Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

  • Pain and Joy

    Date: 2015.08.04 | Category: Adoption, Faith, Family Life

    I’ve seen a lot of heartache recently.  I have watched friends stand by their children hopelessly unable to make it all better.  Agonizing over long hospital stays and difficult decision. I have heard many question “Why would they adopt knowing this could happen?” or incredulously say “I could never do that.” or “Why would God let this happen?”

    I don’t know why this happens.  I don’t know why one story is one of miraculous recovery and another is of heartbreak.  I can’t make head or tail of it.  I try to fathom God’s plan and how it will all work together to bring Him glory and many times it is more than I can wrap my head around.  We never want the bad to happen.  We never want to take the difficult journey.  We choose ease and comfort whenever we can.  Even when we sign up for the bad, we do it with a heart full of hope for a miraculous outcome.

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28   How could anything bad ever be considered good?

    As I was talking to a friend yesterday, we were discussing the what if’s.  This was after a weekend which just about did my heart in.   You can NOT discuss orphans without discussing the magnitude of them.  You can not truly delve into the situation without your heart breaking.  You can’t consider all those who wait, all around the world, and not feel helpless and unable to make a difference.

    All you can do is proceed one child at a time because every child counts.  Every child deserves a chance.

    • Even though people are turning away from adoption.
    • Even though there is not enough time or money to fix it all.
    • Even though there is pain and heartache and turmoil.
    • Even though your heart may be broken.
    • Even though you can’t fix it all.
    • Even though it is overwhelming.

    You continue to proceed one child at a time, much like the starfish story.

    Starfish story

    My friends understand this.  They have a clear picture of how fleeting life is.  They are in the absolute worse situations possible and they give God the glory.  They know that a life saved and loved is worth it.  They rejoice over what they have been allowed to do, no matter the outcome.   I do not wish for any of them to be on this journey but I know, from experience, that they will never be the same.  God is growing them and shaping them.  Their lives are not worse because of the pain.  Their lives are immeasurably blessed by the joy that these children brought.  Yes, their hearts will hurt.  Yes, they will never be the same.  But there is joy in the morning.  There is joy in the good news.  There is joy in the meeting again for all of eternity.  Life on earth is but a small portion of forever.

    I have talked with a few mamas on how pain and joy can coexist.  How you can be going through the worst possible situation and still be thankful and joyful in the moment?  One friend sent me this quote from Ann Voskamp – “Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living…. Yet I know it in the vein and the visceral: life is loss.”

    The goal in life is not to be as comfortable and pain free as you can.  The goal in life is to open your heart and love and make a difference.

    The purpose

     

     

  • A Weekend to Remember

    Date: 2015.07.18 | Category: Cassie, Faith, Family Life

    So many things went wrong that weekend and yet Cassie​ & Reece​’s wedding and reception were beautiful.

    Elyse ended up in the ER on Saturday night.  We got home at 4:30 a.m.  I slept from 5 to 8 and started getting ready.  I would have slept longer but Lainey rarely ever sleeps past 5:30 and the fact that she went back to sleep from 5 to 8 had to be a gift from God.

    As the day went on we continued to season the meat and get the other items all ready for the nacho bar at the reception.  Zach picked up the cake at 11:30 and got lunch for the kids.  We had to have all the tables and our supplies to the reception area at 1, which was the earliest we could get in to set up.  I laced up Cassie at 1:30.  I then ran home to start getting the kids ready because we had to be back to the church for pictures at 3:45.  I realized as we were packing up all the food in the coolers that there was no way I was going to be able to drop off the food and still get to the church on time for pictures.  Dan and Zach headed to the reception area to drop off the food and crock pots, etc.

    At this point they still had Cassie’s backdrop for the wedding in their van.  She wanted really simple decorations.  I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that.  She choose book pages for “the next Chapter” in her and Reece’s life.  Her back drop was two 4×8 pieces of plywood with book pages randomly mod podged all over.  Reece and Cassie wanted a Bible verse across the top.  Dan had the great idea to get someone to do a custom vinyl cut out.  Vinyl Motivations did a great job, reasonably, and quick!

    Backdrop

    Cassie made all her flowers out of book pages.  My mom made wedding flowers for many weddings when Cassie was younger.  Cassie and my mom had talked about what flowers they would use for her wedding ever since Cassie was a little girl.  Cassie was heartbroken over the fact that Nana couldn’t make them and she just couldn’t do what nana and her had dreamed of.

    Cassie even chose a Bible with writing margins to be her guest book.  She wanted her quests to share their favorite verse and for her to be reminded every time they opened their Bible how many people came to celebrate with them.

    At 3:45 we were still at home loading the bus.  I let Cassie know how late we were going to be.  As I was driving to the church at 4, I realized there was no way I could get the food set up and be back for the ceremony.  I had to call in reinforcements.  At Cassie’s pre-wedding dinner,  Teressa​ (mother of the maid of honor) had offered to help me.  I called her and she said she would be there.  I also called Amy, our pastor’s wife and my friend, and told her my dilemma.  These two families not only showed up to take care of things but they stayed throughout the night and helped clean up.  Without them we would have been eating out of coolers.  They were a HUGE blessing of the day.

    I had hoped to be able to be there at 5 and show them what food needed to go where and I didn’t even make that, as pictures were still going on at 5:15.  These two families were such a God send.  I can’t even tell you what that did for my heart to have two families step up at the very last minute and save the day.

    Lainey had a reaction to the sequins on her dress and was raging and refused to be in any pictures.  We forgot her formula and the snacks for the kids.  All of Cassie’s bridesmaids were in the restroom dressing my children for pictures.  I put a run in not one but two pairs of panty hose.  Lainey refused to put her dress back on, but Cassie wanted her to be on the video, so Lainey went down the aisle in a t-shirt, shorts, and no shoes.

    family pic

    Dan’s mom couldn’t attend because Dan’s brother, Rod, was dying.  Dan had to walk Cassie down the aisle knowing at the same time his brother could pass away at any time.   It was so hard on his heart.

