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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paleontologists Find Another Treasure!

Following our visit to Shriner's, I had planned to take the children to the beach. Since they love the ocean so, I wanted to show them the ocean on the Gulf Coast. I was quite disappointed when the weather didn't cooperate. To help me, them feel better, I made new plans.

We would go see the dinosaurs at the T-Rex Restaurant at Downtown Disney. We had only to drive an hour from my cousin's home in Tampa.
If you've not been and you have children who are fascinated with dinosaurs, this play is a must!!! The dinosaurs are life sized, and they move! They are different rooms in the restaurant with various themes. After we finished our dinner, we spent another 30 minutes or so just walking around and checking everything out.

I was surprised to learn that children were allowed to touch the dinosaurs on exhibit if they were within reach. The photo below is blurry because the dino moved everytime JT got close. I think it must have had a sensor.
When we first arrived at the restaurant, both of the boys were excited. Drew, however, was frightened when he saw their enormous size and they began to move. It didn't take long for him to begin to enjoy himself....until his mama got him to close.
Zeke tried to be brave...but that's as close as he would get.
I'm kind of glad the weather was ugly!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Recent Visit to Shriner's

We've been busy doing a lot of playing around here. Since I haven't posted much lately, I promise to have one a day the rest of the week!!!

We recently were back in Tampa for a follow up visit at Shriner's. Drew and Ellie were given new braces. 

I am always amazed at how God loves on my children through so many other people. We are blessed to have family to stay with when we are in Tampa. Zeke's new patient was a gift from my cousin Betty. He asked her if he could have it. She said, "Yes." He was happy!!!!

While we waited, Dr. Zeke was checking on his new patient.
Not to be outdone, Ellie and Drew found it necessary to give medical treatment to one of their friends.
Drew came home with totally cool dinosaur braces or AFO's. (ankle foot orthotics) Ever slightly fearful, Mom was worried he may not like wearing his new braces. I think, however, they were somewhat comforting to him since he also wore AFO's in China. And, they had dinosaurs!!!

Best of all, he took of running down the hallway. Without his foot dropping, he was able to run like lightning down the hall way. No stumbling over his own foot! He was beaming.

They were loved on again by a staff member of Shriner's who just stopped in to say, "Hello" to the Mattox kids!
Ellie came home with one Cheetah AFO....She was only having her other brace...fitted and adjusted. Hers have cheetah print! While she has sometimes been resistant to wearing her braces, she is in love with the idea of cheetah print. We are planning to purchase some other items to make her feel like she is styling and profiling.
This brace is called an HK...hip, knee, I suppose...and she also has the AFO on the bottom. She will wear it following her surgery on August 29th. She'll be cheetah from hip to ankle....If you find any awesome cheetah accessories at yard sales, etc....send them her way! We want to keep her feeling like the princess she is, rather than self-conscious of all of the hardware she'll be wearing.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chick Fil A and Us....

I've been quiet on the Chick Fil A controversy with many thoughts running through my mind. I won't repeat here any of the points I've seen made by others, whether I agree or disagree. I have wanted for some time to share this however.

If you support a boycott of Chick Fil A, have you looked at the many, many positive programs the founder Truett Cathy invests in? The company supports families in a way I don't know of any other industry to do. In a time when marriages are failing, drugs and abuse are rampant, and children are suffering. The Cathy family supports many programs, but  I am moved to mention the two dearest to my heart:

WinShape Homes: A place where children in American can find permanent, loving foster families. Children of abuse, neglect, etc. have a life in a home where they are part of a family again, a whole family, a supportive family. The program makes such an impact, adults who grew up there have been known to return to be house parents themselves. I'd like to know more of my money continues to support Win Shape homes.

WinShape Marriage Supports: You can read more at winshape.com, but I was impressed to learn this summer of the WinShape Intensives. What an Awsome program! Married couples in crisis can go, spend four days with intensive counselling, meals provided by Christian families, lodging. Many troubled marriages have experienced healing following their participation in a Winshape Marriage Intensive. The success rate is HIGH. I learned about this program just two weeks before the controversy became the talk of the web.

