Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

This Man

This year, I had the pleasure of speaking a few times to different groups of moms in various churches.  I love speaking, and encouraging women through God's word, but at one particular group last year something that was said made me so much more thankful for this Godly man who boldly follows the Lord into the unknown of adoption.  One momma came up to me after and said..How in the world do you get your husband to agree to all of this?  Honestly, I don't, but the Lord does.  I couldn't be more thankful for this  incredible husband, and father who is constantly calling me into a room of our home to look at how adorable our children are in whatever moment he spots them.  Seriously, he is crazy for our girls.  He and Jilly spend a good part of every day together at the park, and all of my girls love, love their daddy.  You see, God designed us to be loved and cared for by an Earthly father so that we might be pointed to the great love our Heavenly Father has for us.  This man of mine is not perfect, but he is such a blessing.  A wonderful, loving father, a servant, a softie, and, most importantly, a man of God.  Because of this, it is no surprise that when I began to feel like it was time to add another little one to our home, he was on board.  I can't wait to tell you all about her!  Preapproval is only about a week away so hold on tight as I can share her details soon.  If you can't wait a week, come to service this morning as I think Daddy might sneak her picture into the slide show during his sermon this morning.  So beyond grateful here that God would allow us the privilege to love just one more precious girl in His name.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

God Songs

Yesterday morning Anna Mei and I were on our way to take Molly to speech therapy.  I started the car to hear one of my favorite worship songs playing on the radio.  After a few minutes, my five year old girl's voice chimed up from the back saying..Momma there are always God songs on in our car.  Her tone seemed like a question so this momma took the opportunity to explain that I want to always, always be filling my heart and mind with the Lord.  I want to hear His word, who He is, and praise Him every minute of my life.  I tell my babe how hard it is to not let other things creep in, and that listening to only God songs helps this momma stay as full as I possibly can.  I go on to explain that I hope so much to pass on that habit to her as she grows.  I also tell her that I pray that she will always choose to fill herself up with the things of the Lord even when momma isn't always with her.  Then she thinks for a minute, and asks..Momma, are we trying to teach these things to Molly too?  To which I reply..Why, yes baby.  I try to pass it on to each one of you as the Lord is the most important thing that momma could ever pass on to you.  Then, my beautiful girl says..Momma I am not always a good teacher for Molly.  Sometimes, I don't obey you.  (To which this momma is thinking, "sometimes" is the wrong adjective as you NEVER obey me my strong willed cherub.) Aside from my humor, this was such a sweet moment.  I love all things about being five.  I love that she is discovering herself, her heart, her Lord, and growing up right before my very eyes.  She is still a bit of a hand full, but in moments like these I feel like the Lord is softening her heart to Him.  How I pray that she surrenders fully to Him, and that I get a chance to walk beside her just a bit in this life as she lives in His will because she is so passionate, so strong, and I just can't wait to see how He could use her for His Kingdom.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Over Come By Her Loss

We have headed to the beach the last two Saturdays.  It has been wonderful on so many levels.  One reason, in particular, is that the last two weeks there has been a sweet grandfather and his granddaughter there.  The first Saturday when Anna Mei spotted them she came to me and said that girl looks Chinese just like me.  Indeed, the grandfather and granddaughter were full blood, mandarin speaking Chinese.  My Anna Mei was so drawn to them.  She spent a bit of that first Saturday playing with them, and enjoying their company.  On the way home, she was full of questions about her past. Questions that I will never be able to fully answer, but that I am always willing to talk through with her.

The next Saturday, much to our surprise, the grandfather and his granddaughter were at the beach again!  They smiled warmly at us, and Anna Mei instantly began playing with them.  As I watched from my chair on the shore while rocking Molly Kate, I cried softly, because out there somewhere is a Chinese grandfather who will never know my  Anna Mei as his granddaughter.  It was just too much for my heart that Saturday to contain, and so quietly, under my glasses, I let a few tears spill as happiness surrounded me.  The loss that my babies have experienced is sometimes much more than my heart can bear.  Seeing my baby girl expressing her frustration over not understanding mandarin, and discovering that some Chinese children still live with their Chinese families was a blatant reminder that this great loss will always be lurking.  It is a part of who my children are, and, while it doesn't define them, it does shape who they are as well as who they are becoming.