    We had bought Cassie’s dress so long ago.  At the age of 18, with no serious boyfriend, Cassie purchased her wedding dress.  We had seen the dress when she was buying her Miss Iowa pageant dress.  We knew the owner of the store and Cassie told her someday she would buy a dress just like that one.  A few months later, when the owner decided to close the store, she called us to tell us she still had that dress and it was greatly reduced in price.  We laughed about trying on a wedding dress without a wedding in the future but we did it anyway.  Dan’s mom, my mom and Aunt Kay, the three ladies that always took Cassie shopping, went with her to watch her try on the dress.  It was just $300 dollars and we decided it was worth the price to just let it hang in the closet for a few years.  Thank God that we made that purchase because not one of those three lovely ladies, who meant so much to Cassie, were able to be at the wedding.  My mom and Kay had passed away and Dan’s mom was with Rod.  Cassie was filled with wonderful memories of the day she purchased the dress even though she was sad they couldn’t be with her.

    When I walked into the reception, I was blown away.  Cassie had chosen simple decorations for the tables because there were going to be many children at the reception.  She chose black vinyl tablecloths with butcher block paper so kids could draw.  There were little books to read and crayons to color with.   She had crowns for them to color and wear.  Although, I saw many adults wearing the crowns too.  She even made her flower stems colored pencils.

    Cassie and Reece’s friends guided by Reece’s sister, Bailey, had a couple of hours to decorate the reception area.   They did such a wonderful job.  It all looked so pretty when we walked in.

    reception

    The guests showed up, there was food to eat, the dance floor and DJ were in place, and the party went off without a hitch.

    Dan said it wasn’t fair that he was the only one to get to dance with Cassie so he came up with the plan that after they started the father/daughter dance, he would motion to us, and we would circle Cassie with the whole family.

    family dance

    Even though it was Sunday night, Reece’s friends stayed to help tear down.  They packed up the 41 tables to return them.  The Edwards and the Jakes stayed until the very end to help us clean up.

    I asked Reece about all the guys who came to help him set up.  He said that’s what they do at their church.  It’s a young church.  Everyone helps everyone else so when it’s your special day there is nothing to do.  I like that.  That is what a church should look like everyone coming together to help you celebrate and to help you when things aren’t going well.   People that graciously drop whatever they are doing to step in and take up the slack and then go above and beyond and they do it all with a smile on their face.

    It was a day filled with bumps and hurdles and issues that could have ruined the whole day but in the end it turned out beautifully.  Reece kept saying, “We have her dress and I have my suit, today we are getting married.  Everything else will be just fine.”

    Isn’t that the truth though?  We let little things ruin our whole day.  We need to keep our eyes on the big picture.  Even though there were little hurdles throughout the day, there were always friends to help us out.  The day turned out beautifully!

    Happy marriage Reece and Cassie!   May your life be filled with many blessings and may the trials only bring you closer to God.  May your journey be filled with friends, family, laughter and love!

     

     

  • Happy Father’s Day

    Date: 2015.06.21 | Category: Faith, Family Life

    Someday I am going to get my husband to write a blog post about what it feels like to be the father of 14 children, but for now I will just write a post about my husband from my point of view.  I write about the children and our adoption journey a lot.  I don’t often write about Dan, mainly because he is a pretty private guy.  He prayed long and hard about our blog when we decided to write about our adoption journey.  He felt that the benefit of others seeing adoption first hand trumped his need to be private.

    Dan and I started dating when he was 15 and I was 16.  We had the usual high school romance with on again, off again issues.  We got back together shortly after high school and were married when he was 19 and I just turned 20.

    photo (1)

    He decided to become a physician after the twins were born.  He wanted to make a difference in the lives of babies.  He wanted to change their outcomes.  He didn’t want other families to go through the pain that we had gone through with the death of Kyle and the extended hospitalization of Codey.

    He fulfilled that dream after 15 long years of training and has now had the perfect job for over 14 years.   He is still able to do his clinical work and he also has the honor of being Clinical/Quality improvement director for a large company.  This job allows him to teach others about how important it is to not only take care of the patient but to truly care about the patient.

    During his fellowship, he fell in love with a little girl in his care.  She had a major heart defect and her pre-adoptive parents had backed out.  Her biological mom had decided not to treat and Dan was left with the task of stopping her treatment.  He couldn’t do it.  That is the kind of man he is.  I love that about him.  I will forever remember his call and how my heart felt when he said he had bought this baby some booties and stuffed animals because her little bed looked so bare.  Little did we know where this journey would lead.

    scan095

    Sixteen years later and she is a thriving healthy teenager.

    Hope's red hair

    A few years later, we added Gracie.  Our family was complete or so we thought.

    One of my favorite family pictures!

    One of my favorite family pictures!

    People often talk about reluctant husbands in the adoption world.  In our family, I was the reluctant one.  I was the one dragging my feet because I was unsure about adopting at the age of 45.  Dan felt like we needed to do something about the orphan crisis.  He never pressured.  He just prayed.  He knew if it was truly what God wanted I would agree to it.

    When we set off on this journey, we thought we would adopt two.  We never intended to adopt eight in three years.  We were just following God’s lead.  We’ve learned in our marriage that God’s plan is always best.   Even when you are fearful.  Even when that first step is so scary.   Even when you can’t possibly see how it could work.  It is always best to follow God’s lead.

    Our children have instantly known that they were safe.  It’s my favorite thing about the day when we first met them.  Every one of our children has gone to him.   Ben grabbed on and never let go.  Ben’s first word was daddy.

    Ben and daddy

    Ben and daddy

    Dan gets down to their level and they know it’s going to be ok.

    Evie Gotcha Day

    Our children have a safe shoulder to lie on…

    scan105

    photo(3)

    Someone who will be there with them no matter what…

    Evie 3

    Someone to be silly with…

    IMG_4436

    Strong arms to keep them safe…

    ben 3

    A lap that will hold one or two…

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    or more…

    Dan and kids

    Someone to celebrate the big moments…

    kids9

    and little moments with…

    Cassie, Dad and fish

    A hand to hold…

    Evie hand

    Someone to help you when you can’t quite reach…

    Evie 9

    We’ve been through a lot together.  Dan is not just my husband.  He is my best friend.  Many would consider the life we have lived as hard or unlucky but we both know we are blessed.  Blessed to have met so young.  Blessed to have so many little blessings that we get to wake up to each day.  Blessed to have a child who waits for us on the other side.  Blessed to have the hope of forever.  Blessed to have had 30 years.

