Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
Mother Teresa

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

DETERMINATION...AND CHOCOLATE AS THE PRIZE!

video

MEET KEELY

A QUILT,... UNIQUELY CONNECTED, WOVEN WITH INTRICATE CARE, THREADS OF A TAPESTRY,.. THESE RICH WORDS WE USE TO DESCRIBE THE WONDER OF ADOPTION.

AND THOSE WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN TOUCHED BY ADOPTION OFTEN CONTINUE THAT JOURNEY OF WONDER , ALWAYS LOOKING BEHIND THEIR SHOULDER TO HELP A CHILD STILL WAITING...

AND SUCH WAS THE SITUATION WITH A DEAR READER WHO SUGGESTED THAT I CHECK INTO SEEING IF THERE MIGHT BE ANOTHER LITTLE GAL IN CHINA WITH QUYNH'S RARE DISEASE.

WITH CCAA's BLESSINGS, WE DID, AND MY HEART IS ABSOLUTELY JOYOUS TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ADVOCATE FOR HER...

MEET LITTLE KEELY...

AND PRAY WITH ME THAT SHE MIGHT FIND HER FOREVER HOME...QUYNH AND I ARE ON A MISSION TO HELP HER DO JUST THAT!











(please do not share her pictures outside of this site; and I can be contacted personally if you know of someone that is interested in knowing more about her. Thx!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

“Be still and know that I am God”


Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.
-St Thomas Aquinas

It reminds me to see the world poetically, with God’s love; it reminds me to see the world philosophically, with wonder at God’s creation and thirst to know more of Him.









THE FARM...AT DUSK...

“This benefit of seeing... can come only if you pause a while, extricate yourself from the maddening mob of quick impressions ceaselessly battering our lives, and look thoughtfully...” ~ Dorothea Lange








Thursday, April 22, 2010

JAMMIN', BEING REAL, AND THE PROM....

COULDN'T LOVE THIS MORE...BIG BROTHER JAMMIN' WITH LITTLE SISSES ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON...

==CAN'T EVER CAPTURE ALL THE CRAZINESS, FUN, EMOTION, AND LOVE THAT HAPPENS WHEN BIG BROTHERS HANG WITH THE YOUNGER ONES...BUT LET'S SAY--IT JUST SENDS MY METOR O' HAPPINESS OVER THE TOP!





AND OUR LITTLE FREE SPIRIT HIPPIE GAL WOULD NOT DREAM OF MISSIN' OUT.






WHAT GREAT THINGS WE ARE LEARNING FROM TV...GOOD SKILLS FOR REAL LIFE!!



WITH KYLIE IN THE LEAD...THEY WERE UP TO SOMETHIN'...AND I STILL DON'T KNOW QUITE WHAT--

THERE WAS ALLOT OF GOOFY GIGGLIN' AND PLOTTIN' GOING ON....THE RESULT MAY YET TO BE SEEN!




BUT, ON YEAH...THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND WAS...THE PROM.

AND THEY..WELL... JUST PLAIN HAD FUN,

JUST LIKE YOU SHOULD FOR YOUR HIGH SCHOOL PROM, PUMPED THAT YOU ARE ALMOST "DONE", AND HAVING FUN HANGING WITH YOUR BEST FRIENDS.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BEAUTY OF A DAY...AND A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS...

Starting with--Pajamaed mamma on the front porch trying to "capture" the sunrise. Success!




and an hour break in my afternoon to peek and observe my little love dancer in all her intensity. It was rich...



and worth every slowed down moment...



Then...capping the afternoon--the horse farm, where I turn into mush and live my "pretend" life as a famous horsewoman.




...and I bask in the sunlight as Jacob drives the Kubota handily, and finds his groove in this beautiful world of grand animals.







It's just... well...like a wonderful retreat for my soul...

Peaceful...


and perceptive.



Good things happen when I am around horses...



But, Oh,(sigh), then its time to head home for carpool, and dinner, and homework and gym, and more carpool, and bedtime talks, and our evening work,... cause that's real life.


