Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Retraction…

The Bible promises we will have trails when we choose to serve God and not man. 

I will never say it’s always a cake-walk upsetting people you love when you say the wrong thing and mean another. 

The post earlier was simply meant that our children do not need presents, and most certainly not in the amount they received.  Grateful.  Yes, we are very grateful we have family generous enough to treat our children so richly.

Not everyone chooses to raise their children the same way.  That’s the best part of living in this country.  We have freedoms to choose!  There will be times when Dan and I choose to do things exactly as we did when we were kids (rare) or differently to help build a foundation of faith in them early on. 

This world is a changing world.  Many people may mention how things are different now that it’s 2000-whatever.  One thing remains the same.  God’s promises.  Do we not think He wasn’t aware of how this world would turn out in 2010?  Do we think we can “dupe” Him into thinking certain things are okay?  They’re not.  It doesn’t matter what religion you are or how you choose to do things in your family.  God is always the same.  He doesn’t change.  His desires for our lives don’t change.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times Dan and I have had the best of intentions with our family and totally screwed it up before we even started.  That’s the best part of serving such a loving God.  His mercies are new every morning!  God gives us the freedom to screw up.  He’s always there waiting with loving arms welcoming us back to try it all again. 

So while my earlier post began with the best of intentions, I will apologize to those who were hurt.  It was never meant to offend.  We only hope our desires for our family will also be respected.  2011 will be bringing changes to this family and you’re invited to join if you like. 

Whether you read along because you like to, because you’re related to us, or you’re just popping in, please know above all things:  Our family is striving daily to serve God in a way we see fit.  He will guide our paths.  We are so thankful our hearts desires are to draw nearer to Him and to teach our children as early as we can they too can draw near to Him.

Thank you for your prayers, today they were felt and much appreciated.  


Serving Others

That is going to be the theme for the Dziagwa family in 2011.  Serving Others.

I have been thinking and thinking about a theme to set for our family as we move into another glorious year with the Lord.  Seems like a good one to me.

Especially after realizing our efforts to not create monsters out of our children at Christmas wanting this and that and everything else failed entirely.  Their selfish natures not only emerged and reared their ugly heads, but became the theme for them over the Christmas holiday.  Not a single one of them really mentioned how we are celebrating the birth of our Savior without being prompted. 

NOT what I had in mind.

The beginning of our changes in Christmas began in 2009.  A year we no longer wanted to get our children everything they wanted.  We began to realize while it’s our heart’s desire to provide everything they want, it’s not always best for them…and doing what is best for them is a priority. 

While Dan an I both grew up in the church, neither one of us had a walking, talking relationship with the Lord.  It’s only been in the past few years we have acted on the promptings of God to move closer to Him.  Changes in our lives-little by little-have been happening since.  Our desire to draw nearer to God daily is surpassing our fleshly desires for worldly things.  A life I never would have dreamed to be better than the life I used to lead.  Yet that was the problem all along, I was doing the leading.  Now, God has the reigns on my life and no other pleasure have I experienced is as great as serving Him.  What an honor!

Christmas 2010 was no different than any other, with the exception of the number of gifts under our tree.  Like 2009, there were 3 for each child—and again at the last minute, I felt myself thinking “How terrible that will look, they NEED more stocking stuffers.”  I knew exactly what I was doing as I was doing it, yet I ignored promptings from the Holy Spirit and filled the stockings.  Did they need another puzzle they won’t put together?  Did they need body spray?  really?  body spray?  They’re kids.  Dan will enjoy it when they soon forget they have it.  Wasted money. 

We celebrate Christmas Eve at Dan’s parents house.  His sister is always there as well-from the very first Christmas since Alexander was born the spoiling began.  Things.  So many things.  Do they know I still have last year’s things in the very same black trash bag they went home in last year?  The things they spent their money on were so pointless to my kids they forgot they even had them in the first place and never asked about them again.  I know they mean well, and I know, like us they want to provide for the kids.  Providing isn’t always about the things we have or the things we can buy for someone else.  We can provide love, introduce them to Jesus, show them the world, teach them to love others.  Teach them to serve others.  So while we have the plans in place to de-commercialize Christmas even more in 2011, we don’t have to wait until Christmas to remind them of the reason for the season.  Jesus, his birth and his resurrection need to be celebrated daily. 

