Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Christmas letter

It’s an overused cliché, but this year has truly flown by. With such a sudden end, it is astonishing to reflect on all that has taken place over these last 12 months. It’s easy to feel like time has escaped us, but looking back we realize how blessed we really are. What started out as a normal year has sped up to a busy close with several large changes taking place all at once.

We couldn’t be more proud of all our children and are excited with them for what their future holds.

Our oldest son, Jason, and his wife, Becca, are doing well and we have enjoyed the times we have been able to be together this year. Jason began working in the High School as the officer there. He has enjoyed the change and the challenge although, He misses the street action and will probably go back to that work soon. Becca is working in tech support and is wonderful with computers. We have gotten together several times this year including a trip to Georgia together this summer. This newsletter would be remiss if we didn’t mention the now famous canoe trip Jason and Joey took together. Armed with ample camping accoutrements, the 2 set out to venture down the Lumber River in southeast NC. They got much more than they bargained for with 95 degree weather, gargantuan spiders, unending logs blocking their path and some encounter with “Crazy Ivan” that to this day remains their little secret! Their 13 mile journey was cut short but the experience will long live in their lives!

Our daughter, Jana graduated from the School of Worship dance program at Grace College of Divinity. This was a wonderful opportunity for her to be trained and involved in worship dance again and led her to Fayetteville NC where she decided to continue taking classes. She is teaching dance for several classes there this year as well. She is a wonderful dancer and we are so blessed to see her use her gifts to bring glory to God. She will be attending a dance competition this winter.

Our daughter, Julie is working and enjoying life. Julie served as young adult leader in our church for the first part of this year and planned several events for the group. More recently, she has become involved in a large Church in Wilmington and loves participating in the small groups. She enjoys playing the Djembe, shopping and being on the go. She will be going on a ski trip with the young adults group this winter. She also found a nice apartment and moved out on her own to Wilmington and is enjoying living in the city.

Our son, Joey graduated from high school this year and also helped in our church as leader for the young adult’s group. Joey played lead guitar in the worship band at our church for several months as well as playing in a couple other bands whenever there was a need. He thoroughly loves music and using this gift to bring glory to God. He also completed the first of what we hope to be many short action/adventure books geared towards ages 8-13. Joey has also developed a passion for cooking and decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando this January. He participated in National Novel Writing Month and completed a novel of over 50,000 words in 30 days! He is now working on adding a couple more chapters to that book and hopes to have it finished soon. In December, he was chosen to participate in a cooking challenge in Orlando with 10 other competitors. He had a great time and though he didn’t win, he did very well and the judges had a lot of positive things to say about his dish.

Last, but not least, our youngest son, Jeffrey turned 9 this year and on any given day, he can be observed running across the property in full military fatigues, enjoying every minute of the country life. Rarely a day goes by when he doesn’t mention something about planning the next camping trip. His sense of humor is contagious. Jeffrey showed some serious talent in the culinary arts when he won the Red Robin Kid’s Cook Off for the Wilmington restaurant with his Cherry-O burger.

Moving into the latter part of this year things really started to take off. After much prayer and inspiration we decided to adopt. We have wanted to do this for some time now, but despite our increasing busyness we felt it was now the right time. We have felt a strong compassion for two 7 year old boys from China in particular. We feel like this is the perfect age because we wanted to adopt two boys that were old enough to play with Jeffrey when all our older kids moved out. This is a very costly adventure that we feel led to go on. We believe that God led us to do this and He will make a way for it. We are doing several fundraisers ourselves and would appreciate your prayers and support of our projects if you can. If anyone is looking for a year end tax deductible donation, you can donate to Christian World Adoption in our name and it will go towards our adoption. Just go to http://www.cwa.org/ and click on make a donation, then put “for adoption of Russell and Karen Thomas” in the memo section and it will be accredited to us. Thank you for your prayers and support in this. You can read about our process and see the other fundraisers by following our Blog. http://boysinthebulrush.blogspot.com/

Karen continues to homeschool. She also has been painting this year and will look to do more of that this year. Following in the culinary projects we created a fundraiser to help with the adoption expenses. Our “Orphan Pies” are being sold during the holiday season. They have been a big hit here, particularly the “My Heart Overflows for Two Boys I Never Met Pie” (Chocolate Delight Pie). We look forward to bringing our boys home from China in 2010.

