Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Monday, December 31, 2012

To China With Love

We mailed a care package to our Anna Mei this week.  Her birthday is in two short weeks so we sent her some party hats and blowers with fairy wands to share with her friends.  We also mailed a photo book with all our pictures and those of my friends who will be traveling with me to China.  We included a stuffed zebra (picked out by her big sister), a very warm outfit (most orphanages don't have much heat), a blanket, two flannel sleepers, some yogurt snack for all the children, and some mints for the nannies who care for our angel.  We also put some disposable cameras in there and I hope like crazy that they are returned to us when we are handed our beauty.  It is hard not knowing much about the first two years of our children's lives and so the few pictures or mementos that we do have for Jillian are precious.  I have already started her second care package as our agency told us to send as many as we like.  I wish I could fit myself in that mailer and that I could see her if only for a moment.  That LOC couldn't come soon enough if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas to Remember

Holding on to fond memories of this Christmas..

Last year, this sweet girl was so afraid of everything.
She couldn't open a gift, play with any new toy, or enjoy much about Christmas.
Her fear and anxiety was almost paralyzing to her,
our God continues to bring healing to her little heart!
This year she enjoyed Christmas for the first time!
(and this momma's heart was FULL!)
She opened this baby and signed open because she wanted it out of the box.
She fed her right away and rocked her too.
 She was off pushing this vacuum as soon as she opened it.
She loved this "dream light" contraption and
insisted on keeping the lights off the rest of the night.
Uncle A was visiting and really mad about the lights being off.
He would go and turn them on.
She would go and turn them off.
(It made us giggle a bit.)
 She has this food in OT.
We use it sometimes in Speech Therapy too.

She knew just what to do with it.
She is holding the yellow ball her sister picked out for her.
She loved it.
When you shake the ball, smaller balls inside light up and shake around.
Big Sissy was pretty proud of her choice of gifts for Jill.
Sissy is getting a room makeover.
She got lots of zebra print stuff.
We will paint her room (teal blue) when she is home from her trip.
Speaking of Uncle A, he never did win the battle of the lights
but was happy to score several cardinals gifts
(that he managed to get open even if the over head lights were off).
 Daddy got a new sweatshirt from 147 million orphans.
(All our purchases support orphans in China so I HEART this company!)
I got a new tea mug from 147 myself!
It was a beautiful, quiet day celebrating the birth of our Savior.
I am so very thankful to have this little family,
but have to admit it is hard on this momma's heart not to have our Anna here with us.
It makes looking forward to next Christmas that much sweeter.

Little Drummer Girl

Our little woke on Christmas morning to find this waiting by the tree.
My word was she EXCITED!
She L.O.V.E.S. the drum set at church!
She played this little drum set for 45 solid minutes!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

For unto you is born this day a savior who is Christ the LORD!

Merry Christmas!
Praying you spend the day rejoicing in the knowledge of the birth of our glorious Savior!
What a day to celebrate!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another One Hits..

Our baby girl just had another BIG meltdown.  Going to sleep after last week's trauma has been so very hard on her.  And when she wakes up alone..she gets down off her bed and bangs her head on the floor until we come in to her.  So, this momma is back to sleeping next to her all night and calling to wake up daddy if I need to leave her to go to the restroom in the night.  She is hurting about something and it is almost impossible to say what.  She must be remembering something pretty horrible and well it just about breaks this momma's heart.  I wish desperately that I could help her heal and I didn't feel so helpless.  She is finally asleep now and I can only hope that she wakes up feeling better.  I was looking back in her journal and this time last year (Dec-March) was pretty hard on her too.  Maybe the cold weather triggers something..maybe it is from not being able to get outside..I keep trying to find the answer, but to no avail.  It is clear we need to take things very slow and be very attentive to her.  Challenging, but worth it!!  I sure would appreciate your prayers as the spirits of this momma tend to dip a bit after two long meltdowns in eight days time. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

59 Stinkin' Days

59 stinkin' days..
that is how long we have been waiting for LOC y'all.
(LOC is the next piece of paper we need to proceed.)

It is killing me..

