February Update- John Robert Veillard

Below is a monthly update about my dear friend, John Robert. If you would like to learn more about him, you can visit our Fundly page. Also, for more details about him on the blog, check this out.

 

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(He’s the cutie in the red striped shirt).

Friends,

I hope this update finds you warm despite the bitter cold. I keep telling myself Spring is just around the corner… It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on John Robert and there’s a lot to share.
He’s doing exceptionally well at school and is taking a heavy load this semester (18 credit hours). When he’s not in the classroom, he has been working out (trying to keep off the freshman 15) and training with his soccer team. He will turn 21 on February 25th and we are looking forward to celebrating the big day with him!
In regards to fundraising for John Robert’s education, we continue to be blessed beyond measure. The generosity of family, friends, and complete strangers blows me away on a regular basis. I love seeing God move through each of you to bless John Robert. We are still $1,152 short for fully funding his first year in the United States. Additionally, we will start fundraising for year 2 in a few short months. To be honest, this gives us a bit of anxiety, but we are trusting in God’s timing and faithfulness in this endeavor.
To try and offset some of the expenses for year two, John Robert has been applying for small scholarships online and applied to two different colleges for the 2015-2016 school year. The first being Transylvania University. They’ve accepted him for admission and offered him a generous scholarship. However, if you know much about Transy, you know they provide superior education at a premium price. This scholarship, while incredible is $8,000 more per year than Kentucky Christian University. We are still prayerfully trying to work through these logistics to see if Transy would even be an option financially. He has also applied to Berea College (for the third time) as their educational offerings and financial package is optimal for young people in John Robert’s situation. We have yet to hear their response, but are praying fervently for this to be an option for next year. Both Transylvania and Berea would grant John Robert an opportunity to work and this would also be a positive step for offsetting expenses (KCU does not allow their internationals to work at this time).
In the Spring, we hope to have a few small fundraisers to help kick-off year two.  A couple of gals from work are planning a yard sale to raise money for JR, and I hope to host another fundraiser as well. More details on this will be made available soon.
In the meantime, will you continue to pray for God’s guidance and for John Robert to continue to be a dream chaser? It is my sincere prayer that we never grow weary of chasing after the dreams He has set before us…
Thank you for standing beside us on this journey! You are a blessing!
In Him,
Heather

{Dangerous Prayer} 2014 in Review.

Almost a year ago, I prayed the most dangerous prayer of my life. The fruits of this prayer have been manifesting ever since. You see, my prayer took place while I was cleaning my house. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but I recall asking the Lord to fill my rooms and fill them for his glory.

It started in January of 2014. I had recently graduated with my Master’s Degree in Business Administration and my husband and I decided to celebrate the accomplishment by taking a trip to Haiti. I’ve been to Haiti several times and am in love with the culture and the people.

When we went, we told our Pastor that we had plans to start a family when we returned. He and his wife prayed over us before we left. I felt confident we could conceive quickly because I had done everything the right way. I had it all under control. We’d been saving for medical expenses for a year, had the OK from the OBGYN, had stable jobs, and degrees. This was the farthest thing from the truth; the Lord immediately took control orchestrated a plan far superior then anything I could have crafted on my own.

After our trip, my heart longed to help our friend, long-time interpreter, John Robert get to America to attend college. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d wake up at night, I’d Google scholarships, I started networking with people and making connections, I felt certain I was the friend that was supposed to help him. J encouraged me to get a game plan together for fundraising and then educate myself on the potential risks of bringing an international to school in America. I went full-steam ahead and completed the necessary paperwork to get John Robert to America.

In April, over Easter, I was blessed with a trip to Haiti. It was on the other side of the island and not where my friends were, but I knew I had to get John Robert to me. I had the paperwork he needed to get to the States, and I wanted to surprise him. I bused him to the mission along with two friends, and gave him the paper he needed to get a Visa appointment. If all went well, he would be coming to the USA for college in the fall. At this point, John Robert, my friends, family, and I launched a fundraising campaign to pay for his education.

During this time, Jason and I were still trying for a family and every period came and went with disappointment. I was consumed with fundraising for John Robert and trying to chart my ovulation, and didn’t realize at the time, but this was the first response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord was filling my rooms.

In May, Jason and I received a call from our family and social worker in Pennsylvania. They asked if we would be interested in fostering to adopt one of our distant relatives. As a ten year old, they explained it would be hard, but that we were the only hope for making sure she didn’t age out of the system (older kids are not usually adopted). We didn’t hesitate with our response. We love our family and didn’t want to lose our cousin to strangers, so we asked what we could do. We were encouraged to get certified in KY to be foster parents. Again, I was awake at night, I googled, made phone calls, and we went full steam ahead. We started foster parenting classes in the state of Kentucky and committed to eleven weeks of grueling work.

