Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The School Christmas Program

 We had our annual Christmas concert at CVCS.  Em and Anna participated.  Anna is wearing this dress that Jillian wore a year earlier.  She is so much smaller than Jilly was at this age.
 Jillian and Molly Kate enjoyed watching.  They were adorable, but getting them to sit through the hour and thirty minute concert was an adventure.
 Anna loves to wear her pearls from China when she gets dressed up.  She is looking so grown up.
Only one more year of school concerts for Em.  Where has the time gone?

Here is Anna in the PK4 portion of the concert..
She has been singing the sheep song at the top of her lungs since the concert.

Monday, December 28, 2015

To Molly Kate

To My littlest babe,
For six months, I have held you in my arms.  These last six months have honestly held some of the most joyous moments of my life as you have added so very much to us.  As I held you this Christmas Eve, giving you a bottle and rocking you to sleep, I looked down to see you dimly lite by the glow of your night light all snug cradled in my arms with the widest smile while your little eyes were closed in sleep.  You are so very content in our family, and to say that you make my life so full is such a injustice because words are so limited.  You never leave the house without your baby doll hanging at your side.  You mimic everything I do with you as you play with it.  The other morning, we were looking and pointing at picture books as we talked about each word for the pictures.  After we finished, I tiptoed back to your bedroom where you were playing to find you with your little doll sitting up as you were holding that same book pointing to the very pictures I had with you the hour before.  You so easily receive love and you are so very willing to give yourself away.  I love how you insist on sitting on your Daddy's lap to eat your meals, and how you point both of your pinkies at him shouting yeah when he comes home.  You want everything that your sisters have and you want to do everything that they do all the time.  When they get a toy and you want a turn, you get the most darling crumpled face as you cry and cry until they surrender to you.  In this way, you hold the baby role very well in our family.  You are darling in every way and it is so hard for Daddy and I to discipline you because of it.  You are so bright.  Nothing in this life gets by you and you are quick to learn everything.  Though your hearing test results tell us that you can hear no speech sounds, you continue to mimic our language and pick up new words.  In this way, you are truly a miracle.  Your favorite things to say are..Jillian, Anna Mei (alot of Anna Mei), Emily, daddy, mama, here you go, want more, thank you, no, and stop.  You are picking up a lot of sign too.  In just a few days, we will watch you have your first set of hearing aids placed and your hearing life will begin.  I can't wait to walk alongside you as you grow.  In every way you are such a tremendous blessing and we love you so very much! Happy six months home baby girl!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Adoption of a Special Needs Child Will...

Adoption of a special needs child will lead you to stop everything you are doing just to watch your treasure play with a balloon in the foyer.  You will tear up for a good twenty minutes because your precious treasure used to shut down and melt down with intense fear anytime a balloon came near her, but today..TODAY SHE LAUGHED, SMILED, AND PLAYED WITH A PINK BALLOON.  

When you adopt a special needs child and this happens, you will feel as if you are the luckiest person in the entire world to be watching your most precious, amazing little treasure  just playing with a balloon because you never dreamed that she could overcome so much.  You never dreamed that she would be so full of life when she was first so void of it.  You could have never planned that watching her would make you so very happy or that she would be the one to teach you so much.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

