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 28, 2015

THANK YOU Pink Flower Photography

We weren't home long with our newest treasure when Caitlyn at Pink Flower Photography offered to photograph our family for free.  She has a heart for the Lord and adoption.  What a blessing it was to spend the evening with her capturing these images of our family.  I cherish these photos and am grateful for Caitlyn's generosity.

There are millions more beautiful images of our family.  Anna ate up the attention and was so easy to photograph.  If you are in our area, be sure to check out Pink Flower Photography as it was so much fun to be photographed and these moments are fleeting.  Our Molly Kate has changed so much since these were shot five weeks ago that I am so glad we have these captured.  Thank you, thank you Caitlyn from the bottom of my heart for spending the evening with our family using your talents to bless us!  You are amazing!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

East Iowa Bible Camp

I have a confession to make.  Back in my early twenties, when I had my first babe, one of the main reasons that I wanted only one child was that I wanted to be able to give her every possible material thing that the world offered.  Back then, it was important to me.  I wanted to have a bigger house, better vacations, college paid for, and all the things the world told me made for a happy childhood as well as good parenting.  While sometimes I feel as if I have gotten a hold on the materialistic monster that lives within my heart, it so easily slips back in, and I am constantly handing it to the Lord asking Him to rid me of the world's desires.  This week, we attended East Iowa Bible Camp as a family because my husband was given the opportunity to be the speaker for the Jr High Campers there.  It is primitive with bunk beds, no tvs, no internet, and lots of God's natural beauty.
 The first afternoon there as my girls napped, I thought about all the fun my sweet and precious girls were having.  I smiled as I heard the giggles of my sweet girls in my head while we were playing Go Fish,
  racing in the pool, and running through the tall grass.
Then, it hit me because my desires to give them "everything" and my worry that I can't creeps back  in constantly.  Kids, my kids, don't need Disney World.  
 They need a momma who will take them by the hand and savor the small things, that are often free, with them.  They need a momma who will share her childhood stories with them, who is willing to get dirty alongside them, and who will take time to shape their heart and share the Lord.  How is it that I so easily loose track of this even now well past my twenties? 
 We had such a wonderful week off the grid at East Iowa, and I am grateful to God for the chance we had to be there.  He spoke to my heart and I feel so rested.  Rest that will be needed as we tackle some long and difficult medical appointments in the next four weeks.  God is good to have provided us this respite as a family before the crazy of this fall comes and I praise Him for it!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Her First Ride in the Wagon

We walk to the park most evenings.  It is a bit of a walk so we have been taking Molly Kate in her stroller.  Anna didn't feel like walking last night so we brought out the wagon.  We thought Molly wouldn't mind sharing her ride.  We were right.  Molly loved the wagon. Our baby was all smiles.
 Her big sis was happy too.
Much giggling could be heard as well.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gull Lake Ministries Smiles Everywhere

The stars and strips carnival face painting made Anna very happy.
Jillian participated fully in all meals and this made us very happy.
Sugar cookie decorating was the perfect desert for Christmas night.
Playing outside was always fun too.
Rootbeer floats with friends makes great memories.
Teachers who love you make you smile.
Silly dancing and worship is a smile maker too.
Watch our video from our vacation here...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some of My Favorite Beach Memories

Jillian's favorite place in the world is anywhere near the water.  She LOVES the beach at Gull Lake!  I do too.  We have made many memories here over the years.
Our Emily would get ice cream at the beach everyday when she was little.  Now our Anna is happily carrying on this tradition as she had ice cream everyday on our vacation at Gull Lake Ministries.
The girls and I took the battle boats out several times.

Occasionally, we would meet our big girls at the beach for a while.
The little girls enjoyed playing with the bigs when they came around.
My girls digging together.
There is a statue near the ministry center that caught Jilly's attention on the way to the splash pad one afternoon.  I sure wish I could read her mind as she was staring at that "man" sitting there reading his bible.  She was too funny.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Our Big Girl

 Our big girl has literally grown up at Gull Lake Ministries as we have been blessed to attend each summer since she was eight years old.  Each year, she has such an amazing time and grows so much in the Lord that she loves, loves coming.  She is assigned a small group and given a counselor to hang out with her as we are there.  This young person was amazing this year and happened to play college basketball too which we loved.  Our teens really liked her.  
 We are so blessed to be able to give our big girl a week like this.  She also gets to reconnect with two of her friends from IL while we are there and it always means so much to us as we spend the week with these old friends.
 They have two daily worship sessions where,after singing, they are challenged by speakers to get into the bible and give themselves fully to the Lord.
There are so many things to do for our entire family which is so nice given the age difference between the littles and our biggest girl.  Everyone loves coming here. 

