Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wishes Do Come True!

What were you doing this time last year?

Can't remember? Well, we sure can. One year ago today, the beautiful face of our daughter and sister was revealed to us for the very first time.

A few days prior, Rob celebrated his birthday. When it was time to make the wish and blow out the candles, we all knew what his heart desired. We had been so disappointed when our referral did not come by Christmas time. Terrified to get our hopes up and then dashed, we glided along. Rumor Queen posted some hope of referrals brewing, but our agency emailed a notice that we may not know anything until the following week. WEEK??? Several of us from our travel group were preparing to stalk, I mean visit, our agency in hopes to catch a glimpse of our precious girls sooner. I was the closet geographically, so I joked that it would be simple to camp outside their office until they assigned each of us our children. (Truthfully, I don't think any of us were really joking - we wanted our daughters home!)

We kept ourselves busy by creating Chinese New Year packages for Emily's four year old class. We used Chinese stampers to stamp the bags and then filled them with an assortment of fun celebratory items. It was a nice project, over the course of those lonnngg weeks that helped keep our spirits up and focus on the prayer that our daughter was never alone, she was living well in our hearts. We also spent time lovingly preparing a care package that we could send once Hannah was chosen and we knew where she was.

I believe we read this book a thousand times. To this day, I cannot get through it without weeping.

But, on February 1, 2007, life changed in the way that we had prayed for since October 8, 2005, when we were logged into CCAA to adopt a baby girl from China. I left for work the same as any other day and since I had not heard anything, I assumed that Thursday would not be the day. Just in case it was, I had brought with me (as I had done everyday that month) my formal Referral Sheet, loaded with questions to ask at the time of referral. Heading out the door to take a student for a walk, my cell rang. It was my mother. Emily was recouperating from pneumonia, and I figured she had a question. When I heard her voice though, she was frantic. The house phone had rung - the caller id reflected a number she thought could be our agency. We hung up and at that very moment (3:57 PM, to be exact), I heard the most wonderful words...

"Hi Mrs. AdoptingMama, this is Agencyangel and I'm happy to tell you that you have a little girl, her name is Feng, Xiaowei. She is from the Jiangxi Province." My head was swimming, I was not writing on the neatly placed lines of my referral sheet, I was crying and shaking, still standing in the foyer of their home. At one point my knees buckled ever so slightly, I lowered myself to the floor and wrote fiendishly to capture every word. Not the glamorous moment I had pictured in my brain, but it was certainly a moment that will remain etched upon my heart. Many say that referral is amazing, honestly, it is indescribable. I know during that conversation, I managed to commit to my memory that she was 8 months old, yippee! And she ended our call with, "Heather, wait til you see her eyes, she has the biggest, most beautiful eyes." SEE...When can we see her???

Agencyangel advised us to sit by our computer and she would email our pictures and the formal referral as soon as all the families had been notified. My feet did not touch the ground as I squealed away from their home and landed in my own family room to see, finally see, our daughter. So we sat, and we sat, talked a little, sat some more and then, this came...

I recognize that I am biased, but we thought she was breathtaking. I actually gasped when I saw her, she looked perfect in every way. Until Emily's birth, I did not believe in love at first sight, but that perfect little creature changed my heart. And now, our second daughter captivated just the same. I felt such devotion to her, I wanted to bring her home and I prayed that I would do well by her. As delightful as those moments are, it always sends home the reality that soon she will leave the only family she has ever known and the only home she has had. I prayed we were enough.

The following week, the agency scheduled a meeting so we could have the actual documentation and hard copy of the pictures. The meeting went very well and Rob and I carried around poster size copies of her pictures. EVERYWHERE! God bless all those who had to see this child over and over again! Emily got the joy of showing off her sister to her classmates, what a miraculous experience.

We received some updated photos of Hannah, which thrilled us to no end (and I am sure all the people who had to see the poster size referral photos were so happy to view yet another set of poster size pictures). One of these pictures is in a small frame and Hannah sometimes touches it and tells me, "Hannah, tiger!"

