• Every Child Deserves A Family

    Date: 2014.04.13 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    I always questioned if I was ready to adopt and then I realized no child is ready to be an orphan. – unknown

    Our family has been blessed over and over again by adoption.  I realize that not everyone is cut out to have a large family and to many our family looks a little crazy.  But if only you could see what I see when I look into the sunroom and see the littles playing so sweetly together.  If you could look in the backyard and see Hope riding her scooter, Gracie on her bike, and Jasmine on her powered wheelchair doing laps on the path in our backyard.  I hear the laughter and my heart is filled with joy.  I see the quiet play and I am content.  I am overwhelmed at this family that has been brought together by God and bonded by love.  It is truly a beautiful thing.  It can be hard and heartbreaking and the lack of sleep can be overwhelming but none of that comes close to what I feel in my heart every day knowing just how blessed I am.

    I realize that not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone can do something. You can pray, sponsor, advocate, and help spread the word.

    Today my something is to advocate.  Both of the little girls we are adopting were found by us on sites where someone else was advocating.  I saw Kelly’s picture and my heart was gone.  Many, many, many people have been advocating for her.  Hundreds of people have commented on my post about getting our PA (preapproval).  They have commented over and over again about praying for her.

    Today I want to do something for Kelly.  I can’t be there with her right now to hold her hand or comfort her as she waits so I want to advocate for her two friends at Agape Family Life House.  They have both been written about many times.  I have permission to share from another blog, Every Orphan Deserves A Family.

    There are many things that have been brought up in the news about international adoption and the issues with it.  While many things need to be fixed that doesn’t deter from the fact that many, many children will spend their lives in institutions wanting nothing more than to have a family.

    Candy would love to have a family.  What a beautiful girl.  Could she be your daughter?

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    You can see a video and read more about Candy here.  BLOG ABOUT CANDY

    Or maybe God is calling you to a son.  Could it be Geno?  He ages out very soon and would love to have a family to call his own.  He has been praying for his family.  Could you be his family?

    Geno

    You can see a video and read more about Geno here.  BLOG ABOUT GENO

    Prayerfully consider all that the Lord asks of you.

    “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  John 13:17

  • Fifteen….Inconceivable!

    Date: 2014.04.10 | Category: Hope | Response: 0

    I can remember when I first learned of her as if it was yesterday.

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    She was a beautiful baby with a round little face.

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    She stole my heart from the very first moment.

    She was truly a gift.

    She has grown into quite the beauty.

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    She loves video games….

    and making movies….

    and special effects makeup….

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    and watching FaceOff.

    She got to be an extra in a zombie movie.

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    She has a very best friend who just happens to be a boy.

    They have been best friends for five years now.

    She ate her very first turkey leg this year.

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    Dyed her hair red to be Merida for Halloween.

    Hope

    She definitely has her own style.

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    She loves photography and takes the very best pictures of the littles.

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    Her favorite movies are Princess Bride, How to Train Your Dragon, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Mummy, and Frozen.

    Her favorite type of music is pop.

    Her favorite songs include too many by Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne.

    She loves to draw and is writing a book called “Alice in Horrorland”.

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    She knows what she likes and sticks to her guns.

    She isn’t easily swayed and has strong opinions on what is right and wrong.

    She likes being homeschooled and chose not to get her driver’s permit because she didn’t feel responsible enough yet.

    She isn’t fond of math, but likes writing and art.

    She is growing into quite the young woman and I am blessed to be her mom.

  • Faith of a Child

    Date: 2014.04.10 | Category: Faith | Response: 0

    “The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.” – Francis Chan

    Yesterday we learned of a bump in the road.  It made me a smidge bit nervous. I truly believe that God had lead us to this place and I am going to trust that it would all work out.  I said I was “expectantly waiting”, but still my heart continued to beat a little faster than it should have on a couple of occasions throughout the day.  I turned it over and over and over again to God.  I had been in this position once before and it turned out all right.  I kept reminding myself of that fact during my moments of doubt.

