Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Trip to the Dairy Farm

We decided to go out with a bang this last week before China.  We took two field trips, and one of them was to the dairy farm near us.  It was such an experience, and I loved having a little down time with my two littlest before the crazy of the next three weeks starts.
 They have kangaroos at the dairy farm which were so fun to see.
 It was a bit of a drive so getting out to "visit" the cow statues was a welcome activity after a long ride.
 This was the milking parlor.  My Anna Mei is at the age where she is so excited to learn anything.  It is the sweetest just spending time with her.  We got to see the equipment they use to milk the cows and how the process works.
 Of Course, there were lots of cows.  Big cows.  Little cows. Baby cows.  A lot of cows.
 The tour ended with ice cream.  Molly chose the same kind of ice cream as Anna Mei which is just so shocking (not really as this girl has no identity outside of her big sis right now).
This fake milking cow was a favorite.
I would highly recommend visiting Hansen's Dairy Farm in Hudson.  
It was a great time!

Pretty Pretty Princess

One of our favorite games right now is Pretty Pretty Princess.  There isn't anything I would rather do than play with these sweet beauties as I enjoy being their momma so very much!
 This would be my silly princess.
And this would be my forgetful princes...
We used to play this game with Emily when she was this age.  I am so lucky to have found this Cinderella version on craigslist as we are having so much fun together!

Ballet With My Jillian

Last week, I kept my Jillian home with me so she could attend the orchestra and ballet with our homeschool group. My Jillian loves music and dancing so she enjoyed it so much. This momma just loves extra time with my girl so I enjoyed it too. How I will miss this baby while I am away.

Monday, March 27, 2017

You Are Never Going to Believe This

Remember that I said in this post that Jillian had collected donations to Lifesong for her birthday party instead of asking for gifts.  Well, the donation was a cash amount so I went on to the my story website, and scrolled through the family profiles to select a family to donate Jillian's birthday money to.  I landed on Jo's adoption.  I don't know why I chose them.  I noticed that they were going to China too, and I saw they had a large need so I clicked donate, entered the amount given at her party, and closed the transaction by typing a "praying for you" message.  In the tagline, I included our blog site just so the recipient could "meet" our Jillian if they wanted to.  Well, what happened next is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.  Today, I received an email from this family thanking us for our donation.  Then, she said that she visited our website, and noticed that I was in process too.  She looked further, and saw that I had a gotcha day of April 10.  Her Gotcha Day is April 10th too which is incredible, but then she looked further and saw that I was getting my little peanut in Tianjin.  Guess where she is picking up her daughter on April 10?  You betcha..Tianjin...the very same town on the very same day.  All of our dates in China are exactly the same!  We will get to meet this family, and witness their gotcha day!  It is unbelievable!  THANK YOU so very much to those very special second graders who donated to Jillian's birthday party gift fund as now Jo is coming home, and we are getting to see it up close!  Can you even imagine?  What an incredible, amazing God we serve to cross our paths so intimately.  I praise Him!  I praise Him!  I praise Him!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ellie Grace..Our Last Update Before Gotcha Day

Yesterday we received new pictures and videos of our sweet girl!
 Just look at those cheeks,
and those eyes are so big that they have already captured my heart.

Two more weeks until I meet this precious babe!

I can't wait!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It's Been A Wild Ride..We Are Going to China!

After receiving TA yesterday, I was feeling so hopeless as we had a large financial gap standing between us and our Ellie Grace.  Last night, we asked our church family for prayer and wisdom concerning when to go, how to go, and what to do since we had such a large gap between what we had and what we needed to complete Ellie Grace's adoption.  Over the course of the evening, calls, donations, and support flooded in!  We were pledged and given nearly $8,000 dollars in just a few hours.  Friends, this is the miracle we were hoping for, and God delivered through our amazing congregation and friends.  When all the pledges come in we will have about a $5,000 gap, but we have that in our savings and were prepared to use it for our daughter's adoption so we got this! Today, we purchased our flights, began booking travel, contacted my favorite foster care home in Beijing to beg to volunteer, and jumped up and down because our Ellie Grace is coming home!  Anna Mei and I leave in just two weeks!  April 10th our Ellie Grace will be born into our arms.  TWO WEEKS!!!  I am so thrilled to be getting this baby girl home!  Thank you, thank you to each and every one of you!  China here we come!!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TA is Here