Russell continues to work his private practice in spite of endless rumors of what will happen in the healthcare arena. He has been working on his second book and is excited to see it published in the early spring of 2010. He has been enjoying his “second career” in writing and hopes to write much more in the upcoming year. While our “farm” consists of only 5 acres, Russell enjoys raising a garden each year and the numerous animals we have including 36 chickens, 2 horses, 2 cows (actually a bull and heifer), 2 dogs, and 5 cats (give or take a few)!

That about sums up our year and we wish you all blessings and abundance in the coming year! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas shopping

Karen & I were out last evening Christmas shopping and enjoying the holidays. Part of our annual Christmas night out includes a quiet dinner for just the 2 of us at a Olive Garden. The hostess seated us at a table for 6 and when I got on the same side of the booth as Karen, she looked at me kind of strange and said "Oh, you're sitting on the same side?"... as if that was strange. I just wanted to be close to my wife while we ate. Is that so strange? I think not! We began our meal and as we looked at the long empty bench on the adjacent side of the table we couldn't help but fast forward and imagine what it will be like next Christmas when we look across the table at three boys: Jeffrey, Jeremiah and Joshua, the later 2 our boys from China. We imagined them seated across from us with their mixture of mischief and delight of having each other. For Jeremiah and Joshua it will be their first Christmas having a family and experiencing both the joy and magic of the season. The moment included some mixed emotions as we wondered what this Christmas was like for our 2 Chinese boys who remain in an orphanage at this time on the other side of the world awaiting our arrival to get them and welcome them into our family. Earlier in the day, Karen asked 9 year old what he wanted for Christmas. Jeffrey said what he "really, really, really wanted for Christmas was to bring the boys home". Its funny, we've never met these boys and yet they are already alive in our hearts and family.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Two Guys and a Pie

Another fundraiser we are doing to raise money for adopting our two boys is selling pies for the holidays. Our family loves pies! and we love to make them. After seeing the movie The Waitress we began naming our pies with unique names that express our feelings for the event we are making the pies for, so we decided to sell pies for our adoption, naming the pies we sell to express our feelings through the adoption process. For example, we have 'My Heart overflows with love for two boys I have never met' Pie, which is a chocolate and cream cheese pie and 'Help our boys 'Banana Split' from the orphanage' Pie, which is banana split inspired. A new pie for Christmas is 'Wishing the boys were home for Christmas' pie which is a white chocolate/peppermint pie topped with crushed candy canes. This fundraiser is very fun and family and friends have supported us by purchasing pies. You can check out our page on Facebook, Two Guys and a Pie and if you are relatively local to us we would love to take an order or two and share our family favorites with your family. We also make Cheesecakes! Regular, Mocha, Chocolate and Berry! Pies sell for $15 each and the cheesecakes For $30 each. All Proceeds go to our adoption expenses.

Monday, November 30, 2009

shopping for Christmas

Today is Cyber Monday so if you shop in our cafepress shop, you will not only help us bring our boys home but you will get free economy shipping on your order of $60 or more....just use this coupon code MONDAYSHIP

We have gym bags and journals for your teens, note cards and ornaments make great gifts for teachers and grandparents, aprons for the cooks in your life, and much more.

Check out our shop at http://www.cafepress.com/karenleigh

November 30th (Cyber Monday) - Free economy shipping on orders of $60 or more with coupon code: MONDAYSHIP

Friday, November 13, 2009


Yesterday we went with the boys (Joey, age 18 & Jeffrey, age 9) to American Sign Language. We have been enjoying taking the classes together & we have actually gotten to the point where we can hold basic conversations with each other using ASL. The instructor has been great and the people there have been supportive. When we returned home, UPS brought us a package. Inside were 2 DVD's of our boys in China. It was thrilling to watch them sing and play. We wanted to just get on a plane and go get them today! Some of this process seems unreal but the videos made us realize that it is a reality. We will have our boys soon!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's in a name?

