Archive for November, 2012

  • 30 days of Thankfulness

    Date: 2012.11.30 | Category: Family Life

    Day 30 – Thankful for Codey and all the lessons his life has taught me. Codey has been through more in his 25 years than anyone should have to go through and yet he is still happy. He is a wonderful son and a blessing. His life was the start of my learning that my life isn’t about me and that changed everything. Codey has taught me that every day I have the choice to be happy. He taught me what is truly important in life. He taught me to trust God with all things and that I am NOT in control. He has been such a blessing and honoring him is a very fitting way to end my 30 days of Thanksgiving.

    Day 29 – Thankful that I have my Boo. She was my first little girl and the sweetest one around. She has a heart for children and a child-like joy that is contagious. She is happy with the smallest of things. She will be the best big sister to her 6 little sisters. She is not only my daughter, but my friend as well. Happy 1/2 birthday Cassie Boo. I thank the Lord daily for the gift of you. *hugs* xoxox

    Day 28 – Thankful for a good report for Gracie in Iowa City today.

    Day 27 – Thankful for my Altoona Farrell’s 7 a.m. friends who always make working out fun! Sometimes when it is cold and the bed feels extra nice, it is just hard to get out of bed. I’m always happy that I made the effort once I get there and see all your smiling faces. 🙂

    Day 26 – Thankful for all the family and friends we have who continue to encourage us and lift our children up in prayer. It’s hard to be patient and wait, but it helps to know that so many others continue to pray for their safety until we can all be together.

    Day 25 – Thankful for making memories! 🙂
    Day 24 – Thankful that today marks the 28th year of being married to my best friend, my better half, and the man who shares my dreams. I love you Dan!
    “The secret of life isn’t what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale
    Day 23 – Thankful that a year ago we figured out what was wrong with little Grace. Thankful that she was born in this decade where she has a fighting chance at a long, healthy life. Gracie is a compassionate, sweet, loving little girl who is amazing with her new siblings. She is a blessing and has a faith that is unbelievable. I’m thankful every single day that she is my little butterfly.

    Day 22 – Thankful for so many blessings that I don’t deserve, which leave me humbled and overwhelmed, and looking forward to my new blessings that will be sure to make my life even more beautiful. May you be surrounded by blessings today and feel your heart overflowing with thankfulness. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    Day 21 – Thankful that this should be the last Thanksgiving that my babies have to spend apart from their family. (Well, you know…until they grow up and have babies of their own.) 🙂

    Day 20 – Thankful for all the birthday wishes from friends and family. Thankful for a family that loves me and showed me in so many wonderful ways today. Thankful for this blessed life that I get to live. Next year it is possible that my dream I’ve had since I was a little girl will come true. I have so many, many things to be thankful for. I have to agree with Ben who said all day today, “It’s a happy, happy mama day!” 🙂

    Day 19 – Thankful for my husband and the gifts that God gave him. I am thankful for all the information he is able to obtain from many sources on what is the right surgery for Ben, when to proceed, and the horribly hard decision of to do or not do the surgery. If you are praying for my little Ben, the specific prayer needed right now is wisdom to choose between the risk of surgery that will give

    him a chance at better quality of life but is dangerous or doing nothing and letting him continue to be happy for as long as he has? Tough decisions and a heavy burden for my husband. I can pray and give my gut feeling, but I don’t have the medical knowledge to make a truly informed decision – only Dan can do that. I’m thankful every day for everything that he is able to do for our children above and beyond loving them. 🙂
    Day 18 – Thankful for helpers at the craft sale! 🙂
    Day 17 – Thankful for my husband who has a quick, witty sense of humor. He makes me laugh every day. 🙂
    “Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. My soul probably looks like Fred Astaire.” – Jarod Kintz
    Day 16 – Thankful for weekend craft sales with my mom and mother-in-law. It’s fun to see all the things they’ve made and spend time together. Plus, we had some really great help! Thanks Lori !!! 🙂
    Day 15 – Thankful that Ben’s platelets were 41 so they could do the cath. 40 was what we had to beat. The procedure has started. Praying & waiting has commenced. 🙂
    Day 14 – thankful post part 2. Better known as the long version. 🙂 I am thankful that Cassie & Zach truly love their siblings and want to be there for them. I am thankful, as I sit here holding Ben, that I know Zach is playing games with his sisters & fixing them lunch. I know they are so happy to be able to have a day with him that they will barely notice I am gone. The same will happen tonight

