Saturday, December 29, 2012

The House that Jay Built

The week before Christmas, Jay was gone for an entire week.  As history always repeats itself here at our house, whenever he is gone for a long period of time, I tend to come up with a plethera of Home DIY  Projects.  And, I've been known to rip up carpet and tear out walls on a mere whim ready to surprise him when he walks through the door.  It helps keep the spark in our marriage!
 
This time was no exception.  I didn't weild any crowbars - but I did let the HGTV portion of my imagination run WiLd.
 
As our family has grown, our house has not.
 
With 6 kids, I feel a little like this on most days
So, after a few months of having our house on the market with no lookers - I decided to present Jay with my plan for increasing the number of bedrooms and living space in our home.  The whole "Let's just stay here and make it work because I'm going crazy in this house waiting to see if it sells" mantra.   It's a multi-phase plan and one which will not be quick.  But, we must make it work on our limited budget - paying cash for most as we can save up.  I thought our bloggy friends might want to follow along - so I'll be posting pics of our before and afters along the way.  Here is the jist of what we plan to do:

Our home is a typical 1970's tri-level (think Brady Bunch).  It is meant to have 3 bedrooms on the upper level, a small living room and eat-in kitchen on the main level, and a den in the basement.  The garage steps down just off the kitchen.  Total square footage is about 1850 sq ft.

Phase 1:  Make 2 bedrooms in the basement - giving us 5 bedrooms.

Phase 2: Move all the "garagy stuff" to a storage shed and make the garage a den and another bedroom (grand total of 6 bedrooms - we were going for 7 - but 6 will do)

Phase 3:  Create a computer/work area in the kitchen, expand the countertops to include a big "cookie making" counter (does anyone else envision cold winter nights spent rolling out cookie dough with the kids in a big country kitchen like the Waltons?), build a small pantry into the kitchen corner,  and move our family dinner table into the current living room making it the dining room

The biggest faults with this house are the small size of the bedrooms and the lack of space to have people over for meals.  By creating more bedrooms - even though the spaces will be on the smaller side - we can spread the kiddos out a bit.  Then, by moving our living/dining spaces around - we can accomodate more people around the table. 

We are gaining excitement and have used our bit of Christmas money from parents to buy 2x4s, drywall, and mud.   So far, a stud wall is up in the basement and the sheet rock is being prepped.  It should be a fun winter!

Here are a few "Before" shots.  Excuse the Christmas present aftermath.  Storage is another problem around here.  This side of the basement will become a bedroom and where the Barbie house is - that's a future closet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So...where are we headed?


As I face the morning today, I just continue to shake my head in disbelief. When I think about the fact that a little over half our country is proud to support a movement that praises homosexuality, that welcomes the killing of the unborn and calls it ‘choice’, that rallies around muslim nations while it lifts it’s hand of support from Israel, that encourages a socialistic agenda encouraging the nation’s poor to sit back and collect handouts while eliminating any and all incentive to succeed on their own, and that continues to spend money we don’t have creating a mountain of debt for our children and grandchildren to face one day….it troubles me…it saddens me…and honestly, it scares me.

I believe that God’s people reside in the United States of America, but it is becoming obvious that we are no longer the majority. And if this course continues, and wickedness and laziness are commonplace, but labeled things like tolerance, choice, and welfare…eventually, if history repeats itself, God will allow judgment to befall the USA, and we will see our great and glorious nation fall like the empires that preceded us in history.

I was blessed recently to watch the documentary “Monumental”, which is phenomenal (You need to buy a copy and pass it around). It takes a hard look at how this country was founded. All too often, progress is made in the best way, by looking back and ‘reforming’ what has happened by looking back and going back to the basics. In looking back to the true story of the pilgrims, we find an incredible group of courageous people that sought to glorify God, and wanted to establish a nation that would be a blessing to the world and to their children’s children. They had multi-generational thinking. Their actions were not to achieve self-centered results for them during the here-and-now. They knew that they were planting seeds that they may not see the results from in their lifetime, but they knew it was the right thing to do. And they knew if they were focused on being obedient to God and seeking to glorify him, that their efforts would be blessed in due time, and that others would join them in their efforts.  But their thinking, their perspective was multi-generational. They looked beyond what the effect would be in the present.

