Monday, December 30, 2013

A letter for Renzo

* Nota del autor: Esta Navidad mi  primo se quedó con nosotros. Ella encantaba ser preguntado qué vacas decir, y al instante me hizo recordar "La Vaca Luluz". Un día le dije a ella: "Como hacemos Las Vacas?" "Las Vacas no hacemos meow." Jeje ... Todavía tengo partes del libro memorizados. :) *

*Author's note: This Christmas my baby cousin stayed with us. She loved being asked what cows say, and it instantly made me remember "La Vaca Luluz". One day I said to her, "Como hacemos las vacas? Las vacas no hacemos meow." Hehe...I still have parts of it memorized. :)*

 Dear Renzo,

After I stayed with your family for the first time in 2012, I spent the whole year longing to have you in my arms again. I was so excited to see you and your family again when I came back the next year! When the plane landed I was literally shaking with excitement. I couldn't believe I was finally back.

When your mom, Isabella, and I got to your house, you were outside. I was just as shocked by how much you had grown up as I was when I saw Isabella--you had changed so much over the course of a year! It was a moment of pure joy when I picked you up and held you in my arms for the first time in a year.

These are some of my favorite pictures of you! You and Isabella put on a little music show for me--she danced and you accompanied her on the saxophone. I think you both have a future as brother/sister musicians. :) 

Every moment with you was special. I loved sitting on my bed with you and Isabella and reading "La Vaca Luluz"...I loved drinking mate with you...and most of all, I loved being greeted with your precious hugs in the morning. 

One night your silly sister Isabella fell asleep in my bed. She was so peaceful and content, I wouldn't dare wake her up. So I slept in Nico's bed, with you asleep in your bed right next to me. I have a confession: I woke up a lot that night and rubbed your back while you slept. You looked like a little angel, and I wanted to soak up every moment watching you sleep. 

Those big, brown eyes just touch my heart. On my last day of the trip, I walked around church with you and told you how much I was going to miss you. Tears came to my eyes as I said that, and the way you looked at me I just knew you understood. 

Not too long after that moment came the time for host families to say goodbye. I held you in my lap as you ate crackers. Your dad got up to speak and I walked over to him, still holding you in my arms. He took you into his own arms and hugged us both as he gave a heartfelt speech. His words were the most beautiful gift to me. I burst into tears near the end, and as I did, you threw your arms around me. You blessed and comforted my heart in that moment. Thank you, my sweet hermano. 

You have a tender heart and always seem to know just when someone needs a hug. I know your bright smile will continue to bring hope everywhere you shine it! 

I feel so blessed to get to watch you grow up and see God's wonderful plan for your life unfold. I love you so so much, Renzito! :) Thank you for your love. 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." ~Joshua 1:9 

Love always and forever, 
Your sister Claire

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Join me?

Dear Readers,
If you've been reading for a while, you've heard me talk about my dear friend Becca before. You can learn more about her at her incredible blog, My Life as a Chronically Ill Young Adult

Today, though, I'm asking you to please join me in prayer for my friend. She's in the hospital right now and could really use your love and prayers!

I'm giving you another link to her blog here, just to make it that much easier for you to check out her blog ( maybe read a post or two or ten while you're there--I promise they're amazing), and then please say a prayer for Becca. 
You could even leave a comment sending her your love. (Hint, hint) 

Thank you, Readers. I appreciate your prayers for my sweet friend so very much!! 

My blog is going to stay quiet until she comes home. :) 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Merry Christmas to you and your dear ones!

Dear Readers,

My family and I got to spend Thanksgiving in New York City, and I wanted to share a bit of this special trip with you all. Here is a photo slide show! I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with so much joy...and pray your Christmas is delightful! Much love to you, my dear Readers!!

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

A letter for Nico

This is from last year...I can't believe how much you have grown
since then!
My sweet sister Nicoletta,

I smile every time I think about you. I wish I could give you a hug everyday. I miss you with all of my heart.  I am so thankful we are sisters and friends! 

