The month of December is laced with much meaning at the Grinn house.
First of all, and probably most importantly, it means the holidays are coming! And with the holiday season comes a nice long break from school! This is a happy truth for all seven Grinns (since there are five students and two teachers among us).
Secondly, December brings with it the heavy sense of finality. It is the last month of the year. :( Once it is gone, that year is gone forever and ever, amen. We can't get it back. December quickly reminds us how fast times flies by and how precious each moment truly is.
But this is sad, so let's get back to more joyful reasonings...
December also means Birthdays! Grandpa's birthday, Mr. Grinn's birthday and most importantly, Jesus' birthday all fall during this month! (Okay, so there's debate on when the Messiah actually was born, but we like to celebrate it in December.) So, there's lot of celebrating!
And with birthdays come gifts and gift giving. So, December also means, unfortunately, what we like to call, 'The Great Financial Squeezing'.
Last, but certainly not least, December means family gatherings! We will be traveling and spending precious moments with Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and lots of special people.
With that said, here are a few 'must haves' I've learned to add to the month December that will increase the 'Joy Meter' in any home:
1. Decorate early and with lots and lots and lots of twinkle lights. And keep the lights up all month. Kids love this and it helps with making fun memories! ;)
2. Plan at least one game night with the family including at least one round of multiple solitaire and lots of popcorn. Watching 'Elf' as a family is also a good way to spend a Friday night.
3. Celebrate Jesus by reading Scripture, singing, giving gifts, and doing something with candles late at night with lots of other people.
4. Pray for at least one really good snow day and when it comes, take off and build a snowman and make angels until your toes are wet and cold. ;)
5. Invest in a fireplace and light it up as soon as the temperature falls below 60 degrees.
May you be inspired. :)
Happy December to you!
Friday, May 13, 2016
We had such a great trip this last month! Introducing: Sasha (Alexia) and Dima (Tyler) who were a sheer delight! Sasha (Alexia) loves to ride a bike and listen to music (Tanya, you better learn how to ride a bike soon so you can join her! ;) She is very quick-witted and a great cook! She made cookies and Ukrainian blini for us! Dima (Tyler) loves to read, play with legos and enjoys Minecraft. He has the cutest little giggle and his big sweet eyes can melt any heart.
It happened to be the Ukrainian Easter weekend, so we were able to spend a few days just enjoying the weather, strolling down main street and even dying Easter eggs. It took a little while but the kids started warming up to us, especially Matt's silly side during brutal rounds of Skip Bo and Jenga. ;)
The 14 days were packed with all sorts of adventures! Adoption meetings, interviews with Social Workers, notary offices, visits with old friends, crazy plane, train and taxi rides, birthday and Easter dinners, 5 mile walks along the beach, lots of lukewarm cappuccinos and bowling. (Just to name a few) We felt as thought we lived about a week's worth of life packed into each and every day!
We are happy to report that our court date is set for June 6th in Odessa, Ukraine. So please pray for this day to go smoothly so we can quickly get home and start learning how to be a family of 7! ;)
Saturday, April 23, 2016
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20Oh ye of little faith...
The longer I live on this planet the more opportunities I get to see how God is faithful to His promises. Which in turn means that I don't normally go into 'panic' mode unless there is a genuine crisis, it's really down to the wire AND anxiety levels are high! Whew. So it takes all of those things combined to truly get me to shake.
I'm happy to report that I only had one (okay, maybe two) minor 'freak out' sessions the past few days as the time gets closer to meet our teenage babies. There's just a ton of stuff to remember y'all!
Wonder what their favorite colors are? I forgot to ask if they like cats and dogs? Maybe they're allergic to cats and dogs? What gifts should I bring? Should I bring toys for everyone at the Orphanage? Will I remember any Russian? How are we going to come up with enough funds to finish this? Oh, wait... where are the passports?
What about the kids here, will they be okay? How are they feeling? Really? This is the longest we'll have been away from them! Do I have enough food in the fridge for two weeks?
And on and on and on...
So, naturally two days before we hop on a plane I decide to head over and have some lunch with a friend. As we are praying about this upcoming trip my friend mentions that it would be great if we could get our passports back soon. It was at that moment that my son texted me to say some package just came! I called him right away to ask what it was and sure enough... our passports.
Not only has God provided what we have needed lately, He also likes to bless our socks off! Have you heard about Victor's Prom Palooza? Out of the clear blue sky he was invited to go to Prom this year with five of his classmates and three sponsors (previous graduates from the same school) just for fun. So, here I am thinking there is no way we can come up with extra funds for this. But then I find out that the Prom Palooza is completed covered! Victor even has a tuxedo and shiny black shoes to his name now. . So he is even prepared for the next formal event! Plus he got to ride in a stretch Hummer Limo!!! This was star treatment at its finest. God provided something we hadn't even considered! Yet He knew how much it would bless us!
Sometimes He provides exactly what we need and sometimes He spoils us. That's what Dads do. ;)
So, when the storms come and my mind battles to convince my heart that I can't fully trust.
And when my faith wavers. My God, who is faithful, moves the mountains for me.
Can't wait to introduce you all to the kiddos next week!