Our Travel Approval is here, but now I have to decide whether to take our dates that will be firmed up tomorrow or hold off because we aren't yet fully funded.  In four trips, I have never had to do this, and I'm a wreck.  I wish I could tell you that I was strong believing that God has a plan to bring this to the end that He has worked out, but I'm struggling.  I keep replaying the $8,000 car repair, new water heater, plumber visits, and all the other things that have minimized our savings in the last seven months. This adoption should have been easier as far as fundraising goes, but it has been a constant struggle with extra expenses!  I didn't sleep much last night because I want my baby girl home.  Tomorrow would be soon enough thank you very much.  To top it off, we are, once again as with Jillian and Anna Mei (I know lucky us!), going to be traveling during the trade fair which means hotel prices in Guangzhou are twice what we estimated.   This turn puts us even further behind where we hoped to be.  Even if we use ever single cent in our savings, we are not enough to cover this dear girls ransom by ourselves.  So here I sit, praying for some miracle so that I can hold this baby girl in two weeks!  TWO WEEKS!  OMW crazy, crazy!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Article 5 is Here!

Our Article 5 was picked up this morning from the consulate!  We have one more piece of paper to go!  Our Travel Approval should be here in a few days!  We are hoping to travel in about three weeks!  YIKES!!!  We still need $3,000 to travel, but I trust God with this.  Honestly, I should probably be up at night worrying and analyzing everything I can, but He's got it.  He hasn't ever gone to the wire like this before, but I am praying that we will have all we need so that our travel isn't held up any.  I would hate not to be on a plane to this girl as soon as possible, but it might be God's story for us this time.  I trust Him.  I can't believe it might be so near!  I just want to hold her so desperately.  Your momma is on her way, Ellie Grace!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Over Come with Gratitude

Wednesday, I stood next to my high school senior in a college chapel service with 3,500 students worshiping together.  Next year, I will drive her to this place and leave her there to begin the next stage..the first stage of her grown up life.  I am not sure how this happened, but standing there next to her singing praise and worship in such a God centered place I was overcome with gratefulness to God for the gift of my oldest.  I was so overwhelmed by His goodness as I sat there thinking about parenting my dear Emily, and thinking about how she has grown up.  I have made so many mistakes. We dabbled in church, at best, when we were planning our lives, and giving birth to her.  Our first years of parenting had us attending church, and experiencing some radical changes because of the teaching of His word, but we didn't plan for this.  We didn't begin our life on the solid rock.  We didn't start off praying over this baby, leading her in family devotions, or even hoping that she would give her life so fully to Him.  We didn't have a clue about doing any of that in those early days of our faith.  As God has begun to set us apart as we have studied His word, our Emily has watched us stumble along.   She has experienced the radical change that God has called our family to right beside us, and she has seen the repentance of practices and sin as we have learned more and more about who He desires us to be.  I have been far from the model that one would set out to be when they begin this life in Christ, but in His goodness God has blessed me with this big girl anyway.  She has a heart for the Lord.  She is going to a bible college in the fall.  It is a place where they have corporate worship together twice weekly, and bible studies in the dorm.  It is a place where the professors disciple their students by doing more than teaching them academic content.  It is a place where my sweet girl will be challenged to seek God's will for her life, and given skills to use all her talents and interests for Him.  As I stood next to her, I was absolutely overcome that God would allow me the blessing of this child.  I definitely didn't earn it, but that is the beauty of our Lord.  Because of His grace and mercy, I am able to enjoy watching God working in the life of my precious bio baby.  We will miss her oh so much as she leaves our nest next year, and moves to this place, but we are beyond excited to see where the Lord takes her as she grows.  We couldn't be more thrilled that she is able to attend such an amazing, Christ centered place to explore what God might have for her in this next stage.  He has provided immeasurably as the scholarships she has been given are amazing.  Only God could have orchestrated such an incredible life, and I pray that she grabs hold of it as she leaves our nest to build her own.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Her First Birthday Party

This may seem so silly as you read it, but the other day the Lord granted me one of the deepest desires of my heart.  When I first dreamed of adding a daughter to our family through adoption, I was excited to share my life with another precious little one.  I dreamed of tea parties, play dates, and pink tutus.  I longed pretty deeply to once again have fun filled birthday parties to celebrate her complete with theme fun, friends, and memories.  When my baby girl came to me at two years old as an empty shell of death, I quickly came to the realization that my dreams for her may not match the reality that God had for her life.  I'll admit that I mourned that for a good long while, but having experienced these last six years of miracle after miracle as she has overcome so much, I can embrace the beautiful story that God is writing through our baby girl's life even if those plans didn't match mine.

