Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

  • Happy Birthday Zachary!

    Date: 2014.08.05 | Category: Photos, Zachary

    This is going to be a strange way to start a Happy Birthday blog, but it will explain the kind of boy my little Zach was and is so please bear with me.

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    Many people have questioned how we have been able to adopt six children in two years.  They wondered how in the world we brought home four at one time.  Zachary is part of the reason why.  I wouldn’t recommend bringing that many children home at one time unless you have very special circumstances such as ours.   Two adult children living at home and a husband who works from home most of the week means extra hands to help.   It also means that we have had many adults around to lavish love upon the kiddos.

    Zach and Cassie both lived at home in an apartment on our acreage.   They both chose to live close to home so they could love their siblings and get to know them better.  At a time when most children are ready to leave the nest, both of our adult children have chosen to stay close. They have driven 45 minutes both ways to and from college so that their siblings could see them every day.   Zach chose to do this because at the time we were expecting Gracie, he said he couldn’t stand the thought that his little sister wouldn’t really know him.   To this day, Zach and Gracie have a very close bond.


    Zach and Cassie have been questioned and made fun of by their peers at school because they chose to live at home, even teachers have questioned why they would want to do something like that.   It amazes me that wanting to be close to your family would be considered such an oddity and even frowned upon.

    After Zach completed his computer science degree at Iowa State, he moved to Florida to complete a master’s degree in a very innovative new program designed to train software engineers, artists and producers to produce state-of-the-art, big budget video games. After completing his masters degree, Zach was interning at EA, one of the biggest companies in the interactive entertainment business, and had been offered a job in game development.  At that time, we were in the process to adopt Ben and Maisey and soon after that Gracie was diagnosed with lupus.  Gracie was very, very ill and was going to start chemo.   These circumstances lead Zach to decide to forgo the job at EA and move home.   Zach said that he couldn’t stand the thought of not knowing his two new siblings and if something happened to Gracie, and he wasn’t here, he would never forgive himself.   His peers were incredulous.  Why would he give up his dream job to go home to be closer to family? Even when Zach explained the circumstances, no one really understood and many questioned him over and over again.   Zach, however, knew what was important.

    Zach has always had a strong sense of family and God.  One of my favorite moments was also one of the most devastating in my life.   A couple years after having Zach, I had miscarried and was feeling very sad.  Zach was a little over three years old.  He sat on the step holding my hand and comforting me.  His sense of God and his understanding of life were apparent even then.  Zachary held my hand and said, “Don’t be sad mom.  God has a plan.”

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    Recently my mother-in-law gave me this note that she had found while going through some old papers.  Zach would have been four at the time it was written.


    Who knows what “I sure miss God and Jesus!  I haven’t seen them in a long, long time” means, but Zach has always seemed to have an understanding of God.  His faith has always been strong.  He has always talked about God like He was a friend, from the time he was very little.

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    Life was hard after Kyle died and with Codey being hospitalized for so long.  I had no intention of getting pregnant, EVER again, which was saying a lot from a girl who always dreamed of having a big family.  Codey was still in the hospital when I found out I was pregnant.  God’s ways are not our ways, truer words have never been spoken.  I would have never in a million years chosen to be pregnant then, but I thank God every day that I did get pregnant.  Zach was one of the most wonderful gifts I have ever been given.  He is a bright, sweet, generous, caring, God-fearing, wonderful young man.  He was such a wonderful child to parent.  He is not perfect, none of us are, but he has always been a blessing.  He has always been a pleasure to be around.  He has always asked questions that made me truly think.   He makes my life a hundred times better than it would have been without him in it.  His life showed me that love is greater than fear.  He taught me to talk to God like a friend.  He helped my heart heal.


    He was married earlier this year to a wonderful girl.  It will be a blessing to one day watch him love his own little ones.  He couldn’t have been a better big brother to all his siblings and I know one day he will make a wonderful father.

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    Happy birthday Zachary!  May God grant you as many blessings as you have brought into our lives.


  • HaPpY BirThdAy Jasmine

    Date: 2014.06.01 | Category: Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Photos

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    It’s hard to believe it’s been a year.

