Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

She laughed

(In my haste this morning, I must have published this post before I completed it.  I was typing a mile a minute at 6:00 AM before my treasure woke up.  Here is the post again..with more complete thoughts. :)

We have VBS this week.

Daddy and I are both trying to serve while taking the best care we can of our little treasure.
(Our dear Em is serving too.  I LOVE this week of VBS.  I love serving with my family!)

We took Jillian to the nursery yesterday for a while as we all needed to run in different directions.

We are blessed to have a few great people to work in there who really know my girl.
(This momma hangs out in there a lot with them, as it is hard for me to leave Jillian, and so they are wonderful about asking about her.  They work so well with her.)

I left her in the nursery to play.  She plays in there a lot though mostly I stay with her.  I have left her there a handful of times over the last fourteen months, but not on a regular basis.

And while I was gone...
They heard her laugh.

Yesterday was the first day that they heard her laugh.

She was playing her newest, throwing toys up into the air so they fall around her, game.

And she laughed.


She has never been comfortable enough there to play any of her games.

She has never been comfortable enough there to laugh.

In fact, she is usually silent unless she is screaming for her momma to return.

But after almost 15 months home, she was able to laugh away from momma when she was playing in the church nursery!  God is so good to continue to peel away all of the layers that have her trapped and I pray that she continues to show herself to the world so that God lights can shine through her.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

And Her Name Is..

Annamae Elyse

Anna is for Daddy.  Anna means gracious.
Daddy loves this name.  He chose it for her.
We are also so lucky to have one of our high school youth, Anna, traveling with me to China to get our sweet treasure in Daddy's absence and so this name means a lot to us. 

Mae is for Momma (me).  I chose this part of her name.  Mae means princess.
Mie, Mie (said Mae) also means little sister in Chinese.

Elyse was chosen by Em.  Elyse means my God is my vow.
Em believes that all our children should have middle names that begin with E because we seem to have started that trend.  She chose Elizabeth for Jillian's middle name and her middle name is Ellen after my grandmother.

We will also keep a piece of her Chinese name when we see her face and know her Chinese given name.

Our little Annamae is waiting somewhere, right now for God to bring us together.  She doesn't yet know of us or how we have prayed over her and chosen this very special name.  In God's time, she will and we will be together as a family.  One less orphan and one more baby for this momma, daddy, and our sweet girls to love.  I can't wait to see her.  I can't wait to have her home.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I woke up early this morning and started my day off trying to control the next few months financially.  I have a color coded spread sheet that highlights the adoption payments and when I suspect they will be due.  The truth is..despite my color codedness I can't control this.  It is beyond what I am able to do alone.  I don't know when our approvals will come, when our referral will come, or just how in the world we will come up with the money we need when it is needed.  I am trying to plan it out.  I am working on fundraisers, estimating, cleaning out a retirement account, but the truth is I just can't get there without the Lord.  This is a fearful place to be, but secretly...I want that fear.  I want to live in a place were being afraid is part of my everyday.  I want to live in a place where I can't control everything because that means I am living bigger than myself.  I want to live in a place where I constantly need to pray and give my fear to the Lord.  I want to need Him above the comforts of this world.  I want to know Him deeper than I can if I am simply living comfortable where I am able to be in control.

I found myself praying this morning for God to give me courage, boldness, and a desire to be more like Him.  I want to live my life for Him even when it seems hard and impossible.  I want to walk in a way, on a path, that requires Him showing up in order for me to make it through.  I want to know Him more. 

So that is my prayer today.  I am asking God to do the impossible, to call me into the trenches, and to pour me out so that He can fill me up.  And while I am afraid..I am excited to be afraid because that fear means I am not in control and I've got to depend on God to get me through. 

I mailed the next round of paperwork today, spent a beautiful day at the park playing with my baby girl, made lunch for us, and now in the quiet of this afternoon..I am thankful for my fear.  If I avoided the fear of following God into the unknown of adoption, I wouldn't know the joy of my Chinese, baby girl.  I wouldn't trade this fear for anything because joy waits in the Lord and the Lord is leading us to our next daughter.  Praise Him!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Her Name..

As we are getting closer to our next treasure and anticipate her arrival every day, there is one thing that we just can't seem to agree on. 

