Monday, September 26, 2011

Cumberland County Fair 2011

Yesterday we all got up bright and early to make the 8:30 service at church.  We wanted to go to church and Sunday School and still have plenty of time to make the annual Cumberland County Fair.  Sunday they have a deal where you can get into the fair and ride unlimited rides for $5 a person with the presentation of a church bulletin between 1pm and 2pm.  The lady at the counter was not playing around with these specific rules either.  We waited in line for 30 minutes and got to the counter at 12:55pm and she would not even consider giving us the discount early.  The policeman was standing guard right there, so rather than making a scene with our church bulletins in hand, we quietly stepped aside for 5 minutes and promptly stepped back into line to get our $5 price at 1 o’clock sharp.  This cheap accountant (and her even cheaper husband) is not going to the fair unless we get a deal!  (You can imagine how it killed us both to spend $4 for a drink (TIMES 4!!!) once inside the fair!!)

It’s actually funny because Brandon does not like rides.  He wants to be a pilot when he grows up, yet he can’t take the kiddy rides.  There is one photo of Brandon on his one and only ride of the year.  Brandon has a big time scowl on his face and a death grip on the handles and Tim is laughing at him.  Yes, his father continuously teases him.  Lest you pity the poor boy with giant dimples, I must add--it goes both ways.  Brandon teases Tim as well.

My idea of fun at the fair is taking photos. So here you go! Enjoy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Soccer Star!

The first day we visited Brandon’s orphanage there was a 16-year-old boy named Roma that spoke pretty good English. He was asked by the caregiver to go get our son for us to meet the first time. This Roma boy said in plain English, “That boy likes soccer big. He play all the time.” It seems this boy was correct. Brandon is quite the little athlete. In the first US soccer game he played, he scored 2 goals. His team lost, but it was exciting to see him score the only 2 goals his team made. In his second game he scored 4 goals. His team won 4-3. He was so excited to score more goals. I am definitely getting used to being a soccer mom. I really enjoy being with other parents and seeing my boy play!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kind Words Written

After the tone of my last blog, I wanted to do a more light-hearted one.  Back in March some friends of ours threw an adoption shower at our church.  It was a wonderful evening and we had a lot of fun.  We will never forget the kindness of those that arranged the shower and also those who made food, brought gifts and came to the special night.  Thank you so much every one of you! 

At the shower there were soccer balls for those who attended to sign.  I thought it’d be fun to share with you what was written on the balls.  The last several I’ve listed did not have names signed, but I liked what was written.

1.     Welcome to the USA.  God bless you.  Hairrells

2.    Welcome to our church family.   Inglis

3.    We are blessed to have you.  God loves you and we love you too. Covingtons

4.    I’m sure you will love your new family.  They will treat you very nicely.  I hope you will come to Christ.  Veronica

5.    I’m glad to have you as a brother. Katie

6.    Welcome.  You are loved.  Colvins

7.    Welcome to your new family.  Natalie

8.    We are so excited to meet you.  Welcome to our church family.  Abernathy

9.    You are cool.  Madison

10. Welcome. Kisers

11. Can’t wait to meet you and help you learn about God. Jacob Sturm

12. ‘Sup? I know you’re going to like your new family (Kerr family). Leah

13. I hope you like us. Kylie

14. Welcome home!  God bless! Rix Family

15. We love you!  Grandma and Grandpa

16. Can’t wait to see you.  Jordan

17. Can’t wait until you’re part of our family forever.  Uncle Steve, Aunt Christy, Jalen & Lexi

18. Can’t wait to meet you! John, Angela and family

19. We love you.  God sees you.  He sees you, He knows you, He loves you forever.  Love the Baugus Family

20. We are thankful for you.  Lawsons

21. Welcome to your new family.  Biagi’s

22. Hey, hope you have a great time with your new family.  Love Natalie

23. We can’t wait to meet you. Enamorados

24. Enjoy your new family

25. We have prayed for you for a long time and we love you.

26. Hi! You’re cool.

27. You have a very nice family coming to get you.

28. I hope you enjoy your nice family.

29. You were loved before the foundation of this world. 

30. You are a miracle and an answer to many prayers.  You are so loved.

31. Just so you know.  The Kerrs are coming for you and they will be your forever family.

32. I hope you like soccer.  I do.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Four Months Home!

Brandon has officially been home for 4 months.  It is hard to believe it’s been 4 months already, but at the same time at times it seems like he has been with us so much longer because he is such a big part of our family.  I would have to say that this past month has been the hardest, but also the most rewarding.

