Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

Reflections from the Playground

The little girls and I slipped away to the playground today to enjoy a bit of the beautiful weather we are having here in the Midwest.  I took full advantage of our retreat as my mind was full and my heart was overflowing.  I watched my Jillian simply filled with JOY as she explored the mud, leaves, and wood chips.  Simple.  Pure.  Happy.  It was a time of just being and enjoying the small moments that God grants us each day.  It got me thinking that I didn't always get the JOY in these moments.  I didn't always embrace the small things as so breathtakingly beautiful or even recognize just how perfect they could be.  I was busy.  Always busy rushing, doing, being..all that I thought I should be.  I watched that sweet eight year old girl of mine whose face was lit with the biggest smiles, and I relished in this lesson that she has taught me.  These small moments can bring the greatest JOY and much is heard when we just stop to be on days like this one.

Today, I heard the whispers that were so heavy on my heart as I waited to bring my first adopted daughter, this one I watched today filled with such JOY, home.  I remember more than six years ago now sitting across from my friend Amy in a Chinese restaurant just weeks away from traveling to my Jillian.  She had adopted twice before at that point and her first precious treasure has significant special needs.  I remember asking her if she knew about her dear girl's needs before saying yes to her.  I asked because in my heart I hoped with everything in me that I would not have one so special given to me.  Yet, I was given that kind of girl in my Jillian, and now I count being her mother as one of the greatest blessings in my life.  I just didn't get it before being given this girl.  I didn't understand the JOY in raising and loving such a precious one. The whispers, that bringing home a baby girl that needed so much would be dreadful, were the enemy's lies.  The fear that existed in my heart back then was that I would get to China and find a baby girl whose special needs were more numerous than I could imagine.  Welcoming a sweet girl into my family back then who would need care for the rest of her life was something I was so afraid of and I was sure that God would not do that to me.  Yet, here I am six years later and those scenarios I most feared, that came to be during that first adoption trip when I was handed my Jillian, are the very thing I give the most thanks for in my life today.

So it is with these different eyes that I look at my sweet Ellie Grace.  Her needs are great.  At two and half, she is developmentally a four month old.  She can't crawl, can't walk, doesn't eat solid food, and I could go on and on.  She too will likely live with us for the rest of our lives, but I don't see this as a burden at all.  On the contrary, I rejoice that God would once again allow me the privilege of loving one more precious girl.  I anticipate some times will be hard, but I also know that most of the everyday moments to come will feel like miraculous mountain tops because my girls are in them!  I know that no matter what this darling Ellie Grace accomplishes or where this life takes her, she will teach me much more than I could ever teach her.  God never wanted my life to be as easy or "perfect" as I planned it would be.  He had so much more than that for me, and I am so grateful that He did because these two precious babies, that I will have the privilege of caring for until my last breathes on this Earth, are so very valuable!

As I prepare to walk the halls of the University tomorrow with my newest treasure, these are the eyes I see her through.  Regardless of the numbers, outcomes, diagnosis, reports, or recommendations that come out of our six hour stay Ellie Grace will be loved by me as my daughter all the days of my life.  I will give my life for her-laying down all that I am asked-just as my Lord did for me because she is made in His image....perfect, valuable, and fiercely loved by this momma!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spaghetti Fun

There is nothing like a baby in spaghetti...
Now if I can just get her to eat it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Playing Baby Dolls

I often wonder what God might do with this special little girl's life.  Though Anna Mei's initial adoption file was special focus and said she had all sorts of special needs, I knew when I was handed her in China that she didn't have low or high muscle tone.  As my first week with her in country went on, I also knew that she didn't have any developmental delays, and I suspected that she didn't have "poor brain development".  Needless to say, this sweet six year old is completely typical.  That is not to say that she doesn't have her challenges.  She does, but here she is with unlimited potential sandwiched between a whole bunch of sisters who face some challenges that are considered pretty big by this world.  My dear Anna Mei is my side kick.  My number one therapy partner.  She can tailor play activities to enhance Molly's practicing to use her hearing, can encourage feeding and swallowing in our newest babe, and can even sign to Jilly in no time flat.  She is truly gifted in so many ways, and I honestly can't imagine how God might use her life.
The other morning, she brought out her baby doll, and told me that she was "reviewing her file".  Her file said she had autism and hearing loss so she was doing some therapy with her sweet baby doll to help her.  PRECIOUS!  I pray that she keeps her eyes firmly planted on Him as she grows because she has so many gifts and such potential, as we all do with God's help, to do great, BIG things for Him!  What a special, amazing little girl that I get to call my daughter.  So good!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sleeping Beauty

Our precious Ellie prefers to be held by her momma for her naps. This momma is, of course, happy to meet this need. She is absolutely precious, isn't she? As I watch her sleeping, I am in awe of all God has done to protect her and bring her to us. We have a lot of appointments in the coming weeks. Reports, diagnosis, and evaluations that are necessary, but that can overwhelm the heart of this momma. In these sleeping moments, I hold onto the reminders of how faithful my God is and that He will never leave us. We covet your prayers in the coming weeks as we try to get an accurate picture, medically, of who our girl is and what she needs to reach her full potential.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Watching Jillian Get A Pan X-ray

