Deuteronomy 4:35

You have been shown these things that you might know the Lord is God besides him there is no other.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Anna Mei

If you would have told me that I was going to be homeschooling one of my children ten years ago, I would have told you that you were crazy.  I simply never dreamed.  I never dreamed that I could do it.  I never imagined it would be so essential to the emotional health of my babe.  I never thought I would see so much emotional healing, furthered attachment, and increased confidence because honestly, at times, the situation with this sweet girl has seemed hopeless.  Her emotions are strong.  Her trauma is big, and pulling her out of the world a bit to be with me 24/7 has made a tremendous difference for her.  I am so extremely grateful that God called us down this path, and that I didn't let my own selfishness and fear keep me from following this road.  We have had an absolutely amazing year so far.  We have so many beautiful shared moments in the day, and she is learning.  She believes in her ability to work hard, and learn instead of feeling inferior and overwhelmed.  Best of all, I have never loved her more.  I have struggled through these last four years doing the best I could for her, and I have messed up a lot.  These ashes that we have been sifting through for four years now are finally feeling beautiful.  They have been beautiful all along, but finally I feel like they are beautiful too.

She picked up this book from the library this week, and read it all by herself.  This is the first time she has been able to do that, and I got to be next to her when she did.  Oh, her eyes lit up, and JOY overtook her face!

She said the most darling thing today.  Several years ago, she noticed the blank look on her face and the empty eyes when looking at her pictures from the orphanage.  I never pointed it out to her, but one day she said..that is my "Asian face".  When I asked her to explain what she meant at four when she said those words for the first time, she said her face was sad and empty in Ch*na before I came for her.  It cut to my heart to hear her notice that.  Today, we went to get our pictures taken for our Ch*nese Visa, and she was told not to smile in her picture.  She said she would make her Asian face, but then started giggling infectiously.  While laughing, she said, "I just can't make that face anymore now that I am American."  I could have burst into tears right there.  Dear girl has a momma now.  She is American, and she belongs here.  There are no more empty eyes, no more hungry belly, or lying in a crib for hours on end, and her smile is hard to get rid of.   As hard fought as this battle for her heart has been, she is more than worth it.  I can't wait to take her with me to get Ellie Grace as I think a trip back to her roots will be so healing for her.  That God would entrust me with such a precious gift is beyond me, but today I am so thankful!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Must Be Crazy

 A few Fridays ago, I headed with the girls to the local Ch*nese New Year celebration that many adoptive families attend.  Daddy and Em had a bball game so I took them solo.
 Oh Yes I did!  
Not only did I take them solo, we enjoyed it.  Jillian had a bit of trouble eating in this new place (which is totally normal), but LOVED the fact that the balloons, after rubbing them on her head, would stick to the wall.  This provided hours of fun for her!  Anna Mei devoured the Ch*nese food, and spit out the Ch*nese candy as she forgot she didn't like it.  Then, she walked up to a group of girls she didn't know in the gym, and joined a game of tag without much prompting.  She was so proud of her new friends!  (This can't be the same girl I knew last year.  Homeschool has been so, so good for her as I have seen so much growth in her emotional well being and attachment.  Praise Jesus!)  Molly just wanted to be near momma sitting in my lap after giving up on following Anna Mei, but she was happy.
Sometimes it is still hard to believe that I can conquer a fraction of what I do given the girls special needs alone, but we can!  Most days, while still very, very busy, are so manageable.  Dare I say, they are even enjoyable.  We are doing just about everything most other families do at this stage in the game, and, after such a rocky start for our girls, it is just miraculous!

Which, I will admit, has led me to a teensy bit of what the heck am I thinking that I am going to Ch*na in sixish weeks for another...

Then, this morning I goosh to Daddy about all that our Molly has accomplished.  Seriously, you should see the girl color some adult coloring pages as her fine motor skills are spectacular!  I go on to tell Daddy that if that baby girl were left in Ch*na,well, I hate to think about what would have happened to her.  
Like a ton of bricks, my own selfishness about worrying and having anxiety because my own comfort is going to be on the back burner about six weeks from now seems down right petty.  So, I won't be sleeping again!  We won't be venturing out much.  We will be adding about a million medical appointments to an already tight schedule of them, but really should I not be willing to do anything to care for another child who desperately needs it?  I have seen, first hand, the unbelievable difference a loving family can make in the life of a child.  I am blessed beyond measure that God has allowed me the chance to call these three (soon four) my own, and that He would choose me again is beyond my comprehension as I am so under qualified, and selfish, but fortunately God's will is better than I deserve.

