Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jillian's First Day of School

Everything about this adoption journey has been simply incredible and today was no different.  I never dreamed fifteen months ago, when I was handed a frail, fifteen pound 26 month old so locked into herself, that she would ever be at the place she is now.  I can't even begin to explain the miracle of the person that she is becoming in light of where she started just over a year ago.  MIRACLE!

Here she is ready for her first day of school.  At thirty-two pounds, she is filling out this little jean dress and looking a lot more like a three year old than the near twelve month old size she was just 15 months ago.  She had one bus aide say that she was just beautiful when she passed by her.  (I know that of course, but said thank you.)  She is so happy and so full of life!  She is so different from the child that was placed in my arms in that government office that I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
Look at this smile.  She let out a squeal when we pulled into the school parking lot.  We visited several times last year and I am sure that she knew where we were.  She walked right into Mrs. F's classroom just like last year when I visited with her and sat in the same chair that she did last year when I fed her breakfast there.   There were some signs that she was battling anxiety and fear, but she was able to survive quite nicely while I stayed with her.  During the speech lesson, I left her in the room-on the rug with the other six children-and waited in the parent's room.  I was told that she even interacted a bit when they sang The Wheels on the Bus during the lesson.  After about an hour away from me, Jillian walked into the room where I waited holding Mrs. F's hand.  She is such a big girl.  She is so brave and so strong in spirit!  I am so grateful to God for making her mine!

I' m Leaving You Today

Dear Jillian,
Your clothes are picked out, your little shoes are chosen, and your ready.  My heart has wrenched over this decision for the sixteen months since you have been mine and today will be the first day that I am leaving you at preschool for half an hour.  Keeping you home with me is such a joy and the memories that we are making are treasures in my heart, but today I will leave you for thirty minutes so that you can be part of a speech group lesson with your peers apart from your momma.  I am praying for you.  I am praying that you know that momma is here for you always in this life.  I am praying that you will feel peace and that you will enjoy being with the other children, enjoy sitting on the rug reading stories, and that your heart will sing with joy while you learn.  I am sure that keeping you home for school and therapy the rest of the week is the best thing to do, but I am excited that you will have this little piece added to your life too.  I love you with everything in me my darling girl.  Before having you home I couldn't have ever begun to understand how hard all of this would be, but I would do it again and again if it meant I could call you my daughter.  So, today I begin to release you slowly to the world.  I know that it has been a harsh place for you in the two short years before God brought us together, but I pray that you feel a bit safer now and with time you will be able to tackle all that is set before you.  I know God has big plans for your little life and I wait anticipating all that He will accomplish through you.
I love you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oh That This Summer Could Never End

This has been one of the sweetest summers.
Our little treasure has enjoyed life so very much.
Being her momma is so much fun!
We spent the morning after our therapy session today in the backyard. 
Oh my, she loves our backyard!
 She loves spraying me with the hose,
 swinging on her swing set,
 smooshing her little piggies in the muddy sand water,
 splashing momma with the muddy sand water,
 being buried in the muddy sand water,
 and taking it easy doing just as she pleases.
Remember that I couldn't even get her in the sand for weeks.
She wouldn't go near the stuff as it sent her sensory system into overload!
Now days, she just dives into the sand-water and all.
It's a big mess, but these days I don't mind a mess.
I just enjoy my moments with her-each and every messy one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

She Cried Today..

We Jillian had play therapy today. 

I LOVE play therapy. 

I LOVE our play therapist-Miss A.

And before Miss A left today, she cried a bit.

She has been seeing our treasure for about nine months now..

and well, Jillian's progress in those nine months is something that just has a way of taking your breathe away.
Here is a little girl who has had such a rough start and who today was signing for her daddy to sit in the hallway while she was on the swing during her therapy session.  (Her daddy did just that of course.  He sat next to his daughter on the floor, in the hallway to watch her swinging.) 

This may be the last time that we get to see our Miss A which caused a few tears.  We hope not!  We are praying that the new grant will come through for our program and next month we'll back on the schedule.  If it doesn't, this has absolutely been one of the BEST things for my treasure.  It has helped her so much and been so much fun.  I am grateful today for Miss A and all the people that God has put in our lives to help us-help our baby. It is amazing to watch God use this little girl to touch the lives of so many people.  She is a world changer my girl and I know that God has a HUGE plan for her life.  She just has such an effect on those who love her.

Thank you Miss A for loving my girl so well for the last nine months.
Here's to hoping that grant comes through so you can love her for twelve more.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Admitting Your Need For Help

This week we had our fingerprint appointment in Naperville for our I-800A approval to bring home our Annamae.  This is great news because it means that our adoption is moving along.  In fact, if all goes well with our fingerprints, our dossier will be off to Ch*na in about four weeks.  That is lighting fast!