We've been asked what's up with the blog name, Boys in the Bulrush? In the book of Exodus, the Bible says that a Levi couple had a boy. At that time, the government was paranoid and had ordered a "death hit" on all Hebrew males babies. This one particular mother, fearing for her son's life, made a basket of bulrush, or something similar to cattails, and glued it together with tar. You may know the rest of the story, but basically the baby, Moses, was hidden amongst the bulrush in a river, retrieved and adopted into the royal family. It was a divine arrangement and Moses was raised in that environment for God's purposes, i.e., deliver His people from slavery. For several years we have been hearing children crying to us from the bulrush. We knew something was lodged in the bulrush and we have been trying to retrieve it. God was stirring our hearts to adopt. We have since visited countless adoption websites, attended seminars sponsored by adoption agencies and talked to social workers, parents who have adopted and countless others trying to decide what exactly was coming from the bulrush. Sometime in early 2009 it became clear what was in the basket in the bulrush. Just as Pharoah's daughter discovered it was a baby, a Hebrew baby nonetheless, we have pushed aside the cattails to discover a boy. Not one, but 2 Chinese boys, hidden in the bulrush! And like the Pharoah's daughter, we have purposed in our hearts to retrieve these boys out of the bulrush and bring them into our home where they can be a part of our family!

Monday, October 26, 2009

sign language

We started taking a sign language class this week in preparation for raising a child that is deaf. Even though we know he does not know American Sign Language yet we are learning to be able to teach him. It was so much fun to attend the class together and we learned quite a bit on the first day. We have been practicing at home and suddenly the other kids have become interested in learning it as they watch us sign to each other and they don't know what we're saying! So now, 2 of our children will join us in the class next week and they will learn it also! We are amazed at the help and support we have received from the community support services. There is so much available to help the deaf and hard of hearing and the deaf community is very welcoming and helpful to teach us.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Many years ago, Karen had begun to feel a stirring in her heart to add to our family through adoption. Her heart has always been as big as the Montana sky when it comes to babies and children. The big joke around our house has been how she will adopt anything that resembles newborns of virtually any species…thus the reality that we have 3 dogs, 6 cats (and counting), 35 chickens, 2 horses, 2 cows, all of whom started out as some little, baby somethings…oh, and that’s only counting what we currently have on our property!

Russell, was a little slower on this adoption thing. His mind was focused on paying off enormous student loans accrued while he worked on his doctorate and making plans to get ahead financially. However, as time went by, He began to get an awakening in his spirit that focused on Romans 8, particularly the part about receiving the spirit of adoption in such an intense way that we proclaim God as our Father. He began to realize that in a spiritual sense, we Gentile Christians were all orphans. We know what its like to have a need inside for family that becomes fulfilled when we meet and surrender our hearts to Jesus. It makes us cry out as a son, not as a vagabond in this world. We began to explore various options of adoption.

Fast forward to this summer, we saw a picture of boy from China who was deaf. It was pretty clear to both of us that this was the boy to pursue. We began the process of inquiry and along the way noticed another boy from China who needed a home. Both were 6 years old, both special needs kids that basically were hard for the orphanages to place. We inquired if we could adopt 2 at the same time. We began to fill out all of the initial paperwork. For a special needs child in China, a couple must receive pre-approval so we worked on the initial paperwork in hopes of being granted permission to continue the process. The paperwork was intimidating. There were so many questions that arose in my mind. Questions like, “how are we going to pay for this?” to “are we really ready to have a child with special needs into our home?” We prayed and quickly felt like it was right and that we were to proceed. That “go ahead” was and still is accompanied by several personal Heavenly promises.

October 15, Our adoption agency point lady emailed to say that China had pre-approved us. We are moving into the next phase with confidence that we are on the right track. It is a feeling difficult to describe to anyone who doesnt know, but it is similar to finding out we were pregnant in the natural. We have a tremendous sense of peace and wonderful expectation that God was blessing us beyond our wildest dreams and expectations.