    During one of my moments of doubt, I asked the children to pray with me.  Jasmine reminded me again that “God’s got this!”.  She had said that fact multiple times throughout the day.  She told me she wasn’t worried because she knew it was all going to work out.  My favorite Jasmine moment though was when I asked why this had to happen.   To which Jasmine replied, “If this is an “only with God” thing then maybe God wanted everyone to be sure.”  I told her I was pretty sure that the story would give all the glory to God and people would see we were just being obedient to where He was leading and she said, “See!”, like it all made perfect sense.

    The faith of a child.  They are so sure that God will come through.  Maybe it’s because they haven’t been let down, maybe it’s because they aren’t jaded by all the evil in the world, or maybe it’s just because they know something that we adults have forgotten, either way I need to get me some.

     

     

     

  • Happy Birthday Mei Mei!

    Date: 2014.04.09 | Category: Maisey, Photos | Response: 0

    Two years have passed so quickly.

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    My little girl turns four today!

    Maisey is the quietest of the littles.

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    She is the one most likely to be off somewhere playing quietly.

    Or inventing a new game.

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    She loves playing pretend and dressing up.

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    She loves books.

    She loves playing with her dolls and being a princess.

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    She is the best big sister.

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    She likes to help by feeding Evie and Evie just goes along with it.

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    She likes to sweep the floor and she does it in style.

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    She is Lainey’s biggest cheerleader.

    This year she got her BAHA and new glasses.

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    She sings all day long ….. “Let it go!  Let it go!”…. in the fun new dress Cassie found her.

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    She dances and tumbles and runs and rides her trike.

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    She is a girly girl and LOVES makeup.

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    She is such a daddy’s girl.

    Daddy and Maisey like to make fun fruit art together.

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    She gets along so well with the other littles.

    They are such good friends.

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    She is the girl of a million different faces.

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    And her wink…

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    And her favorite face to do when she pretends she can’t understand what we are asking her.

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    We learned last night that she likes to get flowers courtesy of big sister Grace.

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    Maisey has been the perfect addition to our family.

    She is full of grace and joyful fun.

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    She has changed so much from that very first day we met.

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    But she is just as sweet as ever!

    Happy birthday little one!

  • Once again….

    Date: 2014.04.08 | Category: Faith | Response: 0

    Dan and I find ourselves in another “only if God” situation.  I really do not like cryptic messages and I wish I could give you more information but I can not right now.  I do promise to give you information the minute it becomes okay to do so.

    I can let you know that all of our children are doing wonderfully.  We celebrate two birthdays this week so pictures will be posted tomorrow and Friday.

    I can let you know that God is amazing.  He is wonderful and when He brings something to your heart it is an absolutely overwhelming thing.  Sometimes the signs and the things leading up to an event are so amazing that it can only be from God.  It is in those moments that you feel confident and assured that His hand is all over the situation.

    I have had the absolute pleasure of having God bring something to my heart that others said is impossible and watching it unfold as only He can.  I am writing this asking you to cover us with prayers.  This is a good and joyously wonderful thing so asking for it to be is a good thing…..I promise.  (I’m sure you can pretty much guess!)

    I can’t wait to share the information with you.  I am excitedly and enthusiastically waiting to watch it all unfold.

    I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope.   Psalm 130:5

  • Best Buddies

    Date: 2014.04.04 | Category: Codey, Lainey Rae, Photos | Response: 0

    Sometimes things happen in life that you could never, ever imagine happening.

    Lainey & Codey

    To most people, this picture will just look like two siblings snuggled up together, but I’m telling you it is so much more.

    Lainey is a little girl mostly non-verbal, with severe limitations, who most the time doesn’t really pay attention to what is going on around her.   She is in her own little world a lot of the day.

    Codey likes to stay pretty much to himself too.  He doesn’t like to share his room with the littles, although they love his noise-making toys, so they are always trying to sneak into his room.  Codey has a couple phrases that he can say but he is pretty non-verbal too.

    Yet, for whatever reason Lainey loves Codey.  Codey scoots around on the floor and she loves to run up behind him and lay her head on his back.  She likes to help him along and has even been known to sit on his lap while he is trying to scoot.  They are just so cute together.

    She runs into his room, throwing the door open announcing herself, and climbs on his bed.  He just pretty much lets her be.  She snuggles up on his bed with a bottle and he watches t.v. from his comfy chair.

