Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ellie Grace..Our Last Update Before Gotcha Day

Yesterday we received new pictures and videos of our sweet girl!
 Just look at those cheeks,
and those eyes are so big that they have already captured my heart.

Two more weeks until I meet this precious babe!

I can't wait!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It's Been A Wild Ride..We Are Going to China!

After receiving TA yesterday, I was feeling so hopeless as we had a large financial gap standing between us and our Ellie Grace.  Last night, we asked our church family for prayer and wisdom concerning when to go, how to go, and what to do since we had such a large gap between what we had and what we needed to complete Ellie Grace's adoption.  Over the course of the evening, calls, donations, and support flooded in!  We were pledged and given nearly $8,000 dollars in just a few hours.  Friends, this is the miracle we were hoping for, and God delivered through our amazing congregation and friends.  When all the pledges come in we will have about a $5,000 gap, but we have that in our savings and were prepared to use it for our daughter's adoption so we got this! Today, we purchased our flights, began booking travel, contacted my favorite foster care home in Beijing to beg to volunteer, and jumped up and down because our Ellie Grace is coming home!  Anna Mei and I leave in just two weeks!  April 10th our Ellie Grace will be born into our arms.  TWO WEEKS!!!  I am so thrilled to be getting this baby girl home!  Thank you, thank you to each and every one of you!  China here we come!!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TA is Here

Our Travel Approval is here, but now I have to decide whether to take our dates that will be firmed up tomorrow or hold off because we aren't yet fully funded.  In four trips, I have never had to do this, and I'm a wreck.  I wish I could tell you that I was strong believing that God has a plan to bring this to the end that He has worked out, but I'm struggling.  I keep replaying the $8,000 car repair, new water heater, plumber visits, and all the other things that have minimized our savings in the last seven months. This adoption should have been easier as far as fundraising goes, but it has been a constant struggle with extra expenses!  I didn't sleep much last night because I want my baby girl home.  Tomorrow would be soon enough thank you very much.  To top it off, we are, once again as with Jillian and Anna Mei (I know lucky us!), going to be traveling during the trade fair which means hotel prices in Guangzhou are twice what we estimated.   This turn puts us even further behind where we hoped to be.  Even if we use ever single cent in our savings, we are not enough to cover this dear girls ransom by ourselves.  So here I sit, praying for some miracle so that I can hold this baby girl in two weeks!  TWO WEEKS!  OMW crazy, crazy!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Article 5 is Here!

Our Article 5 was picked up this morning from the consulate!  We have one more piece of paper to go!  Our Travel Approval should be here in a few days!  We are hoping to travel in about three weeks!  YIKES!!!  We still need $3,000 to travel, but I trust God with this.  Honestly, I should probably be up at night worrying and analyzing everything I can, but He's got it.  He hasn't ever gone to the wire like this before, but I am praying that we will have all we need so that our travel isn't held up any.  I would hate not to be on a plane to this girl as soon as possible, but it might be God's story for us this time.  I trust Him.  I can't believe it might be so near!  I just want to hold her so desperately.  Your momma is on her way, Ellie Grace!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Over Come with Gratitude


Wednesday, I stood next to my high school senior in a college chapel service with 3,500 students worshiping together.  Next year, I will drive her to this place and leave her there to begin the next stage..the first stage of her grown up life.  I am not sure how this happened, but standing there next to her singing praise and worship in such a God centered place I was overcome with gratefulness to God for the gift of my oldest.  I was so overwhelmed by His goodness as I sat there thinking about parenting my dear Emily, and thinking about how she has grown up.  I have made so many mistakes. We dabbled in church, at best, when we were planning our lives, and giving birth to her.  Our first years of parenting had us attending church, and experiencing some radical changes because of the teaching of His word, but we didn't plan for this.  We didn't begin our life on the solid rock.  We didn't start off praying over this baby, leading her in family devotions, or even hoping that she would give her life so fully to Him.  We didn't have a clue about doing any of that in those early days of our faith.  As God has begun to set us apart as we have studied His word, our Emily has watched us stumble along.   She has experienced the radical change that God has called our family to right beside us, and she has seen the repentance of practices and sin as we have learned more and more about who He desires us to be.  I have been far from the model that one would set out to be when they begin this life in Christ, but in His goodness God has blessed me with this big girl anyway.  She has a heart for the Lord.  She is going to a bible college in the fall.  It is a place where they have corporate worship together twice weekly, and bible studies in the dorm.  It is a place where the professors disciple their students by doing more than teaching them academic content.  It is a place where my sweet girl will be challenged to seek God's will for her life, and given skills to use all her talents and interests for Him.  As I stood next to her, I was absolutely overcome that God would allow me the blessing of this child.  I definitely didn't earn it, but that is the beauty of our Lord.  Because of His grace and mercy, I am able to enjoy watching God working in the life of my precious bio baby.  We will miss her oh so much as she leaves our nest next year, and moves to this place, but we are beyond excited to see where the Lord takes her as she grows.  We couldn't be more thrilled that she is able to attend such an amazing, Christ centered place to explore what God might have for her in this next stage.  He has provided immeasurably as the scholarships she has been given are amazing.  Only God could have orchestrated such an incredible life, and I pray that she grabs hold of it as she leaves our nest to build her own.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Her First Birthday Party

This may seem so silly as you read it, but the other day the Lord granted me one of the deepest desires of my heart.  When I first dreamed of adding a daughter to our family through adoption, I was excited to share my life with another precious little one.  I dreamed of tea parties, play dates, and pink tutus.  I longed pretty deeply to once again have fun filled birthday parties to celebrate her complete with theme fun, friends, and memories.  When my baby girl came to me at two years old as an empty shell of death, I quickly came to the realization that my dreams for her may not match the reality that God had for her life.  I'll admit that I mourned that for a good long while, but having experienced these last six years of miracle after miracle as she has overcome so much, I can embrace the beautiful story that God is writing through our baby girl's life even if those plans didn't match mine.