With the fingerprint appointment came trouble though..Daddy and I had the same time and date to be fingerprinted.  We would have to both be gone at the same time.  What would we do with our little Jillian while we were in the Chicago area getting fingerprints?  I will admit one weakness of mine is that I do not do well leaving my babies.  Deep down inside of me, it is linked to the fact that I really hold myself responsible to be their everything at all times.  I know this is not good (sinful even) and admit that it is something that I struggle very much with. 

So as the fingerprint appointment approached, I began to feel sick about what to do.  Taking Jillian into an unknown, and not too friendly office environment, to wait at USCIS while we were fingerprinted was likely going to be a disaster for her.  I knew she would probably meltdown pretty quick upon entering the office and that her screaming would be loud and disruptive.  Still, those feelings of my needing to be her all and not leave her were strong.  I was battling in my heart big time trying to "solve" this and ultimately keep her with me for the day.  As the week wore on, my solution involved driving two cars to Naperville (meaning I would be driving three hours alone with her by myself), paying a lot of money for a hotel room, walking up several flights of stairs with her in my arms and luggage to avoid the elevator (a trigger for her), and the list could go on and on..  I was still clinging to my idea that I could not leave her for the five plus hours that it would take to drive to get our fingerprints and get home. 

Understand, I haven't ever done this in the months she has been home.  If I have had to be gone for any amount of time, Daddy was with her or on a rare occasion one of our amazing teens, but never for that long and never when we were both that far away.  As a result, I was determined that it would be impossible to leave her home.  We would just have to take her and get through the meltdowns that would likely occur with all the newness and abnormal schedule.

Granted the whole time I was struggling with these scenarios, Daddy was working his end coming up with solutions of his own.  Here is where I say that God has blessed us with many people in the Body of Christ who are so good to us.  They are like our family in so many ways and they would do anything to help us.  Watching our friends love our girl and us by supporting us this last year as we parent our Jillian has been a huge blessing.  They are willing to do hard for us, to share in our sacrifice, and do their part for the Lord by loving our orphan BIG.  So, Daddy found a college student and dear friend who would stay with our treasure for the morning while we drove to get our fingerprints.  They knew her as well as most others who are around us in ministry and were willing to be here at 5 AM to keep her so we could get there in plenty of time.

Despite this, I was hesitant!  I needed to be here when she woke up.  She hasn't ever woken up to have me not here...ect. ect. ect.  I still was fighting.  Then, I opened my devotional book last week after laying her down for her nap.  The title of the devotion was
Admitting Your Need for Help
(It was the Lord's turn to chime in!)

As I read the scripture for the day and the reading, I got it.  I finally got it and I knew that I needed to stop trying to solve this one on my own.  I needed help and those two in the Body were already willing to step up.  The Lord was reminding me that as He is allowing me to bring home more babies, I am going to need help.  I will not be able to do everything for all of my children-all the time-as our family grows.  He has given us so many to be His hands and feet for us.  For many in our lives, helping us with our Jillian is there way to live out James serving us.  We are grateful to be in a loving community of believers who are so willing to help us and we are even more grateful to the two who stepped up and kept our Jillian yesterday.

And wouldn't you know, Jillian was fine while we were gone.  She woke up fine, ate fine, played, and we were home to her by 10:45 AM.  Thanks be to God for showing me, once again, that He is there to help.  I only need to be willing to accept it.  I am working on that!  Thank you sweet Cassie and wonderful Tori for loving on our treasure so that we were able to move forward with bringing home one more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Day of School

We are well into our first week of school.
Here is my 8th grader on the first day!
 She is looking so grown up.
I don't know where the years have gone.

Our little enjoyed the first day too because sissy brought home homework.
Daddy was gone and sissy needed attending to in order to complete some computer work.
Our little treasure saw this unsupervised time as an invitation to get into a bit of a mess.
She has learned how to take her own shirt off and so when she doesn't want it on..
she sheds it.  She shed her shirt and did some dumping all in the few minutes that I was helping her sister on the computer.  She is a sneaky one I tell ya.  She wasn't at all happy with helping to pick up all those peanuts.
I have to admit..she is pretty darn cute even when she is getting herself into some trouble.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What Have You Done To Me?

It was a beautiful day to be at the park yesterday with our Families of Ch*nese Children group.  We met for a picnic and fellowship.  There was a new family that joined us.  They just moved to the area and they are a large family.  There were five little chairs gathered in this momma and daddy's area.  Four of those little chairs belonged to four gorgeous, ch*nese special needs babes.  Their eight year old has very significant special needs and she stole this momma's heart.  She was non-verbal and the size of a three year old because of her condition, but she had a smile that lit up the corner of the world she was sitting in.  She sat with me in the grass for about ten minutes and played with the pinwheel I brought for Jillian.  She sat next to me while Jillian was in my lap reading a book with that smile beaming the entire time.  She started to babble my way flashing that smile and looking me in the eyes.  She was one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen.  She was the least of the least and OH MY HEART I LOVED HER!

