Thursday, April 30, 2009

Adoption Update

Several of you have asked what's on the horizon with adoption for us. I wish I had something specific to give you, but I don't. We still very much feel as though God is calling us to this again. And strangely, even though we don't see a direct path to one particular child, we have a peace that God will work out the details in His timing. I was thinking today that Sophia really opened our hearts to adopting an older child and Sophia #2 opened our hearts to adopting a child with a disability. So while we don't have a face and a name, we are still moving in the same direction.

Last week, the amazing Christine wrote on her blog about our family's desire to adopt again and encouraged her readers to partner with us to that end. I was humbled for several reasons. We love and respect Christine and John who have adopted several children, some with disabilities, and who have encouraged and instructed us through their candid adoption writing. But the most remarkable thing is, the Reeds are in the process of adopting again, and as such, are also attempting to raise the funds for that adoption. Robert and I were discussing the fact that God doesn't have limited funds and when we understand that, we cease from being "territorial". The adoption process is so uncertain, often the only area we feel like we have some input and control over is the financial side. To divert attention away from their own adoption shows a real understanding of their role in the process. God provides every penny of this uncertain journey and you can't use up the resources of the One Who Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills. It's a beautiful thing to see and embrace. I hope our journey through this next adoption will be one of renewal, growth, and profound trust - the very thing we have seen exhibited in the Reed Family.

So let me divert your attention here for one more moment. Our friends the Fumias and the Hoffmanns are adopting children from our Kristina's class. We were thrilled to hear that they both received their SDA appointments today. We were even more thrilled to know that they will be arriving in Ukraine at the same time because their appointments are on the same day - May 18th! Amazing! What a gift to have one another as they go through this process. What both families lack are the funds to complete their adoptions. So I'm beseeching the tiny audience we have here at The Landrum's Blog to prayerfully consider helping them. Can you contribute financially? Pray, fast for these families? There is no small sacrifice you can make on their behalf or on the behalf of the three children they will bring home. Consider the eternal investment you will be making in the lives of these particular orphans. While we can't give you a name or a face for the child who will be our child, we can give you these names and these faces: Greisha, Elaine, and Lisa. Three orphans who will be claimed by families who will couch them in the redeeming love of Christ.

The Fumias have a PayPal donation button on their blog and the Hoffmanns are collecting funds at any Wells Fargo bank using the account name "Hoffmann Ukraine Adoption Fund" and the last four digits of the account number, 3692, for verification. (Be certain the teller spells Hoffmann with 2 n's.) They are also set up to receive funds through PayPal at

Thank you for believing that God will provide and for being part of that provision.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fruits of Our Labor

Saturday my dad and I decided to take a walk to pick briar berries or black berries off the side of the road in the bushes and near barbed wired fences. We took a bowl and we filled it up to the very top. It all took about two hours to fill it to the top. My dad said he used to pick berries with his grandma when he was a boy. When we got back we were exhausted from the two mile trip picking berries and getting pricked by its thorns. After we drank about three glasses of water we decided to make a pie with the berries. I mixed in some sugar, cinnamon, and flour and then poured it into the pie crusts. When it was done some of the filling dripped out and I couldn't resist tasting it. It was very sweet despite the fact it was organic and home made. When it was time to cut the pie we ate it with vanilla ice cream and it was the best pie in the world! I had fun picking berries and walking with my dad.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Being a Faithful Servant

Sunday night we had the opportunity to speak on orphan ministry at another church. We shared our video "Orphans of Ukraine" (first video in the sidebar) and again saw God move on the hearts of His people. While I'm not an eloquent speaker, I am becoming more and more comfortable with the role. Our goal in doing these presentations is two fold: to raise orphan awareness and to provoke local churches to begin their own orphan ministry. Inevitably people heart brokenly respond: I didn't know! That's the first part of the equation - awareness. But it is not enough. All it takes is one person in the congregation (hopefully more) to take the next step.