Do you remember the first time I met you? You had just finished skating, and your dad was working on Vamos X Más. I really had no idea what was going on, to tell you the truth! I knew very little Spanish, and everyone around us was speaking it very rapidly. You were so sweet, though, acting as a little interpreter. I braided your hair and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. :) 
Since then you have asked me to fix your hair many times...and I have cherished doing it!  I also remember when you taught me the word for hair in Spanish--pelo. You have taught me so many words in Spanish...

This is from this year. I fixed your hair at the school! :) 
I still laugh thinking about when you taught me the word for pillow. I just couldn't pronounce it correctly!  Actually, I still struggle to pronounce it, and always say it kind of like this; "almohaaaaaada". Haha!

Another from last year..I love you this picture of you, Cami, and I!

I just found this one that you took today. I love it! :) 

Remember taking all these pictures? They make me laugh!
We took so many pictures this last trip...

amigas del alma <3 td="">
Thank you for loving me, Nico. I know I came to your house as a stranger to you, who barely spoke your language...but when I left we were family. That is the biggest blessing ever.

I can't wait for the day when I am back in your home...we will take many more pictures like this! :)
This is one of my favorites!

Nico, thank you for your smiles and laughter. 

Thank you for all of the sweet memories you have blessed me with. 

Thank you for being my sister!

I pray for you to know how special you are. You are such a gift and light to the world! I also pray for you to continue following the Lord and for Him to continue using you to touch people's lives. You have definitely touched my life!! You are so beautiful on the inside and outside.

You are so loved, dear girl. 

Much love and so many hugs,
 Your Sister Claire

Friday, October 18, 2013

Adding my voice

Dear Readers,

There are many blog posts, news articles, and books about special needs. My heart resonates with many of these articles. In fact, most of the blogs I follow are written by someone affected by disability. 

Yesterday, however, I read a blog post that my heart did not resonate with. It was written by a mother who has two sons, one of whom has Down Syndrome. She has recently published a book on her parenting journey with this child, and her other son asked if she would ever write one about him. She was quite frank that she would not be writing a book about her other child. Why? This is the reason she gave: 

So far, he has hit all the usual milestones. He makes friends easily, has quirky interests and is successful in school. I think he’s brilliant, charming and special. I also know that none of this makes for very good reading. The fact of the matter is that it is unlikely his turn will ever come. (source) (I took out the little boy's name to respect their privacy)

I completely understand her reasoning. Completely. I even agreed with some other points she made in her article. But as the 'other' sibling, the one without special needs, this paragraph hurt. More than that, her words made me want to cry. 

I want to cry for all  the typical siblings out there who think their story "doesn't make for very good reading". I want to cry because her words cut at some of my own insecurities. When I was little I felt as if I wasn't 'special' because I didn't have CP. Does that little boy feel 'not special' because he won't have a book written about him? 

Her words also made me want to write. I don't write much about this sibling thing, because, quite frankly, it's hard. It would be much easier to just not write about it. But if I don't share my own story, how can I prove to other siblings that their story is worth being told? I can't. 

So here I am.

First of all, this writer is wrong. Her other son's story is very much worth being told. His own personal journey with disability is something others could benefit from hearing. Brothers and sisters are affected by their sibling's disability just as much as parents are. 

But there are many other experiences, questions, and fears that come just with being the sibling.

"Why do I not have Cerebral Palsy?"  
I've left the hospital and cried because all I want is my mom back home with us. And then I've cried some more for how selfish I'm being when she needs to be in the hospital with my brother. 

Do you see what I'm trying to say? We are walking this journey right alongside our siblings and parents. 
We come out of those surgeries and struggles with our families. When our siblings come out from surgery able to sit up straighter or walk longer, we come out changed, too. 

Just as we share in the fears and questions, we share in the joy, as well. 

Those who abandon ship the first time it enters a storm miss the calm beyond. And the rougher the storms weathered together, the deeper and stronger real love grows. ~Ruth Bell Graham

We know what real, strong love is because that is the love we have for our families. Often we feel a fierce protectiveness for our siblings, whether we show it or not.

Our stories are worth being told simply because they are ours. A sibling doesn't have to go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, or find a cure for their sibling's disability, for their story to deserve being told. 

