Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life as we know it....

It's been a roller coaster for our family for the last few months. First, we didn't even KNOW about Elly until right before Christmas. Then, we didn't find out that we were going to get BOTH children until the end of the year. Only to find ourselves flying to Africa near the end of January. Not to speak of the 2nd day we were in country to find ourselves as a family of 7!

Basically, it's been like getting twins as Elly acts about 3/4 and so does Zeke. They are pretty much on the same level when it comes to mental, emotional and physical tasks. So, we have twins who are probably about a year apart. And, we are thankful. They have learned to go to the bathroom and wipe (most of the time), flush the toilet and wash their hands. They really enjoy the flushing of the toilet by the way.

They are feeling well physically (except allergies to the pollen) and eating well. Like most children they don't particularly like having veggies on their plates but they eat them anyway. And, they love to be outside (see pictures above). They love to dig in the dirt, play with chalk and just play on the playground. As soon as we are finished with breakfast each day, they ask "Play outside?"

JT and I were just discussing our family and our new life yesterday. We had some uninterrupted time (okay, the kids were singing and talking to each other but we could at least see each other in the front seats) in the car on the way to church last night....we take what we can get! We have really not even processed all that happened while we were in Uganda and since we've been home. My whirlwind trip to Guatemala put a halt to that.... Now, we are working on wrapping our minds around our new lives together...but wait, JT has to go to New Mexico this weekend. He'll be gone for a week. So, we postpone the processing for another week.

We are struggling with just the daily schedule of how to get everything, cleaning the house (seriously, it hasn't been cleaned since we got home), planting a garden, ministry plans, etc. There doesn't seem to be enough of us to go around. By the time the kids go to bed, we are so exhausted that we just sit on the couch or bed and do nothing. But, we are working on that. Any wisdom/advice from moms of larger families???? We could use it!

We are blessed beyond measure to have great friends and family. We have people emailing us encouragement all the time and asking how we are doing. We are surviving and loving life. We are overjoyed at what God has done in our is just us adults who have to learn to adjust to the increased people around here. It gets LOUD...really LOUD sometimes...and MESSY. But, we LOVE it, and we are thankful to God for every second of it.

Friday, March 25, 2011


In January of this year I sat down at my computer at 2:30 in the morning. We were leaving for Africa in a few weeks and I had no idea what my daughter would look like. It didn't matter but my heart ached to see her. I couldn't sleep so I checked emails...and there it was. The first picture above popped up on my screen, and my heart melted. And my heart cried...look at those eyes...sad and distant. She needed me, and I needed her. How amazing is God's plan to bring us together as a family.

We had known Zeke for almost six months at this point and knew a little about him. JT had held our boy in his arms and played with him. We were eagerly awaiting holding him again. But, we didn't know this little girl...would she even like us? The questions ran quickly through my mind. And, then it hit me...I don't even have any girl clothes or shoes or anything for a girl.... all of our big girls' clothes had burned in the fire of 2005....add that to my list of "to do's" before heading to Africa. But, all of that dulled in comparison to the longing I had in my heart.

I prayed for God to prepare her heart for a family. I prayed that God would do what only He, as the Father to the fatherless, can do. And, He has. He has been faithful to His promises. You can see the transformation. Elly is a bright and energetic child...the love shines in her eyes. But, it is not our love or her own love. It is a direct result of God's love and power in and through her life. And, we give Him all the glory!

*The last two photos were taken at a baby shower for my great friend Lora by the world's most amazing photographer, Allison Lewis. But, don't call her soon people...she has a baby boy in Ethiopia to pick up first...get on her schedule for the fall!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Don't Have Time....or so she said

"I don't have time" for Jesus was the woman's reason for not becoming a Christ-follower. I have to help my husband make shoes. I have 2 children. I have to provide for my family. I just don't have time.

The passion inside of me was about to boil over as I listened to this woman, living in a 2 room, delaphidated old house in Lantana, explain her situation in life. I am standing on a dirt floor and can see through the roof. Her two children are seated on the only two seats I can see in the house trying to finish their homework. The local pastor is pleading with the woman to give her life to Christ. I am appalled at her excuse...until..God Himself reminds me that we are rebellious. Our sin is NO different. Our lives are the same...filled with things to do and places to go. Overflowing with excuses for not spending time in His presence. I am humbled...He is using her life to remind me of my sin and the debt I owed.

