Sunday, October 23, 2011

FALL 2011 - lots of news

Catch Up: >>> It has been months since our last post, mostly due to a crazy amount of activity and little time to think and share. Eli has been growing in so many ways in recent months. I will jump around, but share what details I can remember for now.

Summer: >>>> Over the summer Eli traveled thousands of miles to Denver and back for Church, Elitch Gardens and other fun. He went from no-rides to roller-coaster-rides and loved everything about Elitch. He became famous and loved at our Summer Church in Denver, referred to as "the Denver Church". The teens loved him and asked to hang with him all the time. He loved to sing, dance, play and run around with the youth group. Another thing that was cool about this summer was how intimate Eli became with the other kids. He and Benjamin spent time together and Victoria really helped take care of him alot. Elizabeth and Hosanna also really connected with him. His cousin, Jeffrey, moved to Colorado and has taken a liken to him, which is a great surprise. Another summer change was Eli's love for skateboards. He began playing on a skateboard nearly everyday. Between a scooter and skateboard, that kid lived on wheels.

Fall: >>>> Last night we went to a concert with Steven Curtis Champman and other artist in support of ShowHope, an organization that gave us a grant for his adoption. While hanging out with the ShowHope staff person, who was sort of a road manager for SCC. He found out that Eli was about to turn 5 yrs old and kindly surprised Eli with a $5 dollar bill. Later while talking about school and school buses, this man, David, offered to take Eli to his bus. Eli doesn't understand, but of the 1200+ people at the concert, I'm sure few got to go onto SCC's travel bus like Eli. Another Fall surprise for Eli was an early snow. We had 5 inches of snow in early October and he went outside with Benjamin and Victoria all day to play in the snow.

School: >>>> Last year Eli had Mrs. Lynn and a team of D20 special teachers to learn from. He loved school, the bus and everything having to do with school. His language, sight and speech all get special attention. The ladies giving him this help fell in love with him and love teaching him. We decided to move to Denver for Church Ministry and left this preschool with much sadness. However, over the summer it was decided to reconsider the move. After months of prayer and waiting, circumstances unfolded that would leave us in the Springs and Eli back in the D20 preschool. Last week we went to an assessment with that team of teachers to review the plan for Eli and they once again expressed their love for Eli and commitment to his growth. They are working on his vision, speech and learning ability. They understand Eli and have taken special steps to make sure he learns all he can. One teacher said she would go to whatever D20 school we move to for Kindergarten to have the ability to work with Eli. We are so thankful and can't explain with words how special this team of teachers are to us and to Eli.

Eyesight and Glasses: >>>> Eli has been doing well with his vision, considering. We have an amazing doctor who gives Eli lots of attention and favor, once again, we are so thankful. One eye just is not working anymore. The other eye has 2200 to 2400 vision, which is legally blind. However, the kids runs around like he has great vision and is fearless on the playground, house and sidewalk. When we brought him home from China, he could barely walk, would not play on the smallest of playgrounds and could not walk from one floor texture/color without stopping to check each step. Now, the kids runs like crazy, and wears his glasses 24/7. We went to get new glasses recently and he wanted blue frames, so bless God, he gets blue frames. We are thankful that he thrives under the care of so many helpful people.

Friends and Fame: >>> Eli has girlfriends at Church and the Neighborhood. He loves to hang out with a few girls from the community and has special love for a little girl named Ansley from church. It has been great to see so many people become a friend to Eli. Even friends of Elizabeth and Hosanna love Eli and come to visit. They talk directly to him and he considers them all his friends. His full personality is alive and kicking, which has made him into a regular socialite....

Eli is a huge blessing..he loves for me to "tuck him in" every night and has stopped asking if we are coming back to get him. He still asks about where he will eat sometimes, but so does my other kids. He seems to love his home, family, church and friends. He has started asking about China, which has been good so far. He seems to love the fact that we call him SON, and that he has a mom and dad. And....make no doubt about it...WE LOVE HIM.....He has changed our life in so many ways....Bless God....

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This is a busy season. Crazy busy for the RamFam. But -- I can't hide the fact -- that we love it.

We are apart of a large production at our home church called The Crown. It all began 6 years ago when I was on staff at New Life. That year, about 5 weeks before Easter, our children's pastor announced that we needed to come up with a kid friendly production to go along with The Thorn. We all thought he was crazy. He was crazy. 5 weeks isn't much time and that year the whole thing was painful. Truthfully, I figured if I had to be miserable, I might as well have my whole family miserable and make them participate with me (Besides there weren't that many people too participate that first year!). To my utter shock, it stuck. And 6 years later, we can't imagine Easter time without all this craziness.