Knowing where Hannah was from opened up some new Yahoo groups for us and I joined them immediately. I would be blessed to find pictures of her Social Welfare Institute and even more blessed to find pictures of Hannah when she was very young.

Today, Hannah has been home with us for almost ten months. Hard to believe. She had stretched us in so many ways, her daddy who thinks going next town over is "far" travelled across the ocean to bring her home. Her sister, convinced she'd be the queen forever, now gladly shares her space and time with this adorable little girl. And me, well there are no words for how deep the river runs. It is that red thread, she is our destiny. For all of you waiting, I hope for speed and for you to have your own wish come true. I will pray until your referrals come in and until all our babies are home safe and sound.

"I have told you these things for a purpose; that my joy might be your joy, and your joy may be wholly mature in it's time." John 15:11

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for so many things, blessed beyond measure, and each week as I record my thoughts about being gracious, it occurs to me that I am thankful not only for what is now, but also what brought me to this place.

Years ago, as a youth volunteer for the junior and senior high youth groups of my home church, I thought I was pretty special. I had just graduated from college, I was 21 years old and had it all; great job, brand new sports car, nails done, hair coiffed, only the finest clothes, you name it, it was all good.

Then, something interesting happened...I was walking through the hall at church one Sunday and my dear friend Mary approached me. I remember the interaction like it happened yesterday...Her daughter was wearing a mini skirt and these really cool tye dye tights, she was high schoolish age and Mary was chiding her for her choice of apparel that morning. She stopped her tirade briefly to ask me a question, "Would you be interested in leading a group for the upcoming Mission trip this summer?" I love Mary and I love kids, but somehow sleeping on dirt floors and wearing (gulp) overalls, just didn't fit my image at the time - yes, I really thought this. She told me to sleep on it. She said she would contact (read "bug")me until I had made my decision. I was still living at home, and when I sat down with my parents for dinner, I laughed out loud when I told them about the proposition I had encountered. Thing was they didn't father especially, offered this could be an opportunity that would change my life. Oh the wisdom, almost prophetic. A seed was planted.

So, that summer I went on the first of ten Mission trips I would take with this group of senior high youth. Did it change my life? - Oh yes, I would go on to pastor that youth group until I had my own family. I became passionate about serving others and though I still like the occasional finer things in life, I truly know the desperation that people in our own backyard live with daily. I met families with enormous medical needs and no insurance or financial means to receive care, I met senior citizens who had never in their life experienced running water until we arrived, I met children who had never slept in a bed, just covers on the floor (dirt floor, I might add). Here, in the good ol' USA there were communities with no economy, no hope and no future. I have ever since supported the mission that I originally worked with, and our family commits to support them as long as there is air in our lungs, even in the most difficult of times for us. Because those times will never look as dreary as what the beautiful people of areas in Appalachia have experienced.

There is a point to all of this - I received an email from one of the young ladies, Kate, with whom I travelled at least twice. Now a junior at Penn State University, she spent her winter break in Peru playing "Pato, Pato, Gonzo" (duck, duck, goose), offering a VBS program to families and building and repairing an orphanage. The pictures were positively heartwarming and these kids (45 of them!) worked HARD.

Kate said I planted a seed; I beg to differ, God laid it on my heart to plant a seed, just as God laid it on Mary's heart to move my mountain so that I might see the best He had in store for me. I pray my ladybugs will know the joy of serving others. Kate titled this picture "one of these things just isn't the same". I would agree Kate, you are a leader among your peers, an example.

Today I am thankful for all the seeds planted, be it missioning, the adoption community, motherhood, teachers, people serving people. It's all good.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lordy, Lordy...Look who's FORTY!