It is so hard to grasp the brokenness of it all, and the fact that, because of my children's devastating loss, I have gained so much.  My children are some of the greatest blessings God has allowed me in this temporal life.  I rest in knowing that God is completely in control, has never left my babies, and will use all of their moments for His good.   I am so thankful for these interactions in this life to remind me of this, and to bring about precious conversation with my treasured girl.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Saturday

In the summer, we live in the water around here.  Our nonverbal, seven year old treasure is at peace in the water.  Thankfully, our entire family enjoys it so much too.  This summer our beloved beach announced it would be closed this year because they had drained it last fall, and we just didn't receive enough precipitation to get the water level back up where it needed to be.  This was devastating news until we found another beach 30 minutes in another direction.  We LOVE, LOVE this beach, and will likely keep coming here even when Palo reopens.  It has never been crowded, and has a beautiful backdrop surrounding it.  Truly our days spent on these shores have been some of the most memorable to the summer.  Last Saturday, the house was falling down around us as it was in need of a good cleaning, but we packed up and headed to the beach anyway.  We spent a wonderful five hours swimming, relaxing, and just enjoying our time.  Oh that these summer days could last forever...
 This babe is swimming all over in the deepest of water with a life jacket on.
 Smiles abound whenever we even mention the beach!
 Our special babe is truly talented in that she can store water in her cupped hands, and then squirt it when you least expect it.  She has impeccable aim, and amazes those around her with her ability to shoot.
 This littlest babe has turned into quite the beach bum too.
 She doesn't even leave the water to eat her lunch.  As I watch her full of smiles, I can't help, but marvel at God's goodness to relocate us to this area with five..yes FIVE..beautiful beaches within driving distance.  This baby needs her some beach time, and she gets here.
 Digging for hours is a JOY!
 Baby toes in the sand.
 More digging for these two brings smiles their faces.
Counting the days until we are here again!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Yesterday

(I began writing this days ago, and left the title yesterday because frankly you all God is so very close to me in this season, but recording it in a timely manner not so much as each day is filled to over flowing.  The house is out of order.  I never sit down unless I am on the floor playing with a child.  Despite this, I feel as if I am on top of the world.  This summer has been so, so good.  The beach, the swimming pool, and filling my moments with all the little memories that make life worth living has been my main goal.  God is good, and life is FULL.)

Yesterday, I was driving across town with my littles in toe.  They were buckled in their seats with their swimsuits on as we were on our way to a dear friend's home to swim.  This wasn't just any old night swim though.  We were on our way to a fundraiser to help raise funds to bring home their son whom they hope to be matched with soon as they just finished up their dossier.  My emotions were all over the place as I drove across town looking in my rear view mirror to catch a glimpse at my three beautiful, Chinese daughters.  Fundraising memories flooded into my heart, and I just took a quiet moment  to praise God with my thoughts as I drove.  So many events, so many contributors, such little faith on my part, but what an incredible blessing each of my three adoption journeys was as I have these three amazing little ones in the back of my minivan because of the incredible people who shared what they had with us so that these girls could be called mine.  The faces of those who gave flooded my mind's eye.  I saw each card given, each donation, every moment that we worked, every need met was revisited during this short trip across town, and I just rejoiced for all that God has done.  He has been more than faithful!  What an incredible, faith building journey this has been.  What an incredible support system we have, and what an immeasurable blessing has been bestowed on us!  It is my prayer that I walk as one worthy of such a blessing as these beautiful girls, and that as we seek God's will for our family in the coming months I will be bold as one who has seen miracles and believes the Lord can do the impossible because I have seen time and time again!  Thank you dear friends for sharing this journey with us!  Mere words will never express how grateful we are to you for helping us along this road to our girls.  They are priceless.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Gull Lake Ministries Theme Nights

One of our favorite parts of Gull Lake Ministries are the theme nights.  Four of the nights are family dinner nights where we all dress up, and enjoy themed entertainment.  The girls love it!  In fact each year in the spring when the theme nights are released for the coming summer, we begin to anticipate the fun of it all!
This year there was Olympic night.
We wore our USA gear, Olympic medals, and ring glasses.

 Our very special girl has never eaten with a metal spoon.  Because of her oral defensiveness, even eating with a plastic spoon has been a big challenge at times.  Well this week the first night at dinner, this girl picked up a metal spoon, and ate with it!  Miracles never cease here in this special place!

Western Boot Scootin, Belt Buckle Ball was also a theme this year.
We were cows.




There was a fun filled Safari night too.
Anna Mei wanted to be a lion.
They weren't too fierce though.




 The last night was the annual Stars and Stripes carnival.
 There are always so many fun activities like face painting, snow cones, carnival games, and patriot games.  It is always the girls favorite night. This year, they opened a new activity.  This giant jumping pillow!  The girls LOVED it!
Jilly loved it so much that she and Daddy spent nearly two hours jumping here on the last night.  If you are looking for an amazing family vacation that is centered in the Lord, I can't encourage you enough to check out Gull Lake Ministries.  For eight years, we have been enjoying amazing weeks here each summer, and it never disappoints.  Our kids can't wait to go back! 

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Wonder of This Place..Gull Lake Ministries

It happened again!  We got to spend another amazing, summer week at Gull Lake Ministries.  Every summer, we think it may be our last, but God continues to provide this rest for our souls through this place.  It holds so many special memories for our family.  Committing our lives to the Lord, surrendering to adopting again, experiencing first vacations with those babes who are newly home with us, reconnecting with dear friends, and baptism have all happened at this place. There have been so many moments here that have taken my breath away.  The teaching from God's word, the hearts of those who serve us, the beautiful setting..each and every year I leave this week so renewed!  Grateful doesn't even begin to convey my feeling for this incredible ministry.