I lay in bed last night weeping and bearing my heart to the Lord after meeting this family.  I was pleading with Him to bring me more children.  I was asking Him to show me the least of the least and to give me the courage to love them and to bring them home.  I was praising Him for the beauty of this adoption journey and for how He has opened my heart to these children.   I was smiling thinking of all the JOY that we have experienced because we said yes to bringing our Jillian home.  I was also remembering the moments that were so hard.  The moments when it felt like we were literally fighting for our Jillian's heart and how hard we have worked to earn a place there.  I was remembering the first time I felt that she loved me, the first time she really laughed, and I was overcome with so much emotion.

I actually started to laugh-right there laying next to Jillian as I was trying to get her to sleep.  I was laughing because I was thinking..What have you done to me?  This is NOT. AT. All. who I thought I wanted to be.  I did not want a large family.  I did not want to loose so much control over my life.  I certainly did not want children with special needs.  I wanted my version of the American child, a large house, a principal husband, a nice classroom, above average blond haired children with blue eyes.  How did this happen?  What have you done to me LORD?  I was honestly chuckling while I was thinking this..aloud while Jillian slept next to me I was giggling my head off.  I was giggling because God has a way of chipping away all that you thought you ever wanted.  He has a way of ridding you of all that doesn't line up with Him so that He can fill you with His will.  My idea of who I was and what I wanted to be just doesn't pail in comparison to this life the Lord has set before me.  I couldn't have dreamed is simply too good.

I am so thankful that despite my small dreams and my self centered hopes for my life, God saw past it all and continues to refine my heart and fill it with His desires.  I have such a long way to go, but He is working in me in ways I never dreamed.  I praise Him today for that.  I praise Him for this new heart He has given me for the orphan and wait in anticipation as He carries out His will for my life.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  Ezekiel 36:26-27

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rainy Day Play

I know we really need the rain...
so I'm trying to be positive
BUT staying inside all day is
HARD for the Ch*nese babe!
(ok maybe it's a bit hard for momma too.)

Luckily, we had a few packing peanuts from a friend.
She was not at all hesitant about jumping right in.
She threw them.
Buried herself in them.
Picked them up.
 Used the kitchen utensils.
Oh that smile could melt my heart.
And squealed with JOY.
For thirty minutes, she had something to do.
It may be a long night!
I HATE to think of winter.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Doubted

After first coming home with our treasure, there were months-many months-that I thought we would never be able to do typical things again.  I remember that even after having her home for two months, she was still sitting on the floor during her meal time only letting my finger in her mouth and still afraid to sit in the high chair.  I was still having to feed her sitting on the floor in the kitchen and she would move around like crazy as she grew increasingly nervous as I continued to try to get nourishment in  her anyway I could.  There would be food all over the floor, all over me, and I rarely got to eat when the family did.  If I was eating with Daddy and Em, it meant that our Jillian was off on her own doing something else disconnected from our family.

It is because of this that sitting together at the table last night as a family is absolutely something to praise God for.  We ate waffles for dinner.  Jillian ate waffles!  There she was at our family table sitting in her booster chair with her momma on one side and her daddy on the other while her big sissy rolled her eyes laughing at this crazy momma for videoing her little sister who was eating a waffle for the first time. 

Here's our little sweet thing enjoying her waffles.  Hope it makes you smile!

GOD IS SO GOOD! If you ever forget..If you ever doubt...just get a glimpse of this little beauty who is slowly and miraculously grabbing hold of this life as God heals all the places in her heart that were so broken by her circumstances. She is truly amazing. I wish that there were words for the JOY that daily resides in my heart because of her. I just can't explain. I just can't make anyone understand by typing mere words how incredible it is to be her momma. She has added so much to our family and I just can't believe that we get to do it again! If I live a hundred more years, I will never..NEVER..get over the goodness of this God I love so much who has given me this wonderful family.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Super Excited

I am super excited because I am going to have the opportunity to teach about five hours a week this school year.  A friend is homeschooling her boys and I am getting the chance to help.  I LOVE teaching and have missed it and so it is incredible to have the chance to use the teacher part of my brain again!  I have been planning and googling during all my free moments because I love to make learning fun.  I get to teach art and science which are two of my favorite subjects so I couldn't be more thrilled. 

It is also a part- time job and I have earnestly prayed about that because adoption is expensive.  God has provided so much already and this job is just another example of His great faithfulness.  I am in awe of all that He has provided so far and thankfulness truly floods my heart each time I think of it!  I am grateful to Him! 