Her name.

We have always had an extremely easy time choosing names for our babes, but this time it just isn't coming. 

There are names that I like and names that Em likes and names that Daddy likes, but we have yet to find that one name that we all like.

We thought we had one, but it just doesn't seem to fit.

I thought the Lord had given me the perfect name, but when I shared it with DH he told me to give it back to the Lord...He hated it.

Truth be told, Daddy has never chosen the name.

I have always been the one to designate the name and he has simply agreed upon my finding the right one.

We were in the kitchen just now and he shared the one he really loves. 

I may give in.

That may be the name that we give her, but we'll have to talk it over with Em.

So until then, what do you think her name should be?

I would love ideas.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Walking With Ethan

 We had another wonderful, successful outing just the two of us on Saturday when we headed to the Easter Seals Walk With Me event.  Easter Seals is a very important part of our life.  My sweet treasure receives most of her therapy there and they have been the most amazing answer to prayer.  They have taught me so much about what to do to help my princess accomplish the goals we have set for her and so I was thrilled that we could walk to support their cause to help children with disabilities. 

We walked for our friend Ethan-who's momma blogs at courage and coffee about learning to live with Autism.  This special momma and I go way back to before we were blessed to parent our special ones.  Her son, who has autism, was an ambassador for the event and he did amazingly well.  It is awesome to follow along and watch him grow and blossom.  Really as a special education professional, she is the kind of momma you dream all your students could have..It was a a wonderful day.
It was a not an autism friendly event though as there were loud sounds, balloons, crowds of people, and chaos everywhere.  My little lady is deathly afraid of balloons and we had to walk by at least a million throughout the morning!  I feel like I might have benefited from a blinking sign that said don't come within 100 feet of me with that balloon your holding.  She stared  them down with terror on her face at first and then turned her eyes away from them as if she couldn't see them so they must not be there.  Still, she had no meltdowns.  She stayed almost two hours and while she looked like this picture (face of disdain) most of the time-she had no tears.  She did not meltdown.  She held herself together, signed to communicate, and held that Frisbee for comfort.  We are so getting there friends.  As I was leaving, I was thinking about how brave and courageous this little one is.  I was thinking about all that she has gone through in her three years and how very much she has overcome.  I think she is the most courageous person I have ever known.  It is such a privilege to have her as mine. 

PS..She is also really rocking that hair bow don't you think?  She is certainly the cutest Chinese baby in these parts, but I am partial.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Road Trip

Daddy and Em are still gone on their mission trip, but today they will be home!  WAHOOOO!  Honestly, until this week it has been very difficult on Jillian when Daddy is away. She seems to grieve when life hands us a dose of abnormal.  BUT this week she has not.  This week, my baby girl has taken life in stride.  She has remained joyful, been able to take on new experiences, and enjoyed just being with momma.  This is truly turning a new leaf.  She is growing more secure and attached every day!  We praise God for that.

We even took a trip to Grandma's pool.  I drove with her by myself for the hour and thirty minute drive to Grandma's.  We had only tried it once since she's been home and it sent her into meltdown mode..BUT today she was fine. She was fine driving in the car, going into a strange house, more than fine swimming in that pool, and just all around a normal kid.  MIRACULOUS!

My girl loved the pool and I am grateful to have had such a wonderful week to enjoy her.  I love her to bits, but will be glad when daddy and sissy are back under my roof.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Homestudy Complete

It should be here on Monday morning.  Our final approval from the state for our home study is due to arrive on Monday.  Our home study will be finished.  It took only two months, but it seems like forever!  We are grateful for our amazing social worker who rocked this one out for us.

So from here, we go to the US government.  We file our I800 to ask for approval to adopt a child from Ch*na.   This step is taking about two months to complete as well (UGH).  It also costs a whopping $1,000, but it gets us one step closer to our newest treasure. 

Could you pause and pray?  We are auctioning some of our belongings off next week.  I am praying specifically that we might just make the $1,000 we need to cover this step.  We have a decent bit of reserve we are using from a retirement account that is getting us started with this adoption and we are grateful at how God continues to provide.  We will need to fund raise soon, but we trust that the Lord will show us when and how.  I am willing to do whatever takes to get this little lady home.  I am so thankful that the Lord has trusted us to do this again.

