Just when we thought that our plate was full in life, God dished us up some dessert!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

I would if I could....

I would adopt them all if I could. I can't. My heart literally aches for these children. The children who were abandoned in Eastern Europe at birth because they weren't "perfect." I know God doesn't make mistakes. They are all made in HIS image and they ARE PERFECT.

While I can't adopt them all...because I am only one person....I can do my part.

I know what I must do.

I can reach out to those who can adopt....

And I can work to improve the lives of those who are not adopted into a family. 

I have an amazing opportunity. 
We all do. 
What part are you able to play?

The director of a mental institution (the very institution that Stas would have gone to by the time he was 6 years old) is a wonderful man. This "home" houses people with disabilities ages 5-35. (sigh) He has been there several years and is working to make a difference in a place that was not well cared for prior.

I was setting out to gather Physical Therapy equipment, just good thing for building strength, etc...for the people of this "home." I was looking looking for these items: good quality treadmill, therapy staircase, good quality stationary bike and more. I still need these things...but the list just grew.

This is good.

Amazingly, I have been given a list from the director of the needs they have. The items in blue are the ones that I am supposed to procure. But, everything on this list is needed.

How will this get to Ukraine?

Chalice of Mercy is the organization that is working to get these items. This is a 501c3, based here in the US, but is supporting the needs of the most vulnerable in Ukraine.  Sisters Mission Outreach, based in Chicago, will be collecting the items and be responsible for the shipping. Any items collected in Chicago can go straight to them. Any items collected in the Twin Cities will come to me and I will have a truck going down to bring them. If you are able to send me anything thing here that can go through the mail, I will add it to my shipment.

When you look at the list below, do you know anyone that is connected to retail, hospitals, nursing homes, hardware stores, etc... Any therapists that may have extra equipment. I know my therapy place said they get things donated and they could give them to me. My church has a couple extra wheelchairs, etc....

Do you have friends in Chicago that have connections?

Please let me know or email me at dgthibault@comcast.net if you are able to help in any way.


Massage tables (preferably with adjustable/tilt head) - 10

Variety of hand massagers

Air mattresses (preferable king size to be used to take bedridden children outside)- 4

Tarps (to cover the ground and protect the mattresses or equipment)

Inflateable pools - 3 pieces (the size 6.5 ft x 6.5 ft and 6.5 ft x 10 feet) for bathing children

Large Exercise balls (Yoga balls) - 5

Disks with cartoons, CD with sounds - birds, river, sea, etc.

feeding bottles - 100.

Diapers from 12kg to 24kg - 10000

Wheelchairs (up to 12 years) - 5

Other Wheelchairs - 10

Matresses for children  with a waterproof cover from age 6 to 15 years - 50.,
Adults - 45 pcs.

Play pen (to take children outside) - 5.

Lifting machine for bedridden children - 2

Sterilizing lamp - 5.

blood pressure monitor - 3 (Automatic - 2)

Glucose monitor with 1000 strips

Anti bed sore pillows - 50.

Electronic scales for weighing bedridden children (weight 50 kg, height 1m70sm) - 2

Athletic shoes for boys:

sizes 12-4.5 (European size 30 to 37)  - 40 pairs
sizes 5-11.5 (European size 38-45) -  65 pairs
sizes 10.5 to 11.5 (European sizes 44-45) - 2 pairs

 Adult size (width 5+ feet)  - 45
 Baby - 30

Thermometers – 20

***We are also looking for ANY physical therapy equipment that would be useful to the children/adults of Kalinovka.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Remembering my Dad

William G. Muller (a.k.a. "Dad")

On Wednesday, January 11, 2012 by dad, William (Bill) G. Muller died at the age of 69. It was sudden and unexpected. He died in his sleep. He was in his favorite position. He was cuddled up to his pillow and his hands tucked and curled up under his chin. He looked comfortable and peaceful.

At my dad’s funeral, my two brothers, Bill and Matt, and my sister, Sue, and I offered these words of remembrance for those who were present. We each took a part, and made a pact not to cry. We would speak with volume and confidence, just as dad would want us to. Here is how it went:

(Matt—the funny guy):
Blessed are the poor in spirit - for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek - for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are the peacemakers- for they will be called children of God.”

If this sounds like the man whose death you are here to mourn—I think you are looking for the Larson funeral at Faith Lutheran just next door.

While poor in spirit, meek and peacemaker are not the best words to describe our father, there are numerous other words that come to mind:

Smart:  Dad was smart.  Dad graduated from St. Joes in 1965—the year my brother Bill was born—and went on to earn two graduate degrees over the next decade. Dad was a smart guy. He knew a lot about a lot – And what he didn’t know – he said with confidence and volume and moved on.