Dear siblings, please know you are so so special. Please know that your story is a beautiful one that the whole world needs to hear. And please never be ashamed of who you are, because you are perfect, and made just the way God intended you to be. 

Your life touches the life of your special needs sibling just as much as their life touches yours. You are their sibling for a reason. 

L to R: Me, Mason, Benjamin

When I got up, they fell over...:)

I wrote this post because I didn't want my voice to go unheard. I wrote it because I needed to hug that little boy who won't ever be getting a book written about him, but couldn't, so this is as close as I'll get. I guess I just wanted to convince you that his story, and therefore my story, are worth being told.

Thank you, kind Readers, for sticking with me to the end of this long post. Please know that YOUR story, whatever it may be, is worth being told. 

Your blogger, 

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Dear Readers,

Do you know what the Spanish word for 'smile' is?

It's 'sonrisa'. Don't you just love that? 
It makes me think of the English word 'sunrise'...which is so perfect because a smile really is just like a sunrise.
I want to do a post for each of my Argentine siblings, and thought I would start with Isabella.
So of course this post has to do with smiles. Because Isabella always has a smile on her face.

Dear Isabella,
I had so much fun with you while I was in your home! Thank you for welcoming me in and for showing me so much love! Even though it had been a year since you had last seen me, you were so precious to me. You are such a blessing.
We did so many fun things together that I am so thankful for. 

This is one of my favorite pictures. :) 
One of my favorite things we did together was reading "La vaca Luluz". You would get so excited about this book and were so patient with me when I didn't know how to pronounce the words! We laughed a lot over that book. 

You loved my suitcase. Some times you would lie down on it, and other times you would rummage through all the silly things I had inside. You found the Minnie Mouse I had for you! You were absolutely adorable--you gave out an excited shout and took Minnie with you everywhere you went from then on. 

You loved my camera! Once, you were upset, but when I pulled my camera out you immediately turned toward me and posed, a huge smile on your face. I have so many pictures of you!!

Isabella, you fill my heart with joy. I love you so much! 
 Thank you for loving everyone with all of your heart! Thank you for your hugs, kisses, and sweet laughter. I feel so blessed to get to watch you grow up, and I know the Lord is going to do (and is already doing!) amazing things through you. Keep smiling, beautiful girl! 

 Your sister Claire :) 

I hope you, my readers, have a wonderful week...and I hope you find a reason to smile as Isabella does! 
Your Blogger,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Four Little Lives

Dear Readers,
 Please take four minutes and watch this video.

Then look at the below children...all of whom are facing transfer to mental institutions like the one in the video.

Janna, facing imminent transfer to a mental institution

Marla, facing imminent transfer

Salome, facing imminent transfer
Jefferson, already transferred.

Now please take a moment to pray for these children. Please pray for their biological parents and the hurt they may be feeling. Please pray for these precious ones, pray for them to be filled with peace during this time. And please pray that adoptive families will come for them before they are transferred. 

Your Blogger,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Let's swap shoes.

Dear Teenagers,

 When I was little, I really struggled with making friends. Actually, I still struggle with making friends. But when I was little I would often get reduced to tears, asking my mom why I couldn't find good friends.

I know you've been there, too. People make careless comments that hurt. For some very sad reason, teenagers make a lot of careless comments.

For another reason unknown to me, teenagers like to make a lot of jokes about people with disabilities. My honest, totally ungrace-filled reaction is a combination of wanting to burst into tears and scream that person's head off.  I want to shove them in the shoes of someone with a disability so they realize it is not something to make jokes about. I want to force them to feel compassion.

Why do you feel the need to laugh about that kid walking down the hallway with a gait that might be different than yours?

Why do you make jokes about serious illnesses?

Why do you make careless Facebook statuses about disabilities?

And why do you "like" those Facebook statues that are belittling another person?

I don't understand. But I've tried to put myself in your shoes. Can I try to understand you, and then try to help you understand me? Okay.

I think you may laugh because you are uncomfortable. You don't know what to do with your classmate, and so you make a joke to cover the awkwardness.