Hopefully, Lord willing, in sixish weeks, I will board a plane to a land I love beyond words to claim one more precious girl as our own.  If you are willing to be a part of writing her story, we are about half way to having our entire need met!  You can make a tax deductible donation here.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

NINE WEEKS FROM TRAVEL

We received our Letter  Seeking Confirmation at the end of last week!  Essentially, this letter firms up everything on the Ch*na side of things.
WAHOOOOOO!!  
I thought for sure there was no way it would come before Ch*nese New Year, but it did!  It did!  
We signed and returned it.  
We also submitted our next round of papers to the US for immigration purposes.  Now we wait for immigration to issue the paperwork the consulate needs in Ch*na to issue our US visa for Ellie. 

WE ARE PROBABLY ONLY NINE WEEKS FROM TRAVEL!!!!!  
NINE WEEKS!!!!

With only $10,000 left to raise, we are ready to get this baby home!  We still have a good portion of this matching grant to meet.  We would be humbled if you would share our story or consider giving so that our Ellie can be home!  All donations are tax deductible, and doubled up to $3,500.  You can give, and read more of our story, here.



So Very Sick

This little peanut caught the flu, and my word did it wreak havoc on her little body.  She had a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and was so extremely weak for almost 10 days!  Literally she didn't even walk for nearly a whole entire week.  When they admitted her to the hospital, it still took two days, and three bags of fluid, before she was doing any better.
But when this smile returned, I rejoiced greatly!  What a HUGE blessing this amazing little one is to us, and seeing her so very sick for all that time was rough beyond words.  She was just a limp little shell of herself.  We spent three days in the hospital, and during that time Daddy kept the house running while caring for the other girls.  God was so good to meet each and every one of our needs, but I couldn't be more thrilled that we are on the other side of this.

I spent many nights holding her, and contemplating the fate of those so ill who are not in their forever families.  It rocks me to the core that babies die of dehydration everyday in orphanages all around the world because they don't have anyone to care for them or access to medical care they need. Because of this, I was praising God all the more that my baby was next to me through this, and that she could be cared for.  I was also sending up many, many prayers for my Ellie to stay healthy as she waits.

DIY Puffy Paint and the Year of Yes

After having my Molly in the hospital with the flu, it is good to have life back to normal.  How we missed this curious smile, and the activity that is usually a part of having her around while she was so sick.

I truly want this year to be my year of "yes" to those things that matter most because having a babe about ready to leave the nest for college just does something to remind a momma's heart of how very fast these years go.
So we gathered around the table the other morning, and celebrated with a little pastel puffy painting.
It was so easy to make, and the girls loved it!  I just used equal parts of shaving cream and glue. Then added in some food coloring to get the colors we wanted.
It had the softest feel on your hands, and I think it would make great finger paint!
The girls were into using lots of different brushes though, and each created lots of beautiful pieces of art.  Year of "Yes", we are off to a great start!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Double Your Impact for Ellie Grace

Thus far, we have raised and paid for nearly $21,000 toward the adoption of our Ellie Grace!  We praise God for this as He continues to provide opportunity for extra income!  We have also been gifted with many, many offerings of love on this journey in addition to the side jobs God has provided.  We are absolutely in awe of all that God has done!  With nearly 2/3 of the adoption costs raised, we only have $13,000 remaining.  
  This week we received some amazing news.....

have awarded our family a matching grant!

This means that every dollar that is given to our account at Lifesong will be matched up to $3,500.  If that happens half of  our $13,000 need will be met just like that.  No amount is too small to donate as each donation will be matched!  We hope to be traveling in the next three months and are anxious to mark our sweet baby girl's ransom paid in full!  We know that God has a plan, and a vision in which to do that for her.  

Will you consider partnering with us so that one more precious babe might know the love of a family?  You can visit our my story page here or in the margin to give a tax deductible donation to our account.  We would be humbled if you would share our story with your circles as together we can accomplish even more.