Welcoming us home is our tree...




We've nursed this lovely dogwood from its infancy, and it is now gloriously framing our house for us with its soft blossoms...drawing us to our porch for frequent swings and hanging out.

What a Beautiful Day...and promises of more tomorrow.

So blessed,
Carol

Monday, April 19, 2010

KTS

I have been privileged to become a part of a yahoo group for families affected by KTS., as well as some other similar diseases.

One dear mom shared this you tube video. Michael has been so brave to share his story. It is the best explanation of KTS that I have seen, but is somewhat graphic. Thank you, Michael and family, for being so real and honest.

We are so thankful that Quynh's disease has not seemed to affect her internal organs as it did for Michael, but the presentation of their cases is similar. We admire him and wish him the very best.

It again AMAZES me that Quynh has almost zero complications from this disease, and rarely ever seems to experience pain or discomfort. When she does, it is easily relieved with OTC helpers. We are also blessed that she has never had an infection related to KTS.


I want to add these comments from the mom that shared this video with our yahoo group...


A few weeks ago there was a special on National Geographic about Michael, a 16
year old with Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome. Below are the links to the U-Tube of
his story. I am a member of the k-t.org support group and wanted to share this
here as well. Let me warn you, Michael's is an extreme case and is a little
graphic.





Thank you to Michael and his family, and for the networking of people who care...so that we can all learn more about this rare disease and how we can help each other. If you choose not to see the video (which is absolutely ok), please join in lifting a prayer for Michael and his family. I admire them much!

blessed, Carol



Saturday, April 17, 2010

CS LEWIS

You can find his books all over our house...with the tenants of wisdom that have crossed the decades embedded in them--

Worn, cover-missing, edge curled versions of the "Chronicles of Narnia" reside next to the new, beautifully crafted and illustrated hard back versions.

Lewis's poignantly told love story bears some tear stains , branded on a few gripping, but delicate pages.

And, a favorite... The Screwtape Letters, is well marked up and underlined in all colors , having been loved with hands of all sizes, as it has been read and re-read by each of us.

So, a remark from one of his books seems especially appropriate when I am lacking in words to express thoughts...and for some reason, that fit this week.

Its been a week of priority shifting, and goal making, and planning, thinking...and reflecting.

And while I've done those things, the not so pleasant thoughts that go with those "forward thinking spurts" started to creep in...and I listened...

Like the reminders to me of my impatience,
of the things I wish I had said, and the one I regret that I DID say.
Mistakes, missed moments,
the things I feel sad about,
Loved ones that need an apology from me...
Events and people that I need to forgive,... and I need to ask forgiveness of.
Some big stuff, allot of little stuff.
Stuff I need to let go of, and stuff I need to do something about.

And,... With gut honesty, I made a promise to myself, and asked our Loving Father God to help me do just those things, those things above that need my attention...
I asked Him with His kind grace to guide me.

Because, it matters...

and I don't want to waste a moment ...

"The difference [God's] timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite."

--Letters (1 August 1949)


HOW REFRESHING IT IS TO RELINQUISH ALL TO HIM, ASK HIM TO FORGIVE AND RENEW ME...ONCE AGAIN. BECAUSE HE NEVER GROWS WEARY OF DOING JUST THAT ...



yes, i caught a double rainbow!







Along with the reflecting I've been doin', allot of "doing" has been happening---and we are Enjoying Life!

WITH CUDDLY MORNINGS...



AND WATCHING QUYNH DISCOVER WHAT SHE CAN DO WITH HER "UNIQUENESSES".



WITH HAVING TEA PARTIES WITH THE GRANDEST OF GUESTS





WITH WILD HAIR DAYS, WISHING AND BLOWING, AND WALKING OUR DOGGIES IN THE SUNSHINE...






AND THE PROM TONIGHT...WITH HINTS AND PROMISES OF MANY NEW PICTURES AND MEMORIES BEING MADE...