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Do you ever get the feeling that you are a small part of something really great? Like the tiny piece of filament inside a glass bulb that when combined with all the proper elements actually shines forth light! By itself it can do nothing but lie there looking like a sad little piece of a bigger lamp puzzle. However, without that filament piece the lamp would not work and the light would not shine.
I feel like that sometimes. Our little 'ever-growing family' with our three awesome teens, two smelly dogs and two Ukrainian cats are just a teeny part of the grand picture of God's goodness. Even inside our little family, when we are all feeling isolated and sad we can't accomplish much. But when we are connected and in-touch with each other's needs we are far more effective, happy, healthy, and alive.
Then, zooming out of the lightbulb and family idea is the even bigger puzzle...
God's 'band of brothers' (aka: the Church). This includes blood relatives and spirit relatives alike. Believing families (broken, dysfunctional and even the righteous) are all running around helping each other out with various needs. I mean, honestly. I have no idea how people function outside of the loving band of brothers. Here are just a few of the latest blessings we have experienced from this group of Jesus followers:
yummy meals during a hard week (when I had surgery)
giving rides to the kids when we are busy
stepping in to house-sit (dog/cat sit) when the family goes on vacation
and lots of needed prayer
And now my sweet sister has designed and published a coloring book* with Scripture to help us raise much needed finances for our family's next big puzzle piece... adding two new kiddos to the gang.
I mean. Wow.
Last Saturday we were able to meet our hopeful new daughter through Skype. It was so fun to visit with her and introduce her to the kids. We expressed to her in Russian that since we had heard about her and her brother's desire to be a part of a family we had prayerfully decided to try to be THAT family. We then asked if she would like to consider being a part of our crazy family. ;)
"Da, da, da!!!" She was in shock! With tears she began to mention how long she had been wanting this and waiting someone to want her. Did you catch that?
Even typing this I can't hold back the tears.
How long have you waited to be wanted?
I'm not talking romantically, that's a whole other discussion. I'm talking just 'pure, basic, raw and solid committed love' type of want.
Most of us can't even fathom what that's like. We grew up with someone, a mom, dad, grandparent wanting to be with us, love us, spoil us, care for us, help us... You get the idea.
I know she and her brother are older and I won't be able to scoop them up like babies and hold them and sing lullabies for hours to soothe them. But I can WANT her and want what's best for her and her brother and I can do that until the day I die.
It's just a tiny part of the whole story. And I can't wait how our little family grows and changes and becomes more whole when these two kiddos finally come home.
*If you love coloring and Scripture or just like great gift ideas and at the same time want to be a small part of a bigger puzzle... maybe pick a few of these awesome books up! Beloved Words
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Many of you have asked about the adoption so I wanted to give you all an update. :)
Since we started the process back in September, we have been able to complete every last little document for the US requirements and the Ukraine dossier requirements! This is a true miracle!
So the next step is to head to the state capital to get all 45 pages stamped with the state Apostille stamp! Then we will mail them off to Kiev to our Facilitator. He has already received all the documents digitally and will be translating them into Ukrainian to have them ready to go.
Once he turns in our dossier then we wait. Usually it takes about a month or two to hear back from them. We are hoping for an interview in Kiev around April or early May. After the interview (around a 5-10 day trip... assuming all goes well), Matt and I will head back to Texas to wait for the court date. (Another month or two). So, the potential date of finally having the kiddos back in Texas is around June/July, 2016.
Whew. So, that's probably clear as mud. Thank you all for praying, asking, thinking of us, and generally being sincerely interested in our lives and this process. It is so encouraging!
Please keep the entire process, God's timing and the children in your prayers. Like we said before, we are not 100% certain that we will be able to adopt the brother and sister we are hoping to adopt. If they are not adoptable we will revisit the books and pray about possibly adopting up to two different children from Ukraine... any age. Regardless, the kids we are praying for and thinking about still need lots of love and prayers. They have not been told yet that someone is hoping to adopt them. Please pray for timing, wisdom and for their health and safety throughout this time.
In other news, the family has been doing really well. We had a nice winter break visiting Matt's family down in Florida for a week. Nothing like sunshine for Christmas!
Dima is doing great at basketball, working the 5:00am shift at McDonald's and squeezing in some homeschool curriculum this school year. We are very proud of him and all of his accomplishments. He still has about a year left of school, but we are already talking with him about what his hopes and dreams are for the next chapter in his life. ;)
Tanya has been doing great in school and thriving on her tennis team! She is on the varsity team and loving every minute. She is also taking driver's ed courses and received her Driving Permit (like Dima)... yes we have two teens driving in the house! yikes. She is truly a delight and we are learning more and more about her talented little self each and every day.
Victor has joined the FFA (Future Farmers of America) and loves it! At the moment he has 8 chickens that he is caring for and doing a fabulous job! He is also working at McDonald's once a week through a school program and loves the free ice cream associated with his efforts. On the 23rd of this month he will be turning 20! Per his request, we will all be celebrating at the local roller skating rink. ;)
Roxy, the Jack Russell Terrier joined the family this past month and has brought lots of energy to the home. Simba, Pika and Captain are still all trying to get used to her, but we think she will soon be accepted by all.
Love you all! We will keep you posted as things progress.