We began today with praying for an orphan.  Elle.  Many of you who have been following the Herrick’s adoption journey to Max and Elle know two times Elle has refused the love of a family.  She is scared.  She has no idea what is in store for her when she ages out of the only home she has ever known.  She will not stay there forever.  Pain, heartache, grief await her.  While these three await all of us in some form or another, praying through them all with a family is far greater than dying because of them-alone.

I’d love to share a picture of Elle; however, for some reason my computer is only saving some pictures as pictures and some pictures I have to choose the file in which to open them…even then it doesn’t let me click the “always use this program when…” button.  Irritating.  Not exactly sure why it’s doing that.  Dan’s is being the same way…hmm.  In any case, Elle is 8, tall and beautiful with light brown hair.  She’s scared of flying and scared to leave her safe place.  PLEASE if you do nothing else, please join my children in their pleas to our Father to remove her fears so she will want to leave the orphanage and join a forever family!  *I may add, Elle, like Mayah has Treacher-Collins Syndrome and is deaf*  So I have a special special place in my heart for this treasure from God. 

Colleen’s blog about Max and Elle is private.  So if you’d like an invite or want to inquire about Elle please email me at and I’ll hook you up!

So, to end this post:  2011 will be our year of learning God’s mercies are new every morning.  Dan and I continue to pray for our family’s vision both long-term and short-term.  We know if we look to Him, HE will guide our paths. 

Happy New Year everyone.  It’s another year to glorify the Lord.  Thank you for your prayers-they are working.

A Little of This…a Little of That

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.  I’m totally looking forward to letting the kids run rampant  and stay up later than usual.

We are beginning the celebration by Dan only working a half day.  The last day of the year for him to use his last half day.  Perfect timing.  He has Monday off too.  It would be much more exciting if the kids had off on Monday too.  I’m totally not looking forward to David and Alexander returning to life as usual.

This morning Mayah went back to her room, picked out her clothes, laid them out, and made her bed without being asked!  The boys need to be reminded constantly to make their beds. 

I was able to get quite a few of my high cluttered areas cleaned between yesterday and today.  Currently, the kids and I are watching a Barbie Fairytopia movie.  Interesting break to our mid-day activities. 

Mayah’s syllables are changing a little bit.  She has always babbled in some form or another, but now the syllables are shorter.  Maybe she’s thinking she’s forming words?  I’m putting it under the making progress category anyway.

We are praying 2011 is going to be a big year spiritually in our household.  God is always there waiting for us, so we know it’s up to us to react and respond.

After for some unknown reason, Dan and I had a prayer hiatus.  We are back to praying together in the mornings before he leaves for work.  Such a better way to start our day.

With the new 40 day project approaching, the family is sitting together opening the “floor” up to current prayer concerns.  Alexander prays for a domestic orphan he wants to be in our family (I just answer, “keep telling God, honey”).

Each time I get an empty box for something or other, I fill it with the abundance of clothing my boys have.  Short sleeved clothing I label for the DR and wintery stuff I label for Mayah’s former orphanage.  This evening I topped a Berdichev box with a few toys.  I’m not sure when we’ll be able to send off the boxes, but they are being organized nicely in the basement.

I’m totally loving LOVING this current book I’m reading by E Faith Stewart Living Faith.  It was written in the 1950’s (maybe?) and it’s awesome.  Completely awesome.  Dave Rearick from church loaned it to me before Dan and I left for Ukraine, like the other books I looked forward to reading on my trip it was forgotten.  I am waiting for the day when I can get my own copy.  There are so many books I’m waiting to read, buying one I’ve already read doesn’t make sense right now.  

I know this is a season of waiting and learning for our family.  Each day is exciting, and I’m working on concentrating on what God has given us right in front of us instead of daydreaming of the “what ifs” in our future. 