Maybe you don't know the meaning of the word "epilepsy" you use it as a teasing nickname unaware of what it really means, and how it affects people's lives.

Maybe you've never known anyone with a special need before, and so when you make these comments  you aren't doing them out of malice, but purely out of a desire to be funny...just not realizing the entirety of your statements.

Or maybe you really are trying to be hurtful.

I just don't know.

Let me try to explain how I feel to you, because I'm sure you are thinking that I am a crazy over-sensitive girl at this point.

 If you're making a joke about disabilities, I'm pretty sure you don't have a disability yourself. So you can't possibly imagine what it is like to have one.
You can't imagine what it is like for a Deaf person to spend years in therapy learning to speak.

You can't imagine what it is like to learn your way around your world without your sight to guide you.

I know you can't imagine what it is like to be in a wheelchair all the time.

You don't know how it feels to go into an operation unsure if you will live through it.

Can you imagine going through these things, and then having to hear people make cruel jokes? I can't.

Look, I am a teenager, too. So I understand how it is to goof off with your friends and not even notice who's listening. I realize, too, that this probably accounts for 80% of the rude comments teenagers make about disabilities.

But there may be a mom whose child was recently diagnosed with a disability sitting right next to you as you laugh about that kid in your school. And you, in that one, careless moment, have confirmed all of the fears she has for her precious little child.

Our words have consequences.

I'm writing this post out of a deep pain in my heart from so many comments that have been made around me even just over the past six months.

Please think through your words before you post them to Facebook. Don't make a joke merely because you don't understand. Think about how it might look to someone who is walking that journey.

Thumper from the Disney movie Bambi gives the greatest advice ever..."If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!"

Your Blogger,


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fa-la-la-la-la FALL!

Keep calm and enjoy FALL!

Dear Readers,
   As you can most likely tell from the picture...and my new blog background...I am so excited that fall is practically here! It is still very hot in our home state, but I have been wearing fall-colored shirts for the past three days. :) It is my absolute favorite time of year. 
    I love everything about fall. The colors, perfect weather, all things pumpkin, our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, Mississippi State football, soup, the anticipation of Christmas...plainly put, fall puts me in a good mood. :) 
    I haven't written a blogpost just about what's going on in our little corner of the world for a while, so I'll fill you in with a few of the happenings for us this fall. 
    School started this Monday. My favorite part, you ask? Most definitely Spanish. Me encanta español! My least favorite part: a tie between pre-calculus and American Government. We're taking Government and Economics this year. I am fascinated by Economics...but before we can take that, we have to do a semester  of Government. Bleh. We are starting to look at colleges. In fact, our first college visit is in September to a local Christian University. 

     My hair became nine inches shorter. I'm still getting used to it, but so so excited for those nine inches to be given to a much deserving woman or girl!  (note: see the fall colored shirt? ha!)

     I never posted about this one, either! We went to D-land for a couple of days before school started. Here we are after our tradition of riding River Rapids at night; returning to our room shivering! So fun.  
      Being that we are heading into a time of transition with college coming up, I'm finding that I'm just really content with where I am right now. Yes, I would love love love to be done with pre-calculus...but I'm really thankful to be here right now. A junior in high school. Homeschooled. It's a good place to be. I don't know where God will take me in the next few years, but I think for now I am going to cherish every minute here

I hope you all have a wonderful fall, and that you are content with where you are; because we're right where God needs us to be.

Your Blogger,



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

For Kyle.

Sweet baby Kyle. Look at those eyes! They seem to pierce your soul, don't they? 
This picture was taken several years ago when Kyle was still living in his baby house.

Since then, he has been transferred to a mental institution. 

Do you recognize this boy? Still the same soulful, beautiful eyes...
Only in this picture his face is marred with gashes. 

These pictures hurt my heart, and I almost didn't share them because it is just too sad. It is all too sad. 

Please pray for Kyle. I urgently ask you to pray for this precious little boy. 