Definitely more content with a hammer in hand and workboots on, our husband and daddy cleans up nice! Self proclaimed as "painfully shy", I have watched as he has evolved. For all the pumpkin carving, tree trimming, picture hanging, building, building, building, lullabye singing, Dora book reading, car riding, bike riding, dance class watching, and countless other daily events, forty looks really amazing on you! That smile - oh dear, how I love that smile!

Happy Birthday, honey! We love you!

Young, young, young Daddy

Junior in high school

All grown up!

First time Daddy!

Trip of a lifetime to become a second time daddy!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

"The strongest evidence of love is sacrifice." ~ Carolyn Fry

Forty-seven years ago today, my parents pledged their lives to each other. I am so thankful they did!

Happy Anniversary!

Sick Computer!

Lethargic, cranky, hot and just plain "not responding" much of the time, my computer is sick! I have been working an several projects, which have been unduly interrupted as a result (read Wahhhhhhhhhhhh!) Bear with me while I figure out how to cure my companion, I have tried all the homeopathic remedies suggested and now, I may have to take it in to be serviced. We shall see. In the meantime, I will try to post a few items to last us a couple of days:)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thankful Thursday

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." ~ Proverbs 15:30

* Last evening, I got a wonderful email from our friend, Sam. From the below message, it appears as though all is well. I am so grateful for this news.

More Good News!

The CT Scan results, which we got yesterday, showed no changes since September's Scan. As the Dr. explained...This is great news!!!! He said that the mass may be the dead cells of cancer (or scar tissue) so they remain. He seemed pleased! We certainly are!!! The Dr. did say there may be a few nasties hiding inside the mass. He gave us the option of waiting awhile then starting up the chemo again if we saw enlargement in a later CT Scan or continuing treatments now. I opted for "now"!... and he then asked when did I want to start and I said "now"! My next treatment is this Thursday. I'll continue with another round of 9 (3 sets of 3) IV treatments and the Tarceva as long as tolerable...then another CT Scan.

Many thanks to all my prayer warriors...I'm not through fighting yet...please hang in there with me. I thank God every day for his healing power.

We continue to pray for Sam and his family - his attitude is indicative of how he lives everyday of his life. Without gushing, I feel it is important to note that Sam is a force to be reckoned with in serving the Lord and the community.

"If you do nothing in a difficult time, your strength is limited." ~ Proverbs 24:10

* I am thankful that God provides comfort that we cannot. For those suffering, we remain steadfast in praying for you and your families, but are ultimately aware that He provides the greatest gift as you navigate troubled waters.

We continue to lift my cousin Jeremy, as he receives radiation for a cancer diagnosis. We pray for his family, his wife, his son, his soon to be born child and his parents and brother's family. Watching those we love struggle is more painful than our own troubles.

We continue to pray for my aunt's brother-in-law and sister. Bob has been released and gone home, the future is unknown, but his family is united and prayerful at this time.

* I am thankful for Hannah's laughter, it is so beautiful and heartwarming. She has a strong will and a funny bone. It makes for a grand combination.

* I am thankful for my parents who share a Godly and loving relationship and are about to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary. Wahoo!

* I am thankful for bands like Five for Fighting,and their committment to promoting Autism Awareness. You can click here to see their video and what they are doing to raise funds for research and therapies. Though my own family has not been impacted by Autism, I know too many who have been. I have a job in this field, my goal is for the research to provide advances that would leave me out of work forever!

Thanks for stopping by - it is always fun to know who visits. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Alicia!

Happy Birthday to our oldest niece. She turns sixteen this week. Our family celebrated with her on Sunday. Not nearly as fascinated by the car keys as her brother was at the same age, Alicia is a laid-back, "take-it-as-it comes" kind of girl. When I asked her about her big plans for this week, she offered she had midterms the rest of the week and a lot of studying to do ~ yup, that's our Alicia!

