Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beauty from Ashes

We serve a God who is bigger than Jill's pain. We serve a God who longs for her to be whole in Him. We serve a God who wants nothing more than to turn the ashes of her heart into something beautiful. A God who will turn us from mourning and give us unspeakable joy! He is working in the heart of this precious baby. She is sooo very happy here. She hasn't had one meltdown the entire trip. She hasn't laid and cried helplessly one time. She even said mama again today in front of everyone when she was standing in front of me and leaning into my arms. JOY!!! I have to admit I was terrified of bringing her here. I was worried about how she would handle being in a new place and the changes. God is so good. She is joyful and so happy. Happy baby=one happy momma!! One of our church family living with us this week suggested we just all move in together permantly because Jill enjoys being with everyone so much. She sure does. She loves it!

I love grass!

I love ice cream!

I love cheering on sissy when she plays pickleball!I even love when mommy gives me a break from pictures and makes daddy and
sissy poise with their pickle ball paddles!
I love all this crazy fun! Look at these wacky girls
dressed up for zoo night. I thought that monkey mask was weird.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moments to Remember

There have been some beautiful moments this week. Moments in which I PRAISE God with all I am and long to remember in the years to come. This is an incredible place to spend a week with my family...

Last night my precious little girl spent about twenty minutes pulling the grass and digging in the mud. We walked for miles around the lake, near the park, and all the while I was enjoying every moment. Holding her hand while she walks and watching her explore is a precious gift. I praise Him for her little spirit that is awakening each day and healing more and more as we just love her to bits.
She is so darn happy here. She loves to walk, run, walk, and run everywhere!! She is so exhausted by the end of the day. I waited so long to watch her truly enjoy herself. It has come. She is so happy. Last night in our condo, she held the attention of all 15 of us as we played with her, cooed over here, and watched her every move. She is so adored. The most beautiful moment was Sunday night when I held her in my lap during outdoor worship. Singing praises to the King with this little one in my lap is beyond words. So blessed that God has brought her to us.
Our favorite free time destination is the craft shack in the afternoon. We made magnetic picture frames together. Still a tradition despite the fact that she is growing up and wants to be with her friends more and more. She loves it here. (I just keep saying that BUT we love it here!!!) We had an awesome 70's theme night and tie dyed matching shirts for Jill and Em. God is so good.
The theme verse this week..
Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nothing Better

I hope you are lucky enough to have those experiences that make you feel so close to God that you think..Lord there is nothing better. That is what seeing my girls smile makes me feel. Nothing better Lord. This place, Gull Lake Ministries, is heavenly. My girls are smiling non-stop. Some sweet,quality family time going on here. Some sweet study of God's word. Some precious memories of my girls who are growing up way too fast. I wish you were here. I wish you could know the joy of this place. God is with us.

I remember being here last year and staying up late with DH in bed dreaming of this summer. Dreaming of Jill being here and how that would change us. I remember longing to hold her in my arms and missing her so much that I literally ached. Oh there is nothing better than to see her smile. She loves this water. Have you ever seen a lake so clear? Seriously, it is a slice of heaven on Earth. She loves to stick her face in it. Splash. Swing. Run. She just plain loves it!!

This is the first moment that I let her go in the water. Priceless.

Look at her toes squishing the sand.

My big girl loves this place so much. Some of our best memories have been made here. She lives in the lake this week we are here. She moved up to the jr. high ministry and is now free to roam with her friends to the youth chapel. YIKES!! She is loving the new water slide.

The first theme night was camo. Here they are with their best army face ready for the dessert wars. This place is too cooky. Dessert wars was a big success! Tonight is FRO back to the 70's.

Blessed. Someone gifted us with this amazing week here and to have our first official family picture taken in this place and to hear Masterson family of four..Words can't even express. Amazing time. Amazing God. Incredible Life. God is so darn good!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We're Here and Nats

We made it to our vacation destination. Gull Lake Ministries in Michigan is our fav spot and this year we are so excited to have Jill with us. She did so well on the five plus hour drive that I don't even believe it myself and I was in the car. She only cried for an hour and it was not a "China" cry. It was an "I'm a two year old and want to get out of this seat" cry. Oh those are so good, normal, and good! She even ate on the road away from the comfort of home. God is so good. I was watching her exploring and thought about all the changes she has experienced and how remarkable it is that she is any semblance of a whole being. God is so good. She is sleeping soundly-taking a very late nap, but she went to sleep easily in this new place on a strange bed. She even went into the nursery area and explored toys with me. Who would have thought?