Love from our house...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Couldn't resist sending this one of Kimber...

This is kinda what the week has held, it's been a little sour... But we are determined to pull every bit of sweetness out of it that we can. God is good, All the time.

Blessings from our house...more soon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

REMEMBERING...AND THANKFUL


MANY HAVE ASKED IF WE WOULD SHARE AGAIN THE MIRACULOUS STORY OF HOW QUYNH JOINED OUR FAMILY. TWO YEARS AGO, MARVIN WROTE THIS BEAUTIFUL SYNOPSIS OF HER LIFE UP TO THAT POINT.

HAVING NOW LIVED A FEW OF NEXT CHAPTERS , I AM AGAIN "SENT TO MY CHILL BUMP PLACE" , AND TO A NEW LEVEL OF GRATEFULNESS, AS I MARVEL AT ALL HE HAS DONE IN HER LIFE AND OURS.







ORIGINAL MESSAGE FOLLOWS .THIS WAS ORIGINALLY SENT ABOUT THIS TIME IN APRIL TWO YEARS AGO.


Dear Friends (and soon to be friends) of Quynh,

WE ARE WRITING TODAY TO TELL YOU ABOUT QUYNH (THAT’S HER IN THE PHOTO.)



THESE ARE TWO OF OUR FIRST PHOTOS OF QUYNH. SHE HAD JUST BEEN STABILIZED AND WAS 3 DAYS OLD.
God has placed this lovely Vietnamese baby girl into our care. She has captured our hearts and she will capture yours! If you haven’t heard her miraculous story yet, then keep reading to see yet another example of God’s amazing grace.

YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY HEARD QUYNH’S STORY AND HAVE BEEN PRAYING FOR HER. IF SO, WE ARE WRITING TO UPDATE YOU ON HER FANTASTIC PROGRESS! You may already know all about this precious little girl and you may have already been praying for her and sharing her story with others and helping us with her medical expenses and IF SO, WE WISH TO EXTEND OUR DEEPEST APPRECIATION.. Quynh is a wonderful blessing to everyone she meets. God has been so good and He has already used many dear friends to show His love for sweet Quynh.

MORE ON THIS IN A MINUTE, BUT FIRST, LET ME SHARE HER AMAZING JOURNEY SO FAR…


We estimate that Quynh was born on June 22, 2007. Within a few hours of her birth, this precious baby girl, was left beside a road in the Vietnamese province where VCI does most of our adoption and humanitarian work. Our Vietnam director was called and we took her into our care immediately.

Because she was abandoned, the director of the Quynh Luu District Hospital named her by inverting the name of the political district where she was found and adding the common middle name “Thi”. So her name became Luu Thi Quynh. Since then, everyone has simply been calling her Quynh (pronounced "Quinn".)

But how to solve her MEDICAL MYSTERY? Every hospital and clinic in the district and the province and even in Hanoi was stumped by her condition and clueless about solutions. As you can see in the picture, her legs are very large and purple and bumpy. One leg is shorter and her foot did not form, while the other foot and toes are unfortunately quite deformed and are many times larger than normal. What the picture doesn’t reveal is that she was (and still is) very prone to bleed without warning. Several doctors thought she had gangrene or some other immediately life-threatening condition and proposed amputating both legs! We’ve since learned that amputation would have been the worst choice!

While she was still in Vietnam and we were working for her rescue literally day and night, she was repeatedly transferred from hospital to hospital for evaluation. We were constantly concerned about the poor conditions and lack of attention she received. So VCI hired a full-time person to stay with her 24/7 in the hospitals since they were crowded and nursing care was minimal. For example, at the National Pediatric Hospital, Quynh shared a room with four other children, each with significant infectious diseases.