This month has been the hardest mainly because of the difficulties he is experiencing with American school.  It is difficult to see your child work so hard only to earn a failing grade.  He doesn’t cry outwardly, but I can tell he is crying inside.  It is difficult for him to see his 3 younger sisters come home with mostly 100%’s on all their work and he works 5 times as hard as they do and still fails.  In my own personal opinion he is doing an exceptional job considering he has only been in American school for a month.  He is simultaneously learning a whole new language and learning completely new concepts at the same time.  He is still adjusting to a new culture and family life.  But he will not hear our encouraging words.  He knows that a 60% is not a good grade.  He very much wants to earn a 100%.  He is a perfectionist and he gets very hard on himself.

 This month has also been most difficult because we have had to work with him each night with school work and he does not want to.  He feels that working hard for the 7-hour school day should be enough.  He thinks he should be able to come home and just play all evening.  I’m sure eventually when learning comes easier, he will not have to study as hard at home.  However, for now he has got buckle down and work hard.  This requirement results in several hours of moaning and groaning and complaining and arguing.  In Ukraine studies are not emphasized as much as they are in the States. So in addition to it being hard, it is a foreign concept to him to focus this hard on school work.  I have had several conversations with him like this one:

B: Why (do) I need school? 

Me: You need to go to school to get a good job when you grow up.

B: I get (a) good job. I work (with my) hands.

Me: In America you need a college education for whatever job you get.

B: School is for women.

Me: Dad went to college and he is not a woman.  He provides for this family. 

B: What is this “provide?” (What does provide mean?)

Me: He buys you toys and books and food. Dad is a good man because he provides for his family.

B: I do not like school.  I like (to) work (with my) hands.

Anyway, we would very much appreciate the prayers if you think of us.  We are encouraged because he is improving.  Also, his teacher and his school are very willing to be patient with him and work with them as best as they can.  They agreed to modify his curriculum to meet his English Second Language special needs.  This is very much a blessing.

As difficult as this month has been with his education, it has been equally rewarding.  He has begun to pray on his own.  On August 23rd, he prayed “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this day. Amen.”  This was the first time he has ever prayed.  Last week when Tim was in Hawaii on a business trip Brandon prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day.  Thank you for my school.  Help Daddy (be safe).”   He is also asking questions about God.  A few weeks ago we had a violent thunderstorm on our way to an activity at church and he said “(Did) Jesus make (this) rain?”  It caught us off guard, but we answered, “Yes, God made the rain.  He is a strong and powerful God, isn’t He?”  Last night on the way to AWANA we were going over his weekly memory verse.  He asked why he had to know Psalm 25:4.  I had the opportunity to share with him (and Brandon understood what I was saying!!) that we prayed that very verse while we were in Ukraine looking for a boy to adopt and did not know him yet.  Show me thy way, O Lord; Teach me Thy path.  God answered our prayer.  He clearly led us to our precious son, Brandon.   There has not been a day that has gone by that I have not thanked God for the awesome privilege of raising this boy.  He is such a joy and delight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

His Awesomeness

Photo we found on Frontier Horizon

Photo we took when we 1st met him

Pixelated Photo from SDA office

Whenever we take a step of faith, God always confirms His will to us.  I have heard many people say this and I’ve experienced this many times in my own life as well.  This post is a bit long, but I wanted to share this story because it is just too incredible to keep to myself. 