I feel that one of the main problems we have today is that people (a) no longer seek to glorify God with every aspect of their lives, and (b) primarily think in the here-and-now. That is why I believe the election resulted in the way it did. People no longer have God in their thinking…and their focus is on how will this candidate help me now…how will he or she make my life better, easier, more the way I think it should be or that I deserve in the immediate present. Thinking of what is best in the overall and how it will affect the next generations is no longer a trait for the majority…and this can be true for people of either party.

What we need is a generation of people that like the founders of this country go back to the principles of God’s word, and that make decisions that bring God glory and that sustain us for generations to come. And that we once again have the courage and the character to think from a multi-generational perspective. The blessings of 2 Chronicles 7:14 are only promised “IF” the nation seeks God first. That is what made this nation great…and it is the only thing that will make it great again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And the Winner is......

Becca Underwood!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the American Girl Doll Giveaway.  The Williams' Family are getting closer to their boys everyday!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

American Girl Raffle for the Williams' Family Adoption



It's been exciting around here lately!  Our dear friends, Mark and Shawdi Williams, have been matched  - not just to one little boy - but 2 little brothers, ages 3 and 4.  They never expected this - but are overjoyed (and a little nervous).  As many of you know - this now means their adoption costs are going up!  So, we are offering a chance to win the American Girl doll of your choice
                                                                                                (yes - you get to pick it!). 

We are selling chances to win for $10 each or 3 for $25. 

This is the perfect gift for any little girl in your life and Christmas is only 3.5 months away!  So - dig deep and buy some chances.  The winner will be announced on Sept. 24.  That 's only 3 weeks away so please help us by posting this on Facebook, your blog, or sending to your friends and family through email.  Our goal is to raise $1000.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hybrid Homeschooling

Recently, I was having a conversation with my 13 year old and she shocked me with a hard-dose of reality.  I was asking her about school clothes and mentioned an article of clothing that seemed to be "what everyone else was wearing these days".  She profoundly said, "I don't want to be like everyone else."  Ughhhh.   That's exactly what I'd wish for her to say - yet I missed it myself.  We are not to be conformists.  We should live true to ourselves and our callings.  Yay for her!  She gets it.  I love that about her - always willing to live outside the box.

This is our 7th year to homeschool - yet I've never had every kid at home every day of the week.  We frustrate both the  homeschoolers and the public schoolers because our decisions don't "make sense" to those who live inside their respective boxes.   We are ok with that - it was hard at first and I've probably jeopardized from friendships.  But the real friends have stuck by and don't judge us - at least not out loud :-)

The first year that we felt God calling us to homeschool - our two oldest were in 2nd and 4th.  They had already been accepted to the Gifted Program at the local public school - which met 1 day a week.  As they transitioned home - they continued to go to public school 1 day a week for the next few years.  As #3 came along, she did not jive well with our homeschool routine. She's a different kind of child - very lively and social - easily distracted - loud, boisterous, needs lot,s of attention.  We quickly knew that our homeschooling program was not a good fit for her.  Without numerous options, we thought public kindergarten might work.  So, in October of that year, she started public kindergarten and thrived!!  She came home in 1st grade and it was a little better because she had learned the ins and out of being a "learner".  When she started 2nd grade at home - she needed lots of attention from me or things would go south really quickly.  I would look away for half a second -and she'd be busy painting her nails, playing with toys, or bothering someone else.  To give her more time - I enrolled my twins in kindergarten - they loved it!  My big girls were in 6th and 8th grade - and they were working more independently at home by then - so it seemed like the best decision.