This post is a bit all over the place, I’ve been typing a sentence here and there all day.  In fact, that particular sentence took me a few hours to get out!!

Tomorrow we are joining some friends at Shannon Creek Baptist Church for a New Year’s Eve get together.  We always enjoy get- togethers with them.  It starts at 8 and we are planning on hopefully making it two hours.  Then to come home and put any tired children (Gage!) to bed and enjoy the co ompany of the others, playing basketball in the basement, watching a movie or something and just enjoying being all together.

I look forward to our first family missions trip to the DR this summer.  My prayer remains that we can actually go in the first place.  We have so much to get done around our house this coming year, finances (as always) will play a large role.  I need to begin praying for God’s will to be made known.  I don’t want to get my heart set on going if it’s not His will for us. 

Gage is in bed, Dan is falling asleep on the couch and I need to get the other 3 in to brush teeth, pray and hit the sack!!

Thank you for your prayers everyone.  Have a safe new year!!


Tonight I have no pictures.  I’m sorry.  I have a headache and I simply don’t feel like uploading the few that I have.

I went out of the house this evening for about an hour and a half.  Dan said about 20 mins before I came home, Mayah was wandering around the house saying, “mama.”    That did my heart good!  I swooped up that little creature and covered her with kisses when I heard that. 

That is progress my friends, progress.

She no longer jumps up and down in Dan’s face when he walks in the door, she waits her turn and then gives Daddy a hug.

That is progress.

She says, “thank-you” almost ALL of the time without prompting.

That is progress.

She is starting to form the sounds of, “bathroom” when she has to go, instead of just holding herself and waiting for us to respond.

That is progress.

She is so beautiful when she smiles.  And she’s smiling a little more with each passing day.





Thank you for the prayers, we’re beginning to see the answers.  God is so good.

Christmas in Mostly Pictures

In order to get back to posting daily.  I’d like to post a blog of mostly pictures about our Christmas 2010.

Christmas Eve we celebrate at Dan’s parents.  His sister, Mary joins us as well.  This was the first time Dan’s Dad met Mayah.

Much to our surprise, he was happy to meet her and very nice to her.  He included her in everything he included the boys in.  No complaints from us!!


Mayah was excited at everything she got, and everything everyone else got.  She still thinks all things are for her, which is sometimes hard and stressful to deal with.  It’s hard on her to hear “NO” constantly.  I’d like to say she’s learning, but so far…not so much.  It will happen though.


They got entire too much stuff from their aunt and grandparents.  I still have a bag of stuff in our basement from last Christmas which has never been used or opened.  Needless to say, a few items are going to likely be sent with some people to the Dominican.  046047048049They got some paints and enjoyed painting for a little while.  We set up the little table over in the living room so they could eat in there.  David, of course, did not eat but the rest enjoyed their feast!

050051Santa left a note on Alexander’s bed thanking him for the cookies and said h e had a nice time on the Polar Express and punched Alexander’s ticket with an, “A".  He even left Alexander’s shoes, socks, and jacket on the floor in his bedroom from his trip.  Alexander told me when he went to bed Christmas Eve I’ll have to get up and help him get his shoes and coat on when the Polar Express came to get him.  When he woke up the next day, he was upset a little that he slept through and did not hear the train.  I tried explaining to him Santa left a note and showed him how he must have forgotten he left his clothes on the floor in his room….but he ran off and called Santa a liar.  Epic fail on my part.  OOPS!  He wasn’t upset if we didn’t talk about it.  Dan’s sister has to bring it up again of course.  Oh well.  When you don’t have kids you don’t know when to just drop it I guess.  He’s fine and wasn’t bothered by the ordeal so that’s what matters most.


Cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast with chocolate milk!!

I like to keep all Christmas meals as simple as I can so I can enjoy the time with the kids. 

053They all got pillow pets and LOVE them.

024I’m sporting Mayah’s Tacky.  Can’t wait to get more!!

009Mayah got a bike, she’s very happy!!  Now all 3 of the bigger kids ride like crazy in the basement!!  If I remember correctly, I got this bike for $5 at St. Vincent de Paul;)!!