If it doesn't come the first week of January, it won't be here until February because  the whole country shuts down for two weeks in January because of Chinese New Year. 

I tell ya!
I hate this waiting.
I just want my baby girl home.

Then, I think of my sweet friends who have been in process in Haiti to bring home the precious littles they were referred at the same time we were referred our Jillian.  They have waited over two years to bring their littles home and have to watch them growing up in an orphanage in a very poor, underdeveloped country.  So, maybe what I need is a little perspective and LOTS of prayer.  Could you send up a prayer or two for my Anna today?  Maybe you could send up a prayer for me also..patience is a virtue I just don't have.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Family Tree

When we moved to this big, old parsonage..
I finally had room to get a pretty tree.
You know, the kind of tree with a color scheme,
matching packages, and all new ornaments.
Because of the beautiful tree, the family ornaments
(and our old family tree)
is now decorating the family room in the basement.
 Clearly, this is Em's favorite tree.
She loved to count all the ornaments that she has made.
She also likes looking at all the ornaments that we have collected through the years on special trips and such.
This tree is like a walk down memory lane and it is important to her.
 Daddy is showing off his ornaments.
Jillian liked the 49ers ball.
It is red after all.
 She helped Daddy hang it.
Daddy has many special ornaments too.
This one is a sweet tea glass.
Daddy LOVES sweet tea.
There are so many activities this time of year and so many special memories made.
My heart is grateful for my family today.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's Been A Long Time..

It's been a long time (almost nine months now) since our little treasure has had a bad meltdown.  This kind of crying, thrashing, and head banging episode that lasts for well over two hours leaves quite a scar on this momma and so I remember the last one (last February) very well.  This morning it happened.  She awoke at 5:30 AM crying.  My sweet baby NEVER wakes in the night.  Something jarred her.  Was it a memory?  A night terror?  Was it autism?  Sensory Processing Disorder?  Who knows?  I will never know, but I do know..this meltdown was ugly.  I calmed her pretty quickly with my usual rocking and signing within the first half hour, and tried to get was then that the flood gates broke.  She spiraled into a place of despair pretty quickly though I ran back to her as soon as she started crying for me again.  Oh.. my heart!  I will never get over the helplessness that I feel when I am in the thick of one of these moments and there is nothing that I can do for her.  Of course, this morning I had a commitment at church.  Daddy had to step in.  He baked (OH YES HE DID) the casseroles and all the breakfast items (with some help from two amazing ladies who stepped up after his cry for help) for the breakfast at the manger that I had helped plan.  After two and half long hours, Jillian finally rested her little body and was at peace again.  She was snuggled next to me in the bed after it was all said and done.  She looked into my eyes and signed "I love you".  I lost it.  I sobbed loud, ugly sobs over her.  Then I took her in my arms and thanked God that she is here and that we can be a part of her healing.  We have spent the rest of the day in our pajamas, playing a lot in the feather sensory bin (as she discovered she can put feathers in my glasses and thinks that it is HILARIOUS), and taking it very slow.  I have kept her very close to me all day and I am so grateful that I am able to do that.  Parenting this treasure is the hardest, messiest, most amazing, wonderful, and beautiful thing that I have ever done.  I was reminded today that God has asked me to pour out my life for my children and that my number one ministry is in my home right now, but sometimes it feels like I am doing so little for the kingdom signing "The Wheels on the Bus" a hundred times a day or folding her little hands to pray when she sits down to eat.  I am remembering tonight that God has called me to this place, given me this little hurting treasure, and asked me to bring home more so that I might be an example of Christ's love to them. This is not a calling to take lightly or within my own strength.  I need Christ everyday and He always shows up..forever walking beside me.  I am so thankful that He has given me the chance to be home so that I can focus my attention on my family when they need me.  This morning was HARD, but God is good and it did give me a day in my pajamas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just In Case You Need a Good Cry..

I just found this Third Day Christmas Song.
It is so my heart this Christmas!
I love you my angel..

I would give anything to have you here..
to pinch those cheeks...
to see your face aglow in the lights of the tree..
Praying you home sweet girl.
Looking forward to many Christmases celebrating our Savior's birth with you by our sides.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Lights

My darling teenager didn't have much homework on Monday and Daddy was gone to a meeting
 so we decided to hit the road and check out the local festival of lights display.