    It is Dan who has taught me the life lessons that have helped me most.

    When I was young and hurting and afraid to trust.  It was Dan who reminded me that I have the choice to wake up every morning expecting bad things to happen or to trust in his love.  Those words allowed me to trust God and God’s love for me.  It was Dan who showed me what a true relationship with Christ is.  It was Dan who taught me that life is all about perspective.  I can decide to be grateful or I can be bitter and angry and never appreciate anything.

    We chose to date when we were young.  We chose to stay together when things were tough.  The death of a child is hard on many marriages.

    We sealed the deal in China when we put our names on our lock on the great wall.  (The idea is that you have to break the lock to end your relationship and China is a long ways away.)

    china 2012 041

    Every day I get to see Dan in action.  He loves his children.   He would do anything for his children.  He keeps them safe and provides for them.  He isn’t perfect, none of us are, but his heart is always in the right place.

    I am blessed to have walked this journey with this man.  Our family has changed a lot in the last three years.  Not many men would sign up for this, but I am blessed that Dan knows what is truly important.  He knows that life isn’t about the things you can acquire.  It’s about figuring out the plan God has for you and using your gifts to the best of your abilities.   Time and time again Dan has followed God’s lead where others would never go.   He has said “why not?” even when he had hundreds of reasons to say no and my life has been forever blessed by those words.

    The crew

    Happy Father’s Day Dan!  We all love you so much!

  • I Hate Indifference

    Date: 2015.06.13 | Category: Adoption, Faith

    I know hate is a pretty harsh word, but I am having a hard time being quiet about it.   Maybe I should have titled it I Hate Indifference or How our Family Decided to Try and Make a Difference!  We no longer wish to suffer from depraved indifference.

    ———————————————————-

    Recently I was in the ER with Elyse.   Our visit was in the middle of the night and she shared many, many things with me.  I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is to listen to your child tell you of their abuse in such a matter of fact way.   No tears or shaking or trembling of the voice, just words said normally like they happened to someone else or as if they deserved it.

    In January, when we adopted Elyse, she was an over-the-top, bubbly, joyful child, but she told us over and over again that she would NOT be learning English.  She said she would stay with us awhile but she was not going to be a part of all this family stuff.  Her heart was definitely still in China.  I was so worried that she would not bond.  I knew that it was going to take forever to reach her and that hurt my heart.

    When Jasmine ended up in the hospital for so long, just weeks after we got home, I thought it would take even longer to bond, but just the opposite happened.  Because Elyse, who is very talkative could no longer communicate, she had to learn English.  She spent more time with other family members besides Jasmine.  She found out that she missed Dan and I.  She decided she really liked having parents and lots of brothers and sisters.

    In this past month we have seen a huge turnaround.  She loves to tell people she is an American.  She tells me that she loves me and that she is sorry for the way she treated me in China.  She is the first to ask if I’m okay or if I need anything.  She has asked that we only use her English name. At first, I didn’t understand why the change came about but I was thankful that my early worries about her not attaching to the family were wrong.

    In the ER, as she was telling me about what happened to her in China, she also told me that she now knew that she didn’t deserve to be hit.  She said that she knew if people truly loved you then they would protect you.  She told me Dan and I taught her that.  She said I love my family and I want to stay here forever.   This was a huge break through for her and the first steps in helping her to heal.

    I have a hard time with the abuse stories and the neglect stories.  I know they aren’t everyone stories but they belong to too many orphans.  Too many orphans are abandoned because their parents can not provide the care they need.  Too many orphans end up abused and forgotten.  Too many children are neglected world wide and I know it isn’t just an orphanage issue.   It happens here and all around the world.  Children are being trafficked.  Children are growing up alone and sent into the world alone.

    But if you ask most people they have no clue this is going on or to what degree it happens.  I know I didn’t know.  I lived in my own little world and didn’t believe that I could do anything about the world’s problems.  Truth-be-told, I didn’t think the world problems were any of my concern, but I was wrong.  Indifference is in epidemic forms right now.  We care so much about me, me, me and we have forgotten what God has called us to do.

    Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

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

    But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  1 John 3:17-18

    He who gives to the poor will never want, But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.  Proverbs 28:27

    Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   James 1:27

    These are just a few.  We know we are commanded, but we are too busy or too poor or too (insert excuse here) to do anything about it.  We all do it.  It seems overwhelming. What can one person do?  I’d be the first to admit that.  I am not here to lecture but merely to remind you that you can make a difference.

    Everyone can make a difference.  The first choice is to stop being indifferent and open your eyes.

    Our family chose to make a difference when we couldn’t let Hope die alone in the hospital.  The kids were little (Zach was 11 and Cassie was 6) but they understood no child should die alone in the hospital without a name or people to love them.  I didn’t think about it in the term “we were making a difference”.  We just did what we felt was the right thing to do.

    When we chose to adopt again, everyone in the family was on board.  I will admit that we didn’t fully understand the plight of the orphan until we stepped foot in an orphanage, but we quickly began to understand.

    We decided that this would be our family mission.  We wanted to raise awareness for the orphan.  We wanted to spread the news about adoption.  Many people complain that adoption is too hard or too expensive but I am telling you the cost is much greater when we do nothing.  The cost of souls that believe they are worth nothing and deserve to be abused is too great.   You want to save lost souls?  What better way than to show them the love of the Father?

    We can no longer do nothing.

    I have read this verse in the Bible many times.

    Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says. James 1:22

    And then I read it in the King James version.  For some reason, it had more impact on me.

    But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only…

    BE DOERS!!!!

    That is pretty clear.  So what are you doing?

    We realized that our family was probably done adopting but there were so many more children who wait.  How could we just stop?  How could we do nothing?  We decided to join with Love Without Boundaries because they helped us find two of our daughters through their advocating on their blog.  The more we learned of their programs the more in love with this organization we were.  They do what they say they are going to do with the money received.  They have a 4 star rating on Charity Navigator.  They have a cleft exchange, education programs, the Unity Fund (which helps families stay in tact by getting their child the surgery they need), foster care programs and more.  When you sponsor a child or give towards a surgery, you get updates.  Ever wondered where your money goes when you send off a check to an organization?  Well, wonder no more.

    So what is stopping you from being a doer?