I love it here. God is just so close here. There are nats swarming outside my window right at this very moment and even the nats make me think of God's miraculous creation when I am here. I will miss hearing the speakers this year as I am concentrating on being Jill's mommy this week and am not ready to leave her in nursery care. But what a blessed place to continue to bond with my girl!! Daddy and Darling Kiddo just left decked out in camo for the first theme night dinner along with our traveling crew. Another very special thing about this week is spending it with these other families who we love so very much!! Of course, I have already taken a million pics, but Em has my camera at dinner. Will upload tomorrow.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Please Follow Along

We are beyond blessed to be in youth ministry. We have amazing kids who we are lucky enough to walk alongside in this life. It is a privilege to be able to be involved in their lives and to be able to love them. We are so grateful to their amazing parents for sharing them with us and including us as they work to raise them in the Lord.

One of "our" kids is on their way to Africa this week. Our S has a beautiful heart for the Lord and has headed across the world to serve Him in Uganda with Parental Care Ministries (PCM). I was there the week she met the leaders of this ministry in Uganda last summer at Gull Lake Family Camp. I saw the passion in her heart and the sparkle in her eyes as she heard them share about the orphans that they are serving in their schools. I listened with excitement the moment that she told me "I will go to Uganda with them!" after meeting with the leaders one afternoon. I know S's heart and I know that she will swell up with love for these kids and that God will use her in mighty ways this week! Please go here to read about S and the team that she is traveling with to PCM's schools in Africa. Follow along this week as they blog about their experiences and all that God is doing in Uganda through this ministry. God is so at work!

Set Backs

I was sharing with a friend this week that Jill hasn't made any speech sounds since the day that she said mama. Almost back to silence.. Why? Puzzled. How can she make such big gains and then revert back to nothing? Then my friend mentioned the night terror. Did it happen after her night terrors? Of course it did. (Duh moment for momma.) That is exactly when she was ushered back into her silence. Man. This is so complex. There is so much going on in this little mind and heart. I have no idea how to handle most of this and no clue what to do to help her.

Yesterday she refused to go in the kitchen. Won't eat in there now. Out of the blue, she cried uncontrollably and got out of there ASAP when I tried to feed her in her usual spot on the floor. Today she is still filled with anxiety if you even try to get her in there. She was clutching to Daddy this morning and terrified. So, I fed her in the dining room which she is comfortable with. Why is she so afraid all of a sudden? I wish I could tell what she was thinking. I wish I could communicate with her and reassure her. I wish I could make her feel safe. I wish.. I know that God is in control and I should embrace this helplessness BUT it can be so stinkin hard to watch her struggle. Praying today..for wisdom, understanding, and strength to be able to help this little one heal.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thank Goodness

Thank Goodness for a normal night last night. Honestly, I dreaded putting her to bed because of how tough it was the night before, but she slipped right back into her normal nightly pattern forgetting the terror of the night before. She slept well. So did I! Whew. Thanks for your prayers and sweet concern. We are blessed by you.

Enjoy some of my favorite pics from the last week....

She loves to make a mess.

She empties out that diaper basket a hundred times a day.

Doesn't she look as if she has won a huge victory

sitting there on top of the diapers playing with her dump truck.

During playtime, Jill and big sis (mostly big sis)

built a 5 plus foot tower out of mega blocks.
Jill is so much bigger! My word she is growing!!

We tease about how the onsie accents Jill's figure. :)

Poor Daddy! His girls love to wrestle him!

I find this all the time. So darn sweet!

Usually big sis tries to get Jill to move before I can take a picture.

Jill just crawls right up on Sissy's lap without a second thought and insists she plays.

Jill loves to carry the cross magnet from the fridge.

So cute seeing her walking around with that cross all over the house!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hard Place

Jill is doing so well. So well that I sometimes forget the hard places that she has been and the first two years of her life that is a part of who she is..the part before a momma and daddy came to claim her as their own. Then it creeps back in stealing her joy and her security. It happened last night. She laid and cried for almost two hours before finally falling asleep. She asked me to rock her twice as the tears just kept coming. It was as if she desperately wanted me to be able to help her rock out of whatever was hurting in her heart. She couldn't make it out though. The longer she cried, the deeper she fell into her memories. By the end of the two hours the poor baby was crying with some deep intensity breaking this momma's heart. I was on my knees in prayer beside her begging God to take her pain away and dreaming of a night that these times are no more. When she finally fell asleep, her rest was fitful at best. She woke sobbing and rocking herself at 4:00 AM. It has been weeks since she has rocked herself and cried this way. When will this pain be gone? Will she ever be able to heal from all that she has endured in her little life? Turning it over to God who is the ultimate healer. Hoping with each episode that the part of her heart that is opened up and hurting will be repaired by Him who made her and has walked alongside her from the beginning.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

She Said Mama

She said mama.