    I can guarantee you when I imagined us adopting again, I never pictured this.  I worried about how much it would stress Codey out.  I wondered about how he would react to them.  I wondered how they would respond to a 26 year old boy who scoots around on the floor and growls when he is upset.  It’s not the normal for sure.

    But this…..this is….so much more than I could have ever hoped for.   This is the biggest blessing.

    So much so, that when I saw this picture, I cried.

    Feeling very blessed indeed!

     

  • Blessed Beyond Belief

    Date: 2014.04.01 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Family Life, Grace, Hope, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae, Maisey, Photos | Response: 0

    I stood outside in the corner of our walking path and cried tears today.

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    Maybe it’s because the talk I gave this weekend brought so many memories to mind.  Maybe it’s because I wish my mama could have been there and I miss her so much.  Maybe it’s because we are waiting to hear from sweet Kelly.  Maybe it’s because I keep seeing picture after picture on Facebook of children just wanting a family.  Maybe it’s because the world is so unfair to so many children and I can do so little.

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    For whatever reason, the tears came but they didn’t diminish the wonderfulness of what my eyes saw.  Happy children playing outside in our big backyard.  I remember a couple of years ago when Dan and I were regretting buying the acreage, with all the upkeep and mowing.  Regretting the remodeling we did on the house and having spent money that we would have never spent knowing what we know today.  My brother, my son, and I (but mostly my brother) put in a 600 foot walking path in our middle acre.  It wasn’t getting much use.  We hadn’t done the tree and flower planting that we should have.  We wondered if God was asking us to sell the house. But selling just didn’t seem right so we stayed and now we know why.

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    Now the yard is a giant play place where  I get to see the little girl who ten short months ago sat on a floor in China raging, pulling out her hair, so unhappy, with us wondering if she could ever be happy and feel loved, run across the open ground with a look of pure joy on her face as the wind whips her hair.

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    I get to see the little girl who weighed six pounds at six months, thrive!  The little girl presented to us as deaf and unworthy, blossom and grow and blow out of the sky any of the limitations I thought she might have.  She is so much more than any of the descriptions on paper.  She is a fighter and loves with all her heart.  She is a beautiful spirit in a tiny, strong, little body.  She is smart and pretty and helpful and such a little mama.

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    And how can I look at Jasmine and not think of where she would be?  I watch her speed around the path, hair flowing in the wind, a huge smile on her face, enjoying every moment of freedom that her hot pink powered chair brings her.  I want to say slow down and then I remember all the limitations others have placed on her, all the pain, the wounds and scars, and I cheer her on instead.

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    I look at little Miss Evie.  The girl they told us only had a few months left.  I’ve had ten months with this beautiful soul.  Ten months of love and laughter.  There have been tears, fear, and restless nights, but to watch her run and play, to be allowed to be a part of all that is the miracle of her…..I am completely and utterly blown away and so undeserving.

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    Which is why the tears flowed.  Why am I so blessed?  Why should I be allowed to call these children mine?

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    I get to spend time flying kites, getting hugs, and listening to their sweet laughter roll across the wind.

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    Jasmine is free and happy.  Secure in the love of her family.

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    My older children are happy.  We’ve had much to celebrate.

    Family Picture

    Photo courtesy of Wunderkind Gallery

    Benjamin!  Where do I even start with Benjamin?  Before his surgery he couldn’t run around our sectional without being winded and now he is doing 5, 6, 7, or more laps around the path.  You can hear his laughter and his little bell ringing around every corner.  Every time he goes past me he yells, “This is so fun mama!”  His little legs pedal faster and faster as he zips around the path trying to catch Jasmine and Gracie.

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    The joy on their faces is unmistakable.  Maisey and Ben’s bond grows deeper and stronger with every day that passes.

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    Then there is the little guy.  He is this tiny bundle of rambunctiousness that is just so much FUN!  I don’t know what we will find out in May but he is so worth it all.  I can’t even explain what it is to watch him run and play.  He is the perfect little bundle of boy and my heart overflows with love for him.

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    Little Lainey secure enough to fall asleep in the sun.

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    Little Evie running to my arms.