Our desire isn't that we would merely show up and gather money for orphan ministry. We want to give Christians avenues for which THEY in turn can minister. That might mean creating an adoption fund in their own church to help families shoulder the burden of the financial demands of adoption. It may mean connecting them with a missionary who works with orphans or adopting an orphanage to support. It may mean encouraging them to rally around a family spiritually and financially who is pursing adoption. Perhaps several families in the church would consider hosting orphans or even adopting themselves. The beautiful thing about these speaking opportunities is that orphan ministry looks different in each church! God isn't necessarily calling each congregation to the same action. There are so many possibilities and so many ways to practically live out orphan ministry!

Many people feel that because they can't make a trip to an orphanage overseas or because they're currently unable to adopt they're disqualified from participating in this mercy ministry. But nothing could be further from the truth!!! God has placed us in the position we are currently in and equipped us in a unique way to reach out according to our gifts and talents. Consider Jesus' Parable of the Talents:

For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.

In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.

But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.'

His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.'

His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.

'And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'

But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.

'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.

'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.'

For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.

Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Did you notice that the last servant blamed his master for why he didn't use his talent??? I have heard some say, "We just don't have the money to contribute to (our own or another) adoption." "We can't travel to Eastern Europe for a mission trip. I have work, family, etc." Instead of looking at what we CAN'T do, why don't we focus on what we CAN do. God has given us exactly what we need to minister to those in need. It is He who provides our income and manages our time. Do we use what He has given us or grumble because we don't feel it's enough??? Can we commit to praying for an adopting family? Fervently praying? Would you consider fasting for a day and pleading with God to work on their behalf? What would that cost us? There is so much that can be done.

If you are here reading this post, it isn't by chance. Many of you are here because you helped bring Kristina here or because you yourself have adopted or are in the process. Some of you may have stumbled upon us because of a Google search or through another blog, but it is no accident that you're here. God is calling all of His people to orphan ministry. I want to encourage those of you reading this to seek God in how you can be involved. Speak to the leadership in your church about beginning an orphan ministry. Not sure what to say? We'd be happy to come and stand beside you to share the needs of children around the world. Looking for a missionary to support? We can point you in the right direction! Feel led to come along side a family and pray for/support them through an adoption? May I point you to the Reeds, the Fumias, the Hoffmans, and others?

We have had two other requests to speak at chuches this week alone. And while my nerves always get the best of me, I know that I must come forward and speak. I'd ask you to consider the words of Theodore Roosevelt:

In any moment of decision,

the best thing you can do is the right thing,

the next best thing is the wrong thing,

and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who's Bo?

I once had a dog named Bo. I have heard of a singer named Bo. And now there is a mysterious and stinky person that goes by the name of "Bo". Well, not really.

Our car is shrinking! Or maybe its the kids that are growing. Whatever the case, we have a bit of a problem. There are seven mouths, fourteen armpits, fourteen feet, and seven--well you know what! All of which, if not properly maintained, emit certain foul smells. Crammed into the car the other day, I pointed out that someone forgot to put deoderant on and how with all of us on top of one another for our commute each day, everyone needs to be really conscious about B.O. Well this talk about "B.O." eventually led our confused Joshua to a point of frustration at which time he intensely exclaimed, "Who is this Bo anyways???"

This brings to mind another time that a not so pleasant fragrance filled the car. Someone ran over a skunk on the highway. Kristina had never heard of or smelled a skunk before. So she shouts, "Ew! What's that smell?" "It's a skunk," Leslie explained and followed up with a lesson on how skunks use this odor to protect themselves and scare away predators. Kristina contemplated this for a few moments, quickly covered her mouth and nose with her shirt, and asked, "Do they kill with it? Can it kill you?" Leslie explained that though the smell might make you want to die, there's nothing lethal about it.

