Archive for March, 2014

  • Here’s Your Sign!

    Date: 2014.03.08 | Category: Adoption

    Many of you have probably seen the Bill Engvall stand-up comedy routine with the line “Here’s your sign!”.   Well, my last two days have been full of signs, but these signs were from God.  I believe God has a sense of humor and I certainly felt like He was doing His own routine with me. “Here’s your sign, Lisa!”

    Now you may or may not believe that God talks to people through other people’s words.   You may or may not believe that God cares about the smallest of details, but I do.  If you don’t believe in God, then you would just dismiss these as coincidences.  I, however, call them God-cidences and many others call them God winks.  God is definitely in the details, even the smallest of details.  If you pay attention, you just might be surprised at what you hear.  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27

    My last blog post was all about being convicted.  Jasmine and Grace have been praying hard that our hearts would be open to adopting more children.  Jasmine especially wants to adopt girls that are about to age out, just as she was.  She has prayed over and over again that we would adopt six more sisters.

    If you had asked me if I could handle this four months ago, I would have most likely said no.  But now that we are past the six month point and finding our new normal, my answer would be yes.  Life is busy, but very nice. Evie and Eli play so well together.  Ben and Maisey are best friends.  All the littles play together well and try hard to get Lainey to come out of her shell and play.  The middles have settled in nicely with school and being more responsible for chores.  Cassie has been a huge help with taking a night shift or two with Lainey.  Cassie even watches the kids for four hours so Dan and I can have our weekly dates. Zach is soon to wed his sweetheart, Steph, whom the kids love.  It’s a darn good life, if I do say so myself.

    Because of this new found normal, Dan and I started to pray and really take to heart what Jasmine was asking us.  We made a list of what we thought we could handle. The list included: 1.) A girl who was about to age out . 2.) Someone who just needed a break to be able to succeed. 3.) Someone who understood what family meant.  4.) Someone who really wanted a family.  5.) Someone who was kind and loved children.  6.) Someone who needed a surgery that they could get here.  7.) Someone who was open to coming to the U.S.  8.) Someone that others had met and could let us know first hand that the above information was true.  and 9.) Someone who knows some English.

    We decided to pray about it some more and not actively start to look.  It is really hard on your heart to see so many children that just need a family.  We talked to everyone in the family and all were on board.  My mother-in-law stated that she had a real peace about the whole thing.  She said she had seen God work in our lives during the past three years and if He was leading us to it then she was on board.

    Later that night, I was up with Lainey.  She often wakes up every hour, but it is unusual for her to want to stay up and play. It was 2 a.m. and she had no desire to go back to sleep.  I sat beside her while she played and got my phone out to just waste time.  On Facebook I saw a little girl named Kelly she was being advocated for by Lifeline and a site I had never seen before.

    Now I have seen lots of aging out boys over the past few months and many, many, many cute toddlers, but I have not seen very many, if any, aging out girls.  I read her story and it moved me to tears just as Jasmine’s did over a year ago.  I wrote down Kelly’s information.  I noticed who I would have to contact in the morning and I prayed some more.  Later, at closer to 4 a.m. as I was begging Lainey to please go to sleep, I noticed that someone had commented on a shared post about another girl.  I read about this girl and cried too.

    I started to think about what the odds where that I would read about both these girls and that both these girls fit all 9 of the criteria we had agreed upon.  I copied their information in an e-mail and sent it off to my husband to read in the morning.  In that e-mail I asked him to look at these two girls and let me know what he thought.  In the morning, the e-mail I got back had three little words on it —-  “Sign me up!”

    I started to contemplate what that would mean.  The both age out quickly, one in August and one in October.  Could we do this?  I know God had shown me miracle after miracle last year, but could it happen again?  I was afraid to get my hopes up.  I sent out the emails to ask questions about the girls.  I sent out emails talking to my social worker about the home study and to our agency to ask them if they thought it was feasible at all.  I heard back, “It would take a miracle and everything would have to go perfectly, but it is possible.”

