Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Her smile

Her joy

Simple pleasures





Monday, August 25, 2008

Animal Crackers in Our Soup

Ahhh, the bliss of little girls. One would think that would include baby dolls and fairy wings (and some days it does) but, for the most part our little ladybugs are full-fledged animal activists! These little lovelies would trade the finest tea party for a romp in the zoo or a swim in the shark tank (okay, not really IN the shark tank) but you get the picture. So, every summer, they look forward to their trips to the wild beyond. We went to the aquarium as our little family of four, skipping the ferry ride due to nasty thunderstorms. It turned out to be a wonderful day, despite the downpours.

My girlfriend, Trini had never been to a natural habitat located not so far from home. Trini and her daughter, Olivia were game for our outing to the game preserve. Sometimes, we go two or three times a year - it is a zoo with a beautiful park and magnificent lunch area. The zoo was making lots of changes, so the animals were sparse this time, but the good times were plenty.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I love to read. Yet, time has been tight, so my books continue to sit...dusty, at times and forlorn looking as the pages remain still, waiting. One thing I do manage to read everyday is my Jesus Calling devotional. Sometimes, I sit on one devotional for days, reading the others and keeping up, but referring back to one that speaks to my heart or one that I know God wants to lay on my heart. This statement, keeps reverberating in my mind and spirit, "Thankfulness awakens you to my Presence, which overshadows all of your problems." It is true.

In the essence of that statement, today I am thankful for

This has been a summer of events, plans and fun activities. We have enjoyed the company of so many loved ones. This past week, we were blessed to be with friends we have grown to love and with new friends God placed gently in our lives through blogging (go figure!) Sharon's daughter and Emily go to school together and so, we have enjoyed cultivating a beautiful friendship this past year. Jill and I found each other through adoption and miraculously, all of us were tethered together, that we might be friends. Jill stepped out in faith and invited us to their home on Sunday and we had a wonderful time together.

Friday marks the day my nephew leaves for college. (sniff, sniff) We celebrated his birthday Friday evening. His girlfriend asked me what I was doing nineteen years ago when he was born...truth be told, he was born early in the morning and well, I was sleeping. But I do remember my mother coming into my room early that same morning, sitting on my bed, and telling me that Andrew had joined this crazy world. I remember holding him that evening for the first time and he was perfect. Simply perfect. I remember wanting to be a mother because of the love I felt for this little boy. I remember when he was two, they visited me as I completed an internship in Disney World and Andrew asked one million questions, in his quirky toddler speak. I remember when he held my baby...a middle school student, kind and compassionate, looking into her eyes the way I had looked at him. I remember the first time I saw him play the saxaphone, I got chills and tears rolled down my cheeks as he stood self-assured and boldly in front of the crowd.

Now, he is nineteen, the age I was when he was born. He is ready. It is time. I pray God walks him through this experience, that he will make good choices, good friends and wonderful memories. I hope he knows how much we will miss him, but how grateful we are that he is following his dreams. God Speed, Andy. I love you, kiddo.

Families being made...
This week we learned of two friends who received amazing news. Laura is awaiting a son from Vietnam (sweetheart that she is, she emailed me a sneak peek at her beautiful boy). What a blessing for this wonderful family. Annslee, their daughter, will be a fabulous big sister and we are sure Mom and Dad have not touched ground yet. Congratulations!!! You can visit them and send some love:)

Sara, another friend, was blessed with a referral for adorable Mya, who is waiting in China for Mommy, Daddy and two big brothers. I have visited Sara (via bloggityville) watching the months tick by and was elated this week when her announcement popped up! I would encourage a visit to Sara as well - she is an amazing encourager and sister in Christ. Their family is overjoyed with the impending arrival of their daughter and sister, Mya.

I don't know how it happened but both of our little ladybugs have this incredible joy in their hearts. They are forever up to something to bring forth the giggles. I could document all the Emmy and Hannah-isms, but wouldn't even know where to begin. I know something would get lost in the translation, so I will post some recent pictures of the bugs and let you imagine for yourself:)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday of sorts

Meeting People Right Where they Are

I think it can be agreed that many of us have been changed exponentially by the beauty of adoption. I think it is a transformation - a tradition and a heritage to do as God commanded and adopt His children. I have been awed many times by the manner in which this red thread has woven through my life and the lives of my family members. Recently, a friend posted a heartfelt testimony to their personal journey at this time. Those are not my details to share, however, it brought back a flood of memories to our own journey and so, I decided to post something just for Kimberley.

