Why We Call Our Blog the Miracle of More

The miracle is a beautiful image of Ephesians 3:20--more than I can ask or imagine. Every day is a miracle. Every moment is a miracle. Specifically for our family, the miracle of more is our family growing in ways I would never have imagined when we first committed to adoption 8 years ago. But, the greatest miracle is the change in ME!

If you have questions about adoption, our work in South Africa, or spina bifida, please email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fulfill Your Ministry

Changed.

That's what I must be.

In the past 2 1/2 years, I have experienced BOTH the greatest blessings and the MOST difficult hardships of my life. Following, God's blessings, the attack of Satan has left me feeling much like the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness. There have been nights of tears, days of tears, and mornings when I just didn't want to get out of bed.

God is healing me, but I have finally realized that I had to let myself mourn. Grieve for the betrayal I suffered. Mourn the loss of my dreams. Allow myself to feel LONELY and allow JESUS to fill my emptiness.

He give beauty for ashes.

I can choose to let the past dictate who I become. Or, I can choose to allow God to use my past to make me more like HIM.

Less than 2 months ago, on a Saturday, I learned there would be return trip to South Africa this summer. I did NOT immediately respond to the invitation to join the team.

The following Sunday, I felt God speaking. I felt him telling me it was time to go again.

I cried.

During the entire worship service.

The most difficult part of my testing and trials began when I was in South Africa, almost 3 years ago. I could not stop that thought. There was fear of returning, fear of another long, hard battle with the enemy.

I've continued to pray...some...and think lots about going.

Then, I started a new Bible study, Beth Moore's Believing God.

I needed that.

During the study, I really felt God was speaking directly to me. I had begun to be intrigued with the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. I read the account multiple times, fully believing God wanted me to learn something there.  And then Beth Moore camped out there- in Joshua chapter 4.

I learned God had much more to say to me through those verses. Beth wrote, "The middle of any challenging journey can be the most critical point. Many of us may not be where we were, but we're not where we want to go. Perhaps the terrible bondage of Egypt is behind us, but the land of promise seems remote. The longer we wander in the wilderness between, the greater the chance we'll return to captivity."

I think of myself standing on the edge of the Jordan. God set me free from emotional and spiritual bondage, but it is time for me to put my foot in the water. I must trust him. I must keep moving. I must follow him.

I believe God is ready for me to get to work on the other side of my faith journey.

Then today, our pastor preached a sermon from 2 Timothy. And these words jumped from the pages, "whether convenient or not," (4:2)  "fulfill your ministry." (4:5)

During the struggles to hold myself together and hold my children together. During my battle with loneliness and rejection, I had lost my passion.

It is time I trust my first love JESUS, and return to my passion: orphans.

I am now planning and praying for Josie-Tatum and me to return to South Africa this June.

I believe God is calling us to be his hands and feet in ministering to the orphans there.

I also believe God is preparing a great work in my heart and in Josie-Tatum's while we are there. Just as the Israelites  had the first Passover before they left Egypt, and celebrated Passover again when they crossed the Jordan, I believe God is completing a work for us.

I am hopeful that God will use this trip to further heal my heart, and to further heal Josie-Tatum's.

Please join me in prayer.

Once again, we won't be going unless the LORD provides the funds. But, more than any other time, I believe they will be there if He desires us to be there. He will make the crooked paths straight. He can do more than I ask or think. He is an Ephesians 3:20 God. He is the Miracle of More.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tomorrow's Big Day

I wrote this post in January...but the big day is tomorrow. I'm so excited about

God is soooooooooo into the details of our lives:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I put two and two together tonight and realized a Jesus-given blessing is coming soon to us.

I had received an email from a mom asking questions about spina bifida. It is ALWAYS my privilege to talk with families considering adoption a child with spina bifida. Our Ellie has taught me much about the blessings we receive when we expect to bless our children.

Anyway, this mom made the decision to commit to adopt the little girl with spina bifida. And, I had forgotten that she told me the little girl was also from Zeke's SWI.

Tonight, I saw a post by MOM and the name of the little girl rang a bell.

I looked back and Zeke's school reports from the LWB Believe in Me School. She was indeed mentioned in his reports as one of his best friends. Then, I looked further and further to see that I have lots of photos of her and Zeke together.

And...the best part....

Zeke's friend from across the world in a little recognized province in an obscure town in an orphanage where few international adoptions have taken place....this friend is going to be living in GEORGIA!!! And, only 2 hours from us.

I can't wait until the moment these two meet again!!!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Shocker!!

