Rathjen Family

Rathjen Family
Rathjen, Party of EIGHT

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Winding Down and Looking Up

After a wonderful Christmas, a great one, one full of joy, excitement and love, we are looking toward a new year. A year we will add two more beautiful children to our family, Lord willing, and a year I will continue to grow as a mother, a wife, and a follower of Christ.

But first, we will look back and remember 2011.

This year, Clay and I each lost a grandparent as well as a good friend taken far too young from us.

We moved our family, again. This time to the home Clay grew up in for most of his childhood.

I fulfilled a life long dream. I went on a mission to Uganda, Africa.

Zoe had her most successful year of her life in rodeo, thanks to Turbo, Papa and Charmaine. She brought home a record 3 buckles in one summer.

Rance turned from a toddler to a kid and started pre-school.

Tyler joined the National Honors Society and went to State with the Bayfield Wolverine football team. He also earned his 2nd high school letter.

As I reminisce, I look up. I thank the Lord for the year, for the hedge of protection He provided over my children, my husband and myself and our parents. I thank Him for the beautiful people of Uganda, many of which, I now call my friends. I thank Him for the success he has allowed my children to experience. I thank Him, that not a day went by this past year, that my family felt hunger and we had no food to give them, that they needed shelter, and it was not available. I thank Him that we have started the journey toward adoption, another one of my life long dreams. I thank Him, and I know I don't thank Him enough.

So, for 2012, I pray that I am reminded to thank Him more. I pray that my family will not only be rich physically, that we will also be richer in faith. I pray that we will each get to know our Creator more this year. I pray we will spend more time in the Word. I pray He will continue to guide us through our adoption and keep our treasures safe and protected for us. All of them...all five of them.

2012~we are ready for you.



Monday, December 12, 2011

LID~and looking back at the match...

This morning we recieved confirmation that on 12/08/2011 our information was officially logged in, in Chin*!!!! Woo~Hoo~

I have been saving these up for a special day, to have a special way to celebrate the L.I.D. (Log In Date)! We have not yet shared our "match" photos with the public. I think it's only fair that the sweet people that are rooting for our boys, praying them home and supporting our cause, get to see the very first photos we saw of our little guys. They stole our hearts from the moment we first layed eyes on them. It's amazing to see how much they have changed, and sad to think of all we have missed in their lives; first smiles, rolling over, sitting up, crawling and recently Trigg's first steps. But we also know there will be so many "first's" once we meet them, I think it will be amazing in its own way. We long for that day...

In the meantime, we await new photos and updates. We jump for joy with each step of completion.

What a journey, oh what a ride!

Enjoy these sweet faces....

Trigg Cody~official match photo

Ivor Jude~official match photo

Trigg Cody~In his Bumpo Seat

Ivor Jude~In his Bumpo Seat

Trigg Cody~chillin' in his walker

Ivor Jude~having some floor time

Trigg Cody~having some floor time

Ivor Jude~just being cute



Friday, December 9, 2011

Shocking Statistics

Our agencey, CCAI (Ch*nese Children Adoption Internat*onal) just sent out a newsletter announcing their Number 1 ranking in the WORLD. They are truly amazing. In the newsletter were some numbers that shocked me.

9,664 children have found their forever families through our agency.
8,770 of them were beautiful little girls.
894 of them were bouncing baby boys.
1,886 of these children were special kiddos with some special needs.
Included in these numbers were 71 sets of twins/siblings, confirming that...

our boys are truly one in a million! You will agree when you read this paragraph taken directly from the newsletter:

And I quote:

"The orphan population in Chinese orphanages today is quite different from what it was five or ten years ago. In most orphanages, 90% of the children are children with physical and/or mental special needs. Among all the special needs children, less than 10% are truly adoptable. Even among the adoptable, only a small percentage will have the opportunity to find a forever home because of the reality that families who are willing and able to adopt a child with special needs are understandably in the minority."