The one who has called us is faithful and He will surely do it!  Thank you for considering partnering with us, and being Jesus hands and feet for our baby girl!  We are beyond humbled for each and every contribution!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Party For My Artist

 I love birthday parties!
 Celebrating my babies is one of my favorite things to do!
This little babe is my artist so choosing a theme for her sixth birthday party was easy peasy.
 My darling girl was thrilled with her day.
 We painted some initial canvases with our little friends who came.
 Jilly liked painting too!
 Six years old looks so good on her.
 She opened up her gifts and enjoyed every one!
 We sang to her, and the candles were out after a few tries.
These years are flying by, but I am grateful for these moments to cherish in my heart as these are some of the best of my life.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thinking of Her Birth Mother

It's late.  I am just putting the finishing touches on a paint splatter t-shirt with a number six stuck on and an art palette cake because tomorrow is my almost six year old treasure's birthday.  Tonight in the quiet of my house while everyone sleeps, my heart is filled with thoughts of her.  The mother who knew and held my baby girl first is facing this day without her.  I simply can't imagine what it is like to live through this day..my darling Anna Mei's birthday..every year.  What must her thoughts be on this day?  Does her heart break longing to know the one she surrendered?  Does she know anything about what happened to her baby girl after she left that corner?  Can she even let herself imagine how blessed we are because of her sacrifice?  I can't pretend that I have any understanding of what transpires in her heart, but I love her.  I love her and am so connected to her.  I am grateful on this day for the immeasurable gift God planted in her womb.  Oh, how I would give anything for just a moment with her.  A moment to stand in the sacred space that is between us, and just be.  Two different mothers who share the same daughter.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Perler Beads with Miraculous Molly

The sweetest thing about our beautiful baby girl, Molly, is that she has absolutely no idea that she is different from anyone else.  To all others, they recognize it as soon as they see her.  She was born without radial bones in her arms so they are much shorter than typical arms.  Her hands are missing functioning thumbs, and they aren't positioned like most as they are turned and without wrist motion.  She also has severe hearing loss as without her hearing aids she can only hear sounds like the vacuum and sirens.  In fact without her aids, they tell me that she can't hear any speech at all. That means that she is always sporting that hot pink and purple hardware whenever she is awake.  She has never pointed out her hearing aids, made mention of her hands, or fret one bit about doing things differently than every other peer around her.  She is just so happy, so secure, and with everything in me I wish I could just freeze time and keep it that way.  She is absolutely perfect if you ask me, and I tell her that she can do anything that everybody else can every chance I get.  I pray that she continues to keep that truth in her heart as she grows up in a world that doesn't always celebrate differences.  Today, her big sis was working on a Perler bead project.  Perler beads are challenging for me as they are so tiny that it isn't always easy to maneuver them on the form.  It didn't stop my miraculous Molly one bit.  She sat down and went to work on a heart form.  She didn't just fill it once either.  She made three different heart forms.  I am in awe of this girl of mine.  She is amazing!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ellie Grace Update

This glow of the holiday lights have faded, the trees are coming down, and the girls are all back in school this week.  The holidays have been so good for us here.  There are moments that I miss Ellie Grace beyond words, but we have received two picture updates this month, and our paper work is moving.


 We were logged in to Ch*na on Dec. 9.  That means all of our paperwork is there, and it is being processed.

 Now, we are waiting on our Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC) which essentially is a letter from the Ch*na side of things that asks if we are sure we want to proceed.
 We are praying that we receive our LSC before Jan. 28 when everything shuts down for New Year over there.  The shutdown lasts a couple of weeks so if we don't get it before then it will slow things down.  We trust the Lord with this, but the sooner the better.
 After our LSC, we will send everything to the US government to finish the immigration requirements.
