Last night, Josie-Tatum told me she would like another baby sister from China. Her reason: She doesn't have many memories of those first moments, days, and months with Ellie. Whitney has good memories, she told me, of the days when Josie-Tatum joined our family.

Wow!

Isn't my life crazy enough???

She already plans to adopt, and she repeated this on the way home from church. "The man I marry better understand that I am NOT going to have biological children. I am going to adopt from a country in Africa and at least one little girl from China. And, a little boy two, because Chinese boys are the cutest."

Moms, if you're preparing a godly son out there, make sure he has a heart for adoption if he wants to marry my daughter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Six Years Ago

Six years ago today, my life changed more than I could ever have imagined. After praying diligently to discern God's will for our family, we committed to adopting a little girl with spina bifida. I had NO idea what the LORD had in store for us.

Ellie has taught me FAR more about life than I could ever teach her. She inspires abundantly more often than moments when she needs inspiration.

Read here about the day she joined our family.

What a blessed adventure it has been to watch Ellie grow and to watch our family grow in spirit for having her in our lives.

I remember when my heart burst with joy as I witnessed the miracle of these two little girls bonding as sisters.



And, seeing her grow more beautiful EVERY day.


On Sunday, Ellie and I celebrated her "Gotcha Day." This past year, I started a new tradition with my adopted children. For their Gotcha Day, they get to choose an activity to do with Mama. Ellie chose a day of horse back riding at the beach.

The LORD sent the most beautiful day.

We started at her favorite picnic spot-the grassy area between the Jekyll Inn and the river. For Ellie, a picnic is not a picnic without a blanket on the grass. (She also chose the menu of sandwiches from Subway.)
 
 
It is unlike Ellie to have down days, but the moments of frustration have grown more frequent recently. She has asked, "Mama, why did God choose me to have spina bifida?" and "Why do I have a disability?"
 
As we enjoyed our picnic under the live oak trees, I chose to remind Ellie of her story, the story God is writing. I told her how I read and prayed Psalm 139 over her as we sought to hear from God about adopting her. I fasted one day through lunch, with her photo on my desk and my Bible open. I told Ellie how God does not make mistakes. She is fearfully and wonderfully made, just the way god wanted her. He has great plans for her. He already knows her future. He has more thoughts of her than there are grains of sand! You can see the peace and joy we both felt as we talked about how special she is to our Savior.

And....just in time for a trail ride. Saddle Up Therapeutic horseback riding  and the volunteers there have taught her to love horses, thus her choice to ride horses. Her mama has taught her to love the BEACH. We combined two of her favorite activities into one.
 
Try as I might, I could NOT get this photo to rotate. You must turn your head to get a better view of Ellie's horse for the afternoon, whose name just happened to be Spirit. How fitting!!
 

After the trail ride, Ellie and I went for a short walk on the beach.


 

 Happy Gotcha Day, Ellie!!! I'm so glad Jesus gave you to me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Great Hero

You've seen this photo from the wedding. I think I promised a story.
 

But, before the story, tell me doesn't this photo touch your heart? It's of my Handsome Navy Son and my Best Sister Ever helping get Grandma Tatum to the wedding ceremony. (Thanks BFF Melanie for the photo. I'll save some stories about Melanie for another day.)

 
 
 
I've shared some blessed moments with my Grandma Tatum. You can read two of them here and here.
 
But, I don't think I've ever shared the most important thing.
 
While giving all the glory to Jesus, I give much credit to my Grandma and Grandpa Tatum for helping me find Him. There were ALWAYS Bibles in my grandparents home. Grandpa Tatum was a Gideon. Grandma had lots of Bible story books, and we cousins would "play" Sunday School with much regularity. Grandma was my Sunday School teacher for a time, what little time I was able to go to church. (My parents grew active in church and Daddy was saved years later.)
 
Grandma Tatum gave me my first Bible. She arranged for me to go to church camp. She prayed and I knew she prayed. She loved the LORD, and I always knew she loved him.
 
If you look back at the posts I referred to under the photo, you can see that Grandma's health has deteriorated quickly in the past several years. She has declined both physically and cognitively.
 
On Saturday, after I convinced her to smile in a photo with me, I asked her if she wanted to go see Whitney all dressed in her wedding dress. She asked me, "Is Whitney getting married today?"
 
You know it hurt my heart a little when she asked that, but I tried ever so politely to tell her yes without making her feel embarrassed. And, of course, she wanted to go see Whitney.
 