Oh yes she did!

Daddy and I were in the dining room on each side of her and she lifted her hand to me and said mama!!!!!!!

I shouted rather enthusiastically to daddy..Did you hear that?

To which daddy replied..I heard it, but calm down. Don't scare her.

It may be that she is just producing speech sounds (because she is doing that so much more)

But I am going to believe that she said mama!!




What a journey!!


Two Peas in a Pod

Look at these two together... Exactly alike and two peas in a pod. always together. the same. Same face, same way they eat sandwiches, same anxiety about change, same reserved emotional responses, same laugh, same interests, same competitive nature-the same. They are the same.
(and I love them doubly because of it!)

What an amazing man God has given me to father my two darling girls. DH has shown me what a father daughter relationship should be as I watch him with his girls each day. I am overcome with emotion as I see him coaching darling kiddo, playing with her, or just watching tv.

I can't help but cry when I see him hoist Jill in the air and swing her around calling "Daddy's Home!" as he enters from work. Oh How Daddy Loves Us. All of us. How he is such an amazing picture of the Heavenly Father to our girls each and every day. I am blessed beyond measure to walk this life with such an incredible man. Happy Father's Day to the best Daddy around! We love you!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rocking Her

Jill let me rock her just now. In fact, she asked me to. She led me to the chair and raised her hands in the air to me. We have been rocking for almost thirty minutes. For about ten of those minutes she let herself relax and she let her head fall back against my chest. Oh these times are so precious. Earning the right to become momma to her leaves me speechless. I was praising God just now that I don't have to go back to work. I don't want to miss this. I don't want to miss becoming her momma. I don't want to miss one moment of loving her. These moments will be gone all too soon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In the Big Pool

Just eight weeks ago she was covered with bed sores and was so terrified she wouldn't leave the bed. She was called severely delayed by the Chinese government. Look at her now....

Soaking in the sun at the local water park.

She loved the water and has no fear.

She loves to stick her face in it, be swung around by momma, and walk until the water is almost over her head.

Great news for momma because we are headed to Gull Lake next week and I love me some beach time myself. Looks like my girl might enjoy it too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This Is All There Is

I was thinking the other morning. I wake up. Get a bottle. Shower while Jill plays. Feed Jill breakfast. Make darling kiddo breakfast. Make the beds. Play with Jill. Take her to the park. Get her a bottle. Pick up the toys in the living room. Throw some laundry in. Start lunch for my husband and darling kiddo. Feed Jill lunch. Put her down for a nap. Pick up the toys again. Get her a bottle. Feed her dinner... This is it. This is really all there is. I am not going back to school. WOW. This is all there is. It wasn't a bad thought. Just a thought..

Then this morning I spent some time with my darling kiddo, just she and I, doing something that made me aware of just how grown up she is..Made me remember that I only have six more years to have that precious girl under my roof. Made me wish that I could turn back the clock and have just ten minutes of her toddler years back. I was wishing I could be holding that chubby little frame in my lap rocking or playing next to her in the sandbox. (OK you know I cried as I was thinking this. Right there in the car driving her. I am a strange momma.) I was thinking about just how quickly this time has gone and how I wasted so much of it worrying about chasing the American dream, planning for retirement, providing her vacations, driving two cars, buying her multiple pairs of shoes, and paying for all her lessons that I didn't stay home with her to enjoy it. How I wish I could have it back.

So..this is all there is. This is all there is and I am going to give thanks that I am here every minute enjoying it. I am going to give thanks that God is finally moving me to a place where I have a better understanding of what is important (though I have a long way to go). I am going to embrace all the moments that I am given because they are precious moments ordained by God for me to raise these girls up to love, follow, and serve Him.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just Thinking..

