. The ticket was prayed over all weekend and the airline was gracious on Monday morning. If you know airlines, you know this is HUGE!

3. The woman who gave us our shots at the travel clinic had served as a missionary in Nigeria for 13 years and Ghana for 1.5 years. She shared some of her wisdom and tips with us. 
4. A few years ago Jeremy gave $50 to a friend in need to help start her business. This week, she returned that $50.

5.  A sweet woman from Alabama who has connections to our family but has never met us was given one of our support letters by Jeremy's brother. She has not only decided to give herself but took the letter into her Sunday school class and presented our story. We are now being supported by those who don't even know us but desire to see the Kingdom furthered.

6. My Grandmother Anne has been a busy bee cleaning her house and going to her old work place to gather medical supplies for us to take. She has such a passion for these children.

7.My step- mom has used her gifts and connections to take our medical supply letters to local clinics.

8. Mrs. Miller (Jeremy's mom) and her wonderful friends have spent their craft day making beautiful new dresses and clothes for the children of Ghana.

 9. My mom has been a source of encouragement and prayer for me from the get-go. She has been selfless in knowing that us going means less time spent with her and my family at home. I am forever grateful for her love and support.

10. A couple in our community group has committed to supporting us financially. Just on Sunday night, me and Emily were having a conversation about being financially conscious this year in buying Christmas presents. I know this sweet couple may not have the "extra" but they were obedient and gave out of a joyful heart. That is admirable.

**There is so many "small" things I know the Lord is up to that we may not know yet or may never know but He knows and each of you will be blessed for it. Thank you for committing to lift us up in prayer. That is the MOST powerful thing you could ever do for us.

On an end note.... this is another "small" thing we would appreciate prayer for. As of now, we are unassigned seats on the plane. We can pay $400+ to guarantee that we sit by one another on both flights but I feel like the Lord is saying trust me right now and that that money can be used in better places. Please pray for us to be able to sit together which seems so small but in reality, is a big deal to us :)

I encourage you to sit back today and consider the "small" blessings the Lord has placed in your life. Let people know and never forget WHO is behind those small things.

In HIM alone,
            Kristin













Sunday, December 5, 2010

Children of Resilience

      Over the past few months, we have been able to spend some time with true miracles from God... children. The more I know about the birth process, the more I understand that each and every life is a miracle. It is impossible for me to sit in an anatomy class and not leave in true awe and wonder at the Creator of our bodies. I often have nursing teachers say we don't why and how this works; it just does. And every time, I whisper JESUS under my breath. These next 3 stories give a small picture of the power of prayer and the resilience of children... I have a thing or two to learn from these little ones....  I hope their stories bless your life as much as they have blessed mine.


This is the story of Josie Love (Copied from her mommy's blog)

"Gwen and I met Katie on one of her visits to the US.  We INSTANTLY became the best of friends and Gwen and I started doing all of her work stateside.  On Katie's first trip to Uganda she served at a baby's home in Jinja.  There was a little baby that had arrived 2 weeks prior to Katie's arrival. her name was Josefine.  The last week of Katie's stay Josefine became extremely ill with malaria and Katie just KNEW that she was going to die.  When Katie decided to go back to Uganda to teach kindergarten the next fall, she couldn't wait to get back to see Josefine.  While she was no longer ill, she was a year old and couldn't sit alone.  She spent many hours caring for her.  She had the tendency to get sick easily and very often.  She always had breathing issues and just never seemed to get ahead in weight or developmentally.  She finally learned to sit alone, and then later crawled.  Katie moved away from the baby's home, but would always return to check in and love on Josefine.  She spoke of Josefine quite often.  She would show Gwen and I pictures of her all of the time, talking about how sweet and loving this little girl was.  Fast forward several months.  Mike and I decided to take our two oldest children to visit Katie in Uganda.  One day while we were there, she took us to meet Josefine.  My oldest daughter, Grace, marched right in, picked the child up and started laughing and talking with her.  I left there that day with my heart broken for Josefine.  She seemed to have MANY special needs, and I was so overwhelmed with where to begin, just by looking at her, I couldn't even BEGIN my "mother's assessment."  Honestly, there was a part of me that left thinking "how can Katie not see all of the needs that this child REALLY has?!?"  We went back several times to visit the baby's home before we headed home. Day 2 Josefine was burning up with a fever, sitting out on the lawn of the baby's home in the African sun.  My heart broke again for her.  Grace had obviously attached to this little girl.  She didn't want to leave her.  We both wept the whole way back to Katie's house.  Grace cried on behalf of Josefine, I wept on behalf of the millions of orphans that were also burning hot with a fever sitting out in the African sun.
       Once we were home in Tennessee, Grace started asking if we could go back and get her.  She asked every morning and every night.  She prayed that we would open our hearts to another child...specifically Josefine.  I continued to give her the blanket statement"honey, we already have 6 children.  I don't know how in the world we could care for a child with special needs."  She argued that she wasn't special needs, she was just sick.  Over time, through MUCH prayer, we decided to pursuit this little one.  After the mounds of paperwork, we were on a plane to go get our Josie Love. Upon arrival, we noticed that she had lost a lot of weight and was burning hot with another fever. Through a routine adoption medical exam the doctor explained to us that Josie Love had tested positive for  HIV and TB.  We were STUNNED.  We sat holding her sick, limp, body in our arms with disbelief.  We were faced with an illness that we had NO IDEA the effects that it could have on her life (other than death) or the rest of our family.  Mike spent the next 24 hours making calls to the US and researching HIV.  We learned all of the facts and felt quite sure that while all of this had taken us by surprise it was NO surprise to our heavenly Father.  HE knows us SO well.   HE knew that if we had known about Josie Love's HIV, there is a chance we wouldn't have moved forward with our adoption out of FEAR.  We talked to the infectious disease doctors at Vanderbilt and they assured us that we could get her viral loads down with the right mixture of meds.  They told us that she could live a normal, healthy life just like all the rest of our children.  Mike and I flew home, finished all of the paper work that had to be added to our home study for a child with HIV, and 9 weeks later I flew back and brought her home.  In 9 months of medicine, her viral loads have dropped from 800,000 to 200.  46 is undetectable....you will hear me shout when we reach that number!  After being home for 1 week, Josie started walking.  She is NOW running and her speech is clearing up daily.  She is RARELY sick.  She makes each one of us laugh OUT LOUD every-single-day!  What a sweet, sweet blessing from the Lord. The scales have been lifted from our eyes.   I have been FOREVER changed." - Suzanne