    as they plan their supper & movie watching with Cassie. It melts my heart when the two newest ones run to them with their arms outstretched, chanting Zachy or Cassie. It doesn’t get much better than that. As LWB said today….It is not flesh & blood but the heart that makes us (family).
    Day 14 – Today I am thankful for Zach & Cassie for being there for their little siblings. They always make sure they feel loved and secure when we have to be away for medical reasons. I love that they all love each other so much. Thanks guys! xoxox
    Day 13 – Today I am thankful for getting to be the mama to the sweetest little boy around. I know I’ve said it before, but sometimes I just stand in amazement at how sweet he is. Today he informed the nurse that God cares for his heart, and it was okay as he held out his finger, when she got ready to do his fingerstick. He said “thank you much” to everyone at the doctor’s office for everything

    from his bandaid to his stickers when he left. He asked to buy Maisey a Spiderman because she was sad when he got one the other day. He turned a trip to Mediacom into a funfest. He laughed at all the cutouts and asked to have his picture taken by all of them except for the scary Ghost Rider poster. He told me I did a good job driving and that he loves me much. He just oozes sweetness. Blessed am I!
    Day 12 – Thankful for advanced medicine and children’s hospitals. Heading to Iowa City today for Ben’s IVIG. Hopefully, (prayers said and fingers crossed) it will raise his platelets from 30 to at least 100 – enough to do his heart cath on Thursday. 🙂
    Day 11 – Thankful that there were others there to hold her and love her until the end.  RIP baby Kahleesa
    Day 10 – Thankful for New Hope Foundation China! A little over 2 years ago today Dr. Hill’s organization, (, found Maisey, who was 6 months old and weighed 6 pounds. They took her in. They fed her. They lo

    ved her. Today I am blessed with a little girl with so much personality and compassion. She is sweet and energetic and a beautiful bundle of everything good. Plus, every single day she makes me laugh. (Shown by her choice of clothing yesterday.)
    Day 9 – So much to be thankful for. Today I am thankful for unexpected blessings. Yesterday we were told that we had verbal preapproval for Lauren but they would not issue the written preapproval until we had our extension finished by immigration. This could take 4-6 weeks for fingerprinting and review of our homestudy. Our agency gave me all the ways to try and expedite it, but we would have

    to wait until then for the appointment. The preapproval paper allows us to tell her orphanage that she has a forever family and to be able to send her a care package. As you know, we all wanted to send her something before Christmas and let her know that we love her and can’t wait to get her. Gracie’s biggest wish was for Lauren to know she had a family for Christmas. Even though we were told we would have to wait, today we received the written preapproval form from China. They decided to go ahead and issue it. Blessings! Blessings! Blessings! So today I am thankful to be going shopping for my newest daughter.
    Day 8 – I am thankful for my soul mate, my best friend, and the sharer of my dreams. He supports me, comforts me, upholds me, prays with me, calms my fears, protects me, holds me up when I don’t think I can go on and best of all makes me laugh every single day. He love his children with his whole heart, those here with us now and those that are yet to come. He has incredible gifts yet gives God all the credit (as it should be). He is my dream come true. Love you sweetheart!

    Day 7 – I’m thankful that I know who the true authority is. In a country where we profess to want to people to work together, we drive each other apart. We call people names. We post jokes and insults. Everyone loses their objectivity. This country is about freedom. This country is headed for trouble because of the debt. We all should be able to agree on that and find ways to fix it. We as a country find ways to pull together when there is a national calamity and then we stop. Why? I believe we all want a better future for our kids. Let’s work together and figure out a way to do that. “We the people” need to stop blaming everyone else and work together for the good of this country.

    Day 6 – Thankful (as is everyone else in Facebookland – it seems) to live in a free country and have the right to vote. After seeing the news this morning about the young man from Shenandoah who gave his life for his country, it makes the price of that freedom all the more real. Praying for his family and all those that are serving our country.

    Day 5 – I should post Dan’s comment on being thankful for having 5 kids under the age of 5 at this time next year. Yes, I am truly thankful for that, but I had already decided to give each of my children their own day of thanks on their birthday day of the month. Today will be brought to you by the letter Z for Zach! Zach has been a blessing and a gift from the very beginning. He is an old soul

    and a sweet soul. He was a gift from God during the worst time of my life. He was proof that life would go on. He is bright and sweet and funny and talented. But his biggest gift is his compassion. How many 24 year old video game programmers do you know that would give up a job at EA Sports to come home to get to know their newest siblings? They adore him and I do too. That is my Zach and one of the reasons I am thankful and blessed every single day of my life.