If you know my babes, you know the beach was their favorite afternoon spot.  It never disappoints.  Eight years ago, our Emily would sit on these very shores eating ice cream too.  I am so very thankful to have this place to be with my babes as time goes so very quickly.

 Superman Ice Cream Everyday..What could be better?
 Jilly likes her snuggles with Daddy.
 My two littlest swam in the ten feet deep water to get out to the water trampoline.  Molly is so small that she had to wear an infant life jacket, but nothing slows her down.
 There is no place in this world where this treasure is happier.  It is priceless.
 Boats with Momma.
 All my girls together makes this momma's heart so full.
 There isn't anywhere on this earth that I would rather be.
 This place is so incredible!
Next year can't come soon enough! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

The County Fair

I wasn't sure this day would ever come, but I finally feel that I can manage these three beauties in places like the county fair when I am flying solo.  Because of this, I headed there last Saturday with the three littlest girls, the wagon, and a packed lunch.  It was in the lower nineties most of the day so it was hot, but the girls did so well, and we had a great time!
 There was a barn with lots of farm animals.  This is great for Molly as I am working hard to try to build her vocabulary.  She saw many, many creatures to connect to her words.  These experiences are so language building for her if only she could hear better in these crowded environments.
 Darling!

 There was a huge sandbox made with bales of hay in the corner of the barn.
 The girls played for an hour.
 It was HOT, and this little one consumed nearly 32 oz of lemon shake up all by herself.  She is her momma's girl.
 It was a large cotton candy for this one. :)
 Most of the day was free, and the girls enjoyed every minute!
 This is the first time that Anna Mei wanted to go on rides.  Everyone enjoyed them!

 Bumper boats were a hit with Jilly.
 I think Molly may be a mad, crazy driver.
 Anna Mei stayed near the side away from the bumping.
My littlest baby was on the front of the train and got to pull the string to ring the bell.  I am not sure she heard it as she kept searching for what pulling the string was doing, but she was all smiles!  It was a beautiful day.  I enjoy these babes so much.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Clean Mud Sensory Dough

Recently, I came across an idea for "clean" mud play.  Because I am always looking for something fun to set up in the sensory tables for the girls, I bought the ingredients, added my own spin, and gave it a try.
I set it up with garden themed accessories.  I used some fake flower bushes from the dollar store, some paper grass (also dollar store), a watering can, shovels, and small pots to set up my play table.

 The dough was super soft and packed really well.  My teenager was outside helping me set up, and she wouldn't touch the stuff.  Molly wasn't interested either as the pool had water in it, but Anna Mei was all in.
 She loves her some imaginative play right now so it wasn't long before she set up a garden shop for me to purchase flowers in pots.
 She spent most of our evening at the sensory table though eventually she began "cooking" with the dough and playing restaurant because all things turn to cooking with my girl.
Truthfully, the dough reminded me so much of ice cream that I began planning a  little ice cream shop play center for them.  It packs in balls just like scoops of ice cream so add some different colors to the recipe, and viola..a whole new play adventure.  It  is in our future for sure.  Here is the recipe I used if you are interested in some good, clean mud..
2 rolls of shredded toilet paper
2 bars of grated soap
2 8oz cups of coffee
coffee grinds
Mix together all the ingredients and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Imagination Grove

Recently, we traveled back to Illinois so our DH could perform a wedding ceremony for one of our dear youth who is now grown.  We always enjoy these trips because we get a little vacation.  The girls love seeing our old friends, dancing the night away at the wedding, swimming in a hotel, and our little side trip plans.  Imagination Grove  was one of our destinations this time around.  It is a hidden gem just outside of Bloomington, IL.  The year before we moved, I discovered it when I took a group of boys I was helping home school on a maple syrup trip.  I have been dreaming of taking the girls here since that day.  It is a natural play area that encourages you to get dirty!  Perfect for my peanuts!
 A creek.  Need I say more?  She hiked up and down the creek for a good hour with her Daddy before exploring anything else.  This place had the makings of Jillian's paradise.  Monkey bars, a creek, sand, mud, trees to climb, a zip line..WOW was she happy!
 The digging pit had this sign next to it.  We dug a good long while, but never ended up in China.
 For the love of a good, clean creek, Molly played!
 Our Anna Mei was busy fetching water.
 She used it to "cook" all morning in this outdoor kitchen area.  Water plus dirt/sand with many pots, spoons, and muffin tins equals a morning of bliss for my little imaginative girl.
 Trees.  Oh the trees!
 You couldn't help but just be beaming as you watched Jilly, because she was so happy.
 She looks so grown up in these pictures.
 Anytime our girl is able to play this freely without worry, and be so very happy, we are thrilled!
 Molly was covered in mud at the end of the afternoon.
And so was this sweet one.  
What a wonderful afternoon with great memories!  Another bit of time to just be absolutely grateful to God for as we marvel at our chance to parent these great little ones.