Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Difficulties

Difficulties wake us up to the reality of our own mortality... to the emptiness of this world..to a hope that is only found in the death and resurrection of Christ. -David Platt


One thing about mandatory hospital bed rest is that in the quiet of this room there is much space to hear God. Funny isn't it.. we live our daily lives so busy that we seldom take time for quiet or to be still, but when God allows us to experience that which forces us to do so we remember the blessing of drawing close, quietly to him. I am on day five of my hospital stay and we are well on our way to 35 weeks gestation for our strong boy. Yesterday, we set a surgery date of August 1st because he will be 36 weeks by then. We are both stable, and, while I miss my hubby and babes during the day, I can't miss what a blessing being in his word during this time has been. The bleeding that sent us here in emergency mode Monday night has stopped, and the placenta is doing a good job of keeping baby boy going! My blood pressure remains low even though they say I have preeclampsia, and overall I just sit here and wait. Who thought that at 42 Years Old, I would be here, but I know that God has such a plan for this miraculous little life. Today I am grateful for His word taught, and so easily accessible in this country as I am able to fill up every morning. David Platt's Threads series has had my Bible open each morning and been so challenging stirring my soul to anticipate all that God has in store ahead. I continue to be beyond grateful for those in our lives who love and support us. I covet your prayers that our little man stays safe and growing until the 36 week appointed benchmark, that our delivery goes smoothly, and that my recovery is swift. I feel as if there is much more to do for the Lord yet , and I am anxious to begin. Keep your prayers coming.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Reflections From My Hospital Bed

It is 4 o'clock in the morning and here I sit in a hospital bed attached to monitors listening to a heart beating strongly in my womb as I listen to Francis Chan teaching about James 1...count it pure joy when you face trials of any kind because the testing of your faith produces......Without trials...without loss of control...a change of plans...I wouldn't have the need for God. I wouldn't have this faith that is so strong. Living this life isn't about me being happy at all, but ultimately about my God making me more like Him. Trials burn off the dross. They test your faith, give others a chance to show up in big ways, and allow God to move. As I lay in this bed at 34 weeks pregnant carrying my strong boy and begging God to let him grow a bit more before entering this world, I am reminded that this life is not about me and that God's plan is much much bigger than I can see from this room. I am also reminded that by living out this plan with Joy, though it has its challenges, my faith is made pure. Ultimately, I will reach the end of this journey one day and be given the crown of life for all eternity. With this perspective, what could anything I face during this short life be worth surrendering that. Praising God tonight for His word, His love, this trial, and my faith. Oh that this time would draw me ever closer to Him with a deeper desire to love and know Him more!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Our Adventurous Girl

My how our sweet Jillian has grown.  This year on vacation, she was anxious to try the zipline and scream swing on the quad.  I knew she would love them if we could get her on, and, indeed, she did!
It is so fun to watch her grow up more and more each year as we experience this place during our summer vacation.  There is something so special here at Gull Lake Ministries, and my girls absolutely love it.  The memories that we build as they literally grow up here are so precious.  Grateful this morning for this place that has become such an important part of our family and who we are as we have been vacationing here for 11 years now.  I certainly never dreamed 11 years ago when we came with our one 8 year old daughter that life would bring us here...five more children, but it is so good!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Theme Nights-2018

Each year at Gull Lake Ministries, they have theme night dinners, and shamefully this year I didn't get many pictures of them.  Dinner time is so busy trying to feed four little ones that the super hero night, and stars and stripes are missing altogether, but here are a few to remember 2018 by.
Nacho Fiesta night found these two amigos wearing sombreros and mustaches!
Pac Man Arcade 80's night was enjoyed by all to...




The Craft Room

We spent a good amount of time in the craft room this year at Gull Lake Ministries.  The girls are older, and enjoy doing projects so much.
It is amazing to me that I can manage them by myself while they are working with their art supplies, but they are getting so independent.
Their projects turned out to be great keepsakes, and I am grateful for the memories we made arting together.
It seems like just yesterday, Emily and I were sitting next to each other doing our annual projects here so I know these days go so fast.
We are already counting down the days until we are here next year. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sleeping on Her Brother