    I started to think, “Who has 18 kids?”  I mean I tell people we have 12 kids and they look at me as if I have two heads.  I spent a lot of time that morning thinking about how many people I knew that had over 12 children.  I know lots of families with 10, 11 and 12 children, but only one family with 18.  I wrote this post on Facebook that same day.

    God has the biggest sense of humor. If you missed my blog or Jasmine’s video, you may not have heard that we (our whole family) feels as if God isn’t done with us in regard to adopting. Jasmine & Gracie asked for six more sisters. We have been praying about it. My thought is who really has 18 kids? That is a really big family. I know of one family, who I deeply respect who has 18 kids and I love following their story, but I haven’t heard of very many more though. Since writing my blog, I have come across 3 other families with 18 children. Today I dropped off my car at the dealership because the emission light came on. Normally I would walk home because it’s only 2 miles, but it is cold and I just didn’t feel like it. The gentlemen who drove me home asked what I did for a living. I said, “A stay-at-home mom”. He asked how many kids we have and we proceeded to talk. He told me his wife was one of 17 children. He went on to say how blessed they were and how wonderful it was to gather together. He also told me about friends of theirs who have 20 children. Ok. Ok. Ok God. I get it. It can be done!

    Dan and I decided to take the night and pray about it some more.  We would sleep on it and talk in the morning.  I woke up thinking, “God, I just want an answer.  I want to know that this is the right thing to do for our family.  I wanted clarity.  I went to talk to Dan, not any clearer than I was the night before.

    We started to talk about this in his office downstairs so we wouldn’t be interrupted.  The word that kept coming up over and over again was complicated.  We watched God unfold in amazing ways last year.  We were both talking about whether or not God was asking us to step out in faith again.  To trust that He could make it happen.  I walked up the stairs thinking “I wish God could just text me and tell me what to do.”  I would willing step out in faith and follow Him anywhere.  I just want to know that what I am doing is right for our family and this is truly what He is calling us to do.

    I took a minute to myself.  I decided to check Facebook and just let my mind wander for a bit.  The daughter of a friend of mine wrote a message to me and posted it on my timeline.  This is a girl I barely know.  I’ve met her a few times in her life, but I don’t know her all that well.  This is what it said, “I read this prayer this morning and thought of your sweet family.  “Lord, complicate my life.”  Complications from the Lord require the biggest miracles, which require the biggest prayers, which requires the greatest faith.  All of these things also come with the greatest blessings and your family has been filled with a house full of blessings.  Blessings that would have been missed out on if you hadn’t been willing to allow God to complicate!  Thanks for letting us be a part of your prayers and miracles.”

    I took a moment to tell her that it really touched my heart and then later I went back and explained a little of the above.  She then told me that she typed and erased this post numerous times because she felt funny saying it to me.  I am so happy she listened to God’s prompting.

    I ran straight back down and showed Dan.  I laughed about God and His handing me a sign.  I wondered when I would stop questioning.  Would I always doubt?  How many more times did He have to show Himself faithful?  But then I thought it wasn’t that I didn’t believe God could do this, I just wasn’t sure we should be doing it.  I know what the world is going to say.  I have had people tell me this is irresponsible, which I find humorous.  I can guarantee you we are not entering into any of this lightly.  Because the truth is it is irresponsible not to listen to God when you know He is asking you to do something.

    Which leads me to my last sign.  Our car was finished late in the afternoon on Friday.  I wasn’t sure Cassie and Zach would be home before the shop closed at 6 so I called the dealership and asked them to come pick me up.  The girl informed me that both drivers were out and she would let me know if they could do it or not.  About five minutes later, there was a red pick-up in my drive.  She called and I ran out to get in the truck.   I asked her why she didn’t call or wait for the other drivers.  She informed me that it was so nice out and we lived so close, she just decided to take the boss’ truck and come pick me up.  She noticed the bus and laughed about our owning a bus.  I told her that we have 12 children, two in wheelchairs, and were hoping to adopt more.  She turned to me and said, “I am adopted too.  It’s a good thing that you are doing.”   It was then that I really paid attention to her beautiful Russian accent.   I smiled and told her we have been so blessed.  She then informed me…..(wait for it)…..that she was almost 14 and adopted from Russia.   She told me that she was one of the “experiments” of adopting older children from Russia 17 years ago.  She loves her parents.  She loves her life.  She was very, very happy.  We talked about the hardships of being almost an adult and adopted, but how worth it is was. I asked her how often she goes out to pick people up.  She informed me not very often at all.  I thanked her for sharing her story with me.