So, as I did, you ask yourself, why so many with special needs? After reading through this letter, I think I finally understand. As our economy declines, China's is actually improving. In 1986 a college professor made approximately $8 per month. Now days, a college professor makes about $1000 per month. Big Improvement! What does that mean for orphans? Well, it means now families can afford to pay the "fine" for having more than one child rather than abandon them. Another big change in China has been that boys are no longer prefered, and the sexes are being abandoned equally. Phew...that's good. Can you even imagine a country full of men, fighting over the few women? The men need us, ladies!

Do to the fine, along with the costs to care for children with special needs, they are the ones more commonly abandoned.

I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.
John 14:18

Have a blessed day,


Thursday, December 8, 2011

He Listens and He Heals

As we work on the adoption, putting one foot in front of the other, celebrating each step, life still happens. My grandma had to put her husband of over 50 years into a nursing home yesterday for better hospice care. My son's undefeated football team made it to state and experienced their first loss of the season, in the most important game of the year. My husband continues to battle our suffering economy in order to support our family. Along with the rest of you, I am trying to pave the path to another beautiful and memorable Christmas by decorating, buying gifts, making gifts, mailing cards and baking. And through it all, our Lord is with us and He listens and He heals. Let me share with you a story...

In the middle of the night last night, Rance woke me. He was in anguish, he was tossing and turning. He was holding his tummy (which I could hear grumbling), and he was swallowing, CONSTANTLY. Clearly, he was going to throw up. I carried him to the kitchen, selected a bowl to take to bed with us for the dreaded moment. He informed me, we needed a bigger bowl. I ignored the request and went back to bed. He started shivering, brought his knees up in attempt to comfort himself, and I waited...waited for it to come.

I began praying. I prayed healing for his tummy. I prayed the blood of Jesus over my son, and I prayed some more. And what I saw was truly amazing. Amazing, just like our God. Rance's little face relaxed, his knees relaxed, along with his body and this little person, peacefully fell back to sleep. I kept telling God, I trust you have just healed him and I can go back to sleep.

In the morning, I woke, next to my little guy and thought back, I never did need that bowl. When Rance woke up this morning, he looked at me and said, "Jesus healed me again, Mommy." We thanked Him and on we went with our day.

It is comforting knowing all the broken hearts on the football team, Jesus is healing, and He is listening. The struggling economy, Jesus is listening and He is with us. My Grandparents, Jesus is healing and He is comforting....

Thank God we are not in this thing called "life" alone...



Friday, December 2, 2011

We are DTC! (Dossier to China)

Finally! All the document gathering, notarizing, certifying, authenticating, mailing, tracking and waiting on papers is through (for the most part). Last week our paper chase came to a close and the our pile of paperwork made it's way through translation and is on it's way to CHINA!!!

Trigg Cody and Ivor Jude~ Daddy and Mommy are one step closer to you beautiful boys!

We will diligently pray that your paperwork travels quickly through the system in China so we can have you home soon, surrounded by siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends. FAMILY! That's what is in your future baby boys~a FOREVER FAMILY!

God would have nothing less for you!



Monday, November 14, 2011

We Tried Them On and They Fit...

Naming our children is something we have a lot of fun with. We were searching for names that met the following qualifications:

~Good meanings
~Good sound to them
~Flow together
~Uncommon but not "weird"
~We all have to like them (not love, that turned out to be impossible with this family of 5)
~Sounds good on a baby as well as a big boy

We then "try them on." We would refer to the babies using the names and after a couple weeks see if we still like them...and finally we found the ones that indeed we do!

An Ping (the one that just recently had surgery) is Trigg Cody, and An Ning, (the little guy that had lip surgery) is Ivor Jude.

Trigg means "an honest man." Cody is in honor of Clay's good friend that passed away the same day we got approval to adopt the twins. Ivor means "archer warrior" which that he is...and Jude means "Praise God," something we do everyday for these little guys.

I am including the new photos we recently received of Ivor Jude.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Maria's Big House of Hope gave us hope...

Years ago I bought this book, simply because it looked adorable. We ended up loving it and reading it time and time again. A ladybug named Dot finds a curious bundle who turns out to be an orphaned, Chinese, baby girl named Shaoey. She follows this little baby through her journey as an orphan, all the way into the arms of her new adoring adoptive family. It is simply darling.