    Day 4 – Thankful that God sent me a son with the sweetest soul. Today in church Benjamin raised his hand during prayer request. This in and of itself is amazing because Ben is very shy when he is in big groups of people. When pastor asked him what his prayer request was Ben replied, “My didi, Eli”. Ben was praying for his little brother – that we haven’t even been matched with yet. He is so sure this little boy is his brother and his Eli (Ben says it like ally.) He is just a sweet, sweet boy. He is loving and encouraging to everyone. Yesterday while Maisey was trying to put on her shoes he kept saying, “Awesome job Maisey! Good work!” I’m a thankful and blessed mama.

    Day 3 – Although I’m disappointed that they won’t present Lauren’s file yet, I’m thankful that there are people out there who are truly trying to find the best possible way to make it happen. I’d like to be able to say I have 7 daughters – maybe that will be what I am thankful for on day 20. That would be a great birthday present. 🙂

    Day 2 – Thankful that I have the most wonderful job in the world, being a mother, and that I have a husband who appreciates and supports me in that job. 🙂

    Day 1 – Thankful we are one step closer.  I just got the message that China has locked in our dossier.  And the wonderful, great, amazing news is that they can now ask about Lauren. So on this first day of Adoption Month, I’m asking all of my praying friends to please pray that they say yes to us being able to adopt her too. Hopefully we will know something in the next couple of weeks. I am happy, excited, and scared to death! I know who is in control though so I will practice patiently waiting for the good news. 🙂

  • Just when I think I couldn’t love him more….

    Date: 2012.11.30 | Category: Family Life

    It’s been over 30 years since I met Dan.  We celebrated 28 years on November 24th.   He is truly my best friend and my soul mate.  I still look at him with wonder in my eyes.  He is truly amazing.  God has given him so many gifts.  Truly wonderful gifts.  He has a unique way of looking at things.  He is a true problem solver.  He brings so much to his jobs and works so hard.  Yes, I said jobs.  He has his clinical job.  He works for a national company as the director of clinical and quality improvement.  He writes books.  He’s written for magazines.  He now volunteers with Love Without Boundaries and New Hope Foundation.  He has a true heart for children.  I love that about him.

    I love many, many things about him.  I love that he listens to me ramble on and doesn’t make me feel foolish.  When I’m excited about the littlest thing, he gets excited with me.  He holds my hand.  He looks at me adoringly.  He makes me feel beautiful even when I know I’m not exactly looking my best. I love how he makes me feel like I have the most important job in the world.  I love how my dream is his dream. I look at him and feel this overwhelming amount of love in my heart and I think this is it….I couldn’t possibly love him more and then he does the sweetest thing and I’m proven wrong.

    Just the other day he informed me that our 12 foot Christmas tree is staying up until all our children are home. He wants all of our children to experience Christmas this year.  Now the girls should be home sometime in March, but Eli will be a different thing.  If we have to go back and get him, it will be another 5-6 months.  That puts us into September or so.  We will be having a Valentine’s Day tree and an Easter tree and a 4th of July tree.  (I’ll be sure and post pictures.)  If the tree is up until September, I might as well leave it up until Christmas.

    But the biggest reason I love him even more is that I wrote Lauren a letter explaining who we all were and tried to keep it short.  I didn’t want to overwhelm her with the very first letter.  He decided that he would write a letter instead.  He thought it might make a difference since China is such a patriarchal society.  He wrote her a very loving letter explaining how much we love her.  He told her how we fell in love with her from the very first time we saw her picture. He explained that we wish we could just come get her but we have to follow the rules and told her how sorry he was that we didn’t see her picture sooner.  The letter was very, very sweet.  He also had the idea for us to pose holding her picture so she could see how happy we are that she will be our daughter.

    Every little girl should be lucky enough to truly be loved by her dad.  She should know she is treasured, cherished, and not have any doubts about that.  She should hear how much he loves her.  I think when you trust your father’s love it’s easier to trust God’s love for you too.  We apply human characteristics to God and He is our Father.  It’s easier to trust your heavenly father when you already understand being cherished unconditionally by your earthly father.  I know all of my girls have this with their daddy.  What a beautiful gift and I’m lucky enough to be a part of it.  As I said, I thought I loved him then….

  • What if I won the lottery…..