She Shared Jesus

Four and half years ago, I walked into a smoke filled government building in Xian, China and was handed a screaming fifteen pound twenty-six month old.  She was horribly neglected, probably abused, and an empty shell of a child nearly completely void of life.  The enemy of this world intended to destroy her.  Never did he dream that God would bring a family for her, and that our loving God would restore her heart in order to further His Kingdom.  Today, this, once discarded little one, who is my Jillian, shared Jesus with her first grade class.  The class had a project assigned to complete a poster about their family's special holiday traditions.  I designed her poster so that buttons on her Nova Chat could be created so that she would easily recognize them and that would allow her to follow along with the poster explaining each of our traditions.  We cut and glued pictures to create her poster and then we practiced hitting the buttons that represented each picture.  She talked about our family celebrating Jesus' birthday, investing in others, having a lazy day on Christmas in our pajamas, laughing a lot, including cookies, and taking part in our nativity play.  She rocked her presentation with the help of her special personal teacher.  Her first grade teacher sent the above picture of her sharing.  It brings me to tears to think of all that God has brought her through, but I also feel a great sense of triumph at all that I have seen her overcome because of Him.  Honestly being her mother is one of the greatest privileges of my life!  Millions more of these amazing treasures wait this Christmas for someone to come for them believing that God will restore their hearts and use their lives to further His kingdom.  This Christmas, PRAY that these children will not be forgotten by the church.  Pray that more will be welcomed home into a loving, Christian family, and that they might grow to know, love, and serve Jesus!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Visiting Santa

We don't celebrate with Santa at our house, but she got to meet a Santa at the Shriner's patient Christmas party.  She wasn't at all afraid to sit on his lap, but also didn't wait for her presents.  After all, she had no idea what presents were as this is her first Christmas home with us.
Molly stole the hearts of everyone.  She was darling in her red corduroy dress! Like I said, she didn't wait around for Mrs. Claus to pass off her gifts as she had no clue gifts were coming.
After receiving her gifts, we showed her how to tear them open.  When she discovered there were toys inside that were for her, she was all in.
There were three gifts for her to open so she became quite good at it by the end of the party.
She was so good at it at the party that she decided to begin tearing into a few gifts under the tree when we got home.  I heard Anna Mei shouting from downstairs..Momma!  Molly is opening the presents right now!
She was pretty happy with her gifts!
A wagon with blocks was a perfect choice for her at this stage!

Anna Mei accompanied us and she loved the party!  We had a cookie activity, craft, lunch, and juice boxes.  My littlest girls were thrilled with the fun clowns and balloon animals too!  We are grateful for the care we receive at the hospital and this party was so thoughtful too!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bike Riding

I can't believe this weather here in the Midwest.  It was nearly 60 degrees all weekend.  We were outside for two hours on Saturday morning riding bikes.  I even gave the girls the used scooters I picked up for them that I intended to give them for Christmas.  It was just too nice to wait.  Molly is again amazing me with her ability to do so much.  She can pedal, steer, and navigate a tricycle already.  She fell off of this tall one a couple of times as it tends to get a bit top heavy, but got up and right back on.  She is one determined little lady.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Results Are In

On November 20, we woke at 4:00 AM and headed a couple of hours from our home to have Miss Molly Kate's ABR done.  We had to travel so far because the children's hospital closest to us couldn't get her in for several months.  This momma just couldn't loose several months of hearing while we waited.  A wonderful couple from our church woke early with us, and drove us to the hospital.  The support we have is just so amazing.  We arrived a bit ahead of our scheduled time, and Molly did great with the waiting.  She kept signing to eat, but was easily distracted by the tv, toys, or a walk.  Soon, it was time for her to be taken from me.  This is a sedated procedure, and the hospital wouldn't let me stay with her until they put her to sleep like the University does.  Needless to say, this little lady was pretty upset to separate, and even more upset to wake up and find I still wasn't there.  She calmed down as soon as I got to her.   She took a bottle and fell right back to sleep in my arms after it was over.  She hasn't slept through the night since then as the separation really stressed her out. :( It took almost twice as long as expected to get results from the ABR because this sweet treasure of ours is a puzzle.  According to her results, this baby can't hear any speech sounds.  She has hearing, but it is above the frequencies for normal speech.  This just baffles us as she seems to understand what we say when we are close to her, and even has some expressive language herself.  She can say many words.  Aside from words we understand her saying, she is constantly babbling.  Her therapists and hearing impaired teacher continue to say..we just can't explain this girl.  She can even model words with the correct number of syllables when she hears you say them.  Her loss seems to be complex and not at all ordinary.  She may have a conductive component as well as some sensory neural loss.  What all of this means is a bit beyond me, but we head to the ENT doctor in a week so my understanding is that he will order an MRI so that we can get a clearer picture of her ear's anatomy.  If she is missing a bone near her eardrum, they can actually replace it using another bone from her body.  AMAZING!  We are plugging ahead and placing aids before this though as it won't hurt to get her hearing something even if it isn't the best.  She gets her shiny purple aids with hot pink molds (she picked this) on the 30th and we are so excited to see where they take her.  I know every momma says this about their child, but my Molly seems so bright.  She continues to amaze us with her fine motor ability and problem solving.  On top of that, we love, love, love her!  She is such a precious, happy, joyful little bundle who continues to be such a blessing to have in our family.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Just Imagine...

