I never thought we would homeschool our children. I never would have imagined we would adopt a child. I will never say never again. Jay and I have entered the world of homeschooling. We began feeling a draw to this form of education, for several reasons, a little over a year ago, but at the same time not completely sure why. We discussed it several times with Jayne and Jared, and they each seemed noncommittal either way. Always stating it is our decision. As a child I had always wanted to be a cheerleader, but didn’t quite have what it took. As shallow as this may sound, I was having a hard time taking the possibility of a second year of cheerleading away from Jayne. I had no idea what my next obstacle would be. TENNIS!!! I played tennis all through junior high and high school with the exception of my junior year. Jayne and Jared both played tennis this past spring. Oh my goodness, did it make me question if we had made the right choice for these two. (For the first time, I realized, how exciting it is to have your kids be interested and have potential at a sport I played.) However great tennis is for kids, and it is, it was a temptation to get me off track for what we believed was what we were called to do with their education at this time. So by Faith, we decided to homeschool this year.
In October of 2013, a sweet young lady, Madison Russ, gave us our first tour, with Jake, at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. We connected right away with her and the folks from the touring office. Jay had realized from her bio that she was from Maysville, which is 10 miles east of Lindsay. When she answered the phone and Jay said to her “Oh you’re the one who secretly likes Pretty Little Liars” she probably thought she had a stalker on her hands. He apparently had read her entire bio and knew her “something most people don’t know about her.” During our tour, Madison did some stalking of her own and found the Due Unto Others website. She and her husband Ryan are feeling the call to adoption. She was an elementary education major at the time. In March, there was a kNOw More Orphans Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. Through God’s Providence: Madison, Jayne, and I were able to go together. I remember Jay asking me why I felt so strongly about going? I told him, I really couldn’t give him a good answer except I knew strongly we were to go. Adoption (in the traditional sense) is not what we do with the medical mission work that we’ve been called to in Uganda. However, I believed strongly that Madison, Jayne, and I were to go. I didn’t realize until after we had left for Alabama that we would be gone during Cheerleading tryouts. Once I found this out as well as having an inkling that Jayne has a special place in her heart as I watch her with the orphans and children in Uganda, I knew God’s timing was perfect. (This trip after scheduled, ended up being tough, because the next morning my grandfather’s final living sibling was admitted to the hospital. I spent the next two days before we left with my 99 year old Great Uncle Jodie in the hospital. I had already planned his 100th birthday at our Ranch in September. He was as sharp as a tack mentally, and we had some good time and talks together. I fully expected to land in OKC on Sunday and go straight back to the hospital, but he went home to be with the Lord Saturday night before we returned.) God, was gracious and his timing was still perfect. Our family kept me posted every few hours and the Lord graciously ministered to my aching heart through His Word and the Worship Songs. If you have never heard 10,000 Reasons, it’s worth a listen.
Jake was asked to speak at his high school graduation on giving back. As he shared with his fellow students, parents, and others there, he shared Jamil’s story. So as soon as Jake’s graduation was over, we headed off for what we thought would be a 6 week medical mission trip back to Uganda. It was. However, Jay and I felt over the previous year back in the US that if Jamil’s tumor was back, we needed to do all we could to bring him to the US for some Western Medical Treatment. Our heart sank when the Ct Scan, in Uganda, showed the tumor had returned. So our six week trip turned into eight as Jay and I worked through the legal process of getting Jamil legally set up to travel with us.
The definition of a miracle as a noun is a surprising or welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered, to be the work of a divine agency. “The miracle of rising from the grave.”
This definition as seen in some of our previous blogs occurred when a twelve year old Ugandan boy was granted a US tourist visa to come to the United States for treatment. The United States does not have a medical visa from Uganda.
Miracle is also defined as a highly improbable or extraordinary event , development or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences. As an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.
This definition is truly the point of this blog as the mom of a young Ugandan teenage boy seeing and experiencing Christmas in a very different culture for the first time, and the weight that responsibility I pick up and carry often. When we realized Jamil would need to be here for longer than the 6 month visa due to unforeseen health issues, we made a new game plan. He needs to be followed for his NF2 genetic condition closely. Of course, as the Lord would have it, the best clinic in the country for NF2 is at OU Children’s Hospital. We may or may not need to officially adopt Jamil, but as I’ve said before, he has been adopted into our family! With or without a legal document at this time, he is our child. Never say never!
My theme when Never say never gets tough, and it does: Besides Proverbs 3:5-6 being my life verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, an he will make straight your paths.” I was reminded in a sermon Sunday, that I should continue into that chapter past verse 6. Verse 7-12 “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” The Lord has also given me the song byHillsong United called “Oceans”. I will hear it a times I need it the most when things are bitter and when things are sweet.