One of the ladies from the local church, in a very pointed way, shares that we all have time for things that are important (these are the times when having our translator is handy for the simple delay in the relay of information). Then, the pastor asks several of us to share with the woman.

I have NO clue what was even said at that point except that God was glorified. Scripture was read and quoted and relied upon unashamedly. God's Word is POWERFUL, and His Gospel is true. God has spoken through His Word, and it is the best tool to point people to Christ!

The woman changed...her countenance immediately brightened...the load was lifted. Her new status was as a Christ-follower. My heart rejoiced. God took that moment in Guatemala to show me how powerful He is and how He draws people to Himself. We have NOTHING to do with salvation...He ALONE does all of the work. We just have to obey what He tells us to do...and He will be glorified.

What do you have time for today?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

For the sake of the Gospel

Reading in Ephesians 3 this morning, the first verse struck me. When the Holy Spirit is teaching me something, He often has me read it and read it and read it again (insert hardheadedness here). Paul is in prison, and he reveals the reason for his circumstances: "for the sake of you Gentiles." The apostle suffered time and time again so that the Gospel could be advanced. Yet, Paul makes more of the great mystery of Christ through the Gospel than he does of his situation. He humbles himself, saying he is the least of all saints in verse 8, and he points to God's glory in In the following few verses. Oh, how I long to make less of me and more of Him. There are so many times when I promote myself through pride, selfishness and indifference. But God is worthy of all of our praise all the time. No other name is worthy...only His!!!!!!

As we prepare to leave Guatemala City this morning, my heart is overflowing with gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ for what He as allowed us to witness and participate in. We have joined with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ daily to lift Him up, and He has blessed in ways that I cannot describe. Honestly, there are so many snapshots running through my head that I cannot stop on just one. So, there will be more posts next week about specific events that God has used to bring Himself glory here!

On Wednesday night I shared a portion of my testimony of God's grace in my life. Clearly, I bring nothing of value to Him, and He does NOT need me. But I am desperately in need of Him. The Holy Spirit gave me the words to share, and I had no idea why or for whom the message was delivered. God often gives us commands without reasons and demands obedience. Those of us who like to be in control don't like that too much and often ask for explanations. But, I digress with my pride!!! It wasn't until yesterday after our women's meeting that I found the reason for the words.

A woman kept trying to talk to me and made her desires known to several other people. She told Greg that she wanted to talk to me and needed him to translate. She told Hannah too. Then, she found another team member and insisted on speaking with me. That wasn't enough for her, and she came to me and explained that she HAD to talk to me afterwards. She kept trying to get closer to me and couldn't wait for Patty to finish translating so we could really talk. I was getting a little uncomfortable here. Ever had a stalker? That's what it felt like....

But this woman, Lilliana, wanted to give glory to God for the testimony shared on Wednesday. God used it to speak to her heart. Through various circumstances, she ended up homeless and was told that she belonged to the street because she had no father. We encouraged one another with Ephesians 1:23 where Christ fulfills "all in all." There were many tears as we shared our stories and saw how God has weaved His great grace through our lives in similar ways.

Then, God overwhelmed me with His perfect love. A woman who struggles to make a living and feed her kids had just bared her sould and darkest moments to me. As she daily dwells in the pain of the past and survival for the future, she reached for her wrist. With a look of pure joy, Lilliana took off her silver bracelet with a pink heart and gave it to me. With tears streaming down all of our faces, God lavished His grace upon us. He reminded us of our unworthiness and highlighted His great grace (which is His glory beginning)!!! So, when you see my new bracelet, think of God's beautiful sacrifice for all of us. I know I will..... And I'll remember why we live this life...for the sake of the Gospel.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

God's Timing...

I am not patient...there, I said it. I am NOT patient, and I am keenly aware of it. God has taken us through adoptions in Guatemala and Uganda, which are both time-desensitized. Thus, my level of patience has increased greatly over the past few years but it is still not where it needs to be.

In light of this known fact, I have not worn a watch in almost 3 years. I try not to look at the time and to be more focused on relationships. However, that doesn't always align with my fleshly desires. Until yesterday...

In the afternoon our team divided into two groups and went to visit homes in the community of Lantana. This is a village outside of Guatemala City (about 30 minutes or so) with great poverty. Our church base here, New Jerusalen, has established a church plant there. We are working with the pastor of the church plant, Juan, and members of that church body.