    Right now LWB is trying to help a mother who has been using social media to reach out to others to try and get her children medical help.  It’s amazing how hard this mother has fought and now there is hope.  Can you imagine not being able to get the care you need for  your children?  Won’t you please consider joining with LWB and help them get the care they need?  (A mother’s plea)

    Start here.  Every dollar counts.  Then open your eyes to what God lays before you.  Is there a neighbor who needs helps?  A widow?  A single mother?   Be a doer!!!!

    Anne Frank says it best – “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

    (This video is almost 8 minutes long but it is worth every minute.)

  • Choices

    Date: 2015.05.12 | Category: Adoption, Faith, Family Life

    A day of pain from missing my mom.

    A day of immeasurable joy.

    A day I hope I will always remember.

    A day I wish I could forget.

    A beautiful, loving, wonderful day – the best Mother’s Day ever.

    A horrible, rotten, “wish I had never gotten out of bed” day.

    That is what my Mother’s Day was.

    I had both ends of the spectrum.

    I was surrounded by my children and beautiful words were written especially by my husband.

    my kiddos

    “This is Dan, adding a post on Mother’s Day. I’m always amazed by the strength of mothers. In my work, I see so many moms that are so committed and devoted to their fragile children. The love warms your heart and gives you hope for the future.

    And then I look at Lisa, and I see that girl that I have loved since I was 15. I remember all the pain we have gone through with our children, the crushing grip of death, broken dreams and the scars of abuse. I see the sacrifices that she so willingly makes – day after day, night after night. Putting her family first – always teaching, healing, loving, and caring. Never too tired, always ready to give – never because she “has to” but always because she “wants to”. She has been pushed to her limit and beyond during the past few years. Discovering the depth of the trauma that some of our kids experienced in China, grieving the loss of her own mom. These things don’t get better. But she just keeps “showing up” and giving all of our sweet children exactly what they need – a mom who loves them unconditionally and completely.

    Our kids are seriously blessed to have Lisa as their mom and I am seriously blessed to be her husband. Thank you to all the moms out there that keep “showing up” and giving your kids that most precious gift – a mother’s love.”

    Isn’t that what life is though?  Tough and beautiful all at the same time?   I wanted to wake up to a clean house.  I wanted to not have to do anything.  I wanted breakfast in bed after 8 straight beautiful hours of sleep.  My expectations were not met.  My house wasn’t magically clean when I woke up.  I didn’t get 8 hours of straight sleep.  (Although, Lainey was gracious enough to give me 5 straight.)  I didn’t get breakfast in bed, but instead was up hours before anyone else getting ready for “my” day.

    Choice – Be happy about 5 hours or be bitter about not getting to sleep in.

    I will admit the foot stomping two year old in me was there for a moment.  My day wasn’t going according to my plans and I was as cranky, but then I took a moment, opened my eyes, and looked around.  I saw my beautiful, hand-drawn pictures from all my kiddos.  I saw flowers in vases, some that were purchased and some that were hand picked.  I was given some beautiful notes written in my Mother’s Day book.  (Last year the Cassie started a journal where ever child writes something on a page for Mother’s Day.  It’s a beautiful keepsake.)  Elyse reminded me again how happy she was to just be able to say the words “Happy Mother’s Day” to her very own mama.

    As the day went on, Cassie made a wonderful birthday lunch for Max with all his favorites. We played outdoors where the kids ran for hours in grass that was way too long because it needed to be cut, but the lawn mower had been broken. Reece had the great idea to cut a winding path in the grass and the kids ran for hours on this path. Something that had been driving me crazy all week, extra long grass, ended up being the most fun ever for the littles.  The ran and ran and ran around the path.  They were so joyful.

    Choice – to fret about unmown grass and all the other things left undone or to fully enjoy the moment in the sunshine with my blessings.

    The night took a turn for the worse when Jasmine started acting out again.  Every once in a while she has a really hard time.  Every once in a while she turns into a child that you would never recognize.  The things she says are hurtful and mean.  She lashes out and none of it makes much sense.  Children who have spent most of their lives in an institution act out for the strangest reasons and sometimes it is hard to figure it out right away.  Why is she lashing out?  Is it because she is remembering her grandma or grieving her lost mother? Why won’t she just tell me why she is hurting?  When they won’t open up it makes life hard.  You want to scream.  You want to return the favor with some harsh words of your own, but you can’t.

    You remind her daily that she has a choice to be happy or sad.  No one is responsible for her happiness.  She has a choice to find her purpose and live life fully or watch it pass her by.  She has the choice to trust God and His plan.  She has the choice to make the world a better place or to make those around her miserable.  She has the choice to discuss what is going on.  She has the choice to love her family and participate or sit on the sidelines.  She has the choice to trust us or live in fear.

    She has a choice and so do I.

    Choice – to let the few hours of discontent ruin my day or to keep the right perspective and remember all the blessings I have had throughout the day.

    Choices!  We all make them every day some intentionally and some by default.  Not choosing is in itself a choice.  I have the choice to respond in anger and discipline or I can teach.  Jasmine has not been taught how to process the pain.  Jasmine has not been taught what to do with her anger.  She is much like a toddler – acting out, throwing words around, stomping her feet.  Would I expect a toddler to reason with me and work through her problems.  NO!!!  I remind myself that daily with Jasmine.

    Choice – to show grace and loving correction and teachings or angry words and discipline.

    Love is a choice.   God tells us that in His word.  He wants us to be content.  He wants us to choose joy.  He wants us to love our neighbor and pray for those who persecute us.  None of these things are easy but we always have that choice.  We can choose to see our lives any way we wish.  We can dwell on every negative thing that ever happens or we can see the beauty in each and every day that we have been gifted.

    Nothing in life is perfect.  Nothing ever goes exactly as we have planned.  Nothing ever lives up to our dreams and preconceptions.  My daughter recently wrote a blog called ” My Own Little Holland“.   If you have ever read the poem called “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Kingsley (which is included in my daughter’s blog post), you will understand what I am talking about.  If you spend the rest of your life upset that you didn’t get to Italy, you will never fully appreciate living in Holland.

    Choice – to be angry, bitter, upset about all that I can not control or to remember each and every day that I am truly seriously blessed to be allowed to parent these beautiful children and to hear the word mama a hundred times every day in my own little Holland.

