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

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Birthday Ever

I am finding some of the greatest joys in my children. I have always loved being a mama, but adding five children to our family through adoption has shown me more about God’s heart than any other adventure I’ve ever taken. Yesterday was one of the most blessed days of my life!

Zeke was having his first birthday party. No. He was not one-year-old. It was his seventh birthday. It was his first birthday party. It was the first time he had ever received a birthday gift.

Zeke was born in China and spent the first six years of his life in a large social welfare institute. I fully believe he was cared for, but there was much of life he had never experienced. He joined our family in March when he we was six-years-old.

Zeke was an onlooker at other birthday parties, never quite knowing what to expect. He was not one of those children who anxiously hoped someone would allow him to help open gifts, because he didn’t understand anything about gift-receiving. Eight months after his homecoming, his brother Drew had a birthday party. Having been to several birthday parties by this time, Zeke had some idea of what to expect. It was not until he learned that his mama bought him a small gift, too, that he joyfully anticipated the party.

I think he opened his first gift ever the night of Drew’s birthday party. With stiff arms and clenched fists, sheer excitement flooded his entire body as he tore into the wrapping paper to find a Spider Man costume. Unknown to me, his Aunt Bobbie, the best sister this Mama could ever ask for, brought him a gift, too!

Zeke would frequently ask when his birthday was coming. We would show him the calendar, and he quickly learned to tell people his birthday was in Jan-u-air. (His birthday is estimated to be January 1st.) To help him better understand, we let him know his birthday would be after Christmas. Can you guess what happened on Christmas Day? He asked, “Is my birthday tomorrow?”

So Christmas Day, we took a look at the calendar again. We talked about night time and how many times he would go to sleep before his birthday party. He spent the next week counting his sleeps until his birthday. The night before his party, he was beaming as he lay in bed. I didn’t think he would ever fall asleep.

Party day arrived, and very early in the morning, a Chinese monkey jumped in my bed. He slid beside me for what I thought might be our usual cuddle time. But his body was stiff. His excitement had taken mastery over EVERY muscle in his body. “It’s my birthday!” he almost shouted in his morning whisper. We talked about the tasks of the day, work that must be done to prepare for his party. He wasa not able to hide his disappointment that it would be dark before his party began. I showed him how to watch the clock for 6:00. He watched it all day. He would ask, “Why 6 take-a so long?”

I chuckled as I prepared to go shopping. He ordinarily does NOT like for me to leave the house without him. There are two injustices he sees in such situations. One-he is very attached to his mama and does not like it when she spends time away from him. Two-he spent most of his life inside an institution. He does not think it is fair if someone gets to leave the house and he doesn’t.

This day, though, he had other ideas. He said, “You can go to this one town. And this one town. And this one town,” meaning I could go to 3 stores I suppose. Then he shouted, “And, you can bring me PRESENNNNNTTTTTTSSSS!!!!!”

When I came home, he was not unlike every other seven-year-old on a birthday party. He grabbed the Spider Man plates, cups, and napkins with a smile. He dressed and beamed when his sister pinned on his Spider Man birthday badge. He squealed like a girl when his big brother blew up his Spider Man center piece and put it on the dining room table. I can say, though, I have NEVER seen a child so excited over a birthday. NEVER. And I have seven children. With each gift that came into the room his muscles  grew more and more tense with excitement. He counted and re-counted them. He shouted as loud as he could, “It’s my birthdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!” and “I have 9 presssssseeeeennnntttts!!!!”

When the party officially began I called our family into the great room, big extended family, getting ready to ask Grandpa to bless the meal. I swept my Zeke off his feet and held him tight. The tears started to flow as I said to the family, “I am so glad God have Zeke to us.” I could hardly contain my emotions long enough to ask Grandpa to pray.

And, Zeke waited patiently for supper to end before he opened his presents. He did NOT open his presents like any other seven-year-old. He did NOT quickly tear through each package. He opened each one and them SCREAMED its contents outloud with his head tilted back and his voice filling the air. He wanted to open the contents of the package and examine it before he proceeded to the next gift.