I stood on the other side of a wall just now peering through a tiny window just watching my very special eight year old get a pan x-ray taken at the dentist.  To most, this would not be a major feat.  In fact, most would mutter "crazy" as they passed me..the sobbing momma looking through that at the dentist's office.  You see this is my girl who I was told would never learn anything.   This girl who I was told would never know that I was her mother.  The girl who I was told was far too broken to be adopted and who would not accomplish much.  This amazing, incredible girl, who signed hundreds of words all morning at the dentist outlining clearly each and every one of her anxieties as she clung to this momma for reassurance, continues to accomplish more and more every single day!  As I held my newest babe in my ergo watching my biggest Chinese babe yet again rocking this medical situation, I was overcome with gratefulness to God that He would allow me this privilege.  You see if I had seen you standing at a window like this six years ago, I may have muttered crazy myself as I passed.  I wouldn't have understood because being a momma to this big girl of mine has changed me!  She has taught me so much about what this life means, and just what a miracle every single day can be.  I will care for her for the rest of my days on this earth as she will always be a child to some degree because of the very special way her mind is made, but, friends, this is, indeed, one of the greatest blessings of my life.  I certainly would have never understood the great value in this journey had I not walked it myself.  I would have never understood the immense beauty in my Jillian just as she was made.  I have watched God allow the love of our family to absolutely transform the heart of this baby girl, and as I embark on another journey with my smallest, Chinese babe snuggled in my ergo, I am on my knees in awe of that fact that God would bless me once again with another very special treasure!  This life is such an amazing blessing!  What an incredible and abundantly loving God I serve to lead me to such great JOY!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Eating is Exhausting

Could she be any more precious?
Grateful that she is mine.

One on One with Jillian

Tonight I took my girl out for a little skate.  The girl is seriously strong and after a block of wrestling to keep her up, I tagged Daddy and he took a turn with our happy, dangerous princess.  I couldn't love this kid more.  

Just looking at that face brings me such JOY!  

Sunday, May 14, 2017


The weather has been beautiful here, and we have been living in our backyard.  Our girls love being outside, and while it is nothing fancy, our backyard is full of play things.  We live out there all summer in the dirt, mud, sand, rocks, and water.  It is our haven.  In fact, nothing in this world makes me happier than looking out my window while doing the dishes and watching my older treasures enjoying the yard.  It is the nearest thing to perfect this side of heaven.

Daddy built a fire for s'mores the other night and our girls were thrilled!  Jilly doesn't eat them as she can't chew and still has some serious oral aversion, but she LOVES the fire!

My Molly had to get some shades like her Anna Mei.  She still always wears them upside down.

Molly doesn't like marshmallows as she is not a super sweet tooth, but she loves cooking them.

This girl would live on marshmallows as she has a super sweet tooth.  She loves fire nights.

Only chocolate bar consumed by this sweetie!

Daddy let Jillian burn the marshmallows which led to uproarious laughter!

Our sweet girl Jilly still loves to swing, but this year she has learned to pump!  Praise Jesus!  She can go super high, and Daddy says we are going to need to build her a more sturdy swing set really soon.  Oh I am overjoyed to have me some summer coming!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ellie Fed Herself

During meals, I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve.  I have done this feeding therapy thing before so I am armed with all the best tricks.  I put food down on the tray for her to touch and explore.  I also started putting an extra spoon next to the food on the tray.  Imagine my surprise and thrill when she picked it up and put it in her mouth by herself!   
It was adorable....

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Date with My Molly

One on one time with my girls is so important so I try to take each of my girls out as much as I can. I love love this time with them. Last week, Molly and I headed to the nursery together for yellow plants as per her request. She loves yellow and we have been busy planting around here. Such sweet memories are being made and I love it!

Molly Kate Fourth Birthday

Her meal of choice was mac and cheese with hotdogs.  Gourmet right?

She was one happy girl to be celebrated.

And we were thrilled to do it.

She even slept with her school birthday crown that night.

We were sure she would be disappointed when she woke up and her day was over, but she didn't seem to mind too much.  Happy fourth birthday my peanut.  We love you!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Celebrating Molly Kate

Chocolate chip pancakes with candles are a family tradition here and Molly loves it!

It was a beautiful day on her birthday so we had a picnic at the park and got ice cream too. You are only four once.

