Anna Mei woke this morning to begin her first celebration of Jesus Birthday! She was so excited! She loved finding this sweet dollhouse.
She had never seen a slinky. She was fascinated. In true strong willed fashion, she refused to wear her Christmas pajamas last night. I love her spunky spirit as she demanded butterflies.
(Twelve years ago, this very same dollhouse was sitting out for our Em
the Christmas that she was two. I am mighty glad Grandma saved it. It
is more special to have Anna playing with it as we remember Em this age
playing with it.) She was very excited to find her Elmo underwear too! She put it on right away!
Jillian always loves some slinky! She also had some bags of dry red beans in her stocking to spill on the floor. Good times for her!
She found a tent full of rice this morning! She has been busy all day in there. It is such fun!
Her favorite part of the morning was eating on the couch. She loves being waited on.
Anna Mei helped with Christmas breakfast...dark chocolate/ peppermint pancakes. Yummy!
Emily slept until well after 9:00. She is a teenager and we opened most of our presents last night. She did enjoy her angel pancake for breakfast. She has played with her sisters all day. Love this kid!
Jillian made all of us (including Daddy get in that tent). My back is killing me tonight, but it was a beautiful day. We just played and enjoyed being together.
We have spent many, many hours in the kitchen baking this season as it is my very favorite place to be.
My Anna Mei is very fond of it too. It is a whole body experience for her..just look at that powdered sugar.
How many cookies do you get to eat Anna? Just one cookie is her answer every time, but she usually tries to negotiate more than that in the end.
She takes decorating very seriously.
Jillian spent a good while in the beans at first while we prepared dough..just goofing with daddy.
Emily helped decorate and eat her fair share too.
Jillian was excited when the sprinkles came out as it was a sensory bin for her. One of her favorite visuals is the sprinkling of anything so these decorations were a hit.
Anna was one happy little lady the entire time. I can't help but think of her sad face and empty eyes less than a year ago while she laid waiting for us to come to her and just look at her now.
When I added icing to Jillian's tray, it really stressed her out. She continued to play with it for a bit, but then had to go to the bath. It was way too much for her. It was great fun decorating and eating this season away with my newest little to help. We made many, many memories and had moments I will forever cherish. I am so very thankful for this little family God has given me!
(We had a snow storm that dumped about seven inches on us on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, but there were a few children who made it to church for the program..four to be exact. I was sad that so many weren't plowed out in time to come as my little Sunday School class is so cute when they sing. We were missing about ten children.)
Truly watching my first Chinese treasure on Sunday morning stand with the two and three year old class, smiling, performing motions, ringing her bell, and enjoying herself leads me to believe that even the impossible is possible when it is in God's will. I was told by so many after first coming home from China that my sweet Jillian would never be able to do anything, would never be connected to us, would never learn much..and at times I admit I believed it myself. This child is something indescribable and she just does something to me. Watching her standing up there and remembering just how very far she has come in the last two years just makes me want more of these treasures in homes with forever families because she has accomplished so much! And my sweet Anna Mei holding that baby doll and standing in front of everyone..precious! Blessed. I am down right blessed by the presence of these girls!
It was nearly twenty below zero last Wednesday morning as I drove my treasure to therapy up the interstate past the exit I have come to hover around. I hover because there is a man often standing there holding his sign asking for food and work. I take this exit often, though it is out of the way, and always look for him because I deliver food every time he stands there, but it had been nearly a week since I last saw him yielding his cardboard sign and I had wondered about him each day that week. On this morning, there he stood, out in the twenty below zero cold, holding his sign for food, and this time asking for blankets as well. I drove through Culvers and got my usual for him-the number one with hot, black coffee. As I pulled out, I peeked in my mirror and saw my beautiful Jillian sitting in her seat and I prayed with her for this man. I prayed that his needs would be met and I thanked God for meeting the needs of my sweet treasures when they lay on the side of the road in real need in China the day they were abandon. Having these two girls has changed something so deep inside of me. This man, whom stands beside the over pass, is like my own daughters. What if no one had stopped for Anna Mei on January 16, 2011 as she lay on that road by the bank? What if everyone was too busy or thought someone else would do it? What if no one took the time to lift Jillian from her finding spot on March 16, 2009? My heart aches at the thought of my babies alone with such a real need and so I meet this man's needs because someone met the needs of my babies when I couldn't. Honestly, I have grown to love this little man even though I know nothing about him. He wears a red sweatshirt, sincerely thanks me each time I bring him something, and says God bless you. God bless me? I wish I could just pull over and tell him about how God has blessed me again and again because I know His Son as Savior, but I turn my blinkers off and pull back in traffic and our interaction is quickly over because traffic is zooming by as each of us go about our day seemingly untouched by the hurt and need around us. What if I just took a little more time to be Jesus to others? What if we all did? This man, and the need of my daughters, leaves me longing for Jesus return when there will be no more evil, no more need, and the lion will lay with the lamb. Until then, I will keep bringing food to this man and doing my best to meet the needs I see in my corner of God's world because He has given me so very much.