    A year of so many firsts….

    She had her first big birthday party and had no clue what to do with her presents,

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    but she was beyond thrilled about having her very own cake.

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    She attended VBS at our church and sang her little heart out, even though she knew very little English.

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    She got her very first flowers.

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    And took her very first shopping trip.


    She went to the Iowa State Fair.

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    and her first concert – a Casting Crown’s concert!!!

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    She couldn’t see the stage from her wheelchair so big sister helped her out.

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    She discovered she really loves holding babies.

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    She found her freedom with a hot pink, powered wheelchair on the path in our backyard.

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    She learned you don’t have to be able to swim to enjoy the pool.


    She went to her first Renaissance Fair.

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    And ate her first turkey leg.

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    She dressed up as Jasmine for Halloween.

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    And learned what “trick or treating” was all about.

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    She went to Disneyland Paris with friends from Spain.  (Well, her picture did anyway.)

    This family sponsored Jasmine for years and wanted to adopt her.


    She received a really wonderful gift in the mail that touched her heart, from the sweetest little girls.

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    And learned that people all around the world love her, care about her and pray for her.

    This was from a blog post on Love Without Boundaries.

    (If you don’t know what this organization does, please check them out.  They are the reason we found Jasmine.  They were advocating for her on their Facebook page and in their blog.)


    She got to lead the way on the ice at the engagement party for Zach and Stephanie.

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    And then be a junior bridesmaid in their wedding.

    She was especially excited about the pretty, sparkly dress and having her hair done.

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    She had her first cake fight.

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    And learned that she loved baking.

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    She learned that she was a superhero.

    (These capes are made by and adoptive mama, who is funding her adoption.  You can get the capes at Justice Gifts on Facebook.)

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    She learned English like a pro

    and finished kindergarten, first and second grade.

    She found out just how beautiful she really is.

    (She has told us numerous times that she was often told she was ugly and she believed those words until her daddy sent her a letter and told her that he loved her and that she was beautiful and she chose to believe him.)

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    She learned how much fun having a big sister is.

    Big sisters do your hair and make-up.

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    And how much fun it is to be a big sister.

    The littles adore Jasmine, especially Evie.



    She met Steven Curtis Chapman at his Glorious Unfolding Tour at Harmony Bible Church.


    And Mikeschair at a concert at Rising Sun Church.

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    And Jonny Diaz was there too!

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    She even got to meet her favorite you-tube channel make-up artist, Lex, from MadeULook by Lex.

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    She has learned about God and His love for her.  She knows God has a plan for her life.  She knows her life has purpose and worth.  She knows that she is saved by His grace.  She understands that we love and remember Kyle even though he died.  She understands through hearing about Kyle’s life that there is a forever future and that brings her great peace.  She understands that no matter what happens in her life we will never leave her side.  She knows that she has a family forever and she will never be forgotten.


    Jasmine attended a Women of Faith conference with my mom before she passed away.

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    And learned about giving to others who have less.

    She helped pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

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    And she had the idea to raise money for a little girl named Emma who sat in an orphanage for months with a broken leg.


    And learned that life isn’t always fair when Emma passed away.  Jasmine cried many, many tears over little Emma.

    She found her very best friend in her little sister Gracie.


    And together these two will change the world.

    Jasmine talks to Gracie in the middle of the night and shares many secrets with her.  One of those secrets was how hungry her and her friends were.  Gracie and Jasmine put their little heads together and decided to do something about it.  They raised $3,000 towards the nutrition fund at Jasmine’s orphanage.  Jasmine learned that you can make a difference.

    They dream of the bus they will drive and the children they will adopt.  20 was the last number being thrown around.

    She has learned about family and what that really means.


    She was in her first Christmas card picture.

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    And had a picture with the Easter bunny although she had no clue why the person was in an bunny costume.

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    She went to the local amusement park and got to play dress-up.

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    She has changed our lives, brightened our days, moved our hearts, and challenged us to do more.

    These two little girl’s will get a chance at family because Jasmine wanted to do more.

    Jasmine prayed and our hearts were moved.