We've been demons, angels, disciples, townspeople, and makeup artists. We've had 3 trips to the emergency room due to Crown injuries and we've spent countless hours with Crown friends only to cry the next morning when we are too tired to get up for school/work. (Eventually, our fatigue takes over and we just start dragging in later and later to school. Schools love that btw. Not.) About the time we think we have a Crown hangover, performances begin (this year 8 total) and we get a renewed burst of energy, passion and a sense of God's crazy love for children and families.

We expect God to stir the hearts of over 1,000 kids and adults this year. We expect hundreds of people to be drawn to God's crazy love for them...just like we were. As we prepare for this -- I get the priveledge of serving with dozens of teens, kids and their parents who love Jesus...who love worship...who are passionate about prayer...and love one another.

That's right...I witness weekly DOZENS of TEENAGERS and CHILDREN who really do love Jesus and church -- who spontaneously gather around and lay hands, praying over a sick team mate....who pray for God's love to reach others in the hallways during the Cruxifiction scence...who pray over each other...and pray over all the people who will come to see the productions -- usually with no adult prompting. I watch adults instruct and train, "Boys and Girls lift your hands and let's pray"..."Boys and girls, worship starts in 5 minutes. Be there." "Guys, this kid is sick//that kid was injured...let's pray now for them." "I see you're feeling discouraged, I'm going to pray for you."

I watch CROWN parents pull kids out of other activities and forgo school assignments for a time -- because THIS is simply more important....moms - up early, cooking and packing dinner, costumes for kids AND for themselves, etc. Directors make 5:45am runs to Starbux to make sure volunteers make it through the morning. I watch kids spend HOURS perfecting their parts, working out, praying, listening, watching for what God is doing...and when instructing these kids, there is no talk amongst those working on the production about the "short" attention span of expectation that the teenagers don't want to participate in spiritual things. On the contrary, there is an expectation that THIS YOUNG GENERATION is called to change the world -- and we are called to instruct and train them...and it's a joy to do so.

People work hard...but more importantly they expect God to change lives and do what only He can do. There's alot of joy and freedom in that.

So...the RamFam is tired. And very satisfied. And very expectant about this upcoming week...along with alot of other great families we've come to really love!

Here's to Crown season!

Loving the world, hating the dark


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vacation Planning

We love vacation! I even love vacation planning! One vacation just makes me want to plan the next one. Seriously, a vacation every other month would be fine by me! For the FALL...we are considering this....

Makes me happy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Break 2011

Back in December we were planning a little mini vacation for our family. It fell through when Billy took a new job -- so we shot for Spring Break instead! After a very busy allbeit fantastic Sunday (Church, leading worship, baptism, The Net outreach, wedding rehearsal - just a few of the many things we packed into this day), we arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado about 7pm.

God blessed us by using new friends who sweetly provided our family with the perfect condo right in downtown Breckenridge! Snow + Sun = Great Fun! We had plenty of both!

After sleeping in on Monday and lazily watching a few episodes of Cake Boss, we headed out to the Sled Hill. Fitting all of us AND our belongings into a Kia is ALWAYS a challenge.

After sledding and a little snowboarding, we headed to Eric's for an early dinner! As you might imagine, it's NEVER cheap to take 7 people out to dinner -- so when we can combine lunch/dinner into one eating out meal a day -- we've done good! So good infact, we have a little $$$ left over for the arcade and candy store!

On, Tuesday, we still hadn't had enough of the snow -- so we headed to nearby Frisco to tube and snowboard. As SOON as we got to the top of the lift -- a massive wind/snowstorm began to blow through. My words can't express how cold it was coming down that run! The affect was like riding through a freezing rain storm on a motorcycle going 80mph with no helmet! Eli hid and occasionally answered affirmative to the question, "Eli, are you still there?"

We are no quitters however -- and managed to enjoy the tubing hill and each other for the full session.

After drying off, the kids and B went back out to practice up on their snowboard skills. Me and Eli stayed near the warm fireplace drinking hot chocolate!

After a day of outdoor excitement, we repeated the dinner ritual from the night before (after all, it worked so well the first time!) by going back to Eric's AND the candy store. We shopped a little and bought the game Quelf. I won't post the pics of B putting on lipstick...but lets just say, it's a great game!

We had Chinese and shopped a little more on Wednesday, then headed back down the mountain late that evening. All in all it was a fast, but very satisfying mini vaca. Would love to hear what your family did over Spring Break!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Doctors, Doctors and more Doctors

For the last 8 months I've been dealing with a certain medical condition that's...well...annoying. The first doctor to see me diagnosised the simplest solution possible and threw an antibiotic my way. Weeks later when it didn't work, she threw me another. After the third didn't work -- I went some place else.

My first sign that Doc #2 didn't have a real medical degree was the Foghorn Leghorn tie. Without the slightest glimpse at my transferred medical records he asked, "Which antibiotic would you like?" After multiple visits, once HE had prescribed the third antibiotic, I said, "No thanks" to anymore and requested to see a speacialist.