Alicia has always set her eye on the prize and made it happen. Usually, with her nose buried in a good book, Alicia knows herself and her likes and dislikes. One Easter dinner, Alicia was about four or five, she arrived at her grandmother's home dressed in her pajamas and cowboy boots...her parents indicated some fights just were not worth having:)

Happy Birthday to you sweetheart - we are very proud of you.

Emily and Kevin - Rock on Kev!

Hannah and Aiden - Play Ball!

Ali and her faithful helpers!

Yea! Make a wish...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thankful Thursday

"Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings." ~ Psalm 116:7

Is it me? Or do Thursdays come around quicker these days than they used to? It is certainly not a complaint, just makes me nostalgic for how quickly time passes and how much we have to be grateful for.

I am thankful to Linette, who posted this great devotional on her blog. I mentioned to my mother the name of this devotional and voila, my mom ordered it and picked it up for me.

So, I am also thankful to my mother. She does things like that, always has. She has a way of making life simpler, easier, flow better. As a child, I recall my mom never got a helping hand. My dad travelled for business, my grandparents never offered to help out in any way, she and my aunt were on their own and they did a great job. They hosted countless family dinners and events - they both still do these. They have always helped with babysitting and have been trusted companions in the lives of their children and grandchildren. My mother is a "no frills" kind of lady - she just gets it done. For all those behind the scenes gestures and offerings, Mom, you should know, you have taught me well and now teach my children also.

I am thankful for educational, fun, children's literature. Emily receives Highlights and Big Backyard and Hannah receives Babybug - oh, how we love Babybug. She will gather them up, get comfy in her chair and "read" away. Emily loves the puzzles and challenges in hers, and I am grateful for resources like this, that help me spend that kind of special time with them.

I am thankful for prayerful children. Hannah began with a really awful rash last week, in several locations and we suspect they are all due to different reasons. So we are treating her for three separate issues. As we try to ascertain what allergy could be maintaining the one rash, we are frustrated. We pray every morning, and doesn't that Emily get right to it interceding for her sister. From the daily chronicles of Mom-dom, you have got to be grateful for that!

I am thankful for the snow we are seeing today - it is not quite cold enough for it to lay on the ground, but it is pretty and the kids just love it:)

I am thankful to be part of a network of adoptive parents. I never imagined the friendships that would form, the bonds that would feel unbreakable because of our unique connection. I will always be eternally grateful for the people I have been blessed to know and for the incredibly important message we carry with us, each and every day. I was working in one of the schools this week, when a mother overheard someone ask me about our younger child and it began this whole delicate discussion about adoption. It is a blessing I would never have known if God did not lead us to this place.

Ooooh Mommy's computer...

Just grab here...


I am standing on the chair! Mom, don't panic...

Just want to check the blogs:)

I am thankful for the spunk and spontenaity of Hannah. Our little Evil Kenevil just loves to climb these days, she is downright nosy! She also likes to dress herself, which is hilarious and actually quite fun. I love her spiciness and relish in her joyful nature.

I am thankful for my friends. Some new, some old, all of them. I cleaned out my hope chest last week and reminisced about so many really amazing life events. The recurrent theme was the people who have been in my life all along. We may speak every three days, three months or three years, but the relationship doesn't change. I think that is special.

Finally, I am thankful for a tender moment I got to share with Emily this afternoon. Today was "Mom's Day In" at dance class. I spent the better part of my life in a dance studio, so it makes sense I dreamed of a daughter who would dance. Truth be told, I really don't care now or moving forward if she ever decides she does not want to dance. But, as I sat watching her...I am amazed by her. At the end they asked us to dance with our child. It was one of the finest hours of my entire life - I was completely moved and I am thankful that I didn't weep and embarrass my sweet child.

Hope you have had a wonderful week. What are you thankful for?

The Instigator and the Informant

I am fascinated at how quickly our children fell into their natural roles...Hannah is easily the Instigator and Emily, most definitely the Informant. Oh wait, ten minutes have passed maybe it is the other way around. These two little girls totally enjoy each others' company, but I must admit it doesn't feel like Little House on the Prairie around here.