So many miraculous things, I have witnessed, big and small, as hopefully we have been able to describe to each of you in the blogs since we chose to follow the Lord’s call to Uganda. But, when you aren’t in control (which none of us truly ever are), this Mom felt a great need to take December to make sure Jamil understood what Christmas is really about. It is hard to believe Jake became the first child in our family 19 years ago on December 22nd . Since that time, I knew I could not teach him what I didn’t know about the Lord. So, I had no more excuses like being to busy working outside of the home to spend individual time with my Lord and Savior. The time had come for me to make my relationship the priority He deserves and actually calls us each to. I choose to learn what being a true Christ Follower is truly. Over the years, we started Christmas traditions with our children as each came along beginning the first of December. We count down and learn about and celebrate the birth of Jesus.
We still had Santa as a tradition as well. Jay’s Aunt Marsha started many traditions 6 years earlier by always giving us an ornament and Spode Christmas Dishes.
The biggest tradition, that magnified itself this year, was when you joined the family, she made you a personalized needlepoint stocking. When Silas married Bethany is 2012, Marsha officially retired from needlepoint stocking making. I had hoped she might come out of retirement, so Jamil would have a needlepoint stocking like ours and everyone else, since 1974, in the original DUE family. This stocking is the closest thing I could find.
My mom had a stocking crocheted for our family members as well. They are all different personalized Santa stockings made by Ann Hazlebaker. We love these too! Ann was able to make Jamil one that we received right after Thanksgiving.
However, I still felt strongly that Jamil needed a needlepoint one as well. One thing I am not is a crafty person. That is my sister in law Jeanne’s department. But, when I realized Marsha was unable to make the stocking, Tana, Jana, Jeanne, and I began doing some research. For a couple of weeks, I thought about putting a feeler out on facebook, but for whatever reason I didn’t. On Tuesday the 2nd of December we were granted Legal Guardianship of Jamil in the US. (We were granted Legal Guardianship in Uganda this summer.)
By the way, with the addition of Jamil to our family, we now realized why we felt such conviction to homeschool Jared and Jayne. On December 2nd, I finally decided to post a plea for anyone who could or knew someone who could needlepoint. Lisa Lawrence has been such a blessing to me and our family as we have been homeschooling Jamil. I will never forget a telephone conversation with her. She said, “I want to be part of his village here.” I do not have words to express the encouragement she has provided me on this journey of homeschooling since we have so many variables with cultural, language and medical issues.
One might think this is where a small Miracle occurred. But for me, those of us girls with needlepoint stockings in the Due family, Marsha and anyone who knows anything about needlepoint realizes how big of a Miracle has occurred over the last couple of weeks. Lisa, answered my plea for needlepointing the stocking. So, on the third of December, I went to Hobby Lobby to get the canvas and thread we’d need. Jeanne had gotten a pattern together to follow. Hobby Lobby had the canvas, but the lady explained to me they did not carry the wool yarn. She sent me to a cross stitch store in south OKC. The kind lady there, explained that there was only one store, in the State of Oklahoma, that carried what I needed and it was in Tulsa. So, off to Tulsa I went. Jay was working in the ER, and as far as the kids knew I was making a quick trip to Norman. No one knew of my quick decision to head to Tulsa. So I called Jay’s sister, Jana, so at least one person would know where I was. When, I arrived at the store the two ladies helped me pick out the yarn as quickly as we could. However, they let me know there is NO Way this could be accomplished, after looking at the other stockings I had brought with me, before Christmas. Lisa shared with me that a friend of hers believed it wouldn’t be possible either. Never Say Never!
I made it back to Duncan, just before Lisa was headed to church. She wasn’t sure if she could get it done before she left for Christmas on the 20th, but she would try. I told her I would be praying for her hands. Never Say Never! Almost every evening into early morning she worked on the stocking and would send me pictures of her progress. It was amazing how fast she was able to go. She made one section the 6 stripes and colors of the Ugandan Flag. She made the four toy soldiers: Jayne, Jamil, Jared, and Jake. Never Say Never, she finished the needlepoint Thursday, This morning Lisa sent me a message, "Give God the Glory! It had to be His work. My fingers are so sore I wouldn't be able to hold a needle this morning, but they NEVER felt this way when the stocking needed to be done!" Please join me to pray her hands will feel better soon...
and Tana sewed it all together Friday.
So, today, as soon as I receive Jamil’s stocking, I will move the stockings I grew up with from the mantle back to their original home in the kitchen and hang the Miracle Stocking, along with ours, on the mantle in their normal place as Christmas approaches.
This small Miralcle to some, BIG to others and me, is one of the most special things that has made this Christmas Season! Jamil, on his first Christmas here as a member of our family, has both of our family stockings of his own. It is exciting being a new mom for the fourth time, but this time seeing things for the first time through a thirteen year old son from Uganda.
Now that the stocking has found its home on the mantle, we can continue our Christmas celebration. We celebrate Christmas because of what began in the manger over 2000 years ago. Thankfully, it didn't end in the manger, but on the cross where Jesus declared "It is finished." Then to the empty tomb! Jamil's stocking is here in time for Christmas with us. It is finished and hanging, and for now it is as empty as the tomb of Jesus!