Here we come Mei Mei!  You will be in our arms soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eating Like A Big Girl

I did it!  I moved the high chair out and the big girl booster seat in.  She hasn't missed a beat.  This was such an easy transition.  After working for so many months to get her comfortable enough to sit in that high chair to eat, I was worried that she would really be thrown off without it.  She is doing great though.  She is even putting the cup up to her mouth herself and drinking really well.  She even let me give her a bit of water when we were out in the heat the other night.  Eating is a very messy affair, but because it seems that soft foods are hanging with us for a time because she still isn't chewing..we are just gonna have to go with it.  I did get a mat for under her chair, but what I really need is a mat the size of Texas to cover her spills and protect the carpet around her because she is a spoon flinger.  She can get her some yogurt flying across the room in no time flat.  I am so thrilled with her progress and would love to have her eating independently before we bring her sister home.  Here's to hoping we can get her there. 

And just because she is so cute see for yourself!
Her she is taking a little drink..
This one is super cute.
She misses her mouth a bit and it swipes her nose.
I could just eat her up!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You Can Always Find Her There

If you ever wonder where my little, laughing treasure is on a hot summer day...
 just check the nearest water spot
because you will always find her there.
We checked out this free splash park and play area in a near by town yesterday.
 It was free and one of the most wonderful days Jillian and I have ever had together.
 To see this baby girl enjoying life so much is such a blessing.
We packed a lunch and had a picnic, played on the playground, loved the water and enjoyed some precious time with special friends.  It was wonderful.  Spending our days like this is making the time Daddy and Sissy are away on their mission trip go fast. Jillian spoke with Daddy on the phone last night and she was giddy with excitement to hear his voice.  It was precious.  Here's to hoping all our days flying solo are this good.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Favorite Memories

After this post, I am moving on.

I promise.

 and I just wish somehow that I could hold on to the memories just a bit longer. It is bittersweet to be home this year too as we are pretty certain that it will be impossible for us to attend next summer. It is a vacation and a vacation isn't in the budget (and hasn't been for the last two years) when you are a one income household. We have been blessed to have it provided for us the last two years and we have cherished those memories. So..I am holding on to the sweet memories and thanking God for my family this morning and the time that He has given us to be together!

Emily playing patriot games (a fav. game each year) on our last night.
That is a happy smile from my oldest treasure.
This momma loves to see it!
Jillian being loved on by her favorite, teenage friend.
This young lady so loves my sweet baby.
She knows my sweet girl forward and back.
You could hear this young woman loving my girl with her words and kisses all week.
She tells Jillian how smart she is, how special, and is always building her up.
Jillian is blessed to have this relationship in her life and this momma is grateful for it.

I love this shot. 
She is saying you are nuts for doing this bath thing on the front porch momma with her eyes. 
Don't you think?
 A formal pose for the mantle.
I can never get over how very much my oldest girl looks like her daddy.
She is turning 13 soon and it is so hard for this momma to grasp that.
The time has flown by.
 Daddy is pretty happy here too.
The water in the lake is usually a bit chilly, but with the extreme heat this year it was not cold at all.
Daddy shivered with Jillian in that lake last year so it's a nice change.
 Our family.
I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the beauty of us all.
I never thought adoption would be part of God's plan for me.
I only wanted one child.
God is so good to change my heart and allow me the blessings that He has.

Root beer floats with friends.
True Joy.
I wonder if she ever felt it before coming home..
I am so blessed to be her momma.
Hearing her laugh sends waves of happiness through my heart!
I simply never imagined this for my life, but it is so good!

Here's to hoping you get a little time with your family today.
Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Joy Remains

Balancing the checkbook.
Paying bills.
Doing at least one hundred loads of laundry until well after 10 PM.
Repacking DH and Em to send off on a mission trip.
We are home from our vacation.
joy still remains.
The foot game she created in the lake last week hasn't lost it's appeal.
It has just been moved to the baby pool in the backyard.
Who can miss vacation when you live with that smile?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Last Day

Our Last Day?
Can you hear the sadness in my voice?
(Check out Gull Lake Ministries to find out more about the best family vacation ever!)
Devos this morning started off with a blindfold
 and ended with a prayer.
 It is an amazing way to start our day.
Emily received her character certificate from her counselor.
 Then, we headed to the beach.
 Oh the JOY!
She just loves it here.
 I am sad to be leaving here in the morning.
This is truly heaven on earth.
the most beautiful lake
your bestest friends in the world
being surrounded by God and His word
the best family vacation ever
(Thanks for providing it for us Grandma!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Our Days Here..