This year our girl has grown so much.  Emotionally, she is walking on some pretty good, stable ground most days.  She still has her moments of course, but for the most part she is really living a full, JOY filled life.  About six weeks ago, our sweet one began to ask, through signing as she is still nonverbal, for "Jillian party" "school friends".  I kept asking her if she wanted to have a birthday party for her school classmates.  To which she would sign, "yes".  I was so excited, but also scared that my sweet girl would look forward to such a big day and then not be on stable enough ground with her emotions to enjoy it.  I proceeded, though cautiously, to plan a day full of all that she loves. We landed on a science theme as it was age appropriate, her favorite school subject, and had the potential to be pretty sensory rich which is something she desperately needs.  We made some invitations and invited all of the girls in her class.  I am told by my Jilly's teachers that she is some kind of attraction among her peers.  My-o-my they love her!  They apparently talked and talked about the party.  Then Jillian asked to invite the boys too.  So, we invited her entire class, reserved our church gym, and assembled a prayer team for my baby girl asking them to pray that she would be emotionally stable to enjoy the party.

Yesterday was the big day!  It was good that I had an hour to myself in the gym setting up because it was a day full of emotions for me.  I shed a tear or two thinking about all that God has done for this miraculous little girl of mine.  Then she walked through the gym doors with her Daddy with the biggest smile on her face ready to celebrate her big day with her school friends.

 Enter the sensory rich science experiments, and one very happy girl.
 I made a lab coat for each party attendee, and bought safety glasses for them to take home as a  favor.  Jillian wore the coat and glasses the entire party just like her friends.
 This is Jillian's special teacher.  She is fluent in sign language, and she has helped my Jillian's communication improve by leaps and bounds this year.
 Look at her smile! 
 Everyone LOVED this experiment.
It was a chemical reaction with hydrogen peroxide, yeast, and dish soap.
 Here she is looking over her cake with eight candles.
 It was a fun, easy science cake to make.
 Photo booth fun is hard to pass up!
When you are the daughter of a youth pastor, you always have big friends too!  We are so thankful for these two girls, and our Emily, who came to help at the party.
One of her school friends, who was sitting next to her at the molecule building table, said, "She is just so cute when she smiles that way!"  I tell ya these school peers this year are something so very special.  I am so very thankful for them, and how they love our treasure.  Who knows..maybe this birthday party thing will catch on as our girl really, really enjoyed it!  She doesn't do gifts well so we asked her friends to bring a donation for our favorite orphan ministry in lieu of gifts.  Her friends brought $165.00 to donate in her honor.  We are grateful, and it is such a fitting way to honor our special girl.

Eight Years Old

Despite my best efforts to convince my babies otherwise, they just keep growing up.  My Jilly turned eight years old this week.  
She is looking so grown up.
 We celebrated her on her big day with an ice cream cake. 
 She now is eating ice cream like gang busters, and it was the very first year that she actually ate her birthday cake.  Insert sobbing momma here.
 It was reason for this momma to praise the Lord!  What a miraculous year our girl has had.  I can't wait to see where the next year takes her.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jillian Performs

If you have been hanging around here very long, you know that my Jillian is a miracle.  You know that we feel extremely blessed to watch this baby girl come to life in our family.  This week, we perched ourselves in the front row in her public school's gymnasium to watch this girl and her classmates perform their musical.  Our dear baby is nonverbal, but she can play instruments and perform through signing and dancing motions.  I was a bawl of tears watching this baby girl up there.  I simply never, never dreamed this for her.  What limits I put on God as I thought of what her life would look like those first months home when she was so so broken.   Here she is in her glory, surrounded by her adoring community, being just who she was made to be!

One of her very best advocates, and best friends, is standing right next to her!
Another beautiful milestone for this precious girl who daily faces more challenges than I can imagine!  She has touched so, so many, and I am so thankful to be her momma!