    Jasmine knew instantly that Kelly and Elyse were her sisters.

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    She says she learned how to be silly when she joined our family.

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    She says she loves having a big family and lots of people to love.

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    When I asked her about her favorite moment of the year, she said, “Dancing with Daddy!”   I don’t have a video of the time he picked her up and danced around the living room floor with her, but the look on her face brought tears to my eyes.  Every little girl wants a daddy who loves her.

    Jasmine has learned so much this past year about trust, love, and family; but we have learned just as much about what those words really mean.  We have learned to trust God and His plan even when we don’t have all the answers.  We see even more clearly how His plan is perfect and how He can use lives to change others.  Jasmine is such a blessing and a beautiful addition to our family.

    Happy birthday sweet girl!

  • Happy Birthday Mei Mei!

    Date: 2014.04.09 | Category: Maisey, Photos

    Two years have passed so quickly.


    My little girl turns four today!

    Maisey is the quietest of the littles.

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

    Or inventing a new game.

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    She loves playing pretend and dressing up.

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    She loves books.

    She loves playing with her dolls and being a princess.

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    She is the best big sister.

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

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

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    She is Lainey’s biggest cheerleader.

    This year she got her BAHA and new glasses.

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


    She dances and tumbles and runs and rides her trike.


    She is a girly girl and LOVES makeup.


    She is such a daddy’s girl.

    Daddy and Maisey like to make fun fruit art together.


    She gets along so well with the other littles.

    They are such good friends.


    She is the girl of a million different faces.

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    And her wink…

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

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

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    Maisey has been the perfect addition to our family.

    She is full of grace and joyful fun.

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

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    But she is just as sweet as ever!

    Happy birthday little one!

  • Best Buddies

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

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

    Lainey & Codey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Feeling very blessed indeed!


  • Blessed Beyond Belief

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

    Family Picture

    Photo courtesy of Wunderkind Gallery

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

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

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

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    Little Lainey secure enough to fall asleep in the sun.

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    Little Evie running to my arms.

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

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


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


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

  • Subscribe to the “S’s”

    Date: 2014.03.18 | Category: Photos

    My son, Zachary, added a “Follow blog by E-mail” to my blog.  If you would like to get an e-mail telling you that I have blogged, just add your e-mail there.  It is on the right hand side under the categories section.

    Because you don’t want to miss a minute of the “S‘s”…..



    Maisey is so sweet with Lainey. Maisey encourages her to play with them. Maisey always hugs Lainey and lets Lainey know that she is loved.

    Sisterly love…


    Evie likes to climb up on Jasmine’s wheelchair foot rests and give her big sister a hug. Jasmine is so good with all the littles. She is a great big sister.



    An “I’m a God girl” band on one arm and a cookie cutter on the other. Add a pair of shades and you are ready to go.



    Why yes that is an Easter hat, paired with a Superman cape, a Hawaiian lei, and Jake the Pirate rain boots. 🙂




    Jasmine likes her food HOT!

    Jasmine likes her food HOT!



    Special times with Mema!



    Be prepared if you come to visit.
    You just might get smooshed!


    If you have



    Cassie and Hope got to be extras in a movie.
    Cutest Zombies….ever!



    A spectacular use of their imagination.
    A box becomes a boat in which to eat ice cream.













    and last but not least (thanks Jan!)…

    Seriously blessed…

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    I hope you have a Splendid day!

  • Where Has The Time Gone?

    Date: 2014.03.14 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Maisey, Photos

    A few months later....

    One of the first pictures we got of Maisey


    An update we received of Benjamin.

    Yesterday, was Ben and Maisey’s Gotcha Day.  It’s been two years since we first saw their little faces that day in the Registration Office.

    First family picture of the 4 of us.

    First family picture of the 4 of us.

    Two years.  So much has happened since that day.  They have both grown and lost the sadness that surrounded them those first few weeks.

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    Every time I see these pictures it takes me back to how truly sad they were.  They were sad, not because we were new to them, although that may have been a part of it, just sad in general.  It was like part of their spirit was just beaten down.