This baby girl has been such a happy, JOYOUS little one this summer.  We have enjoyed her so very much, and she is eating up being a part of a family!
She doesn't have a clue that in about nine weeks her baby brother will be born, and this huge moving, soothing pillow that is now Mommy's belly will be gone.
She will definitely miss this huge belly at napt ime as she loves laying low on it.  She can probably hear her baby brother's heart beating in there, and she can certainly feel him kicking her off his real estate.  What a beautiful time to have my hands full of such a sweet angel while my womb is growing another treasure!  I certainly never dreamed, but am so very thankful for it!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Anna Mei’s Baptism

Waiting her turn with Daddy.
It was 5:00, and I stood on the shores of the beach at Gull Lake as I had done many, many summers before, but this time was different.  This time, I was standing anticipating the baptism of my incredible, Jesus loving seven year old daughter.  I don't have the words to adequately describe what is like to watch this once orphan, turned daughter, publicly testifying that she loves Jesus and longs to serve Him with her life.  I sat there watching, pondering all that has transpired in her seven short years of life that has led her to this moment.  I sifted through the ashes these years have left her, and the beauty that God has generated from them. Then, I thanked God for his sovereignty, His protection of her, and I praised Him even more abundantly that He has given me a chance to have a small part in her life.  What an overwhelming privilege to be her momma, and lead her to Jesus!  Her little heart loves the Lord, and, while she struggles with so many emotional demons, this little girl is going to do much for His Kingdom because she gets it in a way that I couldn't at her age because of all that God has allowed her to experience.  While it breaks my heart to think of all the ways that Satan has done his best to destroy her, watching her gain victory through Jesus is just so amazing, and He is so real to her. 
Her counselor, Miss Bridle, praying for her.



Anna Mei and Miss Bridle

Daddy, Momma, and Anna Mei after her baptism.
Though watching her commit to following Jesus brought me such JOY, I shed a tear for the millions of orphans this very minute who will never know the arms of a Godly father baptizing them.  Go get these babies!  Be Jesus' hand and feet to love the fatherless as He commands.  Don't let Satan claim this generation of children whose potential is unlimited, and who could do great things for Him!

22 Years of Marriage

"You're such a good team," said the woman I am just beginning to get to know this week when she was watching my husband and me taking care of and loving on our girls. We are at Gull Lake Ministries this week for a week of renewal, and each year we come, it is such a tremendous blessing to our family. Recently, this incredible man of mine and I celebrated 22 years of marriage, and this life is so much more full than we ever imagined or planned for. When we committed to each other all those years ago, surrendering our lives to the Lord this fully was not in our plans. We were fine with keeping God on the outskirts, attending church eventually, and living moral lives because that is what good people do, but what we didn't bank on was how radically life would change when we personally encountered Jesus, and gave our lives to Him. Every inch of my heart is changed. The way I love my man, serve my family, spend my money, devote my time....all so much different than what I dreamed when planning out this life. Though I am still a sinful and selfish woman, God draws me nearer everyday with His love, Grace, mercy, and forgiveness because that's what He does when you belong to Him. He has elevated my marriage, invited me to join Him serving the orphan through adoption, and blessed me beyond measure even as I face trials of every kind. Twenty two years ago, I would have never guessed I'd end up here...a pastor's wife, a mom to four Chinese daughters with special needs, a mom to a college age daughter attending bible college, expecting to deliver another biological baby..a son..ten weeks from now, and a lover of Jesus and His word. So after all these years, we have become a solidified team...put together to serve the Lord in this life, and, while trials are hard, life is so good...so much more than I hoped for. Today I give thanks for 22 years of marriage , but mostly that God knit our hearts together with His because having the Lord as the center of our lives , though we never planned it this way, makes every moment of life worth living. I can't wait to see what God puts before us in the next twenty-two years as I can't imagine loving my man more. Here is to twenty-two crazy, life changing years serving the Lord together. My hope is that we will have many, many more adventures for Him to come.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Watching This Girl Conquer the World

If I told you that seven years ago this girl was waiting to die, would you even be able to picture it?  She couldn't trust, couldn't leave the house, didn't feel safe, and couldn't handle any sensory input at all.  She literally spent her days alone in a corner banging her head waiting for her life to end.  It has been a hard fought road to recover this girl's heart, but watching her today..makes each of those moments all the more sweet! 
 We went to a family fest yesterday as a family.  The fact that this girl could even be here is a miracle, but she spotted this inflatable, and she insisted we play on it.  Then, she waited, mostly patiently, in line for nearly 30 minutes for her turn signing excited, excited, excited throughout our entire wait.
When it was turn, she hopped right up on the giant inflatable, strapped herself to the bungy cord and belt, and went to play.  Oh, she laughed!  She smiled, tugged, and pulled herself with all her might as the object of the game is to reach the balls in the middle.
She never gave up, and enjoyed so much playing this game!
Her entire adoring family cheered her on from the side including her sisters.
AND....she did it! 