     

     

  • At the feet of Jesus

    Date: 2015.04.13 | Category: Adoption, Faith, Family Life

    This past weekend was particularly tough and it got me to thinking about some things.  I have been told that I have on rose-colored glasses or that I portray a romanticized version of adoption. I don’t believe that is the case.  What I do believe is that I have a realistic vision of what I think adoption is going to be like.  It is a fight for the soul.  It is coming back from a horrible place.  If someone writes something beautiful that a rape victim or a cancer survivor or a veteran goes through, that doesn’t automatically diminish in someone’s mind what those people previously went through.  I just assume everyone understands that adoption is hard.  I just assume everyone understand where these children are coming from.

    But then I remember where I was a few years ago.  I never knew the pain these children felt.  I never knew and I hate that I didn’t take the time to find out.  I lived in my own little, comfortable world.   So when you think about adoption, a hard life should automatically come to mind.  These children live in an institution where oftentimes the ratio of care is 1 nanny to 20 children.  How much one on one time to do you think these children get?  There’s limited food and limited resources.  Every time I have walked into an orphanage it has been deathly quiet.  The building can be new or old, big or small, clean or dirty, and it is all the same – quiet.   Picture any school across America.  Would you expect complete quiet in the halls?

    The loss of hope is palpable.  My heart hurt just standing in the hallways.  My heart hurt looking at the little faces that wished you were there for them.  My heart hurt every time some little one uttered the words mama while holding my hand and looking up into my eyes.  My heart hurt thinking of how many of those children will never know anything else but those walls.

    Not every orphanage is bad.  Not every orphanage has nannies that don’t care.  But an institution will never be the same as having a family where there is unconditional love.

    When I was younger, I believed my children were a reflection of me.  I worried if they weren’t dressed right or if they acted up in public.  If they memorized their Bible verses and did well in school, that meant I was doing a good job.   The house being clean and my children doing exceedingly well in everything was the measuring stick for how well I was doing as a parent.

    But the truth is if my child scores a 35 on the ACT and never feels in his heart the plight of the orphan, I have failed.  If my child plays on a great sport’s team and walks by the hurting souls on the street, I have failed.    If my child shows up to church every Sunday and never has a true relationship with Christ, then I have failed.   If my child memorizes 400 Bible verses and never takes to heart the verses that tell him to care for the weak and the destitute, I have failed.

    Our measuring stick should not be by worldly standards but by heavenly standards.

    Now I have children that may rage in public.  I have children who lash out at me with their words.  I have children who are potty trained much later than most.  I have a four year old who still takes a bottle.  I have a deaf child who never learned how to sign potty and his sign for going to the bathroom was to drop his pants.  That is not a fun public display.  I have children who are older and can still act like toddlers.  I just assume others know this.

    So yesterday after two days of words that were said that pierced my heart, I handed my children off to my husband and went for a very long drive.  I put in my Casting Crowns cd (song below) and I reminded myself that this is NOT about me.  If they lash out at me, it’s not personal.  It’s hard work this redeeming of souls.  It’s hard work. I pretty much do something for my children from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed.   (Please no lectures on taking care of myself.  I work out and I get out of the house.  I understand the need for that.) But the day to day living and taking care of this many children with health needs takes from morning to night.  I wake everyone up and give meds to 7 of my children.  Just the feeding, cleaning up, and doing laundry for this many children takes a lot of time, add in school work and my day is just full.  Most days I don’t care.  Most days I absolutely LOVE my job.  It’s rare that it is just too much.  But sometimes the pain my children have gone through, the sharing of their stories, and their acting out is more than I can take.

    Katie Davis says it so well – “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 Himself 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.”

    There is great joy and beauty amidst the pain.  Watching these children grow and trust and love – is a beautiful thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work.  When celebrating with a marathon runner, no one assumes it was easy getting to the finish line.  You automatically assume they worked hard to be able to run the race.   I am working hard to run my race and it is the most important race any of us can do.  It is a race for souls.  This is Christ’s work.  This is what He has called us to do.  To care for the hurting and the broken.  The “us” I am talking about is not just Dan and I.  This “US” is the church.  We are all called to care for these children.

    This work is hard on the heart.  I mean who wants to sign up for harsh words and no appreciation?  So when I feel overwhelmed I remind myself again that it is NOT about me.   It was never about me and I lay it all at the feet of Jesus.

  • A Call to Action

    Date: 2015.02.13 | Category: Faith, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)

    Today Jasmine looked at me with big tears in her eyes and asked me if her hands will one day stop working too.   I asked her why she was asking me and she said because she felt like her hands couldn’t do as much.  I explained to her that she’s been flat on her back for weeks.  She hasn’t eaten much by mouth in as many days.  She’s on many medications for pain and all of these things can cause weakness and hand shaking.  There are many reasons for her hands to feel weaker.

    But because I have always promised to tell her the truth, I also had to say I don’t know if she will one day lose the ability to move her hands.  Yes, it’s a possibility and a pretty big possibility.  I just don’t know how long it will take to get to that point.  She is stage 2 SMA, but there is a wide range of how fast the disease will take her muscle.  Her surgery let us know that she has already lost a great deal of muscle but we are hoping we have hit a static point.  Maybe, hopefully, she will keep the amount of movement she has for years.

    She told me that every year  her weakness has gotten worse.  She’s never been able to walk and she’s slowly lost the ability to move her legs and raise her arms over her head.  Her hands moving in her lap and wiggling her toes is all that she has left.  She wonders what that will mean for her future.  She has heard the word worthless her whole life.  She said it to me again today.  What good will I be?

    I remind her that nothing will change.  We will always be there for her.  We will never leave her alone.  We will never abandon her.  She will always be in our home.  She can still make a difference.  She still has a purpose.  Her life will still have meaning.

    When Jasmine is upset, I like to do a visualization exercise with her.  I ask her to picture when she gets to heaven.  I have her picture God showing her two giant walls.  On those walls are hundreds of pictures.  On one wall is the pictures of all the children who are adopted because she chose to share her story.  The other wall is covered with the pictures of people who were encouraged by her smile and life story.