You know, there are a few things that parents just shouldn't have to hear, such as: "Don't put your athletes foot on me! (It wasn't athletes foot but medicine for a corn problem on one of the boys' feet by the way.) "Put your tooth away. It stinks!" (This being in the context of someone loosing the last of their baby teeth.) And (after correcting the B.O. problem), "Here smell my pits now!" This is simply not an option. Neither is "Smell my breath." One only makes these mistakes once. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


"We're going to be late! Where's Daddy? Samuel, get in the car!" All my fussing didn't seem to make anyone move any faster. "Mama, can I take a picture with my sunglasses on?" Kristina asked from the backseat. "Sure. Sure," I agreed absently. I told her we were going to the park to take pictures. But the truth was, we weren't going to the park for a photo shoot.

I knew she'd believe the setup because I always have a camera in my hand. She wouldn't be suspicious at all. We spent the morning straightening her very curly hair with the flat iron. She settled on jeans and a favorite t-shirt. She checked her look in the mirror a hundred times before we finally got the boys loaded up in the car.

When Robert finally came out to the car, he asked, "Is the camera battery charged? You know you're going to want to take at least a few pictures." I glanced quickly in the rear view mirror, but she hadn't heard. She was searching for a song on her MP3 player. "You are going to spoil the surprise!" I protested, "Not another word until we get there! And no I didn't charge the camera battery; it's already charged." I would later learn that the battery was not charged. Something Robert is still teasing me about four days later.

When we finally made it to the park, the other vehicle was pulling in just ahead of us. I scrambled out of the driver's seat and grabbed the camera. Kristina climbed out, but went around the other side and was preoccupied with her siblings. "Kristina, where'd you go? Come here!"

When she walked back around the car she saw her. "Karina!" Even though she was wearing her sunglasses, I could tell she wanted to cry. The last time she had wrapped her arms around this girl, she was gathering her few belongings at the orphanage and saying goodbye, believing she would never see her best friend again. It had been 16 months, but they stood wrapped joyfully in each others' arms once more. They giggled at their attempt to speak in Russian and English before settling on Russian.

What are the odds? What are the odds that two American families who had never met would adopt two Ukrainian girls from the same orphanage, best friends at that, and that those two families would live two hours apart? What are the odds that the moms of both these girls would later learn they had grown up not 15 miles from each other? Some might call it chance, or fate, or serendipity. We in Reformed circles have another word for it.

As many things with Kristina have been, this experience taught us that things are not always as they appear. We thought we were reconnecting our daughter with an old friend, but in fact it was she who would connect us with amazing new friends. We felt an immediate connection to Karina's family. We saw so much of us in them and were pleased at the easy conversation and shared experiences. Our children (three boys and two girls) and their children (three boys and two girls) chased each other around the playground and pushed each other on the swings while we chatted. They spoke of their impending departure for the mission field and passion for mercy ministry and we found ourselves leaning closer to hear more. We have prayed and asked God to show us where we could serve in mercy ministry on the mission field. We were encouraged by their joy and vision and haven't ceased to speak about the impact their words had on us and on our future.

Our families met up again on Easter Sunday morning and worshipped together. Karina and Kristina compared dresses in the parking lot of the church and then snuggled into a pew, side by side, whispering and laughing until the services began. I marveled at the picture of them sharing a hymnal, singing praises to God. What are the odds? How good is our God?

Kristina & Karina when I first met them in 2006

Kristina & Karina during our 2007 adoption

Karina & Kristina reunited 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not for the Faint of Heart!

Leaving the hospital after surgery.

I distinctly remember going for the sonogram that would tell me the sex of the twin babies I was carrying. Although I preferred if our first child was a boy, I was sure it would be two girls. Girls were easier. (Yes, I now know that is NOT true and a whole other post!) When the doctor revealed that we were most definitely having two boys, I was in shock. I walked into the waiting room and said, "Boys? What am I going to do with boys? I don't know what to do with boys!" Boys picked up creepy crawling things, they got dirty, and they broke things. Sometimes even themselves! Let me just say how thankful I am that this has not been the pattern of the last fourteen years with my boys. However, a few weeks ago . . .