Since during that school year - we were also adopting Lori, when it came time to plan our trip to China, we enrolled our 2nd grader in public school for the 2nd semester because I knew I'd not only be out of the country for a while - but once we got home - Lori would need my attention.  So, once again, we were a mixture of homeschoolers and public schoolers - it was a beautiful fit.
Now, here we are this year.  My oldest is a Sophomore at the local high school.  Jay really felt that she needed the high school experience and some time to transition into the world while still under our umbrella.   I love it.  She gets to come home and debrief and has already had opportunities to put her faith to the test.  She's ready for this and has stood up under pressure.  I'm not naive enougth to think that she will always make the best decisions - but for now, it's working.

My next oldest is in 8th grade.  Since we foresee transitioning her to HS next year - this school year she is attending the Jr High for 2 classes each morning.  She loves it.  Her teachers have accepted her with open arms and the kids have been really friendly.  It's been a great way to connect with our community and meet some folks we wouldn't meet otherwise.

My middle is at home.  We are muddling through - bless her heart!  It's still a struggle to get through the day.  Ughhh

My little guys are again at public school and doing great.   They may come home next year.  We'll see.
And my little bitty is home - and is busy learning Sign Language and a few sounds. She will start going to the PreK two mornings a week for therapy and instructional time.  I hope it goes well.

It's a busy year of a little this and a little that at the Lancaster House.  Lots of fun - lots of craziness!  That's what we are all about.  Like she said, "we don't want to be like everyone else!"  Sometimes I lose sight of that - good thing my kids are quick to remind me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Two Ears to Hear With?

So its been a while - but I feel like giving our bloggy friends a little update.  On July 5, Lori recieved her second implant and the surgery went well.  After giving it 2 weeks to heal - they turned it on last Thursday.  She gave very little indication that she noticed it being turned on - maybe a little look toward the computer - very anti-climatic.  Typical Lori. 

So, we worked up the volume scale this last week and went back on Thursday.  The team worked very hard with Lori - trying to pull out information from her.  They look for anything - a head turn, a grimace, eye movement, anything - to determine if she hears the sounds they are pushing through her head.  She gives them almost nothing.  They have often assumed that maybe its her personality.  But, I felt like the tides turned a bit this week, they mentioned that they "arent't throwing in the towel just yet".  They said they had talked about her and think she may actually be the only kid ever that they have seen who showed almost no interest in her implants.  They would expect this if she had other issues or her MRI showed reason to believe that her inner ear/auditory nerve anatomy were inadequate.  But they are ok. 

So......where do we go from here. 

If we only speak to her and she's not picking up the spoken words - then we are missing out on valuable language learning time.  If we sign to her - then we are limiting her need to learn to listen to the spoken word.  Blah Blah Blah.  We've been presented with all the research telling us that children who sign have lower test scores and run the risk of not functioning well in our hearing world.  We've been cautioned that her speech may sound "deaf".  We have a team of 4 professionals working with her and they don't agree with each other on which approach we should take.  Let me just tell you that that is VERY frustrating.  Sometimes I want to just stop the madness and just let her be.  I've questioned why we even implanted her.  What's so bad about being deaf - that's the way with humans - we're always trying to fix everybody. 

Jay and I have had some heart to hearts lately about this.  Much to the dismay of at least one part of our "team" - I think we are choosing to pursue the TC approach.  This stands for Total Communication - meaning she will learn both signing and speech simultaneously.  We run the risk of limiting her speech - but seeing that she doesn't speak at all right now - I'm really not too concerned about that.  She signs beautifully and it seems to come very natural for her.  I'm ok with that.  I don't know a lot of sign - but we are learning, learning, learning.  She's deaf.  I'm ok with that, too.  I don't feel the need to fix her.  I want to give her all the opportunities I can - but I don't want to pretend that she's not deaf.  The frustrating part of all this is that even if she were to hear with the implants - at night, in the bathtub, in the swimming pool, anytime the implants are off - she's still and will always be deaf.  We are ok with that.  We knew that coming into this.  I guess you could say that we signed up for that.  It's everyone else that doesn't seem ok with that.  Again, this lends itself to frustration.

