Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thankful Thursday

There is just so much to be thankful for this week.

Due to the time (it's late, trust me ) and my never-ending to-do list, I will keep it short.

I am thankful to Gerry and Jim, who cared for the girls while we attended the wedding, this weekend. If you recall, Jim travelled to China with Rob. Gerry and Jim bring grace and joy to everything they do. We are always blessed by their presence and we had two very happy little girls, as a result. Jim even showed up at the door with these beauties for our beauties.

I am thankful for the nicest Memorial Day we have seen in a long time. We were able to host our dear friends for a barbecue. This sweet family is from our agency and travel group. We are more than blessed by their friendship and truly enjoyed seeing our children play together so nicely. It was good to get some adult gab in there too:)

I am thankful for a wonderful birthday celebration we shared with Emily. I still cannot believe that she is six years old, but I am grateful for the little lady she is becoming. Emily will share one more celebration with her girlfriends in June, and we are looking forward to it.

The day after we learned of the tragic and sudden loss of Maria Chapman, I was feeling very sad. It had been a stormy, strange day and I felt complete grief for their family. After dinner I looked out the window to find this...

..Which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises...2Peter1:4

Something about Mary

"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure."
- Sirach 6:14

This is Mary and Ivan. I have been friends with Mary for eighteen years. She is a sister in Christ, a loyal and dear friend, a trusted confidant; she is infectious with enthusiasm and beyond creative with her amazing brain. And her heart...Mary has a heart for people, all people and she lives every single day finding ways to serve others. She inspires me and so many around her. I love Mary.

Mary and her sister Susan

Mary and I have shared joys and sorrows, fears and faith. She has been there for every single major life event over these eighteen years and I can't ever imagine my life without her. She is the truest form of friend imaginable and I am grateful for the role she plays in my life.

This weekend was a reunion of sorts, as we celebrated the marriage of Mary's son, Jeff to his sweetheart, Ashley. Mary, we are so happy for your family and wish Jeff and Ashley a lifetime of love, laughter and faith.

Ivan is an entemologist, instead of rice, we released butterflies:)

The happy couple

Thursday, May 22, 2008

6 Quirky Things

I was tagged by Kim to come up with six quirky things about myself. I thought this would be such an easy task, but not so much. Maybe I am not as strange as I thought I was;)

1. Loud Eaters make me NUTS!! You can ask my family about this...I do not tolerate inappropriate eating at the table. Manners were invented for a reason and I cannot hear others eat, there is no need for it.

2. I cannot stand the smell of laundry that has sat too long and will redo a load if I think it has the potential to get that funky scent. If it doesn't smell like Dreft or Tide, back in the hamper it goes.

3. I love to iron. Nope, don't go back and read it again, it's true, I love to iron. I cannot handle if the girls are wrinkled (or myself for that matter) and so everything gets run under the hot iron and hung. I use the drawers strictly for sweats, shorts, pajamas and underwear, everything else gets hung.

4. I could eat the entire relish tray myself. I love olives and pickles. It totally cracks me up when the girls put olives on their fingers (hmmmmm, who did they learn that from???) Em won't actually eat them and Hannah just licks them all at this point and then returns them, nice.

5. I LOVE to play loud music in the car. I like all kinds of music and I have been known to jam to everything from Def Leppard to Amy Grant, it is quite a spectrum, but music moves me and apparently, I feel the need to move everyone else as well:)

6. I don't typically eat a whole cupcake. I scalp the top (with yummy icing of course)and then leave the cake for Rob. It works out well because he likes the cake and not so much for the icing, but I have been known to do it with several cupcakes at a time. He is certain there are therapy providers for this type of thing.

I am not tagging anyone else because this has probably made the rounds, but if you haven't participated, please fel free to join the fun!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

With a Heavy Heart

Many years ago, in my youth pastoring days, when I took mission trips every year and felt called to find good music that would minister to our young people, I discovered Stephen Curtis Chapman. On one of our trips, the song "On the Mountain" became our theme song. We must have listened to that song a thousand times that week - it spoke to our hearts and to the goal God had set before us.