First, there is the high-pitched girly scream, it can mean a multiude of things are occurring, from sheer bliss to utter horror and remarkably, I can tell them apart.

Then, there is the , "Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm", almost always preceded by the high pitched scream, and followed up with a stunning account of the last 90 seconds worth of activity. Silly me, I always assumed "mom" is a one syllable word and "mommy" a two-syllable word - just goes to show my naivete, oh no, these little ones can easily turn that simple word into a five syllable word without blinking. And the stories...even our little one word bandit can manage to speak and sign her sister's atrocities without hesitation. They'd sell each other out in a heartbeat. At Christmas, Santa phoned our house to check in on the excitement level. We thought it was quite magnificent that he took the time, while feeding a sick reindeer, no less, to gauge the good/bad meter on our precious angels. Within the first fifteen seconds, Emily had managed a lengthy and extremely detailed list of the misgivings of her smaller, just a tad bit more stubborn, counterpart.

Once Hannah is speaking fully, it will be truly interesting the outcomes of these daily snafus, that last mere minutes, but totally test my finest mommyhood moments.

What is the flip side, you ask? They bound through the house looking for each other, squealing with delight at each reunion. They sit quietly reading to one another and yes, Emily will sit patiently listening as Hannah makes up words, points to pictures and proudly declares, "Duh End." They hold hands, a lot. They would protect each other ferociously, when the chips are down. Emily's dearest maternal skills shine through when Hannah is up against it (and you should hear the backtracking when Emily thinks her tattles will negatively impact Lil' sis).

Emily had a bellyache during the night last night - it didn't last terribly long, but she couldn't sleep and this morning, with everything going around, I played the safe card and let her stay home, just in case. Emily is NOT a complainer, she is the type of kid who has an apendage dangling and when you ask if it hurts, she will bite her lip and assure you she is FINE! So, when she does say something hurts, we know it is for real. Hannah was up first and when she asked where "Mimi" was, I explained she was sleepy and had a tummyache while she was sleeping. She marched headfirst into Em's room and patted her, quietly assuring her, "it tay." (it's okay)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thankful Thursday

"All our goodness is a loan. God is the owner." ~Saint John of the Cross

In November, I was sad that I had not gotten any good pictures, I mean really good pictures, of our daughters together. I had dreamed, longed, pined for the day when multiple children would fill our rooms with noise and clamoring. In April of 2007, my pining ceased. Emily and Hannah, have by far, exceeded every expectation I could have ever had as a parent. There is a local photographer who I just love. Her name is Joanna, and she is the daughter-in-law of close friends of my parents. Today, as I framed several of the wonderful pictures she took at a photo shoot in November, it occurred to me how grateful I am for her talent. She captured what I could never capture, ever. Joanna is a young, hip, beautifully cool mom with two gorgeous daughters of her own. She is fun and talented beyond words. Joanna, thanks for sharing your gifts with our family. (I have posted others that Joanna took - I'm certain you could pick them out! And here are a few more of our favorites...)

I am thankful that Emily bounded out of school today just beaming. When I inquired about her mood, she fumbled all over herself opening her school bag to produce a book. It was an ordinary book, except that Emily is able to read the whole thing with no help - her teacher loaned each student a book to read to their parents at home. She took such tremendous joy in reading it to me and then to Hannah and then to Nan and then to Dad (as I type she is reading it again). Now, we read everyday, all the time, incessantly...but it took the joy of reading with her classmates to make this phenomenon real to her.

I am thankful for my husband, who went out of his way today, stopped at the pharmacy and picked up eczema cream for the girls, without being asked!

I am thankful for long, lovely chats with my Texas friend, whom I wish lived closer.

I am thankful that Ayla's parents' posted some really good test results, and though there is a lot of road ahead, some major concerns have been resolved. Just keep prayin'!