So, another part of this puzzle, is that since coming back to Miner Baptist last year - every Sunday I see this posted in the front of the church about bringing the gospel to Deaf people around the world as I sit next to a little deaf Chinese girl.  Hmmmmm - it makes me wonder if God orchestrated this very frustration so that we would learn sign, so that Lori would learn sign, and hopefully reach her people, and other deaf cultures for the Kingdom.  When I think about it that way - I'm ok with that, too.  Really ok.  This week - because of Lori - we were asked to teach a Sign Language Class at Vacation Bible School.  Only because of Lori and her deafness were we able to tell 40 children about the gospel through sign and hopefully plant the seeds in each of them to learn more sign and encourage them to become missionaries to the deaf world.  Statistics show that only 2% of the Deaf people in the world are Christians. 

We have a heart for missions.  Lori came to us.  We fell in love with China.  China has a huge deaf population that needs to hear about Jesus.  The implants aren't working.  We have been forced to learn sign.  Loris loves learning sign which leads us to learn more and more and more to keep up with her......Did God set all this in motion?  As I study His Sovereignty - I must say "Absolutely".  And I'm ok with that, too.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gut Kicks & Bedtime Lemonade

(From Jay)

I find myself today having an interesting mixture of feelings. I read Camille’s heading below of ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’…and it makes me smile.

Yesterday, I got some tough news. The kind of news that you don’t like getting in your life. The kind of news that makes you feel ill and sick to your stomach. But life goes on. It wasn’t anything life threatening or health related. It was just some bad news about something very important and very personal to me. I felt like I had approached everything carefully…I was prayerful…and cautious…and in the end, I was left with egg on my face going, ‘what just happened?’. From my perspective, it involved some deceit and misinformation, but in the end, it doesn’t change the fact that I spent half the night watching the clock going, ‘what just happened?’.

The only thing you can do is look up and say, “God, you are in control.” You give…and you take away….blessed be the name of the Lord!

So, while intentionally keeping this general…I remain where I am and must resolve to continue to bloom where I am planted…

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bloom Where You are Planted

That little phrase inspired millions of cross-stiched plaques back in the early 80's - but it still rings so true today.  As Jay and I have sought the Lord's direction lately for ways to reach out - He seems to be leading us right into our own backyard.  Although I have to confess that our idea of missions looks like selling your house, packing up all your stuff, and trekking across the Great Divide on camelback to reach the little Indian village that's never heard the name of Jesus - I am coming to the conclusion that our mission field may look more like our own neighborhood during this season of life.  While that seems so less heroic and daring - it may be just as adventurous as we learn to bloom right where we are. 

Over the last few months - I've been placed in a postion of leadership within our local MOPS group.  I'm a little scared and excited at the thought of navigating this awesome band of Moms through the perils of toddlerhood - but, Wow!, they are teaching me so much.  Even though I still have a toddler in my midst - my season of being defined by children whose birthday cake candles could still be counted on one hand - has passed me by.  And I'm not the least bit sad.  I love every age of my children - but I adore teenagers.  They are horrible and quirky and weird and awkward - but so fascinating.  I have longed to be the mother of teenagers and I love this season of life.  Not only do I have 2 teens camped out in my basement right now - but for the next 16 years!!! - someone in their teens will be calling me

Last night - we had one of our many Summer MOPS Meet & Greets to help the moms in our group get to know each other better.  We met at 8:30 at Ruby Tuesdays for late night coffee and dessert.

It was a great time to just sit and chat and we learned some interesting things about each other - hopefully leading to deeper, more meaningful friendships as time goes by.  In case you weren't there - I presented the group with 3 questions to keep the conversation flowing (I am the Queen of Converstation, you know! - that's an inside joke that some of you may catch ;-)  Ask yourself these questions and feel free to share your answers so we can learn more about you!

