Open Arms

Open Arms
...caring for orphans and adoptive families...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


There was one night in Odessa last year that we wept as never before. We knew without a miracle from God's hand we would not leave Odessa with our 4 children- but He provided a way. There were other nights this past year we wept too---times when you don't know how to convince a child that you are not going to abandon them, but He provided a way, or nights that they dream nightmares of memories – but he comforts, or the day my mother died, and He comforts still, or the day a friendship was betrayed, but He is all we need.

We have sown in tears for the last 18 months, but there are songs of joy greater still. Five children came to a saving knowledge of Jesus in our home this past year, my brothers and sisters drew closer as we said goodbye to our mother, our family tree was enlarged as four siblings were truly grafted into their perfect places and they have grown leaves of new growth because their souls are being nourished. Our marriage has only grown closer as we've weathered these trials, one being strong when the other was weak and ready to give up. Jesus has been our faithful constant Friend. The Holy Spirit our true Comforter; day after day keeping us close to Father God.

We're looking toward a new year of stretching and continued growth, of reaching out to others as they enlarge their families through Open Arms Adoption Ministry, of learning to love one another more and of becoming a little more like Jesus each day. Praying we will all follow Jesus closely and trusting that He alone is our true Provider, Comforter and Friend. (Psalm 126 Look what He did.....Lord do it again!)

Blessings on you all!
Happy New Year!

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Reminder to ourselves....He who promised is faithful ----remember---- “I will give you the blessings you ask for if you will not go any further without them.”

Psalm 126: 1-3 Look what He did!
Psalm 126:4-6 Lord do it again!
Luke 8:11-15 Don't forget to plant our seeds in good soil and persevere! A harvest takes time.
Galatians 6:9 Do not become will reap in due time...
Hebrews 6:12 Continue to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised!





God Keeps His Promises

Psalm 126
A Pilgrim Song
1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion's exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn't believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
"God was wonderful to them!"
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.

4-6 And now, God, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Year Home

Praise Jesus.

Today, tonight is the night. Last year about this time we landed in Columbia and were welcomed home by family and friends. We've made it through our first year and have so many stories to tell.

Today we were thinking about how different all our lives are now. Usually we are up early an busy with school or co-op classes by 9am, but today was different. We were all pretty exhausted last night so the kids slept in for a bit.

Lyonya was up early though and racing thru his school work. He was motivated. He managed to finish his Algebra, Physical Science and English by 10am. Highly motivated. He had the opportunity today to help a friend with a house painting job....and that meant there was money to be made, so he was all over that. By 10:30 he was out the door for a full days work. Pasha also had the chance to work today but he wanted to make sure he was ready for marching band this afternoon so he opted to stay home today. So we (Pasha, Galya, Andrew and I) enjoyed a leisurely morning of current events, the reading of the historical account of John Wycliff's bones being dug up and burned at the stake, math and grammar. A quick lunch of meatloaf sandwiches (which the kids actually like now) was enjoyed while we visited with Jenn (our extra daughter/border right now) and our next door daughter, Sarah. Sarah had to come visit due to plumbing problems at home.

Pasha reminded me that we needed to go to Steve's office to hit his co-workers up for a fund raiser from band. He is trying to raise funds for a band trip to Chicago in January. So we raced to ECS (which gave him a number of sales) and returned home just in time for band. Pasha headed to band and Galya, Andrew and I headed to the CPA's office to pick up our taxes. Gotta file those before Friday. A fast stop there and we race home to take Jenn to work. Her car fell apart over the weekend and she needs a ride.

Probably way too many details for most of you...but all this to say...Thank you Lord for turning this crazy mix into a family. We love You so much.

Monday, September 27, 2010

All my devotion

It is absolutely amazing how much can happen in one year! September 8, year since the adoption was final. September 21, year since we picked up 4 children from the orphanages they called home... and brought them to live in a strange country, with a new language and a new family. Many others have done the same, but it has been a miracle none the less. A miracle of God's goodness, His grace and His love. We serve such an wonderful Father God.