We were able to have two transitional visits with our cousin (little mama) over the summer. This helped her see where she would live and helped us make sure we felt confident in our decision. Each visit went well and we decided to continue pushing forward with the process. We completed our parenting classes in August.

By this time, Jason and I had still been unsuccessful at conception, but had our friend John Robert in America, enrolled in school, and on campus. We also had little mama’s room ready and our family, friends, and co-workers had thrown us showers, so her closet and toy chest was chalked full in anticipation of her arrival. This was the second response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord was filling my rooms.

We decided to plan a vacation in the fall and take a trip with our friends to Destin, FL. At this point, we had stopped “trying”. I threw the ovulation kits away; I stopped charting, and just focused my efforts on helping John Robert adjust to life in America and stayed in prayer for little mama. We were told she would likely arrive around Thanksgiving because the state didn’t like transitioning kids during the school year. I kept praying for her and felt confident that she would be here before the Holidays. I wanted her to adjust to normal life in KY as soon as possible. So, a week before we left for Destin, we got the call. Little mama and her social worker would meet us at the Lexington airport on September 30. This cut our vacation short, but we didn’t care. We were excited to start our lives as parents and to help her know love.

When little mama moved in, she immediately started asking about siblings. She has a big sister, but wanted to be a big sister. This stung a bit, since we had been trying for months, but we assured her that when the time was right, we would give her a sibling. We brushed this off and focused our efforts on her and John Robert.

In October, I was late. I had previously thrown away all my tests, and kits, so I didn’t think much about the possibility of being pregnant right away. But when my period still didn’t come, I asked our research nurse at work for a test. I holed myself up in the bathroom at work and took the test in the middle of the day. The line was faint, but it was positive. One of my docs caught me coming out of the bathroom and asked why I was so white. I shoved the test towards him and he laughed and said, “you need to go upstairs and get blood drawn”.

In my head, this was a joke. I had too much going on. Sure, we had tried to conceive for months, but it was a fruitless endeavor. The Lord had already blessed me with little mama and John Robert. I had to focus my efforts on them and not be distracted by the “what ifs” of a baby. The blood came back after two hours (we ran it STAT. I was a mess) and it was positive. I was pregnant.

When I came home from work that night, I waited until little mama got in the shower and handed J the urine test and the lab work. I immediately walked away. He was confused until I said the words, “I’m pregnant”. In typical J fashion, he said, “you are always on pinterest and reading blogs… is this is the best you could do?” He wanted some fancy announcement, but all the energy I could muster was used to hand him the results. This was officially the third response to my dangerous prayer. The Lord had filled my rooms.

We waited to tell John Robert until he visited in November. His immediate response was, “this was my prayer”. And then we waited a bit longer to tell little mama by giving her a shirt that said “big sister”. Her immediate response was, “this was my prayer”. It took days for these responses to sink in and for me to understand the magnitude of what God had done in ten short months. He positioned me to surrender my plans and to believe that his words were true. When my husband and I poured our lives out and gave it away, the Lord filled it back up. He filled my rooms. He answered the cries of my heart. He made a family out of his fabric and wrote a story that only he was capable. I learned to surrender my ideas and focus on the plan God has for our family. By being open to His timeline, His goals, and His will, my family flourished, my prayers were answered, and all the rooms in my home are filled (the last room due to be filled in June 2015!). God is good.

 

 

 

 

{Foster Parenting} A Prayer for the Kids

Being a foster parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. The rewards are great, but man, it’s hard work! When I find myself getting caught up in the daily routine of life, I try and take a step or two (at times) back and just pray for little momma. It helps me gain perspective and reminds me that at the end of the day she is HIS and he’s not finished with her story (or mine)!

Heavenly Father, Thank you for little momma! Thank you for creating her in your image and giving her a passion for you! As she goes through life, I ask that you break down any negative image that she has of herself and give her the ability to see herself in your eyes. She’s your princess, your shining light, and is more precious than gold. (Genesis 1:27)

I ask that you prepare a life that gives her the freedom to move past life’s hard knocks and moves toward you. Help her to maintain resilience, positivity, and love towards others. Help her to see that she is greater than her circumstance and the plan for her life is MORE than she can even imagine. (Habakkuk 1:5)

Father, any sort of negative label that’s been slapped on her, I ask that you remove it so that she can walk in FREEDOM. I pray that her innocence is restored and her heart is full of love for you! Thank you for protecting her and shielding her. Thank you for giving her a sound mind and the desire to walk in wisdom. (Psalm 91:4)

Thank you for the beauty she brings to our lives and I pray that you continue to knead her into the woman you’ve created her to be. Give her the courage to walk the path of righteousness and the discernment to know you will above all else. Thank you for the joy that fills her heart and for never letting her shine dull! Your future for her is bright and your love for her is endless. Thank you for her life. In your heavenly and precious name, Amen. (Isaiah 26:7)

{When Haiti and America Collide} Grafted In.