She's sleeping now. Often as she falls asleep I sit in her room in the rocking chair and watch her. I watch her drift off into a deep, restful sleep and I think about what a miracle she is. In her room just now I heard the birds outside the window and the cars going by on our busy street. I was surrounded by all of her things and I thought about just how much I take for granted. I have always been able to experience these, birds, a trip to the library. For my baby girl, everything is new. Everything is a precious gift and miraculous. Oh, how this journey has changed my perspective. How close to God it has led me and how overjoyed I am to have experienced this..She is a true miracle and has brought me greater blessings than words could convey. I sit here now and think about her life. I think about the future and the incredible opportunity that I have been given to be her mother. So many times I am so overwhelmed at the thought that God chose me for this. Chose her for me and made me into who she would need me to be-her mother-all along. There are those moments that are so hard and yet God has met us there each and every time. Then, there are so many moments that are so good and hearing those birds singing over my baby girl just now was one of them. Oh that I could freeze these moments and just be with my Lord. Praising Him today for His many gifts and thanking Him for the life He has given me. Thanking Him for bringing this baby girl home to us. Thanking Him for the opportunity that I have to love her and be her mother. Lord you are so good.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Did It

I did it. I officially requested a one year unpaid (YIKES) leave from my job. Jill needs me to be her mom full time. Trading in my khakis and teaching gear to play trains and little people. Really I love being a mom and taking care of my family. God made me to do this.. Also, she has lots of hurdles ahead of her and I really just want to be able to help her jump them. Terrified though. Following Christ into this unknown is not easy. So many questions. Will we survive on one income? Survive we will because God will provide all we need. Will you pray? Pray that the leave is granted and that God will provide for us as we budget for next year. Pray that we will stay strong in the Lord and in His plan.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Grateful. That's exactly what I am for you who have contributed financially to bringing this little girl out of the orphanage and home with us.

Grateful that you answered Jesus call to help this orphan in her distress.

Grateful that you believed this little orphan deserved a Jesus

loving home and a mom and dad like us.

Grateful that you stood by us every step of the way and continue to love this

little girl unconditionally because of your love for the Lord.

Shortly after posting Jill's medical state and what we knew about her orphanage

conditions, a friend wrote.."you probably saved her life." Saved her life.

Grateful that you contributed to saving this life.

What a precious,valuable life she is and we are grateful to each and every one of you because without your help-without you-she would not be home right now enjoying her toys on the living room floor next to her big sissy. She would not be fed, hugged, or loved. She would not be laughing, giving kisses, or walking around like a mad woman getting into everything. She would be that empty shell of a little girl we got pictures of living her life without a family..BUT..because of you she's happy, home, and thriving...Grateful to you!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Picture Perfect

My Girl loves her some puddles. Makes me smile to see her smile.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Eating..with a spoon!

I've been getting that spoon out each time we eat and today she decided she could let it in her mouth!! It was very strange for her at first and she is so unsure of what to do with the food that is left in there. It is easier for me to push the food were it needs to go for swallowing when I use my finger. A lot of food came out on the floor, but I don't care. She is eating from a spoon!!!

Open up!!

Momma kisses me when my bowl is empty.

(I had to fill it up twice. She loves her some vanilla yogurt.)

Really Daddy, do you have to take pictures when I'm trying to eat?

I'm really kinda happy to have you guys here.

I'm starting to like being in this goofy family.
Who knows, I might even stop spitting my vegetables out at mommy.

(Probably not!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Progress and True Joy

If you would have asked me what true joy was six weeks ago, I may have answered differently. Some of the things that have brought this momma true joy in the last two days are...

my girl played in the muddle puddles at our church block party. (I even let her sit right down in them wearing her cute white watermelon dress.) She walked in and out of the crowds next to her momma and truly enjoyed herself. She even went on stage with her daddy who introduced the bands. She listened to the music and watched the stage intently for a good long while. My heart is so full to see her enjoying herself.

my sweet angel has been sitting in my lap and playing with toys laughing aloud-the kind of deep belly laugh that just makes her shake with joy.

my little treasure has been gulping down so much yogurt and baby food at each meal that I have to refill the bowl.

my precious one went to the softball game and sat in the grass, dug in the mud, and was able to stay for a good hour.

Each and every day we are making progress. I am thankful for how far she is coming. Seeing her enjoying being here is true joy to my heart. So thankful today for the blessings God has delivered through this precious little life. She has brought us so much joy already. So thankful too for the many (I mean many) who love her, ask about her, and pray for her.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

God Is In This

I was just on another blog that belongs to a family who has been home a little less than three weeks. Anyway, I was checking out their adoption timeline in the side bar. (I always check that-must be an adoptive momma obsession.) I saw on their timeline that even though their article 5 was turned in almost two weeks before ours, they received their TA after we did. They traveled almost three weeks after us...