We are on our way Annamae.  We love you so already and watching as God provides for you is miraculous!  I can't wait to share your story with you someday!  To God be the glory my sweet baby girl for great things He is already doing for you!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

He's Doing It

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  1 Thessalonians 4:17

God is doing it!  He is providing all we need to bring home our Annamae!

We had an amazing fundraiser last night at the Pizza Ranch in Morton.  The owners (and workers) there are an amazing, God lovin' crew and it was a HUGE blessing that they let us fundraise there.  Please go there often.

We worked three hours..busing tables, filling drinks, and just fellowshiping with all who came.  It was a beautiful night and I love that God is beginning to write all of these people into the story of my Annamae.

Here are a few moments I will treasure in my heart and share with Mei, Mei when she is here with us.

One little 4 year old guy looked at his momma at the table and said..."Momma why are all the church people here?"

One family whom I had never met shared their heart with me about adoption and that they had just begun to feel God's call to foster despite having a table full of their own.  They are just beginning classes and I was able to pray for them.  I love that God is calling His people to care for the orphan and so many are responding in lots of different ways.

Another family whose daughter has significant medical, emotional, and learning needs spent a good long time sharing their story with me.  It was a blessing to hear of their daughter's miraculous birth and will to survive.  It was a special time to listen to another special needs momma, share in her struggle, and encourage her.  In doing so, she encouraged me so much.

Of course, some of our special kids from Grace (and adults) were there to work alongside us too.  Man I love our kids who we are lucky enough to serve in ministry.  Being a youth pastor is where its at y'all.  Thank you dear, sweet youth!  I love you more than you will ever know.  You are such a big part of our family and we are beyond blessed by you.

We made a little less than $600 and this will go a long way toward the $2,000 dossier fee that we will need to pay when all our papers are here and ready to go.  I am hoping to have them all received by October 1st.  Here's to hoping. 

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Em's Party

Turning 13 is a big event in your life. 
So, I reluctantly agreed to host a slumber party for Em.
She had most of her friends there.
 We had a zebra print theme.
Yummy cupcakes.
 Everyone enjoyed swimming at a friend's pool.
 This meant one happy Ch*nese, little sister.
 We blew out the thirteen candles,
 opened gifts,
 acted with utter silliness,
 enjoyed being together,
 but we didn't sleep much!
These are sweet memories for this momma that's for sure.
This was one of those days that you just wish could go on for ever.
My big girl was so happy and had such a good time.
My little even loved having a house full of girls to boss.
It was a beautiful night and
a WONDERFUL way to celebrate our Em turning 13!


That God would allow me a part of the joy that is this baby girl is, at times, incomprehensible.

Last night was one of those times...

Em and I walked with Jillian in the wagon to the riverfront splash park.  She splashed in the water and squealed with JOY at the top of her lungs for the hour we were there.  She made me-and all of the others there-smile with delight. 

It is during these times that I just can't help, but rejoice at the fact that God has allowed this baby girl's redemption and that I get to watch!  It is during these times that I stop and reflect on this journey and how very far she has come.  I also remember how very far I have come and how very much I love this little, Ch*nese baby. Last night as the sun was getting lower and lower in the sky and she was splashing away, I was praising the Lord with all my heart that He brought her to me (to us) because I truly can't even begin to imagine my life without her in it.  I am so very, truly blessed and grateful that God has given me this little to love as my own.

I am so undeserving and yet He has given me the blessing of being her momma.  I just can't get over it.  I just can't wrap my mind around the goodness of God and His plan, but it is something that I hide away in my heart and treasure!  If I hadn't trusted Him and jumped off into this crazy, I would've missed this.  If I had just stayed comfortably living within myself-thinking that coming up with so much money to adopt was surely impossible-I wouldn't have been there with her squealing last night.  I wouldn't have her to love on in the morning.  I have said no so many times, to so many things, and often wonder now what joy and blessing I have missed out on because I didn't have faith that God could do the impossible. 

One thing this journey has taught me is God can do the impossible and until I give Him the chance to do it, by obeying Him, I can't experience the miraculous that He has for me.  I don't want to miss the miraculous ever again.  I want to live this life beyond myself.  Beyond what I can imagine because watching God work in this baby girl and getting to love her is something I can't imagine missing out on.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


How in the world my baby is 13 is beyond me.
Despite my denial that I am indeed the momma of a teenager,
we had a wonderful, busy day celebrating her!
 She likes to have chocolate chip pancakes with candles on her bday for breakfast.
Momma is happy to supply that.
 I just put on a group of one and three candles since it was so early in the morning.
 Her homemade cake made with some help from our friends.
She requested a new Vera Bible cover and it was delivered just in time. WHEW!
Our little enjoyed making a HUGE mess with the cake, but did not eat any of it.
Touching it is progress though.

Happy 13th birthday my big, grown up girl.
We are having a slumber party on Friday for her friends.
We may need prayer that night folks.