    In the hotel room they started to come to life, but every time we left they shut down again – afraid that we might be taking them back.  It’s part of the reason I share our story of adoption.  I want people to understand how beautiful it is but also just how hard institutional life is on children.  Children were meant to be raised in families not institutions.

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    Ben took to Dan that very first day.  He climbed into his daddy’s arms and he never looked back.  I wonder about what has happened in a child’s life that they would willingly go to a person that looks so unlike anyone they have ever seen before and just hold on for dear life.   He never cried for anyone else.  He trusted us from day one and has continued to thrive and grow.

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    Maisey was the same way.  She hung her head and wouldn’t look up.  She had a huge bald spot on the back of her head from throwing herself to the floor.  It only took a day or so to realize she wasn’t completely deaf.  A day of getting at her level and talking to her and she was no longer so frustrated that she needed to throw herself to the floor.  Do you know what that does to a mama’s heart?  To know that her child wasn’t worth the time for someone to get on their knees and truly to talk to her?  Maybe they were just too busy to take the time or maybe they just didn’t care or maybe she wasn’t worth their time.  I’ll never know, but what I do know is it wasn’t right and it broke my little girl’s spirit – just a bit.

    Holding Maisey for the first time.

    Holding Maisey for the first time.

    I have been blessed from day one with these two.  They have added so much to our lives.

    They run…


    And laugh…

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    And play pretend…

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    And rock out….


    And love…

    Especially Maisey – she loves being the big sister.  She’s quite the little mama.


    And were the perfect addition to our family.

    Look how much they’ve grown.

    Ben Before & After

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  • A Little Bit of Everything

    Date: 2014.02.01 | Category: Adoption, Photos, Thoughts to ponder

    My blog about older adopting older children:

    A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about adopting the older child. (Beauty Admist the Pain )  I still feel very strongly that people need to step up and help these children.  However, after I wrote this blog another article was brought to my attention talking about some of the corruption that is happening with older children’s adoptions.  You can read that blog post here. Fraud in Older Adoptions Revealed

    I still stand by my words that you need to find out as much information as you can about the child before proceeding.  I know of cases that were absolutely devastating to the family, but I also believe that there are children waiting to be adopted that desperately want the love of a family and would be a good fit for some family some where.  There are many beautiful older souls languishing in orphanages and the foster care system who are good, wonderful, caring children.  I know because I am a mother who is blessed enough to love one.



    The kids are doing well.  Lainey has made great progress and has even started saying some words.  Evie is walking all over the place.  Everyone else has been healthy (knock on wood) and making great progress.

    In less than a month’s time starting on Christmas Eve we lost three members of our immediate family.  Mom died Christmas Eve with her Celebration Service being on her birthday, January 5th.  Her husband and my stepfather, Will, passed away on January 13th with his service being January 18th.   Right after the service for Will was over we received notice that my grandfather had had a stroke and was being taken to the hospital.  My grandpa, Pop as I called him, passed away on January 20th with his services being held on January 24th.  It has been a horrible time for the family.  Especially for my grandma who would have celebrated her 73rd wedding anniversary on May 10th.  72 years with a person is a very long time and her heart has been very sad with losing my mom, who was her best friend only a few weeks before her husband.  Please keep her in your prayers.

    Gram & Pop

    What I’ve learned from all this hardship:

    1.) It’s easier to lose someone if they are in poor health and you have time to plan. In the end, it almost seems a blessing.  But that is only true if you know that person is a believer.  Knowing someone is rejoicing in heaven is a beautiful  thing.   It’s hard to be sad when you know there will one day be a glorious reunion.

    2.) If you aren’t sure if your family member believes, ask them.  I always assumed that my stepfather was a believer.  He said he went to church when he was younger, but I never had any indepth conversations about it.  It just never came up.  It was very hard talking to little Gracie after his death. She was so worried about his soul.  (Sometimes it is hard to believe Gracie is only 8.)  No one wants regrets of being able to save a soul and not having said anything.

    3.) It’s good to let your family members know exactly what your wishes are.  When they are in a state of shock, it’s helpful to be able to say with certainty that this is what your loved ones wanted.  It was easy to plan mom’s service because she had said over and over again what she wanted.  It was nice to be able to implement her wishes and celebrate her life.