It just reminds me that God is in this. It shows me that God moved mountains to get us to our girl on Easter morning just like He revealed He would months ago as my friend was praying. It reminds me that He is faithful and fulfills His promises. I need that today. Jill got upset during church service again this morning and so we couldn't stay in the room off the sanctuary to hear the service. It has been six weeks since I have been in worship. Hard for a lady who even attends worship when we are on vacation. Hard but teaching me self discipline (a lesson I desperately need to learn) about seeking the Father myself without others leading me there. I am struggling at best to stay focused on my Heavenly Father each day which makes me think about the way my relationship with Jill is sometimes. Some days she is connected to me. She enjoys my presences and I even get a tinge that she likes being with me. Then other days, she is tolerating me being here at best. I was thinking about how my relationship with the Lord mirrors that. I was thinking that there are days that I basque in the presence of the Lord like it is the water I long for in the desert. Then other days, I merely tolerate His presence in my life and spend little time even acknowledging He is there. How that must hurt Him.. I am so grateful that God has given me this adoption journey as it continues to give me a clearer picture of Him each and every step of the way. GOD IS IN THIS and for that I am grateful. I can face every challenge, each day with the power of my Lord because He lives in me. Holding on to that promise today!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Family Found

This handsome young man's family has found him! Praise the Lord. This family is now bringing home two sons from China when they travel. Read about them here. Thank you for praying. One less orphan tonight because of this precious family. Praise God!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Her First Swim

My precious girl is such a water bug! I decided to fill a tub with water and try the backyard on for size. It has lots of grass and was kind of risky BUT she loved it!

I am sure she is thinking.. Do you have to bring that camera everywhere?

She laughed with delight when sissy misted the hose over her.

Hey, enough photos.

Maybe I could stand in this.

Wahoo...Oh this is so much fun!!!!

Therapy Plan

There I was, yesterday, sitting at a table with five very caring professionals who had all evaluated my daughter in the last week. (I am used to being the evaluator, being a special education teacher myself, not the parent of one being evaluated. Having the tables turned is strange and very emotional.) While I am so familiar with this kind of meeting because it is my job, being a mom on the other side is hard. Really hard. Don't get me wrong I am so thankful for my professional background and the knowledge and experiences that I have in the field of special needs because it just might help me help Jill reach her potential BUT sometimes knowing too much can be just as hard.

The results of yesterday's meeting were not really a surprise. I know in my head that she has a long road ahead of her and that there is a chance that the road she is walking in life will not look like a "normal" one, but to actually "see" her on paper and hear the words from others was difficult for this momma's heart. So, we now have a plan and more referrals to different professionals with more knowledge.

I am ready for this! Ready because I am not the kind of person who likes to sit around and wait. I want to take action. So we have..speech therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and developmental therapy all beginning soon. Most around the table thought that we might need to get a physical therapy eval too, but with so many other things going on, we decided to wait a while. We also got a referral for the cleft lip and palate clinic next week before they close for the summer and discussed wether she needed to be screened by the medical developmental team for a more medical diagnosis. So much for such a precious babe who has had so much change for her already. We are walking slowly through this in order to keep her comfortable with all the newness and are blessed to have two therapists who are willing to work with us at our house.

Praying every step of the way for wisdom and strength to be the best momma I can be for this precious treasure God has given me. I am desperately longing though to hear her voice. Selfishly, I want so to hear the word momma from her. I want her to know that we love her more than anything and there is a God who has a perfect plan for her life. A God who loved her so much that He created her perfectly just the way she is and sent His son to die for her. Thanks for your prayers. Don't stop as we have only just begun this journey.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Report Is In

So I have the speech path report in my hands-and my-her scores are so low. I would be lying if I didn't say that I am beyond overwhelmed at all that we have ahead of us. Today we had our feeding therapy eval and, my goodness, the poor baby has so many hurdles to jump over before any of us can even begin to help her. She cried most of the time we were there and was not at all okay with being back at Easter Seals. (I hope we can have in home therapy for some of our services as this will be so much easier for her.) God is calling me daily to pick up my cross and follow him into this unknown and while I am willing-at times I am scared to death. How I love this baby and I just want her to thrive-whatever that means for her. How I want to see her truly enjoy living. How I want her to really love and be able to accept love from others.. Someday-I am praying that God will allow me to see that. Because of all of this therapy and all the care our little treasure needs from her momma, God is calling us to step out in faith and follow Him. This will mean a major change for our family and a lot of unknowns. We are giving up control of so much financially by doing what He is laying on our hearts, but we are praying and we know that above all God is good and He has a plan for our family. A plan that will bring glory to His name. Will you pray for us too-as we follow God and decide where to go from here?