When Rob and I decided to get married, we kept things as simple and old fashioned as possible. Our youth choir sang to us, we had lemonade and wedding cake on the front lawn of the church, my gown was modeled after a vintage one and was in the prettiest ecru with an ever-so-slight touch of pink. I remember how it seemed time stood still when the Lord's Prayer was sung and when our wedding song, "I Will be There" left not a dry eye in the seriously packed country church.

And "When Love Takes You In" got us through the long wait for Hannah. That song inspired us, helped us keep focused and healed our hurting hearts when we thought we could wait no more.

Stephen Curtis Chapman has been an important piece to my life's story. My heart is heavy today with the recent report that today his youngest daughter was hit by an SUV in their driveway and she has gone home to be with the Lord. Their family has been instrumental and an absolute catalyst for international adoption.

I am praying for their entire family as they deal with this loss, may peace and comfort be your shield Chapmans, we know you are covered in prayer.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Getting Caught Up!

As I had previously mentioned May presents with a calendar conundrum of fun events. I know it is not over yet, but I like to preserve some of the more memorable items here, since I am a scrapbooking failure. I look at the big box of scrap stuff and become instantly intimidated by the mess I will make if I begin pages and then force myself to complete them. All the while, we know the laundry is glaring at me, the vacuum heartbroken at my disloyalty and the kitchen, well, it is often saddened by my trigger finger for take-out:) Sooo, since beginning this blog, the memories land here. At some point, I will become better versed at making it look like a true scrapbook; for now, I do my best.


We enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day. Rob and the girls made breakfast -- it was supposed to be pancakes, a measurement faux pax created crepes, either way, it was perfect. They brought gifts to the table and I was so humbled and graced by the tenderness of what they selected for me this year.

Rob is working relatively close to the agency we used to bring our Hannah home. If any of you have ever read anything about Pearl Buck, then you know she was an ambassador in many ways. I do not perch her on a pedestal for her life choices that changed children's lives, but I applaud her courage, artistry and compassion that provided her own family a lovely upbringing (I believe she adopted 13 Asian children during the course of her life) as well as a legacy that has brought so many children home to their forever families. She brought positive attention and education to international adoption and made it her life's goal to ensure adoption practices with integrity and stability. I had the unique opportunity to meet one of her daughters and hear her amazing story at a Christian Women's breakfast two years ago. It brought new light to the agency I already loved simply because they would help us bring home our baby girl.

The agency has "minted" a limited number of decorative tiles, beautifully handcrafted at a local tileworks museum. Rob, in all his contracting glory was taken with these tiles when we first saw them, but I was drawn to one. This is what was wrapped so beautifully Mother's Day morning...

Emily's teachers helped their students prepare beautiful gifts for all the mommies. I have always been blessed, in that every teacher Emily has had, has valued the mother-child relationship and made a huge deal out of Mother's Day.

The previous day Emily and I attended the birthday party of her dear friend Gabrielle. I have often gushed about Em's school and I feel every ounce of that, but one of the perks is the great friendships we all have made there. Thank you Gabrielle for including us in your special day - we had so much fun.

Since Gabrielle's party was flip-flop themed, I had painted Em's finger and toenails. On Mother's Day when I asked Emily if she'd like to go to have her nails painted with me, she politely declined and said (drum roll............) I want to get my ears pierced. Huh? She has been hinting around and now, her little sister wants "eeeeernns, just yike Mimi".


Enjoying the post piercing pretzel!

And it would not have been complete without the post-piercing penny pitch:) I wonder what she wished??