He blew out his candle and delighted in his ice cream cake with the Power Ranger riding a motorcycle on top. The Red Ranger, of course, because he IS the Red Ranger.

And, then as my children, nieces, and nephews continued to play. My adult children and family continued to rejoice. I suddenly found myself on stimulation overload. I had to go outside and recalibrate my compass.

When the party was over and all was calm, I reflected on the best birthday party I had ever attended. The JOY! Not Zeke’s joy. My Joy! He had the best day of his life, but I…..I took the road less travelled. I got to be the Mama. And that made all the difference.
And, if I was smiling still from the events of the day, how much more was my Heavenly Father smiling....because HE gets to be the FAther of the Fatherless, and HE had the blessed privilege of putting this lonely child in a family.

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He climbed in bed with his mama this morning, with his arms stiff, and his fists clenched, "It's my birthday!!!"

He shouted with joy as each gift came in the door.
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When he opened his gifts, he shouted the contents of the package as soon as he saw it! His smile never left his face. He may have facial spasms tonight in his sleep.

It's My Birthday

It's a Jaguar Hat!!!!

Squinkies! I asked for Squinkies!!!!

Didn't Grandma choose the best shirt ever for this boy????

And, just in case you've missed my past shameless pursuasions........the road less travelled is one blessed road. Look at those lists of children available for adoption. Look into the faces of older boys. You could have a day just like mine!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

May I Never Forget

I hope to never forget:

Hearing Zeke say, "This is the best!" as we placed the manger scene on the fireplace mantle. He was the MOST excited wise man ever. And, he couldn't wait to place the wise man on the mantle.

Josie-Tatum's repeated requests to hear Toby Mac's "Father of the Fatherless" everytime we got in the van. And, her words as we rode through town looking at Christmas lights. She said, "Mama, sometimes I would like to take the selfish people who spend all of their money on themselves and leave them in Africa for a month." (She herself prepared this dish, thanks to Mrs. Vicki's recipe.)

Hearing Drew say, "It smells good," when he walked in the kitchen after I had begun preparing the Christmas Eve meal. That boys loves to eat. He loves to watch me cook. He may be a chef one day....or serve the hungry in a third world nation.

Hearing Ellie talk about her new doll, complete with wheel chair and crutches. She told us how her doll uses her crutches to walk short distances and uses her wheel chair when she has to go long distances. She named her Ella, and Ella apparently helps the PE coaches juse like Ellie does.

I don't know who was the most excited to learn that Brandon would be home for Christmas Eve after all--Brandon, Mama Robbie, or Josie-Tatum. I can tell you the joy that filled my heart when I got that text. I can tell you that Josie-Tatum said over and over again in the first few days of our holiday, "I wish Bra was here." And, I can tell you they love to love each other by picking.

The excitement I felt when Whitney shouted, "Mom! Put your clothes on. Caleb's on the phone!" (Okay, I was getting in the shower after cooking and before the family arrived.) It was such a blessing to have Casie join us to ease the heart ache of Caleb's first Christmas away from us.

And, the ever kitchen helpful Whitney. She loves to be in the kitchen, and I always need her help on Christmas Eve.

And our Moose! He was so helpful this year. I've needed an extra pair of male hands now and then with Caleb and Brandon gone. He has spent much of this holiday and I'm so glad. Check out that hat Santa left him! Oh, and please note that he has been playing Ellie's purple zebra print guitar every time he comes over as well. Anybody have a more manly guitar they'd like to give him?

I hope to remember the waiting children who need families after hearing Zeke say, "Mama, I want to play game. We not play games in my China."

Please consider adoption! If you want to talk about it email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

This has been one of the sweetest Christmas Days ever.

My post today will be simple-a few video clips from our day. Notice Zeke's excitement as he has NEVER had Christmas before.
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And Ellie NEVER leaves us wishing she had shone more emotion.
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Drew enjoys seeing his name on the package more than the package itself.
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Josie-Tatum is a little more reserved, but listen for the giggle at the end of the video....I think she liked the gift.
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And, Whitney NEVER had any idea I was videoing her.
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Never could I leave out Brandon!
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More Christmas news to share over the week....I'm on vacation. I have blog catch up time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh my!!!!