I am thankful for my father (both my heavenly father and the earthly one He blessed me with). Dad, you and my computer have become wayyy too close! Thank you for spending last evening fighting with my printer.

Even though I hate to see 2007 fade away (it was the year Hannah entered our lives), I am thankful for new beginnings and renewed strength in being better this year than we were last year.

Hope you have had a happy week...what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Some Updates

Thank you to all those who pray everyday and have been kind enough to add some very special people to their prayer life. I figured it is important to update a few things. I enjoy this blog so much and though I am not an everyday poster, I love that people from all over the globe can get information and take concerns and rejoicing to the Lord just because we can connect this way.


Sam has not updated us on a current CT yet and I will let you know when he does. He sent me a couple of updated pictures, so I feel really happy posting this recent picture of he and Anne on their vacation in Florida.


Just before Christmas, I posted about my aunt's brother-in-law. At first a suspected stroke left him acting strangely and upon closer observation, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A less than savory operation left him weak and not doing well and a fall this weekend has further impeded any progress. The doctors told my aunt's sister, Linda that no more radiation would be administered and advised there is nothing else they can do. Linda is plucky and she advised that the Master Healer can do ALOT. So, we continue to lift Bob and his family up as they go through a terribly difficult time.


I would also implore folks to pray for this family. Their little girl Ayla has been diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eye. It is quite amazing the community of adoptive parents that rally around one another, pray and support each other, being constant sources of encouragement. My prayer is that Ayla will feel the healing touch of Jesus and that her family will be sustained as they help her heal. The Lord's plan is perfect - we don't have to know one another to intercede for one another.


Personally, we are settling into 2008. The change into a new year usually throws me, this year is no different. I am a creature of habit, so I approach with great caution. My hope for this year is to simplify. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I talked with my aunt last night and we talked about how necessary miracles are...we see them everyday. We need some really big ones to offset the smaller ones, we needn't be so concerned with ourselves. So many need us to be there for them. I pray I teach my children to love on others, I believe it may be a miracle in and of itself to look outside our own circumstance and hold up a neighbor. I remember when Sam was first sick, I didn't know what to "do", so I wrote a note, I prayed and I took a particularly smiley picture of Emily and sent it to him. I recently pulled out his response and the joy that picture brought him. It's not the big things, it's the heart things...the miracle things, that make each day what it is.

Hannah shows us this more often now!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Message of Hope

The following is an excerpt from an email I received from our friend Sam yesterday. You remember Sam, defied pancreatic cancer and now, he is on the path of miracles again! Please continue to pray for Sam and Anne and that the next CT scan will be as positive as the numbers!!

"Praise God!!

In September we got the CT Scan results showing the return on my pancreatic cancer. The radiologist and the oncologist were very grim as to my outcome. My surgeon stated the surgery was out of the question owing to the location of the growth. Chemotherapy was my only option. Anne was told I had 9 months to a year to live. We got the wills updated, talked with our financial advisor regarding Anne's future without me, then we started the process of throwing away "stuff". Anne and I flew to Florida to see my sister and two of her three sons, from there we drove up to Orlando where we met the whole family at Disney for a week, one last fling before starting "valley of the shadow of death". Remember the e-mail..."It's in the Valley's I grow"?

At the onset of my treatments my CA 19-9 (cancer markers) was 58. Above 35 they act on it. After the first set of chemo's my markers were 51.9. The second set finished a few weks ago but just got the results: 21 !! Praise the Lord! However, the Oncologist states that NOTHING is conclusive till we see the CT Scan results. I get it sometime after next week's IV treatment.

I'm convinced it's prayer (it's worked for me starting with my birth)...but the chemo's (both of IV and one tablet) are God's working through mankind's knowledge....and I'm convinced of that too.

We're praying for yet another 'miracle'.

So are we, Sam, so are we!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Pictures Speak a Thousand Words

And a good time was had by all...

Happy New Year. May 2008 be blessed and joyful!


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