So, we went to the first home and encountered a woman adamantly opposed to going to church...turns out she wasn't basically opposed to being a Christian. However, she did know the Gospel and had heard it before. Many of us shared the Gospel in its entirety and to show God's Word to her. We left with a new sister in Christ! Praise God Almighty for the way He works...we were excited to see Him work!

The next house was the test of my patience as it lasted for a while. I knew that we had to leave (based on Pastor Morales's request) at a certain time. So, when 4:00 came and went, I started getting antsy. I knew that I was responsible for this team, and their safety was on me. But, God had plans for this family to know Him in a way that was real and true. There was a lot of Bible reading and quoting of Scriptures. The Gospel was clear and questions were answered. God was good and faithful to His timing. We just had to sit and watch Him work.

So, the Spirit within me fought with the flesh yesterday to cut the time short and leave with everyone on time. Instead, we all waited for God's timing. And, it came. God is indeed good!

We give all praise to our God who is Sovereign and Mighty. He is good, and He fulfills His promises! We give Him all the glory!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Longing and Trusting

Yesterday was a long and tiring day of ministering to over 200 children. We spent our day at New Jerusalen Church with children from the local school. Most of these kids come from impoverished homes and have little structure to their lives. We were exhausted just trying to teach God's Word while handling attention/discipline issues. At the same time, I am reminded that I was one of those kids many , years ago. Not as impoverished but poor....and needing some attention, love, and the Word of God. So we love as Christ loves us and teach despite the obstacles.
While we are ministering, my heart misses and longs for my family. I love to hear their sweet voices in the morning and feel their precious hugs. I am so thankful for JT who is taking care of all the children, the house and school this week. I am grateful beyond words for the way he invests in our family daily!!!

While I'm longing for my family, God directs my attention to those who have no families. God has consistently brought specific families to my mind for prayer this week....all are in some stage of adopting....some I know well and some I don't. So I pray..specifically for God to be glorified and show Himself faithful to orphans. To Him alone be the praise!!!

Today we are heading back to Lantana to the school and the village. Please pray that we would share Christ boldly and primarily!! Also pray for wisdom and discernment for our team to follow God's plan!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What are you looking for?

Whatever you are looking for, you are likely to find it. Here's what I mean...if you are on mission trip looking for animals, you'll see them. Looking for the reason God has you where you are? He'll reveal it to you. Wanting to seethe beautiful sights of another country? You will. Interested in seeing God's glory? He will definitely show you! So, what are you looking for today?

Today was our first full day in Guatemala, and for me, it started with tears. I woke up missing my "good morning Mommy" hugs and kisses and my hubby's sweet voice. But, as He always does, God led me to His sweet Word. I spent some great time in Ephesians, and God took my focus off my pity party. He specifically led me to pray for several people...okay, no problem. Then, He told me to tell them that I was praying for them...not as confident in that command, but I did it anyway. And, wow, God used it to bless me at the end of the day!

God took us to the village of Lantana today. We were able to share in the local school with 5th and 6th graders. It was a huge blessing for our team of women! We spent lunch at a church members house and then took off for home visits in the afternoon. God allowed us to pass out grocery bags and toiletry items to women in need. But, much more importantly we were privileged to share the Gospel and pray for these women.

We did have one scare when a gang of men dressed in black, including ski masks, came into the village unexpectedly. However, both teams moved quickly to safe houses and stayed there until the pastor determined it was safe. There was no fear as Christ calmed us and even gave our team the privilege to pray for several others as we waited. He is good indeed.

So, I leave you with this...what are you looking for today?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Leaving my babies....


It's NEVER ease leave new babies or children....and this time is NO exception. When we brought Jett home (because we had NO clue when that would be until a few weeks ahead of time), JT had to be gone on several mission trips fairly quickly. He was gone almost 6 weeks the first few months of us all being together. That made the transition for all of us very difficult.

But, this time, by God's grace, we have been able to schedule only 2 mission trips during these first few months. JT will be leading one in April to New Mexico, and I leave tomorrow to lead a group of women in Guatemala. My heart is heavy....I will miss being here...I will miss my husband...I will miss my children.

I am looking forward to spending time with these women and our friends in Guatemala. I know that God has a plan for us there, and He is Sovereign above all. His ways are good, and His thoughts are holy. I cling to that as my Mommy heart is torn. I have never had to be away from all my kids, and I am anxious. I am resting in God's goodness right now.