It is written by Steven Curtis Chapman who is a well known Christian Music Artist. He is "famous" in the adoption community, gaining popularity for all he has done for orphans, including founding Maria's Big House of Hope. Maria's Big House of Hope opened it's doors on July 23, 2009, which just so happens to be my husbands birthday and it also happens to be the place where our little man just received surgery, as well as top notch care...

The center is not named after the Chapman's daughter in the book, it is named after the Chinese daughter they brought home who later died in a tragic accident, Maria.

There is a button along the right for Show Hope...where this all is tied in to. It's amazing to me to think of our sweet little baby there...healing and growing, waiting...

I just cannot begin to express how grateful I am for this place, for this family, and for the work God is doing through them.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Surgery Went Well! Praise GOD!

We just got an update...oh a precious update. We sooooooooo appreciate all you prayer warriors. They tell us the surgery went well. They also let us know that babies that have surgeries have one Nanny with them steady (how comforting). They even included pre-op and post-op pictures. Oh my, is he ever precious! Thank you, thank you, thank you for praying for him. Sigh.....



Monday, November 7, 2011

Milestone Monday and need for prayer...

This journey is somethin' else, I tell ya. I was just goin' along today, making a quilt for one of the twins, wasn't sure which one it was for, and I got a call from the social worker, Judy. I was expecting this call, I had recently requested to find out the surgery date for An Ping, so we could be praying. Judy explains to me that China has just sent her information indicating the surgery would happen within hours, and he has been running a fever the last few days, but is not at this moment. Needless to say, I felt a little panicked. I wanted more time to prepare and to KNOW there was no fever anymore. Then I remembered, God knew all along when the surgery was, HE IS IN CONTROL, time to pray, not worry and I guess this quilt, should be for him, since I made it on the day of his surgery.

His surgery is on his intestines, and I suspect by the time you are reading this, it is over. He still needs your prayers...please pray that he will heal quickly, that he will not get an infection, that the surgery was a success, that he will not be afraid and alone all the way on the other side of the world...

Shortly after this news, Clay headed to the mailbox to see if the immigration approval had make it to us yet and sure enough! The long awaited form was finally in our hands, a HUGE call for celebration! God's timing is amazing, He continues to encourage us in all the right times.

Along with the news of the surgery, they sent us these photo's, is he ever growing!?!

Thank you all for your prayers, support, love, and concern.

Be blessed,


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Prayer Mat

Pictured along the lower right hand column of photos is Eseza. Eseza was the first child we sponsored through Blessings for Joy. Aids took her mother and father at an early age. We would write letters and send photos and receive mail in return. When we first took on the financial responsibility of this little girl, I never realized what it really meant to her (and me for that matter) until she died.

An email came in from Blessings for Joy, delivering the news of her death. I remember sitting there stunned. It had never occurred to me our sponsored child could die. But why not? She was in fact orphaned do to aids. She very well could have it herself. She was of course living in Uganda, a third world country, known for poverty and disease. Why had that thought never entered my mind? When the email came, tears burned my eyes. But the part that literally took the wind out of my sails was this:

"Eseza's last request was this: once she is gone, she would like her prayer mat to be delivered to her mum and dad."

At that moment, I realized the difference you can make in a child's life, half way around the world, without ever even holding their hand, tucking them in at night or teaching them the ways of the world. Eseza cherished the thought of us. She prayed for us...on that mat. A little girl, with nothing to her name but a school uniform, a crib mattress to sleep on (provided by us) and prayer mat; prayed for US.

It is humbling.

I eventually got to visit her country. I attended a Bible study with several Ugandan women working to get out of prostitution and told them of Eseza. Tears ran down these ladies dark, soft cheeks as they listened. They cried for this little girl, even though they all know ten more like her. Each one of these orphans matter. Their stories matter.

Eseza's mat finally found it's way to us this week. I will always look at it and remember her, and remind myself to pray for others, even when I need all the prayers I can get.