1. What is latest book you've read?
2. What is one thing about yourself that most people don't know?
3. What is your number one biggest issue with parenting at this point in time?

Hope you are having a great summer!




Monday, June 4, 2012

Thirty-One

I have tried other direct sales companies before.  I'm such a sucker for their sales pitches.  But, I attended a Thrity-One party and fell head over heels for their products.  So, I am now officially a.......



I have wanted to work with Thirty-One for years because I seriously adore Thirty-One products! I was able to get the startup kit for only $99 with the chance to get a $99 rebate.  You can't beat that!

You may already have a Thirty-One consultant you love, but if you don't, I would LOVE to be yours! You can shop online at www.mythirtyone.com/CamilleLancaster/ any time and I will soon be doing online parties. The Summer catalog has some super cute patterns and ideas for organization. I would love to work with you and let you gain rewards for being a hostess. And if you would like to get the awesome startup kit (a lot of products for a hugely discounted price) and earn some extra income, you can sign up under me and I will be your Sponsor. :)

I do think these are wonderful, useful, and super cute products that everyone can use. I really think it sells itself. Again, I would love to work with anyone who is interested and it would be great for some of you to help build my team!

If nothing else, Thirty-One is a fun hobby that offers great merchandise. Most importantly, it's a faith-based company and that makes a huge difference to me (the name itself is taken from Proverbs 31). I truly wouldn't be a part of something that I didn't fully support. I'm looking forward to being with Thirty-One!
(parts of this post were copied from my great sponsor - Ashley Lancaster from www.ourhappilyeverafters.com)

We're Still Here

To anyone who follows our crazy family - we apologize for such a lengthy absence from blogging.  To be honest - I've had plenty to share - but I find that some things are just too darn personal.  This last year has been difficult to say the least - from our adoption, subsequent transitions, and family "stuff", etc. etc. etc.....You know how it goes.

But, all that being said, We are still here.  Alive and well (most days, anyway).  I sat down for a brief moment to catch you up.

School is out (Yay!)  We are still trying to decide where everyone will be next year.  We kinda like our "hybrid" homeschooling.  Some kids go to school now and then - while some stay home.  It all depends on everyone's needs at the time.  Chloe keeps asking to go back to school - she thrives on being out and about.  The boys are asking to come home.  Madison probably needs to go to HS - but she wants to stay home and finish up early so she can get on with her life (can you blame her!).  Annie is happy to do whatever.  So - we shall see......

Lori is doing great.  She is supposed to have her second implant on July 5.  She is learning Sign Language like a pro and still has not responded to her implant like we had hoped.  We are learning to let go of expectations and just take all this one day at a time.  I could write a book about all this - but I'll save that for another day.  I just want to reassure any of our adoptive friends who are reading this - that Adoption is HARD - anyway you slice it.  I would do it all over again - but my advice is to get rid of any and all phantoms you may have about how this new kiddo is going to respond to all that you may throw at them.  They are unique individuals with a history you know very little or nothing about.  Be patient and pray alot!

Jay is ok - lots of back pain these last few months.  Not sure where it's coming from.  Thank the Good Lord this house came with a hottub - he sure does use it.  His job at MoDot remains stable - but we don't know what the future will hold.  More layoffs could be eminent.  We are learning to focus on today and let tomorrow worry about itself.  That seems so cliche - but there's a lot of comfort in that.  Really.

Me - I would still LOVE to write that book I've mentioned before.  The topics I want to write about are really raw and personal - I'm having a hard time putting all these thoughts into words that I'm comfortable with.  We'll see......

The boys are playing ball and loving it.  Sam is a great hitter (2 homeruns so far!) and Jax is a great infielder.  Funny how different they are.

Jay took the boys Turkey hunting at our farm and they got a big one!  They were so excited.  This picture doesn't do it justice because after they shot it - it fell in the ditch and is soaking wet and muddy.  It had an 11+ inch beard and 1 3/8 inch spurs - I don't know much about turkeys - but let's just say you wouldn't want to be caught in a dark alley with a bird this size.  Jay cooked it up and it was so yummy.  I'm so proud of these little men growing up under our roof.