We recently received a Christmas card in the mail and a photograph of one of Anna's roommates from Xuchang. She probably spent her entire life living with this little guy as they are close in age and are in the same room in many of the pictures we have from her orphanage. When she first came home, we had a photo of him in the orphanage that his new family sent us when they received his referral. After returning home from China with Anna, I would get the photo out and pray for this little fella as he waited for his family. When I would do this, the photos of him still the orphanage made my Anna so sad that she would shake her little head no and cry when I would show her his picture and so I had to stop praying with her for her little friend. I continued my praying over his photo though by myself until the day his family reached him. Well, now this little man is home and in the arms of a loving family. He doesn't even look like the same little man I prayed over in the photo from the orphanage. The sweetest part of receiving this card was Anna's reaction to seeing him. She is now so happy to see his picture-so different than her reaction to seeing him still in the orphanage-and even more overjoyed to look at all his siblings with him. She truly was really thrilled to see him when I opened the card and she smiled so big when I showed her his picture. I know she is only two, but truly this baby girl's heart is much older than that and she completely understands that this little man is home with a family and orphaned no more. Just look at her as she is calling out his Chinese name as she looks at his picture..
Merry Christmas B! Thank you for sharing your family with us.
It was just an ordinary moment. A little girl playing joyfully in the snow happens everyday in these parts. But for my baby girl, it was so much more.
It is the promise of a new life, a forever family, a chance to experience everything that God has made her for.
Just eight months ago this little lady was placed into my arms and since then she has stolen my heart. She is full of wonder and, though her brokenness and heartache at times overtake her, God is turning the ashes of her life into something so very beautiful. I am humbled by the fact that God made her mine.
I rejoice that my morning was spent simply in the snow with this beautiful Chinese treasure beside me. I marvel at how my heart overflows with a love so big for her.
And I was especially thrilled when she wanted to come inside to drink hot chocolate and paint pictures of snowmen because I am not made for the cold.
It didn't take long for Anna Mei to get the hang of this tree decorating thing. She was thrilled with the lights.
She loved going over every detail of every decoration including her very own baby's first Christmas ornament with her picture. It wasn't long before she was organizing and running the show.
Jillian was a bit anxious with the process, but before long she was helping Daddy hang a few ornaments and signing light on.
She remembered this little music box that sits under our tree and loved being the big sister by showing Anna Mei how it worked. It is exciting to be in a new home (though it is not a permanent one) celebrating our Savior's birth as a family of five.
This morning I held this baby girl, whom I have only had the privilege of calling mine for seven months, in my arms during worship. I heard her calling out the name of Jesus as she saw the slide of the manager scene. I saw her clapping her hands, dancing, and smiling as we sang Here I am to Worship. I held her and shed a tear praising God for this little life, for her heart, and for the chance I get to call her daughter. What an incredible God it is that I serve. What a miracle that this Christmas, this little treasure is home celebrating the birth of the very one who created her and loves her so much! What a difference seven months has made in her life. I couldn't be more thankful for her. I couldn't be more grateful that it is my arms holding her while I sing praises to the most high God thanking Him for leading me on this journey. The blessings I have, because of it, are immeasurable in deed.
I never saw this coming. I never dreamed that you would be sitting in front of a Christmas tree in 2013, in the state of IA, with a lap full of sweet Chinese toddlers. At fourteen, you are such a treasure and the way that you are growing into such an incredible young woman takes my breath away. For ten years, you were the only one. You didn't have to share, think of others, and it was pretty quiet around here at all times. It is so the opposite of that now. Your sisters need so much and quiet is very, very hard to come by. You willingly give of yourself again and again as we care for them. You wipe bloody noses while I'm driving, serve noodles and cheese while I'm rocking another, and sit with these sweet treasures in your lap hundreds of times throughout the day. Watching you with them and thinking about how far God has brought our family is something I absolutely treasure in my heart. I am anxious to see how God uses all that has happened in the last three years in your life. You have walked this road alongside us. You have seen God provide in ways none of us imagined for the sake of these beauties. You have sacrificed, adventured, and endured just as we have. Some of the greatest and most beautiful moments of my life are when you are loving on your sisters. I love you and am blessed to have you as my daughter. I know that all too soon you will be farther away from us and I pray that you continue to be strong in your faith as you walk your own path in this life.
This sweet girl has been growing out her lovely, dark locks for the last six months and it was time for a trim. So, we have been "playing" haircut all week. We gathered spray bottles,
brushes, a cape, and pretend scissors and "cut" our stuffed animals
hair almost every day. (We have enjoyed playing this while inserting many lectures about not cutting her own hair of course. I have an inkling that this is the one of my children who would actually do that.)
Because of our play, she knew exactly what to expect and she was so good. She was as still as any two year old can be and she looks adorable though she is looking so much more grown up and that is making this momma sad.
We even had a visitor here that weekend and it was so special to have Anna present for Anna Mei's first cut. Another milestone for our precious daughter has been reached. I tell you time is flying by way too fast these days and I know in the blink of an eye she will be grown.
I am a Christ follower, wife of 20 years to my best friend, and a stay at home momma to five amazing daughters. I am currently waiting for one precious special needs treasure to come home from China. I am passionate about the orphan and special needs adoption. I love to teach God's word, am involved in youth ministry alongside my dh, and love,love, love cooking. Above all, I desire to serve God and surrender my life to His call.