    As I have said before, Dan and I have read a lot on the subject.  We have talked to people who have had problems.  We have done as much information digging as we can. We were once the parents who were too fearful to proceed because of all the horror stories that you hear, BUT Jasmine’s adoption has turned out to be such a beautiful thing.  All those worries were for naught.   We are prepared to do this again and find out as much information as we can about the child to know that the adoption will be a good fit for our family, because when it works it truly is a beautiful thing.

    For now, we are praying about it this weekend.  If you are a praying person, please pray for clarity for Dan and I.   As for the kids, they have taken their “we can help you so you can adopt” campaign to new levels.  Here they are doing the dishes.

    Clean 2

    It’s a team effort folks.  There’s nothing these guys won’t stoop to even scrubbing the floor.  🙂

    kids clean

    I love their hearts.  They want to share their room, their toys, their clothes, their parents time and their attention.  They purposely do all the can to help.

    I love my husband for his huge heart.  He is truly my soul mate.  He is so moved by these little girls too.  I am so happy I followed his lead all those years ago about adoption.  It was me that was hesitant.  He was the one who saw Hope and fell in love despite all the protests from his work colleagues.  He has the biggest heart and I am blessed to have been married to him for 29 years.

    I truly am blessed to have been able to step out of my comfort zone and complicate my life.  God has shown himself faithful in so many ways.    I am blessed beyond measure and filled with joy because I stepped out in faith and followed God’s lead.  Wouldn’t you want to have a front row seat to that again? I believe if we decide to proceed, that God will make a way.  I truly do.  He has provided in the most amazing ways over the years.  If we proceed and this works, all the glory will go to the Lord!

    Please pray for these two girls.  I do hope that they will find a family.  Life for a child with disabilities in China is very, very hard.  I pray that they will have the love and protection of a family that will allow them to become all that they can be.

  • Convicted with a capital “C”!

    Date: 2014.03.05 | Category: Adoption, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Thoughts to ponder, Videos

    I have been convicted.  Yes, you heard that right….CONVICTED!  Heck, I’ll even spell it for you.  C.O.N.V.I.C.T.E.D!!!!

    CONVICT  (verb) (v., adj. kuh n-vikt) –  1. to prove or declare guilty   2. to impress with a sense of guilt

    Over and over again God has been showing me signs that He is not through with me yet.  He’s definitely saying there’s more that I can do.  I admit that I argue with Him.  I have told Him, “Are you kidding me? Do you see how busy my days are?  Do you know how much money we have spent over those two years we were adopting?”  But God quietly whispers, “You aren’t listening Lisa.” and I proceed to stomp my foot like a two-year-old.  (And no I haven’t lost my mind. I’m not actually hearing those words…He’s just been sending me signs.)

    Signs like the Francis Chan balance beam video.  Have you seen this video?  He talks about us, as Christians, how we start out good, but then life gets hard and we just drop to our knees and hang on to the beam for dear life. We live tidy little lives and then it’s our last day, we slide off the beam, end in our finish stance, throw our arms in the air, a big smile on our face, and expect God to judge our performance.  How is He supposed to judge that?   (Francis Chan – Balance Beam Video )

    We live comfortable lives.  We forget about all those that are doing without.   Those that God has commanded us to care for and we expect Him to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

    It’s not enough to just show up on Sunday, tithe your 10%, and live a “good” life.  It’s not enough to try not to sin and do a little good every once in a while. It’s not enough to just raise children who will walk in the way. He is asking us to get uncomfortable.  Really uncomfortable.  He is asking us to make it hurt, and not just a little.  He is asking us to really dig deep and trust in Him enough to let go of all that makes us comfortable.