This girl is so much bigger than life!  She is always up to something.  She creates, imagines, and plays every waking moment of the day!  She is such an incredible joy to be with!  And the things that she says often leaves us in stitches.  Because it is the season of things arriving in boxes at our door, creating things from these empty boxes is a favored activity right now.  She will spend hours creating cars, ambulances, pony houses, and, this airplane.
Listen to her as she tells me she is flying to China with a momma to get a baby girl..DARLING!

Scoop and Dump..
this is my baby's favored activity right now.  She can't get enough.  She will scoop and dump anything.  Corn, rice, water, her dinner, pom poms, jingle name it..she will scoop and dump it.  She really loves our corn table though.  I love that I scored a 50 lb bag of corn for $6.00!  It is one of the least expensive sensory materials that I have come across.  Thanks to the farm supply store as a whole new world of sensory materials has opened up to us and we are enjoying them!

Jillian's Snowman

I recently made new busy bags for the girls.  With all the time we spend waiting in doctors offices or visiting families without small children and toys, these bags are my life savor!  They are portable and provide the girls some fun while we are waiting.  One bag I made for this season is a snowman building activity.  I decided to just throw it out there and see what Jilly would do with it.  I only set out one choice for each part initially as I didn't want to overwhelm her.   She willingly sat in her cube chair and participated which is huge for this girl.  Above is her first snowman.  She was adorable building him and signing snow!  She seems so excited these days to do any activity with me, and that is a delight!  Watch her go..

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas Fun..Sugar Cookie Play Dough

I love, love this time of year.  Celebrating the birth of our Savior brings so much joy to my heart!  The littles and I have been busy, busy with all sorts of fun and I couldn't be feeling more blessed.
 We love play dough, and this sugar cookie play dough, with sprinkles rolled in, was so much fun!
 It smelled so good!
 They rolled, cut, and scooped for hours with this dough!

We haven't tackled any real Christmas cookies, but the teenager is asking for them so it won't be long until we get started!

Monday, November 30, 2015

So Very Thankful..

This Thanksgiving, I am so very thankful for this beautiful six (almost seven) year old girl who has been home with us for four and half years.  The progress that we have seen her make in the last few months has been beyond anything we could have hoped for in those first months home when she was so isolated and broken.  God continues to restore her bit by bit.

He continues to put people in her life to love her, build her up, and push her to be all she can be.  She sat at the table this very weekend next to her sisters and played a game that I  made out of cups, pipe
cleaners, and beads.  She willingly came to the table, signed work, and played for several rounds.  This momma couldn't hold back the tears to see her interacting with her siblings.  She put pipe cleaner feathers in her turkey, rolled a dice, used her nova chat to name the number she rolled, and put that amount of beads on her feather all to complete her turn in the game.  She even seemed to keep "getting" six as if she understood that she could win if she rolled six.

He continues to use her in our lives to teach us so much.  She can now smile for a photograph.  When you say smile, she looks at the camera and smiles.  To this momma, her smile is priceless.  She loves so big, and, because I fought so hard and prayed so much for her heart to receive me, there is nothing like her signing "I love you".  Oh, this girl can reduce me to tears in no time flat when she is loving her family.