We can't wait to be back here next summer.  With only two more summer vacations until she leaves us for college (YIKES), I am embracing every moment with our young woman.  I don't know where the years have gone, but I am so grateful for the memories we have at this special place and the wonderful group of people we have been able to share them with here over the years.  

One of the most special things about Gull Lake is that at the end of the week, the counselor presents our girl with a character certificate.  At the presentation, the certificate is read to her.  It is amazing how the counselors build into the young people who attend.  She is not terribly emotionally, our Emily, but she cherishes these certificates.  She hangs them up in her room each year and is careful not to bend it in her luggage on the trip home.  These mean so much to her.
So grateful to the amazing staff that provide us with a God filled week in this heavenly place.  There is nowhere better to spend your summer vacation than the shores of Gull Lake.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jilly and Her Friend "T"

If you have a child with special needs, you know what it means to find someone who gets them.  You know what it means to find that one person who pursues them, does whatever it takes to make them smile, and gives of themselves again and again without expecting a thing in return.  This is our second summer with Jilly's one on one counselor friend "T" at Gull Lake Ministries.  In fact, she gave Jilly a picture of the two of them last summer and we have kept it by Jilly's bed all year long.  
When I told her she would see her friend "T" again before leaving on vacation, she signed fun.  I cried when we said goodbye this year to our friend "T" because words can't express what this special young woman means to this momma.
She means less anxiety, more independence, equal access to programs, and much, much more fun for my special, special six year old treasure.
She means security, trust, taking on new experiences, and meeting each challenge with confidence.
She means a physical picture of Jesus' love and care for my daughter.
What an incredible, special young lady who would beg to be one on one with my daughter for a second summer.  What a wonderfully, special young woman, who would step up to learn her signs, change her diapers, and work her through her difficult times. God has certainly raised up so many along our way to help us care for our children, and our friend "T" is dear, dear to our hearts.  Thank you for making our week at GLM so very special!  You were a huge blessing "T".

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Her Joy..

 I settled the little girls on the steps outside our condo for a picture together before heading up to the stars and stripes carnival on Thursday night at Gull Lake Ministries.  In every frame..every single one.., this newest babe of ours is full of joy.  Seriously, people stopped as our girls were sitting there and just asked to watch her.
 I never imagined that a little one would be so naturally happy given all that this last six weeks has brought her.  I never expected her to be so closely knit to our hearts so quickly either, but look at her.  How I am absolutely smitten for that little face, those wonderful little hands, and that smile!
 She LOVES so big.  She adores her sisters.  Two nights at GLM, we have an adult banquet night.  I hesitantly left our newest babe under the care of one very special college girl, who was dying to love on her for us, so that I could get a bite to eat.  As long as she was with her sisters, she was her usual, happy self.  How can it be that she knows these two are her sisters when they only met four weeks ago?  How is it that she is so secure and feels so safe with them already?
I feel this each time we add to our family.   I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for this little one to fill a spot in my heart.  She is an amazing, joyful little bundle that fits perfectly in my arms.  I am in awe of her little spirit and all that she has added to us.  As they were sitting there on the steps of this amazing vacation place, they started singing together and drew quite a crowd of onlookers who asked if they could just watch them.  Of course, we chuckled and said "yes".  These three amazing little people, each with unique journeys to our family, are such an incredible blessing to us.  To think that God preserved their lives in those early days, and then allowed them to be ours a half a world away is so much for my mind to ponder.  Yet, it is there in my mind each day as I parent them.  How I pray that those touched by our children this last week will do more than pat us on the back, comment on how adorable they are, and then thank us for going to get them, because millions more, just as precious, wait for someone to call momma and daddy.  Go friends.  Say yes.  Open up your hearts and homes because you won't believe the blessings that wait.  Enjoy their song..

Friday, July 10, 2015

Returning to Real Life

We are just returning to real life after our first vacation with our newest treasure.  It is always a blessing to spend a week with our amazing group of friends at Gull Lake Ministries, but having our new babe there made it even more special.  What a dream come true this sweet, sweet babe is for our family.  She touched so many this week and it was so amazing to see her little heart ask for (and receive) so much love from our friends, like family, who we lived alongside this week.  I will post pictures (and memories) all week, but these are some of my favorites.
Happy, Happy Girl!
 Running to Momma!
 Forever Blissful on these shores is our six year old treasure.
 Our mighty little peanut conquered the deep end of the lake and jumped on the water trampoline after swimming out there.  She is tiny, but sassy.
Blessed, blessed, blessed to have time with dear friends who loved on our babies and big girl all week long. What a gift God gives us in each other.