    She asks me if this can really happen and I tell her that God is able to do anything.  I don’t know for sure what God will do when we stand before Him.  The verses talk about one day standing in front of our judge.  You can research and decide for yourself what you believe that means.  But in my heart, I believe what I tell her to be true that one day God will let Jasmine see the purpose her life had.

    I believe we often treat our salvation as a free pass.  We accept God’s grace and we get into heaven.  Not much more thought is put into it.  We show up to church and try to be kind to others, but being kind and not judging others isn’t all there is to being Christ-like.   We are called to action.  God doesn’t want us to be comfortable.  He wants us to be His hands and feet.  He wants us to give generously.

    One day I will stand before God and He will show me what my life meant and who my life touched.  So what will my walls contain?  What will my life show?  What will be my impact?  Will those walls show kindness or will there be post-it note after post-it note of things I should have done but didn’t.  That picture scares me the most, a wall full of post-its with missed opportunities.

    post it note wall 1

    I remind her that we can’t possibly know all the people who we affect both good and bad.  I’ve thought about this a lot today.  How we get caught up in our day to day lives and lose track of all those people around us who could use a little help.  So today I present you with a call to action.  Today I want you to really think about what your wall will one day contain.

    Will it show pictures of people you encouraged?

    Will it show girls that you saved from the sex trade?

    Will it show men, women and children who were fed?

    Will it show widows who were helped?

    Will it show communities who have clean water?

    Will it show children who were adopted?

    Will it show families that are intact because you lent a helping hand?

    Will it show surgeries that were completed?

    Will it show souls that were saved?

    What will it show?  I want my wall to be covered in pictures.  I want to do as much as I can.

    Today a little boy lost his life and his mother asked others to support another child who touched her heart and needs a family.   She realizes the same thing I realize with our children.  They may not live a long life but they will live a life full of the love of family and they will not die alone.   She didn’t get to have Xavier with her as long as she hoped.  Her post today said, “He’s gone.”  My heart was broken for a little boy that I had only met on Facebook.   Today in Xavier’s honor she asked others to donate to this other little boy, Brayden, so that he too may have the love of a family.

    Brayden

    or maybe you’d like to help a family get their son home so they can ease his pain.

    Nathaniel

    or help a little girl who had a stroke because of hydrocephalus but there is a family trying to get her home.

    Hope

    There are so many children who wait.  My news feed is filled every day with people advocating for children waiting for families.  You might not be able to adopt but you can help other families afford to.  Think about that on a wall.  Picture after picture after picture of children, who had the love of a forever family, because you gave up a few dollars every month.

    Show Hope has many ways to help and so does Love Without Boundaries.

    Reece’s Rainbow actually has a 5/5/5 Fund where you can help five families adopt by spending $5 a month.

    Or if you would rather help a family stay together by helping a child get the surgery they need.   LWB Unity Fund

    The list of ways to help is unending and it can seem overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you.   Help one person at a time.  We can’t fix everything but we can fix something.

    Open your eyes.  Take a stand.  Pick a cause.  Open your heart.  Share your money.  Share your time.  Use your words wisely.  Encourage someone.

    Don’t wait – answer that call to action today.

    “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”(2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NIV)

     

  • Why We Share Our Story

    Date: 2015.01.15 | Category: Adoption, Faith, Family Life, Hope

    After talking with Cassie today, I decided to take a moment and tell you all why we decided to tell our family’s story through our Facebook page and our blog. Years ago after we had adopted Hope, I refused to talk about her adoption story because I felt like people would think that I was bragging about saving this child.

    You see Hope’s story is amazing. It all started when my husband, who was a fellow in neonatalogy, had a patient born with a heart defect. The preadoptive parents backed out when the doctors found the heart defect and the birth mother decided not to treat, which was one of the three options available for a child born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Dan called me and told me he just couldn’t write the orders to discontinue support for this baby. We, as a family, decided to take her home and let her feel the love of family for as long as she lived. We had been through the death of a child and knew, with God’s help, we could do this. Not long after we had made that decision, the cardiac surgeon asked for a chance to save her life. We had been given a wonderful gift. We weren’t looking to adopt. We stepped out in fear because we felt that was what God was asking us to do. Hope is now 15 and doing very well.

    But back to feeling uncomfortable telling Hope’s story. I would rarely tell anyone her story. I felt blessed that this adoption happened out of no where. I was so happy to have been given this opportunity. The way God worked out the details was unbelievable, but I still felt like people would think I was bragging. There were two conversations that we always heard if Hope’s story was mentioned. Either we heard that we were going to ruin our family and this was a stupid thing to do or we heard that we were saints.

    One day, years after Hope was born, I was sitting on a bench at the Iowa State Fair. The stranger next to me started some small talk. She asked if I had any children and I said, “Yes, three boys and two girls.” She asked me their names. As soon as I said Hope’s name she smiled. She told me that she loved the name Hope. She had heard the sweetest story of a little girl with a heart defect and her church had been praying for this little girl because she had recently had surgery.

    A perfect stranger had just told me Hope’s story. I took that as a sign from God that Hope’s story was being told whether I was telling it or not. I decided then and there that I had the choice to turn all the praise back to God or to keep quiet and let others do the praising.

    A Facebook friend recently posted this quote. “When God answers a prayer, no matter how big or how small, we need to share it. It’s a stewardship issue. If we don’t turn the answer to prayer into praise, it may very well turn into pride. Giving testimony is the way we give God all the glory.” ~Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

    I want others to see the miracles that God has done in our lives. I have felt Him call and stepped out in fear and watched Him provide over and over again. This is why I tell our story. So others see the glory of God and understand that He calls us to care for the least of these. Adoption is just one of the ways this is possible. What is your story? What is God asking you to do? Don’t be afraid. It just might be the best thing that every happened to you.