    4.) Don’t be the invisible mom!   Make sure you are in pictures with your loved ones, especially your kids.   I went through tons of pictures trying to find pictures for the slideshow.  I realized I always take the pictures.  I am rarely in the pictures.  I know my children know I was at their birthday parties and special events, but someday their children may wonder where Grandma was.

    5.) Enjoy each and every day.  It truly is a gift to live in the present.  Don’t assume you have tomorrow. If you have things that need to be said, say them.  If you have people you need to forgive, forgive them.  If you love someone, make the time for them.

    6.) Don’t talk about people unless you were there and can state something is fact.  My brother found my stepfather and this has been very hard on him.  People in the small towns all have their own ideas about what happened and all the gossip I have been told second and third hand was wrong.

    7.) People actually break into people’s homes during their funerals and after their deaths.  Yes, there really are people that are that low.  Mom’s house was broken into.  I am still in shock about that. The sheriff said it often happens.  Who knows what was taken?  Who knows what they messed with?  It made me so angry.  Not because of the items that we know were taken, the t.v., dvd player, etc.  Just the thought that someone went through her stuff before we had the chance to.  It’s just so sad.

    8.) Your days are limited.  They are numbered.  You can pretend all you want but someday you will leave behind the people you love.  Make sure they know how much you love them with actions not just words.  On your last day, you will take NOTHING with you.  Remember that.  That job you work so hard at won’t be holding your hand at the end.  Your diplomas won’t add another day to your life. Those vacations won’t keep you warm while you lie in your hospice bed.  Regrets are a horrible thing.  Don’t waste your life.  Do something with it and love your family and friends.

    9.) I don’t want another year to just pass by.  Do you?  Why not make 2014 a year to remember? Do something great for the Lord!  What is your passion?  What is your calling?  What can you do?  Everyone can do something.  Everyone has a passion.  Praying you find yours and you make 2014 the year you made a difference.



  • Lainey Lou is no Longer Two

    Date: 2013.12.30 | Category: Lainey Rae, Photos

    This was one of the first pictures we received of Lainey or Lan Lan as they called her.

    Lainey - we were told she has a sweet, bright, and welcoming spirit and loves to cuddle.

    Lainey – we were told she has a sweet, bright, and welcoming spirit and loves to cuddle.

    Her name has evolved over the last 7 months.  She gets called Lan Lan, Lainey Lou (even though her name is Lainey Rae), Lambie, and Lainey Lambchop.  Her animal has become Lambie from Doc McStuffins.  Which works out pretty good because everyone in our house loves the Doc McStuffins song, “I feel Better” and on the show, Lambie is so very cuddly.

    Lainey knows how to cuddle. Lainey loves to lay her head on your shoulder.  When we were in China, that was the only place that brought her comfort.

    China 2013 037

    We have come a long way since those days in China.  I have spoken often about how trying those days were.  Lainey was very happy at New Hope.  We sponsored her and had many pictures and reports of how happy she was.  She had individualized care and people who knew her well.  I do believe she was happy there.  The problem began when she was transferred back to the orphanage two weeks before we arrived in China.  She had a 14+ hour train ride.  She was with people she didn’t know and they didn’t know her triggers. If Lainey starts throwing a tantrum and you don’t stop it within the first minute, it turns into a full blown rage. I’m sure she was left alone to rage quite often.  By the time we got her she was a mess.  She was raging and angry and scared and in constant meltdown mode.  There was no eye contact.  She was non-verbal.  She couldn’t calm herself at all.

    Within just a few weeks at home, things got better.  We knew what was going to upset her.  She was smiling and playing and happy.  She still loves to cuddle on your shoulder.


    She especially loves daddy.  Daddy has an office in the basement.  We have a gate at the top of the basement stairs.  As soon as she hears that gate click, she runs to her daddy and lays her head on his shoulder.  It’s her very favorite place to be.