 As we approached the park, Jillian called out as if to say..
"Hey did you see that?"

She really loved them.
And this momma's heart was full to overflowing having both of my girls with me.
The Darling Teen took at least 100 photos of her little sis in awe over these magnificent lights.
(I was driving.)
My teen loves this little so much.
Watching Jillian capture Em's heart sure has been a blessing to this momma.

Monday, December 10, 2012

In The Waiting

Dear Anna Mei,
Today I am thinking of you so much and it makes me teary.  I MISS YOU and my arms hurt to have you in them.  LOC could come any day now.  I am thinking that today is a good day.  I wonder where you are and what you are doing.  I wonder if you are warm and I am hoping that you are not hungry.  I just wish for one moment that I could get a glimpse of your smile, hear you laugh, and feel your arms wrapped around me in a hug.  I don't yet know you my love, but God has made me your momma and you already live in my heart though you have no idea of it.  Each day I am covering you in prayer baby girl and begging God to make these days of waiting fly by.  I am praying God's protection and peace are with you today.  I am praying that you feel you are loved and that very soon you will be home with us forever.  I love you Mei, Mei.  I simply can't wait to see you playing next to your big sister in the livingroom.  Soon.  I am holding on to that today.

I love you Anna!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cookie Decorating

There were times in Ch*na with Jillian, and  immediately after coming home, that I thought she would never be able to live out any sort of ordinary.  She was so frail, so broken, so trapped inside herself, so unable to love and interact that I doubted at times whether she could ever participate much in life.  I didn't love her any less for it and was 100% willing to care for her as her momma regardless of the outcome, but the fact that she now can enjoy sure makes spending time with my girls together decorating Christmas cookies that much more miraculous.  She was right in the thick of things this year and even after having enough of decorating her cookies, she played in her packing peanut sensory bin in the kitchen so that she could be near us.  Oh. the. JOY!
 She LOVED putting on the at a time with her pincer grasp.
 She thought the red hot jar was a rocking shake-shake!
 She even had a more than positive response to the icing.
She was hesitant to try it, but was sure to lick it up after getting a taste.
We had a wonderful time together.
Thanks M and J for sticking around to help us!
You three rocked it out for me!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

God's Provision-PRAISE HIM!!

I have typed and retyped this post.  I so desperately wish that I could put what is in my heart into words to minister to those who sit on the fence..who wonder if God exists at all..who wish they knew what life was all about and if they had a purpose in it.  This adoption journey is so miraculous...beyond anything that I could say or express and without a doubt screams that God is alive and well..willing to use your life for His purposes when you say yes. 

I have lived a large part of my life in the zone of safety..never stepping out and doing that which is out of my control.  We had one child because that was my plan.  One precious child would be easy to provide for and fit in well with our pursuit of the American Dream.   Our plan was to have our child young so that we could be young when she was growing and gone.  We could easily manage her care and provide every material wish that her heart desired.  We were living this out well..our plan was going along great.  Our houses were getting bigger and our salaries were getting larger..just as we had hoped they would be.  We had a nice retirement account, hubby had an advanced degree, and we were serving in our church.  Then God did the impossible in our life.  He called my husband to full time ministry just five years ago.  We left our house, he left his job, and we took a hefty pay cut to serve full time with teenagers.  In the last five years, God has rocked our American Dream.  He has shown us His purposes are so much greater than our dreams.  He has changed our mind about stuff, debt, love, and so we adopt.  After adopting, I gave up my job (another hefty pay cut) and have had the joy of staying home to care for our treasure since.  We make a third of what we did just five years ago and  WE ARE BLESSED!  It is impossible that any of this has happened.  It was never part of my dream and is definitely not at all in my control.  In fact, Adoption is so far out of my control that it seems crazy.  I don't have the $30,000 to bring home a treasure.  YET...