    Date: 2012.11.28 | Category: Adoption, Thoughts to ponder

    I’ve been hearing people talk about what they would do with the money all day long. I listened to people talk about buying a house in every country so they could travel everywhere but stay in their own home.  I heard someone even mention buying the “E” channel so they could fire all the Kardashians.  Baseball teams and football teams were mentioned.  Fancy cars, furs, jewels, gold, boats, etc.  I heard it all. Of course, they would take their family on trips.  They would pay off bills.  They would give some away.  But we are talking about 1/2 billion dollars.  Maybe they just haven’t put any thought into it, but man I have.  I have put some serious thought into how I would spend that kind of money.

    Can you even imagine?  I mean you will lose 1/2 of it to taxes, but still you would have the ability to spend $250,000,000 plus. I can barely wrap my head around the thought of that much money.  But believe me I know exactly what I would do with that money.   I would fund so many adoptions – domestic and international.  I would get rid of that “We just don’t have the money.” excuse.   I would pay for surgeries for clefts, and little broken hearts, and club feet.   Show Hope, Hope Foster Home and Love Without Boundaries and I would become fast friends.  The work they do is so absolutely AMAZING!  I would help them do even more.  $25 million to each for starters.  Just boom write out a check and let them do their work.  Can you actually fit that many zeros on a check?  🙂 Foster homes would be funded because I believe that getting children out of institutionalized care is so important.  Children would be fed.  Wells would be dug. There are so many organizations around the world that are doing really great work.  They just need support and funding.  There are so many people who have given their lives to make a difference.

    My dream of becoming a philanthropist would become a reality.   My heart races with the thought of it all.  But the odds are 1 in 17,500,000.  I heard someone say that you have a better chance of being hit by lightning – TWICE!  So now what?  The news is just in and I didn’t win. So there is nothing I can do right? Wrong!  I can do something.  I can sponsor one child getting a cleft and that is huge to that child.  I can give every time I hear about a family that is adopting.  I can support those people and places that are making a difference and spread the word of what they are doing as often as I can.  I believe that Satan wants us to believe the world is too evil.  He wants us to believe that there is nothing we can do.  He wants us to believe that we are helpless, but what is that saying about our God?  I’m not able to do much, but God is able to do everything.  Everything is possible through Christ.   Everything.  It’s time we take our eyes off of the new car, the new house, the new gadget, and put it where it really belongs – on those that are less fortunate that us.   We have so much.  Just think about how much is in your house right now.  Do you really need more?  I know I don’t. I want to make a difference.  I want my life to matter.  I want every day to be spent thinking about someone other than myself.

    Why do I believe so much in adoption?  Why?  Because every day I wake up and see the most amazing scene.  I see two little children who just 7 months ago were in an orphanage.  Children that were quiet and afraid and wouldn’t even bother to cry because they had learned no one comes when you cry so why bother.  How sad is that?  What does that do to a child’s heart?  Just weeks later, it had started to change and now months later they wake up with such joy that is it overwhelming.  They are so content with the littlest things.   They laugh and giggle and hug and kiss.  They just want to be loved.  How can we say that anything is more important that loving a child?  How can we stand by and do nothing when we have so much?

    I have had people who really don’t understand it.  There are those who still think I have lost my mind, but after being around Ben and Maisey for even a little bit – they get it!  When you stand in my yard and watch those two little ones run down a hill, just loving life, you know you’ve made a difference.   Isn’t that what we really want?  To make a difference.  To have our lives matter.  I don’t want to be remembered for the car I drove or how clean my house was (I can pretty much guarantee that one now.).  I like being Ben’s mom, Maisey’s mom, Cassie’s mom, Zachary’s mom, Kyle’s mom, Codey’s mom, Hope’s mom, Lainey’s mom, Lauren’s mom, Eli’s mom, Gracie’s mom, Faith’s mom.  It used to bother me that no one really knew my name, but now I’m okay with just being mama.   I don’t care if anyone remembers me for anything more than having happy, content children, with compassionate hearts that put God first.  If this happens, I will have made my mark on this world and will have made a difference.  And I didn’t even need the lottery to do it.

  • Let your light shine

    Date: 2012.11.07 | Category: Thoughts to ponder

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within is. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

    I love this saying so much.  Mainly because I have always wanted to not stand out.  I didn’t want to be different.  I didn’t want to make a splash or ruffle anyone’s feathers.  I have been talking to quite a few women lately – self-professed people pleasers.   They all want the same thing to be in control, to stay under the radar, to not cause any problems.

    I have decided that I no longer wish to live this way.  I have, in fact, lived that way most of my earlier life and to some degree through my 20’s & 30″s.  I was never sure of myself enough to speak up.  I never wanted to cause friction. I have actually been made fun of for being too happy.  I have watched it with my daughter, Cassie, too, this has probably helped me in seeing my happiness as objectively as I can and understanding why people say what they say.  How can someone fault you for being enthusiastic or happy or content?