The orthopedic surgeon said it was a bad break, a really bad break. When the surgery was said and done, a permanent metal screw and three temporary metal pins had been inserted into the bones of Nathanael's right arm. The surgeon indicated that the temporary metal pins needed to be removed by this week, so we were relieved to find a orthopedic specialist who could do it locally. I was in admin meetings all afternoon and was secretly relieved that I wouldn't have to accompany Robert to the doctor's office for the procedure. Robert was with Nathanael when he went for his post-op appointment a few weeks ago and had the surgical bandages removed and a cast fitted. He said it wasn't pretty and I should be glad I wasn't there to see the metal pins protruding from Nathanael's arm.

Our understanding was that removing the pins would be a fairly simple, in office procedure. The doctor sawed the cast off and they got a good look at how things healed over the past few weeks. The three inch incision from the screw placement was pronounced and pink, but healing well. The sight of the metal pins was a little much for Nathanael who became obviously bothered by the sight. When Robert showed me the pictures, I understood his reaction. It looked like something out of a horror movie. Only one of the three pins slid out easily. The other two took some twisting and tugging (gag). He was relieved to have it done and over with. The arm is still very fragile, but the doctor indicated it was best not to recast it because they were concerned he wouldn't be able to regain movement if he didn't start moving it soon. He will have to be very careful for awhile. There's a real possibility he could re-break it, and that would be a major surgery.

Let me preface this by saying that the following pics may be too much for some.

I warned you!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring Break (no pun intended) Recap

Though Nathanael breaking his arm was the defining moment of our Spring Break, it was far from the only thing we did. I posted about our Sunday trip to Cocoa Beach to watch the shuttle launch, but I didn't manage to post about our second beach trip to Sanibel and Captiva Island.

Sanibel is the number one shelling beach in the world. We left extra early for the five hour drive and made our way to powder white beaches and gentle surf of the Western Coast of Florida on Tuesday. The kids spent much of the day crouched in this position studying remarkable shells.

I settled into my favorite beach chair with a book while the kids brought their favorite picks and made small piles at my feet. Hannah took a break from shell hunting to delve into her current read. Kristina tempted seagulls to inch closer and closer with small bits of left over Sun Chips from lunch. The boys wandered the strip of sand tossing the football.

We didn't manage to make it to the biking trail, but we did ride to the State park near our house and walk the park trails. My college girls came over for movie night and we went to Kobe for dinner. I had coffee with dear friends and attended class with Robert at RTS. Robert is taking class with Steve Brown this semester and he insisted I tag along. The class is titled Radical Grace and it was absolutely amazing. I have always enjoyed Steve Brown's preaching, but sitting in class was a whole other experience. The rest of the week was spent hanging out with neighborhood friends and church activities. Robert and Josh managed to squeeze in a visit to a favorite fishing spot near the end of week.

Thank you for the concerned emails about Nathanael. He is on the mend. The surgeon put a permanent screw and three temporary metal pins in his arm. He had his post op follow up about a week ago and had his arm cast. He'll go back in two weeks to have the pins remove and possibly have the cast taken off for good. Because of the recovery time and follow up visits, we had to leave him in Florida with Robert. He has enjoyed having Robert all to himself and we have missed having him around. He and Samuel have never been apart for this long, and as a result they've been calling back and forth almost daily. Sam has been a bit underfoot lately, so I know he is missing his brother's companionship. Robert is coming in tomorrow with Nathanael. We're excited to have him back and love that we get a little extra time with Daddy too!


This is how I remember her in my mind's eye. Tiny, blonde, giggly. Our youngest daughter is growing up so fast. She'll be thirteen next month. I had her sit for me on the porch this morning so I could take a few photos. Later today, we headed downtown and walked through the historic district's annual street fair. I noticed her turn heads more than once. Of course, she's completely oblivious. It's a bit unsettling, but I knew she wouldn't stay little for long.