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    Blessed to have spent over 30 years with the love of my life who shares my dreams.

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    Standing in awe of the little bundle that started this whole adoption journey.  A baby.  A gift straight out of no where.  Who gets gifts such as these?

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    Others ask us how can you do this?  Aren’t you tired?  What were you thinking?  What am I thinking?

    I.AM.BLESSED!!!!!

    That is what I am thinking as I stand there with the tears flowing down my cheeks.  Blessed at this family that God has made.  Completely and utterly humbled by the God who would allow me such a blessing just because I was obedient to His call.  What a gift to be given.  How do I do this?  How could I not?

  • The Choices We Make

    Date: 2014.03.29 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    On March 29, 2014, I will be giving a talk at a women’s conference.  They have asked me to share my story.  This is the outline of my talk.  I am including it on my blog for ease in others referring back to the video’s, quotes, book, pictures, and links.

     

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    Hope made this video for Orphan Sunday this year.

    The Blessings of Family

     

    THE CHOICES WE MAKE

    “I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.   – Francis Chan

    Main points that I want for them to take away from this talk:

    • You always have a choice.  The choice to follow God’s lead or just exist.
    • Every day that you wake up awards you a new choice and a new chance to do something crazy for God.
    • The Holy Spirit leads each and every day.  It’s not something you do someday or sometime in the future.
    • Adoption shows what being adopted into God’s family means in a very tangible way.

    Best choice I ever made? – To believe in God.

    The simplest choice – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God….  Ephesians 2:8

    We are not saved by works but God saves us to do His work.

    What does following God mean to you?

    • Showing up on Sunday
    • Participating in small groups/Bible Study
    • Tithing

    I want you to consider that God wants you to do more:

    • God wants us to get uncomfortable.
    • God wants you to give more than you even dreamed.
    • God wants you to step out in faith.

    2nd most important choice – marrying Dan

    Recently my son got married and it got Dan and I to thinking what if God stood before us on our wedding day and had a list of everything that we would go through in our marriage?  Would we have said “I do”?  Would we have signed up for the crazy?

    I would like to say that I had always intended to do crazy things for God.  That it is was always first and foremost in my mind to follow His lead.  That is not the truth though.

    How many people in the room have adopted?  How many have thought about adopting?  How many are here just here because they heard our story and want to see what crazy really looks like?  :)

    National survey by Department of Health & Human Services 2002 (Figures)

    • 18.5 million women thought about adopting
    • 2.6 million took concrete step towards adopting
    • 614,000 actually adopted
    • There are approximately 400,000 children in foster care
    • Of those 400,000 – 100,000 are waiting to be adopted
    • There are approximately 60 million children in orphanages in China
    • There are approximately 143 million orphans worldwide

    Three thoughts and videos that really changed the way I thought about my life:

    1. If you are called to adopt and you don’t go get your child, it is no different than leaving your biological child being half-way around the world.

    Depraved Indifference – Eric Ludy

    2. God just wants you to do something.

    Matthew West – Do Something

    Nobody made a bigger mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

    You don’t have to be Katie Davis  or  Andrea Kazindra

    3. You can’t live your life holding on to the balance beam and slide off at the end of your life and think God is going to say “Well done good and faithful servant.”.

    Balance Beam – Francis Chan

     

    Our story - choices made

    Birth of boys – Choice to choose bitterness and anger or trusting God’s plan

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    Presented with Hope’s life – Choice to choose the easy, the comfortable

    • Or choose the “crazy” and the uncomfortable
    • Choosing to take a chance that your heart might break
    • To have loved is better than to not have loved at all
    • Every child deserves the love of a family
    • And if a child is going to die, to die in the arms of someone they love

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    Choosing the safe and comfortable or to follow the spirit when we decided to have another child

    • Tubal reversal
    • Pregnant first month
    • Ruptured vessel
    • One tube scarred over – one not even connected
    • “Don’t know how we got pregnant.”

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    A few years later Dan read Max Lucado’s book  “Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference”.

    Max says, “A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month.

    • Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?
    • Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?
    • Question 3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

    “I didn’t mind the first two questions. They were hypothetical. I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine. But the third question has kept me awake at night. I do live today; so do you. We are given a choice . . . an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life? What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church? This tiny sect expanded into a world-changing force. We still drink from their wells and eat from their trees of faith. How did they do it? What can we learn from their priorities and passion?”

    Dan decides we need to do something.

    He says “let’s adopt”

    I say, “I’m too old.”

    Then I read: Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman in which her daughter asks her, “Is it better for an orphan to have an older mother or no mother at all?”

     

    Choose to proceed with adoption:

    •                        We choose to adopt Maisey (She weighed six pounds at 6 months)

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    •                        Agency gives us the option to adopt two.
    •                        Older – never adopting again we should do this
    •                        Hope asks us to adopt a little boy with a heart defect
    •                        Dan nicknames our newest child, Tigger
    •                        Saw Ben – Tigger picture

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    •                         Cardiologists say we would be crazy to adopt him
    •                         Knew he was our son
    •                         Followed the Holy Spirits lead

    Ben Before & After

    In the middle of it all Gracie was diagnosed with lupus.  She starts chemo right before we have to leave for China.  Do we proceed?  Do we trust?  What choice do we have?  Our children are on the other side of the world.

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    Landed back home – I knew right away we were being called to go back again.

    • More of the crazy
    • Signed up for two – Lainey & Eli
    • Presented Evie by Agency – made no sense at all
    • Waiting on Eli’s paperwork so we proceeded with Lainey & Evie
    • Saw Jasmine’s picture
    • Trusted that if God placed that burden on our hearts – He would make a way.
    • Petitioned China to adopt three and they said yes!
    • Waited for Eli’s papers from June to March
    • Trusted beyond a doubt that Eli was our son
    • Petitioned China to adopt four

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    Orphans are easier to ignore before your know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes.  – David Platt

    When in China we were presented children who were sicker than we had been led to believe.

    • Lainey’s rages and autistic behavior

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    • Evie weighed 13 pounds at 26 months and couldn’t sit unassisted

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    • Jasmine was not a paraplegic but instead had muscular dystrophy

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    • The child who was expedited for being so ill, Eli, was actually the healthiest.

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    Choice to leave them in China or take them home.

    The hardest yet most blessed year in my life so far.

    • Came home to my mother having a perforated ulcer, a heart attack, quadruple bypass, weeks in the ICU, and ultimately she passed away on Christmas Eve.
    • Lainey doesn’t sleep more than 2 hours at a time
    • 2 heart surgeries, 4 heart caths, a code and a hospital stay

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    We had the choice:

    • To choose what most consider the American dream to retire early and vacation
    • Or to follow God’s lead and do something with the remaining years of our life

    What are you doing to help the widow and the fatherless?

    There are many ways to help:

    • Adopt
    • Sponsor
    • Foster
    • Support others
    • Pray

    We have chosen to adopt again.  Jasmine tested my choices and we decided we can do more.  What will your choice be?

    Dan texted me this morning to wish me luck and he asked that I share this verse with you.

    “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  – John 13:17

    BIBLE VERSES:

    “He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”  – Ephesians 1:5

    …acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. 1 Chronicles 28:9a

    Jesus says, “Do not merely listen to the word….Do what it says!” – James 1:22

    Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27

    I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. – John 14:18

    Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause- Isaiah 1:17

    You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.- Exodus 22:22

    QUOTES:

    We bend.  I bend to sweep crumbs and I bend to wipe vomit and I bend to pick up little ones and wipe away tears… And at the end of these days I bend next to the bed and I ask only that I could bend more, bend lower.   Because I serve a Savior who came to be a servant.  He lived bent low.  And bent down here is where I see His face.  He lived, only to die.  Could I?  Die to self and just break open for love.  This Savior, His one purpose to spend Himeself on behalf of messy us.  Will I spend myself on behalf of those in front of me?  And people say, “Don’t you get tired? and yes, I do.  But I’m face to face with Jesus in the dirt, and the more I bend the harder and better and fuller this life gets.  And sure, we are tired, but oh we are happy.  Because bent down low is where we find fullness of joy.” – Katie J. Davis

    “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something” ― Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

     “May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.”― Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

     “Here’s a salute to a long good life: goodness that outlives the grave. Love that outlasts the final breath. May you live your life in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.”― Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