During this time God did an amazing thing which showed us that He was holding Quynh’s little life in His hand and that He has a wonderful plan for her life. At the same time that Quynh was hospitalized in Hanoi and we were trying everything we could to persuade the American Embassy to grant her a temporary visa, a VCI adopting family arrived in Hanoi to get the visa for their newly adopted daughter, Da. Ryan and Linn O’Keefe (and Da) were delayed for several weeks by the Embassy. As they waited, they took the opportunity to visit Quynh in the hospital and were so taken by her and bothered by the hospital conditions that they actually brought Quynh and the caregiver back to the Daewoo Hotel and provided a room for them there! Ryan even took Quynh on her trips to doctors and helped us fight for her visa. In God’s perfect timing, Da’s visa was approved the same week that Quynh’s visa was granted! Then Ryan and Da actually escorted Quynh with them to Florida and a week later to Arkansas to bring her to us!

Quynh has a condition so rare that less than 1000 cases are known worldwide!

She has Klippel-Trenawney Syndrome (KTS), which affects her vascular and lymphatic systems producing discolored swelling and "malformations" on both legs. From the waist up she is a beautiful, normal, happy, smart baby girl; from the waist down she looks like she must be suffering from horrible pain and you can't imagine her ever walking. Everything we read prior to her arrival suggested that she would be in significant pain. However, her doctors and we are discovering that she is NOT experiencing pain, and we are all very confident that she WILL walk!

Because KTS is such an unusual condition, no treatment was available anywhere in Vietnam or in any other country but America. We learned that, even in America, only a handful of doctors/hospitals treat her condition. God’s plans and purposes were evident again when we discovered that one of the leading specialists in Quynh’s condition is Dr. Lisa Buckmiller (in the red sweater) at our own Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). Carol and Quynh spent two weeks with Dr. Buckmiller and her team for MRIs, evaluations, blood tests, and Quynh’s first laser treatments.

As yet another example of God’s grace, Carol was joined in Little Rock by a wonderful new friend of Quynh, Jina Vick. Jina is a Nurse Practitioner from New Mexico who read about Quynh on the internet and began praying, donating, and encouraging us via emails during the months we struggled to get Quynh’s visa. When she heard that Carol had to stay alone with Quynh at a hotel for two weeks in Little Rock, Jina dropped everything, flew to Arkansas to meet Carol and Quynh, and stayed with them, helping care for Quynh, all at her own expense! Isn’t God amazing!! (Thanks Jina!)

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THIS LITTLE GIFT FROM GOD?

Carol and Marvin (founders of VCI) have been Quynh’s temporary guardians during the few months she has been in the USA undergoing testing and treatment. During this time we have asked the Lord to lead us to the family He has chosen to adopt Quynh and gently lead her in the ways of God. He has graciously led us to adopt her ourselves! That wasn’t what we expected God to do in the beginning, but we feel blessed to have the privilege. Since many of us have known her as Quynh for these past eight months, we have chosen to give her the name Kinsey Quynh Harlan, but continue to call her Quynh. For those who are interested, the name Kinsey means The King’s Victory; Quynh means Night-blooming Flower.

THE JOURNEY IS JUST BEGINNING FOR QUYNH. Carol and I have nine children and are directing a ministry of international adoption and compassionate aid. It is easy to feel overwhelmed at all God is doing! We see more clearly than ever that we need the ongoing love and support of the body of Christ.

As HE does so often, God is sweeping us off our feet and carrying us along in amazing adventure that is HIS will for our lives! None of us can begin to fathom the depths of HIS love and breadth of HIS plans and purposes for HIS children and HIS creation!

HE is doing big things; HE has brought us into HIS plans; and we hope you will pray about whether GOD may want to bring you in on it also...


Thank you for praying, giving, caring, and being a part of Quynh's adventurous (!) life.

Gratefully,

Marvin and Carol Harlan and family

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"FOR I KNOW..

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
... the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."



I LOVE THESE PICTURES. AT THE TIME TAKEN, THEY SCRIBED THEMSELVES AS A BEAUTIFUL VISUAL PICTURE OF THE "WIDOW AND THE ORPHAN". AND, IN TECHNICAL TERMS, THEY WERE.