When we took her in the room, it was as if all the brain waves for that moment worked like they were meant to. She looked at Whitney, and she looked at my mama. She looked at Whitney, and me, and she looked at Mama. Her eyes filled with tears.
 
So did mine.
 
So did Whitney's.
 
So did my mama's.
 
And.......possibly every other brides maid in the room.
 
And Grandma said as she looked back and forth. "She looks so beautiful." "Isn't she just the most beautiful bride?"
 
And, that's the kind of moment I will treasure forever. My Jesus gave me a great hero in the faith. He allowed me to have in her my life for 49 years. No many almost-49-year-old ladies can say they spent time with their grandmother this weekend. And, he ordained that moment in time, when Grandma could see clearly the beauty in her great-granddaughter on her wedding day.
 
Then, to make it all the more special, it became a moment of prayer. All these ladies, four generations, and a group of Whitney's dearest friends held hands in a circle which included my greatest faith Hero, on Whitney's most special day.
 
It was an Ephesians 3:20 Miracle of More moment.


Monday, September 16, 2013

A Blessed Wedding Day

I know...I know...it's the pictures you've been waiting for. I love this one....a moment when Whitney was herself. She held it together all week long and all day on Friday before the wedding. Just a few hours before the wedding, she was overcome with the "business" of it all. We were finally able to get her to relax!
 

And, later, hope was really able to bring out the "Whitney" in Whitney.



 And, I don't know if I've every REALLY realized how much I love these big kids! But...I missed them so much when they all 3 moved out within 6 months of one another...and I was full of joy for the hours we had together on Saturday. Look at the smiles on the three of them!
(And, might I say, that is the most handsome submariner EVER!)



 
 


This photo might really be my ALL time favorite of the day. It's my Grandma Tatum. I couldn't possibly count all of the people who call her Grandma. She just turned 89 years old, and, though she forgot occasionally why we were all together, I was beyond happy to have her there. Does it show? I'll have a post in a day or two about how special one of the moments with Grandma Tatum was on wedding day.

And, in case you didn't already know it....those 7 blessings in this photo are my greatest treasures. I'm almost weepy typing that. I cannot imagine my life without them. I could not ever have imagined 10 years ago, that I would be the mom of 7 blessings! They are indeed MY Miracle of More.


I have a couple of special stories to share and plan to later this week. You won't want to miss them!

And...can you believe it? My camera died before the end of the day. I have no photos of the groomsmen, except Brandon. And, I have NO photos of the groom. I have not photos of my darling daughter-in-law who helped keep it all organized.

So, when the happy couple gets their official photos, I'll be a boastful mama and post more!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One Blessed Weekend

My heart is full as I reflect on the blessings of this past weekend.

Many of you now, but lots of you may not.

My firstborn child got married this weekend.

I was ready to post some photos and share details of the weekend when, alas, I cannot find my card reader.

I am taking that as a sign from heaven that I need to spend a little extra time with JESUS and get some much needed rest.

But, tomorrow, if He wills, I will go to town to buy a new card reader and share much with you in word and pictures about all that our Miracle of More God did for my family this weekend!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Making Memories

I have vivid memories of summer from my childhood. Some of my fondest memories are of beach days with my extended family.

Friday afternoon, I am certain my children made memories they will hold dear long into their adult years.

It began when my friend Laura invited us to visit with them when they vacationed on Hilton Head.


We do LOVE the beach, so, of course we accepted the invitation.

But, it was even more special because of this precious girl:



That beautiful girl in those photos with Josie-Tatum is Lydia. She is special to us because she spent the first months of her life in the same orphanage as Josie-Tatum. The LORD has blessed us to be able to keep in touch with her family through the years. Just minutes after seeing each other, the girls were reconnected like the best of friends.

Below is the traditional "red couch" photo families were known to take when their travel groups stayed at the White Swan hotel in Guangzhou China. Josie-Tatum is second from the left and Lydia is on the far right.

Here is another photo of the girls at a second trip we made together, less than 2 years after our first meeting when we traveled to China together.



Just seeing the girls together again would have made the trip memorable, but it was an exceedingly more than that.

While they spent most of their time in the water together,


my other children were treated as well.

Dan spent most of his time in the water with them. It started with a ride in the inflatable boat:
I went to him more than once and asked if I could take over. The first time he said, "I'm alright," and Ellie shouted, "Yeah, mama, he's alright." Dan sweetly told me to enjoy my time. What a blessing!!!

Later, Dan and two of his boys spent time in the water swimming with the Littles. They each had their own swimming buddy.
Aaron and Zeke

 Dan and Drew

 Ellie and Shayne


Zeke also enjoyed watching Aaron and Shayne play around with the soccer ball, and joined in himself.