 **I texted Suzanne to see what Josie's viral loads were today and they are 55!! If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will! :)


 This 2nd little angel's name is Maggie.
 This is an excerpt from her momma's blog on her story....
"As I began to talk to Scott about adopting again, he was less than enthusiastic ... He said our plates were full and we had done our part ... Now we were suppose to share our story and encourage others ... I of course could clearly hear the Father’s Voice sending us back to China and this time it would be a Special Needs angel ... I knew God was calling us deeper and He was asking us to have faith and trust in HIM in a new way this time ... Scott was still not convinced and I always encourage wives, whose husbands are on board to respect the fears and doubts their husbands have ... Talk about them together ... God created men and women differently for a reason ... Work through it together and be prepared to walk the journey together ... 
     Scott and I decided to take 90 days and pray.   We were not going to discuss, talk about with others, or make any reference about adoption for 90 days ... I decided that during the 90 days I would make a list of all the reasons WHY WE SHOULD ADOPT and WHY WE SHOULDN’T ADOPT ... I had about 100 reasons WHY and 3 WHY NOT ... I gave Scott my notebook after the 90 days and 12 days later we were starting the paper work to bring home our next angel ... 
      The process at the time to apply for a special needs child was that you received a list each month of available special needs children and you put in request for them ... We were applying for about 3-6 girls each month and it was a difficult process ... Being rejected, talking with doctors about different needs, and just trying to wade through where God was leading us ... I will say that our list of special needs was pretty short in the beginning and then God opened our eyes to HIS CHILDREN and how amazingly special they each were and that the journey we were on was not about what WE could handle, but WHAT we could handle with His strength ... OH BOY WAS HE RIGHT !!!
     We were matched with Maggie 6 months after our dossier arrived in China ... We were told she had a burn and would need some hair replacement ... Sounds simple, right ??? Well when I arrived I could immediately tell the situation was much worse medically and mentally than we thought ... She was missing part of her skull plate, she had been bound, neglected, and abused in many ways ... She spent 6 months in the hospital alone and trusted NO ONE ... We came home and faced 11 of the hardest and darkest months in our family’s life ... Maggie wouldn’t look you in the eyes, she wouldn’t speak to you, she bit, scratched, and slapped us all ... She sleep less than 5 hours a day and screamed many of the others ... I watched my baby girl literally scream as if she was no longer in her body for hours ... To say I would sit on the edge of her bed and beg God to help her is an understatement ... I felt helpless and each night God would whisper in my ear - “Will you do this for me.” ... The answer was always YES !!! God was using our family to heal Maggie ... She needed God’s love shown to her before she could understand what a family was ... Jeremiah, Elijah, and Emily were amazing to their sister ... They gave her the space and love she needed ... They never turned their back on her and Jeremiah was especially protective of her when we would leave the house ... 
    Looking back now I can see all the big and small miracles of Maggie’s journey ... We have had 4 surgeries already and visit Vanderbilt Children’s hospital 1-2 times a week ... IT IS ALL WORTH IT ... 11 months after Maggie came home we were walking in Walmart when Maggie looked up at me for the first time and said, “I LUFFA YOU MOMMY.”   I cried and praised Jesus that she finally understand - LOVE ... I called Scott and we rejoiced together ..." - Gwen

     Maggie  had her most recent surgery at Vanderbilt on November 24, 2010. In this surgery they removed her skin graph from China, took out her expanders, and stretched her scalp over her burn . The pictures above were taken ONE week after Maggie's surgery. To say she is a trooper would be an understatement. Maggie is truly filled with joy. Please join us in prayer for no infection and that her scalp will stay expanded  and produce hair. They really need the skin to stay thick and healthy so that in 3-6 months they can go back in and re-shape her skull and put in an artificial skull piece. Maggie's story has encouraged more than she will ever know. Please continue to pray for miracles in this little one. 

Meet handsome Mark!
    Mark was born at 23 weeks and 4 days. He weight 1 lb and 7 oz. at birth. He is now 4 years old and walking on his own. For those of you who may not know, a full term pregnancy is ~40 weeks. Mark's life is a true miracle and a testament to His heavenly FATHER! Mark was left in the NICU without a mommy and daddy. He was placed on the prayer list of an adoption agency. The doctor discouraged the agency from finding him a forever family because his prognosis was very poor and they didn't know if he would make it to the next day. His mommy and daddy prayed for Mark and decided that no matter the outcome of Mark's life; the Lord intended for him to have parents who loved him dearly. Mark has five other adopted siblings and he is loving life. If you can't tell from the pictures, he loved Jeremy. At one point, he pushed me away and told me to leave so he could have Jer to himself :)


 All three of these children have been adopted into their forever family here on earth but have also been introduced to adoption by our Heavenly Father :) There is no greater gift.
Blessings,
Kristin & Jeremy  
 p.s. please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for Ghana in 22 days :)!