015Gage got a plush iron-man

020Dan got some sort of super spot-light.  He likes it.

013Alexander got his Blue Lightning McQueen with Wings.  Exactly what he asked for. 

014David got Mikey the Christmas Car.  While we were gone, Dan’s mom made up a story while we were gone and Mikey was the star.  His sister painted a wooden car to fit what David said Mikey looked like.  That’s all he asked for.  (that, and the pillow pet)

029And one of my favorite parts…was when David crawled up behind me on the couch on Christmas Eve;)

So there you have it, our Christmas in Pictures.

During much of this Christmas season, my heart is somewhere else.  My heart is still hurting for those left behind and for street children in the Dominican and children dying from HIV in Africa.  Even in our best efforts here at home, Christmas is still commercialized at best.  Our children quickly forget we are celebrating the birth of our SAVIOR. 

More must be done for those children.  More must be done.

January first, while we do not regularly do “resolutions” or crazy promises of the like, we will be starting the 40 day mission minded family challenge.  I will keep you posted on more of the details.  Until we begin, we are praying as a family to be open minded and to hear what God has in store for the Dziagwa’s in 2011 and more. 

I encourage all of you to join your families in some way and simply ask the Lord, “what do you want US to do for YOU?

Thank you for your prayers sweet friends, we appreciate them and they truly are the gift that keep on giving.

Christmas Eve Eve

What a wonderful day we have all had!

I remember when I was little I LOVED December 23rd.  After all, it was the day before the day before Christmas!!  At 5 years old, without any promptings from his Mother, Alexander celebrates the same day.  He has been looking forward to this day all week long.  Deep down, my inner child was as well.  He is such a little mini-me in so many ways.

One way we are different; however, is at 5 years old I caught my oldest son doing something.  While brushing David’s teeth, I overheard Alexander ask Jesus to come live in his heart!  He was so excited and I wasn’t even in the room. He began singing, “I’m sa-ved, I’m sa-ved!”  He runs down the hall to tell me the good news.  Bursting with pride and excitement I shared his moment.  I never knew how exciting the day before the day before Christmas really could be.

I went to get the mail this morning, and just in time for her stocking was Mayah’s TACKY!  I ordered it from  a TACKY is a beautiful headband (sorry I took the pic against an orange box full of citrus) made by refugees in Africa.  Please go to the BEMM website and order a few!!!  I’ll be getting some more!

Maybe I’ll take a better pic of Mayah’s TACKY when she’s wearing it at Christmas!  This picture makes it look pretty nasty.  Anything that is orange is NOT part of the TACKY.  It’s BEAUTIFUL!!!001

This morning while I was making the dough, Mayah and Gage sat nicely at the table and colored (for a tiny bit of time!)


Dan’s friend Judd is visiting from Florida so he surprised me with an afternoon visit.  He hung out with the kids and I until Dan got home this evening.  We always enjoy his company, even if it is once or twice a year.  The three of us used to pal around quite a bit before Alexander was born.  Shortly after, he moved to Florida.

The kids and I enjoyed baking cookies together.  I whipped up the dough this morning while they were playing.  Then Mama’s cookie baking elves showed up for the fun part.

003Every time I toss flour on my table, I toss a pinch at each one of their faces.  They laugh and love it.  I think they look cute.

Tonight after dinner we iced the cookies:


I forgot to add they all (minus Gage) were wearing superhero costumes.  It was a superhero kind of day in our house I suppose.

005LOVE that baby belly sticking out!!  Later this evening, his belly was showing:  “Uh Gage, you’re sticking out a bit at the belly”  I said.  “That’s because he broke his jammies.”  said Alexander.  He cracks me up.


Pretty girls in pig-tails dressed as Bumblebee Transformer love to decorate cookies too.

007He stuck with the decorating for much longer than he normally dedicates to activities.  Though when he moved over here, he was more interested in breaking off “cookie crumbs” and eating them.

008Alexander was dressed as a dinosaur by this time. 