Here is the first letter she sent us...

In loving memory of Eseza~

Friday, October 21, 2011

The first two squares have sponsors!

A genuine thank you goes out to the Onions family and the (Adam) Mars family! It warms our hearts and we cannot thank you all enough. I know your families are both on fire for the orphan, supporting them, praying for them, and making a difference in their worlds...thank you, thank you, thank you.

I have chosen to make a classic American 1950's quilt. I was going to do a more "baby" looking theme, but changed my mind, remembering, this quilt will be displayed in my home forever...so I went with some patterns I love and will "go" in my home forever...

Here are the first four squares...two of them are sponsored, YIPEE Jesus!

Truly Yours,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Piecing Together Our Family

It's no secret, adopting costs money...it's time consuming, it's stressful.


The common question: "But isn't it expensive?"

Here is the truth: it is no more than the average Amercian's car! I am not trying to be ugly. I am just making an effort to put it into perspective. If you are interested in adoption and would like to know about the fees, contact an agency to send you a price breakdown and discuss the fees involved. Don't be afraid to ask, and please don't let it scare you away!

Here is what we are doing to help us with our adoption. This is not your typical fundraiser, this is a keepsake for our family to have forever, and we want you to be a part of it!

I love quilts.

I love to quilt.

I love what quilts represent.

There is something special, something warm, and safe about a quilt.

I have decided to make one, one square at a time to help with our adoption. We are asking if you feel led to contribute (no matter the amount) financially to our adoption, that you "sponsor" a square of this family quilt. Each person, or family that sponsors a square will have their name written on a square of the quilt. I am so excited to one day tell our twin boys, what this quilt represents. This quilt and each of it's squares will represent the people that helped bring them home; these are the people that helped "piece our family together."

We understand not everyone has a lot of extra money sitting around...which is why we do not feel we should put a price tag on these "squares." If you want to be a part of this blessing in a financial way... we would apprciate it so much, more than you know. You can do a couple of things, you can contribute by clicking on the paypal button along the right hand side of my blog, or you can email me at misty297@hotmail.com for an address to send a check.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all the forms of support you are each showing our family as we grow through adoption.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Step by Step

Last week the big accomplishment was getting our documents successfully through the certification process and on to the embassy to be authenticated. As of of 8:15 a.m. we have completed one of the final steps in our paper chase. We got our finger prints captured for immigration. The best part about this liitle jog to a very official appointment is we had a few hours to discuss the names of these cute little guys (with no distractions.). We are finding naming twins is a lot more difficult for us. We have agreed, they need to be strong and catchy, not one cooler than the other, and they don't need to rhyme or start with the same letter. Names are a big deal to us, I like to keep meanings in mind. As you know, they have been named officially Ning And Ping. They are in an American Foster Care Center, which means they have also given them American names, Max and Matthew. We are not really sure what they are used to being called at this time. Either way, we feel a name is a gift and each of our children deserves one that has been thought about, pondered and carefully considered. As soon as they are set in stone we will put them out there...for now we are going to avoid the opinions, not because we don't value them, but rather because we do. Then we get really confused and start going backward and it just ain't no fun!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Running for the Orphan!

Last Saturday I had the honor of helping with the River Run for the Orphan here in Durango. The kids had such a great time and the coolest thing was...they knew why they were there. It was a great success, despite the rain. Tyler came in 20th out of a pretty big crowd in the 5K. Rance and Zoe finished the one mile! On those short little legs that is quite the accomplishment. Throughout the morning, I kept telling myself, next year...we will be pushing our boys in a stroller in this run, and they will no longer be orphans...How cool is that!?!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Please keep An Ning in your prayers...