During our 2nd appointment with the SDA in Kiev, Ukraine, we were shown about 9 boys around the ages of 9-11.  Brandon’s was the first photo they showed us and I had inadvertently placed his tiny, pixilated photo and the paperwork that went with the photo on my lap.  Frankly, after being rejected by Maxim and Roman, I was a little skeptical that they were going to be able to show us any boys that would catch my eyes no matter how hard I prayed, “Lord, show me in plain path (Ps. 27:11).”  I was broken and weary and I missed my 3 daughters terribly.  I was ready to give up and come home.

As this SDA meeting was taking place, our facilitator was calling Maxim and Roman’s orphanage one last time to see if they had perhaps changed their minds overnight while we had travelled back to Kiev by train.  They had not.  That phone call was more or less for closure on our part.  If we had not heard from the boys again that they definitely did not want to be adopted, perhaps I would have always wondered if we had left too abruptly without giving them enough time to make their decision or even a 2nd chance.  As our facilitator gave us the news, I hung my head…I wanted to cry…..And there on my lap was this file of a little boy in a black suit with a crooked bowtie.  I looked at his picture again.  Then I looked at the other 9 or so photos of boys spread before us on the little table. I looked back at his photo.  He had a great big smile.  There seemed to be no rebellion in his eyes.  I thought and prayed and finally I handed his file to Tim.  “This one.  I like this one.”  Tim looked closer at the photo and nodded.  It wasn’t until I got home from Ukraine 6 weeks later that I realized that after searching and praying for months regarding the adoption, God had literally placed our son in my lap that day in the SDA office!

We said yes to this little boy, “Sergey,” that morning, I believe around 10 a.m.  He was from a small town called Izmail which is in the Odessa oblast.  When we got back to the apartment around noon, I couldn’t “Google” the town fast enough.  I stumbled across some blogs from families who had recently traveled to Izmail to adopt their children.  I saw on the map that he lived pretty far south in Ukraine and near the Black Sea. It would be about a 10 hour train ride plus a 3 hour taxi ride.  Then, because of a recent fundraiser for a new playground at an orphanage in Izmail, the Christian orphan hosting program’s webpage called “Frontier Horizon” came up on the next Google search. (This non-profit hosting program can be found at if you are interested).  On the very front page for the 2011 Summer Hosting Program was a blond haired boy’s photo.  I admired him and showed Tim the computer screen.  “Isn’t he cute? He looks almost like ‘our’ Sergey.”  Surely it was too good to be true that it was “our” boy.  What are the chances that in all the websites and of all the orphan boys in all of Ukraine (or the world for that matter) that “our” boy would have a very clear and recent photo on the very front page of the website AND I would find this photo just 2 hours after we said “Yes” to meeting him?!?  I set the thought aside and prepared to travel by train to meet this new boy “unofficially” the following day.

We met our son on Sunday.  After we got back to our hotel that night, I was clicking through photos on my laptop from the day.  One picture stood out to me.   It was one of Brandon with his face turned diagonally with a beanie on his head.  I noticed in this photo that Brandon had a tiny mole on his right cheek below his eye.  Then I thought of the picture we had seen the day before. “I wonder if that boy is him?”  I pulled up the picture from Frontier Horizon and this boy, clear as can be, had the same mole.  It was indeed our son!!!  To me, this is a miracle straight from God.  In addition to it being a miracle, this photograph was a gift.  Pictures are so important to me.  My children would call me obsessed with my love for photographs.  Somehow in His AWESOMENESS, God saw fit to confirm that night that this was the indeed the boy He had for us in the form of a photograph. 

I love the promises from these verses in Psalm 37.  Trust in the Lord and do good.  Delight yourself also in the way of the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.

I think that for me the hardest part of these verses is the “waiting patiently.”  There is no doubt that I trust in His promises. However, I often feel like Peter in the Bible when he said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).  It is so hard when nothing seems clear and we feel decisions need to be made right now, to sit still and wait patiently.  So anyway, I want to encourage you that whatever you are facing today in faith, trust me when I say God will place His perfect will in His perfect timing right in your lap.  Not only will God place it in your lap, but He also will confirm it in your heart....because He is awesome like that!!!