This year our girl has grown so much.  Emotionally, she is walking on some pretty good, stable ground most days.  She still has her moments of course, but for the most part she is really living a full, JOY filled life.  About six weeks ago, our sweet one began to ask, through signing as she is still nonverbal, for "Jillian party" "school friends".  I kept asking her if she wanted to have a birthday party for her school classmates.  To which she would sign, "yes".  I was so excited, but also scared that my sweet girl would look forward to such a big day and then not be on stable enough ground with her emotions to enjoy it.  I proceeded, though cautiously, to plan a day full of all that she loves. We landed on a science theme as it was age appropriate, her favorite school subject, and had the potential to be pretty sensory rich which is something she desperately needs.  We made some invitations and invited all of the girls in her class.  I am told by my Jilly's teachers that she is some kind of attraction among her peers.  My-o-my they love her!  They apparently talked and talked about the party.  Then Jillian asked to invite the boys too.  So, we invited her entire class, reserved our church gym, and assembled a prayer team for my baby girl asking them to pray that she would be emotionally stable to enjoy the party.

Yesterday was the big day!  It was good that I had an hour to myself in the gym setting up because it was a day full of emotions for me.  I shed a tear or two thinking about all that God has done for this miraculous little girl of mine.  Then she walked through the gym doors with her Daddy with the biggest smile on her face ready to celebrate her big day with her school friends.

 Enter the sensory rich science experiments, and one very happy girl.
 I made a lab coat for each party attendee, and bought safety glasses for them to take home as a  favor.  Jillian wore the coat and glasses the entire party just like her friends.
 This is Jillian's special teacher.  She is fluent in sign language, and she has helped my Jillian's communication improve by leaps and bounds this year.
 Look at her smile! 
 Everyone LOVED this experiment.
It was a chemical reaction with hydrogen peroxide, yeast, and dish soap.
 Here she is looking over her cake with eight candles.
 It was a fun, easy science cake to make.
 Photo booth fun is hard to pass up!
When you are the daughter of a youth pastor, you always have big friends too!  We are so thankful for these two girls, and our Emily, who came to help at the party.
One of her school friends, who was sitting next to her at the molecule building table, said, "She is just so cute when she smiles that way!"  I tell ya these school peers this year are something so very special.  I am so very thankful for them, and how they love our treasure.  Who knows..maybe this birthday party thing will catch on as our girl really, really enjoyed it!  She doesn't do gifts well so we asked her friends to bring a donation for our favorite orphan ministry in lieu of gifts.  Her friends brought $165.00 to donate in her honor.  We are grateful, and it is such a fitting way to honor our special girl.

Eight Years Old

Despite my best efforts to convince my babies otherwise, they just keep growing up.  My Jilly turned eight years old this week.  
She is looking so grown up.
 We celebrated her on her big day with an ice cream cake. 
 She now is eating ice cream like gang busters, and it was the very first year that she actually ate her birthday cake.  Insert sobbing momma here.
 It was reason for this momma to praise the Lord!  What a miraculous year our girl has had.  I can't wait to see where the next year takes her.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jillian Performs

If you have been hanging around here very long, you know that my Jillian is a miracle.  You know that we feel extremely blessed to watch this baby girl come to life in our family.  This week, we perched ourselves in the front row in her public school's gymnasium to watch this girl and her classmates perform their musical.  Our dear baby is nonverbal, but she can play instruments and perform through signing and dancing motions.  I was a bawl of tears watching this baby girl up there.  I simply never, never dreamed this for her.  What limits I put on God as I thought of what her life would look like those first months home when she was so so broken.   Here she is in her glory, surrounded by her adoring community, being just who she was made to be!

One of her very best advocates, and best friends, is standing right next to her!
Tears!
Another beautiful milestone for this precious girl who daily faces more challenges than I can imagine!  She has touched so, so many, and I am so thankful to be her momma!

Friday, February 24, 2017

IT IS HERE!!!

Our approval arrived in the mail today!  WHEW!  I am relieved, and ready to move on to the next step.  This set us back quite a bit, but we can still expect to travel in about 5 or 6 weeks.  I am counting down the days until this baby is in my arms.  The waiting this time is HARD.  You would think I would be getting a bit better at it by now, but this time seems to be the hardest.  Ironically, the Lord laid on my heart to speak to a group of young moms next week about the very topic of waiting because I am the one who needs the lesson from His word the most.  I just love how the Lord does that to me.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

This Wait Might Just Kill Me

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?  Well, we have been waiting 28 long days for our I-800 approval.  With Molly, I had it back in less than seven so that makes 28 excruciating.  Granted, many other families are waiting much longer than I have, and I trust God with this, but I am not happy about it.  The approval was mailed a week ago from Missouri, and there is still no earthly sign of it.  Everyday I call my dear immigration officer, and beg him to help me.  When he returns my calls, he says it will come, and doesn't help.  I send emails, call, and here I am still without a paper waiting.  The good news is that the next two papers for the steps following this one are all ready to go.  My letter arrived that my approval was cabled to the consulate in Guangzhou from the National Visa Center, but still no actual USCIS approval so I wait.  I wait as patiently as humanly possible while a piece of my heart is on the other side of the world.  If you all would have time, it would be a blessing for you to take this before the Lord for me.  I just need that letter to show up!  God knows how and when it will.  Until then, I wait.

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.