    “It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.” – Katie J. Davis

    “The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.” – Katie J. Davis

    “…because “Mommy” is forever. It’s such a powerful name. Mommy means “I trust you.” Mommy means “you will protect me.” Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing with when you are excited. Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with when you are sad, or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed. Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts. Mommy is a comfort place – a safe place. Mommy means “you are mine and I am yours and we are family.” – Katie J. Davis

    “If every Christian family in the United States would simply commit to pray and ask God if HE wants to use them to bless a child without a family, well, we’d change the world. If we can get the church to think about adoption not in terms of the desires of adults but in terms of the needs of children, I think we’d see on a much grander scale how God sets the lonely in families.”  – Kelly Rosati, Wait No More: One Family’s Amazing Adoption Journey

     

    Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.”  - David Platt

     

    “I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what was radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.”  – David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

     

    “We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of this world. Instead, we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.”  – David Platt

     

    “You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.” – David Platt

    Orphans are easier to ignore before your know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes.  – David Platt

    Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that really don’t matter.  – Francis Chan, Crazy Love

     

    But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable.  He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.  – Francis Chan

    BOOKS:

    Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches – Russell D. Moore

    Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting – Johnny Carr

    Crazy Love – Francis Chan

    Radical – David Platt

    Radical Together – David Platt

    The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family – Karyn B. Purvis

    Adopting the Hurt Child – Keck and Kupeky

    The Mommy Manual – Barbara Curtis

    Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox – Jean Macleod

    Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child – Holly Van Gulden

    Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption – Sheila Temple

    The House of Hope – Elizabeth Gifford

    Wish You Happy Forever – Jenny Bowen

    VIDEOS:

    Does God Answer Prayers

    Francis Chan – Fearless

    Francis Chan – Balance Beam

    Matthew West – Do Something

    Hope is Fading

    Depraved Indifference – Eric Ludy

    LINKS:

    Show Hope

    CCAI

    New Hope Foster Home

    Love Without Boundaries

    Agape Family Life House

    Half The Sky

    Little Flower Project

    New Day

    Amazima

    International Voice of the Orphan

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Step 3 Complete

    Date: 2014.03.28 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    There have been some interesting turn of events with the two girls I have written about earlier.

    We have received pre-approval for adopting Kelly so step three is completed.  There has been a small bump in the road, in that Kelly is deciding whether she wants to be adopted or not.  She is fearful about leaving China.  She doesn’t want to leave the only family she has ever known at Agape.  She has asked for some time to pray about it.   We want to honor her wishes even though I do so with a heavy heart.

    I have already pictured her here.  I know that we could give her a good life, full of love, but she has to want that too.  It was easier with Jasmine.  Jasmine came from a really bad situation, went to an orphanage where she was cared for but not necessarily loved like family, and was going to age out into a horrible situation.  She had been told by the orphanage that the place she would be going to would hit her and not feed her and she would just be left to sit in a corner without a chair. She has shared some information with us this past month that has been beyond heartbreaking.  We knew from the scars that cover her body that someone had done her harm, but to hear her confirm what we thought to be true has been horrible.  The fact that she is still such a sweet soul is beyond belief.  Needless to say, Jasmine was beyond ready to take a chance on our family and all that America had to offer.

    Which brings me back to Kelly, it goes to show that there are better ways to care for children who have lost their homes.  Institutionalized care, which can be cold and unloving, does nothing to help a child feel secure, cared for, and loved.  Foster homes and homes such as Agape Family Life House do their best to make the child feel loved and to provide the very best care that they can.  Agape has been Kelly’s home for a very long time and she is fearful about leaving.  We want her to want to come to America and be part of our family but we will not force her to come just because we can.

    The other part of this situation is when we get to China Kelly has to sign the form agreeing to the adoption.  We could pay the fees, travel all the way to China, and she could refuse to sign the papers.  We want to be absolutely sure that this is what she wants before we proceed.  We are continuing with all the paperwork so that we are ready to proceed if she says yes.