Our days here always include..
eating a little choc. cookie dough ice cream,
 observing in the craft room,
 playing pickle ball,
 dressing up for fun theme nights with friends,
 acessorizing with appropriate themed hairbows,
 eating with our friends,
and riding the waves with a big smile.
What more could you want?

What Happens At the Lake..

stays at the lake.  Right?

Jillian is really afraid of the shower stall and because there is no bathtub...we are giving her a bath in this green tub on the front porch.  When she is a teenager, she is gonna be really mad at us for this one.  She loves playing in the "tub" though and with the soap it is just perfect for bath time. :)

She doesn't seem to mind when visitors stop by either.  She just keeps playing in the buff.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Exceedingly Joyful

Exceedingly Joyful. 
Compared to just two days ago, this girl is on cloud nine.
Our girl LOVES the lake.
We swam for 5 hours this morning.
Five. Solid. Hours.
She got out only to eat lunch.
 In the last fourteen months, I don't know that I have ever seen her so happy.
Full of JOY!  So connected.
I am truly praising God for this today!
 She is so very happy to be in that water.
She is so full of smiles as the other children splash, swim by her, and chat.
 She spent 45 minutes smiling and looking me right in the eye while playing this game she made up in the water.  My heart drank in the connection for a solid 45 minutes.  I soaked up her eye contact,  recorded her laughter in my heart, and fell even deeper in love with this little beauty that God has given me to be my daughter.  I looked her in the eye and said Jill is happy.  She seemed to say back Yes Momma.  Yes Momma.  I am very happy.  These are the moments I treasure in my heart.

Daddy joined us for a bit while there were no adult sessions this morning.  Daddy and Em have a full afternoon of fun including a pickle ball tournament game, banana boat ride, and we have a baseball theme dinner.  I sent the camera so I hope they record some pics for me to share with you.  
Have I told you lately how much I love Gull Lake Ministries?
I love it here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Just Another Day in Paradise

Family Bible Study in our cottage this morning started our day off great!
Our theme verse this year at Gull lake Ministries is Psalm 121:1-3.
 Daddy leading devotions for our family.
Today we memorized Psalm 121:1
I lift my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from?
 Jillian and I spent a beautiful morning in the lake.
Daddy and Em attended great, bible centered programing.
 She would live in this water..I tell you.
We swam the entire morning taking a short break only to visit the playroom.

She loves water!
 She also decided that she loves the adirondack chairs. 
 Moving them in and out of the water and accrss the sand is a great heavy work activity.
She hasn't even had a meltdown when leaving the lake the last two times.
She is understanding that we are going back and enjoying this time we have!
All we are missing is our mei mei (little sister in Chinese).
We can't wait to have her home and here with us enjoying this beautiful place.
God is so good.  It is hard to believe that I 

She's Back and GLM FUN!

Sweet memories of our almost teenager who is busy this week having so much fun with her friends!
I am beyond grateful to have a chance to make these memories with her.

 More friend fun..
 My girl is growing up so fast and she loves it here.
 Our littlest seemed to have turned a corner too.
After a rough day adjusting, she is enjoying herself for the first time.
 We are blessed to be here with our dear friends.
We all walk life together on a regular basis and it is so wonderful to share this week together as a family.  My little loves having her entourage to follow her around too.  Everyone is at her beckon call.
 She enjoyed Texas horseshoes.
 She found the splash pad which is only running during her nap time.
She was happy with the remains of the water puddled and running out of the sprayer though.
 The girls enjoying the lake.
 Em dressed up for Mexican night.
 Jillian loving the water..
It's so good to be here.  It is even better that now my whole family is comfortable enough to have some great fun!  These are memories that I treasure as time flies so fast and my girls are growing away from me before  my eyes.  Just stopping to take some time to enjoy it all.