The smartest thing my dad ever did was to marry our mom, MaryAnn. She loved him so well with everything she had and everything she was.

Teacher:  Dad taught grad school at three different universities – two in Iowa and one in Philly.  Dad liked to teach.  Dad liked to share his views…regardless of your willingness or interest in “learning” from him at that particular moment.

His children learned a great deal from him.  From Dad we learned that most things can be accomplished if you confidently forge ahead - despite the risk of personal injury to himself or others.  Failure -- if you live through it – is the most successful learning experience.

Dreamer:  Dad lived in the moment – but he was a planner and a dreamer.  To him, planning was living in the moment, and the plan – big or small – well thought out or not -- was everything. Dad didn’t often sweat the big things (like crashing a car on prom night) -- and too often sweat the little things (like slamming the refrigerator door) – and whether or not his plan or dream actually came to fruition didn’t really matter that much to him.

Humility: While humility wasn’t Dad’s strong suit – he did humble himself to God and was a generous servant. Whether he was making rosaries for the church or great plans for the parish – he was a good steward.  Dad had a great sense of humor – especially about his mortality.  Dad’s sense of humor – regardless of its level of appropriateness – was a great gift to all of us.  We pray that God shares this sense of humor – at lease to some degree. 

Dedicated: Underneath his brusque exterior -- Dad was kind at heart.  He was dedicated to providing for his family and played his part in providing for mom, raising two wonderful daughters and two (pause) sons.  (Best when said by one of his wonderful daughters :-)

So where is Dad now and what is he doing?

I hope dad is in heaven, with his grandchild, Michael and all his miscarried grandchildren; his sisters, Helen and Marion; his nephew, Robert; his parents, and our friend, Helen Miller. But, I think it is best to assume that my dad is in Purgatory now.

I imagine Purgatory to be like that of CS Lewis’ description. He describes our time in Purgatory to being like a man on a long journey who, at night, finally reaches the beautiful mansion illuminated on the hill.  He can look inside the window and clearly see all of the sumptuous food displayed beautifully on an endless banquet table.  But, he realizes he needs to clean up before he can go in.  So there he waits, not yet ready to join the banquet.

With this description in mind – I can see Dad, ball cap on, a little rumpled and a bit grimy from the journey – with his nose pressed up against the window – mouth watering – waiting to go inside.  I can also see the table – sauerbraten, spaetzle, pickled herring, liverwurst, and why not – icy cold beer.

(This, you see, is when Sue broke the pact…she couldn’t hold back the tears any longer—we each resigned to the tears) So we must all keep Dad in our prayers and ask God to reward his goodness and his love – and forgive him of his failings.

And Dad – by now you have realized that that there is nothing you can do but accept God’s endless mercy – soak up God’s love – and pray for us so that we will all be united in heaven for eternity.

(Matt returned):
“Blessed are those who mourn – for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they      will be satisfied.
“Blessed are the clean of heart – for they will see God.”


I love you dad. While I never really got to say to you all the things that I wanted to say; And I never got to know if you knew what it is that I wanted to say to you….it no longer matters. Because you get it now. You have heard it. You have been shown it. You understand. I have such great peace with knowing you understand. It is freeing. I feel only love and I miss you now.

Thank you for all of the good that you have done for me and for each of us.

Again, I love you. Please pray for me as I too shall be praying for you.

Love, Gretchen (your “Gooch”)

Monday, January 9, 2012

What would we do without adoption?

We know all 8 of our kids were chosen by God. Three of them we seemed to have a little more of a say in. We didn't know which kids we were getting with 5 of them....just merely that we were getting them.

What would we do without adoption? I can't imagine that life and would never want to. Each on of them bring such a joy to our lives. They reach deeper into our heart and teach us a new lesson on love.

We didn't adopt because we wanted more laundry, higher grocery bills, a larger van, a tad bit more noise around the house, or that we wanted to take up a whole pew in church.

Why did we adopt? God placed our children on our heart. Each one of them, in his time. It is funny. I remember before each one of them thinking my plate was too full. Viola! God spoke.

So many people tell us how lucky our three adopted kids are to have us....oh, on the contraire....it is us that are so, so, so blessed to have them. They are all gift. Look at them.

They are all gift!

Do you see gifts?

God knew just what He was doing when he spoke to us in our hearts.

Thank you God!!!

He's a big boy now!!!!

Ricky lost his first tooth!!!!