He has shown us the value in the smallest accomplishments
as she faces so many challenges.  We watch her living out life when it seemed she would be trapped in her own world forever and are so very blessed that she is our baby girl.  She is sitting at the table regularly playing playdough right along side her sisters.  AND...At nearly six now, she has potty trained.  WAHOOOOOO!!!  It has been so easy as she was ready to do it!

She continues to fill our home with much joy!  We love, love, love her and are so blessed to be able to call her our daughter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Before the Snow..

Before this week's snow fall, we have enjoyed absolutely beautiful fall weather.  The girls and I have been living outside and enjoying every minute as I knew it couldn't last.  Raking, (or more like jumping in and throwing), leaves is a favored activity in these parts.  It is so good to have helpers with such adorable smiles and giggles.  How I love these faces to bits.  Spending time with them brings me such immeasurable joy!

I can't imagine raking leaves without these three.  I can't imagine not having them calling momma, throwing big handfuls, and giggling.  God is good to give me so very much!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The First Snow

 This girl came running out of her room this morning at 7:20.  Usually, Jillian opens her door without getting out of bed, and waits for her daddy to deliver her breakfast to her in her room so to see her running out of her room so early was such a surprise.  She was ready to get out in the snow!  She woke right up, ran to her window to see, then bounded out to me requesting to go out to play!  She didn't even eat before her play session.
 This one was right behind her.  Going down the snow covered slide and dragging all the snow with your bumm to the bottom always makes you giggle.  Anna thought it was hilarious!
 Swing me in the snow.  Please?

 It is hard to be cranky about the snow with such enthusiasm from my little ones.  I spent the whole morning dressing and undressing so they could be outside playing!  I am relieved I got out all the boots, hats, pants, gloves, and coats last weekend when I saw snow in the forecast as there was no keeping them inside!
 Life is so sweet with these beauties around.  The temps weren't too cold so we enjoyed being out for short periods several times today.
 After about three rounds without Molly, she decided to come out too.  This is the first time she has seen snow with us.  Her province is in southern China so it is possible that she hasn't ever seen it.  She was very puffy in her snow suit, and not so sure she wanted to walk in the mysterious, cold stuff at first.
 Anna was beside her, and doing her best to show her the fun!
 Emily retrieved our sled for us, and Molly Kate loved it!

Listen to her giggles....

 She did take a spill, and I had to snap a picture of her wrestling herself up before helping her.  She was too cute!
This baby is quite pleased with her first experience which is good because this is only the beginning sweet one.  We have many, many more snow filled days ahead of us here in the Midwest.  Welcome to Winter Baby Girl!  We are glad you like it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hearing Aids Here We Come..