We've struggled with molding everyone into a family at times, but we truly are family, Our most difficult days however were saying goodbye to Grandma Polly on April 13th. After a short illness with colon cancer she quietly and peacefully slipped into heaven with her King. She promised she would say hello to my Daddy for me and that she would dance with Jesus. We miss her very much.

Homeschooling is going well this year. We have many neighbors that also homeschool so we trade off some classes and have a never ending list of friends in and out.

Open Arms Adoption Ministry is growing. In addition to monthly support group meetings for adoptive families and supporters, we have been able to facilitate distribution of funds from supporters to adoptive families. God has an amazing way of connecting all the right people to make things come together.

We owe it all to Him....all we have and all we are. Our family enjous listening to the Newsboys sing, All My Devotion. His desire is to rescue us all.

Devotion Lyrics

All my world
All I've lost
The wrecks I've made here
The lives it cost
Your hand restores
Your works make whole
With all my soul
I thank You
I owe You
All my...Devotion
All that I have to give
Here's my devotion
You're all that it means to live

All my past My tainted main
You stole its legacy Of pride and shame
You're all I love, You're all I fear
I'm drawing near To face You
To know You, To show You...

Devotion, All that I have to give
Here's my devotion
You're all that it means to live

You found me, In a shallow grave
You tracked me out from beneath it all

You healed me, Saved me
In the nick of time
Your perfect time
You found me (found me)
In a shallow grave (in a shallow grave)
You called me out from beneath it all
You touched me (touched me)
Saved me (saved me)
In the nick of time
In Your perfect time

I devote all I have to You
I devote all that You've made new
All You restored that day You bled
All that You brought back from the dead

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Birthday USA!

The Family plus a few...but they are family too!

We go to court on July 16th here in SC to obtain US birth certificates for the kids and have the paperwork we need to obtain their citizenship. It should all be formality, but we take nothing for granted and request your prayers as we offer up ours.

The Father has continued to provide for us abundantly above all we could think or ask. Thank you so much for continuing to walk thru this journey with us.

Steve and Carol

Fun on a slip and slide
Galya, Pasha and Lyonya

Sharing our story at Bethel Methodist Church in Winnsboro, SC

Monday, June 7, 2010

Open Arm Adoption

We had our first adoption support group meeting May 24th. We had 5 families in our group. We have lots of plans already in the works. Detail will follow. Our next meeting will be Monday July 5th at 7 p.m.

Friday, February 19, 2010

They Teach Us Every Day

We were working on a project for Andrew's room and it had been a long frustrating day. With sweat on his brow, Steve said, "One day I would just like to hear one of them say thank you for this!" He spoke this in jest....but I heard the Lord say so clearly, "Me too. One day, I would like to hear you say thank you for this!" Wow, it still is so amazing to me how much we have to learn, how simple it usually is, and how often He uses the kids to drive these points home to us. Recently it seems we hear these points almost daily.
Oh yeah, later that evening as we tucked them into bed, Andrew told Steve "Thank you for bringing us home with you."

Before adding these last arrows to our quiver we would often jump in the car or more often on the motorcycle and ride around town for an hour or two. Just wandering.

Well the kids do not like to wander! Actually that is an understatement. Their first question is either, "What we do now?" or "Where we go now?"

The other day we just needed out of the house for a little while. We were driving around town...not going anywhere in particular.... We stopped and bought the kids an order of fries and set out for a little scenic route tour. Immediately the questions began. Where are we going? How long will we be gone? What are we doing? Why are we going? When will we get home? I finally asked them...Do you have somewhere you need to be today? Does it matter when we go home? Can you just enjoy the ride?....and I heard His familiar voice ask, "What about you, can you just enjoy the ride? Do you have to know where I'm taking you?"