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Three years ago, when I met John Robert, I did not expect him to become anything more to me than a friend. I was impressed by his intelligence, analytical skills, and most importantly his heart. The heart he has for his country and for those serving to walk alongside his people is extraordinary. I think I assumed he’d be someone I’d see in Haiti during my visits, and someone I would stay in contact with through Facebook.

However, God had other plans for our relationship. The details are unique and completely God orchestrated. They may even seem bizarre to most, but today, three years later, I view him as a son. No, he’s not been adopted, but he has been grafted into our family. He attends family functions, checks-in daily, uses me as a sounding board when life is tough because his mom isn’t easily accessible since she’s still in Haiti. He always makes sure I’m ok, urges me to slow down and take time for myself, and shows genuine appreciation for our friendship daily!

I am grateful for his friendship and honored to be Mama H to him here in the States. I know his mom misses him, but am hopeful that she knows he’s well-loved while here in the US.

John Robert is a gift; one I didn’t expect or deserve.

 

For more details about JR, visit fundly!

Tell me: Do you have a son like JR?

{Foster Parenting} Affirmation Part I

In a recent post Reggie Joiner,  says parents are responsible to fight for their children’s heart. As parents, we make the rules, we expect our children to follow those rules, and we create routines to help shape their lives around these rules. However, at the end of the day, I want our daughter, or any child in our care, to see that we care about their heart more than the rules. We care about the way they see themselves in our eyes as well as in their own. My job as a mom is to fight for little momma’s heart.

One way I fight for her heart is by affirming her in love. Despite all the rules, I try to be intentional about showering her with love through affirmation. This, to me, helps quiet negative self-talk and peer talk. I first got the idea long before we had a kiddo from Priscilla Shirer.  She speaks life into her boys before she drops them off at school. I do the same for little momma. Here’s what I say everyday:

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And you know, I didn’t think she listened… But she does! I know because the other day when I sneezed and  pulled into school forgetting to finish the spill,  she said, “um… You forgot you are being shaped to be a woman of valor and poise”. That my friend is a parenting win. When you parent from hard places like J and I do, you don’t necessarily get a lot of positive feedback. But when you hear your child repeat the words you’ve been speaking over them, you know in your heart of hearts that you are doing the right thing!

Tell me: How do you speak life over your children?

2015 Whitney English Day Designer Enchancements.

I received my Whitney English Day Designer in the mail today and I’m thrilled!

This is the second year I’ve splurged on this planner and I can honestly say it’s the best planner I’ve ever owned.

This year, the planner got a minor face lift and the results are spectacular.

Here are a few revisions from last year planner that I think are worth mentioning:

Corner Protectors. Yes, my corners bent a bit this year, but I chalked it up to wear and tear! However, these protectors will help the Day Designer stay beautiful all year long.

A Pocket. This is something I actually missed after previously using the Erin Condren planner. However, in 2015, crisis averted! We’ve got a pocket.

The paper. The paper feels a little different aesthetically  and is white. I love this change.

Important Things + Victory List. This page is new to the 2015 designer and I am excited.

2016  Sheets. Now, if an appointment is scheduled during the next calendar year, I can jot it down without trying to remember to transfer from one calendar to the next. Brilliant!

Choose your design. Oh, and there are additional design options this year.

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If you don’t know about Whitney English, you should! Visit her  on Etsy and get a jump start on 2015. You won’t regret it!

A disclaimer: Whitney English doesn’t know who I am (sadly) and hasn’t endorsed this post!

Tell me: What’s your favorite planner?

{Minimalist Wanna Be} Reduce Waste.

I generate a lot of trash, use a lot of water, and that’s just to live like an average American. Jen Hatmaker’s book Seven states that Americans generate 4.6 pounds of waste per day, per person. That’s 251 million tons per year.

I want to be different. I want a life that operates on less. After talking to my friend Meagan about  about the simple ways we generate waste, I thought about the three ways I could reduce waste this week.

Here’s what I did:

  • Opted out of junk mail. The registration process was easy and our household will generate less trash as a result.
  • Stopped using ziploc bags. When I pack little momma’s lunch every day, I use two new ziploc bags. Now, I am using the containers that came with her lunch box (shocking, I know) and just clean them as needed (thank you jelly!).
  • Cut out a shower a week. While it may sound trivial to you, this is one of my greatest pleasures! From what I found online, a shower uses about 2.5 gallons per minute. This means a 10 minute shower uses around 25 gallons of water.