 As we have systematically evaluated all of Molly Kate's body systems under the guidance of our genetics team, (whom called themselves the medical detectives the first day I met them), we hadn't come across anything out of the ordinary.  For the last five months, we have spent many, many hours in various medical offices and hospitals getting everything from blood drawn to an EEG.  It has been exhausting, but necessary as radial dysplasia is associated with many other medical conditions.  I knew this full well when bringing this babe home, and so far all has come back absolutely ordinary until this last week.  
We had our audiological evaluation.  It was scheduled last.  So after a long three hour appointment with OT and PT, we descended the stairs of the building to head to the first floor office.  My Molly Kate's language is coming along very slowly.  She is already seeing a speech therapist from the area association a couple times a month because of it.  I thought something must be off because her language just hasn't been coming the way her other skills have been.  I suspected she may not be hearing me all the time, but sitting in that booth hearing all the sounds she wasn't was astounding.  She has a moderate hearing loss that is borderline severe in some tones.  Despite this, she is picking up some language though her articulation is a bit off.  She is following directions though it is probably more about watching and modeling previous situations and not understanding language.  She is bright, so very bright, and I can't wait to get her hearing aids in place so that she can begin to experience all that this world has for her to listen to. 
Initially, we were told it could be four months before we would be able to get in to schedule her sedated hearing test.  We can't get her hearing aids without this test, and four months is way too long to wait for her to hear if you ask me.  I did some calling, and lots of advocating.  I found an audiologist a couple of hours away in a large city that could get her in this Friday!  She will be sedated, and have a  computer hooked to areas of her skull.  The computer will read just exactly what our sweet baby girl is missing and what she can hear.  This will help the hearing aid center customize her aids to her beautiful ears.  We have an appointment at the hearing aid center the week after next, and, Lord willing, we may have these hearing aids in place before Christmas!  I am so thrilled to be able to offer her this tool.  As always, God has shown up in mighty ways for this beautiful girl of ours as He has opened doors to doctors and procedures that we were initially told would take much longer than this. I can't wait to see her face when she hears the birds sing for the first time.  I can't wait to watch her actually hear Mickey Mouse's voice while she dances to the clubhouse music she loves so much.  
While I am over the moon that my baby girl is going to have an opportunity to hear all the sounds God created, I can't help, but ache in my heart for those millions who will never have an opportunity to hear because they lay waiting in the orphan's bed for a momma to come. For those who wait, the opportunity to hear slips away as their chances of being chosen grow slimmer and slimmer as they get older.  This sweet girl of mine is such a treasure!  I can't imagine my life without her, and I know that there are many more, who are just as precious, waiting for someone to say yes to bringing them home.  Waiting for someone to say yes to some needs that may be a bit unknown trusting that God will provide all they need to make that one a son or daughter.  I have seen it each time I have said yes to adoption.  God meets each and every need!  How blessed I am to again have an opportunity to lean on the Lord trusting that He will meet all my baby girl's needs as this hearing loss is no surprise to Him.  I wait in anticipation as I watch Him use her life, and my small part in it, for His glory on this Earth.  I can't wait to see where this takes her!  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Determined and Adorable

This baby girl doesn't let anything stop her!  She can completely dress herself independently.  On a daily basis, I don't even think about her hands being different from ours.
She is adorable and I am completely smitten with this precious new treasure!

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Special Trip

Have you ever gotten to be a part of something that is just so special you wish it could last forever?  Well, last weekend my man, who is a youth pastor, performed the wedding ceremony for a young woman whom we absolutely love like our own.  It was such an immense honor to walk alongside this young woman in her teens.  We have stayed in touch despite moving out of state, and so we have a deep, deep love for her.  The littles were so excited to attend their first wedding!  This was totally a JOY for Anna Mei as she is so social.
This young woman, whom Sean performed the wedding for, was a huge part of our lives when we brought Anna Mei and Jillian home.  We did life together with this special girl on a regular basis so seeing her marry a Godly, young man who is so in love with her was such a wonderful feeling.
Amber invested in my Em so much too in those days.  Emily was about eight when she started having dinner with us once a week.  She would do homework next to our little girl, who is now grown, and play games with her all night.

Molly was happy to meet everyone as this was her first large gathering of our friends from back home since she has joined us.  She fit right in.
 It was such a sweet night to celebrate and reconnect.  My girls danced and danced.
Anna Mei, loved reconnecting with our friends the most.  This girl is so wired for relationship.  She loves so deeply with such a beautiful heart.  She talked about how beautiful the wedding ceremony was for days.  She kept calling the groom..Amber's boy.  "Why Amber's boy...." she would say when asking about the night.  It was darling.
She loved seeing her big Anna most.  Anna (the big one), and her amazing mom, were with me in China when Anna Mei was placed in my arms.  Anna Mei is named for her, and my little Chinese treasure loves her with all her heart so seeing her big Anna always makes her happy.  I sat looking around and feeling so very blessed to have so many special people in my life.  What an incredible trip for an amazing union.

Our Jillian reconnected too as these were her people in the beginning.  These were the friends who saw her so broken and near death.  She was so isolated, and in darkness, but they loved, supported, and prayed for us as we worked to win her heart.  It was beyond hard in those early months, but this village was always, always what we needed.  I left this weekend sad to not have them so close, but so very thankful that God allowed them to be near in that season that was so very hard because they were Jesus hands and feet to me again and again.  I will be forever grateful for that, and for this weekend!