TOTALLY umprompted at breakfast this morning, Drew said:

"Mama, I want to go to China and get some baby and everybody come back to America."

Following my look of shock, which Josie-Tatum, ever so insightful read as.....Where did that come from?

She said, "That's what happens when you adopt children. The youngest wants a baby."

Just so you know, I agree with Zeke's opinion, "Ewwwww, baby will poop in his pants."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

You CAN Help

Really, I do know how long it's been since I posted anything. Busy is an understatement...AND...I've started excercising again. (Ask me how that's going soon to be sure I'm sticking with it.) I've misplaced my camera and hope to do some serious post catch up this weekend.

But, we really could use some help and it's so simple. Our school has applied for a grant from Clorox. It only takes a text a day and/or an online vote for us to receive $50,000!!! If you've followed here long, you know we have a new school built VERY close to our home.

Check out this Youtube video, too. You'll see Josie-Tatum AND....

the dog star is our dog Bat Girl. (She needs her own post soon.)

Zeke even asked, "Can Bat Girl talk?" Watch the video and tell me what you think.

And, if you vote, please leave a comment to let me know you've join us in our endeavor.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Five Years Ago

Our life changed!!!

The mess maker at the bottom of the heap entered the room, and we have never regretted scooping her up and taking her home.

You all know Ellie:
Vivacious, tenacious, loving, caring, loud, and lovely. Full of compassion, full of energy, full of joy!

From the first moment I saw her face, I felt connected in some way. I could  never explain that feeling to anyone, except other adoptive parents. We trusted Jesus...that he was calling us to her. I didn't even know what a lipmeningocele was. We did NOT include spina bifida on our "checklist" of needs were willing to consider.
But JESUS knew~

We needed her to make our family all that He wanted it to be.

Happy Gotcha Day, Ellie!
I am so glad Jesus gave you to me!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Even Ellie

Even Ellie gets discouraged.

Most of you see her like this.

And, praise the LORD, she is like this most of the time.

But, some days.....

Some days she's had enough. Enough wearing pull-ups. Enough wearing braces. Enough of her difficulties.

Our trips to Shriner's in the late summer brought on some down times for Ellie. She usually takes set-backs in stride, but not this time. She didn't like being fitted for her back brace. She began to realize that might not be very comfortable.

She cried when she saw her new shoes with the lift on them.

We had a tough few days, off and on. Extended family came over to visit at my mom's and they were all swimming. Ellie couldn't swim after her surgery. :( And, she was sad. :( Grandma, though, let her be queen of the inside, painting and playing on the computer.

Then, there was a birthday party to which she was invited. With her new braces, cathing, being certain she didn't put any pressure on her right leg during the healing process, I told her she couldn't go.

Oh, how she cried.

And, when the school nurse came to take her to restroom, she cried more.

She told. Mrs. Angela how unfair her life was. She told her she wanted to be able to swim and run on the playground like the other kids. She wasn't being loud our ugly, just mournful.

Angela came to me in tears. She said, "It would be different if she were like this all of the time, but she's not. She's right. It's not fair."

And, we made a plan. Ellie went to the party, and even stayed until almost midnight. She just didn't stay the night. And, she was happy.

But, we all need to remember those for whom life is challenging. They have down days, too. Pray for the children and pray for their parents. Pray for their caregivers. May we listen for the wisdom from above that helps us teach them they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

May Ellie experience grace as she grows older. May she know grace and be graceful. May she continue to encourage others as we continue to encourage her. May she know the LOVE of our Savior more deeply as she leans on Him. May she experience the abundant life He died for her to have.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fun Fall Day

We've had a weekend and three days for our Columbus Day/Fall Break holiday. It offered such much needed rest and fun. We spent the last two days driving to and from Tampa. Then, today, we did nothing...well, sort of.

I went for a 4 1/2 mile walk.....AWESOME!!

The kids had been playing outside, and then began to act as if they were bored. Until....Mom...