By now, months had passed (7 months to be exact) -- we've changed insurance twice -- and I'm beginning to go a little loopy. After jumping through SEVERAL hoops for the insurance company, the speacialist says, "Figuring this out is gonna take some time."

This past month, I've done numerous Xrays and a CT scan. They revealed a kidney stone in my left kidney. Who knew? Today, I began seeing the "Infectious Disease" doctor as the particular infection (which has probably attached itself to the stone) now shows up as "resistent to every known oral antibiotic".

At Doctor #4, I sat in a room filled with chairs, with IV lines hanging from the ceiling. It looked like a scene straight out of the movie Inception. As I get ready to have my 2 week long IV inserted, I say to Billy, "This is the WEIRDEST thing I've EVER done." He says back, "Really? We'll it isn't the WEIRDEST thing I've EVER done!" Nice.

So, the next couple of weeks will include an hour at the clinic each day for an intravenous antibiotic drip...I will even grace them with my presence on Saturday and Sunday. All this while making up 26 piano lessons and helping sub the makeup lessons at KMP for my boss...I have a love/hate relationship with snow days!

Hopefully, BY TOMORROW, I will feel the symptoms of my infection leave -- and have the kidney stone blasted on Friday. Shortly thereafter they hope I'll be infection free. I pray so.

In the meantime, I've already been asked such irratating questions as, "Mom, what's for dinner?"..."Do you wanna go workout at the Y?" I just keep holding up my arm -- and smiling really big...saying in a sweet as pie voice, "I have an I V!" You should probably pray for them!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

RamFam Happenings

2010 was a strange year for us. It seemed like everytime we prayed for something, God did the exact opposite. We were often stressed, pressured, and perplexed by this. Billy and I were fairly confident that we were hearing Heaven's next step for our lives...but frustrated that we had no earthly means to "make" anything happen on our own behalf. If any "next step" was to take place, God's word would have to bring it about by His Spirit -- nothing else was working.

For sometime we believed that God was calling us to go back into full time ministry, but we had no idea where and how that would eventually transpire. Actually, we were quite aware of how WE WISHED our situation would transpire. It was hard for us to imagine that God would call us AWAY FROM the community we have become so imbedded in. We love New Life -- we love Colorado Springs -- we love TCA -- we love our friends, our kid's friends, our neighbors, our dry name it...we are emotionally attached to it. We believe in "staying steady" after all and being planted in a community. Yet, there was a nagging sense that God was calling us out.

From Abraham to the Disciples, the Bible is filled with stories of God calling leaders to come out of where they have been and directing them to go someplace else. We didn't jump to identify with any of them however. We mostly commiserated with Joseph. You know, legit vision from the Lord -- thrown in jail at no fault of his own. We felt like God had us in jail.

"Perserverance" is a hard lesson to learn. Maybe the hardest. The very nature of the word suggests what you are going through is "hard" and that the "hard" is lasting a "long time." I prayed many times in 2010 for God to "Give us a break" -- LITERALLY -- I wanted a vacation, a trip away. Each prayer like that was meet with a new challenge, more work, a broken appliance, another "situation" to handle.

To make a long (but VERY good) story short, we were surprised at years end with a sudden answer to our prayers. Billy accepted a job at Smoky Hill Vineyard Church in Denver as "Family Pastor" and 2011 took off with great force. We are very greatful that this "job" seems to have been custom built for Billy and our family. The people of this new community have joyfully embraced the us. However, if I'm honest, the timing took us by God's timing so often does. Between working in Denver and coaching JV Basketball at TCA, today was the first day Billy's truly been off work since December 14th. We can't wait for Spring Break! (We are looking forward to the fast approaching end of the sports season so we can regain a little balance.)

Looking back at all those desparate prayers in 2010 for a "break" - a "vacation", "refreshing"...what I now see is that those things were simply not what was needed. Inorder to come into the place where God wanted us with excitement and energy to spare, we didn't need to go hide away in the tropics first. What we, what I, really needed was for my CAPICITY to be ENLARGED -- so that the BIG LIFE that God was calling me too could be a blessing to me as well as to others. God does many, many things through rest and vacation. We are BIG believers in them -- just ask our kids! However, God has used REAL LIFE...PRESSURE...FASTING...even SUFFERING to enlarge our capacity for what He's called us to do "next".

At just the right time, I was ready to shoulder the things God was calling me too -- even looking ahead now at the daunting task of selling the house, moving, readjusting five kids to new schools, friends...embracing a new community -- seems more of a blessing than a burden. After all, God isn't only at work at New Life Church and in Colorado Springs. Whereas we may bring a new perspective, we are not bringing God to Denver. He is already working there. He is at work all around us..all the time...inviting us to join Him. For the RamFam He seems to have invited us to rely on Him in a new way in 2011. All 7 of us.

"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we dispaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." 2 Cor 1:8