Madison is busy getting her Student Driver's hours and we are so excited to welcome another driver into the brood come October. 

Annie started Acting Camp today at the local university.  She has decided that she wants to be an actress so we are giving her an outlet to try our her "passion".  If God opens these doors for her - I know she'll be amazing on the stage.

Chloe is as fun as ever.  She swims like a fish and we are so blessed to have some beautiful friends who welcome us into their backyard pool almost everyday.  She has a summer full of VBS with friends all planned out. She is a true joy to have around.

Jay and I just celebrated 20 years of marriage.  We are so old.  And we were so blessed to be able to spend a few days in Cancun.  We never took a honeymoon and have always talked about going somewhere tropical - so it was truly a dream come true.  We had a fantastic time and look forward to going back again someday.  It was perfect!

So - there you have it.  The Reader's Digest version of the Lancaster Family adventures over the last 2 months.  We'd love to hear from you.  Send us a note - and Happy Summer!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The 2nd One

For our faithful blog readers who keep up with Lori - she had a day of appointments  at Children's Hospital in St Louis today.  The surgeon thought her incision looked great (yay!).  Her Speech Therapist was pleased with her progress (yay!).  And, her Audiologist is ready to talk about implanting her left side (yay!).  They want her to wear her hearing aid on the left ear for about a month and then we go back to have a full evaluation regarding the next implantation.  Now, the only downside is that it is really hard to keep a hearing aid on an active 3 year old who has teeny-tiny earlobes.  We have to use Wig Tape (remember the Hair store post from last year - hahaha).   So, we will keep you posted on her progress as we approach the upcoming surgery.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Day at the Park










Saturday, March 17, 2012

Who, What, When, Where, Why?

Lately, I've been rather consumed with these questions. 

After being so closely involved with the work of Harmony Outreach during Lori's adoption, after meeting the great folks in our area who are giving so much to Heart for Africa, after reading about the needs and mission of The Apparent Project in Haiti, and after seeing the beautiful HOW? Jewelry and learning about the vision behind it - I want to help.  I want to sink my teeth into something.  I want to use my creative energy for the greater good.  I want to make a difference and know I've not wasted my life.  I want to share God's message of redemption.  I want to help those that are hurting.  But........the reality of life grabs hold and sqeezes some of the life out of these wants and replaces them with -  I also want to be the best wife and momma I can be.  I want to keep my house semi-clean (the word "semi" gives me lots of freedom!).  I want to learn more about Jesus.  I want to have some time to just "be still and know".

In my past - I have tried the "do it all" approach and I'm just not cut out for that.  The one thing I've learned in my 40 years - is that if I try to fly to high, the crash landing stings really bad.  So, this week as I've pondered where I can best serve the needs placed before me - I know that God, Hubby, and Kids must remain priority.  If I also fit in a little time for "me" to rejuvinate - that doesn't leave much left over.  Do I raise money for Africa?  Do we dive in to adoption again?  Do I host HOW? and Apparent Project Jewelry Shows?  Do I collect cereal boxes to send to Haiti? (interested? - click to read the blog post)  Do I raise money for a mission trip?  Do I take the kids on a mission trip?  Do I go with Jay to the Clean Water conference? 





My devo today was from an old book that I found on the shelf yesterday.  An old fave - My Utmost for His Highest by O. Chambers.  Love it!  Today, it talked about how no matter what we do, unless we are found to be "approved unto Him" - it's all vanity.  How true!  It goes right along with our Wednesday night study of Ecclesiates.  So, instead of trying to answer all my own questions - my real desire should be to seek Him and His "wants" for my life.  No matter what it is - whether big or small - if it is His plan - than this life will not be wasted.  I think I need to ponder that for a while.  I have a tendancy to bite off more that I can chew and those experiences leave a bitter taste in my mouth.  I'll let you know what comes out of all this.  It should be interesting.