    Now we know her triggers well.  We can head off most problems.  Instead of being upset most of the time, she is rarely upset.  She has purposeful play.  She is trying to vocalize.  She has said, “Ma, hi, Gee (Grace), Dad, and yeah.”   You should have seen her daddy’s face the first time she said, “Hi Dad!” so clearly.   She plays around the kids and wants to be part of the play even though she really doesn’t understand how to play with them.  She loves to run.  She loves to laugh.  She loves the wind blowing in her face.  She loves water and will play in any amount of water anywhere.  She runs to the backdoor gate whenever anyone comes home.   She puts her arms up to be picked up.


    Her PKU has been relatively easy to control.  She doesn’t really want other foods so we have been lucky that way.  She loves rice cereal, baby food – squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, and pears.  She does ok with her weekly finger stick.  We have been staying within the range most of the time.

    We still have a ways to go with the sleep issues.  She routinely wakes up every 90 minutes to 2 hours.  Although, she slept for 4 hours in a row the other day.  IT.WAS.AMAZING!!!!  We still have to take shifts and big sister Cassie routinely cares for her.  I’m not sure what I would do without big sisters help.  Lainey rarely rages, except at night, when she wakes up with what seems to be night terrors.  Her seizures are much more controlled now.  It took forever to get into see the neurologist.  When we finally did, they weren’t sure they agreed with what Dan thought were short seizures but they decided to schedule a video EEG to check. No one wanted to put her on medication until we knew for sure what was going on.  It took a while to get the appointment for the VEEG in the hospital.

    I was so worried they wouldn’t be able to do the EEG.  Lainey does not sit still and she certainly doesn’t like things on her head.   It took an hour of holding her down to get the leads on.  She fought so hard that she slept for an hour after the leads were attached – so we got a great baseline EEG.  Then she had 6 seizures in the next hour that we saw and there were many more subclinical ones that they caught.  We didn’t end up staying over night because she had so many seizures in that hour that they got a good reading.  The good thing about her seizures are they are very short lasting and they don’t seem to affect her in any way afterwards, but I still can’t imagine having ten or more seizures every hour and functioning very well. Poor baby.  It was no wonder she was having such a hard time.


    We started her on medication and have seen definite improvements.  She is calmer.  She is more focused.  As Dr. Noble says, “She has great potential for making wonderful strides in the next couple years.”  We were thrilled.  The truth is she will never be “normal”, but she has come so far already.

    I remember my fear in China of what would happen to the family when we got home.  Would we be able to handle the tantrums and no sleep?  Would it even make a difference?  Would Lainey ever be happy?  Would she understand love and family?

    Well, everyone loves Lainey.  She understands family and love.  She plays and dances and laughs and sings.  I have no clue what the future holds for her but the last 7 months have been pretty amazing.  She’s made such wonderful strides and there is real hope for her to communicate and get better.  All in all a pretty good year.  Praying next year brings even more strides forward for our little girl.

    Happy birthday little Lambie.







  • Thankful for…

    Date: 2013.11.28 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Cassie, Codey, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Faith, Family Life, Grace, Hope, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae, Maisey, Photos, Zachary

    A little boy that did better than anyone expected. (Today he has walked down the halls, had his chest tubes and i.v.’s taken out, and even smiled.  UNBELIEVABLE!)


    A little girl that we were told was deaf but can hear enough to dance to the music.


    A little girl who now understands love and has learned how to give kisses.


    A little boy that has blossomed and grown.


    Exciting proposals and new additions to the family.


    Family that becomes best friends.


    People coming together to help others.

    Shaved little heads that now hold enough hair for big sister to do a silly hairdo.


    Siblings that get opportunities to make great memories together. (Hope loves special effects make-up.  Cassie took her to be a zombie extra in a local movie.)


    Big siblings that love their siblings enough to take care of them when mommy and daddy have to be gone with someone who is sick.


    Husbands who support you, dream with you, love you, and make you laugh for more than 29 years.

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    Friends, family and others who encourage, support and pray for you.

    Meeting people who have majorly changed your lives. (Maria’s Big House of Hope, New Hope Foundation and the Chapman’s daughters words that made me rethink being too old to adopt.)


    Thankful, blessed, grateful, overwhelmed, and humbled – all these and more.