Just so you know, our family will continue to support Chick Fil A.....and all the more following the research I've done of the heart of the Cathy family. Whereas financial success could have been spent on personal gain, Dan and his wife have chosen to invest in children, families, and young adults. We'll likely be dressed as cows again next year on Cow Appreciation Day. And, at least one family member will wear a sign that reads, "Eat Mor Chickin."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear Anonymous Joy

Hey Friend,
We kind of like your plan!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Blessings from our Weekend

The Pruiksmas were such gracious hosts. When they learned we were going to be in their area for a few days, they offered us their guest room. It certainly saved us money, but more than that, it was a relaxing place to stay. The fellowship we have with other Christians who are also touched by adoption once again never ceases to amaze me.

We met David and LeighAnn on our last trip to China. They were adopting for the first time. Look at this precious girl.
Josie-Tatum spent most of her time carrying Lynnea around on her hip. She was so good with her. David and LeighAnn said they had never seen her take to another person like she did with Josie-Tatum. JT suggested we needed to adopt another little girl, one as young as Lynnea. When I asked, "Where in the world would she sleep," she said, "Whitney needs to get married an move out, so she could sleep in our room."

I know there is at least one person out there who is asking with fear, "Is she really going to adopt again?"

There is likely at least one more who is asking with excitement, "Are they going to adopt again?"

So, let me clarify.....Unless Jesus appears in my bedroom as I type and speaks audibly, I don't think we'll be adopting again!

But, we did have fun.....

We also enjoyed Cow Appreciation Day while we visited. We quickly decorated white trash bags and headed to Chick Fil-A for dinner. Since David works for the corporate office of Chick Fil-A, his family was all decked out in their cow suits, too!

We have come home refreshed and encouraged...reminded that God has so much more planned for us when we follow him on an adoption journey. It is an abundant life filled with blessings we can hardly imagine. It is......

The Miracle of More

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blessed Reunion Number 2

On Friday of our weekend trip, we set out on the adventure that had beckoned us to Atlanta in the first place.

Drew's friend from Amazing Hands Foster Home in China was going to be in Atlanta. They spent several years together and still remembered one another as friends. Cameron now lives in Michigan with his forever family. We couldn't give up the opportunity to visit with him when he was going to be just 4 hours away.

We had lunch with them at The Varsity.

While both boys had shared with their families much excitement over the opportunity to see one another, they surprised us when we finally met. They were both bashful at first. (Yeah, I know, hard to believe Mama's Monster would be bashful and quiet for any length of time.)

By the end of lunch they were running around with one another, but we never could get the two of them to be still for a photo.

Then, we left and went to Fernbank Museum.

We were finally able to get a photo of both of them when Cameron's dad picked them both up. Drew was thrilled to be carried along with his friend.

Interestingly enough, Drew, the one I call Mama's Monster because of his behavior, made an announcement when he learned we would be visiting his friend. He stood up in his chair at the dinner table and declared, "Everybody! Bu yao tiao chi." (Don't be naughty.)

He repeated that phrase for days along with, "Wo men zou ba wo de pongyou." We're going to see my friend.

When we got into the museum, both of the boys ran around like crazy. Oh, how much their personalities are alike. They ran around, though, and hardly gave the other one any time at all. They both behaved like....well....4-year-old boys. ;) It took much coaxing to get the two of them to stand in one place...well sort-of one place and allow their parents to attempt take a photo.

But, they had lots of fun, and we did, too.

I tried to photo making again in the IMAX theatre: They were sitting side by side, how hard could that be?

Following the theater, it was time for Cameron's family to leave. We somehow managed to have all of the kids stand semi-still for a photo.
Both families hope the boys will stay in touch...and when they are 24 years old, they can laugh at their parents  themselves when they see how "naughty" they behaved for these photos.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blessed Reunion

We had an amazing visit to the Atlanta area this weekend. What began as a planned visit with one family became almost three days of visiting with three different families all connected through adoption.

On Thursday evening we visited with two families. Thank you to the Pruiksma family for opening their home to us. (More on them in another post.)