After the LSC, we will travel about 10-12 weeks later.  It could be as early as April, but more likely will be early May. 
 We can't wait to get this sweet babe of course, but we seem to be pros at this waiting thing... 
I recently read an article on No Hands But Ours about waiting for your story to be written. This week I have been reflecting so much on the fact that I have spent nearly four years of the last 6 1/2 waiting to bring a child home.  I have been thinking about all that God has taught me about having JOY and purpose in the waiting because the truth is we all wait on something our entire lives.  Some of us wait on the day that we are able to finally welcome our child home and into our arms forever.  Some wait for their bodies to be healed.  Others wait for the perfect job opportunity, to be chosen for that ideal spot, or for that big break in something.  These thoughts have been ever present and mulling over in my head in the last week as I struggle with waiting for God's perfect timing to bring my girl here.  It is a common theme that is coming up in scripture as I read my devotions, in songs as I worship, and in my heart as I live out the day.   This place is a spot for me to record this wait, and one that I will go back to you years later.  Thank you for following along beside me, and for your prayers.  You are a blessing to me!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas 2016


Since it is already nearly impossible to get everyone looking and smiling in the same direction, I imagine that next year with another little one to pose we might never have a "perfect" photo.   
I hope your Christmas holds sweet memories of times shared celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rolls and Cookies..OH MY!

 Every Christmas season, we are busy in the kitchen.  Like most families, food defines most of our traditions.  One traditional food that we always make, and give as gifts, is Jumer rolls.  They are a small rolled cinnamon sugar nugget of goodness that was served in a local restaurant back home.  Our church there would mass produce these at Christmas time to sell at our bazaar.  They always sold out.  We made 55 trays this season for others, and also baked about 6 that we consumed for ourselves.  The girls are very, very good at making them after so many attempts.
 There is nothing in this world like having a little help in the kitchen.  I love, love having these littles beside me every day.
They are a tremendous blessing, and they also make everything I do take about four times longer, but it is so worth it.


And then there are the cookies!  Boy do we make cookies.  I probably would have scaled back this year, but the teenager insisted we make all the cookies.  We got a late start, but I made more than seven kinds, and twenty dozen in one day.  Tradition is important to my biggest girl.
In most every picture this year, our Jillian is smiling.  This is the happiest holiday season she has ever had.  She has done this Christmas thing five times now, and I feel like she finally is enjoying it.  It makes this momma's heart overflow with gratitude to God as I watch her trusting so much.
 We make these cookies that I made when I was a kid.  They are not cut out, but formed by shapes we cut.
 Emily has been making them her whole life, and she insists we do it every year.  Many, many memories have been made while we have made these cookies.  Many Christmases spent with good friends decorating with laughter.
 Jilly doesn't chew so she won't eat a cookie, but she isn't afraid to touch and play in the trimmings anymore.
 This is the first one Molly ate.  She came home not liking sweets too much, but Anna Mei has successfully converted her to the sweet side.
 I am not sure there could be any more frosting on this cookie.  Anna ate it all though.
 Who needs to eat?  Throwing is so much more fun.
 Daddy stepped in and finished, as usual, when the girls were tired of decorating.
Here is Anna Mei over looking a favorite variety of ours for Christmas.  These are her beloved Mrs. Larkin's cookies minus the frosting.  We had no trouble polishing off three dozen of these babies as they are our favorite.  Now after I see all that we have been eating around here, we may need to fast for the entire month of January.  I hope your holiday was a blessed one, and you ate a bit healthier than we did.




Monday, December 26, 2016

Its Cold Outside

Well friends, I am not a fan of cold.  Hate it in fact.  To make passing our days inside a bit better, we have been busy trying to come up with things to keep us entertained.  Some days are better than others, but we got through our first super cold stretch and survived!  We even enjoyed ourselves sometimes.
 Contact paper is always a hit.
 Closed Eyes..bless her.
These ornaments were cute.
 Contact paper taped to the picture window on a cold, snowy day was a huge hit.
I added craft sticks, cotton balls, qtips, and pipe cleaners to a loose parts tray so they could go to work.
 Molly was busy,
 but Anna..my artist..was busy for an hour.
 She created the manger scene.  
Cutting and placing loose parts filled her afternoon with purpose.
 This sticky Christmas tree tray was a hit too.
I took a couple of cups of varying widths, stacked them on each other, and then covered them in reversed painter's tape.  I added the loose parts tray so they could decorate their trees.
 Molly worked hard on this.
As much as I love Christmas, I am counting down the days until we are outside again.
Warm weather..when will you come back to us?