We are learning from our arrows each day. Learning to trust like a child, to believe He is who He says He is, and that He is always in control. We may not know where He is taking us, but that's okay, He is well able to get us there and give us some fries along the way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Believing God

Well we've been home for a while now and have finished with a few major family events, so it appears the time has come to get back in the saddle and step out again. Beginning in March we will be facilitating an adoption support group at our church. Our hope for this group is really multifaceted. We would like to be a place for people interested in adoption to come and seek out information, a place for those adopting to pick the brains of those who have already adopted, and a place for those who have a adopted to receive ongoing prayer and support as they grow into the new family they so quickly have become. It is our hope to be a clearing house of adoption information for anyone interested and a place where those that do not feel led to adopt can assist families that are led to adopt with finances, or activities for the children.

There are still so many children waiting for families. Please pray that the Lord would raise up families for all those little ones. No child should have to grow up without a family.

Please pray for us as we proceed with the readoption process here in South Carolina. It is not necessarily a hard process but all things like this take time, energy and money, all of which are at a premium now. We also added to our schedule taking Grandma for her radiation treatments 5 days a week for the next 6 weeks, so please pray for her health and everyone's stamina.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is there such a thing as a typical week?

Someone asked me one day what our typical week is like....I'm not sure what is typical...but here goes.

The children have all enjoyed getting involved in various ministries at our church, Christian Life. Lyonya, Pasha and Galia all attend Saturate Youth and Bible study classes, Andrew attends Kid Zone Children's church, Kid's choir and Royal Rangers. They each have begun to make relationship with a diverse group of people.
Sunday we attend church at the 9am service so that we can be home in time to fix lunch. Usually someone or several someones come and join us. The rest of the day is usually visiting, napping or hanging out with family and friends.

Monday, Steve leaves for work at 7:30 am so we try to get rolling early too. The kids take turns bringing the paper to Grandma, feeding the cats, feeding and walking Nonah, doing dishes and starting a load of laundry. On Mondays we have a PE class, school work, and I try to schedule Grandma's doctors appointments on this day. She has just been diagnosed with colon cancer and we are asking God for His healing touch, but meanwhile she is undergoing daily radiation treatments for the next 6 weeks, but she has extra appointments occasionally so those we try to get on Mondays. Sometimes Rebekah and the boys come to hang out and do lunch with all the kids, sometimes it's Sarah, and sometimes we all pile in the van and make it an outing. It's amazing how much all the "kids" have helped out. We couldn't do it all without them. Mondays are busy.

On Tuesday we start early with schoolwork and try to get in a good study day. This particular week Lyonya had a dentist appointment. Lyonya was not convinced that this was a good use of money. He said, "I thinks it would be better for teeth to rot than to give money to dentist." Oh well...we went anyway. We made it home by 12:30...just enough time for lunch and off to Galia's piano lessons from 1:30 to 2:00. Then at 3:30 it is Pasha to band practice. Tie a string around my finger to not forget to pick him up on time. OK I confess I did once...but I was only 15 minutes late...not hours or anything!


Wednesday Andrew attends the Junior Master Gardener's Program at Riverbanks Zoo. His class is from 10 am until noon. One of the other kid's mother picks him up and has lunch with the boys at the zoo then lets them walk around for a couple hours. At noon, Pasha and Lyonya have an English I and Biology class they attend once a week for 3 hours. They receive weekly assignments that they bring home for us to work on all week. Galia and I work on her school work while the boy are gone. We always want a nap, but try to do good. We did fall asleep during the reading of Little House in the Big Woods....but only for 15 minutes because Grandma came in and wanted her furniture moved and she woke us up to help!

At three o'clock we pick up Pasha and Lyonya and Andrew. Most of the time Andrew either goes home with his friend Harrison for the afternoon or Harrison comes here. Andrew has to be at church at six for kid's choir, while the rest of us don't have class until 7pm.



Thursday is usually a repeat of Tuesday's minus piano. Every other Friday Steve has the day off of work. That is my favorite day. He can teach the older boys and I can teach the younger two. I like that ratio so much.