We were then joined by the King family. We met the Kings months before we had the referrals for our daughters, Josie-Tatum and Elizabeth. Then we traveled together in 2004 to bring home our daughters, the first adoption for both of our families.

Josie-Tatum and Elizabeth were in the same orphanage, Gaoming Social Welfare Institute. It was a blessing to have both of them at the same dinner table.

Elizabeth's mom and I spent hours catching up. We haven't been together in the same room for several years. I am always amazed, though, at how the love of Jesus and adoption can bind a family together forever. It was like talking with a friend I've known forever. Oh, how my heart was warmed.

While we talked, 13 children ran, played, laughed and had so much fun the adults were able to continue their conversations, rarely interrupted.....we just had to talk pretty loud. ;)

I might should add that, while Whitney was one of the 13 children there that night, she did NOT do much running around. She did, however, do a lot of the talking. She and Hannah, age 15, talked as much as Hannah's mom Laurie and I did.

After several hours, it felt like we had just begun to visit. But, we had to say goody-bye. There were more blessings in store for Friday. (Check back tomorrow.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lots of Blessings

Many blessings are in store for our family over the next few days.

I will have much to share when we get back home.

Lots of photos.......

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Sacrifice of Joy

I begin with a request, prompted by one I read at A Place Called Simplicity. If you plan to read this, please read every word. Don't skim it. Don't read the beginning without the ending, for you will not see the BIG picture. And as I paraphrase Linny...haven't you ever been talking to someone, pouring out your heart, while they looked at their watch...or glanced back and forth at the television? I am sharing a part of my soul. Please handle it carefully.

Over the past 12-18 months, our family has witnessed amazing spiritual victories. I stand in awe of the miracles he has performed- how He provided for our mission trip to Africa (See this post) and how he sent confirmation of our adoptions through an unexpected miraculous provision. (See this post)

When a Christian celebrates such victory, in turn, praising the Savior who made it all possible, the enemy is most disconcerted. Satan has not been pleased with the wonderful testimony of our Kingdom work. We have felt the fierce attack of the enemy this year unlike any other struggles of the past.

I have alluded to those struggles at times without many details, because this part of our story is not mine alone to tell. I can share, however, that I have never been under an attack as overwhelming as the battles I've fought in this past year.

And, I am weary.

A dear saint recently suggested, "Maybe God doesn't have you as close as He wants you to be, yet."

Most days I can say that and feel it. Most days I remember that He works all things together for my good, because I am called according to His purpose. Most days, I remember He gives beauty for ashes. Most days I hold onto these truths and others from His promises.

But, I am weary.

I have witnessed the fruition of God's calling and our faithfulness to follow. Two more angels sit at our table, sing loudly with their sisters, and call me, "Mama." Today, Josie-Tatum said, "Mom, I'm so glad we have the boys. They add so much laughter AND trouble. We have just taken everything up about 10 levels." Jesus can send affirmation through a 9-year-old who knows HIM.

Still, I am weary.

I hold in my hand a trinket from China, a gift like none other. It was given to me by someone who said, "I have never seen love like yours." I had the privilege of sharing Jesus with her. I thank Him for showing me the battle is HIS. The enemy had plans to keep our boys in China AND to be sure I was unable to share the love of the FATHER. But, He has overcome the world!

That does not mean I have not grown weary.

Two days ago, I gave in. I gave up. I decided I didn't want to fight anymore. I spent an entire 24 hours refusing to fix my eyes on Him. I slept late. Yeah, my littles got up. I just let them watch TV while I laid in bed a while. I did nothing...if you can call preparing 3 meals for yourself and 4 children nothing. I tried talking to Him, but my flesh would take over and the only thing I would tell Him was my trouble, my pain, my heartache, my despair.

I pointed fingers as I whined. So, while I was pointing fingers, I found my eyes focused on those who have betrayed me, rather than the ONE who died to set me FREE.

Some may wonder how I could see my blessings and still complain of my troubles.

Others will say, "I have been there."

Some are reading now and saying, "That's where I am right now."