009010I don’t think I was supposed to see this.  He took a bite out of a few cookies and put them all back.  No, we don’t make enough to share with people outside of our household.  No one would want cookies that have been licked, bitten, or whatever else 1, 3, 5, and 7 year old hands do with cookies.

011Exercising her lady-like manners!

012A beautiful mess if you ask me.  These are the things I want to remember when I’m listening to my kids get frustrated with their kids because their cookie-decorating times were never like this. 

013They each had a cookie and a few potato chips!!  They were allowed to pick a Christmas DVD to watch—they picked Cartoon Christmas Classics  Never heard of it?  It’s from the 1940’s. 

As the night before the night before Christmas comes to a close, it was one of the best days we’ve had together as a family of 6.  Tomorrow Dan is off, I will run to the store first thing in the morning, then spend the day with Dan’s family at his parents’ house. 

If I don’t blog tomorrow, forgive me. Enjoy the days with your families!  It’s very likely I’ll have plenty of time on Christmas evening.  We don’t go anywhere on Christmas and just enjoy the time together.  Dan’s sister is going to join us again this year.  We’re looking forward to it.

Thank you for the prayers.  Merry Christmas!!s

You Just Don’t Get Comfy on a Stranger’s Couch

Guess that means we’re not strangers.


Not that she really looked at us that way.  Even from the beginning-the very first day, SHE initiated calling me Mama.  MMM…sweet memories of that day.  The sound of her sweet girl voice yelling, “that’s my Mama” in Russian.  Always makes me smile and reminds me of why we go through some struggles that we do.  She’s so totally worth it.

Normally, when we would put a movie/show on in the evenings, she would park herself on the floor in front of the television.  Not to hear it better, but because I don’t think she knew what relaxing really was.  (sometimes, I think I have forgotten, but that’s OKAY!)  After a day or so of letting her sit on the floor, I’d ask her to sit up with me.  Each time she would get closer and closer.  Now we snuggle on the couch together like it’s how we’ve always done it.  Today was even more awesome than snuggling with my girl.  I walked in the living room to see her on the couch, under a blanket looking totally relaxed on her couch in her home.  I love it. 

She’s starting to understand when she’s scolded she’s still loved.  She’s starting to understand if she pushes herself onto my lap when I’m on the computer I gently guide her back, indicate to wait a minute and then I’ll take her.  She nods her pretty little head and waits nicely.  If she changes her mind about sitting with me, she leaves to play with her brothers.  Either way is fine with me.  The point is, she’s learning we’re always going to love her. 

As for our Dominican trip…I’m so excited.  I look at pictures from our friend’s website all the time.  And they have a LOT so it’s pretty awesome.  They are currently working on their 2011 timeline for short term trips from individuals, groups, families-we’ve told them our timeline for availability and we’re eagerly waiting for them to get back to us as to when they want us there!  I can hardly wait.  I’m so excited at what God has in store for our family. 

I’ve finally started going through the Chazown Experience with  it’s about doing what God wants for your life and growing closer with him.  It’s about taking a look at all the spiritual markers in your life, categorizing them, arranging them chronologically and seeing how God’s hand has been involved in shaping you to where you already are.  When you are able to see that, then it opens you up to see where He wants you to go. 

I’ll also be starting some work shortly with Search For Me Ministries.  Please check them out on facebook and their website  and Bob’s blog:  His wordpress background is the same as mine, so it’s strange to see text I didn’t write.  It’s about becoming rock solid in your identity with Christ.  Sounds wonderful, can’t wait to dive in!  I encourage you to do the same. 

I must close for now.  Tomorrow is Alexander’s first day of Christmas break and I can’t wait to just have all 4 kids home with me!  We still have one more type of cookie to bake tomorrow.  We only made 2 kinds.  My two childhood favorites.  With just me and the kids, we don’t make the cookies for quantity or to have specifically on Christmas…we do it for the memories.  They had a blast being Mama’s cookie elves last week when we made the first kind.



Merry Christmas, friends!  Thanks for the prayers, best presents ever.  They produce so much and cost so very little.