I suggested we go outside and build a house of pine straw. Some were excited, and some were reluctant. I was a little worried about the excited ones, thinking they might be disappointed. The reluctant 9-year-old finally decided she would join in.

We marked off the dimensions of the home and built the walls up.

Then the little builders constructed interior walls, so each one would have his/her own bedroom.

Every room included a lamp. (Doesn't that pine cone look like a lamp?)

Josie-Tatum and Ellie each included a television in their rooms. Ellie was busy watching tv while I took photos.
 JT's tv had a remote control.

Ellie told me the show she was watching was, "Awesome!"

And, perhaps you, like I will be most impressed with the bathroom, complete with sink.
(Please do not confuses the pine cone faucet for the pine cone lamp.)
  And, last, who could forget the toilet? Once again exercise caution when identifying the pine cone objects. The pine cone in this photo, as I was told, would be a turd in the toilet!!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Dream Come True

Last fall, Josie-Tatum and I went together on a few hikes, mother/daughter dates, preparing for the day when Mom might be too busy for much one-on-one.

While hiking the trails of a nearby state park, we talked about what it might be like when the boys came home.

This weekend, we found out!

I wondered how Ellie and Drew would do, walking as much as we did. We took a shorter path than the route we took last year when it was just JT and me, and they surprised me! They loved it even more than I thought. While there is certainly a playground at this park, they were not in a hurry to get there.

Drew picked lots of little wild flowers here and there and loved every one he saw. All of my 3 youngest LOVE sticks, and there were many sticks fallen along the paths. They searched for the perfect sticks to use as walking sticks, play Power Rangers with, and twirl.

After the photo shoot at the creek, we found a spot where the water was flowing a little more quickly. Then it was time to throw small twigs in the creek to race and see whose twig passed the tree first.

Not only did we have fun, but something interesting happened on the path before we made it to the playground. We ran into my cousin from Florida! Josie-Tatum said she thought she had seen him earlier. We finished the trail along with him, his wife, and son.

Praise the LORD for the blessings of nature and even more for the blessing of watching my children enjoy it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beyond My Imagination--Memorial Box Monday

It has been FAR too long since I posted a Memorial Box Monday. But, there hangs in our house a trinket from China, which tells a story ONLY Jesus could have orchestrated.

We saw his photo first. (And, if you want to know more about that part of the story, read here.)

We saw his photo weeks later. (You could read how the LORD led us to him here.)

Our faith walk was challenged more than one time, multiple times and in multiple ways. There were truly moments when we thought we were supposed to halt the adoption process. Some of the darkest moments of my life occurred during the months we waited for our boys.

Just when I needed the most to KNOW that we were on God's path, He showed up in a MIRACULOUS way. You can read that here. When God sent that miracle, I was more convinced of a "feeling" I had earlier. I was more convinced that ever that God had a perfect plan for our boys, and that He had far more in store for us. I believed that the spiritual battle was more than a fight to stop our boys from coming home. I had no idea what God had in mind, but I knew it was BIG.

This story would not be the same if we had not committed to adopting TWO precious sons at one time. It would not have been the same if we had only adopted one, no matter which one it was. It could only have happened this way...because.

We were the only family in the room. Ordinarily the room is FULL of families. Because we were adopting two children on one trip to Chi*na, our schedule was different. Most adoptions occur on Tuesday. We were NOT in this room on a Tuesday because we were in another province. So, we had the room virtually to ourselves.

It was our fourth adoption in Chi*na. I was accustomed to the process. What happened afterwards had never happened before. I was asked why we would adopt so many special needs children.

And...the door was opened for me to share our faith. In that moment, I stood in that room, and I KNEW. This was part of the victory God had promised when He said, "Trust me. This is NOT about you." I was asked what it meant to be a Christian. Why would Christians adopt. I was given the opportunity to share the portrait of adoption that Christ paints when He invites us to join His family.

And, then I heard words that have forever changed me. "I have heard about this JESUS, but I have never heard about his love."

I walked on clouds, ever so amazed that God would use me to share His love in such a way.