    We have decided that no matter what we will adopt again.  I would actually like to adopt two again.  I think fourteen children has a nice ring to it.  :) Partially because when my father-in-law was alive we always talked about the number seven and it’s biblical meaning.  Seven is a holy number.  It’s one of the reasons we do Operation Christmas Child boxes in groups of seven.  It’s a way of honoring my father-in-law and to remember to keep God’s principles in everything we do.  I’m sure that will seem funny to lots of people, but it’s always had special meaning to me.

    When we talked with our social worker about how many children to list, I asked her if we could list two just in case.  Many people have commented on us adopting again and having a baker’s dozen.  I like the number 14 much better than 13 though for so many reasons.  Our social worker sent me this from a devotional and I think 2014 could be a wonderful year for 14 children.  :)

    2014 is a powerful year of “Double Portion.”

    The number “7″ means “Perfection.”

    The number “14″ means “Double Perfection”…a Double Portion!

    Isaiah 61:7 “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”

    I must admit I really like that.

    The second thing that we learned was that Amanda, the other young woman that I wrote about, has a family looking at her file.  They are very interested in adopting her and giving her a chance at family.  I pray that Amanda gets her wish of going to college and finally having a family.  Here is her video again.  They have been showing it on Twentyless.com   You can watch the video here  Amanda   Please join me in praying for this family as they decide and for Amanda as she waits.

    There are just so many children who are waiting for families.  I would ask you again to pray about where God is leading you in this matter.  Do you have an extra room in your house?  Do you have extra love?  Do you enjoy children?  Don’t let the what if’s stop you.  What if I can’t raise the money?  What if it’s more than we thought it would be?  What if …..  God will provide.  Please consider what your part in caring for the orphans should be.

  • Hip Hip Hooray Evie is 3!

    Date: 2014.03.25 | Category: Evangeline Faith | Response: 0

    It is somehow appropriate that it is 3 a.m. while I write this post.  I was awake every day at  3 a.m. in China and that is when I would blog.  When we returned home, I still had trouble sleeping during the 3 a.m. hour.  It seems to happen to a lot of people when they travel to China. I’m sure there is a perfectly good, logical reason why this happens and if I googled it I could probably tell you why but since it’s 3 a.m., I’ll leave the googling up to you.

    All three little girls are awake right now.  Maisey because she has finally succumbed to the bug that has wiped us all out during the past week.  Evie because she has been having a much harder time sleeping at night.  I couldn’t tell you why exactly.  I sometimes wonder if God is giving me extra time with her because we spend a good hour together most nights lately.  And then little Lainey…she is awake because she fell asleep earlier than usual for her and she has decided it’s play time.  Right now Lainey Rae is spinning a toy on the kitchen floor, singing her own little song, serenading me as I write her sister’s birthday blog.

    Because I treat all my blogs as my journal to my children, I usually leave their birthday blogs as simple as I possibly can, mainly just pictures and sweet stories and descriptions of themselves.  Evie’s blog post is going to contain a bit more.

    As I was driving around to my many appointments today, Jasmine for her initial orthodontist appointment, where she ended up having a tooth pulled, and on to Evie’s appointment to check her thumb that she smashed over the weekend.  She had a nasty hematoma that just wasn’t healing very well so we decided to have them culture it and make sure there was nothing else going on.  In between those we mailed fingerprints, filled out more forms to go out in the morning, and copied more papers than I care to do again for a little while.  As I was driving around, I spent my time thinking about what I could write about little Evie.

    March 3, 2014 I-phone 265

    I talked with many people today.  I was asked on numerous occasions about Evie and Eli’s upcoming surgeries.  I told people that their surgeries have been scheduled a day apart on opposite coasts, Evie in Boston and Eli at Stanford.  Everyone said, “What are you going to do?”  It’s a dilemma because Eli’s has already been rescheduled and he is definitely more blue and Evie really needs her surgery too.  We have already waited for months for both places.  During all these conversations someone said, “That is just too hard on you guys.  It’s just too complicated having that many heart kids at one time.” The words themselves aren’t anything big.  It’s the truth.  It is complicated.  It’s just the way they say it.  It always seems to come across like Dan and I shouldn’t have done it.