Back in the days when I ate, slept and breathed Youth Group, I felt it was an honor and priviledge to lead people to the Truth. (I still feel that way, but am in less visible places to minister to folks). Before I became a leader though, I was a novice, seeking, unsure (funny, many days I am still that novice:). I was 22 when I took my first mission trip and I honestly believed I was a Christian. Yes, I led a decent, faith-filled life, but I didn't truly understand the commitment and personal relationship it would require for me to really live the life. Tex Evans, a southern gentleman who began a crusade of sorts in Appalachian Service Project, designed a mission to re-build coal-mining towns crushed by the lack of economy, growth in health related issues due to the mining profession and to reach a troubled community. His motto, "Meet people right where they are..." This was a hard concept for me - I wanted to change the world. Little did I know how accepting people right where they are is the finest path to changing the world.

I think this motto rings true in our international adoption world as well. Sometimes we need to sit with the grief, accept it right where it is. Sometimes we need accept the joy, appreciate it right where it is, not borrow the worry or trouble that our humanness would borrow. People often give testimonies citing "lightning bolt" experiences - there was this one moment when I knew God was seeking me and I gave it up to Him. Others have a series of flickers leading up to that moment and still others have no particular time when they KNEW, it just was. Accept it just as it is. Adoption is no different, some know immediately, that this is their child, other question, wonder, require time to pray and seek guidance and still others have a rather benign experience, just acceptance that this child before them is theirs, for whatever reason, meant to be.

I wondered. Will I know who she is? How does God decide? Will I love her enough? Do I have what it takes? We asked Emily, "how will we know which baby is ours?". Her reply was always the same, "She is the one wearing blue."

I read book upon book. I googled "attachment", "orphanage" and "sibling rivalry". I did research, attended workshops - you name it, I was prepared. Truth be told, nothing could have prepared me for the emotion of seeing Hannah for the first time. For us, we knew. That was our daughter, she had my lips and the twinkle in her eye. That was her.

When I passed her information to the Adoption Specialists at Children's Hospital, the doctor was concerned. Head circumference. She was too small. The doctor was going on about "failure to thrive". I was crushed. She asked us to pass along the picture, her file did not include the picture. I got off the phone and emailed the doctor. Rob and I sat at the workbench of our playroom and prayed. We looked at Emily, beautiful little Emily...and at the same time we agreed, it doesn't matter, now, we love this perfect peanut from Jiangxi province too. We agreed we were going to accept Hannah, regardless. Meet her right where she is, love her just as she is. The doctor called later that evening after viewing the picture and assured us she felt the size had been mismeasured - it was an error, she felt Hannah was A-OK. We thanked her. We didn't need the assurance so much, we knew.

Two months later, we were on our way. Rob and Jim were packed and ready. They far exceeded anyone's expectations as far as receiving this sweet child and bringing her home safely. All of our preparation and prayer had paid off. We were the proud parents of two beautiful little girls. Only, those first weeks were not nearly as easy as one would hope. Hannah had bonded quickly to Rob. Emily and I were threatening to her at first. She had periods of time where I am certain she was grieving. I watched as she rejected Emily and panicked wondering if it would be okay. Had she had too much trauma? Was love not enough? Some days she would not let me sing to her or hold her close. Was she the one God intended? I had read enough to know to expect this, yet, I felt caught off-guard by it. Amidst some of the tougher moments, Emily in her "wise beyond her years" way would assure me, she was "the one". Funny, because I never vocalized my concern, I suppose she could just tell.

When I released it to God and simply accepted Hannah just as she was, it was amazing the transformation that occurred. I stopped thinking about the big picture and focused on each small milestone. There came a time when I could not recall the weeks that were hard. There were I-love-yous and smiles, hugs and singing, trust. There was trust for all of us.

Not long after we turned the corner, I received a package in the mail. Brian Stuey had found Hannah's Finding Ad for us. I was making dinner when Rob brought it in and when I saw what it was I let the meat burn as I read each word carefully, taking in everything I could about Hannah. Nothing about it surprised us, it was everything we already knew about our little girl. Until the last line..."and she was dressed in double layer blue clothing with flowers." Emily had said for two years she was the one in blue. Sometimes the confirmation of what is absolutely the plan is revealed in timing we were not expecting and across years of flickering moments. Sometimes, we just walk by faith, accept it just as it is and reap the bounty it provides.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." Hebrews 11:1

One year ago...


Guess Who Loves Her Big Girl Bed???

Ahhh, the taste of freedom...

Hannah slept in a big girl bed while on vacation at the end of June and well, that is pretty much the end of the story. You can figure out the rest on your own:) The girls rooms are under construction while we put both twin beds in Hannah's room and Emily moves up the ladder to a bigger girl bed of her own. (That will be another post!)