Isaiah 54:10

Nothing I say will ever make this situation better. Kyle's country is closed to Americans, and so my family can't adopt him. Chances are yours probably can't either. (But if you are Canadian then by all means go rescue this boy!) But we can all pray. We can pray for comfort and peace for Kyle...we can pray for his caregivers to be moved to not just meet his most basic needs, but to love him. We can pray for him to palpably feel the Lord's love for him. 

Because that verse is true. Though the mountains shake...though life is ripped apart at the seams...the Lord's love is still with us. Nothing can remove His covenant of peace with us. He is moved to compassion for Kyle, for you. He doesn't sit by passively and watch us suffer--He cries with us when we cry and  counts our tears in His bottle. (Psalm 56:8) 

My dad once told me something that really impacted me. What if we look at life as merely five minutes. Yeah, sometimes those five minutes are excruciatingly painful. But they are only five minutes. We have an eternity of pure joy stretching before us...but first we have to get through these five minutes. 
Please pray for Kyle as he goes through these five minutes. 

Your Blogger,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Orphan Care

She laughed as I pulled her hair up into a ponytail for the third time. She wanted it to match her friend's hair, but I just couldn't get it high enough. Or smooth enough. After finally getting it right, she pulled it out. Ha!

We just started walking around the orphanage that is home to so many precious kids. On seeing a ball, I  grabbed it and asked if she wanted to play. Of course she did. :) Soon we had a little group of four children playing, and she was laughing so hard she missed the ball almost every time. 

After a while a couple of girls wandered off, and soon Ana found the swings to be much more interesting than our three-person game of fútbol. I pushed her and her little friend for a while, before they decided to take me on a tour of their home. (Ah, the attention span of little kiddos)...

They pointed everything out to me, including the multiple video cameras stationed, and the gate that they pointedly showed me they were not allowed to go out of.  

Look at those pictures. See the adorable gap in her teeth? She is growing up, reaching milestones, learning new things--all without a family. 

I still can't believe I got to hold her in my arms. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to show those precious ones love...and so thankful for the love that they filled me with. I'll always cherish memories of my time with Ana, and the other sweet kiddos there.

Angelina is another precious little girl growing up without the love of a family. Look at this picture from 2011, and look at the below one from this year...

She is in the same exact bed. She has been living in that bed, waiting for her family, for six years. I have never met Angelina, but judging by her precious smile I would say she has the same spirit as little Ana (their names have been changed for privacy)

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings." ~Psalm 36:7

These pictures raise a lot of questions. Where are their families? Why are they living there? Why on earth haven't these beautiful girls been adopted yet? 

I don't have the answers to those questions, but I find comfort in that verse and the fact that I know God has a beautiful plan for their lives. I know He is holding them in the shadow of His wings. 

You don't have to travel the world over to show these children the love and comfort of the Father. Pray for these dear girls and the thousands of others like them around the world as they live out their days in government institutions. Pray for the families who are working to bring their child(ren) home through adoption. Pray for the ministries and their workers who are being Jesus' hands and feet and meeting these children! 

Thank you for reading. 
Your Blogger,

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Five things that are making me smile right now!

Dear Readers,
     I recently read a sweet blogpost by my friend Sarah over at Journeying with Him, and it inspired me to write one of my own. Her blogpost featured five things that she has been loving lately. Not only did I love hearing these, but the post caused me to think about how important it is to write down the things we are thankful for...and to thank Him who gave them to us! So I changed the title a bit so it wasn't a complete copycat post, ;), and settled down to think about my five.  Here they are:


We had a tea party at a little tea room with our dear friends last week. It was so lovely--beautiful china with little flowers dotting the edges, vintage decorations, and sweet cream, jam, and scones. My favorite part, though, was our hats. The day before the tea party we went to Target and picked out hats, and then to JoAnn's for ribbon and decorations. As you can see from the picture, Cate had a flower, feathers, and a little puff ball not dissimilar from the clover in Seussical. :) Mom and I got the same hat, which I loved because it reminded me of Anne's hat in Anne of Green Gables. Such a sweet time! 