An Ning, the little guy below has cleft lip and palate. Cleft lip and palate is very common in China. It is believed the birth defect in some cases is due to the fetus not having enough folic acid during the pregnancy. The very week we were matched with these little guys, An Ning was receiving surgery on his lip. It is truly amazing how much better it looks, and so awesome to see how he looks so healthy despite the defect. It is certain he will need more surgeries as he grows and we are armed and ready to take that on. I am researching it now, deciding the best way to tackle this. A few weeks after the referral we got a call from Judy, our social worker. She informed us, in a routine visit, they heard something in his heart that prompted tests. They sent him for an EKG and determined he has a small hole in his heart. Apparently all babies are born with a whole in their heart that closes relatively quickly on it's own. This little guys has not yet closed, therefore, he needs prayers and monitoring. I would love it, if you ladies would remember him in your prayers till this hole closes. We will monitor it as he grows...if it creates issues he will need a surgery. We know God put these precious little guys in our life for a reason....maybe just maybe...it's all the prayer warriors they now have on their side.

An Ning...3 weeks after his lip surgery

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adding to the family...

In May Clay and I decided to pursue our plans of adopting. While in Uganda I had made some great connections and felt confident Uganda was the country we were supposed to adopt from. We had a baby home willing to match us, we had a lawyer willing to represent us, and I had lots and lots of friends there willing to support us in any way they could. It seemed perfect. When Clay and I first began talking about what age and gender we would like to add to the family, we had narrowed it down to; under the age of 2, and either sex. While sitting and listening to my stories and seeing the pictures, Clay asked, "What about twins?" Funny he mentioned that, because I would love to bring two home in one bang! So, we decided to tell our lawyer as well as the baby home that we are open to twins and siblings, either sex. Well...the waiting began...I sent email after email to the orphanage. Nothing. I sent an email to the lawyer. She suggested I start contacting other baby homes. That's just what I did. No replies...not ONE. Discouragement set in. Worry. Hopelessness. I know there are over 163 million orphans out there...needing a mommy, needing a daddy, needing a FAMILY. Why does not one of these homes even respond to me???? God was closing doors...but why? Next step, I called the agency doing our home study. They are a Chinese agency, however they do home studies for all countries. We talked about several countries and after going over our families details...we decided to take a closer look at China. And it started to occur to me, an orphan is an orphan no matter where it is born. They all need homes. They all need families. So after praying and discussing our options we decided to pursue a Chinese child. During our first initial conversation, I asked, "Can we request twins or siblings? The lady replied, "Well, not really. You could, I suppose. However, the chances are very slim you would be matched with two children. We don't see twins very often. And most children are abandoned at birth, meaning, even though these children may have biological siblings, we would have no way of knowing that. And getting matched with twins does not happen often. They too are often separated." "Well there went that," I thought. But we forged on. It did not stop me from praying for twins every night. I even remember specifically saying to God one night, "Lord, I know there are twins out there that need a home. I don't care if they are boys are girls. I just pray you would help them find their way to us." Well, when you are in the process of adopting you get exclusive access to profiles of children available. For a women like me, it is impossible not to look. So I found myself looking into all these little brown eyes every day...wondering if I was supposed to inquire on one. Finally, I did. I called the agency and told them I would like to learn more about this certain little boy. He was darling. He was only about six months old. By that evening we had his file. We had his file and we HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH IT. Clay and I looked it over, and over and over. We didn't know how to feel. We didn't know what to think. Something did not feel right, but we didn't know what. Full of guilt, we decided to call the agency and tell them we were not able to move forward on adopting this little guy. I could not sleep...so I prayed. Finally, it came to me. I needed to wait on God's timing. I needed to quit looking at these children, and wait for a call. Wait for the agency to match me. I asked God then and there, to make it clear. When it is the match we are supposed to except, make it clear. I want to know, this is the one, WITHOUT A DOUBT. A few weeks later, I get the call from Judy, my sweet social worker. She tells me, they have a potential match for our family. "I am a little hesitant to tell you, because one of the medical needs you had marked "maybe" on your medical checklist." (You fill those out when you are adopting, letting the agency know what you feel your family can handle.) But the other needs you had marked "yes." I could hear how "unsure" Judy was about this match and it was making me nervous and excited...I believe I was holding my breath. "We have here some TWIN boys...." Thanks you Jesus, that is pretty clear I would say.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Missing Uganda