Emily was worried about the nursery furniture and what would become of it. She prayed that we would learn of a good home for it. The same day we made the switch, a good friend of mine announced she was expecting another baby and that she had just given away every bit of baby paraphenelia. Problem solved. We will give them all of the pieces to enjoy with their newest addition. Isn't God good?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting Ready

I feel as though I have been nesting - NO, there is no news to share, I just feel like getting organized and ready for the new school year. So, I am cleaning house, cleaning kids, cleaning blog. Fortunately for me, Danielle often emails to see if my blog needs an up-do and since I was in the mode, I figured no time like the present. So, thanks, Danielle for putting me in the mood for a good hayride and some apple pickin' with our new look.

Blogs by Danielle is celebrating one year of happily making over blogs. You can visit here to see what her newest creations are and to find out about the sale she has going on in honor of the anniversary.

Happy Blogging:)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thankful Thursday

First, I am thankful for a special birthday girl this week. My friend Lisa celebrates another beautiful year of her life and the entrance of a year that I pray will be filled with the most wonderful of surprises. Lisa and I have never officially met. We have exchanged cards and kindnesses, telephone conversations that have touched my soul and somehow a friendship has been formed, not a simple little relationship, but a union; An understanding that bears no need for explanations or formalities. I am thankful for people like Lisa who have the unique gift of encouragement and bless others in rich and tangible ways. Happy Birthday, Lis!

Then, I was most thankful for this little sweetie. We waited over two hours for a labwork appointment yesterday, as a result of the hospital's error. By the time we were finally called in, I had lost most of my fragment of patience that I had begun with and was feeling slightly frazzled. Our last appointment for bloodwork was very difficult. Hannah is tiny and her veins are incredibly difficult to find. In our pathway through international adoption, we have accepted it is a necessary evil to frequently test and ensure all her initial labwork was spot-on. So, this was a maintenence procedure, but I was dreading it. She was a champion in every single way. She gave her blood, received her pretty pink bandage and prize (a whistle) and walked out telling me, "Hannah fine, I fine - I walk myself." We turned the corner and she stopped suddenly, grabbed my leg, hugged me and said "Tank you for de whitsil Mommy. I lub it." (Thank you for the whistle, Mommy. I love it.) The resilence of children amazes me. This teeny tiny powerhouse rendered me speechless and glassy-eyed. Thank you, Hannah, thank for the gift you are to us.

Finally, there were countless other entries I could make today, but upon viewing the Chapman family don their armour and speak out about hope and faith in the midst of grief, I am thankful that I have a relationship with Jesus. Their honesty and candor is refreshing. The loss of their daughter is tragic. I have no words for this, but I do pray for them and for all struggling through attacks of the enemy. So, I choose to honor the very spirit of Maria Chapman...I will hold our little ladybugs a little closer, speak with them a little sweeter and love them in the fashion God designed, unconditionally. Thank you Chapman family for allowing us into the most personal of all places, for reminding us of the goal, the truth and for reminding us that proof of a living, loving God comes in the questions as well as the faith.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Next Generation of Friendship

Once upon a time, there were two little boys. They liked cars and bikes and things that moved fast. They were friends.

They graduated from high school. One of the little boys bought the other little boy's car - a 1981 camaro. They both still LOVE that car! They went to college and ended up in very different careers and living very far away from one another. But they never lost touch - that was important, they stayed friends.

They met two Mrs. Rights :) and began families. Mrs. Rights adored one another and always agree not distance, nor time, nor vocation, nor life will ever get in the way of them spending time together.

They each had two little girls and those little girls grew to love one another.

To be continued...

Our little loves

Steve and Rob have been friends since they were nine. I think Steve said that fifty times this weekend:) We were blessed to spend a long weekend with these very special friends. We miss them terribly and absolutely love the time we get to spend together. We did not even venture out much because it was too enticing to chat and catch up. Our cameras remained relatively silent (sorry!)but our days were filled with fun and togetherness.

They dusted off the old yearbook and relived some fond memories and some not-so fond ones. They laughed and hugged, we laughed and hugged, our girls hung on each others' every move and slept side by side. We ate like kings and laughed til our sides hurt. Parenting, ahh parenting, we discussed the good the bad and the ugly and agreed we could not be happier. Time may go between us, miles stand before us, our lives are different, but our own, and we appreciate that in each other. We plan to take a trip together in the next couple years and in the meantime, Emily has already packed a bag to wait until we return or they come our way for a visit, which will hopefully happen this fall.

We celebrated Steve's fortieth birthday and Rob's and my anniversary (see previous post) Thanks guys for a fabulous time - we love you!

Olivia, 5

Mikaela, 8

Rain-free, bug-free smores:)

Cracking each other up

To Have and To Hold

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Apache Prayer

Happy Anniversary, Rob. Here is to a hundred more happy anniversaries together!
I love you ~


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