I am so glad the Psalms are included in God's word. It reminds me that God listens to complainers.

But, I must also remember it is not His will for me to remain in a state of despair.

On Tuesday, Psalm 27:1 was in my prayer journal.   I looked it up and read further...and noticed something I have never taken note of before...I have often quoted verse 1. The LORD is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
I continued read this familiar Psalm and stopped at verse 6...I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy.

Sacrifices of joy.

I took note, and went right back to my pity party.

At 5:00 in the morning on Wednesday, I was awake, hoping to go back to sleep, but unable. That's when I picked up an old friend, Beth Moore's Get Out of That Pit. I knew it was time to re-read that one. In the book, though, she quoted the same scripture, Psalm 27:1, that was in my prayer journal the day before.

The Holy Spirit called me back to read again, verse 6.

Sacrifices of joy.

I took note and this time decided to take action. I spent much more time with Jesus. I spent much time with my old friend and her book. I fixed my eyes on the source of joy. I searched the scriptures for hope and joy.

I also searched for the defintion of sacrifice.
Webster defines a sacrifice as an act of offering to a deity something precious.

Is our joy something precious to Jesus? I think it is. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He died for me. He died for my joy.

As I pondered the word sacrifice more, I was reminded that, in the OldTestament, a sacrifice was to be the best one could offer, one without blemish. A sacrifice cost the giver something. Perhaps, God meant in this Psalm, that sometimes our joy would cost us something. We would have other options to choose from, but He would want us to choose a more valuable gift, the gift of JOY to offer back to Him.

I made a choice, a choice to offer Him something precious...joy. Interstingly enough, it is the same joy He has given me. The joy of the LORD is my strength. It came from Him, and when I offer it back to Him, I find strength. Strength to pick up my armor and join the battle again. As I offer Him joy, I sing praises to Him, and He inhabits my praises. So, though I can sometimes feel lonely in a house full of children, I am not alone. He is here. And, in his presence is fulness of JOY.

It all comes back to a choice I can make. I can choose to offer back what He freely gives.

If I sacrifice my time to get in His presence, I will find the fulness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)

Today, I chose to wear a crown. Really. I wore it all day, only took it off while I was swimming. Everytime I looked in the mirror, I was reminded, "I am a Child of the King." When my children asked, "Why are you wearing a crown?" I told them, "I am a Child fo the King." Josie-Tatum got excited and shouted, "That means I'm a princess."

Yes, Josie-Tatum, you too are His child.

I plan to spend the rest of my days...choosing joy.

On this day, the second as I choose to offer the sacrifice of joy, a handsome young Asian man has brought me flowers, not once, not twice, but three times. I still have the crown on my head. I added the flowers. Then, the handsome young man's siblings joined him until my head was bedecked with beautiful flowers...alongside plastic jewels. I chose joy, and He chose to add to my joy.

He does indeed give beauty for ashes.

The miracle of more continues to be the miracle in me!


After opening my heart, I have one request. If this post spoke to something deep within, will you hold me accountable? Will you ask me on occasion if I have chosen joy for the day? And, if you too need to be reminded to choose joy, let me know. I'll check in on you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Red White and Blue Day

It was that kind of day.

The kind commercials are made from.

We spent the late morning and early afternoon in Grandma's pool.

I've pondered much lately about how much I love to swim, but not just anywhere. I only LOVE swimming at home. It's familiar. It's a large pool for a single family home, with much room to move. There is a freedom I feel underwater, a gracefulness I don't feel anywhere else.

Recently, my mama told my children, "You are lucky to have such a good mama who goes swimming with you. Many mamas don't swim with their children."

And, I told them I had a good role model. When I was growing up, ours was always the house where the cousins wanted to come, because their Aunt Lynda played with us. Aunt Lynda's house also had a pool.

Today, Grandma was able to spend extra time in the pool. I don't suppose she did a lot of swimming. ;) Before we finished our pool time, all four of my littles were hanging on Grandma. They played submarine. When she shouted, "Enemy fire!" they went under water.