    After talking with Cassie today, I decided to take a moment and tell you all why I decided to tell our family's story through our Facebook page and our blog.  Years ago after we had adopted Hope, I refused to talk about her amazing adoption story because I felt like people would think that I was bragging about saving this child.  </p><br /><br />
<p>You see Hope's story is amazing. It all started when my husband, who was a fellow in neonatalogy, had a patient born with a heart defect.  The preadoptive parents backed out when the doctors found the heart defect and the birth mother decided not to treat, which was one of the three options available for a child born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Dan called me and told me he just couldn't write the orders to discontinue support for this baby.  We, as a family, decided to take her home and let her feel the love of family for as long as she lived.  We had been through the death of a child and knew, with God's help, we could do this.  Not long after we had made that decision, that the cardiac surgeon asked for a chance to save her life.  We had been given a wonderful gift.  We weren't looking to adopt.  We stepped out in fear because we felt that was what God was asking us to do.  Hope is now 15 and doing very well.  </p><br /><br />
<p>But back to feeling uncomfortable telling Hope's story.  I would rarely tell anyone her story.  I felt blessed that this adoption happened out of no where.  I was so happy to have been given this opportunity.  The way God worked out the details was unbelievable, but I still felt like people would think I was bragging.  There were two conversations that we always heard if Hope's story was mentioned.  Either we heard that we were going to ruin our family and this was a stupid thing to do or we heard that we were saints.</p><br /><br />
<p>One day, years after Hope was born, I was sitting on a bench at the Iowa State Fair.  The stranger next to me started some small talk.  She asked if I had any children and I said, "Yes, three boys and two girls."  She asked me their names.  As soon as I said Hope's name she smiled.  She told me that she loved the name Hope.  She had heard the sweetest story of a little girl with a heart defect and her church had been praying for this little girl because she had recently had surgery.  </p><br /><br />
<p>A perfect stranger had just told me Hope's story.  I took that as a sign from God that Hope's story was being told whether I was telling it or not.  I decided then and there that I had the choice to turn all the praise back to God or to keep quiet and let others do the praising.  </p><br /><br />
<p>A Facebook friend recently posted this quote.  "When God answers a prayer, no matter how big or how small, we need to share it. It's a stewardship issue. If we don't turn the answer to prayer into praise, it may very well turn into pride. Giving testimony is the way we give God all the glory." ~Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle</p><br /><br />
<p>I want others to see the miracles that God has done in our lives.  I have felt Him call and stepped out in fear and watched Him provide over and over again.  This is why I tell our story.  So others see the glory of God and understand that He calls us to care for the least of these.  Adoption is just one of the ways this is possible.  What is your story?  What is God asking you to do?  Don't be afraid.  It just might be the best thing that every happened to you.  I know we have been blessed time and time again.
  • Hurting Hearts

    Date: 2015.01.04 | Category: Adoption, Elyse, Faith, Family Life, Grace, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)

    It all started with tears over the fact that she didn’t want to have a tea party with Elyse and Gracie.  Somehow I knew it wasn’t about the tea party.  Jasmine is usually easy going.   It was unusual for her to balk about something so trivial.  I asked her if Elyse had said anything to upset her and she screamed, “This is boring.  I don’t want to do it.”

    I let her know she didn’t have to play with the other girls.  I let her know that she could just sit in the room and watch them then but it would be more fun for her to participate.  She still didn’t budge on her position and I left them alone in their bedroom.

    About five minutes later Gracie came out saying Jasmine was sobbing.  I tried to get Jasmine to talk.  Cassie tried.  Gracie tried.  None of us had any luck.  I told her I knew that there was something else going on.  I asked her to e-mail me when she felt ready to talk.  She told me there was nothing wrong and I gave her some more time to calm down.

    The sobbing continued.  We continued to try and talk to her.  Jasmine yelled, “There is nothing wrong.  I am NOT sad!  I am NOT mad!” as the tears continued to roll down her face.

    This lasted three hours.

    Three hours folks and she kept insisting it was because she didn’t want to have a boring tea party.

    We’ve had one other huge battle like this one and that battle was over her saying she was stupid.  This was admittedly the dumbest fight ever in the history of fights.  She refused to back down about saying she was stupid.  I told her she knows three languages.  She is doing amazing in school.  She is one very bright, insightful girl and I would not let her call herself stupid.  The fight continued.  She yelled.  She threw her pencil.  She cried and cried and cried all over the fact that I refused to let her call herself stupid.

    I informed her that she could either say, “I am NOT stupid or I was going to make her write it 50 times.”  She still refused.  I got out the paper and the pencil.  She wrote her sentences but she refused to write the NOT.   This part of the disagreement went on for a couple hours.  I tried to let her calm down.  I had Cassie talk to her.  I had Dan talk to her.  I had Hope talk to her.  She refused to say, “I am not stupid.” and the tears continued to fall.

    See we’ve been here before.  I knew the fight wasn’t about the tea party just as much as the other fight wasn’t about her admitting she isn’t stupid.   It was about fear.  It was about having so many emotions over so many confusing thoughts that the simplest thing set her off.  It was safe to be mad about a tea party.  It was not safe to admit your fears.

    I told her that she had to stop and calm down.  I wasn’t going to argue with her.  She needed a shower so I gave her time alone in the shower so she could think.  She refused to talk.  I had already told her she had two choices.

    1.) To let me know what was really wrong.

    2.) To go to bed.

    She chose to go to bed.  I couldn’t believe it.  I gave her the options and now I had to follow through.  It was 6:30 p.m. and she chose to go to bed. I gave her ten chances to change her mind.   I gave her her I-pad in case she changed her mind.  I told her she could let me know just a little bit at anytime and we would talk but that she wasn’t allowed to not tell me the truth.  She couldn’t keep saying “I’m not mad.  I’m not sad. She could ask to talk about it later but she could not keep lying to me about there being nothing wrong.”

    Three hours later I get this e-mail.

    “Are you sad adoption me?”

    Am I sad that I adopted her?  Oh my heart.

    “I do wrong. Do you think I’m stupid?”

    Followed by….

    “If one day you do not want me, I really do not want lose the family.”

    “Because I know what will become of my foture.”

    And then she asked me to come to her room to talk.

    It wasn’t about the tea party.  It was about Elyse mentioning that the nannies told her that she could come to America and be healed.  The nannies had told Jasmine the same thing.  We were about six months in when Jasmine had enough English under her belt to ask us when she would get the surgery that would let her walk.  We had the horrible task of letting her know that there was nothing that could be done.  You can’t fix muscular dystrophy.  We had to break her heart and now we were going to have to break Elyse’s.  I told Jasmine not to say anything to Elyse because we haven’t seen a doctor yet.  Jasmine doesn’t need to be the bearer of bad news that could wait for another day.