These changes, while simple, helped shine a light on other ways I generate waste. I have a long way to go, but it is my intention to be a better steward of resources available to me.

Tell me: Have you made small changes to reduce waste? If so, how?

 

{Foster Parenting} A Prayer for Birth Parents

I’ve been thinking a lot about the families that have children displaced from their home and/or fear that as a possible outcome. I feel the only way we can truly have compassion and work in partnership as foster parents with these individuals is to pray. As a result, I’m sharing my prayer with you… Because perhaps like me, you’ve struggled with finding the right words for days. Hope this helps someone along the way as it’s helped me!

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the mothers and fathers around the globe that gave birth to children when the odds were stacked against them. Thank you for giving them the heart to give life when an alternative would have seemed easier. Thank you for giving them a bond with their child, in the womb and today, no matter how far the distance.

Lord, I pray for those parents hurting because of their histories and the guilt the carry because of their life circumstance. I pray that you rid them from the bondage of sin and give them the ability to become white as snow! I ask that you move in their lives today and tomorrow giving them a peace that surpasses understanding. I pray that because of you they no longer view their history or decisions as curses or failures, but as opportunities to improve their lives. An opportunity to start fresh, a life sold out to you, free from sin, mistakes, and guilt! (Isaiah 1:18)

Father, I pray for those parents that do not have children in their home right now. I pray for their courage to discern the right move for their children. I pray that if reconciliation is the best, you facilitate a way for them to move past their history and into a bright future. I pray that if permanent placement outside of the birth home is the best solution, that you give the birth parents and their children a fresh start free of emotional baggage, feelings of failure, and lies. Thank you for giving these parents hearts to love their children enough to set them free. (2 Corinithians 5:17)

Thank you for giving foster and adoptive parents the option to help restore the lives of children. Thank you for placing these children in environments full of love and light. Thank you for giving birth families peace during times of uncertainty and transition. Thank you for giving them an understanding and for seeking YOU more and themselves less! Thank you for giving the children a peace that their parents love them and will continue to love them no matter the distance. Thank you for giving these children an opportunity to break generational cycles and to excel beyond their wildest dreams! (John 3:30)

I pray as these parents move towards healing and into a new season of life that you guide them, console them, and fill them up. I rebuke any spirit that tries to attach itself to them to keep them stagnant, confused, or fuels a spirit of manipulation. I pray that you guard their minds, their body and their spirits from behaviors that go against your kingdom and your will. Thank you for setting your children, no matter the age, on a course of freedom. Thank you for working in our hearts and our minds when our flesh desires to rebel. (Phillipians 4:7)

You are the God of the Universe. You are the healer of hearts. You are close to the broken hearted. You are Lord. At this time, I thank you for these families when they feel broken, confused, and frustrated. I thank you for the special annointing you are going to release upon them and pray for your continued guidance in their lives. In your heavenly name, Amen. (Psalm 34:18)

{When Haiti and America Collide} Fall Favorites.

This weekend was awesome because JR was home for Fall break. I’m grateful to be able to experience Fall with him. It is my favorite season and I love sharing it with others.

We went to Halloween Express, decorated pumpkins, and bet on the ponies at Keeneland. We had a blast!


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Halloween Express reminded JR a bit of  Haiti’s Carnaval (think Mardi Gras) because of the masks. He was impressed by the selection and taken back by the price tag of these seasonal items.

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Every year in our home, my friends from High School come over and decorate pumpkins! JR decorated his pumpkin in honor of his country.

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One of the things I treasure most about JR being in KY is the new friends I’ve been able to make. We spent the afternoon with Megan and Fiona (a classmate of JR’s) at Keeneland. Fiona and JR took in all the things… the good and the bad!

We had a wonderful weekend! I can’t wait until he’s home for his next visit!

For more details about JR, visit fundly!

{Foster Parenting} Helpful Reads.

Throughout our foster parenting journey, I’ve found reading incredibly helpful. It quiets my thoughts and gives me new perspectives on topics.

Here’s a list of my favorites:

  • Dave Thomas Foundation– The site has robust resources for families interested in adoption as well as some other really great facts.
  • Pam Parish– Her devotion and blog is really helpful for families seeking to stay grounded in faith as they grow through foster and adoption.
  • The Connected Child Great insight on how to push through barriers and connect with your child.
  • Jen Hatmaker– If you rifle through all of her other awesome topics, you’ll learn a lot from her international adoption journey.

These resources have helped me feel more prepared to conquer the uncharted waters of parenting and have also opened the window to other resources related to parenting in general.

Tell me: What’s your favorite resource for parenting?