I am thankful that JT and his mom will be holding down the fort and sad that I will be missing the sweet smiles, kisses and hugs from here. I sure hope Skype helps......

Monday, March 7, 2011

Learning along the way....

Someone at church asked me how we were doing yesterday, and I said "Well, we're just really getting settled. And, I'm trying to figure out how to be a Mommy to five children." While I was in Africa, I thought a lot about my sister in law Susan, my friend Dedy and my friend Cathy M. ....they all have five children. And, they seem to have it "all together" and with a smile on their faces. How do they do that?

God is molding me into that Mommy....molding is necessary a pleasant experience. There's so much to learn....always will be. So, I sit at His feet and study. There's no other place to be. The smiles in the pictures above show how God is molding our family...He is good indeed!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Smiles, Tears and Lots of Jumping....

Zeke likes to jump off the retaining wall in the front yard. This is as high as he's gotten so far. Don't let Elly's position fool you....she didn't jump from there.
Jett, aka Rescue Man, jumps from the highest point, and he was SO proud of himself. The object in his hand is a telescope off the playground...a necessity for Rescue Man apparently.
This week Madison is Elly's's just too much for this Momma's heart.
Zeke is all about getting kisses these days.
I can't say enough about how much this little angel has morphed over the past month. I love it!
When you see these two together, you think they are speaking the same language but they are not. They are bonding with each other as well as us!
There's nothing more precious than a former orphan showing love to his new brother and sister. He is a total joy and knows the way to his parents' hearts!
Zeke calls Madison "madizony" to make her laugh.....
Kaitlyn and Madison are truly gifts from God. They have blessed us beyond measure in helping with the new kiddos. We are so thankful for them.

Our sweet "daughter" Christy Barton asked me two questions last night as we talked on the phone. What has been the greatest blessing of this journey right now, and what has been the biggest struggle? I had to really think about that.....since she's in Australia, I figured I didn't have much time so I formulated an answer....

There have been a few tears since we've been home, and the children grieve what they no longer have....what they knew...all they knew...the language, the people, the food, the surroundings. None of that is here, and so sometimes, they grieve. But, those moments have really been few and far between since we came home. So, we grieve with them, hold them and cry...all together. The greatest struggle is to see our children want something or need something or try to communicate, and neither of us can understand the other. But, we are working daily to learn each other's hearts.

The greatest joy comes each morning, as JT and I stand in the kitchen. We hear little feet (okay, it sounds like a herd of elephants) coming down the stairs. Then, as Zeke comes around the corner, he gets so excited that we are still here. He throws his hands up in the air and screams...then, he comes running for one of us and jumps into our arms. He wraps his legs around us tight and squeezes as he says "Good morning!" Elly is more of our night owl, as mornings are not her forte. However, as soon as she gets in my arms, she wraps her legs around me with some fierce strength. She does not want to be put down until breakfast is officially on the table.

My favorite part of the day is when JT designates someone to pray over each meal. Zeke and Elly say, "Ka tu sabe!" which means "Let's pray." Then, Elly immediately says "Sank you Jeezhus for dis food".....she doesn't wait for the designated pray-er to begin. It's the sweetest sound you have ever heard....

And, then there's the jumping.....EVERY day without fail, Zeke wants to "jump" before breakfast, after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, after nap, before dinner...whenever the notion strikes him. He loves to be outside on the trampoline or jumping off the retaining wall. All of the littles (Jett, Zeke and Elly) love to play on the playground together or out in the yard. There's been lots of jumping, and praise God, no stitches or broken bones YET!

All in all, we are settling in well to life as the Turner family. God has shown Himself Faithful in so many ways throughout the process and continues to do so. Just the week we were blessed with more clothes for the kids (seriously I thought everything HAD to be new when I had Kaitlyn.....but God showed me the error of my ways almost 10 years Elly and Zeke have more clothes than I do!). And, the sweet encouragement of friends just this week....conversations at church (Heather, Amy B, Amy W, Tammy, Angelia, Susie), a wonderful time of fellowship with my family (David, Daniel and Amanda), emails from sisters (Karen, Carol, Angel, LL)....and the meals (if Brook Hills would like to make extra money for missions around the world, I would HIGHLY recommend some of these women to offer their services as chefs)....and the prayers (I am BEYOND grateful). We are completely overwhelmed by God's goodness and mercy! He has been SO GOOD!!!!