Lessons Learned From Accepting Help

Over the years, we have been so blessed by the body.  Again and again, they have met our physical needs and our spiritual needs.  Sometimes these needs have been met in the darkest seasons of our lives, and sometimes they have been met in times of rejoicing.  Regardless of the season having help is what God intended.  He meant for us to live in community together sharing one another's burdens, joys, and day to day.  I know this in my head, but when a dear lady in our church insisted that she bring us dinner this week, I almost said no.  We are back to life.  We are settled in quite nicely and I just didn't think I needed it.  I am so glad that she insisted because it was our favorite meal..fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and chocolate chip cookies, and it gave me precious time.  Precious Time that I didn't have to spend making dinner.  Time that I had to sit next to my incredible six year old girl while she completed her first 100 piece puzzle.  Time that I could cuddle my Molly Kate, swing my Jillian, and carry my newest babe.  Time that I could just sit and be around the table with my teen talking about her day.  Time that I wouldn't have otherwise had to do any of this.  So, I thought long and hard about saying yes when those willing around me offer to help.   I will say yes when someone offers because, even when I don't think I need it, help is a gift from one believer to another that is intended to lighten our load and bless us.  When I say no to other's offers, I deny them the ability to follow the Lord's prompting in their hearts to serve me and I rob myself of a great blessing. Friends when those around you offer to help you in anyway just say yes!  And who knows, you might find a little one who loves chocolate chip cookies when you didn't expect to....

Thank you, dear friends, for your willingness to offer so much help this last year as we have journeyed to this girl.  You all are such a great blessing to us!

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

Friday, May 5, 2017

To My Molly on Her Fourth Birthday

Dear, Sweet Molly Moo,
It hasn't even been two years ago yet that you walked into my arms.  You were hesitant to come to me, but since you have never looked back.  You adore our family.  You love, love on us all, and so easily connect to whomever you are close to.  You are happy..full of JOY..each day as you don't let anything keep your spirits down too long.  Your sister, Anna Mei, is definitely your favorite person in the whole world right now with me being a close second.  I often say that you don't have an identity apart from your sister because you just want to do and be everything that she does.  You have a sense of humor like no one else in our family as you are rarely ever serious for too long.  Often you are making silly faces or spitting your tongue at Daddy to get him laughing, and usually it works as he will play and play with you as you act silly.  You are my most independent little one.  You love to do everything by yourself for yourself like a big girl.  You don't let anything stop you from accomplishing a goal, and as you grow that trait will be so valuable.  It has been so exciting to watch you grow this year as you are so bright.  You have made two years growth in most areas at school, and we are so proud of how excited you are to learn new things. You have clung tightly to orange cat (your stuffed friend) this year, but have recently begun to leave it behind.  There are so many signs that you are growing up!  Nothing will stop you from changing this world sweet girl, and we are so thrilled to be beside you as you do it. As I watch you, I pray that you will continue to embrace who God made you to be, and that you will boldly go into this life ready to be used in big ways by Him.  We love you more than you will ever know dear girl, and are beyond privileged to be your Momma and Daddy.
All my love,

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Three Weeks

I have had this treasure in my arms about three weeks now, and I can't believe how much stronger she is getting.  She spends most of the day sitting up on the floor playing.  She was so wobbly and unstable when sitting in China that I was sure she would need a helmet when we got home to protect that sweet head, but already she is so stable and easily getting from a sitting to lying position on her own as she plays.  She rolls all over creation destroying most everything in her path which is wonderful.  Yesterday, she pulled a basket of magnets down dumping it everywhere and we celebrated her accomplishment.  While I was at Walmart picking up some baby food, Daddy texted to ask me to get some outlet covers because she had found the plugs.  YEAH!!!  She loves to take off and dump at this stage so our living room regularly looks like a war zone with all her toys strewn everywhere.  We couldn't be happier.

This week she has overcome her jet lag and is back to sleeping 12 hours all night.  Insert huge sigh of relief from this momma!  If she naps during the day, she prefers to be in my ergo to catch a quick 20 minute snooze which, again, makes this momma so happy.  I love having a sleeping baby in my ergo!

The girls absolutely love taking care of a baby!  By far, this has been the easiest transition our family has ever had with a new little one.  It is so sweet watching my other girls care for this little treasure, and it is so healing for them too.

On the eating front, she is now taking three full meals of rice cereal via a spoon in her high chair. She opens her mouth and she wants to eat!  This is HUGE, and I am absolutely thrilled!  She getting so much better about using that tongue to swallow, and not pushing everything out.  She is still not thrilled with flavors other than the rice cereal, but again I love that she can swallow the cereal and use her tongue to push out the other less desired stuff.  Last night, I even had her chewing!  I was dancing and praising God with the girls at dinner because of it!  I even continue to sneak baby food flavors, medicine, and vitamins in her bottle and she sucks them down.

She is absolutely precious!  We are smitten with our newest little butter ball!  We can't get enough of her chubby cheeks and big, bright eyes!  Watching her reach milestones every day as we love her is amazing!  She had her first round of doctor and therapy evals.  We are getting packed with labs, immunizations, specialists, and the like, but I know that they will all help her reach her full potential and I praise God that we can access all these things for her!  I can't wait to see where she goes!