For the first time, Hannah got to join us for our traditional day at the circus. Emily loves to do this for her birthday and we surprised her last week and instead of driving to school, we drove to the big top. Both girls were thrilled and their favorite event was by far the "effafants" (according to Hannah):)

By this time Hannah had pulled out her bow and Emily's bow, kicked off her shoes, eaten half a pretzel and clapped her heart out (and we weren't even to intermission yet:)

Emily even noted a ladybug siting

Having piled a lot into this post, I will go away now. I have some favorite pictures I will post in the next week. A big thank you to all of our bloggy friends who have sent well wishes for our birthdays - I hate to celebrate them now;) But, it was so sweet to receive so many kind comments. Blessings...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thankful Friday!!

I deferred Thankful Thursday this week. Six years ago today, Emily was born. I felt it was a blog-worthy occasion and quite honestly, she never tires of hearing the story, so she asked if I would tell about it. Before I share the details of that all-important day in our lives,I am thankful for

Emily's beautiful smile

her amazing spirit

her compassion and heart

that red hair!!

the unconditional love she has shown her sister (and everyone else, for that matter)

her laugh - Emily actually belly laughed by seven weeks old and she has continued finding the humor and joy in everything since

her love for Jesus and reckless abandon in singing His praises

for her whole little being, absolutely everything about, I am thankful for Emily.

It was a dark and stormy night - oh, wait, that's a whole other story:) Actually it was a beautiful, warm spring night. I was due on Mother's Day, but Emily waited until Wednesday to show us signs that she was ready to join the world. I was resting my eyes and ended up falling asleep watching the West Wing. I was awakened by the feeling that my water had broken. I jumped up, was rambling rather incoherently and then had Rob doing the same as we scrambled to make decisions about what came next. It was a scene from the keystone cops. A phone call to the doctor confimed we should get to the hospital. We spent an incredibly uncomfortable night in triage and were transferred to a room in the morning.

We waited, and waited, waited some more and then we waited. Dinnertime came and went, so they gave me medicine to progress things. Remarkably, it worked!

It was the season finale for Friends that evening and Rachel would be having her baby. Everyone in my room, including the doctor had their eyes firmly planted on the television set. While Rachel had pretend contractions, I was having the real ones!! Emma on Friends was born at 8:48 PM, just three short minutes later, at 8:51, Emily Grace made her first appearance and her first sounds. I can still remember feeling no pain at all, just sheer joy and complete awe. (We have often wondered if they held me back a few minutes trying to see most of Friends:)

God heard my heart, my pleas, he answered in a little red headed baby. Certain that I had been carrying a boy, I was overjoyed when Rob screamed, "It's a GIRL!". This little girl has warmed our hearts ever since, perhaps, it is a bit cliche, but she is truly the very light of our lives and it is a priviledge and a blessing to be her mommy. Two days later, on my birthday, I left the hospital with the finest birthday gift a woman could ever wish for. I celebrate that special gift from God every single day of my life. I love you, Em!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


If you have turned on your television within the last 48 hours, then you are aware of the catastrophic earthquake that has occurred in China.

As I flipped on Good Morning America this morning, it made the birthplace of our daughter seem close, not nearly the many miles away that it is. I viewed this news report through the eyes of a mother, a mother so in love with her child that I cannot imagine the pain of those impacted by this disaster. My heart hurt.

The reality that came flying off the screen was that children have been injured, orphaned, frightened. Families have been changed irrevokably, no different than if this disaster had struck right here in our very backyard. We can make a difference. We have an opportunity.

If you are interested in helping, please see Half the Sky or Love without Boundaries and click on the icon for relief fund. These two organizations are already doing so much to love on the children of China, if your heart is led to give, these are the perfect places to do so.

This is where the earthquake struck

Hannah is from Jiangxi province. From the map below, that is quite far from Chengdu. However, we are thinking of all the families waiting for their precious children and for all of our friends that may have been born closer to the disaster sites, this is particularly distressing. We are thinking and praying for you all.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thankful, Thoughtful Thursday

Oh where to begin...
This thankful Thursday, I have a mix of thoughts and feelings, so the title aptly describes my present mood - I am thankful, but I am also thoughtful and a bit reminiscent this week.