And, then...the next day, another person asked me more about my faith. She, too, shared how touched she was by the love of Jesus flowing through us. Walking down the streets of Chi*na, with thousands of people passing by, I was able again to share what Jesus had done for us.

Then, something happened that had never happened to me before. This person gave me a gift.  As she gave it to me she said, "I have never seen such love as I have seen in your family."
So, while it is not in our Memorial Box, this trinket hangs in my bedroom. It is a precious reminder that God helped me survive the greatest storm in my life because He wanted me...his imperfect child...to be in THAT place at THAT time so TWO different people could hear about HIS love.

It was a Miracle of More moment!!!

(Read more about God's faithfulness on Linny's blog.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pooh Bear's Progress

When we first came home with Drew, he quickly became known as Mama's Monster, a name fitting of his behavior. He was the loudest, naughtiest of all of my children. He did not at times even attempt to conform. He seemed to be openly defiant, while considering his antics quite funny.

He has earned a new nickname, however. We often call him Drew Bear Pooh Bear now. He has begun to love to snuggle and be loved on. He gives sweet hugs to those who love him.

He can still be naughty, however.

We met him first, almost a week before Gotcha Day. He ran, and he played, he hit Ellie, and he ran. Oh, did we think we were in TROUBLE! He was in perpetual motion.

Not much changed after Gotcha Day. He would run from us and laugh no matter how sternly we told him to,"Stop." He seemed to find pleasure in being naughty.

After coming home, things were a little better. Not EVERY day was difficult. But several times of EVERY day were difficult. Some days held more difficult moments than others.

Six months later, I can say, "Oh, how I love my Drew Bear Poor Bear hugs!" I think I have gained much insight into his behavior.

I've been reading, "The Connected Child." It was recommended by two friends, and a third friend even had a copy. If you have adopted a toddler or plan to adopt a toddler, PLEASE read it!

I cannot say I was surprised by what I read, but it has kept some thoughts to the forefront of my awareness. I am reminded of the great struggle our children experience EVERY day as they learn to love, adjust, and bond with a new family in a new culture.

The biggest, "Oh, wow!" moment came from what I read on page 51. "We have encountered many...children who are not truly hyperactive; instead, they are hypervigilant." I have begun to notice that Drew is the most active in new situations. He is calmer when our day is following its normal routine.

When I first took him to the doctor, he became the wild and crazy monster when the doctor came in the room. He was not yelling or cryings, so I didn't recognize it as fear. Every time the doctor touched him, even just to lift his shirt, he would laugh and try to pull away.

The book also mentions sensory overload while suggesting using a soft voice, turning down the volume of electronics in the home, etc. I can REALLY tell a difference in Drew's activity level, based on the volume in a room. And.... when he is naughty.

The louder the voice that corrects him, the naughtier his later behavior becomes.

He may stop what he is doing, but in just minutes after correcting his behavior, he has chosen another inappropriate action.

Speaking softly while holding his face tenderly and looking him straight in the eye....brings the most positive changes in undesirable behavior. And, later we don't usually find him in a tail spin.

Mind you, he can still be ONE WILD MONKEY!

Like, Ellie he loves life and lives it LOUD!

He still seeks attention from negative behaviors when he thinks he needs more attention, but he is  doing so much better.

He is following the rules and school and often talks about the rules. Like other 4-year-olds, he often says, "My teacher said....." He has come quite the rule follower at times. Only one major incident has occurred at school. He um.....

hit a little girl int he face.

But, he felt his behavior was perfectly acceptable. She wouldn't share the toy.

After much discussion at home and the next morning, I had high hopes that he had learned NOT to hit at school. I was not disappointed when I picked him up that afternoon. He came running to me with his hands held high shouting, "Mommy, I not hitta girl to-day."

He was first to show affection to Zeke, before Zeke showed him much.

The first super sweet moment occurred at the beach. As the waves got rougher, Zeke had backed away from the water. Drew as not deterred, but he seemed to think Zeke should not be missing the fun. He said to Zeke, "You not scared. I holda your hand."

Six months....

Six trying months of trying days.

But six months of more blessings than I ever could have imagined.

These six months have once again show me God is...

  The Miracle of More!

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