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    Yes, it is complicated.  Yes, this is frustrating.  But my response is, “Would it have been better to just left Evie there so Dan and I didn’t have this concern?”  Yes, our lives would have been much less complicated had we not adopted these children.  Yes, we would have avoided headaches, heartaches, and the very busy days and crazy times.  But it’s not about us.  It’s about them.

    March 3, 2014 I-phone 158

    The fact that we got Evie’s file at all was a miracle.  We had already decided on two children, Eli and Lainey, but because the orphanage was taking forever to get the paperwork done for Eli, our agency presented us with Evie’s file.  I refused to even look at the file because I knew that Eli was my son and we had already sent our intent in for Lainey.  Dan looked the file over and went to sleep praying about it.  He woke up and told me that he thought God was saying Evie was to be our daughter.  Dan told me that he knew it didn’t make sense but he believed that God had a plan and it would all work out.  Watching the details unfold over the year with our four children’s adoptions was an amazing miracle in itself.  Being presented with Evie’s file was a gift.  It was definitely not something I would have gone looking for.

    I will never understand God’s timing.  I will never understand the waiting and the seemingly unanswered prayers, but I have lived long enough to see that God is in the details.  God has a plan and His plan is so far above and beyond my understanding that I don’t question it anymore.  I believe His plan to be perfect and I believe God to be trustworthy so in turn I am obedient when I feel that calling.  I used to question it and argue with God and tell Him that the plan just didn’t make sense but when you see how things fall into place and in a way that is so beyond anything you could have ever dreamed of or hoped for, well then you realize it’s better to just close your mouth, trust, and wait for His glorious plan to unfold.

    When we showed up in China, Evie was a 26 months old, weighed 13 pounds, and could not sit by herself.  Evie was a very sick little girl.  Evie was also a bundle of personality even though she was so ill.  We spent our time in China, having everyone comment on the sweet, little baby and then she would smile that mouthful of teeth and everyone would exclaim, “She’s not a baby!”

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    Evie is truly a blessing.  I can’t accurately describe her little personality.  She is a charmer.  She is the greeter in the family.  She only has to be in the room for a few minutes for people to see her sweet little heart in action.

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    She has helped heal another soul in our house and their bond is very, very sweet.

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    She loves her sisters so much!

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    She is the easiest to correct because just a word breaks her little heart.

    March 3, 2014 I-phone 489

    This picture was taken right after she ran Jasmine’s wheelchair into the door.  She showed her brother the hole in the door and he said, “Evie that was naughty!”  Yes, she truly is that heartbroken over just a few words spoken by someone she loves.

    Don’t get me wrong she can be feisty as all get out too.  I don’t think you can survive in an orphanage for as long as she did, as sick as she was, without some feistiness in you.

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    But all that being said, she truly is the sweetest little soul.  She is the one full of laughter and smiles.  She is the one dancing and singing her days away.

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    She is the girl to lead the way in playing pretend.

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    She is the girl who hugs everyone good-bye.  She is the first to say “hi” when she sees you.  She says please and thank you in the sweetest way possible.  She is determined and beautiful and a walking little miracle.

    In eight months time she went through three heart catherizations, one code, open heart surgery, and still managed to learn to walk.  She runs and marches and dances all over the house now.

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    I can’t imagine my life without Evie.  I often think how crazy it was that we got her file but how very, very blessed I am that we did.  There are many things in Dan’s and my life that don’t make any sense.  I realize that to most outsiders it would look beyond crazy, but I am telling you that you would only need ten minutes with little Evie to see that all of that crazy is worth it.

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    She so deserved a family.  She deserved more than to die alone, on a dirty mat, in a cold orphanage.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking that wouldn’t have happened or that it doesn’t happen EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!  My heart breaks for all the little ones that I can’t bring home and it makes me celebrate every moment I have with the ones that I could bring home.

    Here is Faith Evangaline.  We just had to have a Faith to go along with our Hope and Grace.

    This has been am amazing journey.  Her health has improved so much this year.

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    She has grown and blossomed right before our eyes.

    March 3, 2014 I-phone 215

    There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God that I was allowed the blessing to be called Evie’s mama.   It’s an honor and a privilege to be the one who gets to care for her, comfort her, love her and be loved by her.  I don’t take a moment of it lightly.