BUT OH...THEY WERE SO MUCH MORE THEN, AND THAT WAS JUST THE VERY BEGINNING...


AS WE CELEBRATE THE ADOPTION MONTH OF OUR BEAUTIFUL KINSEY QUYNH HARLAN, WE SIMPLY AND HUMBLY THANK HIM...THAT HE CHOSE TO GIFT US WITH HER.

... AND REJOICE IN OUR MANY YEARS' ADOPTION OF "GREAT GRANDMA, MISS MARY."

MAYBE YOU CAN SEE IT JUST A BIT IN THE PHOTOS...IF YOU LOOK REALLY CLOSELY--

THEIR HEARTS ARE LINKED...
AND THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY TWO OF A KIND,
BRINGING SPUNK, WIT, COURAGE, AND INCREDIBLE LOVE BLESSINGS TO US EVERY DAY.

HAPPY ADOPTION, LADIES...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TREASURING THE RHYTHM...



I COUNTED THEM TODAY.

SINCE JANUARY 1, WE HAVE HAD OVER 8 MAJOR EVENT AND FAMILY CELEBRATIONS.

FEBRUARY AND MARCH CARRY MORE THAN THEIR PERCENTAGE ALLOTMENT OF BIRTHDAYS.

... AND
EACH HOLIDAY, WITH ITS UNIQUE SPECIALNESS', HAS BEEN CELEBRATED TO OVERFLOWING.

TOSS IN A FEW HANDFULS OF MINI-CRISES, AND A PINCH OF CHAOS, AND ...WE'RE LIVIN' LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND BEYOND...

FOR THAT. I AM HAPPY, AND CONTENT,

... AND TIRED!!


'CAUSE I RUN BEST ON THE METRONOME OF ROUTINE,

AND TODAY...

I AM THANKFUL FOR JUST THAT,

THE ORDINARY, BUT "SOMEWHAT" PREDICTABLE RHYTHM OF OUR BIG, BUSTLING FAMILY.


A FRIEND SENT THIS TO ME, AND I THOUGHT IT SO REAL... AND IMPORTANT, ...AND HONEST, I WANTED TO SHARE.

THANK YOU, DEAR FRIEND, FOR THE REMINDER OF THE BEAUTY OF THE ORDINARY.


MAY WE TREASURE IT ALWAYS.



An 83 year old mother has a yellowed, curled clipping stuck to her bathroom mirror with the following quotation:

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day, I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return."






Monday, April 5, 2010

"DO FEW THINGS IN EXCESS, 'CEPT LOVE...AND MAYBE EASTER...."

BECAUSE...


HATS ARE SUCH A FLEETING, BUT FUN ACCESSORY...





SOMEHOW, MAYBE, LICKS OF ICE CREAM CAN BE AN AFTER EASTER SERVICE TRADITION!



....THE EGG, GARMENT, AND ASSORTED OBJECT "DYEING" IS SO INTRIGING...ESPECIALLY WITH THAT WHIMSICAL, WOBBLY LITTLE EGG HOOK THING...
...EASTER DINNER HAS BEEN COOKING SINCE 7 AM AND THE BRISKET IS OH SO "OVER THE TOP PLENTIFUL" AND THE MASHED TATORS WILL SEND YOU ON A "CARB EXPERIENCE" SAYS BROTHER, BUT,"I PREFER YOGURT."


THERE'S SOMETHING MAGICAL TO ME ABOUT DRESSING UP WITH YOUR SISSES AND LOVIN' LITTLE QUILTED BUNNIES.


BUT THE BEST PART...IS IN THE HUNT...

THE EGG HIDING BROTHERS AND SIS, (AKA...THE BUNNY), LIKE TO DO IT THIS WAY...





BUT IT MUST DONE WITH GUSTO!





AND PURE ABANDONED DELIGHT.



GOOD FRIEND SNUGGLES ARE THE PERFECT WRAP UP TO THIS EXRA-Y SPECIAL DAY