Dan helped Zeke manage riding on his boogie board.



The family's oldest son Tanner is the same age as Whitney. They became friends in China, too. I enjoyed watching the two of them when they were both maneuvering the boat.

I also enjoyed the look on Tanner's face when he was playing with the kids.


I think Whitney enjoyed herself, too.


The day made for ONE more Ephesians 3:20 moment!

Monday, July 15, 2013

He CAN do more!!!!

We've just returned home from a visit to Shriner's for both Ellie and Drew. Both of them had their AFO's adjusted. I was excited to learn that they didn't need new ones....or we would have needed to return to Tampa in 2 weeks to pick them up.

But, the best news!

Some of you already know....but I must praise the LORD again and again.

Last summer, we scoliosis had progressed significantly. The curve of her spine was at 61 degrees. I looked at her initial x-ray from 2008 compared with that x-ray and literally felt weak. We waited several months before we saw the surgeon. I did research and knew surgery was likely in her future.

He did not recommend surgery last August, but a brace, a TLSO. He explained that our hope would be it would keep the scoliosis from progressing any furthers, possibly causing damage to her internal organs. Surgery may be necessary at a later date. Ellie was to wear it 23 hours a day, only taking it off to bathe or play sports.

Our sweet school nurse affectionately refers to it as a torture device.

Ellie wore it most days without much complaint. She has grown quite weary of it, almost a year later. It makes her sweat profusely. Then, it makes her itch. Some days she cries. Others she wears it without being reminded.

Last Tuesday, I prepared myself for bad news. We have encountered some new development nearly every doctor's visit.

Oh, was I suprised!

The PA pulled up the x-ray and beside it showed me last summer's x-ray. The curve was 45 degrees!!!

The brace is doing for Ellie more than we had hoped, more than we imagined. It is not only keeping her scoliosis from progressing, it has helped to improve her scoliosis. That is more than her medical caregivers expected, too!! I have since told two medical professionals who politely tried to discount the progress.

"That's not what the brace is expected to do," I've been told.

"How long was she out of the brace?" I was asked. "It could be that the muscles were still in place from wearing the brace." She was out of the brace for a while, not only through examination, but long enough to walk the corridor from the examination room to the x-ray department.

That is not what medical professionals may have expected.....but...

That is my God,

my Ephesians 3:20 King of Kings,

my Miracle of More Jesus!

Praise the KING who created her fearfully and wonderfully.

Praise the LORD who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we ask or think!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Amazing Achievements: Part 1--Zeke

Many people remark about Zeke's perpetual smile. He is often smiling, especially in public. But, his smile grows bigger at special moments-like when his name is called to receive a ribbon.


In this mama's mind, he has had a REMARKABLE year. A year of so many firsts. I am amazed at his ability to handle new situations and do so with great strength. From the moment he took my hand in China and allowed me to lead him into the unknown. He has continued to take risks and desire to please, desire to achieve.

He received a perfect attendance ribbon for the 9 weeks, and the Character Counts ribbon. I think character counts, too.

But, I am super impressed with his academic achievement. He entered kindergarten without knowing a single letter of the alphabet, with no phonemic awareness, no awareness of a letter sound relationship. His beginnings were slow.

But...he ended with amazing success. He knows all of his letters, all of his sounds, and over 50 sight words. He is beginning to read and LOVING it! He loves spelling simple CVC words. If you see him in town, ask him. He will be delighted to spell h-a-t or p-o-t or p-i-g or c-u-p. He will beam!

It has been a joy to watch him and join him on the journey to learning. This is the fun stage when all of the sudden letters make sense. He continually looks for words on cereal boxes and signs. He hears a word spoken and tries to spell it. He know words are EVERYWHERE. And, since we hit this stage just at the end of the school year, the teacher/mom in me knows we must keep the momentum going.

Yes, we're doing some school this summer. We have more sight words to learn. We have books to read. We have sentences to write. And, I can't wait to see how much more progress he is going to make.

For now, enjoy the smile and enjoyment you see on his face at the end of the year kindergarten celebration. I love to watch children who KNOW the show is all about them.
 He who had no family, now knows a family is out there just to see him.
 And he loves to sing. Most often his head is thrown back and his voice is projected at the ceiling. He may very well be singing louder than any other...even if he really doesn't know all of the words.
 And...to end his year with a SNAP!!! He as the alligator being teased by 5 little monkeys, "You can't catch me!"

It has been a joy to watch Zeke grow!
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