She finally got one purple ball, and JOY erupted on her face!  These are the moments that I give absolute praise to God as I have seen a miracle happen in this girl's heart in the last seven years.  What an absolute privilege to be her family!

Friday, June 1, 2018

First Beach Day

We have had temperatures in the 100's already!
Perfect for our first beach day of the season!
Miss Molly is so much stronger than last year!
Last year, her life-jacket would carry her away, but this year she swam for a whole hour before getting tired!
Ellie loved being carried in the water, playing under her shade, and enjoying the textures of the sand.
This girl, this girl..how she LOVES the beach!
She was super thrilled to be here, and watching the JOY on her face was worth sitting in the heat all morning.
I can't wait to spend many, more days here this summer.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

When They Are Really With You..Oh the Joy!



Sitting on the floor today in the small speech room that has become our home on Wednesdays for the thirty minutes we work at the clinic, I was overcome with emotion.  When you parent a babe with special needs from hard places with spectrum tendencies, you regularly face challenges, expect to have to work to connect to them, and fight for their heart.  You, as a parent, get it, and come to cherish the moments that you get when your babe is fully engaged and enjoying their time with you.  There are really no words to describe what it is like to have your daughter looking in your eyes and being present in the moment with you.   Today was one of those days, and our dear therapist said it.... "What a JOY to have you here with me today."  And...it got me thinking that most people live their entire lives and they don't get it. 
They don't get the JOY in the pursuit of these precious, special needs little ones.  They don't see the value, the wonder, or the purpose in the lives of these dear, atypical children. We have been so blessed to find so many like minded, wonderful professionals, who like us, get it.  They pursue our babes, enjoy being with them, cherish them, and love them every moment, but today was the moment you live for.  My dear girl played with her sweet therapist for thirty minutes today, and her therapist ate her up.  There are those who would say that we should genetically test all fetus, and end the lives of those whose genes are not perfect.  There are those who would shutter to think about being given a daughter with the challenges that most of mine have, but then there are those precious, amazing people who know just how fearfully and wonderfully made my babes are and who are willing to do anything to make them smile. 
Today, we saw the smiles, and, while tomorrow she may once again be more interested in her hands than the bubbles and play, we will cherish these things in our heart.  Today, we saw the haze lifted from her eyes, and we just loved it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Gotcha Three Years Ago

Three years home!  WAHOO!!!
Our Amazing Molly wanted spaghetti for her special dinner as it is her favorite food right now.
Who can get over how cute it is when a little one sucks up spaghetti?
Happy Three Years Home Precious Girl! 
We LOVE you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Nothing This Side of Heaven...

Nothing this side of heaven....
like holding a swaddled, sleeping baby.  My girl may be nearing four years old, but the only way she will nap is being swaddled while rocking with her Momma.  I am happy to oblige as she missed out on many afternoons rocking with me since I didn't welcome her home until she was 2 1/2.  Precious Girl..What a blessing to hold this dear one!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Three Years Home

It is hard to remember what it was like three years ago without this precious treasure sitting at our table.  What a tremendous blessing this girl has been.  She has her Gotcha Day the same month as her birthday which is hard for a girl who has been waiting her turn as her three sisters celebrated their days in April.  She was thrilled her day was here.  She carried the calendar icon of momma getting her around all month waiting until the 25th.  She requested ice cream instead of cake so we whipped up some homemade vanilla and put her favorite M and M's on top.  She was pleased!  We couldn't love this very special girl..our Amazing Molly...any more!  She is one incredible, fun loving daughter who has added so very much to our family in the last three years.  Just look at that face...She is always smiling..always quick to love..always silly...just a pure JOY to be around.  We love you Molly and are grateful to be your family!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