    The next sign I had was another video by Francis Chan.  His fearless video.  This video talks about how everyone told him he was crazy to live on $36,000 a year and give everything else away.  People tried to tell him he needed more.  He needed to protect his children and save for their futures. But Mr. Chan says, “People are crazy to not trust God for everything.”  Mr. Chan talks about how going to Africa changed him.  He says that he could no longer live extravagantly while others were doing without clean water and the most basic necessities.  What Mr. Chan has been able to give away is truly amazing!   ( Francis Chan – Fearless Video )

    I’m still living a very comfortable life. My cars are older but they run and they are paid for.  I even own a bus.  Albeit a 1998 bus with rust and 100,000 miles but the fact is I own a bus.  I live in a very nice home.  I live on three acres and have more than I could ever possibly need.  I eat out.  I can buy all the food I want.  I pack up sacks of stuff to take to Good-Will and still my house is overflowing.

    So it’s safe to say, I am not doing enough.  I have not given up enough.  I am blessed beyond measure and yes, we do give but I think C.S. Lewis says it best.   ”I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small.  There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.”

    I don’t know what to do about it but I do know God is working on my heart.  Every time we order pizza, I wonder if I should be doing it.  It’s not a guilty feeling as much as it is a “you can do more with that money” feeling.  I don’t want to get to heaven and have regret.  I don’t want God to show me the “how your life could have been” recap and have my heart be filled with regrets.  I don’t know if you are like me but I have lived safely in the “I am saved, God paid for my sins” way.  I don’t have to worry about my sins.  I am told to go forward and sin no more when those sins become known to me, but once they are confessed to God, they are wiped clean.  That is pretty amazing.

    But then what?  I’m made as white as snow and get my free pass to heaven and all is ok?  Do we really think that God isn’t asking more of us? Do we really think there won’t be some accountability?  I used to think just that.  I mean the verse says no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow.  But then I really started to think about it.  It says God is the judge.  There will be accountability.  I’ve started to picture it like a movie that God will show me when I enter His gates.  A movie of what I could have really done had I given up the comfortable.

    I believe we have gotten so used to the comfortable that we do everything we can to not see the hurt that is going on.  We don’t read blogs or watch movies or listen to stories that will bring us down.  We have lost sight of caring for our neighbors and truly loving one another.  I recently read this verse….

    All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.  From time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet and it was distributed to anyone who had need.   Acts 34:32-35

    Sure, I would sell land if my child needed surgery, but would I do that for a stranger?  Would I do that for someone else’s child?  I don’t want to be the person that holds on so tight to my possessions that I lose sight of what God is calling me to do.  I want to be open to His plan.  I do feel he is leading us to do more in the way of adopting.  I’m trying to wrap my head around what we can handle, but I know it is more.

    I took the time to write down what is really stopping me from adopting?  First, coming up with more money.  Really?  He has already provided for seven adoptions.  Seven!  And I’m going to question His ability to help us afford more?

    Second, I’m really, really busy, but part of why I am so busy is because I refuse to hire help to do the housework.  I would much rather be with my kids, but I don’t want anyone else to clean my house?  It sounds so prideful and it is.  Do I really want to stand in front of God and say, “I would have taken in more girls, but I had to clean?  Really?  Or better yet leave the house only half-way presentable.  It’s clean enough.  It’s just not sparkling.  Should not having an impeccable house stop me from taking a child out of an orphanage and giving them the love of family?

    God has always chosen to speak to me through my children.  He did it when we adopted Hope.  Zach and Cassie were so adamant and open to taking her in no matter what the outcome.  God did it when we adopted Maisey. Cassie had just learned sign and she was so certain we were to adopt Maisey.  And then again with Ben, Hope wanted to adopt a little boy with a heart defect.  Ben knew that Eli was his didi. Ben prayed daily for Eli.    All the girls fell in love with Jasmine.  And now it is Jasmine’s turn.

    This is the video we secretly took while she talked one night.  She does this almost every night.  My response has always been, “I’ll pray about it Jasmine.”   Now she says, “I’m praying about it.  Are you mama?”

    What can I possibly say to this?  Every day she tells me how happy she is here.  So very, very, very happy she says.  She tells me she just wants to make more little girls happy and I am convicted.  Convicted because I know in my heart I can do more.  I can.  I have so much love to give.  We have a huge house.  We have more than enough.  We have so many people to love them.