I walked to the mailbox this morning and opened it to find a second (yes a second) donation check from a family who serves in full time ministry.  They have four small children and live on one meager income, but they gave to us again

I opened up my inbox to find a donation from a family who is adopting and traveling soon.  Certainly, they still have needs of their own, but they gave to our Anna Mei.

Sean was given an envelope last week after his basketball practice.  The envelope had a check with $4,000 in it.  It was a gift to us for our Anna.

Each week, I check in on our Life Song account and see the names of God's people who He is raising up to provide our daughter's ransom.  IMPOSSIBLE..apart from the Lord.  So many faithful people each giving what they can in our daughter's name so that she can be home with a family.

We sold nearly 100 t-shirts, several pieces of jewelry, and 100 dip mixes in the last month.  We have raised over $1500 because so many have purchased these from us.

We have made nearly $12,000 since launching the fundraising phase of this journey just six short weeks ago. 

 Please let me say that this is not about the prosperity Gospel.  God is not in the business of making you rich if you have faith or any other silly notion that is claimed in that movement.  This is all about God meeting the need of a little girl with a lot of unknown special needs who needs a momma to hold her at night and a Daddy to make her laugh.  This is all about James 1:27 being lived out in the lives of the church for one precious least of these who we will be able to call our own.  There isn't anything special about us.  We are clearly just ordinary people who are broken and sinful.  We don't deserve God's provision, but He provides it because we stepped out and said yes to sharing our hearts with another child. 

If sixteen years ago when hubby and I married, you would have told me that any of this would be a part of my life..I clearly would have thought you were high on something.  God has rocked my being in the last thirteen years.  He has made Himself known to me again and again in more ways than I could ever do justice with my words in this post.  My life is being used for His purposes and though I am flawed and messed up..He keeps showing up in BIG ways.  Please don't miss this.  Let this the day that you begin to hand your life to God.  He loves you.  He wants you for His own.  He longs to walk beside you, guide you, and provide for you.  I wouldn't trade Him for anything.  Truly, the Lord is the thrill of my life and I am grateful to know Him!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oh, Christmas Tree..

Oh Christmas Tree..
Your shiny lights make me so happy.
 I love to sit beneath thee..
 and gaze upon your beauty.
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
How I love thee!
Dear Jillian,
In the quiet of the morning, I am treasuring so much in my heart.  Yesterday with you was just so beautiful just as so many days are that we have to spend together.  You are living JOY baby girl and I can't help but absorb it as I walk next to you through our day.  I took you to school this morning.  As I left you telling you goodbye, you signed I love you to me.  You sign I love you freely to Daddy and Mommy these days.  You feel the love of a family dear one even though many doubted your ability to ever learn that.  You played on the merry go round, threw leaves in the air, and sat on the swings with momma today too in the near sixty degree temps which is unheard of for this time of year.  What a tremendous blessing it is to be able to enjoy a morning at the park with you.  The simple things are what you treasure.  You enjoy so much taking an hour to kick the leaves in the air at momma.  You laugh, deep belly laughs, that resonate with that JOY you possess and most of the time you are a picture of HAPPINESS.  Today, I held you-rocking you and singing- while you fell asleep for your nap.  I am overcome with love for you as I watch you sleep.  It is there in the absence of activity that I am able in the quiet to reflect on who you are becoming and how very much you have grown.  You are our miracle and I am grateful to God for creating you, protecting you, and bringing you to us on that day in April just eighteen short months ago.  You have forever changed who we are as a family, how we love, what we live for, and who we are becoming.  Your Sissy and Daddy had a game last night and you refused to go to sleep until they were home.  In fact, when the arrived at 10:30 you were still babbling and playing in your bed waiting.  Daddy came to you first, but you pushed him aside because it was Sissy you wanted to kiss.  With them safely under our roof, you then went right to sleep.  As much as I anticipate the arrival of your little sister, I am savoring these next few months with you as I have you all to myself most of the time.  I hope that when you are older you will be able to look back at these days we shared and see what a treasure you are.  I hope that you will always know how very much you are loved by this little family.  I know God has great plans for you and I am in awe that I get to walk next to you as you live out His plans for you.  I love being your momma.  Thank you for the privilege of that place in your heart.

With all my Love,