This morning I walked past the bedroom of my daughters and peeked in at the bunk beds.  I watched my precious just turned five year old sleep for a minute and I let the reality wash over me that if I had followed my plans... I would be long done caring for babies by now.   I wouldn't know the tenderness of watching this little one sleep so peacefully.  I wouldn't have handmade cards waiting at the table with elementary sized print declaring their love for me..their mom.  I wouldn't hear their proud voices or silly giggles as they made breakfast for me all by themselves.  I wouldn't know the light in their eyes when they delivered said breakfast to the table complete with a fruit sculpture of my smiling face.  I wouldn't know the snuggles, the hugs, the stacks of muddy laundry, the sweet sound of praise songs being shouted at the top of their lungs, the whispered prayers complete with mispronunciations and such faith....I wouldn't know and man that I could have missed this rocks me to the core each and every time I consider it.  This life is hard, caring for all these babes with their medical and emotional needs is very much beyond my ability, but it is so very good.  So much better than anything I could have dreamed up to do with these years myself because God has made this amazing family for me to care for.  Out of brokenness and deep despair, He has brought these beautiful children to me to call my own, to teach about Him, and to simply enjoy.  I can't let myself imagine what it would be like if I had said no because frankly my heart hurts at that thought of not knowing and loving these incredible little people who are, by some miracle, mine to raise up in this season.  Just last night, my Molly was reading 1 John 4:19 on the wall in our living room as it sits among our family photos, and it is so true.  I love because He first loved me.  I know the depths of this love for my girls because I have been loved incredibly and unconditionally by a Savior who has blessed me with this life.  I will never deserve it.  I will never earn it, but in my sinfulness, He invited me to join Him in this anyway.  Such deep beauty.  Such overwhelming love.  It is my prayer that this Mother's Day you, too, know this love and that you enjoy being with the ones that God has allowed you to "mother".  Give thanks that He has equipped you to be exactly who they need you to be, and that you can live out life alongside them.  Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Rainbows for a Five Year Old

My Molly’s Fifth Birthday called for a rainbow celebration as she is crazy for rainbows right now.  We were happy to gather our tribe of faithful friends to celebrate our girl together.
We played a rainbow race where we used straws to blow fruit loops in the rainbow color order on the floor.
We also played pin the cloud on the rainbow.
The grand finale was the cake o’ Artficial colors as I coined it because it was rainbow batter with rainbow candy decorations.  It made my little peanut quite happy!
What a true joy to join our friends to celebrate our amazing daughter.  Oh that five would last forever as that face is precious!  After this day, I am especially thankful for those we love who love our girl and gather with us to celebrate her!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Five Years Old


To My Dearest Baby Girl on Her Fifth Birthday,
Sweet, sweet Molly..there are really no words for the absolute JOY you bring into our lives everyday.  From the beginning, you have been so full of love for us, and we absolutely adore you!  You have grown up so much this year, but still spend lots of time asking if you are still my baby.  I assure you that you will always be my baby!  You continue to be a jokester whose silliness has us laughing all day long.  You love your sister, Anna Mei ,fiercely as she is your favorite playmate and best friend.  You never pass up a chance to snuggle with Emily, can't wait to have everyone at home together, greet your Daddy with the biggest love, and are so excited to be a big sister again!  You can read well, and love doing it.  You often spend a good deal of time every night reading to us from your sight word readers!  You are so proud to be able to do it.  You also love writing and spelling!  For ninety minutes, you used your talker the other day to find words to categorize by beginning sound in the new journal I bought you.  When you found octagon to record on the "o" page, you were ecstatic!  You Love all things learning for sure!  You can now pedal your bike all the way around the block faster than your sisters, and run the whole time you are out jogging with Daddy.  You are such an athlete!  Recently, you received your first love letter in the mail from a boy in your preschool class.  Daddy did not think this was near as cute as mommy did when I read it.  You seem to be keeping your options open though as you have new friends you love everyday that you come home.   Everyday you are full of life!   You never stop going, and require much less sleep than our other girls.
You have the latest bedtime as you just don't need to go to sleep as early as the other girls.  If we put you down at *:00, we often find you up playing in your kitchen in the dark bedroom hours later.  You enjoy being up later so much as each night at bedtime you ask..Molly stay up?...and we like the extra snuggles with you too.  You amaze us at all you can do, and you continue to surprise everyone around you!  I can't wait to homeschool you in Kindergarten next year, and watch how your mind grows!  I love, love, love you with all my heart!  You are just a GREAT JOY and wonderful kid!

Happy fifth birthday my big girl!
Momma