    I continue to pray.  He has been faithful in so much these past three years.  I am absolutely blown away by all that He has done.  I am truly blessed by all that I have gotten to be a part of.

    What am I going to do, you ask?  I’m not sure yet.  But for now I wake up to the subtle hints of pictures of bunk beds, and this picture saying family and the number 18, and I pray even more.






  • Which children don’t deserve a family?

    Date: 2014.03.03 | Category: Adoption

    While shopping alone at Wal-Mart the other day, the clerk was busy ringing up my items and chatting away.   She saw my three big boxes of diapers and asked me if I did foster care.  I replied, “No, we have four who are still in diapers at home. We recently adopted six children from China.”   To which she replied, “Oh….well, I guess they need families too.” and then there was nothing else said. Just silence.  Chatty Kathy just stopped talking.  Not even the customary “Thank you for shopping here.” or “Have a nice day!”  Nothing!

    This is not the first time I have heard these kind of comments.  I have even blogged about the interesting questions we have been asked since adopting. (Read here)  Even more recently when I was shopping with the five littles, I was asked if I got them in the Made in China clearance aisle.  I know most of the time people make comments because they think they are being humorous, they truly are curious or they don’t know what to say so they say the first thing that pops into their head.  But the outright indignation over us adopting internationally instead of choosing “one of our own” truly bothers me especially when it is said in front of my children.

    We chose China for a lot of reasons.  The first being that was where we felt God was leading us.  Now if you don’t believe in God, I understand that would be a hard comment to understand, but it is my truth.  Yes, I know there are children in need in the United States.  At any given time there are more than 250,000 children waiting to be adopted.  With that being said, in 2002 the statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state there were approximately 18.5 million women who considered adoption.  (Figures)   It seems that number of children could be easily adopted so people with a heart for adoption is not the problem.

    So what is?  Fear of the unknown?  Lack of money?  Lack of information?  Not knowing where to proceed?   Believing that if you don’t step forward someone else will? Only wanting to adopt a healthy newborn?  What is the issue with people and not adopting? Why do 18.5 million women think about adopting, only 2.6 million women take concrete steps towards adoption, and then only 614,000 proceed with adoption?  From 18.5 million to 614,000 is a large number of women. I wish I had the answer to that, but what I do know is that I don’t take these things lightly.  Once your eyes have been opened to the need for parents to step up both domestically and internationally, it’s hard to stay quiet.

    I pray someday that there is no reason to even discuss international adoption.  I pray that families will be healed.  I hope that when parents die there are other family members or friends of the family or church members that step up and take these children in.  I pray that countries will be better equipped to help parents who have children with birth defects.  I pray there will be no more birth defects.  I pray that there would be funding available for surgeries for all those children who are born to parents who can’t afford to get their child surgery.

    There are many, many things that could happen to lower the number of orphans in the world.  There are many wonderful programs in place that you can support, but even then there are many, many children who will never, ever know the love of a family, through no fault of their own.  Amy Eldridge from Love Without Boundaries recently wrote a blog about international adoption.  (Read Blog Here)  In this blog she talks about how Americans adopted 2% of the children in institutions in China in 2011.  Only 2%.  I know that there are more domestic adoptions in China, I know there are other countries adopting from China, but that still leaves a huge percentage of children who will never know the love of family.

    Because that is true, I will continue to advocate for these children.  I will continue to support groups such as New Hope Foundation and  Show Hope and Love Without Boundaries.  I will do this because these groups helped Lainey, Eli, Maisey and Jasmine.  I will do this because I’ve seen the difference made by these organizations and I have first hand knowledge of what it means for a child to be starving for food and love.  The world is not perfect and we have to make the best decisions we can based on the information we have.  But to say a child doesn’t deserve family because he/she wasn’t born here is a sad statement. To believe that any child doesn’t deserve the love of family is something I can’t even comprehend.

    Look at this picture and tell me which child doesn’t deserve the love of a family?


    I believe they all deserve the love of a family.  I also believe we should take care of our own.  The Bible states we are all children of God.  There are no distinctions there.  Every child needs the love of a family.