In honor of Mother's Day, I celebrate my own mother. A woman of true grace and dignity, she has taught me so many things,not just in her words, but in the example she sets to others around her. In all the years of being her daughter, I have never heard her complain. There were certainly times she could have and yet, she has always accepted what the Lord has placed in her path. She left a prestigious position with a financial organization to raise my brother and I. I am certain there were days when she would have loved to put on her suit and go back, but her priority was at home and she never faltered in her loyalty to us. We have done well because of this. She is a Godly wife and mother, taking seriously her responsibilites and all the joys that accompany those roles. She quietly works in the background of any situation, but make no mistake, she is bright beyond measure and uses every gift she has been blessed with to benefit others. I am grateful to have been raised by a woman whom I would choose to know even if she were not my mother.

I am thankful for the gift of being a mother. My heart's greatest desire has always been to mother children and I thank God, He chose me to mother these incredible little people, our daughters. That gratitude also extends to the three children I was not blessed to know. Emily's twin and two still born siblings are forever in my heart and ever present in my mind. Someone commented to me that Hannah makes that all better, and while the joy of her and the love we share is magnificent, it is an entity all it's own, just like our love for Emily. Their presence in our lives does not diminish the reality of others who went home before us. It was never the "job" of Emily or Hannah to heal our hurts. Rather, they add depth, width, breadth that I never imagined was possible and I am grateful to God everyday for each of them and for the gift of being their "Mommy".

I am thankful for Diana and Lisa, who both have incredible milestones to celebrate this week. Diana has her one year anniversary of being united with Ruby Mei and Lisa's sweet daughter Lindy turns three today. Congratulations to both these precious families. We love you.

On a prayerful note, the little boy I work with, Ray, has had surgery today. Ray is a little boy affected by Autism. I could get up on my pedestal and write a lengthy dissertation about Autism and the impact of this disease on our culture, I will spare you my histrionics and statistics. I will say that I pray Ray will be okay. Communicating with him is difficult and I am uncertain the degree to which he will understand what has happened and how he is feeling. He had a cyst in his abdominal cavity and apparently it was hurting his entire belly. I pray for his family and quite frankly, for all families dealing with pervasive developmental disorders. Until we have walked a mile in thier shoes, we may never truly understand. I am grateful my daughters are not affected by this spectrum of disorders. Families often offer that I should go home and hug my children and delight in their normalcy - for those of you who read this, trust me, I do.

I am thankful for opportunities to discuss the joy and promise of adoption. I am thankful the Lord gives me words and calms my spirit when this subject comes up. I love to discuss our family and our history, recognizing that certain items are personal, off limits and not to be discussed ever. I am thankful for the mommy in line in front of me at the GAP, who said she always thought of doing "that" pointing at Hannah. If I had gone ahead based purely on my perception of what she was trying to articulate, I may have missed a great moment to share and a wonderful opportunity to help her understand how words can wound. We talked for a long time and even the staff ended up in the conversation. She waited in the parking lot and approached me when I had finished shopping letting me know I had "made her day, changed her heart and given her information she never knew or would have considered before our discussion."

I am thankful to be an aunt. Emily and I are headed to Band night at the high school to see my nieces and nephew perform. This will be the last concert I see with my nephew as a high school student. Congratulations Andrew, you are a leader among your peers and the apple of my eye. I pray God richly blesses your life as you begin your college years in several weeks. Andrew has chosen University of Maryland and I am thrilled to see his successes, not to mention heartbroken to see him leave.

Next week marks Emily's sixth birthday, there are no words to express how thankful I am for this child. She is a doting big sister, a bright ray of sunshine and in many ways wise beyond her years. Her compassionate heart overwhelms me. Though I know it is all going entirely too fast, I am also thankful Hannah is little and look forward to the stages she is about to embark on:) Emily said to me this morning, "Mom, are you sad I am not your baby anymore?" Gee, Em, you will always be my baby; someday, she will understand that, as I now understand my mother in many, many ways.


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