Weekends you never know what you will find....maybe a house project or a birthday party or a friend over for supper. It is never dull and it is never the same.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January BBQ

Today we had a barbeque to celebrate the marriage of JD and Meg. So with all 9 kids and all 7 grandkids in one room I had to have a picture. Someone said that Caitlin our granddaughter was crying in the photo...I said it didn't matter....she was in the picture!

JD (Jeremiah), Matthew, Rebekah, Tracy, and Tim (Back row) and Pasha, Andrew, Galia and Lyonya (Front Row)


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Great is Thy Faithfulness


What a season of change it's been. Only God's faithfulness could have brought us thru into 2010. It's been challenging, at times frustrating, painful, and scary. It's also been exhilarating, happy, joyful and exciting. Most often the problem was going from extreme to extreme with very little notice.

Since returning home with 4 new children, we have celebrated 6 birthdays, 2 weddings, the birth of a new grandchild, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Add to the transition that Carol is no longer working outside the home and we are now homeschooling again. Any way you slice that's just a lot of emotions to squeeze into two months.

Andrei who wants to be called Andrew- asked us the night after JD's wedding, What you gonna do with Lyonya's room when he meets a girl, gets married and moves out?" Guess he figures we always move this fast in life around here. We told him we would cross that bridge in a few years since Lyonya is only 15 right now.

All in all, everyone is doing remarkably well.
Tim and Emily (Aaron 5 and Caitlin 7 mo.) are living in Aiken and Tim has gone back to school.
Some of the boys in the family...

Tracy and Ja' (Marc Anthony 2 and Connor 1) are still thriving in Orangeburg.

Matthew married his long time sweetheart Becky on November 21st and they are living down the street from us here in Columbia.

Rebekah and Tim along with Samuel 3 and Josiah 20 mo. welcomed Caleb Simon Cook to their family on December 30th. He weighed 7lbs 14 oz.

Then for a grand finale Jeremiah (JD) married Margaret (Meg) Nelson on January 2nd. They are off on their honeymoon right now.

Lyonya and Pasha are taking English I and Biology, thru a home school co-op, and making friends in church youth group and Sunday School. Lyonya is hoping to sign up for soccer next month and he has a new favorite recording artist, Kim Walker. So glad she is one of our favorites too.

Pasha plays the French Horn with Ben Lippen's high school band and both of the boys enjoy riding bikes all over the neighborhood.

Galia starts piano lessons next week with a sweet lady from our church. She also loved dressing up and being a Jr. bridesmaid in JD's wedding.

We are so thankful to the Lord for His provision of family and for our family being where we are today. There are still many hurdles to cross in this journey in 2010...but we know He is faithful. Please pray for the Lords continued provision as we are still working through some of the property issues in Odessa and we still have the re-adoption process here in the states...(this will provide the children with a SC birth certificate). All of this takes time and money. Then there's the day to day matter of life and loving and learning and living as a family. So this year, just as Kim Walker sings about, we offer all that we have to Him in order to be one with Him. He is so amazing....just look what what He brought us this past year.

Happy New Year Everyone. May He bless you beyond all that you could hope or imagine.

You won't relent until You have it all, My heart is Yours
You won't relent until You have it all, My heart is Yours

I'll set You as a seal upon my heart, As a seal upon my arm
For there is love that is as strong as death, Jealousy, demanding as the grave
Many waters cannot quench this love

You won't relent until You have it all, My heart is Yours
You won't relent until You have it all, My heart is Yours

I'll set You as a seal upon my heart, As a seal upon my arm
For there is love that is as strong as death, Jealousy, demanding as the grave
Many waters cannot quench this love

Waters cannot quench this love,
You won't relent until You have it all, My heart is Yours
Waters cannot quench this love
You won't relent until You have it all, My heart is Yours

Come be the fire inside of me, Come be the flame upon my heart
Come be the fire inside of me, Until You and I are one

Check out the video on You below....