Apparent Project
Heart for Africa
Harmony Outreach
HOW? Jewelry

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tears

For some reason, I've been a little teary-eyed this week as I watch God unfold His plans in our life and all around us.  Amazing.  Simple conversations, taking opportunities, unexpected texts, swirling thoughts, compassion blooming, urgency needed, complacency fading. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Updates from the Lancaster House

(from Jay)

Many of you have asked about Lori and how she is doing. After her staph infection and brief stay at children’s hospital, we have been on infection-watch…dosing her with heaping amounts of horrible tasting antibiotics (7 bottles worth in all), and watching for the signs of the infection returning. At our one week follow up, our surgeon gave us the news that he ‘wasn’t happy’ with her incision site. It was puffy and spongy, and he was worried about the infection returning. He informed us that if it didn’t look better in a week, they were going to reopen, and clean it out a second time, put her on IV antibiotics for several days and send her home with a PIC line for six weeks…a bit extreme we thought. However, at our next follow up, which was a week and a half ago, we got great news. He was happy with the site, and sent us home. We are to still watch for signs of the infection returning over the next couple weeks, but we are clear, and so far she is doing great with no signs of returning infection. Maybe we will get a week or two without having to go to Children’s hospital!  Praise the Lord for his healing and grace!

On another front, an organization that we are learning more and more about is the Heart for Africa group, led by Janine Maxwell, who wrote It’s not okay with me. The organization focuses on feeding the poor in Africa, orphan ministry, and helping young men and women develop skills to be independent. A local chapter of the group from Cape Girardeau is in the middle of their annual events this month. This past Sunday, we attended the Heart for Africa brunch at the Venue in Cape, and it was wonderful. This coming Saturday night is their big banquet and dance, also at the Venue. We actually splurged and bought tickets, and are excited to be going. Janine Maxwell is actually going to be present and speaking that night. We highly recommend everyone that can to go check it out. Leave a comment if you would like to know how to buy tickets.

Finally, some of the young men at our church, Miner Baptist, are putting together a night of worship scheduled for March 18th. We will be having it at the Studio One Youth Building at Miner Baptist, but the whole community is invited. Our band will be leading the music, and I cannot express how excited I am to get to serve in this way. Last night we took to time sit in a circle and discuss the event, its intentions, how to encourage a spirit of worship with those attending, praying together and carefully discussing which songs to play. We then dove into practice, which was so much fun. I actually found myself at one point in a song stopping to just sit and close my eyes and listen…it was great. We have several new songs to learn in a short time…but I’m confident we can bring it together. But I want to invite everyone who would like to enjoy a fun night of contemporary worship to come out at 6pm on Sunday the 18th. It should be a great time of worship, prayer, and testimonies.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Random Thoughts from the Hospital

On Wednesday, as we were fixing Lori's hair - we noticed that it was sticky behind her right ear. On closer inspection, there was a scab around her incision site with some drainage. Gross, I know. We left it alone and looked at it again later that night. It was still draining. The next morning, a phone call to her cochlear implant audiologist office left us in a rush to get to St Louis. We made arrangements and headed north. After checking her out in the office, they admitted us to the hospital and scheduled surgery for Friday morning. The next day, they came to take her back around 10:00. A few hours later, they let us know that they opened up her old incision, cleaned out the site, moved the implant device up about an inch into her thicker musculature, and cut out any infected skin. The culture did test positive for your basic run-of-the-mill staph. Since admission, she had received antibiotics through her IV - so they wanted to keep her and continue the meds. Looks like we'd be spending another night.

During a calm moment, Jay and I left the girls with Lori in the room and went to grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria. We asked the question of "why are we here?" and shared some thoughts. I thought I'd share some with you.