    I have decided that my enthusiasm which is about my loving God and my life should be allowed to show.  In fact, I do a lot of  “This Little Light of Mine” singing.  (In my head of course, I don’t want to punish people.)  I can not show the glory and the work of God in my life if I’m afraid to talk about it for fear of what others might say.  That is why I post what is happening with the adoptions on Facebook and my blog.  I want others to see that I am trusting God in this matter.  I want them to be able to see that faith doesn’t mean I have all the answers.  It just means I know who does.  I should not be afraid to show that.  I should not be afraid to show my enthusiasm for this life in which I have the honor of living.  In fact, the word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek words “en theos,” which means “in God.”   God has blessed me for having the faith to walk with him.   I want everyone to understand that although I live a very comfortable life now that is NOT what I am talking about.  God has blessed me in many ways but the blessings I am talking about are my husband and my children. I am lucky enough to be married to my soul mate and my best friend.  I believe with my whole heart that it is God leading us because God is talking to both of us with exactly the same dreams.

    I can be happy with very little and with a lot.  I have been without food.  I understand hungry. I understand not having money to pay bills or do anything fun.  But I am and have always been happy.  Happy is not the right word exactly.  It is content.  It is as Paul said, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11    Content means knowing you have enough.  Content means to live without coveting your neighbors things.  Content is knowing when your husbands arms are around you, nothing else matters.  Content means knowing that the worst thing in life isn’t doing without things.  The worst thing in life is losing someone you love.  This can and will happen throughout your life.  Don’t live with regrets.  Love with your whole heart. Hold those you love near and pray for your enemies.  Life is too short to waste on bitterness and anger.

    I have a hard time with letting my light shine because then people say things like “you are amazing” or “what you are doing is so wonderful”.  I believe that I am following God’s plan for my life.  I believe where He is leading me truly is amazing and wonderful and I feel blessed for that, but I am an ordinary person.  There is nothing amazing or wonderful about me in particular.  I am trusting Him on this journey.  I am trusting God because I know that things are going to be hard at times.  I am relying on His strength.  I am trusting His plan.  My enthusiasm is based “in God”.   I hope that when people hear me talk they know who the glory goes to.  It does not go to Dan or I.  It goes to a God that would speak so clearly to both our hearts and bless us with children that are truly amazing, wonderful, happy little souls.  To be able to walk with them on their journey is a blessing.

    But I still have thoughts of what about when I stand before my Lord. What will He say?  Well done good and faithful servant?  What about you?  When you stand before Him and He shows you your life.  When He says, “Was this car worth more than a child’s life?”  When He asks, “Was eating out worth more than the help you could have given?” When He says “Where did you volunteer? What did you value with your time? Where were your priorities?”  What will you say?  These are questions that keep going through my head. I have failed so many times.  I have not had my eyes on where they should be.  For right now,  I have chosen to turn my life completely over to him.  I stand before you a mother who has decided it isn’t about things.  I have sold my bedroom furniture to make room for little beds all in a row.   I have removed furniture out of my sunroom.  The main room going into my house.  Have I mentioned I like things in order?  Have I mentioned that I used to feel my worth was tied up in how my house looked?  This is a big thing for a girl that likes control.  It is now the messiest playroom you have ever seen on most days.  But now when I see the mess, I choose to see the joy that was there.  The children have to pick it up, I’m not saying that.   It just isn’t always in order.

    I know I am still a work in progress.  I know I am so far from perfect and I wish it hadn’t taken me this long to figure this much out.  I am absolutely positive that more things will be made clear to me as time goes on, but what I do know is the things we think are most important really aren’t.  I couldn’t tell you what the bills were that I couldn’t pay years ago, that I cried tears over.  They are paid now and things all worked out.  I couldn’t tell you the things I wished I could have bought and wasn’t able to.  I couldn’t even tell you the car troubles I once had and worried over.  I can tell you that right now I can say with utmost certainty,  beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would trade all that I have to get my children here from China.  Things are things. They will come and they will go but they are not what should have worth in your life.

    I am content.  I am happy.  I am loved by a God that is bigger than any of my worries.  For that reason, I want my light to shine.  I want that light to shine on adoption.  I want others to see that they can help the widow and the orphan.  What is God saying to you?  Where is your light shining?  Don’t be afraid to let it shine for you too are a child of God and were born to manifest that light.   Sing with me now….This little light of mine….  🙂