While we were swimming, Grandpa was cooking.
I know he's not cooking in this picture, but he was keeping an eye on the grill. But...do you want to know one of the things I love best about my daddy. He is one of the most unpretentious men I know. He looks completely comfortable having his photo made in his garden hat, no problem for him. He is who he is and he is never any different, not matter the crowd.

(The thing that saddens me most aboutt he passing of Andy Griffith. He reminded me of my daddy. Jed Clampett did, too. You know...... how they were both smarter than they let on. Many people mistake our southern drawl for a sign of limited intellect.)

Back to our red, white, and blue day: Can you smell ribs on the grill while swimming in the pool? We were doubly ready for lunch time!

Then, we celebrated our religious freedom by going to church. There were probably many churches who cancelled Wednesday services, and I'm so glad ours didn't.

Following church, we headed to the neighboring town for fireworks. The boys were so excited. They talked about it all day.

And, as I thought about our nation's freedom, our religious freedom, and the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, I thought of my handsome Navy son.

 Please pray for his safety.Pray for our DIL Caise. Join me as we pray daily for the protection of our troops who guard our freedom.

I hope you enjoyed your Independence Day as much as our family did!

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Baby Girl is 24!--update See #19

It is hard to believe my first-born is 24 today. So much of the blog is about the littles, I decided to dedicate this post to her.

Twenty-four things you should know about Whitney:

  1. Whitney's birth was much anticipated. Stan and I had been married for 5 years before she was born. He was forever asking me, "Let's have a baby."
  2. Whitney arrived after more than 24 hours of labor. She has yet to live one year for every hour her mother labored. But, I love her just the same.

3.  Whitney was the best sleeper of any of my babies. She would sleep all night, and willingly take a nap with anybody who would lie down with her. 
4.  Whitney still likes to sleep.
5.Whitney was always clean and neatly dressed. I had so much fun dressing my baby doll.
6.She soon learned that she liked to get dirty...much to my chagrin. On this particular day at the beach, she ate so much sand, we'll let you imagine what her diaper was like that evening.
7.  Whitney loved school and enjoyed telling her kindergarten teacher, "That's not how my mama does it."
8.  Whitney had a little more difficult time when it came to first grade. She needed a sticker chart to be reminded to get her work done. When asked by her teacher why she was having trouble getting her work done, she said, "Disney World just keeps calling my name."

9. Whitney enjoyed playing t-ball and softball--not because she loved the game, but because she loved being part of a team.
10. She started out in the outfield, where she enjoyed drawing in the sand. She found her niche as catcher, because she loved conversations. She carried on many with umpires, coaches, and batters.
11. She finally found her place in the world of drama and band in middle school. She was a self-professed drama geek and band nerd.

12.  Whitney begged for a baby sister...for two years before her parents finally knew the LORD was calling. She knew all along!
13.  Since she was a young child, Whitney has known where to turn when she needed support. Our Brother Randall has pastored our church since she was a baby. She knew when she was 6-years-old to go see him and ask for prayer when her dog ran away. She knew to call him when she was 23 and experiencing opposition to her mission work in California.

14.  Whitney likes to cook. 
15. She likes to watching cooking shows.
16.  She likes Pinterest.
17. Whitney still likes to play in the sand at the beach. She is not "one of those" who thinks she shouldn't get sandy. Unfortunately, her mama did not get her face in this photo.
18.  She loves her siblings...hence she plays with them in the sand. She also likes to plan surprises, like phone calls from Santa online.
19.  She is kind of messy--so kind of messy is an understatement. My best friend of many, many years--like we've been friends since 6th grade--called this morning. She said, "I can't believe out of 24 things Aunt Melanie didn't make any of them. So here it is Mel: Whitney is as messy as her Aunt Melanie. I sometimes think she should have been her daughter! ;)
20.  Whitney is goofy.
21. She loves Jesus.

22. She loves Kennith.
23. She hopes to one day adopt from Africa.
24. And, she was wise enough to wait to date seriously until she found that someone who loves her  Jesus, who loves her, who loves her goofiness, and loves her heart for orphans.

Happy Birthday My Whitney!!!!

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