As we sat in the admission waiting room (for 3 borrrrring hours!!), a commercial came on the tv talking about how everyone has a story. Lori does for sure. And being in the hospital provided us several opportunities to share her story. We were able to stand outside the room of an ill little boy and encourage his parents who are just finishing their Home Study as part of their own adoption. The fears and uncertainties of adoption are setting in and plaguing their thoughts right now - we were able to offer the reassurance that God will see this through. Our nurse asked about Lori - I love how people are so free to ask about her - since it's obvious by looking at us that she is adopted. This gives people liberty to ask a few questions. We told her story again, and this nurse shared how her brother and sister-in-law had just announced that they were going to adopt. I came away from that conversation hoping that by seeing Lori - this young lady would be able to encourage and support her family through their adoption.

Another thing we talked about is that as children, Jay and I rarely spent time in a hospital. Maybe a rare visit to ailing grandparents through the years - but nothing significant. However, for our children, things have been vastly different and we are so grateful. As we hope to raise kids who are compassionate and caring, we love the time they get to spend in the hospital. We love that they get to hold her hand as they place the IV, that they know how to silence the IV (vital information at 3 AM), that they know how to order a meal, that they know how to maneuver a bed with lots of bells and whistles, that they know how to find a bathroom, that they know how to call a nurse from the room, that they know how to locate a vending machine, and cup of coffee, etc. I could go on and on. We love that they have spent long, mindless days staring out of our 8th floor window - knowing that many families spend weeks and months with no end in sight as their kiddos fight for their life. We love that they spent time talking and playing with our "roommate", who was a 4 year old little girl who had been there a lot longer than us - and never once during our stay did she have any family (none, nada) with her.

I love that Madison now says she wants to work in a Children's Hospital. Maybe the Lord is using this season to prepare her for her future.

Lori is doing well - she looks a little crazy - with a big patch of hair shaved off, a ghastly scar behind her ear, and a puffy face. This too shall pass. She's running around like nothing ever happened. We are blessed and grateful. Now, if she would only swallow the meds without a fight!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A New Year

2011 was certainly a banner year for the Lancaster's.  So, so many things happened.  Some great - some agonizing.   Some pushed me to "my" limits (only God really knows what my limits are.....), some things were thrilling and full of excitement.  Others brought grief.  However, no matter what, we trust that each day's happenings come to help us reach the person Christ desires us to be.  So we try to remain thankful and grateful for the grace and mercy to get through whatever may come. 

I did read some great books during 2011, and made a promise to myself to be intentional during 2012 with slowing down a bit and reading more.  I love to read and can devour a good book in no time.  Some top picks for me lately have been:  Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God, the biography of Ann Judson, The Help, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.  I have really enjoyed autobiographies this last year of great Christians that have paved the way before us.  They inspire me.  They help me feel like ordinary people can acoomplish the extraordinary.  I've also enjoyed reading everything I can find about China.  I want to help Lori understand the life she was born into.  I want to be able to give her some answers - someday.

Speaking of Lori - during these last few months - we've seen many of Lori's friends from China come home to their Forever Families.  We've also seen several of them continue to live life at the orphanage.  These kids need families - I'm using this moment to make a desperate plea for our readers - if there is any way you could offer a home to one of the least of these - now is the time.  They need you know.  Please pray for them.  At the very least - they need good, committed intercessors praying on their behalf.  You could be that for one of them.

As 2012 enters, we say Happy New Year to Lori's parents - wherever they may be.  We also wish our friends and family a very happy new year and hope each of us pursues the purpose God has planned for us. 

As a family, we have all recently sat down and talked about adopting again.  All the kids are in agreement that we have room for one more.  The majority have asked for another girl and most of us agree that China would be our country of choice.  I know this is absolute insanity.  I get that.  But, we just can't shake the feeling that this is the way God is leading.  So, please pray for us as we seek clarity for what steps to take next.   Adoption is VERY expensive and time-consuming.  Those parts of it scare me.  One common theme I've met with lately is that we should seek to replace our fears with faith.  Amen!  There is one particular little girl that has caught our attention.  We have sent off asking for more information on her.  We'll keep you posted.....