    But all of her discussions with Elyse brought up the fears that she had before.

    Jasmine told me that she was worried that she would get too heavy and I would take her back to the orphanage.

    Because it has happened to her before.

    Jasmine let me know that she was afraid about having her surgery on the 13th because she didn’t want to wake up in the hospital alone.

    Because it has happened to her before.

    Jasmine was worried that I would decide that she was no longer worth caring for.

    Because it has happened before.

    It wasn’t about a tea party.  It was about her wanting a family.  It was about her wanting to walk.  It was about her wishing she could dream about one day growing up, falling in love, and having a family of her own.

    I’m sharing this story today because I want other parents who have adopted or are choosing to adopt an older child to remember not to take it personally and to remember the trivial fights usually are about something much more.  It’s not about wanting to eat late at night.  It’s about them testing you to see if you will feed them and love them.  It’s not so much about control as it is about fear.  Fear that you don’t love them enough.  Fear that they won’t get food.  Fear that this whole family thing isn’t going to work out.

    I can understand this.  For years when Dan and I met, I would test him.  I would push him.  I would bait him.  I would argue with him.  Why?  Because I didn’t believe someone could truly love me.  My dad and my mom divorced when I was 10 and then shortly after that I was sexually abused, for a whole summer, by an older trusted friend.  It played with my head and my self worth.  It made me believe that men would just hurt and that I had no worth.  This took place over about six months.  Now imagine if your whole life had been one of not feeling loved or worthy.  What if they made you believe that you are so bad that if you ever let anyone know the real you, they would return you to the orphanage? How much would you test?  How much time would you need to heal?

    Dan finally made me see that I could trust him and live each day happy or I could spend my whole life assuming he would leave and be miserable.  I had to make the choice.  These kids are in the same boat.  They have to make that choice but the first couple of years are just trying to figure it out.  They don’t have the language or the maturity to make that choice.  It’s all about survival.  If they learned to survive with manipulation, then they will manipulate.  If they learned to survive by withdrawing, then they will withdraw.  It takes time to let go of the fear and the anger.

    So it’s up to us, the supposed grownups, to remember it has nothing to do with us.  It has to do with fear and we have to remember who the author of fear is.  It isn’t God.  God is all about hope and redemption.  Satan whispers and people doubt.  Please remember that the next time you are in the heat of the moment.  Take a step back.  It’s not about the tea party or them loving you.  It’s about fear that they will one day lose this thing that they can’t even admit that they want.

    FAMILY!

     

  • Traveling with Evie

    Date: 2014.10.17 | Category: Adoption, Evangeline Faith, Faith

    There’s an amazing thing that happens when we are traveling and in the hospital.  We are presented time and time again with the opportunity to share our adoption story, this is especially true when you travel with Evie.  We like to joke that Evie may have half a heart but God gave her double the personality.  She is social.  She is a greeter.  She says “Hi!” to everyone she meets.  She is just a beautiful soul.   She notices everyone from the lady sitting by herself on the bench to the little girl in the hot pink wheelchair in the gift shop who everyone else just walked by.  Evie saw her.  Evie said hello to her and blew her a kiss.  The grandmother even mentioned how most little kids are afraid of this little girl, but not Evie.

    evie 2

    Today we had the pre-op appointment getting ready for her Fontan surgery bright and early Monday morning.  All day long she has been practicing saying “How are you?”.  It just cracks me up.  She told the x-ray tech that she was sorry she cried.  She even thanked the phlebotomist for her owie.

    The adoption talk starts when people say how cute she is, how social she is, and then they ask if she has any brothers or sisters.  When I say that she has 13 siblings, there are a variety of ways people respond.  You can usually tell within one or two questions which group they will fall into.

    The Skeptic” – these people believe we must have some ulterior motive – want money, glory, to get a book deal or to be on reality TV, etc.

    The Confused” – Why would you put yourself through this? Why China and not the U.S.?  Are you crazy?

    The Appreciative” – You are so kind, thank you, your kids are so lucky.

    The Curious” – I’ve always thought about adoption or I’d love a large family…

    The skeptics hurt my heart.  I wonder how they could think those things.   Adoption is hard.  How could anyone think you did it for any of those reason?  How many people really get a reality show?  I most certainly don’t want one.  Our house is too loud to be a t.v. show.  I often refer to our house as controlled chaos.  I love children running and laughing out loud.  I love loud, off key singing and dancing.  Plus, it is way too much work to try and be famous.

    Answering the questions of the confused are much harder because I am constantly on defense.  Trying to justify why one child deserves to be adopted is impossible.  The truth is trying to adopt when you are older is tricky.  There were many factors in why we chose to adopt from China.  After we traveled the first time, there were even more reasons why we went back.  None of this can be explained in just a couple of sentences nor will any of it make sense to someone who doesn’t understand what a child living in institutional care goes through.  (Jasmine’s Blog)

    Then there are those who go on and on about what we are doing.  They are the appreciative.  It’s embarrassing.  Honestly anyone who spends a moment with these guys would have to be blind and unfeeling to not understand why we do it.  They are beautiful souls full of life and love.  Their joy is contagious.   I am not special or extra kind or wonderful.  I am blessed, truly blessed to be their mama.

    My favorite moments are with the curious.  I love when people truly, honestly want to know why.  What would lead us to do this?  Why would we open our hearts to pain?  Why would we invest this much time in children that have health issues?   Why would we adopt nine?

    I love how often God puts those in our path that have been thinking about adopting.  It happens time and time again.  It is inspiring to talk with those that are in the process of adopting, have adopted, or have gone on mission trips and cared for special needs children.  It’s fun to share notes, encourage others, and learn about new organizations that are helping those in need.

    I enjoy being able to share how God lead us to each of the children.  God has amazingly opened up doors time and time again.  I love to share about the children’s stories because it is not about me or Dan or our family.  It’s all about God.  It is an honor to be able to share their stories, to talk about how far they have come, and what it means to step out in fear, but with trust that God’s plan is perfect!

    It’s hard to contain your joy when you have been allowed to be part of such amazing stories.  I mean really who wouldn’t want to be a part of this girl’s life?

    evie 3

    Just a reminder:

    If you are on Facebook, you can follow along at Seriously Blessed by Adoption.

    The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.  Psalm 28:7  NIV