It has been 3 1/2 weeks since I returned from Uganda. I am missing it terribly. No longer can I look at anything the same. I can no longer take a warm shower and not think of all the little children at the babies home that will be taking a cold shower about 3 hours from when I take my warm one. I can no longer look an infant, safe in it's infant seat, gazing up at it's mother as she freely shops for everything her family needs/wants at Walmart---without thinking of the millions of babies who are motherless. They might be laying alone in a crib, totally unaware that they are so alone, but aware something is not right. They may be laying on a path somewhere, waiting to be discovered. They may be submersed in a toilet, covered in maggots, fighting for their life. Yes, it is true, that really happens. I can no longer tolerate waisted food and picky eaters, because I know somewhere, there is a child digging through a rubbish can. And there are thousands waiting in a long line, praying the pot does not run dry by the time they get to the front. I can no longer hop in my van, turn the engine and take off with out thinking of the millions who are walking five miles to fill their jug, hoping it is water they can drink without getting ill. I have no desire to go shop and load up on things I do not need...it does not feel right.

I thought I went on a mission to be Jesus' hands and feet, to change lives, to hug on children and tell them they are not forgotten. That is what I set out to do. It happened, it did. But what happened that was even bigger, far bigger than that, is GOD CHANGED ME. He opened my eyes. And once He opens your eyes, you can not shut them to the pain and suffering going on around the world.

We have to act. Once you are exposed, you cannot just turn your back. And I won't, I can't. I built relationships in Kampala. I met friends. I made promises. I love the people. I hate the corruption. I want to be part of the solution.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Daddy Daughter Dance

Friday night my husband and daughter had their first official "date." Our church, the River Church hosts this annually. Zoe looked forward to this for about two months. It made me realize more than ever before how important it is for dads to "court" their daughters. I would much rather she turn to her daddy for love and affection than any other man...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bake Sale!

I have been in my kitchen since 3:30 today, and it is about 10 pm. I have been baking, dipping, washing, and flipping pages in the recipe books. My kitchen is on FIRE for the orphan! I made 12 blueberry muffins, 39 chocolate covered oreo cookie suckers, 15 pieces of coffee cake, 8 scones, and 2 dozen oatmeal cookies. I can't wait to pack all this in to the River Church in the morning and see what God has in store for us!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I am on the GO team and it just doesn't get better than that!

I am going to AFRICA in April and I can't wait!!! I just heard today the team I am going with has been invited to a wedding while we are there, but it get's better than that. We get to be a part of getting 200 boys from the streets of Kampala to the wedding in new shirts and ties. How amazing is that! These boys have probably never attended a wedding, and have probably never seen so much food in one place and I am going to be blessed with the opportunity to share in this blessing. Amazing is our God!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zoe Cadence turns 8!

How the time does fly. We all say it, we all feel it, but that does not stop us from repeating it time and time again. Birthdays are one of those times we see it and are reminded so clearly. I told Zoe about the day she was born, a story she loves to hear. The funny thing is, I could recall each little detail as if it happened yesterday. I could remember some of my thoughts, some of the images I had and some of the fears I felt. I am so happy to say, she has exceeded all my expectations and I am very proud to be her mom. I love you Zoe!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I want to go to AFRICA!

My friend Linn is leading a mission trip to UGANDA in April and I want to go! I need to raise the money, about $3,000. I need to come up with some creative ideas I guess. Tyler is going to Europe next summer with People to People ambassadors and we are already fundraising for his trip...that's the only problem. Oh well, God can move mountains and this is something I have always wanted to do, so time to start praying, planning and moving!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I have a driving teenager...weird.

My son, Tyler got his license yesterday. Bittersweet. I am so proud, but it seems each step is a step closer to him spreading his wings. I just want to keep him close. He is so steady and so mild, I know he will do great out there, but to put it simply, I don't want to let him "go" because I enjoy him so much. He makes me smile, he calms me down and gives me a sense of security. I thank God for him every day and I just lift him up and ask the Lord to protect him as he ventures out~