2.) I was surprised with the opportunity to play the Fiddler in Moezart's Fiddler on the Roof! I had wanted to play in the orchestra but wasn't able to be at rehearsals, so it was the sweetest surprise to find out that not only would I play my violin in the show, but I would be the Fiddler! At first it was absolutely terrifying to sit on that roof (aka slanted board) and play, but now I love it. I love this show for so many takes place in Russia, the title character plays my favorite instrument, it's about Jewish culture...and it has wonderful music! It has been a fun two weeks. 

As I was getting ready to leave for my second Fiddler on the Roof rehearsal last week, I was having some serious butterflies thinking about getting back on that roof. As in, my hands shook thinking about it! And so I opened up my devotional and decided to read it before leaving for the night. And this was the verse that I read: "Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP 

What a gift that verse was! While I was on the roof that night (and every night since) I repeated that verse in my heart, reminding myself that I was safe up there, leaning on the Lord. And I prayed that He would give me strength to trust and be confident in Him...instead of relying on my own understanding that I was a little too high for comfort. :) 


Have you ever read the Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers? You should. I've only read the first two, but these two are so amazing. Absolutely amazing. The first two books are about a young woman named Hadassah. Her story begins in Jerusalem, but ends in Rome. These books really spoke to my heart about forgiveness. Hadassah forgives those who have done such horrible crimes against her with an attitude of "I have forgiven you, therefore the wrong act has completely left my mind for all eternity". As with Redeeming Love and A Lineage of Grace, I found that this book challenged me and encouraged me in my own faith. I can not recommend them enough times to you! Read them. 


Because its summer, we have had time to watch goofy TV shows merely for the sake of watching goofy TV shows. This has been my favorite. This show is about a guy who pays so much attention to the things going on around him that he keeps calling the cops letting them know who the criminal is in the case they're investigating. Finally they are going to arrest him because they think he has to be an accomplice, and in order to save himself from prison, he tells them that he is psychic. And thus begins his new career--he and his friend open up a psychic detective business, and each episode shows a case he has to solve. Laugh out loud hilariousness, folks. 

So there you have it! Five things that have made me smile over these past couple of weeks of summer. What things have made you smile lately??

Thank you, Sarah, for the great idea!! 

Your Blogger, 

Friday, July 19, 2013


Dear Readers,
     So many thoughts are going through my mind right now...
I just read a blog post about the horrible reality of institutions for people with special needs in Eastern Europe. As I think of beautiful Marcia, I shudder to think of the bruises and black eyes she might have, as the author of the post I read's daughter did. What kind of world do we live in that sends five year olds to a life sentence of imprisonment in an institution? Many children die after their first year in the institution. Marcia has been there for about a year, but I have reason to believe that she is still alive. 

This week Mason and I were blessed with the opportunity to volunteer with some of our friends at Vacation Bible School. I had a group of four kids, ages ranging from three to five years old. They were rambunctious and silly, and although I'm exhausted after it's over, I loved getting to shepherd them all week.  I want Marcia to be able to go to VBS, I want her to get to play and laugh. I want her to be in my MiniMoez class, dancing and singing. I want her to be able to go swimming and have her nails painted and wear princess dresses...

I want her to be a little girl, with all the joys my four little kids from VBS get to experience. 

I don't have a way to tie this up in a bow, because her story hasn't been tied up in a bow yet. But I do know that it will be. Someday she will be in Heaven with Jesus, and all of the pain she experienced on this earth will be forgotten. 

Well, I sat down to write a completely different post than I ended up writing. Marcia was just on my heart...and these words came out. So here you have it. 

Please remember to pray for little Marcia, and all the orphans. 

Added after I wrote this post: After writing this, Cate and I walked outside to get the mail. We saw two little baby birds (and by little I mean itsy bitsy) running along the road, frantically chirping. It was easy to see that they were lost from their mother. One little fella took shelter under a car. It broke my heart to see them lost, and I just wished their mother would find them. As I looked at the one under the car, this Bible verse came to mind: 

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7

I was comforted to think that this little bird was not forgotten by God...and as I thought of that verse and how special that bird is to God, I knew Marcia was worth much more than that little creature. God has not forgotten her, either. 
Your blogger,